As if the tough economic times, which have sent donors and sponsors heading for the sidelines, weren't enough, the taxman is getting in on the act. Not the IRS mind you. No, it's the county tax collectors who are putting the pinch on one local non-profit, Arts Central, the regional arts council, that provides art opportunities for kids as well as support for public art displays, like Bend's roundabouts.
Executive Director Cate O'Hagan said that Arts Central recently got word from the Deschutes County Assessor's Office that it is revoking the organization's tax-exempt status for the Mirror Pond gallery in downtown. The gallery, which sits adjacent to Drake Park in the historic Rademacher house, is an exhibition outlet for local artists and one of the few sources of non-donor/grant revenue for the local arts group.
In a letter to members, O'Hagan said the county has assessed the property at nearly $4.8 million and the Rademacher House at $290,000. All told that would bring the organization's annual tax bill to somewhere in the neighborhood of $28,000. The organization is set to meet this week with county officials to discuss the situation, but if an agreement isn't reached, the group could be forced to close the gallery after making some $300,000 in improvement to renovate the historic site over the years since it opened the showcase gallery.
"While this is obviously very unfortunate, the financial reality of the situation may leave us no choice," O'Hagan wrote.
Pack It On
Speaking of playing hardball, American Airlines came under fire this week for its policy of charging Iraq-war bound soldiers for their extra bags. The airline says it has an agreement with the military to waive extra bag fees and that soldiers are reimbursed for the extra charges. But that isn't sitting well with some soldiers or veterans groups who note that soldiers are still forced to fork over their cash as they make ready for a difficult trip to a war zone. It also puts the onus on soldiers to seek reimbursement from the military as they busy themselves with other things in Iraq, like not getting killed by an IED. Upfront isn't sure why American Airlines, if it's willing to waive the fee for the military, doesn't just give soldiers a free pass.
Is there an epidemic of soldier impersonators out there trying to get discounts on movie tickets and all-you-can-eat buffets? We doubt it, and you can't help but think this akin to when electronics manufacturers try to lure you in with "mail in rebates," knowing full well that a certain percentage of folks will forget to mail it in, or send it in late, allowing them, the manufacturers, to pocket the difference.
American Airlines isn't the only one scrambling for explanations this week. Long simmering allegations of infidelity caught up with one-time presidential hopeful John Edwards this week. The Carolina Senator who was on the short list of potential running mates for Barack Obama publicly admitted this week that he had an affair with a woman who shot several web videos for his primary campaign last year. The woman, Rielle Hunter, approached Edwards in a bar and although she had almost no video production experience managed to land a spot on his campaign team. His political action committee paid her $114,00 to produce the spots that appeared on his campaign website. The National Enquirer - yeah, that one - began reporting on the allegations last year, but the story was largely ignored by the mainstream media, probably because Edwards who had vehemently denied the charges dropped out of the race relatively early compared to Obama and Hillary Clinton. When asked why he had lied about the relationship, Edwards said that the details of the initial story, which surfaced back in October were "95 percent wrong." So he was only lying about five percent. In other words, when he completely lied he was being "mostly truthful." In Bush speak, there was a lot of "truthiness" to what he said. This is the kind of shit that would make Bill Clinton blush.
However, the story became harder to ignore when Hunter gave birth recently to a baby with an unidentified father. Edwards says he is not the child's father and has offered to take a paternity test, but was recently spotted at Hunter's hotel room to meet with her after the birth. Hunter meanwhile refuses to push a paternity test on the first term senator. Can you say quid pro quo?
Pundits have already started piling on, suggesting that paternity will be clear once we can see the child's hair, or at least the bill for the kid's first haircut.