Helping children succeed, one move at a time
Chess for Success is a leading education organization where K-8th grade students learn skills that are often overlooked: critical-thinking, good decision-making, patience and understanding the consequences of their actions. Self-confidence increases when they play chess, students are seen as smart--and they start to see themselves that way.
Every day the students in our clubs face the very real challenges of living in poverty. And because they attend schools in low-income areas, they face low expectations and lack of opportunities that can be devastating. Chess can change both.
The students who participate in Chess for Success:
Our support comes from the generosity of individuals, businesses, and foundations. Your tax-deductible donation will help us provide after-school chess clubs for more children. Examples of what your donation will provide:
- Score 17% higher in math
- Score 10% higher in reading
- Are more self-confident
- 35% girls (nationally, less than 10% of girls play chess)
- Live at or below the poverty line at a higher rate than their peers
For donations by phone or to make a gift of stock or appreciated asset:
- $6,000 ($500 monthly) Funds an entire Chess for Success club for one year
- $1,200 ($100 monthly) Funds a Chess for Success coach for a year
- $500 ($42 monthly) Provides 50 chess sets for CFS students to keep at the end of the year
- $250 ($20.83 monthly) Sponsors state tournament registration for one CFS school
- $150 ($12.50 monthly) Sponsors one child in a Chess for Success school for a year
- $100 ($8.33 monthly) Creates a chess library at a Chess for Success school
Contact Julie Young, Executive Director
503-295-1230 (local) or
800-285-7660 (outside Portland)
Send donations by mail to:
Chess for Success
2701 NW Vaughn Suite 101
Portland, OR 97210
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) offers consumers a great free tool to download and review before shopping for a motor vehicle. You can access the app on your desktop or laptop by going to www.USLemonLawLawyers.com. Or take it with you to the dealer's by downloading it from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store (Android).
A powerful retrospective report showing the real facts behind the notorious "McDonald's Hot Coffee" case -- the gruesome burns, the fact that she was in a parked car, not a moving one, the fact that McDonald's had hundreds of warnings that it was serving dangerously hot coffee, the fact that the plaintiff only asked for her medical bills to be paid (before McDonald's offered her a paltry $800 against medical bills of $10,000) -- on and on, the "outrageous" result turns out to have been more than justified, and the only real outrage is that McDonalds and the Chamber of Commerce have managed to fool most people into thinking that they were the victims in this case.
Watch this excellent New York Times report, and then if you really want to understand how corporate America tries to turn real people against each other (the better to fleece them, and keep them from standing up to big corporations), look for the great movie "Hot Coffee" too.
P.S. Click here to make a contribution -- one-time or monthly -- to help make another documentary that helps set the record straight about the civil justice system, the only part of government where real people get to stand toe-to-toe and fight back on level ground with corporations. That's why corporations hate it so much, and why they want to tell you lies, so you'll hate it too
Oregon Allows Debt Collectors to Push Working Families into Poverty
A new report by the National Consumer Law Center gives Oregon a D
Portland, OR - The decision of what bills to pay and what bills to put off is a game of financial roulette tens of thousands of Oregonians are forced to play every month as they struggle to recover from the economic downturn. The priorities are obvious - keep your family housed and fed and pay for transportation plus other items necessary for work - other creditors get what's left.
A new report from the National Consumer Law Center exposes how state exemption laws take these difficult decisions out of workers hands by giving debt collectors the ability to seize a substantial portion of a person's wages and the tools essential for their work. The report, No Fresh Start: How States Let Debt Collectors Push Families into Poverty, finds that Oregon law fails to meet basic standards that would allow debtors to continue to work productively to support themselves and their families.
Exemption laws are designed to protect debtors and their families from poverty, and preserve their ability to be productive members of society. Oregon gets an F when it comes to protecting wages. Current wage garnishment law allows debt collectors to push a family below the poverty level. A minimum wage earner working full time can have their weekly pay reduced to $268.50, less than the federal poverty level for a two-person family. If they work less than full time their wages may be reduced to $217.50, less than half of the federal poverty level for a family of four. Oregon's overall grade is a D. A copy of the NCLC report can be found here.
Oregon's archaic exemption laws fuel the lucrative and fast-growing debt buyer industry. "When a worker's wages are slashed below the poverty level to pay off old credit card debt that was bought for pennies on the dollar by an out-of-state debt buyer everyone loses. The debtor can't pay the landlord or the childcare worker and the family is forced to rely on government services to make ends meet," said Angela Martin, Executive Director of Economic Fairness Oregon, an advocacy group fighting for reform of Oregon's debt collection laws.
"In 2012, the FTC received more than 125,000 consumer complaints about debt collection, representing almost 25% of all consumer complaints it received. Debt collection lawsuits are clogging up civil courts across the nation," said Robert Hobbs, National Consumer Law Center's Deputy Director and author of Fair Debt Collection. "This report serves as a wake-up call for states to update their exempt property laws and stop putting millions of families at risk. Doing so will allow local courts to redirect their focus from the insatiable appetite of a debt machine that churns out millions of undocumented debt collection lawsuits each year."
The NCLC report includes several recommends for reforming state exemption laws, those include:
Preserve the debtor's ability to work, by protecting a working car, work tools and equipment.
Protect the family's housing, necessary household goods, and means of transportation.
Protect a living wage for working debtors that will meet basic needs.
Protect retirees from destitution by restricting creditors' ability to seize retirement funds.
Be automatically updated for inflation.
Economic Fairness Oregon
Oregonian opinion columnist Elizabeth Hovde wrote an execrable column the other day that proposed cutting food stamps for the "not so needy" -- you know, the folks with smartphones and on foodstamps.
Hovde's column shows that if she ever had any understanding of just how damn expensive it is to be poor in America, her perch of privilege has long since helped her forget that crucial fact. So I wrote a letter to the editor in response, which they ran today (below).
If you have no idea what I mean when I say it's really costly to be poor in America, click the image over there, which is to a great book, Shortchanged: Life and Debt in the Fringe Economy, which every politician in America should have to read and pass a test on before being allowed to legislate.
Letter: Cellphones don't always signal prosperity
So commentary columnist Elizabeth Hovde thinks that we should stop giving food stamps to the not so needy, whom we can all recognize because they have both cellphones and SNAP cards ("Stop feeding the not so needy," Sept. 8)? Whenever the well-off write about how the not-really-needy folks are sponging off public benefits for their lavish cellphone-using lifestyle, I know that these writers have never been in the death grip of a boa constrictor service contract.
Boa constrictor contracts work like this: The company advertises a great monthly rate that you can easily afford when things are going OK for you financially. That's the rate that is splashed all over the flyers and posters and TV and radio ads. That rate is just sucker bait.
Then something happens: You're laid off, your hours cut or your partner's are, you come down with a bad case of the doctor copays or car repairs, your bus system quits running on weekends. It doesn't matter why you can no longer afford the service that you could once handle. Because no matter why, you are going to be told that you can only cancel or switch to a cheaper plan by paying several hundred dollars first. And if you just cancel the traditional way, by not paying, you are going to find yourself hounded by collection agencies for the monthly charges, plus the penalties, and then sued for them, plus court costs and attorney fees, and you'll have your wages garnished and your credit ruined. All because you couldn't afford to pay a penalty to stop a service contract you could no longer handle.
We need to do two things: Force companies to fully disclose how much their service contracts really cost, and let struggling folks cancel without getting hammered with penalties.
On the first, our motto should be "Service Contracts Oughta Reveal Everything," which spells SCORE.
SCORE would mean that anything that comes with an early-cancel penalty -- cellphone, Internet, satellite TV, gym membership, alarm system -- the company would have to tell you, in big bold type, at signup time, the true total of all the payments you must make to get past any penalties. That's first.
Second, we should require that contracts with early-cancel penalties must have waivers so that any customer on public benefits (such as SNAP, Medicaid, public housing) can cancel a contracted service without penalty.
Until we do a much better job of making sure that everyone knows what they're getting into with service contracts (with SCORE disclosures) and until we prevent early-cancel penalties from putting the squeeze on the poor, I suggest that Hovde just be thankful for the privilege that allows her to casually equate having a cellphone with being "not so needy." I see plenty of consumers who are being squeezed to death by contracts that they would love to escape, if it didn't cost more to cancel the contracts than to keep paying.
Gear is a Salem attorney.
Another Oregon attorney writes:
Apparently, Ms. Hovde must not realize that the people who qualify for food assistance generally have the least expensive and crappiest version of everything that she and her family rely on for their daily life, like:
* generic unhealthy processed food;
* clothing from thrift stores or Wal-Mart;
* cars with duct tape—if at all;
* unattractive and often unsafe housing;
* cheap and sometimes dangerous toys with little educational value for their children;
* less responsive medical care;
* less responsive public safety providers;
* crappier schools;
* crappier neighborhood infrastructure;
* three-year-old game systems because it’s cheaper to entertain three kids with a game system then taking them to the moves once a month; etc.
She also apparently doesn’t understand life changes. I often see my clients qualifying for food assistance post-divorce when they already have nice cars (with zero value), good clothes (that won’t be replaced), smart phones on a family plan (that now isn’t being paid by the ex), three children and a spouse who is reluctant to provide adequate support.
I also bet Ms. Hovde has never seen the 10 page application for state assistance asking for the income information for everyone in the applicant’s household, and asking for the value of the persons vehicle, and other worldly possessions….
I’ve seen some real cases of benefits fraud in my work—eg. a trust-funder collecting TANF, OHP, SNAP who then faked earning $15K per year to claim an Earned Income Credit on his federal returns— so I know they exist, but anything that makes it harder for poor people to get help is a really bad idea.
Vulnerable Nursing Home Patients Need Ability to Sue in Court as Government Agencies Fail to Protect Them
By Leslie Bailey, Staff Attorney, Public Justice
According to a new report just released by the Center for Investigative Reporting and reported by KQED, the failure of California regulators to adequately investigate and pursue claims of abuse and misconduct by nursing assistants and health aids is “putting the elderly, sick, and disabled at risk.” In fact, the regulators that are charged with protecting vulnerable patients in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are either conducting “cursory and indifferent” investigations, or simply closing cases without taking any action at all. The report underscores how critically important it is for people to have the ability to sue when loved ones are harmed by nursing home neglect—or worse.
Take Elsie Fossum. One morning in July 2006, the 95-year-old was found lying in a pool of blood, her arm broken and her face described by the registered nurse in charge at the nursing home as “beaten to a pulp.” Within a few weeks, Elsie died as a result of the wounds she’d suffered. A nurse suspected one of the nursing assistants, and a report was filed with the Department of Health. But according to KQED, the agency shelved the case for 6 ½ years and finally closed it without any investigation.
The CIR report paints a grim picture. There are approximately 160,000 nursing assistants and in-home health aids working at hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities throughout California. As of 2009, the backlog of reported abuse and theft cases was so high that is was deemed a “crisis.” But rather than prioritize investigating, according to the report, “the state Department of Public Health quietly ordered investigators to dismiss 1,000 pending cases … often without a single phone call.” While the number of cases closed without action is on the rise, the main tool by which the agency is supposed to protect patients from abuse—revoking the licenses of nursing home employees—has plummeted in recent years. In other words, the abusers are permitted to continue working at their jobs, where they can continue to commit more horrific abuse. It’s gotten so bad that even a former Public Health director warns Californians: “do not count on the government taking care of you.”
Fortunately, we have the civil justice system, and anyone whose loved one is abused in a nursing home can file a lawsuit – right? Think again. As the Wall Street Journal reported, nursing homes—like pretty much all other businesses—are increasingly jumping on the forced arbitration bandwagon. That is, they’re requiring everyone who checks in to sign a contract forfeiting their constitutional right to sue. Instead, per the fine print, any claims against the home or its employees must be brought in private arbitration, in a secret proceeding before a hired gun chosen by the nursing home. But of course, the last thing on your mind when you’re in the painful process of admitting an elderly parent to a home is the fine print of the nursing home’s multi-page contract. The nursing home, of course, knows exactly what it’s doing: a study done by the nursing home industry itself found that as arbitration has increasingly replaced court as the forum for dispute resolution, the amount of money recovered by abuse victims and their families has decreased—even as complaints about poor treatment have risen.
If the government agencies charged with protecting our loved ones aren’t up to the task, then the only way to prevent more horrific abuses like that of Elsie Fossum is through private litigation. But the nursing homes know this, and they’re doing everything they can to use forced arbitration to exempt themselves from lawsuits. It’s time to fight back.
If you are facing an arbitration clause in a nursing home case, we can help. Email Leslie at email@example.com or Paul Bland at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, you can also read our article, "Combating Abusive Arbitration Clauses in Nursing Home Contracts."
I'm humbled and extremely grateful to the many clients who have entrusted me with their legal problems over the past three years since September 2010.
Thanks to all those clients, I am able to be among the sponsors of the big fall benefit for Marion-Polk Food Share, the 2013 "Empty Bowls" fundraiser.
On NOVEMBER 23-24, if you live anywhere in or near Salem, I hope you'll come and buy one or a dozen of the beautiful handmade, hand-fired bowls donated by the scores of talented artists in our area. These "empty bowls" make some of the most appreciated, satisfying gifts in all of Oregon.
1. New interactive Form 1023 available for review
In an effort to make applying for tax exemption easier, the IRS Exempt Organizations (EO) office is in the development stage of an alternate version of Form 1023, Application for Recognition of Exemption. The new application is available for preview until September 20, 2013.
The Interactive Form 1023 (i1023) features pop-up information boxes for most lines of the form. These boxes contain explanations and links to related information on IRS.gov and StayExempt.irs.gov, EO’s educational website. When final testing is completed later this year, you'll print and mail the form and its attachments just like the standard Form 1023.
Although viewers are unable to print or submit this “review” version of i1023, EO encourages the public to click through its new features and promote the i1023 to colleagues and business associates. After reviewing the i1023, please send your comments to email@example.com.
Anticipated i1023 benefits:
* Applicants will be able to submit a more complete form
* IRS processing time is reduced
* Applicants receive a tax-exempt determination more quickly
The i1023 was developed from recommendations by the IRS’ Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities (ACT).
DHS has a new, free handbook you can download HERE (pdf). If you are an elder thinking about having a family member provide your care, or if you're a family member who is or may someday be asked to provide care for a family elder or other family member with a disability, this is a worthwhile resource.