By Steven Tavares
This is not the best time for San Leandro Councilwoman Diana Souza to become the head of the struggling Associated Community Action Program (ACAP). Nevertheless, just days after becoming chair of the inter-governmental East Bay agency, Souza was standing before a hastily assembled Alameda County Board of Supervisors last Thursday, hat in hand, asking for an increased loan of $321,000 to meet payroll for its 30 employees.
It is not yet known exactly how the agency created over 35 years ago by 12 East Bay cities to combat poverty suddenly cannot pay its employees. "I can't understand how it got to a place where you can't make payroll," the Oakland Tribune reported Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson saying. "Where were the checks and balances?"
According to county staff reports, the board of supervisors approved a $250,000 revolving trust fund in February 2009. The entire amount was distributed to ACAP the next month and has not been repaid, according to the Alameda County Social Services Agency. The request during Thursday’s special session asked for an additional loan of $321,000; roughly enough to cover the next three bi-weekly pay periods.
Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Wilma Chan did not attend the evening special meeting, leaving the items passage to a unanimous decision of the board. Supervisor Nate Miley and Carson reluctantly approved the loan with the argument ACAP’s current financial situation is not the fault of its workers. Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, though, voted against it; thereby blocking approval of the loan. Lockyer said she did not believe ACAP had shown it can be self-sufficient in the near-term.