Friday, November 13, 2009

Crime Prevention Recepient Charged With Crime; Will This Cause Council To More Closely Examine Non-Profit Grant Recepients?

News out of the eastside is that the head of a group charge with helping at-risk you has been charged with a crime.

Byron Alston, who runs "Save the Youth, Inc." is a supporter of Mayor Greg Ballard and earlier this year received a $90,000 "crime prevention" grant. According to a WISH-TV report, the allegations are that Alston offered a woman a job in exchange for sex. When she refused he supposedly performed a lewd act in front of her. According to another woman, Alston, in a separate incident, grabbed her and put his hands down her pants.

WISH -TV also reported that Alston, when he was in his late 20s, was charged in Hendricks County in 1990 with criminal deviate conduct, battery with bodily injury, and being a habitual offender. According to Hendricks County Clerk's Office that case ended with a plea bargain.

While Mr. Alston deserves the "presumption of innocence," these non-profits that feed at the taxpayer trough are deserving of much, much closer scrutiny. Too many are just shell organizations set up simply for the purpose of extracting government grants and enriching those who run those organizations, while using the false pretense of trying to help their community. Even the non-profits that are legitimate often provide lavish salaries and benefits to themselves before the first dollar reaches those the non-profit is supposed to help.

On the most recent tax return available, 2007, Mr. Alston reported that his group took in $95,871 in revenue. Salaries and benefits, which almost exclusively went to Alston, amounted to $54,135. $14,435 went to "occupancy, rent, utilities and maintenance." The address though for the organization is 9664 Gulf Lake Drive, which is a residence. One has to ask the obvious question about whether taxpayer money was being used to pay Mr. Alston's living expenses.

But these "obvious questions" are never asked. Every year our Mayor and our Council dutifully turns over our tax dollars to non-profit corporations that claim to be serving some need in the community. No one ever asks questions about how these organizations are run, the types of salaries and benefits they pay themselves, and how much actually trickles down to the cause for which they money was designated. There is no sort of oversight to see if the money is spent appropriately.

While the thought is having the private sector perform these more charitable tasks is more efficient than the public sector, it isn't if the public sector does not do its job of monitoring who receives our tax dollars and how that money is spent.

1 comment:

Citizen Kane said...

Government should not give money to anyone. Government should provide services and that is all. They should not pick winners and losers and transfer wealth to others under the guise of "helping the community."

Yes, many of these organizations are sham fly-by-night entities. And as you have indicated, many of the established entities are basically engaging in legal theft also.