Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Opinion Piece By Linda Sutter – August 3, 2017

Trying to get to the brunt of the Rural Human Services (RHS) problem is like trying to get milk from a goat that is male. It ain’t going to happen. Crescent City quoted breach of contract and alluded to the patsy Scott Feller as the reason they dropped RHS from receiving any CDBG fund money.  And, City Manager, Mike Young, stated that RHS was not cooperating with the City. Further, he said that when the City asked for specific documents, RHS refused to hand them over. Does that sound familiar in another unrelated case?

Mitch Hanna has a propensity of denying people a look-see at documents when it came to Sutter Coast Hospital. He currently sits on the RHS board and maybe his in-actions have spilled over onto the board? Just a small observation without any ounce of confirmation, but seems appropriate.

Back to the story, so I asked an employee of RHS, why isn’t RHS cooperating with the city? Her response, “We have given the city everything they have requested.”  Ok, now we have a quandary. The City says RHS is not cooperating and RHS says, “Yes, we are.”

Well let’s look a little deeper into this madness. Do you recall the workforce center use to be in the RHS building? The Workforce Center moved. Why? Was it because they too were having the same problem as the city in getting financials? Why yes it is. In fact due to the fact that RHS is so shady with their financial reports, this and that, the workforce had no choice but to separate from RHS because if they had not separated from RHS, the workforce would have lost their funding.

Who is doing the books for RHS?  The Treasurer of the RHS Board of Directors is Mike Riese, but certainly he would not be the accountant for RHS. After all his expertise is law. In any case, whoever the  RHS  finance director is, they must not have taken the 101 class on public finance, public reporting, or simple  accounting techniques. In fact, the very heart of this whole situation comes down to money, and RHS failed their audit.

RHS did verify that the food bank program would continue to hand out food boxes as they get money from other resources. However, Harrington House is suffering big time.

The Harrington House originally had a staff of 14. Now down to 7. This essential service is the one suffering the most and in my eye, looks like a form of retaliation for filing a sexual harassment suit against the former Executive Director, Scott Feller.

What can be done? We need to look at the Board of Directors. What is their responsibility in all of this?  The Board of Directors have quite a few responsibilities, and are failing to do so miserably. According to their Bylaws they are to maintain all CORPORATE RECORDS especially adequate records of account, including accounts of its properties, business transactions, assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, gains, and loses. Does that go back to the Treasurer, Michael Riese?

This basically boils down to the RHS board members once again. In my opinion, they need to resign, and new people with proper backgrounds should be received. The question that pops up frequently is, who wants to do sit on a board for free? I counter that with a quote from John F. Kennedy, “ Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country?”  I personally would sit on this board and I am sure there are other community members who have experience in accounting and report writing that would step up to the plate.  If RHS continues to go down the road they are going there will be great jeopardy and this community can’t afford that.

  1. Linda, the workforce center DID NOT move because of anything wrong with the books. There was nothing shady about their(RHS) financials. Workforce Center moved to economise and nothing more. It was costing too much and was too difficult to manage to keep a few workers at the RHS center when they had space at DHHS.
    I do not understand why there was a need for 14 staff at Harrington house let alone 7. The Harrington house has been problematic for many years and it is not something the current board would have had anything to do with.
    Scott Feller is another issue where you have judged as have many others, without any facts, only unproven allegations. The insurance settlement, Scott Feller leaving town, the Triplicate’s alleged private investigator’s report, the “victim” working for an entire year before claiming harassment, no previous history of harassment and the “press release” in your most recent RHS bashing contain nothing more than unproven allegations. You allude to something more, but I have yet to see anything that proves Scott Feller or the RHS Board did anything wrong.
    People seem to want to focus on the Board’s length of time responding the the complaint, but I have yet to see any kind of Board move with dispatch, let alone in December over the holidays. I have yet to see any report of the Board sitting on anything beyond that time period.
    As this is supposed to be a country where you are not tried by the public or in the media, it seems to me that Scott Feller is gone, the Board is more than aware of the need to protect its employees from Sexual Harassment, so maybe its time to cease with the wild accusations and judgements?

  2. I appreciate Linda’s staying on this matter and reporting back, and WTF’s approach and ideas. Also glad to hear the food bank is still operating. Does that mean the RHS contract was not fully revoked? Just wondering, if anyone knows how that works please post. Thanks.

  3. Linda, WTF appreciates your reporting on this matter. I know members on the RHS Board, they appear to me of the highest integrity. There is always two sides to the story. I hope at some point we can hear their side, otherwise we are just speculating. Otherwise, let’s move on and try to fix what is broken.

    One of the major problems in this County is the dependency on government programs. Huge bureaucracies have been built to oversee the tidal wave of grants and funds sent our way. Weeding out the bad eggs, and getting more folks trained and back into the workforce would reduce many of the problems we have with our boards and programs. They are simply not working for the ones they are intended to work for, or for the good people paying all these taxes and watching their paychecks shrink.

    In the meantime, there should be at least one elected official on these various boards and commissions. Conversely, there should be at least one public member on every board and commission. This would help with accountability. Further, I would impose a term limit on board members, let’ shoot for four years (term limits for electeds are a different issue). To help with getting folks to participate on boards and commissions, I would propose offering a tax credit, probably enough to cover expenses. I would also tie local participation to receiving public assistance checks (multiple tasks, including blight abatement, serving on boards and commissions, school participation, etc.)

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