The consequences of the Wilshire Montana Neighborhood Coalition's recent leadership troubles were visited upon Santa Monica's other neighborhood groups Thursday, when they were asked by city officials to confirm their tax-exempt statuses, membership numbers and boards of directors.
Having and releasing such information is required for the groups to receive yearly grants from the city. This week, however, the City Manager's office sought confirmation for another reason.
Groups that receive grants are officially recognized by the city and therefore don't have to pay to rent public spaces for meetings and events. Those groups that aren't recognized pay $60 per hour.
When Wilmont—which is locked in a power struggle—was told it could rent space at the Main Library for free for its annual meeting on Oct. 20, representatives of a faction group opposed it.
The current Board of Directors and a dissident group called the "Wilmont Rebels" dispute whether a meeting in June was actually the neighborhood's annual meeting, when elections are held and when the membership votes on resolutions.
Perhaps more importantly, they dispute who was left in charge.
"We can not pick and choose," said Deputy City Manager Kate Vernez. "The rules need to be clarified."
The Apparently Never-Ending Wilmont Elections Saga
Meanwhile, Wilmont's board has declined requests to disclose the name of donors who are paying its legal fees. It retained an attorney to help revoke the memberships of an undisclosed number of residents involved in conducting June's provisional election.
It has been accused of being supported by the Fairmont Miramont Miramar Hotel, whose controversial renovation and expansion the board has endorsed. The board and the hotel deny that claim. The board, on the other hand, has accused the rebels of being funded by one of Miramar's competitors, the Huntley Hotel.
Neither have offered evidence to support their claims.