Man Without Qualities


Sunday, December 17, 2006


Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club? What's That?

This New York Times article by Elizabeth Jensen and Lia Miller purports to recount what the article calls the "short but contentious history of Air America." Many odd characters and twists are recounted in a history where "business and politics always mixed, and that was the problem, critics contend." Tart recriminations are now reportedly flying.

But none of those reported recriminations has anything whatsoever to do with the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club. Indeed, the Times article make no mention of that organization at all. Its name is not mentioned. Not even an allusion to this worthy organization made.

All of which is more than passing strange, because Air America has an extensive history and economic relationship with the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, as the New York Post summarized:
Six officials of the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club stole $1.2 million from the group, money meant for needy kids and seniors, a city probe has found. Investigations Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn calls it "disgusting" - the worst case of wrongdoing by a non-profit contractor she's seen since taking office.
Thank goodness the thieves will be going to jail for a very long time - and paying back every cent, and then some.
Well, actually, that's not quite true.
In fact, nobody is going to jail.
Not even for a single day.
And the crooks get to keep most of the cash they stole. Four weren't even charged, and after a few brief years, the two who were charged can return to nonprofit work - to loot again, perhaps.
For that wrist tap, thank Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose office prosecuted the case.
Something is wrong with this picture.
Hearn was right to label the shenanigans "disgusting." Her report said fraud "was an accepted way of doing business" for these execs. "Rather than reflecting actual events," the group's records "were made to say whatever suited the executives' purposes." Want details?
* Under their direction, the group improperly gave $875,000 to left-wing Air America radio (which features comedian Al Franken) while a Gloria Wise exec maintained a financial stake in it.
There's plenty more. For example, the New York City Department of Investigation has commented:

DOI asked Air America to repay the $875,000 to an escrow account controlled by DOI. Thereafter, Air America repaid only $50,000 to an escrow account that is not controlled by DOI. DOI is pleased that Piquant LLC, the current owner of Air America, has agreed to DOI's request that, in lieu of making $50,000 quarterly payments, Piquant transfer the full $875,000 to the escrow account.
And lots more.

But all of that escapes Elizabeth Jensen and Lia Miller. And apparently nobody at Air America cares enough to hurl any recriminations on this topic. But, then, if the ever-opportunistic, pseudo-crusading Mr. Sptizer doesn't care, why should the Times?

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