Thursday, September 20, 2012

Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

I searched the NC Secretary of State website for the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and found nothing so I searched the web and found their website at

As to be expected they're in the business of promoting Greensboro but they're also in the business of giving out grants. As to where they get the money they give away? The City of Greensboro? Area Foundations? Oh, now I see...

"The Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is an independent, non-profit governmental authority whose mission is to aggressively market Greensboro's assets, maximizing economic impact while providing excellent visitor service."

So it is the City of Greensboro. Do cities file Federal Tax returns?

And why was the Greensboro Area Convention & Visitors Bureau left out of my recent public records request?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation

 Ed Cone sends the following correction:

Sigmund Sternberger did not found Revolution Mill. His father, Herman, and uncle, Emanuel Sternberger, were brought in by the Cones to help fund it and run it as part of the company that became Cone Mills.

The Emanuel Sternberger mansion (his uncle's former home) served as a women's and children's hospital for a couple of decades.

The Sternberger family in Greensboro is represented today by descendants of the two brothers, the Benjamins and the Tannenbaums. Sigmund, who did not have children of his own, is memorialized by the foundation that bears his name and that of his niece.

Begin original post:

The Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation is older than me by 1 year. Originally formed in 1955 as the Sigmund Sternberger Foundation, it was renamed in 1991 as the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation. I've no idea why Sigmund was thrown out.

The charter of the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation states that their purpose is to "be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals."

I'm happy to say their board of directors is easily available for everyone to see. Why so many local foundations and non profits keep their boards hidden still remains a mystery to me.

According to their IRS Form 990, with the exception of their paid executive director, the board members are unpaid, average working 1 hour per week and receive no benefits. The only thing that concerns me about the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation is donations to Action Greensboro for $60,000 and $70,000 in 2011 and $185,000 in 2010. What does $315,000 given to Action Greensboro have to do with "religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.?"

And Ed, is it true you've been a board member since 2008 or before? I was under the impression you only recently joined the board but the IRS form 990s indicate otherwise.

Update: Ed e-mails me the following: "I'm terrible at remembering when things happened but it's been a while since I joined the TSF board. I wrote this nearly seven years ago but couldn't tell you how long I'd been doing it at that point." I can easily accept that as part of the reason folks like Ed and I blog is to keep records so that we don't have to rely on failing memories. Speaking of memories...

I had heard about the fight by the Tannenbaum family to seize the assets of the late Sigmund Sternberger's foundation but it was only when I stumbled upon it in North Carolina case law that my memory was jogged. Turns out many of the members of the Tannenbaum family were forced from the board. From the case law text:

" Rabbi Joseph Asher; L. Richardson Preyer, a former judge of the Superior Court of this State and a former United States District Judge who resigned to run for Governor; and Bryce R. Holt, a lawyer of great experience and a former United States District Attorney. The lawyers who participated in the proposed settlement, Cooke & Cooke; Norman Block; McLendon, Brim, Brooks, Pierce & Daniels; Jordan, Wright, Henson & Nichols; Smith, Moore, Smith, Schell & Hunter; Stern, Rendleman & Clark -- all counsel of record in the trial court, and many of counsel here -- are among the foremost lawyers in North Carolina for character and professional ability. The record is replete with their careful protection of the interests of their clients, and we are confident that none of them would have participated in a settlement that did not protect the interests of the infant defendants.

In fairness to Sidney J. Stern, Jr., we quote the last paragraph from his brief, which is as follows:

"The result of the contract in the case involved here is substantially to preserve the charitable trust intact against a proposed dangerous caveat which, if successful, would destroy the trust and, even if unsuccessful, might well end in costing the Foundation more than does the fulfillment of the contract. There is nothing in the corporate charter, by-laws, or other governing documents of the corporation which would prevent the fulfillment of the contract if court approval is obtained. We believe that this contract is so manifestly in the best interests of the charitable corporation that the directors not only had the power and authority to enter into the contract, but they would have been derelict in their duty had they not done so. However, because of the extreme importance of this matter to the parties and to the public generally, we feel that the contract should receive the approval of this Court."

We agree with Mr. Stern's statement that because of the extreme importance of this matter to the parties and to the public generally the contract of settlement should receive the approval of this Court.

The Attorney General in his brief raises the question as to his right to intervene in this proceeding to approve a settlement where a charitable trust is the main beneficiary. G.S. 36-35 provides that where an action is pending against a trustee of a charitable trust, the Attorney General must be notified before disposition may be made of the case. It is not necessary for us to determine the question the Attorney General raises here to reach a decision in this case. It seems that the State as parents patrioe, through its Attorney General, has the common law right and power to protect the beneficiaries of charitable trusts and the property to which they are or may be entitled."

I'm not sure how the Tannenbaum family managed to get themselves reseated to the board of the Sigmund Sternberger Foundation but it becomes quite obvious that kicking ol' Sigmund to the curb and replacing him with the Tannenbaum family name at top billing was revenge at worst or at best a sordid attempt to raise the validity of the Tannenbaum family name.

Of course, what's really saddest about this entire messy affair isn't what the Tannenbaum family did to the old man who made it possible for them to live in North Carolina's wealthiest neighborhoods. What's saddest is the fact that they completely forgot the people who worked lifetimes in the northeast Greensboro textile mill Mr Sternberger built from stone mined from a rock quarry on Phillips Avenue and whose remains now rest in a grave yard also on Phillips Avenue. You see, while unknown to most, Revolution Mill on Yanceyville Street was built not by the Cone Brothers but by Sigmund Sternberger. The Cone Brothers bought it later.

And the Tannenbaum family, like all of Greensboro's wealthy, forget the communities who lived and died making them wealthy while investing in downtown monuments to their friends and families. But a few of us old men, we remember. And we blog so we don't forget-- ever.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

When You Screw Up, Reinvent Yourself?

My Daddy was a nobody but little did I know how much he was loved until his funeral a few years ago. So often we hear of elderly people who die and almost no one attends their funeral but that wasn't the case with Daddy's funeral. When Daddy passed it was standing room only in a big church in East Greensboro and the miles long funeral procession required escorts by not only the Greensboro Police Department but also by the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

The fact that Daddy was so popular long remained a mystery to me. He wasn't any sort of local celebrity, never owned a business, served in 2 wars (WW2 and Korea) but wasn't a war hero, was never in the media and never had money to donate to worthy causes. Not that he wouldn't have done so if he could have but having started out as a share cropper in the mountains of North Carolina, my Daddy never really made it that far in life. Daddy never even had a pension.

But Daddy was always daddy-- he never pretended to be anything he wasn't. When he screwed up he admitted he screwed up and even when he made bad choices he made them in good faith. Daddy never reinvented himself so everyone who met him from his childhood in the 1930s until his death a few years ago always knew who he was all those years later.

Such isn't the case with the folks who secretly run Greensboro. Not only do they reinvent themselves so that we don't know who they are but they also change their names and use multiple names that confuse us and keep us wondering who they are.

Take The Greensboro Partnership for example: The Greensboro Partnership is also known as Action Greensboro, The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Downtown Greensboro Incorporated, the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, the Greensboro Chamber Of Commerce, Greensboro Merchant Association, the Greensboro Credit Union, the Guilford Merchants Association, the High Point Merchants Association. the Greater Greensboro Merchants Association, Joseph M Bryan Foundation, the Greensboro Foundation and more depending on what it is they're trying to do and what day they're doing it. Oh sure, on paper most have separate legal status but in board make ups and deed they operate as one entity. Others operate without any legal status whatsoever.

It's almost as if a new entity is invented for every new project and when an entity soils its name they create a new entity with a different name to replace it while keeping the same boards and management as before.

I guess this is legal. I haven't found any laws stating otherwise. But it is detrimental to Greensboro because we-the-taxpayers feel we have the right to know who it is that runs our city. And if we don't know who is in charge then we cannot trust that our city is being run properly.

This incestuous relationship needs to be of concern to everyone in Greensboro including the "non profits" who run our city and drive our local politics. Will it be addressed? I don't know but until it is addressed you will never have the confidence and trust of Greensboro's working class. And believe me when I tell you that as long as we don't trust you we will always resist anything you try to do, good, bad or ugly.

Oh sure, lots of people will attend your funerals but it won't be because of who you were. That's a right reserved for those who are always who they are.

Update: A friend read this post a few minutes ago and said it was very damning. That wasn't my intention. My intention was to wake up Greensboro's leaders to the fact that you are going to have to do differently if you expect the rest of us to support your efforts.

Continue to page 41. Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grassroots Productions Limited, Federal Tax Returns

I can't help but think that if I keep digging I'll eventually find some gems. So it was when I tried to discover who sits on the board of directors for Grassroots Productions Limited. And so it was when I searched for the Federal Tax Returns for Grassroots Productions.

"0 documents matched. 0 documents displayed."

Does that mean that Grassroots Productions Limited has never filed their Federal Tax Returns? No, but it doesn't lead to answers either. Like I said, if I keep on digging...

Perhaps you'd like to dig too?

Continue to page 40. When You Screw Up, Reinvent Yourself?.

Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Federal Tax Returns

Previously I wrote about how the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro seems to want to obscure who runs their organization so today I take a peak at their Federal Tax Returns. Turns out their board is listed in their tax returns. Interestingly, it's a lot of familiar faces.

Being I'm an avowed liberal I guess I could make a fuss over the $5,100 grant given the John Locke Foundation in 2010 or the big bucks they donate to mega churches all across the nation but I won't. Instead, I wonder if they'll match the $100,000.oo they gave to the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2009 and again in 2008 and $50,000.oo in 2007 when it comes time to pay for the Greensboro Performing Arts Center? After all, it's not like the tix tax is going to happen anytime soon.

Do you think some big foundation in Arlington, Virginia might pitch in a cool quarter million to go towards building the Greensboro Performing Arts Center? Can we count on at least a quarter million from the Community Foundation? Cool, we've only got $69 Million and change to go.

Maybe you'd like to search to prove me wrong?

Continue to page 39. Grassroots Productions Limited, Federal Tax Returns.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Downtown Greensboro Incorporated, Federal Tax Returns

Are you aware that DGI may have access to your personal credit ratings? From DGI's 2004 Federal Tax Returns:



To be honest, I don't know the Federal definition of "related organizations" but perhaps someome reading will see fit to share.

In 2005, DGI gave $156,539.oo to the Downtown G'boro Improvement Corp-- another name for Downtown Greensboro Inc. I think. And what is "residential management" and who got that check for $146,473.oo?

I'm not an accountant and I don't play one on TV but paying money to yourself seems kind of fishy to me.

Yes, as a matter of fact I do know I'm a poet.

Want to go poking around through the Federal tax returns of a few non profit foundations on you own? That was the link.

Continue to page 38. Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Federal Tax Returns.

Greensboro Economic Development Alliance, Federal Tax Returns

Previously I looked into the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance only to discover they are not on record in the state of North Carolina. It's as if they don't exist. But the City of Greensboro says:

"The Economic Development office works with our partner, the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance (GEDA) to promote Greensboro as a place to locate and grow your business. The services of Economic Development also assist to coordinate available properties or redevelopment or development and determine if any City incentives are available."

Is the City of Greensboro working with ghosts?

So I looked up their Federal Tax Returns and found nothing. Best I can tell the Greensboro Economic Development Alliance has never filed a Federal Tax Return. Go ahead, look for yourself and tell me what you've found.

Computer glitch? Maybe, but who knows? But why 4 different names, Action Greensboro, Greensboro Partnership, Greensboro Economic Development Alliance and the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, for the same non profit entity?

Continue to page 37. Downtown Greensboro Incorporated, Federal Tax Returns.