Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The 2011 Paradise Center Scandal Is Not Tarrant County's First MHMR Scandal

The Paradise Scandal Blog has received several comments and emails which reference a previous MHMR Scandals, suggesting that this previous scandal be brought to our reader's attention.

This morning a commenter calling him or herself "Retired Therapist" had this to say...

"Man, this MHMR agency just cannot seem to get quality leadership and to keep its nose clean. I'm retired now but was doing some contracting with Tarrant Co. MHMR Services in the late 1980's and early 1990's when then CEO Kilpatrick was caught in a criminal investigation by the DA's office and the state agency. To borrow from Yogi Berra, this current scandal sounds like deja vu all over again."

The District Attorney referred to by Retired Therapist is since deceased, Tim Curry. In 2006 Tim Curry faced a tough re-election battle with attorney Terri Moore challenging him.

The October 25, 2006 issue of FW Weekly had a very long article about the District Attorney election battle titled "Curry vs. Moore" in which the 1989 MHMR Scandal is mentioned.

Below is an excerpt from the FW Weekly article, which you can read in its entirety by clicking on the "Curry vs. Moore" link....

After the debate, Curry told the Weekly that Williams, a prominent local automobile dealer and long-time financial supporter of President George Bush, was one of the MHMR board members he had investigated. The day after the debate, he answered more questions by e-mail. He recounted how MHMR executive director Lloyd Kilpatrick was indicted for theft by a public servant, pleaded guilty, and received a one-year probated sentence.

A 1989 official audit report from the state MHMR agency, obtained by the Weekly, showed that Kilpatrick had taken illegal payments via a bloated compensation package he’d set up for himself with the board’s approval. The report also described how he’d rigged bids for favored vendors and how he and the board had engaged in what the report called “questionable practices” by giving “preferential treatment” to the board chairman (Williams, although the report does not name him). Specifically, the report said, the board OK’d the purchase of 31 vehicles at a cost of $352,000 from Williams’ car dealership. The report said the board failed to seek bids for the auto purchases, a violation of the agency’s bidding policies and state law and a serious conflict of interest for the board chairman.

County records show that Williams, appointed to the MHMR board by the Tarrant County commissioners in 1981, resigned that position on Dec. 18, 1989 — ll days after the report was placed in commissioners’ hands. The auditors recommended that commissioners “provide the District Attorney of Tarrant County with information contained in the report” for an investigation into possible criminal activities. Kilpatrick was the only person prosecuted, and there is no record that any money was ever repaid.

It does seem like deja vu all over again.

Except the current Paradise Center/MHMR Scandal is much worse, in that the misbehaving MHMR executive's scandalous behavior in 2011 hurt the very people it is their job to help.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cancel Your Plans to Attend Tonight's Meeting of the MHMR of Tarrant County Board of Trustees

URGENT MESSAGE: Just in from the Paradise Center...

Dear fellow citizens and friends of Paradise Center Inc.

We hope that you will receive this notice in time to cancel your plans to attend the MHMR of Tarrant County Board of Trustees meeting tonight.  It was leaked to us by decent people inside of Hulen Tower right after lunch hour today that MHMR executives and Trustees were somehow alerted this morning to the plan by  many of you taxpayers to go and ask questions and/or express your feeling regarding what is now commonly called the Paradise Center Scandal.

As you can surmise from this very unusual notice to "stakeholders", apparently there was not enough time to hire private security guard/s toting side arms before the 5:30 P.M. public meeting tonight.  As has been the pattern, these public officials holding positions of immense power, financial and administrative and legal, will do whatever it takes to prevent public disclosure or discussion of all the documented instances of behavior that range from questionable to reprehensible.

The natural questions are why are they behaving this way?  And what do they have to hide from "We the People", from whom came the $100+ Million dollars in annual taxes and  the attendant authority/power and responsibility/accountability??

This latest act of desperation and evasion (the Trustees adjourned the meeting last month before the public could even get back inside the Moncrief Conference Room) is unbecoming of honorable civic leaders and is in fact a rejection of transparency and public accountability on the part of people given "the public trust".

These facts also make clear that the public (and private) statements and representations about the Paradise Center Matter by MHMR of Tarrant County CEO, executives, and Trustees do not support their claim that this is "just a personnel matter".  Those words and actions can only be described as "scandalous". A scandal that is much more damaging than the one involving the Citadel Medicaid fraud in the mid-2000's and the one that ushered out the previous CEO and his regime, which included members of the Board of Trustees.

The people and community leaders of El Paso apparently took constructive actions to mitigate the damages to people and the community by exercising their rights and duties earlier this year relative to the conduct of their MHMR executive/s and Board of Trustees.

What is different about Tarrant County, Texas, U.S.A.?  And why has the "fourth rail of our democracy" chosen to ignore this public interest and public policy matter?

It's been said that a community is judged by how it treats its weakest members. The judgment is still out in this particular matter, fellow citizens, taxpayers, and voters.

Paradise Center, Inc.
friends helping friends in mental health recovery

The Paradise Center Protest on Video with Bullying MHMR Bullycrats

In the picture you are looking at the hand of a MHMR Bullycrat, Susan Garnett, who does not understand what is meant by the word "SUPPLIES" that is on a poster at a protest on February 21, 2011 in front of Tarrant County's Mental Health and Mental Retardation Headquarters at 3840 Hulen Street.

Participating in the protest were several leaders and members of Paradise Center Inc,. a 501(c)3 "consumer-run" Organization (i.e. the Board and operation is led by PEOPLE who live with serious mental illness like schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, major depression).

These people had the audacity to protest loudly in front of the agency that had staged a coup d'tat 4 days earlier, taking over the Paradise Center and its possessions, which ignited the Paradise Center Scandal, which seems to be burning brighter with each passing day.

Below is a YouTube video in which you hear one of the protesters confronting the aforementioned MHMR Bullycrat, Susan Garnett. For some reason the video is sideways, but it is still watchable....

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Comment Problems & A Tiny Pool Table at the Former Paradise Center Location

The pool table in the picture is clearly only for illustrative purposes of showing a tiny pool table. It is not the tiny pool table in the former Paradise Center location.

To three of you Paradise Center Scandal Commenters I want to apologize for a problem I only discovered this morning.

I have the comments set to be published automatically, without me moderating them.

This morning I saw that there were 3 comments in the "Spam" folder. So, those 3 comments did not get published until this morning. The oldest of the previously un-published comments was from March 24.

A good comment came in this morning that got moderated and published on my Durango Texas blog, was a comment made to the post "Fort Worth's Paradise Center Scandal Now Has A Blog."

This is what Anonymous had to say (partly in reference to the MHMR con's propaganda about new furniture and the Paradise Center's alleged trashy furnishings)....

My clients tell me yeah, there is some new furniture--FOR THE BRAVO people and their offices. But still using Paradise Center's old (trashy??) couches and other things.

They stay outside because they don't like the attitude of the new staff (after reading here, wonder why?) and the way they treat them like children or people with mental retardation. The NEW but cheap and TINY pool table doesn't get used much because these adults (with no retardation issues) find it too small and insulting to put in a kids sized pool table for ADULTS.

And yes the heat is getting to them. The high cost of items in the snack bar is forcing many to walk blocks to get something they can afford.

And Ben said "those mean new a$$$ fired me from my job". That's what consumer-run Paradise Center offered, a sense of dignity for even old Ben, whose simple job of opening the front door was for him a meaningful volunteer job. The man used to be a success in the business field before his major illness and disabilities.

The CEO and his gals who destroyed so many lives need to pay for what they did.

The Paradise Center Scandal De Facto VOICE of Tarrant County Advocacy

Several concerned citizens have been sending material to the Paradise Center Scandal blog, starting the day the scandal erupted into full SCANDAL mode on February 17.

Apparently the new MHMR Drop-In Center has been having only around 30 former Paradise Center consumers drop-in daily. Some of those who have dropped in have been very upset over the changes. 

This morning I learned what NAMI is. Yesterday I was asked why NAMI was not involved in helping the Paradise Center recover from the MHMR-TC coup d'tat. Apparently there is a Tarrant County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

I've been told I will soon be sent photos documenting the current sad state of the former site of the Paradise Center.

The email below was part of some of the incoming Paradise Center info this morning. This email comes from someone in the NAMI organization outside of Tarrant County. It is from this email I learned that the Paradise Center Scandal blog is the de facto voice of advocacy in this county.

Dear Paradise Center,

We appreciated you letting us know about the scandal in Tarrant County. It is very disturbing, to say the least.

We're not exactly sure why your local NAMI chapter has chosen to do, or not do, what it did in relation to the clear wrongs perpetrated on your consumer-run  nonprofit organization.  Groups like yours are so few and valuable to the consumers, their families, and the whole community itself.  And they are the most satisfying results of our grassroots organization's efforts on various fronts.

What happened to your group in Tarrant County is indeed a major step back for consumer empowerment and advancements against the destigmatization of the mentally ill.

Since each chapter is an independent affiliate, we will what we can in our limited power as a fellow chapter to help right this wrong before your groups suffers any more.

Please know that we think and pray for you all.

Sincerely, J. B.

P.S. We've followed the blog.  Tell the blogger that it's been very helpful and effective in helping understand the facts and circumstances surrounding this troubling matter.  We'd make him an honorary member if we could because his blog has been the de facto VOICE of Advocacy in your county. We'll check at the next convention.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The El Paso MHMR Scandal vs. the Fort Worth Paradise Center Scandal

Fort Worth and Tarrant County are not the only town and county in Texas to be experiencing a scandal courtesy of the Mental Health Mental Retardation agency.

El Paso's MHMR agency is currently in turmoil due to  actions of its leader, Gary Larcenaire.

A major difference between the El Paso MHMR scandal and the Fort Worth/Tarrant County MHMR scandal is that El Paso has a legitimate newspaper, the El Paso Times, that is covering the story. Another big difference between the two scandals is El Paso has a County Commissioner who is concerned about the actions of the leader of El Paso's MHMR.

Below is a blurb from an article in the El Paso Times....

After the board of directors was dissolved but before a new one could meet, the leader of the local mental health authority canceled an important contract and fired the agency's director of intake and crisis services.

Those actions and others by Gary Larcenaire could cause "chaos" inside El Paso Mental Health Mental Rehabilitation and harm its ability to serve the community's mentally ill, local leaders and mental health professionals said.

Read the entire "Moves by MHMR chief questioned" article in the El Paso Times.

Then ask yourself why the Fort Worth Star-Telegram does not function as a legitimate newspaper? It is sort of sad that a town with a population of over 700,000 does not have a real newspaper.

How would Fort Worth be different if Fort Worth had a newspaper like the El Paso Times. Or the Washington Post?

If Fort Worth had a legitimate newspaper could a corrupt mayor like Mike Moncrief have survived in office raking in millions of dollars from the gas drillers operating in his town?

If Fort Worth had a legitimate newspaper would the Trinity River Vision Boondoggle still be boondoggling along with the unqualified son of the local congresswoman running the project?

If Fort Worth had a legitimate newspaper would a CEO of a public agency, like Jim McDermott, be able to get away with his bullycrats tactics with no accountability?

If Fort Worth had a legitimate newspaper would there be a Paradise Center Scandal?

Tyranny flourishes in the absence of a powerful, free press. Fort Worth is the poster child city for that reality.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

URGENT: Please Help Find Fort Worth's Paradise Center a New Home

The Paradise Center is looking for a one-story commercial type property (or a converted house meeting zoning requirements) in the central-south FW area or around the JPS/TSP area, within walking distance to a bus line (Main, Hemphill, Pennsylvania, Henderson, etc.), with interior space of between 2,000 and 5,000 square feet with at least two bathrooms (not sure about ADA requirements), with a working A/C system, a large gathering/meeting room that could fit a pool table and some couches and large screen TV, along with some rooms for an office, meeting room, snack bar/kitchen area.

We are looking at spending around $2,000-$3,000/month for rent, from ASAP to end of September/heat wave=6 months, or longer if funding comes through from grants and from forcing MHMR-TC to fulfill their contractual obligations to fund Paradise Center Inc. until at least the end of 2011.  We would pay all the utilities and do all the basic maintenance and upkeep of the whole facility.

Of course, we hope that our CPA and Board member who specializes in non-profit organizations, can help supplement our limited financial resources with some kind of tax break for the property owner (maybe as an in-kind donation for reduced rent or something along that line).

We would like to have something that can be used pretty quickly as MHMR-TC will throw away all of Paradise Center Inc.'s properties comes the last day of this month.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Tangled Web of The Paradise Center Scandal: Now With Email Documentation

Oh what a tangled web gets weaved, when someone who shouldn't, tries to deceive.

Earlier today I tried to explain the Paradise Center Scandal and the nefarious dealings of the MHMR-TC agency run by a man named Jim McDermott.

One aspect of the Paradise Center Scandal has been a long time attempt by the MHMR agency to takeover the Paradise Center, which is an independent, consumer run, non-profit organization.

The attempted takeover has been going on for quite some time, as you can see from the emails below, dating from late 2010. As the Paradise Center asserted its rights, MHMR and its bullycrats, under the direction of CEO, Jim McDermott, grew increasingly despotic, until the coup d'tat, which took place on February 17, 2011, with the physical takeover, by MHMR, of the Paradise Center's operation.

Read the emails below and you will get a clearer idea of what MHMR and Jim McDermott has put the Paradise Center through. First you will read an email from Linda Groom, she being the Board Chairperson of Paradise Center, Inc., in which she asks McDermott to explain his and MHMR's actions.

This is followed by Jim McDermott's obfuscating reply, followed by Linda Groom taking Jim McDermott through this issue, step by step....

From: Linda Groom
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 12:14 PM
To: Jim McDermott
Cc: Susan C. Garnett; Sonja Gaines; Jennifer L. Neumann
Subject: Paradise Center

Dr. McDermott,

I am extremely upset that the same topic has come up again regarding Paradise Center's status as a non-profit.

I met with Jennifer Neumann and Teresa Davis on Friday, Oct. 8 at Paradise Center to understand her request to view Paradise Center's checking account documents.  I was shocked when she told me that Sonja had no idea that Paradise Center has a checking account.  She said Sonja has expressed concerns that she is "over this program" and wanted to make sure there are "checks and balances".

Once again, we are visiting the exact same topic that has been settled over 14 years ago.  Paradise Center is a non-profit organization, NOT a program of MHMR.

In my 12 years of association with Paradise Center and as past President of the local and state chapters of NAMI, I have never had an organization come in and demand to see check statements and check stubs.  This is an intrusion and not a legal requirement by non-profits.  We can make reasonable accommodations to allow them to see our 990, which we showed her. We can also provide generated reports at our location upon request.

Besides electing officers and establishing by-laws, one of the first acts of this new organization was the opening of a checking account to handle donations and to pay  expenses such as for program activities and supplies for the snack bar.  This is a consumer-run organization and the checking account is, also.  The only designated signers on the account are now and have always been consumers.  They hire and pay for a CPA who advises them and files their IRS 990 each year.

If Sonja wants to know how the "program" money is being managed, she should ask your accounting department since the ongoing foundational grant from MHMRTC is fully managed by MHMR.  We do not touch any of it.

Last year's grant from Visions, which I understand is a foundation and auxiliary of MHMRTC, has been accounted for and reported as required.  If there is something else they require, they should ask us.  We've explained to Nikki Hatley that at this time, our consumer-run board doesn't have the capability to present detailed budgets, from last year, mid-year budget analysis, and a projected budget.  I would think that the Visions Board and Nikki Hatley knew that when they gave this grant to Paradise Center, they were giving it to a consumer-run organization.  If they wanted to know if we had all those types of capabilities to produce reports, then they should have asked before giving us the grant.  At this point we will not be accepting anymore grants from Visions.  Their website states that they give money to "at risk" programs of MHMR.  And, since Paradise Center is NOT  a program of MHMR, we do not qualify.  Apparently, this was an oversight of everyone involved.

Do we need to have a meeting about this?  Or is it something you can handle internally to inform your staff of Paradise Center's legal standing as a non-profit organization?

I look forward to your prompt reply,

Linda Groom,
Board Chairperson of Paradise Center, Inc.


From: Jim McDermott <>
Subject: RE: Paradise Center
To: "Linda Groom"
Date: Monday, October 25, 2010, 5:56 PM

As you know, I have always supported and appreciated the fact that our center maintains a consumer run program.  Paradise Center has provided valued services and supports that have made a tremendous impact on the individuals who participate in the program on a regular basis.

While we had hoped 14 years ago that Paradise Center would generate enough independent financial support to become self-sufficient, that has not happened.  MHMRTC continues to fully fund the operations of Paradise Center with state and local dollars at a budgeted cost of approximately $150,000 per year.  In Fiscal Year 2010, in fact, Paradise Center’s actual expenses were approximately $173,00 resulting in a budget in the red.  In addition, the Paradise Center staff are MHMRTC employees and enjoy all the benefits associated with being MHMRTC employees.  MHMRTC must provide the supervision and oversight necessary to manage this program, as it does for all other programs and staff.

I am aware that the board of the Paradise Center 501 (c) 3 continues to raise funds for the purpose of having activities at the Center.  I think this is an important piece of the Center and I want that to continue.  However, as the program’s funding source, we will need to have full information about the funds available for Paradise Center—MHMRTC’s funds and any other funds.

MHMRTC has to assure that this, and all programs, are properly managed and utilize appropriate accounting practices.  Lack of adequate oversight can put the agency and all of its programs at risk.

I expect the employees of Paradise Center just as any other employees of the Mental Health division to adhere to the direction of the Chief of MH Services, Sonja Gaines.

For 22 years I have strongly supported the existence of Paradise Center.  I believe that we have proven our support by our continued financial support, facility maintenance, facility expansion, and facility improvements.  I know that without this support, Paradise Center would have struggled and might not exist today.

I appreciate your inquiry and am happy to discuss further with you if needed.

Jim McDermott, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
MHMR of Tarrant County
(817) 569-4508

From: Linda Groom 
Subject: RE: Paradise Center
To: "Jim McDermott" <>
Date: Friday, December 3, 2010, 8:53 PM

Dr. McDermott:

I apologize for not acknowledging your email response sooner.  I've had various personal issues that prevented me from thanking you for your well-formed response and statements.

On behalf of the Board of Directors (called "the Resource Board" in our Charter and By-laws) of Paradise Center, Inc. I am writing to express grave concerns about the actions by MHMRTC and its representatives in recent weeks that indicate knowledge and authorization from you (and the statements in your email) as the head of this governmental agency (or unit of government).  It is our conclusion that you all know exactly what and why you all have chosen to adopt this new view and to pursue its related and aggressive course of action.

 We are doing our best to be true to our duties as directors and guardians of a reputable non-profit organization  falling under the legal classification of a public charity. While we have often expressed appreciation to you for your support and to MHMRTC for its annual in-kind "foundational grants" and long-term cooperation, we have never at any point relinquished our true nature as an autonomous organization, both in daily practice and in terms of our formal standing with the state and the IRS.

It is clear that your statements and the actions of your colleagues contradict who and what we are as an organization.  We hope that there is some kind of mistake on the part of MHMRTC.  We do not seek or want conflict, but it appears that now might be the right time to clear up the serious questions that have lingered for many years about the true nature and relationship between Paradise Center, Inc. and our "supporting organization", which has resulted in confusion and has limited our growing organization from taking the steps necessary to expand our funding base, our physical facility and assets, and most importantly to expand our reach in helping the thousands of  adults suffering from disabling mental illnesses in Tarrant county.

We share your emphasis on financial accountability and will gladly discuss that subject at the appropriate time.  For now, we offer this preliminary list of pertinent facts as we understand them based on our reading of our charter/by-laws, records, and relevant literature.  Out of these basic facts we are firmly asserting our organization's legal rights, authority, and responsibilities.

1. Paradise Center is, and has been, an autonomous public charity/non-profit org. ever since 1998 when Dr.M. and his team made all the necessary legal applications to form it as such---to take the place of the fairly costly MHMRTC program called Opportunity House.  MHMRTC knew exactly what it was doing in pursuing such a serious legal step.

2. Paradise Center is, and has been, representing itself to the public and behaving in all aspects of operations as an autonomous organization (e.g. annual tax filings, website, brochures, written and spoken communications, etc.) with a legally required Board of Directors providing oversight over its operations and employees.  MHMRTC unilaterally designed this organizational status and structure of Paradise Center, Inc. and has treated P.C. as such an autonomous organization ever since the official incorporation in 1998 (over 12 years ago)---up until now.  Questions or problems related to this arrangement can be best provided by MHMRTC.

3. MHMRTC has insisted on the funding arrangement, which places all controls in their hands.  Thus all responsibilities and accountabilities are squarely in their hands as well since MHMRTC unilaterally designed and chose this arrangement.

4. Paradise Center, Inc. interviewed, then formally hired our current director Teresa Davis, who has carried out her job under the authority and oversight of our Board of Directors.  MHMRTC did not interview, hire, or supervise Teresa as one of its employees.  The HR services it provides for our employees is again part of MHMRTC's choice as the "supporting organization" to control all of the money it has ever granted to Paradise Center as part of its package of financial support that the IRS classifies as "in-kind donations". Any questions or problems related to this arrangement can be best explained by MHMRTC since it  designed and insisted on using this particular funding/supporting arrangement.

5.  This new and shocking claim of ownership of an autonomous organization as merely one of its own agency programs designed to provide an essential (and maybe required of MHMRTC by the state or other funders) service for mental health consumers and the right to supervise an employee of said autonomous organization contradicts P.C.'s charter and applicable laws.  Moreover this contradicts the facts, custom, and history of how the two entity related to one another and how Paradise Center, Inc. is recognized by the public and certain entities.

6.  Paradise Center, Inc. will defend its organizational and legal integrity as required by its charter and applicable laws.  MHMRTC knows exactly what it's doing in choosing to pursue its current path and should be prepared to answer questions and/or accept any consequences that might arise from this choice..

7. The natural questions that arose from MHMRTC's current course of action and certain statements of facts include the following (not exhaustive list):

    (A) IF Paradise Center, Inc. is in fact a genuine "MHMRTC program" like its dozens of other programs, why has there been no oversight or supervision over the "program" and its long-time director for over a whole decade? That's over ten straight years or 120+ straight months of no appropriate interest, knowledge, or accountability. Not even knowing that Paradise Center, Inc. has a checking account in its name.

    (B) What is the actual reason--not the clumsily devised pretext of some vague "spending beyond the budget"-- for this new found interest in the ongoing operation and leadership of Paradise Center, Inc.? If given adequate information, maybe it's something we as an organization can do to help our supporter and partner MHMRTC in this situation.

    (C) Is the way that MHMRTC has related and interacted, financially and administratively, with Paradise Center, Inc. over these many years the accepted standard practice and policy of MHMRTC? If so, please provide supporting facts.

    (D)  If not, who is responsible and accountable for such a gross mismanagement of a governmental agency program that directly impacts the wellbeing of hundreds of adults living with the most debilitating types of mental illnesses (or brain diseases, as some prefer)?

    (E) How was it possible that this massive neglect of control and oversight over almost two million dollars (based on the cumulative dollar amounts MHMRTC has reported as having been expended on Paradise Center, Inc. over the dozen plus years) of hard-earned taxpayer money allowed to take place at all?

We have many other related questions and issues but will wait to deal with them later.  For now, we suggest you all review our charter and your own previous statements and representations in formulating a response to the questions and issues we've raised. Choosing not to respond in a constructive way will be interpreted as agreement with the facts we've presented.  Not providing constructive answers to these critical questions will have its own set of meanings for different people.

We, as the legal guardians of our records, will be glad to send over a copy of our charter if for some reason you all or your legal counsel does not have a copy on file. 

We, as the legally recognized fiduciaries and Directors of Paradise Center, Inc. once again express in the strongest terms our grave concern for the recent claims and representations by MHMRTC.  Based on the same factual premise, we have asked our trusted and capable director of almost ten years, Teresa Davis, to respectfully not follow the unilateral orders by your colleague for her to attend a meeting for the stated purpose of receiving "supervision" and "expectations" as that normally done with an employee of MHMRTC.

Our directive to her remains until we receive from you/MHMRTC reasonable and realistic written expressions to support this new and aggressive assertion of authority over our director that (a) clearly violates our organization's autonomy and (b) clearly usurps the legal and customary roles of our Board as directors and guardians of the legal and organizational integrity of Paradise Center, Inc.

Thank you for your consideration.  We look forward to amicable and constructive discussions and resolutions regarding this import matter with you, your executive team (as in 2008), or if appropriate with your Board of Directors itself.

Linda Groom,
President of the Board of Directors ("Resource Board") of Paradise Center, Inc. a consumer-run organization and public charity as defined by IRS code 501(c)3 .

The Paradise Center Scandal Cliff Notes

On March 20 Jessie Girl made the following comment to a blogging about the Paradise Center Scandal, which said in part....

"Just one quick question: What is the scandal? I'm confused. Come on, Durango, break it down for us. As a long-time reader, I expect a certain directness from you. Lay it on us."

I shall try to cut through to the heart of The Paradise Center Scandal.

The Paradise Center is a private, non-profit organization which was located at 505 S. Jennings Avenue in Fort Worth.

The Paradise Center was a successful consumer run program. Overseeing the Paradise Center is a Board of Directors. Employees of the Paradise Center, such as Manager Teresa Davis, are overseen by the board.

The Paradise Center received no state or federal money. The Paradise Center was funded via various sources, including getting some help from a Tarrant County Agency, MHMR, run by a guy named Jim McDermott.

Read the following widely circulated email written by Jim McDermott in response to a query about operating a non-traditional day treatment drop-in center...

Our consumers' operate a drop in center called Paradise Center. It is controlled by a Board that is 100% consumers. There are about 280 members at any one time. They employee two full-time staff that are interviewed,hired,and supervised by the Paradise Board. The employees are on our payroll primarily for benefits purposes. There is an advisory committee to the Paradise Center Board which primarily act as a fund raising and public education committee.

The State or Feds. provide no funding for the Center. Our MHMR Board values the drop in center and recognizes it reintegration and independence development value to M.H. consumer's so have contributed some financial support from our local funds each year(around $30,00). Tarrant County provides around $40,000 a year and the remainder of their budget is generated by the members and the advisory committee. I do not know their total budget. Below is the name and e-mail address of the lead staff person at Paradise Center as well as the name of their President who heads the Paradise Center Board. I am sure they can provide you with more detail. This is a great program. When State and Federal government decided these programs were not a funding priority any longer our consumer's and the community decided to find a way to keep it going. There is simply no program that has done a better job of promoting independence,self-direction,and confidence in the severely mentally ill consumer than this program.

When the above email was written, McDermott is clearly saying that the Paradise Center is controlled by a Board that is 100% consumers. With 2 full-time staff (one of whom was Teresa Davis) who are supervised by the Paradise Center board. With the employees on the MHMR payroll for benefits purposes.

MHMR provided some funds to the Paradise Center. MHMR provided the building that the Paradise Center operated in. MHMR provided some materials, such as toilet paper, for the center.

Let me repeat one section of McDermott's email...

This is a great program. When State and Federal government decided these programs were not a funding priority any longer our consumer's and the community decided to find a way to keep it going. There is simply no program that has done a better job of promoting independence,self-direction,and confidence in the severely mentally ill consumer than this program.

The Paradise Center was never a MHMR program.

So, what happened?

MHMR came up with a scheme whereby they would use the people making use of the Paradise Center's services to bill Medic-Aid. To make this scheme work MHMR and Jim McDermott needed the cooperation of Teresa Davis and the Paradise Center Board.

Teresa Davis and the Paradise Center Board resisted the pressure from MHMR.

So, the MHMR Bullycrats increased the pressure.

At one point the MHMR Bullycrats went to the bizarre measure of removing the toilet paper which they had supplied the center.

MHMR created the illusion that the Paradise Center was a program of MHMR, including having a page about the Paradise Center on the MHMR website. MHMR's misrepresentation of its relationship created fund raising problems for the Paradise Center due to the center appearing to be a government agency to those who give grants to private non-profits.

And then on February 17, 2011 MHMR took the bullying one step too far. Claiming that Teresa Davis committed an act of insubordination by not attending a MHMR meeting, MHMR terminated their contract with the Paradise Center, effectively firing Teresa Davis.

Basically when MHMR CEO Jim McDermott failed to sway the Board of Directors of Paradise Center, Inc. to agree that the center is a program of MHMR and not a legally separate non-profit organization he took the action of terminating Teresa Davis.

The Paradise Center was then locked out of the center, by MHMR.

The Paradise Center people were not allowed back in the building to get their possessions.

Consumers of the Paradise Center's services showed up and were naturally upset to see their world had been turned upside down.

Teresa Davis was told to make a list of the Paradise Center possessions in the building. Remembering as best she could, a list was made. Those possessions were then put into a POD storage container, with the Paradise Center told they had til the end of the month to take care of the materials in the POD.

MHMR then re-opened the building, calling it a "Drop-In Center," as part of their continuing scheme to monetize the former Paradise Center operation.

MHMR has conducted a smear campaign against Teresa Davis. Some of that has appeared on the blog you are reading right now. And on others.

MHMR, an agency supposedly supposed to operate in the service of the needs of those with Mental Health problems, acted like thugs, disrupting and destroying a smoothly operating center that was performing a vital public service, as noted by the very guy who instigated the destruction of the program he characterized as "great."

I believe MHMR is now under investigation from various fronts.

The way the Paradise Center was taken over may be a criminal act.

Example. If you are a renter, and if your landlord has reason to want you gone, the landlord has to follow certain steps. The landlord can not arbitrarily lock you out and take control of your possessions.

There is way more to this than I have the energy to try and describe. I hope I've made it a  bit clearer why what was done to the Paradise Center is a scandal.

A scandal in which people were hurt. And continue to be hurt.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Scandal Madness Fan is Appalled at the Lack of Civility and Decency of the MHMR Cons

Yesterday a comment was made by "Scandal Madness Fan" that sort of summed up what I had been thinking regarding all the nasty, mean-spirited, ugly, heartless, indecent, inappropriate comments that have come in from people purporting to support MHMR-TC and what the CEO of that organization, Jim McDermott, did to the Paradise Center and Teresa Davis.

Below is the comment from "Scandal Madness Fan"....

Scandal Madness Fan has left a new comment on your post "Fort Worth's Paradise Center Scandal Now Has A Blog...":

Wow, the lack of civility and decency shown by the commenters against (the "cons") this Teresa lady and her small, but brave, group of people leaves me and my family wondering what has happened to these cons to make them so hateful.

Practically kicking and spitting on people who are "down" --from what appears to be some improper HR decisions and from the fact that these people just happen to have the misfortune of inheriting genes for life altering brain diseases.

Those commenters voicing opinions in favor of (the "pros"), these courageous people seem to have more serious questions that need answering than spitting out vile and often immature attacks.

The cons sure act like they're trying to hide some bad things they're guilty of, while the pros act like concerned citizens trying to sort out the truth from all the mean-spirited and distracting attacks.

We think the "Pros" are winning this discussion/debate in the court-of-public-opinion and that unless something substantial can be produced soon by the other side, the "Cons" will go wherever based on their culpability, including the big house, maybe, because they sure are acting like they've been caught BIG TIME.

While their "arguments" lack substance and factual support, we give the Cons credit for naming names and for "knowing who they're talking about/against".

Thanks for providing the facts, opportunities, and the forum, Durango. The local newspaper used to do this some years ago, we recall.

P.S. the specificity of names, actions, and situations spouted by the Cons would indicate that they are "thick as thieves" with the MHMR people and are getting money from MHMR of Tarrant County, either as salaries or grants. or they have super natural powers to know so much specific details.

Posted by Scandal Madness Fan to Durango Texas at March 19, 2011 2:31 PM


I have no way of knowing if it is true or not, but I have been told that MHMR employees have been told to cease with commenting on the subject of the Paradise Center Scandal. I imagine someone in that organization realized how bad the MHMR "Cons" were appearing in their vitriolic, badly written, comments.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Teresa Davis Wants You to Know the Truth About Her Daughter Elizabeth & the Paradise Center

In the picture you are looking at Elizabeth holding an award she got from her school.

Elizabeth's mom is Teresa Davis

I was appalled when I got some blog comments that brought Elizabeth into the discussion, in what I thought was some really bad underhandedness.

I debated with myself whether or not to hit the publish button. When I realized that these comments were indicative of the petty, bullying mindset of those who brought on the Paradise Center Scandal, I hit the publish button.

Those comments about Elizabeth, and more comments that followed, motivated Elizabeth's mom to respond, and so she did, in a very touching tribute to her daughter and to what Elizabeth has meant to the people at the Paradise Center.....

Mr. Durango,

When Steve told me you were setting up a separate blog, it made me wonder if you regretted ever posting about this.  It seems to have turned ugly pretty quickly.  Most of the guys who come to Paradise Center don't even know how to use a computer, much less find a blog.  So I know then that most of the ugly things are from professionals I've worked with and respected over the years.  It seems the respect wasn't mutual.

I want to address the comments about Elizabeth, my daughter.

When I first brought Elizabeth around Paradise Center, she was about 6 weeks old.  My relatives and best friends in the world found ways to say, in one way or another, "ARE YOU CRAZY?"

Now, they all know she won't catch schizophrenia from them.  But people with chronic, severe mental illnesses often have challenges with maintaining acceptable hygiene.  So, they were all worried about germs, diseases, etc.

Our pediatrician said that after she begins her first round of shots, she is good to go.  Exposing her to the public helps to build her immunity.

So we made the best choices we could, given the situation.  My husband has always helped with events at Paradise Center.  So, where we go, she goes.

I had a mother of one of these guys call me the other day.  She was fuming mad over what she'd read on your blog.

She remembers clearly one of our members, I'll call her Nelly, holding Elizabeth when we were at the NAMI conference in Austin.  Elizabeth was about 7 weeks old.  Nelly told us that she had NEVER been able to hold a baby because her family didn't want her touching their children.  Isn't that outrageous.  Lizzy fell asleep on her shoulder and, well, slept like a baby. Nelly sang and crooned to her.  It was so sweet for all of us to see.

And then there's another one, we'll call him Plaid.  He had NEVER held a baby, either.  He was afraid he would drop her and she'd die, since he held a puppy once and it jumped out of its arms and yelped.  So, sitting securely in a chair, Plaid held the first, and only, baby of his 50 years.  He cried.  It was so sweet.  Elizabeth didn't know a thing.

I remember going to the monthly NAMI meetings and the parents of people with mental illnesses lining up, almost, to hold her and carry her around.  I have a wonderful picture of a lady, who has passed now, named Jane.  She always wanted to hold Elizabeth.  It made her whole face light up.

So, she has been around lots of different people since her birth.  She went to a church preschool, Montessori elementary, took ballet, tap, jazz.  Has played soccer since she was 3.  T-ball.  Gymnastics.  Zoo school.  Museum school.  Camp Carter every summer.  College for Kids at TCCC.  Softball.  She has collected food for the Humane Society 3 different times.

She has only ever made A's.  She was in the school spelling bee and on her school's "Battle of the Books" team.   She was just voted by her class for the 6 weeks CORE Values award for exemplifying "Kindness, being sympathetic, caring.  Gentleness, loving."  She is in the gifted and talented program.

So, I don't usually brag on my kid, but she's pretty great.  She is able to adapt and be resilient because of her life experiences, good and bad.

So can we please focus on what this is really about?

The local Mental Health Authority, which is supposed to be the provider of last-resort, decided that THEY could run a more efficient, authentic CONSUMER-RUN organization than Paradise Center, Inc.  They took over because it is their building.  But then they are telling EVERYONE, including NAMI, MHA, and the public when they call MHMR, that it is "business as usual".

So, feel free to post this.  And the cute picture of my kid.  I'm sure that'll set off even more people.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

March 17 Paradise Center Scandal Update

It has been one month since MHMR-TC's CEO, Dr. Jim McDermott evicted Paradise Center, Inc. from it's home at 505 S. Jennings Avenue. He accomplished this by terminating the grant, and thereby terminating Teresa Davis, the full-time staff member.

It's been reported that it was just a "personnel matter".  In fact, the local NAMI chapter's Board voted to remain neutral on this "personnel issue".

It was not a "personnel issue".  It was not a "Human Resources" issue.

It was a takeover by MHMRTC of a successful consumer-run organization.

People who have known Teresa Davis for 20 years are questioning her integrity, whispering about why she was fired.  It must have been a good reason, or even a bad reason, one member told us.

MHMR won't, or legally can't, come out and say what happened.  But by not saying anything, it leaves alot to interpretation.  Or supposition. Or outright lies.

So our Board is going to release all of the information, including supporting documentation and emails, to the public to show the bullying that MHMR attempted with Teresa Davis and the Board.

Since September 2010, the Board of Directors of Paradise Center, Inc. have been in email contact with the executives of MHMR-TC.  For reasons they will not explain, MHMR wanted the Board to dissolve the non-profit organization and give over the organization to MHMR.   Make it a program of MHMR.  When we declined, the bullying began, ending ultimately in the firing of Teresa Davis and the termination of our grant.

Teresa met with Sonja Gaines (Chief of Mental Health), Donna Massey (Chief of Human Resources), and Susan Garnett (Deputy CEO) over the last few months.

Each meeting had the same theme:  Paradise Center is MHMR's program, and therefore we are in charge of the "program" and  we need to "supervise" you, Teresa, now.

But Teresa, and the 2 directors before her, have been supervised by the Paradise Center Board of Directors, and even hired by us, for her entire 10 year career.

A major hurdle over the years has been that MHMR never actually granted Paradise Center actual money.

They gave us an "in-kind" grant:  a building, utilities, vans, employees.  They controlled how much was spent on those things, not us.

This contributed to the perception by the consumers, MHMR staff members, family members, and the public that Paradise Center is a program of MHMR.  MHMR even STILL lists Paradise Center on their web page!  Talk about misleading!!!  Looks like they even believe their own "misrepresentation"!

And, it kept them in complete control of our little non-profit.  Granters wouldn't fund us since it looked like we were a "program" of a government organization.

When Dr. McDermott could not sway the Board of Directors of Paradise Center, Inc. to  agree that Paradise Center is just a program of MHMR and not a legally separate non-profit organization, he reacted by terminating the Director of Paradise Center, Inc., who is part of the grant that MHMR gives each year.

The Mental Health Consumers who have operated this non-profit organization for over 12 years were stripped of their ownership of the organization.  Their keys were taken away.  They were denied access to the organization's possessions.  But, they were told they could come to the new Center and be members.  Nothing had changed, they were told.

But when the local Mental Health Authority takes over a non-profit organization, EVERYTHING has changed.

The MHMR executives and staff think that the consumers won't notice anything is different if they keep serving coffee and opening the doors.

But these guys  know it is different.  Mental illness does not equal stupidity.  And they're waiting, too, for the time when Paradise Center, Inc. is able to open our doors again.  And they'll find their way to the place where friends help friends in mental health recovery.

Be careful, other small non-profits who receive grant money from MHMR-TC.

You could be next!

Who will come to your defense then?

Or will people who you trusted and supported remain neutral?  See the March newsletter of NAMI Tarrant County for their "position" statement.  

Want to see what's been said by MHMR staff and others about this?  There are some hateful people out there.  Read and comment at your own discretion...

A local blogger picked up this story and has had so many comments to his regular blog, that he started a separate blog just about this whole mess.  (Which you are reading right now)

Watch for more emails showing the long, well-documented emails between MHMR and the Board of Directors of Paradise Center, Inc.

And know that Paradise Center, Inc. is committed to the end.

Paradise Center, Inc.

"friends helping friends in mental health recovery"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Elizabeth Puts It All In Perspective For You Regarding The Paradise Center Scandal

That is Elizabeth in the picture, standing in her front yard, on Carter Street in Fort Worth, Texas.

Elizabeth was put through a lot of trauma courtesy of the City of Fort Worth and their cohorts known as Chesapeake Energy.

Trauma in the form of intimidation raids on Elizabeth's home, due to her dad's fight to keep Elizabeth's home safe from having a non-odorized natural gas pipeline run under it.

Seeing your house raided would be hard on the heart of anyone. It was particularly hard on Elizabeth.

Because Elizabeth has a hole in her heart in need of an operation.

Even though Elizabeth has a hole in her heart, she has one of the biggest hearts you'll ever come in contact with. I think Elizabeth is something like 8 years old going on 40. As in, wise way beyond her years.

I was appalled a couple weeks ago when some Anonymous MHMRer brought Elizabeth into the Paradise Center Scandal discussion. When I saw that Anonymous comment my first instinct was to not publish it. But then I realized that this particular comment was indicative of just how ugly the MHMR bullycrats were.

And so I published it.

You can read the Anonymous MHMR lackey comment below, followed by a Hypocrite Hater's comment. Then followed by what Elizabeth had to say.......

Anonymous said...

I think in the old Paradise Center group it got down to staff being Co-Dependent toward their clients. It previous post that Teresa had her phone open 24/7. I have heard how much time Teresa and Steves daughter has spent at Paradise Center. Elizabeth should have been allowed to have a normal childhood. Not having to spend her vacations and holidays with mentally ill patients. It was stated patients have severe mental illness. If Elizabeth grows up to be normal it will be a miracle. Folks in all the post no one has shown any concern for Elizabeth. I being a parent myself have my own concerns for this grade schooler.

Hypocrite Hater said...

WOW, MHMR lapdog hiding behind anonymous commenter on 03/11. Despite your obviously phony concern for this little girl, your contempt for PEOPLE afflicted with serious and disabling mental illnesses shine through like a laser beam from your dark heart...if there is one at all.

How desperate, vindictive, and twisted you are to try and attack a child now. Surely you have kept your child from these "psychos" in order to protect him/her from catching these contagious diseases. He/she would make a good replacement for the current MHMR-TC executives. Bravo for you, a person who makes money off of the very people you have such disdain for. Can you not get a job in another field? How sad for you, and ironic, that you can only get hired at MHMR-TC and forced to work with the inferior people who have so little regard for as human beings. Sweet irony and justice actually, you MHMR hypocrite.

Elizabeth, the extra normal kid said...

Hi, I'm Elizabeth [the little girl ]. My dad is giving me permission to write this letter and he is supervising what I'm doing right now.

I agree with Hyprocrite Hater because a person cannot catch mental illness from being around people who i've been around my whole life.

Don't worry about me because my mother always asks me if I want to go volunteer at Paradise Center [so called, the drop-in center, now] and help the guys who are like my 2nd family. Sometimes I stay home with my dad or play with friends, but most of the time I chose to go and help because I like to help people and those people like to be around a kid since almost all of them don't have kids of their own or know anybody with a kid who's not afraid of them or look down on them because they're mentally ill.

I also help them with even the smallest things like taking someone home, shopping for the snack bar, or just going to visit my mom at work.

Until we adopted my dog, Max,  2 years ago,  the guys at Paradise Center called me their mascot.

I don't have a normal childhood, but that's the way I like it, because I get to know people's stories and learn about their problems. Plus I'm learning that even an eight year old can do something to help people have a better life. My mom might miss a recital, or something, but I know she missed it for a great cause. My parents say I'm more mature than my friends because of being around adults who care about me, like I care about them.

For example I have a hole in my heart and one of the guys that I've known my whole life tries to win the lottery money for my surgery. THIS PART MAY MAKE YOU CRY BECAUSE IT JUST MADE MY DAD CRY.

By the way, anonymous, let's just Hope you're a normal person too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just so you all know, adding people's names and then accusing them about doing something is just PLAIN WRONG!! GROW UP AND BE A NORMAL PERSON!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Paradise Center MHMR-Gate Scandal Comments

Below are blog comments about the MHMR-Gate Paradise Center Scandal, received on Tuesday, March 15. One of the commenters asked if it were possible to combine all the related postings and comments in one location.

Well, that would be a bit of a daunting task. I don't like daunting tasks. But, this particular posting you are looking at right now can serve as the start of a location for centralized MHMR-Gate Scandal Comments.

New comments will appear below. This blog is only about the Paradise Center MHMR-Gate Scandal, so the scandal info, bloggings and comments will not get lost among a lot of unrelated material.

Let the commenting begin.........

Hummer said...
You would not succeed as an employee of Tarrant County MHMR under the current regime then, Durango. Especially if you have a working moral compass and stand for principles rather than principal$.

Friends working for MHMR say that the case workers are under pressure to help put down the Paradise Center resistance leaders, like calling them at home and telling them they could get taken to jail if they keep they best return and work under the new people who took over the community center to make sure this and other bad things don't happen to them.

The caseworkers and other staff are also to "help" the clients change their Medicaid HMO provider from Amerigroup to guess who. BRAVO. Guess when? Starting March 17.

Then when all these information finally had sunk in, guess what we said? Hmmm, this smells like rat, looks like a rat, and sure scurries like a rat.

March 15, 2011 9:40 PM

Peer leaders of Paradise Center, Inc. said...
Four peer leaders and Teresa Davis are sittng at a restaurant, reading your blog for the first time. We have many thoughts. From Miss Serena: I do not appreciate the opinion of the person that wrote about me. My name is Serena, not Sebrina. And I am not 'back' at that Center. I have been there, but to wait for a doctor appointment only. I am hurt by the way MHMR has treated the peer leaders and Teresa. In the future, if Anonymous or anyone else wants to blog about me, they should talk to me first. Don't assume. Also, it infuriates me that some of the workers that are down there now are talking bad about Teresa and saying she got fired and they don't know the facts. Teresaa wasn't just terminated. Paradise Center was kicked out. Apparently MHMR thinks the paid professional staff can run a better Consumer Run Organization than we can. And its SERENA, not Sebrina. From Dale:. I've been twice, to see my caseworker and to do my laundry. I am not 'back' with that group. MHMR has gone insane!
March 15, 2011 1:18 PM

Sick-N-Tired employee said...
Mr. Durango,

Could we suggest that you, if feasible, combine all the various postings and comments about this foul smelling scandal in one section or something like that so that we and the public could examine more closely this major scandal?

I'm a very troubled--by what I've seen and heard-- employee of MHMR on my day off and using my own computer and internet connection. My colleagues cannot get past all the secrecy and the new "controls" being imposed on us free Americans regarding this rotten mess created by some arrogant people who think they're our King and rulers.

Most MHMR employees are good decent human beings and Americans, so please keep in mind that this scandal involves mainly the big shots who get the big compensation packages and perks, including their fancy titles and cushy offices fit for executives at some major corporation.

Most of us office out of tiny cubicles (and even our cars)and we work IN the community, from the clinics in old buildings to street outreach on the E. Lancaster Homeless District.

We see our work as a service or a mission and more than just a paycheck source, just like Ms. Davis, who we had voted as one of the earliest recipients of the presigious Stetson Award, one given by the many regular employees who work WITH the people with special needs and not those inside comfortable offices inside that high priced Hulen Tower-- we still can't figure how they pay for that AND how they can put the clients in beat up old facilities.

Most of us are hard working and honest people, something we see lacking often in our executives and leadership, especially during this whole shameful scheme with Bravo Health Medicaid HMO for elderly and disabled people (STAR+PLUS).


Thank you.
March 15, 2011 1:29 PM

peer leaders of Paradise Center, Inc. continued said...
DALE CONTINUED:. They only care about financial gain! From N.: to whom it may concern: I have dedicated over 10 years volunteering at first Opportunity House then Paradise Center. When we moved from Oppotunity house, we were supposed to have the big clinic building that mhmr is in at 300 Pennsylvania. We were given the much smaller building, though, and it was made a separate non-profit and called Paradise Center. First I was a member then I became a peer leader on the board. We were the one who dedicated ourselves by running the center and helping the members function where they can be people who live in the community. On the day Teresa Davis got a note saying she was terminated, I was there washing my clothes we had to get out. I had to finish my laundry at a friends house. After we left, they changed the locks on all the doors and took away the keys we had, with all of paradise center's possessions locked up. When we went back the next day, MHMR executives would not let us in.
March 15, 2011 1:31 PM

Paradise Center Peer Leader said...
To finish my comment, I want to say that we were treated like common criminals. They had Teresa Davis on her knees on the concrete writing a list of our possessions that we wanted. If only the head man, Dr. MCdermott, would have had the decency to come talk to us consumers, maybe things would have worked out differently. We want to know why they kicked Paradise Center out of our home and why they fired Teresa Davis. She did not get the recognition and the respect that she deserves. You will never find another person like Teresa Davis. She gave up her family time to help us. That's how she dedicated herself to Paradise Center. Some of the members that she helped are still going to the building and do not appreciate what she did for them. We hope MHMR's satisfied and their conscience is clear on the decision that they made. Good luck. From peer leader, N.
March 15, 2011 3:35 PM

Teresa Davis said...
I have been mostly silent in the past month. I am not yet ready to have all the details of the six months leading up to my termination publicized. But I do want to make one fact very clear. I wasn't just terminated. The entire non-profit organization, its volunteers, programs, and possessions were kicked out. MHMR thinks they can trick the mental health consumers. 'Its the same building. Look, we use the same activity calendar! There is even the same former part time Paradise Center staff still here.'. But mental illness doesn't make a person ignorant. They know there is a difference. Time will show that MH professionals in that building, who I have known and respected for years, cannot recreate a consumer-run organization. They are not consumers. The peer support that Paradise Center provided is not the same as an when an MH professional gives advice. This is a huge step backwards for the consumer movement in Texas. So, the peer leaders who are loyal to the mission of Paradise Center, the Board...
March 15, 2011 3:56 PM

Teresa Davis said...
To continue, So, the peer leaders who are loyal to the mission of Paradise Center, the Board of Directors, and I are looking forward to the future. We hope the members can continue to find support until we are able to open our doors once again. N. has asked me to write one more sentence: It isn't over until the fat lady sings...and she's warming up now! We're all laughing at that comment. Thanks for providing an outlet.
March 15, 2011 6:41 PM

Anonymous said...
A fool and her band of nut cases. Who are you going to believe, this lowly reject or the CEO with a PhD running MHMR for over 22 years?

Who can you trust, this group of losers or the winners in complete control now? A.K.A. Lynn'$ BRAVO Company. Hu-ahh.
March 15, 2011 9:58 PM

Monday, March 14, 2011

County Commission Gal Explains Fort Worth's MHMR-GATE SCANDAL In Detail

County Commission Gal's explanation of the MHMR-Gate Scandal involving the Paradise Center first appeared on the Durango Texas blog on March 4. We are re-publishing what County Commission Gal had to say below for the scandalous enlightenment of those who don't know about the Paradise Center Scandal.....

A few days ago in response to a blogging about the Paradise Center Scandal, which I had renamed the MHMR-Gate Scandal, someone Anonymous hoped that I knew what I was talking about. And that the public needed and deserved to know about this "so-called scandal."

Wikipedia's definition of "Scandal"....

A scandal is a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages (or tries to damage) the reputation of an institution, individual or creed. A scandal may be based on true or false allegations or a mixture of both. From the Greek σκάνδαλον, a trap or stumbling-block. The metaphor is that wrong conduct can impede or "trip" people's trust or faith. Some scandals are broken by whistleblowers who reveal wrongdoing within organizations or groups.  Sometimes an attempt to cover up a possible scandal ignites a greater scandal when the cover-up fails.

This afternoon I heard from someone calling herself County Commission Gal. Read what County Commission Gal has to say about the MHMR-Gate Scandal and you will easily see that the MHMR Tarrant County shenanigans clearly are a scandal. And those shenanigans are scandalous.

From County Commissioner Gal...

I don't want to risk losing my job, especially as retirement nears, so I won't use my real name.  I heard talk last week around the county administration offices about Paradise Center and like many people wanting to know more about this interesting but disturbing story I was forced to use a search engine to find some kind of reporting.  I was rather shocked to see only the brief piece in the FW Weekly about the protest. And the posts on your blog. 

Again I don't want to have problems with my job as a County employee, with extensive experience in government operations and analytical work.  But I want to honor my brother's shortened life and memory by sharing with the only information dissemination source about this scandal--yes, from all my years of experience and from reading the evidence presented to the County Executive and the Commissioners, it looks like a pretty major and costly scandal.

I am using my own computer and time to share with the public what appears to be the hard truths about disturbing issues surrounding this scandal, which is so ugly that it appears even the County government is trying to dismiss it and hoping that it just goes away.  Because these courageous Paradise Center folks are weak and powerless in almost every way. Their main powers are their resolve to demand that they not be exploited and treated as second or third class citizens. Their hope of holding on to their hard earned resolve and rights as citizens rests in the truth getting out (hello, media/journalists) and the public raising a chorus of questions and protests until the wrongdoers are held accountable.

Because I am convinced that this is so very important for our friends and neighbors suffering from severe mental illness and that it serves the public interest, I will share some selected facts I know about this scandal.  Based on written material I've seen and from discussions I've heard (plus some of my own research of publicly available information, the essence of this scandal is that MHMR Trustees approved of the CEO and his executive team's scheme to bring in needed "revenue" (vs. funding, which are from grants or government budgets) by cleverly exploiting the well established community center operated by the "consumer-run" non-profit organization Paradise Center Inc. in the following main ways:

-- MHMR signed a contract with the private profit-driven HMO group called Bravo Health  to begin enlisting MHMR clients who qualify for Medicaid. 

--Medicaid pays pretty good for services that help people with severe and persistent mental illness recover from their disabling illness and to reintegrate back into society (e.g. classes or training groups to learn how to take care of their hygiene needs, paying their bills so they won't lose their housing and end back up on the streets as homeless people, managing their medical and pharmaceutical needs such as making and keeping appointments and getting prescriptions filled and organizaing their many medications in pill boxes to ensure that they follow the psychiatrist's treatment plan and control the negative symptoms of their mental illness, how to budget their limited income, buy groceries and eating healthy meals, making friends and a support network like most people have and take for granted, etc.).   

--Bravo and MHMR would "share" employees and infrastructures in order to maximize profit for the company and revenue for the taxpayer-funded government agency.

--The executives told their "bosses" the Board of Trustees, who are appointed by the Commissioners Court to be their surrogates in overseeing a governmental agency under the "sponsorship" (see their websites) of Tarrant County government, in meetings last summer that this business agreement/contract "is projected to bring over $600,000 of revenue in the first year".  That's not small change any way you look at it, especially if MHMR doesn't have to provide the costly outlays to set up such a state-approved "program" to help their very sickest/debilitated clients increase their likelihood of staying in their own place in the community instead of on the streets, in shelters, or the most costly inpatient hospitalizations or in the criminal justice system.

--The reason that MHMR could expect to gain such a large "revenue" and not really having to do much of the work was the assumption that the extremely low overhead would continue by using the 8,000 man hours of volunteer work by the Paradise Center team to operate a well-known and well-loved community center for the people with chronic and severe mental illness. 

--The "foundational grant" that MHMR had signed contracts to provide for the most basic operational needs of Paradise Center the organization and its community center is a shockingly low $150,000 per year, which covers the paltry salary package of the well-educated (two masters degrees from the world's largest and most influential seminary) and extremely competent professional staff whose decades of unblemished record working with the sickest of the sick (i.e. the psych hospital or "ward") made her 9 and 1/2 year work a success that produced significant and very positive results for many people who participate in the array of services, programs, and opportunities offered by Paradise Center.

--Apparently due to her personal and professional ethics, Teresa Davis resisted 5 months of harsh and really shameful pressure tactics by the MHMR executive team, including holding toilet paper and other products for the Center's four bathrooms that serve the 80 or so average unique people who attend the tiny community center as ransom to force her to attend another two hour long meeting where 3 or more MHMR executives would gang up on her using verbal and emotional assaults to break down her will and ethical stance,  to go along with their false representation (to Bravo Health and the state agency that oversees Medicaid/HMO) that "Paradise Center is just another one of our many programs" and that she was just another one of their 1,300 employees subject to their complete control and domination.

--MHMR knew that it was critical for this influential person to go along with this falsehood since the contract, and the detailed proposal to the state for approving their partnership to provide Medicaid billable services with the profit-driven HMO, had stated that everything about Paradise Center and its operations (i.e. legal status as an independent 501/c/3 non-profit organization, it's Charter and By-laws which vests the authority for its operations and other important issues in the all-volunteer Board of Directors) was under the direct control of MHMR.  

--Contract law experts could see the problems easily: we have three separate legal entities/organizations here and two of them had entered into a contractual business partnership but intentionally not letting the other, smaller and weaker, legal entity Paradise Center Inc. know about their deal. Very serious legal and financial consequences would jump out, to all three parties and the state agency overseeing Medicaid/HMO, when the Bravo Health team comes in and takes over most of the internal operations of the community center operated by Paradise Center Inc. with the complete assurance that it is "a program of MHMR" their business partner.

--Paradise Center Inc. leadership team and their 500+ official members would surely raise objections and whip out their legal documents and contracts that would expose the lie concocted by MHMR's leadership team and Trustees.  Bravo Health, a major HMO who is new to this market, would then likely ask MHMR's team to do some serious explaining, privately and/or in the courts since lawyers with knowledge of this scheme said it would be a basic fraud case.

--Paradise Center and its well-loved community center is crucial to the calculation of the projected profit and revenue by the two business partners because most of the people with mental illness do not like to attend required meetings, classes, or training sessions because they remind them of their time locked up in restricted institutions like psych hospitals/wards and even prison where "the mental patients" or "inmates" were under complete control of those in power over them.  

--A major factor in Paradise Center's success and "popularity" (80 people choosing to walk for miles or take tedious 1-2 hour long bus rides in all kinds of weather  to come be around friends and participate in fun and helpful activities daily is extraordinary) is the warm atmosphere and "culture of acceptance and support" that Teresa Davis had worked over her 9 and 1/2 years to promote and inculcate, which had become an expected characteristic as new people come asking to join and participate based on recommendations by friends, family, and various professionals.  THIS IS A KEY PART OF THE SCHEME: unwitting people who come to their community center were seen as "fish in the barrel" for the Medicaid-billable rehab services as "the authority" pulls those qualified for such financially profitable activities in to nearby meeting rooms for 30-minutes or longer rehab services.

--This is a clear case of arrogance, bullying, as well as deceptive and exploitive behavior.

--For MHMR's leadership team, the expected easy money and the potential consequences of the legal issues just described, made it imperative that Ms. Davis be gotten out of the way, whatever it took. The community center and organization operating successfully out of 505 S. Jennings had to be successfully passed off as completely MHMR's by a date certain, knowing that the already delayed enrolling period was quickly approaching on 05/01/11. If they could convince the state agency that everything is kosher and thus their business enterprise was now "operationally ready" to start doing business and billing Medicaid.

--Thus Ms. Davis's resiliency and principled stance had to be overcome somehow: the shockingly devastating and extremely foolish act by MHMR's Trustees, CEO, executive team, and legal counsel in "terminating your employment immediately" on 02/17/11.  

--The very next morning the MHMR-Bravo team took over the community center and busily walked around looking at their design plans for the facility, discussing how to keep people coming in such large numbers (bought pizzas and gave out free drinks all days to the 30 or so unknowing people who showed up), and more importantly trying to figure out how to find people to replace the exiled Paradise Center Inc. leadership team and their 8,000+ hours of volunteer work to make THEIR community center and organization the "jewel of the community" and an "easy" prey for their scheme to exploit the name/reputation, "warmth"/culture, and free labor of the people with serious mental illness in order to maximize the HMO's profit margin and to empower and enrich the executives of MHMR. Trustees praise and give them raises for such a "creative" business solution, especially in this budget-reducing era.

--They don't get or don't care about the cruel irony of their willfull actions and motivations: exploiting and abusing the very people that they righteously declare to the public and taxpayers they are committed to helping "improving quality of life" and dedicated to prevent them from being abused, neglected, or exploited by those with more power and sophistication.

 Tell the truth and the whole truth, Mr. Durango.  Please help me protect my anonymity.

To protect County Commission Gal's anonymity I edited out her detailing of her personal reason that motivated her to look into the MHMR-Gate Scandal. I thought those details would make her identifiable. Suffice to say, she has a relative who died who would have benefited had he been able to access the type of help provided by the Paradise Center before MHMR destroyed it.


CEO Must GO said...
It sounds like a scandal, smells like a scandal, and looks like a scandal.

Start packing MHMR big shots cuz the people will throw you out like those corrupt autocrats overseas.
MARCH 4, 2011 5:53 PM

 Anonymous said...
Dear Mr. Durango,

I'm a retired MHMR clinical worker and I am writing because I have gotten calls and emails from former colleagues in the agency about this shocking scandal.

First, I want to say that I knew and had great respect for Teresa because she was a humble but very dedicated professional whose only ambition was to serve and help those people. Often using diplomacy and clinical skills to quietly help clients who had missed appointments or lost their meds or scripts by personally and respectfully asking me and some other client-focused staff to get whatever meds the client needed because she knew that even missing a few days of these powerful and helpful meds could land the people in the expensive psych ER or could be the first step in their relapse or "decompensation".

In other words, Comm. Gal is right on when she describes the stellar professionalism and strong personal and professional ethics of Paradise Center's director. Teresa's and other agency employees' hard work and dedication are usually not recognized and rewarded because the top leadership have a totally different focus and values. They have lost focus on the individual client and their needs as PEOPLE. Instead they focus on numbers, head count, money, and political favors and their status and power inside and outside the agency.

So the information and analysis from Comm. Gal is very incisive and consistent with what I had observed and experienced in my long service in the agency.

The biggest part of the MHMR scandal for me is the fact that these executives knew what would happen when Teresa was "killed off" suddenly like that: those hundreds of vulnerable people respect, trust, and love her. Living on a farm now, I view that as amazingly unprofessional and unethical and like killing off the mama of a brood of young chicks, who are now left scattered, confused, and very vulnerable to predators and other natural elements putting their health and safety and even lives at risk. I am not exaggerating because this how deadly serious it is.

This is not the first time these people at MHMR make foolish decisions and hurt the very people that they're paid to help and to protect. It just looks like they've picked on someone with strong morals and who has the LOVE of so many people whose lives she has touched(or the lives of their family, friends, or like me their patients/clients).

I pray for Teresa and her supportive husband and daughter whose willingness to get to know the people helped them feel like they are part of a real family. Something most do not have but is critical in their continued recovery and feeling "normal"--what's more normal and human than to have a mother figure, a brother figure, and a little girl who "takes the place" of the niece or child that most of these people don't have.

Paradise Center was like a safe home with an emotionally healthy family (rare for even many people) structure. That's why people are upset, confused, and acting out in negative ways. Their "mother and family" had just been "murdered" and their "home" taken over by good friends of the people who did the dastardly deed.

Scandalous. Immoral. Shameful. And possibly criminal what they did and caused.

Thank you, Retired Nurse
MARCH 5, 2011 5:21 AM

 Susanna said...
Clear explanations and transparency better be coming soon from the MHMR leadership. S-O-O-n because these are very reasonable allegations backed by what appears to be solid research and evidence. And some deadly serious affects on people's lives.

Who else besides these elected County Commissioners could play a positive role? Maybe these Commissioners need to be scrutinized and come election know how democracy works.
MARCH 5, 2011 7:38 PM  

 Anonymous said...
MHMR and their leaders are the most caring, professional, and ethical people in the world.

You, that criminal Teresa--why else would they kick her sorry A$%^ out so quickly--and the handfull of your elks need to apologize to Dr. McDermott and his compassionate team. And shut up and move back to Washington if you don't like the Fort Worth Way.
MARCH 6, 2011 8:40 AM

 Utilization Manager said...
Speaking of "criminal", Anonymous. Do a quick search of "the Citadel and Medicaid fraud" and see what you think. I used to work for Tarrant county MHMR and I was impressed by how the CEO and his political allies managed to keep MHMR and his name from being connected to the Citadel Medicaid story.

MHMR was involved in a similar business partnership that was projected to be as profitable as this one with Bravo health. I worked for a while in the department that was working closely with the Citadel people to make sure that no laws are broken or skirted.

Well, see for yourself. I don't think the CEO and MHMR can escape from this scandal. Let's hope so for the people and the taxpayers' sake.
MARCH 6, 2011 2:04 PM

 CatsPaw said...
"... handful of your elks"? The only native elk in Texas have been extinct for a hundred years and surely you don't mean the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks because I think they're busy partying and doing a little community good.

Certainly this matter seems to have a fishy odor about it and inquiring minds would like to know what the hell is going on. If the actions of MHMR are on the up-and-up, a little transparency will only serve them well.

Perhaps you meant "handful of your ILK"?

I don't know any of the players in this drama personally, but I am of that ilk. And questioning the "Fort Worth Way" can help keep things on the up-and-up, too.
MARCH 6, 2011 2:06 PM

 KerrieAnnCutie said...
This all seems so silly. Aren't there people that supervise the MHMR people? Whose in charge over there? Maybe Durango could just ask them and report here what they say. And what about Ms. Davis. How come we're not hearing from her? Has she been able to explain to her clients that she seems to be close to what has happened? That seems like the decent thing for MHMR to do.
I don't know if this is a scandal or just a lack of information available. My guess is that MHMR doesn't even know about this blog. I found it through a friend telling me. She works at MHMR and says that her co-workers assume Ms. Davis did something wrong to get fired, but everyone has been ordered not to contact her in any way. Also, everyone has been reminded by email that they are not to talk to media in any way. That doesn't pass the smell test. Durango, put on your Clark Kent glasses and go see what you can find out. Inquiring minds want to know!
MARCH 6, 2011 10:02 PM

 Scandal Listener said...
Got friends working inside Hulen Tower and they say something is definitely going down. The executives are meeting constantly together and racking up tons of legal bills calling MHMr's high dollar lawyer all the time.

The CEO has avoided being seen, comes in early or slipping in quickly and quietly. Some say it looks like he's undergone drastic physical changes, maybe from stress or lack of sleep AND taking something to help cope. Definitely less smug and more nervous, so talking less due to increased stuttering problem.

Women executives ("my gals ") roll their eyes and make faces whenever his name comes up. They're visibly antsy and distracted as well.

Friends say they hope these big shots, but not that sharp as executives go, leave soon because they're more secretive and are causing unnecessary tensions and distractions.
MARCH 7, 2011 6:45 PM

 Clinic staff said...
Don't expect much discussion since theMcDermott regime has clamped down on employees' participation in any free speech type activity without MHMR's propaganda department's screening and approval.

Wish MHMR would leave Libya and relocate to America.
MARCH 7, 2011 10:00 PM

 FW sucks said...
Any details about the good Samaritan who is donating some space for the homeless Paradise Center folks?

Murmurs around the clubs on Jennings was that the owners of the Rainbow Lounge and nearby properties were the good and decent American in question. Not churches, church members, NAMI of Tarrant county, county commissioners court, or even JPS/tsp. Not even Otis Thornton and the city's homeless coalition.

Which all make sense, in the FW Way kind of way. Those groups either are scared of the powerful MHMR CEO or can't wait to get more business from the fallout of the MHMR coup Doeung yet (and. stronger argument to ensure more fund$ for themselves).

The glbt people and the Rainbow Lounge know what it feels like to be treated as outcasts, third class citizens, and even to be bullied and abused by governmental agencies and individuals.

So, what gives? Or rather WHO gives a damn besides you, Durango?
MARCH 8, 2011 1:54 PM

 Anonymous said...
Dr. McDermott has so many political connections and money at his disposal that this scandal will just fade away, like other ones during his twenty something years as the top dog.

Like the powerful Col.Kadafi in Libya, Jim McDermott will get his political allies to crush these loony birds and that hard headed woman many seem to see as a saintly figure. P-l-e-e-z. She can't hold a candle to the awesome women in charge now Lynn and Ellen.

You all go get a life. Or a job, like that whiney Teresa "bohoo" Davis.

BTW, it's not any kind of suppression of freedom by MHMR, it's just that they have more important things to do than answer questions from you little nobodies.

Especially the damn yankee owner of this pathetic news source. If the Star-Telegram doesn't report it, it ain't worth the time. Period.
MARCH 9, 2011 1:04 PM

 Anonymous said...
I agree with the short tv report on WFAA two weeks ago that a disgruntled employee and a few followers was picketing outside Paradise Center. Anon I agree that Fort Worth Star Telegram does not find this news worth reporting. The clients are not suffering. Ther are having fun with new staff and new peer leadership. Sebrina and Dale are back from Teresas little group. Paul is back and back to ordering supplies. Lynn has condensed alot of the paperwork to a smoother running center. Two of the male clients volunteered to keep the four bathrooms clean on a daily basis. Time to move on like the clients have.
MARCH 13, 2011 4:14 PM