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Report: MYCAP is ‘high risk’



Published: Tue, April 13, 2010 @ 12:30 a.m.

By WILLIAM K. ALCORN

alcorn@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A state agency has designated the Mahoning/Youngstown Community Action Partnership as “high risk,” meaning that grant funds given to MYCAP are “vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.”

The harsh language is contained in a report by the Office of Community Services stemming from an Ohio Department of Development special financial and program review of the local agency conducted in 2009.

ODOD issued its preliminary review findings in January. The review primarily involved MYCAP’s Minority Contractor and Business Assistance Program and weatherization services.

The MYCAP board’s response in February to the department of development report produced OCS’s comments this month.

OCS and the Minority Business Enterprise Division are part of the Community Development Division of ODOD. OCS administers large federal block-grants, including the Home Energy Assistance Program, the Home Weatherization Assistance Program, and the Community Services Block Grant.

The “high risk” designation carries with it certain financial restrictions and controls related to grant funds administered by ODOD.

Also, MYCAP’s designation will be reported to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, from which come federal grants administered by the state.

ODOD initially investigated MYCAP for possible misuse of funds, nepotism, conflict of interest and a number of other issues, including weatherization work done at the home of Richard A. Roller II, executive director of MYCAP.

In its latest report, dated April 6, ODOD recommended that the MYCAP board seek counsel.

That is the first thing that the MYCAP Board’s executive committee plans to do, said Richard Atkinson, board chairman.

He said the executive committee met Monday to begin the process of hiring legal counsel and the full board will meet as soon at legal counsel is retained and decide what actions to take.

It is clear by comments from the board members contacted Monday night that they are taking the issue seriously.

“When we initially met with the department of development, we went to Columbus. That was enough for me to know they are serious,” said Jamael “Tito” Brown, MYCAP board vice chairman.

Brown said his concern is whether MYCAP’s reputation will suffer locally and at the state level.

“We must solve these problems and gain the trust of the community,” Brown said.

MYCAP is a nonprofit agency that administers 11 programs in Mahoning County to help the poor and disadvantaged.

At the end of the day, MYCAP is bigger than the director and the board, said DeMaine J. Kitchen, MYCAP board member.

“My fear is that the work and the legacy of MYCAP will be tainted. We will take whatever disciplinary actions are necessary and move on,” he said.

“On the local level, whatever discipline occurs has to come from the board. We have to consider if this agency is bigger than any individual. We are accountable to a whole lot of people, including the state, who want clarifications and answers,” Kitchen said.

A telephone call to Roller was not returned.

However, in January after the state preliminary report was made public, Roller said he welcomed a full investigation of the agency and himself. “It will exonerate us,” he said.

At the time Roller, who has been the agency’s director for about 10 years, said he recognized the state’s right to look at agency funds.

“If anything is wrong, I’d be glad to fix it,” Roller said.

According to ODOD’s report, conducted in October 2009, Roller’s residence was assessed for the home- weatherization program Dec. 2, 2006, and materials were installed in his home Nov. 23-24, 2007.

Among other things, the development department said Roller’s home was not eligible for such services based on his income.

Roller said the weatherization assessment at his home was a training exercise, and that he paid the employees directly and reimbursed the agency for materials used.


MYCAP SANCTIONS

Youngstown/Mahoning County Community Action Partnership’s “high risk” designation carries with it financial restrictions and controls related to grant funds administered by the Ohio Department of Development to “increase the transparency of expenditures.” They include:

MYCAP must submit for ODOD review and approval revised budgets for current grant agreements no later than May 15.

Requests for grant funds must be accompanied by supporting documentation; and grant funds will be paid on a reimbursement basis only.

The MYCAP board will conduct a performance evaluation of Richard A. Roller II, executive director, within 30 days after receiving the ODOD report, dated April 6. A copy of the evaluation and any disciplinary measures must be provided to ODOD no later than 45 days after receiving the April 6 ODOD report.

Source: Ohio Department of Development


Comments

1Millie(192 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Board members have an obligation to inspect and check what is occuring under their watch. Now because they did not do their job, money that should help the public who need their services will go to legal counsel to keep them out of jail. The non profit industry is a piggy bank without much supervision.

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2Silence_Dogood(1342 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

lumpy
I think YOU just played it !

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3kornersburgkid(57 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Time for a major change at MYCAP

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4McTide(10 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

I assumed the state figured on a nice chunk being stolen.Tough times may bring new standards.

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5govohio(7 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

typical Mahoning valley stuff. What's the mayor say?

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6havinmysay(155 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

"lumpy
I think YOU just played it !"

I was just about to say the same thing. LOL.

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7oldstown(198 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

Dissolve this FRONT ORGANIZATION and put these crooks behind bars WHERE THEY BELONG.

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8QPsiKeith(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

As a former agency administrator and county program auditor. I have never, never seen these situations resolved in the favor of the agency without complete compliance with the State's request. I have on the other hand, here in Ohio, seen directors charged criminally and more than a few agencies shut down and their services farmed out to other agencies. No one person or agency is as essential to service delivery. Anyone every hear of MCCA in Dayton, ask the folks who run SCOPE (the agency that inherited all MCCA's programs and funding).

The State controls the distribution of funding and an agency that has fallen out of grace can simply be starved out of existence. The appeals process for disputing such actions in strongly slanted in favor of supporting the State's position. Furthermore, that process is difficult to dispute because agencies essentially agree to abide by the dispute resolution process as a condition of getting funding in the first place. Ironically, this is similar to the stipulations of many credit card agreements. LoL I actually watched one agency appeal a ruling it didn't like only to get a worse outcome. State decided to make an example of them so other agencies wouldn't get any silly notion that the process was democratic.

Good luck MYCAP, I happen to know and love a number of folks employed there and even serving on its board. However, my fear for you is that this position you're taking sounds self-destructive... Take it from a former auditor/executioner unless you have some dirt on the State to cover you tail with, this is very unlikely to end with a warm fuzzy. Even if you beat the long odds, the damage to the relationship with your primary gatekeeper of funding will not simply vanish.

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9QPsiKeith(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

PS - The Race Card won't do a damn bit of good. The agency that I'm referring to that got the more severe sanction, tried that one as well. I honestly think that's what got them the $100,000 fine that got added to everything else but no one's gonna confirm that LoL.

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10QPsiKeith(8 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

While events and issues continue to unfold at MYCAP, I would urge caution and reservation among those who seem very anxious to cast negative comments at the organization. MYCAP or YACAC as it was formerly know has a long and stellar track record of delivering a wide range of social services through numerous administration as far back by my personal recollection as the former director Rev. Robert Christian. In fact, MYCAP (YACAC) has a long track record of outstanding civic service. Longer than the current mayor's tenure in office or even his "tenure" on the planet. Yes, factually this community organization has been doing good in Youngstown since long before many of its quite vocal critics have been out of diapers. I am often fascinated at how the allies of yesterday become the antagonist of the day when it suites a political climate calling for a mob response.

Community service agencies are neither front organizations nor dens of corruption. Such organizations provide meaningful services to local citizens who live in the shadow of prosperity but have rarely felt its spotlight. Social services agencies are unfortunately often places where idealism goes to die. Enthusiastic men and woman frequently take position at such organizations with high ideas of changing the world but after years of fighting uphill battles they resign themselves to simply doing what they can and trying their best to keep a glimmer of light and hopefulness in the day-to-day face of so much gloom.

MYCAP (YACAC) at it's heart is a good place. While it's okay to be frustrated or even angry with the current situation. I urge my Youngstown friends and family not to lose site of the long and benevolent history of this organization in our community. Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water here folks.

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11mystory2010(3 comments)posted 4 years, 5 months ago

In an attempt to remain successfully assisting the residents in Mahoning County I beleive it would be in the best interest of the citizen and for the agency to split all the programs up that are administer by MYCAP. It would be more feasible to manage and monitor federal money. It is critical that the citizens receive services that they may greatly need. There are other programs such as WIC, Head Start, etc which are administered under different agencies. Over the years MYCAP it is sad to say but these program supervisors have done some low down dirty things to their employees and the citizens of youngstown as well. The agency is like a little Peyton Place. Not only Richard has took advantage of agency money but his other program supervisors as well. If you check the paper work very thoroughly, you will see. The agency program directors have been stealing money for years. It didn't just begin with Richard. Actually he shouldn't have to go down by his self. The other program directors played a large roll in mismanagement of funds as well.

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12Negotiator(2 comments)posted 3 years, 8 months ago

Wow!!!
I am actually doing research on Ethics and Social Justice for my Master's assignment in public administration. This one hit home because I am a transplant student to the Mahoning Valley area. I'd love a citation on previous misuse of funds or mismanagement by former directors. Even a date in which it happened would be helpful. Please drop a comment with any info you have. I can do the digging. I am one of those ideal people that QsiKeith refered to. I think that a lot of good can be done if we set our minds (and hearts) to it. But unfortunately there will always be those who see things for what they can grab instead of what they can give.
Quick story-I help with the bread give-away at a local church. The volunteers before me would take the bulk of the goods and sell it to a local store before it made it to the church. They made lots of money for years every Sunday selling food that was ear-marked for the poor. "We" have got to keep our eyes open to our surroundings, and get past that stigma that we are somehow "Ratting somebody out" when we take action and do the right thing.

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