Return on Investment (Fall 2010 Trust Magazine)


11/19/2010 -  

THE ENVIRONMENT

Pentagon Defends Against Global Warming
For the first time, the U.S. Department of Defense declares that global warming will play a “significant role in shaping the future security environment.” The statement—which appears in the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the primary planning document that assesses the threats and challenges of current and future conflicts—asserts that climate change affects the Department of Defense in two broad ways. First, global warming “will shape the operating environment, roles and missions” that the agency undertakes, and second, the department “will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on our facilities and military capabilities.” This review of defense strategy demonstrates the Pentagon’s recognition that global climate change will exacerbate existing threats, worsen conflict in already unstable regions of the world, negatively influence military operations and result in significant costs for the nation. It also represents an important achievement for the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate, which is working to highlight the climate-security nexus in order to advance discussions and solutions that will make the United States safer, more prosperous and secure.


Arctic Campaign Heats Up
Reversing plans put forth by the previous administration, President Obama formally bans offshore oil and gas drilling in the 33 millionacre North Aleutian Basin—including the ecologically rich Bristol Bay—until 2017. The president also cancels the oil and gas lease sales of 69 million acres in the U.S. Arctic Ocean, pending review of the impact of such development. These decisions represent a major victory for the Pew Environment Group’s U.S. Arctic campaign, Ocean’s North: Protecting Life in the Arctic, which works to rally the scientific community, fishermen and Alaska natives—as well as senior administration officials and members of Congress—in support of a sciencebased approach to development.


Sea Change for New England Groundfishery
New fishing rules go into effect for New England’s historic groundfish fleet, representing a victory for Pew Environment Group’s campaign Ending Overfishing in New England. It marks the first time that this centuries-old fleet will operate with science-based catch limits, which mean that fishing will stop when the limits are reached. This will allow the 13 of 19 overfished stocks, such as dinnertime favorites cod and flounder, to rebuild. The new system, called sector allocation, also increases catch monitoring and reporting.


Red Snapper Recovery Plan
Ending Overfishing in the Southeastern United States wins a major victory when federal fishery managers approve, in a 9–4 vote, a long-term red snapper recovery plan that halts fishing for the imperiled species from North Carolina to Florida’s east coast. Despite resistance from fishermen, campaign staff effectively persuade council members, demonstrate significant citizen support through community outreach efforts, as well as secure widespread media coverage and the backing of numerous major newspaper editorial boards. The plan, which also closes nearly 5,000 square miles of ocean to fishing for additional species, marks one of the most dramatic actions ever taken by any regional fishery council to end overfishing and restore a species.


Oceans of Protection
President Obama issues an executive order establishing a conservation-oriented policy to safeguard the nation’s oceans, coastlines and Great Lakes— a key recommendation of the Pew Oceans Commission. The new strategy, which unifies more than 140 federal laws and dozens of federal agencies with jurisdiction over U.S. waters, for the first time mandates protecting, maintaining and restoring the health of marine ecosystems. It fulfills a major objective of the Pew EnvironmentGroup’s Campaign for Healthy Oceans. The executive order creates an interagency National Ocean Council to coordinate the initiative and put into place a coastal and marine planning system that will identify areas where industrial uses are appropriate and locales that should be protected from such development. The system is expected to lead to better decisions on where, when and how industrial activities occur, minimizing risks to fish, wildlife and their habitats.


Safeguarding Australian Rivers
The Pew Environment Group, through its Wild Australia program’s Channel Country campaign, secures a commitment from the country’s Queensland state government to protect the three major rivers of the state’s Lake Eyre Basin by mid-2011. The rivers—Coopers Creek, Georgina and Diamantina—cover one-fifth of Australia, an area larger than Texas. The Wild Australia program is a joint initiative of the Pew Environment Group and the Nature Conservancy. As part of the Western Rivers Alliance, Wild Australia has been a key driver in an unprecedented community process that for the first time achieved consensus on such controversial issues as deforestation, irrigation, mining and water provision. The Wild Australia program also releases a report, Outback Carbon—An Assessment of Carbon Storage, Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Remote Australia. The research finds that if the country’s iconic outback were better protected and managed, its natural environment could absorb up to an additional 1.3 billion tons of carbon by 2050—the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road every year for the next four decades.


United Nations Designates Hawaiian Marine Preserve
The Papahãnaumokuãkea Marine National Monument in the northwestern Hawaiian islands is selected as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The Pew Environment Group was instrumental in the site’s designation as a monument by President George W. Bush in June 2006. It worked with and supported the organization that prepared and submitted the application for recognition by the United Nations. World Heritage status, which encourages protection and preservation for “outstanding universal value,” is considered a major milestone in the effort to safeguard one of the most historically and culturally significant areas of Hawaii. This is the first marine World Heritage site in U.S. waters. Papahãnaumokuãkea consists of 140,000 square miles of ocean surrounding 10 islands and atolls and numerous reefs, banks and shoals that support 7,000 marine species—one-quarter of which are unique to that area.


 

IN THE STATES

Prison Count 2010
The Pew Center on the States releases Prison Count 2010, a survey that reveals the first drop in the state prison population in nearly 40 years. As the report notes, as of January 2010, 1,404,053 persons were under the jurisdiction of state prison authorities— 4,777 fewer than on December 31, 2008. While the study showed an overall decline, it also revealed great variation among jurisdictions: the prison population declined in 26 states but increased in 24 states and in the federal system. Using the Public Safety Performance Project’s policy framework, several states have enacted reforms in the last few years designed to get taxpayers a better return on their public safety dollars. These strategies include strengthening community supervision and re-entry programs and accelerating the release of low-risk inmates who complete risk-reduction programs.


Pre-K Data on the Web
The Pew Center on the States’ campaign for early education, Pre-K Now, publishes its annual review of governors’ early education budget proposals as an online, interactive Web site. As the report notes, in spite of widespread fiscal distress in states, budget proposals from the nation’s governors and the mayor of the District of Columbia keep overall state funding for prekindergarten near FY 2010 levels. Pre-K Now continues to advocate for inclusion of prekindergarten program incentives in the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act in order to strengthen states’ school reform efforts through highquality prekindergarten programs.


Pew Home Visiting Campaign Hits a Triple 
The Pew Home Visiting Campaign and its state partners celebrate three victories. Ohio’s General Assembly takes a significant step toward ensuring stronger returns on public investment in home visiting by promulgating the first-ever set of quality and accountability standards for home visitation throughout the state. In Washington, the legislature invests an additional $200,000 in evidence-based home visiting programs. And despite an $828 million FY 2010 state revenue shortfall, a series of devastating hurricanes and this summer’s costly BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill response, Pew’s Louisiana partners manage to keep intact the $12 million in state funding for the Nurse-Family Partnership home visiting program.


Broadband Report Gains Traction
The Pew Center on the States releases Bringing America Up to Speed: States’ Role in Expanding Broadband, a report on the responsibility of states in ensuring high-quality, high-speed broadband access for all Americans. Pew Center on the States hosts a two-day convening about the states’ role in broadband expansion and adoption at Pew’s Washington, DC, conference center. The event brings together more than 50 state broadband leaders, federal officials and private and nonprofit sector partners to share best practices and strategize about how to work together to achieve common goals.


Model Law to Help Military and Overseas Voters
The Uniform Law Commission approves the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act. The model act is both a key accomplishment and a resource for the Pew Center on the States’ campaign efforts to enact state legislation that improves the voting process for military personnel and civilians overseas. Pew has worked closely with the commission’s drafting committee to inform the model act since January 2009 when the report No Time to Vote was issued. The Uniform Law Commission, made up of state legislators, practicing lawyers, judges and law professors, promotes enactment of uniform state laws. The act provides a blueprint for states to adopt key provisions in the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act and extend them to state and local elections (along with other improvements), further enfranchising American service members and civilians abroad. Pew Center on the States will coordinate with the commission to educate state policy makers on the model act.


 

HEALTH


Human Health on the Hill
The Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming hosts a briefing on Capitol Hill. The event, titled Alternatives to Routine Antibiotic Use in Food Animals, focuses on successful and profitable production and business models, where food animals are raised without the routine use of antibiotics. It is moderated by professor Stephen Jay of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and speakers included prominent farmers and ranchers as well as Steve Ells, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Representatives of more than 50 congressional offices and 35 external organizations attend, reflecting increasing awareness and interest in legislation to address routine antibiotic use in food animals. In conjunction with the briefing, the campaign also holds meetings with three key members of Congress, senior committee staff and five additional congressional offices during its visit to Capitol Hill.


Food Safety Action Day
The Pew Health Group’s food safety campaign kicks off a successful Food Safety Action Day in the Senate with the release of a report commissioned by the campaign’s partner, the Produce Safety Project, estimating the annual health-related costs of foodborne illnesses at $152 billion. Pew hosts a dinner for 46 foodborne illness victims and family members who have become advocates for improving the food safety system, where the audience hears from Dr. Stephen Sundlof, of the Food and Drug Administration, and Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, President Obama’s point person on food safety. The activists hold 55 meetings to encourage senators to bring the food safety bill to the floor for a vote as soon as possible.


Banks and Credit Cards
The Pew Health Group issues two reports: the Safe Banking Opportunities Project’s Unbanked by Choice: A Look at How Low-Income Los Angeles Households Manage the Money They Earn; and the Safe Credit Card Project’s Two Steps Forward: After the Credit CARD Act, Credit Cards Are Safer and More Transparent—But Challenges Remain. Unbanked by Choice finds that onehalf of low-income families in Los Angeles regularly use costly nonbank financial services, such as check cashers and payday lenders, putting them at greater risk of fraud, predatory products or violent crime. The report is shared with key California state and national policy makers as well as federal banking regulators. Two Steps Forward shows that the new Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act causes credit-card issuers to eliminate such practices as imposing “hair trigger” penalty-rate increases (disproportionate charges for minor account violations) and raising interest rates on existing balances. However, it also highlights a sharp rise in cash advance fees, a continued widespread practice of raising interest rates as a penalty for late payments or other violations, and an emerging trend of failing to disclose penalty interest rates in their online terms and conditions.The project provides policy suggestions to the Federal Reserve to clarify and strengthen credit-card pricing disclosure rules.


 

THE ECONOMY


Too Important to Fail
The Financial Reform Project of the Pew Economic Policy Group hosts an event at the National Press Club attended by more than 100 members of the press, congressional staffers and other interested stakeholders. The keynote speaker is the chair of the White House’s National Economic Council, Larry Summers. Clive Crook of The Atlantic Monthly moderates a session featuring Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA), two influential members of the Senate Banking Committee. Professor Phillip Swagel from Georgetown University presents a paper about the economic and budgetary costs of the financial crisis. Later, the project releases the results of a nationally representative public opinion poll showing that nearly 60 percent of likely voters want financial reform now.


A Year or More
The Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative releases its first report, A Year or More: The High Cost of Long-Term Unemployment. Through analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the initiative finds that the number of people who have been without a job for a year or longer equals 3.4 million, or 23 percent of all those who are unemployed— the highest percentage since World War II. The implications of this figure on the federal budget are substantial. Since FY 2007, spending on unemployment insurance has
increased fivefold, from $33 billion to $168 billion in FY 2010. The report notes that the effects of joblessness are felt across all industries, occupations and age groups; however, once out of work, people 55 or over are the most likely to stay unemployed for a year or more. Education levels were shown to provide limited protection against a long period of unemployment: 21 percent of unemployed workers with a bachelor’s degree have been jobless for a year or more, compared to 23 percent of those who have less than a high school degree.


 

PHILADELPHIA


Philadelphia’s 311 System
In a new study, the Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that Philadelphia’s 311 contact system succeeded during its first year of operation in giving residents improved and easier access to information about city government—but it also mishandled thousands of service requests. The study, A Work in Progress: Philadelphia’s 311 System After One Year, reviewed Philadelphia’s 311’s operations in 2009 in relation to 14 other communities that operate 311 systems. In response to a finding that the public had low awareness of 311, the city begins a campaign to increase the system’s visibility.


Pew Fund-Supported Assisted Living Campaign
With support from the Pew Fund/Local Health and Human Services, the Pennsylvania Assisted Living Consumer Alliance mounts a multifaceted campaign to increase public understanding of the critical need for assisted living provisions assuring resident rights, physical safety, and standards for staff training and qualifications. Over a two-year period, the alliance worked intensively at every stage of the new regulations’ development to ensure consumer interests were appropriately reflected. Pennsylvania
has developed the new rules that incorporate important consumer health and safety protections thanks to the advocacy efforts of the 32-member alliance, spearheaded by the Pennsylvania Health Law Project. Assisted living provides food, shelter, personal care assistance and some health coverage to older adults and people with disabilities who may have serious medical problems but who are not so sick as to require around-the-clock skilled nursing care.


Jail Report
The Philadelphia Research Initiative releases an in-depth report, Philadelphia’s Crowded, Costly Jails: The Search for Safe Solutions. On a per-capita basis, the city has one of the largest jail populations in the country, and city spending on jails has doubled in the past 10 years. The study examines the entire criminal justice system to determine why the number of inmates has risen so dramatically in the past decade and why it has fallen in the past year. The report looks at what is being done in Philadelphia to control the size of the population—without jeopardizing public safety—and at measures being taken in other jurisdictions to address the same issue.


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