Without the knowledge or consent of the HADCO Board of Commissioners, HADCO Commissioner Chris Spens apparently attended a meeting a few weeks ago with at least one representative from HUD’s field office in Portland, as well as Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan. It seems that HADCO’s Interim Director Jamie Ambrosini was also there, yet no one bothered to tell the rest of the HADCO Board of Commissioners.
Although we had received information that HUD intended to meet with former HADCO Chair Ernie Luna, we had no idea that HADCO or HUD staff would arrange for Chris to replace him at the meeting. Heck maybe it was Commissioner Morgan who asked Chris to attend, but I won’t know until I receive some answers from either her, HUD or HADCO. All have been asked.
It is true that when Ernie Luna was still on the Board of Commissioners, a majority of the board elected Chris to Vice-Chair but understanding context is important here. Chris was only elected Vice-Chair because there was a voting block of Ernie Luna, Shannon Gammie and him. However, once Erie resigned from the HADCO Board of Commissioners, Chris would not have had majority support to represent HADCO. Given the HADCO Bylaws, he did not have authority to represent the Board without their expressed authority to do so. So how did he get to be the only HADCO Board representative at this special meeting with HUD and Commissioner Morgan?
Now what did they discuss? I have some idea given third hand information from a few sources. However it is not really clear what they discussed and any resolutions. From the information I have received, it seems that there were concerns about the fact that HADCO has no process for dealing with complaints to make sure that they are addressed. Someone I spoke to about this seemed to think that this was something that can be solved with appropriate policies and procedures being adopted, however it is a bit more than that. There needs to be people on HADCO’s Board and working for them that have a different philosophy than what has driven the agency for the past several years. People on the Board need to want to deal with complaints, which a majority of the HADCO Board has not. In the past year alone, there have been three complaints about former Executive Director Dolly Newman’s behavior that a majority of the HADCO Board, including Spens did nothing about–Oh yeah he did something, he voted to give her a 10% raise. One of these complaints was from a former resident who caught Ms. Newman calling the resident inappropriate names when Ms. Newman was talking to another staff person about the resident in the office one day after a HADCO Board meeting.
Apparently HUD confirmed to Commissioner Morgan that they were investigating Dolly Newman and her handling of HADCO finances when she was here. However, what does this mean? Are they also investigating why HADCO’s Commission let her do this? If you follow this blog, you know that we–including HADCO Commissioner Jamie Sanchez— have been raising questions about Ms. Newman’s spending for well over a year, yet neither Chris Spens, HUD or Commissioner Morgan did anything about it even though they had been told of the red flags that HADCO’s own budget documents clearly showed.
So now we are going to trust a behind closed-doors meeting to fix the problems that is being held by the people who either directly caused the problems or ignored them for so long that it has gone this far? I don’t think so. We all deserve better than this from HUD, HADCO and Commissioner Morgan.