As editor of San Juan Islander I debated whether to post this column. The part accusing the current Mullis Center Board of financial mismanagement skirts right on the edge of libel. I decided to post it because the Mullis Center Board has written about this letter and has explained fully the need to amend some tax forms.
In the wake of the recent Washington Superior Court’s Order mandating the San Juan County Senior Services Council restore improperly removed voting rights to local seniors and disabled constituents, the current San Juan Mullis Center Operations Committee recently sent out two misleading communications to further deflect responsibility and mislead our community.
In the recent publications, included in the San Juan Journal, the San Juan Islander, and the Mullis Center Newsletter, the current Council minimized their role in improperly seizing voting rights from local seniors. In short, in August 2019 the existing Council illegally changed the bylaws such that they would stay in power indefinitely without fear of standing for election again.
Rather than explain the rationale for their illegal and unauthorized actions, the Council has instead doubled down and attacked the very folks who stood up against their abuse of authority, departure from 40+ years of established practice, and undemocratic actions. No amount of deflection or spinning can change what happened and what the Court reversed: Six people on the Council stole your voting rights and consolidated full unaccountable power to themselves. Many citizens were rightly concerned at this illegal power grab and violation of trust to all citizens.
If there is any shred of light coming from this recent blatant and immoral power grab it is that every representative from Lopez Island saw right through this sham from the beginning and tried to vote it down. Not one representative from Lopez Island supported this Council’s illegal actions in 2019.
The reality is that the upcoming election in October for new council members would not be happening if not for the conscientious folks who stood up to the current Council. The Court had to specifically order this Council to follow their own bylaws and hold this election. And this upcoming election is to fill all the seats that should have been filled in the elections of 2019, 2020, and 2021 that were improperly cancelled because of the current Council’s illegal actions.
Unfortunately, this may not be the end of the misconduct. Recently, potentially gross unexplained financial deficiencies have been discovered. Specifically, in December 2020, the current Council quietly and suspiciously amended past tax returns eliminating over $500,000 in assets. On the heels of their illegal actions in taking away our votes and becoming less transparent, there needs to be a better explanation other than their mysteriously stated explanation: "to remove community foundation funds held by others.”
This is no small matter and suggests further disturbing misconduct or incompetence. We should all demand an audit of these financials that the current Council has avoided up to now by their unilateral actions to hold on to power.
Our Senior Centers are critically important community assets held in trust by a 501(c)(3) Foundation. The Public is entitled to competent oversight, integrity, and transparency in such matters. Current leadership is not providing these essential qualities. It is high time for a change.
Signed by: P. Arroyo, S. Blair, C. Brooks, B. Buck, R. Callegari, S. Carnes, T. Christensen, E. Christensen, A. Commins, K. Commins, B. Dragin, J. Fodor, M. Gallagher, P. Gallagher, A. Gavora, S. Haley, S. Harrison, G. Illif, K. Keller, R. Keller, S. Keller, J. Knych, M. Knych, J. Musburger, F. Penwell, P. Penwell, R. Peter, G. Peterson, S. Plummer, R. Polda, T. Polda, W. Ray, B. Reilly, B. Robinson, K. Robinson, D. Schwartz, K. Schwartz, M. Skuffeeda, R. Swenson, R. Taylor, P. Vincillette, D. Ware, R. Ware