City finally evicts Cultural Alliance
City finally evicts Cultural Alliance for non-payment of rent
2/25/13 – City manager Andy Takata on February 13, 2013 asked the Banning Cultural Alliance to pay rent or receive an eviction notice for non-payment of rent on the City owned art gallery located on 130 N. San Gorgonio Avenue. In response, the Cultural Alliance is said to have opted to vacate the property within 30 days.
Under the lease agreement (view) the Cultural Alliance was obligated to pay rent since September of 2010 but – protected by the previous City Council (Barbara Hanna, Don Robinson and Bob Botts) – got away with never paying a single dime – until today. The City manager’s actions are the first shreds of hard evidence that the tides are finally turning in Banning and accountability is being restored.
The story of the City owned art gallery, also known under the pretentious name of “Banning Center for the Arts”, is a story of blatant fiscal abuse and the usual good-old boy cronyism that used to be common practice with the former Banning City Council. For more on the incestuous relationship between the former City Council and the Cultural Alliance please read this article.
CULTURAL ALLIANCE 2 ½ YEARS BEHIND IN RENT = $ 52,762 OWED TO CITY
Can ordinary citizens lease a building and never pay rent for 2 ½ years ? Not a chance – but the Banning Cultural Alliance was able pull it off : using their close ties to the three corrupt City Council members mentioned above, they were able to stay in the building without paying rent – until now.
Under their lease agreement (view) the Banning Cultural Alliance now owes the taxpayer back rent of $ 50,250 + 5 % late charges = $ 52,762.
RATHER THAN PAY RENT, CULTURAL ALLIANCE POCKETS INCOME FROM SUBLEASED APARTMENTS
The art gallery building features two residential units upstairs that were subleased during most of the lease term.
According to the Cultural Alliance’ own filings, they received rental income from these apartments as follows : $ 11,010 in 2009, $ 5,760 in 2010 and $ 9,425 in 2011. ( see IRS form 990 filings : 2009 (pg. 1) , 2010 (schedule “O”) and 2011 (pg. 9).
The total amount of rent received by the Cultural Alliance was a whopping $ 26,195.
This amount does not include rental income for 2012 – the apartments are said to have been leased until July 2012. So there you have it : while failing to pay even one dime in rent, the Cultural Alliance kept more that $ 26,000 in income from the city owned building.
ONCE AGAIN THE TAXPAYER GETS THE SHAFT
Back rent owed by the Banning Cultural Alliance for the art gallery has now accrued to over $ 52,000.
So what happened, was the Alliance financially incapable to pay rent ? Were they strapped for cash ? Since 2006, the Banning City Council has given the Cultural Alliance over $1.3 million in public funds, which they supposedly spent on pathetic events like the “Art Hop” (see article) and “Phineas festival”.
In 2010, the Riverside Grand Jury issued a report (view) in which they concluded that the Alliance had overcharged the City to the tune of $ 162,000. They recommended that the City asked for the money back, but the majority of the previous City Council ( Hanna Robinson, Botts, Machisic) rejected the recommendation. Believe it or not, only one Council member – Debbie Franklin – showed support for the Grand Jury’s findings !
There is no way the Alliance was financially strapped: not only did they receive $ 1.3 million in public funds, they also pocketed the rental income from the subtenants in a total amount exceeding $ 26,000, an amount which could have paid for more than half of the rent due.
Furthermore, public record clearly shows that the Cultural Alliance could easily afford the rent : at the end of 2011 they reported net assets exceeding $ 435,000.00 ( IRS form 990 2011- pg.1). All this serves as a clear indication that the Cultural Alliance was solvent – it appears they just decided not to pay the rent because they could.
With Barbara Hanna and Don Robinson no longer on the Council, the cartel that once enabled many fiscal abuses in Banning has now been unhinged.
New council members Ed Miller and Don Peterson – as well as Debbie Franklin – have no ties to this rotten organization, which has yet to produce anything of value for the money they have received.
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