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Sunday, November 21, 2010

California Regional Centers and Transparency

Jack Chang reports in The Sacramento Bee:

While the state weighed billions of dollars in social services cuts to bridge a gaping budget deficit, tax records show one state-funded nonprofit group paid its president a salary of $520,000 to oversee the housing and care of several dozen people with developmental disabilities.

Jack Hinchman, president of the Ontario-based nonprofit Benson House, also received $281,800 that year to lease his own properties to the organization, according to the group's 2008 tax return, the most recent available.

The nonprofit's board of directors, charged with monitoring Benson House's practices, included Hinchman's mother and another relative.

Advocates for disabled people and two state legislators said the practices at Benson House aren't isolated cases in California's system of 21 nonprofit regional centers, which distribute billions of dollars in state money each year to groups aiding developmentally disabled people.

Regional centers award often lucrative contracts to service providers without competitive bids, which would shed light on proposed spending and help tamp down costs. State laws don't require regional centers to reveal to the public the rates they pay specific service providers.

The state doesn't even require the centers to produce lists of the providers they use, said Boyd Bradshaw, director of a coalition representing 1,200 state service providers.