Story updated: June 10, 2011
A continuing saga, the case, 2011-00024 in the Jackson County Circuit Court, Garry Morgan vs Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation, managing organization of the Scottsboro Boys Museum. Latest article in Scottsboro's Daily Sentinel: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_61396572-9219-11e0-abab-001cc4c03286.html
This case is about accountability, the proper management of public and private funds and the disclosure of financial and business records of the foundation and the relationship of its President and Scottsboro Boys Museum Director, Curator and check signer Ms. Sheila Washington to the foundation. As of this writing, all the requested records have not been provided. The question arises, has there been a misappropriation and mismanagement of public and private funds? Answer-YES.
Meanwhile, some members of the Board of Directors concocted a scheme to remove myself and the one other person on the board who were demanding accountability of the foundation board and Ms. Washington. Unfortunately the purpose of the Board of Directors of the Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation, managing body of the Scottsboro Boys Museum, has become confused and reversed; instead of insuring the accountability of museum officials, the board is controlled by the Founder, Museum Director, Curator, Foundation President and check signer, Ms. Sheila Washington. This is a serious conflict of interest and poor management practice.
4 board members have resigned within the past year due to accountability issues and violations of the bylaws, good business practice and the laws relating to the management of non-profit foundations.
Early in 2010 Ms. Washington claimed a conflict of interest on the part of a former Board Member who was serving as Treasurer and also served as Vice President of the Foundation, there was no conflict but Ms. Washington insisted that he resign his position as Treasurer. The former treasurer did step down as treasurer, the current treasurer RESIGNED - yes I said resigned, he resigned in August 2010 as a result of my records request and written requests toward issues of accountability, but still serves as treasurer at the behest of Ms. Washington. His resignation was confirmed in December 2010 when the secretary showed the resignation document. The former treasurer was honest and beyond reproach and could not be controlled by Ms. Washington, not so of the current (resigned) treasurer who follows Ms. Washington's every order, to include the order to co-sign every check along with her without the approval of the Board of Directors, foundation checks require 2 signatures.
The current (resigned) treasurer has made several derogatory racial remarks concerning white board members, these comments were made in emails sent to board members. The (resigned) treasurer attempted to remove white board members from the board of directors in a scheme brought forward in the form of a motion, a scheme which I strongly objected while i was still on the Board of Directors.
Members of the current Board of Directors have attempted to cover-up the fact of the resignation of the current (resigned) treasurer. When the issue of the resignation was brought forward at a board meeting along with the issue of financial accountability and the disclosure of records, I was threatened and told by Ms. Washington at a board meeting, "I will get rid of you."
Checks were written to Ms. Washington directly without board approval, in 2010 amounting to $1360.00, records reflect this fact. Many blank checks were written in amounts between $20 to $70 in 2010 and 2011. Blank, as the pay to line is blank, the bank cleared the checks. Purchases for goods and services were made at stores which were not approved by the Board of Directors, receipts were not provided for the transactions, nor have they been provided now, although the Court has ordered documents and records be provided without interference. There are numerous checks cashed at Walmart and other local businesses for goods purchased, no board approval, no receipts provided, amount since June 2010 till Dec 31 2010- $2278.75, goods purchased by the Director/Curator, Foundation President/check writer Ms. Sheila Washington with no authorization for purchase from the museum board of directors and no receipts provided; apparently the goods purchased were in part or whole for the personal use of Ms. Washington.
Inappropriate expenditure of funds for personal use (Federal Standards) extended to Ms. Washington and sons recent trip to New York for attendance at a show honoring Susan Stroman, Choreographer/Director of the "Scottsboro Boys Musical." Personal items were purchased such as makeup, clothing, stereo headphones and trips to the Ripley's Museum, including a ride on the New York Sky-ride from funds donated for the explicit purpose of travel to promote the Scottsboro Boys Museum mission. Ms Washington's son was allowed travel as he was to be hired as a photographer. There were no contracts for service or appropriate IRS forms issued for Ms. Washington's son expenditures. There were no prior approvals from the board for specific purchases or fund expenditure limits for the New York trip. Ms. Washington withdrew $4500.00, from a $5000 donation from the bank. Records provided demonstrate $4000.00 was expended to include personal use items previously described. There is a question of approximately $500.00 missing from the $4500.00 withdrawal. I raised the question concerning the proper contract and IRS documentation for Ms. Washington's son, it was shot down by the disbarred attorney stating, "it was not necessary at this time, our accountant will handle this situation come tax time." There has been no required receipt provided to the donor of the funds donated to the foundation. Documentation of receipt to the donor has not been provided to me concerning this donation as required by court order. There is another $1300 donation by the same donor in December 2010 of last year which there is no accountability of the donation nor receipts for disbursement of the money.
It appears the total amount of the misappropriation is between $3000.00 and $4000.00, it may be more or less than $3500.00, without receipts it is difficult to determine items purchased, dates and accountability for the items purchased.
There are no membership/donation lists with receipts issued to contributors/donors, no dates of donations, check numbers etc., a complete failure of accountability.
The failure of the foundation's management to provide records as ordered by the court is a contemptuous action, the court has been requested to find the involved parties in contempt. A scheme was concocted by members of the Board of Directors to violate the Court Order and to cover up wrong doing by Ms. Washington, Ms. Caffey ( a disbarred attorney) and others on the Board of Directors, the scheme consisted of several parts. 1) Removal of organizational membership by changing the bylaws and articles of incorporation (In the former bylaws membership had irrevocable rights, the disbarred attorney and Ms. Washington concocted the scheme to prevent accountability, probably thinking removing membership would prevent the board of director members removed from having rights of inspection of the records, the court spoiled that portion of the scheme.); 2) removal of individual board of director members requiring accountability and accountable actions; 3) delay tactics and deceit, deceit by the Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation board representatives which have even extended to the motions filed in the court case and a continuing string of deceitful, untruthful comments to media; 4) don't provide anything unless forced by the court.
There has been a request for the Department of Public Examiners to Review the the Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation's records and accounts. The foundation has received a substantial portion of their contributions from public fund sources, as such the Alabama Department of Public Examiners may examine the records of the foundation. There is no scheduled date that I am aware related to an audit of the foundation by the Department of Public Examiners.
Records provided demonstrate: The approximate amount of donations, according to bank statements for the year 2010, was $29,000.00. This amount does not include the $75,000.00, donations from the Legislative Delegation 1/2 and the anonymous donor 1/2, for the purchase of Joyce Chapel;. for the year 2010 there were less than 20% of receipts provided for approximately $25,000.00 in expenditures. Records thus far disclosed demonstrate gross mismanagement and misappropriation of public and private funds. It is also important to note there are errors in the IRS Form 1023, application for non-profit status, which was provided me on June 3, 2011, requested several months earlier. This form is required to be produced upon request by Federal Law. Current Tax fillings, Form 990, non-profit 501c3 Tax Form, are also required to be produced by Federal Law. Both documents are required to be present at the place of business and supplied upon request. The Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation is a 501c3 Non-Profit organization operating the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.
In closing, there are resolutions to this problem, resolutions which have been presented to Ms. Washington and others on the foundation's Board of Directors. The Scottsboro Multicultural Foundation and the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center is a needed educational and organizational institution in Scottsboro, Alabama. However, under current management it cannot continue to exist due to mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.
The resolution - specific recognition to Ms. Washington as the Founder, no one may ever take that away from her, recognition of others who have made this project possible., without the TEAM, the Scottsboro Boys Museum would not have occurred. A new Board of Directors must be established, a nine member board of directors with staggered terms, 2 years, 3 years 4 years to begin. After initial terms the Board of director terms should be for 4 years. A new board will immediately elect new officers. The allocations for the board should originate from the following sources with the following terms: 1 citizen appointed by the Scottsboro City Council, 1 citizen appointed by the Jackson County Commission, 1 employee appointed from the Scottsboro or Jackson County School System, 1 citizen appointed by the Legislative Delegation Office, each citizen serving a 4 year term; 2 from the Alabama University System, each serving a 3 year term; reinstate the general membership, 2 members from the general membership serving 2 years and 1 member from the current Foundation Board of Directors serving 2 years. This suggestion has been presented to the current board, this is a resolution. I fear that if this resolution is not adopted it will be the end of this project, the foundation nor the Scottsboro Boys Museum can continue to operate under the current mismanagement and allow funds to be inappropriately utilized. If change does not occur, funding will disappear and the museum will be closed, this does not take into account any criminal punishments.
It is my prayers and wishes the Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center continue. Many people have placed their personal efforts and generously donated money for this project. The Scottsboro Boys Museum does not represent one person nor does it demonstrate one persons efforts or quest for glory. Instead, the Scottsboro Boys Museum must be an educational tool to assist the community and our nation to realize and overcome the destructive forces of racism. The museum must be a tool in the recognition of the struggles of the Scottsboro Defendants and why we as a people can never allow this type of injustice to occur again.
Part of the struggle is about the truth, whether it be about facing the truth of our racist history, the truth of personal prejudice, the truth in realization of the necessity to overcome personal racial prejudice and fight for equality, the truth of suffering of a whole race of people at the hands of evil men, or the truth of facing the realities of bad management, the reality of the truth concerning the possible end of this wonderful project.
The Scottsboro Boys Museum is important to our community and our nation. The bottom line of the truth and reality of this situation, yes the Scottsboro Boys Museum is needed, it has the capability to exist as a world wide tool facilitating the ending of racism, however, management must change for the museum to be successful and reach its potential. Sustainability has always been a question, sustainability will not be possible with poor management and misappropriation of funds.