Urban League’s Financial Crisis Worsens; Acting CEO Out

Jim Brunner, Seattle Times, May 2, 2011

The Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle is facing a withering financial crisis–and may even sell its longtime headquarters–in the wake of the recent Seattle schools scandal.

The venerable civil-rights nonprofit recently parted ways with acting Chief Executive Tony Benjamin, the second top leader to leave this year.

At the same time, the Urban League has shuttered its once-praised small-business contracting center, which had received millions of dollars in government contracts over the past nine years to assist minority and women-owned businesses.

Having already made significant layoffs, the Urban League is considering the sale of its headquarters at East Yesler Way and 14th Avenue, according to a statement released Monday by the board of directors.

Benjamin’s sudden departure came last month, as the board decided to close its Contractor Development and Competitiveness Center (CDCC), which Benjamin had managed.

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Monday’s statement from the board said the nonprofit was “moving in a new direction in terms of leadership” and would hire a new leader “as soon as we have stabilized the organization and found additional funding sources.”

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Board Chairman Paul Chiles initially agreed to an interview with a Seattle Times reporter Monday morning. But Chiles canceled the interview a half-hour before it was to begin.

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Benjamin’s departure closely followed the resignation of James Kelly, longtime president and chief executive, who stepped down in January, citing personal and health concerns. {snip}

Kelly’s exit came about a month before the eruption of the Seattle Public Schools’ scandal, which centered on waste and possible fraud in the school district’s small-business program run by Silas W. Potter Jr.

Potter’s program had been set up to help minority-owned firms get school-construction work. But a state audit found evidence the program may have wasted $1.8 million in public money. A criminal investigation is under way.

The Urban League was the single largest recipient, receiving nearly $600,000 in school-district contracts that auditors labeled “questionable uses of public funds.” The money was to pay for minority-business outreach and training–a specialty of the Urban League’s CDCC.

But auditors criticized the Urban League’s invoices as vague, and some district employees told investigators the spending did not benefit the school district.

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One of the Urban League’s benefactors had been the city of Seattle, which under former Mayor Greg Nickels had awarded it a succession of contracts.

The city spent nearly $4 million on the CDCC between 2002 and 2011, to assist women-and-minority owned firms to compete for city work.

The Urban League got a separate $500,000-a-year contract from the city to combat youth violence starting in 2009, after a rash of fatal shootings in Southeast Seattle.

In the last year, Mayor Mike McGinn sought competitive bids for the contracts. As a result, the Urban League lost its youth-violence contract to other nonprofits this year.

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  • Question Diversity

    There is a lot of money involved here, at least a lot to you and I. But relatively speaking, this is one nickel and dime hustle group sucking off the relatively minor public teats of the city in which it is based. Multiply this by the number of other groups like them, not just black groups, but Hispanic groups, other non-white groups, generally left-of-center groups, then multiply that by all the major cities in this country, and then also by all 50 states and the Federal government.

    Now you know why governments are swimming in so much red ink.

  • Madison Grant

    Step 1: Pandering pols announce they’re going to give our tax $ to minority-owned firms.

    Step 2: The Urban League (or some other activist group) is set up as the middlemen to pass on the $ to the minority firms.

    Step 3: Whoops! The companies didn’t get all the $ they were awarded because the middlemen skimmed off some of it and stuffed it down their pockets.

    And white liberals find this shocking; they just never saw it coming!

  • Anonymous

    >>

    At the same time, the Urban League has shuttered its once-praised small-business contracting center, which had received millions of dollars in government contracts over the past nine years to assist minority and women-owned businesses.

    But auditors criticized the Urban League’s invoices as vague, and some district employees told investigators the spending did not benefit the school district.

    >>

    1 Trillion In Stimulus = Unlabeled Defacto Slave Reparations = Slimeball Profiteering Cons by Connected ‘Minorities and Women’.

    This is the eventuated reality of decades of AA hiring practices that have successfully put incompetents into managerial positions they are utterly unqualified for, except by the color of their skin.

    Without a restrictor of can-do ability for -any- job, manager X knows he’s only there until it becomes clear he can’t do the one he’s been hired for and then he gets ‘laterally transfered’. But if he’s not replaced by another black, the race engineers scream tokenism.

    So the cream sinks and the rot rises.

    Until suddenly, the blacks in upper management are so numerous that they are able to start playing the same insider payola game between each other as Tammany Hall whites used to do. And it’s nearly impossible to ‘between friends’ track the spoils trading until the money is all gone.

    And nobody -dares- call them on it because of the presumed racial egalitarianism issue. And a black President in the White House.

    What’s worse, without their own access to profitable contracts, _real_ (white) small business contractors fold up or move so that now there is nobody left to try and tiger-team fix things.

    Whoohoo! Isn’t diversity grand?!?

    We are led by idiots and surrounded by opportunistic predators.

    What people don’t realize is that this is the endgame. That these are the last payouts that will ever come out of the failing Federal system and so their being wasted on frivolousness is all the more criminal.

  • Anonymous

    There are no grants for poeple to start a business

    Instead they give hundreds of millions of dollars to set up “centers” for assistance to business