By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
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By David Futch
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By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
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Goldberg and her staff ignored repeated calls from the Weeklyover the course of several days.
Goldberg's apparent reluctance to answer questions involving McKinley or the street fair may stem from a recent controversy over her staff's involvement with El Centro Del Pueblo, where McKinley is board chairman. In a column published last year, New Times political writer Jill Stewart took Goldberg to task for attempting to direct $450,000 in federal community-improvement funds to El Centro, to help them secure new quarters in Echo Park. Local residents complained that Goldberg ignored their priorities for spending the grant funds, and their frustration turned to anger when they learned that Goldberg community adviser Conrado Terrazas sat on the El Centro board. Local activists alerted city officials, and officials from both the City Attorney and the Mayor's Office pressed Terrazas to either quit his job with Goldberg or quit the board of El Centro. Goldberg's office soon reshuffled Terrazas to another department, saying that he had been transfered as "part of a normal staff rotation."
FOR ALL ITS INCREASES IN FEES -- booth operators pay as much as $750 to sell their wares -- and admission charges, the Sunset Junction Neighborhood Alliance reports to the IRS that it has made only a thin profit on the fair.
As a private nonprofit, the Alliance is required to file an annual IRS form 990, a public reporting of expenses and revenue. According to its 1997 filing, the Alliance generated over $150,000 at the fair that year, but netted after expenses only $17,000. By contrast, in 1993, a smaller-scale Sunset festival cleared more than $61,000 to finance youth projects.
There was no breakdown in 1997 of revenue from admissions, beer sales, booth fees or other revenues.
Alliance expenditures were reported in slightly more detail. According to the IRS forms, McKinley spent $76,580 on his youth-services work at Tsunami, as well as on mural projects around the neighborhood and helping staff after-school sports programs at Virgil Middle School at First Street and Vermont Avenue.
McKinley was not working alone, however. Some of his staff at Tsunami come courtesy of Marshall High, which refers students who earn community-service credit by working the coffee bar or doing office duties. Students also work the fair, as do at-risk gang kids referred by El Centro del Pueblo. McKinley also provides jobs at Tsunami for five young people in the summer, with their salaries paid by a federally funded summer youth-employment project.
At the same time, since 1995 the Alliance has received more than $100,000 in grants and financial assistance from other government agencies for its youth programs. Services offered by the Alliance include in-house tutoring, painting murals, planting trees along Sunset and installing a community garden. Virgil Middle School phys-ed teacher John White said that McKinley provides his school with soccer referees for four months out of the year.
Efforts to learn more about the Alliance by talking with board members were unsuccessful. The board includes Sandra Figueroa-Villa, a staffer at El Centro, who did not return repeated calls for comment; Jesse Villa, who shares the same address as Figueroa-Villa, who could not be reached; and Marisol Lara, a former administrative assistant to Figueroa-Villa, who has left the program and could not be reached. Ken Vannice, listed as treasurer for the Alliance, moved to Portland, Oregon, in 1996.
Contacted in Portland, Vannice said McKinley has done an excellent job with the Alliance. "I think the center is doing a lot of good in the community, and that takes a certain amount of resources," Vannis said.