Monday, August 08, 2005

"Help The Poor. Get Rich"

These are the responses to my August 4 Q on Trial Lawyers' Rush Hour, Detering Dishonest Doctors, and Non-Profit Embezzlement Scandal. Thanks to all, please continue to provide us with your feedback.


  1. A lawyer is obliged to zealously protect his clients' interests; it would be malpractice let let a statute of limitations run, I imagine it would be similar if he/she missed this deadline.

    Lawyers who commit felonies are automatically disbarred. Why don't doctors who commit felonies lose their licenses?

  2. As the head of a not-for-profit social service agency, I too was amazed and upset to read about the goings-on at the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. These kinds of sleazy activities by the few cast a negative light on the many. Worse part is that because of these sleazy activities youth in that community did not and will not receive services and help they could benefit from. The answer to this abuse, however, is not more city regulations but the enforcement of existing ones. Boards of Trustees for these organizations are already legally responsible to make sure that they pay a fair and reasonable salary to their CEO and they should be held responsible if they fail to do so. The accounting firm that did their audit should be held responsible for not uncovering this issue. The city agency that is already responsible to track and monitor these funds should be held responsible. The individual staff members who used public funds improperly should be investigated for possible criminal sanctions.

    While there are numerous executives of nonprofits who are paid higher salaries than the Mayor, most executives in this field who I know remain in these jobs as a career and as part of a commitment to those they seek to help. By many standards they make a decent salary. They also work very hard for it. But I do not believe you can fairly compare what they do to what the Mayor does. The Mayor clearly has a very difficult job but he also gets Gracie Mansion, an expense account and other perks, along with his time credited towards a public pension plan that fewer and fewer people in the private sector will ever have. While our current Mayor does not need these benefits, Mayors also get a chance, after leaving office, to benefit from having been Mayor. Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani benefited in this way. I certainly don’t fault them in any way for doing so and as far as I am concerned they deserve it. But just comparing what the Mayor gets paid to what the head of a not-for-profit social service agency gets paid is comparing apples and oranges.

    If a not-for-profit executive “…wrangles an exorbitant salary from a puppet, somnolent or rogue Board of Directors…” then I say go after that board and that executive for what they did. Salaries of top management are reported, audited and published already in the Federal 990 Income Tax Report that must be filed each year. Last year, the IRS began to do more auditing of this issue with a wide group of not-for-profit organizations. The Federal 990 has been available for years at the web site. Already my agency must spend incredible amount of time complying with extensive city, state and federal regulations; fiscal and program requirements that differ from one city agency to another depending on the number of city contracts one has; internal and external audits; and the list goes on. I understand and agree that this is what must happen when you agree to accept public funds. But we don’t need to make it even more onerous for the overwhelming majority of organizations that comply with what they must do, do their best for the sake of the people they seek to help, and use their limited funds as judiciously as possible.

  3. Anonymous2:27 PM

    "Err America" is just the tip of the scandalous, not-for-profit, "charitable" iceberg.

    Not-for-profit charities that raise their funds privately are not the problem. Politically connected "charities" that take vast sums from the government are a huge problem in NYC. Government oversight is lax, the "charitable" label conceals a multitude of sins, and the temptation to cash in with bloated salaries and other amenities paid for by the taxpayers, too often irresistible. Check out for more details.

    This is a topic that deserves extensive investigation and reporting, particularly when close connections to allies of either political Party (in this case, the Democrats, the boys' and girls' club, and "Err America") are obvious.

    If the charity is clean, it should steer clear of the government money. No government money comes without "strings". The legitimate "strings" are the oversight mechanisms. The illegitimate "strings" are the political connections that enable the funding. Which of these, do you suppose, dominated the decision-making process at Gloria Wise in Co-Op City? And how many more "Gloria Wise" situations remain undetected and unreported?

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