Letters to the Editor: November 19, 2014

Help those in transition; Where's the donation go?; Another offensive cover; Asset forfeiture

Acceptance & Grace

My reaction to the article on the Impact100 (“Ladies Who Launch,”
Oct. 29) was bittersweet. Comfort at the humble efforts of some to still gently till human soil, and sadness that it’s fallen to everyday people to help do what our government could be doing. But with the passage of Proposition 47, there will be a large contingent of people in need of smooth transition into society that government-funded services likely won’t be able to handle immediately. As a recovering “chronic bonehead,” as a sponsor once called me, grace never went unnoticed. I am most grateful to those that have given me a chance at transitioning back into society. I ask anyone that this Proposition 47 exodus may concern—employers, donors, anyone: consider the acceptance and grace you can show those who may come to need it in the immediate future.


Where’s the Money Going?

Your articles on nonprofits (Oct. 29) are very timely in November, the month of Thanksgiving, and a good time to do some good, feel good about ourselves, and even get a tax deduction, although they always seem of questionable value in reducing our tax bills.

About 30 years ago, I decided to donate to the St. Anthony’s dining room, thinking I may someday need a meal. At my job at that time for a giant engineering company in San Francisco, we each got a brochure for a giant charity umbrella organization that claimed to distribute the donations to several hundred or thousand smaller organizations.

The brochure said I could even select where I wanted to donate, and they would give 62 percent of my donation to that charity. I am an engineer by education and occupation, and so I was pretty good at math. Sixty percent to my charity of choice leaves a lot of my donation going somewhere else. That missing 38 percent changed my way of giving donations.

Are there really 1,500 nonprofits in Marin County? Are there 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States?

Where is this money going? Every nonprofit has a CEO and a CPA and a board of directors getting a cash draw. As one of the interviewees in the story noted, “Where’s the public benefit?”

If I gave money to a nonprofit museum group and went to a website for a nonprofit radio station, and the radio station says it is partners with the museum nonprofit, I’m wondering whether this is like Abbott and Costello at the fair, moving the lemon under a coconut shell. Is my donation going to the museum or the radio station?

Who’s getting these grants? How many “save the wildlife” nonprofits do we need? What exactly are they using the money for? Are we really saving salmon or birds or whales? Or just building monuments to the idea of saving salmon and birds and whales?

The nonprofit industry tells us where to send our money and makes sure we get monthly reminders to send more, but they never exactly tell us how our money actually serves any practical purpose besides sending experts to meetings.


Objectification & Stereotyping

I am disturbed by the objectification and stereotyping portrayed by your cover photo (“Ready to Rumble,” Nov. 5). I don’t remember a cover with someone African American on it before and then—pow!—there’s this one! Please put a lot of thought into the impact created by portraying images of black people here in Sonoma County, where the black population is small but growing. What kind of community are we presenting to all of the people who live here? Perhaps your staff and editorial department needs some diversity-awareness training to increase your sensitivity and awareness of how to present images of black people in the media.

Santa Rosa

Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

“Asset forfeiture purposes” (Debriefer,
Oct. 23) is just another way for law officers to take what you have and keep it even with no charges being filed. This is happening to more and more people, and it should be stopped. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

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