Just a Few Months After Councilwoman Donna Travis Was Fined By the State Ethics Commission for Failing to Disclose On Tax Forms Her Ties As President of Her Non-Profit, JONAH Inc. Is Now Scheduled To Close. But Wait, There's More...
Email received by Oakland Beach resident, Mr. John Simoneau on 9/7/2017:
"...Property at 735 Oakland Beach Ave. This property has been owned by an alleged non-profit for many decades. It is known as the Oakland Beach Real Estate Owners Association. I attach documents, from the city on-line services, that show this property owner owes the city over $2,300 for outstanding taxes, and interest, due since 2011. That’s right 2011. Although a non-profit, these taxes are owed, because for a 20-month period, between 2010-2011, their non-profit status was REVOKED by the RI Secretary of State (attached).
Why has this organization not been forced to pay this debt to the city, so that all other taxpayers don’t have to make up for it? I really hope that it isn’t because of who the officers of this organization are, although to me and many others, it appears to be just that.
Councilwoman Donna Travis - Vice-president, William Travis - Director, her friend, and her appointee to the Zoning Board, Beverly Sturdahl - Treasurer. (attached). I also attach, the RI SOS documents, as proof of such. Why has no auction, or delinquency letters, been sent to them about this matter? How many other alleged non-profits, also owe the city money, and are causing others to pay more?
It should also be noted, regarding this same property and its owner, that I have documents from the city that shows in the 1980’s, the building at this location was condemned for being unsafe, and uninhabitable, due to lack of maintenance by this organization. The city, after unsuccessful attempts to have the organization tear it down, had to demolish it themselves. A lien for approximately $3,000 was then appropriately placed on this property. Within a few years, and with no apparent documentation I can find, or that I was given by the city, this lien was REMOVED with no given reason except that a deal was made with JONAH Inc., where again these same three people (Mr. & Mrs. Travis, and Ms. Sturdahl) have been, and still are involved/officers????
Again, sadly, I pray it isn’t because of the parties involved, but find that difficult to believe, since I personally know people that have received delinquency notices threatening tax sale auctions for a lot less money owed, and MUCH LESS TIME BEING OWED, than this organization. Definitely at least a perception, although I believe a reality, of impropriety don’t you think?
I hope you can do something about this, and let me know what the problem is, because no one else is talking! Maybe it is time for another committee to be formed to review the tax records of the city, both for non-profit, and profit alike, to determine who owes what, and why it is not being collected.
I asked the city tax assessor Mr. Celeste about reviewing the city's non-profits, to verify that they are in-deed non-profits, and that their NON-PROFIT status, like this organization, has not been revoked. Mr. Celeste told me, “THE MAYOR DOESN’T WANT ME TO DO THAT”. Strange attitude, to say the least, don’t you think? I then asked both the Mayor, and Mr. Picozzi, (COS at the time) to answer this matter, and I HAVE HEARD NOTHING BUT SILENCE.
Keep in mind that, at the same time, he, and the city, have no problem charging already over-taxed homeowners/residents to enter the beach areas next summer. Go figure.
If there is anything I can do, voluntarily, to help with this matter, or to answer any questions you may have, please feel free to contact me at any time."
In October of 2016, another non-profit, the House of Hope which was run at the time by Mayor Avedisian's good friend, Jean M. Johnson, was exposed by Warwick Watch for owing over $200,000 in back taxes to the city of Warwick. The city went on to WRITE-OFF $208,000 in total outstanding back taxes owed by Jean Johnson's House of Hope properties and Johnson ended up losing her executive Director seat at HOH, and her "boutique" also closed down that was located across the street from Warwick City Hall.
Looks like another one of Mayor Avedisian's sidekicks, Councilwoman Donna Travis, just can't keep up with paying taxes either, and she didn't renew the Jonah Center lease as it is slated to ultimately close. Unfortunately though, the closing of the Jonah Community Center also means veterans services will also no longer be able to meet at this facility. Great job Travis...if only you could pay your bills!!!
Councilman Howe shares his disappointment regarding the elimination of veterans services at the Jonah Center in the video below from the 9/6/2017 city council meeting. You will also hear Councilwoman Travis ever so eloquently chime in and actually throw the veterans under the bus as she makes her way out the "I don't pay my taxes" door.