Followup: City asks for, gets return of questioned grant $

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A new development late today, related to allegations made last night by the 34th District Democrats, who passed a motion asking for city and state investigations into a purported youth-arts publication that they alleged was instead political-attack literature – funded by a $1,000 city grant.

The city says that today it asked for, and got, the money back.

Here’s our story, as it developed late last night and into the morning, including a scanned copy of the “2011 Youth Arts Compendium” publication, created with a grant received by West Seattle-based Unified Outreach, whose director David Toledo is campaign manager for King County Council candidate Diana Toledo, who was promoted in several of the publication’s articles.

Answering our request for comment right after the 34th DDs’ vote, Unified Outreach sent a statement saying in part “… We at Unified Outreach are confused by the allegations. As all stories were written by youth with no intentional biases or promotion of one candidate over another. There was NO input from ANY campaigns or political figures and no copies of the paper were released prior to printing..”

This morning, we sent several questions to the city Department of Neighborhoods, which issued the Small Sparks grant to Unified Outreach.

We asked for clarification of city rules regarding political content in work produced with grant money – pointing out that we found rules saying political groups cannot receive grants, but, we asked, if a publication or artwork was found to have political content, is that a violation of any kind?

The reply from Department of Neighborhoods spokesperson Lois Maag says:

Much of the Youth Arts Compendium publication is clearly not in compliance with either what was proposed in Unified Outreach’s application or what is contained in their Letter of Agreement with the City. Today we requested that United Outreach return the $1000 to the City. Their representative met with our staff, signed receipt of our letter referencing the issue, and issued a check to the City.

Maag says that politics isn’t entirely off-limits for city grants, but explains, “When it comes to political or issues-oriented activities, we only fund those applications that ensure all “sides” are represented. For example, a candidates’ forum would have to include/invite all candidates, just not those from one political party. This practice would be reiterated in our conversations with the awardee, as well as included in the Letter of Agreement.”

We had also asked DON for a copy of the application – characterized by Unified Outreach in their response last night as “… the Department of Neighborhoods asked to partner with us …” – and they shared it, along with the letter of agreement; see them both here. To our question about what kind of vetting is given to city grant applicants/recipients, before and after the project for which money is granted, Maag replied, “Even though the funding amounts are small for Small Sparks awards, our staff reviews every application, talks with the applicant to discuss the project, and develops the contract/letter of agreement with the awardee. By going through this process, our staff has a level of trust that awardees will follow through with the activity outlined in the signed agreement with the City. In addition, as part of the Letter of Agreement, we ask for a final report when the project is completed.”

Her final comment: “This situation with Unified Outreach is a rare occurrence in the Neighborhood Matching Fund.”

46 Replies to "Followup: City asks for, gets return of questioned grant $"

  • Dave September 15, 2011 (6:39 pm)

    Maybe the city should do at least a little due diligence before blithely handing out money. I am glad that the funding was taken away from UO and hope criminal proceedings follow. Pretty poor reflection on the Toledo campaign imho.

  • Fiver September 15, 2011 (6:51 pm)

    “copy of the application…along with the letter of agreement; see them both here.” Is the link missing?

  • Christi September 15, 2011 (6:53 pm)

    Your reporing on this has been outstanding. Thank you.

    Do you know if there’s been a response from the PDC on the violation and/or complaint?


  • Trileigh September 15, 2011 (7:15 pm)

    Interesting to see this all evolve so quickly; thanks as always for your up-to-the-minute reporting!

    (Is there a link missing toward the end when it says we can see the application and letter of agreement “here”?)

  • Ann Martin September 15, 2011 (7:21 pm)

    Thanks to both the WSB for following up on this and to the Department of Neighborhoods for responding quickly to this issue. I hope there will be a process for making sure this kind of thing does not happen in the future.

    As a side note – there appears to be a link missing to the application and the letter of agreement. Are you still working on putting that up?

    It will be interesting to see if the state Public Disclosure Commission will respond, recognizing they have a more extended process.

    Thanks again for following up on this. I am just sorry kids were sucked into this vortex – then again, maybe they will learn something, though perhaps not what was intended, about civic involvement!

    • WSB September 15, 2011 (9:21 pm)

      I apologize for the missing link – I put this story up and then went offline for a while, which turned into a longer while than I planned – the documents sent as a PDF by Neighborhoods are now linked to “see them both here” – TR

  • enviromaven September 15, 2011 (7:44 pm)

    Very interesting all around. Thanks for following up on this!

  • LincolnPark September 15, 2011 (7:47 pm)

    No link to “see them both here”.

    This was a fun story today! Thanks for the great, responsbile reporting, WSB!

  • mookie September 15, 2011 (8:01 pm)

    Oh, this made my night. :-)

  • SrslySharon September 15, 2011 (8:30 pm)

    Who says you have to have social media to have a political scandal these days?

    Nice job keepin’ it old skool.

  • Brooke September 15, 2011 (8:48 pm)

    Diana Toledo and her husband using city money and a youth “arts” publication as a campaign platform is disgusting, they should be ashamed of themselves.

    • WSB September 15, 2011 (9:31 pm)

      Brooke, David Toledo is not Diana Toledo’s husband – and there is no evidence she was personally involved with this – her name does not appear anywhere on Unified Outreach’s site, for example – TR

  • out for a walk September 15, 2011 (9:26 pm)

    I would like to know their definition of “youth” because as a former public school teacher I can tell you this was NOT written by “youth”. SO… this is how our tax money is being spent!

  • orca September 15, 2011 (9:40 pm)

    Seems to be the same gleeful bunch posting here. Not sure what it is all about but looks like a bunch of political supporters caught the other side in a bad situation and is now having a great time.

  • mookie September 15, 2011 (9:42 pm)

    The campaign pushed the line using kids before. This time, “someone” responsible for this backed up, took a running start and long-jumped over the line. Pathetic.
    Thank you for the thorough investigative reporting on this.

  • mg September 15, 2011 (9:45 pm)

    Excellent reporting on this, WSB. I wonder if these folks might be running afoul of federal tax law here, too. Unified Outreach is, according to its website, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and there are pretty clear rules about non-profits not engaging in political advocacy, which this newspaper pretty clearly is.

  • mookie September 15, 2011 (9:46 pm)

    @orca if you’re not sure what it’s all about, maybe read the story from the beginning? I’m not a “gleeful” poster from any previous parts of the story, but I am pleased, yes, pleased that this b.s. was called out, revealed, and that the funding had to be returned.
    “Bad situation” sounds like an accident, unintentional. If you’d read all the links above, I don’t think you’d phrase it quite that way.

  • Ivan Weiss September 15, 2011 (9:54 pm)

    David is Diana’s brother.

  • UO September 15, 2011 (10:03 pm)

    WSB has been provided with email documentation from 8.31.11 between Unified Outreach and the Department of Neighborhoods which confirms that the Unified Arts program sought to return the grant money due to a shortage of submissions (which caused the paper to have less pages than agreed to per contract). This article makes it appear as if the return of the money was due to the 34th District’s complaint. The money was returned at Unified Outreach’s suggestion due to the inability to meet the promise of a 16 page paper. To infer anything else is unprofessional and irresponsible.

    Additionally, WSB Continues to site David Toledo as Diana Toledo’s Campaign Manager which is incorrect. David Toledo is the brother of Diana and has acted in many volunteer roles, with Diana’s campaign and several others. However, David has never held an official or paid position with Diana’s campaign.

    • WSB September 15, 2011 (10:29 pm)

      And as I replied to you a short time ago, after receiving the e-mail you sent tonight with the claim that you offered to return the money previously, you didn’t mention that in the lengthy response you sent last night to my request for comment made immediately after the 34th District Democrats’ vote – the response which I published in its entirety in last night’s story. As I also mentioned in my reply to you, I will ask the Department of Neighborhoods about your contention first thing in the morning.
      As for the “he’s not her campaign manager” contention, which also was not mentioned in your previous communication, including a comment left on last night’s story – that’s how he is identified in your publication (see the 34th District Democrats softball “scandal” story), and has been identified that way in other publications. Looking through my e-mail files currently. – TR
      (added) In the campaign questionnaire filed with the King County Democrats for this year’s campaign – a questionnaire which traditionally is filled out by a campaign (but if Ms. Toledo’s campaign did not fill this out, please say so) – he is listed as her campaign manager.

    • WSB September 16, 2011 (3:49 pm)

      And following up on the contention from UOthat “the money was returned at (its) suggestion due to the inability to meet the promise of a 16-page paper,” the city’s reply to my followup questions this morning says that Mr. Toledo requested a letter before writing the city a check, and the letter, according to Lois Maag of DON, says that they did indeed ask for the money back because of the publication’s content, not its length:

      >>“In April, the City of Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund Program (NMF) provided $1000 to your organization to implement a community project called the “Youth Arts Compendium” which included developing, printing and distributing a 16-page publication with youth art work, graphics, poetry and current event stories. Upon reviewing this free community publication, there appears to be limited expressions of art and instead primarily focuses on politics, elections and electoral candidates. The publication is inconsistent with the scope of work in your contract with the City of Seattle.”

      “Based on this assessment, the City is requesting that you return the funds provided for this project,”, etc. (gets into specifics of returning the check) … “Please note that the City of Seattle fully supports the arts, youth programming, and civic engagement (that is electoral party and/or candidate neutral).” (end of quote)
      The city acknowledges that Unified Outreach sent e-mail on August 31st asking if they wanted the money back because they were producing a 12-page paper instead of a 16-page paper. Maag’s reply to my question on that is as follows:
      >>Yes, the project manager received the email and responded that it was ok that the publication was smaller. At that time, the awardee offered to return the funds based on the size of the publication, not content. The content of the publication was not in compliance with either what was proposed in the application or contained in their signed Letter of Agreement with the City.

      The Neighborhood Matching Fund provided this award because of the youth component. As long as youth were engaged, learning and expressing their art in this piece, the NMF program feels that this is a worthwhile investment, whether the publication was 12 pages or 16. (end of quote)
      We asked if DON had received copies of the “2011 Youth Arts Compendium” prior to our first inquiry to them about it yesterday (which I believe preceded any communication from the 34th District Democrats following their meeting the night before, but I have not checked since the meeting with anyone from the 34th DDs to see where that stood or whether they are still pursuing it). Maag’s reply:
      >>Yes, the project manager received the papers on Sept. 1 or 2 while in all-day meetings and the day before leaving for vacation. So she didn’t have the opportunity to read the paper (however, the awardee had already started distributing the paper informally by then). The project manager has been on vacation since, so our staff did not read the publication until yesterday.

      Because of the volume, size of awards, and nature of the NMF Small Sparks Fund and the projects awarded, we don’t review nor edit awardees’ activities before they are completed, whether they are events or products. Through our vetting process and conversations with applicants, there is the level of trust that the awardees will follow through with the activity outlined in the signed agreement with the City. (end of quote)

  • really? September 15, 2011 (10:39 pm)

    UO: Here’s a link to the Diana Toledo camapaign’s responses to the King County Democrats 2011 General Candidate Questionnaire, in which David Toledo is identified as the campaign manager:

    Is this document inaccurate?

    • WSB September 15, 2011 (10:42 pm)

      “Really?” I had just edited my comment to add that link as your comment came in – TR

  • Brooke September 15, 2011 (10:43 pm)

    I’m sure Diana had no knowledge whatsoever of the stories. Poor thing, it’s all just a big coincidence!

  • mookie September 15, 2011 (10:57 pm)

    @UO you might want to re-check with David about that again:
    He didn’t feel the need to correct being identified — and quoted — as such in this news article about an election night party:
    “David Toledo, brother of Diana and her campaign manager, said “Some people may have voted for our opponent, but…””
    Me, I’m gonna go with the King County Democrats 2011 General Candidate Questionnaire that’s online where, right there at the top on the first page, before Ms. Toledo answers all the questions, it says “Campaign Name: Diana Toledo for King County Council – District 8″ and “Manager: David Toledo.”

  • JC September 16, 2011 (1:11 am)

    So, it should be perfectly clear by now to pretty much everyone that the Toledo campaign consists of dishonest hacks with zero integrity. The newspaper itself, bad as it is, is less disgraceful than the easily refuted lies spouted by various Toledo apologists in the comment threads. UO and JoAnne have zero shame and apparently no respect for the intelligence of

  • My two cents ... September 16, 2011 (4:41 am)

    Sad and pathetic. And just to be clear, I am referencing the Toledo “campaign” – if you can call it that.

  • cherylc September 16, 2011 (5:21 am)

    When I received this paper, the kid handing it out said some people were making donations. Where was that money going? I actually totally missed the purpose of this publication. I read the first article, and to my shame, didn’t recognize it for what it was, then recycled the rest. And no, I didn’t donate.

  • Ken September 16, 2011 (7:40 am)

    WSB: Diana is the only person mentioned by name as a volunteer on the breakers reunion website also sponsored by UO.
    Note the David Toledo web design.

    also note the address of the non profit is the same as West Seattle Christian School.

    And another FYI, their web site has a rather strict TOS policy. Just make a note of it for when the whiny baby act reaches the point of “defamation”.

  • Nathan September 16, 2011 (7:42 am)

    When this was dropped off on my doorstep, I was disgusted by how slimy Diana Toledo was being. It really turned me off of her. And what was with that stuff on the back page? It was as if the whole point of the back page was to call out that the other candidate was gay. The whole thing really turned me off of Diana and before I was indifferent. It seemed like every story was propping her up. I honestly though it was a campaign literature until I read this article here.

  • KBear September 16, 2011 (8:55 am)

    Nathan, it IS campaign literature! That’s why it’s illegal for a non-profit to publish it, and using a city grant no less.

  • CJ September 16, 2011 (9:17 am)

    David, the fair weather campaign manager, lol.

  • Klause September 16, 2011 (9:56 am)

    Wow!! And the “White” bashing that the publication leads off with. Whites dominate State politics. If they would check the State demographics on the Census Bureau’s website
    they’d see that there are only 3.6% blacks and 11.2% Hispanic/Latinos in the state as of 2010 as opposed to 77.3% whites. Of course there are going to be more white people running for office.

    And the author, who I’m still uncertain of, misses the fact that Vashon is King County and the South Park bridge is City of Seattle and complains that Vashon got money because of it’s White Community and the South Park Latino’s got the shaft. Apples and Oranges comparison between two different jurisdictions. The author(s) needs to get their facts straight. King County isn’t respobsible for the South Park bridge.
    I guess when OU said that they “dumbed down” articles after a review, I guess he really meant it.

  • LincolnPark September 16, 2011 (10:26 am)

    I’m very interested to hear a statement from candidate Toledo about all of this.

  • Klause September 16, 2011 (11:45 am)

    WSB: I stand corrected. Thanks.

  • jmarshall September 16, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    Are there any penalties beyond returning the grant money for not being “in compliance with either what was proposed in the application or contained in their signed Letter of Agreement with the City”? I would hope that at least DoN would take a skeptical eye at any grant requests from Unified Outreach in the future.

  • My two cents ... September 16, 2011 (7:00 pm)

    Good to see that Toledo’s support of the arts includes such areas as pointing dollars to her family. Check out her YouTube clip where she rails against the arts establishment. What a joke!

  • Tamsen Spengler September 17, 2011 (9:04 am)

    When I found this on my porch and read it I was furious. Is this the kind of journalismn we want to teach our youth to write? What kind of role models does this agency have for our youth? I lost all respect for Diane and David Toledo. I hope the youth learn a lesson here.

  • mookie September 17, 2011 (4:08 pm)

    “The money was returned at Unified Outreach’s suggestion due to the inability to meet the promise of a 16 page paper. To infer anything else is unprofessional and irresponsible.”
    Oh hey speaking of unprofessional and irresponsible, the WSB is neither of those, while “UO” has been proven to be both — and neatly caught in lies each time he/she has posted. Some people just don’t learn that what they write on the internet stays around forever.
    I look forward to official investigations of this publication, and watching the consequences roll downhill. Thank you WSB for your research, professionalism and sense of responsibility to your readers in letting them know about this after the issue was raised at the 34th District Dems meeting.

  • JoAnne September 18, 2011 (1:11 pm)

    Has anyone commenting here even READ the paper?
    In the interest of fairness, even though the publication is supportive of Toledo, all it says about Joe McDermott was that he had to leave a ballgame early and so his position on the team was replaced by someone from Toledo’s campaign. So what?
    In fact, it included a reprint from Joe McDermott’s voter pamphlet statement.

    That looks to me as if they DID at least try present information from the opposition. Unlike what was done here.

  • Ivan Weiss September 19, 2011 (6:27 am)

    I read it, JoAnne, every word of it. It’s a piece of dreck from beginning to end, and so is your defense of it. Your candidate has no credibility, her brother has no credibility, and YOU have no credibility.

    The publication had no business being “supportive of Toledo” or of any other candidate. Not on the public’s dime it didn’t. Now that David has been made to give the money back, he can do anything he pleases.

  • Ted September 19, 2011 (4:37 pm)

    KUDOs to West Seattle blog for their in depth reporting – and follow through.

    It is obvious from the comments attached to this story that a lot of people are passionate about not having Seattle city dollars spent on political hit piece.

    I hope everyone noticed the hypocrisy of Toldeo calling for money to be spent on true artists – and instead her brother takes money to be spent on campaign fiction !

  • bolo September 20, 2011 (5:20 pm)

    And has taken money from 4Culture (the same 4Culture that Diana Toledo wants to dismantle; stated at least twice in the publication in question) in the recent past. $5000, apparently. See Brendan Kiley’s point #1 in his article “Today in Idiotic Ideas from Local Candidates (and Too-Long Posts from Exasperated Stranger Writers): Save Arts Education by Cutting Arts Funding.”

  • Rick September 21, 2011 (9:29 am)

    Just picked up my copy of the “2011 Youth Arts Compendium” and can’t believe that my tax dollars are supporting this racist/political publication, using “for the kids” slogan. Toledo is a very scary person. Both of ’em.

  • djake1984 September 23, 2011 (10:38 pm)

    @ Ken another note of clarification … the address is not that of West Seattle Christian School since the school closed in 2006 … please do not rely on old out of date websites for accurate information … the address is the location of the ginomai artist community

Sorry, comment time is over.