"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.