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Nonprofit news roundup for July 11, 2008

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Helmsley gift said to show need for tax-deduction limit

Through her charitable bequest of up to $8 billion to benefit dogs, Leona Helmsley, the late hotel magnate, wasted not only her own money but also cost the government $3.6 billion in lost taxes, said Ray D. Madoff in an opinion column in The New York Times July 9 (see Helmsley dog bequest story). The bequest underscores the need for a limit on the estate-tax charitable deduction, Madoff said.

D.C. senior-citizens activist overcharged city

Concha Johnson, former director of the now-defunct Senior Citizens Counseling Service, has been ordered to repay $60,000 to the Washington, D.C.., government after a jury found she overcharged the city for meals and services, The Washington Post reported July 11 (see Senior Citizens Counseling Service story). The D.C. government contended the longtime community activist was responsible for nearly $350,000 in fraudulent claims from 2001 to 2003.

NYC history society drops condo plan

After decades of controversy, the New-York Historical Society has dropped plans for a $100 million, 23-story luxury condominium tower that would have changed the skyline and cast a shadow on Central Park, The New York Times reported July 9 (see New-York Historical Society story). Critics say the demise of the tower “is a signal
to other nonprofits that are trying to change the character of neighborhoods to their benefit.”

In Brief:

* The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is increasing its commitment to eradicating polio with a $150 million addition to the $250 million it has already committed, The Puget Sound Business Journal reported July 8.

* The British charity that co-ordinates humanitarian-aid appeals has stopped commissioning evaluations, potentially raising questions over whether millions of British pounds in donations are being used effectively, The Financial Times reported July 8.

* Because it sold its remaining shares of the company in 1997, the William Penn Foundation did not benefit from its historical links with Rohm Haas & Co. when the company was sold this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported July 11.

* Twenty-five Washington, D.C., nonprofits working to curb gang violence will receive $200,000 in mini-grants from the District police, NBC4 reported July 9.

* U.S. philanthropist Bernie Krisher has helped build some 400 schools in Cambodia thanks to a little “chutzpah” and a longstanding friendship with King Norodom Sihanouk, The Jerusalem Post reported July 8.

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