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.