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Chagrin Solon Sun: Documents Reveal Arts Center Investigation Details

The Chagrin Solon Sun is reporting details on why Karen Prasser resigned as director of the Solon Center for the Arts.

Documents in Karen Prasser's personnel file reveal reasons for why she resigned as director the Solon Center for the Arts and shed light on the city's pending investigation under the fraud policy, reports the Chagrin Solon Sun.

The newspaper reports that in May that Finance Director Dennis Kennedy sent Prasser a memo detailing his concern about the arts center's accounting practices with Friends of the Solon Center for the Arts, a non-profit that fundraises for the SCA but is not affiliated with the city.

Prasser resigned in early September and days later the city announced it was investigating the arts center for "irregularities" under the fraud policy.

Other details reported by the newspaper, including information from an anonymous source, are:

  • Mismanagement of employee timesheets.
  • Use of city resources on non-city ventures, including a theatrical production at a local church.
  • The friends organization was writing checks to arts center employees instead of to the city.

Read the entire article at the Chagrin Solon Sun.

Harry December 02, 2012 at 11:55 PM
queen- are you saying that the only things the city contributes to SCA is the building and $300,000 annually. And all other operational costs come from FSCA fundraising and fees? Do you know what the average bottom line usage is between residents vs. non-residents? Not that I ever paid close attention (until now) but I did not know that a caveat of the state monies Grace Drake obtained was that the building had to be a regional arts center. I am sure I would have accepted those terms. Is Fairmont Arts Center part of any municipality? How about the programs Orange offers?
queen of the may December 02, 2012 at 11:59 PM
you must have been active prior to the board i was a part of. i was on the board appointed by the mayor, early 2000's. volunteers have never been turned away from sca and certainly not discouraged from entering the arts center. volunteers can't be fired...
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:00 AM
harry, sorry, typo below. it was $675,000 from senator drake, i believe, given by the county to serve the county. just ask the senator...
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:02 AM
and i hope your street does get repaired. i'm sure that is a priority with the city and has nothing to do with the arts center.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:26 AM
No, Harry. The city subsidy makes up approx. 38% of the total annual budget for SCA. Additional income is generated by fees for classes, program participation, ticket sales, etc. The Friends group only helped fund programs above and beyond that budget. And I would say that the majority of usage (I think over 80%) of the building is by Solon residents, but its programs/performances certainly draw from all over Cleveland, which drives business to our restaurants, etc. And the monies from the state were for an arts center that not only served the city of Solon, but the surrounding communities. It was always a big sticking point with council because of the city subsidy. As for Fairmount, I believe it is a private entity. Orange is part of the city of Orange.
Anne December 03, 2012 at 12:33 AM
My sister is children's theater director at Fairmount Center and has been for almost 30 years (except for a brief time when she directed children's theater in Solon which was a very bad experience). Quite a few of her students have advanced to Broadway and various tv shows. She is nationally acclaimed and has been written up in the PD quite a few times for exemplary work at Fairmount Center. My sister chose the materials that went into the refurbishing of the theater at Solon Center For the Arts. She worked closely with Mary Ann Hill Williams, the first director of the center to get the doors opened. Fairmount center is not part of any city or municipality. It is funded by individual and corporate benefactors. FC does have fundraiser and awareness events that are open to everyone.
Mix December 03, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Annie, My street is fine, thank you. Sorry to hear about your street. I hope it gets repaired soon; so that the Carolers can come and sing in front of your house.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:48 AM
you sound very proud of your sister. i hope fairmount survives its funding woes and continues to thrive. they have excellent programs.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:49 AM
i think you're mistaken, harry!
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 12:53 AM
the friends group was fundraising for the patio because it is the right thing to do at that center. handicapped parking was staying in the same lot, just moved over. there is no access through the bainbridge road door on a daily basis. and it would all have to be ADA compliant. my mother uses a wheelchair. i know what you mean. perhaps you misunderstood. time to let bygones be bygones...
Anne December 03, 2012 at 12:57 AM
City departments are not independent organizations that serve the county or region. Our safety forces serve us, not the general region, same with all other city services and departments.
Anne December 03, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Mix, we got some of the bad concrete. Take a look at Forest Glen and some of the other ABC streets. Almost new concrete spalled and split. Patch doesn't hold.
John December 03, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Is it true the that moneys received for things like the orchestra fees were forwarded to the friends? How did you fund things? If I remember the Grace Drake contribution was 300K and the county supplied the funding for the ADA needs, ramp and elevator.
kindleberry1 December 03, 2012 at 01:47 AM
@Anne, you are so wrong about "carefully selected people" being asked to volunteer for FSCA functions. We have always welcomed any volunteers.
Anne December 03, 2012 at 02:01 AM
Here's the deal. I sent the mayor a copy of the ADA rules and she made sure they were followed. End of story. If the law rained on your parade, that's the way it is. I did not write the law.There are very specific rules regarding handicapped parking and drop off/pick up access. Failure to comply with the ADA law can result in a large lawsuit and fines. I have been an advocate for handicapped accessibility for the past 6 years.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 02:20 AM
of course city departments serve their cities. but if you use state or county funding, it serves the greater community. do you think only solon residents drive on solon city roads?
Harry December 03, 2012 at 04:31 AM
In my opinion, this is all moot (and how did this discussion turn to concrete)? It seems to be that the activities and program offerings are getting scaled back and the city is distancing itself from FSCA. You cannot be "friends" with someone especially if they no longer want to be your "friend". Until this investigation is over, FSCA is not dealing from a position of strength. It might be best to lie low for now.
Anne December 03, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Beth, get over it. things are changing. The county or state does not fix my street, never has, probably never will. I don't see friends groups for the service department, safety forces, city hall employees, etc. The arts center is a city department and should be treated as such.
Anne December 03, 2012 at 11:17 AM
You miss a lot when you don't live here and can't access council meetings on tv. You can't read faces or hear discussions and excuses. You simply don't get the entire story.
kindleberry1 December 03, 2012 at 12:32 PM
@Ann, try to restrain yourself. Ever since your sister was not rehired at SCA you have had nothing but negative things to say. It sounds like your sister is doing very well were she is. It's time to get over it. Life it too short.
kindleberry1 December 03, 2012 at 12:59 PM
@Harry, I agree, you can't be friends with someone that doesn't want you. But after ten years of raising nationally awareness and money for SCA some respect from the mayor would be nice.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 02:54 PM
anyone can access council meetings online if they so choose.
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM
and what's with this turning into a forum about street repair?
Harry December 03, 2012 at 04:09 PM
You've got that right, queen. How did that random thought slide into this thread?
Harry December 03, 2012 at 04:16 PM
While I do not know Mayor Drucker personally but as an HR consultant I have observed and have drawn some conclusions about her. 1) She's stubborn and not all that logical at times especially when angry. 2) She's has a probation officer's mentality and thinks people are lying to her. 3) Don't get on her bad side or challenge her (as the Friends apparently have). 4) When that happens she develops a bunker mentality and turns inward (like appointing someone from Recreation to head up SCA).
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 04:28 PM
harry, i like your logical thinking... do you want to join the Board?! Just one thing, you have to PAY to be trampled on and abused! LOL
Harry December 03, 2012 at 06:13 PM
queen, it's like I previously stated--at this point in my life what I don't need is a) an elected office to run for and b) another thankless board to serve on. Thanks for asking though!
queen of the may December 03, 2012 at 07:04 PM
that depends on your definition of thankless... we get stonewalled, hung up on, ignored, and questioned a lot... does that count? ;-)
Harry December 03, 2012 at 07:31 PM
I guess it does. If you are inferring that this behavior is coming from city hall or the mayor's office my guess is it because the Friends brought this story to the forefront while the investigation was still going on. See my analysis of the mayor above.
queen of the may December 04, 2012 at 03:52 AM
harry, you sound like someone who used to be on our board... ????

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