Monday, February 10, 2014

$4,950,000 Problems For Greensboro's International Civil Rights Museum

 Update: George Hartzman informs me the US Bank loan was in the audit. Somehow I missed it. Regardless, the new audit is filled with problems as today's News & Record article points out:

"Asked why a reporter couldn’t speak to the people with the best understanding of the situation, Hagler wrote: “The museum is very open in talking with the media about all of its operational issues, as well as programming.”

He said museum staffers were inundated with requests for interviews on Feb. 1, the anniversary of the first sit-in. They’re now focused on raising money, but still taking time to respond to media requests, he said.

He sees no need for more public accountability for the museum given the infusion of taxpayer money."

No need for public accountability. And therein lies the problem.

Begin original post:

Supporters of the idea of an International Civil Rights Center & Museum like myself, have long been troubled by the problems associated with the ICRCM. It was hoped by many that removing Skip Alston from the management of the ICRCM would bring about a positive change but after having missed their February 1 deadline to comply with audits required by the City of Greensboro in exchange for forgivable loans to the ICRCM it has become apparent that Mr Alston's legacy of poor management remains.

In pouring over the audit, financial adviser and accounting ethics teacher, George Hartzman has made several interesting discoveries:

The Sit-In-Movement Inc has charged the ICRCM $5,660,000 in fees for which they cannot or haven't accounted. Sit-In-Movement Inc is run by Skip Alston and company.

The ICRCM owes Carolina Bank $987,000 on a note due by Friday, February 15, 2014 and doesn't have the money to pay the bill.

Another concern of the latest audit is that it makes no mention of the $4,950,000 loan owed to US Bank that was mentioned in the previous audit just 6 months ago. Now I'd say that's a big concern.

And the ICRCM Sustainability Plan? Well it just isn't sustainable. It seems Tanya Wiley who is in charge of identifying funding sources for the ICRCM is most famous for running off with contributions, as noted by Yes-Weekly reporter, Jordan Green:

"The committee failed to file second-quarter or third-quarter plus reports, prompting an official notice of noncompliance to Wiley from Kim Westbrook Strach, deputy director for campaign reporting at the state Board of Elections, on Nov. 12, 2008.

"Instead of catching up on its second-quarter and third-quarter plus reports the committee skipped to the 2008 year-end semi-annual report, which the board of elections received in February 2009. The report showed a balance of $164. Cash on hand at the end of the previous report should equal cash on hand at the beginning of the subsequent report. That $4,008 dwindled to $164 indicates that $3,844 remains missing or unaccounted."

But alas, there is still hope for saving the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. In 2013 while running for Mayor of Greensboro, George Hartzman proposed an ingenious plan that would in the long run save the City of Greensboro $Millions of Dollars while saving the ICRCM. Of course, as George was the outsider candidate the City Council incumbents could not afford to admit or even consider the possibility that any outsider might have ideas better than their own so George's idea was quickly and quietly swept under the table without even one word of public discussion.

What was that plan, you ask? George suggested in a letter to the editor in the Greensboro News & Record, we allow the International Civil Rights Center & Museum to go bankrupt then buy its assets from the banks. All above board and completely legal. Had we done so we could have bought the whole kit and caboodle for about what the City has promised in loans and been done with the whole affair.

You may view the latest audit by clicking here.