Monday, August 01, 2005

The Iceberg's Tip

The MSM has remained largely silent, but with bloggers and talk radio pounding the story it's not going to stay that way. What story? The Air America funding scandal, of course.

I'll leave it to Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Radio Equalizer and the host of big blogs that are providing updates on the circumstances surrounding the "loan" authorized by Evan Montvel Cohen, development director of the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club, of program funds to help keep Air America -- where Cohen served simultaneously as the network's director -- afloat.

Air America, now under new management, can't keep its story straight. New Management said it wasn't its responsibility to repay the money, then it would . . . no, it had . . . ummmmm, wait. They're in negotiations on how to pay it back.


As the New York Sun pointed out today, that's only just beginning. The tip of the iceberg.

Unlike others, I'm not going to target Air America with the hype that the misappropriation of funds (I should say alleged misappropriation of funds, but I'm not. They were.) harmed the children and old people the grants were awarded to provide services for. I have little doubt if Gloria Wise (or its affiliate, Pathways for Youth Boys & Girls Club) had been forced to curtail or terminate any services or had been unable to pay its employees due to lack of funds, someone would have noticed it. And screamed bloody murder.

Instead, from the New York NonProfit Press:

Friday, July 08, 2005

Gloria Wise City-Funded Programs Transferred Following DOI Investigation
- fred_scaglione @ 11:07 am EST

City-funded programs previously operated by the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club and the affiliated Pathways for Youth Boys and Girls Club, both in the Bronx, have been successfully transferred to other providers without disruption of services.

On Friday, June 24th, New York City's Department of Investigation announced that Gloria Wise and Pathways for Youth had been determined "Non-Responsible City contractors" based on an on-going investigation "concerning allegations that, among other things, officials of Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various City agencies."

Gloria Wise's Executive Director Charles Rosen and Assistant Executive Director Jeffrey Aulenbach have both resigned, according to an agency spokesperson.

As a result of the ongoing investigation, programs operated under contracts with the Department for Youth and Community Development (DYCD) and the Department for the Aging (DFTA) have been transferred to other providers.

Jewish Association for Services for the Aged (JASA) is now operating three senior centers in Co-Op City as well as NORC and EISEP programs. "The Bartow, Dreiser and Einstein Senior Centers serve approximately 210 seniors daily," says Christopher Miller, a DFTA spokesperson. "That transition has been going very well. There has been no disruption in services to seniors."

"We started providing service on July 5th with the current staff," says Aileen Gitelson, CEO at JASA.

DYCD transferred a total of seven programs – four Beacons as well as individual Summer Youth Employment (SYEP), In-School Youth (ISY) and Youth Development and Delinquency Prevention (YDDP) programs. Alianza Dominicana is now operating the MS 201 Beacon. Police Athletic League is operating the IS 192 Beacon. Mosholou Montefiore has taken over Beacon programs at MS 142 and JHS 113. Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club is operating the SYEP program. SOBRO has taken over the ISY program and Alliance of Guardian Angels received the YDDP operation.

"There were no problems," says Michael Ognibene, DYCD Chief of Staff. "As of July 5th, everything that should have been operating was operating."
Information on the transfer of programs under contract with the Department of Education was not yet available.

In many cases, it appears that the program staff from Gloria Wise and Pathways for Youth will continue to provide services under the new management. "The people who have been working there have been offered jobs," says Gitelson. "There is a place for everyone who wants to stay."

(Note: I would have only referenced NYNP's information rather than quoting it in its entirety IF the organization provided a specific link to it which, unfortunately, it doesn't.)

I strongly suspect the walls started a-tumblin' down around Gloria Wise because of a standard audit conducted by New York City.

The city Department of Youth and Community Development said in a press release issued by Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn that its determinations were based on an ongoing DOI probe. The probe is investigating allegations that officials of the long-established community programs "approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies." -- June 28, 2005 NY Daily News
I may not be an accountant but I don't have to be to understand that paragraph.

What I have (in my prior life) is almost 25 years working around grants: local, state and Federal and from more than one or two foundations. The rules might vary but one remained constant for all of them: No co-mingling of funds! Ever!

An absolutely clean audit trail had to be established and maintained to show how the award had been spent, payment by payment and everything you can imagine (and some I'm sure you never have) in between. A separate account for each and every grant received even if from the same source. Ironclad checks and balances throughout because if you run out of designated grant money, the program's dead.

So how did Gloria Wise continue services they'd contracted with NYC to provide, after "loaning" to Air America the grant money they'd received to pay for them?

They robbed from Peter to pay Paul.

Contrary to the image you might have of a small ramshackle building housing a Boys & Girls Club, Gloria Wise provided a myriad of services, and NYC wasn't the only one funding them.

Gloria Wise had grants coming in from all over the place. (Some, a few, through private or non-governmental sources. One was Consolidated Edision, NYC's utility company.) They had money coming in from grant awards from New York State, too!

Another one I noticed, however, is neither local or state.

I know it well because long, LONG ago when it was just a start-up, "we" were one of its very first recipients.

TASC: Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime. As in the U.S. Department of Justice?

That's Federal.

Where this is all going to lead I don't have a clue. But if Gloria Wise mingled its grant monies (as I strongly suspect it did to keep things going) this is going to get really interesting IF following the money trail, investigators force Air America to open its books.


Blogger Rogers said...

Your post helped convince me there was real meat on this story, which as a liberal and Air America devotee I was hoping would prove false. I wrote about it yesterday on Workbench. Loaning charity money to a for-profit radio network was a truly idiotic (and indefensible) move on the part of Evan Cohen.

9:30 AM  

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