When I post here, especially when someones activities are called into question, I always wonder if I have covered all angles to get all the facts. Today was one of those days.
The blog posting yesterday about those "feeding at the trough" set a record for the blog. As of this afternoon 32 comments had been posted and a good dialogue (for the most part) was going on. But then my first call of the morning was from a "real" journalist who's opinion and advice I respect very much, not to mention that they are usually right on the mark. The caller asked me where the comment was from the Ebony Horsewomen.
I thought the documents and the facts spoke for themselves. Apparently that is not the way it works I was told. Helen Ubinas had given me similar advice a couple months ago and I have tried to get comments from the subjects of the postings when it was appropriate. The Archdiocese of Hartford's spokesperson refused to comment last week on Eddie's prayer vigil tonight and I posted that.
So to be fair, I went to 337 Vine Street, the location of the City owned stables housing the Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. I asked for Patricia Kelly and a woman loading a washing machine replied "that's me". I had met her about a year ago, but today she was in "work" clothes.
I told her why I was there and we sat down in a little room apparently used as a classroom. I asked her about the questions I had and her answers flowed out precise and to the point. I was thinking I had misjudged her and the operation. As much as I wanted to believe, something just wasn't clicking on my sincerity meter. The answers were too perfect, but I wanted to believe.
How can you not believe what you are being told when I told her "thanks for answering my questions , I'm all set now" only to be stopped and told "no you can't leave until I give you the tour. Ok, I wanted to be open minded, I wanted to believe
The tour started at the trophy case and then we walked into the stable area, where immediately we were met by a kitten that she spoke to like it was a child. Then out into the paddock area and the chicken coop where she explained how "the kids" are amazed when they see where an egg actually comes from. Then "take a look over here at the baby bunnies" as she poked her finger into the cage and talked to the mother bunny with her babies huddled in the corner.
And who isn't impressed by the majestic nature of a horse prancing around the corral. But I just still wasn't convinced. But I wanted to believe, really I did.
Her explanation essentially was that the $108,000 was paid to her because she was actually saving the organization money. Reverse then play, let me hear that again? Yes, she needed health insurance and her husband needed health insurance. Her husband had preexisting conditions and was pretty much uninsurable. Ok, still losing you here, but I'm trying to follow.
She pays roughly $1800.00 a month for insurance for just the two of them. I understand that but why does the organization pay for that? They don't, she said, that's why they pay her $108,000.Ok, a little quick math here but I asked her, $1800.00 multiplied by 12 is what, $22,000 maybe $24,000 per year and that saves money by them paying you $108,000.00?
Yes, because we add our Workers Compensation insurance in there also. Ok, I guess I just may not understand this modern math.
And not to beat a dead horse, oops, sorry, probably not the right term. Not to ask too many questions but is it proper to be boarding horses and charging people to do that, when you pay the city nothing for rent and where does that money go, to the programs? That answer was simple and quick, "I do not board horses here for people".
After I left I just kept playing her answers over and over, I really do want to believe. But then this afternoon I got three calls and at least two e-mails relating to the posting. They were all from people that were very familiar with the Ebony Horsewomen and they all appreciated information that they were aware of being brought out..
I might add that none of the five individuals were people that had an "ax to grind" as far as I knew. And in fact I was speaking with one of my "confidants" about one of the e-mails and the response was "wow, I've never heard him say anything bad about anyone".
This whole matter really had me thinking how could this be made to look good or if I was in her position how would I justify it.
Just to back up a little, before I met with her I looked at her 2006, 2007 990's in addition to the 2008 990 that I had posted yesterday. I was troubled by a $3000.00 "bonus" she paid to herself as President of the Board in 2006 and the same type of $95,000 plus payments to Diversified Equus, Inc. for all three years.
And then finally, I called four people that serve on some high profile non-profit Boards to see if I was overreacting. I explained the scenario of the payments from a non-profit back to a private corporation owned by the President of the non-profit. I asked them if the actions were proper and the answers from all four were identical....."absolutely not". Two of them even went so far as to say I needed to contact the Attorney General's Office immediately.
What do you think?
The 2006 and the 2007 990's are below also:
990 Ebony Horsewomen 2006
990 Ebony Horsewomen 2007