Saturday, July 29, 2017
[Amador County] Letters to the Editor – The Grand Jury Report
The Amador County Grand Jury’s report on the unethical and possibly illegal contracting between the County’s Department of Health and Human Services and the non-profit Nexus brings tears to my eyes. These are tears of relief that the facts are being presented to the residents of Amador County about the underhanded way these contracts were awarded to a brand-new non-profit with no track record.
Please read the Grand Jury’s report starting on Page 46.
I worked at the Amador Tuolumne Community Action Agency as Housing Resources director for 16 years. I witnessed the ugly and destructive behavior of the two leaders of ATCAA’s Family Resources Services as they left the agency to form Nexus. With regard to no one and nothing other than their own self-interest, they deliberately ripped apart ATCAA’s excellent programs for the county’s most vulnerable families and children, programs that had flourished for over three decades. Whether the Board of Supervisors was complicit is for a higher authority to decide, especially the BOS members who also were on ATCAA’s Board of Directors as this hostile drama unfolded.
ATCAA is a wonderfully strong entity but we could not stop the suffering that took place in our offices, month after month, as we saw Nexus and the two former employees rewarded with public money - nearly half a million, our taxes! - while ATCAA’ s loyal employees faced layoffs due to the loss of funding. Staff remaining had to process over a dozen reports that were due the month the two leaders left, while fielding calls from former clients who were confused and frightened by the abrupt changes.
This kind of aggression may be commonplace in the corporate world; it is very rare in the non-profit sector where we value our co-workers as highly as we value our clients. If you have doubts of the report, consider that Nexus sent their attorney to face the public presentation last Tuesday. Nothing says “guilty” more clearly than paying an attorney to take potshots at the report instead of admitting the truth yourself.
Of course, defaming the investigating body is always a tactic of the guilty which is why those present in the Supervisor’s Chambers tried so hard to dismiss the work of the Amador County Grand Jury. Residents in Amador County are blessed with concerned citizens who volunteer for this truth-seeking mission every year. That their work would be summarily dismissed by county officials should set off loud alarm bells.
Nexus and other parties to this toxic mess will likely never face official reprimand. In the public forum, though, they will be judged for their careless aggression, as will the sadly misguided Director of Health and Human Services. None of them will ever know the true-hearted goodness of ATCAA and its former Executive Director, Shelly Hance.
Here’s what I know, having worked with Shelly for 16 years: If the two employees had gone to her and said “We want to form a non-profit that will serve this county’s families and children,” Shelly would have done everything in her power to help them realize their dreams. Instead, they chose to be deceitful and to hurt their co-workers. What kind of people are they?
July 9, 2017
By Margaret “Beetle” Barbour