Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fresno Grand Jury Report Criticizes City Over Handling Of Met

For the second week in a row, a Fresno County Grand Jury is criticizing Fresno City leaders for their handling of a multi–million dollar project.

On Tuesday, the Grand Jury released a report slamming the city for it's handling of the Fresno Metropolitan Museum.

The report claims the city lacked "diligence" in approving a $15 million loan for the museum back in 2007, citing a "desire to approve the project in spite of its possible risks."

The money was used for a renovation project.

The reports also found that:

* Members of the public were not sufficiently informed about the impact the loan could have on the city.
* Fresno City officials did not get a business plan from the Met before guaranteeing the loan.
* No background checks were performed on the Met principals, as required by City Code
* No appraisal of the property was done prior to approval of the loan.
* An investigation was not done on why the Met project was 100% over budget.

City Council members told the grand jury they felt pressure from community leaders to approve the loan, and didn't request more information because, "the met proposal was going to be approved anyway."

In May of 2009, the Met defaulted on the loan, which caused the city to have to pay it off using general funds.

By January of 2010 the museum was forced to close it's doors, after officials concluded their monthly expense could not be met by their monthly revenue


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