published Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Multicultural Chamber lots remain vacant


by Cliff Hightower
Multiple vacant lots are photographed Wednesday in the 400 block of MLK Blvd., leading up to the former Renewal Barber Shop at 423 MLK Blvd., seen in the background.
Multiple vacant lots are photographed Wednesday in the 400 block of MLK Blvd., leading up to the former Renewal Barber Shop at 423 MLK Blvd., seen in the background.
Photo by John Rawlston.
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Poll
Should the Multicultural Chamber receive public funding?
  • Yes. 9%
  • No. 91%

443 total votes.

The Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce purchased five parcels of land on East M.L. King Boulevard through loans and federal grants to build a business center that never materialized, records show.

The Chamber paid $700,000 for the properties, with more than two-thirds of the money coming from a grant through the Chattanooga Community Development Foundation Institution Inc., a nonprofit organization set up to make loans to small businesses in urban neighborhoods.

“The loan was made to purchase two lots along M.L. King Boulevard on which to later construct [Multicultural Chamber] offices and a Business Solutions Center,” David Johnson, president of Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprises and the listed principal of the foundation, wrote in an email. “The building was supposed to be constructed with a subsequent grant.”

The mission of the Chamber is to help minority-owned and small businesses to get a leg up against larger businesses. Multicultural Chamber Executive Director Sherrie Gilchrist and Chamber board member John Taylor could not be reached for comment.

The Community Development Foundation Institution loaned $579,169 to the Multicultural Chamber in 2008 for the acquisitions, a city review states. The review, by City Auditor Stan Sewell, says $500,000 was paid for the two parcels, whose total assessed value was $211,000. It is unclear how the rest of the $79,169 was spent.

Johnson said Wednesday the development corporation approved the loan in September 2008. He said he was not sure why the board made the decision, but property along M.L. King Boulevard could be worth more.

“A local real estate professional has indicated that property along MLK often sells in excess of assessed value,” he said.

Johnson did not say why the loan was made for almost $80,000 more than the purchase price.

Hamilton County Assessor of Property records show the Chamber also spent $200,000 from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to buy three other parcels of land on M.L. King Boulevard during the height of the housing boom.

The Tennessee Multicultural Chamber has drawn some fire after Sewell gave City Council members a copy of his review, which highlighted concerns about financial mismanagement, extravagant salaries and travel expenses for Chamber employees and inappropriate expenditures on two of the M.L. King Boulevard properties.

The review also questions how $540,000 in federal HUD money was spent. About $200,000 was spent on purchasing land for the Business Solutions Center, while $106,000 was spent on planning, administration and project management, but there are no details of how the rest of the more than $200,000 was spent.

A spokesman for HUD in Washington, D.C., said that, in most matters dealing with questionable activity with HUD money, the department would send an auditor to review records.

An Atlanta-based HUD spokesman said the department would review Sewell’s report and have further comment today.

What’s next

On Tuesday night, Chamber board members asked the City Council for a $75,000 budget allocation, but the council refused. Council members asked the Chamber to provide an audit and answers to 18 questions raised in Sewell’s review by next Tuesday.

Chamber directors also said Tuesday night they might make an appearance at the Hamilton County Commission meeting this morning and ask for the same amount of money.

Some commissioners said Wednesday they want the same questions answered before they agree to give any money to the Chamber.

“I don’t think there’s anything they can say,” Commissioner Joe Graham said. “The need is there, but where is the proof? Where’s the proof in what they are doing?”

Commissioner Greg Beck said there is no doubt the commission wants answers.

“I think that would be universal,” he said. “The same questions the city wants, we would want them to answer.”

He said somehow the governmental bodies need to “keep the program alive.”

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the mayor met with Gilchrist and Taylor Wednesday afternoon.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” he said.

37
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Salsa said...

Another taxpayer funded scam.

July 14, 2011 at 12:05 a.m.
NorthChatter said...

No one has really out and out said it yet, but this is more than just mismanagement and/or poor accounting, this is just straight up fraud.

July 14, 2011 at 12:33 a.m.
johnnyhurst said...

Wish my po white East Chattanooga Trash self coulda got me one a them there small business loans. Or had some Trailer Trash Chamber of Commerce to help me get bids on some of that Gobment work all them good ol well connected boys get. Hmmmmmm...... That gives me an idea.... The TTCOC of Chattanooga. Has a nice ring to it anyway. These thieves didnt help anybody but themselves to all that money. They probably could have did alot to help folks out. Oh well, guess thats what happens when you have a fox guarding the hen house.

July 14, 2011 at 1:27 a.m.
librul said...

Blah, blah, blah - so when are we going to see a detailed audit of the "white" chamber? Republican patronage much?

July 14, 2011 at 1:30 a.m.
johnnyhurst said...

Wish this poor ol, East Chattanooga boy, had a Trailer Trash Chamber of Commerce to help me get contracts for some of that Government work, that all those good ol well connected boys, and minorities get. Hmmmmmm...... That gives me an idea.... The TTCOC of Chattanooga. Has a nice ring to it anyway. These individuals didnt help anybody but themselves to that money. They could have did a really good thing, and actually helped alot of people.

Multi-cultural, but only if you are black. That may sound like a racist comment, but its totally true. Thats also where me as well as alot of other people are totally turned off by this minority/multicultural thing. I mean if your from a "economically disadvantaged" demographic, and dont have connections to that piece of pie, then I believe your in the same boat as everyone else thats in your position. Whether your black, white, red, blue or green. And for the government to fund an entity that discriminates on the basis of color is against the law. These practices are unjust and in my feeble interprtation of the law, discriminatory, and if I had the money I would file a lawsuit on some damn something. Unfortuatley, I dont have the money, so I will just exercise my right to free speech, and say "This is wrong people".

July 14, 2011 at 2:29 a.m.
harrystatel said...

There once was a woman named Sherrie,

Who took taxpayer's money to make merry.

Her hands in the till

And running up bills

Spouting more cow crap than found near a dairy.

July 14, 2011 at 6:35 a.m.
fairmon said...

Why are tax payers funding either COC? What is the actual cost/ benefit ratio? It is just more government intervention and political support buying. There is nothing but philosophical justification with the majority of tax payers receiving no benefit. The chamber can and should be self sustaining through contributions and fees from those having value for it. The mayor and council like the mingling with influential members and the potential connections and influence it provides them.

July 14, 2011 at 7:20 a.m.
kevinwilson37 said...

When weighing the difference between an FHA-insured loan and a conventional mortgage, homeowners should also consider the future of home prices and mortgage rates, check the "123 Refinance" page for more

July 14, 2011 at 8:02 a.m.
klugermann said...

C'mon people! Follow the money. Instead of focusing so much attention on who spent the money, however misguided and motivated they may be, look very closely at who actually sold the property and the ties they have to the current adminstration. Follow the money...

July 14, 2011 at 9:28 a.m.
harrystatel said...

New Government Real Estate Partnership in Chattanooga

http://bit.ly/qc1sTN

July 14, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
librul said...

Johnnyhurst - you don't know what you're talking about - or whining about - which goes for most of the racist airheads in these threads. Still waiting for that detailed audit of the "white" chamber, er, good 'ole boys club.

July 14, 2011 at 9:39 a.m.
sangaree said...

PR, which one of those type organizations operating under the non-profit clause aren't frauds? The only thing Gilchrist and the MCA weren't smart enough to do is dot all their i/s and t/s. They should have known their being an organization serving primarily underserved minorities would be more scrutinized than any of the other same operating organizations.

July 14, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
johnnyhurst said...

Librul/ Obviousman. I know enough to know racism when I see it. Nothing supports accusations of racism huh? Q, Who are the Multicultural Chamber of commerce designed to help? A, Well thats based on your race. Racist group/organization. You see I WILL call it like it is, and not align myself with one political party and ALL their beliefs. Librul, your the one saying "what about the white chamber". There is no group with such a name, because its illegal to have any such group. Wait...... Im sorry are you talking about the White County Chamber of Commerce?

July 14, 2011 at 2:48 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

Hey L4F...you need to add "King" onto the "Martin Luther" comment...Martin Luther the Father of the Reformation and Martin Luther King are NOT the same!!!

I agree with most all on here about this issue. Why do we need a multicultural CC anyway? Didn't the Bessie Smith Building/Museum go thru something simular to this with the person who was head of it taking funds? Why do we always seem to be "stuck" with thieves when it comes to goverment handouts? I wonder...

Cute jingle harrystatel...

July 14, 2011 at 3:18 p.m.

I hereby nominate Jack Murrah - late of Lyndhurst Foundation, now "spending more time with family" in Birmingham, Alabama - to head Chattanooga Gay Chamber of Commerce...

July 14, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
potcat said...

This is what Newspapper Journalism is all about.

Keep up the good work.

July 14, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
eastridge8 said...

cute picture potcat...

July 14, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.
chet123 said...

EASTRIDGE,LIBERTARIAN4FREEDOM..an issue i agree with you on....somebody should be going to jail.....SHERRIE GILCHRIST SHOULD BE FIRED!!

July 14, 2011 at 3:47 p.m.
fairmon said...

I agree neither chamber should receive any tax payer funding. I don't really care how many chambers they have as long as the members fund them. Why would the city council or county commission favor the chamber over other non-profit business oriented organizations? Chambers are political activist involved in lobbying and other political activities. I wonder if any of the council members receive and financial support for their political campaigns? Or, do they get a chamber endorsement and support?

The council should review the city charter with a conservative interpretation as responsible stewards of money confiscated from citizens called taxes It may be time for an independent audit of city government finances. Where in the carter do they find the authority to construct and staff a health center providing health care to city employees? Where in the charter are they authorized to donate to an organization like the chamber? From where in the charter do they find the power to fund something like the EAC at around 2 million per year some of which goes to rent and maintain ugly sculptures around the city?

July 14, 2011 at 4:58 p.m.
harrystatel said...

Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, said the mayor met with Gilchrist and Taylor Wednesday afternoon.

“There are still a lot of unanswered questions,” he [Beeland] said.

There's been nothing but unanswered questions since Littlefield took office. What else is new?

July 14, 2011 at 6:23 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

Hey, NAACP, could you call for a federal investigation on what Sherri Gilchrist did with this money...some of which was Federal funds? I mean, it was supposed to help minority business people but it appears that they and the taxpayers have just been ripped off! Aren't you going to something?!

July 14, 2011 at 6:29 p.m.
fairmon said...

obviousman,

I agree there is no basis for calling either chamber racist. It is not appropriate for the council to grant either of them tax money. The council acts as though they have unlimited authority to do as they please with tax dollars and to confiscate more as they desire in order to fund their rich country club style management. Their mantra is "don't complain, we are here to help and take care of you". What a bunch of crap they put out.

July 14, 2011 at 11:26 p.m.
johnnyhurst said...

Obviousman. I do see your point, but if there were an organisation that existed to strictly help whites, it would be considered a racist organisation. Double standard. And I have a problem with that. Just like by me by me expressing my opposition to such groups, many consider that racism in itself.

July 15, 2011 at 12:07 a.m.
FreedomJournal said...

NO HUNGER AMONG THE GREEDY? (Taken from the FreedomJournal Archives)

In the name of God Master, of the Universe, Ruler of the earth

Greetings Brethren,

Peace be unto you. The recession listed as economic continues to mock a depression and throw cruel stones at poverty and the Po and poor. Is it true that where there is greed there is no hunger? Where you find greed do you also find hunger, lust and an obsession for things material? Rest assured only God will look after the poor the Po and the economically distressed. Since their very existence on earth God has been with us.

The Lust & Obsession For Money Will End (28 March 2009)

These are sad and dark days and it is for sure there will always be a record keeper regarding the transgressions against humanity. Hunger is not only akin to the World that is listed as Third. Hunger came to John’s back door.

In the world that looked as a distinction between God there was a man that the world by its standards thought was poor. (Excerpts from “The Parable of the Rich Po Man, Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press).

Meanwhile the poor and Po catch a new breath as many lines of help are now flooded and closed. Surely there should be more in the pot with the multitudes that seek help but the opposite has taken over with and obvious spillover to the rich.

He described it as Po as he had not the resources to add another o or r, so he was Po John are just Po John. As he made various transitions upon the land the hand of God rested on his shoulders as he knew not that he would come but God knew.

                                            Thus greedy money barons sop the high hog gravy

with caviar biscuits soaked in diamond sweat and the mercury fumes of those lost in the metallic mines of the world that lust for gold. But as the poor sweat and rake in the harvest the price goes up with the recession.

Cont.

July 15, 2011 at 7:54 a.m.
FreedomJournal said...

Cont. Part 2 Excerpts Taken From FreedomJournal Press Archives on The Greedy

Meanwhile he never knew as he walked, ran and crawled toward his conversion that he was Po. He heard the word in a blues songs as his brethren cried out about the experiences of being Po and Black.

But I saw John who hungered for the Truth of the Word. He said all other things will then fall in place. Where there is faith there is a great thirst and desire for Truth as God would have it. Those stuffed with pride and gold dust wait but not long.

But as he was blessed to see the Father and embrace Christ he began to count his blessings. These blessings were counted as riches as he stored them in the heart not the bank. Was this man Po and Rich? Just how can you be Po and Rich?

It is written that there will come a day when all the Hunger, the search for bread and butter and the attempted denial of water to replenish the soul and body will end. No money price has even been needed to get to Peace and Paradise. Nor has greed been the rallying,

Just what is Po? Is being Poor the same thing as being Po? Is there a different poverty for some people? Can anyone that embraces Christ as their Savior with a sincere heart be Po (Poor)?

Cry for the saints. Money beloved cannot buy everything in life. Gold and diamonds sent to impress the dowry for a young woman could not buy her love. Nor can those that think they can pay their way to Glory buy God and Heaven is not the place for greedy.

Just how do the riches of God and Christ feed the Po? What is the good in knowing God and Christ and being what the world describes as Poor? John, now rich noted that the world does not ascribe anything to the righteous. Our inspiration and authority comes from God, Christ and the Bible. We also look to prayer, resting on faith and patience.

There will come a Great Day for all that remain in righteousness. Along the way the Word will feed us and we will find the joy, comfort and hope in Christ.

Carl A. Patton, FreedomJournal Press www.freedomjournalpress.com>

chet123 said...

IF THE TAX PAYERS OF CHATTANOOGA THINK THEY GOT BURNT....ASK THE CHURCH MEMBERS OF NEW UNITED CHURCH......THEY NOT ONLY GOT BURNT....THEY WERE CREMATED TO ASHES BY SHERRIE GILCHRIST

July 16, 2011 at 12:16 p.m.
chet123 said...

HOW SHERRIE GILCHRIST CONTINUE TO GET AWAY....THIS REALLY AMAZING....MEDIA NEED TO DO IT'S HOMEWORK....DOESNT TAKE A ROCKET SCIENTIST!...WHY IS SHE HIDING...MAYBE THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME....NOR SECOND NOR THIRD NOR FOURTH....QUESTIONS NEED TO BE ANSWERED...WHY DID THEY PICK HER FROM THE BEGINING.....

July 16, 2011 at 12:25 p.m.
chet123 said...

LIBERTARIAN4FREEDOM...YOU SAID SHOULDNT THE BLACK CHURCH HELP......THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST SAID LIBERTARIAN4FREEDOM....THE CHURCH DONT EXIST FOR THAT PURPOSE...TO PUT PEOPLE IN BUSINESS....DO YOUR CHURCH EXIST FOR THAT PURPOSE....CHURCHED IS OR SHOULD BE IN THE BUSINESS OF SALVATION HOPE YOUR CHURCH IS DURING THAT ..IF NOT NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU THINK THE WAY YOU DO.....MAYBE YOUR CHURCH TAX-EXEMPT STATUS NEED TO BE LOOKED INTO BRO

July 17, 2011 at 3:27 p.m.
chet123 said...

LIBERTARIAN4FREEDOM....THE CHURCH PRIMARY FUNCTION BASE ON THE BIBLE IS TO WORSHIP GOD...SECONDLY SERVE HUMANITY(LIBRAL LOL LOL).....AND IT MUST BE DONE IN GODLY SPIRIT...THE CHURCH MUST BE CAUTION IN OVER REACHING OR HAVING PARTNERSHIP WITH SECULAR ORGANIZATIONS OR POLITICIANS...IT IS A BALNCING ACT BECAUSE THE CHURCH CANT ALLOW HERSELF TO BE INDEPTED OR DEPENDENT TO GROUPS OR INDIVIDUAL THAT MAY COMPROMISE THE BASIC PRINCIPLE OF CHRIST TEACHING.....

LIBERTARIAN....YOU SAY PEOPLE TELL YOU BLACK CHURCHES ARE THE CENTER OF THE COMMUNITY..I SAY TO YOU THE WHITE CHURCH ALSO IS THE CENTER OF THE COMMUNITY....THAT WHY I KNOW THE CHURCHES IN SODDY IS SECRETLY BEHIND CHEERING RHONDA THURMAN

YOU SAID WHAT ABOUT THE BLACK CHURCH..??.. THE BLACK CHURCH AND THE WHITE CHURCH NEED TO STAY AWAY FROM SCANDLE!!!

ALTHOUGH THE MODERN CHURCH ACT AS A FINANCIAL INSTITUTION,,THIS IS DANGEROUS TERRITORY,,,,OR AS INVESTOR ON WALL STREET(NEVER KNOW WHERE THAT MONEY GOING--MAYBE DIAMOND MINES IN POOR COUNTRY THAT PAYS SLAVE WAGES..AND UTILIZED CHILD LABOR)....THIS IS NOT CHRISTAIN PRINCIPLE....NOR SHOULD THE CHURCH BECOME OBLIGATED TO POLITICIAN OR TO SOME RICH AND GREEDY GUY(USING CHURCH FOR TAX DEDUCTION,RECIPROCITY MOTIVE OR QUID PRO QUO) WHO HAVE DONATED A MILLION DOLLARS TO THE NEW FELLOW-SHIP HALL.

IF THE BLACK CHURCH HAD LOAN MONEY TO MULTI-CHAMBER FOR THAT PURPOSE..THE BLACK CHURCH WOULD HAVE A BLACK CLOUD HANGING OVER IT

IF YOU WANT TO SAVE THE CHRISTIAN MOVEMENT FROM BEING TRODDEN ON.....ITS MUST NOT BECOME A COUNTRY CLUBS....BUT A HOLY BUILDING

July 18, 2011 at 11:10 a.m.
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