Mon, Aug

B.L.E.N.D.:  Business Fund Raising Org for NE Division of LAPD May Be in Violation of Bylaws

THE EASTSIDER - Although most people have never heard of this 501(c)(3) corporation, it is basically a booster club to support the activities of the Northeast Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. 

Unfortunately, there are recent allegations that the nonprofit is out of control, with its head, Ray Patel, running amok in violation of their Bylaws. 

Last Week

After having been unceremoniously ejected from the BLEND by President Patel, Caroline Aguirre stated that the BLEND had very tangled and potentially flawed Bylaws.  Further, she also opined that BLEND is operating in violation of their own Bylaws and had turned into a one man show - President Ray Patel. 

Frustrated by the lack of transparency and inappropriate actions by the President, last week Caroline filed a formal complaint with the California Attorney General’s Office, formally known as a “Complaint to the California Attorney General Regarding a Charity or Charitable Solicitation”. 

The main complaint itself was over “Systemic violation of Bylaws, including but not limited to membership, elections, voting, records.” 

As of the date of this article, there has been no comment from the Attorney General. 

The Current Bylaws

So let’s look at the Bylaws in question. Perusing the 14 page current Bylaws, two observations leap out.  The initial date of these Bylaws before me were revised in March 1988, and then in October 1995.  

That leads to the conclusion that there has been no change to these bylaws in at least some twenty-seven (27) years, which raises obvious questions. 

In terms of membership, the Bylaws allow “any reputable person, association, corporation, estate or other business entity of any sort, having an interest in the objectives of the corporation will be eligible to apply for membership in the corporation.” 

Having applied, “the applicant will become a member upon payment of the regularly scheduled dues as provided in Section 3 of Article III.” Period. 

In Section 5, Voting, the Bylaws specifically state that “When Directors of Officers are to be selected by members, “each election will be conducted by mail in the manner hereinafter set forth.”  The problem is that there is  no evidence that there has been any voting by mail in the last decade or so. 

Then in Section 6, Termination of Membership, we find that “Any member may resign from the corporation upon written request to the Board of Directors”, although they will still have to pay dues “until his written resignation is submitted to the corporation...”  The problem here is that one member never resigned but was told that he did so by Mr. Patel, even though no evidence was ever provided to the members that there had been a written request. 

However, “The Board will reserve the right to refuse membership to anyone by refunding the prorated unused dues to the member.” 

There is no mention of cause, just or otherwise as to the how the Board can refuse membership to an applicant. It appears that the dues are $20/year for an individual, and $60 for a business. Evidently this amount has not changed for the 27 years between 1995 and now, which seems unusual at best. 

Further, the  Bylaws provide for an annual meeting of the members of the corporation, which will be held  during July of each year. With no explanation as to exactly how it’s going to work, we find that: 

“At the annual meeting, the results of the voting of the members or the Directors, as the case may be, for election of members to the the Board of Directors will be announced, reports of the affairs of the corporation will be considered, and such other business as may be properly be brought before the meeting will be transacted.” 

The problem with the Bylaws is that they have not been followed.  For example, the required Notice of the Nominating Committee is not sent out to all members, and members are told that they cannot submit names to be placed on the ballots. 

There is also a question as to whether the BLEND keeps original or any other records of their actions, so that the actions can be reviewed. Record keeping is a basic function of any corporation, so it would be interesting to see how/where/if BLEND actually keeps their records. 

You get the drift. 

Captain Sandoval’s Input

From an email dated May 20, 2019, it appears that Captain Sandoval, head of the Northeast Division, weighed in urging BLEND to update their Bylaws.  He wrote: 

Attached are the BLEND Bylaws dated October 1, 1995, the Articles of Incorporation of BLEND dated May 1, 1972, and also a copy of the Bylaws for the Olympic Division’s Boosters, OBA. I’ve included their bylaws because they are one of the more recently formed LAPD Divisions and their bylaws are in line with the Department’s mandate to improve community relations, much more then back in 1995 when BLEND last revised their BYLAWS, 24 years ago. The OBA Bylaws are merely attached as reference for BLEND to review.

As I mentioned at prior BLEND meetings my ask is that BLEND update their BYLAWS since it’s been 24 years that they have been updated. In reviewing the current BLEND Bylaws there are no objectives of BLEND listed. Instead, on Page 1, Article I B. it states “The objectives of the corporation will be set forth in its Articles of Incorporation.” I believe the “Purpose” of BLEND should be clearly identified within an Article of the BLEND BYLAWS

Evidently the response from the BLEND was to simply disregard Captain Sandoval’s suggestions, and limp along without any changes to their Bylaws, significant defects and all. 

The Takeaway

It seems that the BLEND has been the personal pet of Ray Patel, which is unfortunate for both the Northeast Division of the LAPD, as well as failing to meet their mandate of helping out with support for both the police and the community. 

Especially unfortunate is that Mr. Patel would ignore the polite request of the Captain of the Northeast Division to amend their Bylaws and follow best practices for their Nonprofit. 

Where all this goes with the California Attorney General, time will tell. 

(Tony Butka is an Eastside community activist, who has served on a neighborhood council, has a background in government and is a contributor to CityWatch.)