MOST MEMBER CITIES HAVE APPROVED FUNDING FOR DISSOLUTION; EX-DIRECTOR FILES SUIT AGAINST GOVERNING BOARD
By Steven Tavares
@eastbaycitizen on twitter
While East Bay cities await the findings of long overdue financial audit of soon-to-be defunct Associated Community Action Program, nearly all municipalities have approved over $122,000 to a pot of nearly $2 million to dissolve the program later this month. Many cities, though, are beginning to question the reasons leading up to the outlay of scare resources, amid calls of impropriety at ACAP.
Fremont’s City Council unanimously approved their portion of the costs associated with dissolution of ACAP and its programs designed to help the disadvantage and combat poverty in Alameda County. San Leandro and Hayward recently signed off with discussion on the payment schedule detailed in the joint powers agreement brokered years ago by 12 county cities. “We’re hoping this is the outside limit,” said Fremont City Manager Fred Diaz. “It could be less, it could be more.”
ACAP’s executive director was sacked in March and allegations of criminal activity continue to run rampant. An investigation of the former director Nanette Dillard is ongoing by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office. Diaz said no charges have been alleged and believes any investigation into Dillard’s actions leading to the bankruptcy of ACAP is awaiting the findings of an independent audit, but it “more than appears there was mismanagement,” he said.
The completion of the audit was expected nearly two months ago, according to testimony by ACAP’s appointed interim director to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors in March. In the meantime, Dillard has filed a lawsuit against member of the ACAP governing board, which is composed of elected officials from each of the 12 member cities and a representative from the board of supervisors.
“I don’t like shoveling money,” said Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman of the expenditure towards ACAP. “My experience in this county is that investigations that should happen never do.” When Vice Mayor Suzanne Lee Chan and ACAP board member mentioned the D.A. is investigating Dillard he said, “I’ve heard that a thousand times. What does that mean?”
Diaz, who along with other East Bay city managers, has been coordinating the financial aspects of winding down ACAP, but when questioned about any pushback by other member cities over the financial liabilities over ending the program he said initially there was disagreement among smaller cities, but no longer. Chan said, though, there is still fuming among members in Albany and Emeryville who are protesting the paying an equal share of the costs despite few benefits derived from the program. Albany Councilman Robert Lieber, continued to register complaint at a recent council meeting before that body approved their $122,000 share.
Lieber’s position toward the ACAP’s financial woes has struck some observers of the program’s rapid decline as peculiar since most of the alleged activity leading to unpaid employees and growing stacks of unpaid bills occurred during his tenure as chair of the governing board. Critics of ACAP have pointed to the board’s extreme lack of oversight as one of the enabling factors leading to the drastic demise of the program.
As ACAP nears extinction, places like Fremont though are searching for solutions to bridge the gap left by the program which was designed to procure and distribute state and federal grants to local non-profits. Diaz says a proposal to create a body similar to ACAP in Fremont is feasible, but there is still uncertainty over the plan. He says the city and Fremont Family Resource Center is exploring federal guidance on the issue. Harvey Levine, Fremont’s city attorney, says the state is also searching for non-profits to fill the void left by ACAP although he does not believe any have been located with any interest.