Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Processing from the Prism

COP 24/7
Can We Talk: Voices from the Cube

On yesterday we began processing our thoughts and observations concerning the in "stasis" Little Rock Black Pride, its newly minted re-branded version Arkansas Black Pride and the intersections of local groups funded through the Arkansas Deparment of Health. According to ADH website, The Arkansas Department of Health HIV Prevention Program provides state leadership and support for development, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based HIV prevention programs serving persons affected by, or at risk for, HIV infection. Furthermore, The HIV Prevention Program achieves this mission through policy development, grantmaking, training and technical assistance, collaboration and partnerships with community based organizations and other state agencies. Also highlighted on the site is the assertion that the HIV Prevention Program is currently working in concert with the Arkansas Minority Health Commission to establish synchronized efforts in HIV Prevention in the populations and geographic areas of Arkansas where epidemiological data shows the greatest need. This partnership is focused on facilitating a coordinated statewide community response to HIV/AIDS that will ultimately lead to fewer Arkansans contracting HIV and better health care and quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS. Sounds good doesn't it? And basically its factual except the fact that what COP 24/7 has discovered is that all that glitters isn't gold.

 Even as these statement appear on their website as a statement of truth it appears that this is not quite how matters transpire internally. It's no secret that over the years there has been strained relationships between consumers and stakeholders with the HIV/STD/Hepatitis C Section within ADH. Also, their described partnerships have been the subject of scrunity and subjected to heated debates as well as idle gossip that has not always put the section in the best light. Most folks have all but forgotten 2006's "Lola Gate" which resulted in five months of prison time for former HIV Program Administrator Lola Thrower who did some fancy cooking the books to the tune of about Ten grand. That messiness also took down a few others and crashed and burned the emerging Positive Voices program which was most promising. Book ending that fiasco has been flashpoints of quasi statistical reporting, revolving door personnel, and leadership vaccums. In our opinon, it appears that their's a culture of territorial professionals whom seem to be clueless as to what's going on in the section from policies to procedures.

Therefore if there's dysfunction among these folks internally how can they truly be "facilitating  or coordinating" anything. Case in point is the fact that current Section Chief Tina Long responded to a proposal from The Living Affected Corporation by stating that their had been a policy change in which local community based organization could no longer submit unsolicited proposal without a "request for application" being offered. The policy was to go into effect July 1, 2011. However, when questioned about this policy and requested to produce the document, Ms. Long is still searching for a hard copy to present. Really? Still searching for it?  If this isn't enough by all appeareances a "proposal" from "Little Rock Black Pride" was funded after the so-call policy implementation, also Better Community Developer was also awarded funding from a proposal also "after" the July deadline. To add more complexity to this mash up is the fact that questions now abound about reciepts, invoices and possibly phoney statements conjured up to reflect charges incurred by...wait for it...Little Rock Black Pride! We know that ADH doesn't "micro-manage" their grantees but one would think with this groups track record a closer oversight would have been in order. Especially since this entity was also doing a side deal with another local CBO who fronted LRB the funds to proceed with their event while ADH hastily processed their proposal as a reinbursement tool for expectations that now can not be accounted for or either came up short.

 Questions: Where is the copy of the policy that Section Chief Long was so quick to quote from?  If there was such a policy, why were other groups still funded?  Will Mr. Rogers be questioned as to validity of his submitted invoices and reciepts? Who is responsible for the $4000 advance? Was their a "Memorandum of Understanding" anywhere? This is a OMG moment! So many question that are so ripe for a Freedom of Information inquiry. Anybody got any other questions, because you just can't make this stuff up. Who would believe it? Stay tuned, we are still processing it all....
(references: http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/)

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