Friday, November 14, 2014

Social Justice Advocate Jim Wallis' Sojourners Compensation Rises to $120/hr

Sojourners and Jim Wallis keep sticking it to their contributors and winking at their social justice principles.

The mission of Sojourners, Inc. according to their income tax filing is "to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building movement to transform individuals, communities, the church and the world."

They certainly have transformed one individual--their director. Jim Wallis' compensation has skyrocketed from $25,000 per year in 2003 to $218,000 in 2013. His compensation for 35 hours per week of work is now equivalent to almost $120/hr. Now that's hope! By contrast, the average American's hourly wage is about $25/hr in October of 2014. That's about what Jim Wallis' hourly compensation was in 2003 when he worked 20+ hours a week for Sojourners.

Wallis' compensation keeps rising even though the organization's assets are falling. From a high of $5.9 million in 2007 Sojourners' assets have dropped to $2.4 million in 2013. That's a drop of about 60%.

During the same time period Wallis' compensation soared from $153,000 to $218,000. That's a rise of over 40%.

Interested in social justice? You might want to look somewhere else than at Sojourners and Jim Wallis.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Bail Security: A Penalty Rather Than Security for Appearance in Court

photo from survivegoingtojail.com
A friend of mine was recently jailed locally, and though poor himself was bailed out after spending about a week in jail. This led me to a process of discovering that bail security posted is not primarily to assure that the person released will show up for his court appearances. It is used as a way to fine the person who posts the bail security and gain money for the state.

In Oregon the security required is 10% of the total bail. (ORS 135.265) It is used by the state whether the defendant attends court appearances and maintains good conduct or not.

In the first place, the state takes 15% of the security for administrative costs. Huh? Not a standard fee, but 15% of whatever it is. If the bail is $20,000, the security is $2,000, and you just lost $300. If the bail is $200,000, the security is $20,000, and you just lost $3,000.

Second, they can use the bail security money for pretty much anything they want having to do with the defendant. It is regarded as the defendant's funds not the person's funds who posts the bail.
"Security deposit provided by third party is regarded as belonging to defendant and may be withheld to pay obliga­tions of defendant. State v. Grant, 44 Or App 671, 606 P2d 1166 (1980)"
Further, it can be used to pay anything related to the defendant whether it has to do with the charges in question or not.
"Security deposit may be withheld to pay obliga­tions of defendant unrelated to matter for which security was given. State v. Baker, 165 Or App 565, 998 P2d 700 (2000), Sup Ct review denied"
You can be pretty sure that they will find a use for all of it in some relationship or other to the defendant.

Here are some arguments from Robert L. Wolf setting forth the problems with the current system.

1. When the state takes security money from a third party who posts the bail, they are punishing an innocent person.
"If the money is posted by a third party, that third party becomes personally responsible for the entire judgment if for whatever reason the defendant's release is revoked. Similarly, if the defendant fully complies will the release agreement, then the money is returned to the third party, and not to the defendant. Any bail money posted by a third party remains property of the third party, and not property of the defendant. Therefore, if bail money is seized by the court - despite the defendant complying with all conditions of the defendant's release - and used to pay any other financial obligation of the defendant, the state has engaged in an unlawful taking under both the state and federal constitutions. Article 1, section 18 of the Oregon Constitution, and the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. Only money that belongs to the defendant can be seized and used to pay that defendant's personal obligations - not money that still belongs to third parties." 
2. Taking the bail deposit of third parties whether or not the defendant shows up in court, "will have a chilling effect on suspects ability to secure and have bail posted for them." Chilling, indeed.

3. By legislation the purpose of bail is only "to secure that a suspect on release both returns to court and does not commit any misconduct while on release." It "is not intended to provide revenue to the state."
"The Owens court specifically held that the security amount must not be set so high as to "make it impossible, as a practical matter, for a prisoner to secure his release." 285 Or. at 80. The bail amount, therefore, must be a realistic amount set allowing defendants of all classes to be able to secure their release. If bail posted by third parties is subject to seizure - despite a defendant's full compliance with all the terms of a release agreement - then the courts will be discriminating against those who do not have financial ability to make bail on their own. . . . The result is that defendants are forced to stay incarcerated, not because they are poor candidates for release on bail, nor because they cannot find the money to post a security, but because they are unable to have enough to pay an entire bond to the county."
It is true that the bail security agreement requires the person giving the security to agree to give "all or part of the amount posted" to "court ordered obligations, such as payment of restitution, child or spousal support, fees, expenses, court costs or court appointed attorney fees." But, it's the only game in town. The signer has a gun to his head. Sign or the supposedly "innocent until proven guilty" person sits in jail until trial.

Of course, this is especially egregious for the poor. My friend who was bailed out would be sitting in jail until his trial date. Incidentally it is about the same amount of time he would serve if declared guilty of the charges against him. Wow, lose-lose. Serve the time whether you are guilty or not or pay a big fine. Nice choice.

Oh, and the plea deal was plead guilty and serve only a third of the time a conviction would require and be on parole. If you were poor, with no one to post bail, would you choose pleading guilty even if you weren't and serve only a third of the time you would serve anyway until the trial date? I wonder how many poor defendants plead guilty just not to serve the time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

God bless you, veterans!

Local kids celebrating Veterans Day
I went to a local school celebration of Veterans Day. Two older vets were sitting on the right in the row in front of me both with their caps on. On standing for the presentation of the colors, one vet removed his cap. The other vet kept his on, and the first vet did a light flip of the other's cap bill to alert the second vet to remove his cap. The hint didn't take, and the second vet kept his cap on the whole time even during the Pledge of Allegiance and singing the Star Spangled Banner. It was a funny little vignette.

God bless both those guys! And my vet dad who was sitting next to me watching his granddaughter who played in the band. God bless all you vets! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Fox News Beats Networks in Election Coverage

Looks like free isn't a good enough price any more to make up for second rate content. Mediabistro reports:
At 10pmET, when the broadcast networks aired special reports, Fox News averaged 6.6 million viewers, topping No. 2 CBS which averaged 5.4 million viewers. This marks the first time during election coverage that Fox News topped all the broadcast networks in the A25-54 demo.
  • 10pmET: (Total Viewers | A25-54 demo)
FNC: 6,607,000 / 1,825,000 A25-54
CBS: 5,408,000 / 1,548,000 in 25-54
NBC: 4,225,000 / 1,484,000 in 25-54
ABC: 3,147,000 / 1,083,000 in 25-54
CNN: 1,936,000 / 912,000 in 25-54
MSNBC: 1,594,000 / 566,000 in 25-54
  • 8pmET – 11pmET:
FNC: 6,310,000 / 1,662,000
CNN: 2,107,000  / 909,000
MSNBC: 1,687,000 / 525,000

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

12 Heroes Who Died August 12 to October 24, 2014

August 12 - Sgt. 1st Class Samuel C. Hairston, 35, of Houston, Texas, died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

August 20 - Sgt. 1st Class Matthew I. Leggett, 39, of Ruskin, Florida, died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries received when he was engaged by the enemy.

August 22 - Sgt. Christopher W. Mulalley, 26, of Eureka, Calif., died in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

September 4 - Spc. Brian K. Arsenault, 28, of Northborough, Massachusetts, died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire.

September 15 - Sgt. Charles C. Strong, 28, of Suffolk, Virginia, died in Herat province, Afghanistan while conducting combat operations.

September 16 - They died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an enemy attack. Killed were:
- Maj. Michael J. Donahue, 41, of Columbus, Ohio.
- Stephen Byus, 39, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, a member of the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio, working as a supply specialist, and assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan while deployed.

September 30 - Sgt. 1st Class Andrew T. Weathers, 30, of DeRidder, Louisiana, died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, from wounds sustained when the enemy attacked his unit with small arms fire Sept. 28, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

October 1 - Maj. Jonathan D. Walker, 44, of Merriam, Kansas, died in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related incident at Camp As Sayliyah. The incident is under investigation.

- Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, 21, of Memphis, Indiana, was lost at sea Oct. 1 while conducting flight operations in the North Arabian Gulf. He was initially classified as a non-global war on terrorism casualty.

October 23 - Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal, 19, of Riverside, California, died in Baghdad, Iraq, from a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

October 24 - Cmdr. Christopher E. Kalafut, 49, of Oceanside, California, died in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related incident at Al Udeid Air Base. The incident is under investigation.

Oregonian Circulation Plunges

Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) reports have become worthless to track circulation statistics. AAM statistics now can count as five subscribers an individual who accesses the same newspaper edition via print, desktop, laptop, tablet, and smart phone. AAM also includes "branded" editions which are free editions made up of a tiny amount of article content and lots of advertising circulars.

So, anyone interested in serious study of a newspaper's true circulation status has to rely on the annual report (Statement of Ownership) required by law that is included in newspapers and magazines. The Oregonian prints its report in an October edition, the latest report coming out on October 17, 2014, for the daily edition.*

The news is not good. Here are the stats for 2012, 2013 and 2014.**

The September 14, 2012 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 219,917.

The September 13, 2013 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 203,051.

The September 12, 2014 (Friday) edition had a paid circulation of 163,635.

That's more than a 25% drop in two years.  Ouch!
__________
*There is also a report on the Sunday edition that was published in the October 19, 2014 (Sunday) edition.
**Comparison with AAM statistics prior to 2012 is ballpark possible, but there is a difference. For example, AAM's September 2012 paid circulation figure was 228,599 compared to the Statement of Ownership report of 219,917. AAM's figure is about 4% above the Statement of Ownership report, This could be due to the changing AAM metrics which started in 2011.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Wall Street Journal Only Major News Source Trusted Similarly Across Political Spectrum

Pew Research Center poll, March-April, 2014
Pew Research Center again has an interesting poll up. This one is on how trusted major news sources are across the political spectrum. The only major news source trusted about the same by liberals, moderates and conservatives is the Wall Street Journal. Interesting that liberals trust it a little more (35%, 34%), and moderates (28%) trust it the least. Conservatives are in the middle (32%, 30%).

In overall trusted average, the Wall Street Journal (31%) rates 11th, just behind the New York Times (34%) and USA TODAY (33%), which are the top trusted newspaper sources.

It would be interesting to find out what percentage of people irrespective of political position trust these sources. Since about 38% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 34% as moderate, and only 23% as liberal, weighting the responses by those indicators gives a ballpark figure.

Here's how the top 13 come out when combining consistently and mostly liberal as well as consistently and mostly conservative and multiplying those averages by the percentage of Americans who self-identify as liberal and conservative. Then multiplying the "mixed" percentage by the moderate 34%.

Trusted:
50.3% - Fox News
44.8% - CNN
42.8% - ABC News
42.1% - NBC News
39.0% - CBS News
31.0% - MSNBC
30.3% - PBS
29.2% - Wall Street Journal
29.1% - BBC
28.8% - USA TODAY
26.0% - New York Times
22.1% - NPR
21.7% - Washington Post