Friday, April 13, 2007

Conflict of Interest - Part 2

Note: I have reposted this comment from the previous post as I felt it was too important to get lost in the comments section. Paul Weiss is the former Director of Festival of the Arts for the City Park West Neighborhood Association (CPWNA), husband of and campaign manager for Carla Madison, candidate for Denver City Council District 8. Jerry, I have been committed to and successful in keeping the Festival of the Arts solvent on a shoestring budget. For seven years, we have given away soda, offered $5 meals, charged return artists only $50 and non-profits only $10, while not allowing sponsorship from businesses that do not have a direct stake in this community. It is an immense and complex undertaking getting 600 exhibitors, entertainers and volunteers to work together for one common day of art, music, entertainment, education and community without the normal fundraising mechanisms. I have been dedicated to the singular goal of building this event with Carla's original mission statement. "(We remain) a community directed and neighborhood-organized event. (We continue) to focus on building neighborhood participation, increasing the cooperation and respect that brings neighborhoods together, developing leadership, supporting the Arts, positively impacting local businesses, and developing and sustaining our community's sense of identity and pride through culture,arts, music, dance, education and performance." The Festival of the Arts will continue to have a positive impact on this community, on encouragement and development of skills, and building a community where all of us feel pride and hope for the future. I will continue to believe that cooperation, education and community are a valuable and worthwhile goal. Paul Weiss My response: Hey Paul: Thanks for your response. I really appreciate your signed comments. In fact, I agree with everything you said. You know that I have been an ardent supporter of your Festival from the beginning, and even produced a TV spot for it. You also know that I appreciated the enormous amount of work you put into the Festival, and often publicly stated that you were underpaid for your efforts. But you didn’t respond to the point of my post – Were you paid $4250 by CPWNA in 2003 and if so, why does Carla make a point of saying you were never paid more than $3000? And Paul, you miss the larger point. Ever hear of “arms length”? You may recall that I repeated told you that you needed to separate the finances of your Festival from the CPWNA. Do you remember my saying that if you didn’t if would come back to “bite you in the ass”? Well, it’s nipping at your heels right now. You stormed out of two public meetings of the CPWNA when you were asked to produce the receipts to document your expenditures. You ran screaming (literally) from my office when then Financial Chair of the CPWNA, Pat Manning (my partner) asked you to provide this documentation. (Full disclosure: and you later apologized to me.) To my knowledge, this matter of “fiscal irregularities”, resulting in the resignation of Manning and the public reproduction of copies of all of the financial records available to her, has never been cleared up. When you write a $1500 check to yourself and a $2175 to your wife from a CPWNA account without documentation, you can expect questions. Especially when loans are expressly prohibited by the CPWNA by-laws unless approved by the Membership. Until this is cleared up, by an independent audit of the accounts of CPWNA, it will continue to haunt you, Carla, and the CPWNA. No one will be willing to “step up” into a big pile of crap. And yes, I do know that you quit the CPWNA and finally separated the finances of your fantastic Festival into a separate entity. The Festival is everything you say it is, and I wish you the best in that endeavor in upcoming years. Jerry


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