The boys from the Bay City Academy, including Ingersoll insiders Craig Johnston and Brian Lynch, schlepp to Lansing on Friday, February 19, hoping to net more millions from Michigan's taxpayers.
Miss Fortune looks back on the financial ruin Steven Ingersoll has already inflicted on the mid-Michigan city, asking why any more taxpayer cash should find its way into Ingersoll's "deep" pockets.
WAS IT ALL JUST ANOTHER CRIMINAL SCHEME?
Just ten months after he presided over the Bay City Academy's September 10, 2011 grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony, Steven Ingersoll (shown at left with an unidentified woman and Academy board president Craig Johnston) hired a criminal attorney.
Ingersoll had been notified he was the subject of a criminal investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney of Michigan's Eastern District. The income tax evasion investigation rose from an asbestos mishandling case that involved the Bay City Academy's 400 N. Madison location.
According to federal prosecutors, Roy C. Bradley, Sr. and Gerald Essex violated the law at the time of the renovation project at the Bay City Academy's Madison Arts location from August 18, 2010 to September 2, 2011.
According to the indictment, Essex and Bradley controlled and supervised a renovation and demolition project that involved nearly 260 linear ft. and 160 sq. ft. of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
Bradley was convicted, while Essex was found not guilty on four counts, with Bradley facing a five-year federal prison sentence.
During the asbestos trial, witness testimony revealed flagrant safety and wage-and-hour violations, including workers hired from a local homeless shelter and paid $250 a week (off the books, with no state, federal or social security withholding), while provided with simple drywall masks to wear during the dangerous job.
And yet, Ingersoll's the guy who proposed to establish small neighborhood schools as part of his neighborhood restoration strategy. In his 2009 "simple plan for Bay City", Ingersoll stated "these schools will give residents the attractive option of small neighborhood schools and provide evening venues for adult and vocational educational programs. Extra-curricular activities, on a pay-to-play basis, will utilize Bay City’s many existing youth athletic, artistic and recreational offerings."
Pay to play, huh? Looks to Miss Fortune like Ingersoll played with taxpayer money, and only paid a paltry amount to those who were building his
But most importantly, how craven do you have to be to put the lives of those children in jeopardy? I mean, I don't like kids, and even I wouldn't think of doing that!
SLUMDOG $30,000 MILLIONAIRE: TORCHED, TORN DOWN & ABANDONED
Contrary to Ingersoll's pie-in-the-sky boast of a "renaissance", his most lasting impact on Bay City may be the "war zone" left in his wake on North Grant Street.
Ingersoll purchased four buildings on one block (606, 615, 616 and 620), promising to build a "Neighborhood Enterprise Zone". Instead, he left the block looking like, in the words of a Bay City building code inspector, a "war zone".
If you don't believe me, look at these pictures.
I took them last winter, and the conditions of each building have only gotten worse.
But Steven Ingersoll was extremely successful with one turn-of-the-century gem, with a stunning garden to gaze upon as you sit on the home's expansive front porch. It's the Turner House, a fully-restored 1892 Victorian on Center Avenue.
It's the home Ingersoll shares with his wife, Deborah.
So, the hell with rest of you suckers...and he did it with tax breaks while sticking Bay City with nearly $200,000 in lost property tax revenue!
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
Do any of you honestly believe that Steven Ingersoll is no longer in control of the Bay City Academy?
Ask yourself this question: why would Ingersoll's lackeys (Academy board president Craig Johnston and Mitten Management's Brian Lynch, AKA fortunate son-in-law of Ingersoll's other lackey, Mark Noss) fight so hard to hang onto this utter academic failure?
Should taxpayers flood the Bay City Academy with another $16.5 million dollars over the next four years?
In my opinion, no. Hell no!
An issue like this, one of great public consequence, should not be left to a bunch of Ingersoll insiders and cronies, still clinging together like iron filings on a magnet.
Especially when that group includes two key people who were at the school during much of its existence, presiding over its decline.
Craig Johnston and Steven Ingersoll's ties go back to their respective childhood, continuing into their adult years and business careers. On December 30, 2009, Craig Johnston formed the Bay City Academy Steering Committee, Inc. Later, Johnston formed the Bay City Academy "domestic nonprofit corporation" on February 8, 2011.
Johnston has some obvious holes in his phony baloney indignation about the school's Ingersoll "stigma".
According to the Bay City Academy's recently released 2014/2015 financial report, the charter school incurred a significant operating deficit in 2015, resulting in a cash flow shortage. As of June 30, 2015, the Academy's current liabilities exceeded its current assets by $1,374,477, pretty steep for an operation with $3,980,670 in total revenues. In addition to calling out Steven Ingersoll's longtime pattern of paying his Smart Schools Management expenditures without providing a whiff of documentation, the report places blame for much of the financial fiasco squarely at the feet of the school's Board of Directors. As a result, there was “a lack of appropriate administrative oversight by the Board of Directors over the Academy's finances during the year. The effect of this condition resulted in actual expenditures exceeding budgeted amounts, and a year-end deficit fund balance.”
In late 2015, Johnston told a local newspaper there was "a stigma around this school that needs to change". That "stigma" has a name: Steven Ingersoll.
Rebranding the school, including a new name, logo and uniforms for the students.
Rebranding? Rebranding a failure without substantive sweeping organizational change is just a joke.
Back in 2015, after Ingersoll was convicted, Johnston said he was disappointed in learning of Ingersoll's conviction. "That would really be the only reaction," he told a local newspaper. "I'd wish that to not be the case. We'll have to determine the effect that will have on Bay City Academy. This is unprecedented."
And in 2014, at the first Bay City Academy board meeting after Steven Ingersoll's April 10, 2014 indictment, Johnston said there had “been plenty of fodder and unhappy, controversial moments for us, there’s no question about that. That being said, there have been significant changes for the better.”
Even back then, Johnston was already publicly posturing, pushing the board will do its best to separate Ingersoll from the school in an effort to craft a more positive perception. The board’s decision to retain Ingersoll’s Smart Schools management company, Johnston said, was one based on the educational model the school provided. “We removed the part of Smart Schools we didn’t like,” said Johnston, apparently referring to Ingersoll. “But we like what they have to offer intellectually.”
But in private, behind the doors of the Bay City Academy board of directors, the financial damage was already done...and it was done while Craig Johnston and Brian Lynch were firmly in control of the charter school Steven Ingersoll founded.
Is there anyone who still doesn't think Steven Ingersoll is controlling the Bay City Academy?
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT?
You can write to Brian Whiston, Michigan's Superintendent of Public Education (WhistonB@michigan.gov); Daniel Hanrahan, Director of the Michigan Department of Education's Office of State School Aid (HanrahanD@michigan.gov); Chris Oshelski, Director of Lake Superior State University's Charter School office (firstname.lastname@example.org); and Tom Pleger, President of Lake Superior State University (email@example.com) and urge them to reject the Bay City Academy's untenable (and unrealistic) deficit elimination plan.
And you can ask each one to conduct a thorough investigation into the Bay City Academy's finances to prevent this travesty from ever happening again in Michigan.
Tomorrow, representatives of the Bay City Academy meet with the Michigan Department of Education to pitch a plan that requires them to "throw good money after bad": nearly $16.5 million dollars over the next four years.
To quote former First Lady Nancy Reagan, "just say no"!
LINGERING MYSTERY UPDATE
So, where is Pat Cleland? Once tabbed to replace Brian Lynch as Superintendent at the Bay City Academy, Cleland is rumored to stalk the halls at the rotting charter school in search of something to do. He's got to earn his check somehow, whether as the "Dean of Students", "Education Evangelist" or "That Creepy Guy Who Knows Lots of Secrets".