Thursday, May 25, 2006

File This Under "Redundant"; Also Under "Repetitive"

Moment of remembrance hasn't caught on

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer
1 hour, 31 minutes ago

A tiny White House commission has spent the past five years and $1.5 million trying to bring a new American tradition to Memorial Day's barbecues, parades and sales: A moment of remembrance, a sigh, perhaps a prayer. Just a 30-second pause.

The results, so far, are mixed.

The White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance does have a theme song donated by Charles Strouse, creator of the musical "Annie." There's a logo, pens and coasters, prewritten news articles and television spots. There have been events, like a sand-sculpture display inspired by D-Day.

And a few towns, businesses and organizations have paused silently at 3 p.m. on Memorial Day.

In general, though, the commission's hyper-energetic executive director, Carmella LaSpada, has been somewhat frustrated by the lack of interest.

"We're a little disappointed," she said. "What has been the problem is that we haven't gotten the support that we would like to have from the media."
Nevermind the fact that no one's heard of this "event". Nevermind the fact that the ENtire fucking day is set aside for rememberance, with parades and trips to graveyards, and flowers and flags. Nevermind that trying to get Americans to take a minute out of a WORK day is hard enough.

No, the real reason this hasn't taken off might just have something to do with a conflict of interest:
LaSpada has been repeatedly criticized in annual federal financial audits for blurring the lines between her tiny federal agency and No Greater Love, a nonprofit agency LaSpada founded 30 years ago, which operates right next door and has a similar mission.

In July, 2005, an auditor with the Government Accounting Office, the investigatory arm of Congress, wrote that "the distinction between the two organizations could be misperceived." A new financial audit is currently under way, said a GAO spokesman.

LaSpada said she's learning to separate the two.

"Personally, I'd rather play down No Greater Love because it looks like I'm still wearing two hats," she said. "I'm no longer affiliated with any No Greater Love. When you are director of an independent government agency you can't be affiliated with any other group."
Except, ohhhhhhhhhhhh, I don't know, by close proximity? By, uh, funding? Perhaps even a little, you know, skimming off the top? As in:
As executive director of the commission and White House liaison, LaSpada receives about $165,000 in salary and benefits, according to federal reports. As executive director at No Greater Love, she was paid $13,840 in 2001, the last year she was listed as running that organization, according to the non-profit's tax forms.
Anyone care to bet that, prior to 2002, she was paid around $190,000 by "No Greater Love" directly?

Sheesh. Is it any wonder she's not exactly motivated to get the word out about this "event"?

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