Nonprofits, University Foundations and Transparency, Dark Store Legislation Introduced, & More Rural Voices Left Off State Boards and Commissions
– INFORMED BREVITY –
This Week in Rural Insights
On Wednesday we will be publishing an article by Michael Broadway that looks at the effect Covid-19 has had on population in the Upper Peninsula from 2020 to 2021 using data from the Census Bureau, and discusses the conclusions that can be drawn from this data.
Nonprofits, University Foundations and Transparency
Nonprofits in Michigan are often used to avoid and hide from public scrutiny or to help educate citizens about what these public bodies are doing or not doing. University foundations are incorporated as nonprofits so as to not be covered by the Freedom of Information Act or the Open Meetings Act.
Donor names are sheltered as are other activities of these boards. No public knowledge or review of what the university foundation boards are doing or how to give away donor money to recipients. All this does not mean that foundations don’t do good and amazing stuff, just that they want to do it without anyone knowing what, where and how.
Often the employees of these foundations are paid by the university and are part of the university retirement system. These university foundations are incorporated as nonprofits.
Nonprofit organizations often receive huge amounts of tax dollars as part of their budgets. Issues like whether any of the nonprofit employees been accused of mishandling organization/client funds, how do they operate, etc., would be important for the public to know about. Without these public dollars they could not continue to do the good work they do.
Some observers and Whisperers are calling for reform of the nonprofit state law to require the nonprofits that receive more that 50% of their budgets from state funds to be required to obey and operate under the FOIA and OMA laws. Some Whisperers are also asking for statute reform as it is applied to university foundations.
Dark Store Legislation Introduced
Senator Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) has introduced legislation to reform the Dark Store exemption that, many believe, is unfairly taken by big box retailers like Meijer and Walmart and has so greatly impacted the budgets of local governments in the Upper Peninsula. It has often resulted in local government budget cuts to things like public libraries, K-12 school districts, law enforcement, etc., in our UP communities.
Local Chambers of Commerce have already come out in support of the McBroom legislation. Local governments are also in support. Groups like the Marquette Ambassadors have long supported reform.
Rural Voices Left Off More State Boards/Commissions
We have been reporting for a while now that rural voices are non-existent on important public bodies like the State Board of Education and the Michigan Supreme Court. Urban/suburban voices predominate.
This week we noticed, again, that no rural voices are on the Michigan Tax Commission and the Michigan Tax Tribunal. Not one voice. No members on these public bodies from rural areas above or below the Mackinac Bridge.
From the World Around Us
Nearly half of Michiganders think a college education is not worth the cost of tuition, etc.. About a quarter of Michiganders think a college education is important to landing a successful job. This according to a statewide poll by Craine’s News Service. You agree? Let us know.
Quotes That Make Us Go Hmmm
“Impunity is the exercise of power without accountability, which becomes, in its starkest form, the commission of crimes without punishment. In a phrase, impunity is the idea that ‘the law is for suckers,’ a notion that human rights leaders fear is on the rise in political institutions around the world. From behavior in conflict to its economic exploitation, from environment degradation to democratic backsliding, the battle between impunity and accountability is a critical lens for understanding what is happening in the world.” – The Eurasia Group.
Books Recommended By Our Readers
“A People’s History of the Civil War.” David Williams. This book deals with the impacts of this war on society, before, during and after the war.
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