Doubling down

Here's a story that kind of got lost in the weekend. One of the usual suspects in the homeless nonprofit industrial complex is running a flimsy new organization that has allegedly been caught double-billing the "joint homeless office" run by Multnomah County and the City of Portland. In addition, the corporation, All Good Northwest, reportedly billed the “joint office” for overhead when that office had already covered all of its expenses. 

These two types of overpayments added up to more than a half-million dollars. The "joint office," of course, honored all the invoices until some anonymous soul blew the whistle and the county auditor, Jennifer McGuirk, stepped in.

AGNW overbilled the county by over $330,000, primarily in personnel expenses, by duplicating payroll expenses for the same pay period over separate invoices.... Joint Office finance staff did not identify that AGNW had billed for the same costs, including personnel costs, on more than one invoice. This is the result of inadequate monitoring in their internal control process. The Joint Office should have required detailed supporting documentation for the invoices and reviewed the documentation before deciding whether to approve the invoices. The county’s frequency of reviews for detailed documentation should be based on the risk associated with the provider. Since AGNW was a newly created provider in 2021 and was 100% reliant on county funding, it is reasonable that the county would consider AGNW to be higher risk....

The Joint Office initially approved $193,675 of indirect expenses. The Joint Office incorrectly told AGNW that it could bill the county for indirect expenses. However, since 100% of AGNW’s expenses, including administrative costs, were billed to and paid by the county directly, no additional indirect expenses existed. Billing for indirect costs was therefore unallowable.

When (ahem) informed of their error, they returned all the money – sort of, through offsets on subsequent invoices – and the official line is that we should all just go away now, because there's no longer anything to see here.

Wow. This reminds me a lot of New Jersey in 1970. And that ain't good. ("AGNW" also calls to mind a certain vice president who also had some trouble keeping his money stories straight.)

But this dirty little scene is part of the clear trends in Portland now. High taxes, a constant stream of new taxes, and tons of the revenue going to any buddy of the local politicians who slaps together some sort of nonprofit organization. The organization in this case has no assets other than what the city and county are going to shovel its way.

It must be nice to be that well-connected.

You wonder where the public employee unions are in all this. If all of the organization's money comes from the city and county, aren't its operations really government functions that should be discharged by union employees? Maybe the nonprofit complex is just a roundabout way of breaking the unions.

Anyway, on a similar note, I've been looking at the city's "clean energy" slush fund grants, nine figures' worth, approved last month. A lot of the money is going out as handouts to the usual suspects for programs that have nothing to do with climate change and will actually consume more energy than they're burning through now. The politicians' friends will get brand new buildings, fancy new energy systems, and millions for vague stuff like "workforce development" and "seeding justice." Oh, the "equity." You can just imagine.

As bad as that is, it can't hold a candle to double billing. That's just stunning. Pro tip: Don't try it yourself.