- Eye on Media
Another year of fun filled snarky news commentary and analysis is almost over and this December marks the second consecutive month that MGx has reached over 20,000 global visitors. Most visitors are from the US and 1% are classified as "addicts" and 35% as "regulars" by Quantcast. Almost 450 regulars are Oregon residents from Portland to Salem to Ashland to Brookings.
The advertising you see on MGx barely covers the cost of maintaining the website and its associated services and pays nothing towards the time and effort involved to research and report on important local issues. If each regular reader just contributed $6 this Christmas season it would pay 50% of the emergency room medical bills for my fifteen year-old daughter this year.
This season please show your appreciation and help keep MGx a voice for fine local writers like, Roy Keene, Wim de Vriend, Ron Sadler and Robert Fischer and many others. Please donate to MGx today.
"A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens." Nelson Mandela 1918 - 2013
An article in The World, “ORCCA probe finds no misuse of funds” epitomizes one of the reasons I feel compelled to blog about local issues. To begin, the only item of news reported in the entire piece is that ORCCA was recently investigated by Oregon Housing and Community Services and the rest is three hundred plus words of stenography. In and of itself repeating Lehman’s ramblings about how the agency will recover from its six figure deficits wouldn’t be so bad but the paper never questioned even the most obviously ridiculous claims. It basically printed a press release without vetting the facts.
According to the paper “ORCCA provided a proposal to offset the amount by re-allocating funds.” Considering how long I have been trying to see some sort of plan this would have been news but the reporter, Emily Thornton, confirmed for me today the proposal was verbal and based upon the article, non-specific. Lehman is claiming the Food Bank deficit is just “$110,000 to $120,000″ deficit not the combined two year deficit of -$408K reflected in the agency’s own budget documents. It isn’t clear whether Lehman is talking about the 2012/13 fiscal year or the current fiscal year but even if Lehman’s guestimate is correct the term “re-allocating funds” implies ORCCA has at least $120K in discretionary funds just laying around. It does not and the agency cannot use dedicated funds intended for other programs. The term reallocation of funds ought to be a giant red flag to everyone.
The paper reports that Lehman “planned to use grants and donations to fill the gap” and the agency has applied for fifteen grants in the last six weeks. The likelihood of fifteen grant applications in six weeks is slim to none but assuming its true there is no reporting on how much the grants total, or whether any have been awarded or the time frame for receiving the funds begging the question of why the paper printed these statements at all, there is no information there at all. Another consideration Lehman may not be aware of is that grant funds are program specific and intended for services going forward and cannot be used to “fill the gap” left by previous deficits. It’s hard to know which is worse, seeing Lehman’s obvious incompetence or the paper actually giving him an unfettered voice.
ORCCA’s own budget documents reflect a very different story than the one presented by Lehman and confirmed by The World. Is the agency is such disarray that it is operating off of more than one set of books or more than one budget? The real one and the fake one?
1) Where will ORCCA get the funds to make up last years $225K shortfall and the current $177K deficit for the Food Bank?
2) How will ORCCA raise the $980K it needs to purchase the land under the new campus and Food Bank within ten years?
3) How will ORCCA continue to meet its financing obligations to its lenders?
Please ORCCA, just give is a reasoned and responsible plan in writing. That isn’t much to ask.