«

»

Corruption in Deaf Centers

(Warning: LONG) From OCDAC (Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center) News:
The purpose of this series is to properly inform potential clients so they will have this knowledge before they decide to trust such deaf centers with their safety, health, and productivity opportunities.
We have been be focusing on a particular deaf center in our series.
The Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness known as GLAD to many Southlanders.
Two weeks ago we highlighted key points of Mr. Apodaca’s complaint against GLAD. Last week we shared you 2 letters regarding Lenny Meyer’s outser and the reaction from the community.
GLAD for many decades has been a partner to corruption and we be will showing you, Friend , more FACTS today
In this issue we will focus on, Tom Willard, another person who tried to fix GLAD and what happened afterwards.
I’ve known Tom Willard to be one of the most interesting people. He’s set an example of a positive face in an aversive situation. He’s been a man of the deaf news system for a long time and he’s made his thoughts on GLAD known to a lot of people.
First we go to some highlights of his famous ‘How to Fix GLAD’ posting on USA-L News at yahoo groups.


1. The Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness, Inc. (GLAD) has been mired in controversy ever since the abrupt firing of CEO Mark Apodaca in the summer of 1999. Citing the confidentiality of personnel records, GLAD officials have refused to explain to the public why Apodaca was fired. Instead of hiring a new CEO, the board of directors settled on the stopgap approach of appointing Sheri Farinha Mutti, CEO of the Norcal Center on Deafness in Sacramento, as interim CEO of GLAD. Originally expected to serve only three months, she is now in her fourth year as GLAD CEO. Community activists, disturbed by GLAD’s treatment of Apodaca and disappointed by Mutti’s ongoing tenure with the agency, banded together to form the Deaf Community Alliance in Greater Los Angeles for Social Justice. The Alliance was founded by five former presidents of the GLAD Council of Representatives, representing nearly 30 years of GLAD history.
2. I found myself an unwitting part of this long-running drama when I moved from Rochester, New York in July 2000 to take a job with GLAD as Information and Referral Specialist. I was well aware that GLAD had been experiencing problems. The newspaper I had been publishing (Newswaves for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing People) ran stories on Apodaca’s firing and the advocacy efforts of the “five former presidents.” But I thought that the problems were in the past, and felt that I would be part of a new GLAD moving forward into a bright future for the deaf community. Instead, I found that GLAD’s problems were deeply ingrained and compounded by the agency’s inability to admit that it had any problems at all. When I suggested at a staff meeting in July that we should ask ourselves why the community doesn’t like GLAD and what we can do about it, some staff members turned on me as if I were the enemy. Two months later, I found myself following in the footsteps of Mark Apodaca when I was terminated for no good cause.
3. As a member of the GLAD staff for the past two years, I felt a bit like an anthropologist who was invited into a strange new culture and has now returned to the real world, ready to report on what has been learned. In essence, GLAD is a troubled organization because it is characterized by incompetence and arrogance. GLAD is insecure and defensive and refuses to be held accountable for its mistakes and misdeeds. A strong sense of denial exists among the staff and board, which prevents the agency from admitting that it has any problems at all. There have been times when I have felt that the agency was hopeless; that the best thing would be to shut it down and start all over again. But realistically, for the good of the Los Angeles deaf community, it is imperative that the problems of GLAD be addressed and resolved.
AMONG THE SUGGESTIONS TO FIX GLAD INCLUDE:
* Dismiss Herb Larson and Marcella Meyer from the GLAD board of directors. Larson has presided as president of the board for the past several years and has done little to resolve the problems of the agency. Meyer, the former CEO, has been unable to retire gracefully and instead continues to meddle in the day-to-day business of the organization. Even if Larson and Meyer happened to be the best of board members, they have become lightning rods for criticism. If they really had the best interests of GLAD in mind, they would realize that they have become impediments to the agency?s revival and graciously remove themselves from their positions.
* Listen to the people. GLAD has developed a reputation for being cold and uncaring about the needs of the deaf community. The agency needs to have more public meetings and listen to what the people want. GLAD has a Council of Representatives that is designed to serve exactly this purpose. Meetings are scheduled on a Saturday morning four times a year with representatives for numerous deaf-related organizations and other community members in attendance. This is a tradition going back to GLAD’s earliest days, yet in recent months the Council has come under attack and its very survival is in doubt. Both the summer and fall Council meetings were cancelled and GLAD is apparently attempting to replace this public forum with a written survey. In reality, GLAD should be having even more meetings with the public as a sign that it is willing to listen and resolve its problems. Instead, because the agency has come under criticism, GLAD management has decided to remove the opportunity for people to share their feedback and suggestions.
* Provide the services that people really need. As Information and Referral Specialist, I was on the frontlines dealing with the public and learning exactly what kind of programs and services they need. I found it frustrating to have to tell people that what they wanted did not exist, and I wondered why GLAD could not provide these programs and services. Examples include sign language classes for children, first aid/CPR courses, driving instruction, housing referral, daycare for the deaf, legal assistance, support groups, event information and more. GLAD needs to adopt a more “meat and potatoes” approach to providing exactly the kind of useful programs and services that the deaf community needs.
* Unload the outreach offices. Why is it necessary for deaf agencies an hour away from Los Angeles to be under GLAD’s control? In regard to Bakersfield GLAD, Tri-County GLAD in Oxnard, OC-DEAF in Cypress and CODIE in Riverside, why can’t these agencies be independent and get their own funding from California’s Office of Deaf Access? I fail to see any benefit of this arrangement and in fact see a lot of waste in travel and staff time. Cut these offices loose and let them sink or swim on their own. Many would benefit from independence from GLAD and association with its problems and reputation. And GLAD would be able to focus more on its own immediate area and try harder to resolve the many challenges it faces.
* Hire a staff attorney to assist the deaf community with legal concerns. GLAD doesn’t hesitate to use its state funding to pay lawyers for its own defense, but a better use of this money would be to hire a staff attorney who could help deaf people with their legal problems. So many issues in the deaf community need to be resolved on a legal level, yet GLAD is unable to help those who ask for legal assistance. At best, GLAD can only refer them to “deaf friendly” lawyers in the area.
* Be thankful for criticism. GLAD should appreciative those in the deaf community who rise about apathy to devote their time and energy toward making GLAD a more effective, responsive and competent organization. Instead, GLAD tries to dismiss and bad-mouth these dedicated community advocates as “negative GLAD-bashers.” GLAD needs leadership that respects the diversity of opinion among good people, leadership that can listen to criticism and react in a mature, responsible fashion. Under current management, GLAD’s response to criticism has been characterized by threats, intimidation, retaliation, vindictiveness and mean-spirited behavior. GLAD needs grown-ups in charge, people who can take the high road, people with thick skins who know how to deal appropriately with those who disagree with GLAD’s methods and direction. GLAD needs people who can recognize what the deaf community wants, people with the creativity, energy and insight to create an agency that looks forward to a bright future. GLAD needs people in charge who understand that it costs nearly $20,000 every working day to operate this agency, people who are determined to make every dollar count. In short, GLAD needs good leadership ? and the sooner, the better. I was once told by the GLAD Deputy Director that I was too “East Coast” and needed to become a more laid-back Californian. I disagree; perhaps a bit more of an East Coast mentality is just what GLAD needs to get out of its rut and move on.
This is being archived however the Deaf Community Alliance is known to waiver under GLAD’s pressure tricks and could dissappear any time from their website. If youre unable to access it, just let me know, I’ll be more then GLAD to email you a copy!
Right after he published ‘How to Fix GLAD’ he’s had to suffer the ill effects of a whistleblower, That’s one of the GLAD’s fabled trademark response to their critics.
Then we go to some highlights of Tom’s GLAD update on Deafbase.com.
1. NOT WELCOME: In retaliation for my recent criticisms about GLAD’s management, the folks at GLAD has spent considerable time, energy and money in trying to prevent me from visiting GLAD’s Deaf Community Center. I refuse to go along with these efforts for a number of reasons, including 1) GLAD is publicly funded and they cannot banish people just because they don’t like them; 2) I have not broken any rules, violated any laws, or threatened anyone; 3) I continue to remain friends with several of the deaf seniors who live on the third floor at GLAD; 4) my role as editor of L.A. WAVES magazine requires access to deaf-related programs, services and facilities.
Recently I made a big batch of soup, too much for my family to eat, so I decided to share some with a few residents at GLAD. No big deal, it’s what friends and neighbors do (I live just a few blocks away). The residents seemed happy to see me and glad to get the soup. I had been there only a few minutes when a couple of GLAD staffers came up to the third floor and confronted me, telling me to leave immediately or they would call the police. I said to go ahead and call because I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
2. DOOM AND GLOOM: On a recent visit to GLAD, I noticed the phone system to connect with the third-floor residents was broken and a folded magazine was inserted in the main doorway, which had to be taken out and replaced every time someone came through the door. A large sign greeted visitors, demanding that everyone sign in. This was never the case before. Also a new framed sign is posted on the wall, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Has anyone ever seen such a sign posted in a social services agency? To me, it is a blunt symbol of GLAD’s dysfunctional ways. The place seemed almost deserted, and the staff looked cold and unhappy. The information table, which I used to keep stocked with plenty of flyers as Information and Referral Manager, was practically bare. Most shocking was the receptionist, whose appearance has changed dramatically since she was hired earlier this year. The stress of being on the GLAD frontline is obviously getting to her.
3. HERB’S VIEWS: I cannot begin to understand the thinking of Herb Larson, who serves as president of the GLAD board of directors. He seems totally unwilling to resolve any of the problems confronting this organization. He complained to his fellow board members that I was a “thorn in the side” of GLAD and added “The fact that he is a good writer doesn’t help either.” I’ve been complimented on my writing skills over the years but this is the first time that my “good writing” has been perceived to be a negative thing. Obviously GLAD prefers to deal with critics who cannot write or are not willing to be outspoken and critical. Mr. Larson also seems proud that the
board has ignored me.
4. IN CONCLUSION: I strongly believe that people in the deaf community need to know — indeed, have the right to know — the kind of things that go on at GLAD. It is your own tax money that finances this organnization and GLAD has an obligation to be accountable to the community it serves. At times I think the whole thing is hopeless, that the problems are so deeply ingrained in GLAD’s culture that nothing will ever get this agency straightened out. Yet I continue to reserve the hope that somehow a strong, caring and imaginative leader will emerge and somehow win acceptance from the current board of directors to take the reins of this organization and set it on the right path. Wouldn’t that be the best Christmas present for all of us? Meanwhile, I have every intention of remaining a thorn in their side. GLAD in recent years has shown us only too well the importance of having watchdogs and critics on the outside to make sure the general community knows what is going on. It’s funny — they call themselves GLAD, but in reality their services are bad, their people are mad, and the whole thing is just, well, really very sad.
Therefore it’s safe to say that any organization that partners with GLAD is a partner to corruption as well. Is your deaf center a partner to corruption?
A group of deaf and disability organizations has established a website for the purpose of gathering and dissimenating information on indisciplined organizations serving the deaf and disabled in California.