Open Letter to PTSSD

This is my second email. I also copied every non-profit in the river wards, Rep. Taylor and Councilman Squilla's office.

Dear PTSSD Board:

This is my second email to the whole Board of the Penn Treaty SSD requesting confirmation that the Board has indeed entertained and authorized a grant and disbursement of funds, as reported to be in the amount of $74,000 towards improvements to Bodine Street first proposed by Mike Driscoll, owner of Finnigan's Wake, at 537 North 3rd Street and subsequently passed by Council for the striking of a public street into a private alley for a private for-profit enterprise.

In addition to this, the Northern Liberties Neighborhood Association felt it necessary to disperse this disturbing news to its members which has been widely read in the community. In its most recent mailing to Northern Liberties residents, to wit:

Quote:
Finnigan's Wake. Neighbors expressed concern and displeasure at Council's passage, at Councilman Squilla's behest, of bills legalizing the striking of the 500 block of Bodine St. and large outdoor balconies covering Spring Garden St., for Finnigan's Wake.

This week, Councilman Squilla visited the NLNA's Board of Directors meeting, where we reiterated the neighbors' concerns. He reiterated his statement that Finnigan's will not construct the balconies unless or until there's an agreement with the community. He also committed not to put through similar legislation in the future unless a community agreement already is in place.

Finally, many neighbors have approached us asking about a grant from the Penn Treaty Special Services District to Finnigan's Wake. (The SSD disperses annual funds from SugarHouse casino, and has generously funded the NLNA's most recent phase of its Community Center renovation). Our understanding is that the SSD has granted $74,000 to Finnigan's Wake for work on Bodine Street.

I should not have to be one to remind the Penn Treaty SSD that this type of transaction is highly suspect unless the bar has formally promised a community use of what is soon to become private property. If it is to be closed, limited, restricted, cordoned-off or constricted away from the beneficiaries that PTSSD has sworn in its incorporation to serve, that makes this disbursement to Mr. Driscoll a taxable gift no matter what type of entity receives the funds, either for-profit or non-profit.

I have reviewed your most recent publicly-available income tax return on GuideStar for TY2009, which reveals you are structured as a non-profit private foundation. I have also reviewed the Sugarhouse CBA and incorporation of PTSSD which was filed in New York State: http://www.comptroller.nyc.gov/bureaus/ ... useCBA.pdf

The IRS specifically has these overarching guidelines concerning your type of entity. I suggest you take these guidelines to heart:
1. Restrictions on self-dealing between private foundations and their substantial contributors and other disqualified persons;
2. Requirements that the foundation annually distribute income for charitable purposes;
3. Limits on their holdings in private businesses;
4. Provisions that investments must not jeopardize the carrying out of exempt purposes; and
5. Provisions to assure that expenditures further exempt purposes.
http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable ... ,00a.html/

It is my opinion that this type of disbursement does not meet the IRS guidelines for your type of entity as the striking of Bodine Street for Finnigan's expansion and conversion to a commercial use can hardly constitute a cause worthy of a charitable contribution either directly or in an ancillary fashion. It could be ameliorated if the funds are going into an over-arching commercial improvement project, but a sole distribution for a single property owner for non-public property would not meet those conditions. Or, in exchange for the funds, the property is held in an exempt entity and access to the property is not constricted to a private commercial use (namely, for Finnigan's Wake next door), provided Finnigan's has a covenant that with such an entity in control of the private alley permitting use of the alley at the pleasure of the entity which owns it. Even if such an entity were erected, it's doubtful that anyone in the river wards would consider that entity to be legitimate.

If this news is truly the case, then I will inform you today that I will prepare and file IRS Form 13909 - Tax Exempt Organization Referral requesting a review of the Special Services District to answer the question of treatment over this transaction, and similarly, IRS Form 3949-A for Finnigan's Wake as being the recipient and benefactor of this disbursement with an additional question of tax treatment and any other entity created for this purpose. I will file these documents as your fiscal year draws to a close so that you have time to account for these transactions and all entities involved consider and book their treatment.

If this news turns out not to be the case, I implore you to announce the Board's position to the community in the most expeditious fashion possible. This type of disbursement is not only alarming, but it would completely destroy the PTSSD's reputation as a charitable entity for the betterment of the community.

I await your reply.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

admiral's picture

where is the "LIKE" button?

It's a trap!!!

HAZMAT's picture

Yes great job man ! I like you even with that crazy green hair lol .....

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

stein's picture

+1

Ken Milano (before he went and edited this comment out to avoid the consequences of having wrote it) wrote:
I don’t have much sympathy for renters, for me, they are non citizens

dan

grumble, grumble, rabble rousing outside agitators, grumble, grumble

Godwin was basically a Nazi.

Catphilly's picture

This is awesome!!! You are my new Hero (warning: this could be a plus or minus ... lol)!!

Kat's picture

Dayum! This was great.

Kenzo's picture

I know they received my e-mail. There is still no response. I guess they're going to go radio silent. I am not the only one asking questions a BUNCH of people are.

So much for transparency.

This really sucks. Up until now... forget the Spirit donation... PTSSD has been giving money to some truly wonderful causes and supporting neighborhood institutions and new ventures.

Then this comes along and ruins all of it. I'm very disappointed.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

FPDA's picture

I love the letter. Maybe I would have included something about their personal fiduciary and legal liability as board members, but that might be because I like to put the screws on quickly and tightly. Nice work!

dmandy's picture

I just spoke to someone involved with FACT who asked me not to use their name just yet and they were told that no money has been given to Finnigan's wake. they also said that the board are aware of the reaction to this grant and are deciding what to do.

HAZMAT's picture

dmandy wrote:
I just spoke to someone involved with FACT who asked me not to use their name just yet and they were told that no money has been given to Finnigan's wake. they also said that the board are aware of the reaction to this grant and are deciding what to do.

I know what they should do is ... RESPOND TO THE ACCUSATION !

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

dmandy's picture

HAZMAT wrote:
dmandy wrote:
I just spoke to someone involved with FACT who asked me not to use their name just yet and they were told that no money has been given to Finnigan's wake. they also said that the board are aware of the reaction to this grant and are deciding what to do.

I know what they should do is ... RESPOND TO THE ACCUSATION !

The problem with the board responding is that some of them are away for the holiday.

snailgem's picture

if the allegations were completely baseless they would have responded by now: "this rumor has no base in fact as we never considered giving... etc"
now they need to powwow to see how they can get out of this mess.

snailgem's picture

dmandy wrote:
HAZMAT wrote:
dmandy wrote:
I just spoke to someone involved with FACT who asked me not to use their name just yet and they were told that no money has been given to Finnigan's wake. they also said that the board are aware of the reaction to this grant and are deciding what to do.

I know what they should do is ... RESPOND TO THE ACCUSATION !

The problem with the board responding is that some of them are away for the holiday.

"we are aware of the issue and will respond as soon as the board can convene... etc"

Kenzo's picture

The president of PTSSD has been peppered with questions all day today. So has the president of NLNA, who is infuriated by this (and he learned of this before any of us did).

There has been no walking-back of this at all so far, and I have not received a response from anyone that my information is false.

If someone from PTSSD could come up and say "Kenzo and Somers are ehffing liars, this is totally not true and I don't know WHERE he gets this stuff and he's just a rabble rouser", then fine. I would rather take a pie in the face than for this VERY highly inappropriate distribution of money to be true.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

Kenzo's picture

Please PTSSD. Tell us this isn't true and you aren't doing this, and this was all just a bad dream and a really bad hoax. Whatever. Just tell us you're not a slush fund.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

HAZMAT's picture

unfortunately they seem to be just that Kenzo ..

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

Kotter's picture

Some users on here should work at the cemetery...Bunch of gravediggers.

Heavens to Betsy

Kenzo's picture

Kotter wrote:
Some users on here should work at the cemetery...Bunch of gravediggers.

Hey you don't like this place, go cancel your account and stop reading. Apparently you feel compelled to sit here and keep clicking refresh because something about us "losers" interests you enough that you want to continue reading.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

HAZMAT's picture

Kotter wrote:
Some users on here should work at the cemetery...Bunch of gravediggers.

Go dig up some intelligence !

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

Kenzo's picture

HAZMAT wrote:
Kotter wrote:
Some users on here should work at the cemetery...Bunch of gravediggers.

Go dig up some intelligence !

WIN!

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

HAZMAT's picture

Kotter wrote:
R u dating Kenso? Seems there some kind of tryst going on..

Actually I have respect for Kenzo and really appreciate what he brings to the table ! not like yourself just another empty bowl of nonsense !!! if you have nothing constructive to bring then please do your self a favor and stay mute !!!!!

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

Kenzo's picture

Kotter, you're not in the majority on this.

I go gamble at Sugarhouse, although not very frequently. Part of my blackjack and craps losses wind its way into PTSSD's piggybank, which I support.

I was also never against Sugarhouse opening its doors. Do I like slots barns? No actually they suck, and the table games have minimums that are too high for my blood and since the casino is so small they can be tight on the slots and you have to wait in lines at the busy tables. They don't even got the version of Texas Hold-Em dealer poker that I like.

And I support EVERY. SINGLE. THING. PTSSD has spent its money on, even though the Spirit computer buy was kinda iffy. But this particular transaction... THIS is absolutely not appropriate by anyone's stretch of the imagination.

So I don't know if your "gravedigger" comment is a veiled death threat or what---but you can take my advice and ES&D (you figure out what that means).

I might be a chain-smoker, but I'm no fan of smoke-filled rooms. If PTSSD is open and transparent, then they need to step up to the plate and explain/dispel this information that has obviously triggered a reaction in NLNA, it's very disturbing enough for me to repeat it, and these aren't some little forum trolls who are standing by this information... one is a neighborhood leader and the other is a real estate mogul.

And I don't see anyone coming out with their FULL CHRISTIAN NAME out in public and refuting or even confirming this.

I am standing by my posts until PTSSD can show it is a community player. I would rather look like a fool and an idiot than any of this stuff being true or partially true.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

Atomic Larry's picture

you're a good man Kenzo. I'd really like to get the facts before jumping to conclusions but, you're right, this one needs a closer look. Lets cut them a bit of slack regarding a response as it is a popular vacation week. However, I'll also be really disappointed if this turns out to be true.

Kenzo's picture

I will sit here and eat everything I've posted and don't mind looking like I am off my rocker if it's totally false and you're right Lar.

We'll just have to wait and see.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

2014 york's picture

why keep responding to Kotter? It's pretty clear that's what fuels him/her

Coder's picture

Kenzo has done nothing except things to benefit this community since his appearance here on the board, and in the neighborhood.
I appreciate all his hard work to make the place I live better. Whichever way this thing turns out, I'm glad there is someone like Kenzo in our corner. Thanks, Kenzo. Remind me to buy you a beer, next time I see you out.

"No no! You don't ask me questions! You are a rabbit! I am a human!"

Atomic Larry's picture

Coder wrote:
Kenzo has done nothing except things to benefit this community since his appearance here on the board, and in the neighborhood.
I appreciate all his hard work to make the place I live better. Whichever way this thing turns out, I'm glad there is someone like Kenzo in our corner. Thanks, Kenzo. Remind me to buy you a beer, next time I see you out.

never had the pleasure of meeting Kenzo but I also wholeheartedly agree. You wont have to remind me to buy the beer though!

fishtownfilly's picture

Simply the Best!! Takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, like Kenzo does. So delighted to know you.

Keep Smiling Beautiful Ones, the World Needs Your Light.

Kenzo's picture

The rumor is true:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/161528385.html?&c=n

And a board member talks to a reporter, but won't return my email. So much for transparency and openness.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

HAZMAT's picture

Mike Driscoll, a Democratic committeeman who runs Finnigan's Wake, NICE BACK SCRATCHING ,NOW IF WE COULD GET RID OF ALL THE FLEAS IN THIS CITY !

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

HAZMAT's picture

Kenzo wrote:
The rumor is true:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/161528385.html?&c=n

And a board member talks to a reporter, but won't return my email. So much for transparency and openness.

GREAT EFFFFEN JOB MAN !!! KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK...........

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

dmandy's picture

Kenzo wrote:
The rumor is true:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/city/161528385.html?&c=

And a board member talks to a reporter, but won't return my email. So much for transparency and openness.

Great job getting the word out on this and all you did to keep the pressure on. Thank you

FPDA's picture

Nice work Kenzo!

Now we just need to figure out how to get people who aren't presumably in the pocket of the politicians/powers-that-be on the board to prevent these kinds of shenanigans in the future.

dmandy's picture

I also want to know how no one on that board knew that Finnigan's Wake was going to own the street. I haven't really followed the story and I knew that much.

lighterthief's picture

gotta love the Philly backpedal.. we thought... or um, I mean we didn't know...

Empty factories to the east and all our waste
The shape of things that came shows on the broken workers face

HAZMAT's picture

One thing to remember about Philly politicians is that they are sloppy due to the fact they have been getting away with this stuff for decades ! Just glad to see some light on there activity ,
looking at the council vote accross the board they all approved this annexation and this put every one of them in the hot seat , this is not the first misuse of councilmanic rule this month , I have personally witnessed this a dozen times just this year , maybe we should all start taking turns sitting in on council hearings and posting there events and parlaying .... SUNLIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT !!!

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

george's picture

lighterthief wrote:
gotta love the Philly backpedal.. we thought... or um, I mean we didn't know...

Exactly.

The hope, though, is that things like this are a bit of a wake-up call to the old-school political machine in this town---the ones who still think it's 1975.

They're being scrutinized more than they know. And a lot of the people living in Philly these days could care less about 'the way things are done' and are willing and able to throw light on the situation or simply vote the bums out.

(ahem, Bob Brady)

Catphilly's picture

Wow! I'm so happy that this is being addressed - and thank you to Kenzo (my new Hero)! My concerns at this point are (and, I admit some things I don't understand):
1. So, is there still a possibility of this fiasco going through? ... now that it is being "reconsidered"?
2. I'm curious as to what Nutter's office would have done with some of these issues had they not reached the public eye?
3. What about PTSSD? Does it need to be "fixed"? I definitely think that it needs to be "babysat".
4. What can we do as a community/group/or newly formed neighborhood committee to make sure this does not happen in the future?

I'm still a little cloudy as to where things stand now, but what I would hate to see - though, it would never surprise me - is them putting this to rest short-term, but then finding a way to "slip it" - or other things like it - through the cracks in the future, now knowing that people are aware of (and not liking) what is going on.

TLP's picture

HAZMAT wrote:
One thing to remember about Philly politicians is that they are sloppy due to the fact they have been getting away with this stuff for decades ! Just glad to see some light on there activity ,
looking at the council vote accross the board they all approved this annexation and this put every one of them in the hot seat , this is not the first misuse of councilmanic rule this month , I have personally witnessed this a dozen times just this year , maybe we should all start taking turns sitting in on council hearings and posting there events and parlaying .... SUNLIGHT IS THE BEST DISINFECTANT !!!

Heh councilmanic privilege is a bit of a tougher nut to crack.

snailgem's picture

"City Councilman Mark Squilla pushed legislation, approved unanimously by City Council on June 21, to erase Bodine Street from the map and give the land to Finnigan's Wake. That legislation is now waiting for Mayor Nutter to sign it into law or veto it."

so city council can donate city property to private enterprises? how is this justified?

Kenzo's picture

Well now that I know that this was in the works and was going to happen, I wonder---was the entire PTSSD board unanimously behind this, or just a minority of the board?

If you sat an IRS CID Agent in a room and showed them this transaction, there is no way they would say this is permissible. And it's not like you have to dig super deep inside Tax Court rulings or deep within the Tax Reform Act... this sh&& is right there on a cover sheet. I remember Package X used to have these rules printed very plainly.

So it's pretty obvious that the PTSSD board does not have the skill, or had the aptitude to consult with someone who would confirm, that this grant was permissible or not. Because it's SO CLEARLY NOT appropriate.

I could have just kept my mouth shut, let the board do this, and THEN file the IRS documents and not tell anyone about it and let everyone deal with the aftermath; but I actually care about this and as much of an I might appear, I really do care that they spend their money wisely because put simply: PTSSD is a resource few other neighborhoods have: a source of funds that can't easily be cut off by the whims of City Hall and redirected.

So instead of blaming and doing the "I told you so", what I would like to see is this: PTSSD sets up a compliance committee or it spends some of its money to a tax consultant to review grant applications for propriety. Because if it doesn't, someone other than I could take advantage and destroy the PTSSD.

All it takes is just one misdirected check and they will be history, and I doubt any politician will step in and save them if the IRS starts asking questions.

Timeliness should not be a problem. PTSSD has the money, the applicants can sit around and wait for it while PTSSD checks to make sure that what it is spending its money on is permissible and doesn't jeopardize the organization.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

jbette01's picture

snailgem wrote:
"City Councilman Mark Squilla pushed legislation, approved unanimously by City Council on June 21, to erase Bodine Street from the map and give the land to Finnigan's Wake. That legislation is now waiting for Mayor Nutter to sign it into law or veto it."

so city council can donate city property to private enterprises? how is this justified?

Many streets in the city are private, apparently this has been going on for quite some time. Remember the sidewalk annexation issue?

jobber's picture

There is now a statement on the PTSSD website stating that no funding has been or will be granted for this project

Jobber

2014 york's picture

Can you now start working to get AC Auto to remove their junk cars from public streets and to put privacy fences around their junk yards. Thanks.

HAZMAT's picture

2014 york wrote:
Can you now start working to get AC Auto to remove their junk cars from public streets and to put privacy fences around their junk yards. Thanks.

I second that one !

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

Catphilly's picture

Awesome! The question still remains ... how do we prevent this from happening in the future?

george's picture

Catphilly wrote:
Awesome! The question still remains ... how do we prevent this from happening in the future?

Keep pouring light on situations like this.

People who are used to operating in the dark don't like that.

Too bad.

HAZMAT's picture

Catphilly wrote:
Awesome! The question still remains ... how do we prevent this from happening in the future?

Diligent monitoring of there activity would seam to be the only answer ! maybe if they have to show who and what they intend on funding, before they are allowed to do it would keep unsavory people away from the pot !

To be ones self and unafraid, right or wrong, is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformaty. Irving Wallace.

Kenzo's picture

jobber wrote:
There is now a statement on the PTSSD website stating that no funding has been or will be granted for this project

Not exactly. This is what is now on PTSSD's website:

What they're not "clearifying" [sic] is that:

1. The Board (all or part of it) met to entertain this grant
2. They considered or actually did approve this grant, or were about to
or more importantly... 3. They actually or considered rejecting this grant

Water under the bridge now, but that's a very well-crafted reply.

That is all.

On the advice of someone who probably queened-out, this signature has been deleted.

Pure_Fishtown's picture

Catphilly wrote:
Awesome! The question still remains ... how do we prevent this from happening in the future?

There might be nothing that could prevent it from happening again. I would imagine the grant paperwork was written by attorneys and was worded with a deceptive cloudy hand.

And, I don't believe that the PTSSD would deliberately give out money to this type of business.

FREE Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)

ronchito's picture

Pure_Fishtown wrote:
And, I don't believe that the PTSSD would deliberately give out money to this type of business.

According to Philly Clout, the bar owner pitched it himself @ the June PTSSD meeting and the "vote went in his favor". If true, it wouldn't appear they were duped by complicated or deceptive lawyerspeak.

*edit* Sorry here's the link: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Finnigans-Wake-drops-74K-request-to-fix-up-alley.html

snailgem's picture

jbette01 wrote:
snailgem wrote:
"City Councilman Mark Squilla pushed legislation, approved unanimously by City Council on June 21, to erase Bodine Street from the map and give the land to Finnigan's Wake. That legislation is now waiting for Mayor Nutter to sign it into law or veto it."

so city council can donate city property to private enterprises? how is this justified?

Many streets in the city are private, apparently this has been going on for quite some time. Remember the sidewalk annexation issue?

hmmm... how does this work? do they actually buy it from the city or get it for free? what does the public get out of it?

snailgem's picture

Kenzo wrote:
...This is what is now on PTSSD's website:

the statement is opaque as to what happened. while it puts to bed the question of the money being given out, it raises many procedural questions:
-why was the request approved in the first place? did finnigan's mislead the board about the street being public property? or did the board assume it and didn't ask? or did they know and approved it anyway?
-after things became clear, why didn't the board just come out and deny the grant? why did they have to wait (and ask?) finnigan's to withdraw it? in yesterday's article driscoll was talking about withdrawing it in the future tense.
-does the board keep minutes of these meetings? should it?