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.



So the “evaluation” was not a shock, disappointing, without a doubt! I didn’t think Dee or anyone else involved with CAPSLO was just going to say, yep I did it and its been happening for quite some time….where do I report for punishment and restitution?

Dee Torres is accused of horrible crimes against not only the homeless but the donors that give charitable items with the intent that those items be provided to the homeless with expectation of “chores”‘ period.

I feel that the pressure needs to continue however Cliff’s very real life situation should not be forgotten and his treatment, which has been criminal at best needs to be resolved now. So far CAPSLO has only done damage control to protect themselves and Dee Torres and left poor Cliff hanging off the cliff of poverty.

CCN, keep up the factual reporting.

I’ve donated many items as well as food to this non profit, that stops!

The Gimlet Eye

This business reminds me of a shocking story that I read about in a really great book by Jim Rogers: Adventure Capitalist: The Ultimate Road Trip (2003). I highly recommend this book because it shows how the world really works, and that includes charities operating overseas.

In his travels, Rogers discovered what was really happening to donations of food and clothing bound for the poor of Africa.

To his dismay, he found out that a lot (or most?) of this stuff DOES NOT make it to the poor of that unfortunate continent. Very often, as soon as these donations are loaded on the ships bound for Africa, they are doomed.

What happens is that they are collected by well meaning charities here in the states and donated to various shippers with the understanding that they will be distributed to the poor in Africa.

But the reality is that the givers and the charities are being defrauded. The cargo is shipped to ports in Africa and unloaded on the docks and sold by the ship owner to local buyers waiting there for them. Then they are transported to markets inland where they are sold again.

In any case, the poor DO NOT get them.

It gets worse.

African manufacturers of clothing, from the most humble roadside man with a sewing machine to more sophisticated producers, are being PUT OUT OF BUSINESS by the shippers who get their merchandise FOR FREE. Thereby, unemployment rises and poverty is increased in a continent already plagued by both.

In the cases where food DOES make it through to the poor, the local people have stopped growing or producing food and simply go to market to pick up their food for free instead.

As a result, many of them have literally forgotten how to farm, and their farm land lies fallow and unworked! They are completely dependent on the charity food imported from overseas! Ethiopia is a good example of this destructive process.

So you see, the folks of SLO town are far from alone in their (unwilling) participation in charity business corruption and social destruction.

But there IS something that the average person in SLO and elsewhere can do:

STOP donating to corrupt managers, shippers, and handlers until REAL criminal investigations are done, the crooks are fired and prosecuted, and verification of delivery to the poor is established.

Remember that the “charity business” is very lucrative for many unsavory characters around this world! Trafficking in charitable goods is big business! SLO town’s Homeless Services is no exception.

Consider this a public service announcement.


Charity is big business both here and overseas!


At this point, there’s little left to say except that the effects of a person’s behaviors are not necessarily apparent right away, such as when a farmer has to wait a while for a crop to mature. Nevertheless, they show up eventually.

CAPSLO will soon realize you reap what you sow.


“Birds of a feather”


As I predicted, this will be a non-issue until an actual investigation occurs. There is too much incest for any agency in the County to audit CAPSLO, let alone it investigate itself. The CEO is so far removed from operations that she acts as a kindly grandma figurehead (talk to her for 10 minutes and you’ll figure it out).

Until then I recommend sending donations to agencies that I know will use their resources wisely:

Local Foodbanks

Loaves and Fishes

Tree of Life (helping local women with unplanned pregnancies)

Lifewater International (albeit not local, but an excellent local org)

Local churches that collect a deacon’s fund

His Healing Hands (also local, although much of the medical aid goes abroad)

I’m sure there are many others. But these are the ones I know are bullet proof.

Finally – sadly, as our community does more and more for the homeless we will attract more homeless. If you walk the creeks and interview the denizens there you will find that the majority of them are from out of the area. If you don’t believe me try it (not alone please). I have on several occasions. I’m not saying that’s a problem, I just think that people should know the facts.


You may has missed it but it was never mentioned an investigation had been done, it was an “evaluation”, to me those are two totally different things, but agreed an investigation wouldneed to done by an outside entity, and not one connected with the government

The Gimlet Eye

Not connected with the government? Hmmmmmm…….. I’m puzzled.

I have a better idea.

STOP making donation through this organization.

However, as another commentator suggested, if tax dollars are being confiscated to run this group, SLO folks have big problems.

How do you separate the crooks from the tax dollars?


You do not understand. CAPSLO is not a charity and does not rely to any extent on donations, it is a quasi-governmental organization completely funded by taxpayer monies. The only way to redirect their funding is through your elected representatives

The Gimlet Eye

If such be true, then the crooks are not going to be easy to root out or neutralize. That’s why true charities are better, private organizations which can be accepted or rejected at the public’s pleasure. If a private charity does wrong, the public can just walk away, snap their pocketbooks shut, and watch the rascals go out of business.

Trouble can come from anywhere in life, but turning this stuff over to a government agency, “quasi,” or otherwise, is just asking for double trouble. That means putting a layer of bureaucracy between the public and the perpetrators. It means they can act under the color of law.

This may require a full court press. Flooding your reps with e-mails and phone calls, protesting outside their offices, filing lawsuits, pushing for criminal investigations, warrants for searches, criminal indictments, the whole nine yards. You may have to politically strangle them and shut down their other agendas until they cry uncle to get anything done about this.

Chances are, SLO town folks will be fighting the bureaucracy all the way through this because bureaucracy most definitely does not like its machinery being challenged or investigated for any reason.

That’s equally why the spotlight of public inquiry must not let these characters go.

Or…… as usual? I don’t think that’s an option that any SLO town folks could live with.


Except one of our elected officials is the boyfriend of Ms Torres, who is being accused and excused! I would think he should not be allowed to have a vote in anything related to homeless services! It’s a huge conflict of interest!


I’d think some of the gift cards would be serialized, and tracing their usage would be no big deal. Further, I’d think an incensed donor – who thought they were giving things to the homeless – would look into who redeemed the cards. Hopefully some merchants will come forward soon, either clearing Torres or implicating Torres.

I think Biz has screwed the pooch by glossing over a full investigation. In addition to funding sources hesitating, good-hearted community members making donations are going to dry up until there is more clarity on the issue.


No surprises here except maybe for the stupid way they handled the cover up. This biz babe must be dumber than a box of rocks along with the rest of her staff.


Do you control $60 million/yr with no accountability? Who’s the dumb one now?


obviously the public for letting it happen?


Perhaps she has been in power for so long that she simply believes she is above the law.


Sorry to say this, but there are no records from Capslo of the criminal activities, so there is no crime unless an outside force can prove criminal activity.

There needs to be absolute proof or this will blow away in the wind…

Karen is so close, but not quite Erin Brokovich,


No No No… It’s Not Finished, it’s being started by discussion and discovery.


It is absolutely criminal that CAPSLO and Family Ties have NO records for Cliff Anderson, for monies collected from the homeless for incidental items, a record of gift cards and that they have a non-existent board (Family Ties). Anyone who has made a tax deductible donation to either organization should demand a proper accounting of their donation.


The comparison between CCN and Brokovich is not valid because the two are more dissimilar than similar.

One big difference is that Brockovich investigated the situation, while being paid a salary, for a very long time, on nearly a full-time basis at some point.

Another big difference is that there were many credible witnesses with clear-cut damages from the hexavalent chromium exposure.

CCN has not, at least steadily, devoted all of its resources to the CAPSLO client fraud case, the willingness of the witnesses to commit their names to the research is not as abundant as it was with the Hinkley CR-VI case, and the costs of investigating this story by CCN are probably paid for by CCN. The research done by Brockovich, very early on, was backed up with future proceeds from legal actions by the legal firm for which Brockovich worked.


Karen I would like to know how to get ahold of you. I would like to tell you about some of the incidents that I am very aware of. I do not appreciate the way that Capslo is turning the other way and think that the problem will go away. The only way that the program will get better is to get rid of Dee Torres and her minions. I know that there is a group of people that attempted to find justice in losing their employment. I would rather speak to you by email. THIS



Good luck with the wrongfully terminated employees getting justice. In the majority of cases, the system works to favor the employer, including allowing kangaroo courts to play a key role. I would bet this is what the ex-employees of CAPSLO have experienced to date.

However, with enough public pressure, championed by CCN, the current employees may at least see positive changes for them, once Torres and Steinberg are gone.