Monday, September 19, 2011

Bay Citizen, NYT Partner:
No Date When Initial IRS 990 will be Ready

(Lisa Frazier, Bay Citizen president. Credit: Courtesy photo.)
Here's something I've not encountered before in my nonprofit accountability advocacy. A tax exempt charity that formed two-and-a-half years ago, over the course of three months of requests for the date of when their initial tax filing will be finalized and ready for open inspection, can't even state the month of when the IRS 990 will be available.

Click here to read my July summary of the transparency situation with the Bay Citizen, a partner with the New York Times for their San Francisco/Bay Area pages on Fridays and Sundays, and why their tax filing info should be addressed. This note is from Lisa Frazier, president and CEO of this local news operation, sent today in response to my latest request for the filing:

Thank you for your note. Our IRS 990 is in progress and will be available later in the year. In the interim, for any information on The Bay Citizen please visit our regularly updated About Us section on There you will find details on our history, staff and funders (both individual and corporate) and our 2010 annual report.

Compare that vague response about when the filing will be ready with what the Long Island Association for AIDS Care said to me in August when I asked for their current IRS 990, which is three months late, would be available for public inspection:

Regarding our 2010 990 form, we have requested for an extension since we had to amend our 2009 990. Please check our website for posting which will be before the extension deadline of November 15, 2011.

Bravo, LIAAC, for putting a date out there for when to expect that filing, not to mention for stating the form will be posted on their site. If only the Bay Citizen would emulate this group, transparency would benefit local news junkies.

FYI, the controversial LIAAC group has faced withering criticism from the New York press over the executive director's excessive compensation package, while client services were cut, and county government funders scrutinized handling of public dollars. In short, LIAAC has to deal with tremendous scrutiny and contentiousness over their finances and tax filings. 

The Bay Citizen faces no similar problems and is not in crisis mode like LIAAC, so it's very odd they still can't tell me when their first IRS 990 will be filed and ready for the public to see. If, on this second attempt, the Bay Citizen at least gave us a month for when to expect their filing, I'd say they're getting better with meeting accountability promises to the public they serve.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps they don't want to publish the $1 million+ kick back to McKinsey for all of the "pro bono" work in getting the rag up and running

Michael said...

have no idea what you're talking about, and hope you'll provide more details. there needs to be a lot more transparency from the bay citizen.

Anonymous said...

I agree. They seem to be fundraising to support their excessive compensation packages (the executives). For a news organization- the editors and writers are the least paid bunch of the group, yet are the core of the mission. The organization had a $5 million budget for the FY 2010 and they spent more than 30 percent of that budget on "consultants" that had nothing to do with producing content. Add in the CEO's salary (another 8%) and you can see that much of the original $5 million didn't contribute to the mission of the org.