By Steven Tavares
In recent weeks, current and former employees of the struggling Associated Community Action Program (ACAP) complained of unpaid work, while saying they lacked the tools and supplies to effectively perform their jobs, including the sporadic lack of utilities due to non-payment.
On the evening the 13-member ACAP board voted to place its executive director on administrative leave—she we was later terminated—a chorus of disgruntled former and current employees complained of mismanagement and disarray at the organization formed 36 years ago to distribute funding across the county to help those struggling with poverty.
At the Feb. 2 meeting, four current ACAP employees accused the former director Nanette Dillard of ignoring repeated requests for supplies and maintenance of office equipment. A third current employee said monthly reports detailing the program’s difficulties to maintain services for the public went unanswered by Dillard. Mike Rubio, an ACAP employee, told the board a rise in unpaid bills became a cause for concern sometimes leading to utilities periodically being shut off.
In what may have been a precursor to ACAP’s inability to pay its employees Feb. 18, two former employees spoke of their difficulty receiving back pay from Dillard. Mary Divine, who was terminated, complained Dillard refuse to approve her request for unemployment benefits. She has also yet to have received payment for unused vacation days, she sad. Another former employee says he has not received his final paycheck since quitting ACAP.
ACAP member and San Leandro Councilwoman Diana Souza asked the Alameda County Board of Supervisors Feb. 17 for a $321,000 loan to pay its 30 employees, but was rebuffed. Instead, the Board of Supervisors approved a $75,000 loan five days later allowing workers to be paid their previous months work, but the future of the program still remains in doubt.
ACAP’s governing board caught fire from some supervisors for agreeing to pay Dillard and her husband, Paul Daniels nearly $20,000 after their termination instead of paying its employees. ACAP’s Interim Director Sam Tuttelman said Feb. 24 the organization will be forced to downsize. In addition, finger pointing continues among mayors and councilmembers who represent the 12 Alameda County cities and county in overseeing the program which coordinates over $3.5 million in state and federal grants for various local non-profits. While some members continue to say they did not know how eminent ACAP’s fall appeared in hindsight, others, including Supervisor Nate Miley say a consultant told him months ago it could be going “off the cliff” at anytime.
Miley also told the governing board Feb. 24 that he was aware of Dillard’s difficulties in running the organization and attempted to help her work out some of its issues. Miley was interrupted by the board’s counsel who feared his comments was veering into the realm of “too much information.” Miley’s insight into ACAP’s inner-working may also be enhanced by his daughter's employment by the group.
An ongoing investigation into ACAP’s financial problems under Dillard is expected to be finished within the next 2-3 weeks, said Tuttelman.
POLITICS HOMEGROWN eastbaycitizen.com