Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Owners of MLK, Jr. Building Cited in State Audit

The Times is reporting that First A.M.E. Church operated a daycare at Seattle Central Community College - rent-free - for 16 years.  (Yes, I know - how is that possible?)  The daycare was allowed to do this by a program at SCCC called Seattle Vocational Institute whose students' children were to have first-in enrollment.  The daycare ran from Sep. 1997 to June 2013.

From the Times:

First A.M.E., which closed the daycare in June, paid no rent to the Institute - a value the school estimates would have exceeded $650k over 16 years.  It also paid no utilities or janitorial costs, worth an additional $158k or so.  SCCC president, Pual Killpatrick, said the college had identified this problem contract and that the church was notified in Jne they would need to vacate.  The church did end up paying for utilities and janitorial services from Sep. 2012 to June 2013.

Troy Niemeyer, the auditor's whistle-blower manager, stated, "It amounts to the state giving money away to a nonprofit."  

Interestingly, the Institute's executive dean who signed the contract 16 years ago, is now retired on serves on the First A.M.E. board.

The Times mentions that the church now owns the MLK, Jr. building, having purchased it in 2010 from the district for  $2.4M.

This story ties in a bit with the Mann building issue.

One, because there were multiple groups using the Mann building without paying the district rent or paying for services.  Dollars were lost when the district was not paid. 

Two, because the MLK, Jr. building, according to the last report given to the Board, is not full and so it begs the question of why the groups who were in the Mann building don't want to use a community building in the same area.  (First A.M.E. - as part of the condition of the sale - has to give a report to the district so the district can make sure that the building is indeed accessible and low-cost to community groups.)



15 comments:

Anonymous said...

The sale of the MLK bldg to AME when the Bush School ( which surrounds it ) was offering significantly more money was a mistake...

--SPSweary

Lynn said...

Does anyone know what are the potential repercussions to a person in a position of responsibility who allows private parties rent-free use of public assets?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, as a I reported, the SCCC person who signed the contract is gone. I have no idea if that person could face legal issues; it sounds like he may have structured the contract in a manner that would free him from liability.

Eric B said...

As I recall the story in the Times this morning, the contract said that Seattle Central students should have priority in enrollment. If that's the case, the original contract is not at issue. Failing to enforce a contract might get someone from SCCC a reprimand, but probably not much more than that. IMHO, First AME bears the responsibility here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I think the real issue is writing a contract where no rent/utilities are paid for by the contractor. That would seem like quite the gift for any daycare whether they serve students or not.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if a citizen-led review is in order of all District properties that are not being used as schools, to see who (if anyone) is using them, and whether they are paying rent on an up-to-date contract. Even just visiting each property during a weekday and seeing who is in there would be instructive, and I don't think I've seen this anywhere on the SPS site.

- Property Walk

Anonymous said...

2 questions:

How much did the district pay SCCC when Middle College HS was located there? Middle College had to move over a year ago.

The MLK school was sold to FAME, not to Bush, because the board decided it would be the most beneficial to the community. They intentionally selected the lowest bid. How has this worked out for everyone involved?

Westside

StringCheese said...

Property, my thoughts exactly!

Westside, Middle College actually left SSCC not SCCC.

Louise said...

Crikey. Who was overseeing the accounting, and how could they not catch this for 14 years? And why when they did, did they not collect rent for two more years?

Anonymous said...

Comments from Seattle Times story provide more insight:

http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/reader_feedback/public/display.php?thread=920036&offset=0&column=create_date&direction=DESC

Eric B said...

Melissa: I haven't read the Times comment thread, so I may be out of date. My understanding was that the no rent/utilities for using SCCC space is OK only if the day care is primarily intended for and used by SCCC students. IIRC, the contract was written that SCCC students would get priority, which would satisfy that requirement. However, it looks like the contract wasn't followed after it was written.

It's similar to school PTAs not having to pay for after-school room use in SPS, while non-school-related groups do have to pay.

Anonymous said...

How could Head Start provide child care for SVI students -- children only attend 3-1/2 hours a day and during a specific time? SVI/SCCC students are on campus anywhere from 8 am to 9 pm, so their needs weren't being served at all. This was outright fraud.

Anonymous said...

First AME Child Development Center
http://headstartseattle.wordpress.com/programs/seattle-head-start-programs-child-care/m


SVI - First AME Childcare Center
http://sviweb.sccd.ctc.edu/services.htm

They served 32 children and took state childcare vouchers as well as Headstart funds. I doubt anyone was getting rich and it is unfortunate that students were not benefitting from the program.

CHM

joanna said...

How could someone that is managing any department at SVI not know that this is unethical?

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