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Air America: Stealing from Poor Kids?!
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*scroll down for updates*

Air America is being investigated in New York for diverting federal/local funds–possibly “hundreds of thousands of dollars”–meant for inner-city kids and senior into the station’s coffers.

Um, why isn’t the New York Times, which has spilled tons of adulatory ink on the liberal radio network, covering this scandal on its front page?

Radio blogger Brian Maloney has the lowdown. Read the whole thing. He sniffed out the story when he spotted this tidbit buried in the NY Daily News about Air America being targeted in a NYC Department of Investigation probe of kids’ and seniors’ programs being ripped off in the Bronx:

A Bronx congressman yesterday praised the smooth takeover of dozens of programs serving thousands of youngsters and seniors across the borough after the city yanked funding from two sponsoring agencies that have come under a cloud.

The nonprofit Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club and its affiliate Pathways for Youth found their city contracts, running into the millions of dollars, abruptly ended last month by the city Department of Investigation…

In its initial announcement, the DOI said it was probing allegations that program officials “approved significant inappropriate transactions and falsified documents that were submitted to various city agencies.”

According to published reports, the allegations involve Charles Rosen, the founder of Gloria Wise who has stepped down as executive director, investing city contract funds in Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network.

Evan Cohen, Air America’s former chairman, had served as Gloria Wise’s director of development.

A local community paper, The Bronx News, covers the Air America troubles ignored by the national press:

The Bronx News has learned, through informed sources, that the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club in Co-op City to the liberal Air America Radio is at the center of the city’s probe of corruption at the local club.

The money, which was reportedly paid to Air America as a loan, was supposed to be paid back with interest, two unidentified informed sources told the News. One source added that Air America officials, led by an official of the Gloria Wise Club, agreed to help the local club by publicizing its activities.

To date, no indictments have been handed down in the New York City Department of Investigation’s ongoing probe of the Gloria Wise Club’s reported transfer of funds to Air America…

…The city’s DOI is pursuing the probe because the Gloria Wise Club depends heavily on city funding for its operations. These funds are subject to extensive audits, as are funds received through the state and federal governments.

The Co-op City-based club, which Rosen has built into an empire in the Co-op City community, reportedly has 19 contracts and at least one grant with the city, worth a total of $9.7 million.

Over the last year, Rep. Joseph Crowley has secured two major federal grants for the Gloria Wise Club, one for a day-care program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers and the other for the community’s NORC program for senior citizens. The grant for the program for Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers was for $250,000, while the grant for the NORC program was for $99,410.

In 2003, Crowley secured a $218,500 grant for a mentoring program that the Gloria Wise Club runs.

Cohen, who is reportedly at the center of the Gloria Wise probe, is a Guam-based investors who was reportedly a key principal in the start-up of Air America…

Will Air America’s self-proclaimed champions of the poor and downtrodden–Franken? Garafolo? Springer?–touch this story with a ten-foot pole? Will Randi Rhodes trot out her gunshot sound effects to blame the messenger? Or will the gabbers continue maintaining their radio silence?

Like they say: Stay tuned…


Just FYI, I’ve uploaded Charles Rosen’s campaign contribution history via Political Money Line: Download file. Cohen contributed $2,000 to the Kerry campaign in 2003.

Money talks, even if Air America won’t.


Update: More on the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club’s funding sources…

Proven fundraising abilities promise an even more active future for the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club. The generous support of benefactors including the Charles Hayden Foundation, Con Edison, the Butler Foundation, Metropolitan Life, Pinkerton Foundation, Calder Foundation, and New York Community Trust has helped the club continue to grow in recent years. Most recently, the $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will allow the club to begin a multi-year mentoring program for more than 200 youth by the start of 2003.

As mentioned above, the NYC Department of Investigations is also apparently looking into diversion of funds from the Pathways for Youth Boys & Girls Club, an affiliate of the Gloria Wise club. According to this site, Pathways has requested $206,872 under its No Child Left Behind Act 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program grant award. The US Department of Education better be examining that request very carefully.

Brian Maloney points to this June 28 NY Daily News story (which omits reference to Air America, but mentions Charles Rosen):

Local city, state and federal legislators involved in funding the programs met Sunday at the offices of Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley to discuss the situation, said Assemblyman Michael Benedetto (D-East Bronx).

He said it was his understanding that the city has brought in other nonprofit agencies, such as the Police Athletic League, to take over the various programs run by the two suspect groups, which have received $9.7 million in 19 contracts and one outright grant.

Benedetto said that workers at Gloria Wise have already been notified their last official day of work will be Thursday.


Besides the city Education Department and the Youth and Community Development Department, the DOI release stated that the Department for the Aging is terminating its contracts with Gloria Wise, and the city Housing Authority is terminating a grant agreement with Pathways for Youth. The Department for the Aging, according to a source, has contracted with the Jewish Association for the Aged to take over the senior center programs, starting July 5.

Calls yesterday to Charles Rosen, executive director of the organization, were not returned as of deadline.

Ed Morrissey observes this morning:

Evan Cohen appears to have sold Gloria Wise a bill of goods in its investment in Air America. First, given AA’s performance, anyone putting that kind of money into it and expecting to even see the principal ever again has to be out of their minds. Second, the grant money involved was earmarked for Alzheimer’s patients, senior citizens, and a mentoring program. Even if AA sounded like a brilliant investment, earmarked grant money has to go to the specific programs it intends to fund, not a flyer on some hot stock tip.

Evan Cohen’s involvement on the board of Gloria Wise and his position at AA makes this decision a massive conflict of interest. Cohen had struggled to maintain his position with the netlet after it became clear that the enterprise had not captured much audience even in the more liberal areas it served. Advertising revenues remained very weak and the corporation barely eked out an existence on donations, making it a poor (and badly-behaved) cousin to NPR. If Cohen used his position on the board at Gloria Wise to misdirect government funds, then AA needs to cough up the money immediately, and any ties Cohen has to other non-profits should be thoroughly investigated.

Has Air America paid back the loan, or even made preliminary payments? We don’t know; AA hasn’t issued a statement, and more curiously, the national media hasn’t asked them.

Update II: A caller to KVI-AM’s Kirby Wilbur show in Seattle points to this interesting arrangement between Air America and the Gloria Wise Community Center:

Camp Air America , a summer camp for kids from the Bronx.

The Gloria Wise website plugs AA’s show, Morning Sedition here.

Latest updates:

Air Enron: Al Franken speaks

Air Deadbeat: The saga continues

The Air America loophole

Air America is scrambling

Air America: Don’t blame us

Air America: Stealing from poor kids?!

(Republished from by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Air America, Al Franken