I'm a Democrat, but count my vote, once again, for Assemblywoman Catherine Baker who has, in her first term representing Assembly District 16, shown herself to be a leader you can count on.
Former Pleasanton Councilmember/Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio is running against Assemblywoman Baker and on her record on our Council as a "tireless community activist." There are a variety of reasons I will not consider voting for Cheryl Cook-Kallio, but the one I think most aptly illustrates why is her representation of Pleasanton on the governing board of the now defunct Associated Community Action Program of Alameda County (ACAP).
The purpose of ACAP, formed in 1974, was to administer programs and services for low-income individuals and families through a variety of public and private funding sources. These programs included housing assistance, job training, education, and youth development services. By 2011, ACAP’s budget had grown to more than $3 million annually.
In early 2011, it was disclosed that ACAP was experiencing significant financial problems due to mismanagement and a decision was made to "wind-down" operations. ACAP was shuttered in Mar 2011.
The ACAP governing board, on which Councilmember/Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio had sat since 2007, was supposed to provide oversight of operations and funds. According to the 2011-2012 Alameda County Grand Jury Final Report, ACAP was dissolved "as a result of serious financial concerns and significant non-compliance with laws and regulations." The Grand Jury found that ACAP was a "case study in lax oversight", finding it "a tragic but excellent example of what can happen when a board does not adequately oversee the organization for which it is responsible." (Web Link pp. 83-86, 114-115)
ACAP's annual required financial audits for 2009 and 2010 noted deficiencies, but the Board took no action. The Grand Jury report states, "During this period, the governing board missed several red flags regarding ACAP's inability to manage its operations in a professional manner, although it seemed to spend a lot of time clarifying the respective roles of the governing board." In fact, in 2014, ACAP executive director Nanette Dillard was convicted by jury of the theft of federal money in excess of $200,000, falsification of an account by a public officer and producing false and backdated documents as evidence. Councilmember/Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio was one of three board members Ms Dillard described as "notorious for not reading their board packets." (Web Link
The Grand Jury report further states: "The ACAP governing board met only four times a year and often did not have a quorum", i.e. 7 of 13 members. Even after the mismanagement scandal broke and board action was required, the "East Bay Citizen" reported Councilmember/Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio did not attend the four critical special sessions held in Feb 2011. (Web Link
In May 2011, the estimated cost to wind-down ACAP, including covering back wages and legal costs, was $1,880,000. Pleasanton's allocated portion of that cost was $146,539. In the end, the impact of ACAP's mismanagement was both monetary and criminal, as well as leading to the loss of a decades-old anti-poverty program that had been formed to give low-income individuals and families a leg-up. (Web Link
Former Councilmember/Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio's campaign slogan may say she's "Dedicated to Public Service", however, her in-name-only representation at ACAP and her lack of oversight of Pleasanton's funds is not an example of the kind of representation and accountability I'm looking for in one of my state representatives.
The choice is clear! Assemblywoman Catherine Baker has, in her first term, shown herself to be a leader you can count on. A leader who has carried through on her promise to work across party lines to get the job done, and has the results to prove it. A vote to re-elect Assemblywoman Catherine Baker in Assembly District 16 is a vote for responsible, involved and accountable leadership!