Pets in the Classroom?

Do you think that pets in the classroom advances learning and makes students more engaged in the learning process?

Has Little Johnny begged you to take his pomsky puppy or teacup pomeranian to his school’s “show and tell”?

From the Arkansas Catholic:

They are the classroom pets, who do more than just make people smile with their furry faces or licks in the hallway, they make an impact on the human students they encounter, according to their owners/educators.

“St. Francis felt that all of nature gave praise to God,” said Brother Richard Sanker, who owns Zeke at Catholic High School in Little Rock. “Having an animal like that is simply just a reflection of that creation. They bring about a true appreciation for all of God’s creatures.

The Standard Examiner offers a dissenting viewpoint:

Jones said back-to-school season is associated with a 46 percent increase in asthma-related emergency department visits by grade school children, and allergies and asthma account for more than 14 million school absences.

In addition about 80 to 90 percent of those with asthma will have exercise-induced asthma.

Another allergy concern in the classroom is class pets and children who bring their own pets for show and tell. Jones suggests teachers have a non-furry pet in the classroom.

Both physicians strongly urge parents and teachers to make sure their child is on a prevention plan and has medication readily available, no matter what the allergy trigger may be.

If your child wants to take a pet to school, you should definitely consult with your child’s teacher and the administration to ensure that it is okay.  Instead of allowing your child to take a pet to school for the whole day, you can simply bring in the pet for a specified period of time and then immediately remove the animal once show and tell is over.  This would also allow any affected students to be removed for that limited period of time so that they do not get sick.

This is especially true of an exotic pet. Although an exotic animal or pet will provide more of an ahhhh factor and ample learning opportunities, they can be even more risky. And in some areas they may be illegal.  The last thing you need is for your son or daughter to take an illegal pet to school for show and tell.  That could cause some problems!




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PA 664 Comp Outline

664 Question 1: Four Environmental Factors


  1. Citizen Distrust of Government
    1. Example: San Bernardino County
  2. Declining resources and aging technology
    1. Example of declining resources: all local governments
    2. Example of aging technology
  3. Hallowing out/retirements
    1. Example:
  4. Policy Shifts
    1. Example: state policies on redevelopment agencies, taxes and prison system/parolees


664 Question 2: Market based approaches


  1. Managerialsim & New Public Management
    1. Market based = practices taken from the private sector
  2. NPM
    1. Shift away from bureaucratic thinking
    2. Shift away from administering policy towards managing resources
    3. Strategic planning
    4. Performance measurement
    5. Program assessment
    6. Shift toward more management and market orientation
  3. Four principles of program delivery
    1. Shift from a capitalistic environment to a competitive one
    2. Best value – NOT low cost
    3. Government must maintain control and oversight obligations
    4. Detailed performance metrics are critically important
  4. Four different market based approaches
    1. Outsourcing – turning over an entire business function to private sector
  1.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Assumes in house workload will be contracted out to private sector
    2. No sale or transfer of assets
    3. Outsourcing does not equal contracting
    4. Longer term
    5. Offsite operations
  2.                                                              ii.      Strengths
    1. Efficient and significant cost reductions
    2. Take advantage of specialized skills/intellectual capital
    3. New technology and innovation
    4. Reduce dependence upon a single supplier
  3.                                                             iii.      Weaknesses
    1. May limit organizational flexibility in times of emergencies
    2. Process is time consuming and complex
    3. Detrimental impacts on personnel
  4.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Does not assume work will be shifted to the private sector
    2. Makes no value judgment on public vs. private benefits
    3. Ownership of service delivery is irrelevant – presence of competition is key factor
    4. Privatization and outsourcing assume private sector delivery is always less costly and equal or better quality
  5.                                                              ii.      Strengths
    1. Introduces competition – raises performance and lowers cost
    2. Allows govt. workforce to bid to retain work
  6.                                                             iii.      Weaknesses
    1. Time consuming and complex and expensive
    2. Negative impact on morale and involuntary separations
  7.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Assumes that the private sector is cheaper and better quality
    2. Involves the sale of an entire business to the private sector
  8.                                                              ii.      Strengths
    1. Government assets can be converted into revenue
  9.                                                             iii.      Weaknesses
    1. Privatization may produce private monopolies in place of public ones
  10.                                                                i.      Allow public and private sectors to share the costs, risk, benefits and profits
  11.                                                              ii.      Enable government to build capital infrastructure with private financing
  12.                                                             iii.      Government assumes greater risk than through pure privatization
  13.                                                            iv.      Authority and accountability issues can be blurred and confuse the public
    1. Competitive Sourcing
    1. Privatization
    1. Public Private Partnerships
  1. Concerns of Market Based Approaches
    1. Belief that market based approaches will be more expensive
    2. Belief that promised long-term savings will not materialize
    3. Large numbers of government employees will be separated
    4. Government will lose control and oversight


664 Question 3


  1. Managing for results
    1. Agencies must generate useful performance information to assess competence
    2. Must have the capacity to measure outcomes
    3. Develop performance measurement system to quantify performance
    4. Collect and analyze data to determine efficiency
    5. Managing for results framework
  1.                                                                i.      Strategic planning
  2.                                                              ii.      Operational planning
  3.                                                             iii.      Organizational analysis methodology
  4.                                                            iv.      Performance measurement methodology
  5.                                                              v.      Performance reporting system
  6.                                                            vi.      Results based budgeting
  1. Managing resources
  2. Managing relationships
  3. Managing in the public interest ethically
  4. Tension Points
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PA 663 Comp Outline

663 Question 1: Cutback strategies for current fiscal year and beyond.


  1. Cutback formula = Reduction of Expenses + Increase in Revenues
  2. Cutback factors
    1. Size
    2. Duration
    3. Urgency
  3. Current Fiscal Year/Immediate Cutback Strategies



663 Question 2: Explain fund accounting


  1. Define fund accounting
    1. Accounting system designed to measure accountability, not profitability
    2. Fund is comprised of self-balancing accounts
  2. Account
    1. A separate financial reporting unit for budget, management and/or accounting purposes
  3. Asset accounts
    1. Represent things of value (cash, receivables, etc)
    2. Assets are ranked according to their liquidity
  4. Liability accounts
    1. Represent legal obligations that will require the transfer of assets
    2. Ranked by their due date
  5. Net assets
    1. Represent the balances in proprietary and fiduciary funds (assets minus liabilities)
  6. Fund balance
    1. The net value of governmental funds
  7. Public budgeting fund structure – 3 types
    1. Governmental Funds
  1.                                                                i.      General fund
    1. Largest/most important
    2. Primary operating fund
  2.                                                              ii.      Special revenue funds
    1. Established to handle earmarked funds or funds restricted by law
  3.                                                             iii.      Capital projects funds
  4.                                                            iv.      Debt Service Funds
  5.                                                              v.      Permanent funds
    1. Constitute endowments where principal is protected
    2. Only investment income can be spent
  6.                                                                i.      Enterprise Funds
    1. Accounts for services that are substantially supported by customer fees
    2. GASB 34 requires funds financed with debt collateralized by user fees to be placed in an enterprise fund
  7.                                                              ii.      Internal Service Funds
    1. Accounts for intra-government billing of services provided between departments.
  8.                                                             iii.      Fiduciary Funds
    1. Investment trust fund
    2. Pension trust fund
    3. Private-purpose fund
    4. Agency fund
    1. Proprietary Funds


663 Question 3:


  1. Key factors spurring competition among cities and counties for new business
    1. Increased mobility of businesses
    2. Stagnant growth, especially in the manufacturing sector
    3. Reduction in grants from the federal government
  2. Economic concerns about inefficiencies of local business tax incentives
    1. Represents government interference in the marketplace
    2. Spillover effect of one set of taxpayers subsidizing another jurisdiction
  3. Primary factors influencing business location decisions
    1. Reasons for relocating their business
  1.                                                                i.      Lack of space to expand at existing site
  2.                                                              ii.      Need to modernize the plant
  3.                                                             iii.      Move closer to better labor supply
  4.                                                                i.      Supply and cost of labor
  5.                                                              ii.      Proximity to suppliers and markets
  6.                                                             iii.      Presence of other firms/agglomeration
  7.                                                            iv.      Quality of life concerns
  8.                                                                i.      Subsidized loans
  9.                                                              ii.      Industrial development
  10.                                                             iii.      Land acquisition
  11.                                                            iv.      Site preparation
  12.                                                              v.      Publicly provided infrastructure
    1. Site-selection for the relocation based on following:
  1. Policy options for business investment
    1. Tax incentives (abatements, exemptions, credits)
    2. Nontax incentives


663 Question 4


  1. Four major types of capital improvements
    1. Land purchase
    2. Equipment purchase
    3. Construction of buildings
    4. Infrastructure
  2. Strategies for prioritizing capital project selection
    1. Weighted ranking
    2. Executive management
  1.                                                                i.      Pros
    1. Managers take into account costs, benefits, funding sources and community needs
    2. Expertise and knowledge
  2.                                                              ii.      Cons
    1. Volume and diversity of projects makes complete analysis difficult
    2. Project complexity make require skills outside the organization
    3. Assessment can be smothered by info provided by supporters and detractors
  3.                                                                i.      Pros
    1. Policymaker
    2. Criticality – projects prioritized on importance
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PA 662 Comp Outline

662 Question 1


  1. Four tides of reform by Paul Light
    1. Scientific management
  1.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Hierarchical
    2. Well-defined chains of command
    3. Microdivision of labor
    4. Specialization
    5. Scientific principles of administration (PODSCORB)
    6. Structure, rules and search for “one best way”
    7. Management and leadership influence performance of followers
  2.                                                              ii.      Patron Saint – Herbert Hoover
  3.                                                             iii.      Defining legislation/history
    1. Brownlow and First Hoover presidential commissions
    2. 1939 Reorganization Act
  4.                                                            iv.      Impact on human resource management
    1. Conformity and predictability of employee contributions (machine model)
    2. Hallmarks of scientific management impede today’s organizations
  5.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Emphasis on economy
    2. Inspector generals
    3. Investigators
    4. Auditors
    5. Fight fraud and corruption
  6.                                                              ii.      Patron Saint – W.R. Grace of the Reagan Administration
  7.                                                             iii.      Defining legislation
    1. Inspector General Act of 1978
  8.                                                            iv.      Impacts on human resource management
    1. Increase in internal controls
    2. Increase in oversight and regulations
    3. Managerial directives
    4. Tight supervision
    5. Heightened accountability
    6. Fearful workers seek cover by doing it “by the book”
  9.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Fairness
    2. Openness and transparency
    3. Whistleblowers, media, activist groups, public need for information
  10.                                                              ii.      Patron Saint – Ralph Nader
  11.                                                             iii.      Defining Legislation
    1. Administrative Procedures Act of 1946
    2. Freedom of Information Act
    3. Vietnam War
    4. Watergate scandal
  12.                                                            iv.      Human resource management implications
    1. Greater scrutiny in hiring decisions
    2. Minimization of illegal use of protected class characteristics (sex, age, race)
    3. Code of ethics & ethics training
  13.                                                                i.      Characteristics
    1. Seek higher performance within government
    2. Evaluations, outcomes, results
    3. Employee empowerment
  14.                                                              ii.      Patron Saint – Al Gore
  15.                                                             iii.      Defining legislation
    1. 1993 Government Performance and Results Act
  16.                                                            iv.      Human resource management implications
    1. Employee empowerment
    2. Reengineering
    3. Work teams
    4. Continuous improvement
    5. Customer service
    6. Flattened hierarchies
    7. Breakdown of bureaucratic machine model
  17.                                                                i.      SM – 2002 Department of Homeland Security
  18.                                                              ii.      WoW – 1998 Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act
  19.                                                             iii.      Watchful Eye – 2000 Congress ordered the president to develop annual estimates of the cost and benefits of all regulations by agency or program.
  20.                                                            iv.      Liberation Management – 1995
  21.                                                                i.      Paradox of trust and distrust
    1. Scientific management and liberation management (trust)
    2. War on waste and watchful eye (distrust)
    1. War on Waste
    1. Watchful Eye
    1. Liberation Management
    1. Examples of each in modern era
    1. Miscellaneous


662 Question 2


  1. Factor affecting recruitment from an employer perspective
    1. Breadth and quality of the staffing process
  1.                                                                i.      Staffing process = recruitment plus selection
  2.                                                                i.      Supervisorial hiring authority vs. search committee
  3.                                                                i.      Governed by four major factors
    1. Relative ease of use
    2. Effectiveness
    3. Cost
    4. Common usage
  4.                                                              ii.      Job posting (including electronic)
  5.                                                             iii.      Newspapers
  6.                                                            iv.      Trade journals
  7.                                                              v.      Mail/email customized recruitment contacts
  8.                                                            vi.      Other mass communications
  9.                                                           vii.      Personal contact recruitment
  10.                                                         viii.      Internship recruitment
  11.                                                            ix.      Headhunting
  12.                                                              x.      Noncompetitive recruitment
    1. Labor pool and location of the jobs offered
    2. Pay and benefits
    3. Job quality
    4. Organizational image
  1. Factors affecting recruitment from an employee perspective
    1. Efficient and clear process
    2. Minimize anxiety with timely updates
    3. Provide feedback/ don’t string applicants along
    4. Substantive job descriptions
    5. Quality representation of the firm
  2. Recruitment steps
    1. Planning and approval position
    2. Preparation of the position announcement
    3. Use of strategies
  3. Recruitment strategies
    1. Internal v. External recruitment
    2. Individual v. pool recruitment
    3. Breadth of involvement
    1. List of specific strategies


663 Question 3 – Discuss compensation theories and how they relate to the recent economic recession and public sector budget challenges.


  1. Define compensation
  2. Determinants of compensation
    1. Organization pay philosophy (lead, match or lag)
    2. Policy and Law
  1.                                                                i.      Various Congressional acts have served to make government pay more competitive
  2.                                                                i.      Segmentation of the labor market (skilled, unskilled, professionals, public service)
  3.                                                              ii.      Salary surveys
  4.                                                                i.      Internal equity
    1. Jobs of equal value garner similar pay
  5.                                                              ii.      Job evaluation
  6.                                                             iii.      Pay banding
  7.                                                            iv.      Comparable worth
  8.                                                                i.      Seniority pay
  9.                                                              ii.      Merit pay
  10.                                                             iii.      Skill pay
  11.                                                            iv.      Gainsharing
  12.                                                                i.      The supposition that employees will base their level of inputs on the outputs received (i.e. equity or equilibrium between their effort and their compensation)
  13.                                                              ii.      Example: if an employee feels underpaid they will probably decrease their level of output
  14.                                                                i.      Individual motivation is affected by employee’s expectations
  15.                                                              ii.      Three-link causal chain
    1. Expectancy link: Can I accomplish the task or objective?
    2. Instrumentality: Will I receive a reward after I put the work in?
    3. Valence:  Do I value the reward
    1. Labor markets (external competitiveness)
    1. Job content evaluation (internal consistency)
    1. Individual contribution (individual equity)
  1. Equity Theory vs. Expectancy Theory
    1. Frames the discussion upon which we analyze the determinants of compensation
    2. Basis for most pay programs identifying the balance between contributions an employee makes to an organization and the rewards received from the organization
    3. Equity Theory
    1. Expectancy Theory


662 Question 4: California Labor Laws – SKIPPED



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PA 615 Comp Outline

615 Question 1:


  1. Define assessment of financial condition.
    1. The evaluation of financial data for decision making
  2. Why is it important?
    1. Determines whether services can be provided
    2. Determines debt capacity
  3. When assessing financial condition the following factors are taken into account
    1. Revenues and expenses
    2. Assets and liabilities
    3. Reserves and deficits
    4. Current debt obligations
    5. Liquidity and solvency
    6. Overlapping debt
    7. Social and economic conditions
    8. Quality of fiscal administration/reputation
    9. Financial reports
    10. Special disclosures
  4. Stakeholders divided into two groups
    1. External Jurisdictional
  1.                                                                i.      Creditors
  2.                                                              ii.      Contractors
  3.                                                             iii.      Constituents (current and potential)
  4.                                                            iv.      Business community
  5.                                                              v.      Policy analysts/consultants
  6.                                                                i.      Policymakers
  7.                                                              ii.      Administrative staff/managements
    1. Internal Jurisdictional
  1. Assessments quantified with a bond rating
    1. Ratings reflect degree of risk
  2. Bond ratings determine:
    1. Access to capital markets
    2. Cost of the access to capital


615 Question 2:


  1. Define capital expenditures and the impact it has on budgeting.
    1. Relative expensiveness
    2. Elongated life cycles
    3. Multiple funding cycles
    4. Maintenance
  2. Capital expenditures are vital to maintaining quality of life and creating a competitive business environment
  3. Financing Capital Investment
    1. Internal Sources
  1.                                                                i.      Current revenues
  2.                                                              ii.      Earmarked taxes
  3.                                                             iii.      Reserves
  4.                                                            iv.      Special charges from locally generated revenue sources
  5.                                                                i.      Debt
  6.                                                              ii.      Grants from senior levels of government
  7.                                                             iii.      Public-Private Partnerships
  8.                                                                i.      Location and size of the jurisdiction
  9.                                                              ii.      Credit rating
  10.                                                             iii.      Fiscal capacity for meeting other capital projects from internal sources
  11.                                                            iv.      Anticipated future expenditures
  12.                                                                i.      Those who benefit for it pay for it
  13.                                                              ii.      Intergenerational equity
  14.                                                                i.      Efficiency
  15.                                                              ii.      Accountability
  16.                                                             iii.      Transparency
  17.                                                            iv.      Fairness
  18.                                                              v.      Ease of administration
    1. External Sources
    1. Choice of financing vehicles is dependent upon a variety of factors
    1. Benefits received model
    1. Benefits based model
  1. Provide examples of each strategy


Question #3


  1. What is cash management?
    1. Pre-1970s vs. Post-1970s
  2. Cash Management Cycle
    1. Receive sources of income from revenue streams
    2. Disburse payments to creditors/vendors
    3. Manage cash flow from debt obligations
    4. Investment idle funds
  3. Cash flow forecasting
    1. Essential component of any cash management operation
    2. Provides a picture of organizational liquidity
    3. Vital to establishing aggressive investment program
    4. Yield linked to size and maturity of investment
  4. Objectives of a collection system
    1. Accelerate receipt of deposits/revenue streams
  1.                                                                i.      Minimize negative impacts of various types of float
    1. (mail, processing, check clearing and availability)
  2.                                                                i.      Employ various measures and account structures to protect funds
  3.                                                                i.      Governed by types of transactions and their related fees
  4.                                                              ii.      Pool money for investment (better yields, lower costs)
  5.                                                                i.      Aggressively utilize measures to enhance benefits from float
  6.                                                                i.      Market and interest rate risk
  7.                                                              ii.      Credit risk
  8.                                                             iii.      Liquidity risk
  9.                                                            iv.      Reinvestment risk
  10.                                                              v.      Reputational risk
    1. Safeguard the funds
    1. Minimize banking fees and costs
  1. Objectives of a disbursement system
    1. Pay bills in a timely and cost-effective manner
    1. Maintain timely reports and feedback on funding obligations
  1. Investment of funds
    1. Objective is to earn the best return possible without sacrificing safety of funds
    2. Five primary types of risk


615 Question 4


  1. What is an investment policy?
    1. Protects assets, policymakers and staff
    2. Limits liability by assigning responsibility
    3. Identifies objectives
    4. Several policies may be needed for special funds
  2. Critical components of investment policy
    1. Scope
    2. Objectives
    3. Delegation of authority
    4. Qualified institutions
    5. Prudence
  1.                                                                i.      Legal concepts of prudence
    1. Prudent person
    2. Prudent investor
    3. Prudent expert
  2.                                                              ii.      Investment standards of prudence
    1. Default risk
    2. Credit risk
    3. Liquidity
    4. Tolerance of risk
    5. Reputational
    1. Investment vehicles
    2. Diversification
    3. Custodial risk
    4. Internal controls
    5. Oversight committee
    6. Accounting requirements
    7. Reporting requirements
    8. Performance criteria
    9. Portfolio rebalancing
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Grass-roots Immigrant Groups

The front page Wall Street Journal article examined the rise of grassroots anti-illegal immigration organizations in late 2006 as the issue peaked in the national discourse and ultimately began to subside following the second and final defeat of attempts to grant amnesty in the summer of 2007.

The article focused on the ability of anti-illegal immigration organizations to utilize the internet and talk radio to advance our agenda.  It also keyed in on a groundbreaking initiative in the City of San Bernardino, which was replicated in numerous cities across America.  Although the article does a fairly decent job at providing an objective look into the growth of this grassroots movement, it failed to illuminate the traits of the successful grassroots organizations it profiled.

Effective organizations must analyze the current advocacy paradigm and evaluate whether or not a fundamental shift in that paradigm is required in order to achieve the desired objectives.  A paradigm shift may also be required in order to carve out an identifiable niche to provide differentiation between your organization and others.

Equally important is the need to identify your true audience and the desired effect you seek to have upon them.  Does your organization seek to educate and persuade so as to convert nonbelievers to your cause?  Perhaps, the organization is primarily interested in “preaching to the choir” so as to cause them to become engaged with the issue.  Others still seek to focus on lobbying elected officials in search of change.

Articulating the metrics by which the organization shall measure its success and meeting those targets must occur in order to create momentum and achieve growth and influence.  Ostentatious goals that exceed the capabilities and resources of the organization will result in a failure to achieve the objectives and result in a decrease in a morale and ultimate death of an organization.  Volunteer time and resources are scarce and those sensing that they are throwing their time away will either seek out another organization or step away from the arena.  Success begets success and positive victories, even small ones, boost the confidence and morale of the volunteers and provide the organizational leadership with greater flexibility to advance the agenda.

In order to construct the advocacy agenda for the organization, the leadership must have a firm grasp of the organizational strengths and weaknesses and a strong sense as to what is capable of being accomplished with the volunteers at its disposal.  An organization can only go as far as the people in its ranks and it is incumbent upon leadership to draft strategies that challenge these volunteers to step out of their comfort zone over time.  Conversely, the strengths and weakness of your opposition must be similarly scrutinized so that the most efficient and effective tactics and strategies can be utilized.

Publicity and media coverage leverages the actions of the organization and serves as the vehicle for raising awareness and effectuating change.  Often times, acquiring earned media is easier than most realize.  However, getting repeated coverage takes considerable work and planning.  Organizations must be able to provide unique angles to the same issue to secure ongoing coverage.  Thus, tactics and strategies along with the geographic areas implemented must be rotated much like a farmer would allow his land to lay fallow.

While advocacy efforts can take on many different forms, these traits are key components of any organization’s success.

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Leadership Succession Plannning

I confronted many challenges as the found and leader of a nonprofit organization engaged in grassroots advocacy on a rather controversial issue.  There were a variety of hindrances and obstacles on many fronts.  However, one of the most intriguing and educational learning experiences centered on my transitioning out of a leadership role.

Simply put, grassroots advocacy doesn’t pay the bills and my role as the leader of a confrontational and controversial organization severely impeded my ability to gain quality employment.  A requirement of a job I took was that I would have to severe my ties with the organization.  At this time, my second-in-command who I trusted and relied upon was in the process of relocating out of state in a few months.  Although there were others in the organization that possessed many quality attributes, none truly possessed the full complement of skills needed to succeed.

Out of necessity, I established a committee of key activists within the organization and relied upon a third member of my leadership team to take a lead role in the day-to-day management of operations.  Shortly thereafter, the organization became bogged down in petty infighting and other personality conflicts that would eventually result in the organization losing all efficacy and eventually succumbing to an untimely death.

Circumstances conspired against me and truly left me little time to find an appropriate successor and allow me to introduce a transition and succession program with our volunteers.  Unfortunately, the woman that I installed as the key day-to-day operations manager would soon be attacked and undermined relentlessly by factions within the organization.  It was truly remarkable how petty and juvenile this behavior was and at the double standard that occurred with respect to the organizational response of our leadership styles.

During times of turmoil or personality conflicts within the organization, I was capable of squashing this detrimental behavior nearly instantaneously either through my charismatic leadership or through the peer pressure vocally asserted by my loyal followers on my behalf.  My successor was not afforded the same level of deference and thus a schism developed.

Given the aggressive nature of our organization which also earned us some heated opposition from other organizations in our movement, I believe one of the benefits was a manifestation of an us vs. them mentality in our ranks.  This insular nature really brought us together as a cohesive unit.  However, as a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground leader, I feel that many of our volunteers became more loyal to me than the organization – or perhaps, they viewed me as the organization.

Ultimately, I learned that creating a succession plan is a very delicate process and one that must be given very serious attention.  Watching an organization that I literally built from the ground up as one man with an idea and a passion deteriorate right before my eyes was a painful experience.  Considering the amount of time and energy I had devoted to it over the preceding three years, it was akin to losing a loved one.

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Homeownership & the Mortgage Interest Deduction

Problem in Society

The Inland Empire has been devastated by the collapse of the housing market. Depressed real estate prices have sent rippling shockwaves throughout nearly every facet of our lives.  The popping of the housing bubble presents a multitude of challenges that need to be addressed by society and local governments in the short-term.  The fallout from this crisis and the manner in which government responds poses a paradigm shift in not only in the way we think and feel about the American Dream of homeownership, but how we navigate the ethical and moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and accountability that in large part have anchored and served as a foundation of that Dream.

All levels of government promote homeownership in some form or another.  However, the biggest booster of homeownership arrives in the form of a variety of federal initiatives and policies.  For the purposes of this paper, we are going to examine the home mortgage interest deduction.

The interest deduction has long been touted by real estate agents, home builders and elected officials as an inducement for prospective homebuyers to make the leap and purchase a home.  Ostensibly, the tax deduction incentive is designed to encourage home buying and result in a higher rate of homeownership in America.

However, a problem arises when a stated objective of government is thwarted by a government policy or initiative that undermines this effort.  Many economists argue that the mortgage interest deduction results in higher home prices through the artificial increase in prices resulting from the taxpayer funded subsidy.

Policy Analysis

This project will look specifically at the mortgage interest deduction, beginning with an explanation of the history and overview of its evolution into a nearly “untouchable” issue in American politics.  Then we will analyze the economic arguments surrounding the deduction and whether or not the intended benefit of increased homeownership has actually materialized.  We will also look into the purported benefits of the mortgage interest deduction to ascertain whether or not the financial benefits are realized by homeowners to such a degree as to induce a purchase.  Finally, after reviewing the material, conclusions will be drawn with respect to the efficacy of this policy to boost homeownership through the mortgage interest deduction with a discussion highlighting potential alternatives the government may pursue to accomplish the goal of boosting homeownership rates.


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Politicians, Nonprofits and Money Trails

While our textbook provides an exhaustive look at the evolution of the non-profit sector, there are many additional aspects worth discussing so as to provide a more robust overview.  One such topic meriting detailed examination centers around the use of non-profits to circumvent campaign finance laws and contribution limits.  Additionally, technological advancement has created an environment whereby the rapid dissemination of information or misinformation can do irreparable harm to an organization.

State and federal laws place numerous restrictions on what nonprofit organizations can and cannot do with respect to lobbying, advocacy and direct political involvement.  Depending on the designation of the nonprofit, these rules will vary.  Regardless, as the cost of campaigning has grown substantially and the process becomes even more competitive and partisan, nonprofit organizations have acquired more and more prominent roles within the political arena with the best political minds continuously seeking to push the limits on acceptable behavior.

Specifically, many elected officials have taken to establishing their own nonprofit organizations ostensibly to promote genuine charitable interests.  Critics argue that these charities allow politicians and corporations to circumvent campaign finance laws and campaign contribution limits because they allow for the transfer of significant amounts of money free from regulation or detailed and timely reporting.  Further, many of these elected officials employ family members (e.g. spouses, children) within their organizations and thus enrich themselves.

Congressman Joe Baca established a charity several years ago.  The Joe Baca Foundation funds numerous events and causes throughout the year his district and allows him to “run something akin to a permanent political campaign” (Lipton). Congressman Alan Mollohan of West Virginia started Vandalia Heritage Foundation. The president of Vandalia is a former Mollohan staffer who also just happens to sit on the board of National Housing Development Corporation.  NHDC is the company ran by Jeff Burum (i.e. the San Bernardino County Colonies Scandal).  Burum and the president of Vandalia have given Mollohan campaign contributions and Burum has also benefited from millions of dollars in congressional earmarks sponsored by Mollohan (Adams).

Technology and the speed with which information can be disseminated may irreparably harm an organization.  The ACORN scandal and controversies of a lesser degree impacting Planned Parenthood are indicative of a new reality.  The recent capture of Osama Bin Laden and the myriad of false and conflicting reports further demonstrate the new paradigm.  “Facts” can be communicated to millions of people before the organization itself even has an opportunity to address the matter internally and synthesize a response.  While our text discusses the importance of building the trust between the organization, its donors and the public, it is remarkable how quickly this brand equity and loyalty can be breached and severed in this new era.

Similarly to how the rise of cable and satellite television forever fractured the monopoly network television enjoyed with the audience of viewers, internet and mobile telephone technologies foment an environment whereby people have a plethora of charitable options to choose from.  There are few barriers to entry and a seeming ability for “mushroom” charities to sprout overnight and procure instant credibility with various partnerships.  Consequently, the competition for dollars has stiffened and the margin for error has shrunk considerably.

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