Tag Archives: Community Action Agency

Here’s why there’s no accountability – people like Greg Einhorn

11 May

I’ve supported the Esplanade House, a transitional housing facility, since it was in a motel on Esplanade years ago. I was very happy when the facility was moved to a new building down the road. When “neighbors” protested, I wrote letters in support. My family made a $200 contribution to help them move – that’s a lot for a working family with one breadwinner. When it was time to build my husband put the floors in. He was paid by his employer, Towne Carpet, who donated the labor. But he didn’t have to do the job, there was plenty more lucrative work in the private sector at the time. He was proud to do it, and I was proud for him to be involved.

Things change. As the original founders of the Esplanade House deferred a public agency, The Community Action Agency, I started hearing complaints. I  remember a friend of mine whose daughter was volunteering at the facility describing what I would call a hostile atmosphere – volunteers being told to shut up and do what they were told.

One day several years ago I went to an inter-agency meeting Downtown, called by then new city councilor Reanette Fillmer. Fillmer was hearing complaints that the city of Chico was hostile toward the homeless,  and she wanted to have a public discussion about it.

Tom Tenorio was invited to speak. He’s a windbag, the kind of guy that inflates like a balloon when other people are looking at him. It was at the meeting I realized the Community Action Agency was just another salary trough, and Tenorio was just another mouth on the teat.

Now Tenorio is under fire for being too extravagant with his personal expenses. Well, duh. People like him are attracted to the public sector because there’s no accountability.


A report released by the state earlier this month revealed no significant findings in an audit of the Community Action Agency of Butte County launched in response to accusations of mismanagement of funds and noncompliance.

The California Department of Community Services and Development completed the audit April 20, and issued what the CAA described in a press release as a “favorable” report.

The department in February began investigating the agency for alleged mismanagement of funds and noncompliance with grant requirements after founders of the CAA-managed Esplanade House took their concerns about the agency, provides transitional housing and other services for formerly homeless families, to the state.

But here’s the conflict in that report:

The audit team did not conduct an in-depth review of the agency’s use of the Esplanade house as it is beyond the state’s scope of authority. Daily operations of the CAA, unless there is concern about Community Services and Development programs, are not subject to review by the state agency.

The state did find procedures that could use the agency’s attention to evidence best financial practices, such as ensuring a board member signs and dates the CEO’S timesheets as required by CAA policy.

The audit acknowledged some negative trends related to the loss of federal and state funding, but found the organization’s financials to be adequate and show little debt. It stated, however that decreasing revenues and a higher concentration of federal and state funds could put the agency’s fiscal health at risk.

Why would it be okay for an agency that is “at risk” financially to allow extravagant travel expenses for their board members?

Furthermore, the agency continues to fight public scrutiny, according to David Little’s recent editorial from the Chico Enterprise Record. Little received a complaint from short-lived District 3 Supervisor Maureen Kirk.

“’I am writing to let you know that I am becoming increasingly concerned with the lack of transparency of the Community Action Agency board of directors,’ she wrote. ‘Any agency that receives millions in state and federal funding should be following all open public record laws, and local citizens should not have to hire an attorney to force the issue.’”

LIttle explains, “In this case, though, she was talking about three founders of the Esplanade House, which falls under the Community Action Agency umbrella. They hired an attorney to try to get Tenorio and the CAA board of directors to comply with the state’s open meetings law, the Brown Act, as well as the California Public Records Act.

That should be standard, right?

Well, the CAA seems to be working hard to keep the public away from its meetings.

Kirk asked the board to adopt a policy that it would comply with the Brown Act and Public Records Act. Kirk requested that it be discussed at the CAA’s April 24 meeting.

It didn’t help matters when she arrived at the meeting at the CAA office in Chico only to find out the meeting had been moved to Oroville without anybody knowing.

None of this surprises the three people — Lynne Bussey, Greg Webb and Gary Incaudo — who had to hire the attorney to try to force open meetings.

Their attorney, based in San Francisco, laid out the reasons why the CAA should comply with a Public Records Act request and with the Brown Act in a three-page, well-documented letter.

The CAA’s attorney said, nope, we don’t need to comply.'”

Little describes his experience with the CAA.

“Anyway, we’ve tried the nonlitigious approach with the CAA. Back on Feb. 12, I sent an email to Tenorio requesting emailed notices of all meetings at least 72 hours in advance, as required by the Brown Act.

“’Also,’ I wrote, ‘can you tell me where the meetings are publicly noticed now? I see nothing on the CAA website.’

Tenorio wrote back to politely say the CAA does not fall under the Brown Act. He also said the meeting notices are posted at their offices in Chico and Oroville.”

I’ve had the same fight with the city of Chico clerk’s office and CARD.  Little has a little more clout than I do, and a newspaper to bitch about it in.

LIttle continues, “I argued back that, no, they were a ‘local body created by state or federal law’ and were subject to the Brown Act.

Nearly two weeks later, their attorney, Greg Einhorn, responded to me and said no, the Community Action Agency board is not a ‘legislative body.'”

Little opines  that either the CAA should comply with the Brown Act or lose public funding. Great, I agree.

But something else caught my eye there  –  CAA’s attorney, Greg Einhorn, is the same guy who represented Chico Unified School District in their fight to hide documents and evidence related to the phony allegations former superintendent, Scott Brown, initiated against Marsh Junior High School years ago.  Documents were eventually found showing that CUSD employees were told to destroy e-mails pertaining to the case. The Grand Jury eventually blasted CUSD, Einhorn was eventually replaced after documents were found showing he knew his clients had falsified documents and allegations.   Under Einhorn’s direction, the district spent millions dollars fighting to keep public information from being made public.

And now he’s working for Tom Tenorio and the Community Action Agency, fighting to keep public information from being made public. 

I believe Tenorio needs to step down, and the CAA needs to get their affairs together or be dissolved as a body. The county may need to take over the Esplanade House. They certainly should not receive public funds until they have a full board that better represents the public interest. And the credit cards and expense accounts need to go – they’ve turned a facility that was built to help the poor into a slush fund built to help themselves.

And here are some questions Maureen Kirk and the board of supervisors might want to ask Greg Einhorn:  

  • In your previous work as a lawyer representing Chico Unified School District, did you ever have knowledge that records were being withheld, hidden, destroyed, or answers to requests falsified?
  • Have you instructed any members of the board or staffers of the Community Action Agency to withhold, hide, or destroy records or falsify answers to requests?
  • Do you have knowledge of the CAA withholding, hiding or destroying records or falsifying answers to requests? 

Little is right. Withholding of public information by these agencies is an pattern, as evidenced by Einhorn’s participation, and this CAA case might be bigger than we think.