Cook: PK's unpaid bill

Cook: PK's unpaid bill

June 18th, 2013 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

David Cook

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse/Times Free Press.

Finally, PK Management, which owns the currently uninhabitable Patten Towers, dusted off the corporate checkbook last week and wrote five checks to local aid agencies that have been caring for displaced towers residents after the May 28 basement fire.

To the local Red Cross: a $10,000 check.

To the Salvation Army: $7,000.

To East Brainerd Church of Christ: $3,000.

To Chattanooga Area Food Bank: $2,500.

To Goodwill of Chattanooga: $2,500.

For a grand total of $25,000.

I hope they don't cash any of them. Mail the measly things back. Maybe that will send the very loud message that PK Management doesn't seem to be hearing:

You're on the hook for more than this.

"Right now, we've spent between $15,000 and $20,000," said the Salvation Army's Kimberly George.

That's nearly triple the amount PK donated.

To Red Cross, PK wrote a $10,000 check.

"When it's all said and done, we'll spend about $45,000," said CEO Greg Waite. "This does not include staffing."

(For those of you keeping score at home: that's more than quadruple what PK donated.)

Metropolitan Ministries, part of the relief since day one, has spent an estimated $4,000, including hiring additional staff just to handle the Tower disaster.

"None of that counts administrative time, gasoline and things done out of pocket," said Becky Whelchel, executive director.

PK's donations to Metropolitan Ministries: zero.

(In a rare example, PK's donations to East Brainerd Church of Christ, which initially sheltered residents, exceeded the amount spent by the church. The balance was deposited in the church's emergency respond fund, said Bill Sampson, a church elder).

The Chattanooga Food Bank has delivered trucks of food to hotels where displaced residents are staying. Each trip --

they're called "drops," and the Food Bank has made three -- costs about $500.

PK made a $2,500 donation to the Food Bank.

"We're treating that $2,500 just as the letter stated. As a donation," said Linda McReynolds, vice president of development. "We have invoiced them for one of those drops."

To Goodwill, PK wrote a $2,500 check.

"Roughly, we have spent a little more than $15,000 at this point," said Kimberly Warren, director of community services.

And it's not over yet.

"We're still going to address every need that comes in," she said.

Warren's compassionate, door-always-open, never-say-no response is reflective of all these agencies, who've taken huge body blows: from the unexpected flood of requests to their exhausted staff to their now depleted budgets.

Of course, many of you have stepped in.

Burks United Methodist gave a hundred $5 McDonald's gift cards to Metropolitan Ministries. The Church of the Good Shepherd donated 50 bus passes. Each agency tells similar stories of big-hearted donors.

But if some burglar sneaked into Red Cross and made off with bundles of cash, wouldn't every cop in town be chasing him down?

PK's doing the same thing by neglecting to take full responsibility of the resource drain their basement fire has put on local agencies. When the floods come or tornado strikes and your neighborhood's devastated, remember what PK has done.

Or hasn't.

"The owner of Patten Towers has a separate foundation," a PK representative said at recent news conference. "He is extremely philanthropic."

Compared to whom? Scrooge?

(PK did not return telephone or email attempts Monday. Nor did it show up for a Monday morning meeting hosted by aid agencies.)

Let's review.

Donations given by PK to area agencies: $25,000.

Estimated expenses of these area agencies: $85,000.

The bottom line: PK owes at least $60,000 more.

Contact David Cook at dcook@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.