Cultural Alliance receives yet another $ 225,000 !
Here we go again : Cultural Alliance receives yet another $ 225,000 !
6/4/12 – Having already received over $ 1.3 million in taxpayer dollars is apparently not enough to satisfy the never ending greed of Banning’s mega-parasite, the Banning Cultural Alliance. Adding insult to injury, the City of Banning will now give them yet another $ 225,000 to remodel an art gallery located on 130 N. San Gorgonio Ave. We had warned about this more than 2 years ago (story). The gallery building is owned by the City and is leased to the Cultural Alliance. The money will come from bond proceeds.
An unelected “Oversight Board”, supposedly created to unwind the dealings of the former Banning Redevelopment Agency, met on Wednesday, May 30 at 10:15 AM – at a time most of the public is at work. The Board proceeded to make the mind-boggling decision in a 6 – 1 vote. It also appears that the meeting may not have been properly noticed : no email notification was ever received by this website.
MATERIAL FACTS NOT DISCLOSED
Our preliminary inquiry into this meeting has revealed that the Board was never told about the recommendations of the Riverside County Grand Jury (view pg. 5 ). In 2010, the Grand Jury called for a
“cease and desist” from further funding the Banning Cultural Alliance. Also, the Board was never informed that the Cultural Alliance is in default on rent payments on the very premises they are now receiving funding for, ( see our previous article). Nor was the Board informed that the lease agreement obligates the Cultural Alliance – not the City – to pay for the remodel on their own ( see page 5, Section 5.01 of the lease).
APPOINTING THE FOX TO REPRESENT THE HENS ?
Among the 7 appointees who voted whether or not to award $ 225,000 is no other than Cultural Alliance President Don Smith. Smith did not disclose to the Board that he is the (unpaid) acting Cultural Alliance President and therewith had a remote interest in the outcome of the vote. Smith was appointed by the County of Riverside to “represent the public”. This is equivalent to appointing the fox to represent the hens.
The appointment was based on a recommendation by Supervisor Marion Ashley (see document). Smith’ appointment shows – once again – how out of touch Marion Ashley is when it comes to Banning. Not too long ago, it was Ashley who took $10,000 from a cash strapped County budget – and gave it to the Cultural Alliance so they could install a luxurious bathroom. Did Marion Ashley ever read the Grand Jury Report ? His appointment of Alliance President Don Smith seems to indicate that he did not.
Instead of appointing the President of such a questionable organization to an Oversight Board, why doesn’t Marion Ashley demand that the Banning Cultural Alliance open their books to the public ? This is what Supervisor Jeff Stone just did in a very similar case in Hemet (see PE article).
Another (self)appointed good-old boy on the Board is Banning Councilman Bob Botts : Botts originally founded the Cultural Alliance and was its Vice President, however, he did not disclose this either at the May 30 meeting. And guess what : Both Don Smith and Bob Botts voted to approve the $ 225,000 Cultural Alliance funding !
HOW DID WE GET HERE ?
Banning Council members Barbara Hanna, Don Robinson, Bob Botts and John Machisic are all to blame for the relentless funding of the unaccountable Banning Cultural Alliance in the past. These 4 Council members had given them over $ 1.3 million so far.
Even AFTER the Grand Jury issued their recommendation to “cease and desist” this funding immediately, these Council members decided to ignore the recommendation and $ 200,000 more were subsequently funneled into this unaccountable, parasitic organization. To this day, the Cultural Alliance will not provide audited financial statements nor balance sheets for public review.
BANNING LOADED UP WITH DEBT
It is also important to remember that over the last decade, Council members Barbara Hanna and John Machisic took an almost debt free City of Banning and loaded it up with over $ 110,000,000 of new debt (view story). Taking on new public debt always equals imposing a (deferred) tax. In the end, there is no such thing as a “free lunch” – the piper must always get paid.
Most if not all of the bond proceeds have now been spent – and due to the City Council’s utter incompetence , coupled with good-old-boy-style corruption , tens of millions went up in smoke ( for details refer to this article).
Unfortunately, we cannot tell you how the City of Banning will be able to make interest payments on over $ 110,000,000 in bond obligations in the future. Predictably, most redevelopment “investments” have neither created new jobs nor new tax revenue for the City.
But of course, Banning’s City Council knows how to make ends meet : they can always revert to raising utility rates – after the elections, of course.
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