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SPHINCTER SPOTLIGHT: Haters of Tasha Clark-Amar, Council on Aging Executive Director

Sphincter SpotlightTo all those people attacking the executive director of the East Baton Rouge Council on Aging, we have a bit of advice: Slow your roll. Haters like the media, state ethics watchdogs, and people with a sense of decency need to lay off Tasha Clark-Amar.

And just to clarify: When we say “lay off,” we mean “leave her alone,” not “remove her from her job.”

She’s doing a fine job running the council. This past fall, she managed to get a 2.25-mill property tax approved by voters in this anti-tax political environment, thereby more than doubling the COA’s annual budget from $3.2 million to $7.8 million with practically no oversight.

Meanwhile, another hater, the state Legislative Auditor’s Office, is investigating claims that Clark-Amar’s quasi-governmental, publicly funded agency improperly campaigned for the millage increase. People like Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso, also a hater, claim the COA broke state law by using public funds to sway an election, specifically by donating $700 from the council to Support Our Seniors, the political action committee promoting the tax proposal.

Haters gonna hate, and grieving family members who receive calls from unknown parties claiming to be in charge of their recently departed loved one’s estate gonna file suit.

Well, it turns out that money came from payroll deductions, not directly from public money. Of course, this is technically “ethically improper,” but hey, when COA employees say they want to donate to help the cause, what better way to make sure they actually pony up than by taking it directly out of their paychecks?

And speaking of getting people to donate to the cause, the Legislative Auditor’s Office is looking into so-called “pay for play” accusations prompted by an email from COA Director of Development Corey Williams soliciting political candidates for donations in exchange for being featured on the Support Our Seniors PAC ballot.

That’s not “pay for play.” That’s more like “pay for placement.” Big difference.

But the most potent doses of haterade are being served up by people like Amoroso, fellow Metro Councilman Dwight Hudson, and the family of the late Helen Plummer, who passed away at the age of 95 last month after attending the COA for two years. They’re all slamming Clark-Amar for “unduly influencing” the elderly woman just because Clark-Amar is the executrix of Plummer’s estate.

Amoroso and Hudson want Clark-Amar to resign, alleged ethics experts have called the situation despicable, and Plummer’s family has filed legal action against her.

Haters gonna hate, and grieving family members who receive calls from unknown parties claiming to be in charge of their recently departed loved one’s estate gonna file suit.

According to The Advocate, documents filed with the 19th Judicial District Court indicate that in July, Plummer drafted a will declaring “my friend, Dytasha Clark-Amar” as the executor of her estate, which she indicated should be placed into a trust. Plummer — who was obviously of sound mind in selecting to run her estate the executive director of the quasi-governmental agency of which she was a client — also specified in the will that Clark-Amar reimburse herself $500 a month from the trust until Plummer’s youngest heir (born in 2008) turns 30 years old. Attorney and Council on Aging board member Dorothy Jackson notarized the will and is representing “the estate of Helen Plummer” (aka Dytasha Clark-Amar) in court. So it’s all completely above board.

First of all, if Clark-Amar really was interested in taking old people’s money, her agency wouldn’t have lost over $200,000 on a failed bingo hall that wasn’t even open for a year.

Secondly, who among us hasn’t been asked by a 95-year-old woman we recently met to be the trustee of her estate while running a public entity that’s the target of a legislative audit and increasing public scrutiny? Honestly, this sort of thing happens all the time. Nonagenarians are constantly asking people in positions of power whom their families know nothing about to pay themselves six figures over the next 20 years as the executors of their estates. This is all just a witch hunt to get Clark-Amar.

If Clark-Amar really was interested in taking old people’s money, her agency wouldn’t have lost over $200,000 on a failed bingo hall that wasn’t even open for a year.

Plus, Plummer’s “family” says she told them on her deathbed that she didn’t have a will, which makes us wonder just how close they really were. Why else would she misspell her own daughter’s name and get both of her great-granddaughters’ birthdays wrong in the will?

Then, as if that wasn’t enough hate for you, state and local lawmakers are conspiring to totally overhaul the COA board and institute unbearably burdensome oversight of Clark-Amar’s agency.

Republican Baton Rouge area state legis-haters Steve Carter, Paula Davis, and Franklin Foil are behind House Bill 199, which would completely change the makeup of the council’s governing board. At the same time, Hudson and Amoroso, also Republicans, want the Metro Council to ratify all of the COA’s future board members, as well as require the agency to give quarterly financial reports to the mayor and Metro Council, follow open meetings and public records laws, and be bound by the Code of Governmental Ethics.

Sweet Jesus! Why not just ask Clark-Amar to donate a kidney and be done with it?

For all the GOP talk about deregulation, these Republicans need to deregu-hate and leave Clark-Amar alone!

 

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Editorial Staff
A random collection of overqualified, underachieving smartasses.

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