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Letter to Mayor Morrissey from Victory Bell

September 11, 2013

Editor’s note: The following is a letter sent to Mayor Larry Morrissey from Victory Bell, retired alderman and current CAA Board member.

September 9, 2013

Honorable Mayor Larry Morrissey

425 E. State Street

Rockford, IL 61104

Dear Mayor Morrissey:

The proposed restructuring of the Rockford Human Services Department as recommended by the present administration is unacceptable and does not appear to be in the best interest of the citizen population that Community Action was designed to serve. The rationale for restructuring is “in order to provide oversight and management of federal funds, more efficiently and effectively align programs and diversify funding streams to accomplish similar programmatic missions.” Restructuring as outlined does not cure or properly address the mismanagement of funds identified by federal/state government. The proposed restructuring appears to be a “shell game,” which could only serve to make bad matters worse.

This proposed juggling of lease agreements, staff relocation, re-allocation of resources and creation of new staff positions, clearly reflects a lack of long-term planning for Community Action; but rather another short-sighted immediate fix to cover up mismanagement. With all due respect to the current director, it appears that the Morrissey administration would be most comfortable creating for him and a few others new titles and responsibilities; however: nothing translates from these consolidations into what would best benefit Community Action and/or the disenfranchised, it is responsible for serving.

The City of Rockford Human Services Department Community Action Agency has operated for 38 years with established mission, strategic plans and processes that include staff, board members and community members. Unfortunately, the transparency, accountability and credibility noted in the administrative summary of your report have not always proven to be reflected in how the administration and director approved and directed the resources designated for poverty programs. The CAA serves Winnebago and Boone counties (Loves Park, Machesney Park, Roscoe, Belvidere, and Caledonia), not just the City of Rockford. The tripartite board is comprised of representatives from both Winnebago and Boone counties as well as the City of Rockford. It is also important to note that the Human Services Department is a city department and the CAA is not; it merely operates under the Human Services Department and is designated to serve all cities within the stated counties. It is mutually agreed that it is critical we maintain the trust and credibility of all the citizens we serve. It is mutually agreed that transparency and accountability be the focus in resolving the present issues facing us, and avoiding future problems.

The Community Action Agency Board requests that the board not be operated out of the Rockford Community and Economic Development Department. This present situation of mismanagement of funds of which the board had no prior knowledge, no input and no shared updates on key issues and critical monetary allocations is totally unacceptable. The present operation prohibits the Community Action Board from filling its stated mission and role as board members, of exploring ways to improve services to have the greatest impact upon our community and methods of adjusting our programming to ensure we are focusing our limited resources on moving people out of poverty.

Hopefully, we can address our present situation and move forward collectively to ensure the best outcomes for a viable and valuable Community Action Agency.

Respectfully,

Victory Bell
CAA Board Member

From the Sept. 11-17, 2013, issue

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