New concerns about Shriner spending
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - There are new developments in our continuing investigation into the Alhambra Shrine temple.
Last November, we looked into potential misspending inside the group. We learned the Chattanooga shrine brings in about a million dollars a year, most of that in cash.
But tax returns show less than a fifth of what's raised goes to the organization's charity efforts to get sick children to hospitals. Instead, most of that money goes into the shrine's general fund. And an audit showed thousands of dollars donated had disappeared.
Now we're hearing from inside the organization. Dennis Manning says he was told last week that Alhambra made an economic decision to stop transporting children to Shriners hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, where his 11-year-old grandson is treated.
"They told me, hey, no, we ain't gonna do that. And that just sent a signal off in my head, what do you mean you're not going to? Economics doesn't even come in to the picture as far as I'm concerned. That's what we're all about, is driving those children where ever they need to go," Manning told Eyewitness News.
Actually, the shrine is a fraternal organization. There are no requirements on how much of a temple's money has to be spent on hospital trips. But Manning says the people who donate to Shriners expect their money to help children. "In my opinion, they've lot their mission."
Manning points to the new temple built by Alhambra in East Brainerd, "This monster has grown up there on that hill and it's taking everything to do what's going on up there instead of transportation."
Shortly after he called Eyewitness News, Manning heard back from Alhambra.
"Somebody got the message, because one hour from the time I talked to you, I got a call and they said, 'there's been a big mistake.'"
Manning says there are plenty of mistakes being made. His biggest concern is ensuring the money coming in and going out is accounted for.
He says he expects to take heat for his decision to talk to us about his concerns -- and hopes Alhambra will go ahead and make good on the promise to continue providing transportation for his grandson.
Our calls to Alhambra requesting comment on this story had not been returned.