Answer Man

81 percent of Susan G. Komen money helps women

Q: With all the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events coming up, there’s a chain email floating around the Internet from someone who says his mother died of breast cancer in 2000. The person claims that Komen gives only 20 percent of its donations to cancer research while paying $684,000 to its CEO. “Think before you pink,” it advises. True?

B.L., of Belleville

A: It’s too bad someone isn’t working on a cure for the cancer of half-truths and outdated information that keeps orbiting around cyberspace. While this 2-year-old alarmist warning has elements of truth, it doesn’t begin to tell the whole story or provide the latest data. So, I’ll let you judge for yourself whether or not to support this organization once you see a more a more complete picture:

Susan Goodman Komen died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 33. In tribute, her older sister, Nancy Brinker, promised to do whatever she could to help end this terrible scourge of women.

Starting with $200 and a shoebox full of potential donor names, the organization blossomed into the world’s largest nonprofit source of money for the fight against breast cancer. In the past 24 years, it has spent more than $2.6 billion in cancer programs in more than 30 countries.

Yes, it’s true that only 20 percent of your donations go to research, but organizations like Komen (for example, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the ALS Association, etc.) usually fund related projects in addition to research. In fiscal year 2015, Komen also spent 37 percent on education, 16 percent on screening and 8 percent on treatment.

In all, then, 81 cents of every dollar you gave went to help other women while 19 cents went for fundraising activities and administrative costs. While other breast-cancer charities earn higher marks, Charity Navigator gives Komen a score of nearly 79 overall (two stars out of four) and 96 for accountability and transparency (four stars). As you can see, the 20 percent figure falsely implies the other 80 percent is going to overhead.

The salary figure is more problematic, but it, too, is outdated. Yes, in 2012, reports surfaced that Brinker had indeed received a 64 percent increase in annual compensation to $684,000.

“This pay package is way outside the norm,” Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator at the time told snopes.com. (His organization quickly dropped its score of Komen from a four-star 93 in 2012 to a three-star 82 in 2013.) “It’s about a quarter of a million dollars more than what we see for charities of this size.”

What the old Internet message fails to note is that Brinker resigned last June to take an unpaid role as a top volunteer. Her successor, Dr. Judith Salerno, accepted a salary of about $210,000, far more in line for a group its size.

Q: I am an elderly shut-in who has basically not left my home in three years. My state identification card is about to expire. Everybody tells me I cannot renew it without going to a driver services facility. Is there no other option?

C.K., of Cahokia

A: Both Henry Haupt and Dave Druker in the secretary of state's office tell me the same thing: The office cannot make house calls, and you cannot renew your ID by phone, mail or computer.

“We try to empathize and be as sympathetic with people as possible, but the law is what it is and defines what we can do,” Druker said. “He would have to come to the facility.”

Druker recommends the following: Call the facility before you go and tell them of your situation.

“What we could do is to get him in at the very beginning of the workday or maybe even a little bit before the workday started when it wasn’t crowded so we can expedite the process for him. An ID renewal should be a pretty simple process. We do want to work with him.”

And from what I can tell, if you’re older than 65 this is the last time you’ll have to go through this rigmarole. Also before you go, make sure you know what forms of ID you might need so you don’t have to make yet another trip.

▪  A dollar for my thoughts: My recent column on the advantages of dollar coins over bills brought a heartfelt email from someone eagerly awaiting such a conversion: Frank Parisi, president of Parisi Vending Co. in Oceanside, N.Y.

“We have a major problem,” he wrote. “People are not carrying change in their pockets today, and we cannot afford to vend capsuled toys for a quarter or 50 cents anymore. We are trying 75 cents to a dollar but no one has four quarters on them.”

So what is happening, he said, is that stores are removing these once ubiquitous machines because they are taking up valuable space and not returning nearly as much money. As a result, operators no longer are putting in the energy to expand their businesses. If this continues, the man who devised the All-American Chicken machines says he feels sorry for the future generations of children who will no longer feel the glee of watching a plastic capsule being dispensed and wondering what toy awaits them.

He says a dollar coin could go a long way to preserve this heritage. When Canada began issuing such coins, vending machine sales shot up 30 percent.

“We need the dollar coin for our industry to survive.”

▪  I wasn’t “lion”: After my recent column on boxing weight classes, one reader suggested I was perpetuating a common myth that the Romans threw Christians up against the lions. The reader was under the impression that the practice had stopped a century or two before Christ was born.

Sadly, no, many early Christians did indeed meet a beastly fate, according to numerous reputable sources.

“During the early Christian era, the Romans executed some prisoners using animals, sentencing them ad bestias (“to the beasts,” which included dogs, bears, boars and lions),” according to The Straight Dope. “Christians were executed by the boatload during this time, often in cruel and unusual ways, with animals regularly playing a role.”

Today’s trivia

Name the only actor who has ever received Emmy nominations for playing the same character in three different TV series.

Answer to Friday’s trivia: Although he probably is best remembered as being Adolf Hitler’s second in command for a time, Hermann Göring also became a fighter pilot ace during World War I. In fact, after Manfred von Richtofen (the so-called Red Baron) was killed on April 21, 1912, and Wilhelm Reinhard died on a test flight three months later, Göring took command of the famed flying unit known as Jagdgeschwader 1 (the “Flying Circus”). Göring was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials, but he committed suicide by taking a potassium cyanide capsule the night before his scheduled hanging.

Roger Schlueter: 618-239-2465, @RogerAnswer

  Comments