Federal Investigation Underway into Senior Advisory Council
After being removed as chair of the Senior Advisory Council for Elders, Bill Gentile’s concerns prompted a state investigation. Then, the Administration for Community Living (the federal agency overseeing funding through the Older Americans Act) reviewed the results, and requested a deeper look. That inquiry is now taking place from Salem into what Gentile describes as potential conflicts of interest, lack of diversity, and other issues possibly counter to federal statutes.
Mike McCormick, deputy director of the Oregon Department of Human Services' Aging and People With Disabilities Program, took an initial look at Gentile's allegations and found substance in some and dismissed others.
He emailed his findings to Gentile Nov. 1, calling the claims of potential conflict of interest and lack of diversity on the advisory council "significant," but added that he "cannot conclude that the financial support of EiA compromises the advisory function of the Commission … ."
"We are already taking proactive steps with [Multnomah County's Aging Disability and Veterans Services Division] to discuss the concerns you have raised over the lack of progress in recruiting members from diverse communities, including the issue of resources for translation services, and how their current efforts may be leveraged to address these concerns," he wrote.
McCormick is having staff take the closer look at Gentile's concerns and plans to have additional information available soon.
Gentile says he's "not trying to win anything" by speaking out, and he only wants low-income and other seniors in Multnomah County to have the best services they can get.
"Part of that is having a vibrant and robust advisory council collaborating and cooperating with the agency and the services," he says. "Everyone has challenges, and I appreciate that, and I think we should be very candid about those challenges and say, 'Here are those limits and how can we provide services within these constraints?' That's it. That's all I'm after."
Cathy can be reached at [email protected]