By Morris Pichon and Edwin Ramirez
Council Member Felipe Fuentes announced that he will not be seeking re-election but, will continue his effort to improve CD 7 until the end of his term. What has actually improved during his time in office? Not seeking re-election might be a step in the right direction, resigning might not be a bad idea either. Pacoima is more concern with the condition the district will be in, at the end of his term.
We know there has been many changes, the 4 of July celebration was moved from Hansen Dam to San Fernando High School; the Pacoima Youth and Family center is now run by “El Nido” organization; Pacoima Beautiful, LAPD’s cadet program and a coffee shop have moved into Pacoima City Hall; Sunland-Tujunga NC was evicted from a municipal building; the Pacoima holiday Parade became a fund raiser for Pacoima Beautiful.. We were informed that Pacoima Beautiful was simply charged with administering those funds. Administering those funds for whom?
We understand that the council member is currently working with a developer and the City to allow the building of well over 100 homes in an area zoned for a maximum of 22 homes. Perhaps that developer invested a great deal of money in his campaign! What is wrong with saying NO?
The City constantly reminds us of their limited resources and their constant need to increase the cost of services in order to address the needs of our communities; we are all aware of the needs being greater than the means! At the same time, why should we allow the City council members and the Mayor’s office to continue the inadequate use of the limited resources they do have?
A good example in CD 7 is, our council member decided to provide the space at Pacoima City Hall to Pacoima Beautiful (PB, a nonprofit) under contract #C125253 and adopted on 06/27/14 under file #14-0291. Pacoima Today, previously reported about Pacoima Beautiful getting the free space at City Hall; we now know that under their agreement with the City (2 leases) they get an office space on the second floor for a modest $1,104 per Month and they also get just over 2,300 Sq/ft bottom floor for $2 per Year; but that is not all that they get! Can you believe? They also get the opportunity to sub-lease part of the bottom floor (about 500 Sq/ft) to a retail business for a whopping $3,863 per month payable to Pacoima Beautiful; imagine that! $3,863 collected less $1,104 paid out, leaves a gain of $2,759 per Month; how is this “not” free space?
Many will see this agreement as not only free space but also free revenue! But, when the Executive Director is (or was) a City Planning Commissioner, the assistant Director a Los Angeles Zoning Adviser, President of the Board of a former Assembly Member and also former chief of staff during his years in the Assembly (CD7 council member) our guess is, Pacoima Beautiful deserves the help, support and funding! Or, is this nepotism? For sure it is highly questionable!
Wouldn’t the City benefit if they collected the $4,967 per Month to use for community improvements projects in Pacoima? or simply add to the Pacoima NC funding, they are a legal extension of City Government with a 37K yearly budget and no council member’s support for office space at City Hall or at the community center; yet they do go to them (PNC) for help in funding their movie nights, ” Dia de los muertos”, holiday parade and even the Bradley Plaza.
Pacoima Beautiful reported in their 990 form filed with the IRS (open to public inspection) for the period beginning 07-01-13 and ending 06-30-14, a total revenue of $542,094. We now have an idea of where the help to generate the revenue comes from but, have no information (yet) about who is helping in the process of spending the money (getting paid); they do report on the same form under salaries, other compensation and employee benefits a total of $400,255 for the same period. Is it only the Executive director drawing a salary? Or, are the Board Members also helping? You might want to consider asking for a financial report! Keep in mind that if they get City dollars, they are getting your tax dollars and you are entitle to know why, how and where those dollars are spent.
About El Nido organization (nonprofit), they were awarded a City contract # C122402 adopted by City council on 03-04-13 for the amount of $738,335; Then a second contract #C-124028 adopted 04-08-14 for the amount of $700,000; Also under file # 12-0923 contract #C121078 was adopted for the amount of $873,000 and awarded to El Nido; then it was modified to add $800,000; but that was not enough! Adopted on 06-20-14 under file # 13-0723-S2 contract #C-121078-2 was extended and added $636,554 and $163,446 to the contract. A grand total of 2.473 Millions over a 3 years period.
“El Nido” did not only get the entire community center in Pacoima; they were very well paid to run the center and very well funded to provide their services! According to the 990 form filed with the IRS (open to public inspection) for the period between 07-01-13 and ending 06-30-14 El Nido reported a total revenue of $9,034,955 and a total in salaries, other compensation and employee benefits of $6,842,643 our questions are, who gets paid? How do they get paid? And why do they get paid?
We now know that the City is very generous in providing nonprofits groups with our tax dollars, while denying the LA residents the public services we deserve. Most of these nonprofits are used as “community organizers” and not the service providers, they claim to be. Why is that?
Councilmember Fuentes evicted the Sunland-Tujunga NC from the municipal building in Tujunga and allows two (2) nonprofits to occupy the building! Our questions to him are: how much did the City (we) pay them to move in? And how much is the City (we) paying them for their services? Valid questions if you consider the conditions under which the Pacoima City Hall and the Pacoima community center are occupied (given away). We respect his decision not to seek re-election but, are seriously concerned with the condition the district will be at the end of his term and the total amount of funding that will be provided or wasted among his allies and nonprofits. Furthermore we would strongly recommend that all neighborhood councils start evaluating the performances of nonprofits within their geographical boundaries and asking them for financial and activities report, after all, they are there to provide a community service and sadly report to no one (except the IRS when filing).
Editor’s Note: Mr. Pichon and Mr. Ramirez and former Board Members of the Pacoima Neighborhood Council and publish a local newsletter called Pacoima Today, in order to keep the Pacoima community informed.