From the 7.6.11 issue:
By Daniel Mintz
Press Staff Writer
Responding to a state agency’s concerns about grant management, the county’s District Attorney has called for an investigation that’s focusing on the actions of one of his employees.
District Attorney Paul Gallegos said that at his request, the county has hired an investigator to look into suspected mismanagement of several public safety grants from the California Emergency Management Agency (CalEMA).
Originally reported on by KIEM News Channel 3 last week, the investigation ensued when CalEMA informed Gallegos that county public safety agencies weren’t being notified of the availability of hundreds of thousands of dollars of grant monies.
Gallegos said that “the status of the grants is fine and the money is there” but it hasn’t been allocated to the Sheriff’s Office and other county agencies because of a “communication breakdown.”
The DA said the problem is a personnel issue, which requires confidentiality.
Brad Alexander, CalEMA’s public information officer, said the county’s investigator has contacted his agency but “no information has been exchanged yet.” He added, “There is anticipation of requests of communication exchanges” such as e-mails.
The investigation is “totally isolated to one particular individual in the DA’s Office,” said Alexander. He said his agency typically only deals with one or two individuals when grants are administrated.
The grants at issue are a $162,949 Anti Drug Abuse Enforcement grant, a $184,793 Victim Witness Assistance grant and a $133,000 Unserviced Population grant for Native American tribes. Most of the first two grants have been paid out to the county but no payments have been made on the latter grant.
Alexander said the Sheriff’s Office is eligible to get the grant funding and wasn’t notified. “The money was waiting for them and they weren’t aware the money was set aside for them,” he continued. “Clearly, this is a communication issue and it seems this one individual was sitting on their hands as far as notifying the locals that the money was available.”
The outcome of the investigation will determine whether the money was improperly spent, said Alexander, and the “severity of the issue” will determine whether or not the grants will be rescinded.
He said the lack of communication about grant administration was so conspicuous that officials from his agency travelled to Humboldt in December of last year to inquire about it. “Management papers weren’t being filed and the state doesn’t like to delay getting money to locals,” he continued.
“That’s part of the problem we’re trying to fix,” said Gallegos. “There were issues with providing documentation by my office and this is what we’re trying to fix – and actually, it is fixed and will remain fixed.”