Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

More details on GuitarTown


I spoke with former Judge Rick Congdon on Saturday who filled in some of the details on the GuitarTown project. He was not able to answer some of the questions, as some things have not been decided yet, some things they just don’t have answers for yet, and some things occurred prior to his involvement mid-December.

However, Congdon did explain why there was a lack of a contract with Gibson. He said Gibson would prefer not to have a contract for these kinds of events. “I had to beg them for that memo of understanding.”

Congdon also attempted to answer the question of the ownership of the seven guitars purchased by the Business Improvement District (BID). As reported by the Waukesha Freeman on Friday, Mayor Jeff Scrima’s New Day Fund could not send a check directly to the vendor because of the strict rules governing funds managed by the Waukesha County Community Foundation. The New Day Fund can only write checks to non-profit organizations or municipal government entities.

(Congdon did not want to discuss why Mayor Jeff Scrima was being secretive on this point, nor the motivations behind any of the mayor’s behavior.)

As for the legality of the BID acting as a conduit, Congdon said that the BID may decide to vote to approve the $15000 passing through the BID accounts for the purchase of the seven guitar bodies retroactively. District Attorney Brad Schimel had also suggested this as a possible resolution to the issue of whether the pass-through was legal.

Congdon could not recall if the invoice dated December 20th came up during his conversations with Gibson and Scrima, and he had no explanation why the invoice mentioned the BID even though they were not involved when the invoice was issued.

Congdon said the ownership of the guitars would be offered to the sponsors, provided they agreed to display the guitars within set parameters over a period of time, probably three years. However, if the sponsor did not want ownership of the guitar then some other ownership arrangement would be made.

The “steering committee” will likely be incorporated in the near future, according to Congdon. However, it is unlikely to be a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization due to the short time frame involved. This could present an issue for some sponsors. While larger corporate sponsors could write off the guitar sponsorship as a promotional expense, small businesses would desire the charitable deduction. This issue has not been resolved yet.

As for future fundraising and financing for the project, the “steering committee” has established it’s own bank account with Waukesha State Bank. Condon and Ty Taylor of Waukesha State Bank are the signatories.  (Update! Shortly after posting I learned the address on the bank account is the BID office. Not a PO Box or Waukesha State Bank.)

Finally, it was Gibson’s choice for the vendor of the guitar bodies, not anyone on the “steering committee.”

The question that is still open why the BID was chosen to be the conduit for the purchase by the New Day Fund of the guitar bodies and when that decision was actually made. Also, who made the decision, and why wasn’t BID President Shawn Reilly informed?

Also hanging over this project is the involvement of the New Day Fund and Mayor Jeff Scrima. The mayor’s desire to not cooperate with any questions regarding the project casts a shadow over a project that would otherwise have support from nearly the entire community.

Meanwhile, open records requests are still pending.

I’m posting the agreement between the BID and the “steering committee,” the agreement with Gibson, and the invoice dated December* 20th.    (*Not September as I originally wrote.)

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