Reaction mixed in Northwest Philly to news of OARC probe

At least two noteworthy developments have come since Sunday’s article maintaining that Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corp., “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 first was a letter sent on Monday to state officials from OARC attorney David Fineman, demanding an investigation “to identify the person(s) who leaked [the] confidential report” referenced in that Philadelphia Inquirer story.

The second was comprised of reactions from NewsWorks readers weighing in on the issue via poll and comments.

Readers weigh in

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Nearly half of the respondents to a poll posted Monday have deemed the story “much ado about nothing, and a vendetta against a group founded by a prominent Democrat,” while a nearly a third indicated that they thought “the Inquirer story is just the tip of the iceberg.” (Those were the poll results as of 11 a.m. Wednesday.)

A selection of comments posted by readers was equally split. They included:

— “The Philadelphia Inquirer’s story was sensationalistic and inflammatory. All of the Commonwealth’s allegations sound suspect. … This organization has been in existence and doing fine work to help its community since the 1980’s. Did the commonwealth truly have to dig as far back as 2006 to find this alleged “mismanagement?” – Tanya A.

— “While it would be foolish to think that the OARC has done no good, it’s just as bad to automatically reject that this probe may have substance. There are plenty of fishy circumstances. … I’ve often worried that OARC could become the next Germantown Settlement. It’s best to clean out any corruption that may exist before it’s too late.” – Nick from Germantown

— “These community development schemes, mostly under the wing of this or that politician, have become the new WAMs. Public money ‘entrusted’ to politicians for pet projects in their neighborhoods.” – Gardner

Now that the story has evolved beyond Sunday’s front-page headline, what do you think about the OARC probe? We’ve included the poll on this story and invite you to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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