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  • Report: #1098501

Complaint Review: Mendocino Art Center

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  • Submitted: Mon, November 11, 2013
  • Updated: Mon, November 11, 2013

  • Reported By: Anonymous — Anonymous California
Mendocino Art Center
45200 Little Lake St Mendocino, California USA

Mendocino Art Center Re: Mendocino Art Center -- IRS Form 1023 Publication Request Mendocino California

*Author of original report: Re: Mendocino Art Center -- A Make Believe Board

*Author of original report: Re: Mendocino Art Center -- Hollow Promises

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November 11, 2013

 Re: Mendocino Art Center -- IRS Form 1023 Publication Request

 Dear Ripoff Report Reader,

 

I'm an artist living in Mendocino, California. Three years ago, I noticed some irregularities in some of the governing documents and tax returns of the Mendocino Art Center, a local 501(c)(3) public charity. When I asked them for an IRS Form 1023 (public disclosure required by law), I was contacted by a member of MAC's Board, informed that I wasn't welcome on Art Center grounds and told that I might be physically injured if I showed up there to collect it. Okay.

 So I went through the California State Registry of Charitable Trusts at http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ to get the information there. When I compared it with documents posted on the MAC website, I found more irregularities. 

 According to the State website, MAC bylaws call for a quorum of fourteen directors to make decisions. But according to MAC tax returns there, the Board is now operating with half that number, selling off Art Center property and mortgaging the rest. According to information posted on its website three years ago, MAC's Board changed its bylaws in 2003. Some of those changes allow self-dealing -- something strictly forbidden by the IRS. See the attached documents titled, MAC_new_bylaws.tif and MAC_new_bylaws_self-dealing.tif. But according to MAC tax returns on the State website, it never notified the IRS of any changes.

 In a 1962 Look Magazine article, MAC founder Bill Zacha was quoted as saying, "Everybody uses places, but few give the place back anything. Towns have souls and needs like other things. People forget this." Apparently, MAC's Board has forgotten this too.

 Since I'm not welcome on Art Center grounds, I'd like to remind MAC's Board of this via the Ripoff Report. Mendocino Art Center Board, please publish your IRS Form 1023 -- complete with a checklist -- on your website. Then please respond here with a link to that information as soon as it's up.

 Sincerely,

 

Anonymous

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 References:

 California State Registry of Charitable Trusts: Mendocino Art Center

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ ; go to link at fourth bullet point, "Click here to search for a Organization instead of a person."

enter "Mendocino Art Center" in "Organization Name" field and "CA" in "State" field.

 Mendocino Art Center Board of Directors Website

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/level2/board.html

 IRC 4941 - The Nature of Self-Dealing, Internal Revenue Service

http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicq85.pdf

 "A Young Man Saves an Old Town", Look Magazine, September 26, 1962

http://www.williamzacha.com/zacha_legacy.php

 MAC_new_bylaws.tif

 MAC_new_bylaws_self-dealing.tif

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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/11/2013 12:42 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Mendocino-Art-Center/Mendocino-California-95460/Mendocino-Art-Center-Re-Mendocino-Art-Center-IRS-Form-1023-Publication-Request-Mendoc-1098501. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 Author of original report

Re: Mendocino Art Center -- A Make Believe Board

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

November 13, 2013

 

Re: Mendocino Art Center -- A Make Believe Board

 

Dear Ripoff Report Reader,

 

There's nothing wrong with living in the land of make believe when you're an artist. But what if you're doing that as the trustee of a nonprofit board?

 

Welcome to the Mendocino Art Center! The Articles of Incorporation on MAC's website here call for -- trustees -- to govern the Art Center. Nothing more, nothing less.

 

At some point in time, the trustees started getting creative with their titles. Check out MAC's Board Meeting Minutes for June 7, 2006 at the top paragraph on page two. The heading reads, "The Board may appoint non-voting members who shall have the title "Board Member Emeritus."" And the next paragraph heading reads, "The Board may appoint non-voting members who shall have the title "Advisory Board Member."" Now Google either heading with the quotes in place. 

 

If you get there in time, you'll find one listing on the entire Internet for either of those headings. The Mendocino Art Center! They're both from Board Meeting Minutes for that date. But both links are dead and only the listings remain. Why?

 

The first motion of that meeting is numbered "M060710-01". Now Google that and look at the first listing. "Revise the bylaws, as stated in the 6/7 minutes." Aren't those the same minutes you're looking at? Of course that link's dead too, but you might still be able to read the listing.

 

Okay, let's look for one of those Board Members. Google "M042810-03" with the quotes in place. That listing should read like this. "Approve Leona Walden's nomination as Emeritus board member." Got it? That's for the board meeting from April 28, 2010, one month -- before -- that position was made up. How creative!

 

Here's one last search for you. Google "Mendocino Art Center Board of Trustees" and see what you get. Nada!

 

What about the Emeritus board member, Leona Walden? Look at MAC's 2010 tax return here. Go to page seven and look for her name on the list titled, "Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees and Highest Compensated Employees". The last name listed is Leona Walden. The title underneath is "Trustee", but her position is checked only as "Key employee". See anything about Emeritus board member? I don't.

 

You're not likely to see anything like that either. Once prominent features of MAC's website, -- all -- its Board Meeting minutes have turned into dead links. Every single one of them.

 

What happened to the trustees? Look at MAC's 2011 tax return here. Go to page seven and count the trustees there. Take your time. By position checked, I count -- nine -- of them. How many do you count?

 

Now what's the -- minimum -- number of trustees required to run the Mendocino Art Center? By the five-page document set on MAC's website here, that number looks like six, right? That's what it says at the top of page two.

 

But when you go to the California State Registry of Charitable Trusts here, you'll see a different number of pages. According to my count, there are -- twelve -- pages in that set. Among the seven missing pages is an amendment stating that the minimum number of trustees required to run the Mendocino Art Center is actually fourteen. That amendment was signed, notarized and stamped received by the Secretary of State on March 8, 1968. The only amendment since then is for Article Ten -- not -- the minimum number of trustees. 

 

Maybe that's why all those Board Meeting minutes disappeared.

 

But the Art Center still needs five trustees to reappear.

 

Until then, it's -- all -- make believe.

 

Sincerely,

 

Anonymous

 

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References:

 

Mendocino Art Center Articles of Incorporation, May 26, 1959

mendocinoartcenter.org/PDF/Articles_of_Incorporation.pdf

 

Mendocino Art Center 2010 Tax Return

bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2011_12_EO/94-6050398_990_201012.pdf

 

Mendocino Art Center 2011 Tax Return

bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2012_12_EO/94-6050398_990_201112.pdf

 

California State Registry of Charitable Trusts: Mendocino Art Center

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ ; go to link at fourth bullet point, "Click here to search for a Organization instead of a person." enter "Mendocino Art Center" in "Organization Name" field and "CA" in "State" field.

 

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#2 Author of original report

Re: Mendocino Art Center -- Hollow Promises

AUTHOR: Anonymous - ()

November 13, 2013

 

Re: Mendocino Art Center -- Hollow Promises

 

Dear Ripoff Report Reader,

 

Those who visit the Mendocino Art Center website may notice a page advertising memberships here. For a mere $65.00 -- $30.00 for students and seniors -- you can become a member. Right?

 

Yes and no. According to MAC's amended articles of incorporation, the Mendocino Art Center has no members. Zero. You can find that information on the very same website. Check it out. It's item four of the very last page here.

 

MAC had members in its original articles of incorporation. Go to Article Seven on page two. See? Not only did MAC have members, those members actually had voting rights. But no more. There are no members whatsoever. If you pony up for a membership, you're buying something that doesn't exist.

 

Or does it? Look at the 2010 tax return for MAC on its website here. At page three, item five. A simple question. Does MAC receive membership dues? That's a yes-or-no question without an answer. Ditto for page nine, item one. No membership dues reported.

 

Let's look at the 2011 tax return. MAC doesn't post it on their website, but you can find it here -- at the State Registry of Charitable Trusts. Go to the link at fourth bullet point, "Click here to search for a Organization instead of a person." Enter "Mendocino Art Center" in "Organization Name" field and "CA" in "State" field. Scroll down to the third item from the bottom. Voila! That's MAC's 2011 tax return.

 

Okay. Now go to page three, item five. Suddenly that yes-or-no question has an answer. MAC -- doesn't -- receive membership dues. That's what MAC's president said under penalty of perjury anyway. Now go to page nine, item one. MAC received $54,120 in membership dues after saying it didn't receive any. One year after it couldn't answer a yes-or-no question.

 

Now think about it. MAC charges folks over fifty grand a year for something that doesn't exist. Or does it? Let's go back to the 2010 MAC tax return. Page twenty-seven, item two: "The members of this organization approve the decisions of the board at the annual meeting of the membership." Aha! So members -- do -- exist. In 2010 anyway. And they had voting rights then too. But then, they all disappeared. Poof!

 

What does the State of California have to say about that? Plenty. According to the Office of Attorney General here, "Classes of voting members cannot be abolished by the directors without consent from the voting members." Then look at the 2011 MAC tax return. Page twenty-nine. See anything about voting members? I don't.

 

If voting members were abolished that year, it should have been reported in governing documents. Look at page seven, item four. "Did the organization make any significant changes to its governing documents since the prior Form 990 was filed?" The answer was "No". So according to MAC's president -- under penalty of perjury -- members still have voting rights. At least they did in 2011.

 

You wouldn't know it by the MAC membership website here. See anything about voting rights? Or a membership meeting? I don't.

 

One thing I noticed was next to the first bullet point. "For the first time the Art Center mounted a full audit of fiscal year 2011 and will continue annual audits." But there's no audit there. Now look at page three, item twelve of the MAC's 2011 tax return. "Did the organization obtain separate, independent audited financial statements for the tax year?" Once again, the answer is "No".

 

Notice -- where -- that hollow promise was located? In a membership advertisement. That's what you can expect for becoming a member of the Mendocino Art Center.

 

More hollow promises.

 

Sincerely,

 

Anonymous

 

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References:

 

Mendocino Art Center Website, November 13, 2013

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/level2/membership.lasso

 

Mendocino Art Center Website, November 13, 2013

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/PDF/Articles_of_Incorporation.pdf

 

Mendocino Art Center 2010 Tax Return 

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/PDF/MAC_2010_990.pdf

 

California State Registry of Charitable Trusts: Mendocino Art Center

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/ ; go to link at fourth bullet point, "Click here to search for a Organization instead of a person."

enter "Mendocino Art Center" in "Organization Name" field and "CA" in "State" field.

 

California Attorney General's Guide for Charities 

https://oag.ca.gov/sites/all/files/pdfs/charities/publications/guide_for_charities.pdf

 

Mendocino Art Center Board of Directors Website

http://www.mendocinoartcenter.org/level2/board.html

 

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