Tuesday, May 13, 2008

And here we go again

It seems to me that either the East Athens Development Corporation has no idea how the Community Development Block Grant works, or that we're headed for something which - once again - stamps out local control in favor of inefficient top-down management.

Though I've said it over and over again, those CDBG funds are designated for targeted census tracts, and the Athens-Clarke County Commission directed said funding to that tract. The only difference is that it didn't go to a pair of organizations which have not produced the desired results the community seeks.

Plus, is Diane Dunston serious? The commission frequently parts ways with staff on certain issues, and such is a part of how things work. It's why we have an elected government that is representative of our community.

However, if Keith Heard is actually motivated to, you know, do something and HUD opts to reverse the decision ... then how is that appropriate? How does that meet the justifications for CDBG which, quite literally, is chunks of federal dollars to be allocated by the local government. If the local government lacks the ability to actually do that, then why not have HUD manage the entire allocation process?

As blunt and perhaps cold as this may sound, this is nothing but sour grapes on the part of EADC. The organization should aggressively pursue diversifying its financial base (this argument that CDBG money helps them acquire certain grants is bogus and, speaking as someone who does this kind of a thing for a living, I know that to be bogus), refining its mission and begin proving the commission wrong. Changing the rules at the 11th hour is ridiculous.

18 Comments:

Anonymous james said...

I've been kind of ambivalent on this whole CBDG thing. On one hand, I have no doubt that EADC and HCDC deserved to have their funding reduced. On the other hand, the manner in which the Commission dropped its budget bomb left something to be desired, at least in a political sense.

That said, I think that trying to drag the feds into this is absolutely insane (and this from someone who doesn't mind seeing the Unified Government slapped around some).

9:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all about keith Heard grubbing for votes (he only comes to Athens when he wants something) and Diane Dunston not knowing her ass from a hole in the ground. As to the claim that "we couldn't answer the questions because the Commission didn't tell us what they were going to ask", what a load of BS. They had 5 weeks to get their shit together. That just shows what a bunch of losers they are. End of story.

As to James' comment: it only left something to be desired if you believe the BODs and CEOs of these two organizations hadn't been told before. But they had! At some point they deserved to get cut off from the public trough and this year the M&C pulled the trigger.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous james said...

As an administrative matter, you are quite correct. My comment dealt with the politics of the situation, which pretty much immediately devolved into demagoguery.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"which pretty much immediately devolved into demagoguery"

Agreed, but only from some folks who should know better!

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is all about keith Heard grubbing for votes"

He is running unopposed.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mores the pity. That just shows how black folk are quite happy to put up w/ black representatives not representing them -- like on the ACC Commission!

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though ACC is indeed a CDBG entitlement jurisdiction, the M&C are regulated by Federal USC civil rights legislation in how they budgeted these funds. The Justice Department, guided by the Economic Development Administration, would prosecute criminal discrimination charges against the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem as officiators of the budget and the CAFR. The EEOC would investigate and levy civil penalties based on the CFR, again guided by the EDA, the regulator of CDBG entitlement jurisdictions.

Without going into a litany of how racist Davison and Girtz actually may be, let us just look at how their actions reek of blatant racism.

There was no established performance evaluation scheme applied uniformly to all CDBG funds recipients. Under EEOC regulations, this uniformity is crucial.

Also, hopefully through sheer ineptitude and not racism, the M&C only cut funding to CDBG recipients who are recognized centers in the black community.

Whether the actions were racist or not, these actions are chargable as racial discrimination using Federal funds, and therefore in violation of Federal civil rights law. And, the M&C restoring a token amount does not ameliorate the above glaring problems.

The Mayor needs to be prosecuted for this, and the Mayor Pro Tem needs to gain some enlightenment about how he cannot behave like the mayor unless he wants to be prosecuted, too.

Jmac, love your blog, and your views are always presented well. And congrats on the new bambino.

With that, I have to say, bro, as a professional grant writer myself, if you were not aware of what is said above, you perhaps should find a new field of work before you get someone in regulatory hot water.

9:41 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

the M&C only cut funding to CDBG recipients who are recognized centers in the black community

I would agree with you (and do, regarding accountability -- though I'd like to know who else isn't using their funds appropriately) if not for the fact that this funding isn't leaving these census tracts.

On to a bigger concern, this is another problem with subcontracting government work. Individual nonprofits or for-profit subcontractors require a lot of oversight, do not address the problem holistically, and end up relying solely on government funding because what they're doing isn't inherently profitable. This is often not an ideal situation for either party.

Now, sliding back to these individual nonprofits...there are any number of reasons why housing counseling isn't resulting in actual housing, especially in this market. So, it's not necessarily ineptitude driving the numbers -- but it's completely appropriate for the government to stop using subcontractors if those subcontractors are not achieving their goals.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"let us just look at how their actions reek of blatant racism"

So holding organizations accountable is "blatant racism"? What a crock!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would think that the last thing EADC and HDC would want would be a federal investigation. Where does falsifying reports and fiscal malfesance ($54,000 in travel is so far out of line that I don't think there is anyway to justify it) fall into all of this?

Of course, given the body of evidence, I don't think anybody can make a case of racial motivations behind the actions of the M&C. It's embarrassing that "leaders" of the black community would want to defend these organizations - they are the ones who are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of their constituents and, pretty clearly, they were not.

11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Mr. or Ms. "Crock",

I respectfully direct you to my original post, where I indeed said that the actions of the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem "reek of blatant racism".

I said that specifically because with the lack of uniform performance evaluations for CDBG recipients; indeed, the lack of any sort of uniform SOP or schedule for evaluating CDBG recipients; the actions, when viewed through the regulatory window that the Feds will use, really do reek of blatant racism.

Holding CDBG recipient organizations accountable is certainly not racist. However, holding the black community's largest recipients accountable in a sudden and unannounced and financially crippling manner certainly CAN be viewed as blatantly racist; especially through the Federal regulatory window that the largely African-American staffed Federal EEOC and EDA will view this through as they present briefs to the DOJ and to Federal Grand Juries.

Which is what the Athens black community is going to make happen here.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, may I add, the briefs I mention above will have nothing whatsoever to do with how any of the organizations performed.

The lack of a uniform performance SOP makes the recipients' actual performance moot in the discrimination situation.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Nicki said...

yes, but anonymous, it doesn't necessarily make it racist -- merely unprofessional. Besides which, any organization which is required to report regularly and knows they're not meeting the set benchmarks should know that they'll face repurcussions.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Jmac said...

With that, I have to say, bro, as a professional grant writer myself, if you were not aware of what is said above, you perhaps should find a new field of work before you get someone in regulatory hot water.

Um, thanks 'bro' ... I particularly enjoy pretending that we're on Miami Vice too.

Of course, I'm not entirely sure what you're accusing me of seeing how the point I was making was that the line of argument that CDBG is the reason EADC is able to leverage funds is bogus. While it is true that the ability to prove to other funders that you have a reliable stream of revenue to fall back on, particularly public money such as CDBG, can help you acquire funding sources that may help you out, it's a false narrative to suggest that without CDBG funding they will lose all their other funding sources.

What EADC needs to do is diversify its funding sources to help it ride out the storm and identify other grants which can be acquired with or without the CDBG money. Right now what EADC has done (apparently) is pigeonhole itself into a situation where such funding might dry up with the disappearance of this chunk of money, and that's poor management on their part. There are other funding opportunities for them to seek out that don't rely on whether or not they get CDBG.

I'm not entirely sure why my stating of that fact and my dismissal of that talking point led you to assume the quality of my work - particularly in a broad way that would apply to something that I never even discussed - would be substandard in your view.

In fact, all I can gleam from your comments are a hodgepodge of racial accusations which aren't grounded in fact, and Nicki's point stands well. You may think the actions of the commission are unprofessional, but they are surely not racist.

And, by the by, Girtz opposed denying funding, supported restoring money and opposed the partial restoration proposed by Kinman. He and I respectfully disagree, but you ought to get your story straight before you label him as a Klan member.

12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, just when you thought this issue was over. I thought it was over as soon as they put Keith Heard "The Great Doer of Nothing Whatsoever" in charge.

so, now we're being threatened that folks are going to take this issue to a federal level where all the judges and juries are black? WTF?! and you want to accuse somebody of racism?!

this is what we call "hurting your cause" but, go ahead, knock yourself out.

2:19 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I'm not entirely sure why my stating of that fact and my dismissal of that talking point led you to assume the quality of my work - particularly in a broad way that would apply to something that I never even discussed - would be substandard in your view.

Come on, JMac, you were supposed to simply be impressed by the writer's ability to throw around Federal government acronyms!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous anon # 54 said...

I think the EEOC, the Justice Deparment, HUD, and hopefully even those who are hoping for federal intervention will find that HED does has performance measures established for grantees and that EADC was not living up to them.
Go read the file before you hire the attorney or you'll be wasting even more money on EADC.
Believe me, Winston Heard is not the horse you want to be betting on in this race.

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Which is what the Athens black community is going to make happen here"

Nonsense. A lot of the black community that I have talked with agrees with what the M&C did. because they know that Mr Sheets and Heard weren't serving them well. I'd love to see the feds investigate where all the CDBG money went over the past few years. That would make interesting reading.

8:14 PM  

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