The Tri-Valley Community Foundation may be $3 million in debt and looking at bankruptcy, but it's not too broke to hire a public relations firm that offers "crisis communications."
The foundation is expected to go belly up by the end of the month, according to its board president and CEO Ron Hyde, who, "on advice of counsel," has stopped commenting to the press.
Hyde, who has been the board's chairman for years, stepped in to run the organization after former President Dave Rice was fired in April.
Since then there has been a consistent flow of bad news: A look by the Pleasanton Weekly at the TVCF's tax returns showed a pattern of overspending that began in 2006-07, when it brought in just shy of $1.36 million but spent more than $1.6 million, and a top-heavy organization that spent much more on itself than it did on the charities it was formed to help.
Beyond that, there were promises made that were impossible to keep and salaries that climbed to nearly $418,000 in 2009-10, the same year "other expenses" hit more than $1 million.
The foundation also claimed to support at least one charity that said it never received anything, and made claims that it provided more services than it actually performed for other nonprofits, including fundraising for the Veterans Memorial Building in Danville and the PulsePoint Foundation, which supports a smart phone app to help heart attack victims.
Hyde said last week that he expects the foundation to shut down by the end of the month. Nonetheless the board decided to hire Full Court Press, which offers, among other things, crisis communications aimed at "quieting the rumor mill (and) skillfully deflecting attention when necessary."
Full Court Press founder Dan Cohen promised to address questions posed by the Pleasanton Weekly, then responded to specific questions by emailing, "We will share information with you and the public as soon as we are able. ... The board has been meeting and will continue to meet regularly to work on next steps."
Follow-up phone calls and emails to Cohen went unanswered. The Pleasanton Weekly has requested the foundation's most recent tax returns and has asked it to provide access to its records.
Full Court Press clients include Kaiser Permanente of Northern California, San Francisco Unified School District, the James Irvine Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos.