WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (October 19 – 25, 2009)


Lobbyist’s salary for nonprofit questioned; Oversight of Homes Sought Board members borrowed, are paying back loans.” By Henri E. Cauvin and Nikita Stewart. Washington Post. October 19, 2009. The D.C. government has asked a judge to put two group homes run by nonprofit Individual Development Inc. (IDI) in receivership and has halted all referrals to the nonprofit group’s 11 facilities because of “systemic” problems. Regulators and advocates have faulted the quality of care in IDI’s facilities for years, but investigations into the deaths of three residents in the past three years have brought new attention to the group and how it emerged as a crucial caretaker for some of the District’s most fragile people.IDI is headed by a well-connected D.C. lobbyist, David W. Wilmot, whose $280,000 salary is well above that of executives holding comparable positions. Wilmot has also been criticized to borrowing $300,000 from IDI.

Bankruptcy filing delays church sex abuse case.” No by-line. USA Today. October 19, 2009. A high-profile sex abuse case that was set to start Monday against Delaware’s Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and a former priest will be delayed after the church filed for federal bankruptcy protection. Attorneys representing 88 alleged victims, described the bankruptcy filing as a “desperate effort to hide the truth from the public and conceal the thousands of pages of scandalous documents” from being made public in court.
Related story:
Delaware Diocese Files for Bankruptcy in Wake of Abuse Suits.New York Times. October 20, 2009

ACORN’s Current Woes Years In The Making.” By Kevin Whitelaw. NPR. October 21, 2009. ACORN, the community organizing group, is fighting for its survival these days, but its current plight has been years in the making. Part of the story is the group’s own missteps. ACORN was founded to help low- and middle-income Americans, but its edgy tactics and a series of gaffes fed the notion that the group was unreliable.

Police: Madoff associate Jeffry Picower dies at 67.” No by-line. Los Angeles Times/Associated Press. October 25, 2009. Jeffry Picower, a Florida philanthropist alleged to have extracted billions from Bernard Madoff’s investment scheme, drowned in his pool in Palm Beach, Florida. In the initial aftermath of the Madoff scandal in December 2008, the foundation Picower and his wife started in 1989 said it would have to cease grant-making and would be forced to close. The Picower Foundation had given millions to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Human Rights First and the New York Public Library. It also funded diabetes research at Harvard Medical School. The foundation, whose assets were managed by Madoff, said in its 2007 tax return its investment portfolio was valued at nearly $1 billion.


“Ready money: A Baltimore nonprofit raises millions for the needy, while its checkbook enables city officials to spend with little oversight.”
By James Drew. Baltimore Sun. October 25, 2009. The Baltimore City Foundation is a private nonprofit formed in 1981 to raise money, primarily to benefit city programs for the underprivileged – helps pay for projects such as a summer jobs program for youths, funeral expenses for homicide victims and home smoke alarms for the needy. But city officials also have turned to it to pay for expenses such as an ice sculpture and skating rink for Mayor Sheila Dixon’s inauguration and to skirt competitive bidding for design of a visitors center at Cylburn Arboretum. A Baltimore Sun investigation, including a review of thousands of foundation documents issued since 2002, reveals the little-known organization as a source of money on demand with almost no oversight. City officials wield broad discretion over how the money is spent, and the foundation asks few questions.

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