Let me keep it real before I share a little antidotal information. HELL NO!
In one of my doctoral level credential classes, we talked about our dissertation topics. One of my colleagues was a person from America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) whose position was immaterial. All that was important is that she had done her basic research. . It was that level of preparedness, honesty, camaraderie and respect for another’s private thought that made what we called a “cohort” group form a level of trust and cohesiveness. She was thinking of doing her dissertation on the CIA’s own whistleblowing policy, process, and results. She told us no one wanted to or would use it at any respectable limit. Why? They did not believe in it; they did not believe there would not be ramifications; and they did not want to be tormented, harassed and driven out of the organization.
As I sat and listened to a respected member of the CIA share her perception, experience, and documentation of how CIA personnel are rebuked for being Whistleblowers, my emotions ran the gamut from fear to disgust to disbelief, and anger over the lack of patriotism I felt these whistleblowers experienced. We gave each other feedback on whether a topic was safe, worthy of exploring, or just perhaps a dead end or dangerous journey. The bottom line from the instructor? Do not do it. Do not put your career on the line because you are being too idealistic. Back up, go another way. Just get your doctorate and move on. You can save the wold later.
When I worked for the Palmdale School District, Palmdale, California in 1998 I reported the Superintendent Nancy Smith for mishandling, abusing, fraud and other charges all regarding Federal Head Start Funds and other taxpayer programs. I showed the proof to the federal government in a Qui Tam Complaint of how a developer named Richard McClean and a broker named James Vose had made a deal with Superintendent Smith to invest only $10,000 in escrow, get a multi-million dollar loan from a bank on an agreement Smith signed saying the Palmdale School District would rent the building for 15 years, and she did it all without the approval or knowledge of the Board of Trustees. They ratified the agreement after the fact and after one board member Frederick Thompson spoke out and got excoriated in the local paper, The Antelope Valley Press. To keep the story simple, let’s say the Palmdale School District could have purchased the building for $173,000 and fixed it up. After letting McClean do his deal, he ended up making $2.2 million on a $10,000 escrow investment because the Palmdale School District purchased the building from him. Who would not want to make $2.2 million on a $10,000 escrow investment not to mention what lose made as the broker.
To top it off I ended up talking to the late Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State, who was a managing partner in the law firm the Palmdale School District used. His firm was called O’Melveny & Myers and I had sat in many meetings with them as the Director of Public Relations and Confidante of Smith about deals. I remember asking her once, “Why don’t you do things the right way Nancy?” Her response. “There’s no money in it that way.”
I kept the documents where Smith fraudulent billed the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) for over $1 million in Head Start funds. I shared with the government and the world. It was created by Accounting Director Brenda Yardeen and given to me by an employee named Kathleen Duren. I personally knew Dr. Andrew Kennedy, Head of LACOE’s Head Start Program and he came down with his team to investigate. At the same time the federal government came back and told me to pursue the Qui Tam Complaint, sent a United States Attorney from Washington, DC to check out my documents and then did nothing. They told me to pursue it in court and get this…….the most disgusting part of all……was that I was to give the government 60% of whatever I recovered should I prevail.
LACOE called me to a secret meeting and told me to let it go. They did not want the negative publicity from people finding out how much money is actually fraudulently handled from the multi-billion dollar Head Start Program with all the ancillary programs that were funded through Head Start. They left me hanging out on the limb alone and those who were supporting me endeavored to saw it off after me. I remember being on the front page of the Antelope Valley Press or somewhere in the people for 30 days straight. I was butchered, tormented, attacked, locked out of my office and the irony was that I had an ongoing complaint going on at the same time against the Palmdale School District for fraud, racism, and tormenting me headed by another law firm called MATSON AND JONES.
As a result of the Matson and Jones investigation, the Palmdale School District was told to have racial sensitivity training. I had been involved for working hard as one of the highest ranking African Americans in the District’s Corporate Office to create a feeling of diversity. I had brought in consultants who ranged from members of the LGBT community and did the federal paperwork for probono on many social agencies that still exist today. My wall is lined with certificates from even KAISER PERMANENTE THAT OFFERED ME $50,000 through Dr. Wade Tadros to help change Palmdale’s commercial zoning so that Kaiser could put a facility in on 47th East and Avenue S. I asked them to donate the money to the Palmdale School District foundation which Kaiser did and I worked for a year to galvanize the community and change the zoning. Today Kaiser is there with many other commercial establishments but my name was blackballed because I was a community whistleblower.
But I do have the plaque from Mayor James Ledford and the City of Palmdale dated 1997 for what I singularly accomplished while working as the Director of Public Relations and head of a newly developed Palmdale Education Foundation that took my lobbying fee from me. In the end, the community leaders who had their hands in all the cookie jars tried to destroy my career, reputation, life and family relations. And guess what……after fighting so many bogus court cases where I singularly faced 6 law firms including O’Melveny & Myers, I developed Post traumatic stress disorder but I never gave up. I was fighting, or so I thought, for my community’s children. The suffering was suffocating at times and there were moments were death seemed preferable to the battling of six high powered law firms. I did have SECRET SUPPORT in the federal government and at times, especially when I represented myself before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals that they came out, did what they needed to do to correct the abuse being leveled against me, and went back into hiding. They visited me at home, called me, and then disappeared like ghosts in the night. Even Warren Christopher apologized but you cannot pay your rent, feed your family, or pay your bills on a Warren Christopher apology.
Today I caution any activist to back down and realize you cannot beat an entrenched, corrupt system where officials outside of the area in Sacramento and Washington, DC are there to shield the corrupt individuals and politicians. I stood against FRANK VISCO, FORMER CHAIRMAN AND TREASURER OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY; ASSEMBLYMEMBERS GEORGE AND SHARON RUNNER WHO MADE SO MUCH MONEY IN SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS THAT WERE HIGHLY UNETHICAL, AND R. REX PARRIS, CURRENT MAYOR OF LANCASTER, CALIFORNIA WHO TOLD ME HE WAS GOING TO BURY ME AND MY FAMILY…….AND HE FIGURATIVELY AND LITERALLY ALMOST DID.
ACTIVISM WAS GREAT FOR ENDING 400 YEARS OF THE SLAVERY OF MY AFRICAN ANCESTORS BUT DID IT REALLY END SLAVERY OR JUST GIVE IT A NEW ROAD TO TRAVEL? WE ARE STILL ENSLAVED AND VICTIMIZED ESPECIALLY ON THE ANTELOPE VALLEY PLANTATION.
I was there; I saw it, heard it, recorded it at times, and then questioned why? As an African American female I hated them for using me to figure out their deals knowing I did so out of fear and one day I just had to stand up and publicly question why are they cheating the community. Maybe I am alive today while others are not is because former GOP State Senator Pete Knight called me in, told me they were coming for me because I also had a radio show that raised too many issues, and that I should get all the records and documents I could find. He said he would never speak to me again and said he appreciated that I had honored him with one of the finest plaques he had ever received, A copy of it signed by him hangs on my living room wall signed by him next to a letter from Supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas who once mentored me when I was at College of the Holy Cross (first 100 women) and he was a Yale.
Pete said he felt sorry that I was going to be destroyed by his people when all I was was an activist who could not understand stealing from children. Clarence was supposed to come to Palmdale to speak but I guess after I was attacked, he got the word to back away even though his handwritten letter commends me for putting my life and wellbeing on the line for doing what is socially correct for the welfare of children.
Do I believe in Clarence’s political ideology? I cannot really say because I have had conversations with Clarence over the phone after the Anita Hill hearing at my Palmdale School District office, and I do not know if Clarence was the real Clarence because I know he purposely constructed himself after undergraduate school to be a pick for the white man as a black man who could fit into their system. Do I believe Pete liked me? Sometimes he did but only because I intrigued him by speaking out.
By the way, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals did not award the Palmdale School District any of the $400,000 they sued me for to cover the federal trial that ended in a non-verdict. In the end, I did collect some money from the Palmdale School District but nothing compared to what they owed me for years of abuse and cutting me off from legitimate management payments I was owed under a district policy. Because the Palmdale School District was self-insured and Superintendent Nancy Smith had a prominent role on the CENTRAL VALLEY TRUST organization that was supposed to pay me over $3,000 per month, I got nothing. She blocked me and as Palmdale Council Member Michael Dispenza told me, the powerful were going to drive me from Palmdale and scorch the earth behind me.
But God is good. I am here but is it worth it to be an activist when the system is beyond corrupt. I WILL LET YOU KNOW AT THE END OF THIS BOOK but I will repeat. If CIA operatives at respected levels in the organization do not believe in their own Whistleblowing Complaint System, why should the average American? I did not want to take my academic colleague’s word about the disingenuous policy of the CIA and I did a little research myself. She was right. CIA operatives do not use their own system and we have even heard this discussed during the Trump shenanigans where he wants to stop “leaks” and employees and operatives do not want to be identified. They do not trust their own agency or shall I say the White House and con men and pathological liars like DONALD TRUMP. EVERY COMMUNITY HAS A DONALD TRUMP OR TWO.