HIGHTOWER Obama Continues Bush Rendition Policy The worst job in the circus, I’m told, is cleaning up after the elephants. Poor Barrack Obama. Coming into the White House after the Bush-Cheney circus means he’s the custodian-in-chief tidying up the human rights messes left by that herd of pachyderms. So many piles, so little time. How’s the cleanup coming? Only so-so. On the plus side, Obama recently stripped the CIA of its lead role in what the Bush-its called “enhanced interrogations.” Torture is what it was. The FBI \(a somewhat gentler agency in the rules and getting more oversight. But the same day Obama announced this, he made his own mess of sanitizing a disgusting mess known as “extraordinary rendition.” In last year’s presidential race, Obama pledged to end this practice of, as he put it, “sending away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries.” Instead of ending rendition, Obama is extending itthough he promises a more spic-and-span version. U.S.-held prisoners can still be zipped away to God-knowswhere in the dead of night to be interrogated by foreign agents, but Obama says he will seek “diplomatic assurances” from those governments that they will not torture our prisoners. Isn’t that sweet? He might ask Maher Arar how effective these little diplomatic niceties really are. In 2002, the U.S. dispatched this Canadian citizen to Syria. Syria promised no abuse. Officials nodded, smiled, winkedand Syrian agents proceeded to beat Mr. Arar with electric cables. You don’t clean up a nasty mess like extraordinary rendition by just stirring the pile. It has to be removed. For more information on Jim Hightower’s workand to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdownvisit www.jimhightowercom. The local CBS and NBC affiliates reported Carol Porter’s response that the audit was a vindication of Kid Care and of the Porters themselves. Dolcefino didn’t see it that way. He dismissed the audit, asking “who chose” the receipts that Mosley inspected. Dolcefino signed off ominously, saying that Kid Care was “still under investigation” and that the IRS would soon be on the Porters’ case. Not to mention Attorney General Greg Abbott. When the allegations against Kid Care began, Hurt Porter says he “wanted to punch somebody,” but held his tongue. He felt sure that he and Carol would be vindicated. But then Attorney General Greg Abbott, at a press conference, announced lawsuits against the Porters and Kid Care, declaring that the affair represented “the worst case of charitable abuse in io years in the State of Texas.” His office, at that time, was in the early stages of its investigation and had not yet deposed the Porters. In April 2004, after some intricate legal maneuvers, the attorney general dropped the Porters from his lawsuit, but continued to sue Kid Care as an entity. The Porters claimed this development as a vindication, albeit not a very satisfactory one. Forensic CPA Michael Jayson, an unpaid member of Carol’s the attorney general finally realized he didn’t have a case against the Porters. The decision came after three days of depositions. Transcripts of the depositions show the attorney general’s investigator, Susan Stericka, asking questions that indicated a less-than-thorough investigation. She asked why the Porters had charged around $30,000 in gasoline one year. Carol answered that it was the gas for the trucks and delivery routes. The investigator also asked why they had bought so many mattresses in 2001. Carol reminded her that Tropical Storm Allison had massively flooded the city. Kid Care had helped people replace their lost bedding. So it went. Almost every time the investigator asked Carol about what looked like an extravagant expense, Carol was able to explain how the expense benefited Kid Care clients. They bought clothes for poor people to wear to job interviews. They styled women’s hair before interviews. They bought cell phones so people would be able to give prospective employers a phone number. Finally the investigator returned to the question that the Porters had been trying to answer for years. Didn’t Kid Care have the narrow mission “to feed children”? Carol answered, “You can’t just look at the child. Who is the caregiver? What are their needs? So that they can help the child to grow. That’s what made Kid Care so different than anybody else.” The Kid Care mission statement was entered into the record. It included the promise that Kid Care would “address the food, clothing, educational and cultural exposure needs of the children.” The grueling deposition, which included Carol giving the investigator a neck massage, did expose weaknesses at Kid Care. When asked why, as CEO and executive director, she didn’t know the criteria to decide if a person was going to be paid as contract labor or as an employee, and why she hadn’t withheld employee taxes when her CPA told her to, Carol answered, “It wasn’t my focus. My focus was just raising money and feeding kids.” Not long after the deposition, Judge Rose Spector told the attorney general to either set a trial date or drop the Porters from the lawsuit. Abbott’s office chose the latter. The investigator released a statement that “the evidence … could suggest that Carol and Hurt Porter Jr. did not engage in any intentionally malicious or fraudulent conduct.” The attorney general continued his lawsuit against Kid Care as an entity. Ultimately, Gulf Insurance Co. agreed to pay $500,000 on a Directors and Officers policy \(intended to protect board 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER SEPTEMBER 18, 2009
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