Lincoln Block Association Elections
ELECTIONS AT THE LINCOLN CIVIC BLOCK ASSOCIATION AND FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE
A transition is taking place at the Lincoln Civic Block Association, and it is not going smoothly. After a summer of successes, winning second place in the Greenest Block in Brooklyn (a competition run by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden), holding a successful block party followed by a Sip and Celebrate Party to honor those who led the way in the Greenest Block competition and then a wildly successful Halloween party, the Association came up to election time. The long-time president of the Association, Jesse Hamilton, decided not to run, so the election was to fill seven open positions in the Association. Those were President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Financial Secretary, Treasurer and Chaplain. During its October meeting the Association took nominations. However, it turned out that most of the people who wished to run were not eligible because of a by-law that states that only people who have been to four meetings in the year of the vote can run. Numerous people wanted to run and were put in nomination, but when the vote came in November only two people were found to be qualified by the election committee, these were Ken Marable for President and Priscilla Rigby-Ellington for Treasurer. These two positions were thus uncontested and five other positions had no candidate.
The situation is all the more regrettable in that the people who have been most active in making the triumphs of the summer and early fall happen were all excluded. Three people praised for their work in the Greenest Block competition – Althea Joseph, Perri Edwards, Sandra Layne – were all excluded as were others who made major contributions – Noelky Sullivan, Moya Dewar and Mike Blue. The Block Party was brilliantly managed by Oshun Layne, but she too was excluded, the same with the Sip and Celebrate Party and the Halloween Party. Many of the organizers of these events were not attendees of the Block Association meetings. At the election meeting Jesse Hamilton said the the four-meeting rule was instituted to make sure people who became officers were committed to the Association. Ironically, what it has done is exclude just those people. Another part of the rule backfired as well. A person did not make the October nomination meeting because he was going to a party in his honor. An attempt to nominate him was turned away because he was not present. So at the election meeting the two running candidates were elected and people volunteered to fill all the other positions. There will have to be new elections among those volunteers.
This situation is all the more distressing in that serious allegations have been made in regard to the Lincoln Civic Block Association, specifically in Crain's Business Daily of April 10, 2018 an article appeared saying that according to the terms of a mortgage secured from the Department of Housing and Preservation, the building at 284 New York Avenue, which belongs to the block association, can only be used for low income housing. During the time he was president Jesse Hamilton used the location as a base for his political campaigns and for those of his allies. The article further states the LCBA lost its non-profit status because it filed none of the required paper work for three years in a row. Also the building has not been registered since 2004, the year Hamilton became president. In addition information about rents collected and expenses for maintaining the building are said to be hidden from the public. Hamilton had no comment to make for the article.
These allegations are all the more serious in that Ken Marable revealed that, after looking into the matter as Acting President, he found there are virtually no financial records available. Thus far the members of the Association have not heard a financial report, they don't know if there is a budget for the last year or if there is such a budget whether it has been realized or not, they don't know if there is one for the coming year, they have not seen a tax return, there has been no accounting for the revenues or expenses of the building, and they don't know the financial condition of the Association – what it has in the bank, what it owes and is owed. Ken admitted that the non-profit status of the Association had indeed lapsed but did not explain why that had been allowed to happen. When asked at the November meeting whether the Association has an CPA, Ken hesitated and made no answer, and Jesse said it did have one. Ken opined that it would take six months to get an audit done of the Association's finances.
This situation is, of course, untenable. Jesse's assurance that there is no problem is comforting but resolves nothing. What is needed are a budget, a tax return, a financial report on the current condition of the Association, and an audit signed by an independent CPA hired by the Association with no ties to Jesse Hamilton. It would seem that such an audit could be done in less than six months. Also it would seem that the time has come to appoint a special financial committee to look into the situation and oversee the assembling of whatever materials are available, to start doing thorough record keeping and to hire an independent accountant to conduct the audit. Two members of the association have offered their services. Israel Mirsky and another person have said they would be willing to make this effort. Both have relevant work experience.
There is obviously a crying need to alter the by-laws of the Association to allow full participation of those who already generously give their time and money, and there is a matching need to get a full financial accounting. If there were mistakes, omissions and negligence in the past, those must now come to an end. Everyone agrees that there must be full transparency; everyone should join in the effort to see to it that it happens.
It seems the next meeting of LCBA will be Thursday, December 13 at 7pm. All interested parties should be there to keep the current transition moving along.
To be continued…
- John DeWind