Letter to the Editor of the Julian News from Sheana Fry- printed 11/11/13
(former CO-Chair of the Julian Cuyamaca Resouce Center)
Just about everyone in town associates Johnny and Diane Hake as the face and voice of the Julian Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), a FEMA organization, promoting education and training in disaster preparedness. After the 2003 Cedar Fire, the Hakes created a nonprofit 501(c)(3) known as the Julian Cuyamaca Resource Center (JCRC) as a means to manage incoming donations and grants which in turn would help the community members affected by the wildfires. Julian CERT, is the recipient of the monies collected through the JCRC. Diane is Director of JCRC and Program Manager of CERT. Johnny leads CERT as the Volunteer Coordinator.
I am the last remaining Board member aside from Diane Hake of the JCRC (aka CERT). The Secretary and Treasurer resigned and the Communications Director was recently voted out. Before I resign, I believe it is important to share the concerns from the past Board before they are silenced by the new Board.
The past Board, in hindsight, was remiss in not keeping closer tabs on the flow of money and passing financial resolutions intending to help the Hakes operate the CERT program more efficiently. We trusted and believed in the Hakes. JCRC receives large donations from the community in return for providing CERT volunteers to manage parking, a first aid booth, and to observe and identify any possible problems at various events, i.e., Grape Stomp, Apple Days, Gold Rush Days, Star Fest, decorating the town for the holidays, the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, Santa Ysabel Casino events, parking concession at Frank Lane Park, Blues Bash, and Pedal for the Cause. The donations may range from $200.00 to $1500.00 depending on the event. Whenever you see a CERT vest, know that the JCRC is receiving money in exchange for the volunteers’ time and effort.
Recognizing that a substantial amount of money was being spent monthly by the Hakes, the Board began to question possible misappropriations of the general fund. We were met with defensiveness, no communication, revised SOPs, and an attempt to reorganize the CERT Board, which left everyone confused and raising even more questions. The JCRC General Fund supplies $250.00/month for the CERT office/storage space, $130.00/month towards the Hakes Family Plan Phone and Internet bill, maintenance and insurance ($668.00/year) on the Land Rover CERT vehicle, a debit card for gas, cash withdrawals, and any other expenditures that the Hakes feel are needed for CERT (office supplies, hardware, etc.). The Hakes asked permission to include some personal errands while out and about with the Land Rover, if it was on the way. The Board agreed and later realized its mistake. Diane stated that sometimes they do put in their own money when they use the vehicle for personal use. The Board requested that Johnny Hake use a mileage log so his use of the CERT vehicle could be substantiated. He has yet to comply. The recent $18,000 grant from the County is earmarked for medical and communications equipment, however other grants, such as the $4,500 grant from SDG&E came without any stipulations and can be used at the discretion of the Hakes. The Board agreed to purchase a training mannequin using part of the SDG&E grant and part of a $960.00 donation from the Fire Safe Council. The Hakes later decided (without Board approval) ‘to buy the mannequin using the amended County grant, to allow more flexibility in spending the open-ended SDG&E grant. As a 501(c)(3), the JCRC is supposed to be transparent with its financial report.
I look forward to seeing it. There is no denying the Hakes have contributed greatly to create a CERT program worthy of recognition and educated the Julian community on disaster preparedness. In my opinion, Diane and Johnny Hake are so personally vested in the JCRC/CERT organizations that it has become difficult to separate their needs from those of the organizations. The lines have become blurred - spending money, making decisions, and defining the direction of CERT without Board approval. With legal council (paid from the General Fund), the Hakes have found new ways around the governing bylaws to create their own rules and a new interim Board. Something has gone terribly wrong.