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Blog: No ASNC Equipment Is Missing As Treasurer Claims

ASNC officer initiates new allegations against former Treasurer. However, facts reveal allegations may be based on non-existent requirements that violate DONE's own policy on acceptable purchases.

If you read Patch's feature story Neighborhood Council Clashes Over Missing Equipment, then you'll understand what I'm about to say--that the Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council's treasurer should spend more time perusing before accusing.

I've asked the help of DONE to review my complaint of potentially defamatory activity which occurred at ASNC's 10/29 Special Meeting.    

The activity is being spearheaded by the current ASNC Treasurer (Judy Knapton) and ASNC President (Martha Benedict) in what appears to be a reconstituted attempt to defame the character of the former ASNC Treasurer (Mark Legassie).   

Their methods are the same as before:  the use of a public meeting to reveal surprise financial audit findings that end up to be unfounded and based on incorrect requirements.  

At the Oct 29 ASNC Special meeting, the subject of their audit findings was on un-recovered or missing property, claiming that the former ASNC Treasurer is responsible for about $12,000 of property purchased for ASNC which is "not recovered."

Most of the equipment was emergency supplies purchased over the years for CERT and non-profits such as Noah's Wish, who provide local disaster relief.  

On first glance at the allegations, significant accounting errors were seen, including duplicate entries (CERT storage bin listed twice: $2500 & $2200).  

However, even more fundamentally flawed in Ms. Knapton's allegations is her reasoning that ASNC owns the supplies.  

It is against DONE policy for NCs to own their own emergency supplies!   

DONE General Manager Bonghwan Kim sent out a signed letter circa July 2009 outlining among other things that Neighborhood Councils cannot buy emergency supplies for their own use, but instead can only purchase them for either CERT, DART, or a non-profit emergency preparedness organization. Attachment 1 shows an actual example of the documentation that ASNC was asked by DONE to provide in order to purchase supplies. 

The bottom line is that most of the supplies referenced in the audit findings were originally requested by and provided to outside entities such as the Hermon Emergency Preparedness Committee (aka Hermon CERT) and Noah's Wish, and not for the ASNC, and are under the control and use by those groups: CERT trained stakeholders in Hermon, Noah's Wish volunteers, etc.

Contrary to the audit finding recommendation to return these CERT supplies to the ASNC for general use, there's only enough supplies for one community and they were purchased based on local neighborhood needs voiced at various Hermon community meetings.  Every community has different needs, and I told Martah Benedict and board member Roy Payan that each community (and their CERT volunteers) need to have their own supplies based on their wants and needs. 

Another topic of their audit was un-recovered CERT vests and helmets.  Most (85-percent) of the CERT vests/helmets have already been distributed to CERT graduates from the ASNC area, the most recent being 35 graduates from Mount Washington.  They are not for ASNC but for CERT, and only CERT grads can wear the vests.  We can not return to ASNC the remaining vests and helmets because only CERT is authorized to keep them, control them and give them out.

And a similar argument is provided for the CERT emergency storage bin in Hermon which the ASNC Treasurer wants returned.  The ASNC purchased it for CERT and is not ASNC's property  to "recover."

If Judy Knapton wants, she can ask the ASNC to send a letter to LAFD asking for the return of the supplies given to CERT for the past four years. However, I believe sending such a letter would be embarrassing for DONE since it violates their own policy and is not a strategically desirable way for the ASNC to forge relationships with other city departments.  

In summary, the mounds of evidence building up are proof that the leadership of ASNC has still not changed and are intent on getting revenge, regardless of the recklessness and defamatory nature of these attempts.  In this case the President and Treasurer's audit is based on non-existent requirements that blatantly violate DONE's own policy on emergency supply purchases.  

If this defamation attempt by Judy Knapton and Martha Benedict does not stop immediately, I will have no choice except to initiate legal action against them and the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment for allowing this unacceptable activity to occur.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

chris watts November 01, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Amateurs.
The MOG November 01, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Mark, get a grip!
nonoise November 01, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Chris is right. They are amateurs and have a lot to learn. DONE should have straightened this all out from day one. Lisette should know the rules by now. She has been with DONE a long time. This is what happens when DONE gives wrong information. I would blame DONE, they are suppose to be the experts but yet give out wrong information.
nonoise November 01, 2012 at 03:21 PM
It is hard to get a grip when accused to stealing. All this just shows that people are new (hopefully) and do not know the rules yet. It is inexperience, that's all. And, DONE is really the problem for not straightening this all out. I believe an apology is in order.
The MOG November 02, 2012 at 01:58 PM
I'm sorry, nonoise, but I've read this story again, & again, and I still can not find where anyone has been accused of stealing. The implication is one of incompetence, not criminality. What false info. did Lisette give out? Can NC's make direct purchases for other community organizations, or not? It's apparent to me, that NC's are only authorized to give grants. A lot of the confusion could be cleared up, if Mark just simply hand over all relative documents. That fact that he refuses only serves to cast furthur suspicion on himself. No one else is to blame for any damage his reputation might suffer from this incident. If Mark thinks he's got a case for litigation re: this matter, then he's blowing hot air, & he needs to get a grip. This can all be much to do about nothing. It is the actions & words of Joe & Mark themselves, that are making mountains out of mole hills.
David Lyttle November 02, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Much to do about Judy Knapton………… Lisette Covarrubias said "You need to locate it, because it is your stuff." Knapton said that it was not her responsibility to track down the items, only to note whether or not they were in the board's possession. Margaret Barto Said, "We know that there is a bin filled with stuff and there is no way to get into it." I move that ASNC Board go over to the Hermon Community Church where the bin is located, pick it up, bring it back to Ramona Hall and dump the contents on Judy Knapton’s head.
The MOG November 02, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Why, this has nothing to do with Judy. She didn't make any questionable transactions. Your pal Mark did. And it was your pal, Joe, who stirred up the dirt. You've got an axe to grind, David. It's not very becoming.
David Lyttle November 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Good people think before they answer. Evil people have a quick reply, but it causes trouble.
David Lyttle November 02, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Did I say Knapton did anything wrong ? I only quoted her statement that it was not her responsibility to track down the items. The location of the items is known as was stated by Margaret Barto. Do you really think Knapton doesn't know where the items are? Her statement that it was not her responsibility to track down the items, only to note whether or not they were in the board's possession is a testament to her vindictive ways. Do I have an axe to grind - you have no idea my friend - there is a long back story going back years at Linden Height HOA.
David Fonseca (Editor) November 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM
The issue at hand, MOG, is that DONE's rules seem to be very unclear about whether the board can or cannot purchase items for other community groups. When the ASNC made some of these purchases, the practice was encouraged. However, now, boards are required to donate funds through Neighborhood Purposes Grants. Frankly, it's more confusing than it should be. Mark Legassie is contending that Judy's report painted him in a bad light, because it omits some information or wrongly characterizes the equipment as belonging to the ASNC. It makes it seem like items are missing, when really that are in the possession of the groups for whom they were purchased (at a time when it was allowable to do so). Judy Knapton contends that she only did what DONE required--make a list and categorize items as either recovered or not recovered. Nowhere in her report does she mention theft (or even incompetence). The greater issue (as I don't think anyone is a thief, or that anyone has a hidden agenda) is that this board still has a very difficult time communicating with each other. The ideal solution would have been for the board to form an ad-hoc committee, invite Mark to be a member, and do a thorough accounting of all items. Instead we have more arguing, and more time that could go toward empowering stakeholders being wasted.
Nimby pimp November 02, 2012 at 05:28 PM
David, thank you for the clarification of the issues.
The MOG November 02, 2012 at 06:46 PM
So, in other words, David, since you've choosen to pick a bone of contention with me, Mark has been completely forthcoming & co-opperative with the incoming Treasurer? In regards to making all pertaining records avilable to the ASNC? Or is that lapse of Mark's what you are referring to when you state the "greater issue" is a lack of communication? Judy performed her duities as required by DONE, yes? Did she add anything to her report, that intimated wrong doing, theft? No. So, I conclude that Joe & Mark are blowing smoke. You disagree? How so? I maintain that this is much to do over nothing. Unless of course, there is nothing in a bin, or if the bin can not be located...etc. Of course, we won't know, until the person responcible can physically eyeball the items (Which are, exactly?) Until then, the only conclusion one can reach is one of incompetence. You seem to be biased against DONE, one way, or another. Has DONE ever incouraged NCs to make purchases for other community organizations. I'd be interested in you backing up that contention with some facts. The fact is, they do not now. And I'd be interested in seeing the directive that states they have in the past.
The MOG November 03, 2012 at 05:14 PM
You are so transparently full of baloney, Nimby! Are you just trying to goad me into responding to your taking David's side? Because that's what you're doing. In chiming in with "thanks for clarifications" and everything like that, you're creating conflict; "sides." There are no "sides" here. In fact, if I may say so, David's post does the same thing. He seems to take a "neutral" side, but he's clearly biased favorably towards Mark & Joe's crowd. Why? I can't tell. I don't know why. Precisely because nothing is clear at this point.(Except that there is an apparent accounting error, either unintentional, accidental, or malfeasance is yet to be determined.) Maybe if Mark would be forthcoming with the pertinent records in question? Perhaps if he'd just let Judy have what he does, then that could go some way to helping this failure to "communicate." Perhaps if Joe & Mark had not reacted to the ASNC Treaurer's Report like spit on a hot stove, then it's doubtful we'd be talking about it at all. But taking "sides" isn't productive. I was surprised to see my name in David's comment. Even more so, when he asserts that the "greater issue " is a lack of communication,( What? They can't talk? Can they text? What about the email? The Post Office is still open.)then to further press the issue, he maintains that the "issue at hand" has to do with ambiguity regarding DONE's Rules, seems like a veiled attempt to start an argument.
The MOG November 03, 2012 at 05:39 PM
@ Part 2 And if that's true, Nimby, then the title of this Blog should be, "DONE'S RULE'S UNCLEAR!" Instead, the title says the ASNC Treasurer is making false claims re: some unaccounted for items, the City says are owned by the NC. Mark may just have titled his post, "Judy Knapton Is A Liar!" IMHO, his threats of litigation is unseemly, and frankly, laughable. He has not been damaged in any way whatsoever. He should just chill out. Get a grip...but drawing lines, taking sides, doesn't help at all. The problem not a failure to communicate. The problem is one of bad blood. Now, I suggest to all parties involved, that the time has come to bury the hatchet. May I suggest that Joe be the one to raise the Peace Pipe, by going over to the church, since Joe's in Hermon already, and verifying the existence of the bin, and it's contents. Maybe he can obtain something from CERT verifying transfer of ownership, etc. That way the ASNC can demonstrate that they are working together in resolving a simple accounting error. I'd also like to add one more thing. Many elected bodies open their sessions with prayer, or at least a positive sectarian affirmation. This brief meditative practice is very beneficial in setting the mood, and focus of the proceedings. People bring all sorts of personal issues with them to a meeting. A moment of silence can calm the emotions. That is my suggestion. Different Area Faith Leaders can be invited to give a prayer. The US Congress does it. That's my feeling.
nonoise November 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
David was absolutely correct. The stuff does not belong to the NC. It belongs to CERT. Other NC's have done the same thing by giving grants to CERT and other organizations like the Veterans and other 503b's. All financial records can be obtained by DONE. They approve EVERY financial transaction. If anything is not in order DONE will refuse to pay. Paperwork has to be filled out property in order for DONE to pay out. Only certain transactions can be used by the p-card and only small transactions. Anything big has to be done as a grant. However, there was a time that DONE made exceptions for some purchases with the p-card. DONE has a lot of problems and miscommunications. Now only grants can be given out BUT there was a short time period where they WAIVED those rules. Give Lisette a "written" request for financial records. And, if you feel there is anything done wrong, file a written grievance complaint with DONE. You have to put everything in writing. Speaking does nothing. I guess I was wrong that no one was accused of stealing, but the stuff does not belong to the NC. DONE is giving out wrong info. MOG, you are correct about the grants given out. But DONE has had a bad record in the past of not doing their job properly. There is a lot of blame to go around. I am not taking sides just trying to get out the truth. David has it right and he is not taking sides either. http://empowerla.org/ethics/
The MOG November 06, 2012 at 02:40 PM
I visited Hermon Community Church. There is no CERT bin behind the building. There is nothing behind the building. Maybe it's in the basement? Who knows?
The MOG November 06, 2012 at 02:49 PM
The Hermon CERT List of Emergency Supplies show about 1/2 dozen items, including a generator, & 55 gallon water drums/barrels. They are suppose to be stored inside the building. There are also suppose to be items up at the old Pacific Christian site. The items listed in no way adds up to $10,000.00, the generator being the most expensive item.
The MOG November 06, 2012 at 02:56 PM
BTW, since Wendi Riser began the Hermon Advance Team, & Mark spearheaded Hermon's CERT, Mr. Legassie & Joe shouldn't have any trouble communicating the pertinent facts to the rest of the board.
David Lyttle November 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM
MOG, I think you’re on to something here……………… Like Perry Mason, you can establish Mark Legassie’s innocence by implicating Judy Knapton and then get her to confess. Hamilton Burger doesn’t stand chance against you. Or how about this scenario: Darius Adle and Judy Knapton have cashed in the items and are going to fund the Monterey Hills Jazz Festival with the proceeds. Keep up the good work and keep us all posted !!!!!!!!!!!!
The MOG November 07, 2012 at 12:50 AM
No, David. That's not my responcibility. Your sour grapes against Judy & Martha is unbecoming. Why must you have an axe to grind? Just be a good sport, & get with the program.
David Lyttle November 07, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Very informative.......................... Continue to keep us all posted on all on your latest investigative findings as this is a very important issue, the truth must be uncovered and we all know you are the man for the job.
nonoise November 08, 2012 at 04:41 AM
From the city attorney's office, the defination of stakeholder: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2012/12-1682_MOT_10-23-12.pdf Which still means, anyone on the planet.

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