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Misplaced Faith

Okay, this story is a year old but it is still important to remember this mess when there are members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors (all of them) who think that contractng out is the best way to deliver county services.  This story, and the more recent example of problems that OCTA has had contracting out services demonstrates that the simple soultions are not always the best.

In the case of the AIDS program funds, the County was forced to return the misused funds to the feds.  County officials said that they would appeal the return of funds, but we haven’t heard any thing since.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Misplaced Faith
Aubrey KeysWithout a background check, the county trusted Pastor Aubrey Keys with money. And AIDS patients desperately counted on New Millennium for help.

The Orange County Register

Bad debts, bad marriages and Bible verses marked the trail of Pastor Aubrey Keys from his native Chicago to Orange County, where he became the face of AIDS services for African-Americans.Passionate and persuasive, the former social worker appeared to be a godsend to Orange County public health officials, who in 2001 were under federal pressure to expand AIDS services in minority communities or lose funding.That year, the health agency began paying nearly $150,000 in federal grants to Keys and his New Millennium Community Coalition to fund outreach to African-Americans with AIDS.The idea was to reach people such as Ricky Session, who depends on the funds for housing and medicine. The 48-year-old has had AIDS since 1993 and helped New Millennium run a support group.What Session didn’t know was that county officials entrusted this crucial outreach mission to someone with no experience in running an AIDS services organization. Someone repeatedly hauled into court by creditors. Someone forced to file bankruptcy three times.

An Orange County Register investigation found a paper trail of financial mismanagement and failed ventures that stretched through three states. But the county didn’t check Keys’ credentials or background. The county didn’t ask for a written proposal from Keys. It just paid him, and it kept paying him despite having no proof that New Millennium was helping AIDS patients.

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