Between liberal charities and their critics. On RET’s reading list. Mimi’s poetic stylings. Plus more.
FORD THE RECORD
Re: Neal B. Freeman’s Jeez Luis — Part Deux:
We laughed off Neal B. Freeman’s light-hearted first commentary on the Ford Foundation as good intramural fun. He broke no new ground in asserting that the foundation is progressive in its mission and grantmaking; we always have been and we will proudly remain so. His second commentary, however, requires serious correction.
Mr. Freeman correctly states that we have lost about a third of our endowment over the past 18 months. This economic reality has forced us — like so many other organizations — to make very hard decisions.
But he gets it wrong when he claims that our approach runs counter to our values. We first made every effort to avoid impacting staff, shaving $22 million from our expenses in 2008. When our portfolio lost another $2 billion this year, we had no choice but to look for further savings in order to preserve our support to grantees.
That meant making reductions we could sustain over time. With great regret, we closed two of our regional offices. These closures affected senior management, program staff, and support staff equally. We also froze salaries for all staff around the world, adjusted benefits considerably, and laid off staff in every one of our regional offices.
In New York, we tried to obviate the need for lay-offs by offering generous voluntary packages to a broad cross-section of staff, including a number of managers and supervisors. The packages were offered according to one criterion alone: Whether the position fell within an area where the foundation could envision more efficient ways of working. Though the process has been painful, it has been thoughtful, fair, and tuned to the long-term health of the foundation.
What we have refused to do is compromise our ability to make grants and support grantees, all of whom face even tougher circumstances than we do. The measures we have taken have preserved our grantmaking capacity and budgets, and every dollar saved has gone directly to our grantees.
Finally, regarding our trustees, Mr. Freeman might think about
expanding the circles in which he associates. Among them are
indeed Fortune 500 executives, university presidents, and leaders
of national nonprofit institutions. The diversity of experience
and excellence they bring to our board is a reflection of our
best traditions of leadership and, like their predecessors, they
recognize there are few other institutions that so thoroughly
attempt to live up to the values they espouse.
— Alfred D. Ironside
Director of Communications, Ford Foundation/New York
Neal B. Freeman replies:
It’s good to hear from Mr. Ironside, but I’m not sure that he engages any of my central points. First, while he may have felt my commentary was “light-hearted,” Ford’s low-paid employees are feeling real, life-changing pain as management squeezes them out in mid-recession. Secondly, my information is that only low-paid staffers are being asked to take the hits in the New York office. I will be glad to correct any misimpression I may have created: can Mr. Ironside tell us what if any cuts have been imposed on, say, the ten highest-paid employees? And third, my comments about Ford’s Directors were not to suggest that they are not good people, of course, but simply to note that they do not compare in public eminence with their predecessors. That’s a fact.
MARION MICHAEL MORRISON?
Re: Larry Thornberry’s Remembering the Duke Again:
I agree with Mr. Thornberry’s thoughts on the Duke. However I
believe he got the original middle name wrong; it should be
Marion Michael Morrison unless I’m very much
— Joel Meeker
Larry Thornberry replies:
The subject of the Duke’s real name is a bit of a moving target, thanks mostly to the Duke having led on biographers and magazine writers by claiming his middle name was Michael. In fact it never was. When the Duke was born, to honor both of his grandfathers, the Duke was named Marion Robert Morrison. When the Duke’s younger brother came along, he was named Robert Emmett, and Duke’s middle name was changed to Mitchell. Robert Mitchell Morrison remained his real name for the duration, with John Wayne a creation of director Raoul Walsh and Fox studio boss Winfield Sheehan when casting the Duke in The Big Trail, in 1930.
Although fans and studio publicity departments always referred to John Wayne, the big guy himself always preferred to be called Duke. By the way, John Wayne wasn’t called Duke because it’s a tough, masculine-sounding name. He got the nickname when he was 11 years old. The family had a large Airedale named Duke, young Marion’s faithful pal and shadow. A group of Glendale firemen, in a station near the Morrison home where young Marion and the dog often visited, started calling the boy “Little Duke,” or just “Duke.” It stuck. So Marion was shed of a name that he hated, and that had started a fair number of fights when other boys taunted him with it. The name Duke lasted a lifetime.
NO DOG IN THIS FIGHT
Re: The Washington Prowler’s Jersey Dogs:
It is essential to set the record straight. Not only is the
Benenson Strategy Group not polling for Governor Corzine now, the
firm, which was founded nine years ago, has never polled for Jon
Corzine in either his Senate or Gubernatorial campaigns. Any
White House source that provided you with this information is
entirely uninformed and is trying to create false impressions
about who is or is not involved with Gov. Corzine’s relection
— Joel Benenson
The Benenson Strategy Group
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?