CAPSLO exonerates Dee Torres?

March 22, 2013
CAPSLO Executive Director Elizabeth Steinberg

CAPSLO Executive Director Elizabeth Steinberg

Faced with allegations of numerous former homeless service employees, as well as ex-boyfriends of Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s Homeless Services Coordinator Dee Torres, CAPSLO officials now say they launched an investigation — and have completely exonerated Torres.

CalCoastNews reported on Monday that a handful of homeless service employees and several of Torres’ ex-boyfriends say she routinely took gift cards intended for the needy and homeless for her own use. Employees and former clients have also said that CAPSLO case management has failed to return money it holds in trust for some of its clients.

At Thursday night’s CAPSLO board meeting during public comment, Donald Dana asked the board to have an outside investigation look into the allegations raised by CalCoastNews.

CAPSLO Board President Frances Coughlin responded saying, “I want to assure everyone here that the leadership team has evaluated the allegations. They have all been proven false. No misuse of gift cards or client funds.”

CAPSLO’s leadership team is comprised of its seven program managers which includes Torres. The team appears not to have called any of the sources listed in CalCoastNews series on homeless services.



An excerpt from the Grand Jury investigation of 2009-2010.

CAPSLO also runs the Prado Day Center that provides showers, a noon meal, mail, laundry and other services for homeless persons. Both Prado and the Maxine Lewis receive financial, volunteer and moral support from volunteer organizations that were established to serve the homeless in the county. Both facilities also get financial support from the city and county. Financial records indicate that the combined average per bed night costs for the Maxine Lewis and overflow shelters is about $17.

Finally, CAPSLO provides case-management services for homeless persons in the south and north areas of the county as well as in San Luis Obispo. The programs that CAPSLO operates are funded from multiple sources including county and city grants (much of the money coming from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development). In 2009, CAPSLO spent $878,088 to operate the Maxine Lewis Shelter and Prado Day Center and another $244,895 for case management.

In the course of our inquiry the Grand Jury obtained a copy of a written assessment (2008) of homeless services that CAPSLO had commissioned. The document described serious deficiencies in each of three homeless service programs: case management, the Prado Day

2009-2010 San Luis Obispo Grand Jury Page 6




So with this not much has been improved! CAPSLO was aware things needed improvement long ago and still, they stand in denial!


can the grand jury be held liable for inaction when something needs handled?


I believe the grand jury looks into everything they receive complaints about, I’m not 100% sure on that. Anyone???


In my experience, they may or may not look into the issue at a perceptible depth, if it doesn’t meet whatever criteria they have established.

Not to slight them in any way, but I imagine they get a lot of complaint requests from crackpots like me, and use different levels of scrutiny for different requests.


So…..all of those other people lied?


Any person, organization or government agency, large or small, should NOT be giving any more money to CAPSLO as long as they refuse a forensic audit. There are too many good organizations to give your money to. With this nonaction, Biz Steinberg

has shown herself to be a large part of the problem. The fact that Dee Torres is not on administrative leave until this scandal is all cleared up is reason alone to cut off the donations. They don’t deserve them. I’m sure a donation to the Sjany Degroot Home would actually get the money where it’s needed; to needy children. There are many good people actually trying to solve problems in this county. Find one and support it.


I think it is great to have twelve members of my family on my jury!!!


Bingo! Seems to me that if you are no longer effective in maintaining trust and managing public funds, then one needs to turn the wheel over to someone who can be more effective and at her salary, probably for less monies. This is unfortunately indicative of all bloated governments at the moment.


Seems like a lapse of judgement on Biz and the board’s part. They are fostering a lack of trust with the public, and that doesn’t bode well for a quasi-public agency that receives $60 million of MY money.


If you can not believe CAPSLO Board President Frances Coughlin when he responded saying, “I want to assure everyone here that the leadership team has evaluated the allegations. They have all been proven false. No misuse of gift cards or client funds.” – then who are we supposed to believe?

This is meant to be unadultrated sarcasm.

Now if we citizens were really smart – we would also insist that the CAPSLO Board be put in charge of solving other major issues in this county, state, and nation. By their detailed investigation ‘proving, beyond any doubt” that Torres was completely honest and forthcoming on all issues – they have exhibited the type of leadership this county, state, and nation so despartely needs. All things would be immediately solved with little (ie none) investigation.

Also meant to be sarcasm.



it is sounding more and more like this whole organization is corrupt. I keep hearing hearing Richard Nixon’s voice saying “I am not a criminal” There seems to be so much corruption in this whole County it is fast becoming a joke except the joke is on the taxpayers of the county. Can you say Bell Calif.


Correction; Nixon famously said “I am not a crook”.


This entire situation just keeps getting more bizarre. Does anyone else feel like we’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole? How anyone at CAPSLO think an “internal evaluation” holds any modicum of credibility is beyond me.