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ASNC Funding Freeze Imperils Community Projects

Projects slated for funding at Mount Washington Elementary School and Debs park won't receive their dollars until the board's funding freeze is lifted.

With the 's bank account frozen due to allegations of financial mismanagement, more than $2,000 in board funds slated for community projects won't be paid, according to Department of Neighborhood Empowerment Project Coordinator Rita Moreno.

Last week, the council was informed that their budget would be frozen due to allegations that President Martha Benedict's signature was used without authorization on financial documents in the fourth quarter of the previous fiscal year. On Monday night, the board learned how that freeze would impact community projects that were already slated for funding.

Projects slated for funding include $1,000 for new audio visual equipment to be installed at and $250 for trail beautification at Ernest E. Debs Park in Montecito Heights.

Moreno explained that if demand warrants for the projects have not yet been submitted to the city for approval, they were unlikely to be paid while the board's funding was still suspended.

"If we haven't received  the request, then there is nothing for us to do," Moreno said. "If we got those demand warrants in October or November, we would have processed those requests. But if we haven't received them, there's nothing we can do."

According to the council's minutes, funds for the audio visual equipment and trail improvement were approved in October and November, respectively.

Moreno, who spoke to the board during their monthly meeting on Monday night, said the city began the process of auditing each of the city's 95 neighborhood councils in October, the result of pressure from the office of the City Controller. 

"You have the bad luck of being Arroyo. You're one of the first alphabetically, so you were one of the first council's we looked at," Moreno said.

Moreno said that the department were prompted to look deeper into the board's spending after finding more than $1,500 in animal welfare funds spent through the board's purchase card in the fourth quarter of the 2011 fiscal year.

"What caught my attention were all the expenditures for animal welfare," Moreno said.

Moreno also told the council that the department had erred by not freezing the council's funds in October, when the allegations of forgery were first made.

"We decided to hold off on that, and that's why we're here today," she said.

Moreno said the department was likely to rule on whether council's funding  suspension should be lifted next month, pending the completion on an ongoing financial audit and board's participation in required ethics and accounting training.

Patrizzi Intergalactica January 25, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Interesting! Is this the same Rita Moreno that serves on the Hahamongna Watershed Park Advisory Committee? If so, call Huston immediately. We have a problem.
Larry C January 26, 2012 at 04:16 AM
I don't go that often, but I attended a few ASNC meetings a couple years back and got to see the then-treasurer accuse the current ASNC president of fraud -- believe due to website charges or something similar. I remember the current president being very upset at one particular meeting when the then-treasurer tried to cut fees dramatically for that service, which I believe her company was providing. Boy, was that a contentious meeting! Kind of ironic it's happening again but the other way around...I wonder if this is just a coincidence, or some sort of payback? Also, it's obvious from reading the Patch the ASNC has lost the prestige it once had. Can they ever get it back? It's unfortunate this internal strife between a couple of people has become so public, since it does nothing but dilute the effectiveness of the entire NC and turn news sources such as Patch into makeshift gossip columns.
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Water-cooler talk, Larry.
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Ms. Moreno trains leaders of neighborhood councils on leadership. Wait. It isn't about leadership. It's about how to follow the money, stop thinking, and obey the city council. Which is great if you really have a regular bunch of people, but if you have a stack of stooges that represent corporate interests... then How is this our government? We are the Government, right? http://vimeo.com/31008679
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I was once a mime. No wonder I feel inferior.
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 05:02 AM
My point is, (often lost) when you accept significant funds from a source (whatever that may be) you are beholden to those who provided the funds. This is when the question should arise in leadership. A leader looks at what the consequences are per instance and makes that known to the group, at large. This is called an informed decision. It requires discernment. One must be sane, humane, and environmentally aware or just awake! Important decisions that rest on entire neighborhoods are at stake.
batgirl4u69 January 26, 2012 at 05:55 AM
I Guess My Funds 4 Debs Park Have 2 Wait .Becuse I Am Realy Low On Graffiti Supplys. So That Means Some Cleaning And Paniting Will Take Longer 4 Me 2 Respond"
Rob Schraff January 26, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I think you should talk to the folks in Hermon. If I am understanding recent events and documentation correctly, there is a container, bought by the ASNC, full of emergency and clean up supplies, bought by the ASNC, with a lock, bought by the ASNC, (can’t make this stuff up!) – and the Hermon boosters won’t let the ASNC have the keys.
Rob Schraff January 26, 2012 at 06:26 PM
You mean the Arroyo Seco Board Neighborhood Council board has just been taking turns at the trough to support their favorite personal causes and squabbling about money? Who new!? Of course, the difference is when there’s actual malfeasance, let’s say forging signatures, lying to elected board members or DONE, phony bid procedures empowering incumbent vendors, shady budget surveys and “subcommittee” votes with no vote tallies or roll taken - stuff like that. In both of the cases cited here it would seem more DONE supervision of this still-immature political process should have been exercised some time ago.
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
But what is DONE doing? Who are they? Who supervises them? Why are they such a mystery? Didn't DONE create this by faulty training or ignorance or something more malicious?
Rob Schraff January 26, 2012 at 10:27 PM
What's new? Who knew? Sorry.
Patrizzi Intergalactica January 26, 2012 at 10:58 PM
I'm sorry. This none of my business.

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