In a word: sloppy.
In all likelihood, the final analysis of the ill-fated Allegheny Center for the Arts building project and the squandering of $500,000 of state grant money will come down to sloppiness on several levels.
The Department of Community and Economic Development, which gave the money to the city to lend to GRO-Warren to undertake the project, has had its record of keeping track of where its grants and loans have ended up sullied of late. Witness the diversion of some $170,000 of DCED funds granted to a Beaver County non-profit by former State Rep. Mike Veon. The former House power broker is now serving time in a state prison.
Guidelines for the New Communities program, the program under which the money was provided, are less than crystal clear.
At the city level, former GRO-Warren officers, including Mayor Mark Phillips insist that the grant-to-loan system insulated GRO-Warren from the responsibility to adhere to DCED's expectations of how the money for the ACA project would be spent and that it was the city - the grant recipient - which would hold that responsibility.
Then, there is GRO-Warren, that somewhat nebulous public-private partnership, which always seemed to be public when things were going well and private when they weren't. Just before she bolted for the door, the former executive director of GRO-Warren pointed the finger at convention center developer Tim King and his Kinzua Development Associates, which had dangled an absurd-sounding loan before the board and then failed to deliver. It is hard to find a loan for 99 percent of principal with only 1 percent up front outside of a Las Vegas back alley.
Acting City Manager Mary Ann Nau asserts that GRO-Warren's loan agreement with the city specifies that the agency "develop(s) the Anchor Building Project and expend ...proceeds in a manner consistent with the specific requirements of the program, and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations" - even if the regulations are somewhat vague.
If or when this mess lands in front of a judge, we suspect he may borrow the summation expressed by the Prince in the last scene of "Romeo and Juliet:" "All are punished."