Monday, July 24, 2006

Losing the Victim Witness Grant

Some of the clearest examples of Paul Gallegos' mismanagement of the District Attorney's office relate to the grants that provide approximately 60% of his office's funding. The spin that he employs to hide his failures is both fascinating and tragic. But before we discuss the spin, let's examine what happened with the Victim Witness Grant

The first the public heard of it, Paul was laying off almost the entire Victim/Witness Unit, what was left of it. That's a total of four people. That unit had been in the D.A.'s office for at least 20 years and losing four more people was going to do a great deal of damage to their efforts. (he had already laid off two positions.)

It was to be quietly passed through on the Board of Supervisor's Consent Calendar, without explanation, without discussion, without notice. Only when the item was pulled from the Consent Calendar did the public learn what was happening.
Even then, very little attention was given to it. Gallegos claimed it was political maneuvering, and the reporters seemed happy with that explanation

This saved him from explaining not only why this was happening, but why he hadn't alerted the Board sooner, asked for help, or sought alternate sources of funding.

Gallegos' muffed the federal grant application.

Take a look at the County's website. There are clues which suggest what happened:

Pull down the Board agenda (for 5/10/05 ( ).  Look in the Consent Calendar for the item asking the Board for permission to De-allocate the positions for Victim Witness and to begin the lay-off process. (Note: FTE means Full Time Employee)

District Attorney
7.   Request for the Disallocation of a 1.0 FTE Program Coordinator Position and 3.0 FTE Victim Witness Program Specialist Positions in Budget Unit 252 Effective July 30, 2005
RECOMMENDATION: Approve request, and authorize the Personnel Department to begin the layoff process for the disallocated positions.

Next, you need to pull down the Agenda Item. You should get the Memo pages for the Item directed to the Board.
Victim Witness Positions Deallocated--2005 05 10

Attached to that is a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice and a one-page attachment to that letter explaining the reasons for the denial. Read that last page and it all becomes clear.



This is an example of Paul failing to do his job.

Looking at this Board Item, several things tell the story.

First, Paul tried to not attach the letter. You can see the handwritten asterisk adding the attachments.

The staff in the D.A.s office had been told that their failure to get the grant was Governor Schwarzenegger's fault and nothing more. Clearly that is what Paul wanted the Board to think.

Then what happens is that someone at the CAO's office asked for more as to what the factors were for the denial. That is when the letter gets added.

As you can also see the denial took place months prior, in a letter dated September 24, 2004, received by the Board September 27, 2004, yet the FAX indicator on the top of the DOJ letter is dated May 5, 2005, indicating that they couldn't even find their copy of that denial.

It looks like they didn't spend enough time working on it and hurried it at the last minute to meet a grant deadline.

The best evidence of that is that they did not tailor the grant to what the federal government wanted, they didn't provide enough detail on what was to be done with the grant, they didn't develop any new products, they didn't describe the partners role nor did they get the partners to sign on to the grant. 

That last detail is the key. You can rush something out the door when you realize you have waited too long, but what you can't do is to get your partners to rush along with you.

ER - Interview Process Cuts Down On Trauma Of Children 5/6/04
Losing the Victim Witness Grant
ER - Board of Supervisors talks over grant denial for program 5/11/2005
ER - Gallegos says program is safe 5/15/2005
ER - Victim witness program funds sought by county 5/18/2005
TS - Proposed cuts to victims program delayed May 18, 2005
TS - My Word - DA leadership: The 8-step program May 24, 2005
County to fund Victim Witness Program The Eureka Reporter 6/8/2005
Supes mull grant application 5/14/07