Wandering Eye: A look at David Simon's new series, why the IRS doesn't go after nonprofits, and more

Law enforcers' proclivity to deploy their service weapons on young African-American men is now a matter of widespread outrage, due to how often such situations end in killings, even though it's a long-established phenomenon that's prompted one of the fundamentals of black parenting: how to act around cops so that you don't get shot or falsely arrested. But here's another measure of how common the problem is: Even on campus at Yale University, young black male students are not immune from this paradox of public safety. The son of New York Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow was held at gunpoint after he'd left the library while security officers made sure he wasn't the robbery suspect they were looking for, according to the elder Blow's account, a circumstance that prompted the columnist to conclude that "there is no amount of respectability that can bend a gun's barrel." (Van Smith)

 

The Internal Revenue Service hardly ever audits the big-money nonprofit corporations to see if they are spending more money on politics than they are legally allowed to, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which asked the IRS for records in 2013 under the Freedom of Information Act. "The IRS told the Center for Public Integrity that it has only begun auditing 26 organizations specifically for political activity since 2010," CPI wrote in its report. "That represents a tiny fraction of the more than 1 million nonprofits regulated by the agency." Why so few? Budget cuts, for one: "President Barack Obama last month signed into law a bill that chops the IRS' annual budget by $345.6 million—reducing agency funding to 2008 levels," CPI says. The number of IRS employees responsible for investigating nonprofits has dropped 9 percent from fiscal year 2010 through fiscal year 2013—from 538 to 489. This while unregulated money from nonprofits is flooding political campaigns. According to CPI, nonprofits that, under the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in "Citizens United," do not have to disclose their donors spent more than $336 million in the 2012 election cycle—up from $17 million in the 2006 cycle. "Politically active nonprofits are simply 'not afraid of the IRS or anybody else on this matter,' said Paul Streckfus, a former exempt organizations division employee who now edits a trade journal focusing on nonprofits." (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

With "The Corner," "The Wire," "Generation Kill," and "Treme" all under his belt, Simon has carved a unique niche for himself as an HBO superstar who doesn't actually get good ratings. Grantland caught up with the former Baltimore Sun reporter on the set of his new miniseries, "Show Me a Hero," about desegregation in . . . Yonkers, New York? While not really well known in these parts, "Hero" is the story of a U.S. District Court ruling that Yonkers had "'illegally and intentionally' fostered segregation in its schools and neighborhoods by concentrating all of its public housing in one section of the city" and the fight that came after. What really caught our eye were the other projects Simon talks about in the piece, especially the one set in New York City. A "collaboration with [crime writer and "Wire" scribe] George Pelecanos on Times Square in the '70s and '80s"? Pimps, furs and muscle cars through the eyes of David Simon? Sounds great, but unfortunately it's "stuck in some lower rung of development hell." (J.M. Giordano)

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