In recent months the Lompico Community Center (LCC) has been under attack by a small, very vocal, group of Lompico residents. Many of whom are not LCC members and have not contributed anything to the LCC or its operation. They enjoy the benefits but contribute nothing. Instead of being productive and doing things to steer the LCC in a direction that is more in line with what they want, they've decided to be destructive and are working to damage the reputation of LCC and of those who have donated thier time to its operation.
Most of what they are saying is untrue. Some of the people may actually believe these untruths. Others, even when when presented with indisputable evidence that they are incorrect, refuse to admit they are wrong and continue to spead these falsehoods.
I'm here to set the record straight and will cover the false statements that we have heard so far. There may be others and they will be addressed as we become aware of them.
Allegation: Non-profits are not permitted by law to engage in political activities.
Fact: This is partially true. Non-profits are forbidden from expressing support, for or against, any candidate running for an elected public office.
However, non-profits may engage in other areas of politics (which the IRS calls "lobbying") provided is is not a substantial part of the non-profits activities.
What is considered substantial? There is no set percentage but the courts have ruled that 10% is not substantial but 20% is.
The mailing used no LCC monies or resources. Some time was spent in discussion and some officers worked on the mailing as individuals. This accounted for less than 1% of LCC activities.
Allegation: The LCC violated the law when it put out a (political) mailing regarding the water district merger.
Fact: See above.
Allegation: The LCC violated its by-laws when it put out a (political) mailing regarding the water district merger.
Fact: There is nothing in the LCC by-laws that prohibits the LCC from lobbying.
When asked, these individuals point to the following sentence:
"Not engage in political activities while acting as a director or officer of this corporation."
The wording of this sentence alone should be clear but taken in context it becomes even more so:
Article III - Directors/Officers
Section 4 - Duties of Directors/Officers
It shall be the duty of the directors/officers to:
f. Not engage in political activities while acting as a director or officer of this corporation.
This in no way limits the LCC as an organization from engaging in political activities. Its purpose is to seperate the personal opinions of the director/officer with the opinion of the corporation where political activies are involved.This is specifically addressed by the IRS.
Individual Activity by Organization Leaders
The political campaign intervention prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under section 501(c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions of the organization. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of organization functions and publications, organization leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.
As for what the LCC can do:
Article I - Purposes
Section 1 - Objectives and Purposes
The primary objective and purposes of this corporation shall be:
a. To engage in any lawfull activity for which a corporation may be organized under such law.
b. To stimulate interest in civic affairs; provide for circulation of information; and make recommendations for community improvements and protection.
c. To exercise such power as may from time to time be granted to a nonprofit corporation by law.
The mailing was permitted under the laws applicable to a corporation organized as a non-profit and it absolutely is permitted, in several ways, by (b.).
Allegation: The LCC spent member dues/donations on the mailing.
Fact: Absolutely no LCC moneys or resources were used in the design, printing or mailing.
The mailing was funded directly for this specific project by a single donor. It was not a donation to the LCC and as such does not appear in the LCC financials.
The LCC operates on a VERY tight budget. There is much we would like to do, but cannot due to lack of funds. Every potential expense is analyzed for ways to reduce its costs. Absent this direct funding offer the topic most likely would never have even come up. The LCC did not solicit the offer. The donor initiated the contact and offered to fund the mailing.
Allegation: The LCC directors are crooked. They're just in it for the profit.
Fact: This could not be further from the truth. The Directors/Officers of the LCC receive no (Zip. Zero.) compensation for the work that they do. It is a 100% purely voluntary contribution of their time. They don't even receive a stipend for attending meetings. There is no fame or fortune, they do it out of the kindness of their hearts and with the desire to do something good for the community they live in.
In fact, most Directors/Officers incure expenses while engaging in thier duties that they don't request re-imbursement for (ie. gas). Many spend substantial amounts of their own money on materials for the LCC and choose to write them off as a personal tax deduction instead.
Due to the small number of Lompicans that are able, and willing, to donate their time to the operations of the LCC, those few that do are often overwhelmed by the work load. Events take a lot more planning and preperation than most realize.
The job gets complicated too. There are many laws, rules and regulations to consider when planning activities. The LCC doesn't have the luxury of being able to afford the cost of an attornery or consultant so the Directors/Officers must do the research themselves.
No pay, personal expenses, hard work. Where could a Director/Officer possibly profit?
Fame? The Directors/Officers are wrongly being accused of illegal and improper actions. I don't know anyone that would call this a profit or benefit.
To wrap this up....
The LCC, and the people that so graciously donate thier time, energy and money to the LCC, are in it for the benefit of the community of Lompico. Not for personal gain and not to further a personal agenda.
The LCC is here to serve the Lompico community. But if the community idoesn't tell the LCC what they want the Directors/Officers can only rely on thier own experiences and beliefs. If the community doesn't sufficiently contribute thier time (On the board or committee) it makes sense that you will keep seeing the same faces running the LCC. Not because they want to, but because no one else is stepping up to do it.
If you don't like what the LCC is doing there are simple ways to change it. Get involved. Become a member, Talk to the board members. Tell them what you want, what you like and what you dislike. If you can spare the time, become a board member, volunteer to serve on a committee. Offer to do something that you think could benefit the community.
For instance, one member (I cannot reveal the identity of this person as they have not given us consent to do so) noticed that the garbage at the park was overflowing and brought it to the board's attention. This WAS being handle by an individual that was serving court ordered community service. We did not realize he had finished service and it was not longer being taken care of. This member went beyond just letting us know and offered to check it monthly and haul out all the garbage. This is a great help and only requires an hour or so a month in commitment. It may not seem like a lot by itself but if everyone committed to an hour a month there is so much more that could be accomplished.
And that's much more productive than trying to tear down an organizion, that's trying to do good, by spreading false accusations.
Thank you for your time,
Duane Davis, Vice-President
The Lompico Community Center