Nonprofit Newswire | June 15, 2009

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Wasn’t that cash meant for poor, Senator Espada
Jun 14, 2009; New York Daily News
| Certainly the investigations into New York State senator Pedro Espada are immensely entertaining, with tidbits like claiming his mother’s Section 8 apartment in the Bronx was his legal “home” for electoral residency purposes (instead of his other home in suburban Mamaroneck) with a picture of him lying in a cot in the flat (his income put his mom over the Section 8 limits), or like his quote about this intrepid character, that he possesses “balls of steel.” But watch the investigations of his earmarks, past and present, which seemed to always benefit himself and the nonprofits he controlled. From Espada’s turmoil-inducing shenanigans in the New York State senate, let’s hope some earmark reform emerges. —Rick Cohen

California nonprofit agency loses cost overrun suit
Jun 14, 2009; The Sacramento Bee
| A judge has rejected California Human Development Corp.’s claim against the Federal government to recoup cost overruns on a new Head Start facility. —Timothy Lyster

More Details Emerge In President Obama’s Firing of Inspector General
Jun 13, 2009; ABC News
| President Obama’s dismissal of the Inspector General for the Corporation for National and Community Service remains controversial in the nonprofit sector and beyond. To show that this was not a political move, the President is citing his support from Stephen Goldsmith, the Republican co-chair of CNCS, and a Republican U.S. Attorney who clashed with the IG over its investigation into a politically connected Sacramento nonprofit’s use of AmeriCorp participants. However, the nonprofit investigated by the IG, St. HOPE Academy, run by former basketball great Kevin Johnson who was recently elected mayor of Sacramento, is part of an array of KJ’s nonprofits, not always the best managed operations. As the ABC report describes, “In April of this year, St. HOPE Academy agreed to pay a $423,836.50 settlement—$72,836.50 of which would be paid personally by Mayor Johnson.” The U.S. Attorney’s response that “a significant portion of the AmeriCorps grant funds were appropriately expended” by St. HOPE doesn’t seem all that persuasive. Without passing judgment on the IG’s specific work products, we noted to the NonProfit Times that protecting IGs from political interference is something that applies to all political administrations, and will be doubly important at CNCS due to the expansion of the agency as a result of the SERVE America Act. —Rick Cohen

United Way cuts more staff
Jun 12, 2009; Austin Business Journal | Presumably, United Ways around the nation are feeling the impacts of the recession. This one in Texas is undergoing its second round of staff layoffs, anticipating a $2 million shortfall in fundraising in this campaign. The question is how much will Austin’s nonprofits feel the impacts of the United Way’s fundraising shortfalls and how many staff people will they be laying off. —Rick Cohen

Kresge Foundation to invest $200,000 in St. Louis
Jun 12, 2009; St Louis Business Journal | Congratulations to the Kresge Foundation for putting money into community-based organizations for community arts and engagement programs, particularly those serving vulnerable youth. Anyone following stories about the impacts of the recession on nonprofits knows that smaller community-based arts groups are getting slammed, and it’s good to see a big foundation stepping up to the plate to help. —Rick Cohen

AmeriCorps to rally for funding at Boston Common
Jun 12, 2009; Boston Business Journal | Although the SERVE America Act greatly expands funding for AmeriCorps slots, it doesn’t pay the full freight, but only about 2/3 of the cost of each stipended volunteer. The rest comes from private donations or state funding. In Massachusetts, the legislature typically awards something close to $1 million to and through the Massachusetts Service Alliance to support some 22 AmeriCorps programs in the state. Although the state legislature’s House budgeted $750,000 for the state’s contribution to AmeriCorps, the Senate’s version of the state budget put the number at zero. Even though SERVE America was sponsored by Massachusetts’ own Ted Kennedy, the state legislature is looking at budget lines to cut. —Rick Cohen

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