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Every step of this process demanded juice-some kind of payoff to someone, whether it was financial or political or, most commonly, both.

And none of this even included when the real fun began with the awarding of the contract to do the actual work. On a publicly bid job, for example, the contractor better have a woman or two and some gay people and a politically correct mix of Caucasian and African-American and Hispanic and Asian workers on the job. Oh, and some veterans, even better if they'd been wounded or maimed.

But the great thing about the fund-raising environment in San Francisco was that the very idea that somebody was going through the process of trying to get better housing and a better life for poor people, and even using rehabilitated drug addicts to do such meaningful work, tended to open the coffers of philanthropy. Never mind that the houses often didn't actually get made, the art cla.s.ses and day care centers didn't get staffed, the theaters never put on a show because of all the ha.s.sles, the payoffs, the uncertainties. Still, the money kept coming in to support the efforts. And it came in at about the same rate that it was going out to advertise, educate, and promote.

Of course, Turner wasn't going to go into all of that with Jeff Elliot. It would be enough to explain the costs and benefits to keeping the programs running at all. The major foundation donors all understood the game, and would probably continue to give at pretty much the same levels that they always had. So he wasn't really too concerned about the COO section of the CityTalk column.

The AmeriCorps side of it, on the other hand, and Elliot's cavalier parting shot that the nonprofit game was a deadly one, was a cause for immediate and serious concern. First of all, although funding had been cut for only a year, this was federal money that, once withheld, might not ever be reinstated. California politicians had a lot of juice in Was.h.i.+ngton, Turner knew. California would get its share of the money, and San Francisco would always get a bite of that. But that didn't mean that Turner's organizations had to see a dime. There were ten others waiting to take up the slack at the first sign of his blood in the water. Further, though all the specific charges of misuse had been leveled at Como, Turner knew that if the feds were sniffing around Sunset for misappropriated funds, they could not be far from his own complicity and, worse, outright fraud.

Turner had cautioned Como about his largesse to most of the city's political movers and shakers, but the man had been a force of nature and did exactly what he wanted when the mood struck him. And now all that money was gone with nothing to show for it. The actual charges-having drivers and errand goers and paying his teaching staff out of AmeriCorps money-could all be explained away as accounting errors. In a busy place run by nonprofessionals, these things happened.

More problematic was that Turner

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