Opinion Piece By Linda Sutter – August 22, 2017 –
After giving Rural Human Services (RHS) ample time to comply with the City of Crescent City’s request to prevent RHS from losing their funding; RHS Board Members took a hard stance refusing to comply with the city resulting in the City Council with no alternative but take away their funding.
During public comment on this issue, Mike Riese who is currently an RHS board member stood up and told the public that the second sexual harassment suit RHS is facing will go to trial. Demonstrating to the City Council members, Mayor Inscore, and Crescent City’s, City Manager Mike Young, that RHS board members are the problem. Darin Short said it best, “Usually when someone files sexual harassment, the victim wants the issue to go away, they don’t want to go to trial.”
Mike Riese demonstrated there was no sexual harassment issue, by wanting to fight the issue in court. RHS Chair, Celia Perez, thought the best way to win the City Council over was to manipulate them by stating there would be hungry children. Not addressing the sexual harassment compliance issue whatsoever, or stating their Attorney, George Mavris, advised RHS not to comply with the request for information from the city.
Two separate sexual harassment cases have been filed, one is still current, and no one in RHS thinks there is a problem. Jolanda Obie, Director of Harrington House, stated she has made sure all her employees are in compliance with sexual harassment training.
Tonight the City Council had to make that choice either to lose $5 to 6 million dollars in Community funding or go along to get along with the good ole boys by pretending sexual harassment doesn’t exist at RHS. The City Council members did the right thing and it sucked, but our City was best served by our Council Members tonight.
12 thoughts on “RHS LOSES FUNDING”
Linda, it is my understanding that the original harassment claim was made to RHS in late November of 2016, more than a year after the initial incident took place. RHS took action, that did not satisfy anyone in January of 2017. Not very quickly I admit, but far quicker than most board driven agencies, particularly over a major holiday period. The woman who filed the claim resigned in January of 2016.
By DFEH’s own press release, they first began investigating sexual harassment claims in January of 2017. They were not involved prior to that. Well over a year after the initial alleged harassment occured, then and only then did DFEH become involved. The only information that seems to support your statement that “facts were laid out by the investigator,damning evidence against Scott Feller resulted in the insurance paying out instead of litigating” comes from the Triplicate and not DFEH. Hardly a reliable source. RHS stated clearly that it was an economic decision by the insurance company to not litigate. Costs more to litigate than settle, hardly a novel concept in today’s insurance world. RHS’s lawyer, based on the report of his investigator felt that RHS would prevail if the case was litigated. DFEH appears to have taken the easy way out and did not investigate much beyond the claiment’s statement and were satisfied with a settlement. No one at this point has produced an investigator’s report that supports the claim made by RHS’s former employee of sexual harassment, neither the Triplicate or DFEH. If you have such a report, we are all eager and waiting to read it.
You can shake your head and anything else you may chose to do, but at this point it is two cases of unproven and alleged sexual harassment, nothing more. In the original clain , the employee, if I remember correctly, stated they, the employee and Scott Feller, were enroute to a sexual harassment training. If RHS behaves like any other agency in this day and age, trainings of this sort are a regular feature in that kind of work space.
Until it is proven one way or the other, there either was a problem or there was not a problem, something that hasn’t happened yet. All I see in this audience is a few people who are unwilling to be JUDGEMENTAL. If that is a crime in your world so be it.
NEW LOCAL RULE (apparently): If someone states they can win at trial, they get accused of being “cavalier”. Apparently the only acceptable response is to roll over. And don’t bother asking any basic questions because no one answers those. The more I learn about this case the more it sounds like hidden motives at work.
So far, attorney expert advice gets ignored, the insurance company’s decision to settle is an admission of guilt, and we haven’t been shown a shred of evidence. And according to at least one source, the City Council conducted a personnel meeting re Feller although he was not present and he’s not a City employee. And the Trip keeps repeating the same erroneous assertion that RHS paid for the settlement when it was actually the insurance company.
It’s been my experience that when the basic questions cannot be answered, something fundamental is wrong.
Let’s see some reporting on the 5-12% pay increase the BOS gave elected officials on August 8th, but cut funding to RHS, their employees and county services. Interesting how the official responsible for the money (Auditor Shaad) received the highest increase.
RHS funding cut was by the City. Pay increases were by the County. Two separate entities.
Do you have any more information about this? After over a year of fighting, the county finally gave a mere pittance of an increase to a lot of county employees (4.75%, but really a 3% net increase due to a 1.75% increase in employee contribution to PERS). I’m not surprised they were ok with giving “their own type” a larger raise, and I’m also sure that they didn’t have to fight for over a year to get it. Our county employees got the shaft while they bumped up their own pay. Pathetic.
Samuel, if the outstanding case comes back vindicating RHS stance, it means that case had no merit…but that case only…not Scott Fellers case….The City had no other choice to do what they did…Protect the CDBG funding for the City….the amount the food bank will lose is 15% …the food bank gets money from other resources…as far as the Harrington House…that is a shame…Jolanda Obie, who is the Director busts her bottom to make that place work…She trains her staff thoroughly to comply with all the sexual harassment guidelines….I don’t know what you have against the Harrington House, but it is an essential service for this county….
What is embarrassing in this hot mess is this is a political disaster…The questionable members who sit on RHS some are republicans..rubbing shoulders with each other instead of taking sexual harassment seriously…Neanderthals at best who can’t understand why funding would be lost for “mere sexual harassment”…the kind of mindset that got RHS into the mess it is in…Mike Riese, Attorney of law and treasurer of RHS, Republican, Karen Sanders board member, republican, Former director of RHS Scott feller, republican….RHS Attorney of law George Mavris, Republican…. all closed their eyes, all sat on their behinds, all took a position…and the year is 2017…not 1967…yet in Del Norte County RHS is still living in 1967 era….It is disgusting and unacceptable…but the positive thing is this…
the city will continue to receive their CDBG FUNDING, because the city isn’t going along to get along…the city is taking a position to uphold the state and constitutional laws forbidding sexual harassment
Again, as before, the article seems to rest on the incorrect assumption of guilt of Scott Feller. Are you saying the City cut off funding because of the Scott Feller matter, or are you saying it was the lack of policy? That’s unclear. Sexual harassment can happen or not happen whether there’s a policy in place or not.
So are you saying RHS’s policy makes it OK to sexually harass? I’m not buying that.
Also not sure where you get the idea George Mavris is a republican.
These “opinion” pieces are getting really out there. The repetitive theme here is your belief that women alleging sexual harassment should always be paid off without ever having to prove anything. I couldn’t disagree with that mentality any more strongly.
Linda, if you are thinking that I have some kind of axe to grind with the Harrington House, sorry but that is simply not the case. I do not know Jolanda Obie or what is happening at Harrington House currently. As a forty plus year resident of this County, I do know that the Harrington House has had difficulties in the past. That comment has nothing to do with Sexual Abuse of women, or any other slights that you think I made with regards to the abused women and staff at Harrington House.
What it does have to do with is your assumption that Scott Feller is guilty and the RHS Board shares that guilt by some undefined standard that you have applied to the case. In addition, your assumption that should RHS be vindicated, something that I prefer to wait and see what happens with the current case,only deals with the second alleged harassment and doesn’t effect the notion that many in this community have rushed to judgement, particularly in light of the fact that both employees were from the Harrington House and as I understand it were both involving Scott Feller. That detail coupled with the fact that I am unaware of any other sexual harassment cases that have been filed against Scott Feller, or RHS period. That should give even you pause for thought.
As far as the City is concerned, I hope that their action does not compromise the other sources that RHS receives for the food bank and Harrington House. Their, the City’s, alternatives to funding RHS leave much to be desired and do not offer services and food to but a fraction of those currently offered by RHS.
I do not know why you think that because some members of the Board are Republicans and that is supposed to mean what exactly? I am quite sure that the members of RHS’s Board would not risk catastrophe simply to cover Scott Feller’s back and I fail to see how any thinking person would come up with something like that. What has being Republican have anything to do with this? I seriously doubt that they are taking the kind of cavalier attitude you imply, nor do I suspect that the “good old boys” kind of thing has much play.
As far as the 1967 snipe, I somehow don’t think in this world of political correctness that much of what you imply would fly in 2017. I hope that you are right and the City has blundered along the right path, because if they didn’t, a lot of sanctimonious people are going to have egg on their witches hats.
To sum this up, you have made quite a few assumption based on some sort of preconceived notion that there is gender bias against the two employee that have claimed sexual harassment and the City in their infinite wisdom have made the right call based on “in their minds” the guilt of Scott Feller, and the mishandling of the fallout by RHS’s Board. All I am saying is that the City and clearly you are getting ahead of yourselves in the rush to judgement. Take a Breath and get the gender chip off your shoulder. Not all men are against women…. Some, and I think it is quite a lot, think women do an exemplary job. For me, at least, that sentiment goes back to 1967 as well.
Just a matter of curiosity, does anyone know who picks or assigns the RHS board members?
Also, is it true the party who got the settlement payout never filed a complaint for about a year, long after she no longer worked there? And no allegations have ever been proved?
If Mike Riese and George Mavris both believe RHS would win at trial, then that’s where I’d place my bet. And it seems pretty irrelevant that Darrin Short observes the alleged victim would like the issue to go away without proving anything.
I have to disagree with Linda Sutter’s opinions on this one.
The person who filed the sexual harassment complaint gave RHS board members more than enough time to comply with getting the sexual harassment thing under control. This woman had no other choice but to file with DFEH before the year was up to get SOMEONE’S attention because RHS BOARD MEMBERS FAILED TO DO ANYTHING.
When the facts were laid out by the investigator, damning evidence against Scott Feller resulted in the insurance paying out instead of litigating. DFEH was happy with those results. A second case is outstanding…
There is a second case when there should be none. And no one in this audience identifies there was and is a problem. Shake my head
I keep hearing about all this evidence. Haven’t seen a shred.
Unfortunately, only time will tell whether or not the City is correct in with holding the funding. If the current case comes back vindicating RHS’s stance, maybe the City’s stance might not look so smart. At least we, the public will be able to have some closure. Hopefully that won’t come at a cost to the food bank. As far as Harrington house, let the chips fall where they may. Allegations without proof can sometimes come back to bite you….