WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 5-11, 2009)

SCANDAL

Some Criticize SEIU for Its ACORN Connections.” By Carol D. Leonnig. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. A rapidly growing union that represents nurses, janitors and other low-wage workers is coming under fire from conservatives because of its long-standing financial and leadership ties to ACORN, a liberal organizing group recently embarrassed by videos filmed covertly. Some Republicans say federal agencies that recently cut ties with ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — should also consider severing their relationship with the Service Employees International Union. The SEIU and ACORN have long worked closely together, with the union paying the association more than $3.6 million in the past three years and sharing some office locations and leaders with the group.
Related Stories:
An ACORN Amendment for Pfizer.” By Jeremy Scahill. The Nation. October 5, 2009.
Amount Embezzled From Acorn Is Disputed.” New York Times. October 6, 2009
FEMA: ACORN story ‘inaccurate’.” October 7, 2009 03:14 PM EST
Acorn Woes Hit Union, Democrats.” Wall Street Journal. October 6, 2009.
ACORN: Congress can’t hurt us.” By Michael Falcone. Politico.com. October 6, 2009
WashTimes: Lewis called ACORN foes ‘racist’.” Politico.com. October 7, 2009.

D.C. Officials File for Takeover of Two Homes for Mentally Disabled.” By Henri E. Cauvin and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post. October 6, 2009. The District filed court papers Monday seeking a takeover of two group homes, saying the operators of the privately run facilities are endangering the health and safety of the mentally disabled residents. The homes are two of 11 facilities operated by Individual Development, a nonprofit group whose board includes three politically connected lawyers, David W. Wilmot, Frederick D. Cooke Jr. and A. Scott Bolden. A federal court monitor and legal advocates for the mentally disabled have been raising concerns for years about the quality of care at IDI’s homes. “This court action,” D.C.’s Attorney-General, “sends a clear signal to providers that the District will not tolerate recurrent deficient practices that put our most vulnerable citizens at substantial risk to their health, safety and welfare.”

Brooke Astor’s Son Guilty in Scheme to Defraud Her.” By John Eligon. New York Times. October 9, 2009. The son of Brooke Astor, the philanthropist and long-reigning matriarch of New York society, was convicted in Manhattan on Thursday on charges that he defrauded his mother and stole tens of millions of dollars from her as she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease in the twilight of her life.
Related stories:
Looking Beyond the Glamour, Astor Jury Found a Moral Flaw.” New York Times. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s Son Is Guilty of Fraud.” Wall Street Journal. October 9, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son, lawyer guilty of bilking estate.” CNN.com. October 8, 2009.
Brooke Astor’s son found guilty.” No by-line. Crain’s New York. October 8, 2009.
Marshall Led Astray by Co-Defendant, Key Juror Says.” Bloomberg.com. October 9, 2009.

North Dakota Scandal Raises Concerns About Health Co-op Route.” By Karl Vick. Washington Post. October 10, 2009. North Dakotans are in an uproar over the reports of a $238,000 Caribbean retreat for executives of the state’s nonprofit Blue Cross-Blue Shield. This compounded by news of other perks, including $15 million in executive bonuses over five years, $400,000 for charter flights and $35,000 for a vice president’s retirement party. A cooperative, owned by its policyholders, it is an arrangement resembling the model promoted by some in Congress as an alternative to the “public option” that would put the federal government in the insurance business. A liberal group in North Dakota argues that the North Dakota scandal illustrates the danger of assuming that the cooperative model would assure virtuous behavior, especially in an industry awash in money.

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