Friday, June 20, 2014

Conflict of Interest Questioned Among Historic Mitchell Street BID 4 Board Members

Dimity Grabowski and Rudy Gutiérrez

At least four Historic Mitchell Street BID #4 Board members also serve with the Historic Mitchell Street Preservation Corporation, according to information disclosed at last Thursday's BID #4 meeting.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 20, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - On Thursday, Dimity Grabowski, one of the Historic Mitchell Street Business Improvement District (BID) #4 Board members questioned an alleged conflict of interest among the Board membership. At least four current BID #4 Board members are also Board members for the Historic Mitchell Street Preservation Corporation (HMSPC), Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) has learned. Grabowski during the BID #4 meeting also requested clarification from Nancy Bush, the executive director for the BID #4 of its association between the two entities. 
A two-hour session was scheduled before the next BID #4 meeting on July 17 to discuss Grabowski's request and the $247,000 discrepancy that HNNUSA reported. Grabowski stated to HNNUSA, "I have full faith that our new President, Rudy Gutiérrez will be a "positive" voice for Mitchell St., on the BID #4. My direct concerns are related to the obvious conflict of interest within several BID #4 members who currently serve on the HMSPC jointly." Grabowski is the owner of Think Resale on Historic Michell Street.
Last Monday, Bush released that the BID #4 had made $2,562.49 after costs during Sun Fair 2012, an annual street outdoor event. In April 2013, Ron Giguere, then president of the BID #4 told the Business Journal (BJ) that the Sun Fair had made over $250,000, which HNNUSA reported. Giguere abruptly resigned as president of the BID #4 in October 2013. 
The building at 1635 S. 8th St. where the BID #4 is housed is owned by
the HMSPC, which Giguere is the current Chair of the Board. Bush says, it rents the first floor, which actually are three rooms. The BID #4 pays about $1,200 per month and both the BID and HMSPC share the whole building, which has no separate entrances or exits for each group. The house doesn't even have a sign outside the building indicating that BID #4 is at the location.
BID #4 has not responded to Giguere's statement to the BJ and if they found any funding missing or not reported concerning the Sun Fair event in 2012.
Bush also wouldn't release her annual salary, but HNNUSA has learned that she makes over $63,300 annually, including benefits, cellphone service and gas allowance. Bush's salary is funded through levy assessments collected from businesses and property owners along the Mitchell Street Business district.
There are 30 BID's in the City of Milwaukee, not all have the same assessment formula. The BID #4's is $4.00 per $1,000 of assessed commercial property value, not to exceed $2500, Bush confirmed.
In an e-mail to HNNUSA, Bush wrote, "In 2012, the Sun Fair did not make "more than $250,000," it made $2,562.49. Last year, in 2013, the event made $911.26. In 2011, its first year, the event made $1,296.16." HNNUSA learned that the Rainbow Valley Carnival and Rides (RVC) gave BID #4 $16,895 in commission in 2013. Sun Fair in 2013 made $20,889, total expenses were $19,997.74, net income $911.26.
In 2014 and 2013, BID #4 paid $7,903 for a city permit to block off W. Historic Mitchell Street from S. 8th to S. 11th Streets for the three-day event.
This year, Sun Fair 2014 made $19,235, the expenses reported were $14,946,51 and net income $4,288.49. The RVC commission to BID #4 was $15,660, according to the BID #4 financial report for Sun Fair 2014. 

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