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Letters 5.2.07

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Laurel and hearty handshake

As a retired US Army officer and a retired North Carolina police officer, I would like to say the Gathering of Eagles event went very well [“Pro-war veterans group and anti-war adversaries warily promise peaceful event”; April 25, 2007; by Jordan Green]. The Greensboro police officer with whom I spoke commented very highly of the manner in which our members conducted themselves.

I must also say the other side of the line did the same. I saw and heard the banter over the lines. This was an expression of free assembly and free speech.

I am very proud to stand with men who love this country just as much as those who stand on the other side – we have different points of view, but a common respect as Americans, first and utmost, will allow us to exercise our rights as citizens of our great nation. Let’s try handshakes, not hate, I will shake the hand of anyone across the line who will shake mine. What say you, my friend?

George Samek

Shallotte, NC

Follow the money

Regarding “Alma’s Money: Not for public review” [April 25, 2007; by Jordan Green]”, Rep. Adams is correct that the Legislative Black Caucus Foundation that she now heads is not legally required to disclose the names of its donors and the amounts they donated to the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. But because it is a foundation controlled by legislators (or the staff of legislators), it should operate to a higher standard. In Congress, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced legislation last year and this year calling on senators to disclose the names of all donors above a nominal amount to charities and foundations founded by or run by senators, their family members or their campaign finance staff – and Baucus himself has a family foundation that this would have applied to. In light of the DeLay Foundation’s fundraisers, Bill Frist’s World of Hope charity and Rick Santorum’s Operation Good Neighbor Foundation, the reason for Baucus’ bill was clear: The confidentiality of donors to these politicians’ charities meant that special interests could curry favor and buy invaluable face time with legislators for lobbying purposes, circumventing lobbying disclosure requirements. The same issue applies at the state government level. In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Vincent Fumo has a nonprofit run by his staff which benefits from donations from corporations that have business with his senate committee that oversees utilities, for example. Although it has been in operation for years, it has finally recently attracted the attention of state regulators and the FBI. For Vince Fumo, Tom DeLay, Max Baucus and Alma Adams, the reason for having politicians’ foundations disclose donors is obvious: The managers of these charities control the disbursement of millions of dollars of tax revenues, a mighty attractive plum for special interests. A higher standard of disclosure is needed for these charities, including the foundation chaired by Rep. Adams.

Rick Cohen

Cambridge, Mass.

Rick Cohen is a national correspondent for Nonprofit Quarterly magazine

Plan has no heart

Nothing about the Heart of the Triad plan is credible [“Rural residents fight Heart of Triad plan”; April 10, 2007; by Amy Kingsley]. House Bill 1965, prohibiting the use of eminent domain for economic development, private profit or to increase tax revenue has ethically and historically been followed, but recently and currently is not the practice. According to the NC Board of Ethics, elected officials should be prepared to remove themselves immediately from decisions, votes or processes where even the appearance of a conflict of interest exists. Local elected officials have misused the public trust by participation in a plan that allowed a $50,000 business check to buy participation in the Heart of the Triad plan, and promoted exclusion of residents living in the area. Do they also plan to allow these developers access to the use of eminent domain by promoting public/private partnerships in building their new roads called “development corridors”? We shall see.

Cathy Poole

Kernersville

Greetings from Germany

This all sounds like one giant PR stunt [“A homegrown war resister emerges”; April 25, 2007; by Jordan Green].

There is no draft. This ignorant person you call a “hero” volunteered. As a volunteer, she should spend the rest of her volunteer commitment in a federal prison for being a deserter. I can have no respect for someone who first volunteers to serve their country then turns into a cowardly traitor a few weeks afterwards. It is disgusting that anyone could see these actions as anything other than a pre-planned PR fest for the communists that gave her an award.

Robert Hummels

St. Leon, Germany

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