Monday, April 16, 2007


Yes, Don Imus was fired, and no, I don't feel any remorse because, as AP reports, this might hurt his precious charity:

Don Imus's banishment from the public airwaves also deprives him of a critical platform to raise money for the sprawling Imus Ranch, where children with cancer and other illnesses get a taste of the cowboy life....

With Mr. Imus out of a job, some wonder whether the pipeline to charity money will eventually dry up....

First of all, if the Imus Ranch is feeling the pinch, maybe the I-Man should put a mortgage on his $30 million estate in Westport, Connecticut (his estimate) or his penthouse apartment in New York City. At least until he, y'know, gets on his feet again.

Beyond that, please note that (as the AP story reminds us many, many paragraphs in), the Imus Ranch serves very few children for a very short time at very great expense:

It's an expensive operation. The ranch hosted 90 children from March 2005 through February 2006 and spent $2.5 million -- or about $28,000 a child -- according to its most recent federal tax filings.

That's at least 10 times what the Make-A-Wish or similar camps spend on children....

The numbers noted in 2005 by The Wall Street Journal were similar:

The ranch's expenses totaled $2.6 million last year, although the ranch hosts only about 100 children annually, mostly during the summer.

As the blog of the watchdog group Charity Governance noted at that time, citing the cost of another charitable youth program,

If Mr. Imus were to close down his program and use the $2.6 million to purchase Outward Bound adventures for the kids he wants to help, he could send 1,326 girls to the "Connecting with Courage" program. But that is a 14-day program. Pro rating the numbers to reflect the Imus Ranch's 9-day adventure works out [to] a 2,063 kid-equivalent.

The Journal noted at the time that the ranch seemed to be more than just a place to do good for kids (a charge Imus disputed):

Mr. Imus's personal use of the ranch has drawn scrutiny from tax and charity officials. He and his wife and son stay at the ranch all summer to oversee the children's programs. He and his family also visit the ranch in the off-season, including during Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, as well as occasional weekends....

Eliot Spitzer, who was then the attorney general of New York State, looked into the matter, though no charges were ever filed.

The Charity Governance blogger had this to say:

...celebrities can and do raise money, lots of money. The trouble is that some of them also think they know how to design and administer social service programs.

... We would not give a nickel to Mr. Imus to finance the level of inefficiency that his efforts have spawned. That is to say, we would not be blinded by his celebrity. But that is us.

That's me, too. Forget the Ego Trip Ranch. Give to a real charity.

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