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.

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If Grace McIntosh Is running the Homeless Program, and Dee Torres is the manager of Homeless Services who is the manager of the Case Management Services.

So, let me see if I get this right. Grace McIntosh is the new director of San Luis Obispo County’s homeless services according to Biz Steinberg’s letter to the BOS and two new divisions have been created. Dee Torres who was Director of Homeless Services will be demoted to Manager of Homeless Services and no one is listed as the manager of Case Management Services. Does this mean Lisa Niesen is gone? She was half the original problem created at CAPSLO. Does she still work at the County as Conservator? If not Lisa, who is the Case Manager?

We should all be thankful for the baby steps here. Without paying out a settlement, if you keep chipping away at her salary maybe she will just leave on her own. She cannot be the smartest duck in the pond (well, guess we already knew that, she is with Adam Hill) making the public comments about her organization, position and box. Already, cause for dismissal. Good luck Dee, wherever you end up and be sure to take Adam with you!

That’s how you do it. To help guard against the expense of fighting a lawsuit, you make life so unpleasant for the employee that (s)he leaves voluntarily.

Lisa Niesen was not a CAPSLO employee. Case management involves far more than being a Conservator — a job that must be “contracted out” so to speak. It will be interesting to see who takes over that program and what he/she does with it. I suspect that the opening will be advertised soon and they will pick an applicant to fill it — possibly from outside CAPSLO given a desire to avoid assumptions of pre-existing biases in how things should be done.

SLOBird, Lisa was NEVER a problem. EVER.

Perhaps the Case Management person wasn’t given because:

A) The person hasn’t been chosen yet, or…

B) There is not going to be a staff person (i.e., Lisa Niesen will continue to cover case management for CAPSLO as a contractor).

Mary, Lisa is a full time County Employee, her position Chief Deputy Public Guardian and so one can assume she works full time and receives full benefits for this position..

Lisa Niesen is listed in the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW) as owner of Family Ties, Inc. / Office of the Public Guardian-San Luis Obispo, Deputy . Her industry caption is listed as: “Private nonprofit agency/Local Government Financial Services for Mentally Disabled Individuals and Families”. Since she is listing her private business with her government position jointly one would/could assume there are linked.

So, the question should be asked is she still doing this, and is this going to be handled by the local County office in the future. Fair question a think and deserves an answer from CAPSLO.

How did we survive before these people and the drama that surrounds them took charge of helping the poor and the homeless?

Six figure incomes are ridiculous for what they do, unless its not really about helping the down and out but lining their pockets.

These folks are the epitome of the phrase “limosine liberals!”

There are no “six figure incomes” in CAPSLO’s Homeless Programs. Torres was the head and getting about $70+K/yr prior to her demotion if the figures published her in CCN last year were correct. That is not an outrageous amount for someone overseeing numerous employees and volunteers as well as doing the coordinating necessary with other agencies.

Whether or not she did that job well is a different matter and CAPSLO seems to have made a decision that she wasn’t quite up to the task.

You forgot to mention the benefits, ie. money cards, bikes, clothing, etc.

The “benefits” you mention, IF they were “given” at all, would be miniscule by comparison. One reason that I am somewhat skeptical of the CLAIMS that she stole money, etc. from the homeless is that it seems to me that her salary would keep her from being desperate enough to risk doing so. It COULD have happened but as far as I know, it is still just an accusation.

Geez, 70K plus benefits, pretty good money for what the Catholic Church used to do for free until the government stepped in..

What I found galling is the air of entitlement with which Torres met her demotion and cut in pay, as evidenced by her nasty emails about her new supervisor, Grace McIntosh.

For heaven’s sake. How delusional is it for Torres to publicly criticize her new supervisor, the person who will be in charge of Torres’ performance reviews.

Clearly, Torres has been influenced by Adam Hill, the SLO County Board of Supervisor’s resident doofus, who meets every revelation of his shoddy ethical practices with angry attacks and retribution.

It would appear that, in spite of obvious and mounting evidence to the contrary, she still thinks that she is essentially untouchable.

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

I think the most important aspect of this story is the departure from the past behaviors of CAPSLO, Biz Steinberg, and Supervisor Adam Hill. There have been plenty of reasons to demote/cut pay/fire Torres before, and in the past CAPSLO and Hill have aggressively defended Torres from all criticisms of Torres.

This kind of development–demotion and cut in pay in a very public spokesperson for CAPSLO’s homeless services–is something that has been in the works for awhile. I would think, at the very least, CAPSLO had to take the time to review the evidence about Torres and find an appropriate solution, and then run it by the organizations legal counsel.

That takes time, and it makes me wonder how long this has been in the works. Is this based on the past problems published about Dee Torres, or were there new and more horrific unethical and perhaps criminal problems circulating about Torres, that we just don’t know about (not that what has already been revealed isn’t bad enough)?

The interesting thing is that accountability for Torres’ employment supervision was taken away from Biz Steinberg. Steinberg is the CEO. Is CAPSLO no longer confident that Steinberg can supervise Torres? Or is CAPSLO circling the wagons, protecting the most important officers (including Steinberg) and laying the groundwork to drop-kick those (i.e., Torres) under the spotlight for serious problems?

Also interesting is the fact that Torres fiance, Supervisor Adam Hill, always one of the first to turn on the obnoxious in his defense of Torres, has been silent. Is what Torres has done so bad that even Hill is now taking a step back from defending her?

There are just so many departures from the behavior of CAPSLO and Supervisor Hill that it makes me wonder…is there an investigation underway, about which it has not been published, that is drilling down on the spotlight of Torres’ behavior as the director of homeless services? And perhaps Biz Steinberg’s prior role as her supervisor?

Actually Mary, I would say that Torres will no longer report to the CEO because she no longer holds a position that would call for direct contact with the CEO. She has been demoted enough that she now reports to someone who holds a position lower than the CEO. That is quite a demotion…..

Bye Bye Dee, the homeless won’t miss you and what you will miss is the 20% pay cut and the loss of your power freak freedom to abuse the weak, needy and helpless.

I still think there is a link between Steinberg’ s oversight of Torres and Torres’ demotion.

Steinberg was Torres’ supervisor during the time when a lot of scandals about Torres’ behavior as the director of homeless services were outed. That fact alone speaks for Steinberg’ s inability to provide sufficient supervision to keep Torres from acting in ways that brought scrutiny and accusations about Torres’ behavior at her job.

Certainly, these recent developments are an anti-testimony about Steinberg’ s abilities to be the CEO of CAPSLO.

$60M budget, and half going to employees as CalCoast News reported in past articles. Four of their child care providers make over $100,000 a year with the highest paid $128,644. My daughter’s make $10/hour babysitting and they are CPR certified.

Amidst allegations of using donations for personal use, and shoddy bookkeepping, it makes you wonder how much good this agency does for the community besides the good they seem to do for themselves.

Well put, Achilles. Sounds like a racket to me.

I had a business years ago where employee costs were over 50% of my budget. That is true of most service based businesses that have more than one employee. Which “child care providers” at CAPSLO are getting paid “over $100,000 a year with the highest paid $128,644?” I suspect that you are referring to administrators over-seeing the work of the ~1000 CAPSLO employees.

While a few of them may have started as child care providers (actually “educators”.) However I think you would find they all have college degrees in relevant fields — probably advanced degrees — as well as extensive relevant experience to get to the $100K+ pay scale. A fair comparison would be with administrators in city or county government.

By the way, if your daughters gain experience/education and decide to make a career of child care, I hope that they would charge substantially more than $10/hr — especially if they have to deal with business overhead costs and paying taxes on earnings.

If one knowingly does something wrong he or she will pay for it one way or another at one time or another. With her demotion and all of the public ridicule, I think she is paying for her alleged misgivings and so I’m done with it. I think we can remove the boot from her neck now… don’t you?

Hardly. I agree with Maxfusion’s message below.


She should not be any type of power position, especially supervising the less-powerful residents.

She should not have any access to CAPSLO’s funds, outside of her own paycheck.

She should not be in charge of any resources, intended for CAPSLO’s homeless clients, which can be diverted from homeless services and sold for profit.

She should be investigated and charged with any crimes discovered.

“the boot from her neck” What?

Also it’s not over until Torres’s fiancé Adam is done attacking the very site you are on now.

Demoted???? How about indicted?

I think that may be in her future.

I’d say this is going to end badly for Dee regardless. Her day’s of sharing bedrooms are over and her nasty e-mails trashing her bosses aren’t going to go over any too well. When Dee was on top, she created a hostile work environment for the underlings and now that she’s fallen from the totem pole she is already creating hostility towards those who will replace her.


“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.”

I wonder if Grace is still going to want Dee reporting to her?

Dee, that sure was a stupid thing to write.

QUTING CINDY: “When Dee was on top…”


Mary, You crack me up.

So when does “Biz” get demoted/canned?