WRAP board should be careful today

A special meeting this morning for the Warren Redevelopment and Planning Commission’s board of trustees to consider changing the non-profit organization’s bylaws raises serious concerns.

Although WRAP Director Anthony Iannucci refuses to operate the agency with transparency, the Tribune Chronicle received a copy of a letter from WRAP’s chairman of the board, Kim Phillips, to everybody who attended the last full board meeting. The letter inviting them to today’s meeting references a May 29 meeting of the executive board. The letter says the executive board discussed changing bylaws and the proposed changes would be sent for review in advance of this morning’s meeting.

As of Monday afternoon, many of those invited said they have yet to receive the proposals.

WRAP and another non-profit Sunshine of Warren Trumbull Area Inc., also overseen by Iannucci have been lightning rods of controversy lately over how they are handling taxpayer dollars and impacting county neighborhoods. WRAP was created to focus on revitalizing downtown Warren. Sunshine exists to provide housing opportunities for residents in low-income neighborhoods. They have received millions of taxpayer dollars.

There is concern that the full WRAP board has not met in years despite bylaws that require more frequent meetings, IRS filings that indicate the board has been meeting more frequently and state laws requiring more board involvement to maintain non-profit status. Phillips’ letter invites everybody who attended the last full board meeting but it does not mention when that meeting was held.

There is also concern that members’ terms have expired and no replacements appointed, that Iannucci unilaterally operates the organization and that many of WRAP’s deals violate other bylaws.

Since Iannucci is not forthcoming with so much as board meeting minutes, some members of Warren City Council said they have written to Ohio Auditor David Yost for a thorough audit and to Ohio Attorney Mike DeWine for an investigation.

”The entities (WRAP and Sunshine) have shown a history of a lack of open board meeting and without available minutes, the barring of public attendance and refusal to provide administrative and financial information to Warren City Council.” Councilmen John Brown, Greg Bartholomew and Alford Novak signed the letter.

One item they specifically sited was an Urban Development Action Grant loan extended from WRAP to Sunshine. The UDAG loan is restricted to downtown revitalization. It does not appear that Sunshine has any downtown function.

The WRAP board members should tread carefully as they make important decisions that impact downtown, neighborhoods throughout the county and taxpayer dollars.