Intergovernment Agency Paid Disgraced Directors Before Paying Employees

By Steven Tavares

The husband and wife team at the center of allegations they raided the funds of an Alameda County anti-poverty program were compensated after being pushed out earlier his month, while their former employees continue to go without a paycheck.

The board of the Association Community Action Program (ACAP) approved last Friday, in an emergency session, to pay its former executive director Nanette Dillard and her husband, Paul Daniels up to $20,000 in compensation. The action by the 13-member board made up of elected officials from 12 East Bay cities and Alameda County Board of Supervisors came one day after San Leandro Councilwoman Diana Souza asked supervisors to increase the cap on the program’s trust fund account by an additional $321,000. The county lent ACAP $250,000 in February 2009, which was immediately exhausted and has yet to be paid back. The board of supervisors failed last Thursday evening to approve the request.

“Some quorum of the [ACAP] board allowed direction for the individuals at the center of the storm to jump ship and get compensated for it while we are sitting here trying to address this issue angers me by the second,” said Supervisor Keith Carson.

In recent months, the ACAP board has failed to consistently attract enough members to its own meetings, often without gaining a quorum to proceed with its agenda. ACAP is not run by the county, but mirrors many of the services provided by it. Elected officials from Alameda, Albany, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro and Union City sit on the board, along with a representative from the board of supervisors. The ACAP board is scheduled to meet again Wednesday in another emergency session.

In an item added late to the agenda by Board President Nate Miley, the supervisors approved a $75,000 loan to ACAP to pay the remaining 30 employees left without a paycheck last week. The board approved raising the cap on the trust fund with Supervisor Nadia Lockyer voting no and Wilma Chan abstaining. Supervisor Scott Haggerty voted in favor of the loan, but called it a “short-term fix.”

What exactly happened at the little-known program and inter-governmental agency is not yet known. While some are pleading ignorance, Miley says a consultant told him months ago that ACAP could be “heading off the cliff.” Miley says he does not believe the consultant shared the information with other ACAP members, but possibly the chair was made aware of the situation. “Things have spiraled out of control,” said Miley. “I think the ACAP board did not recognized it and I know the staff didn’t know that things as bad as they were.”

Miley also addressed a rising chorus of detractors who point to his conflict in this burgeoning story of graft and governmental ineptitude. Miley’s daughter is employed by ACAP. “I just want to be clear on this–not because my daughter works for ACAP–but because the over 30 employees deserve to be paid,” he said. “It’s not their fault funding has come up short to meet last week’s payroll.”

Near the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Miley become combative saying the issue lies only with employees being paid in good faith for work they have already done. “People can disagree with me on the board. People can disagree with me in the public. People can disagree with me wherever. I don’t care,” said Miley. “Bottom line, in terms of my values, it’s important to me to provide justice to people who are mainly minority employees, who are doing a good job and need to get paid.

Miley also said the mismanagement at ACAP is currently being addressed. Sam Tutelman, the interim director for ACAP thrown into the firestorm after the dismissal of the former executive director, says an investigation into the employee’s allegations against Dillard and Daniels will begin soon. The San Francisco Chronicle reported a closed-circuit camera caught the couple cleaning out their offices Feb. 2, the night the ACAP board handed down a vote on no-confidence. Employees claim a host of financial documents are now missing.

A deputy director for ACAP says many employees are angry and worried about their jobs and the future. “Morale is in the trash,” she said. Nearly one-third of ACAP’s employees have not reported to work since Friday. “I totally understand,” said Haggerty. “The first thing I would be doing is looking for a job.”

In the next few weeks, councils from the 12-member cities may be asked to foot their portion of ACAP’s bill. Under the joint powers agreement between the cities, the county—although much larger—is an equal partner with interest primarily in its unincorporated areas.