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Community Blood Centers’ deal for student donors and a School Board member’s arrest put new focus on the business of blood
Oct 23, 2009; South Florida Sun-Sentinel | Although the deposits are of red cells, platelets and plasma, blood banks can actually make big money for the organization collecting the donations. One example is Community Blood Centers (CBC), a for-profit company in south Florida that received more than 300,000 pints of blood last year, 50,000 from students at local high schools. Donors are uncompensated—except in the form of pizza or T-shirts—but CBC certainly is, when it sells the blood to hospitals for $237 a pint. Although legal, the cosy relationship the company enjoys with the school system that allows access to this profitable donor pool is now under scrutiny following the arrest of Beverly Gallagher, a Broward School Board member, “accused of steering school construction work to undercover FBI agents posing as contractors.” In addition to her role overseeing the county’s schools, Gallagher earns $53,000 as the executive director of the Scholarship Assistance Foundation, a CBC-funded nonprofit that awards college funds to selected students. And earn it she did: as the Sun-Sentinel reports, “although rarely seen in the office, Gallagher used her clout and her cell phone to facilitate school blood drives.” Sounds like her conflict of interest was purchased on the cheap.—Timothy Lyster
Reduced tax credit hurts educational nonprofits in Penn.
Nov 1, 2009; Indiana Gazette | The dismal economic conditions we face today are affecting nonprofits in obvious ways: contributions, by individuals and foundations, are way down. There are also less obvious, but no less damaging, ways nonprofits are being hit. See our Newswires detailing the ways in which city fees are hurting the sector in Washington and Minneapolis. Now in Pennsylvania a popular, revenue-generating, tax credit is being reduced—leaving some nonprofits scrambling to fill the void. The credit is intended to spur donations from businesses to groups that grant scholarships or support educational programs in public schools—school foundations, arts councils, museums, libraries, science centers and youth organizations. Businesses earn a credit worth 75 percent of the amount of a contribution up to $300,000. The credit’s value increases to 90 percent of a contribution if a business promises to make a donation of the same amount over two consecutive years. But funding for the tax credit was reduced this year from $75 million to $60 million. And it’s to be reduced by $10 million more in the next fiscal year. The Minneapolis Post called these kinds of blows, death by a thousand cuts. Let’s make that, death by thousand and one cuts.—Aaron Lester
STIMULUS WATCH: Stimulus jobs overstated by 1,000s
Oct 30, 2009; Associated Press | We agree. It’s kind of unfathomable that the Obama Administration would try to fabricate stimulus-related job creation and job retention numbers. The problem is in the reporting by the stimulus users, not the White House recipients of the reports. Imagine the pressure on recipients, knowing that the nation is watching for the impact of the stimulus on jobs, to gin up impressive-sounding numbers. The problems are obvious: For example, should a child care center that used the stimulus money to give existing employees raises be able to count those 129 jobs as “saved?” Child Care Association of Brevard County gave its employees a 3.9 percent cost of living raise after four years of no raises. The White House might have stimulated this game by framing the stimulus as a job creation and retention program to keep unemployment at 8 percent (that didn’t work), providing incentives to recipients to excessive creativity in their reports. But that doesn’t mean in the slightest that those stimulus expenditures weren’t exactly what was needed by the child care center in Broward County and other recipients.—Rick Cohen