in Data, Origination Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Credit Standards Ellie Mae FHA Investors Lenders & Servicers Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-02-20 Tory Barringer Refinance loan share jumped to its highest level in at least a year and a half, according to “”Ellie Mae’s””:http://www.elliemae.com/ Origination Insight Report for “”January 2013″”:http://www.elliemae.com/origination-insight-reports/EMOriginationInsightReportJanuary2013.pdf.[IMAGE]Ellie Mae’s monthly report is based on data from a sampling of the loan applications that flow through the company’s Encompass360 mortgage management software and its network. To get a meaningful view of lender “”pull-through,”” Ellie Mae reviews applications initiated 90 days prior–October 2012, in this case.According to the report, refinances made up 73 percent of loans closed in January–the highest level recorded since Ellie Mae began tracking the data in August 2011. January’s refinance figure is 4 percentage points higher than December’s.Jonathan Corr, president and COO of Ellie Mae, credited the spike to continued low interest rates and homebuying seasonality as well as elevated activity under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP).””Closed conventional refinances with LTVs [loan-to-value ratios] of 95 percent-plus ticked up slightly to 11.6 percent in January 2013 from the previous high of 11.4 percent in [COLUMN_BREAK]December 2012, indicating that more underwater borrowers are being able to refinance thanks to HARP 2.0,”” Corr said.Despite the rise in refinance share, the time it took to close a refinance loan declined slightly in January, falling to 55 days from 57 days previously. However, time to close was up from 48 days in January 2012 (when refinance share was an estimated 66 percent). Meanwhile, the time it took to close a purchase loan stayed flat at 51 days, bringing the close time on all loans to 54 days (down one day from December).The share of loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) fell to 18 percent in January, while conventional loan share increased to 74 percent. According to Corr, FHA share was the lowest it’s been since Ellie Mae’s tracking began, perhaps indicating that the agency’s revised program–which includes higher premiums–has made FHA loans less attractive.The closing rate for all loans in January was 55.0 percent, slightly above December’s 54.7 percent and considerably higher than January 2012’s 46.2 percent. The closing rate on purchase loans fell half a percentage point to 60.8 percent, while the rate on refinances increased a full percentage point to 52.6 percent.The average FICO score for a conventional refinance closed in January was flat from December at 763, while the average score for a conventional purchase mortgage was 760 (down from 761). Year-over-year, the declines were more substantial.””Average credit scores for conventional loans in January 2013 were slightly lower compared to the same time last year. A year ago, the average credit score was 769 for a conventional refinance and 763 for a similar purchase,”” Corr said. “”While the overall credit score requirement remains tight, it appears that we are beginning to see some loosening.”” Refinance Share Climbs to 73 Percent in January, Time to Close Falls February 20, 2013 559 Views
Every running back’s job is to put their foot in the ground and drive through traffic. What better way for a running backs coach to illustrate that than showing a clip of Tom Cruise literally driving through traffic?Inside the Pylon has a great series on the techniques Penn State running backs coach Charles Huff uses to implore his players to run strong through traffic, centered around a drill that requires his players to sink their hips, which in turn allows them to lower their center of gravity and explode through a hole.The shoot that they have to run under is used to make sure that the back drops his hips and roll his shoulders. Coach Huff believes that the single most important trait for a back is hip flexibility, or the ability to drop his hips and efficiently change directions and explode. He said, “a back that could sink his hips will always be in position to change directions or change the playing field aggressively and with balance.” You’ll notice Barkley naturally bends at the hips, giving him a low center of gravity. A key part of the drill is sinking the hips and then getting the shoulders, knees, and toes vertical to explode into the correct hole. When the back gets underneath the shoot he has to also roll his shoulder forward, which puts him in a position to deliver a blow. Read the full post here to see how Huff does it in action.And then show the clip to your players, if nothing else to amaze yourself at how old we’re all getting when none of them know who any of the people in the clip are. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Sponsored By Connatix
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Sponsored By Connatix We’re now at roughly the midway point of Year 3 for the FBS hiring class of 2016. This was a large class, 26 strong, spread across nine conferences (the Pac-12 sat that year out) and for many FBS ADs it’s now decision time on whether they want to double down on their current direction or offer a course correction. For some coaches, the decision is obvious. For others, not so much.Here’s a brief look at where 25 of the 26 new coaches of 2016 — Tyson Summers didn’t make it to Year 3 at Georgia Southern — stands roughly 30 games into their respective tenures.AmericanWillie Fritz, Tulane: 11-19 (5-13 AAC) overall, 2-4 (1-1) this seasonTulane had won three or fewer games in three of its last four seasons pre-Fritz, and the Green Wave exceeded that mark in each of his first two campaigns. Tulane came within one play of reaching a bowl game in 2017, and will need to win four of its final six to get there this fall. The school extended Fritz through 2023 in May. A Shawnee Mission, Kan., native, he could be a candidate at potential KU and K-State openings this winter.Scottie Montgomery, East Carolina: 8-22 (3-16 AAC) overall, 2-4 (0-3) this seasonECU reached a bowl game in four of Ruffin McNeill’s six seasons, but hasn’t come close in any of Montgomery’s three. Barring a late turnaround — ECU has games with No. 10 UCF, No. 16 NC State and No. 20 Cincinnati remaining — a change here seems likely. Mike Norvell, Memphis: 22-11 (13-7 AAC) overall, 4-3 (1-3) this seasonThis season has shaped into a rebuilding year, but the Tigers were thisclose to taking the AAC title last season. Even still, Memphis finished at 10-3 and No. 25 in the AP poll, the second time the program has appeared in a year-end AP poll — ever. Still only 37, Norvell signed a 5-year, $13 million extension in December, but he’ll be a person of interest for Power 5 openings this winter or next.ACCDino Babers, Syracuse: 12-18 (5-14 ACC) overall, 4-2 (1-2 ACC) this yearLast year, Syracuse secured what appeared to be a program-defining upset of No. 2 Clemson, moving the Orange to 4-3 on the year. They didn’t win another game. The Orange nearly did the same on Sept. 29, building a late lead at Death Valley East before eventually falling 27-23… and then dropped their next game, a 44-37 overtime defeat at Pitt. A similar collapse would lead to major questions, but we don’t expect that to happen here. This should be Syracuse’s first bowl team since 2012.Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech: 23-10 (14-5 ACC), 4-2 (3-0 ACC) this yearLook at it this way: the Hokies were embarrassed by Old Dominion and outclassed by Notre Dame, and are still in the driver’s seat to win their seventh ACC Coastal Division championship and their second in Fuente’s three seasons. Fuente signed a 2-year extension, through 2023, before the 2017 season.Bronco Mendenhall, Virginia: 12-19 (6-13 ACC), 4-2 (2-1 ACC) this yearThis move looked like a punch line after 2016, when Mendenhall left a stable situation at BYU to go 2-10 at Virginia. But the Hoos reached a bowl game last year, and are on track to do so again this winter. Snapping UVa’s 14-game Commonwealth Cup losing streak sure would go a long way to locking this job up long term.Mark Richt, Miami: 24-9 (14-5 ACC), 5-2 (2-1 ACC) this yearThe warm fuzzies from last year’s 10-0 start and No. 2 ranking has washed away now that the ‘Canes are 2-5 in their last seven against Power 5 competition. The program still obviously has a ways to go to reach the ACC and national elite, but it’s in unquestionably better hands now than it was before, when The U went 19-14 (9-10 ACC) in Al Golden’s final three seasons.Big 12Matt Campbell, Iowa State: 14-17 (9-13 Big 12) overall, 3-3 (2-2 Big 12) this yearThis tweet just about sums it up.Before last season, Iowa State was 1-65-2 all-time against teams ranked in the top 6 (AP poll). Since, Matt Campbell has notched wins over a No. 3 Oklahoma, a No. 4 TCU and a No. 6 West Virginia.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) October 15, 2018Campbell still hasn’t beaten Iowa, but he’s turned Jack Trice Stadium into a Bermuda Triangle for the Big 12 elite. Last year’s eight wins were the program’s most since 2002, and in Campbell agreed to a new 6-year contract that dropped his buyout from $9.4 million to $7 million.Big TenChris Ash, Rutgers: 7-24 (3-20 Big Ten) overall, 1-6 (0-4 Big Ten) this yearThere’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg debate with Rutgers football — is the program down because it keeps hiring the wrong coaches, or is the program so down that no coach could resuscitate them? The fact is, Rutgers has very little tradition of winning football and has to play Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State annually while still not receiving the full freight of Big Ten cash (which doesn’t arrive until 2020-21). So there’s that. But the Knights were blown out by Kansas in September, lost by 21 to Illinois and, on Saturday, watched its quarterbacks go 2-of-17 with nearly as many interceptions (5) as passing yards (8) in a 34-7 loss to Maryland. Any time your numbers are that bad it’s never just about the guys throwing passes. If Rutgers wanted to move on this winter, they’d be justified. If Ash wanted to cut bait and chase an assistant job elsewhere, he’d also be justified.D.J. Durkin, Maryland: 10-15 (5-13 Big Ten) overall, 0-0 this yearObviously, there’s a lot more going on than just the play on the field. The boosters seem to want Durkin back, while some of the players don’t. Durkin was building a program but an apocalypse of quarterback injuries doomed the club to a 4-8 season a year ago. The team has produced four wins this season under interim head coach Matt Canada. The longer this investigation goes and the more wins the team secures without Durkin, the less it feels like he’ll be back.Lovie Smith, Illinois: 8-22 (3-18 Big Ten) overall, 3-3 (1-2 Big Ten) this yearAD Josh Whitman was hired Feb. 17, 2016. He could have allowed Bill Cubit to remain into his second season as a long-term interim head coach and had his pick of the litter that fall. Instead, within his third week on the job, Whitman fired Cubit and hired Smith, who hadn’t coached in college football since 1992. Not only that, he handed the unemployed Smith a 6 year, $21 million contract that would cost the school $12.6 million to terminate even after three years on the job. Smith is 2-1 against Rutgers and 1-17 against the rest of the Big Ten.Conference USAJay Hopson, Southern Miss: 17-14 (11-7 C-USA) overall, 2-3 (1-1 C-USA) this yearHopson was another late hire, taking over just days before Signing Day after Todd Monken left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s led the Golden Eagles to bowls in his first two seasons and signed a new 4-year contract in August.Seth Littrell, North Texas: 20-14 (12-7 C-USA) overall, 6-1 (2-1 C-USA) this yearSimply put, this has been a transformative hire for North Texas football. Littrell has raised the bar so high and so quickly that anything short of a Conference USA title this year will be viewed as a disappointment — and this is after taking over a team that went 1-11 and lost to FCS Portland State 66-7 on homecoming in 2015. UNT has invested everything it can to keep him as long as possible; his salary has doubled to a C-USA best $1.425 million and the school recently broke ground on an indoor facility. Eventually, someone will approach the 40-year-old Oklahoman with an offer he can’t refuse, but the school hopes to wring as much as possible out of Littrell while it can.Frank Wilson, UTSA: 15-16 (10-9 C-USA) overall, 3-4 (2-1 C-USA) this yearUTSA expected Wilson to do for it what Littrell has done for North Texas, and after a 6-7 debut, the Roadrunners appeared on track. But while North Texas won the C-USA West last season, UTSA stumbled to a 3-5 finish. UTSA is 3-4 overall and 2-1 in C-USA this year, but those conference wins have come over UTEP and Rice (a combined 1-12) and the loss came 31-3 to Louisiana Tech. Wilson’s $1.1 million salary is second only to Littrell in C-USA.IndependentsKalani Sitake, BYU: 17-16 overall, 4-3 this yearAt this point, last season’s 4-9 downturn appears to be more about an unfortunate, misguided offensive coordinator hire in BYU Heisman-winning quarterback Ty Detmer than Sitake himself. The good and bad news about BYU’s situation for Sitake is that any struggles by his team will immediately become swept up in an ongoing existential debate about BYU’s status as an Independent rather than his ability as the program’s head coach.MACJason Candle, Toledo: 24-10 (14-4 MAC) overall, 3-3 (1-1 MAC) this yearCandle picked up exactly where Campbell left off. He signed a 6-year extension in December, but it raised his buyout to only $3.5 million. The 38-year-old Ohioan will have options as long as he keeps winning.Mike Jinks, Bowling Green: 7-24 (5-14 MAC) overall, 1-6 (0-3 MAC) this yearJinks was let go on Sunday, the first Class of 2016 casualty and the first coaching move of the 2018 season. BG’s performance under Jinks was less about the coach and more about the AD who hired him. After losing Dino Babers to Syracuse, BG AD Chris Kingston hired Texas Tech running backs coach Jinks, a career Texas high school coach who had never so much as been to Ohio, essentially sight unseen. Kingston, like Jinks, is no longer at Bowling Green. Feels like new AD Bob Moosbrugger will look for someone with head coaching experience, or pedigree at this level for his next head coach.Mike Neu, Ball State: 9-22 (3-16 MAC) overall, 3-4 (2-1 MAC) this yearIt would cost Ball State less than a million bucks to move on from Neu, but surely the school will give the former Cardinals quarterback more time than just three seasons. Neu left his job as Drew Brees’s position coach to take over his alma mater, where he still stands as one of the best players in school history.Mountain WestNick Rolovich, Hawaii: 16-18 (8-12 MW) overall, 6-2 (3-0 MW) this yearRolovich has always had fun as Hawaii’s head coach, but he’s probably having more fun than ever now that the Rainbow Warriors are winning. Quarterback Cole McDonald is No. 3 nationally in passing and No. 16 in efficiency with 26 touchdowns against three picks.SECWill Muschamp, South Carolina: 18-14 (10-11 SEC) overall, 3-3 (2-3 SEC) this yearMuschamp has proven to be better than he showed at Florida. He signed a new 6-year deal in January after leading the Gamecocks to a 9-4 season and a win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl. But the question with any South Carolina head coach is going to be how competitive the Gamecocks can be in a division with Florida and Georgia, plus the rivalry game with Clemson every year. This Saturday’s game with Tennessee is going to be pivotal, because a fully realized Georgia and on-the-rise Florida are already challenging enough for South Carolina, but an on-the-rise Tennessee could put the Gamecocks under water in the SEC East.Barry Odom, Missouri: 14-17 (6-13 SEC) overall, 3-3 (0-3 SEC) this yearAn 0-3 start in SEC play with a potential first-round quarterback is never a great start. Odom made Derek Dooley a first-time offensive coordinator after losing Josh Heupel to UCF, and Mizzou has dropped from sixth to 59th in yards per play. In the meantime, the defense — Odom’s specialty — has fallen from 83rd to 96th. The SEC East is good as it’s been in years, which is never a good thing when you’re the program in the division’s far western outpost.Ed Orgeron, LSU: 21-7 (13-5 SEC) overall, 6-1 (3-1 SEC) this yearThis one is a bit tricky since Orgeron took over as an interim four games into the 2016 season, but there’s enough here to declare this hire a success so far. The Tigers don’t look substantially different to the naked eye than they did under Les Miles, except that what they do works now. See: tight end Foster Moreau’s comments after Saturday’s 36-16 drubbing of No. 2 Georgia. Searching “Ed Orgeron contract” on Google leads to a bunch of stories about his buyout, but a 10-win season would lead to an extension.Kirby Smart, Georgia: 27-8 (15-6 SEC) overall, 6-1 (4-1 SEC) this yearGeorgia rolled the dice in pushing out the perpetually successful-but-not-that-successful Richt to hand Smart his first head coaching job, but that bet has quickly paid off. The title game loss to Alabama stings, yes, but Smart has shown the vision and acumen to keep Georgia among the SEC’s (and, thus, the nation’s) elite for years to come. Smart signed a new 7 year, $49 million contract earlier this year.Sun BeltMatt Viator, Louisiana-Monroe: 11-20 (8-11 Sun Belt) overall, 3-4 (1-2 Sun Belt) this yearULM is one of the toughest programs to win in FBS, especially now that New Mexico State and Idaho are no longer in the Sun Belt. ULM beat ULL last year in Lafayette, and winning on Nov. 24 in Monroe would help slow the tide of Billy Napier’s rise to the south.Everett Withers, Texas State: 5-25 (1-18 Sun Belt) overall, 1-5 (0-3 Sun Belt) this yearA 1-18 conference play record pretty much speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Withers left James Madison after 2015 in order to move up to the FBS; he’s since gone 5-25, while JMU is 32-4 with one FCS national title and another runner-up finish under Mike Houston.
Categories: Kesto News,McCready News,News 17Jul McCready, Kesto invite residents to attend Senior Brigade forum on July 29 Residents of the 39th and 40th House Districts are encouraged to attend a Senior Brigade presentation by the Michigan Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division on Monday, July 29.The event is hosted by state Reps. Mike McCready and Klint Kesto and will take place at the West Bloomfield Public Library from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The library’s main branch is located at 4600 Walnut Lake Road in West Bloomfield.“Michigan’s aging population has to deal with more and more complex decisions related to health care and financial matters,” said McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills. “The purpose of this forum is to provide valuable information and resources to our state’s seniors and their families, ensuring that our senior citizens will be well cared for and protected against scam artists and other predators.”The Senior Brigade presentation will focus on residential care choices and provide information on how to choose between a nursing home or home health care assistance. It will also instruct attendees on how to recognize and report resident abuse or neglect and provide tips for keeping loved ones safe.“Many of our parents and grandparents are reaching an age where a nursing home seems like the only option,” said Kesto, R-Commerce Township. “The purpose of this forum is to inform residents of other options, and to make sure our senior citizens are always safe and secure. I am glad that the Attorney General’s office has given our residents the opportunity to learn more about these important topics.”For more information about the Senior Brigade, visit www.seniorbrigade.com.###
14Dec Rep. Bellino: New bill helps repeat drunk drivers address alcohol addiction Categories: Bellino News State Rep. Joe Bellino of Monroe on Wednesday introduced legislation to ensure people struggling with alcohol dependency get the treatment they need.Bellino’s bill requires anyone found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated with two or more previous convictions to undergo an evaluation to determine whether he or she would benefit from a medication-assisted treatment program for alcohol dependence. If the assessment indicates the treatment would be beneficial, the court may order the person to participate in a medication-assisted treatment program as part of his or her sentence.“Anyone who racks up three or more drunk driving convictions clearly has an alcohol problem,” Bellino said. “As an addict in recovery, I know how tough it can be to get and stay sober – it’s a battle I’ve been fighting every day for more than 30 years. Prescriptions are now more readily available to help people get through the first symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the psychological cravings that cause some to relapse. Our courts should be using these treatment programs to help people get sober, reduce recidivism and improve public safety.”A doctor would determine the type, dosage and duration of the medication-assisted treatment, Bellino noted. Programs would also typically include counseling and behavioral therapies.Under the bill, offenders would be responsible for the costs associated with the screening, assessment and rehabilitative services.House Bill 5372 was referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.###
Categories: Garcia News,News Committee hears about legislation to prepare and support new teachersState Representative Daniela R. García today testified before the House Education Reform Committee, supporting an eight-bill package to better prepare new teachers for Michigan classrooms.“This legislation is about helping our teachers and ultimately our students,” said García, a member of the committee. “We want our future teachers to be educated by the best and taught the best practices available at that time. If we have unified standards for our teacher preparation programs, it will produce teachers equipped to help more students succeed in the classroom.”García, who worked on the entire legislative package for three years, is sponsor for two bills in the package, which requires that educator prep institutions provide a free warranty program to graduates who are continuing to develop their teaching skills and require the institution’s full-time faculty to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education annually in order to be certified as a teacher preparation program.The legislation will also require student teaching experience in multiple environments, instruction on classroom management and teaching students with diverse backgrounds, have students teachers complete at least 90 hours of classroom experience, extend a $1,000 stipend directly to a supervising teacher for developing a student teacher, establish a master teacher corps to help provide professional development and ensure an elementary level teaching certificate to student teachers who have completed 12 credits of reading instruction.The committee also heard testimony from state Reps. Jim Lilly, Pamela Hornberger, Kathy Crawford and Tim Kelly, who are sponsoring other bills in the legislative package. Each are members of the Education Reform Committee with Kelly serving as chair.“The classroom environment has changed,” said García, of Holland. “The standards of 50 years ago clearly do not work today. We must have our teachers prepared and supported for what education is today before they complete these prep programs, so that our students can excel as well.”The legislative package remains under consideration of the Education Reform Committee. 01Mar Representative García testifies for bills updating teacher prep standards
ShareTweetShare5Email5 Shares April 15, 2014; KETVIn Douglas County, Nebraska, Woodmen of the World wants a property tax exemption for its office building and other properties. Woodmen of the World is a fraternal organization, like the Knights of Columbus, the Elks, the Moose, or the Odd Fellows, but it is a fraternal organization created for a specific purpose: “making life insurance available to everyone,” or at least to its members.There are two issues for the executives at the Woodmen: They say state and federal law exempt them from taxes, and if they have to pay property tax, why don’t other lodges, like the Knights of Columbus, have to? The Douglas County Tax Assessor’s Office suggests that Woodmen’s request for a property tax exemption may not be justified because Woodmen is confusing its organizational tax status—a 501(c)(8) fraternal organization—with the use of its property, an office tower that is home to a $10 billion insurance company.In Woodmen’s last 990 (from 2011), the headquarters itself earned over $1 billion in program services and its net assets had reached $9.3 billion. Woodmen argues that times are tough, even for a billion dollar insurance operation. “Margins are tight. We need every exemption and every right,” said Larry King, the CEO of Woodmen of the World. As evidence, he cited the challenge of Woodmen’s bond revenues having dropped to 3 or 3.5 percent.Woodmen isn’t your typical fraternal society. Besides its core business line of providing insurance for its members, Woodmen pays its leaders well. In the 2011 Form 990, the CEO (listed then as Danny E. Cummins) earned approximately $1.17 million in total annual compensation. Eleven members of the Woodmen’s board of directors, devoting one hour a week to the organization, earned board fees of between $56,000 and $94,000, while the chairman of the board earned $164,000. A former executive vice president of the organization was listed as earning $2.59 million in 2011 and a former member of the board earned $143,000.Woodmen is appealing the Tax Assessor’s decision to the Douglas County board. If approved, the exemption would include the “iconic” Woodmen Tower plus additional downtown properties, including a parking structure. In 2013, Woodmen paid more than $1 million in property taxes. It may look to outsiders that Woodmen is basically a huge profit-making insurance company, but King called it a “social charity” for the volunteer labor it has encouraged members to donate.Localities and nonprofits have to remember that local property tax exemptions are based on the use of the property, not the ownership alone. Woodmen may be a 501(c)(8) fraternal association, it may generate volunteer activities involving its members, and it may even be a charitable grantmaker, but the primary use of the properties, if it is for carrying out for-profit insurance services, may make them taxable.—Rick CohenShareTweetShare5Email5 Shares
ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares September 22, 2014; PoliticoPolitico’s interview with former IRS official Lois Lerner ended up becoming something of a disservice to the need to clarify the scandal that led to Lerner’s firing, her Fifth Amendment appearance in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the months of articles that have ensued debating issues such as what might have happened to her emails. Accompanied by her personal attorneys and her lawyer husband, Lerner appears to have declined to entertain questions from Politico about the substance of her involvement in the contretemps involving the IRS’s review of 501(c)(4) and some 501(c)(3) applications. Whether she declined in advance or at the interview itself, the Politico article doesn’t have her weigh in on any of the substantive questions behind the controversy that led to her brief congressional appearance and subsequent retirement.Rather, the interview focused on Lerner’s continuing protestations of innocence, the personal vilification she has suffered since leaving the IRS, and her essentially now-toxic career that has made her a pariah.“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Lerner told Politico in her first official interview since the scandal broke. “I’m proud of my career and the job I did for this country.” She added, “Regardless of whatever else happens, I know I did the best I could under the circumstances and am not sorry for anything I did.”While Politico didn’t get much from Lerner, it got a lot from several other observers, including extensive reports of Lerner’s personal charitable behavior, including paying for a babysitter’s education and going to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to rescue lost or abandoned pets. However, other comments suggested that Lerner didn’t have a huge background of tax law knowledge. Politico quoted Marc Owens, who ran the tax-exempt unit of the IRS in the 1990s, to suggest that Lerner’s limited knowledge might been a factor in the scandal in which Tea Party-related terminology was used to identify potentially troubled applicants: “When managers are not familiar with the laws they are enforcing, they make bad decisions.”NPQ has long argued that the focus on Lerner’s personal culpability is something of a side issue. If she has done something in contravention of the law, she should be prosecuted. To take it out of the political sturm und drang of Beltway politics, the Lerner case might be better off under the scrutiny of an independent prosecutor.But the comment from Owens hints at systemic problems in the tax-exempt unit. Owens believes that some of the big projects that the tax-exempt unit took on during her tenure contributed to an overworked staff looking for shortcuts in its review of applications for 501(c) status. If the issue is one of knowledge, the decision to cut the training budget of the IRS tax-exempt unit 96 percent between 2009 and 2013 seems to have been completely counterintuitive and unwise in light of the increasing number and complexity of 501(c) applicants. Owens also notes that Lerner cancelled the annual publication of the IRS manual, which had been a regular source of information on the Service’s treatment of nonprofit groups—a data source that would have been useful for observers and the IRS itself to understand the changing dimensions of the nonprofit sector and the implications for the staff of the Service’s tax-exempt unit.In their attempts to make this a political issue, Congressional Republicans have made this scandal focus on Lerner personally amidst charges that she might have been a secret “liberal” or a Democrat. The reality is that the IRS scandal involved more people than Lerner, with decisions or lack of decisions made by the IRS commissioner, the IRS general counsel, and managers and staff in the tax-exempt division itself. The problems fundamentally concern the IRS’s capacity and structure for reviewing 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) applications, far beyond the individual behavior of Lerner.If Politico were to have used the Lerner interview as more than an opportunity for her to explain how her life has been disrupted by vilification and threats, as sad as that is for her personally, it could have asked her about the implications of the comments attributed to Marc Owens:What were the obstacles that the tax-exempt unit faced in trying to carry out its work?Were the staffing and resources available to the unit up to the task?Did the staff (and perhaps Lerner herself) need more and better training?Are the rules and regulations for determining the qualifications of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations clear enough and practical for effective and fair implementation?Was the delegation of the review process to IRS staff in Cincinnati a good idea or a managerial mistake?Were the special projects that Lerner initiated on nonprofit hospitals, universities, and other topics useful advancements or inappropriate distractions from the core tasks of the IRS tax exempt unit?Let’s hope that eventually the nation gets beyond the debate that focuses on Lois Lerner and begins to assess what the IRS ought to do to more effectively and accurately review 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(3) applications to meet the letter and meaning of the law. Let’s hope that Congress reaches a moment of clarity and recognizes the need for adequate staffing and other resources so that the IRS is up to the job. Those needs existed before Lois Lerner answered a planted question at an American Bar Association seminar to acknowledge what has become the worst scandal in the modern history of the Internal Revenue Service. The nonprofit sector and the staff of the IRS tax-exempt unit deserve better.—Rick Cohen ShareTweetShareEmail0 Shares
Share8Tweet4ShareEmail12 SharesBy Ted Eytan from Washington, DC, USA (DC Council Budget Vote – Wellness Tax 44400) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsApril 22, 2018; Washington PostFew would contest that our public school systems should be accountable to the communities they serve. But the issue of who will best represent that community has become quite controversial as school reform plows forward. In many cases, policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels concluded that locally elected school boards led to struggling educational systems. Ardent reformers created new accountability models that replaced direct local control. As they did so, they may have forgotten the need to gather good information about school performance that might be used to hold schools accountable.Schools in Washington, DC, have been the proving ground for many of the choice-based school reforms that have been central to national efforts to improve education. Using test scores as their yardstick, supporters of the reform agenda claimed remarkable improvement, but the results seemed less reliable as evidence of mismanagement and data manipulation emerged. School personnel were found to have rigged test results under the pressure of a system that demanded constant improvement. High school graduation rates were found to have grown only because the district manipulated and ignored its own requirements.With this much controversy and scandal surrounding their school system, the members of the DC Council are concerned that even basic data are unavailable. In the belief that accountability begins with having accurate and timely information, the Council is debating a bill that would establish a city agency responsible for gathering accurate data about their school district’s operations.Council Member Mary Cheh told the Washington Post that a new city agency was needed because “we have been getting bad information—some of it just false, some of it misleading, some of it incomplete, and we can’t get a handle on what to do if we don’t know what’s happening.”The importance of accurate and well publicized data was illustrated by retired educator and blogger G.F. Brandenburg, who examined results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation’s educational score card, for the past two decades. Looking at data for fourth- and eighth-graders that could be broken down by ethnicity he found that “in every single one of twelve sub-groups, the rate of change in scores was worse (i.e., lower) after 2007 (when the chancellors took over) than it was before that date (when we still had an elected school board).” So long as this data was not publicly available, school leaders could tout their progress and claim their controversial strategies were succeeding.For the DC City Council, allowing local oversight to be meaningful requires the ability to objectively know what works and what doesn’t. As councilmember-at-large Robert C. White Jr., who-co-introduced the bill, wrote in a statement, “Creating an independent education research entity will distance education from politics and ensure that the council has the tools it needs to perform oversight over our schools.”With disruptive change a hallmark of school reform efforts, there’s a need for accountability. Every child deserves the best possible education and each year of inadequate schooling is a lost year that cannot be replaced. The Council’s willingness to invest in good data is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be matched with a willingness to let the data tell the story and not be managed or manipulated.—Martin LevineShare8Tweet4ShareEmail12 Shares
Korean TV manufacturer LG plans to launch a Google TV-enabled TV set in the US in two weeks, according to reports.LG’s executive vice-president of its TV business, Ro Seogho, told reporters that the company would begin production of the Google-enabled screens at its plant in Mexico from May 17, ahead of a launch on the week beginning May 21.
SES has named Gerry Oberst as head of its regulatory team.Oberst will join SES as senior vice-president, global regulatory and governmental strategy, a new position that will see him take responsibility for overseeing the regulatory and advocacy work of SES, reporting to John Purvis, executive vice-president and general counsel. Oberst, who was previously a partner in the law firm Hogan Lovells, will be based in Luxembourg initially and then in Washington, DC. He will take up his new position on October 1.
Pan-European broadcaster Modern Times Group has appointed Marek Singer as executive vice-president of the group’s central European broadcasting operations.Singer will join MTG’s senior management team on January 1and assume responsibility for its free-TV operations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Hungary, as well as the Group’s pay TV and radio operations in the Baltic countries.Singer has been CEO and a board member of the TV Prima free TV operations in the Czech Republic, of which MTG owns 50%, since 2008. Singer will replace Anders Nilsson, who is leaving MTG on December 31 to join Millicom International Cellular. Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, president and CEO of MTG, said: “This appointment reflects Marek’s excellent leadership and development of the Prima TV enterprise, which is the second largest national commercial television broadcaster in the Czech Republic and currently operates 3 free-TV channels in the country. The channels achieved a combined target audience share of over 40% in the third quarter and have consistently increased their viewing and advertising market shares on an ongoing basis. We are committed to further expanding the scale and footprint of our operations in the region and Marek will oversee this expansion.”
Danish cable operator YouSee has expanded its OTT TV service with the addition of 14 new channels, including top sports channels from TV3, giving broadband customers access to about 42 services online both inside and outside the home. Sports services TV3+ and TV3 Sport 2 are amongst the channels to be added to the platform from today, giving viewers access to English Premier League and European Champions League football.The web TV services is free to YouSee’s 440,000 broadband customers, with the number of channels available to users determined by the packages they take from the regular cable TV service.YouSee has not concluded out-of-home rights will all channel partners – those that have yet to strike agreements include TV2 and SBS Discovery – so the range of services available within the home is higher than the range available on the move. About 54 channels are available on web TV in total, of which 42 are now available while users are on the move.Separately, YouSee is giving broadband customers the option to mix and match downstream and upstream speeds, rather than have the upstream speeds determined by the headline downstream speed they sign up for.The Bland Selv offering allows internet users to choose the combination of downstream and upstream speeds to match their needs. Users can also vary the combination at certain times, for example with more downstream speed in the evening when people are watching online video, and symmetric speeds during the night when they can back up home media to online storage.
Russian DTH service Raduga TV has been referred to the country’s ministry of justice for operating without a valid licence, after action was taken by regulator Roskomnadzor. Raduga TV, a joint venture between Modern Times Group and Continental Multimedia, was fined RUB40,000 (€895) for operating without a licence in October, but appealed.However, he regulator took the step of referring the matter to the justice ministry, which could instigate criminal proceedings, ahead of a decision by the appellate court, according to local reports.DalGeoKom, the operating company for Raduga TV, reportedly said that the company had repeatedly asked for a new licence but that it had not been granted, while Roskomnadzor said that it not received the necessary documents.Roskomnadzor has accused Raduga TV of operating without a licence granting the right to broadcast TV signals using limited radio frequency resources. However, Raduga TV is broadcast via Asia Broadcast Satellite’s ABS-1 spacecraft, which does not use Russian frequencies.
Just ahead of his imminent acquisition of French telco SFR, cable operator Numericable’s owner Patrick Drahi has turned his attention to Portugal Telecom as his next major target, according to various reports. Drahi’s investment vehicle Altice is in talks to acquire Portugal Telecom, and may be the only candidate in play, according to a source cited by AFP.The Portuguese telco has been involved in a tortuous merger process with Brazilian alternative service provider Oi that has yet to be completed. The Portuguese service provider is controlled by PT Portugal, which has been valued at €6.7 billion by Espirito Santo and €7.3 billion by HSBC.Portugal Telecom SGPS SA, the holding company that controls a minority stake in Oi, which is the major shareholder in both the Brazilian and Portuguese operations, has been valued at €1.5 billion. Portugal Telecom SGPS SA holds €897 million in debt that was defaulted in July by a subsidiary of bank Espirito Santo International.Oi is believed to be interested in selling out of Portugal Telecom in order to fund its ambitions to act as a consolidator within Brazil, where it is attempting to put together a bid for Telecom Italia-backed TIM Brasil. Brazilian press have predicted that an announcement could be made after the second round of the country’s presidential election is completed on October 26.Altice is already present in Portugal, having acquired cable operator Cabovisão in 2012 from Canada’s Cogeco Cable. It also owns enterprise-focused telecom service provider Oni, and the company has adopted a strategy of looking at all consolidation opportunities in markets where it already has a presence. The acquisition of Portugal Telecom would give it the number one position in the local market, possibly leading the regulator to request remedies ahead of any approval.
Movie and TV streaming service Wuaki has officially launched in Germany and has announced plans to add ultra high-definition, 4K movies to its catalogue from December 1.The UHD content will initially be available in Germany and France, with Italy to follow in the coming weeks. Wuaki is in talks to bring the 4K movies to the other markets where it currently operates, the UK and Spain.The Germany launch caps what Wuaki described as a “successful year of European expansion for the company.” The firm said that it plans to launch in “a further 11 countries by the end of next year.”“More and more of our customers are beginning to demand movies in 4K, as TVs with the technology become commonplace in the home,” said Wuaki’s chief technology officer, Jordi Miró.“We expect 4K will become increasingly popular towards the end of the year and into 2015, as consumers in Europe buy new TVs around Christmas time, upgrade to smart TVs, and 4K prices begin to drop as more devices come to the market.”Earlier this month, Wuaki appointed former Samsung executive Sidharth Jayant as global product director as the firm looks to continue to expand into new European markets.
Ukrainian cable operator Volia has completed the upgrade of its data network in the country’s capital Kyiv to the EuroDOCSIS technology platform.The latest phase in Volia’s upgrade from DOCSIS to EuroDOCSIS, which allows it to increase the bandwidth available to subscribers, follows its recent upgrade in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Volia has also upgraded the networks in the cities of Zaporozhye, Kirovograd and Lutsk.
Strive MasiyiwaEconet Wireless, the mobile telecom operator owned by Zimbabwean businessman Stive Masiyiwa, is planning to launch a new pay TV service called Kwesé TV.Masiyiwa announced on his Facebook page in December that the service will offer a range of sports and entertainment programming to sub-Saharan African countries, including to mobile users. He said that the service would offer “value for money, premium and exclusive content”, with a quality offering at an affordable price.Masiyiwa said that the service had acquired exclusive content, including sports rights for the service. Rights acquired so far include those to Spain’s Copa del Rey, which is available free to view on the Kwese Sports website.Econet’s satellite and fibre network across Africa will be used to provide distribution for the service, which will be available across multiple devices, according to Masiyiwa. The company’s satellite unit, Liquid Sat, has built a platform to deliver a DTH service.
French media regulator the CSA has given a green light for TF1-owned news channel LCI to become a free-to-air service, but has rejected requests from Canal+ and M6 Group to enable their respective channels, factual service Planète+ and entertainment channel Paris Première, to make the same transition.The CSA said that it had judged that LCI had no viable future as a pay TV channel and that its transition to a free service will contribute to media pluralism and is in the public interest.However, the media regulator said that the migration of the two other channels is not justified.Canal+ expressed its disappointment with the decision and said that it represented a serious blow to Planète+ and said that the factual genre was one of the most under-represented on the free digital-terrestrial platform. It said that the decision had isolated Planète+ on the now diminished DTT pay platform and added that it had not given up the goal of one seeing the channel become part of an enlarged free-to-air platform.Canal+ also said that viewers had now been given a larger choice of free services only in a genre that is already over-represented – namely, news. Canal+ said that its own free news channel iTélé would find it more difficult to break even in a genre that is costly to produce against the context of a declining advertising market. It said that the viability of the news channels as a group was now in question.M6 Group said that the decision to refuse Paris Première’s transition to a free-to-air service for the third time was contrary to the public interest. It said that the channel’s migration to free-to-air would have contributed to the diversity of the audiovisual landscape in France and reinforced the free offering.The company said that the channel’s future had now been put in peril, and added that it would appeal the decision with the Conseil d’État.TF1, unsurprisingly, welcomed the CSA’s decision. It said that the conditions set by the CSA, which had been proposed by the broadcaster, are compatible with its successful move to the free-to-air platform. TF1 has committed to invest €20 million in the now free-to-air channel in 2016, with a goal of breaking even by 2019.“I thank the CSA for this decision, which offers LCI, pioneer of news services, the possibility of being accessible to all on the free DTT platform and opening a new page in its history. I am delighted for the contributors and for pluralism in France,” said Nonce Paolini, CEO of TF1 Group.
HBO and Discovery have taken an equity stake in OTOY, a company focused on making holographic and immersive content a mass-market proposition.OTOY said that it will use the investment to develop and distribute “original holographic content”, enabling HBO and Discovery to deliver new entertainment experiences to consumers.OTOY is currently working with Jon Stewart on the development of upcoming content for HBO built using its platform, which is designed to make content available across TV, mobile, online, social platforms and emerging wearable technologies like virtual and augmented reality.“HBO prides itself on being at the forefront of entertainment, both in the exceptional content we produce, and in the ways we bring that content to consumers,” said Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.“OTOY has a roadmap for the future of entertainment and technology. Their creativity and drive perfectly aligns with HBO’s.Paul Guyardo, chief commercial officer at Discovery Communications said: “OTOY technology is a massive breakthrough and we look forward to seeing it take VR and AR experiences, including Discovery VR, to a whole new level.”OTOY founder and CEO, Jules Urbach, said that the future of entertainment is “not going to be constrained by a screen, nor consumed through monolithic apps or platforms.”“OTOY’s mission is to make holographic and immersive content a mass market proposition for consumers, artists and publishers alike. A key part of this endeavour is unifying production and delivery of content across all possible endpoints, from HTML5, to TV and social, to wearables.”OTOY’s major shareholders include Autodesk and Yuri Milner and its board includes the executive chairman of Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, and former IBM chairman, CEO and president, Samuel Palmisano.