Saturday, February 27, 2010

Grand jury finds fault with Banning agency

A Riverside County grand jury is calling for changes to the Community Redevelopment Agency in Banning.

Following an investigation into the agency, the grand jury has issued a seven-page report with its findings and recommendations.

The report states the agency and Banning Cultural Alliance, a nonprofit organization, agreed on a $343,000 two-year contract in August 2006 that called on the alliance to present arts and cultural events and redevelopment activities. However, the group did not perform certain activities, such as a Banning marketing campaign.

The grand jury takes the governing board of the redevelopment agency, the City Council, to task. It states, "An examination of the relationship between the Alliance and the redevelopment agency revealed a willingness by the board to fund the group without any measure of accountability, without measure of success or failure and without demands for return of funds not spent on contractual obligations."

The grand jury says the board should cease and desist awarding any redevelopment money to the alliance.

The grand jury also recommends the redevelopment agency commit to major improvements in east Banning to reduce blight.

In a statement, Banning Mayor Bob Botts says the agency will carefully review the grand jury's recommendations, including issues related to the alliance.

Karen Clavelot, president of the alliance board of directors, could not be reached for comment.

Reach Erin Waldner at 951-763-3473 or

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