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An Update from SCCExposed Founder

It is my most sincere wish for all SCCExposed readers that you and your loved ones are safe and well during this difficult time in which our communities have been experiencing not only a devastating pandemic and economic crisis challenges, but also political and social unrest demanding long overdue social justice. May the force of love, hope, health, peace, mercy, tolerance, and respect be with you all.

 It has been several months since I posted anything to this website. The knowledge of much injustice, abuse of power and lack of respect for the law and Santa Clara County taxpayers, as well as the suffering of many innocent people like my husband got so overwhelming that I had to take a long break from this.

The truth is, it is incredibly stressful to have institutional knowledge of such abuse of power. It is stressful to mount the courage to expose the evidence to those who have the power to do right and enforce the law, just to be ignored, disregarded, intimidated, mocked and on top of that, have your family and loved ones pay for your daring to expose such corruption and abuse.

It is very discouraging to see taxpayers and law abiding citizens who expose corruption being treated like criminals, bullied, scorned, and even being verbally abused by the political supporters of those individuals the people elected to office (this will be a separate writing)

It is very frustrating and demoralizing to learn about other people in similar, and in some cases, worse situations and being unable to help these people to achieve justice. So for my own peace of mind, I had to take a break.

All this time I have been helping my husband cope with the abuse that the County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency, particularly IHSS, has for years perpetrated against him and our family in retaliation for our exposing corruption, incompetence, abuse of workers, neglect of clients, and waste of taxpayer money.

There is no glory or reward in being a whistleblower. The system will destroy your life, reputation, character, and health. Our elected officials know it, but they do not care.

And that does not happen only to whistleblowers in the current White House administration; it happens everywhere regardless of the political party in power. In Santa Clara County, many government officials condone this abuse because most of the workers silently succumb to the abuse and pressure and quit. The few that fight for justice and win, well, the millions of dollars that they receive for their years of suffering, mistreatment and abuse, that money comes out of our tax dollars. Maybe it would be a different story if these elected officials had to pay the lawsuits against the County from their own pocket.

In any case, after months of silence I am writing this article to give an update on what has happened on our end during all these months and expose the disgraceful double standard with which the County of Santa Clara conducts its business and imparts “Just Culture.”

 

Two Tales of Incompetence: Sabotage to Make It vs. Incompetence Protected

 

In the County of Santa Clara there are two kinds of incompetence that affect those receiving County services and waste our tax dollars. The first kind of incompetence is that purposely designed to make capable, intelligent workers fail so that they can be removed from office, demoted, and or terminated, despite the collateral and trickledown effect management’s actions have down the line.

The second kind is real incompetence, that, which cannot be cured. It should be expunged like a tumor in order to prevent spread. But ironically it is protected by County executive management and the County Board of Supervisors, who have a documented track record of celebrating incompetence, corruption and abuse of power within the County’s leadership. 

 

Sabotage to Make Them Look Incompetent

 

My husband, Evan Dowling, started with IHSS in October 2014. He possesses an enormous quantity of documented evidence that he has performed his work competently, professionally, and diligently as their Management Analyst, as he does his best to serve the best interests of County taxpayers, his co-workers, and the public welfare. Nevertheless, he has been written up for incompetence and failure to perform assigned duties in a timely manner. Listening to Mr. Lum, Evan’s supervisor and Ms. Possley's (IHSS Program Manager) accusations, their evidence against my husband looks pretty damning.

According to Mr. Kingston, while it took several months to Evan complete just a handful of record requests, Mr. Lum was able to process a great deal of documents in just 7.5 hours. Likewise, Mr. Lum claims he has offered his help to Evan in order to expedite work completion.

And when Evan brought up to Mr. Lum’s attention the fact that the files Evan needs to print and process are too large and he needs to have his own printer so that he is not monopolizing the high capacity printers shared with Social Workers, Mr. Lum told Evan that he had offered to teach Evan to do secure printing. And the list about what Mr. Lum has done to support Evan goes on and on.

For those not knowing any better, Mr. Lum and Ms, Possley sound very reasonable and supportive of Evan. However, the reality is the total opposite: First, the lengths of these documents vary, and a short document is processed much faster than a document consisting of hundreds of pages that need to be gathered from different sources. Second, uninterrupted work gets done faster than when a worker is constantly interrupted with multiple requests and endless distractions like those Evan was exposed to while trying to comply with the assigned work.

Then there is the fact that while Santa Clara County are paying Evan to do Management Analyst work, Mr. Lum and Ms. Possley have misused Evan’s skill and talent to have him perform menial tasks, and often times even mindless paper shuffling of large files.

The County is known for its unscrupulous ways to target workers they want to fire by setting them up for failure. Evan’s case is just one of so many, dozens, perhaps hundreds of other cases throughout the County’s government.

Sabotaging employees’ work is something some managers in the County’s government sadly do very well. I have knowledge of cases in which managers go into workers’ computers and delete and/or alter the employee’s work to make the worker sound stupid and incompetent, and then, those workers are punished for their incompetence under the County’s bylaws, resulting in them being suspended without pay, demoted, and in some cases terminated from the County.

 

Death by a Thousand Cuts

 

In Evan’s case, years of bullying, stalking and abuse by Ms. Terry Possley, Kingston Lum, and company, have resulted in Evan developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Twice last year, without any explanation or justification, his Supervisor, Kingston Lum along with a security guard, evicted Evan from the office like a criminal. The first time they did that Mr. Lum also used a gun carrying law enforcement officer to do the dirty work.

This is Jeff Smith’s “Just Culture” and respect for elderly workers in action. Evan was put on paid administrative leave way back in October 2019, nearly nine months ago. And while for some people in Evan’s case may enjoy this situation, Evan has been stressing about his expulsion from office all of this time.

Evan is an ethical and honest person who is upset at the lack of respect the County has for taxpayers and the law. The last time Evan confronted County Counsel about being put on paid administrative leave, the very next workday he received a notice from his department director informing him that he was too sick to work and they were suspending him without pay, in spite of no evidence to substantiate this department director's claims. And despite the County’s Anti-Wage Theft OLSEN program, Evan’s wages were stolen from him without any consequences for the perpetrators.

This is what the County does to good workers. A similar case happened to the whistleblower attorney who denounced District Attorney Jeff Rosen due to his deliberately and knowingly paying his staff for work not done. The whistleblower was fired, then demoted and bullied until this attorney left the County for good. And our elected officials were perfectly OK with that.

After months of stressing and anguishing over his most recent baseless and unlawful expulsion, Evan finally was called to be part of a Zoom conference interrogation by Mr. Lum, witnessed by Ms. Possley and Evan’s CEMA representative Ms. Rebecca Armendariz. The night before the video conference Evan spent the night up stressing over the fact that the bullying never ends. He has been accused of so many things that were fabricated and these people win every time despite lying and violating the law.

I recommended Evan to postpone the meeting, but he decided to go ahead and participate. He was stressing badly and suffering from a severe headache. He spent the rest of the day sick and I was by his side.

Mr. Lum scheduled a follow up Zoom meeting and everyone agreed to the date and time for the new meeting. Once more, Evan got physically ill. He spent the night before having trouble breathing and showing signs of stress and anxiety. I realized that years of toxic working conditions have taken a toll on Evan’s health. He had to reschedule the meeting again to the displeasure of Mr. Lum and Ms. Possley.

Although for years Evan has managed to put a good face to this situation, finally, for the sake of his health, he has had to consult his doctor and seek professional therapy to help him overcome and learn how to manage the stress and anxiety that he is currently experiencing as result of this toxic work environment. 

Mr. Lum, along with Ms. Possley, tried to coerce Evan to work during this current sick leave in spite of his PTSD, as they are pressuring him to participate in Zoom conferences for the purpose of interrogating Evan due to their false claims of incompetence, insubordination and violence in the workplace.

This is unacceptable and disgraceful. Sadly, this is the way Mr. Lum and Ms. Possley conduct themselves in their official capacities with the power vested in them as County officials.

One thing I want to make clear, should Evan’s health deteriorate further due to their bullying and abuse, I am making these people personally responsible. I will not go away silently like many other victims of their abuse and bullying have, including 73 year old Jeff Jaffari who had to be carried on a stretcher out of the office by ambulance in 2017 after the non-stop bullying he suffered at the hands of Renae Bhader and others in leadership in IHSS.

So, in short, some County officials go out of their way to destroy workers’ careers, reputation and personal image through perverse actions that are willfully designed to make the worker look incompetent by any means, including sabotaging the employee’s work, giving wrong instructions and failing to provide useful support to the employee.

 

Incompetence Protected: IHSS Program Manager Terri Possley

 

While good workers like Evan are forced to fail, real incompetent managers thrive, usually for a long time, until things explode so bad that a head is demanded; then the County Board of Supervisors and County Executive Jeff Smith finally will throw those bad actors under the bus, if forced to choose between their own heads or those of their protégées, such as in the case of Francesca LaRue, who for years the County Supervisors and Jeff Smith protected until SEIU local 521 publicly denounced the years of abuse innocent children at the RAIC center had suffered, despite desperate pleas for help from Social Workers and RAIC staff.

Given that Cindy Chavez was running for reelection and Dave Cortese is running for Senate, the County finally took action and fired LaRue. In the case of James Ramoni, despite the enormous amounts of documented evidence of his incompetence and corruption, Cindy Chavez and the other County Supervisors did nothing, and allowed Ramoni to retire with honors and a fat pension. Truly disgusting! But I trust the Laws of the Universe, more than I will ever trust the laws of man, which can be manipulated, tricked, twisted, and bended to the system’s convenience. May the universal justice descend upon this earth.

So, while Evan has, as have many other County workers, been forced to fail, people like Ms. Possley, IHSS Program Manager, are inherently incompetent individuals. Here are some examples of documented evidence I have seen regarding Ms. Possley’s incompetent work performance:

 

  • Terri Possley, in spite of 7 years of leadership in IHSS, has run the program into the ditch in spite of tens of millions of additional funding poured into the program by County taxpayers each year, demonstrated by the fact that her failed program currently ranks 54th out of 58 California Counties in Client Reassessment Compliance, in contempt of taxpayers and the public welfare
  • In 2017 Ms. Possley refused to obey the law during the February 2017 massive flood along Senter Road by forcing IHSS to evade police barricades. Instead she forced them to divert from the barricades by sneaking employees in through specified directions prepared by her, thereby endangering the health of IHSS workers in deliberate violation of the law during an emergency
  • Then that weekend Ms, Possley dissolved into a mental and emotional melt-down, as she later confessed during an all staff meeting that she deliberately turned off her cell phone for much of that weekend due to her refusal to take anymore emergency calls from County management, law enforcement and emergency response officials
  • Ms. Possley, as well as Evan’ supervisor, Kingston Lum, has repeatedly demanded that Evan engage in needless and retaliatory paper shuffling of large piles as a prime directive, in contempt of County taxpayers and the public welfare
  • Under Ms. Possley’s leadership, 73 year old Jeff Jafari was nearly killed on the job due to work stress and retaliation, as in spite of Possley’s knowledge of Jeff’s heart disease, she egregiously and deliberately enabled the needless and senseless harassment and persecution of this elderly employee until he collapsed on the floor at work and nearly died. He was removed on a stretcher and taken in an ambulance to the hospital emergency room. Although Mr. Jafari survived, the assault against him was so severe that he never returned to work. And no, this is not hearsay; this is what Jeff Jafari told me in person with tears streaming down his face
  • Ms. Possley enabled Renae Bhader to file deliberately false charges against Shree Kafle, resulting in his unlawful demotion
  • Ms, Possley enabled Renae Bhader to file deliberately false charges against an older worker, Florencio Rodarte, resulting in an illegal suspension that was overturned due to efforts by SEIU Local 521
  • Ms. Possley, Renae Bhader and Kingston Lum insidiously and persistently, over many years, made false claims against IHSS workers Laura Moreno-Atondo, Mona Brown, Catherine Carrillo, and Olga Vizcarra, who are all older workers
  • These four older women for many years have been subjected to vitriolic verbal attacks by their supervisor, Inessa Christy, who comes to work dressed in skimpy and offensive attire and goes on uncontrolled rants targeting these older women
  • Inessa Christy is enabled by her supervisor, Kingston Lum (Evan’s unhinged supervisor), as well as Ms. Possley
  • Ms. Possley enabled Renae Bhader to unjustly suspend Social Worker Sandra Bravo, in contempt of the public welfare
  • Ms. Possley encouraged and enabled Renae Bhader to make demonstrably false claims of violence against Evan, which resulted in payment of hush money to my husband, and then wage theft immediately following his reporting, as a whistleblower, this misconduct to the County Board of Supervisors and County Counsel.
  • Ms. Possley enabled Kingston Lum to unjustly and corruptly terminate Tooran Dehnoo until she was reinstated nearly a year later due to the efforts of SEIU Local 521
  • Nevertheless , Ms. Dehnoo lost nearly one year of salary due to wage theft perpetrated by Terri Possley and Kingston Lum
  • SEIU Worksite Organizer Olivia Martinez warned Ms. Possley at the conclusion a Spring, 2019 All-Staff Meeting that Ms. Possley’s perpetual hostile work environment puts workers at risk of a mass shooting
  • Ms. Possley, in conspiracy with James Ramoni and Renae Bhader, assaulted Evan by forcing him to work for months in a cubicle designed for a midget, thus causing back and leg strain that eventually led to Evan seeking physical therapy due to serious physical injury
  • Ms. Possley and Kingston Lum then retaliated against Evan for seeking physical therapy, in conspiracy with other County officials, by forcing Evan to fail in his job by burying him with work while demanding that he spend countless hours doing nothing other than mindless paper shuffling of huge piles of documents
  • Ms. Possley enabled Kingston Lum to stalk Evan at work, placing Evan in extreme fear for his safety
  • When Evan complained to Ms. Possley about this fear, she shared his concerns with James Ramoni, who stated he will use Evan’s stated fears during work hours to pursue disciplinary action against Evan
  • Ms. Possley enabled Kingston Lum to threaten Evan’s life by sending a law enforcement officer with a gun to threaten and remove Evan from the workplace for no justifiable reason while Evan was peacefully working at his desk
  • Ms. Possley enabled Kingston Lum to repeatedly and illegally refuse Evan’s request for union representation at a suddenly announced and imminent meeting in Kingston’s office where disciplinary action was planned
  • Ms. Possley supported Kingston Lum’s illegal removal of Evan from office immediately following Evan’s refusal to meet in Mr. Lum’s office following Mr. Lum’s repeated illegal demands to meet without Evan’s right to union representation present
  • Ms, Possley has enabled Kingston Lum to wear skimpy and revealing running shorts at work and to take countless hours out of the workday to go jogging outside, in contempt of County taxpayers, County workers and the public welfare

 

Despite Ms. Possley’s chronic incompetence and multiple and constant violations to the County’s merit system rules and bylaws, she still operates with impunity. It is shocking, but not surprising, given the documented history that County Executive Management, County Counsel, Labor Relations, and elected officials in Santa Clara County excuse this kind of behavior and chronic incompetence.

It is also well documented that, only when public pressure mounts and the corruption is made public, County Executive Management and County Supervisors finally take action.  The most recent example is the firing of Francesca LaRue, former Department of Family and Children Services Program Manager, who for years neglected the welfare of innocent children at the RAIC center.  Despite pleas from Social Workers and staff to the County Board of Supervisors to take action, these elected officials failed to protect those children and instead protected Ms. LaRue's job. Not until SEIU 521 publicly exposed this chronic incompetence while Cindy Chavez was running for reelection and Dave Cortese campaigned for the State Senate did the County fire Ms. LaRue. Truly disgusting and disgraceful.

Should not the same be expected from these career politicians in regards to Ms. Possley, after years of executive management making excuses for her incompetent and corrupt management and disregard for the public welfare?

These County leaders are likewise fully aware how Ms. Possley’s incompetence and corruption has severely damaged and harmed the performance of IHSS workers’ health and safety, and its detriment to the public welfare, at the expense of Santa Clara County taxpayers.

It is sad that it will likely take even more public exposure and pressure before Ms. Possley is removed from office.

Yes, it is true, sometimes I fear for my own safety and the safety of my husband from these corrupt, abusive and unethical individuals, for I have seen what they do to those who dare to speak truth to power. But as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once famously said: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.” And I will not be silenced and intimidated by these bullies. May justice prevail.

 

In solidarity with those seeking justice,

 

Maria Hernandez

 

 

 

 


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