Chances are it’s not going to be a good day for me if I wander out to my mailbox and find a letter from the Internal Revenue Service and another from the Illinois Attorney General’s office addressed specifically to me. It becomes one of those ‘oh oh’ moments, and the ‘yips’ surface.
This basically is what happened in Naperville when organizers for the ‘Naperville Mayor’s Annual Golf Outing’ whiffed and realized the IRS had revoked their tax-exempt status because it neglected to file the proper papers. Compound that with the Illinois Attorney General’s claim that the group running the the golf outing landed in the bunker, by not being registered as required by state law.
The golf outing’s charity classification was revoked. It requires groups to file annual forms listing when and from whom revenues come, and exactly where and when and to whom money was dispersed. Similar to a typical household’s check book. It’s not any different for any charitable, non-profit to submit the forms for documentation and transparency.
It’s not that difficult. This is either a simple clerical mistake, or it’s another classic example of incompetence by omission or design on the part of those responsible for doing the right thing. It continues to happen with Naperville; the ‘it’ being failure to properly file simple reports. Divots, divots and more divots.
Because it’s listed as the ‘Mayor’s Golf Outing, both former mayor George Pradel and current mayor Steve Chirico’s names are headliners for the event. Anything good or not-so-good happening reflects upon both Pradel and Chirico.
Not good in this case, when ‘transparency’ is a key word among city officials. And especially when the topic is handled like a hot potato. Pradel referred questions about the situation to a local attorney, who then passed it on to a city employee in the mayor’s office for clarification, who then referred the questions back to the attorney. I think you get the idea, as in ‘I know nothing’.
Apparently the group raised about $200,000 from 2010 through 2014, which is commendable. Of that amount, a little over $4,000 remains yet to be used. My handy dandy little desk calculator shows that $196,000 must have been used for something. The question remains, what was the ‘something’.
Chances are very good, that the ‘something’ was a list of very good causes. The problem is, one is left wondering if the the inadequate documentation was by clever design or incompetent omission.
Mayor Chirico, calling a mulligan, filed paperwork this summer, with the State of Illinois, under the name of “Naperville Mayor’s Charity Golf Outing”. Since the group will have no purchases, a tax-exempt status is not necessary. It also means filing annual reports showing how money is raised and dispersed will not be needed. Obviously, he is looking for a birdie.
The problem is the change does nothing to promote the all-important virtue of transparency. The back-swing, is still flawed.