- - Sunday, December 23, 2012

Some who lost their homes or businesses in Superstorm Sandy have turned to crowd-funding websites to elicit a faster response than they might get from the government or traditional charities.

While Congress considers a $60 billion disaster aid package for victims of the late-October storm, hundreds of them have gotten quicker results by creating personalized fundraising campaigns on sites including GoFundMe, IndieGoGo and HelpersUnite.

These individual fundraising efforts have totaled a few million dollars, enough to show the funding model can work. GoFundMe leads the way with $1.3 million raised by about 320 individual campaigns from more than 14,000 donors.

Some charity watchdogs warn, though, that such sites could be ripe for abuse by people taking advantage of a tragedy.

ICE

Number of audits at all-time high looking for illegals on payrolls

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reached its highest number yet of companies audited for illegal immigrants on their payrolls this past fiscal year.

Audits of company I-9 forms increased from 250 in fiscal 2007 to more than 3,000 in 2012. From fiscal 2009 to 2012, the total amount of fines grew from $1 million to nearly $13 million. The number of company managers arrested increased to 238.

The probing of employers is one of the pillars of President Obama’s immigration policy. He has said that any plan Congress considers this year to reform the nation’s immigration system should continue the audits.

Immigrant advocates say the audits have pushed workers further underground by causing mass layoffs, and industry representatives say the audits disrupt business operations.

SENATE

Crapo arrested in Alexandria, charged with drunken driving

Sen. Mike Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington suburb, authorities said.

Police in Alexandria said Sunday that the Idaho Republican was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Mr. Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. without incident. He was transported to the Alexandria jail, released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m., and had a Jan. 4 court date set.

“There was no refusal (to take sobriety tests), no accident, no injuries,” the police spokesman said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”

Mr. Donaldson said he didn’t immediately know what Mr. Crapo’s blood alcohol level was. Virginia has automatic jail sentences for convictions involving high alcohol levels.

“I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Mr. Crapo said in a statement Sunday night. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter.”

TEXAS

Former president remains in hospital to gain strength

HOUSTON — President George H.W. Bush, who has been in a Houston hospital with a lingering cough since November, needs to “build up his energy” before he can be released, doctors said Sunday.

Methodist Hospital spokesman George Kovacik said in an emailed statement that doctors are still optimistic the 88-year-old Mr. Bush will make a full recovery, but are being “extra cautious” with his care. Mr. Bush is in stable condition, he said.

Mr. Bush was hospitalized Nov. 23 for treatment of a bronchitis-related cough. Hospital officials have said Mr. Bush has been receiving physical therapy to increase his strength.

Bush spokesman Jim McGrath said Thursday that Mr. Bush could be released in time for Christmas.

However, Mr. Kovacik said Sunday that a discharge date has not been set, and it remains unclear whether the 41st president will be able to spend the holiday at home.

SENATE

Reid wants governor to act quickly on replacing Inouye

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is asking Hawaii’s governor to act before the end of the year to fill the Senate vacancy created by the death of Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii.

Mr. Reid says he has asked Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie to appoint Inouye’s successor “with due haste.” Mr. Reid says he wants to ensure Hawaii is fully represented “in the pivotal decisions” the Senate will be making.

Mr. Inouye died of respiratory complications last week at 88, leaving Democrats down one seat as the Senate prepares for the possibility of voting on a measure that would avoid a “fiscal cliff” of tax hikes and spending cuts.

Hawaii Rep. Colleen W. Hanabusa is the favorite for the post. Mr. Inouye, a fellow Democrat, endorsed Ms. Hanabusa in a letter he sent to Mr. Abercrombie on the day he died.

MASSACHUSETTS

Mayor out of hospital after lengthy stay

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Thomas Menino has left a hospital just in time for Christmas.

The longest-serving mayor in the city’s history was released Sunday from Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He told reporters from inside an SUV that it’s great to be out for Christmas.

He joked that city government has been running well, even without him.

Mr. Menino, who turns 70 on Thursday, spent about six weeks at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He was admitted for treatment of a respiratory infection that developed during a vacation in Italy.

While at the hospital, he suffered complications including a compression fracture in a vertebra in his spine. He also was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

A spokesman said the mayor has not made a decision about his work schedule.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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