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Archive for March, 2011

Tax Exempt Status for churches

Posted by eemilla on March 5, 2011

While I agree with the recent Supreme Court decision in favor Westboro Baptist Church’s right to be completely disgusting and abhorrent and absolutely hateful and disrespectful, it firms my opinion against tax exempt status for churches.

The IRS requires organizations claiming tax exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to refrain from being action organizations, which prevents them from supporting or working against both legislation and political campaigns; however, we all know that churches participate in the political discourse in this country and tell their memberships how to vote.  However, “churches” like Westboro Baptist stick to their message of hate and refrain from ever mentioning legislation or candidates; therefore following the letter if not the spirit of the law.  The Family/The Fellowship enjoyed tax exempt status until 2009 while they posed as a church; the home on C Street (which was considered a church) provided highly subsidized lodging to both Republicans and Democrats (including Representative Heath Shuler) all the while actively influencing legislation in this country and abroad.  Recent research has validated the Church of Latter Day Saints involvement in passing Proposition Eight which altered California’s constitution to restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

Many argue that churches deserve the special tax status for the charitable works that they perform in the community, and while I would regret to see modest churches that actually do good works in the community suffer, I wouldn’t mind at all seeing mega churches with huge ostentatious buildings contribute to the tax base.  If they truly follow the words of their holy book then they don’t need the tax incentive to perform these good works, and driving around any town or city in this country most churches have way too much money in their building funds.  Furthermore, our First Amendment provides for a separation of church and state, and frankly, I do not see the need for taxpayers to enable churches to proselytize anymore than James Madison did.

Our current budget concerns are bringing some important programs to the chopping block, but we cannot cut our way out of the deficit; revenues will have to be increased.  Federal heating oil assistance is being cut, teachers are being laid off, and projects for mass transit are mouldering, but churches like Westboro Baptist don’t have to pay a single cent in taxes on their assets?  Much like defunding NPR and PBS, removing churches’ tax exempt status will enable them to fully enter the political arena rather than secretly participate.

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Water Savings Tips

Posted by eemilla on March 3, 2011

For this week’s Change the World Wednesday, please consider water conservation.  I’ve never lived in a house with a garbage disposal so breaking the habit of using isn’t an issue.  We are vegetarian at home so we don’t have much food waste that cannot be composted or dumped in the trash can without causing too much of a stink.  However, my favorite water saving tips are below (quite apropos with the tight economy we’re facing).

1.  Turn the water off when you are washing your hands.  In order to be effective you should rub your soapy hands for about thirty seconds after using the restroom or coughing or sneezing or whatever, and there is absolutely no need to run the water all that time.

2.  Rather than run the shower faucet to heat the water before my shower, I turn on the sink faucet (although my husband argues that it takes longer to heat up thus probably not saving much if any water).

3.  We water our houseplants with the less than fresh water in our dog and cat water dishes.

4.  Rain is the only water than our lawn receives, even if it turns brown.

5.  When I hand wash dishes, I stop the rinse sink so that I can rinse all but the largest items without running any more water.

6.  Our shower has a low flow head (which reduced our bill by about $10 or $5 a month), and when I am not rinsing I use the water pause feature, which doesn’t stop the flow but just cuts it significantly.

7.  For years we have kept three 750mL bottles in our toilet tank to reduce how much water each flush uses.

8.  We only wash full loads of laundry and dishes in our automatic machines.

9.  I only shower when I am dirty.

10.  Even when I’m sick and just want to linger under the hot spray, my showers are less than ten minutes.

 

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Posana

Posted by eemilla on March 3, 2011

Our most recent dining out experience was at Posana, and overall our experience left much to be desired; although for some reason I cannot say that I would not return.  The interior is nice and swanky, but the tables are packed in very tightly.  They have a large banquette along the wall adjacent to the patio, and then they have four or five two tops opposite that abut against a half wall which creates a divide between the tables and the bar.  I know I’m a bit wider than normal, but I found it difficult to pass by without brushing either the tables on one side or the chairs for the banquette tables on the other side.  There are also several four top tables in the windows facing Biltmore/Broadway as well as plenty of seating at their gorgeous bar.  The proximity of the tables combined with the noise of the bar made private conversation a bit difficult, and at one point we weren’t able to hear each other at all as the server at the table to our left proclaimed the specials menu.  Our server simply pointed out the specials menu tucked into the regular menu and noted the correction that the pork special was replaced with lamb.

On other points of service, our server was woefully negligent.  We both ordered water to begin and my husband ordered a beer, while she was obtaining the water I perused their non-alcoholic drinks menu and decided on a ginger ale.  However, I was not able to detain our server long enough when she dropped our waters to place the order, even after two ma’ams and making eye contact with her.  She did stop at the neighboring table where they requested their check, so I decided to forgo the soda.  She returned to take our food order (the bartender brought my husband’s beer), but apparently it wasn’t enough to be worthy of her time as she came back to our table twice after that.  Once she dutifully inquired as to how our entrees were and promised to refill both of our almost empty waters, and the second time she picked up my credit card (which means that our waters were never refilled).  For a restaurant with an atmosphere and prices like Posana, I expect better service; even if our server is busy with other tables they should have more support staff, like food runners and busers, to refill water and pre-bus and handle general inquiries.

The vegetarian options were skimp throughout the menu; the appetizers contained a cheese plate along with the obligatory squash and zucchini appetizer.  The salads of course represent better, but only two were options for a pregnant woman with only one being appetizing for me.  Neither the dinner specials nor the entree menu had a single vegetarian option, and the small plate options were again composed of the obligatory zucchini and squash and mushrooms.  However, my mushroom gnocchi plate was tasty and a moderate portion, if fairly uninspired.  What was most surprising about our meal was my small plate portion was the same size as my husband’s entree portion.  His cost $19 while mine was $12, and yes his did have shrimp albeit a light topping of rock shrimp.  Additionally, for a restaurant that advertises and promotes their local sourcing, I wonder where the asparagus in my husband’s entree came from at this time of year?

I liked the look of the place, but the menu doesn’t contain much that would impel me to return, especially since I have no major gluten allergy.  For some reason I still cannot say that I wouldn’t return; they do have a patio across from Pack Square which might be nice in warm weather to sip cocktails and people watch.

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