[Hpn] Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board is under fire

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Wed, 19 Dec 2007 08:49:30 -0500


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http://toledoblade.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=3D/20071219/NEWS16/71=
2190362

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Toledo Lucas County Homelessness Board is under fire

Advocate Ken Leslie demands accountability and resignations



      At a 2006 event, Ken Leslie, center, helped a group of homeless =
people, including James Jozwiak, left, obtain birth certifi cates.=20
      ( THE BLADE )=20

             Zoom | Photo Reprints=20
    =20

By TOM HENRY
BLADE STAFF WRITER


A high-profile homeless advocate who founded Tent City in 1990 and =
arranged for last month's impromptu local visit by rock singer John =
Mellencamp has declared war on the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness =
Board he helped create.=20

Ken Leslie is accusing the board of bureaucratic sluggishness, wasteful =
spending, and possible fraudulent activity. He resigned his seat Nov. 26 =
and is now calling for the Rev. Deb Conklin, its interim part-time =
director, and Louis Escobar, its chairman, to step down. Both said =
they've done nothing wrong.=20

Through his new Web site, 1matters.org, Mr. Leslie is calling on area =
residents to hold the board accountable for its actions so that homeless =
people get more services. The system will be fixed, he said, only if the =
community comes together and pressures those in power. He has scheduled =
a dual purpose rally and memorial service for 7 p.m. tomorrow outside =
Government Center.=20

"I can tell you right now that I feel our money is being wasted," Mr. =
Leslie says during a five-minute presentation now airing on YouTube at =
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dkc2fKOELc3s.=20

The board is an independent, nonprofit corporation established by the =
city of Toledo, Lucas County, the United Way, and the U.S. Department of =
Housing and Urban Development's Continuum of Care program to streamline =
homeless services.=20

Mr. Leslie, who has gone from being a stand-up comedian to the president =
of a headhunting firm called Strategic Search Consultants, said he =
helped form the homelessness board with a $2,000 personal donation in =
2004 plus $5,000 from a fund-raiser he arranged.=20

The city, the county, and the United Way followed with individual =
commitments of $25,000 each. They are at various stages of releasing =
those funds.=20

In the words of Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo's president =
and chief executive, Mr. Leslie is "the face of homelessness in our =
community."=20

"So when he says something is wrong, you've got to stop and take =
notice," Mr. Kitson said.=20

That's what the United Way has done. Saying "we totally agree with him =
on the need," Mr. Kitson said it has suspended its remaining $12,500 =
payment to the board until it sees progress.=20

"We are not going to keep funding plans," Mr. Kitson said.=20

That is one of Mr. Leslie's more sweeping allegations, that the =
homelessness board has been fixated on generating one planning document =
after another, rather than carrying anything out.=20

Mr. Leslie said people are "dying on the streets" because of the delays. =


"Everyone should feel we have not moved fast enough to help the homeless =
in our community. That's a given," Mr. Kitson said. Where the two differ =
is Mr. Leslie's allegation, stated on his Web site and in interviews, =
that Ms. Conklin falsified a federal document to justify the continued =
flow of tax dollars to Toledo-area service providers.=20

This was her first year for submitting that paperwork. In the past, the =
city was responsible for it.=20

Ms. Conklin, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church on Pearl Street, =
steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. So has Mr. Escobar, a former Toledo =
city councilman. The United Way had a city official review the documents =
in question Monday afternoon, according to Mr. Kitson, and was told they =
are in order.=20

"There's no reason to take any action against her. She hasn't done =
anything wrong. I don't know what's going on with Ken," Mr. Escobar =
said.=20

Another of Mr. Leslie's beefs is with area service providers who accept =
federal tax dollars yet fail to provide demographics and other types of =
information into a national data tracking system called the Homeless =
Management Information Systems.=20

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the tracking =
system when deciding how much money to distribute to dozens of =
communities it serves.=20

Mr. Leslie said the board should follow through and require providers to =
participate if they want to remain eligible for tax dollars. Failing to =
do so keeps the region from getting the money it deserves, he said.=20

The Rev. Dan Rogers, the Cherry Street Mission's president and chief =
executive officer, said Mr. Leslie's complaint "has merit."=20

"Why not hold their feet to the fire and be required to participate if =
you're receiving tax dollars?" Mr. Rogers asked.=20

Contact Tom Henry at:
thenry@theblade.com
or 419-724-6079.

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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://toledoblade.com:80/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=3D/20071219/N=
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0071219/NEWS16/712190362</A></FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV>Wednesday, December 19, 2007</DIV>
<DIV><BR clear=3Dall><SPAN class=3Darticletitle>Toledo Lucas County =
Homelessness=20
Board is under fire</SPAN></DIV>
<DIV><SPAN class=3Darticletitle></SPAN><BR><SPAN =
class=3Darticlesubtitle>Advocate=20
Ken Leslie demands accountability and resignations</SPAN><BR></DIV>
<DIV>
<TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D5 width=3D248 align=3Dright =
bgColor=3D#f1f1f3=20
border=3D0>
  <TBODY>
  <TR>
    <TD>
      <DIV align=3Dcenter><A=20
      =
href=3D"javascript:NewWindow(600,400,'/apps/pbcs.dll/misc?url=3D/template=
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p;MaxW=3D240"=20
      border=3D0><BR clear=3Dall></A></DIV><SPAN =
class=3Dphotocaption><SPAN=20
      class=3Dphotocaption>At a 2006 event, Ken Leslie, center, helped a =
group of=20
      homeless people, including James Jozwiak, left, obtain birth =
certifi=20
      cates. </SPAN><BR><SPAN class=3Dphotocaption>( THE BLADE ) =
<BR></SPAN>
      <DIV align=3Dcenter>
      <TABLE cellSpacing=3D0 cellPadding=3D0 align=3Dleft border=3D0>
        <TBODY>
        <TR>
          <TD><A=20
            =
href=3D"javascript:NewWindow(600,400,'/apps/pbcs.dll/misc?url=3D/template=
s/zoom.pbs&amp;Site=3DTO&amp;Date=3D20071219&amp;Category=3DNEWS16&amp;Ar=
tNo=3D712190362&amp;Ref=3DAR');"><IMG=20
            src=3D"http://toledoblade.com/images/zoom_photo.gif" =
border=3D0></A>=20
            <SPAN class=3Darticlefeatures><A=20
            =
href=3D"javascript:NewWindow(600,400,'/apps/pbcs.dll/misc?url=3D/template=
s/zoom.pbs&amp;Site=3DTO&amp;Date=3D20071219&amp;Category=3DNEWS16&amp;Ar=
tNo=3D712190362&amp;Ref=3DAR');">Zoom</A>=20
            | <A href=3D"http://toledoblade.com/printroom" =
target=3D_new>Photo=20
            =
Reprints</A></SPAN></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE></DIV></SPAN></TD></TR></TBO=
DY></TABLE></DIV><SPAN=20
class=3Dbyline>
<DIV><BR><FONT size=3D2>By <A href=3D"mailto:thenry@theblade.com">TOM=20
HENRY</A><BR>BLADE STAFF WRITER</FONT><BR></DIV></SPAN>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV><BR><SPAN class=3Darticle>A high-profile homeless advocate who =
founded Tent=20
City in 1990 and arranged for last month's impromptu local visit by rock =
singer=20
John Mellencamp has declared war on the Toledo Lucas County Homelessness =
Board=20
he helped create. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Ken Leslie is accusing the board of bureaucratic sluggishness, =
wasteful=20
spending, and possible fraudulent activity. He resigned his seat Nov. 26 =
and is=20
now calling for the Rev. Deb Conklin, its interim part-time director, =
and Louis=20
Escobar, its chairman, to step down. Both said they've done nothing =
wrong.=20
</DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Through his new Web site, 1matters.org, Mr. Leslie is calling on =
area=20
residents to hold the board accountable for its actions so that homeless =
people=20
get more services. The system will be fixed, he said, only if the =
community=20
comes together and pressures those in power. He has scheduled a dual =
purpose=20
rally and memorial service for 7 p.m. tomorrow outside Government =
Center. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"I can tell you right now that I feel our money is being wasted," =
Mr.=20
Leslie says during a five-minute presentation now airing on YouTube at=20
www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Dkc2fKOELc3s. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>The board is an independent, nonprofit corporation established by =
the city=20
of Toledo, Lucas County, the United Way, and the U.S. Department of =
Housing and=20
Urban Development's Continuum of Care program to streamline homeless =
services.=20
</DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Mr. Leslie, who has gone from being a stand-up comedian to the =
president of=20
a headhunting firm called Strategic Search Consultants, said he helped =
form the=20
homelessness board with a $2,000 personal donation in 2004 plus $5,000 =
from a=20
fund-raiser he arranged. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>The city, the county, and the United Way followed with individual=20
commitments of $25,000 each. They are at various stages of releasing =
those=20
funds. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>In the words of Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Toledo's =
president and=20
chief executive, Mr. Leslie is "the face of homelessness in our =
community."=20
</DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"So when he says something is wrong, you've got to stop and take =
notice,"=20
Mr. Kitson said. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>That's what the United Way has done. Saying "we totally agree with =
him on=20
the need," Mr. Kitson said it has suspended its remaining $12,500 =
payment to the=20
board until it sees progress. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"We are not going to keep funding plans," Mr. Kitson said. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>That is one of Mr. Leslie's more sweeping allegations, that the=20
homelessness board has been fixated on generating one planning document =
after=20
another, rather than carrying anything out. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Mr. Leslie said people are "dying on the streets" because of the =
delays.=20
</DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"Everyone should feel we have not moved fast enough to help the =
homeless in=20
our community. That's a given," Mr. Kitson said. Where the two differ is =
Mr.=20
Leslie's allegation, stated on his Web site and in interviews, that Ms. =
Conklin=20
falsified a federal document to justify the continued flow of tax =
dollars to=20
Toledo-area service providers. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>This was her first year for submitting that paperwork. In the past, =
the=20
city was responsible for it. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Ms. Conklin, pastor of Peace Lutheran Church on Pearl Street, =
steadfastly=20
denied any wrongdoing. So has Mr. Escobar, a former Toledo city =
councilman. The=20
United Way had a city official review the documents in question Monday=20
afternoon, according to Mr. Kitson, and was told they are in order. =
</DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"There's no reason to take any action against her. She hasn't done =
anything=20
wrong. I don't know what's going on with Ken," Mr. Escobar said. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Another of Mr. Leslie's beefs is with area service providers who =
accept=20
federal tax dollars yet fail to provide demographics and other types of=20
information into a national data tracking system called the Homeless =
Management=20
Information Systems. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the =
tracking=20
system when deciding how much money to distribute to dozens of =
communities it=20
serves. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Mr. Leslie said the board should follow through and require =
providers to=20
participate if they want to remain eligible for tax dollars. Failing to =
do so=20
keeps the region from getting the money it deserves, he said. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>The Rev. Dan Rogers, the Cherry Street Mission's president and =
chief=20
executive officer, said Mr. Leslie's complaint "has merit." </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>"Why not hold their feet to the fire and be required to participate =
if=20
you're receiving tax dollars?" Mr. Rogers asked. </DIV>
<P>
<CENTER></CENTER>
<DIV>Contact Tom Henry at:<BR>thenry@theblade.com<BR>or=20
419-724-6079.</SPAN></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV></BODY></HTML>

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