The Oregon Department of Justice has received two separate complaints alleging the board of directors is negligent in its oversight of ORCCA (Oregon Coast Community Action). According to one source that prefers to remain anonymous, the board has already been cautioned by the department for not providing adequate oversight after receiving complaints last year against the previous executive director.
Both complaints point to the inexperience of the recently hired executive director, Mike Lehman, along with numerous ethical concerns as contributing factors in the agency’s current budget deficits. Lehman may have inherited the current deficit of $172K but a projected deficit of $177K for fiscal year 2013/14 is all his and the DOJ has reportedly charged the board with providing a plan for rectifying the shortfall. It is also reported that Lehman is considering selling off agency assets including the Park West Apartments, a low income housing complex owned by the agency, but this would be a short term fix not a long term strategy.
Other complaints have been forwarded to affected sponsoring agencies. Oregon Housing and Community Services has been advised that LIHEAP funds are possibly being used to pay Food Bank salaries, a direct violation of funding guidelines. The regional Head Start office has been alerted to possible misallocation of dedicated funds.
Members of the board are accused of having breached whistle blower confidentiality agreements when they released the names of whistle blowers to the new executive director. If true, members may be individually subject to civil litigation. According to Doug Pearson, investigator for the justice department’s charities division, a board of directors can be held individually liable for damages arising from mismanagement as a result of gross negligence.