Monday, September 1, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Grand jury criticizes Community Action Partnership, county

By
From page A3 | June 25, 2014 |

FAIRFIELD — The Solano County grand jury on Tuesday issued a report criticizing the Community Action Partnership of Solano Joint Powers Authority, the county and a situation it says has led to a $322,767 deficit in a taxpayers-backed fund.

Along the way, it criticizes a lack of county oversight. It calls for the county to aggressively seek the repayment plus interest from the joint powers authority. It talks about conflicts of interest and no clear structures existing to resolve the deficit issues.

“Resources to serve the economically disadvantaged population are limited and have become more so because of the unconscionable situations described above,” the 19-page grand jury report said in its conclusion.

At best, the report said, the relationship between Solano County and the Community Action Partnership of Solano Joint Powers Authority can be described as dysfunctional.

Joint power authority Executive Director P.J. Davis on Tuesday pondered the question of whether the grand jury report is fair.

“That’s a hard question to answer,” Davis said. “Some things are accurate, some things are not accurate. It’s fair regarding how people attended some meetings and heard some things, but we’ve been living this for four years.”

The joint powers authority got established under a different name in 1999 among the county, Benicia, Dixon, Fairfield, Rio Vista, Suisun City and Vallejo. Its purpose is to develop and carry out strategies, services and systems that help low-income and homeless people become self-sufficient, the grand jury report said.

Much of the report looks at Fund 173. This fund got established in 2001 to assist with delays that come with state and federal grant disbursements. The account would cover expenses that would be later reimbursed to the county by grant awards, the report said. The county Health and Social Services Department oversees grant application submissions by the joint powers authority and forwards invoices to the Auditor-Controller’s Office for processing.

In 2011, the Auditor-Controller’s Office informed Health and Social Services of discrepancies in reimbursements. That led to the county notifying the joint powers authority in 2011 of a $700,000 deficit in Fund 173. Health and Social Services has worked with federal Housing and Urban Development to reduce this to $322,676, the grand jury report said.

Now the grand jury wants the county to “aggressively pursue collection of these taxpayer funds with public notification following collection and/or resolution of the matter.”

“All of this will be responded to by the JPA,” Davis said. “It is under investigation. The JPA is working hand-in-hand with the county to try to get this to a resolution.”

Among the grand jury report’s many recommendations is that the county hire compliance officers and audit staff to ensure this type of extended deficit situation doesn’t reoccur.

The grand jury report said the 1999 joint powers authority agreement designates the Solano County auditor-controller as the treasurer-auditor of the joint powers authority. The Auditor-Controller’s Office failed to provide yearly audited accounts of Fund 173 to Health and Social Services and the joint powers authority, it said.

But Solano County Auditor-Controller Simona Padilla-Scholtens on Tuesday said she has been unable to find any such agreement designating her as auditor for the joint powers authority, though the county does accounting work for the agency.  She agreed that the situation is similar to that with special districts, which could use the county for audits or hire a different auditor.

“I was not designated auditor for that fund,” Padilla-Scholtens said.

Also, a lack of record keeping by contractors and subcontractors receiving grant funds contributed to the deficit, the report said.

The grand jury says that it appears the Auditor-Controller’s Office, Davis, the joint powers authority and the county Health and Social Services Department failed to take compliance measures to ensure that invoice expenses included in the grant applications qualified for reimbursement.

“Taxpayer Fund 173 monies were paid to the JPA on faith alone,” the grand jury report said.

The report also said that the joint powers authority in 2009 filed to create the nonprofit, Community Action Partnership of Solano Inc. The nonprofit can file independently for federal money administered by the state. These funds are outside the review of the county Auditor-Controller’s Office, it said.

An agreement between the joint powers authority and the nonprofit designates the nonprofit as the administrator of federal funds received by the joint powers authority, the report said.

Joint powers authority board members serve on the nonprofit board, creating an apparent conflict of interest on many levels, the report said.

For all of its criticisms, the report said the county has the ability to create a dynamic and effective organization to serve the needy.

“Solano County has a moral, ethical, legal and fiduciary responsibility to fulfill these obligations to its citizens,” the report said.

Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Discussion | 22 comments

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  • DJune 25, 2014 - 5:56 am

    Really, PJ Davis, some of its fair and some ain't, that the best answer you can come up? You mismanaged funds to the tune of 700k, did a piss poor job, got paid over a 100 K a year to sit there and have a cup of tea and talk, had a four year long party, and you are now trying to bury it all under, "we will investigate?" Really? If you had an ounce of dignity or integrity, you would resign this morning, which you don't and you won't. If accountability is held, you need to be fired, period! Why isn't PJ Davis being let go?

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  • Tax PayerJune 25, 2014 - 6:07 am

    “All of this will be responded to by the JPA,” Davis said. “It is under investigation. The JPA is working hand-in-hand with the county to try to get this to a resolution.” So as a tax payer, let me get this straight, funds to the tune of 700K have been mismanaged by JPA and CAP, both headed by the same person? And now, despite the Grand Jury finding her culpable and negligent, SHE is working with the county hand in hand to resolve the very complaint that implicates her? Why is she being asked to find a resolution when she is part of the problem? Why isn't she being taken to task and investigated? Why isn't county firing her? This is why tax payers have lost all faith in our system. We constantly let off the hook those who are obviously at fault, and even make them part of the team while investigating themselves? One more question as a tax payer perturbed by this, why are there two agencies with the same head? Sounds like a huge violation and conflict of interest to me, given it's meant for public funding. I agree with D's comments, this woman needs to be fired, and the least they need to do now that this mismanagement has been established beyond a doubt, is to remove and suspend her while a nonpartisan body investigate and remove her? Second, knowing how the system works or doesn't work, I doubt tax payers will ever see a dime of this money returned. I challenge county to do the right thing, and take this woman to task and cease her assets to pay the public back. (Never gonna happen, of course).

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  • DJune 25, 2014 - 6:17 am

    Why is PJ working hand in hand with County while being investigated for mismanagement of funds? Isn't working hand in hand what led to a criminal mismanagement of funds? Why is county protecting this woman? Is county helping a corrupt head of an agency which did not fulfill its obligations, to wriggle herself out of this crime? The tax payers have a right to demand that an unbiased thirty party investigation be launched against her without county in tow to give her allowances. This report needs to be made public. Can the DR please provide a link where the public can read this report?

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  • One-who-knows-the-truthJune 25, 2014 - 6:25 am

    I can testify that the two women who run this agency, agencies, do the following: Come to work at noon, sit in one of their offices and talk for hours about their personal lives, how PJ spends all day taking care of her sick husband, how she is always tired and worried about retirement funds for herself and her husband's care. At work they write superficial reports, bully other agencies demanding funds and fees from them saying they are required to do so which is a lie. They have cushy offices, do not hire anyone else, want to run a two woman show and if anyone finds out what they are up to they are let go. They gets fat pay checks for doing all this, PJ makes 117 K a year and her deputy a little less. I have never witnessed, first hand, such a travesty. If called to testify I would.

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  • Tax PayerJune 25, 2014 - 6:30 am

    And there you have it, just as we suspected, another corrupt outfit being funded by honest hard working citizens who have no idea how their money is being misspent. Why is Grand Jury "CRITICIZING" them? That sounds like a slap on the wrist to make it all go away quietly. Why are they not being indicted?

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  • JuneJune 25, 2014 - 8:28 am

    I am a tax paying citizen and I am appalled at this news. How can such a large amount of tax payer's fund meant for public service come up missing without anyone noticing anything for over four years? Will this be another band aid investigation? Does this Grand Jury have any real power or will their report be just that?

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  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 8:37 am

    What services were they supposed to render? It's not clear?

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  • JuneJune 25, 2014 - 8:52 am

    And, who supervises the Director?

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  • Mr. SmithJune 25, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    Alex, you nailed it! Even after one reads what appears to be a mission outline in the seventh paragraph of the article, one is left wondering what services these folks are supposed to render. That, imho, is the problem. And because of that, there will never be any accountability to the clients or the taxpayer by this agency.

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  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 11:18 am

    I'm no lawyer but it seems the County Supervisors need to step in and make sure accountability is ensured.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    So what happens now?

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  • DianneJune 25, 2014 - 1:27 pm

    I am just so fed up with the system and how corruption reigns unabated.....

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  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    Mr Smith I agree one hundred percent they are going to use the ambiguity of language to get away with fraud. But here is the question, money has been misspent, and that is an established fact. So whether their mission statement is clear or not, it is abundantly clear that funds have been mismanaged, which is a direct violation of any contractual agreement between a one headed or in this case a two headed agency, with the same Director, and the County and other funding agencies. So it is clearly established that the Director had a conflict of interest, the county did not investigate her early enough but eventually did, and found funds missing. So again, as a layman, not a legal expert, I am left to wonder why this report and the missing money isn't enough of a probable cause to a. arrest this woman b. fire this woman c. hold her accountable for the missing tax payers monies d. enforce the county to quit doing business with her e. investigate her via a third party and f. suspend her until a third party investigation establishes guilt, willful or by neglect, both crimes, and punishable from being fired to having her accounts ceased and forced to pay retribution. Knowing how the system works however, politics will be played. A few high level phone calls will be made to make it all go away. And we will be back to square one, with her likely doing more corruption and history repeating itself. Poor poor poor accountability practices.

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  • One-who-knows-the-truthJune 25, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    The services they were supposed to provide was funds and service support to agencies which provide homeless services but instead they went to tea with the money, ran a two woman show, got paid to the tune of 200K plus between the two of them, charged the agencies they were supposed to pay by saying in order to keep in business they must pay them instead of vice versa. They ran amuck, sending pointless emails and reports as the 'work' they did. They travelled on tax payers expense to other states to hold meetings and trainings, spending more money. And in the end they got caught. However, they have connections and will use them to wiggle their tails out of this. I hope this report exposes them for who they are and that the city and county do not let their corruption slide. These two need to be jailed.

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  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    One-who-knows-the-truth: It is obvious that you know who these people are and that you worked very closely with them. I don't want to put you in a spot in case you are a present or former employee for fear of retribution but can you explain what you mean, or who you mean when you say they will wiggle their tails out of this because they have connections? Who do you mean?

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  • One-who-knows-the-truthJune 25, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    Alex they have connection with some County Supervisors and they have people on their Boards who back them up despite knowing the ladies are up to no good, How do you think for so many years they got such fat pay checks for mismanaging public funds and got away with it? As to who I am or was, it is all in the past and I do not fear speaking the truth, even in front of a grand jury, if they choose to take this to trial, I can give them proof that these two ladies need to be fired.

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  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 4:21 pm

    One-who-knows-the-truth:thank you for being so forthright and speaking up. I hope against hope that the City and County do not let this slide and that justice is served. Amen.

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  • DJune 25, 2014 - 4:29 pm

    The situation is getting worse, they just renamed the old CAP as the new Housing First Solano, with a handpicked Board who want to continue to support PJ. The service providers were not encouraged or involved. Now they will keep running the show if someone doesn't stop this circus. A circus that is costing tax payers, city and county tens of thousands of dollars to keep just TWO women employed. Outrageous.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 4:37 pm

    Say what? How can they elect a new Board for the same organization or is it another organization, which leads to the question, how can they have two organizations under one roof? What is going on here? This is utterly confusing.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • B. ThiemerJune 25, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    How much does Joint power authority Executive Director P.J. Davis make per year?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • AlexJune 25, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    117K per year

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Truth SeekerJuly 01, 2014 - 12:49 pm

    The Housing First Solano Board is representative of the former Continuum of Care Solano, now renamed Housing First Solano. The Housing First Solano is comprised of all agencies, organizations, businesses, and persons that seek to end homelessness in Solano County and is an entity that is mandated by HUD to exist. It is public and open to all. While CAP and Housing First Solano are separate entities, CAP was heavily involved in the creation of said board. For those outraged and wanting to get involved, perhaps you should attend the next Housing First Solano meeting....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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