But pushing millions out to community action agencies is no guarantee that those millions will be spent effectively. To its credit, the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, through which weatherization grants to agencies are awarded, is actively trying to ride herd on them.
Donna Hoff, who had run Capital Resource Agency’s weatherization program since the spring of 2008, told The Charleston Gazette that she and the agency’s Charleston and Montgomery warehouse managers had been fired.
Officials in the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity had questions about how money was spent and what was on the inventory at the agency’s warehouses. Apparently many bills racked up by the weatherization program went unpaid. The city of Charleston removed the agency’s Dumpster because of unpaid trash collection bills.
This is not the first time the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity has taken steps to review how a community action agency is spending public money, and it should not be the last.
The impulse to fix drafty windows to help poor people save money on heating bills is a laudable one, but it is not a license for sloppy bookkeeping.
Given the history of the Capital Resources Agency, tough scrutiny is expected. It took over some of the duties for Multi-CAP, which collapsed after its executive director, Paul Skaff, pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and state embezzlement charges in separate court cases.
No one was minding the store at Multi-CAP. In the long run, the very people Multi-CAP served were hurt because the services they had come to rely on were suddenly stopped.
In suspending this program, state officials seem determined not to allow another Multi-CAP to arise.