Friday, November 12, 2004

NEW YORKERS FOR BUSH. Robert David Sullivan, who developed the pioneering "Beyond Red and Blue" map for CommonWealth magazine, has uploaded his analysis of the presidential election. His most interesting findings:

  • Bush got one of his biggest popular-vote boosts from the area around New York City, despite losing that region overall by a substantial amount.
  • The most solidly Republican area of the country now is Appalachia, "which has the poorest and most rural population in the US." Guess those Republican leaflets saying that Kerry wanted to ban the Bible and force gay marriage down their throats worked. Yep.

THE OTHER SHOE. Boston Herald radio columnist Dean Johnson today asks a good question: is Boston University's investigation of itself really going to be allowed to stand as the last word regarding Jane Christo's tenure as general manager of WBUR Radio (90.9 FM)?

Without suggesting that the level of wrongdoing was really any worse than what was already found, wouldn't it make sense for BU interim president Aram Chobanian to name some sort of outside, independent panel?

At one point Massachusetts attorney general Tom Reilly was at least being kept informed of the investigation, but there are no signs that he's moving forward on this. (With the Big Dig tunnel falling apart, he's obviously got his hands full.) Besides, a full-fledged state investigation would probably amount to overkill.

But since Christo ran up multimillion-dollar deficits, awarded no-bid contracts, and the like as an employee of Boston University, Chobanian should get to the bottom of whatever was going on. The report issued this week appears merely to skim the surface.

HARD TIMES AT SPARE CHANGE. The Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change News, has laid off its executive director in an effort to keep its services intact - including the newspaper. (See earlier coverage here.) Here's the press release:

HEP, Spare Change News Restructure and Plan for the Future

CAMBRIDGE - In light of a projected 2005 fiscal shortfall, the Board of Trustees of the Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP) voted to cut costs by laying off its executive director. Relying on its remaining staff and its volunteers, the publisher of Spare Change News will continue all of its services: producing the newspaper and providing an employment opportunity for Greater Boston's unemployed and homeless.

On Tuesday, October 25, the HEP Board examined the proposed budget and discussed various ways to balance it - including layoffs, cutting services or cutting back publication of the paper from twice to once per month. In the end, the board decided that the only way to balance the budget while maintaining the core values and mission of the organization was to release Executive Director Fran Czajkowski. Czajkowski attended the meeting and was actually the individual who first proposed her departure as one option for balancing the budget. Czajkowski served the organization in the executive director capacity for several years, during which time HEP grew significantly and was able to continuously advance its core mission. Her last day of work was November 5. HEP board member Paula Mathieu, a professor of English at Boston College, has stepped in temporarily as interim director.

"HEP and Spare Change News have a talented, dedicated staff and group of volunteers who have seen the organization through tougher times than this," said Lee Mandell, president of HEP's board of trustees. "This change will not hurt our mission in the least."

The overall size of the HEP staff had doubled over the past year, from one full-time and three part-time workers to three full-time and two part-time staff. Fundraising, which has also grown over recent years, had not increased enough to maintain this increase in staff. The existing staff of two full-time and two part-time employees will cover all the day-to-day operations of the organization. The HEP Board will step in to oversee fundraising and establish new initiatives.

"In order to keep the paper going, in order to keep providing an income to more than a hundred men and women who depend on the paper, we had to cut costs," said Mathieu. "At the same time, we are going forward with direction, energy and hope for the future."

HEP will continue to expand its work with homeless and other disadvantaged people throughout Greater Boston. The non-profit plans to reestablish a Speakers' Bureau that will make available staff and vendors of the newspaper to talk with local school, religious or community groups about issues of homelessness and poverty. Additionally, long-time Spare Change vendor James Shearer was recently voted a member of the Board and will oversee the Vendor Committee as well as take part in discussions on future visions for the paper.

"We hope these changes will increase the empowerment opportunities at HEP," said Mandell. "We plan not only to survive but thrive, by encouraging all of our staff and vendors to become active in the organization as we go forward."

HEP publishes Spare Change News (SCN), a biweekly street newspaper that reports on issues including homelessness and poverty from local, national and international perspectives. SCN's vendors, many of whom are homeless, sell the newspaper to earn a living. SCN also publishes original work by people who are homeless or otherwise marginalized by society.

"Spare Change News will continue to publish timely, important and engaging articles that people will not find in other publications," said SCN editor Sam Scott. "We are committed to reporting the news and helping our vendors earn a living despite this temporary setback."

In addition to other fundraising measures HEP is planning, the organization will have its annual holiday appeal, which will be featured in the newspaper beginning November 25. People interested in supporting or volunteering for HEP can call 617-497-1595, ext. 12 or e-mail

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Anyone surprised? Don't you think that the heavy incomes earned in the city vote their tax bills? Always have, always will. And they toast the poor chumps in tarpaper shacks with $15 martinis. American way.