Wandering Eye: Goucher takes the pulse of Marylanders, a college becomes a benefit corporation, and more

Goucher College's pollsters tend to pose interesting questions of Marylanders, and the poll released yesterday was no exception. It shows, among many other things, that 72 percent support making schools start after Labor Day, 75 percent want to make businesses offer an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours of work, 60 percent support allowing doctor-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, 57 percent don't want reduced spending on education and schools, 57 percent approve of Barack Obama's presidential job performance, 45 percent oppose fracking, 51 percent oppose the stormwater management fee (62 percent oppose it when it's labeled a "rain tax"), and 52 percent support legalizing pot. Also, about as many Marylanders think Martin O'Malley should run for president in 2016 (31 percent) as think Ben Carson should (30 percent). Polling on new Gov. Larry Hogan shows that while "many residents are still unsure of how to rate the new governor," according to the poll's director, Mileah Kromer, "overall trust in the state government and views on the direction of the state are more positive than in recent years." (Van Smith)

 

As the Department of Education starts to crack down on for-profit schools, one nonprofit college in California, Alliant International University, has decided to try and become a different category of for-profit institution: a benefit corporation. Inside Higher Ed reports that "It is believed to be the first regionally accredited nonprofit college to make such a move," and explains, "Under the benefit corporation approach, Alliant can take in the private funding it needs to improve its student services, pedagogical technology and international reach while committing publicly to keeping its mission and public purpose foremost. Under California law, benefit corporations are supposed to be accountable not just to their boards and bottom lines but to workers, customers and society at large. They must report annually on their environmental and social performance using independent standards." The university's president, Geoffrey Cox, says that this will allow them to get "access to public capital markets" without giving up "academic values." It makes the for-profit vs. nonprofit distinction between universities a bit grayer, but let's be honest: Between universities founding business incubators, proudly advertising their corporate partnerships, and paying their presidents millions of dollars, it's not like there's much of a distinction between a nonprofit university and a corporation anyway. (Anna Walsh)

 

Politico has a fascinating look at the ethics policies of Hillary Clinton's State Department. Using the Freedom of Information Act, the reporters found that former President Bill Clinton's paid speeches—some for Chinese or Middle Eastern patrons—were all approved even though no one said how much the former president was being paid. "The records show State Department lawyers acted on sparse information about business proposals and speech requests and were under the gun to approve the proposals promptly," the story says. Consulting deals and speaking fees are a time-honored way to pay bribes, of course, and are no less useful when the payee legitimately commands high speaking and consulting fees. Things get murkier yet when you stir in nonprofit foundations, which are used as conduits both for the money source and the recipient. The rules on the Obama White House, Politico found, "imposed no vetting on donations to the Clinton Foundation by individuals or private companies in the U.S. or abroad." Hillary Clinton has infamously claimed that she and her husband were "dead broke" when they left the White House—a surprising claim given Bill's presidential pension of $200,000 to start. The pair instantly amassed tidy fortunes from book contracts and speaking deals, as is the custom. The Clinton Foundation has accepted generous gifts from around the world totalling more than $2 billion. Only a cynic would suspect anything untoward. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

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