CAPSLO threatens whistleblowers in homeless inquiry

March 29, 2013
CAPSLO Executive Director Elizabeth Steinberg

CAPSLO CEO Elizabeth Steinberg

By CALCOASTNEWS STAFF

Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO) is threatening more than a dozen persons who have come forward with information about wrongdoing at the nonprofit which serves the homeless in San Luis Obispo County.

These threats occurred shortly after several law enforcement agencies launched criminal investigations into treatment of the homeless by two non-profits.

CAPSLO has served a number of persons interviewed by CalCoastNews with a letter threatening legal action if they don’t retract the statements they made recently to the news service.

“They are trying to intimidate us so we will back down, but everything we have said is the truth,” said former CAPSLO employee Joette Sunshine. “I stick by what I have said 100 percent.”

A process server hand delivered the threatening letters over the past three days, amid at least two criminal investigations into financial mistreatment of the homeless.

CalCoastNews interviewed more than a dozen former employees of CAPSLO and others for a series of articles entitled “Keeping Them Homeless,” examining allegations of mistreatment of homeless individuals.

Several articles in the series reported on the case of Cliff Anderson, a formerly homeless man. Anderson lost his income when the Social Security Administration canceled his disability benefits because of alleged financial mismanagement by Family Ties and CAPSLO.

Because of this, Anderson has been without money for food or rent for nearly two months.

An investigation by San Luis Obispo County’s Adult Protective Services led the agency to ask San Luis Obispo police to investigate allegations of financial abuse of a senior, said Officer Jim Fellows. The Office of the Inspector General is probing allegations of Social Security fraud.

CAPSLO officials announced at a board meeting last week that they had fully investigated issues of financial wrongdoing against the homeless — as well as allegations that holiday gift cards were pilfered. They claimed no wrongdoing was found. But none of the sources quoted in the CalCoastNews articles were contacted by CAPSLO’s investigators.

The current ultimatum is based on assertions by CAPSLO’S management that CalCoastNews reporters and Atascadero private investigator Mike Brennler encouraged sources to lie. Both CalCoastNews and Brennler deny the allegation.

“When you look at the history of CalCoastNews, you’ll see that the news site has been targeted by people whose wrongdoing we have reported. The list of penalties imposed and prosecutions makes clear who tells the truth in these stories,” said Bill Loving, editor of CalCoastNews.

CAPSLO’s attorneys wrote in the letter that they were attempting to gather information for taking legal action against those making “defamatory” statements against CAPSLO or its employees. The Fresno office of Littler Mendelson, a law firm representing management in labor and business and boasting 57 branches worldwide, authored the letters.

“What happens next is to some extent up to those who are making the defamatory statements,” the letters read. “If the persons making these statements seek to correct their previous erroneous comments, CAPSLO may choose not to seek to enforce its legal rights against them. If this unlawful crusade of defamatory statements and publications continues those involved will be held legally responsible to the full extent of the law.”

Earlier this week, Dee Torres, who heads CAPSLO’s homeless services division, filed a lawsuit alleging that Brennler slandered her during an investigation into Torres’ alleged actions. The lawsuit claims “Brennler and Does 1-100 knowingly and willfully conspired to defame” Torres.

Over the past six months, individuals including San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, to whom Torres is engaged, have targeted CalCoastNews advertisers with emails and phone calls, encouraging advertisers to cancel contracts.

 

CAPSLO letter


223 Comments

  1. MaryMalone says:

    Yesterday on KVEC, Karen Velie indicated there would soon be another article published about CAPSLO, and it sounds like it will be a corker.

    Stay tuned…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4

  2. freshair says:

    Enter AB-5, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act:

    http://tinyurl.com/99zp2td

    Touche, SLO.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  3. MrM says:

    Hi Denny,

    I just read a few posts at the Trib website; so the comments are still posted to the Torres story.
    It appears that as there are over 300 comments that you have to click on the COMMENTS bar to see all the comments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 4

    • Homer says:

      Someone actually clicked thumbs down on a comment that states what is obvious. Who are you people?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

      • MaryMalone says:

        Sometimes people click the wrong button. Apparently, there is no reversing it. Don’t take it seriously. Its not like this is a beauty contest or anything.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

        • r0y says:

          It’s not!? Doh!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

          • MaryMalone says:

            See? That’s why I never mentioned it before. I knew it would break your heart. =)

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

    • DennySLO says:

      Thank you. I’m not sure why I was not able to see then as I was able to before….sorry if I was posting incorrect information as that was not my intent.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

    • LAH says:

      I refuse to give the Trib even 1 cent to join. There have been too many articles that I know are not the result of honest reporting. IMO they are the Good Ole’ boy’ paper, saying only what the gov click wants them to say. No investigating or unbiased reporting. I can’t justify paying to read it.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  4. DennySLO says:

    So the Tribune pulled all of the comments regarding the story;

    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/04/05/2458418/capslos-dee-torres-sues-ex-atascadero.html#disqus_thread

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

Comments are closed.