By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
A state investigation that severely curtailed the Mahoning/Youngstown Community Action Partnership’s ability to spend grant money without prior state approval laid the blame for the sanction directly at the feet of MYCAP’s board of directors and its executive director.
In an April 6 report, the Ohio Department of Development, while it does not directly say the MYCAP board’s oversight of the agency was inadequate, does require that board members must complete training that covers governance, ethics and the essential elements of federal- program administration within 180 days.
Even in that, the board is not left to its own devices. The training provider and agenda also are subject to prior state approval, said Candace M. Jones, ODOD chief legal counsel and ethics officer.
“Active oversight by a board of directors is necessary to encourage an organizational culture that keeps management and staff focused on the mission of the agency and to ensure that public funding is not put at risk of waste, fraud and abuse,” she said in her report.
Jones is even more critical of Richard A. Roller II, MYCAP executive director for the last 10 years.
“ODOD’s review revealed a number of instances in which it appears that Mr. Roller has taken advantage of his position to his personal gain. While each may appear minor in isolation, the accumulation of financial benefits suggests a fundamental disregard of MYCAP’s mission and its obligations to its public funders,” Jones said.
For example, the report says Roller charged MYCAP, from one of its grants, for consulting services rendered in June 2009 at a rate of $1,000 a day. Financial records show Roller received $14,000, suggesting 14 days of work. Attendance records, however, show he received just six days of personnel leave in that month.
Further, the report said Roller used an agency-funded vehicle in July 2009 despite having been given an annual salary increase in 2007 of $11,268 in lieu of a car allowance or use of an agency vehicle.
The board apparently was not aware until its own internal investigation in 2009 that the director had an agency-funded vehicle in addition to the pay raise and had, in effect, “supplemented his own compensation package without board knowledge or approval,” the report said.
ODOD recommended the board require Roller to reimburse MYCAP for the salary difference ($939 per month) for the period he used an agency vehicle.
ODOD’s report also criticized Roller for the use of MYCAP personnel, materials and equipment to install weatherization measures at his home.
“Use of agency property for the personal gain of the executive director or any other agency personnel who do not meet program-eligibility requirements is wrong,” the report said.
Last October, in a letter to ODOD on the matter, Roller said the weatherization assessment at his residence was a training exercise. He said he paid the employees directly and reimbursed the agency for materials used.
Roller did not respond to telephone calls Monday, when the latest ODOD report was made public, nor on Tuesday.
Richard Atkinson, MYCAP board chairman, said Tuesday he had no further comment on the situation. On Monday, he said the board’s executive committee had met that day to discuss hiring legal counsel, and he said the full board would meet as soon as possible.
In another matter, the Minority Business Enterprise Division’s Minority Contractors and Business Assistance Program, which gives money to MYCAP, became aware in September 2009 that MYCAP did not have adequate staff to provide services delivered under its program.
At that time, MBED suspended funding to MYCAP pending program review and arranged for Cleveland and Akron programs to provide services to Youngstown-area clients.
MBED assists in the creation, growth and development of minority-business enterprises.