March 14, 2010

As ACORN Agrees to Leave Ohio, AP Writer Despicably Plays the Race Card

acorn_rottenThe Associated Press seems to have two unwritten rules on how and when to write stories about leftist controversies and setbacks:

Rule Number 1. Do little or nothing with the story until you can figure out a way to make center-right critics or victors look like the bad guys.

Rule Number 2. If you’re thinking about covering the story any other way, refer to Rule Number 1.

On Thursday, the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law in Columbus, Ohio, which describes itself as “an independent legal center dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of Ohioans from government abuse,” announced a significant legal victory for Buckeye State residents interested in clean elections:

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law achieved victory in its state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). ACORN has agreed to settle the case and will cease all Ohio activity as a result. In its settlement with the 1851 Center, ACORN agreed to surrender all of its Ohio business licenses by June 1, 2010. Further, the organization cannot support or enable any individual or organization that seeks to engage in the same type of activity.

That seems like a pretty clear-cut result, doesn’t it? Not if you’re the Associated Press’s JoAnne Viviano, whose brief item on Saturday followed the rules above, fabricated a supposed loophole in the settlement, and gave an unnamed spokesman an open mic to despicably play the race card:

APonACORNleavingOhio031310

Isn’t that nifty? The news isn’t that ACORN agreed to leave and not come back in any current or alternative form. No-no-no. The real news to Ms. Viviano is that racist meanies like those at the 1851 Center would fight ACORN or any of its successors if the far-left activists and accused racketeers reneged on their agreement.

This isn’t journalism; it’s character assassination by anonymous attribution.

Though far from perfect, the coverage by the Columbus Dispatch’s James Nash was more measured — and accurate:

ACORN is out of Ohio’s elections

In legal settlement, group agrees not to return to state

ACORN, the liberal group notorious for allegedly trying to inflate voter rolls through fraudulent practices, has seen its last election in Ohio.

The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now will permanently surrender its Ohio business license by June1 as part of a legal settlement with the conservative Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, both sides said yesterday.

ACORN was active in Ohio in the 2006 and 2008 elections, working to register thousands of low-income people to vote and get them to the polls. The group’s efforts were marred by irregularities, including one case in which ACORN workers allegedly induced a Cleveland man to register to vote 72 times, offering cigarettes as an incentive.

The Buckeye Institute’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law teamed with two Warren County residents to sue ACORN in Warren County Common Pleas Court just before the 2008 election. The residents alleged that their rights were abridged by thousands of fraudulent voter registrations, each representing “a potential illegal vote that has the capacity to dilute (legitimate) votes.”

The case was moved to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Yesterday’s settlement is mostly confidential, said Maurice A. Thompson, the conservative group’s attorney.

“They will surrender their business license by June 1 and cease to operate in Ohio and cease to support or enable other groups to do what they do,” Thompson said.

… After the 2008 election, in which some credited or blamed ACORN for the election of Barack Obama as president, ACORN has dialed back its political activity across the country.

ACORN continues to deny any wrongdoing in Ohio …

The Occam’s Razor explanation for ACORN’s surrender would seem to be that the 1851 Center’s RICO evidence was strong, and that national exposure of it would do serious damage.

The most obvious weakness in Nash’s report is that he never explained why “ACORN has dialed back its political activity.” We can thank James O’Keefe, Hannah Giles, and Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com for that.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

‘Chainsaw Pinch’: NYT’s Chairman Cuts Way to Profitability, Doubles Comp to $6 Million

CorporateGreedButton2010NYTlogoWithPaper2009In 2009, according to financial information at nasdaq.com, the New York Times Company’s revenues fell by over 17%. The Wall Street Journal reports that the company’s full-time employee count shrunk by 1,681, or over 18%. Rumor has it that more layoffs are planned for 2010.

Beginning almost a year ago, the company announced corporate salary cuts of 5%, negotiated similar cuts with newspaper guild members in New York, and steeper cuts of 9% in Boston.

The company eked out full-year pre-tax earnings of roughly $23.7 million (after adding back $3.8 million in taxes to the company’s reported net income of $19.9 million).

In the midst of all of this, the Journal reports that Times Company chairman “Pinch” Sulzberger’s total compensation more than doubled in 2009 to roughly $6 million, and his CEO compadre hauled in a similar amount:

New York Times Co. (NYT) Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and President and Chief Executive Janet L. Robinson received big increases in compensation for 2009–a year when the company suffered layoffs, weakness in advertising markets and from broader worries about the future of print media.

Sulzberger’s overall pay more than doubled to $6 million in 2009 as non-equity incentive-plan compensation quadrupled to $2.4 million and his pension value climbed to $1.2 million from $559,826.

Robinson’s overall compensation rose 32% to $6.3 million, as similarly sharp increases in non-equity incentive-plan compensation and pension value were partially offset by $1.1 million less in stock awards. Times Co. spokeswoman Abbe Serphos declined to comment.

A company deciding how it compensates its executives would ordinarily be something for shareholders to address and would not be any of our business. But it is in this case for three reasons:

  • The Times has railed against “excessive CEO pay” and given space to those who routinely have done the same for years.
  • Its supposedly astute editorialists have never acknowledged the role played by the nondeductibility of executive salaries over $1 million that were included in Bill Clinton’s 1993 tax hike to the explosion in other forms of harder to control compensation, such as stock options.
  • The Times has a “dual-class share structure, which allows members of the Ochs-Sulzberger family to control the company through a special class of stock” despite their relatively small investment. The company’s justification (see “The 1997 Trust” section at link) for this quite undemocratic stifling of the will of ordinary investors who have far more skin in the game is that it serves to “… maintain the editorial independence and the integrity of The New York Times and to continue it as an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare.” Gag me.

When the first cuts were announced nearly a year ago, the Times “said that salaries would be restored to their normal level next year, but they warned that even that ‘depends on the state of our business.’”

Despite the very high likelihood that said cuts will not be restored, and the near certainty that guild members will see no restoration, Mr. Sulzberger’s and Ms. Robinson’s respective wallets seem to be pretty healthy states. You’d think that journalists with supposedly great instincts would recognize that they’re being played for fools. Then again, what can they do? Where is the market for large numbers of people who typically earn north of $90,000 a year and whose only “marketable skills” rest in twisting the news to fit a far-left agenda and in protecting Democratic presidents and other politicians?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: Michigan diocese investigates miracle attributed to former bishop

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:59 am

From Marquette, Michigan:

Mar 11, 2010 / 08:26 am

The Diocese of Marquette is investigating an possible miracle attributed to Servant of God, Bishop Frederic Baraga. The official inquiry will move the cause for Bishop Baraga’s canonization forward, which was opened for the prelate in 1952.

In press conference on Wednesday, the current Bishop of Marquette, Alexander K. Sample, announced the recent development, saying, “Since my first days as a seminarian studying for the priesthood, I have had great devotion to Bishop Baraga.”

“As his eleventh successor, I am thrilled at the prospect of a miracle that will advance his cause. With all the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the diocese, I give thanks to God for his, holy, priestly, example,” he added.

Father Ronald Browne, who has been appointed to lead the work of the canonical tribunal, explained the story behind the alleged miracle. “We have a case involving what was thought to be a tumor on a patient’s liver that showed up on various tests, including a CT scan and an ultrasound. However, when exploratory surgery was done, there was no tumor to be found,” Fr. Browne said.

The Diocese of Marquette reported that while in the Upper Peninsula, the patient and the patient’s family invoked the intercession of Bishop Baraga and placed his stole on the sick person’s abdomen. Following the prayers, the patient said that the pain in the abdominal area went away.

The diocese explained that in order for the event to be considered as a miracle, it needs to be affirmed as something that science cannot explain and be attributable to the intercession of the candidate for sainthood.

Once the tribunal has investigated the event – the process is scheduled to begin on March 12 – two physicians must testify regarding the physical condition of the patient before and after the event. After the alleged miracle has been verified, documentation will be sent to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican, who will then submit the cause to Pope Benedict XVI. The Holy Father will then determine whether or not Bishop Baraga will be beatified.

If the miracle is recognized as authentic, the diocese will need to verify one more miracle in order for the Michigan bishop to be declared a saint. …

Go here for the rest of the story.