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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Another Brick in the Wall (Part 4)

*Minor update-  I reached out to the Hamtramck Music Festival to give them the opportunity to explain/comment and have not received any word back as of this writing.  I will give it the weekend and then start the tedious task of contacting the local network problem solvers.

All I want to know is where did the money go?

Hey all, Metro here, and I thought that I would get straight to the point.  "Where did the money go?" is a popular subject with me as most of you know (and should know better).  But lets step back and recap..... slide down the surface of things.

As most of the Constant Readers know, the 2017 Hamtramck Music Festival was sponsored by the fake charity (at the time) Ben's Encore.  Maybe sponsored isn't the right word.  All the proceeds were to go to the charity in exchange for them letting the Fest use the charity's name for publicity (some would say sympathy).  Thanks to me and my bulldog with the Touch, Alain, that charity was once again legal and on the "up and up" by the end of the year.  What was quietly swept under the rug was that this charity dissolved its association with the Hamtramck Music Festival soon after.  The Fest never even bothered to comment on it.  Are you surprised?

This year, the Fest, lets just call it the HMF so I can spare the typing...this year the HMF had a few other sponsors.  Here are a few of them:  Hype Screen Printing (and the already forgotten Narcan Kit narrative), Hamtramck Review Dot Com (never heard of them), CJohnst...er CJAM 99.1 (never listened to them), Hamtramck DDA, and Smart Ride.  From what I understand (I only got a B in Economics), a sponsor gives money or services to an entity in exchange for their brand/product to be featured by said entity.  It is an even exchange and helps eliminate costs.  Now, add to this the fact that "all" of the bands that played did so for free.  And, add this to the fact that the HMF's Facebook proclaimed 2018's Fest the most attended in its history.  Do you see where I am going with this?

No longer able to trot out ole' Ben's picture this year, the Fest declared that all profits will be going to Hamtramck schools' arts programs.  Okay, now lets go back to the top.  All I want to know is where did the money go?  Now, I'm not saying all of the money didn't go to Hamtramck schools, but then again, I'm not saying that it did either.  Granted, the Fest doesn't haaaaave to disclose where it went to except for the IRS (yeh, those guys again).  But wouldn't it be nice to the sponsors, the bands that did play for free, the Hamtramck community, and especially anybody who paid for a wristband (me included) to know where the money went?  The last post on the Festival's page was from March 20th with them asking for photos taken during the Fest.  Silence since then.  Either they didn't get any photos or they just abandoned the site until next year.  For a goal this positive you would think there would have been a post informing all their Facebook "likes" how many schools were aided by this year's Fest.  Nothing.

Now this post could end now and be a half-decent rant, but wait one second here.  I happened to do some leg work.  Spoiler alert-  If you are on the HMF committee of mystery people, this is the point where you say, "Ahhhh shit."

I was bored and curious and decided to snoop around and the first thing the Path of the Beam took me to was Mrs. Walter and the Hamtramck High School theater department, specifically their CrowdFunding page(s).  I have included the link here:
Hamtramck High School Needs Help

Two things struck me as odd.  Well, three, but we'll get to the third in a minute.  One: That sure is a lot of CrowdFunding projects.  And two:  Not a single donation from the Hamtramck Music Festival.  The last, and latest, project was created March 30th, well after the Fest.  It still has over $1000 to go.  I inquired whether they had ever received a dime from the HMF and they said no, and that they were under the impression that the money was going to elementary schools.  Okay, fair enough.  So I pulled up a list of schools in Hamtramck and made a few (off the record, of course) calls.  None of the schools I contacted had received any money either.  In addition to this, my assistant Alain went through all of the meeting minutes of the Hamtramck Schools board meetings from before this year's Fest to the present (I say thank'ee).  Hamtramck schools publish transparency reports online which include budget, salary compensation, audits, and donations.  There is no mention of the Hamtramck Music Festival in any of these minutes.

Now this is not an indictment of the Fest, but just something that raises an eyebrow.  Maybe I simply missed the school that the money went to. I cry your pardon.  After all, I'm not getting paid for this.  And I have to stress this, god knows our education system isn't going to get the aid it needs from the government.  BTW, Mrs' Walters' latest project is still open until the end of July in case you care where your money goes....
Oh wait that reminds me, one more thing (three) about that.  In early March 50 schools nationwide received $10,000 grants from NBC to assist theater/arts programs, production expenses, technical equipment, and other needs (many other functions).  It's called R.I.S.E. America Grants.  I'll give you one guess to one of the schools that were chosen....You got it!  Hamtramck High School.  This actually is mentioned in the school district board minutes.  Y'know, the same minutes that don't mention HMF.  I also verified it when I saw it on the morning news in early March.  Oh, and just a few weeks later the latest Mrs. Walters GoFundMe went live.  At this point, I find myself asking if a Mrs. Walters even exists.  Alright, that may be a bit too heavy-handed, but you get my point.  So go ahead and rip away.  This post had more actual fact-finding journalism (and common sense) than any other writer in town.

At the very worst, as with Ben's Encore, the Fest will get it together, and make a post saying where the money went, or even worse send the eternal Hamtramck pariah Woodman to comment on the FB post with details because they know I like him.  With tax season come and gone, maybe that's not such a bad idea.  I would actually welcome it being shoved in my face because then A) the money went to the right places and B) everybody would finally know; just like the Transparency logo on the Hamtramck schools website says.  I don't really know what to think if their silence remains.  This blog shuts down on Oct. 8th, so if there is a Fest next year (and we should prepare for the potential there isn't) I won't be covering it, though I hope that it is run by more competent people.  I also hope the artists, bands, sponsors, venues, and fans remember this.  I don't think Queen Kwong is coming (back) to save you this time.  Tell me I'm wrong in the comments.  You can even do it anonymously!!

From the Iceman Commeth,
Bryan Metro


Anonymous said...

I predict the comments will be quiet. I don't think anybody involved even cares.

Deep Throat said...

I got an official quote from HMF, "Well, you see, the thing about that is... Gotta Go!"

19th Century Man said...

Dearest Author, you are doing the Lords work and I would hope these robber barons are brought to justice or the matter is resolved post haste.

Mrs. Walter said...

I care deeply about my students and brand new yeezy sneakers.

Mr. Church said...

You see, you are currently in a dream. You are dreaming and I have been sent to protect you.

Ben Encore said...

Daddy, where's my money?

Mrs. Walter said...

I wish they'd fuss over my students as much as they fuss over my brand new rollie.

Deep Throat said...

HMF's unofficial statement is, "Homina Homina Homina."

wes borland said...

I have nothing interesting to bring to the table, including my wife.

Friendly Neighboorhood Spider-Man said...

If I find out Dr Octopus was involved in this theft, I will web-sling right over to Hamtramck and stop it! For now, I will leave it to you web-heads to get to the bottom of this. With great power, comes great responsibility!

Mrs. Walter said...

I wish they would ride the students to do better, while I ride in my shiny new pimped out Bentley.

Danny Gilbert said...

Ha! Fools. You could make more money pretending to better the city, when actually you're lining your own pockets (and screwing over absolutely everybody in the process)!!! Amateurs.

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