The IRS doesn't have the manpower to go after charities that flout the law, and it could do more to help state regulators target crooked operators, according to a federal watchdog report made public today.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office also flagged the revenue service for failing to track how well its charity regulators are doing their jobs.
"Clearly the IRS is failing to ensure charitable groups fully comply with the law, or even meet the minimum standards for receiving such preferential tax status," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., wrote last year in a letter requesting the review....
When she met him in the parking lot, the sight of him jarred her. Gone was the dapper, carefully dressed man who had taken her on dates for most of the past year.
He was gaunt, haggard, disheveled and wild-eyed. He wore a borrowed T-shirt and a pair of too-small running shorts. He was barefoot. He had thrown away his shoes, he told her, because he was sure they were bugged by the cops who were following him....
WEWAHITCHKA — There was a knock on the door of the home in this tiny town not 75 miles from Tallahassee, and at the doorstep stood the man who, in a few weeks time, would open fire on students in the library at Florida State University.
Myron May, a 31-year-old alumnus, had returned to the state that had raised him.
He had driven to Wewahitchka from New Mexico, where things had not been going so well. He told Abigail Taunton, a long-time family friend whose boys he had run cross-country with, that he was considering declaring bankruptcy....
Is Duval over-suspending black students? The district doesn't know, and finding out will take five weeks and cost $3,00007/30/14 Blog
On his way to becoming superintendent of Florida's sixth largest school system, Nikolai Vitti specialized in turning around some of the worst-performing schools in the state.
A job like that requires attention to detail and a good grasp of how things like race and poverty can affect how students get an education. And it would have taught Vitti that inequities in how discipline is handed out can be one major barrier to learning in low-performing schools....
12/27/13 Local Government
TAMPA — As Hillsborough County's Homeless Recovery program was unraveling in September, County Administrator Mike Merrill blamed a pair of misguided middle managers.
They were at fault, he said, for a program that sent the homeless to live in a squalid, illegal trailer park off Florida Avenue.
They no longer worked for the county, Merrill told commissioners on Sept. 18.
But they weren't the only county leaders who were warned of problems and allowed them to continue....
12/22/13 Local Government
Salvation for Sam Cruz Jr. and his family came from the unlikeliest of places: his tiny, disabled 4-year-old son.
Driven into homelessness when Cruz lost his job, the child, his parents and his five brothers and sisters turned to Hillsborough County for help. The county's Homeless Recovery program placed them in a cramped, bug-infested trailer that leaked when it rained.
In February 2012, the family found a ticket out....
11/23/13 Local Government
Bay Gardens Retirement Village seemed to get worse every year.
In 2005, state inspectors found filthy, reeking bathrooms, a raccoon living in the ceiling and a patient whose genitals had been bitten by ants.
In 2007, they discovered a demented man, smeared in his own filth, plucking at his colostomy bag in a stinking, roach-infested room....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County has paid millions of dollars to house homeless people, including veterans, the mentally ill and families with small children, in filthy, crime-ridden slums across the city, a Tampa Bay Times investigation has found.
For years, the poor have lined up at the county's door for help, and county caseworkers have responded by sending them to hazardous and neglected places. There, they were forced to breathe moldy air, step over unmopped puddles of human waste or sleep on mattresses infested with bedbugs....
TAMPA — Hillsborough County government should close its troubled Homeless Recovery program and seek help from private social service agencies experienced at finding housing for the poor, county staff will tell commissioners today.
A staff memo released to the Tampa Bay Times says the county should ask Hillsborough's nonprofit homeless aid organizations to submit proposals for how they could help provide emergency housing and other services for the poor, in the hopes a new program could replace Homeless Recovery by Jan. 1....
09/27/13 Local Government
TAMPA — Hillsborough County has poured millions of tax dollars over the past 20 years into a program meant to cover rent for homeless people.
But county leaders can't say for sure whether the landlords they paid actually housed anyone.
A computer system tracks rent checks paid each month under the Homeless Recovery program. The system, though, does not record the addresses where tenants are supposed to be living....
As principal of some of the poorest public schools in Alachua County, Beth Le Clear urged her students to take advantage of subsidized tutoring, extra instruction for Florida's neediest kids.
Scores of her schoolchildren — some so destitute they wore grocery bags for underwear — enrolled and got the study help they sorely needed.
But they weren't the only ones who benefited....
TALLAHASSEE — As the legislative session neared an end this month, state Rep. Erik Fresen found himself in an awkward position.
Just last year, Fresen helped keep a torrent of public money flowing to private tutoring firms.
But after revelations of fraud and lax oversight turned the program into a black eye for education reform, his new orders from House leadership were clear: End subsidized tutoring, and do it now....
TALLAHASSEE — A last-ditch effort by South Florida lawmakers to keep millions of dollars flowing to private tutoring companies suffered a resounding defeat on Wednesday, giving Florida school districts control over $100 million in federal education money for the first time in a decade.
It happened when two Miami-Dade lawmakers tried to attach funding for subsidized tutoring into a fast-tracked bill that would expand online learning....
TALLAHASSEE --- Just when it looked like Florida schools would be freed from state requirements to hire private tutoring companies, a state Senator is making a late push to mandate funding through a fast-tracked virtual learning bill.
Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, this morning proposed an amendment to an amendment of HB 7029 that would require districts to pay 8 percent of roughly $1 billion in federal education money to private tutoring contractors....
TALLAHASSEE — The fight over subsidized tutoring in the Florida Legislature has come down to a quiet confrontation set against an unlikely backdrop — a series of budget talks between the House and Senate.
As the session winds down, the fate of the controversial program is being haggled over in private because of a last-ditch effort to tie reforms to the state budget process.
On one side, the Florida House, backed by superintendents of the state's largest school systems, wants to end mandated tutoring for poor students and give districts control over the money....