Monday, March 07, 2016

It's all one swell little club

Heavenly Cash

You know, as much as New Orleans cultivates and promotes an image of itself as a bustling, forward-looking hub of innovation, the "volunteer entrepreneurs" who run that scene sure do seem to be the same tight little circle of people passing around the "public-private" funds.
The NOJO audit, performed by an independent accounting firm, found material weaknesses and significant deficiencies in the nonprofit's accounting -- including wide use of a NOJO debit card without supporting documentation, poor record keeping for revenue from tour groups and patrons at a bar NOJO runs and hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to Mayfield without a written agreement for his services.

The audit comes as the New Orleans Public Library Foundation continues to seek recovery of the money Mayfield and partner Ronald Markham transferred between 2012 and 2014. They changed the Library Foundation’s articles of incorporation to expand its mission beyond simply supporting the city’s public library system, passed resolutions granting themselves special powers to make unilateral financial decisions and immediately began sending money to the NOJO, which paid them each six-figure annual salaries.

The money – given to the Library Foundation by donors to support the libraries – instead went to help build a $10 million NOJO headquarters, jazz club, bar and community space called the People’s Health New Orleans Jazz Market. Markham stood by the use of the money, saying it would provide much-needed library-style services in Central City and would offer access to some of the city library’s jazz collection.

NOJO’s board is led by Ron Forman, the head of the Audubon Institute and city Audubon Commission, and Forman promised last May to pay the entire amount back. But discussion of a formal agreement to pay the money back last summer never materialized. And recently, NOJO appeared to balk, insisting that its own legal review determined the money had been properly spent.
Oh look Ron Forman is here. Ron Forman is fresh off the LSED board where he oversaw Tom Benson's lease. Benson is giving money to Forman's friends at the Carrollton Boosters so they, along with Forman's Audubon Institute, can turn a park into a profit center.   Ronald Markham, late of the Library Foundation, is also on the Audubon Institute board.  Remember, though, these are the 'treps and visionaries who love to accuse the rest of us of being "provincial." So know your place before you speak ill of them.

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