By Edwin Crayton
In October of 2016, Leo Walker, chairman of the Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation (NCIF), made a stunning statement when he admitted the foundation didn’t know what happened to $19,500 of the public money it manages. Fast forward to the January 8th meeting of NCIF when I asked Walker and the board if they felt the public has a right to know what happened to the money, and if they felt they had a responsibility to do all possible to help the public learn what happened to the funds. The board stunningly said no, rejecting that concept. From a purely ethical and moral point of view, it would seem any community organization that has money missing would want to do all it could to appear transparent, restore trust and help the public learn what happened. Indeed, doing so might at the very least help prevent it from happening again. Right? But apparently the foundation doesn’t see it that way.
So what are they thinking and why? The board maintains that because most of the current members were not around when the money went missing, they have no responsibility to help find out what happened to the missing funds. In fact, members seemed unwilling to even commit to a minimum effort to investigate the missing money. For instance, when I asked if they would at the very least be willing to at least ask a couple of questions of the auditor who in 2014, reported the money was unaccounted for. They said no.
The implications of their comments are disturbing. For instance, if they are right then it would mean any group could lose money or mishandle it and when their successors take office, the matter would be dropped. No one would be held accountable and the incident would not even be looked into, all because “the new officers were not involved in the problem.” That is even more disturbing than $19, 500 being unaccounted for.
The Natchitoches Community Improvement Foundation Board members are : Leo Walker Jr., Oswald Taylor, Kelvin Porter, Brenda Milner, Ed Ward Jr., Gwen Hardison, Mildred Joseph, Shaniqua Hoover, Billye Sue Johnson, Gwendolyn Williams, Catherine Hoover, Diane Blake Jones, James Below Jr., and Estelle Braxton
“Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” —Lord Acton
“You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” –Jesus Christ, John 8:32