On Sunday, a Philadelphia Inquirer story about the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp. stated, “the Northwest Philadelphia nonprofit founded by State Rep. Dwight Evans misspent or mismanaged portions of state grants worth $12 million since 2006, violated bid rules, and made questionable real estate purchases with taxpayer funds, according to a state investigation.”
The exclusive article, based in part on a confidential state-investigation report from 2012, also maintained that:
• “[OARC] reported spending $111,000 in state money just to promote ‘Wine Down Wednesdays,’ a weekly after-work party at a restaurant where it had a financial stake, investigators found. The funds came from grants for ‘community revitalization’ and cultural events, including the now-defunct West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival.'”
• “OARC … tried to pay its own salaries from a $1 million grant approved for equipment and construction projects under a minority business development program, the examiners’ report says.”
• “[I]t spent nearly $1 million more on three Ogontz Avenue properties that were later valued at $640,000.”
In light of this story, and others in the aftermath of the West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival cancellation, NewsWorks would like to know what you think about OARC and its role in the neighborhood and beyond.
Do you think the scrutiny of the Evans-founded nonprofit is warranted?
Do you think, as OARC’s attorneys maintain, it is a questionable investigation during which the group was kept in the dark and not given an opportunity to answer the state’s questions?
What will the impact of this be on West Oak Lane and beyond?
Please discuss those, and any other related questions, in the comments section.