Wade Larsen 
Member since Apr 17, 2014


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Re: “Oakland Considers Regulating Street Donation Bins, Advocates Call for Ban

It’s bad enough that for-profit and questionable nonprofits are diverting finite donations from legitimate local charities as well as sometimes creating blight with their bins.

But I have further concerns about “Discover Books,” owner of the blue bin in the first picture (and the heavily graphitized bin at right in the 2nd image); “USAgain,” which has the light-green bottom with white top bin shown in the center of the 3rd image; and “Campus California,” with the solid dark-green bin at left in the 2nd picture.

1) Despite appearances, Discover Books is not a charity, although the company donates some of the books it collects to good causes. But that’s not the whole story.

The Tacoma, Wash. based company used to go by the name ‘Thrift Recycling Management’ (TRM). Starting about 2009, media reports sharply criticized TRM for selling about half of the usable books collected in its bins ― prominently labeled “Books for Charity” ― while not making it clear that these donations were helping to fund the company. Such misleading language on earlier versions of TRM’s bins led some to believe that *all* of the books would be donated, which would suggest that the company was a nonprofit.

Reports on TRM and its alleged “charity front” ― Reading Tree ― had also expressed concerns over the unusually close relationship between the two entities, as well as the negative impact TRM’s collection activities had on local book charities. A slew of complaints from library groups and an investigation by Oregon’s Department of Justice may have prompted the company to start obscuring the “for Charity” text on its bins beginning around 2011. The negative attention may have also led to Reading Tree ceasing operations in August 2012.

2) As for USAgain, reports going back a decade suggest that the for-profit company, to quote a Seattle TV news investigation, “... routinely pretended to be a charity so business owners wouldn't ask for rent on the bin space.”

Worse, Danish prosecutors link USAgain to an alleged cult called the “Tvind Teachers Group.” Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

3) Independent investigations show that Campus California ― recently renamed “Recycle for Change” ― is also tied to the Tvind Teachers Group.

4) Reports on Discover Books (as TRM):

“Charity” book bins run by for-profit company - Berkeleyside

Battle Over The Blue Book Bin wusa9

5) Reports on USAgain:

Millions In Clothing Donations Diverted From Charity kirotv

Local Mayor Wants Red Bins Out Usagain in Seattle YouTube

6) Reports on Recycle for Change (as Campus California):

Your Rags to Their Riches - SF Weekly

“Behind the Green Box” - 'Gaia' & 'Campus California'

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Wade Larsen on 02/25/2015 at 5:02 AM

Re: “Blight for Profit

USAgain says it is “upfront and honest.” In my opinion, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are a few reasons why I think so:

1) Reports going back a decade suggest that USAgain, to quote one TV news investigation, “... routinely pretended to be a charity so business owners wouldn't ask for rent on the bin space.”

2) USAgain filed its Foreign LLC registration with Washington state in 2005, a shocking 6 years after the company claims elsewhere to have begun operations there. What took them so long? Could it be that USAgain was trying to avoid paying that state’s taxes such as Business & Occupation as well as Labor & Industries?

* USAgain CEO Mattias Wallander interview: says USAgain began in Seattle in 1999 ― “Stocks & Jocks”, WSBC Radio, Chicago; uploaded by USAgainLive, 2010: http://tinyurl.com/q2lptuf (at :26)

* Foreign LLC registration, Wash. state; filled out by USAgain president Janice Bostic; filed Nov. 22, 2005: https://db.tt/eVZpeTBM

3) USAgain’s bins and website now clearly state the company’s for-profit status. But such unequivocal wording may have been forced upon USAgain in 2010 by Washington State’s Attorney General, who had the previous year told Seattle’s KIRO 7 Eyewitness News that the company was “not properly licensed to collect used clothes” in that state.

4) Danish prosecutors have tied USAgain to an alleged cult called the Tvind Teachers Group. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

* “Millions in Clothing Donations Diverted from Charity”
— KIRO 7 Eyewitness News, Seattle; 2009:
Pt. 1 http://tinyurl.com/cqlrt2q
Pt. 2 http://tinyurl.com/mo8o84u
[The ‘Pt. 2’ has more on these allegations. Click on ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

Another company mentioned, Campus California, has also been tied to the Tvind Teachers Group, and, in my opinion, is also one of the “bad actors” in need of being weeded out.

* “Behind the Green Box”
― CBS San Francisco, 2006: http://tinyurl.com/qezmk3h
[again, more info is on this video’s description box]

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Wade Larsen on 04/17/2014 at 4:15 AM

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