CAPSLO demotes Dee Torres

March 14, 2014
Dee Torres

Dee Torres


The embattled director of San Luis Obispo County’s homeless services was demoted earlier this week by Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo’s CEO Biz Steinberg.

In an email to county officials, Steinberg said she was dividing homeless services into two parts – shelter services and case management services — in “order to be more fiscally efficient, coordinate all case management services and better staff MLM Shelter and Prado Day Center.”

Dee Torres’ new position as CAPSLO’s homeless services manager comes with a more than 20 percent decrease in pay. In addition, Torres will no longer report to Steinberg, but instead to CAPSLO’s Deputy Director Grace McIntosh.

In addition, Torres’ former second in command, Prado Day Center Manager Shawn Ison, also received a “hefty” cut in pay, according to an email Torres sent employees. Torres noted that when she confronted CAPSLO Chief Operating Officer Jim Famalette about the restructuring he “was so mad he was practically spitting.”

“They gave me a big speech (one they’ve been giving me for 15 years) about my number one priority and allegiance needs to be to the ‘agency,’ ” Torres wrote. “I said it was to the clients, volunteers, staff, donors, and programs.

“I kind of knew then that they were unhappy with me,” Torres wrote.

Numerous former employees of CAPSLO have said that Torres took gift cards and other items donated to the homeless for her own use, according to declarations filed in Torres v. Brennler, CV130145 in 2013. Torres’ defamation suit against Mike Brennler, an investigator who works with CalCoastNews, was stricken by the court as an  improper SLAPP suit infringing First Amendment Rights.

In addition, Torres allegedly sold items donated to the homeless without any accounting for the revenue she collected, according to tax records.

Torres does not agree that she was demoted so that the program can run more fiscally efficient and instead claims it is because of a power play.

“They are saying it’s economics but it’s control and it’s personal,” Torres wrote. “Grace McIntosh has been working on this ever since she was kicked out of the homeless services department by Biz.”

Most of CAPSLO’s funding comes from government grants approved by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, a board Torres’ fiancé Adam Hill sits on. CAPSLO received over $60 million last year in government funding, with Hill sometimes recusing himself from the vote and other times voting to approve funding for CAPSLO.

Get breaking stories first, like CalCoastNews on Facebook.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The big question remains: Did CAPSLO pay Torres’ legal fees?

You would think that CAPSLO would want to loudly proclaim it did not pay the fee’s so as to put an end to issue, but since they are not, hmmmmmm

There may be perfectly ethical legal reasons for them to not make such information public. It could have something to do with their legal obligations regarding employee confidentiality (or other legal limitations.) I agree that it would be interesting to know but I don’t assume that it is a coverup for them to not reveal it.

60 million dollars in grants to CAPSLO per year equals $164,000 per day. Someone, please explain this to me in a cogent manner. Is my math wrong? What am I missing because its too hard to believe.


Ted-good math. Perhaps with that much daily outlay, they could afford to put every homeless person in the county up in luxury hotels and allow them to dine 3 meals a day in fancy restaurants, and still save an incredible amount of money! Classic example of government waste right in your own backyard!!

Ted, good math begins with correct figures. Try less than $3M (~$8000/day?) not $60M. CAPSLO is not allowed to spend funds designated for HeadStart or other programs on their Homeless programs.

It constantly annoys me how many people keep assuming that CAPSLO’s main purpose is serving the Homeless. It provides a very dramatic display of how easily misinformation can be accepted by the public when put forth by a news source that people have come to respect.

What news source said CAPSLO’s main purpose is serving the homeless? I don’t think it was CCN, although maybe people got that impression since CCN ‘s stories focused on misdeeds related to that part of CAPSLO’s operation.

If you look at the “about” section of the Web site, you see the other things they do:

I know the do some good work in areas other than the homeless “services” area, because I know people they have helped and they are definitely not homeless – just not rich.

It is not a news source that said that CAPSLO is primarily about serving the Homeless but Josh Friedman used the $60+M entire CAPSLO budget as if it were solely for Homeless Services in an early “expose.”

Despite corrections by myself and others, many people here continue to reuse that misinformation as if it was correct. (This includes some who have been on this site enough to have seen the corrections.)

Had CCN not written up all the misdeeds of this woman, I doubt if this would have happened. Clearly it’s not all we hoped for, but it’s still better than nothing. Good work CCN, and keep at it!

“DONATE” button is at the top of the screen for anyone who missed it.

“I kind of knew then that they were unhappy with me,?” Seriously? How about the taxpayers of this county? And the homeless of this county?. And anyone who’s had the unfortunate pleasure of having to deal with you?

I suspect had the Grand Jury investigated CAPSLO, you would not have been demoted, you would have been fired.

Maybe an investigation could still be arranged.

I agree, it should move forward. Enough is enough

Doubtful having the Grand Jury investigate would make any difference, they are a powerless body that every administration person ignores. If they are not going to change the Grand Jury and actually give it some power we should just disolve it and save some money.

I think it’s clear that in this corrupt county, a “toothless” grand jury is what government officials want – otherwise a good many of them would be in jail.

Serious question: What would be the legal process for changing to a grand jury that has the power to indict?

I don’t know for sure but if it involves the cooperation or approval of any board or department that right now benefits from the fact that the Grand Jury has no power the chances are none.

I’m sure you’re right about that. They don’t want anyone to have the power to compel them to behave better. Far too many times the Grand Jury has reported wrongdoing, waste, and stupidity, only to have the agency that was reviewed simply ignore the report and continue doing exactly what it was doing before.

$60 million in grants last year alone????? Where did it go? Why are people still sleeping on the streets, in the river beds, and begging for monies, etc on street corners?

What has the homeless shelter got that shows that kind of money?

Why hasn’t the BofS called for an audit on the funds for this organization and this person who was in charge?

Some time ago, a homeless person wrote ‘do not give money to the homeless shelter – it will be wasted’. Why should we donate when that huge amount of money was given in grants?

Somebody, somewhere, get busy and call for an audit of these funds – please!

Your tax dollars are NOT working………..


Your taxes are working just not for the public, salaries of the elected officials are in great shape.

Many people are sleeping on the streets, in the river beds, and begging for monies because they want to.

Maybe not a bad living at that….lotsa sympathy, free money, no taxes, no responsiblity, free medical, – what’s not to like?

If you want to make a coherent argument, please get your figures right. The Homeless Services part of CAPSLO has a budget of less than $3M. The rest of the $60+M is specifically designated for other programs they run — mostly HeadStart.

Compare the budget for Homeless Services to the number of people they care for through the Shelter, the Prado Day Center and their case management services. Then, if you still think that it is a waste of money, make your case. If you really want to impress people, come up with a legal and practical alternative to dealing with the homeless situation that recognizes all of them and not just the very visible ones who make the news.

Demoted? She should have been fired for her inappropriate actions.

Any bets on how long it takes till she files a suit about this??

And then the proverbial buy-out….

Maybe the reason for the re-org was for CAPSLO to be able to send Torres a message without also giving her any really good grounds for a lawsuit. With her former job eliminated as part of the restructuring of the organization, she would probably have a hard time winning a case that she had been personally targeted, even though it seems quite possible that she was.

She doesn’t have to win, we all know Mr. Hill, Mr. Gibson and Ms. Ray would vote for a quiet payout of any case brought. What likley will happen is she will wait until after the elections in June, and when hopefully Mr. Gibson is voted out, then she’ll file suit, since Mr. Gibson will still be in office for several months there will be plenty of time for the payout before he leave office.

Agreed, she doesn’t have to win to join the ranks of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

All she has to do is cry foul, knowing all the while, she was quietly being backed by her comrades in arms on the BOS.

Alas, I think you are quite possibly right, but I wish that were not so :(

Well, at least she lost the SLAPP suit against Mike Brennler. Her friends in high places couldn’t help with that one.

I wasn’t aware that the BOS was her employer and thus authorized to vote for a payout. I suppose that the case could be made that their budgetary contributions to CAPSLO gives them enough pull to do so indirectly but there are a lot more people on the CAPSLO Board of Directors that have a say as well.

Never say never or impossible. A lot of us in Paso thought the same, before the city paid a certain bitch, 250K.

Obviously, Adam Hill was unable to “help” Dee in this situation…

Maybe the situation with Torres at CAPSLO has become so bad that HIll has decided to cut his losses and move on.

Oh boy, this ought to really get juicy. Adam oh Adam where are you? I’m thinking that there really has to be more to this than what we are seeing. Demote the supervisors girlfriend? I would suspect that if she were Jane Doe that she would be down the road. And of course it would all be under the disguise of confidentiality so we would never know the truth. I don’t think this is over it’s only beginning and we, the taxpayer, will ultimately be paying for all of the damages that have been inflicted on the guilty.

I agree that it is interesting. But people have to get over the idea that the details of personnel decisions and actions CAN be made public by any employer. It is against employment law and against most organizational policies as well. The primary reason is not to hide something — although that can be a side effect.

CAPSLO does not have the right to give their side publicly unless Ms. Torres releases them from their obligation to privacy unless certain legal situations require it such as a lawsuit by one party or the other. Ms. Torres does have the right to give her side as long as she doesn’t cross the line into defamation. Whether doing so is wise or not is another matter.

1 2 3 4