It’s well documented that nonprofit foundations are not subject to open financial disclosure and accountability, even when they receive government grant money. Most members of the public don’t understand how perilous a partnership with a nonprofit can be until your money is all gone and you have very little or nothing to show for your trust and investment. Especially when you have no control over foundation membership or termination.
For example the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission (SMBRC) has their nonprofit Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation (SMBRF). All of the money acquired goes to the foundation. After competitive salaries (the executive director gets over 100K annually), staff, studies, reports, monitoring, public relations contracts, and other creative ancillary expenses they eventually come up with a project to rave about.
The problem is millions of dollars go in and nothing significant comes out other than what my 5-year-old refers to as fluff. That’s what you get when you ask questions.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention we’ve had the SMBRC, SMBRF and their local favorite nonprofit Heal the Bay for over 25 years now and the Santa Monica Bay isn’t healed. You can’t see the bottom when looking off the side of the Santa Monica Pier, it’s nearly impossible to find or buy fresh caught local seafood that isn’t on a warning list or polluted, and I see more litter on the sidewalks of Santa Monica than viewed on a recent drive downtown.
My advice for all of my fellow parents with children enrolled in the SMMUSD is approach the proposed arrangements with the SMM Education Foundation with extreme skepticism. The Board of Education, PTAs and Superintendent Sandra Lyon should fully disclose the potential loss of school revenue and financial control to a foundation. Let’s not forget the holy grail California Lottery system that promised to fix our public school solvent issues.
Perhaps you can ask outgoing Mayor Bloom for advice on foundation partnerships. He’s the chairman of the SMBRC and proud of his deplorable performance. You’d better do it quickly.
He’ll be taking his historic, dirty, underhanded attack ad laden State Assembly campaign victory to Sacramento where he will probably draft legislation to have every government agency hire a nonprofit foundation to do their jobs.