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Junk Or Not, An Indecent Misuse of Tax Dollars

By Greg L | 18 May 2011 | Manassas City, Prince William County | 29 Comments

This week local headlines poked fun at Manassas City Mayor Hal Parrish and Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe for getting a spot in an upcoming production of the Manassas Ballet Theater with headlines like “Manassas mayor appearing in ballet, sans leotard.”  Aside from the laugh such headlines evoke (Is Mayor Hal Parrish going to dance around on a stage with his junk hanging out?) there really is a more serious issue worthy of consideration.  The private entity Parrish and Nohe are lending their heretofore unproven dancing skills to is funded in part with taxpayer dollars that they have appropriated.

The Manassas Ballet Theater is a local ballet school with a professional dance company.  It is an impressive organization and I am very pleased they are able to provide an opportunity for kids to explore the fine arts as well as put on some outstanding productions that enrich the community.  I wish them, their students and their staff every success in the world.

I just don’t feel that my tax dollars should be given to them.  They’re a private company in competition with other private companies that compete with them to attract paying students in the area.  Why we decided to fund the Manassas Ballet Theater while we don’t provide public support to other dance companies like Spotlight Dance, where my daughter is a student, makes no sense at all.  Government shouldn’t be picking winners in the private marketplace, and when we have to make hard choices about whether we can afford to provide our own daughter with dance lessons my taxpayer dollars shouldn’t be handed over to a different private dance school so someone else’s kid can perhaps pay a little less for their lessons.

This one ballet company gets public funding because the executive director of the Manassas Ballet, Mark Wolfe, is also head of the regional arts council that decides where public funding is allocated.  Wolfe also serves as a Manassas City Councilman where he votes on the municipal budget that directs money to the arts council, which funds the Manassas ballet, which pays him a salary.  Through a pretty non-circuitous route Wolfe votes on the allocation of public money that ends up in his own bank account.

This is the habitual problem that develops when we direct money from government to non-core responsibilities.  Conflicts of interest develop almost immediately and preventing them is nearly impossible. I wouldn’t characterize this as corruption as everything is being done quite openly, but even when what I think is unethical behavior is done out in the open, it’s still unethical at the very least.

Under the Constitution of Virginia such behavior is also illegal, if the Virginia Constitution applies to localities the same way it applies to Richmond under the Dillon Rule, or even in spite of it.  Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion this year that cut off Richmond’s penchant for giving taxpayer dollars to non-state entities, but didn’t address the issue of whether localities engaging in the same behavior were running afoul of the law as well.  I have an inquiry in with my local legislator to request clarification on this, and we’ll see what happens.

So Hal and Marty get a little limelight as a payback for their political and financial support using your tax dollars to support a private entity.  In a few months, perhaps sooner, we’ll find out if this is the last time some of our local elected officials get paybacks from the people they send your tax dollars to.

UPDATE:  I got some calls on this and have been told that the Arts Council no longer directs funding to charitable organizations but that an appointed board makes the decisions.  I’ll have more on this later as I dig through the structure and organization of this panel, but it at least seems immediately clear that Mark Wolf does not personally direct any taxpayer funding to any charitable organizations.

UPDATE 2:  I have a response from the Attorney General’s office that I will add to the comments on this post.  Very interesting, indeed.



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29 Comments

  1. oh yeah said on 18 May 2011 at 4:06 pm:
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    Now you are getting somewhere.

    Voters who think (a small group it seems) are so fed up with these elected farces of republicans in the City and the County. Stop voting and supporting these people, people! Rumor is Hal wants to run for the Senate seat Miller is running away from!

  2. Yin Yang said on 18 May 2011 at 4:13 pm:
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    “Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion this year that cut off Richmond’s penchant for giving taxpayer dollars to non-state entities, but didn’t address the issue of whether localities engaging in the same behavior were running afoul of the law as well. I have an inquiry in with my local legislator to request clarification on this, and we’ll see what happens.”

    Now, you’re talking!

  3. Manassasinsider said on 18 May 2011 at 4:51 pm:
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    Very well written and thought out post.

  4. Bob Pugh said on 18 May 2011 at 6:37 pm:
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    Prince William County has a fatally-flawed process for distributing arts grants funds that constitutes an intolerable abuse of taxpayer money. As President of the Prince William Symphony Orchestra (PWSO) from 2006 to 2010, I watched the transition from an arts funding process that required the Board of County Supervisors to evaluate and vote on each funding request based upon the organization’s contribution to the community’s quality of life, to one in which the Board appropriates a lump sum that is then turned over to an unelected Arts Grants Panel to distribute. The distribution is based on recommendations coming from an Arts Liaison who works closely with the Chairman of the Arts Council, Mr. Mark Wolfe. Mr. Wolfe is also the Executive Director of the Manassas Ballet Theater, which employs his wife.

    Through this process, the Manassas Ballet Theater received $52,162 of the $190,337 Prince William County appropriated in the current fiscal year.

    One of the techniques the PWC arts grants process uses to increase funding for the Manassas Ballet Theater at the expense of other arts groups is to base that funding largely on revenues the groups generate (as opposed to what they contribute to the community). As Greg wrote, the Manassas Ballet Theater lumps revenues from the dance school (Ballet Academy) in with the Ballet performances. See page 8 of the Form 990 linked here:
    http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990_pdf_archive/541/541244590/541244590_200807_990.pdf
    The dance school revenues are far larger than are sales and revenues from the ballet itself and its performances, and are used to justify Manassas Ballet Theater receiving a much larger chunk of Prince William County’s arts budget.

    Moreover, as Greg wrote, the dance school offers private services to the public that compete with other dance schools that do not claim tax exempt status. This is not a criticism of the quality of Mr. Wolfe’s dance school. To my knowledge, they do an outstanding job of teaching many children and the families who use their services are quite satisfied. The issues are whether taxpayers in Prince William County and Manassas should be subsidizing what is essentially a private business, and whether the dubious practice of lumping dance school revenues in with ballet performance revenues to rationalize a larger taxpayer subsidy should be allowed to continue. My opinion is a resounding no to both questions.

    During my tenure as President of the PWSO, our Board made a decision to cut the price of admission to symphony concerts for everyone, and allow teachers and students to attend free of charge. We saw our role as making great music available to everyone in the community regardless of income levels. We made this decision at the same time Manassas Ballet Theater was raising prices, and gaming the funding system to grab a larger share of the available grants money. Needless to say, the amount the PWSO received declined precipitously to the advantage of Manassas Ballet Theater.

    The PWSO Board and its supporters raised our concerns repeatedly to members of the Board of County Supervisors and County Government staff to no avail. We found the system so corrupt and abusive that we voted last year to suspend applying for any government funding. Our view was that we had a mission to serve the Prince William County/Manassas Community and could not ethically participate in this system.

    The Prince William Symphony Orchestra is still around, but functioning now on a funding model using only private sector money. Our offerings to the public have been reduced, but we continue to provide such programs as the long-time “Sounds of the Symphony” series in the public libraries. If the arts funding system in Prince William County were reformed and no longer beset with such conflicts of interest and problems of backroom wheeling and dealing with taxpayer money as plague it now, we would certainly consider participating again. However, we cannot in good conscience take money from a process that serves the narrow interests of a few influential people at the expense of taxpayers and the broader interests of the community. I raised this issue again during the budget process this year, but my words again fell on deaf ears.

    To fix the system, we must eliminate the arts grants panel process altogether, as well as the arts liaison position, and return to a model that bases public funding on the contributions an organization makes to our quality of life – not how well its leaders can game the system. In addition, the Board of County Supervisors should again take responsibility for how our tax money is spent and vote itself on each request for arts organization funding.

    I know and understand that many BVBL readers hold the view that taxpayer money should never be used to supports the arts. I believe, however, that having affordable concerts available in our community, and performances and education by professional musicians in our schools is important. I don’t want my children growing up exposed to nothing but what they see on television. Use of hard-earned tax dollars should be scrutinized thoroughly. It should not subsidize groups that claim tax-exempt status and then compete with hard-working businesses that pay their taxes. Prince William County taxpayers would be better served by eliminating arts funding altogether, than continuing the process we have now.

    Bob Pugh
    President, Prince William Symphony Orchestra
    2006-2010

  5. Manassasinsider said on 18 May 2011 at 8:20 pm:
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    Mr. Pugh, excellent input. I am amazed that the Board of Supervisors and the City Council had allowed this to continue.

    Greg, is ther any chance of you contacting councilman Wolfe and asking him to respond to this post?

    I find that sometimes hearing both sides of a story can make issues much more ‘gray’. Although I doubt I could be convinced that the subsidizing of the Manassas Ballet could change my mind.

    Mr. Pugh, can you provide how much Councilman Wolfe and his wife are compensated for running this Ballet Theatre?

  6. mike lasouris said on 18 May 2011 at 9:46 pm:
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    À l’art de danse, ou
    souvenir de choses parties

    (hats off to high art)

    A politico, nearly retired,
    joined the ballet, to dance unattired.
    Not a minute too soon
    did he thus change his tune,
    for his term had now well-nigh expired.

    - Michel “Mike” Lasouris

  7. mike lasouris said on 18 May 2011 at 9:56 pm:
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    I like this version instead - better rhyme.

    À l’art de danse, ou
    souvenir de choses parties

    (hats off to high art)

    A politico, stagewise inspired,
    joined the ballet, to dance unattired.
    Not a minute too soon
    did he thus change his tune,
    for his term had now well-nigh expired.

    - Michel “Mike” Lasouris

  8. Voter said on 19 May 2011 at 9:01 am:
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    Well Aveni tried to change it in the City and got shut down by all the other council members, especially John Way, with the help of that fool of a city attorney!

    I guess the other council members are too worried about Wolf and his pushy wife too much to just say no?

    At the meeting when this was discussed, it was said the city gives $18,000 to Wolf Ballet but said no to $500 for Carenet Pregnancy Center because they are “Christian” - also coming from John Way - even though their services are available to all regardless of faith “choice”.

    I guess it is more important to have a ballet and parade around elected officials as a king or queen than save a baby.

    Speaks volumes about the total lack of character of these people if you ask me.

  9. Bob Pugh said on 19 May 2011 at 11:31 am:
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    Manassasinsider – here’s a link to the Forms 990 filed by Manassas Performing Arts, Inc. (aka, Manassas Ballet Theater):

    http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/orgs/profile/541244590?popup=1#forms

    Note that 990s are not personal income tax filings. They are tax returns filed by organizations claiming tax-exempt status and are part of the public record. We are not delving into anyone’s personal financial information. According to the latest available 990 filing (2009), Manassas Performing Arts, Inc. paid Amy Wolfe $36,000 that year. I think that Mark Wolfe’s position is non-compensated, as was mine with the Prince William Symphony Orchestra.

    Following is the breakdown of which organizations got how much in the current Prince William County fiscal year:

    Bull Run Cloggers $ 866
    Cabin Branch Quilters $ 2,929
    Center for the Arts (Candy Factory in Manassas) $ 66,281
    Creative & Performing Arts Center $ 1,656
    Manassas Art Guild $ 1,585
    Manassas Ballet Theatre $ 52,162
    Manassas Community Chorale $ 7,263
    New Dominion Choraliers $ 3,062
    NOVA/Manassas Symphony $ 3,836
    Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra $ 2,449
    Prince William Art Society $ 1,766
    Prince William Community Band $ 691
    Prince William Little Theatre $ 2,468
    Vpstart Crow $ 6,913
    Woodbridge Community Choir $ 2,611
    Woodbridge Dance Company $ 1,910
    Woodbridge Flute Choir $ 951
    Woodbridge Music Club $ 938
    Youth Orchestras of Prince William $ 30,000

    TOTAL $190,337

    The PWC Board of County Supervisors has appropriated over $200,000 for arts grants in the upcoming fiscal year, in addition to $20,000 to pay the arts liaison as a contractor through the Park Authority budget. The Park Authority Board will vote to approve or disapprove the allocations of the Arts Grants Panel in June or July. There’s still time to stop this from happening again in Prince William County, if the Board of County Supervisors will act. I don’t know the schedule in Manassas.

    I’ve been on John Stirrup’s budget committee for many years and Chair of it for the past two years. I don’t know of any supervisor with as much concern for the proper use of taxpayer money as John has, but he’s only one of eight votes. Perhaps some of the other supervisors would share these concerns if they were better informed. I spoke with Corey earlier this week and he says he’s starting to see the problem with the arts funding process. I’m available to meet with him or any supervisor to review the situation in detail.

    I was redistricted into the Coles District and contacted Marty about the matter. I’ve only gotten a runaround from him. David Montgomery, the Executive Director of the PWSO, and I emailed Marty first on March 6 saying essentially what I wrote in my post above. He responded on April 26, saying that he would be glad to meet with us. David and I responded the same day accepting his invitation to meet to discuss the matter. We didn’t hear from him again until May 15, when he wrote to us that he was not prepared to scrap the current system, that, “I am a supporter of Manassas Ballet, and Mark and Amy Wolfe are friends of mine,” and that he was not available to meet with us until sometime after June 1. David and I have given up any expectations that Marty will address this issue.

    I support strongly having a vibrant arts community in Prince William County and Manassas that includes Manassas Ballet Theater, the Prince William Symphony Orchestra, and the other groups. However, the interests of taxpayers must come first.

  10. Dr. David Montgomery said on 19 May 2011 at 11:45 am:
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    People don’t seem concerned about misappropriation of funds where the arts are involved, because the misappropriation was not extensive. In other words, small misuses of the County’s money are okay. (??) Please follow this thread:

    PWC’s own rules about grants specify that to receive funds from our County, an organization must demonstrate its non-profit status.

    The following is a direct quote from the IRS – “For the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) to recognize an organization’s exemption, the organization must be organized as a trust, a corporation, or an association.” (http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=96210,00.html)

    I.E. — groups that are not recognized as trusts, corporations, or associations ipso facto do not hold legal 501c3 status – no matter what they may have told the IRS.

    The Virginia State Corporation Commission is the place to look for such recognition. To that end, please note the following grant recipients in the last year:

    Organization Grant Type Grant Amount

    *Cabin Branch Quilters Stability $ 2,929
    THERE IS NO RECORD OF THE ABOVE GROUP AT THE VIRGINIA CORPORATION COMMISSION. I.E., THEY ARE NOT RECOGNIZED AS A VIRGINIA CORPORATION, BUT THEY REGULARLY RECEIVE MONEY FROM PWC.

    *Creative & Performing Arts Center Stability $ 1,656
    NO RECORD OF AN ORGANIZATION BY THE ABOVE NAME AT THE VCC. NO RECORD OF EXISTENCE AS A CORPORATION UNDER THIS NAME.

    *Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra Stability $ 2,449
    FOR THE YEARS 08 AND 09, THE ABOVE GROUP WAS NOT EVEN REGISTERED AS A VIRGINIA CORPORATION, BUT NEVERTHELESS RECEIVED FUNDING FROM PWC . UNITL THEIR RECENT RE-REGISTRATION WITH THE VCC THIS GROUP’S 2007 CORPORATION LISTING SHOWED THEM AS A FAIRFAX COUNTY ORGANIZATION.! GUIDESTAR GIVES NO 501C3 NUMBER FOR THEM AND SHOWS NO 990 FORMS WHATSOEVER – NO FURTHER INFORMATION.

    *Woodbridge Flute Choir Stability $ 951
    THERE IS NO RECORD OF THE ABOVE GROUP IN GUIDESTAR AS A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION IN AMERICA. STILL, THEY REGULARLY RECEIVE MONEY FROM PWC.

    *Woodbridge Music Club General Operating $ 938
    THE ABOVE GROUP IS NOT EVEN REGISTERED WITH THE VCC. THEY HAVE NO STANDING AS A CORPORATION. GUIDESTAR GIVES NO 501C3 NUMBER AND SHOWS NO 990 FORMS FOR THE ABOVE GROUP – NO FURTHER INFORMATION.
    ===================
    *The groups above are part of the PW Arts Council (Mark Wolfe, Chair). Representatives of some of these groups are actually part of the executive structure of the Arts Council (at last check, Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra, for example, who received PWC funds while not even recognized as a corporation in Virginia). Wow - My congratulations to the Arts Council.

    - Dr. David Montgomery
    Prince William Symphony Orchestra

  11. voter too said on 19 May 2011 at 12:03 pm:
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    @ David and Bob,

    Smells stinky on the City side as well:

    Mark Wolf is on the Manassas City Council and is the executive director of the Manassas Ballet; Hal Parrish and Cheryl Bass are Mayor and a City Council member respectively and are also on the Board of Directors for the Manassas Ballet; The Manassas Ballet got I believe $20,000 this year from the City as an arts group donation as well as addtional funds in an amount undisclosed for a ballet golf tournament and a ballet ball/fundraiser at the “discretion” of the Manassas City Manager.

  12. David Montgomery said on 19 May 2011 at 12:44 pm:
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    I grow more amazed, daily! Thanks, Voter, for that insight. My profession makes me intensely interested in our community’s cultural well-being. But until that well-being includes both fiscal transparency and fairness in funding, I am willing to put “culture” on hold. Do the people of Manassas and Prince William County truly remain satisfied with such selfish manipulation of our limited resources, and do they actually thrill to the shallowness of politicians in tights? It’s high time to bring all of this corruption to a a sudden end, but - as the farmer said about the pig with the wooden leg - “I suppose you can’t eat something that all at once.”

    -

  13. Greg L said on 19 May 2011 at 1:30 pm:
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    Here’s the response from the Attorney General:

    Delegate Marshall and Claire:

    The opinion you reference and that I have linked below I believe addresses your question in footnote #9. If this does not go far enough or specifically address your question please let me know. We have had other offices ask this similar question and we have referred them to this footnote as well.

    http://www.vaag.com/OPINIONS/2011opns/11-002-O‘Bannon.pdf

    I hope that this is helpful to you.

    Audrey

    Here is the text of the legal citation referenced in the footnote:

    § 15.2-953. Donations to charitable institutions and associations, volunteer and nonprofit organizations, chambers of commerce, etc.

    A. Any locality may make appropriations of public funds, of personal property or of any real estate and donations to the Virginia Indigent Health Care Trust Fund and to any charitable institution or association, located within their respective limits or outside their limits if such institution or association provides services to residents of the locality; however, such institution or association shall not be controlled in whole or in part by any church or sectarian society. The words “sectarian society” shall not be construed to mean a nondenominational Young Men’s Christian Association, a nondenominational Young Women’s Christian Association, Habitat for Humanity, or the Salvation Army. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit any county or city from making contracts with any sectarian institution for the care of indigent, sick or injured persons.

    B. Any locality may make gifts and donations of property, real or personal, or money, to (i) any charitable institution or nonprofit or other organization, providing housing for persons 60 years of age or older, or operating a hospital or nursing home; (ii) any association or other organization furnishing voluntary fire-fighting services; (iii) any nonprofit lifesaving crew or lifesaving organization, or rescue squad, within or outside the boundaries of the locality; (iv) nonprofit recreational associations or organizations; (v) any nonprofit organization providing recreational or daycare services to persons 65 years of age or older; or (vi) any nonprofit association or organization furnishing services to beautify and maintain communities and/or to prevent neighborhood deterioration. Gifts or donations of property, real or personal, or money by any locality to any nonprofit association, recreational association, or organization described in provision (iv), (v), or (vi) may be made provided the nonprofit association, recreational association, or organization is not controlled in whole or in part by any church or sectarian society. Donations of property or money to any such charitable, nonprofit or other hospital or nursing home, institution or organization or nonprofit recreational associations or organizations may be made for construction purposes, for operating expenses, or both.

    A locality may make like gifts and donations to chambers of commerce which are nonprofit and nonsectarian.

    A locality may make like gifts, donations and appropriations of money to industrial development authorities for the purposes of promoting economic development.

    A locality may make like gifts and donations to any and all public and private nonprofit organizations and agencies engaged in commemorating historical events.

    A locality may make like gifts and donations to any nonprofit organization that is exempt from taxation under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code that is engaged in providing energy efficiency services or promoting energy efficiency within or without the boundaries of the locality.

    A locality may make like gifts and donations to nonprofit foundations established to support the locality’s public parks, libraries, and law enforcement. For the purposes of this paragraph, “donations” to any such foundation shall include the lawful provision of in-kind resources.

    A locality may make monetary gifts, donations and appropriations of money to a state college or university which provides services to such locality’s residents.

    Public library materials that are discarded from their collections may be given to nonprofit organizations that support library functions, including, but not limited to, friends of the library, library advisory boards, library foundations, library trusts and library boards of trustees.

    C. Any locality may make gifts and donations of personal property and may deliver such gifts and donations to another governmental entity in or outside of the Commonwealth within the United States.

    D. Any locality may by ordinance provide for payment to any volunteer rescue squad that meets the required minimum standards for such volunteer rescue squads set forth in the ordinance, a sum for each rescue call the volunteer rescue squad makes for an automobile accident in which a person has been injured on any of the highways or streets in the locality. In addition, unless otherwise prohibited by law, any locality may make appropriations of money to volunteer fire companies or rescue squads in an amount sufficient to enroll any qualified member of such volunteer fire company or rescue squad in any program available within the locality intended to defray out-of-pocket expenses for emergency ambulance transportation.

    E. For the purposes of this section, “donations” shall include the lawful provision of in-kind resources for any event sponsored by the donee.

    F. Nothing in this section shall be construed to obligate any locality to appropriate funds to any entity. Such charitable contribution shall be voluntary.

    It would appear that while some contributions to charities are authorized under the Code of Virginia, localities are vastly exceeding these limitations.

  14. David Montgomery said on 19 May 2011 at 1:40 pm:
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    Understood. So our government may make contributions to non-profits. We can decide if and to whom we will donate. Let’s also decide how we will donate, before the wolves take it out of our hands!

  15. Greg L said on 19 May 2011 at 2:08 pm:
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    Hold onto your hat here. A careful reading of that code section seems to indicate that most appropriations I’ve seen over the past several years were not authorized. In addition, the GA is allowing localities to engage in behavior it itself is prohibited from engaging in, which brings into question whether that section of the code is constitutional. The GA may have exceeded their powers.

    See the subsequent post for a more detailed discussion.

  16. Tyler Durden said on 19 May 2011 at 2:27 pm:
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    I’m attending the ballet this Saturday. I’d like to thank all who make that attendance possible. I guess that includes everyone in PWC and the City who paid taxes.

  17. Anonymous said on 19 May 2011 at 2:36 pm:
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    Tyler, Are they(taxpayers) paying for your cheap seat of $35 on top of the funding for the ballet and the HPAC?

  18. Errant Cavalier said on 19 May 2011 at 3:42 pm:
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    Thanks for the link to the 990s. They’re interesting reading. It looks like Wolfe did not start including income from the ballet school in his tax-exempt totals until the form dated 2008. He did it again apparently in 2009. David or Bob – can you tell me what year the County started basing grants funds on organizations’ income? This doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me.

    How was Wolfe reporting income from the dance school prior to 2008? Was he reporting it as business income and paying taxes prior to reclassifying it as non-profit income through the Ballet Theater? Is the IRS maybe going to be interested here? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Don’t forget that Nohe gave Wolfe another $500 from his supervisor’s funds last March. No wonder he keeps on bull s****ing you guys and won’t look under the rug. “Mark and Amy Wolfe are friends of mine.”

  19. Bob Pugh said on 20 May 2011 at 7:13 am:
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    Marty emailed me yesterday:

    “Bob-

    I apologize if it seems like I am delaying with you. That is not my intent at all. In fact, I am feeling particularly concerned about my own communication skill in that I have repeatedly offered to meet with you and David Montgomery face to face to discuss this issue so that I can pay it the attention that it deserves; thus far, you have not taken me up on that offer. I do not know how many other members of the Board have offered to meet with you about this recently, but I would have hoped that doing so demonstrated my commitment.”

    My response:

    “Marty:

    This is insulting. David and I emailed you on March 6 expressing our concerns and you did not respond until April 26, nearly two months later. We responded the same day saying we would be glad to meet with you. You didn’t respond until May 15 saying that you weren’t available until after June 1. This effort does not constitute your having “repeatedly offered to meet with you and David.” Now, you say, “thus far, you have not taken me up on that offer.”

    Regarding other Board members, John Stirrup and his staff have listened. As John’s Budget Committee Chair (my business is in the Gainesville District), I follow this and many other taxpayer issues closely. We could spend a vast amount of time discussing how the Board of County Supervisors wastes taxpayers’ money. Corey and I discussed arts funding earlier this week and he wants to follow up on the matter. I contacted you because even as early as March 6 it was obvious that my precinct was going to be redistricted into Coles.

    Being a supervisor is not just about attending expensive receptions with your Washington Council of Government friends downtown and performing a bit part in a ballet after having lined the pockets of your friends with taxpayer money. It’s about taking care of the interests of ALL of your constituents, including many who are unemployed and worried about making their next mortgage payment. They don’t benefit from another $1,000 of their tax money going from your supervisor funds to the Wartime Museum this week; an organization that spent $565,000 in their last fiscal year but raised less than $30,000. And don’t forget that their CEO paid himself his quarter-of-a-million dollar salary despite this dismal fund-raising performance (http://dynamodata.fdncenter.org/990_pdf_archive/200/200008915/200008915_201006_990.pdf). Forgive me for being something of a geek, but as a financial person I enjoy reading things like Form 990 filings.

    How does any of this benefit your constituents?

    In my business, I make it a policy to respond to clients within 24 hours or let them know why not. Your constituents are your clients. If you don’t want to deal with them, don’t take the job. I guess David Montgomery and I are not developers with big campaign contributions, or any other sort of influential people, so we don’t merit a very high priority with you.

    Bob”

  20. Jon Wong said on 21 May 2011 at 6:47 am:
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    Uh…Ooh….Sound like somebody jelouse of somebody junk?

  21. Disgusted said on 21 May 2011 at 9:38 am:
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    Would you have written the original post if your kid attended the Manassas Ballet Company? Hmmmm……..

  22. David Montgomery said on 22 May 2011 at 1:01 pm:
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    Answering the question posed by ERRANT CAVALIER (above): The first year in which we were obliged to apply for grants for County funding based on earned income was 2008. Before that, each year we had received a simple line-item amount from the County.

    -David Montgomery

  23. David Montgomery said on 24 May 2011 at 12:01 pm:
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    INCIDENTALLY, I forgot to mention above that, besides the lack of evidence of their being a legitimate 501c3 organization, the WOODBRIDGE FLUTE CHOIR (which receives grant money from Prince William County) lists BURKE, VA (FAIRFAX COUNTY) on their website as their official address. –David Montgomery

  24. legal2 said on 26 May 2011 at 3:23 pm:
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    I really don’t know how these elected “reps” sleep at night. Corruption abounds.

  25. Stephanie said on 29 Nov 2011 at 1:04 pm:
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    Mr Wolfe only made council because only a few people ran in the election, so everyone that ran made the council. The council votes together because they party together almost every night. You can find them at the favorate “Ocras” restaurant and ask them personally how they rip the tax payers off and seem to sleep well at night. If you visit old town manassas frequently at night you will be sure to run into our cities coucilmen. I wonder what favors they offer each other for their votes. I think if we look deep enough we may see that Mr Wolfe isn’t the only council memeber benifiting from his position. I don’t believe you should be a council member and receive county funds. We should look into the relatives of the elected officials and see if any of them are receiving funds or contracts from the county.

  26. Stephanie said on 29 Nov 2011 at 1:54 pm:
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    If Amy Wolfe is being paid from county money, doesn’t that mean her husband gets the money as well. I think it is insulting that the council states that Mrs Wolfe gets the money not her husband. I don’t know about anyone else, but me and my husband share the money in the house. To say that Mr Wolfe is not being paid, only Mrs Wolfe gets the tax money is insulting. Maybe the check from the county is made out to her but I am pretty sure Mr Wolfe benifits from the tax payers money.

  27. Anonymous said on 23 Jan 2012 at 7:04 pm:
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    Manassas Ballet is a professional ballet company- not just an academy like Spotlight. These are professional dancers making a career out of dancing, not just children.

  28. D. Rolman said on 25 Jan 2012 at 6:00 pm:
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    Here are a few criteria to make a professional ballet company:
    1) they pay for all shoes. Period. Men’s shoes, Pointe Shoes, Jazz, Tap- the whole shabang. No exceptions.
    2) they pay all dancers, male and female a living wage.
    3) they comply with, are aligned with or are members of AGMA, the American Guild of Musical Artists.
    4) they use students from the affiliate school as little as possible, with the exception of Nutcracker.
    5) They offer a health care plan with a reputable provider as optional.
    6) They work 40 hour work weeks, with standard hours, with the obvious exception of production weeks. Then, they follow standard production week hours.
    7) Most importantly, they do not use subterfuge as a management method.

    Manassas Ballet Theatre does -none- of these. For mostly the men, they’ve hired professionals, (most of the men ex-Russian/Soviet block dancers) often ready for retirement. Not all, but most of the women, either can’t get jobs elsewhere because they simply do not meet the standards of most professional companies, or they missed out on auditions for that year. They don’t get paid enough for the gas to get them to work and have to work full time second jobs just to pay the bills.

    The school is a sham. I won’t go into details, but the manipulations of management cause a steady stream of students and parents to flee such a dysfunctional situation.

    I can go on and on. But, there is no need. MBT needs to be closed. Period.

    There’s more, but I think that’s enough.

    D. Rolman

  29. VERY concerned citizen said on 26 Jan 2012 at 10:44 am:
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    OK- so I am confused. I just happened to stumble onto another blog from 2009 ….. http://www.bvbl.net/index.php/2009/10/16/arts-funding-scandal-in-pwc/

    that is 2 years ago- talking about scandal, Mark Wolfe, and Manassas Ballet… what is wrong with this picture???

    If there are so many questions, and obviously a LOT of people with info on what is going on at Manassas Ballet, WHY IS NO ONE DOING ANYTHING?!?!?! A blog and newspaper article in the Post is a good start, but are you telling me that no official investigations have ever been done?? What kind of world do we live in that local authorities will not step in? Does Mark Wolfe really have these connections? Does a councilman have the mayor and God knows who else in his pocket? I just do not understand. Manassas Ballet is also a school- WITH CHILDREN! Will noone step up for the sake of the kids? Temporarily remove the current director, Amy- until further investigation is done. Innocent people are the ones who will pay. Why is everyone so afraid of Mark Wolfe?? If he is innocent an investigation would solve everything. If he, council members, his wife and who ever else knew what was going on (possibly office staff??) are guilty take the proper steps. WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?????????

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