Deja Vous? Rocky Mountain Human Service admits misuse of Denver Taxpayer money. Repeat of 2015?
By Maureen Welch, Volunteer Activist
• On March 21, I made public comment to the RMHS Board meeting. I shared my Denver City Council testimony from Monday March 19 regarding the oppressive RMHS subcontractor agreement for Mill Levy Monies which included forced assignment of all intellectual property to RMHS as well as changes in insurance requirements and grievance procedure.
• These contracts were sent out late, and essentially coerced small providers into agreeing, or they would not be paid for services already rendered. This new contract is discriminatory against independent providers of disability services. RMHS now has these agreements signed "under duress" and now can steal all the hard work of these companies. RMHS could essentially run the same programs under their names legally.
• I then asked the Board about use of monies, and how they ensure that funds are only used for Denver residents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
• CEO Shari Repinski grew hostile, and kept repeating that they have ongoing audits from City and County of Denver, Department of Human Services.
• CFO John Wetherington grew more angry at the questions during the Public Board of Directors' meeting. He stated that they are indeed using local tax payer money without verifying Denver residency or Disability status.
• Mr. Wetherington became quite agitated and defensive after a public comment and inquiry about use of Mill Levy Monies.
• He shared that Denver Human Services (DDHS) said it was acceptable to use funds this way.
• The member of the public mentioned that this in fact violates their agreement with DDHS and the Denver Ordinance.
• The voters who passed this Property Tax (“mill levy”) in a ballot initiative knowing it would be specifically for Denver residents with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
• Mr. Wetherington make his heated response in front of his entire board, public attendees, Mill Levy Program Manager from DDHS, Justin Sykes, and RMHS's corporate Attorney, Richard Westfall.
• After the CFO’s comment, I mentioned aloud that Denver City Council would be very interested to hear that they are not respecting the ordinance.
• I was quite shocked that no one in the entire meeting advised RMHS against admitting such actions. The Denver Human Services Mill levy Manager said nothing.
• RMHS Corporate attorney said nothing during the meeting to his client.
• After the meeting, I introduced myself to Richard Westfall, and asked for his role on Board. He was outright hostile with me, "I have been Corporate Counsel for RMHS, Hale-Westfall, for many years". I asked if he wrote the Subcontractor agreement. He replied dismissively with , "Ask Shari", and he pushed past me, practically bumping my shoulder.
So many questions
• What is the point of paying a high-cost corporate attorney to attend Board meetings if he fails to advise them? Perhaps this is an expense RMHS could consider slashing to give more to the clients on the waitlist for services? Just a thought.
• What is the point of having a full time Denver DHS program manager (Justin Sykes) and a full time DHS Senior Internal Auditor (Cynthia Hinojosa), both dedicated to this IDD Mill levy? Who at DHS advised RMHS that they could violate the ordinance?
• The Denver City Council should have direct oversight over this $17.5M a year for IDD services. The updated ordinance does not require the City to contract with RMHS.
• Rocky Mountain Human past and current actions make one question whether they are trustworthy stewards of these public taxpayer funds for the most vulnerable in Denver.
• RMHS is working with Denver Human Service on a new contract starting July 1, 2018. Please contact the committee members who are over this mill levy ASAP and share your concerns about the dangers of rewarding an private non-profit with unchecked control of $17.5M a year. RMHS is not who they present to be, look at their actions.
• Contact the City Council Committee members of Safety, Housing, Education, & Homelessness with your thoughts.
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