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Goodwill, other nonprofits at odds over donation bin proposal

April 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
You've seen the collection boxes in California communities asking for your used clothing and shoes. Often they're for charities. But some nonprofits are very concerned about a proposal sponsored by Goodwill that will give local government and property owners more latitude to haul those bins away and grant them immunity for liability.

"We'll see that Goodwill will go to property owners and say the bin operators -- whoever it is, whatever charity -- is bad or is masquerading, and it's just not true. What they do is try to get the property owner amped up to have the bin removed," said opponent Jonathan Franks.

Opponents suggest Goodwill is pushing the bill to get rid of the competition for donations that would have gone to them. They say Goodwill's goal is to maintain its dominance in the second-hand clothing industry.

Goodwill insists the proposal is about seeking permission and that many boxes are installed without asking the property owners.

"We had a box from one non-profit property, New Directions, and they had a devil of a time getting it removed. It took the company six months to remove their box," said Sally Wooden with Goodwill Industries of San Joaquin Valley.

The showdown between charities was supposed to start Wednesday in a Senate committee with the smaller non-profits knowing it was an uphill battle to stop the bill.

The Goodwill challengers got a reprieve. The proposal was scheduled to be heard in committee, but the chairwoman pulled it from the agenda because of what she called concerns.

Michael Moore's organization, Planet Aid, will be back in Sacramento. His collection boxes are a lifeline, bringing in about $3 million a year for such causes as HIV prevention and teacher training.

"I think it's mean-spirited of Goodwill to present this bill to harm charities, to harm collection box operators. It just is," said Moore.

The hearing will be rescheduled over the next few weeks.


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