Denver Comic Con board releases statement: “Denver Comic Con Does Not Need Saving”

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201402192018 Denver Comic Con board releases statement: Denver Comic Con Does Not Need Saving
UPDATE: Convention director Christina Angel has released her own statement on FB.

The he said-she said of the Denver Comic Con-troversy just got ratcheted up a notch as the Con board has released a statement refuted the charges made by co-founder Charlie La Greca earlier today. The statement pretty much directly contradicts Le Greca’s claims about his removal from the board and the inactivity of the Comic Book Classroom activities.

While there’s more to come on all of this, if you want to see it played out in real time, check out the Denver Comic Con Facebook page, where a lively debate is taking place in the comments.

Comic Book Classroom (CBC) and its major funding program, Denver Comic Con and Literary Conference (DCC) remains true to its not-for-profit mission of children’s literacy.

Prior to the 2013 con, Charlie LaGreca, one of the six co-founders of CBC and DCC, (the other founders are Christina Angel, Illya Kowalchuk, Bruce MacIntosh, Frank Romero and Michael Newman) took a paid contract position with the organization. As was discussed at length with Charlie, the bylaws of the non-profit necessitated that in order to draw a salary he would need to step down from the board—as he agreed. Another founder, Frank Romero, stepped down from the board for personal reasons in January 2014. The rest of the founders continue to work tirelessly towards the mission of children’s literacy—sometimes up to 80 (unpaid) hours per week in these months leading up to the con.

Charlie was paid $10,000 was the only founding member who was paid. After the 2013 con, Charlie’s contract was not renewed. In the months following the convention, CBC and Charlie went to a number of mediation meetings. And therefore his nonparticipation has never been in question. We deeply regret that the matter has jumped from mediation to the court of public opinion.

Allegations of misuse of funds are wholly untrue. As an applicant for 501(c)3 status, CBC’s financial statements are a matter of public record; the 2012 990 form is on file with the IRS, and when the fiscal year 2013 records are completed they will be filed and will also be publicly available as a matter of course.

The organizational structure that is being built around one of the nation’s largest conventions is a result of its success and popularity. We’re expecting 75,000 attendees this year; we’re planning more than 300 hours of educational programming and have dozens of comic creators and celebrity guests. Since the 2013 con, CBC has invested in the development of more mature processes and policies and staff to ensure there’s a CBC that lives beyond any of its founders.

Every hour and every dollar spend by CBC goes towards securing the non-profit mission. There have been a number of developments on the classroom front since the 2013 convention:
• There is currently a CBC class in session at Sanchez Elementary in Lafayette, Colo.
• CBC is working with the City and County of Denver to integrate the curriculum to the Youth One Book One Denver Project, a program that involves approximately 2,500 kids.
• CBC is working with Platte Forum to teach high school students that are at-risk but showing promise the curriculum. They in turn will teach it to younger kids.
• CBC recently wrote a grant with The Conflict Center to execute programming at Sims-Fayola International Academy in the aim of authoring comic books to develop emotional intelligence and critical decision making as those relate to being an adolescent male.
• Additionally, CBC staff are currently planning dozens of hours and specific programs designed around children’s literacy at its largest annual program, Denver Comic Con.
As the curriculum and materials are rebranded to adhere to legal and education standards, classroom activities will see an uptick in the summer of 2014.

Additionally, it’s because of its fiscal responsibility that CBC is positioned for growth in 2014 and beyond. The future plans for the organization include multiple curricular sets being widely available to educators, a YouTube instructional channel, a scholarly conference to be held concurrent to DCC and eventually, its own physical classroom space.

CBC encourages anyone who believes its mission isn’t being tended to carefully enough to volunteer. As a non-profit, we’re only as good as the people who stand with us to provide children’s programming at the convention—including activities in the Kids’ Corral—and the teachers, educators and administrators that apply their many talents to the CBC curriculum.

Thank you for your continued support.

Comments

  1. I see a couple of posts that are making claims that the Facebook page is deleting unfavorable comments. I understand where that might be warranted since it is their page and their right to moderate it — however, other companies in the past have only made things worse with such actions.

    As I said in the other article, I hope this irons out for everyone involved in this developing story.

  2. Johnny Memeonic says:

    That statement reads like it was written by a high school freshman. I had to stop a couple of times and re-read a sentence to make sure I understood what they were trying to get across.

  3. I used to work for the California Association of Nonprofits, and Christ can renegade Boards be a bloody horror show (in fact the organization itself had an implosion after I was there a couple years where the whole staff, including a woman who had given 40 years of service to the sector, were rudely fired). I don’t know the background or people involved here, but it’s sure got the smell of a group gone wrong. I hope this org gets audited by the best.

  4. I’m a bit too busy to fly to Denver and become a volunteer in order to make sure the mission is being tended to carefully enough. Could you instead just tend to the mission carefully enough?

  5. Also, it’s really disingenuous to claim that all six of these original board members are also founders. It’s a small thing but it says a lot about the remaining board members’ intentions. Charlie and Frank had an idea and hired others to sit on the board and execute the vision. You can take credit for your hard work and long volunteer hours without scrubbing history and denying that the actual founder was ever there.

  6. Dennis Pu says:

    This press release seems to cover it’s bases with careful language, as expected, but doesn’t address why ties were cut with founder Charlie LaGreca. The literacy classes listed might be legitimate or window dressing. Depends on the details, and a fair amount seems to be in the planning stages, which could mean anything. That does not refute the lack of educational activity Charlie specifically notes for the past several months.

  7. Definitely some big discrepancies going on between the two and a lot is left to be explained. Seems like DCC is scrambling to pick up the pieces and present their lawyer letter while Charlie provides a heartfelt personal one. Reading some other posts and hearing other chatter it seems like the con is running the risk of collaborators and professionals distancing themselves.

  8. Torsten Adair says:

    Here is the 990 form from 2011:
    https://bulk.resource.org/irs.gov/eo/2013_06_EO/45-4798723_990_201207.pdf
    (Nothing else can be found via their EIN or name.)

    Dates covered: 08.01.2011 to 07.31.2012.
    Signed and dated: 06.08.2013

    This would cover the first DCC.
    Surplus at end of the year: $175.332.
    Money from DCC and the symposium: $492,628
    27,000 attendees.

    Multiply the latest attendance times the entrance fee, and you hit a Million and change.

    Here’s the bigger picture:
    Does Comic Book Classroom need to hold educational events?
    Or can they follow in CCI’s footsteps and use the DCC as an educational event by itself? (It seems that CCI is even more stingy than Ike Perlmutter! What is CCI doing with their $10 Million in reserves? Why isn’t San Diego a comics cultural mecca?)

    What’s to keep other conventions from doing the same thing?
    How does the IRS tell the difference (aside from bylaws and such)?

    I mean… think about it…
    No taxes.

    High public support (especially if the convention offers space and events for other non-profits, like schools and libraries).

    The ability to use unpaid labor. (“Will work for t-shirt and food.”) (And… if you handle the volunteers correctly, they eventually fill in the spots vacated by others who are burnt out, thus avoiding the power vacancies which tend to affect other organizations.)

    The staff gets a decent wage, and the surplus gets reinvested into making the show better, and possibly expanding to other locales.

    Individuals can donate good and services to the organization as a tax deduction. (The org pays airfare and hotel, the celebrity donates his/her speaking fee, or a piece of artwork.)

  9. Sharkjumper says:

    I can see the difference between being the creators and being the founders. I can see Frank and Charlie creating the idea but needing help to implement it to create a foundation. Those all involved in creating the foundation are founders.

    I remember looking at the public info for the San Diego Comic-Con a few years ago wondering where all that money goes for a non-profit. The conclusion I came away with was that it really does take a lot of money to run a large convention. Not all workers are unpaid volunteers. For SDCC, there were all the Elite staff and security and then all the OT police working traffic. Locking in the center for a few years costs money, then advertising (which I would think SDCC doesn’t really need at this point), insurance, shuttle buses, airfare and hotels for guests, and more. And costs go up each year with inflation and raises. And then the con likes to have an extra year’s worth of money in the bank for CYA, which is smart (in 1979, the receipts were stolen at the end of the con and that was almost the end of the San Diego Con).

    For Denver, I don’t know the situation. I’m sure, with their exploding growth, their costs have also gone dramatically up. Having read responses from both parties, until the financials become public, the questions I would have would be…

    DCC Board:
    I understand that there are a lot of irons in the fire but only one class currently going on. How long until more are implemented? If more classes had gone on in the past, why did it drop to just one?

    Were Frank and Charlie’s names scrubbed from any public history?

    Charlito (his nickname):
    The board’s response claims you were made aware that by taking a paid position you would have to be dropped from the board. Were you aware of this? Did you accept this?

    To both:
    If a happy ending is mediated and/or Frank and Charlito are re-instated, can you all co-exist? Will there be bad blood? Are you better off, long term, just going your separate ways?

    Also, is it possible to get Frank’s side of the story?

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