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Nextdoor, Lead by Example

February 17, 2014 6 Comments

I am enthusiastic about Nextdoor.com. It has potential to become a tool of great value to fight crime and improve life.  I invite everyone I know to start one for your neighborhood.  I opened ours just a few days ago and we have gathered more than the minimum  10 members we need to have our site supported for free for our community.  This is private, non commercial networking to improve the environment and create safer places to live.  It is not connected to any government agency or political group.  This start up knows that cities need this, and is developing the system with venture capital.  It is brilliantly simple.

We have sunk to a new nadir in Tucson.  Our neighborhood has a federally funded neighborhood watch consisting of only 5 households, for the sole purpose of willfully denying the presence of the charity scam, “Feeding the Homeless in Tucson’s Parks“.  It is a sad state of affairs when your city will break federal revenue law, getting a grant to help a small group of white collar criminals break federal revenue law in front of everyone in the neighborhood.  This makes it look like the best way to stay in any criminal business is to found a fake neighborhood watch to protect it, and help your local cops get a federal grant to help you deny that it is criminal to collect donations without reporting them to the IRS.

It is completely ironic to call this neighborhood watch when the majority has to watch the minority…and the authorities…openly break the law.  This is why Nextdoor is an important way to clean up neighborhoods. When people know what is happening around them they can make improvements together for the benefit of all.  When people live isolated lives, crime has more opportunity to exist.  If there is a real neighborhood watch that succeeds in real life, I applaud you. In our case, we need to start by simply getting some neighbors to know their neighbors.  That is progress in itself where I live.

What Harm Could a Little Charity Scam Do?

April 15, 2013 3 Comments

I have lived in my condo for 11 years in central Tucson.  My location next door to a full time charity scam in operation for many years has  ruined quality of life, safety, and property value while  giving the neighbors a dim view of law enforcement. I can think of few crimes ethically and morally lower than taking advantage of the public’s ignorance and sympathy to make a living by claiming falsely to be doing charity.  I have learned that most of the public does not write off tax deductible donations, and therefore may be completely unaware of the laws governing charity and donations.  Sandra Day O’Connor has her work cut out for her in her attempt to teach Americans how government works.

Ignorance is not all bliss for the folks supporting charity scamming over real non profits.   Giving an unreported income to a scam hurts legitimate charities by diverting donations, money and volunteer time to private, criminal (unreported) purposes.  These days when the Food Bank and Salvation Army are scraping to get by, it is especially insulting to compete with community resources by scamming for donations that are never reported.  The laws are in place to protect the public, but there is not much sophistication about the law.  The IRS grants non-profit status to those who prove they are serving the community.  Once the status of 501C3 non profit corporation is obtained strict accounting must be submitted to the IRS to keep the status.  Deciding that you are entitled to collect donations from the public without following any laws that legal charities have to follow is a lot like stealing resources from the victims you claim to help.  If you cash in on sympathy for the homeless without really helping the homeless find shelter or improve their lives your crimes are deeply immoral.  Shelters that are there all the time for them need the donations that are diverted by scammers who decide they are above the law. One of the typical ways scammers approach the public is to donate for holidays.  This one is no different, collecting donations full time to supposedly help someone eat outside in a park on a holiday.  If you give support to anyone, please check to know that your “charity”  reports donations to the IRS and has some oversight.

In Tucson it is easy to live above the law.  We have the 20th worst run city in America, according to some Wall Street Journal poll.  I think the listing was overly flattering to Tucson.  You can openly beg for donations, collect them in a residential condo, then solicit help from the public to prepare food in a residential kitchen to be served outdoors in a park to homeless people. You can break the revenue laws of the US and Arizona, the health code of Pima County, the zoning laws of the city of  Tucson for as many years as you like.  Your neighbors can report your crime to the cops, the city councilwoman, the mayor, the city manger and the IRS.  No response or help will come from the vast numbers of folks who are paid to enforce the law.  They do not see any problem with breaking all these laws to run a charity scam in a residential condo.  Law enforcement is the least of their concern.

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