Massachusetts Cultural Council Allegedly Uses Taxpayer Money on Lavish Expenditures

Ferlon Webster Jr. | March 19, 2019
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When your fancy lifestyle just isn’t enough, sometimes you just need to take more money from the working man and have him pay for all your “business” expenditures.

Case in point: the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a stage agency that aims to “foster a rich cultural life for all Massachusetts residents,” that looks like they’re trying to foster a “rich business lifestyle” for themselves

The council is full of people that like to spend taxpayer money on cross-country air travel, lavish meals, and swanky hotels. They even spend a lot of dollars filling up the director’s take-home state-provided vehicle, according to the Boston Herald.

Since October of last year, the cultural council’s financial eyes have been bigger than their financial stomaches. Their overspending has them seeking an extra $2 million — adding to their already $18 million dollar budget — from the Massachusetts Legislature.

The Boston Herald reports that the agency faced “heavy criticism” last year for their high spending lifestyle, but that hasn’t deterred these high rollers from seeking more of those green tax-payer dollars.

Last week, when the Herald sought to address the issue of the council’s spending, the agency spokeswoman Carmen Plazas refused to discuss any expenditures, saying, “any questions would be treated as a public records request, giving the agency 10 days to respond.” 

“Seriously? Taking 10 days to answer simple questions is the height of arrogance,” former state Inspector General Greg Sullivan told the Boston Herald. “The arts council somehow thinks they can fly above everyone else. It’s embarrassing they can’t answer a straightforward question.”

The council appeared to be avoiding the extra criticism for taking tax-payer’s hard earned money and using it in a way that seemed careless.

“The governor’s office should make them toe the line,” Sullivan added. “The Public Records Law does not excuse you from answering basic questions.”

As the Boston Herald reports, there are some areas where the agency has cut spending:

The agency does seem to have cut back on pricey lunches at Davio’s “To Go,” its onetime go-to lunch stop. This time around, P-card entries show the agency staffers have asked taxpayers to pick up their Davio’s bills a handful of times for a total of $125 — including $4 for a drink.

Last fiscal year the agency spent nearly $4,000 just at Davio’s, in addition to other restaurant meals that totaled roughly $15,000. Now records suggest agency staffers are reaching into their own pockets for lunch more often, billing taxpayers a total of nearly $3,000 for food so far this fiscal year, well behind last year’s level.

Though there were some cuts made, critics of the council still see areas where spending could be decreased (to avoid expanding the agency’s budget), seeing as the state agency’s main office has a yearly rent total of $332,000 per year. 

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