City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: WUSA’s Bruce Johnson Plays Softball With Art Monk and Charles Mann About Anacostia Debacle

WUSA-9 reporter Bruce Johnson brought Charles Mann and Art Monk into the studio to let the ex-Redskins complain about City Paper's reporting on the non-profit group they ran called the Good Samaritan Foundation.

I've been writing for years about Monk and Mann's handling of the old Carver Theatre building in Anacostia. Monk and Mann's group bought the site from the D.C. Government for $255,235 in 2004 and sold it this summer to a charter school for about $3 million. The sale means Monk and Mann reneged on a decade-old pledge to Anacostia community leaders and residents to build a job training center for high school kids in the neighborhood.

Monk and Mann used that pledge to raise millions of dollars in government grants and charitable donations, but they never opened the center before selling the former city-owned property for more than 10 times what they paid.

Johnson's WUSA report included a shot of him standing outside the former Carver Theatre site in Anacostia and saying, "At one time it was home to the Good Samaritan Foundation."

No, Bruce, it wasn't ever home to the Good Samaritan Foundation. That's the main issue.

I've written basically the same story about Monk and Mann's fiasco with the Carver Theatre site for years.

But, if Monk and Mann wanna go there again, by golly, let's go there again:

(AFTER THE JUMP: You're going to go there again? Bruce Johnson ignores the pledges that Monk and Mann ignored? Bruce Johnson ignores the millions of donated dollars Monk and Mann raised for a building that never opened? Bruce Johnson ignores the $775,000 in tax dollars given Monk and Mann for a center that never opened? Bruce Johnson forgets to tell viewers he worked with Mann? Dan Steinberg's an artist? George Michael analyzes Dan Snyder? It's all about the tailgate for Skins fans?)


In 1999 Monk told a crowd of hundreds at Birney Elementary in Anacostia they would build the training center. “[Monk and Mann] came from a strong religious grounding,” recalls former D.C. Councilmember Arrington Dixon, one of the organizers of the Birney Elementary gathering and among the community leaders dismayed, to put it mildly, by Monk and Mann's failure to follow through. “They told us that, and we were moved by that...We got behind [Monk and Mann's training center project], rallied people in the community to get behind it, made calls and did what we could to make what we were told was a community center happen.”

In November 2000, Monk and Mann announced that a host of local companies, including Andersen Consulting and Clark Construction, had “committed $1 million” toward the creation of the center. Also in the fall of 2000, Mann wrote a piece in the Good Samaritan Foundation newsletter that quoted a proverb (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”) and asserted the center would open in 2001. Also in 2000, Monk and Mann said the Accenture Celebrity Golf Tournament had donated $120,000 to the cause, and in 2001, they put out a press release boasting that another $100,000 from that year’s Accenture event could be “used for a new training and outreach center for the group.”

In a press release disclosing the latter golf gift, Mann said the new money “puts us closer to realizing our dream of opening the training center in early 2002.”

Monk and Mann got tax dollars by promising to build the center, also. The federal budget for fiscal 2003 contained a $500,000 payment to the Good Samaritan Foundation “to acquire and renovate a building to expand outreach and mentoring services to at-risk District of Columbia youths.” In the 2004 federal budget, they were given another $275,000 earmark for the same purpose.

In June 2001, because of Monk and Mann's purported plan, the D.C. government had leased the Carver Theatre property to the Good Samaritan Foundation, and Monk and Mann immediately announced construction on the center would begin that August. That didn't happen. In fact, Monk and Mann had done nothing at the site other than hold groundbreaking ceremonies by 2004, when the city sold the property outright to the group.

In April 2006, with construction yet to start and the Carver Theatre site having deteriorated into a big trash dump and local eyesore, Mann told me the project was going to cost $2.3 million. Given all the fundraising the group had done using the promise of a training center, that much money should have been in the Good Samaritan Foundation's piggy bank at that time.

Johnson's WUSA report, which aired earlier this week, totally ignored Monk and Mann's fundraising for the training center that never was. Johnson did say, however, that despite the ten-fold sale price the Good Samaritan Foundation is in debt over the Carver Theatre property.

Also, Johnson's piece asserts that that City Paper's most recent story on the decade-long debacle in Anacostia cost Monk and Mann "a $450,000 Congressional earmark" for the Good Samaritan Foundation. Johnson, however, does not mention that Monk and Mann got $775,000 in Congressional earmarks in the 2003 and 2004 federal budgets for a center that, we now know, they never opened.

Johnson (who used to work with Mann at WUSA) also fails to mention that the Good Samaritan Foundation doesn't really exist any more. Monk and Mann quietly changed the name of their group to Youth Power Center while unloading the Carver Theatre site for, again, more than 10 times what they paid for it. Neither the Good Samaritan Foundation website nor the website of the Youth Power Center references that Monk and Mann sold the site that was to serve as the epicenter of the charity's efforts.

Johnson's report says, "Monk and Mann say they were never given ample chance to respond to the articles." Monk and Mann never responded to several interview requests from City Paper for the stories they went on WUSA to complain about.

***

The Great Dan Steinberg has elevated stenography to an art form. Steinberg's latest Rembrandt is a transcription of the George Michael/Mike Wise interview that aired yesterday on WJFK.

It's all good, but reading George Michael, who was on the Redskins' owner's payroll for years and years, say Snyder "wants to win" reminds me of all those times Lisa Marie Presley would be asked about ex-hubby Michael Jackson, and she'd always say some version of: "He's just a normal guy."

***

Not much hope among Redskins fans heading into the Tampa Bay game at FedExField.

Words of wisdom come from the poster known as MTQUINN on Dan Snyder's message board, extremeskins.com: "NOW IT'S ALL ABOUT THE TAILGATE"

***

Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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  • BillyBobBush

    Nice piece Dave. Way to call out the bullshit. What a pathethic interview by Johnson and even worse, the "responses" given by these guys. Monk is not a mild-mannered, ethical, person. He's a ruthless, heartless, piece of shit that cares only about making money now and doesn't have any intention of giving back to the community. He always stressed the point that he didn't earn that much during his football career. Mann is at least a bit more sophisticated and has actually done quite well for himself after football (out of the group, he's the wealthiest). They all use the pulpit and this unproven record for being pillars of the community, to get new deals/projects. But since they have yet to close a single deal or deliver on a single promise, I think the well has run dry. Charles Williams is a pretty sharp guy and will come out on top of this. I do hope you guys dig deeper and find out what the hell happen to all the money over the years. I'm sure six figure salaries exist somewhere on the Foundation's books.

  • Hondo Howard

    Dave's coverage of this scam over the years has been first-rate. Pretty disappointing that Bruce Johnson would forfeit his credibility for this. Keep up the good work Dave.

  • Typical DC BS

    Amazing that the interviewer didn't bother to ask for a simple balance sheet / income statement / sources & uses of funds statement of the Good Samaritan Foundation for the past eight years.

    Aren't they supposed to file that type of financial information with the District, seeing as how they are a supposedly registered non-profit?

  • goatguy74

    A barbershop across the street from the Carver building and its owner were a major part of my life back in the mid '90s in a positive way. Talks about that building being utilized for the good of the community by the Good Samaritan Foundation started back in 1997 or '98. It would have done wonders for the area. Let's put blame where it is due. The new stadium, the government command center now operating at the far end of St. Elizabeths, and elevated rents around that immediate area are signs of the times. Not to mention the fact that that location could be sold for a profit of $2,744,765, wow! Economically, common folk and profit do not go hand in had, unless you own a liquor store.

    When I was younger, I was angry with the system. Now at 35, I just want to play the game too.

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  • http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/411961_evaluation_matters.pdf the truth

    Have you seen pages 39 - 42 of this report Dave McKenna?
    http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/411961_evaluation_matters.pdf

  • Dave McKenna

    Ms. Truth: thanks for sending this along. glad to have an ally here! I'm sure you were as amused as I was by this whopper from Page 40: "Although [Art Monk and Charles Mann's non-profit] projected that construction would be completed on its new building by August 2008, the opening was delayed by a budget shortfall, and the building ultimately never became available."

    "August 2008"? Is that awesome, Ms. Truth, or what? Can you believe that there's no mention that Monk and Mann got the building in 2001! Or that Monk and Mann pledged to start construction in 2001 and said it would be open in a matter of months. 2001, Ms. Truth! But whatever comic produced this document just picks out "August 2008" as the projected opening date! Only somebody without a brain would buy that crap! Good thing you and me have brains, Ms. Truth!

    And then these pranksters hit us with "the building ultimately never became available", also on Page 40? Another thigh-slapper, right, Ms. Truth? The building didn't come available! I mean, we both know that the only reason the building didn't become available to Monk and Mann...was because Monk and Mann sold it! Not just sold it, but sold it for about $3 million, or more than 10 times what they paid for it!

    Can you believe none of that was mentioned here, Ms. Truth? Neither can I!

    And I'm sure, Ms. Truth, that you noticed with the same shock and awe that I did that whoever wrote this report proceeds to blame all the problems facing Monk and Mann's group, which for some reason real quietly changed its name while selling the Carver Theatre site,, on the lack of the building that they sold!

    Let's go over this together, Ms. Truth: Monk and Mann sell the building, then blame all their non-profit's problems on not having a building! That's a priceless defense!

    Well, Ok, Ms. Truth, you're right: Not priceless, exactly; an "about $3 million" defense. Get it?

    Ms. Truth, how long are you and me going to have to wait until somebody from Monk and Mann's organization owns up to any mistakes or other wrongs in this debacle? Ms. Truth, you and me know that this mess at the Carver Theatre site has been going on for 10 years now, ever since those 1999 promises made at Birney Elementary by Monk and Mann to a crowd of hundreds of people, promises that for whatever reason were not kept? So, Ms. Truth, why should you and me and anybody listen to what they have to say now?

    And Ms. Truth, can you believe that there's no names or numbers to check out in that report? Monk and Mann's names ain't even in there! If we were in the same room, Ms. Truth, I'm sure we'd be high-fiving and guffawing over the lack of confirmable information in this report. We'd both wonder why EVERYTHING is so vague (WINK! WINK!)!

    But Ms. Truth, while you and me are waiting for names and numbers from those people that we can check out, let's give everybody some names and numbers that i've collected already on my own, things I've written several times over several years about Monk and Mann and the Good Samaritan Foundation and the Youth Power Center. Ms. Truth, being a smarty pants and all, if any of these names or numbers are wrong, please let me know so we can correct the record. We don't want to mislead anybody, do we, Ms. Truth?

    Here we go again:

    In November 2000, Monk and Mann announced that a host of local companies, including Andersen Consulting and Clark Construction, had “committed $1 million” toward the creation of the center. Also in the fall of 2000, Mann wrote a piece in the Good Samaritan Foundation newsletter that quoted a proverb (“Hope deferred makes the heart sick”) and asserted the center would open in 2001. Also in 2000, Monk and Mann said the Accenture Celebrity Golf Tournament had donated $120,000 to the cause, and in 2001, they put out a press release boasting that another $100,000 from that year’s Accenture event could be “used for a new training and outreach center for the group.”Monk and Mann got tax dollars by promising to build the center, also. The federal budget for fiscal 2003 contained a $500,000 payment to the Good Samaritan Foundation “to acquire and renovate a building to expand outreach and mentoring services to at-risk District of Columbia youths.” In the 2004 federal budget, they were given another $275,000 earmark for the same purpose.

    In June 2001, because of Monk and Mann’s purported plan, the D.C. government had leased the Carver Theatre property to the Good Samaritan Foundation, and Monk and Mann immediately announced construction on the center would begin that August. That didn’t happen. In fact, Monk and Mann had done nothing at the site other than hold groundbreaking ceremonies by 2004, when the city sold the property outright to the group.”

    Years after taking over the building, Mann told me the construction was going to cost $2.3 million. Monk and Mann bought the site for $255,235 in 2004 after telling the city and everybody else for years that they’d open a job training center there. Monk and Mann sold the property for about $3 million about a month and a half ago having never opened a job training center there.

    All these figures except the $2.3 million construction cost, which i got from Charles Mann personally, come from monk and mann’s press releases or public documents, such as the congressional record.

    Lemme know what you think, Ms. Truth! And thanks again for all the chuckles. You're funny!

  • http://twitter.com/anc7c04 Deanwoodenizen

    A doggone shame. The respected organizations that helped out YPC need to call them out because they are the ones that actually lose credibility both professionally and with the community. The codependcy of inept organizations or in this case scammers is like the emperor with no clothes.

  • Baffledbluff

    I understand the need for the public to want to keep their heroes sacred. Shit, I wanted to believe these guys could walk on water. They've proven to be all to human and some, including myself, might say a little less human that most. These guys are only out to make money and since they can't get shoe deals, an eastern motor spot, or a double murder acquittal, they trade on this City's broken form of government. We have ex-cons running multi-million dollar enterprises (gang intervention and now housing development), financed exclusively by the Fenty Administration. So I am completely surpised by all of this. Art Monk is a piece of shit. I've said it. He uses this, I'm quiet so people think I'm humble routine, to plow throw his opposition. I attended a meeting a few years back for the NorthWest One deal. These guys were there with a crook from Sursum Corda, David Chester, and they were trying to bully the NW1 council into a ludacris deal. They wanted to use their celebrity to raise awareness but really was only trying to make a small fortune off of poor people. Chester was run out of Sursum because of allegations of backroom financial dealings and I wouldn't be surprised if these guys weren't apart of this also. All crooks.

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