Its Official Independent Gulf Oilspill Claims Fund Just Another BP Subsidiary



A ruling today by U.S. District Court Judge Carl Barbier proves what victims of the unprecedented Deepwater Horizon spill have claimed for months: the so-called “independent” Gulf Coast Claims Facility is anything but a neutral arbitrator or mediator (download complete ruling here and here is a link to the AP story on the ruling). In fact, the judge ruled that “BP has created a hybrid entity, rather than one that is fully independent of BP” and “the GCCF and Mr. Feinberg are not completely ‘neutral’ or independent from BP.” The judge cited the following facts in support of his conclusion:

1. “Mr. Feinberg was appointed by BP, without input from opposing claimants or the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, and without an order from the Court.”

2. “BP pays Mr. Feinberg and his law firm a flat fee each month, pursuant to a written contract which outlines his duties and responsibilities in great detail… This Contract is a private one between only BP and Feinberg Rozen, LLP-the United States is not a party to this Contract.”

3. “BP decided the amount and manner in which it funded the GCCF through this trust agreement.”

4. The GCCF “cannot reveal any confidential information relating to the GCCF without giving BP prior notice so that BP can seek a protective order; that all information gathered from claimants will be turned over to BP, with no restrictions as to its use.” (COMMENT: The claimants have no right of prior notice and cannot protect their privacy.)

5. “BP will ‘indemnify, defend, and hold harmless’ Feinberg Rozen, LLP from and against any and all threatened or commenced actions . . . that are threatened, asserted, brought, commenced, or sought by any person or entity . . . relating to or arising from the operation of the GCCF.

6. “BP may choose to allow Feinberg Rozen, LLP to ‘use and access certain of its computers, equipment, furniture, [and] properties.’ as well as “use and access certain facilities, properties, and offices owned or leased by BP.” (COMMENT: So Feinberg can use BP’s gym?!)

7. “Under the Contract, BP retains the ability to audit Feinberg Rozen, LLP as long as the firm retains information about claimants.” (COMMENT: The power to audit is the power to control.)

8. “In administering the GCCF, Feinberg Rozen, LLP agrees to comply with BP’s Code of Conduct and to refrain from subcontracting its obligations without prior written approval from BP.” (COMMENT: If I’m following someone else’s conduct mandates, I’m the employee.)

9. “In their releases of BP, the GCCF requires claimants to release and assign all rights or claims not only against BP, but against any other potentially liable party. Whether or not seeking such broad releases is appropriate, the GCCF is clearly acting to benefit BP in doing so. BP may appeal an award of the GCCF if it exceeds $500,000; appeals are decided by a three-judge panel and are binding only on BP.

10. “BP does retain some degree of control of payments from the GCCF fund, as evidenced by recent media reports that the GCCF was ordered by BP to pay a $10 million business claim which had never been reviewed by the GCCF for merit.”

Any normal person would describe this relationship between BP and the GCCF as that of a corporate parent to its subsidiary. That’s why the court decided that “certain precautions should be taken to protect the interests of claimants,” an extraordinary finding of a lack of confidence in Mr. Feinberg’s ability to remain neutral in fact and appearance. “Any claim of the GCCF’s neutrality and independence is misleading to putative class members and is a direct threat to this ongoing litigation,” continued the judge (emphasis mine). The judge imposed six measures on BP, the GCCF, and Mr. Feinberg and his firm, including ceasing any warning to claimants that they shouldn’t hire a lawyer.

Too often, the press treats Mr. Feinberg as if he is “forcing” BP to pay the thousands of Gulf Coast residents what’s due to them. Actually, he’s forced the victims to choose between their Constitutional right to sue BP in federal court or a final payment, determined in an arbitrary process with no appeal. The GCCF bears no resemblance to many of Mr. Feinberg’s other mediations; the 9-11 Victims Compensation Fund was entirely a creation of federal law, and Feinberg was truly an independent arbitrator. The GCCF has been rigged to minimize BP’s final payments to Gulf Coast residents.

Meanwhile the Senate has left the rig disaster victims out in the cold without their right to sue for non-economic damages, thanks to outdated federal laws enacted years before there were offshore oil operations. In contrast, the House recognized last July, by a unanimous voice vote, the reality of offshore oil rig and shipping accidents and allowed offshore rig victims to fully exercise their rights, just as oil rig workers hurt on land or in the air. The new Congress should enact a permanent fix to federal law to enable the victims to have their day in court.

House Judiciary Committee Exempts Constitutional Rights Lawsuits From Sanctions Bill



On March 10 and again on June 25, I reported on a bill numbered H.R. 966, the “Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act,” or LARA, part of the “tort reform” agenda. That bill would toughen Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, add disincentives to the filing of civil suits in federal courts, and supposedly prevent “frivolous lawsuits” through judicial sanctions on attorneys. The House Judiciary Committee acted on the bill today, voting on party lines to send it to the floor for full consideration by the House. But an amendment offered by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) to exempt claims based “on the Constitution” from the tougher sanctions won unanimous approval. The amendment would ensure that civil rights claims, such as those brought to protect religious liberty under the First Amendment, gun rights under the Second Amendment, or equal protection claims under the 14th Amendment, can pursued without fear of tougher sanctions. In my earlier posts, I expressed concern over LARA’s impact on litigation brought by social conservatives, so the amendment should ameliorate those concerns.

The amendment, however, creates a separate Rule 11 for those lawsuits, one completely different from those brought with some economic recovery at stake. I assume this will increase litigation over Rule 11 motions, as attorneys seek to avoid sanctions by claiming a nexus to the Constitution and judges use valuable court time to debate such motions. I’m not an expert in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, so I’m asking readers whether any other rule in the FRCP is so bifurcated between “Constitutional” and non-“Constitutional” claims. I will post the responses if you give me express permission.

Other issues with the bill remain as it heads to the floor. As I wrote in March, LARA is still “an unwise and unwarranted intrusion by the Legislative Branch into the independence of the Judicial Branch… LARA would impose Congress’ will on the FRCP without consideration by the Judiciary and public comment. Moreover, it mandates, rather than allows, federal judges to impose sanctions, thus substituting Congress’ judgment for the Judiciary’s.” House Republicans shouldn’t complain about “an overreaching judiciary” that “thwart(s) the will of the people and overturn(s) their votes and their values,” and then turn around and overturns standards for judicial decisions through LARA. The Judiciary obviously doesn’t want to change Rule 11, since the Judicial Conference hasn’t started any amendment proceeding.

There’s no need to toughen these sanctions and create two standards for attorney sanctions when federal judges don’t want to change current practice.

Citing the Founding Fathers While Crushing Rights They Protected



We have wandered too far off the path envisioned by our Founding Fathers of a government with few and defined powers. Government was supposed to be about doing only a few things; today government is about doing nearly everything. It has intruded in our business and personal lives in ways unimaginable to the wise men who gathered in Philadelphia in the sweltering summer of 1787. And to increasingly little positive benefit.”

Bravo, a noble sentiment which could stand atop the website of every Tea Party organization in America. It’s actually on a website of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and used to trumpet a new board game which shows the over-regulation of American business by the Obama Administration. I have no problem with the Chamber’s campaign to stop excessive regulation – I’m with them there.

But I have a big problem with any group that cites the Founding Fathers on one hand, then attacks the unalienable rights that the Founders fought to protect and enshrine in the Constitution. And the Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the Chamber, works daily to degrade the right protected by the 7th Amendment to a jury trial for civil suits. The ILR has championed the overruling of state regulation of financial services, drugs, and medical devices in favor of more interference by federal bureaucrats. The Chamber apparently didn’t even consider the blatant inconsistency of calling for a return to the teachings of the Founding Fathers on one website, while advocating on another website to ignore what the Founders actually wrote about the civil justice process.

To make matters even worse, the ILR website includes the text of a 2008 story about “a re-enactment of the Constitutional Convention of Sept. 17, 1787, when James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, along with 54 others signed the U.S. Constitution.” The story makes a point of saying, “Equally important were the first 10 amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights, that guarantee the critical freedoms of speech, press, religion and the right to bear arms.” Funny, it doesn’t even mention the 7th Amendment right to a jury trial for civil suits, although James Madison, the Founding Father who pushed it through Congress to enactment by the states, thought that right was “as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.” The omission would be funny if it didn’t involve a danger to our unalienable, God-given rights.

Even Tort Reform Proponents Oppose National Texas-Style Law



On September 12, Texas Governor Rick Perry called for federal tort reform during the GOP Presidential debate. “You want to talk about some powerful job creation, tell the trial lawyers to get out of your state and to quit costing businessmen and women. That’s what needs to happen in the states. and it’s also what needs to happen at the federal level, passing federal tort reform at those federal levels.” As I wrote on September 16, Gov. Perry now stands against some of the most respected Tea Party-side and conservative legal experts in America, who have written that a federal tort reform law is as unconstitutional as ObamaCare, and for the same reasons. But Gov. Perry also ignored two of the leading proponents of tort reform, who conceded months ago that a Texas-style national limit on medical malpractice lawsuits is clearly unconstitutional.

Walter Olson of the Cato Institute has been dubbed the “intellectual guru of tort reform.” He was previously a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and his writing appears regularly in all of the major newspapers and networks. But on May 24, Mr. Olson wrote that conservative and anti-ObamaCare Professor Randy Barnett of the Georgetown University law Center was right in stating that tort law is strictly a state power and not subject to federal oversight. A short segment of his concession post: “Thanks to star libertarian lawprof and Cato senior fellow Randy Barnett for pointing out something that has needed saying for a while: most proposals in the U.S. Congress to address medical malpractice law run into serious federalism problems. Most medical malpractice suits go forward in state courts under state law. If the U.S. Congress wishes to impose a nationwide rule on these suits, such as by limiting damages for pain and suffering, it first needs to answer the question: under which of the federal government’s constitutionally prescribed powers is it acting? Even if it can identify such authority, it should also ask: is it a wise idea–consistent with what one might call a prudential federalism–to gather yet more power in Washington at the expense of the states? Unfortunately, the backers of the current federal med-mal bill have chosen to rely on the Supreme Court’s very expansive “substantial effects” doctrine…”

Ted Frank, Adjunct Fellow with the Center for Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute, is described by the Wall Street Journal as a “leading tort-reform advocate.” He’s also the Editor of the pro-tort reform Point of Law blog; president of the Center for Class Action Fairness; has written for law reviews and numerous media outlets; and has testified before Congress multiple times. Mr. Frank is one of the chief theorists and spokepersons for the pro-tort reform movement. But also on May 24, Ted Frank conceded that Prof. Barnett and another conservative and anti-ObamaCare Professor, Ilya Somin of the George Mason University School of Law, were correct in their criticism of a federal tort reform law. Mr. Frank’s quote: “It’s easy enough for Congress to condition portions of Medicare block grants on a state establishing reasonable medical-malpractice litigation guidelines, or for Congress to prohibit certain types of lawsuits over federally-funded medical care. It doesn’t need to impermissibly federalize all medical malpractice litigation to accomplish reform.”

So the “intellectual guru of tort reform” says that a national, one-size-fits-all law killing medmal lawsuits would have “serious federalism problems,” while “a leading tort-reform advocate” says a Texas-style federal medmal law is “impermissible.” Between them and the five conservative legal experts, such as Randy Barnett, it looks like the case is closed.

Is Rick Perry listening? Maybe we’ll find out during the next GOP Presidential debate on Thursday. Personally, I’m not optimistic, since he ignored the writings of the five conservative legal experts and two pro-tort reform experts on the Internet months before he went nuclear on the subject.

Open Courtrooms For Religious Liberty AND Medmal Lawsuits



The Founding Fathers built a civil justice system designed to protect the God-given, unalienable right of all Americans to present their claims before a local jury. That right was enunciated centuries ago by Moses, when he decreed that a man whose property is damaged by a neighbor’s actions is entitled to punitive damages. That right to civil justice was protected by Article 39 of the Magna Carta, sealed in 1215, when English peasants forced King john to recognize God-given rights to self-government. That right was protected by our Founders in the 7th Amendment to the Constitution, introduced by James Madison during the first Congress, along with the other amendments in the Bill of Rights.

The Founders didn’t limit the exercise of that God-given right to certain causes or to one group of citizens over another group of citizens. As the shackles of racism and sexism were removed, all Americans were eventually afforded that right to seek justice before a jury for their claims. So trespass cases, medical malpractice claims, property rights claims, and lawsuits to protect religious liberty under the First Amendment are equal under the Constitution and Bill of Rights, just as each so if is equal in the eyes of God.

Today on the nationally syndicated What’s Up broadcast on Sirius Channel 131 and 12 radio stations, I discussed the fight for religious liberty brewing over the Obama Administration’s “compromise” on the mandate for insurers to provide contraceptives, some of which act as abortifacients. Those of us who own a business and are faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, and non-Catholic business owners whose religious convictions oppose abortion, will find it impossible to reconcile that mandate with our religious convictions. Eventually, we might have to seek justice, and prevent the imposition of that mandate, by filing suit in federal court. In so doing, we would follow in the footsteps of our forefathers who sought protection from excessive power wielded by the sovereign, through an appeal in the halls of civil justice. Regardless of anyone’s views on the underlying issues, all Americans should respect the conscientious objections to certain types of medical services, and all Americans should respect the constitutionally protected right to defend such objections in a court of law.

You can download my audio interview from the What’s Up program:
Segment 1
Segment 2

Civil Suit Forces VA to Allow National Cemetery Prayers In Name of Jesus



Congratulations to the Liberty Institute for using the civil litigation process to successfully defend Pastor Scott Rainey’s right to pray “in Jesus’ name” at the Houston National Cemetery. In the process, they defeated a national effort by the Veterans’ Administration to stifle religious liberty at all national cemeteries, an outrageous action never before taken.

Here’s a great summary of the case facts from Fox News Radio: Rainey, the pastor of Living Word Church of the Nazarene, has delivered prayers at the Memorial Day service for the past two years. But this year the cemetery’s director asked him to submit his prayer in writing. The prayer concluded with the words, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Lord.’ Rainey told KRIV-TV that he was contacted four hours later by cemetery director Arleen Ocasio who told him to either remove the words or he would not be allowed to pray.

Rainey sued the VA, with litigators from the nonprofit Liberty Institute representing him. “It is very clear that a pastor has a right as a private citizen to speak his mind freely and not have the government censor or edit the content of his speech,’ said Jeff Mateer, general counsel of the Institute, who personally represented Rainey (quoted by Fox).

Trial lawyer Jared Woodfill, the chairman of the Harris County (Texas) Republican Party and the founding partner at Woodfill & Pressler LLP in Houston, rallied Harris County Republicans through a e-mail blast to county GOP members and the county GOP website to call the cemetery director and urge her to back off.

The judge ruled for Paster Rainey and issued a TRO against the cemetery. “The government cannot gag citizens when it says it is in the interest of national security, and it cannot do it in some bureaucrat’s notion of cultural homogeneity,” District Judge Lynn Hughes wrote. One day later, the VA caved, agreeing to not fight the TRO and allowing Pastor Rainey at pray as he planned. You can read the Liberty Institute’s lawsuit, the judge’s order, and the Institute’s press release at its website.

In an interview with Terry Lowry on his nationally syndicated ‘What’s Up’ radio program, Jared Woodfill discussed the case and the need for all Americans to protect their 1st Amendment rights by exercising their 7th Amendment right to a civil jury trial. He disclosed that VA headquarters was attempting to stop prayers at national cemeteries nationwide, not just in Houston, and the lawsuit apparently put a halt to that attempt.

Woodfill highlighted the importance of the right to a civil jury trial, as protected by the 7th Amendment. “Absolutely, obviously the 7th Amendment protections allowed the Liberty Institute to go into federal court and say, ‘Judge, we believe that this is unconstitutional, we believe this is a violation of this pastor’s First Amendment rights under the Establishment Clause.’ He reminded listeners of the importance of each of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. “…(O)ur Founding Fathers were very purposeful and intentional when they drafted the Bill of Rights. And I believe that every single one of those ten amendments is sacrosanct… The federal government should not be stepping on those rights… If the courts are not open to redress grievances such as these, then the federal government will continue to trample upon our rights… the great thing about the 7th Amendment is that it allows the court system to be open to redress these very types of wrongs.” You can download and listen to the entire interview with Jared Woodfill from this link (MP3 file).

So there’s another victory for religious liberty thanks to the 7th Amendment and the trial lawyers at the Liberty Institute. Anybody want to “tort reform” them out of federal court? And a big thanks to Jared Woodfill, who demonstrates every day in his dual roles that a true Constitutional conservative can be a Republican activist and a successful trial lawyer.

UPDATE: I discussed this on the nationally syndicated ‘What’s Up’ radio program with host Terry Lowry. You can download and listen to the podcast using this link.

Being overly vocal about all of your vacations and trips and adventures in exotic places



Being overly vocal about all of your vacations and trips and adventures in exotic places

I don’t want to hear about your trip. I mean, maybe a little bit, and I’ll look at a maximum of ten to fifteen pictures, but thats’s really it. I don’t care. I’m sorry but I don’t. Mostly because you cannot stop mentioning all the places you’ve been at the slightest provocation. Oh that book was published in Tehran, I went there 4 years ago and it was great. Or, oh that restaurant has great Ethiopian food, when I was in Addis Ababa (had to look that up btw) the food was amazing! Listen, I make 50,000 dollars a year and I have more than that in student loans. I live in the most expensive city on the planet and I have a gene that doesn’t allow me to date or be interested in anyone financially responsible. I don’t play the lottery (on the list!) and have no inheritance or trust fund waiting for me. I have no hope of going to bazaars in Morocco or to be able to swim with sharks in Belize. I would be happy to go to the Catskills for the weekend. All of your travels are great but really, keep it to a minimum, otherwise you are on the list.

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Asking If This Is The Line For The Bathroom



Somehow you are able to get out of bed every morning, put one foot in front of the other and walk into the kitchen, make yourself some food and then take the subway downtown where you work as an administrative assistant. A lot of decisions need to be made in the process, decisions which require analysis. So it’s rather baffling that, when confronted with a group of people standing in a row outside two doors that are clearly marked “RESTROOM”, you need to ask “Is this the line for the bathroom?”.

No one answers you, because they are annoyed with your stupidity. You ask again.

What else would this be? Does this look like a cool place to hang out? This tiny, smelly, dark hallway? Does it look like the people standing in this row are talking to each other, or even that they know each other at all?

It requires exactly 1.5 seconds of analysis to determine that yes, this is indeed the line for the bathroom, and there’s no need to bother anyone with your maddeningly thoughtless, needless question.

Just a look around. Take a second to see if you can answer the question yourself. The answer is right there in front of you. Just because you are able to ask the question doesn’t mean you have to. It is the line for the bathroom.

Put it on the list.

WHAT THE FUCK DOES A SMALL CITY COP DO ALL DAY



One of my friends is a cop. For reasons that are probably easily surmised, we don’t hang out much anymore. He’s actually a really sweet guy — or he was last time I saw him like two years ago when we sat next to each other at our other friends’ wedding and I was worried he was gonna figure out I was fucked up the entire time.

SBTVC: So, dude, what the fuck do you even do all day?

SMALL CITY COP: What the fuck do I do all day? Short answer is, I am 5-oh, the fuzz, a cop, you know, the Po-lice. Long answer: My day starts at midnight and I work till 8 A.M.. I drive a Crown Vic Interceptor, carry a Sig Sauer, P226 DAK, wear a bulletproof vest, slap cuffs on people, and manage everything from fender benders to major crime scenes. I have to always be aware of my surroundings and am just as fearful of getting sued as I am of getting shot.

My shift starts with a stop at a Dunkin Donuts, then I make rounds through neighborhoods, shopping plazas and industrial parks hunting for criminals, drunk drivers, and vagrants. At about 3 A.M., I find a nice quiet place to settle in and read a book or work on reports, waiting for the radio to send me on a call. At about 5:30 I start rolling again. This time I am looking for traffic offenders. I sit at several different locations either running radar on a speed trap or watching school buses pick up children. Sometimes I swing through the train station lot and eyeball the hot chicks walking to the commuter rail. Spring is the best. I always see at least one girl wearing a blouse or T-shirt on a day when she should have paired it with a jacket. Hard nips and side boob are two of my favorite things.

You ever seen something you will never be able to un-see? How often do you want to puke your fucking guts out?

I’ve seen some pretty fucked up shit. I have seen grown men cry like babies and poop their pants. I’ve seen 2-year-olds walking by themselves on the sidewalk, in their diaper, in the winter. I’ve seen brains, blood, and death at car crashes, all kinds of drugs and drug paraphernalia, fights, car wrecks, hangings, and even a woman slice open her stomach in front of me. But the weirdest shit I have seen has to be when I walked into this shit-hole triple-decker apartment, I mean a real shit-hole that houses druggies.

No way.

This shit-hole is such a shit-hole that your feet stick to the floor, you step around garbage and over old blood stains when you enter. I had to go to the second floor to break up a fight. When I walked into one of the bedrooms to interview one of the participants, I found a fucked up looking red-headed dirt-bag female in her 40s fingering herself and watching porn while holding a hand towel on her forehead that was covering a gaping flesh wound. She had been hit over the head by her boyfriend/pimp/roommate for God knows what, but refused to press charges and refused to stop pleasuring herself.

Yikes. Am I the only one kind of turned on right now? So how do you work up the will to get out of bed every day knowing you have to go to work? Or do you actually look forward to it?

Despite all that, I look forward to going to work every day. I like knowing that I am helping someone, in some way, every day, just by going to work. Even doing nothing all day amounts to some protection for someone. I can slow traffic just by parking at an intersection, and save lives by taking drunks off the road. Last year I won the MADD award from Moms Against Drunk Driving, and that was justification enough.

How awful are the people you deal with every day?

I tell people I come in contact with that there are only two types of people out after midnight: cops and assholes. Generally, in my city, that is true. If I am talking to you after midnight and before 5 A.M., it’s because you are an asshole, or you were put in a position to call me because of an asshole. Of course, not everyone out after midnight is an asshole, but most of the people I talk to are. No one respects the police, and generally, when I get called to a scene, 50% of the people involved don’t want me there.

I’m pretty sure 90% of people anywhere at any hour are assholes. Good point though. So what’s something about your job that no one really knows that you think people would give a shit about?

We don’t have quotas and aren’t out to get you. I try to treat people with as much respect as is given to me, and I’d rather write you a warning than a citation. Your attitude and your choices determine my response. Treat me with respect, remain apologetic and polite, and you are all set.

SBTVC

Acting Shocked Off Your Tits When Someone Youre Friends With Online Says Hi In Person




Forthwith: If you’re my “friend” on the lines, and you see me in public — especially if we communicate, comment on each other’s shit on a regular basis, etc… — then you are obligated to muster up the courage to put together some semblance of a giving a shit face when you accidentally stumble across my ghastly IRL visage, k? k.

I know I probably look better in theory online — you know, when you don’t have to stare at me for more than 20 seconds, or smell me, or listen to me try to stitch together an awkward, impromptu comedy bit /getting to know you routine on the fly — but that’s just tough shit. I don’t really want to talk to you either, but you should have thought of that when you added me so you could send me some pitch about the band you aren’t in any more like 6 years ago.

Be a real person for once. Look me in the eye, say something weird that makes all of us uncomfortable, then make some sign language hand motion that indicates you’re gonna go smoke/get a drink/ talk to someone more important over there. That’s just basic manners.

Asking to Talk to the Manager




I’m no child psychologist, but I am what you might call an expert on assholes, so I’ve done some extensive research in the field of tattling. A couple key points to consider:

Basically a lot of the literature out there asserts that tattling is a way for children to receive attention. Attention-craving children will try to receive attention any way they can, even at the risk of doing something that they may otherwise know to be wrong. Furthermore, focusing attention on the tattler only encourages this behavior. By giving into the demand for attention that the tattler is looking for, you may give them the idea that this is a real way to become fulfilled.

It can also be about a grab for power as well; a means to get revenge on another child who they feel has wronged them in some way. “It is a quest for power, and tattling fills that inner need. These children long to see another child punished or perhaps delight in how they have managed to control the adult’s reaction,” says Jennifer White, some author I just looked up five seconds ago who writes about this sort of thing.

“At other times, tattling reflects children’s self esteem issues,” she continues. “Children may lack the confidence to handle the situation independently. Further, by getting another child into trouble it makes them feel better about their own shortcomings…

A final reason for chronic tattling reveals the deeper issue of children’s lack of independent conflict resolution skills. These children have no other strategies to deal with undesirable peer behaviors, and so look toward the adult to resolve the problem. Their limited skills necessitate intervention from adults, rather than relying on internal strategies to resolve peer issues. These children would benefit from peer mediation and conflict resolution training.”

An introductory course to getting your new church off the ground



by John Ratliff

By John Ratliff

I recently met with a minister who had been told I was a CPA that helped small
churches. She and two other ministers had recently started a church, and the
administrative duties became her responsibility. Among her many questions were, “How
do I start a new church?” This article is a summary of our resulting discussion. It
is aimed at the independent church growing rapidly in the United States today.

The Word says, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there will I
be also.” If these few meet on a regular basis, you have a church. The IRS Code
states that any organization claiming to be a church is a church. The courts have
further defined a church as a body of believers that assembles regularly in order to
worship. Other criteria include a recognized tenet of belief; creed and form of worship; a
formal code of doctrine and discipline; a defined ecclesiastical governing structure; an
established place of worship; schools or training for its members and ministers; and
others. The IRS generally applies a list of church characteristics developed over the
years by the courts and the commissioner when deciding the propriety of an organization.

Employer identification number. The first official step in starting a church is
application for an employer identification number (EIN). This establishes the church as an
entity with the IRS and subjects the church to Federal laws regarding reporting of wages
and collection of taxes. An EIN can be obtained by filing Form SS-4 with the IRS. This can
be done by letter, phone, fax or E-mail. Call the toll free number of your regional IRS
service center in your phone book, and an IRS representative will give you information on
how to obtain the EIN number.

Some ministers have mistakenly understood that the receipt of the EIN is the tax
exemption certificate that is discussed below. Other ministers have refused to obtain the
EIN on the grounds that it violates the separation of church and state doctrine. The
granting of tax exempt status is one of legislative enactment, not a fundamental right
under the First Amendment. Congress has provided a means of allowing a religious
organization to operate freely in matters of doctrine and worship while requiring it to
adhere to laws concerning reporting of wages and taxes. Congress has also granted two huge
benefits to churches, that of allowing contributions to be tax deductible to the
contributor, and the ability of churches to accumulate capital without taxation.

Tax exemption certificate. A church does not have to apply to the IRS for
501(C)(3) status and is not required to obtain IRS recognition of their tax-exempt
status. Once a group begins meeting regularly, it becomes a church in the eyes of the IRS
and is exempt under 501(C)(3). The church may apply for tax exempt status in order
to be able to assure its members and the public that contributions are tax deductible,
particularly if it will be obtaining grants or contributions from corporate or other
tax-exempt organizations. Churches affiliated with a denomination or other order can
simply apply for church status under a group exemption of the governing organization. The
application for tax exempt status (Form 1023) is a lengthy questionnaire prepared and
filed with the IRS. It details the beliefs and activities of the church in order for the
IRS to determine that the church’s activities meet the tax-exempt standards.

Incorporation. A church is not required to incorporate, although it is generally
advisable. Incorporation creates a distinct legal entity which is able to transact
business and provides protection to the officers of the church when they sign legal
documents acting on behalf of the church. A member of an incorporated church is protected
from liability of the debts of the incorporated church. Members of an unincorporated
church may look to protection from the debts of the church under the Uniform
Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act in states where adopted. However, this statute is
subject to tests in the courts as to its interpretation and enforceability. Being
incorporated makes it easier for an organization to transact commercial business. Many
lenders require incorporation in order to grant loans.

Records. Federal (and some state) laws require churches to comply with payroll
tax and employment reporting obligations. In addition, contributions are deductible to
donors only if they meet certain substantiation requirements that impose certain
record-keeping and reporting requirements on churches.

A new church should call its local IRS office and obtain Publication 15, Circular E,
Employer’s Tax Guide
, an invaluable resource for understanding employer
responsibilities. Amounts paid to individuals for services rendered must be reported to
the IRS as wages and in most cases, taxes must be withhold and remitted to the government.
Circular E contains the various income tax withholding tables and explains the
rules for filing the quarterly Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return.
It also explains the thresholds for timely deposit of taxes withheld. Many churches incur
penalties for untimely remitting of taxes. The penalty for failure to make timely deposits
can be as much as 15% of the late taxes.

Some church administrators think they can designate persons as independent contractors,
thereby saving the matching social security and Medicare taxes. Publication 15-A, Employer’s
Supplemental Tax Guide
is helpful in defining employees and independent contractors.
Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and
Religious Workers
covers several issues relating to the collection of social security
tax from members of the clergy and certain income tax rules of interest to the clergy.
Employers should become familiar with the documentation requirements for all employees,
such as INS Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, Form W-4, Employee’s
Withholding Allowance Certificate
, and many others. Social security taxes, Medicare
taxes and withheld income tax are reported and sometimes paid together on Form 941, due 30
days after the end of each quarter. Form 941 can also be filed by telephone by following
the TeleFile materials received with the Form 941. Deposits of withheld taxes are made
weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on the amount. Most churches will be required to
file the annual Form W-2 for wages earned by employees and Form 1099-MISC for payments to
non-employees.

In most states, churches must register with the Workforce Commission (or similar state
agency). The Commission will assign the church an account number and send forms for the
church to complete. In some states, churches are not required to carry worker’s
compensation insurance. The church should inquire with its state agency about the required
forms to be filed, notices to be given to employees or posted in the workplace, and
record-keeping requirements. There can be stiff penalties for noncompliance with state
laws.

All disbursements made by the church must be documented by receipts or other
documentation clearly demonstrating that the expenditure was made for activities
consistent with the tax-exempt purpose. The “five W’s” is a simple way to
remember the requirements: who, what, when, why and where.

Contributions to churches are deductible to the donor only if they satisfy certain
conditions. One major condition is that the donor must be able to substantiate the
contribution, usually by a receipt from a church. The substantiation requirement depends
on the size and nature of the contribution (cash vs. property). The church should receipt
cash contributions at least annually. The church may not acknowledge a value or assign a
value to property contributed to the church. However, it may (and should) acknowledge
receipt of the property. Donors contributing property (other than listed stocks and bonds)
in excess of $5,000 should submit Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, to
the church. If the church disposes of the property within two years of date of receipt,
the church must file Form 8282, Donee Information Return. Form 8282 reports the
subsequent sale and sales price of the property to the IRS.

Another condition is that the contribution must be unconditional and for the general
use of the church. Designated contributions may not be deductible to the donor. If the
designation is for an approved program or project of the church, the contribution is
deductible. If the designation is for an individual, in most cases the contribution is not
deductible. Contributions must be under the full administrative control of the church in
order to qualify for deduction. The rules for designated contributions are complex and
must be understood by the church in order to receipt contributions lawfully.

The discussion documented above is intended to be a general guide to organizing a new
church and is not intended to be all-inclusive. It is hoped that it will generate an
awareness of the various details that must be addressed so that the minister will not be
unaware of situations that could bring exposure to the church. A general awareness should
motivate the minister to seek professional help when unusual events occur. Ignorance of
the law is not a defense, and forgiveness is generally not in the tenets of belief of the
government.

John Ratliff, CPA, is an audit manager with Pickens, Snodgrass, Koch & Company,
P.C., in Arlington, TX. His practice is predominately with churches and ministries.

American Donations to Charity Highest in the South



10/04/2007

Empty tomb, a Christian research and service organization, will release a new book that analyzes 2005 charitable giving data. The book, set to come out later this month on October 15, centers around findings from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Among those findings are that giving to charity is the highest in the South and the lowest in the Northeast. Church giving on the whole was up in 2005. Americans also reported that 72 percent of their giving was directed to church and religious organizations. Denominations spent 2.2 cents on overseas missions for each dollar contributed.

The book is titled “The State of Church Giving through 2005: Abolition of the Institutional Enslavement of Overseas Missions,” and written by John and Sylvia Ronsvalle.

The empty tomb analysis can be found by clicking here.


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5 Signs of an Effective Congregation



5 Signs of an Effective Congregation

Though churches are always looking for danger signs within – what’s going wrong, who is not being reached, etc. – sometimes the most constructive thing to do is to look at what is working or to look at other congregations and see what’s working for them.

Bill Tenny-Brittian identifies five marks of effective congregation on his blog. Among them:

  • Plenty of invited guests
  • Spontaneous ministries springing up from laypeople who want to lead them
  • Consistent number of adult baptisms

To read the other two, along with full analysis from the writer, visit the source.

Source:

Consulting, Coaching & Chatter: Five Marks of an Effective Congregation

Related Content:

Consulting, Coaching & Chatter: Five Marks of an Effective Congregation


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11 Tips for Pastors Who Want to Build a Church Top 11 Things Pastors Wish They Knew Before Building



by Kurt Williams

Continued from

page 1

6. Managing Expectations – The Wants of the People vs. Budget

Pastors consistently noted that the expectations of the congregation were typically unrealistic in several areas. Facility modeling can help establish the expectations of the church as it relates to the amount of square footage needed to support the ministry, the costs associated with building the space, and the desired materials. Tools in the market can help you establish ballpark assessments of your ministry needs. Facility modeling is best done with the key leadership of your church. The key leaders typically have the best grasp of ministry needs (not wants) to support the vision and mission of the church. With this information, an early assessment of the size of the facility can be established, along with a preliminary budget to construct the facility. Make sure that you have a complete budget from a builder that includes not only the construction costs, but also the design and engineering, site work, fixtures and furnishings that will be needed once the facility is complete. Aligning ministry needs for building space with the ability to finance may seem obvious, but it’s often left out. The typical church has the $5 million vision and the $2 million ability to fund it. The time to adjust the expectations of the church is now. Before actually getting into the pre-construction phases of your process, you need to come to grips with the financial fact that you will probably not be able to build your entire vision in the first phase. Good expectation management will keep your building team on the right track from the beginning and keep them focused on the priorities of your ministry vision.

7. Stewardship Choices – Cheap Decisions Today Will Cost Tomorrow

There is a saying that the only place a building can be built under budget and with the best of all materials is in a building committee meeting. There will always be tension between the square footage needed for ministry, the funds available to build with and the quality of the materials you might use. A common crisis that churches face is too much building, not enough money.

Under the premise of stewardship, many churches will use cheaper materials so as to not decrease the size of the building. The National Association of Church Facility Managers has determined that in the first 40 years of a church facility’s life, the total costs involved with the project breakdown are as follows:

75 percent for maintenance, upkeep and repair

14.5 percent for finance costs and interest

10 percent for building construction costs

.5 percent for building contractor fees

A stewardship decision today often equates to a financial burden for the next generation. Every pastor surveyed who had been involved with choosing a cheaper material later regretted the decision. Make sure that all present and future costs are taken into account when wrestling with the balance of ministry space, money and materials.

8. Property Issues – The Requirements and Time Involved to Build on the Land

Many a pastor has been involved with the donation or purchase of the perfect piece of ground for the church. The due diligence part of any land purchase can make or break a deal. With the church, it is absolutely critical. Several factors affect the actual amount of land usable for construction. It is during a site analysis that churches may find that they cannot meet the growth of their ministry at their current location and need to acquire adjoining property or investigate relocation.

A detailed site challenge analysis will supply information that is absolutely critical in the development of the master plan, as well as establishing the costs involved in developing the property. Key issues that a site challenge analysis should address include zoning, neighborhood issues and requirements/covenants, permit fees and restrictions, parking requirements, egress/ingress issues, right-of-way expansion, easements and set backs, landscaping and green space requirements, topography, wetlands, flood plains/flood ways, storm water retention, water and sewer/well and septic requirements, and environmental hazards and concerns.

A comprehensive site master plan should be part of the ministry plan for your property; some might even call this a vision plan. Master planning is a topic all to itself. It suffices to say that a master plan showing land development out to five, seven and 10 years should be clearly defined prior to breaking ground on the first phase. Pastors have been surprised many years later how a simple mistake made 10 years ago in the middle of their 20-acre parcel of land has hampered their future building plans or cost them significant amounts of money to rectify.

9. Building Codes – The State and Local Requirements to Build

The number of requirements and the costs associated with compliance to meet the building code were surprises to most pastors. Though the burden to meet the building code requirements fell on the designer, the costs associated with them became the burden of the church. Some codes such as the American Disabilities Act are fairly well-known and easy to comply with. Other codes dealing with issues such as wind loads, snow loads, dead loads and live loads are less obvious, but very important for the design and regulatory approvals by your state and local building permit office. Other important issues that your designer should be familiar with are the codes regarding insulation and ventilation, fire sprinklers, plumbing, HVAC (heating and cooling) and electrical. Each area of the country has unique adaptations of the major national building codes that have been changed for that specific geography or fire concern. Make sure that your team is familiar and has experience with your locale.

10. Building Plans – Can You Read and Understand the Plans?

Almost every pastor struggled with understanding or reading the building plans. In every situation, the design-builder reviewed the plans, page by page, but much of the detail was lost. Pastors that asked the design-builder to slow down or explain in more detail came to understand very important elements of the design. The surveyed pastors advised having the building committee chairman (not the pastor) familiar with the plans and all of the details of the project, as well as having an open, trusting relationship with the builder. This allowed the pastor and the building chairman to relax about the finer points of the plans and to rely on the expertise of their design-build team for a good result.

11. Kicking the People Out – The Building Is Not the Destination

Pastors thought there was a tendency to stop and relax after the building project was complete. Some felt their congregations stopped all together because the goal – the building – was complete. The building is not the destination; it is simply a tool for ministry. More than a few of the pastors referred to “kicking people out” of the building to reach out to others in need of the Gospel. A building project can be tiring, and a time of celebration and relaxation is to be encouraged and expected. Reminding the people from the very beginning of the process that the building is actually for reaching out to others tends to lessen the downtime that the congregations needed before getting out and sharing the excitement of their new building with others in the community.

Every building project is an adventure. Partnering with those who have a heart to serve the Lord can make what could be a time of ministry distraction a time of ministry focus. Challenges happen, but with the wisdom of others who have survived the building process and the advice of kingdom-minded design and build professionals, those challenges can be greatly reduced.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed.” – Proverbs 15:22

“Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.” – Proverbs 3:13

Kurt Williams is a design-build veteran at T&W Church Solutions (www.tw-church.com). He’s spent more than two decades in the industry, 18 of those years guiding more than 90 churches through the various stages of discovering, designing and building their new facilities. T&W Corp. serves the churches of Central Indiana and is an active contributing member of the NACDB. Williams can be reached at [email protected].

Pages: Previous1 2

Arguing with God



MONTREAT, N.C. – Prof. Dan Migliore is worried that Christians may be neglecting their prayers.

Not their prayers of praise or thanksgiving, but their prayers of lament – those that articulate anguish, or, like the psalmists of old, take God to task for being silent when the world is hurting so deeply.

That’s what Migliore told his listeners in a workshop titled, “The Prayer of Lament in Christian Theology,” one of 23 offerings during the Montreat Conference Center’s third annual “Reclaiming the Text” Conference, which focused this year on Recovering the Language of Lament.

“My basic concern.is for freedom and honesty of prayer, and all that this freedom implies for our understandings of God and ourselves,’ said Migliore, a systematic theologian at Princeton Theological Seminary. “If in Christian life we cannot express our doubts, our faith will be half-hearted. If we cannot shed tears over waste and loss, our laughter will be hollow. If we cannot express outrage against injustice, our commitment to God’s reign will be lukewarm.

“If we cannot argue with God, we cannot be brought to deeper understanding.”

But even Migliore agrees that arguing with God is easier said than done.

The Jewish spiritual tradition of arguing with God, depicted in memorable accounts of Biblical quarrels involving Abraham and Job, among others, has largely disappeared in Christian spirituality and prayer.

The lament-laden Psalter – full as it is of cries of loss and anger, and even a thirst for revenge – was suspect in the judgments of Augustine and Luther. Calvin also put more emphasis on patient endurance of suffering than on protests of God’s absence in times of despair and loss.

They rejected the ages-old tradition of questioning God and complaining that He ought to “act like God” and start remedying the suffering and injustice that shatter lives.

Yet the Biblical tradition, in Migliore’s view, holds that the people of God may protest injustice and urge God to act to end suffering -not just as individuals, but as communities of faith. The covenant itself creates space for such prayers.

“When events seem to challenge the validity of the covenant promises, when sufferings that endured seem far to exceed what could be construed as discipline or training or chastisement; when the God of the covenant is experienced as painfully silent or deeply hidden in the midst of outrageous evil; (then) the people of God cry out in their loneliness and sense of abandonment,” he said. “Some may dare to argue with God. However difficult it may be for us to grasp, in the Biblical understanding of the covenant relationship between God and God’s people, arguing with God in times of distress.has it’s rightful place.”

Migliore based his comments on his earlier paper, “Arguing with God: Resistance and Relinquishment in the Life of Faith.”

Asking God to act, he said, is for humanity’s sake and for God’s sake as well.

“Injustice, violence and death contradict the character and purpose of God. When evil, injustice and death prevail in the world created and ruled by God, it is not only humanity that suffers, but also the glory of God that suffers,” he said.

For the rest of the story, visit Worldwide Faith News, www.wfn.org.

A NEW PARADIGM FOR WORSHIP SPACE



FACILITIES 2.0

A NEW PARADIGM FOR WORSHIP SPACE

FACILITIES 2.0
A NEW PARADIGM FOR WORSHIP SPACE

CHANCES ARE THE CULTURAL climate has changed a lot since your church undertook its last building project. Americans are more overcommitted than ever, and multinational corporations have done an excellent job at co-opting what little time, money and attention we have to spare. And so, when developing the plan for a new building, a ministry would do well to consider just what type of building would best serve to engage and inspire its local community.

Call it Facilities 2.0, Third Place, The Emergent Church or Postmodern Church. Whatever label you choose, the philosophy is the same: working to re-engage an increasingly over-stimulated and misdirected population.

“Shoppers now through and through, we think about religion like we think about a new sweater,” author David W. Henderson hypothesizes in his book “Culture Shift.” “The people with whom we desire to share the gospel have become reluctant buyers of the faith, guarded shoppers casually browsing through the religious options in search of something that fits.”

This analogy applies not only to seekers, but to believers without a church home and even to your current congregation. Ministries must actively and tirelessly work to remain relevant to the lives of those around them if they wish to survive. The single most effective technique for doing this is to apply some forward-thinking in the design of a new facility. It is important to remember, however, that it is more about having a clear and focused vision, and less about spending lots of money on all the latest-and-greatest bells and whistles.

“When you look at the statistics for the American church, massive amounts of money have been spent on church buildings (more than $8 billion last year alone), and yet less people overall are attending church,” states James R. Couchenour of design-build firm Cogun, based in North Lima, Ohio. “It seems that the same methods that may have worked in the ’80s and ’90s are no longer connecting with post-Christian/postmodern people.”

The new method should be interactive and focus on the needs of the community, argues Kester Brewin, author of “Signs of Emergence.” “Malcolm McLaren recently encouraged people to seek refuge in churches because they were the only places left in our cities where there were no advertisements and where demands were not made of us to buy stuff. Churches must aspire to become centers of gift exchange in the broadest sense.” What this means is creating a very open, adaptable space that encourages congregants to share their talents and forge personal connections. This represents a major change in church-design philosophy, and takes some careful and creative thought.

“Shaping an environment where people naturally connect is more like creating art than manufacturing a product,” advises Joseph R. Myers, author of “Organic Community.” “It marks a major shift: from programming community to using principles of organic order to develop an environment where community can emerge.”

Sound a little vague? That’s because the recipe for success for this type of project depends solely on the personality of the congregation and surrounding community. “In most cases, churches will design based on history, or another church facility they liked,” Couchenour affirms. “We’re suggesting leaders begin with who God has called them to reach since this is unique to every ministry. We feel it’s essential to discover their particular DNA to see how God has uniquely blessed their body of believers. A church has to really know itself and its community before it can begin designing facilities for the future.”

Greg Lefler of Camarillo, Calif.- based Lefler and Associates reports that although each church’s incarnation of the postmodern church will look different, there are some guidelines that can help mark the path.

“The Changing Face of Churches” advises:

  • Maximize what you already have 
  • Plan for growth 
  • Make it multifunctional 
  • Get your money’s worth 
  • Turn up the technology 

Lefler points out that this type of project can be a difficult one for traditional building firms. “As churches demand spaces that are cost-efficient, technologically advanced and multifunctional, builders may have to stretch beyond their usual areas of expertise.”

With a little bit of collaboration and imagination, however, most projects succeed brilliantly. “An example of this is a church in Austin that grew rapidly with the tagline ‘No perfect people allowed.’ They were a home for artists, de-churched and others who didn’t seem to fit into the traditional church crowd. This was reflected in their original building that had been retrofitted and pieced together for their ministry style,” Couchenour recalls. “After they built their new building, they found exciting new ways of communicating the same ‘come as you are’ ideal in a new, clean, state-of-the-art facility.”

Brewin suggests providing a diverse array of spaces that could fit a variety of needs in order to fish out a particular congregation’s talents. “They should provide hanging spaces for artists, venues for music of all types, forums for discussion and debates, classes for expectant mothers … whatever gifts there are in the local community.”

Couchenhour warns that although this type of planning leaves a lot to the imagination, it is important to remain thoughtful and deliberate when making the nuts-and-bolts decisions. “Churches need to be very intentional about this kind of space. It has to be more than an area for their own people to gather if the idea is to connect with the unchurched. It takes a commitment to provide connection space if you want to open it up to the community in which God has placed you. It may require paid staff, longer hours, and could even have tax implications.”


West Ridge Community Church, Elgin, Ill.

West Ridge Community Church executed the Facilities 2.0 concept flawlessly. The nine-year-old ministry moved from its digs at the local community college into its state-of-the-art custom facility earlier this year, and the result has been overwhelming. In the first week alone, the Sunday service attendance doubled and has been steadily growing ever since.

Church leaders attribute the success to the forward-thinking design brought to life by Professional Building Services, based in Crete, Ill.

“We decided to start a church for people who don’t like church, a church where people can feel free to be authentic, to be real, and that’s an overriding theme of what we do,” Pastor Darren Sloniger shares.

The worship space itself was crafted to evoke a nightclub feel, with a dimly lit sanctuary constructed in the shape of a piano flanked by cafe tables, couches and comfy chairs. Congregants also enjoy the church’s full-fledged coffeehouse with uniformed baristas, muffins and even fresh paninis.

“The goal was really to build a community of people, an extraordinary community of people that could experience the love of God through Christ in a way that very few other places could offer. So my prayer for you today … is continue to make this place a place where other people can come and see the mercy of Jesus. That’s becoming more and more rare today,” said guest speaker Gordon Venturella at the facility’s grand opening.


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4 Components of Church Growth



4 Components of Church Growth

If you want your church to grow, you have to determine if your church has value to the local community – that is, if your church vanished today, would anyone outside of your church care?

This is the hard question church consultant Anthony Coppedge poses on his blog. He adds that there is always something else a church can be doing to serve its community, and that service often leads to growth. Here are the four components of growth. Coppedge calls them “the four C’s”:

  1. Change
  2. Cost
  3. Control
  4. Commitment

To read the breakdown and analysis of these four components, visit the source.

Source:

AnthonyCoppedge.com: Four C’s of Growth: Part 1

Related Content:

Develop an Online Communications Strategy : Equip your team


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A Guide to Projector and Screen Selection for Small Spaces



by Jennifer Andrews

Little Light
A Guide to Projector and Screen Selection for Small Spaces

By Jennifer Andrews

Choosing
a projector for multiple purposes is similar to selecting a large-venue machine,
but with a few key differences. You’ll still need to consider some of the same
basic technical specifications — brightness (measured in lumens), resolution
and connectivity, for example — but you’ll also want to compare overall
weight, security features and throw ratios before making your final decision.

The Usual Specs

Brightness.

You won’t need the
same kind of brightness for a small audience as for a larger group; however, you
will need a projector that’s bright enough to give you a nice-looking image in
a lights-on environment.

Buy a projector with at least 1,200 lumens of brightness or
more for lights-on presenting. This is an easy target to hit since most projectors designed
for presentations meet or exceed this amount.

Resolution.

There are two primary
choices of resolution for these types of spaces: XGA (high-resolution, 1024 x
768 pixels) and SVGA (800 x 600 pixels, now considered entry-level resolution).
The best images will result when your computer and projector resolutions match; however, XGA is still more future-proof. If budget allows, an
XGA projector will produce a crisper image and be more compatible with newer
technology. SVGA projectors produce nice-looking images as well, however,
and they are usually the least expensive projectors, with many priced at less
than $1,000.

Connectivity.

A multipurpose
projector is often used for different activities and in different locations. That might mean you’ll be using different sources as well,
so try to find a projector that offers multiple connectivity options such as
composite or S-video. These are more common connections on sources such as DVD
players and VCRs.

For future-proofing, think about getting a projector with DVI
and/or component video inputs. Most come with multiple connectivity options and compatibility
isn’t a major issue, but component and digital options are becoming more
common on DVD players and computers and will provide better signal quality.

Weight.

Portable projectors now
weigh as few as two pounds, and typical brighter multipurpose models weigh
between five and 10 pounds and are very easy to set up and use in multiple
locations. Some portable projectors ship with a convenient carrying case, which
helps keep it and its cables together in one place.

Security.

Most of us don’t like to
think about the possibility of theft where we worship, but it’s a reality we
must face. Many projectors include extra security features that will deter
theft, including a Kensington security-lock slot, network notifications via
e-mail (on networked projectors) and keypad-lock protection, which also
prohibits prankish tampering. Of course, keeping your equipment stored and
secure is also very important for a portable projector.

If, on the other hand, your projector is wall- or
ceiling-mounted, some deterrents are built into the mount itself. One common
security feature is proprietary hardware configurations that require specific
tools be used to release the mount and basic locks.

Throw ratios.

One important
projector spec to consider in small spaces is the throw
ratio,
a measure of the size image a projector can
produce from a given distance. A general rule for calculating throw distance
with a standard lens is to allocate about one foot of screen for every two feet
of space between the projector and screen.

The Short-Throw Lens: A Small Room’s Friend

If you want a large image from a short distance, consider a
projector with a short-throw lens. This feature allows you to create the big
picture you want in a tight space. (Some short-throw projectors can create an
impressive 60-inch-diagonal image from just a few feet away from the screen!)
Many manufacturers have designed projectors with built-in short-throw distances
for small-room applications. They provide throw-distance calculators that help
determine the size of image that can be produced from a given distance by each
of their projectors. Although these distance calculators are generally very close,
they don’t always provide the exact size of an image, which is created at a
specific distance.

Short-throw lenses should not be confused with another helpful
projector feature, the zoom lens.
Manual or digital zoom is a feature on many standard, long-or short-throw
lenses. This feature allows for larger or smaller images from the same
distance, much like a zoom lens on a 35-millimeter camera.

Selecting a Screen

Projection screens are highly recommended accessories, even in
small spaces. Using a screen will create a crisper, better-looking image than
blank walls. Walls are a good substitute if money is tight, but a screen might
actually be less expensive than you think. (Some portable models sell for less
than $200.) First, you’ll need to determine how you want to use your screen.
Should it be portable so you can take it from room to room or offsite for
missionary work, or do you plan to use it in a permanent location? Do you need
the latest and greatest screen with all the flashy bells and whistles, or do you
want something simple and inexpensive?

The four most common screens on the market are:

Portable

— These screens readily
travel from location to location.

Manual
— An economical choice if
you’ll be keeping the screen in one location Electric — These high-end screens add elegance to their
permanent locations.

Fixed-frame
— A permanently tensioned screen stretched around a frame and
installed in a fixed location

Many screens are available in each of these mounting orientations. Some will
include additional features such as designer casing, tab tensioning, adjustable
masking borders and more.

The most common screen mounting options for small worship
spaces are:

Portable

— Good for offsite Bible
studies, youth group meetings or service-entry greetings; and
Manual
— Great for dedicated study areas, dedicated meeting
rooms and cry rooms.

Creative Uses for Portable Projectors

Once you’ve bought your portable projector, don’t just
leave it on the shelf. There are countless creative ways to use it — for Bible
studies, children’s church, in Sunday school classrooms, to display greetings
and announcements before services, during Vacation Bible school, for memorial
services, in church business meetings, for movie nights, and during celebrations
and events. These are just a few suggestions.

Whether you’re displaying community photos and videos or
intensely studying the scripture, portable projectors are a dynamic tool for
sharing God’s glorious message.

Jennifer Andrews is the Internet communications manager for
ProjectorPeople.com, where she has been writing tutorials on projection
technology for five years. Visit www.projectorpeople.com for more information about this
dynamic display technology.


ROAD WARRIOR

The new Notevision XR-1X projector from Sharp is a sleek,
lightweight, personal projector that easily fits into a carry-on bag with a
laptop. This “pico” portable projector combines high brightness and
high-quality Carl Zeiss™ optics, along with the latest advances in DDR DLP
technology, making it the ultimate choice for both data and video projection.
About the size of a pair of paperback novels, the XR-1X measures 9.7 inches wide
by 2.5 inches high and 4.8 inches deep and weighs just three pounds. Setup is a
snap with a faster start-up than traditional projectors, on-screen-interactive
help for easy setup and operation assistance, color-coded connectors, and
backlit operation keys.

888.GO.SHARP
www.sharplcd.com


BRILLIANT IMAGES ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

Sony’s portable VPL-ES2 projector is ideal for on-the-move
presenting, combining a sleek, lightweight design with bright, crisp images for
professional presentations during the day and entertainment at home at night. Part of the Sony® SuperLite™ LCD mobile projector series,
the VPL-ES2 weighs just 6.3 pounds and packs into a small case for carryon
convenience. The projector incorporates easy-to-use set-up features with a
bright 1,500-lumen picture. Focusing on ease of use, Sony’s new “Auto Set- Up”
buttons take the hassle out of setup. The lens, tilt, input search, keystone and
pixel are automatically adjusted with a touch of a button. Component video input and a whopping six video modes give
multiple options to connect to PCs, DVD players, game consoles and more.

888.315.SONY
www.sonystyle.com


PALM-SIZED PROJECTOR HITS THE MARKET

In July, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America’s
Presentation Products Division will offer its PocketProjector, one of the world’s
smallest projectors. Weighing in at just 14 ounces and fitting easily into the palm
of a hand or a coat pocket, this tiny projector is perfect for mobile
presentations at a moment’s notice. The PocketProjector can be battery-powered
or used with a universal car adapter for truly on-the-fly presentations. The PocketProjector has one of the shortest projection
distances of mobile projectors on the market today: Users can easily create a
20-inch-diagonal screen with only one foot of projection distance, and a 40-inch
image can be created with less than one yard.

888.307.0312
www.mitsubishi-projectors.com

5 Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Screening Answered



Background Checks 101
5 Frequently Asked Questions About Employee Screening, Answered

Churches are trusting environments — sometimes to their own detriment. If you’re curious about how background checks can help protect your church, your staff and yourself, read on.

Our Experts

Paul Tollner
Director of National Accounts Intelius 
www.intelius.com 

Daniel Paulsen
General Partner Employment Screening Alliance Inc.
www.esag.org 

1. For what ministries is it especially important to conduct background checks?

Paul Tollner: Churches have a special responsibility to screen anyone providing support or services to members of a church community. Within that community, there are particularly vulnerable groups — the elderly, children and families. Screening helps ensure the church’s goals and reputation aren’t subverted by an individual with mal-intent, while providing extra peace of mind for church leaders, the congregation and the community-at-large.

Daniel Paulsen: The obvious answer is Sunday school and youth ministries, including sports activities and camps. Also to be included is any position that requires fiduciary responsibilities.

2. Which is better: a blanket approach or selectively screening?

Paulsen: Because cost is always so important, churches have the tendency to say, ‘We really know all our employees and volunteers, so we don’t even need to perform this function.’ Then they screen only those directly associated with a particular function, like a youth ministry. The real answer is to screen all employees and volunteers. Do a good search, not just the least expensive one available.

Tollner: Churches should set a policy for when they screen applicants — whether upon receipt of an application or following an interview — and stick to it for every position within the church.

3. At what point should a church begin the screening process?

Tollner: Precisely when the background check happens is less important than the background check results being received well before a new hire or volunteer spends a single minute working on behalf of the church. By developing a standard practice and staying organized, a church can ensure that nobody slips between the cracks.

Paulsen: As with any nonprofit, money is a key consideration. We have found it’s most effective to screen when an offer is made and accepted — that is, make the offer pending acceptable results of the background check. You can usually get results in a few days or less.

4. How much can churches expect to pay?

Paulsen: We’ve found that churches often try to take the road of least cost. Knowing this, screening companies often offer searches — like a nationwide scan — that aren’t effective. A standard profile should include, at the very least, a social security number search, an all-states sex offender registry search, and a state and/ or county criminal search for all addresses found in the social security number search. The cost will vary, but if the church is working with a screening company used to partnering with churches, they can normally ask for — and get — a package price as low as $25 to $50 per applicant.

Tollner: Budget is a concern for organizations that haven’t historically employed a screening program. There’s the temptation of settling for a free service, or neglecting background checks altogether. Both these alternatives are dangerous. It’s important to remember that when it comes to background checks, free information is typically worth exactly what it costs. When it comes to the trust of a congregation, background checks aren’t the place to cut corners. Planning and prioritizing of budget, coupled with the support of a church community, can result in a healthy and accurate screening program. Congregations are generally glad to contribute to a program with such an important role.

And here’s a thought: Why not ask those who want the privilege of volunteering for church programs — whether it’s coaching a soccer team, running a summer camp or hosting a youth group — to pay for the expense of their background checks? The price of background checks depends on two variables: volume and detail.

For each position, criminal background information is important, but for a position offering access to church finances, a credit check might be also be necessary, while a childcare position might warrant a DMV record check.

Volume also drives down the per-search cost. Broadly speaking, a church should anticipate spending $20 and $30 per applicant.

5. Any cautionary tales of churches that didn’t bother to run background checks?

Paulsen: There have been instances of fraud and child molestation in the areas of finance and youth ministry, but most fraud cases aren’t prosecuted and deal with hidden monies. Much of the bad press comes from the child youth areas and deals as much with drug use and molestation. In these cases, churches have admitted loss of parishioners and revenue.

Please understand these are the exceptions, not the rule — but we’re talking about institutions that can’t afford any mishaps.

— Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh


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A Precription For Good Health



by Charles H. Major

by Charles H. Major

In 1989, I was faced with the prospect of major surgery to my spinal column. A mistake
could leave me paralyzed. The most significant decision was not whether to operate, but
rather who would perform the surgery. Trusting in God, I concluded that my choice of
surgeon would determine more than any other single factor, the ultimate success of my
operation. What, you may be asking yourself, does this have to do with church finance?

The Right Choice

A church is a unique entity: an organized body of Christ charged with doing God’s work
in the corporate sense. All of a church’s decisions should be made from a spiritual
perspective, and its financial decisions should be no exception. A church’s cash flow–the
result of tithes and offerings received and expenditures made to support the
ministry–must be understood both from a numerical perspective and within the context of
ministry needs. When those needs require finance, the provider of the funds should be
someone who can best understand the totality of the church and provide financing that will
enhance the ministry.

Like my surgery, the success of a church’s financing depends on the skills and
experience of the person or entity chosen to analyze options and recommend a specific
financing method that will meet both the financial and ministry needs of the church.
Traditionally, there have been several types of firms that a church could turn to as
providers of the various forms of funding. Among these are banks, bond companies, fund
raisers and investment bankers that specialize in church finance. The possible sources of
funds to meet a need include pledges from members, loans from members, traditional bank
loans and bonds.

When I chose my surgeon, I wanted someone who could diagnose my need, recommend the
proper treatment and perform the operation. Likewise, a church needs someone who can not
only provide funding, but also recommend what is best for the church and its ministry. RSI
Financial Services, as an investment banker, considers its role to be that of a
“financial architect,” and we facilitate a process that ultimately leads to the
financing of the specified project. This process includes a financial analysis necessary
to design and bring to the church the most cost-effective financing available.

Consider for a moment the possible sources of funds and the advantages of each. The
most cost-effective approach is the “gifting” of money to fund a project. A
church can retain outside counsel to design and implement a capital campaign to fund the
need. This approach results in funds being available for the project that do not have to
be repaid; hence, most or all of the church’s future tithes and offerings are available
for ministry rather than for funding the project.

The church always should give serious consideration to this source of funds first.
However, even with a successful capital campaign, more often than not, some measure of
additional funding is required and borrowing becomes necessary.

In cases where borrowing is necessary to fund immediate needs, the question is not,
“How much can we borrow?” but rather, “How much can we afford to
repay?” This step in the process is most crucial, as the commitment to future debt
service will have significant impact on a church’s ability to fund its ongoing ministry.

The answer to the second question also will be a factor in determining the most
appropriate debt instrument. The level of funds available for debt service influences the
term of repayment. The exposure to debt must take into account future growth, future need
and anticipated economic conditions.

There are industry guidelines used by financial and lending organizations to help a
church determine how much debt is appropriate. Several key factors that are given the most
weight from a lender’s perspective are:

  • Total debt to income ratio.
  • Debt service to income ratio.
  • Debt to collateral value.
  • Cash flow.

The total debt never should exceed four times the church’s annual income, and keeping
this ratio to three times or below is much more desirable. Often times, the church must
build its project in phases to satisfy this condition. The ratio of monthly debt service
to monthly income should remain below 35 percent. There always is a correlation between
the size of a church’s membership, its per capita giving and the members’ expectations for
ministry and programs. When debt service is out of proportion to regular monthly giving of
members, the church is not able to meet ministry needs. Finally, because lenders are
concerned with collateral underlying the debt, the value of the property used to secure
the loan should be at least one-third higher than the debt.

All of these ratios are guidelines, and each project is evaluated in light of all
factors impacting the church, including support for the project, members’ stewardship
commitment, membership and community growth, membership age distribution and population
demographics. At this stage of the process, many financial institutions can help a church
understand what it reasonably can expect to borrow. With an increasing understanding on
the part of church leadership of what is needed and what the church can afford, a church
can have a reasonable idea of the amount of dollars that its project can absorb. Armed
with this information, the church finally is ready to examine its financing options.

Plans For Action

Knowing the project cost and the amount of debt service available from the church
budget, the time frame for debt retirement can be estimated. Short and long-term financing
carry completely different considerations. The two most significant determinants are the
cost of money and the volatility of rates. If it has been determined during the process
previously discussed that the amortization of the debt can occur in a short period of
time, the weight of the decision falls on the cost of money as well as current interest
rates, and closing costs move to the forefront. On the other hand, if debt service is
projected to require longer than five to seven years to amortize, interest rate volatility
should become an influencing factor.

Traditional bank financing generally is most appropriate for short-term amortization
periods. The interest rates can be set for the duration of the loan. As the length of the
amortization increases, bonds become more attractive as interest rates can be fixed for
the entire issue period. Keep in mind that an amortization period is the length of time
during which the principal is to be fully repaid. With a bank loan, a church can have a
short-term note with a long-term amortization, thereby creating a situation where the loan
may be extended with new interest rate considerations. As experienced over the past
several decades, the ministry can be put at risk if interest rate volatility returns to
the financial markets.

The initial and long-term cost of the financing is always a consideration. Leadership
must look at all costs associated with the issuance of debt. Many costs for both bank and
bond financing are similar. Total closing costs associated with bond financing almost
always are higher than those associated with a bank loan; however, interim interest costs
associated with construction financing must be taken into account for a fair comparison.
Any premium cost associated with bonds must be viewed in light of the potentially higher
interest costs as a result of future interest rate changes. Ultimately, the analysis must
calculate the total cost of the finance option, including up-front fees, points, closing
costs, prepayment penalties, refinance costs and interest.

Where Do We Go Now?

With all of these considerations, where does church leadership turn and whom do they
rely upon? When I was looking for a surgeon, I wanted skills and specific experience. Ask
a prospective lender to describe their past experience in church lending. Learn how many
church loans they have made or arranged. Do they have any expertise in helping determine
the appropriateness of your project? How many loans have they taken to full maturity under
the initial terms and conditions? Have there been any defaults by their borrowers, and, if
so, how did they deal with those situations? Do they add value to the process or just
provide money?

Before you begin your project, seek to find an investment banking firm that has access
to multiple sources of funding-bank loans, bond issues and capital stewardship programs.
Church leaders should look for a finance company with the capability to conduct a needs
analysis as well as design and implement a cost-effective financing package that will have
a positive effect on the health and vitality of a church’s ministry for years to come.

By the way, my surgery was successful.

A Few, Easy Steps:
Applying For A Church Loan

The following illustrates some of the criteria necessary for initiating the loan
process:

Step One: In order to make the process run more efficiently, churches
should gather at least three years of financial statements detailing if their cash flow
will cover the anticipated debt service on the requested loan. With these statements,
churches should be prepared to provide a detailed church history, attendance figures and
the reason for their loan request. Be aware that all special contributions and
fund-raising activities are listed separately. Remember, having more information is better
than not enough. Do not be afraid of listing too many details in reference to your loan
request.

Step Two: Church administrators should acquire an appraisal of the
church and all of its properties. In most instances, a short form appraisal will be
suitable for an initial loan review. Keep in mind that in addition to total debt to income
ratio, the loan to value ratio will be an important factor in determining a church’s
ability to finance a loan. A proper appraisal balanced against the church’s accounting
records will help determine if the church is prepared to handle a bank loan. On average,
the ratio of the requested loan should not exceed 70 percent of the appraised value of the
church properties.

Step Three: Using all the aforementioned data, including the appraisal
form, churches then should complete a loan application for their desired lender.

Step Four: When meeting with the prospective lender, churches should
address any and all financing concerns, including any special or unusual conditions
concerning the loan request.

Charles H. Major is president of RSI Financial Services Inc. based in Dallas,
Texas. RSI provides biblically-based, consultant-led stewardship programs for more than
3,400 churches nationwide.

Point of Preference of Using a Consolidation Loan

When you are hindered with a scope of debts from a combination of loan experts it can be difficult to suitably manage your records. Managing different obligations – particularly high intrigue obligations – can deplete your records dry and make budgetary organization an irritating and perplexing system. These days, when various people have been able to be dependent using a credit card, various people wind up juggling a variety of obligations and for a couple of this can quickly incite missed or late reimbursements and loan boss trouble – additionally a hurt FICO assessment.


One response for help you with rebuilding your assets is an obligation consolidation loan. Using a commitment consolidation loan to manage your records can advantage you in different ways. Firstly, you could save yourself a fortune in enthusiasm by wrapping up most of your higher interest tinier obligations with one lower rate consolidation loan. This can reduce your month to month reimbursements altogether occasionally, furthermore diminishing the measure of hobby that you pay on your obtaining general. Amongst the sorts of higher interest obligations that you can pay off with a consolidation loan are store cards and cards, both of which are known for their higher financing costs. Another point of interest of using a consolidation loan to repay humbler obligations and modify your cash is that you can really ease budgetary organization. With one and just bank to oversee as opposed to a couple, and one and only repayment to make each month, the potential outcomes of missing reimbursements is diminished, which in like manner lessened the threat of hurting your credit.


It is in like manner less requesting, less troublesome, and far less frustrating to need to make one and only repayment consistently as opposed to different reimbursements. Consolidation loans are an amazingly effective strategy for revamping your assets, in any case you do need to practice resolve while using this procedure for budgetary organization. You should be attentive that you don’t keep running up additional obligations yet again, for instance, credit and store card equalities, or you could quickly wind up back at the beginning stage with an additional consolidation loan to oversee on top of your remarkable obligations. You can take out Consolidation loans on a secured or an unsecured reason, so paying little heed to whether you are a property holder you can use these loans to manage your assets. If you take out an unsecured consolidation loan you ought to have extraordinary credit. Contract holders that settle on a secured consolidation loan will find some incredibly forceful plans and a choice of repayment periods on offer, which can hold reimbursements down, and even those with terrible credit will every now and again be successful in getting an unsecured consolidation loan.

Reducing Workplace Stress

Stress is seen as an unavoidable part of having an adult career. Some people even brag about how tired and anxious they are as a result of their jobs. They have been conditioned to believe that dealing with stress at work every day is normal. They step into situations that make them feel constantly nervous and on the brink of a breakdown because they think those feelings are natural facets of impressive jobs. Stressful work environments are not healthy, and they should not be treated as if they are normal.


Many people are pressured into thinking that they have to endure stressful workplaces because of the precarious nature of today’s economy. They do not want to leave jobs they dislike without knowing for sure that they would be able to easily find new ones. They work overtime without being properly compensated, and they skip their breaks for fear of appearing lazy. Employers take advantage of their employees’ unwillingness to stand up for themselves. They assign demanding tasks knowing that their employees will do whatever they can to keep their jobs, even if they have to stay late at the office or bring the work home with them.


Another thing that contributes to stress at work is the knowledge that no matter how much effort one invests in her work, her paychecks will not be large enough to cover all of her expenses and allow her to lead the lifestyle of her choosing. Today’s young adults are carrying massive student loan debt, and their expensive degrees have not gotten them the jobs that they thought they were going to have after graduating. The sense that one will never break even financially creates an extreme feeling of defeat, though it would be unwise to react to this pressure by ceasing to work altogether. Continuing to work even though the salary is inadequate is a leading cause of discontent among the millennial generation.


Job stress is compounded by the lack of time available to pursue other interests. When a person spends a lot of time at work, her whole identity becomes tied to her job. This means that problems at work do not stay at the office. They are the only things going on in the person’s life. Maintaining an active social life is incredibly difficult if one is constantly worried about keeping her job.


It is not always possible to advocate for oneself at work, since everything comes down to the whims of her boss, who might not be entirely reasonable. Read more here about how to reduce stress outside of the workplace. One good way to cut down on office anxiety is to lead by example. She should try to inspire her coworkers to start working at more reasonable paces and to take all of their breaks. If possible, she could make some changes in her area of the office to eliminate interruptions that would impede her ability to work calmly. She could even make some minor lifestyle changes outside of work that would make her look forward to going to the office every day. Reducing workplace stress is necessary if one intends to build a long-term career and build a lifestyle around it.

Breast Augmentation Myth: Large Implants Correct Droopy Breasts

After having children, many women find their breasts seem deflated and droopy, making them self-conscious about putting their swimsuits back and spurring them to sit at home watching Jersey Shore instead of going out to the shore. Although these so-called “reality” TV shows are likely to give you a false impression of what your breasts could or should look like, they aren’t the only thing generating myths about breast augmentation in New Jersey. Internet media sites are just as responsible for misconceptions about breast augmentation options as “reality” shows are for creating an unrealistic image of a woman in a bikini.


In an effort to cut costs (and corners) on augmentation, some sites tell women that overly large implants are the cure-all for sagging breasts. On the surface, it seems logical that a large implant might refill a sagging breast enough to lift it back up, but this is actually a common breast augmentation myth. Loss of volume and sagginess are two different issues. While they can be corrected at the same time, they have different root causes and require different procedures.


Breasts sag for two main reasons: stretched skin and lax ligaments. Having children and breastfeeding can stretch the skin, but so can heavy breasts, age, and improper breast care. Adding more weight with implants to already sagging breasts isn’t going to help the situation. And if the nipple has already stretched too low on the breast, the implant will only exaggerate the problem. To correct stretching, women with sagging breasts need their breast skin lifted with the excess cut away, but the problem is more than skin deep. Ligaments that have stretched also need to be shortened and the tissue reattached.


Oftentimes, a breast lift alone is enough to get women their confidence back and have them reaching for their swimsuits with pride. To get that Jersey Shore physique, though, or just to fill out an old swimsuit in the days before your breasts lost volume, you may want to add implants to your augmentation package along with the lift. For young mothers, implants alone may be all they need if their ligaments are strong and their skin isn’t too stretched. It’s never a good idea, however, to use large implants as a shortcut to a full surgical procedure if you’re trying to rebuild the foundation of your breasts. This may have you going under the knife a second time to do the job right with breast implant revision surgery. It really isn’t worth believing everything you read on the Internet, or everything you see on Jersey Shore, for that matter. Talk to a board-certified plastic surgeon before making any surgery decisions.

The Cerebral Palsy Advice Clinic

BACKGROUND: The duration and severity of systemic hypotension have been related with altered neurodevelopment. Cerebral circulation is pressure-passive in low birth weight infants with early systemic hypotension who receive cardiovascular support. The treatment of early systemic hypotension is controversial, because it has been associated with short-term and long-term morbidity in retrospective studies. However, there has been no prospective information on cardiovascular support for hypotension and morbidity.

OBJECTIVE: Our goal for this prospective study was to evaluate the effect on neurodevelopment resulting from the use of vasopressors/inotropes for early systemic hypotension. METHODS: Low birth weight infants with early systemic hypotension (<24 hours of life; study group) were assigned randomly to receive dopamine (2.5-10 microg/kg per minute) or epinephrine (0.125-0.5 microg/kg per minute) in progressively larger doses until target blood pressure was attained (treatment-success subgroup). Hemodynamically stable patients who did not receive cardiovascular support were the control group. Outcome measures were serial cranial ultrasound up to 40 weeks, structured neurologic evaluation (every 3 months), and neurodevelopmental test at 2 to 3 years of age. RESULTS: One hundred thirty patients were included (study = 60; treatment success = 38; controls = 70). Study-group patients had lower birth weight, gestational age, and 5-minute Apgar score, higher rates of premature rupture of membranes, need for cardiorespiratory resuscitation at birth, and sickness shortly after birth than the control group. The patients in the study group also had significantly higher serum troponin I levels at birth. Initial cranial ultrasound findings did not differ between groups, but the final cranial ultrasounds revealed higher rates of severe periventricular hemorrhage in the study group and higher rates of normal cranial ultrasounds in the control group. Only the latter remained when the treatment-success subgroup and control group were compared. Multivariate analysis did not detect any association between final cranial ultrasounds and the use of vasopressors/inotropes. Sixteen infants died and 103 were followed up (90% survival rate). No differences between groups were found in the rates of abnormal neurologic status, developmental delay, or combined adverse outcome (death or cerebral palsy or severe neurodevelopmental delay). CONCLUSIONS: Cautious use of cardiovascular support to treat early systemic hypotension in low birth weight infants seems to be safe. The question of whether raising systemic blood pressure to within a normal range will improve outcome should be examined by using appropriate study designs.