published Saturday, July 30th, 2011

Serious questions on Multicultural Chamber

It is troubling whenever there is any suspicion of misuse or mismanagement of money, but the concern is even greater when part of that money comes from taxpayers.

Difficult questions have been raised about city, county and federal funds that have been provided over the years to the Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce.

The Multicultural Chamber -- which is not affiliated with the more familiar Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce -- came under local scrutiny when the Times Free Press found that the Multicultural Chamber was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on its office and to pay its employees, but far less on programs to advance its goal of helping develop minority businesses. There were also apparent discrepancies and omissions in the Multicultural Chamber's budget requests.

Hamilton County and the city of Chattanooga appropriately have declined to provide new funding to the Multicultural Chamber while those serious questions linger.

In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has opened its own inquiry into funding that it has provided to the Multicultural Chamber.

In particular, the federal agency wants the local organization to account for how it has spent a $545,000 federal grant, or to account for any portion of the grant that has not yet been spent. The money was supposed to go toward a "Business Solutions Center" on M.L. King Boulevard, but the facility has not been built. HUD wants to find out the status of that project and when it is expected to be completed.

Also being probed -- by the FBI -- is a nearly $580,000 loan from the Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution to the Multicultural Chamber. The chamber bought two properties on M.L. King with the loan and is behind on the payments. In addition, far more was spent to buy the properties than what they were apparently worth, according to a review by the city.

Responses by officials with the Multicultural Chamber to questions about the use of the grant and loan have not cleared things up.

For the sake of all involved -- especially the taxpayers -- we hope those issues and other matters surrounding the Multicultural Chamber can be resolved in a way that shows all government funding has been used properly. Meanwhile, Hamilton County, the city of Chattanooga and the federal government are right to scrutinize that funding.

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joetheplumber said...

I have troble with this whole idea for two Chambers. If there needs to be division of two why don't we support two seperate school systems, two seperate sides of the track, two lunch counters, two sectioons of the bus, and on and on and on? Why do you ibsist that we keep seperating everything?

July 30, 2011 at 7:44 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

We notice that the Free Press hasn't yet summoned the courage to stop supporting Karl Rove's US Chamber Commerce. We all know that the US Chamber, like Chattanooga's franchise of the Chamber of Commerce, is a front organization for Republican money laundering.

We know that Chattanooga's Chamber of Commerce money goes to buy politicians ad time now that the SCOTUS Citizens United decision has handed corporations a free pass on systematic crime.

We see that the editorial staff on the Free Press side supports corrupt politicians like Mayor Littlefield and City Councilman Manny Rico and City Auditor Sewell, who are abusing the public trust to provide themselves and their political party with direct cash infusions of government money.

It's not socialism when Republicans do it to buy themselves TV ads.

The FBI needs to stop hiring one-year lawyers who corrode the Justice Department's integrity with self-serving political attacks. Anyone who's worked directly with the FBI knows just how rabid some of those newbies are about scoring the words "crime fighter" on their resume, particularly in a way that gets that Temporary Agent all the credit.

Meanwhile, local Republicans continue to pipe government funds into their own ad campaigns. That includes the misuse of $60,000 in federal taxes as a part of a $328,000 website payoff, which the FBI should have experienced agents with at least ten years of government accounting service look into. That $328,000 website goes to a design firm with ties to former mayor Jon Kinsey. It's much like the other $100K jobs that have been handed out in City and County government ever since they conspired together last November to get Mayor Coppinger appointed after Ramsey ran off and deserted his post without being properly relieved.

We understand that the Free Press doesn't have the editorial courage to stand up against the usury of the Republican Party. We also see that other local leaders directly state that they know the City Auditor's claims are inflated, as stated in past issues of the Chattanooga News Chronicle.

We had no idea we needed to turn to the News Chronicle to get journalism that shows both sides of the story. Maybe you could emulate them and get an interview with people who have actually seen the figures. Oh, wait, your people were in the same meetings. You just habitually ignored those important mitigating facts to insult in writing people who run a small non-profit that runs against your personal political interests.

Maybe you can get a Journalism award for conspiratorial graft.

After all, how would people like Bob Corker's right hand man keep a $100K County job? We notice you didn't give a peep of defense to the five deputies who were fired to pay for Bob Corker's man to get an executive job at taxpayer expense.

Can you print a Bible verse next week that shows us how supporting white collar crime in government is good for newspaper editorials?

July 30, 2011 at 9:44 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I'm sorry, I should not have just written that I think you engage in conspiratorial graft. I don't actually believe that you are intelligent enough to plan out and participate in a conspiracy. Instead, I believe your response on this fabricated and self-serving issue has been based entirely on intellectual incompetence and unprofessional judgment. That's not quite the same as conspiracy. It's mostly incompetence.

The politicians involved are clearly acting in a coordinated and self-paying manner that's abusing their office, but your editorial staff's actions aren't quite up to their level of thinking and planning. Instead, your judgment calls have been one step below their leech-like conduct.

Intellectually, you're still more of a harmless planarian. Not quite parasitic, but a small worm really only capable of responding to large shocks of energy in the environment.

But, whatever gets you paid, I guess.

July 30, 2011 at 10:08 a.m.
librul said...

328 - you kick a$$. And you are being generous backing off the charge of conspiratorial graft. There are plenty of people who will pick up that banner. There's little the "News-Free" Press could do to negate that charge - especially printing Bible verses. Anybody familiar with it knows there are hundreds of verses they wouldn't dare to print.

Still waiting for that detailed audit of the "white" chamber.

July 30, 2011 at 11:20 p.m.
chet123 said...

TOO MANY QUESTIONS NOT BEING ASKED BY MEDIA.....ONE OF THE QUESTION IS HOW SHERRIE GILCHRIST GET TO BE CEO????? MEDIA HAVE EVADED THAT QUESTION......WHO IS SHE....BLACK COMMUNITY DONT KNOW HER AND SHE'S FROM CHATTANOOGA....FROM EMMA WHEELER HOME PROJECT WHY DIDNT CHAMBER RUN A SEARCH???? GOOD OLD BOYS/GALS SYSTEMS.....THIS SOUND LIKE THE HAMILTON SCHOOL BOARD THIS IS WHY YOU DONT NEED NEPOTISM...AND THIS WAS NEPOTISM!!!SOMEONE DO SOME INVESTIGATION.....TAX PAYER MONEY AT STAKE!!!!! I CALL IT AS I SEE IT.....DONT CARE ABOUT RACE WHEN EVIL IS PRESENT

August 2, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
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