Archive for August, 2011

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 22-28, 2011)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

SCANDAL

A Pledge to End Fraternity Hazing.” By David J. Skorton. New York Times. August 23, 2011. IN February, a 19-year-old Cornell sophomore died in a fraternity house while participating in a hazing episode that included mock kidnapping, ritualized humiliation and coerced drinking. While the case is still in the courts, the fraternity chapter has been disbanded and those indicted in connection with the death are no longer enrolled here. This tragedy convinced me that it was time — long past time — to remedy practices of the fraternity system that continue to foster hazing, which has persisted at Cornell, as on college campuses across the country, in violation of state law and university policy. Yesterday, I directed student leaders of Cornell’s Greek chapters to develop a system of member recruitment and initiation that does not involve “pledging” — the performance of demeaning or dangerous acts as a condition of membership. While fraternity and sorority chapters will be invited to suggest alternatives for inducting new members, I will not approve proposals that directly or indirectly encourage hazing and other risky behavior. National fraternities and sororities should end pledging across all campuses; Cornell students can help lead the way. Why not ban fraternities and sororities altogether, as some universities have done? Over a quarter of Cornell undergraduates (3,822 of 13,935 students) are involved in fraternities or sororities. The Greek system is part of our university’s history and culture, and we should maintain it because at its best, it can foster friendship, community service and leadership.

Clinic Sues Over Ban.” By Jacob Gershman. Wall Street Journal. August 24, 2011. Accusing the Cuomo administration of “cruel, needless guillotine action,” a Bronx health-care nonprofit controlled by an indicted former state lawmaker filed papers in court on Tuesday to stop the state from cutting off its Medicaid funding. A lawyer for Soundview Health Center called the state’s punishment of the clinics “grossly disproportionate” and said cutting off the center’s financial lifeline would wipe out 200 jobs and upend the lives of thousands of patients. The 30-year-old network is controlled by disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, a Bronx Democrat. Soundview also accused the Cuomo administration and health officials of engaging in a politically motivated campaign “to taint, brand and stigmatize” its operations. A spokeswoman for the Health Department did not respond to a request to comment. Earlier this month, the state’s Medicaid inspector general recommended that Soundview be banished from the Medicaid program after determining that the health center lacked a compliance program. The state, which gave Soundview 30 days to appeal the decision, also faulted the nonprofit’s board for allowing Mr. Espada and his son to retain control of the clinics after they were indicted last year on federal charges of embezzling more than $500,000 from the nonprofit.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 22-28, 2011)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

YOUTH-SERVING ORGANIZATIONS

Hispanic attorney named new Girl Scouts CEO.” By Michelle Healy. USA Today. August 24, 2011. Building courage, confidence and character is the expressed goal of the 99-year-old Girl Scouts of America, which says it also teaches girls and young women the value and power of leadership and service through its programs and activities, including financial literacy, environmental conservation, math and science education and health. Girl Scouts “provides a pipeline to leadership in this country,” says Kathy Cloninger, the outgoing CEO, who is retiring after leading the organization for eight years. Although many know Girl Scouts for its “wonderful cookie program, Girl Scouts has a wonderful story of preparing women for leadership that may not be out there in the public domain,” says Chavez, 43, who has been CEO of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas since 2009. Prior to that, she worked in numerous federal and state government positions, including as a deputy chief of staff for urban relations and community redevelopment for Janet Napolitano, former Arizona governor and current U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. Napolitano is herself a lifetime Girl Scout member. “It’s living the American dream to start as a girl member several decades ago and now be part of the national leadership team,” says Chavez, a Mexican-American who will be the first person of color to lead the group, which includes 2.3 million girl members and nearly 880,000 adult members. Like most non-profits, the Girl Scouts organization has been affected by the battered economy, but has remained strong, says David Thompson, vice president of public policy for the National Council of Nonprofits. Girl Scouts is “a premiere name-brand non-profit that has gone through transition, transformation, reorganization and restructuring. It’s led the non-profit community in that regard. It’s done a great job of adjusting its mission to where there are girls in need of support and leadership training,” he says.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

ARTS & CULTURE

Walton-backed museum sends ripples across USA.” By Rick Jervis. USA Today. August 16, 2011. Strip malls and office parks line the landscape of this northwest Arkansas city at the foot of the Ozark Mountains. Construction workers work to finish the flooring in what will be the restaurant in one of the domed roof, glass inclosed building at Crytal Bridges Museum. Its downtown square has two eateries, a jewelry store, a courthouse and a statue of a Confederate soldier. Chain restaurants far outnumber locally owned ones. At first glance, Bentonville — population 35,000 — seems an unlikely setting for a world-class art museum. But in a wooded ravine not far from the square, workers are putting the finishing touches on what will be one of the world’s most important museums of American art. The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is set to open here in November. It will be infused with an $800 million endowment by the family of the founders of Wal-Mart — four times that of the renowned Whitney Museum in New York. It’s the brainchild of Alice Walton, 62, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and an heiress to the Walton family fortune. Alice Walton’s acquisition of some of the country’s most important pieces of American art, and the fact that they soon will hang in this rural corner of middle America, have rattled the art world. Walton’s backers say that legendary paintings such as Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, now part of the Crystal Bridges collection, deserve to be seen in rural America, not just in big cities such as Boston, New York and Los Angeles. “Some people cannot process the thought that fine art and Arkansas can go together,” Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin says. “Obviously, they can.” Wal-Mart, headquartered in Bentonville, is the world’s largest retailer, with 8,400 stores worldwide and annual sales of more than $405 billion. The museum is just 2 miles and a five-minute drive away from Wal-Mart’s sprawling world headquarters on Southwest Eighth Street.

Maestro Exits, But Gets Paid.” By Erica Orden. Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2011. Among the more costly expenses the cash-strapped New York City Opera has expunged recently are: a dozen-plus employees, its home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and its music-director position, occupied for the past 14 years by George Manahan. But despite having cut Mr. Manahan’s position to help shore up its financial solvency, the company will still pay the conductor for next season, the last covered by his current contract. Mr. Manahan earned about $280,000 in base compensation last year, according to the opera’s tax returns. His contract entitled him to another year’s salary, including music-director compensation as well as payments tied to performance guarantees, according to a person familiar with the matter. He agreed to a settlement, and though it isn’t clear how that will compare with his previous years’ salary, a person familiar with the matter said it will cover only the music directorship portion of his contract, not additional payments related to performances.

Poetry’s New Palace.” By Joel Henning. Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2010. The poet Robert Graves said: “There’s no money in poetry, but there’s no poetry in money, either.” That was surely the case when Graves said it in the 1960s, but not anymore. In 2002, big money found its way to poetry through Ruth Lilly’s bequest, currently valued at some $200 million, to Poetry magazine. And now about $21 million of that money has been transformed into a small, elegant new building in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood that houses the magazine, the Poetry Foundation that publishes it, and its additional post-Lilly bequest programs. When the idea of a new building devoted to poetry was first broached in 2005 by John Barr, the foundation’s president, some trustees argued that poetry doesn’t need a “Taj Mahal.” But local architect John Ronan’s engaging structure couldn’t be less flamboyant. Like good poetry, it reveals itself slowly. The newly prosperous foundation could have decided to support universities and other organizations that operate poetry programs. But Mr. Barr, a published poet and former investment banker, demurred. “All a poet needs is a stubby pencil and a piece of paper,” he told me. “If we merely scattered our money to universities and other organizations,” he added, “we couldn’t create self-reinforcing programs to extend the audience for poetry. So we decided to keep the money under one roof.” Some trustees disagreed with Mr. Barr’s vision, and accused him of bullying the board. After he made a tactical error by giving his wife a paying job, he quickly returned her to volunteer status. But some trustees became especially upset when he announced plans for the new building, after almost a century of the magazine and its foundation working in quarters either donated by Chicago’s Newbury Library, or—once the Lilly grant was in hand—rented in downtown Chicago. The foundation’s book collection had been in the bowels of the Newbury. While Mr. Barr acknowledges the graciousness of the Newbury, “getting in there to look at a poetry book required a safecracker.” Five of the 19 trustees who butted heads with Mr. Barr left the board in 2007, some alleging they were forced out. In 2008, two of the dissidents filed objections with Illinois’s attorney general. While Robyn Ziegler of the attorney general’s office says that “currently, we have not discovered anything of concern,” some former trustees are threatening more legal action.

Folk Art Museum Considers Closing.” By Kate Taylor. New York Times. August 19, 2011. The financial picture has grown so bleak at the American Folk Art Museum that its trustees are considering whether to shut it down and donate its collections to another institution, said a person involved in the discussions, who requested anonymity because the talks are confidential. No final decision has been made, and members of the folk museum’s staff are said to be lobbying to keep it going in some form. But the museum’s leadership has been in talks with the Smithsonian Institution for several months about possibly acquiring the collection in conjunction with the Brooklyn Museum. A decision to dissolve the museum and transfer its collection would require the approval of both the New York State attorney general’s office and the State Department of Education. The attorney general’s office would consider, among other things, whether the transfer would put New York State residents at a disadvantage. Even if ownership of the collection were transferred to the Smithsonian, one possibility being discussed is to have the Brooklyn Museum display some of it long term, making it still accessible to New Yorkers. The folk art museum has one of the country’s finest collections of American folk art, including some 5,000 quilts, paintings and functional objects like weathervanes. But it has long been plagued by serious financial problems. A decade ago the museum borrowed $32 million, in the form of bonds, to finance the construction of an impressive building on West 53rd Street in Manhattan, designed by the architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. In 2009, after suffering substantial investment losses in the financial crisis, the museum defaulted on its debt, and in May the trustees decided to sell the building to the Museum of Modern Art, down the block, in order to pay off the debt. But the sale of the building for $31.2million, while covering the debt, did not leave the museum with any extra cash. And it left, if anything, an even more difficult conundrum for the museum about how to move forward.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

CORPORATE PHILANTHROPY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Nordstrom in New York to Use an Alias.” By Stephanie Clifford. New York Times. August 15, 2011. After flirting for years with a move into New York City, Nordstrom is opening a full-priced store in Manhattan. But the store will not have Nordstrom in its name, or even feel like a Nordstrom. Called Treasure & Bond, the new store will open Friday in SoHo and will be less than a tenth the size of a typical Nordstrom department store. In fact, it is a big experiment that will not even contribute to Nordstrom’s bottom line, as the profits have been committed to charity. That may seem odd for a public company, but retail analysts said it was sensible for the Seattle-based chain, which for years has been trying to figure out the New York market before formally opening a full-fledged department store. “They’re probably trying to generate good will before they make themselves present in New York with a full-line store,” said Ken Stumphauzer, an analyst at Sterne Agee. “This will essentially give them some perception or added insight into the New York consumer, and specifically into the more affluent full-priced consumer.” If the regular Nordstrom’s stores go after the perfectly coiffed, cardigan-wearing shopper, Treasure & Bond seems to be aimed at her graphic designer younger sister. The merchandise in the boutique is funkier than a Nordstrom would carry — one perfume sold there is called Fat Electrician, with the label showing a sliver of a man’s bottom breaking free from his pants. Though the company has always aimed upscale, the only Nordstrom store in New York City is a discount Nordstrom Rack store.
Related story:
Nordstrom takes giving to new level; The retailer will open Treasure & Bond on Friday, and the store will donate 100% of the proceeds to charity.” Crain’s New York Business. August 16, 2011.

Wal-Mart’s charitable giving soars in Boston; Seeking to win over a reluctant City Hall.” By Meghan E. Irons and Andrew Ryan. Boston Globe. August 20, 2011. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has sharply increased charitable giving in Boston amid a campaign to improve its image and build public support, as the nation’s largest retailer looks to open in the city’s underserved neighborhoods. Since the first of the year, Wal-Mart has donated more than $2.1 million to Boston nonprofits, four times the amount it gave in the past four years. The Arkansas-based retailer has said that it wants to open at least one smaller version of its mammoth big-box stores in Boston and that it is targeting “badly served’’ neighborhoods that lack jobs and healthy food. But facing stiff opposition from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and business owners in neighborhoods including Roxbury’s Dudley Square, it is taking steps that appear designed to win public support. It has lobbied City Council members and hired Nicholas T. Mitropoulos, a friend and onetime political adviser to Menino. “We want to enter these markets the right way,’’ said Steven V. Restivo, spokesman for Wal-Mart. “And that means listening to our stakeholders, answering questions, and sharing information about our company.’’ The effort in Boston echoes recent moves in cities such as Chicago and New York where it has accompanied hopes for stores with floods of charitable donations and advertising campaigns, and where it has hired politically connected consultants. Wal-Mart’s fiercest opponent in Boston may be Menino, who last week fumed about the company’s hiring of Mitropoulos and accused it of “throwing money around to nonprofits’’ to buy public opinion.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

EDUCATION

HIGHER EDUCATION

Harvard’s Equity Holdings Decline in Fourth Quarter.” By Zoe A. Y. Weinberg. Harvard Crimson. August 15, 2011. The total value of Harvard’s U.S.-traded equities dropped 13 percent to $1.2 billion last quarter, as Harvard Management Company continued to invest in emerging markets. In the previous quarter, the University held $1.4 billion in U.S.-traded stocks. Both values are on par with post-financial crisis total investment value. In the quarters ending on June 30 in both 2010 and 2009, the total value rested at about $1.4 billion. The University is required to report its direct holdings of U.S.-listed securities to the Securities and Exchange Commission each quarter. The filing for Harvard’s fiscal fourth quarter, released Friday, represents only the stocks managed directly by the HMC. HMC also contracts with outside money managers to invest a large portion of the endowment. This snapshot of Harvard’s holdings reflects a period before the turmoil that has rocked markets in recent weeks. The report from the most recent quarter shows that the University is continuing the trend of investing in exchange-trade funds that track the performance of emerging economies, including Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey. The University has also invested directly in a Korean corporation called Korean Electric Power, and in Indian companies WisdomTree Trust and Tata Motors. Last year the Tata foundation gave Harvard Business School $50 million–the largest international donation in over 100 years. The most recent filing reveals that Harvard sold a stake in Halliburton, the oilfield services company that has been caught up in controversy surrounding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One of last year’s filings showed that Harvard owned a $4.8 million stake in Halliburton. The University continues to hold onto its stock in the real estate market. The University has $52.4 million invested in Pebblebook Hotel Trust, a hotel development company. Harvard came under fire last year for its supposed investments in HEI Hotels & Resorts, a hotel company that has been accused of violating workers’ rights. The SEC filing indicates that Harvard does not have a direct investment in HEI, although it is possible that they own stock through an outside money manager. The University’s endowment suffered heavy blows during the financial crisis, resulting in a nearly 30 percent plunge in value. The endowment has begun to recover since, although results for fiscal year 2011, which ended June 30, have not yet been released.

Private Colleges Tell Malloy To Stop Over Regulating Them.” By Michael Lee-Murphy. New Haven Independent/ctnewsjunkie.com. August 15, 2011. Private colleges and universities in Connecticut are over regulated and undervalued, despite being amongst the “smartest” investments a government can make. And it’s hampering job growth. That’s according to members of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges who spent a little under an hour with Malloy Monday at Wesleyan University. The roundtable discussion with college administrators was part of Malloy’s summer jobs tour to gather ideas for how to create jobs in the state. “The most important issue facing the nation economically, culturally, politically is job creation. It’s not taxes, it’s job creation. And the Governor seems to have understood that very well,” said Michael Roth, Wesleyan’s president. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, said that his school has been waiting for approval of an assistant anesthesiology program from the Department of Higher Education for over a year. The state of Connecticut, he explained, has a more rigid accreditation process than even the relevant national accreditation body, a process that has held up the program for a year and a half. Thirty five states have no such accreditation process. Four of the state’s private colleges are older than the Department of Higher Education, and thus don’t have to get its approval for new programs.

Holy Cross College disposes of president, 19-member board.” By John Pope. New Orleans Times-Picayune. August 16, 2011. With no warning and no explanation, the president of Our Lady of Holy Cross College and all 19 members of its policy-making board have been dismissed. The Rev. Anthony DeConciliis, who became president of Our Lady of Holy Cross College shortly before Hurricane Katrina hit, has been removed from his post. DeConciliis nearly tripled the college’s endowment during his tenure, raising it from slightly less than $9 million to about $23 million. Notification came Monday via email from Sister Suellen Tennyson, local leader of the order of Marianite nuns that owns the Algiers college, board members said. The Rev. Anthony DeConciliis, who had been installed as the college’s president the Friday before Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Myles Seghers, the college’s coordinator of graduate education, has been named interim president. In Tennyson’s statement announcing Seghers’ appointment, Tennyson did not indicate why DeConciliis and the board were removed. She said only that the nuns wanted to form a new board. “Please join us in prayer for the students, faculty, staff and administration as they begin the 2011 fall semester on Aug. 27,” her statement concluded. Tennyson and Seghers did not return calls seeking comment.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

New School Sets Agenda; Grace Church Adding Facility to Open in 2012 With Innovative Lesson Plan.” By Sophia Hollander. Wall Street Journal. August 15, 2011. Grace Church School has embarked on one of the most dramatic expansions of an established Manhattan private school in recent memory, starting construction on a new high school with a new, out-of-the-box curriculum. The 117-year-old school is using the opportunity to radically reshape some educational conventions with a new high school slated to open in September 2012 off Cooper Square. While its existing K-8 curriculum and structures have been refined over decades, every aspect of the new high school will be fair game for reinvention, school officials said. That may include the school day, which will run until 5:30 p.m., officials said. Ninth-graders will take turns cooking lunch for other students, sourcing ingredients and crafting menus. Tenth-graders will have classes suspended for a month—dubbed “March Madness”—to pursue an independent project. “What encumbers your ability to innovate around the needs of students is traditions and structures,” said George Davison, head of school at Grace Church. “We’re not bound by them.” The New York Association of Independent Schools said Grace Church’s new high school was the biggest expansion of an established city private school in at least a decade. Still, Grace Church’s plans have not garnered the same attention as another new private school, Avenues, opening in Manhattan next year. Avenues, a for-profit venture, has commanded public attention, attracting more than 1,000 applicants more than a year in advance.

Admissions 101: Trading tips with Jay Mathews on winning at college admissions; Why ultra-selective high schools don’t make our kids better prepared for college.” By Jay Mathews. Washington Post. August 17, 2011. I have a column on my blog and in the paper this week on a new study by economists at MIT and Duke showing that students rejected by exclusive public schools like Boston Latin and Bronx Science don’t do any worse on average on SAT or AP tests after attending their non-exclusive high schools than similar students who attended those prestigious institutions. The authors conclude “the intense competition for exam school seats does not appear to be justified by improved learning for a broad set of students.” They argue that the peer effects that so many of us parents believe in don’t exist. Our kids will not learn more just because everyone else at their school is a genius. Regular high schools often have enough good teachers and students to give a motivated student all the encouragement she needs to do just as well as she would if she had gotten into Stuyvesant. I think that is true also for the very selective and competitive private schools that people like me have spent heavily on. Am I wrong?

PUBLIC EDUCATION PHILANTHROPY

Regents Pay a Political Price for Their Free Advisers, Dissenters Warn.” By Michael Winerip. New York Times. August 14, 2011. In December, the chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, Merryl H. Tisch, announced a new program: 13 research fellows would be selected to advise the education commissioner and the 17-member board. The fellows would be paid as much as $189,000 each, in private money; to date, $4.5 million has been raised, including $1 million donated by Dr. Tisch, a member of one of New York’s wealthiest families.The chancellor sees the program as a way to add resources and expertise at a time of severe budget cutting (state financing of the Education Department is down 35 percent since 2009). She said the fellows would help ensure that the $700 million federal Race to the Top grant New York was awarded last year was properly spent. As Dr. Tisch put it, what’s not to like about free fellows? Plenty, according to several current and former board members. Public education has never been so divided, between those like Dr. Tisch, Commissioner John B. King Jr. and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who support the Obama administration’s signature Race to the Top initiative and its emphasis on standardized tests and charter schools; and dissenters on the board, who call it a Race to the Bottom and put their faith in teachers as well as traditional public schools. The Race to the Bottom folks warn that the supposedly free fellows come at a stiff political price. The Bottoms: “Private people give money to support things they’re interested in,” said Roger B. Tilles, a lawyer and longtime education administrator who has been a regent for six years. Those donors include Bill Gates ($892,000), who is leading the charge to evaluate teachers, principals and schools using students’ test scores; the National Association of Charter School Administrators ($50,000) and the Robbins Foundation ($500,000), which finance charter expansion; and the Tortora Sillcox Family Foundation ($500,000), whose mission statement includes advancing “Mayor Bloomberg’s school reform agenda.” Mr. Bloomberg and Mr. Gates are expert at using philanthropy in a way that pressures government to follow their public policy agendas.

Villanova law school censured.” Boston Globe/Associated Press. August 17, 2011. The law school at Villanova University has been censured for submitting falsified admissions data for several years to the American Bar Association, allegedly at the behest of onetime administrators at the school. The action comes months after Villanova first disclosed publicly that staff members inflated the school’s median grade-point averages and scores on the Law School Admissions Test. Both data sets often factor into law school rankings. “I think this group of individuals, they were very careful to keep it secret, not to draw any sort of red flags,’’ law school dean John Gotanda said yesterday. Villanova’s average admissions test scores were padded by two to three points between 2005 and 2009, Gotanda said. The median grade-point average was raised by up to 0.16 points. The law school at the Catholic university near Philadelphia could have lost its accreditation, but the bar association instead issued a public censure Friday because of Villanova’s self-reporting and remedial action.

Recruiters at Black Colleges Break From Tradition.” By Sue Shellenbarger. Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2011. In what has become a mutually beneficial relationship for schools and students, many of the nation’s 105 historically black colleges are increasingly wooing non-black students. The goals: to boost lagging enrollment and offset funding shortfalls. Some black colleges are stepping up recruiting at mostly white or Hispanic high schools and community colleges. Delaware State University is bringing 100 Chinese students to its Dover campus this fall for cultural and language training. Other colleges are showcasing unique programs. Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens promotes its chorale, which backed Queen Latifah in the 2010 Super Bowl, for example. Even top-ranked black schools such as Howard University in Washington, D.C., and Spelman College in Atlanta, are recruiting more aggressively in the face of intensifying competition for top African-American students. About 82% of students at the nation’s 105 black colleges are African-American, a percentage that has been fairly constant over the past 30 years, according to a data analysis for this column by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a New York nonprofit. Increases in Hispanic and Asian students have offset declines in whites, partly because of cuts in federal- and state-scholarship programs that encouraged white students to attend historically black colleges, says the fund’s president, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. He predicts growth in white, Hispanic and Asian enrollment, as black colleges cast a wider net.

PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Learning the Hard Way; The reformers who want to save the public schools are starting to make a difference, against ferocious opposition.” By Joel Klein. Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2011. Review of Steven Brill’s Class Warfare (Simon & Schuster) and Terry M. Moe’s Special Interest (Brookings).

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

FUNDRAISING

Brave, Buff Pose for Charity.” By Marshall Heyman. Wall Street Journal. August 19, 2011. The firefighters who appeared in the charity calendar gather outside the Little Town restaurant in Union Square. On Thursday, 11 firefighters who appear—shirtless—in the first Nation’s Bravest calendar were planning to celebrate with a kickoff party at the club Greenhouse with a few cast members of the “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” But the evening before, they were just starting to get to know each other over wings, tater tots, sliders and beer at the low-key restaurant Little Town in Union Square. Katherine Kostreva, a 27-year-old Queens-based photographer, became obsessed with firefighters 11 years ago, when she was in a car accident in Fort Myers, Fla. She got it in her head to raise money for firefighters and their charities. Over the years, she has organized auctions for dates with firemen in New York City, and now this calendar. Each firefighter featured has chosen a charity among which proceeds from the calendar will be divided. Ms. Kostreva hopes that t$10,000 will be awarded each charity, from the Wounded Warriors (that’s Philip Sylvester’s of Canarsie, Brooklyn) to the Southern Nevada Burn Foundation (that’s Chris Stiles, of Las Vegas).

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

HEALTH CARE

Hub hospitals paid CEOs well, but not as much, in ’09; Paul Levy’s salary dropped before he left Beth Israel.” By Robert Weisman. Boston Globe. August 16, 2011. Top executives at Boston’s nonprofit teaching hospitals drew seven-figure pay packages in 2009, though their compensation was flat or lower in many cases than the previous year’s, according to documents filed yesterday with the state attorney general’s office. Several of the hospital leaders with the highest compensation in 2009 – the most recent year for which pay figures have been reported – have since left their organizations. At Partners HealthCare System Inc., the holding company for Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals, then-chief executive James J. Mongan earned a total of $2.1 million, including salary, bonus, and other compensation. Mongan received $3.6 million in 2008, when his pay included a deferred retention payment of $927,035 and a $1.1 million incentive payment made when he agreed to extend his tenure. Current Partners chief executive, Gary L. Gottlieb, earned $1.6 million in 2009 as president of Brigham and Women’s, the same amount he got in 2008. Peter L. Slavin, president of Mass. General, earned $1.4 million in 2009, also the same as the year before. Elaine S. Ullian, former chief executive of Boston Medical Center, a Boston University teaching hospital, drew total compensation of $1.8 million in 2009. That was less than the $4.8 million Ullian collected the prior year, when she was granted $3.5 million in deferred compensation as a retention payment. She retired at the beginning of last year. Tufts Medical Center paid its chief executive, Ellen M. Zane, about $1.2 million in 2009, equal to her 2008 compensation. Zane is scheduled to retire from the downtown hospital, an affiliate of neighboring Tufts Medical School, at the end of next month. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, another Harvard teaching hospital, paid $942,246 to then-chief executive Paul F. Levy in 2009, down from $1.3 million in 2008. Levy stepped down at the start of this year, with the Beth Israel board voting to award him as much as $1.6 million in severance. The sum will be reduced if he takes another job. Nonprofit hospitals, which previously had posted executive compensation under their fiscal year calendars, last year were required to switch to calendar years because of changes in federal reporting requirements. That resulted in a time lag between when compensation was paid and when it was reported. The state attorney general’s office is working on a new reporting schedule that would require more timely reporting in the future.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

HUMAN SERVICES

YMCA of the Columbia-Willamette leaves the city for the suburbs with a focus on families and children.” By D.K. Row. The Oregonian. August 15, 2011. It’s Friday morning at the Sherwood YMCA, and a flurry of gymnastics, swimming and baseball classes for young children dominates nearly every floor. And that’s not counting the quiet but usually hopping Teen Center and its pool tables and computers. All of this might seem unremarkable, yet it represents a soul-changing evolution: After 143 years of serving a cross section of kids and adults of all economic backgrounds, the organization is shifting its focus to suburban families — or, put another way, to the people most likely to pay. “In the future, any health/wellness center that focuses primarily or exclusively on adults is not our target,” said Bob Hall, president and chief executive since 2004. The change comes as the Portland-based nonprofit — part of a 167-year-old national organization long known for urban fitness centers, hostels and child-care centers — recovers from two decades of financial troubles and a realignment that closed three of five fitness centers since 2004. Only the Sherwood and Vancouver centers remain. While the Y will continue to welcome adults and still operates child-care and other programs in the central city, the Sherwood center represents its new face, Hall and other officials said. The nonprofit tried and failed to compete with flashier clubs in the city, such as 24 Hour Fitness, before realizing its market lies with families in the suburbs, they said. “This institution had been in trouble for an extended period of time,” board Chairman Jin Park said. “We now focus on kids and families and serve them, as opposed to running just fitness centers. If we do anything in the future, it will have to be in a location with families and children.”

Effort to Save Nursing Home.” By Joseph De Avila. Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2011. Lower East Side residents are fuming over the upcoming closure of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. Bialystoker Center & Bikur Cholim Inc., the nonprofit that runs the nursing home, plans to shutter the home by October. The nonprofit is also trying to sell its facilities built on East Broadway during the 1930s and is marketing the nursing home as a potential residential development site. The Bialystoker Center has served the neighborhood for decades and is a reminder of when Jewish immigrants flocked to the Lower East Side looking to start new lives. Now with few options for nursing homes nearby, family members of the 90 or so residents are scrambling to find new homes for their loved ones. “She is just getting used to the place, and we have to pluck her out and find her a new place,” said Myrta Chico-Acevedo, about her 86-year-old mother with dementia who lives in the home. “It’s hard for all of them. Even with their dementia, they are afraid of where they are going to go. This is all they know.” By law, the home will remain open until all of its residents find new housing. Family members of residents said they will likely have to move the residents to Brooklyn or Queens due to a lack of available beds in downtown Manhattan. Some employees like William Quintana question why the nonprofit had to close. “Everyone is getting laid off,” said Mr. Quintana who has worked for the Bialystoker Center for 12 years and is currently the director of recreation. There are about 140 employees at the home. “There have been people who have been here 20, 30 years.” Bialystoker Center officials declined to comment on the reason for closing the nursing home. But court documents indicate that the center was struggling financially like many nursing homes across the state.

North Carolina Planned Parenthood Funding Safe For Now, Rules Judge Planned Parenthood.” By Tom Breen. Huffington Post. August 19, 2011. North Carolina cannot withhold funding from Planned Parenthood until a lawsuit over that provision of the state budget has been resolved, a federal judge ruled late Friday. The ruling by Judge James Beaty Jr. gives at least a temporary reprieve to Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina while they seek to invalidate the portion of the state budget that would withhold funding for non-abortion services. The group, one of two Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state, said the injunction should allow them to keep operating until the lawsuit over the provision known as Section 10.19 is resolved. “Based on the evidence before the court, it appears that Section 10.19 was adopted specifically to penalize Planned Parenthood” for the organization’s stance in favor of abortion rights, Beaty wrote, even though the law bars the group from using public money for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. Planned Parenthood in North Carolina provides a range of other services, from tests for diabetes and high cholesterol to screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Federal judges in Kansas and Indiana have blocked at least parts of laws stripping Planned Parenthood chapters of funds, but officials in both states have appealed. The North Carolina budget provision would have barred Planned Parenthood from funding for contraceptive and teen pregnancy programs. The group says the loss of funding would lead to layoffs, the end of free or low-cost contraceptives for poor women and the closure of its Durham clinic. “We feel like this is a tremendous win for women in North Carolina, particularly for those who are poor or uninsured,” said Paige Johnson, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, which operates health clinics in Durham, Chapel Hill and Fayetteville.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

INTERNATIONAL

CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL

Child abuse by Roslindale priest alleged.” No by-line. Boston Globe/Associated Press. August 15, 2011. The Archdiocese of Boston has placed a Roslindale priest on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual abuse of a child. Both church officials and law enforcement are investigating the allegation against the Rev. John M. Mendicoa of Sacred Heart Parish, the archdiocese said in a statement released yesterday. The abuse is reported to have happened in the 1980s. “My prayers and concern are with all people who are impacted by this matter,’’ Cardinal Sean O’Malley said in a prepared statement. “I remain committed to doing everything possible to protect our children, while at the same time furthering the healing process and rebuilding trust.’’

Bishop in Missouri Waited Months to Report Priest, Stirring Parishioners’ Rage.” By Laurie Goodstein. New York Times. August 14, 2011. In the annals of the sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, most of the cases that have come to light happened years before to children and teenagers who have long since grown into adults. But a painfully fresh case is devastating Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., where a priest, who was arrested in May, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking indecent photographs of young girls, most recently during an Easter egg hunt just four months ago. Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has acknowledged that he knew of the existence of photographs last December but did not turn them over to the police until May. A civil lawsuit filed last week claims that during those five months, the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, attended children’s birthday parties, spent weekends in the homes of parish families, hosted the Easter egg hunt and presided, with the bishop’s permission, at a girl’s First Communion. “All these parishioners just feel so betrayed, because we knew nothing,” said Thu Meng, whose daughter attended the preschool in Father Ratigan’s last parish. “And we were welcoming this guy into our homes, asking him to come bless this or that. They saw all these signs, and they didn’t do anything.” The case has generated fury at a bishop who was already a polarizing figure in his diocese, and there are widespread calls for him to resign or even to be prosecuted. Parishioners started a Facebook page called “Bishop Finn Must Go” and are circulating a petition. An editorial in The Kansas City Star in June calling for the bishop to step down concluded that prosecutors must “actively pursue all relevant criminal charges” against everyone involved.

N.J. diocese to pay $1m to settle abuse case.” No by-line. Boston Globe. Associated Press. August 17, 2011. Five former altar boys who say a priest sexually abused them in the 1970s and 1980s have settled with the Catholic Church for about $1 million, lawyers announced yesterday. In confirming the settlement, the Diocese of Trenton said it found allegations against the priest to be credible and called for other victims to speak out, a reflection of the church’s resolve to avoid the appearance of trying to cover up abuse. The five victims, now middle-aged, say they were molested from ages 11 to 16 by the Rev. Ronald Becker of Incarnation Church in Ewing. He died in 2009. One of the boys was molested about 150 times, and some of the abuse occurred during trips with the priest, lawyers say. “He would tell them it was a physical act that would show the love of God,’’ said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has represented hundreds of clients accusing priests of abuse. One abuse victim, a plant supervisor now living in Pennsylvania, said he was 11 when Becker started molesting him. He thanked his son for giving him the support he needed to come forward. “The question remains: Where were the supervisors?’’ said Garabedian. “There’s no telling how many children were molested by Father Becker.’’

Vatican Releases Files in Bid to Rebut Claims of Coverup.” By Stacy Meichtry. Wall Street Journal. August 18, 2011. The Vatican published a cache of internal files on Wednesday documenting the Catholic Church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against a U.S. priest—an unusual attempt by the Holy See to rebut claims that it sought to cover up the alleged abuse. Vatican lawyer Jeffrey Lena said in a statement that the Holy See decided to post the cache on the website of Vatican Radio after a federal court in Portland, Ore., ordered the Vatican to turn over the documents by Friday to lawyers of a man who alleges he was abused by the late Rev. Andrew Ronan in the 1960s. The alleged victim, who is named John V. Doe in court filings, brought a lawsuit against the Vatican in 2002 alleging the Holy See acted as the late priest’s employer, overseeing plans to transfer Father Ronan from Ireland—where his religious order said it had received complaints of abuse from parents of children—to archdioceses in the U.S. The move to release the documents is a rare step for the Vatican, a sovereign city-state that has often said that its internal affairs and archives are off-limits to foreign authorities. The Vatican has often been slow to respond to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, including the thousands of allegations that emerged in Europe and other parts of the world last year, rocking the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.
Related story:
Portland case forces Vatican to release priest abuse documents for first time.” The Oregonian. August 17, 2011.
Vatican City: Priest’s Files Online.” New York Times/Associated Press. August 17, 2011.
Dutch Investigate ’50s Deaths at Catholic Institution.” Wall Street Journal. August 17, 2011
Dublin Catholics face levy as church faces bankruptcy; Leaked document shows many parishes in Irish capital close to financial collapse due to child abuse compensation payments.” Guardian. August 18, 2011.

CIVIC ASSOCIATIONS

How the civic groups that once defined America are thriving abroad, and what it means for us.” By John Gravois. Washington Monthly. July/August 2011. One sweltering day last spring, out of curiosity and a long-standing interest in the old-fashioned American institutions of civic engagement, I stepped out of my apartment building in the nation’s capital and walked over to attend a nearby conference of the Toastmasters. Founded in a Southern California YMCA basement for the betterment of tongue-tied young men, the Toastmasters have been offering “practice and training in the art of public speaking” along with “sociability and good fellowship” since the mid-1920s. In my mind, the group harked back to a half-imagined America of bowling leagues, church barbecues, and Rotary signs on the edge of town. What was funny was that my apartment resided in a sandy, congested neighborhood of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Under the Arabian midday glare, I scurried across one of the city’s sprawling six-lane boulevards—past a billboard that months earlier had advertised the local Krispy Kreme’s “Ramadan Dozen” special—to reach the campus of a local women’s college that was hosting the event. When I arrived at the main auditorium, I found it humming with a 300-horsepower murmur. The place was packed with men and women in off-the-rack power suits, plus a few starched white robes and black abayas. The room was decked end-to-end with gold silk banners, each, to my amazement, representing a different local chapter of the Toastmasters. By itself, Abu Dhabi—a young boomtown of global migrants roughly the size of Milwaukee—harbors seventeen active chapters of the group, I learned. The UAE as a whole, with a population of about eight million people, has seventy-one chapters. When I first heard that the Toastmasters had a presence in Abu Dhabi, I pictured a small roomful of ill-adjusted American expatriates draining their water glasses, trading a few speeches, and then adjourning to a bar. Suffice it to say, my imagination had failed me. At the conference, I found only one fellow American in the crowd. In fact, I found only one other native speaker of English in the crowd. Instead, the group drew from a pretty representative sample of Abu Dhabi’s usually rather fragmented society: there was a strong majority from the Indian subcontinent, small contingents of Filipinos and Arabs from abroad,and a few actual citizens of the UAE—all guffawing warmly at speeches delivered in broken English about following dreams, learning lessons from failure, seeing through appearances, and other themes of uplift worthy of a motivational poster. Curious, I called up the Toastmasters headquarters in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, to find out whether the United Arab Emirates was some kind of anomaly. It isn’t. The organization reports hotspots of growth throughout Asia and the Middle East. “Within India and Sri Lanka,” said Daniel Rex, the Toastmasters’ executive director, “we’re organizing about a chapter a week.” Then, on a hunch, I began poking around to see how similar organizations were faring overseas—groups like Rotary, the Boy Scouts, the Lions, and the Kiwanis, which all came into existence during the same early-twentieth-century period that gave rise to the Toastmasters. Most of these groups have been bleeding members in the United States for decades. And yet, as I discovered, many have been growing nonetheless.
Related story:
Fading In America, Civic Clubs Thrive Abroad.” Here and Now/National Public Radio. August 18, 2011.

FRANCE

Feels like teen spirit: Thousands of young people flock annually to a Christian camp in rural France.Independent. August 20, 2011. The Christian community of Taizé in Burgundy attracts 100,000 teenagers a year. Services with periods of silence are one of its attractions. This summer, some 100,000 young people from around the world – mostly between the age of 15 and 30 – will gather outside a village in the middle of France. They’ve been arriving here since June, to pitch tents, strike up friendships, enjoy plenty of music, and they’ll continue to come until September. But this isn’t some Gallic Glastonbury – it’s a Christian community, and the crowds will sing psalms, not pop songs. At the heart of Communauté de Taizé, named after the small village near the site, are over 100 monks, who live together very simply, in a life devoted to prayer, singing and silence. Drawn from over 30 different countries, the community is ecumenical, with Catholics and Protestants worshipping together. And, even more unexpectedly, since the end of the Fifties, Taizé has been attracting young people in ever larger numbers, and from ever more far-flung destinations. Teenagers and young adults make the pilgrimage, usually for a week, joining the brothers in prayer three times a day, attending bible groups and helping out with chores. During the summer months, there will be a population of 3,000 to 4,000 at any one time, drawn from about 70 different countries, camping or staying in basic barracks, very cheaply (it’s just eight euros a night for bed and board). At a time when church attendance is falling in western Europe and religious leaders fret about their ability to attract young people, why are believers flocking in such vast numbers to a monastery in rural Burgundy? What is it that Taizé offers the teen spirit?

INDIA

India Against Corruption; Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India. TOI brings you the latest news right here.” No by-line. Times of India. August 18, 2011. The Lokpal is a body with a chairperson who is or was a Chief Justice of India and eight other members. The Lokpal Bill, an effort to rein in the pervasive corruption in public life, was first floated in the late 60s, but failed to become law despite successive attempts. Implementation of the Lokpal bill will hopefully reduce corruption in India. The basic idea of the Lokpal is borrowed from the office of the ombudsman in other countries. It provides for filing complaints of corruption against ministers and members of parliament with the ombudsman. The government’s Lokpal Bill has kept the Prime Minister and the judiciary as well as conduct of MPs in Parliament out of the ambit of the anti-corruption watchdog. The PM, however, will come under the purview of Lokpal after he demits office. The bill gives permission to Lokpal to probe any Union minister or officials of Group ‘A’ and above rank without any sanction. According to the government’s draft, the body will have a chairperson and eight members, including four judicial members – who will be former or sitting judges of Supreme Court or chief justices of the high court. The Lok Ayuktas in the states does not come under the purview of this bill as the Centre cannot intervene in the powers of the state. The Lokpal will have its own prosecution and investigation wing with officers and staff necessary to carry out its functions.
Related stories:
Ramdev backs Hazare against allegations.Times of India. August 14, 2011.
India corruption: Hundreds held over Hazare protest.” BBC News. August 16, 2011.
Leader of Corruption Protest Arrested in India.” New York Times. August 16, 2011.
India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; India unites: Protests, fasts across nation in support of Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 16, 2011.
No magic wand to tackle corruption.” Times of London. August 16, 2011.
India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; It is Parliament’s job to make laws, Anna’s fast misleading: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; Ramlila Maidan likely to be Anna Hazare’s fast venue.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India. TOI brings you the latest news right here; BJP slams PM’s statement on Anna’s arrest.Times of India. August 17, 2011.
India Against Corruption Social activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; Kiran Bedi, Swami Agnivesh join protest outside Tihar.” Times of India. August 17, 2011.
Deal Would Free Indian Activist and Allow Protests.” New York Times. August 17, 2011.
Rallies Grow Across India for Jailed Activist.” Interpress Service (ipsnews.net)/Al Jazeera. August 18, 2011.
Indian activist wins right to fast in public, prepares to leave jail.” Washington Post. August 18, 2011.
India Activist Nears Deal for Release; Aide to Anticorruption Advocate Says Police Agree to Terms for Hunger Strike.” Wall Street Journal. August 18, 2011.
Indian activist Anna Hazare to leave jail for public fast.” Times of London. August 18, 2011.
Indian activist Anna Hazare allowed 15-day hunger strike; Anti-corruption activist strikes deal with police as authorities try to quell demonstrations.Guardian. August 18, 2011.
India corruption: Anna Hazare accepts release offer.” BBC News. August 18, 2011.
Unlikely Echo of Gandhi Inspires Indians to Act.” New York Times. August 18, 2011.
Indian Activist to Launch Protest.” Wall Street Journal. August 19, 2011.
“Join campaign for a strong Lokpal law to make India corruption-free; Will not leave Ramlila Ground till Lokpal Bill is passed: Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 19, 2011.
India Against CorruptionSocial activist Anna Hazare and his associates detained, protests across India; ‘Brothers of Anna’ to join his protest fast.Times of India. August 19, 2011.
Varun Gandhi to present Jan Lokpal as private member’s bill.” Times of India. August 19, 2011.
Thousands hail Indian activist’s return from prison; Government officials grant Anna Hazare the right to continue his anti-corruption fast for up to two weeks at a large venue.” Los Angeles Times. August 19, 2011.
Anna Hazare leaves jail to begin public hunger strike.” Guardian/Associated Press. August 19, 2011.
Activist Fasts To Fight Indian Corruption.” All Things Considered/National Public Radio. August 19, 2011.
Corruption in India: ‘All your life you pay for things that should be free’; As Anna Hazare leaves prison to continue his protest, residents in Delhi explain how bribery forms part of everyday life.” Guardian. August 19, 2011.
Indian Activist Begins Delhi Protest.Wall Street Journal. August 20, 2011.
Fast spreads as city’s tiffin wallahs join the strike.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
Will not give up, will keep fighting till Jan Lokpal Bill is passed: Anna Hazare.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
Parliamentary panel seeks public opinion within 15 days on Lokpal Bill.Times of India. August 20, 2011.
Govt wants broad national consensus on Lokpal Bill: Manmohan.” Times of India. August 20, 2011.
Anna Hazare: In the footsteps of Gandhi; Corruption in India is a way of life. But finally it is being challenged thanks to the resolve of an extraordinary 74-year-old.” Independent. August 20, 2011.
Antigraft Activists in India Intensify Drive for Reform.New York Times. August 20, 2011.
Firebrand in Gandhi garb leads middle India to revolt; With his carefully cultivated image and anti-corruption zeal, Indian campaigner Anna Hazare has electrified the nation.” Times of London. August 21, 2011.

UK

30,000 to take part in new national service.” By Richard Ford. Times of London. August 15, 2011. David Cameron today announced the expansion of his cherished National Citizenship Service — a modern answer to 1950s-style National Service — to take in 30,000 young people next year, as one strand of a wide-ranging fightback against Britain’s “slow moral collapse”. The extension of the voluntary scheme, in which some 10,000 teenagers took part in character-building community work and outdoor activities this summer, is seen as critical to restoring a sense of “purpose, optimism and belonging” among disaffected youth, particularly those who brought mayhem to the streets last week. The Prime Minister blamed a litany of social ills — unemployment, fatherless families, failing schools, human rights laws shackling the courts, police bureaucracy, weaknesses across the welfare state — for contributing to a breakdown in society that has allowed riots to explode “literally on our doorsteps”. At the speech at Base 33, a youth trust offering help to troubled youngsters, in the Prime Minister’s Witney constituency, he launched an “all out war” on Britain’s gang culture and pledged to bring family back to the centre of Government policy, saying it was the foundation stone of a stable society. Among the audience were about 30 young people, who criticised the Prime Minister for his focus on problem families and lone parents. Meanwhile, at a school about 100 miles away in North London, the Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Tories or engaging in “knee-jerk” politics and reaching for “shallow and superficial answers, not the lasting solutions the country needs.” The Prime Minister described the five nights of mayhem that scarred cities across Britain last week as a “wake-up call for the country” to the “slow-motion moral collapse” that has taken hold over several generations.

Former head of troubled charity lands top job at gangmaster quango.” By David Brown. Times of London. August 13, 2011. MPs approved the appointment of a quango head 24 hours before the collapse of the government-backed immigration charity she had managed. Margaret McKinlay was interviewed by the Environment Select Committee last month for the position of chairman of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority. The quango regulates the supply of labour in farming, shellfish gathering and food processing, all of which have large immigrant workforces. She will work 6-8 days a month, earning £330 a day plus travel expenses. The MPs endorsed her appointment the day before the Immigration Advisory Service, where she had been chief executive, went into administration after being accused of misspending millions of pounds of legal aid during her year in charge. She told the select committee that when she joined the charity it had been in a “perilous state”. Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, formally appointed Ms McKinlay as chairman of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority four days after the committee gave its approval. Ms McKinlay, 60, was appointed managing director of the Immigration Advisory Service in September 2009, was promoted to acting chief executive in December 2009 and left in September last year, three months after the end of her contracted period. She told The Times that she had no idea that the charity was on the brink of being placed into administration when she was questioned by the MPs. Ms McKinlay said that during her time in charge the charity’s internal audits found that about 10 per cent of the legal aid claims were incorrect and she was surprised to learn that an external review completed after she left had discovered that the errors related to almost a third of cases, totalling £4.4 million.

Joan Smith: A-level results that should shock us; Pupils at private schools, which educate only 6.5 per cent of children, achieved 30 per cent of A* grades at A-level this year.” Independent. August 19, 2011. They’re the kind of teenagers we can’t get enough of at this time of year: girls with long, glossy hair embracing each other on a lawn with mellow stone buildings in the background. Yesterday’s A-level results produced the usual crop of celebratory photographs, along with a fanfare of announcements about how well candidates have done: it’s been another record year for pass rates, which have risen to 97.8 per cent, and boys have achieved as many top grades as girls. This year’s big story is about the scramble as aspiring students rush to get into university before next year’s hike in fees, leaving 185,000 candidates competing for 29,000 unfilled places on degree courses. One angry young woman didn’t improve her chances when she went on Twitter to describe the Ucas website, which crashed under the weight of disappointed candidates trying to find alternative courses, as “literally the worst thing in the world”. Someone please book that girl on to the next available flight to Somalia. This year’s A-level results are impressive, and no doubt a lot of young adults have worked very hard. But there’s another story here, about class and the north-south divide, which doesn’t reflect anything like as well on the UK’s educational system. The annual ritual of publishing A-level results contains within it an absolutely shocking story about the impact on life chances of privilege and geography. Pupils at private schools, which educate only 6.5 per cent of children in the UK, achieved 30 per cent of A* grades at A-level this year. That’s the same proportion as last year, and yesterday’s results are not expected to show a fairer distribution in the effect of location on results. Last year pupils in the affluent south-east of England, which accounted for 19 per cent of A-level entries, achieved 23 per cent of A* grades; the north-east produced only three per cent of A*s from four per cent of entries.

WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (August 15-21, 2011)

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

LABOR RELATIONS

Red Cross workers in Conn. vote to authorize strike.” No by-line. Boston Globe/Associated Press. August 15, 2011. Red Cross workers in Connecticut have authorized their contract negotiators to call a strike, if necessary, to reach an agreement. Larry Dorman, a local union spokesman, said Red Cross workers in other states will also be taking strike authorization votes this week. He would not give details of the Connecticut vote but said there was a “clear margin’’ in favor of authorizing a strike. Some 200 nurses, technicians, and other professionals in Connecticut are represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The union says the Red Cross has ignored numerous requests to bargain and is imposing higher health insurance deductibles with fewer benefits and halting employer contributions to the 401k plan. A Red Cross spokeswoman said the organization would be making a statement.
Related story:
Union Red Cross Workers Authorize Strike If Necessary.” Hartford Courant. August 14, 2011.