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White House cannot allow crucial city agency to close

Published: Mon, December 26, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Now that the Mahoning- Youngstown Community Action Partnership has exhausted its judicial appeals with regard an $877,547 reimbursement demand from the Ohio Department of Education, intervention by the White House appears to be the only card left for this important agency to play.

Although the state education department is seeking the repayment, the money originated from the U.S. Department of Education, which means it would have ultimate responsibility to ensure the proper expenditure of federal funds. And, given that MYCAP was cleared of wrongdoing by the Ohio Department of Education after a yearlong investigation and there were no findings of misappropriation of the $877,4547, Washington should give MYCAP the benefit of the doubt.

Agency officials have argued that a lack of adequate record-keeping by the previous management team, led by former Director Richard Roller, caused the state to seek the refund. The state education department contended that the money was not spent according to the terms of the Summer Feeding and Child and Adult and Feeding programs administered by MYCAP. It never said the money was misappropriated.

Therefore, if this is purely a matter of poor record-keeping, is it necessary to take such a hard line, the result of which would be for the agency to close its doors? We think not — considering all the services being provided to a segment of the population that needs them the most.

MYCAP does not have the nearly $900,000 to reimburse the state — and by extension the federal government — and it does not have the ability to raise money. It cannot use any other grants to make good on the demand.

Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, met with representatives of the agency to go over the case, and while there was some hope of a favorable resolution, Brown and Ryan could not make any commitments. Those must come from the Obama administration. The president cannot be blind to the challenges confronting the city of Youngstown, with its declining population, high poverty rates, especially among inner city residents, an unstable tax base, deteriorating neighborhoods and a persistently high crime rate. The national economic downturn has been particularly hard on the city, which is why MYCAP and other such agencies are so essential. They serve an under served population.

No one is arguing that MYCAP is without blame. In late 2009, when the state was conducting its investigation, the focus was on the misuse of funds, nepotism, conflict of interest and a number of other issues, including weatherization work done on Roller’s house. He, along with others on the management team, were fired.

Roller hired his brother, Jason, as food service manager, and two of his cousins and his daughter were also on the payroll, as were other close family members.

Employment agency

How could a public entity funded by the taxpayers become an employment agency for members of one family? It’s a question that residents continue to ask. The board of directors of MYCAP is ultimately responsible for the operation of the community service agency and it seems inconceivable that no one was aware of the nepotism.

That said, the agency was cleared of wrongdoing.

MYCAP is now under new management, with Marilyn J. McDaniel as the executive director, and David N. Waggoner as the fiscal director. They have brought a level of professionalism that was lacking.

Against this backdrop, we believe the Obama administration should give the agency a chance to prove that it has changed.

With the 10th District Court of Appeals affirming an earlier decision by the Franklin County Common Pleas Court that the $877,547 reimbursement demand is not within the court’s jurisdiction, it is up to the state and federal education departments to ultimately decide.


1Photoman(1003 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Once again, no innovative thinking by our locals or our politicians; only more begging for bucks from Columbus and D.C. Perhaps Begging for Bucks will become the ciity's new motto.

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2johnyoung(241 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

The taxpayers should be appalled that the Vindicator is taking such a position. The bunch of political wannabees who were running this agency should have been prosecuted. The only reason they weren't was that the agency's record-keeping was intentionally so poor that investigators could not follow the money trail. Remember, two of these board members now have central roles in Youngstown city government.

As for assisting the needy and under-served of the community, a new truly non-profit organization needs to emerge to assume this task.

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3Superman(31 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

It really is amazing the scams being perptrated on the taxpayers and none of the participants is ever prosecuted. Shut this agency down.

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4Superman(31 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

thethinker is correct, the inner circle of corruption is quite amazing. One of the things you get when you have a media controlled by one or two corporations and a print media without the financial where with all to do any investigative journalism is increasing corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and waste.

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5VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

No wonder our country is going broke...we continually have to deal with public waste on such a grand scale and no one has a solution...or do we?

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6Fred(130 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

MYCAP helps blacks who are destitute. Shutting them down will only cause a multitude of problems.

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7southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

@ Fred -

Where will the money come from? Do you want to make a donation?

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8truth101(20 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

Thethinker, your post is without a doubt one of the best I have ever seen! I hope others here in the Valley take note, fully understand, and take action to make serious changes.

New management of a broken system is not what is needed...take it down completely and start from the beginning if, or when, funds are available for meaningful and sustainable programs. Any future services should be forced to show positive results to gain funding.

This information is what a decent newspaper would dig up, intelligently analyze, and present to the public in an editorial. The Vindicator does not lack the finances to provide such journalism – they just lack the ability, desire, and pride to do so.

Thanks again for your insight and comments. I'm glad to have a neighbor like you!

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9mjnovaksr(95 comments)posted 2 years, 8 months ago

The Vindicator editorial board sure has changed over the years! You have a high paid executive of a non-profit organization who hires lots of relatives who like himself are ill qualified and keep no records, probably intentionally, and mis-appropriate taxpayer dollars (translation - OUR money) which is supposed to help the needy so they aren't "under served" and the Vindy ed's say we should give this group another chance???? OUR money isn't easy to replace!! Years ago the vindicator would have called for their heads on a platter and asked that the whole program be shut down!! Shows what happens when you become Socialists I guess! My call - Roller and Co should be investigated, charged, and prosecuted for theft in office. MYCAP should be shut down and private charity groups (churches, etc) should be entrusted with supporting those who need it. The Vindicator editorial board should fire themselves and hire someone with half a brain!

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