Feeds:
Posts
Comments

nacchioOn April 14th, Joseph Nacchio, the former CEO of Qwest Communications, began his prison sentence, after a judge sentenced him to serve six years for insider trading in 2007. After a two-year period of post conviction jockeying of appeals and delays, Nacchio began his sentence at a minimum-security prison in Minersville, Pa. In addition to serving prison time, Nacchio has been ordered to pay $71 million in fines and forfeitures.

Mind you, seven-eights of a gram of marijuana earns a ten-year, maximum-security sentence. We’re are talking Oz-like hard time.

Nacchio was convicted of 19 counts of insider trading. Prosecutors said he sold $52 million worth of stock in 2001 based on nonpublic information that Qwest faced trouble meetings its sales targets. He was acquitted on 23 other counts of insider trading.

While Nacchio used private and protected information to protect his earnings, thousands of Qwest employees and other investors saw their portfolios fall to miniscule levels.

Nacchio is but the latest in a long perp walk of CEOs making astronomical sums by using insider information to make certain that they make even more. Further, what does this say about Nacchio’s contempt for his employees – many of whom had the bulk of their retirement invested in Qwest stock?

Beyond these obvious legal challenges, the question that amazes me is “how much is enough?” What do you think?

editorialIn today’s Washington Blade, I published an editorial critical of the appointment of the Human Rights Campaign’s Rev. Henry Knox to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. The council is not only a continuation but and expansion of the previous administration’s federal faith-based initiative protections. The program ignores hiring protections and is assault on the essential separation of church and state. The article is as follows:

Re: “Gay man joins Obama’s faith-based council”

In this article, the Blade’s Chris Johnson announced the appointment of HRC’s Rev. Henry Knox to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based & Neighborhood Partnerships. This is not good news for our community.

I believe that I have a relevant perspective. From 2003 to 2006, I was the knowledge manager and nonprofit subject matter expert for President Bush’s federal faith-based initiative as an employee of the federal contractor tasked with managing the program’s technical resource center. We were the lead organization providing management assistance to all organizations that received grants through the program.

During this three-year period, I witnessed tax-funded technical assistance provided by government employees — including the White House through its legal council — to grantees on how they could legally discriminate in hiring based on their particular religious predilections. I heard grantees forcefully announce that they would never hire known gay and lesbian people and have that bigotry supported by leadership at the highest levels of government. My strenuous objections to the federal project officer were ignored.

In addition to the hiring issue, the program is a clear violation of the vital separation of church and state, certainly not an afterthought by the framers of the Constitution. Instead of respecting the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, it was mocked as an irrelevant and unnecessary nuisance that could be finessed with a “wink and a nod.”

I am absolutely amazed that President Obama has not only chosen to continue the program but expand it given these very concerns about the program made by candidate Obama. I am disturbed that the president has agreed to allow federally funded religious organizations to continue discriminatory hiring on “a case by case basis.” This baits the question, “Is there ever a ‘good case’ for discrimination?”

I am amazed that President Obama has appointed 26-year-old Rev. Joshua DuBois, a Pentecostal minister, as the program’s new director. Rev. Dubois was candidate Obama’s point person for religious outreach. Newsweek columnist Sally Quinn says that DuBois was “the person who first floated Rick Warren’s name as a possible inaugural speaker.” During the campaign, he put together the program that featured Donnie McClurkin, an “ex-gay” gospel singer who has said that “homosexuality is a curse.” This is the person that now leads this massive federal program. Sorry, but this isn’t change I can believe in!

I am perplexed that Rev. Knox would accept an appointment to the advisory council given a membership that includes such anti-gays as Frank Page, past president of the socially conservative Southern Baptist Convention, which has close ties to Exodus International — an organization that attempts to “free” gays from “homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ.” I am very concerned that Rev. Knox cannot help but be, and remain, a marginalized voice without any ability to impact the direction of this office. While Rev. Knox is clearly a talented and committed community member, unfortunately I see his presence as empty tokenism.

BILL FREEMAN
Arlington, Va.

taxes_250x2512It doesn’t matter how long a same-sex couple has been together, come Tax Day — April 15th — they are considered single by the federal government.

Even though my partner and I have been together for 21 years, for tax purposes we are two, single and unrelated individuals. As single people, we must pretend that our finances and our futures are not intertwined and forgo access to the many economic safety nets our tax dollars help fund, such as Social Security survivor benefits, estate tax deferral when inheriting property, and the ability to file taxes jointly.

Every year, lesbian and gay people are forced to pay taxes on their partner’s health care benefits as if it were additional income. Opposite sex couples are exempt from this unfair taxation.

Even in Massachusetts and Connecticut and soon-to-be Iowa and Vermont, where same-sex marriages are recognized by the state, they are not recognized by the federal government, and all of the above injustices apply.

Gay and lesbian couples people need equal rights for equal taxes paid. There are many paths to this equality, including repealing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and passing an inclusive Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). I urge everyone to contact their members of Congress and eliminate this discrimination today.

bills1The Sunday, April 12, 2009 Washington Post has a helpful article on two programs available to assist up to nine million homeowners. These are refinancing and loan modification. You can find the link to the article here.

focus1There is no unanimous agreement on the benefit of focus groups, or even how to conduct focus research or use what is learned from it. Done well, however, focus groups can be a source of information.

At the Direct Marketing Association New York Nonprofit Conference, Dana Weinstein, membership director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and John Perell, manager of direct marketing, research and analytics at the American Red Cross (ARC) national headquarters, talked about focus groups their organizations conducted and the knowledge they gleaned from them.

The results for the museum:

  • There was little to no idea of the USHMM work. It was an unknown entity.
  • Commonly used language describing its public-private partnership (federal support and nationwide donors) did not resonate.
  • Despite deep probing, messaging to war veteran audiences did not resonate.
  • The genocide message resonated well.
  • Anything “America” or “national conscience” did not resonate. Strong language and images ranked high.

For the ARC:

  • The Red Cross is synonymous with “disaster relief.”
  • Disaster relief is so powerful that it dwarfs the importance of other American Red Cross activities and services.
  • Emphasis on disaster relief does little to build the local brand.
  • The need exists to create a chapter identity.
  • The strongest case celebrates the power of giving.


Source:
The Nonprofit Times

shame1The AP reported yesterday that the bodies of two gay men have been found in Baghdad’s Shiite slum of Sadr City after a leading cleric repeatedly condemned homosexuality, an Iraqi police official said Saturday.

The killings come after Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat repeatedly condemned homosexuality during recent Friday prayers, saying Islam prohibits homosexuality. Homosexual acts are punishable by up to seven years in prison in Iraq.

The two men were believed killed Thursday by relatives who were shamed by their behavior, said the official. Police said they suspected the killings were at the hands of family members because no one has claimed the bodies or called for an investigation.

This is horrible! Such a hateful religion. Beheading women for “family honor” and now continued violence against gays. We need a coordinated response from the U.N.

I am reminded of the words of Paschal,

“Men never do evil so gleefully as when they do it in the name of religion.”

pope2Pope Benedict XVI has just proven that he is not only mean but just plain crazy. During a visit to Africa last week, the pope said the use of condoms increased HIV infection rates. As someone who worked in U.S. AIDS services for ten years, we have known since the early 1980s that consistent and correct use of condoms saves lives. His remarks have been roundly condemned by aid agencies, the UN and the German, French and Belgian governments. The British publication, The Lancet, today has called for the pope to retract him comments.

But this is par for the course. When he was Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, then as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was affectionately known as “God’s Rotweiler.” Over 25 years, he orchestrated the silence of progressive theologians (e.g. Charles Curran), clamped down on liberal thought, and authored particularly homophobic pronouncements.

As Pope, he has blamed gays for the worldwide priest pedophilia scandal and sent emissaries to every catholic seminary in an attempt to rout out gays (good luck!). Just this year he lifted the excommunication of British Bishop Richard Williamson who has publicly denied the existence of the Holocaust (You Tube video of Williamson defending his position). For me, he is no different that Iran’s Ahmadinejad who has describes the Holocaust as “ambiguous and dubious.” A little known fact is that Benedict was a Hitler Youth.

This should put a final nail in the coffin of “apostolic succession” (i.e., God selecting Benedict to continue the papal line from St. Peter), and papal infallibility. The guy is a bigot — old, out-of-touch and unilaterally irreverent.