Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

By Donna Westfall – July 14, 2017 –  On the Crescent City-Del Norte County Taxpayer’s Association agenda last night, July 13th,  was Agenda Item #5: “Discuss whether or not to continue to endorse the recall against Sup 2nd District, Lori Cowan.” The Board of Directors thought that the point had been made about her self-serving, flip-flopping, unethical nature and discussed if it was time to pull the plug on the recall.  Instead, there was a energetic and animated discussion of the Oxford House deal.

Of particular concern was Lori’s statement to the Del Norte Triplicate that she spoke to the FPPC who indicated she would be allowed to vote at the next BOS meeting on that $40,000/year contract for a house she sold at 230 E. Lauff, Crescent City in February 2017 and turned into a halfway house.

I followed up with an email to Lori asking her who she talked to at the FPPC and what exactly did she ask? No response yet.

I also emailed the FPPC “Advice” department, who emailed me back and told me to contact the “Enforcement Department.” Since they’re closed on Friday’s, I’ll be back in contact with them on Monday.

Here are the facts and problems:

  1. A house worth almost $1/4 mil is listed for $220,000 and later reduced to $120,000.  Then Lori brings in a buyer at $80,000.  Well, no problem so far because if you have a seller willing to sell at that price, and a buyer willing to pay that price…. no problem.
  2. However; a deal at some point was structured to turn the house into a halfway house and Heather Snow, Executive Director of the Department of Health and Human Services asked that it be put on the agenda requesting $40,000/year.  Now we’re getting into the problem area. The halfway house is already up and running with 10 women there.
  3. Oxford Houses are financially self-sufficient.  Their website gives the impression that they take great pride in not using taxpayer funds for their homes. The tenants pay for rent, utilities, food, etc. SO, WHAT IS THE $40,000 FROM THE COUNTY FOR?
  4. Also, who wrote up the contract for $40,000?
  5. An email was sent to Heather Snow asking these and other questions. No response so far.
  6. A complaint has been put in with the Board of Realtors by one of Lori’s constituents. They’re wondering if she had any part in structuring the deal prior to close of escrow.
  7. A complaint have been sent to Jennifer Perry, Assessor, complaining about the fair market value of the property and reassessment. If this is a scam, then the tax rolls have also lost revenue.

Since this looks like a question of ethics, a possible scam and taxpayer fraud, in an 8-0 vote, the tax association board voted to continue to endorse the recall until questions surrounding the Oxford House deal are answered.



19 thoughts on “Sup. 2nd District Supervisor, Lori Cowan: Oxford House deal scam or legit?”
  1. So now I find out there’s a $13,500 contract for Oxford House “Beachside” on H Street in Crescent City, approved in July 2016. I have a big question. How did the same type contract for the same “services” (writing reports) go from $13K on H Street to $40K on East Lauff? Smelling more and more like scam. So far, the Oxford House in Maryland appears to have nothing to do with this ‘side’ contract. Rather, the contract comes from an independent contractor in Oregon. The contract appears extraneous to an already working agreement between the County and Oxford House Maryland.

    My biggest concern is how these contracts got on the supervisor’s consent agenda where they usually escape discussion.

  2. so the house was purchased for 80k which means the mortgage payment per month including taxes and insurance would probably be around 600 per month if even that. the oxford house is a place where people must work to pay their fair share of the housing cost. if there are 10 ladies there, they would pay less than 100 dollars a month for their fair share. why would the county pay 40k for one year of service?

    secondly, there must be a way to discover what fraud was committed when purchasing his home. Especially since the original asking price was 220k. Ms. Cowan was able to conduct her magic on paper subtracting 140k from original asking price. Is this property now exempt from property taxes because it would more than likely fall under 501c3? How many more properties can this county give away under tax exemption?

    I have no doubt this is a great program, but our supervisors need to think about the financial responsibility of this county. One could argue that these women already contribute to the financial responsibility of this county which is a valid argument. But for a county who wants to fight blight, economic depression,and many other issues; when is this county going to start initiating progress without the hand of state and federal funding?

  3. well Ms. Cowan has everyone snowed and has ever since she went down the political road for Supervisor. She is laughing all the way to the bank and should be because the fools that support her refuse to open their eyes to see her true nature….me me me I I I ….her motto is this….here’s to you and here’s to me and if by chance we disagree….eff you an here’s to me….the end.

  4. The $40.000 is used by AOD and mental health for Transitional/Sober living and is a very effective way to help people get on the right track.

    1. Read the contract, it’s posted on-line, attached to the county supervisor’s agenda. The contract shows the $40K is only for “services”. The services outlined are limited to reports. The reports are made only once a week, plus any time a ‘client’ leaves, falls off the wagon or gets kicked out. The thing is that all these ‘services’ should already be in place and working under the Oxford House agreement, such as insurance and support services. The independent “contractor” out of Oregon wants another $40K on top of the existing working agreements. The contract implies that the $40K buys more than just reports, but does not specifically promise anything more than the reports.

      What is AOD?

      1. AOD is for “Alcohol and Other Drugs”, a county department branched off of Health and Human Services. I’d like to point out that the Director of DHHs stated this is a safe amount and that costs could not be $40,000, but that is a safe allotment they budgeted for Oxford House. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be that much.

  5. This is the LOW DOWN on Lorie Cowan. I, Susan White hired Ms Cowan as my real estate person for my home. Ms Cowan should have lost her licence. My home on North Pebble Beach. Ms Cowan, refused any offers to other interested parties and sold my home to a relative of hers at low price. This was turned over to the state. I hope Ms Cowan gets recalled!!

  6. The bread crumb trail is now a money trail — follow the money.

    For decades, centuries, and even millennia, charities have increasingly become little more than legal scams. The noise of the substance abuse treatment scam is of such a volume these days that gangsta’ rap pales in comparison. Furthermore, with worldwide addiction rates increasing each year and surpassing the rate it was for every prior year, it will soon bring the end of all civilized society before it even reaches it’s crescendo. Sadly, the US addiction rate may surpass that of all other countries.

    Another scam rearing it’s head is the homelessness services scam. Lot’s of money to be made in both of those arenas.

    We as a community absolutely need to do more to treat the addicted and house the homeless, but all these charities must be carefully vetted. This Oxford House deal doesn’t pass the smell test. I’m not saying it is illegal, but it sure sounds unethical — all for the love of money.

    Since today is Sunday:

    Matthew 21: 12-13

    12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

    1. OCC, I could not agree more. Do we want a town built on the government trough, or do we want a town that can stand on its’ own with tourism and retirees as the economic foundation? Think of all the related jobs that could be created- medical, service, retail, etc. from such a focus.

      What good do these government programs actually do for us, and for them?

    2. I must agree with Original Concerned Citizen’s spot-on observations. It should be noted, however, that it is not Oxford House, but an independent “contractor”, who seeks the extra $40K for “services”. The $40K contract is for “reports” and does not pay for anything else. Most interesting is that the residence is already occupied and apparently doing business as a half-way house. I’m thinking this is not how Oxford House, a national non-profit, intended to do business. Wonder if they know?

  7. Since spring the number of properties on the market in DN has grown from a still high 260 to a higher 345

    1. Robert, WTF appreciates your concern about the viability of our County. We come at it from different directions, but it’s okay to disagree. What matters is that we want to improve this place; we live here.

      WTF also appreciates Donna’s reporting on this Oxford House deal. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are introducing a home for addicts into single family neighborhoods. Folks, take a moment and check out the Oxford Home website. You will see that it could not just be 10 women in a four bedroom home- they are able to have kids living there, visitors can live there, and they can have cars parked all over there. WTF thinks this type of impact to single family neighborhoods is not good.

    1. I wish we had an index handy of all the people who work within government’s property taxes, vs everyone else in the same neighborhoods.

      I’ve seen in the past, that properties carry far different property values in some situations than their neighbors. Martha McClure’s home was one of these situations. The assessment of that house near or on Pebble Beach was far too low, yet her next door neighbors were much higher. I don’t currently have access to the raw data to crunch the numbers, but this is something I was concerned about years ago.

      It’s especially concerning when people are unable to pay their taxes due to sudden yearly increases even while there were no improvements.

  8. I fail to understand why Supervisor Cowan’s role in this is such a surprise? Clearly the house was sold with the purpose of using it as an Oxford House. Supervisor Cowan doesn’t know this as the Realtor of record? She doesn’t know that $40,000 is involved annually as the realtor? She as the realtor doeen’t know that Health and Human Services will be involved in the deal? She as the realtor doesn’t know should the Board of Supervisors not approve the $40,000 contract that it might affect the sale and her fee as the realtor of the sale? She as the realtor doesn’t know what the $40,000 contract is for? That it was on a consent agenda? I mean just how many questions have to be asked before this seems to be clearly an instance where she, Supervisor Cowan should continue to recuse herself. This smells of the same kind of self centered behavior that she has displayed on numerous occasions at Board meetings and is something that was noted in the recall effort. What more does Supervisor Cowan have in store for the people of Del Norte County?

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