Funds allegedly missing from La Jolla Rec. Council
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 04/21/17 - 09:43 AM | 5976 views | 1 1 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An allegation has surfaced of mismanagement of a playground fund with nonprofit La Jolla Recreation Council, which recently asked its president Cindy Greatrex to step down.

An inside source requesting anonymity told La Jolla Village News that an amount of money originally estimated at $40,000 – which has since nearly doubled – has been reported missing by a recreation council board member.

Mary Munk, acting recreation council president, replied “no comment” when asked about the alleged missing playground funds.

Munk also did not confirm that the park advisory board has turned financial records and other materials over to the City Attorney's office for investigation.

Contacted by La Jolla Village News the morning of April 20, Greatrex, when informed that some playground funds had been reported missing, commented, “There are no missing funds.”

Previously, in a Feb. 19 email to three recreation council board members obtained by La Jolla Village News, Greatrex said, “... I realize that I must do the only thing and repay the coffers. My intentions were good in my desire to get us a new playground … But I must remedy what I did. … It will take me some time, as none of this happened overnight. It was a long process of work and will take me time to remedy in full. But obviously, I am good for it.”

In a follow-up email on April 20, concerning the recreation center playground fund, Greatrex commented, “There was money spent on finding grants as we needed help on getting grants won successfully. There is a lot of competition out there — literally thousands of grants for recreation centers available on a local, county, state, federal and foundation level and high-hundreds (that) we have applied to, but it is difficult to win them.”

La Jolla's status as an affluent community complicates its chances for getting grants for needed projects, Greatrex said.

“We (La Jolla Rec. Center) are in a high-income village with a known name (implying wealth) and while we do offer classes at low rates to students around the county … it is still hard to win grants when we are known as a wealthy town,” she said. “Grantors are more likely to give to areas when there are lower-income levels per capita.”

Regarding playground funds, Greatrex added those monies “are from a local donor. That money has not been received yet at all, although no one was expecting it yet. The grantor had said 'summer' as the onset.”

In her Feb. 19 email to rec council board members, Greatrex noted, “I live here and work here and am not going anywhere … I would have much to lose by stating this, and then failing to perform. We can set up a formal promissory note if you wish. In this repayment manner, as donor money comes in, it will, at day's end, be clear and unencumbered by costs associated with receiving it.”

In the Feb. 19 email, Greatrex added, “I completely understand if you wish for me to resign, that action will obviously have no bearing on repayment whatsoever.”

On April 13, a letter was dispatched from La Jolla Recreation Council signed by Munk and two other board members stating, “The executive board accepts your offer to resign your membership on the Recreation Council, including your role as president. As we informed you on March 6, 2017, your role as president was suspended on March 9, 2017.”

The park board's letter asked Greatrex to confirm receipt of that letter and to give the board her formal resignation by April 19 at 5 p.m.

“If we do not hear from you by that date, your resignation will be effective April 20, 2017, at 8 a.m.,” the rec council letter said.

A native of New York State, Greatrex is a high-profile civic activist in La Jolla. She has been involved with grassroots efforts aimed at La Jolla's breaking away from the city of San Diego and becoming its own municipality. She has been a member of most civic groups in the community including the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which makes land-use recommendations to the city, the La Jolla Town Council and various community boards and subcommittees.

La Jolla Village News reached out to city officials for further comment, but as of press time, had not received any replies.

Since there is an ongoing investigation into the allocation of these playground funds, visit www.sdnews.com for continued updates.

UPDATE:

Katie Keach, communications director for the City of San Diego, responded to an email from the La Jolla Village News on April 21.

"The San Diego Police Department is investigating allegations," Keach wrote. "At this time, we are not aware of allegations related to city staff and are cooperating fully with investigators."
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ZiggyLowe
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September 28, 2017
What ever happened to the charges brought against Deborah Marengo for embezzling funds from the La Jolla Merchant Association funds? What did the City DA do about those charges?
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