A day in the life of a single mom raising a teenager and a child with autism. I believe that it's not what we receive, but what we give away that defines us. I want to give away all that I have learned and experienced in hopes that it will help families raising a child with autism or any disability. This is my candid journal where I open up my world and share my joys, knowledge, lessons, disappointments, challenges, frustrations, fears and successes - one day at a time.
Monday, October 12, 2015
West Side Regional Center - Message to parents, consumers and stakeholders.
I received this
letter today. My son is not a Westside Regional Center Consumer, but I know
many families who are. This information comes to me from Judy Mark, a longtime
supporter of individuals with autism, and I wanted to make it available to
families who want to investigate, and or get involved. I know this may not hit most of you in time to attend tonights meeting, so I have included Judy's email information so you can connect with her to learn more.
Over the weekend, the executive director and board chair of
Westside Regional Center sent out a notice unilaterally and illegally
attempting to cancel the special board meeting for tonight. (They
are calling it "postpone" but we know they don't intend to have the
meeting at another time.) This meeting was called and noticed according
to the state law governing regional centers -- the Lanterman Act. The
attempt to cancel is illegal and many members of the board are moving forward
with the meeting -- all that is needed is 9 members to attend.
Please come tonight if you are able to. This
meeting is about supporting the consumers whose rights have been stripped and
who have been summarily excluded and ignored. If anything, this attempt
by the executive director and board chair to silence concerns will just unite
the consumers and their supporters even more. This is the new civil
We hope to see you tonight at:
Center Board of Directors
Special Board Meeting
Monday, October 12,
5901 Green Valley
3rd Floor Board Room
Thanks for your support.
Proud Parent of a Westside
I wanted to alert you
to some very disturbing events at Westside Regional Center. For the last
eight months and since the retirement of the Executive Director Mike Danneker,
WRC has undergone a rapid change that has led to some very serious consequences.
Last week, the new executive director, an individual who has
never worked at a regional center before, fired -- for no cause -- three
respected senior staff who have more than six decades of experience between
them. Equally shocking, he also abruptly terminated the
contract for the facilitator who works with the consumers who sit on the
board of directors and committees. Consumers are legally entitled to a
facilitator to help them participate fully in meetings and the person they have
trusted in that role for years was removed with no notice and for no clear
It is hard to
recognize Westside anymore. There is so much fear among the consumers,
staff, and families. These are complaints I sometimes hear from people at
other regional centers -- but not at Westside.
My heart is
particularly breaking for the adults with developmental disabilities who call
Westside Regional Center their "home." They are experiencing
high levels of anxiety, which are causing health issues and other problems.
For many months they have been marginalized and discriminated against,
belittled and made to feel like tokens. They asked for their civil rights
to be respected and instead they feel they have faced retribution. They
have been the trailblazers in this fight and we follow their lead.
While my son is not
able to sit on Westside's board, I am joining the self-advocates' fight because
I am concerned for my his future. I won't let his regional center fall
apart. I need it to stay strong and remain a model for other regional
centers around the state. I want to be secure in the knowledge that
Westside Regional Center will be there after I am gone to ensure that my son
gets the supports and services he needs to live a full life.
I am attaching a
document that was produced to support the efforts of the Consumer Advisory
Committee at Westside Regional Center. This document lays out of the
facts and details of what has been happening. It is long so if you only
have a little time, please read their Executive Summary.
So what can we do?
I want to let all consumers, family members, service providers, and
others know about an important special board meeting to discuss these critical
issues. Even if you are not part of Westside Regional Center, we hope you
will join us to see the incredible self-advocates speak passionately about
their civil rights. We would love to get support from clients and
families from other regional centers to show that this is our system. It
is very important that we get a big turnout of folks.
Center Board of Directors
Special Board Meeting
Monday, October 12,
5901 Green Valley
3rd Floor Board Room
Please spread the word
about the special board meeting and what is happening at WRC. Please help
us SAVE WESTSIDE REGIONAL CENTER before it's too late!
Thanks for your help!
Center (WRC) has often been referred to as “one of the best regional centers in
California.” Individuals with developmental disabilities, referred to in the
system as “consumers,” and their families have always felt lucky to be at Westside.
The respect and support that these consumers and families have received over
the years was part of a culture within the organization they call, “The
Westside Way.” This culture was created and nurtured over a 32Gyear tenure by
WRC’s Executive Director, Mike Danneker, and the wonderful staff he hired and
let do their jobs well. Last year, Mike announced his retirement, giving the
organization and its board of directors more than eight months for the
transition. Come February 2, 2015, Mike
turned over thekeystothefrontdoortonewlyappointedExecutiveDirectorKevinMacDonald.
Sadly, actions taken
over the last ten months by leaders of WRC’s board of directors and its newly
hired executive director have shown how quickly an esteemed organization can
lose its heart and soul. These actionshaveledtoacompletedisenfranchisementofadultconsumerswhositontheboard,theunexplained firing of
several experienced and devoted senior staff, the abrupt cancellation of the
contract with the consumerboardmembers’trustedfacilitator,andthepotentialimplodingoftheentireorganization.
did Westside Regional Center fall so far so fast? Here is anoverview:
2014: The process of hiring the
new executive director was controlled by a small number of boardmembers,lockingoutalmosthalfoftheboardandallofthememberswhowereconsumers.
2014/JANUARY 2015: Shortly after
the vote, it became clear that at least four of the board members,includingtheboardchair,hadbeenservingbeyondtheirlegaltermsofsevenyears,inviolationof state law. Three of the four were also members of the small group
that pushed Kevin MacDonald through as ExecutiveDirector.
2015: The process of nominating
new board members excluded meaningful participation by and were hostile to
2015: An effort by current and
former board members to retain control of the executive committee and officersresultedinanillegalvotethatwasoverturnedbyDDS.
JUNE 2015: During the election
for the office of secretary, the former board chair, in an apparent coordinated
plan, called the election of a consumer as an officer “dangerous,” which led to
the continued alienation of the most active consumers at Westside RegionalCenter.
2015: Fallout from the board
elections caused incredible stress on the consumers yet only a deafening
silence from the Executive Director and BoardChair.
JULY 1, 2015: The morning of the
meeting, the WRC Board of Directors received another letter from DDS, this time
questioning the “improper election of board officers … that may have unfairly
influenced the officer nominations and voting process.” DDS also relayed
concerns about the interference with the role of thefacilitator.
2015: At the board meeting that
evening, the chair and executive director attempted to brush the illegalelectionsundertherugandpreventathoroughdiscussionofthemishandlingoftheelectionprocess. But the consumers stood up for theirrights.
2015: Despite a deadline from DDS
in their letter, the 30 days went by with no response from the boardabouttheimproperofficerelections.Finally,onAugust13,PriscillaHoe,withoutaskingforinputfrom mostoftheboard,sentanunsatisfactoryexplanationthatdidnotadequatelyaddresstheirconcerns.
AUGUST2015:ExecutiveDirectorKevinMacDonaldcontinuedtoisolatehimselffromtheconsumers,the staff, and the community by moving his office to a different
floor, rejecting offers of help from more experiencedcolleagues,andmakingdecisionswithoutconsultingwithhismanagementteam.
4, 2015: Three months after the
verbal abuse occurred at the June board meeting, Board Chair Priscilla Hoe
finally sent a written apology to the CAC. For the CAC members, it was too
little, too late and her sincerity was in question. In fact, while discussing
with a parent of a board member who is also a consumer ChairHoestatedshedidnotfeelsheneededtoapologize.
SEPTEMBER2015:TheSeptember16thboardmeetingwasfilledwithemotion,sadness,andangerexpressed not only by the consumers but
members of the board and the public. Instead of bringing the community
together, Mr. MacDonald and Ms. Hoe were presiding over a community that is
fractured and falling deeper into a seemingly irreparablehole.
SEPTEMBER 23S24, 2015:
week after the board meeting and without explanation, Executive Director Kevin
MacDonald fired three longtime senior staff and the consumers’ trusted
facilitator. The next day he held anallGstaffmeetinganddirectedthestaffthattheycannolongerbefriendswithanyoneontheboard.
THE FUTURE: The future of Westside
Regional Center is uncertain. Walking through the halls of Westside Regional
Center today, one feels the confusion, fear and an air of intimidation. It is
clear that “the Westside Way” has disappeared and the pride that everyone had in
their regional center has waned. Staff, board members, parents, providers, and
particularly consumers are living in fear. Fear that they may lose their
services. Fear that they may lose their jobs. Fear that they may lose their
contracts. Fear that they will be the next target of retaliation. The Consumer
Advisory Committee continues to lead the efforts and their demands have onlyincreased.
Will the Department of Developmental Services step
up in a timely manner with Westside in order to avoid another regional center
imploding? Will every future board meeting be dominated by the continuing
disrespect of the consumers as opposed to the ways to better serve them? Will
social activities among consumers be replaced by political protests? Will the
Westside Way no longer mean love and support but now mean fear and
intimidation? What is the path to a peaceful and respectful future at Westside
SAVE WESTSIDE REGIONALCENTER!
WestsideRegionalCenter(WRC)hasoftenbeenreferredtoas“oneofthebestregionalcentersinCalifornia.” Individuals with
developmental disabilities, referred to in the system as “consumers,” and their
families have always felt lucky to be at Westside. Parents have sought homes
and apartments in the Westside catchment area so that their son or daughter
would have better supports and opportunities funded by WRC. Staff have been
known to leave other regional centers in order to work at WRC. In fact, the
respect and support that these consumers and families have received over the
years was part of a culture within the organization they call, “The WestsideWay.”
a modelforthe state, wascreatedandnurturedover a 32HyeartenurebyWRC’slongtime
Executive Director, Mike Danneker, and
the wonderful staff he hired and let do their jobs well. Last year, Mike
announced his retirement, giving the organization and its board of directors
more than eight months for the transition. Come February 2, 2015, Mike turned
over the keys to the front door to newly appointed Executive Director KevinMacDonald.
Sadly, actions taken over the last ten months by
leaders of WRC’s board of directors and its newly hired executive director have
shown how quickly an esteemed organization can lose its heart and soul. These
actionshaveledtoacompletedisenfranchisementofadultconsumerswhositontheboard,theunexplained firing of
several experienced and devoted senior staff, the abrupt cancellation of the
contract with the consumerboardmembers’trustedfacilitator,andthepotentialimplodingoftheentireorganization.
did Westside Regional Center fall so far so fast? Here is the fullstory:
1.DECEMBER 2014: The process of hiring the new
executive director was controlled by a small number of board members, locking
out almost half of the board and all of the
members who wereconsumers.
The Board of Directors established a committee to
work with a search firm to hire a new executive director. Four board members
who are also consumers volunteered for the committee but were told by the board
chair, Rene Rivas, that the process would be “lots of paper and legal issues.”
He asked them, “You don’t want to be part of that, do you?” He then promised
them that they would be part of the interviews of the final candidates. As it
turned out, not a single consumer was asked to participate inanyinterviewsorevenhadthechancetomeetthefinalcandidatebeforethejobwasoffered.
Mr.RivasalsopromisedtheWRCstaffthattheywouldhavemeaningfulinputandthatMikeDanneker would be part of the hiring
process all the way through to ensure that the individual selected would carry
on the “Westside Way.” Mr. Rivas and the entire board assured the nervous staff
that their overriding concern was to guarantee that the culture at Westside
would not change. Those promises were alsobroken.
was tainted and biased. Some board members were intentionally excluded from the
process and prohibited from meeting with the board leaders’ favored candidate.
The process completely lacked transparencyandonlyaselectfewboardmemberswerekeptintheloop.
In addition, the board chair held an event to meet
the final candidate, Kevin MacDonald (a finalist who had the least amount of
Regional Center experience). A significant number of selected board members
were in attendance. In fact, a quorum was reached. They discussed official board business – the
hiring of a new executive director. Yet
not every board member HH and not a single consumer board member HHwasinvitedorinformedabouttheevent.Whilethisgatheringclearlycouldbeconsideredameeting,
the public was not provided notice nor an opportunity forinput.
Regional Center – The FullStory
A fewdayslater,theboardmet to voteHinthefinalcandidate.Noboardmembersweregivenany written information
about the candidate in advance of the meeting in order to prepare. Forty
percent of the board members never had a chance to meet the candidate. Some
tried to reach out to him to meet but were chastised by the Board Chair and
instructed that under no circumstances were they allowed to talk with Mr.
MacDonald until he was hired. Several consumers and other board members
expressed their discomfort with voting and asked for a postponement until the
candidate could meet them all. Their concerns were ignored, dissent was
squelched, and the vote was pushedthrough.
Kevin MacDonald became the new executive director. The final vote was notunanimous.
board members, including the board chair, had been serving beyond their legal
terms of seven years, in violation of state law. Three of the four were also
members of the small group that pushed Kevin MacDonald through asExecutive Director.
As part of their contract with DDS, WRC is expected
to be in compliance with the Lanterman Act’s provisions on board composition.
This includes ensuring that members stay within their legally mandated term
limits of seven years. In December 2014, complaints were filed with DDS
concerning four board members who had illegally exceeded their term limits. On
January 20, 2015, Board Chair Rene Rivas, himself one of the individuals who
was serving illegally on the board, sent a letter to DDS acknowledging that
there were four board members serving beyond their term limits. But instead of
stating that the board members would immediately resign, he promised that they
wouldn’t stay beyond June 2015. (See Attachment 1) This prompted DDS to send another letter
questioning “the Board’s commitment and intent to comply with all applicable
laws and regulations” and giving them yetanother30days to correctthenonHcompliance.(See Attachment 2) Finally,twoweekslater,and only after Mr. Rivas had negotiated a generous compensation package for
Mr. MacDonald, the four board members, including the chair, resigned. (See Attachment 3) But their illegal participation and theirtacticsinthehiringofthenewexecutivedirectormadetheprocesssuspectandpossiblynulland void.
3.MARCH 2015: The process of nominating new board
members excluded meaningful participationbyandwerehostiletoconsumersandminorities.
To replace the slots of the four board members
forced to resign, a nominating committee was established. Despite the need for
diversity required by law, the committee included five Caucasians, oneLatino,andoneAfricanHAmerican,whowas also theonlyconsumer.Thecommitteechair,Paula Hilton, provided information about the board candidates only
electronically, even though the consumer member, Portia Griffith, did not have
access to the Internet. When questioned about this, Ms. Hilton responded by
stating that it wasn’t the board’s fault if the consumer can’t use the
Internet. She asked, “How is she on the board? Isn’t it is a board
requirement?” (In truth, there is no such requirement.) But Ms. Hilton was
informed, as had other executive board members in the past, that if theyneedtoemailPortia,theycouldemailhermotherwhowouldgivehertheinformation.
Unfortunately, this was not beingdone.
4.JUNE 2015: An effort by current and former board
members to retain control of the executive committeeandofficersresultedinanillegalvotethatwasoverturnedbyDDS.
AttheJune2015annualmeeting,twoofthefourofficerpositionsontheboardwerebeingcontested. The slate of officers
presented by the nominating committee included Judy Blumenthal for vice chair.
Sandra Gonzalez, who was also running, had received a phone call the day before
the election from ActingChairPriscillaHoediscouragingherfromseekingtheoffice.DuringthevoteforviceHchair:
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
·Theinstructionsonhowtovoteusingasecretballot–somethingrarelydone–wereconfusing and the consumers were not
provided adequate support. The information should have been provided to the
consumers and their facilitators in advance so that they could be prepared for
the process. As their trusted facilitator approached the table to explain the
process, she was told by board chair Priscilla Hoe, that she should “step away
from the table.” Thus, several of the consumers told of being confused about
what they were voting on and either abstained or voted for an individual who
was not evenrunning.
·Newly elected board members were discouraged from
voting. The chair stated that “if you are a new board member and don’t
personally know the candidates, you should probably abstain from voting.” This
created a chilling effect on a vote that the new board members had every right
member still voted.Whenhisvotewasquestioned,thechairsaidthatthebyHlawsareconfusingonthispoint.ThebyHlaws,however,arequiteclearthatnewly elected boardmembersimmediatelytaketheplaceofoutgoingboardmembers.
·The result of the
election was a tie. The board chair suggested that the two candidates become coHviceHchairs.Without a voteallowingforsuch
an unusualarrangementortheabilityof consumerstoaccesssupportfromafacilitator,themajorityoftheboardagreed.
·Afterthiselection, a whistleHblowercomplaintwas filed withDDS,which
led to another letter stating
that the election was not valid (described
below). Ms. Blumenthal
eventually resigned her position of vice chair.
5.JUNE 2015: During the election for the office of
secretary, the former board chair, in an apparentcoordinatedplan,calledtheelectionofaconsumerasanofficer“dangerous,”which ledtothecontinuedalienationofthemostactiveconsumersatWestsideRegionalCenter.
The two candidates for secretary included Paula
Hilton, who had served for many years on the board and as secretary. Her
opponent was Portia Griffith, the first consumer to ever run for an office in
Westside Regional Center’s history. Immediately after brief speeches from each
of the candidates, Priscilla Hoe called on former board chair Rene Rivas, now a
member of the public, to speak,. In what appearedtobeacalculatedattackonaconsumer,Mr.Rivasspokeforseveralminutesabouttheperils of electing a consumer to the
executive committee. Included among the many offensive statements made by Mr.
“It sounds good. We’re all trying to be inclusive.
We’re all trying to pat ourselves on the back for being progressive. But when
you really try to implement something like this, it’s really fraught withdanger.”
Theconsumer,andmanyoftheotherconsumersinattendancereactedwithdignity,althoughthere were also tears. While there was strong pushback from a few
members of the board and the public, board chair Priscilla Hoe and Executive
Director Kevin MacDonald stayed silent. When they were asked by a member of the
public to offer an apology to Portia and the rest of the consumers in
attendance, Ms. Hoe responded by stating that, “everyone has a right to say
what they want at our meetings.” Apparently this view holds even if the
statement is incredibly offensive to the very individuals the organization is
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
Eventually, a boardmemberoffered
a compromisebyallowingthetwocandidates to serve as coH secretary.
A vote was never taken to see if the consumer could actually win. The
compromise was passedbyamajorityvoteofhandsbutwasnotunanimous,andonceagain,theboarddidnotmeetits
6.JUNE 2015: Fallout from the board elections caused
incredible stress on the consumers yet onlyadeafeningsilencefromtheExecutiveDirectorandBoardChair.
In the days following the meeting, neither Kevin
MacDonald nor Priscilla Hoe reached out to the consumers. Over the coming days
and weeks, the consumers began to suffer from increased anxiety and stress. Onehad to go onantiHanxietymedication;anotherstartedhavingasthmaattacks.Many feared even setting foot inside Westside Regional Center. Some worried
that their services would be cut. On their own, the consumers, active members
of the Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC), decided to write letters about their
concerns. These letters were sent to DDS as a whistleblower complaint. Weeks
passed with no apology or even outreach by Kevin MacDonald or PriscillaHoe.
7.JULY 1, 2015: The morning of the July 1st board meeting, the WRC Board of Directors received anotherletterfromDDS,thistimequestioningthe“improperelectionofboardofficers…that may have unfairly
influenced the officer nominations and voting process.” DDS also relayed
concerns about the interference with the role of the facilitator. (See Attachment4)
BoardChairPriscillaHoereceivedaletterfromDDSonthemorningoftheboardmeetingyetfailedto mention it before or during the
meeting to the other board members, even though it outlined illegal voting
activity. When asked about the letter
from a fellow board member she simply stated she had yet to receive it. The
letter stated that DDS was continuing to monitor the behavior of WRC’s board of
directors, focusing its current concerns on the controversial June election,
including a former board member voting and a former board member speaking
against nominating a consumer to be an officer. Theyalsoexpressedconcernthat“thefacilitator,hiredtoassistandfacilitateunderstandingonbehalf of the
consumers who are members of the governing board, was prevented from assisting
during the voting process.” DDS specifically referred to the Lanterman Act section
(WIC 4622.g1) that requires regional centers to provide assistance for
consumers to ensure “maximum understanding.” They requested that the board
respond within 30days.
8.JULY1,2015:Attheboardmeetingthatevening,thechairandexecutivedirectorattemptedto brushtheillegalelectionsundertherugandpreventathoroughdiscussionofthemishandling of the election process. But
the consumers stood up for theirrights.
At the meeting of the Consumer Advisory Committee
directly before the board meeting, CAC Chair Esther Kelsey told Kevin MacDonald
that the consumers had written letters of concern. These letters were combined
into one letter that Esther wanted to read at the board meeting. She askedMr.
MacDonald if he wanted to hear the letter in
advance. He told her “no” and that if she wanted to read it at the board
meeting, “it is too late to get it on the agenda. It must be read during public
comment – and you only have three minutes.” Once again, the consumers felt as
if they didn’tmatter.
At the beginning of the meeting, Chair Hoe
announced that she and the executive director – in a decisionnotdiscussedwithanyoneelseontheboard–haddecidedtolimitpubliccomment.(See Attachment5)Ms.HoeandMr.MacDonaldlaidoutthe“groundrules”whichincluded:
·“Public comment will be limited to three minutes per speaker. Each
speaker will have one turn at the microphone. For Action Items, the public will
be invited to comment after board discussion is completed but before Action Item
·Any questions should be directed to the Chair. The Chair will answer all
questions. If a board memberwouldliketosupporttheChair’sresponse,theChairwillcallonthatperson.
20 in number, dramatically stood up while the chair of the CAC, Esther Kelsey,
read a statement expressing their grave concerns with how they have been
treated. (See Attachment 6) The
“The consumers want you to know how we feel about
your treatment of us last month and for the past 7 months. To the board
members, exRboard members, executive director of WRC, your treatment of us is
unacceptable. We are here to remind you that you are in our house. You are an
invited guest at our table and how dare you mistreat us the way you have. Last
month you made us feel afraid. The board
meeting is no longer a safe place. We are afraid to be on the board because you
may take our services away to punish us and the people who supportus.”
The statement directly called for the resignations
of the board chair, Priscilla Hoe, and one of the secretaries–PaulaHilton,ademandthathasbeenmaderepeatedlytothepresentdayandhasyetto receive a response from the board or
A few days following the July board meeting, in an
exchange of heated emails among the board members, with no one accepting
responsibility, a disturbing comment was written by Paula Hilton, which many
suspect reflects the sentiment of others, that clearly displays their continued
belief that consumers are incapable of having and expressing their own
opinions. Ms. Hilton wrote on July5:
“Onelastquestion,itmaybethe$64thousanddollarquestion.WhoassistedinwritingthereportEsther readattheBoardmeetingonJuly1st?…ItappearsthatsomeonewantstogetridoftheExecutiveBoard and I will never believe that our consumers are theones.”
9.JULY/AUGUST 2015: The consumers continued to feel
more disenfranchised from their regional centerandhadlittletrustthatthenewexecutivedirectorKevinMacDonaldwouldprotectthem. After the July board
meeting, the executive director finally reached out to the CAC but by this time
the trust had been broken and remains so to this day. They met on July 15 and
the CAC put their demands into more specifics and asked for a response in
writing. (See Attachment 7) In
addition to the resignations of Priscilla Hoe and Paula Hilton, they asked why
it has taken so long for Kevin to apologize for not stepping in to stop the
verbal abuse of consumers. They also
asked for Kevin to receive sensitivity training and to stop calling them
individually and “singling us out.” They clearly askedforawrittenandpublicapologyforlettingMr.RivasgoonattheJuneboardmeeting.
On July 29, Mr. MacDonald did send the CAC a
written response, however, the CAC felt that it did not adequately address
their concerns. (See Attachment 8) His letter did not respond to most of the CAC’s
specific requests. In hisletter:
·Mr. MacDonald apologized for the “words of one man
who is not a board member, during a public comment period, during an open
election.” The CAC believes that this “one man,” Mr. Rivas, did not devise his
comments on his own but in close collaboration with other current board
members. In fact, Mr. Rivas was seen and heard in the corner of the board room
before the election meeting, quietly huddling with several other current and
former board members andendinghisconversationbysaying,“I’vegotthis,don’tworry.”
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
·Mr. MacDonald stated that he “will be reviewing
our procedures for allowing public comment and see how we can protect each of
you and others from these types of harmful comments.” In practice, however, the
CAC saw these new public comment “procedures” as an attempt to restrict their
right to speak at a meeting – by limiting comment to three minutes and putting
the comment period at the end of the meeting if there were no action items.
This was a dramatic shift from the past when consumers felt free to speak out
at meetings whenever they feltnecessary.
10.August 2015: Despite a deadline from DDS in their
letter, the 30 days went by with no response from the board about the improper
officer elections. Finally, on August 13, Priscilla Hoe, withoutaskingforinputfrommostoftheboard,sentanunsatisfactoryexplanationthatdidnot
adequately address their concerns. (See Attachment9)
Althoughthe30Hdaydeadlinehadpassed,theboardchaircalledanExecutiveCommitteemeeting to discuss a response to the DDS letter. Almost every
committee member received a notice of the meeting a week in advance, and, in
fact, was asked about their availability. The one board member who was not
contacted until the night before was Portia Griffith. Even though the board
chair and othershadbeengivenPortia’smother’semailaddress,theysentherinformationbyregularmail.
While the DDS letter was directed at
the entire board, Ms. Hoe did not consult them on her response. ThelettertoDDScontainedmisinformationtocoverupanyresponsibilityforwhathappenedduring the boardelections:
·Ms.HoeclaimedthatthebyHlawswere“unclearas to when a BoardMember’s term actually ended.”ThebyHlaws,however,wereclear to anylaypersonreadingthem.ButWRCdecided
to pay a lawyer to analyzethebyHlaws.ShesentanopiniononJuly
1 stating thatthe“voteforVicePresidentwasnotvalidbecausemoreDirectorsvotedthanyouhadDirectorsinofficeand the
vote was affected by that additionalvote.”
·Ms. Hoe acknowledged that a former board member
spoke during the election against a consumer running for office. But she
claimed that he was just “a member of the public,” a statement that doesn’t
ring true as Mr. Rivas was clearly known as the former board chair and
maintained close relationships with Kevin MacDonald, Priscilla Hoe, and the
consumer’s opponent, Paula Hilton. Even though the comments by Mr. Rivas were
incredibly offensive to theindividualsthattheorganizationexiststoserve,Ms.HoetoldDDSthatshebelievesitisher “roletomakesurethateveryoneisheard,whetherIagreewiththemornot.”
her legally mandated role. Instead of taking responsibility for denying the
consumers their legal right to assistance, she blamed the “lack of policies and
procedures for the role of the facilitator,” and seemed to put the onus on the
facilitator by asking her “not to interfere with the clients when they were
voting.” The problem with this argument is that there are clear protocols
established by DDS and the Lanterman Act for facilitation for consumers who
serve on the board. The board chair herself may have been ignorant of these
protocols, but they do exist. In fact,
Marcia James, the vendored facilitator, sent a letter to the board and the
executivedirectorexplainingthisissueandaskingthattheboarddotheirpartbyensuringthat materials are distributed to the consumers in a timely manner so
that they can participate fully in thedecisionHmakingprocess.(See Attachment10)
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
11.AUGUST 2015: Executive Director Kevin MacDonald
continued to isolate himself from the consumers, the staff, and the community
by moving his office to a different floor, rejecting offersofhelpfrommoreexperiencedcolleagues,andmakingdecisionswithoutconsultingwith his managementteam.
The month of August showed that the executive
director felt that he could make decisions on his own and wasn’t part of a
greater team at Westside Regional Center. At the time of his employment, the
board promised the community and Kevin publicly agreed that things wouldn’t
change and the Westside Way would remain intact. But as his six months at the
agency approached, Mr. MacDonald decidedtomovehisofficeawayfromtheotherseniorstaffonthe3rdfloortothemuchlessaccessible
Danneker for six months in order to be mentored in a job where he had little
experience. The six monthscametoaclosewithMr.MacDonaldrejectingmuchoftheadvicethatMikeoffered.
12.SEPTEMBER 4, 2015: Three months after the verbal
abuse occurred at the June board meeting, Board Chair Priscilla Hoe finally
sent a written apology to the CAC. For the CAC members, it was too little, too
late and her sincerity was in question. In fact, while discussing with a parent
of a board member who is also a
consumer Chair Hoe stated she did not feel she needed to apologize.
Ms.Hoespokeonbehalfoftheentireboardandaskedtheclientstoacceptanapologyfortheinsulting words of a former board member
at the June board meeting. (See
Attachment 11) The CAC, however, felt that even this apology was filled
with qualifications and didn’t fully show her contrition. Ms. Hoe stated: “At
future board meetings it will be explicitly stated – as well as written into
the agenda – that the Board does not endorse comments made by the public.” The
request of the CAC was to ensure that Ms.Hoestoptheseoffensivecommentsastheyoccur,nottojustdistanceherselffromthem.
Inaddition,Ms.Hoewrote:“Hopefully,allofuscanagreethatitisinthebestinterestsofBoardmembers and clients to move past this
unfortunate incident and to work together constructively.” The CAC feels
that Ms. Hoe is just not getting how deep the hurt and mistrust is, and that
they can’t just “move past” it.
13.SEPTEMBER 2015: The September 16th board meeting was filled with emotion, sadness, and
anger expressed not only by the consumers but members of the board and the
public. Instead of bringing the community together, Mr. MacDonald and Ms. Hoe
were presiding over a communitythatisfracturedandfallingdeeperintoaseeminglyirreparablehole.
Mr. MacDonald and Ms. Hoe knew that emotions were
running high but chose to keep one public comment period at the end of the
meeting. Instead of trying to heal a fragmented community, they chosetohaveMs.HoespeakaboutitinherChairperson’sReport.
The consumers, however, didn’t wait to express
their concerns till the end of the meeting during the public comment period.
During the report from the Consumer Advisory Committee, board member LarryRyandeliveredapassionate,sad,andempoweringspeechwrittenbytheconsumersthatdrew tears from many
members of the public, board and staff. (See
Attachment 12) Among his comments
“It is with great sadness that we give our report
today... Instead of helping us, all of you, except five Board members,havecontinuedtonotrespectus,treatuspoorly,callusstupid,andshowusthatweareatoken
to you. All we have seen you do is argue, blame other board members for your
lack of knowledge, blame othersforyourlackofunderstandingandattackoursupporters….
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
The Board Chair
and the Executive Director make changes that are not voted on by anyone else. The Board Chair and Executive Director allow
others to attack us and refuse to stop them. They also make excuses as to why
they allow others to attackus.
We think The
Chair and the Executive Director did not stop Rene Rivas from saying those very
mean things because you agree with him. That would also explain why we had to
beg the Board for an apology. Yes, you have finally apologized but it is very
unfortunate that you had to be forced to make your apology. We know that up
until the last Executive meeting, you said that you would not apologize. These
asked that you step down. Not because we are mean, not because we are being
told what to do. We asked because number one, it is our right... We asked you
to step down because you have no intention of protecting us. Don't you know
that silence equals consent? Don't you know that you are supposed to run your
meeting and protect the consumers? You and the executive director hide behind
Sounlessyoustandupandtellusdifferentweareholdingeachandeveryoneofyouresponsiblefor making us afraid. We are holding you
responsible for making us physically ill. We are holding you responsible for
making us tokens in our ownhouse.”
In response to this impassioned plea, Ms. Hoe and
Mr. MacDonald provided their clearest condemnation to date of Mr. Rivas and his
remarks from three months earlier. Ms. Hoe also said that she would need a few
days to think about the CAC request for her resignation. (The CAC is still
But three board members, (Courtney
Colman, Paula Hilton, and Philip Jackson), who had been part of the original
core group who had alienated the consumers in the first place, came to Ms.
Hoe’s defense stating that she should be able to continue as board chair. They
condemned “Larry’s personal attack.” Ironically,thesearethesameindividualswhoweresilentinJuneasMr.Rivasbelittledconsumersand they have yet to offer anapology.
Other board members, in particular several of the
newly elected board members, offered emotional apologies and expressed their
dismay about how the leadership has mishandled the situation. During public
comment, members of the community and a few staff rose in defense of the
consumers and spoke of their anguish over how the consumers arefeeling.
At the end of the night, it remained as unclear as
before the meeting how the board, staff, and community
were going to move forward. But in the following week, it became clear how the
Executive Director wanted to handleit.
14.SEPTEMBER 23b24, 2015: One week after the board
meeting and without explanation, Executive Director Kevin MacDonald fired three
longtime senior staff and the consumers’ trustedfacilitator.Thenextdayheheldanallbstaffmeetinganddirectedthestaffthattheycan no longer be friends with anyone on
Shocking seemingly everyone at Westside Regional
Center and throughout the developmental disability community, Mr. MacDonald
laid out his response to the crisis at WRC by terminating the employmentofthreeseniorstaffwhoprovidedthebackboneoftheagencyandthecontinuityofthe
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
culture. Without giving any reason and without
consulting his board of directors, Kevin MacDonald fired:
provider agency with no experience working in a regional center and little
knowledge of the complex processes to deal with the state and federal
government funding agencies. The firing of three of the top executives have
left a huge hole in the internal workings of the regional center. That day,Mr.
MacDonald terminated over 60 years of combined
stellar regional center experience to his seven months.Thesethreestaffwereresponsibleforcommunityservices,qualityassurance,clientservices including Medicaid waiver issues, vendorization of providers,
and training of staff, vendors, family members and consumers. Mr. MacDonald has
left the regional center in an incredibly compromised position.
Ifthefiringoftheseniorstaffsentashockthroughthecommunity,Mr.MacDonald’sterminationofthe consumerboardfacilitatorseemedlikeanearthquake.MarciaJames,hadservedasthefacilitatorsince 2008 but had been assisting consumers in various
capacities at Westside Regional Center for over 25 years. She helped the CAC
members plan their events, meetings, and community activities. Her most
important responsibility, laid out clearly in the Lanterman Act, was assisting
the consumers who sit on WRC’sboardofdirectorsinfullyparticipatingintheboardandcommitteemeetings.
Ms. James has important relationships with the CAC
leadership and the consumer board members. She is gifted in ensuring that the
consumers are empowered and informed, but always allows them to take the lead
and speak in their own voice. They trust her completely, particularly during
the recent tumultuous time. She helps to calm their anxiety and goes above and
beyond on theirbehalf.
No one could see this termination on the horizon.
Ms. James was considered to be an excellent facilitator, the consumers had
faith in her, and there had been no complaints about her services or evidence
of improper activity. In fact, at the board meeting the week prior, Ms. Hoe
mentioned in her reportthatshewasplanningonbringinginMarciaJamestotraintheboardonincreasingsensitivityto client needs and the role of the clientfacilitator.
Yet in his termination letter, Mr. MacDonald went
so far as to order the facilitator to halt all communication with the
individuals she has served for years. (See
Attachment 13) Hestated:
How has this act affected the consumers that
Westside serves? The consumers are interpreting the terminationoftheirfacilitatorasretaliationfortheireffortstospeakoutandbetreatedwithrespect.
They are feeling betrayed, lost, and alone. One consumer is unable to sleep and
is throwing up everyday. Another consumer, who sees a doctor at the regional
center, is afraid that anything he says “will go straight to Kevin.” Other
consumers who have a job at Westside Regional Center are fearful that they will
be the next to befired.
after all oftheterminationstookplace,Mr.MacDonald
led an allHstaffmeeting.Heexplained
that the three staff were “no longer
with the agency.” His explanation was that “when there is a new PresidentoftheUnitedStates,hebringsinhisowncabinet,”althoughMr.MacDonalddidn’tsharehis plansofhowthegiantholesinexpertiseleftbythefiringsweretobefilled.
Save Westside Regional Center – The FullStory
Mr. MacDonald went on to say that Westside Regional
Center is not the best regional center anymore but that together they could
make it so. He also told the staff that “the board members are not your
friends,”andthatifheseesastaffmemberfraternizingwithaboardmember,hewill“distancehimself from you.” The fear and apprehension in the room waspalpable.
also called selected board members to let them know he terminated the senior
staff and also providedthemwithnoreasonexceptthat“theydidn’tfitintothedirectionhewantedtotake,”avision
that has not been provided to board members or staff but that the board should
be a partner in developing. Mr. MacDonald never told them that he had
terminated the contract of thefacilitator.
THE FUTURE: The future of Westside Regional Center
is uncertain. Walking through the halls of WestsideRegionalCentertoday,onefeelstheconfusion,fearandanairofintimidation.Itisclearthat “the Westside Way” has disappeared and the pride that everyone had
in their regional center has waned. (See
Attachment 14) Staff, board
members, parents, providers, and particularly consumers are living in fear.
Fear that they may lose their services. Fear that they may lose their jobs.
Fear that they may lose their contracts. Fear that they will be the next target
of retaliation. The Consumer Advisory Committeecontinuestoleadtheeffortsandtheirdemandshaveonlyincreased.
Will Westside end
up like Kern Regional Center? Just two years ago, Kern, another wellbregarded
regional center, hired an outsider as their new executive director. He also
fired the senior staff, and other respected staff decided to leave on their
own. Staff morale sank low, the community was up in arms, and a few months ago,
new board members came on and fired the executive director. But only after the
damage was done. Kern Regional Center is still reeling from theirnightmare.
Department of Developmental Services step up in a timely manner with Westside
in order to avoid another regional center imploding? Will every future board
meeting be dominated by the continuing disrespect of the consumers as opposed
to the ways to better serve them? Will social activities among consumers be
replaced by political protests? Will the Westside Way no longer mean love and
support but now mean fear and intimidation? What is the path to a peaceful and
respectful future at Westside RegionalCenter?
STATE OF CALIFORNIA--HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICESAGENCY EDMUND
G. BROWN JR.,Governor
DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTALSERVICES
NINTH STREET, Room 320, MS3-9
TDD 654-2054 (For the Hearing Impaired) (916)654-1958
Rene Rivas, Board Chair Westside RegionalCenter
5901 Green Valley Circle, Suite320 Culver City, CA90230
Thank you for
your January 20, 2015, correspondence regarding Westside Regional Center’s
(WRC) compliance with Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) section 4622. You
noted, in your letter, that WRC’s current Board is not compliant with thestatutorily required term limits for four
board members and state that the board members were asked by WRC’s Executive
Director, Mike Danneker, to remain on the Board to help with the selection and
transition to the new executivedirector.
Your letter indicates the Board is aware that
four members have exceeded the statutorily required term limit; therefore the
Board is not in compliance with currentlaw.
The contract between the Department of Developmental Services (Department) and
WRC requires the regional center to comply with all applicable laws andregulations.
The Board had,
and still has, an obligation to take action to ensure it achieves compliance
with WIC section 4622. The Board’s recent actions lead the Department to
question the Board’s commitment and intent to comply with all applicable laws
and regulations. In addition, the Department recently received several
complaints from community members expressing concern about the Board’s
non-compliance with statute regarding termlimits.
You state in
your January 20, 2015, letter, “A slate of nominated candidates is due from the
committee before our May Board meeting and voting on the new members will be done
during our annual Board meeting held in June.” The outlined timeline does not
demonstrate to the Department that the Board is intending to take the
appropriateaction to remedy their
non-compliance with statute. To that end, the Board has an immediate
responsibility to remedy this issue. The
Department is aware that Mr. Danneker informed the Board of his retirement in
May 2014, which originally was to take effect in December 2014, so the Board
has had ample time to select a new executive director without violating
statute. Please submit to the Department, within 30 days of the date of this
letter, a written plan of correction which details how the Board has or will
timely come into compliance with WIC section4622(f).
Rene Rivas, Board Chair January 29,2015
The Department commends the Board for its
efforts to ensure its composition reflects the ethnic composition of its
constituency and is comprised of at least 25 percent consumer representation.
However, achieving compliance with these provisions cannot result in
non-compliance with WIC section 4622
of the governing board shall not be permitted to serve morethan seven years within each eight–year
period.” [W&I code§4622(f)]
If you have any questions
regarding this correspondence, please contact BrianWinfield, Assistant Deputy Director, Community Services
Division, at (916) 654-1569. Thank you for your prompt attention to thismatter.
cc: Judy Blumenthal, WRCBoardMember Nilo Choudry, WRC Board Member
Courtney Colman, WRC BoardTreasurer
Ben Davidson, WRC Board Member Cecelia Fabulich, WRC BoardMember
Dru Garcia-Richardson, WRC Board Member
Fernando Gomez, WRC Board Member Sandra Gonzalez, WRC Board Member Portia Griffith-Lane,
WRC Board Member Paula Hilton, WRC BoardSecretary
Priscilla Hoe, WRC Board Vice Chair Phillip
Jackson, WRC Board Member Gail Louis,
WRC Board Member Sophia Orozco, WRC Board
Member Jack Rose, WRC Board Member Larry Ryan, WRC Board Member Bob Steiner, WRC Board Member Russell Tanner, WRC
Michael Danneker, WRC ExecutiveDirector John Doyle, Chief Deputy
Brian Winfield, Assistant Deputy Director,DDS
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING COASTAL
WEDNESDAY JULY 1,2015
MEMBERS PRESENT: JudyBlumenthal
Linda Demer AustinDove
Camy Starks DuPont Zoe Adams
Giesberg Fernando Gomez Sandra Gonzalez Paula
Jackson Portia LanaeGriffith
Larry P. Ryan Maria Soto RussellTanner
ABSENT: Ben Davidson
(SPAC), Betty Pearson-Grimble,BobSteiner STAFF PRESENT: Bill Feeman, Danny Franco, Kevin
Manicone, Kerwind Portillo,
Liz Spencer, Mary LouWeise-Stusser
GUESTS: Joseph Allen Jr.,
Chris Arroyo, Lisa Basiri, Alicia Bazzano,Desree
Boykin, Linda Butler, Nilo Choudhry, Zakir
Choudhry, Nick Coplin, Ana Cruz, Mike Danneker, Marcelo DiMauro, Rayvone
Douthard, Catherine Eldridge, Elizabeth Espinoza, Cecilia Fabulich, Sylvia
Fahimian, Laurene Feldman, Danny Garcia, Elizabeth Gomez, Brett Gordon, Perry
Griffith, Betty Grifford, Marcia James, Betsy Johnson, Rafer Johnson, Raquel
Johnson, Esther Kelsey, Soryl Markowitz, Barbara McCants, David Mezquita, Mayra
Mezquita, Christine Monroe, Todd Rubien, Robert Schwartz, Mark Seidenberg,
Vicki Smith, Martha Thompson, Felicia Williams, Wesley Witherspoon, Steve Yi,Ari Zeldin
Board Chair Priscilla Hoe called the meeting to
order at 6:10p.m.
Guests were welcomed and invited to introduce
themselves. Chairperson Priscilla Hoe announced changes to the Agenda and set
ground rules for an effective and productive meeting. Public Comment has been
moved to the end of the Agenda and will be limited to three minutes per
speaker. Each speaker will have one turn at the microphone. For Action Items
the public will be invited to comment after board discussion is completed but
before Action Item isvoted
BoardMeetingMinutes 1 July
on. The Executive Director’s Report will be moved
earlier into the meeting. Board members
will be recognized by the Chair in order to speak. Board members may speak one
at a time and there should be no interruptions when a Board member is speaking.
There should be no sidebar conversations, whispering, or private conversations
when a Board member is speaking. Each speaker should be given undivided
attention. Any questions should be directed to the Chair. The Chair will answer
all questions. If a Board member
would like support the Chair’s response, the Chair will call on that person.
There will be no dialogue between the Board members and the public during themeeting.
The Chair was questioned
about the changes and the order of the Agenda. In working with the Executive
Director the Chair made all the decisions in the changes of the Agenda. It was
noted that there was no item within the Agenda asking for the approval of the
Agenda itself. This agenda was set by the Chair and the Executive Director
because of the advance public notice requirement set forth by thebylaws.
TO APPROVE THEMINUTES
was a discussion that the June 3rd,
2015 minutes were incomplete. The following words were added to the minutes and
accepted by theBoard:
(1)There was discussion from a Board member
expressing concern on the validity of how the voting is being carried by the
fact that new members were given the right to vote while an outgoing board
member continued voting while technically termedout.
(2)Strong objections were expressed to a point
made by a member of the publicregarding
the motion to split the Office of Secretary and have Co-Chairs carried, the vote
count should be corrected to reflect the actual numbers. The actual numbers
were 8 in favor, 2 oppose, & 4abstentions.
M/S/C – (Blumenthal/Jackson) To accept the corrections to the minutes of
Priscilla Hoe addressed the issues concerning the Officer elections. There was
a tie in the election for Vice-Chair. The solution recommended by the Chair was
to have Co-Vice- Chairs pending legal counsel. The attorney’s interpretation of
the Bylaws shows that it is permitted to share the office of the Vice-Chair.
The Bylaws provide that newly elected Board members take their seats
immediately and are allowed to vote. A sitting Board member that was vacating
their seat by the end of the year also
voted in the election. It was the attorney’s conclusion that this outgoing
Board member’s vote should not have been allowed. The need for a re-vote for the Vice-Chair
Office was planned for the September 2015 meeting. Judy Blumenthal, Co-Vice
Chair withdrew her name from the ballot, thus eliminating the need for a
re-vote, but will continue on the Board and continue as Chair of the Client
Services Committee. As a result Sandra Gonzalez is the new BoardVice-Chair.
The Nominating Committee will be reactivated.
Paula Hilton and Phil Jackson will be on the committee. The Chair would like
participation from one of the new Board members. The purpose of the committee will be to recruit
and identify two additional Board members. The two new members would need to be
Latino in order to bring the Board composition closer in line with DDSguidelines.
BoardMeetingMinutes 2 July
Speech to WRC Board – July 1,2015
As CAC Chair, I would like to address theboard.
those of you who may not know, I am the Consumer Advisory Committee Chair. I am
also involved with several other advocacy groups. As CAC chair, and group
member, the other officers and I are the voice of the WRC consumers. The
consumers want you to know how we
feel about your treatment of us last month and for the past 7 months. To
the Board members,
Ex-Boardmembers, Executive Director of WRC. Your treatment ofusis unacceptable. We are here to
are in our house. You areinvitedguest at our table and how dare
you mistreat us the way youhave. Last month you madeus feel afraid, the Board
meeting is No longer a safe place.
afraid to be on the Board because
you may take our services away to punish us and the people who support
us. Stop punishing us. You made us embarrassed, you hurt our feelings, and you
have no ability to see us as people first. Some of you are even rude. As we
were being insulted, someone from the audience asked for you to apologize and
you refused by saying that anyone can say anything that they want. No they cannot. You and anyone
who thinks that it is okay to disrespect us,
talk down to us and not help us should not be here. We do not need people like
you. You lack character, you lack morals, you lack the ability to speak for us
because you do not have any idea who we are and what we are ca-pa- ble of
doing. You lack the ability to keep
us safe, in fact you are the very people who make us unsafe. You show
prejudice. In the past you acted like you liked us, but we see that’s not true.
It makes us wonder why you are on the board
because you show that you have no respect for us. Just because some of you have
relatives with a disability that don’t mean that you should use that as
leverage. and use your relative as an excuse to act like you have an interestin
say shame on you. Frank Lanterman had to help make a law because of people like
you. Shame on you, Shame on you, Shame on you. Since you have made it clear
that you agree and support someone saying that we are less than and dangerous
and you have no ability to see us as people who can function with some assistance,
asking that Chair of the Board, The Secretary, and outgoing Treasurer to step
down from the Board. We need to go forward with people who are not going to
crucify us, penalize us, punish us, destroy our character or discriminate
against us. Thank you for taken the time
to hear us and we are expecting to hear a respond to CAC soon. Thank you
and madam chair I would like to have
this entered into theminutes.
we want at theCAC:
at CAC want all the following in writing in the next two weeks. If there is
something that cannot be done, we want you to tell us why it is not possible inwriting.
1.We want to know why it has
taken over a month for Kevin to apologize. If you cared enough that night you
would have apologized then. We should not have to beg for a simpleapology.
-We want a written and verbalapology
-In your apology include why you allowed for the
insults and emotional abuse in our house, especially when your job is to
-In your apology tell us why it was wrong whathappened
-In your apology explain to us why it wont
2.Correct at next board meeting who is in charge.
At the last Board meeting you said that the staff answers to you and you answer
to the board. You need to add what you left out. You need to inform everyone
that the Board answers to the Consumers and families at WRC. Stop taking our poweraway.
3.We do not want Kevin training us in anything he
has showed us he needs professionaltraining.
need to practice what you learn and preach from these trainings. In our CAC meeting we told you that we wanted
to speak about how badly we felt and were treated at the June Board meeting and
you told us we could not unless we called you to get on the Agenda or we could
speak after the meeting for two or three minutes after. You told us that how we
were treated at the Board was just how
Board meetings go and we have to just stand up and tough it out. You said this
is how the board meetings ran where you are from. Well, we are on several
boards, including the WRC board and we have never been treated like this, so
don’t tell us a lie.
You also showed us a film about Respect and got
a guy from Chile to teach us about respect and you show a lot about what you
use to do at ARC, but you showed us no respect. Stop the videos until you mean
what you sayit.
4.We don’t want you as a friend we have friends we want a
leader who know how to be a leader. Stop singling us out. We do this as a team.
If you give something to one member you need to have enough for everybody the
same. Because we feel you want to butter us up to get on our good side. So no
more emails texts or calls unless we are setting up a meeting. And another
thing, we will not keep having meetings. We want the answers in writing and the
only other meeting we will have is with the board after you answer this letter.
5.We don’t know what is in your contract. We want it put in
your contract that you are to get evaluated year to year by CAC, staff and the
board. We want to know from Mike would you stay longer if Kevin does not want
to stay and train someone else for the position and can we be a larger part of
getting the nextperson.
far as the Board at WRC is concerned we want the resignation of the Priscilla
H. and Paula H. We want a written and public apology and why it was wrong to
let it goon.
Kevin no offended to you. We don’t
want to hurt your feelings but what is dangerous is you have not shown us that
this is the job for you. You kiss up to the board and you do not protect
us. Thank you for yourtime.
August 13, 2015 Mr. BrianWinfield
of Developmental Services 1600 Ninth Street, Room320
CA 95814 Dear Mr.Winfield,
I am pleased to respond to your letter of July
1, 2015 regarding concerns brought to you about the governance and the
processes on the Westside Regional Center Board. We appreciated the extension
of the timeline so that our Executive Committee could review thedocument.
made significant progress since I assumed the role of President in March, when
our former President resigned as a result of termlimits.
First, I would like to address point #4. - Closed BoardMeetings
It was brought to my attention that the
long-standing practice at Westside Regional Center of having Board elections in
a private meeting just prior to our AnnualDinner
was not consistent with our Bylaws or with statelaw.
This year, to comply with the Lanterman Act and
with our Bylaws, we held an open Board meeting on June 3, 2015, at which we
conducted the elections and other Board business. Our Annual Dinner was held on
a separate date, out of the regional center, with no business conducted. This will be our practice from this pointforward.
The challenge of holding our first open
elections, trying to interpret unclear Bylaws, and encouraging public input
naturally brought up issues. We used our attorney throughout the process, as
questions arose, to keep the proceedings compliant with legal requirements. Our
goal was to have open and fair elections. We documented everything and are
revising our Bylaws, so that future elections will not be open to
1.Improper Election of Board ofDirectors
The Bylaws were unclear as to when a Board Member’s term actually ended
(customarily, it is the end of the fiscal year - June 30th), but since the elections for new officers were
being held before that, the other option raised was that it might be as soon as
the new general board elections wereconcluded.
became an issue during the most recent election process. Not knowing how to
respond, we permitted one individual to vote, even though he was resigning andwould
Committed To Providing Support And Services
With Developmental Disabilities
5901 Green Valley Circle, Suite 320, Culver City, CA 9023096953 <(310)25894000 FAX: (310)64991024www.westsiderc.org
not be on the new Board. He felt that he was
entitled to vote and believed his term ended on June 30th. We said that we would check with our attorney
after the meeting to make sure that his vote did not cause a problem. We did
get a written opinion from our attorney advising that the Board Member’s term
ends immediately upon theelection
of the new general board. We will add
this to our revised Bylaws to avoid this question in thefuture.
We brought this issue of the former Board
member voting to the next Board meeting. The improper vote had only affected
one office, which resulted in a tie for the position of Vice-President
resulting in Co-Vice Presidents. We recommended that the Board conduct another
election in September for that seat. The new election became unnecessary when
one of the Vice-Presidents declined to accept the position and that left only
the one individual as Vice-President. In any event, the Bylaws do permit the
Board to create newCo-Offices.
1b. A former Board member, who is
no longer on the Board, did speak during the election process. I have
encouraged public input since I took office and we have had more in the last
few meetings than in the past few years combined. I have not curtailed the
public input despite the fact that it has often been contentious. I allowed
public input during the election process and prior to the vote, in accordance
with my understanding of the law. Members of the public spoke against some of the
candidates, both clients and non-clients. In this particular case, the former
Board member argued that clients should not serve as Officers. He did not speak
in an advisory capacity; he was present as a member of the public. His comments
were not endorsed by the Board. In fact, he was condemned for his remarks by
several individuals and the client he was speaking about spoke in her own
defense. She was elected to the position notwithstanding his arguments.
As is the practice in most public meetings, the
Chair does not support or oppose the statements expressed during public
comment. It is my role to make sure that everyone is heard, whether I agree
with them ornot.
1c. The Bylaws state that once the full Board is
elected, the voting for Officers is to follow. This meant that seven new Board
members had the right to vote for the new Officers for the Board. The Chair of
the Nominating Committee told the new members that they were not required to
vote for the Officer positions if they didn’t know the candidates and many did
not. The Nominating Chair left it up to the new Board members’ discretion, but
no one was told not to vote. This lack of knowledge about Officer Candidates
raised the need for a process to give new Board members a way to get to know candidates
for Offices prior to election time, which we shalladdress.
1d. In our first open elections, we encountered a
new challenge and our attorney supported the decisions we made. The Board may
vote to have Co-Officers and this happened twice in our first elections. As
discussed above, the Vice-President position became Co-Vice Presidents until
one of the holders of that position declined to act. The Board voted to create
a Co-Secretary position, as it is permitted to do under theWRC
The two individuals were then voted into the Secretary positions. (Attached
please find the procedures we followed that night and attorneycorrespondence.)
2.Board Composition – Our Board composition complies with the requirements of Welfare and
Institutions Code section 4622 in that it reflects “the geographic and ethnic
characteristics of the area to be served by the regional center.” I have
attached a chart setting forth DDS guidelines and the composition of the WRC
Board. Several individuals were
disappointed in not being selected by the Nominating Committee. In another effort
to increase Board diversity, we have expanded our Board to 21 members, with
both of the two vacant positions to be Latino. We are now in the process of
putting together a new Nominating Committee to recruit the additional members.
But as noted, even without these efforts, the Board composition already
complies with DDS guidelines.
this is within the context of our losing four minority positions in February
when it was realized that those four Directors were on the Board beyond their
3.Board Facilitator – This was another challenge that came from the open election process
and the lack of policies and procedures for the role of the facilitator. I did
ask the Facilitator during the voting process not to interfere with the clients
when they were voting. The voting process must be transparent. New procedures will address ways to avoid the
perception that clients are being told how to vote. WRC staff will be meeting
with the Facilitator, a WRC vendor, to develop appropriate protocols for her
role with Boardmembers.
As the new President of the Board, I inherited
much dissention due to a number of issues. We have made great strides in
putting Westside Regional Center back on track. We will continue to make
progress and address the issues as they come up. It will take patience to bring
everyone into a cohesive whole, but we are committed to doingthat.
let me know if you need any additionalinformation.
Good Morning Priscilla, Executive Members of the Board,
and Kevin. I truly hope that everyone is able to enjoy this beautifulday.
Recently, it has come to my attention that there
is a grave and potentially recklessly irresponsible misconception by members of
the Board specifically, and others generally, that there are no protocols in
place for the facilitation of consumers who serve on the Westside Regional
Center Board. Executive Board has stated, ”… and the lack of policies and
procedures for the role of theFacilitator.
I did ask the Facilitator during the voting process not to interfere with the
clients when they were voting. The voting process must be transparent. New
procedures will address ways to avoid the perception that clients are being
told how to vote...” I assure you that this could not be further from the truth.
The Lanterman Act and DDS have protocols and mandates that
have been in practice since 2008 with me specifically at WRC and I would
imagine with the previous boardFacilitators.
I understand that the Board is going through
transition and I have exercised months of patience through the process because
I do understand that change needs time. With this being said, I was wondering
if we would be able to ”get back on track” by the Board forwarding the
necessary information to the Facilitator in a timely manner, so that the Board
members, who are being served by facilitation can be assisted. In recent
months, it has been very difficult to obtain the necessary information prior to
meetings so that the consumers, who are also Board members, can be apprised of
said information. Additional time is
required for the consumers to fully familiarize themselves and have questions
answered so that they can, to the best of their ability, be fully contributing
members of the Board. Without thispreparation,
they are not
being fully embraced. There is much to be discussed regarding the new style of
how meetings are being conducted in general and how this is impacting our
consumers who are board members. We also have great need to discuss how the
recent process is affecting their ability to vote withconfidence. Their current position is one of stress, fear anddisenfranchisement.
If you had
questions and concerns regarding facilitation, as I am the Facilitator, I
really wish you had just asked. Please feel free to contact me anytime.
Should you wish to have training on the role of a
Facilitator, I am available for that aswell.
with this apology I believe that I speak for the entire Westside Regional
Board. We aresorry.
sincerely regret that you were insulted by the words of a former Board member
spoken during the June Boardmeeting.
Esther, you represented all clients in the
statement you made at the July meeting. We ask that you and the clients accept
We clearly understand your feelings were deeply hurt by the
comments and that thepain caused by
those comments not only has lingered but hasintensified.
Being insulted in an environment in which you felt safe and
expected only support madethe comments
At your request I will read this
apology at the September Boardmeeting.
At future Board meetings it will be explicitly stated - as well
as written into the agenda - that the Board does not endorse comments made by
We won't let this happenagain.
Hopefully, all of us can agree that it is in the best interests
of Board members and clients to move past this unfortunate incident and to work
We have a formidable task ahead.
We must speak with one voice to our legislators in Sacramento. There are
threats of changes to the Lanterman Act and budget cuts that could
significantly affect our programs. These are big issues. We have to be united
to protect and expand ourservices.
Statement from the
CAC Board Meeting – September 16,2015
evening Members of the Board andGuests.
is with great sadness that we give our reporttoday.
Instead of helping us, all of you, except five
Board members, have continued to not respect us, treat us poorly, call us
stupid, and show us that we are a token to you.
Some thing to be used for your ego instead of doing
your job. Your job is to help us live the best possible life. Your job is to
learn what you need to know to be effective in your role ashelpers.
All we have seen you do is argue, blame other board
members for your lack of knowledge, blame others foryourlackofunderstandingandattackoursupporters.
You make excuses and continue to hide behind
arguments. You refuse to do what is asked of you. You being here is harmful. We
will never feel safe with the current Board Chair or BoardSecretary.
The Board Chair and the Executive Director make
changes that are not voted on by anyone else. The Board Chair and Executive
Director allow others to attack us and refuse to stop them. They also make
excuses as to why they allow others to attackus.
We think The Chair and the Executive Director did
not stop Rene Rivas from saying those very mean things because you agree with
him. That would also explain why we had to beg the Board for an apology. Yes,
you have finally apologized but it is very unfortunate that you had to be
forced to make your apology. We know that up until the last Executive meeting,
you said that you would not apologize. These ugly,untrue,limitedstatementsweremadeinJuneandittookyouuntilSeptembertoapologize.
Priscilla, we asked that you step down. Not because
we are mean, not because we are being told what to do. We asked because number
one, it is ourright.
We asked you to step down because you do not have
the experience to run this Board. We asked you to step down because you do not
respect us and you refuse to respect our wishes. We asked you to step down
because you have no intention of protecting us. Don't you know that silence
Don'tyouknowthatyouaresupposedtorunyourmeetingandprotecttheconsumers?Youandthe executive director hide behind words.
You two keep saying that you did not have to protect Porsha because she
Whenshewassittingtherecryingandyoucontinuedtalkingasifshewerenotthereandherfeelings didn't matter, was she defending
It was at the end of the debate that Portia finally
said that she was going to prove you wrong. That was a comment, not adefense.
down, you are going to destroy CAC, Self Advocacy, Our rights, Our ability to
use our regional center, andtheWestsideWay.Weareevenmoreafraidnowmorethanever.
Chris Arroyo talked to you and he told us he was
going to help. What he said to us is that he wanted a couple of CAC members to
meet with a couple of Board members. We don't go behind our group membersbacks.
not told what board members would be meeting with us and even we know that you
continue to make your own rules, so we cannot trustyou.
We will keep our promise. Once Priscilla and Paula
step down, we are willing to meet and discuss how to heal and how to moveforward.
Wehavesomanylifechangingissuestofocuson.Insteadofgoingforwardwearehereeverymeeting being afraid and being blocked
from doing importantwork.
You harm us. You hurt us. The only reason you will
not step down is your ego. The Board will not fall apart.
Do you think that our wishes are not to be
respected? When Priscilla makes a motion, a vote, or a statement, are you aware
that she is saying that youagree?
Sounlessyoustandupandtellusdifferentweareholdingeachandeveryoneofyouresponsiblefor making usafraid.
thirty years tobuild.
We are holding you responsible for making us
physically ill. We are holding you responsible for making us tokens in our ownhouse.
Are you sleeping at night, because we are not. Are
you proud of yourself for how you are destroying our house, because we are
not. Are we a joke to you, because we
WenolongerhaveanyconfidenceinwhatwasonceagreatBoard. For those of you who are new, why
Do you join us in our sadness? Do you join us in
our anger? Do you join us in our humiliation? Do you joinusinourembarrassment?BecauseThat'snowallwehaveincommonwithyou.
6709 La Tijera Blvd.#352
Los Angeles, CA90045
Re: WRC VendorNumbers:
PW 5267 Facilitation to consumer’s at Board of
Directors meetings, Consumer Advisory Committee, and ExecutiveCACMeetingsaswellasselfVadvocacymeetingsand
PW 5267 – Facilitation for
Recreation and Travel SupportGroup
The purpose of this memo is
to let you know that effective this date – September 23, 2015, Westside
RegionalCenteristerminatingthecontractforallservicesyouandyourstafforassociatesprovideto clients of Westside Regional Center. See Vendor numbers above which
reference to two different contractsandanyotheragreementsyoumayhavewithWestsideRegionalCenter.
Item #10 in both
agreements dated June 29, 2015 stipulates that the agreement may be terminated
by either party without cause… giving sixty (60) days advanced notice. Westside
Regional Center is hereby giving the sixty (60) daynotice.
However, all activities with WRC clients and these two
Vendor numbers must cease immediately. Please return any files or property you
may have of WRC to our Accounting Department. Please cease all communication
with the clients for those programs and the Clients Advisory Council and please
do not visit or enter Westside RegionalCenter.
WearesendingthiscorrespondenceasaneVmailtodayaswellascertifiedmailtodaytotheaddresswe have onrecord.
Thank you for yourcooperation.
Kevin MacDonald Executive Director Westside RegionalCenter
what you need to know to be successful at Westside. Show up.
Work and act like a professional.
Answer all your phone calls and e-mails within 24 hours, even though they might
be painful. Tell everybody you talk to the truth--we are all adults and can
handle it. Be kind to one another. Listen. Fight for your clients. Do
whatever it takes to get them the best--they deserve it. Challenge
yourself—don’t be satisfied just getting by. Be creative. Almost
anything is possible, but only if you share your ideas. Challenge the
system--it’s what makes things change, usually for the better. Remember you
were new once and somebody helped you become successful--now it is your turn to
help somebody. Don’t be afraid to speak up. This is one of the few places
you’ll ever work where you’ll be listened to, even if people don’t agree with
you. Listen. Number one rule for success: It’s all about relationships! Some of the best relationships are formed by
using the Golden Rule, humor, empathy, and honesty. Share your
knowledge, experience, self. Put your ego away. Be agreeable when you disagree.
Don’t interrupt. Be sensitive to others’ feelings. Clients and families can be
difficult, but that’s why you’re a special person and able to handle it. Nobody
likes doing paperwork, but it’s got to be done—it’s about money. You should
become a better person, professionally and personally working at Westside. If
you don’t, maybe you should find another job.
Respect other people’s opinions even if you don’t agree withthem.
Everyone wants to be liked, but not
everybody is willing to do what it takes to be liked. Listen. People
know how much effort you put forth--just like you know. Relax. Have a
good time. Enjoy what you do. Laugh every day while doing your
job. This is Westside. You were chosen to be a part of it. This is your regional center. Whatever you give will be returned to you.
The greater the giving by all, the more you’ll like working at Westside, and
conversely. You’ve been given an opportunity to serve others—do yourbest.