In advance of his organization's annual conference next week, a leading member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, headquartered at the National Press Club, is calling for a boycott of hotels in Chicago that do not carry Spanish language television.
"Now, I understand that changing hotels a week before the convention might not be easy, but it's worth a try," encourages Hugo Balta, vice president of news of WNJU Telemundo 47, the NBC Universal-owned station serving the New York metropolitan area.
Mr. Balta, the son of Peruvian immigrants, says he and at least one other NAHJ member have switched hotels days before the July 23-27 conference, which features appearances by FOX News Channel's Geraldo Rivera and CNN's Soledad O'Brien.
"I called all of the hotels on the UNITY list and only one informed me that it offers Spanish language television," said Mr. Balta, who is running for the post of NAHJ vice president/broadcast. "Sheraton Towers — NO. Chicago City Centre Hotel — NO. Hyatt Regency Chicago — NO. Hyatt Regency McCormick Place — NO. Swissotel Chicago — NO. Inn of Chicago — YES …
"I share this with you because regardless of how difficult it might be to find hotels (quality hotels) that carry Spanish language television we cannot continue to give business to establishments that do not recognize 'us.'"
Reached Thursday afternoon, NAHJ executive director Ivan Roman told Inside the Beltway that the boycott drive now appears to be paying off, with several of the above-named hotels, including the Sheraton Towers, promising to have Spanish language TV "by the time the conference begins."
"These are major changes," Mr. Roman said. "The fact that they can do it in Chicago that fast is great … This is a recognition of the growing number of Spanish language media."
He added: "It's just like you want to watch CNN."
The Internal Revenue Service has an expanding inventory of uncollected "tax debts" approaching $300 billion at the close of fiscal 2007.
To make matters worse (unless you happen to be one of the delinquent parties that owes money to Uncle Sam), the IRS has "shelved or delayed collection of billions of dollars" of back taxes.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just issued a report describing the federal tax collection agency as not only having "a very large debt workload and limited resources spread across multiple units," but "a complex process to collect unpaid tax debts by contacting taxpayers through notices, telephone calls and in person."
The report says the IRS "does not yet have an agencywide, systematic approach to managing the collection of tax debts," albeit it recently created a "council" of IRS officials to coordinate various collection activities and recommend potential changes in the process.
RAINES IT POURS
The American Conservative Union wants a full investigation of the role former Clinton budget director Franklin D. Raines played in the current national mortgage crisis, particularly related to Fannie Mae.
"When you examine Raines' resignation from Fannie Mae amidst charges of accounting irregularities and previous practices he may have encouraged, including those that helped lead to the mortgage crisis we face today, Congress needs to conduct a full and fair investigation …," said ACU Chairman David A. Keene.
Upon leaving the Clinton White House, Mr. Raines returned to Fannie Mae as chairman and CEO before being forced out over an accounting scandal in 2004. Last April, he and two other top executives of the lending giant agreed to a $31-million-plus settlement with Uncle Sam.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"In Somalia back in 1993, climate change, according to 11 three- and four-star generals, resulted in a drought which led to famine. That famine translated to international aid we sent in to Somalia, which then led to the U.S. having to send in forces to separate all the groups that were fighting over the aid, which led to … this scene where we have all of our American troops under fire because they have been put into the middle of this terrible situation."
— Massachusetts Rep. Edward J. Markey, chairman of the House Energy Independence and Global Warming Committee, as quoted by CNSNews.com while lecturing high school students gathered at the U.S. Capitol.