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Press Release: WBEN’s David Bellavia Gives CAO CEO Equal Time 5-13-19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Media contact:

L. Nathan Hare

CEO/Executive Director

Community Action Organization

lnhare@caowny.org

716-881-5150

WBEN’s David Bellavia Gives CAO CEO Equal Time

L. Nathan Hare, on radio program Sunday, explains recent CAO events

BUFFALO, NY May 14, 2019 – Community Action Organization of Western New York’s CEO and Executive Director L. Nathan Hare defended his stewardship of the CAO Sunday and, along with WBEN radio host David Bellavia, criticized The Buffalo News for reports that “are a fallacy and a hoax.”

Hare reported on WBEN’s Hardline public affairs program Sunday that each time the newspaper did another article, he sent factual rebuttals, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor and other documents showing why the articles were slanted, partial or disingenuous, which the paper refused to publish. Other officials who had arguments about facts in newspaper articles were given space to present their side, but not the CAO or Hare, he said.

“The truth is everything they wrote, I sent something to them to respond immediately,” with facts,” Hare told Bellavia.

“They asserted things. I provided documentation supporting things I was saying, and they never published it,” he said.

Bellavia said he asked Hare to come on the program because Bellavia said no one at the newspaper was giving Hare time or a public forum to respond to charges and character attacks on him by two former board members who Hare said tried to take over the CAO last fall.

“There have been a series of articles written in The Buffalo News,” Bellavia said, “but this man has had no opportunity to defend himself in a public platform … and we’re hitting him [today] with everything he’s been hit with in The Buffalo News, and the only difference is that you have a chance to respond. And I think that’s only fair when a man’s character is being maligned.”

“We’ve gone through every allegation and there’s no teeth to any of it,” Bellavia said.

For instance, Bellavia said that Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said in a News article that he would defer judgment on the CAO and Hare’s performance until he saw a county audit of operations. Bellavia said that made it sound like Erie County contributes millions of dollars to the CAO’s $52 million annual budget.

When asked, Hare said that Erie County provides $11,500 a year of that budget. He added that the CAO sends the county copies of every transaction related to that money. Hare said the county doesn’t have to do an audit; it just needs to check its files. And Bellavia noted the paper made Poloncarz’s contention seem like a big pending investigation.

Bellavia asked Hare about the original allegation by the newspaper that somehow Mayor Byron Brown interceded on Hare’s behalf. This supposedly occurred when the two former board members reduced the number of board members from 18 to nine active so they could gain an easy majority in their scheme to have Hare removed. Hare explained:

“One of the [six] elected officials represented on our board is the mayor’s office. The mayor gets to designate a person to be on the board. So, obviously, if you’re designating someone to be on the board of the CAO, that designee calls you up and says, ‘Mayor, craziness is going on at the CAO, somebody’s trying to fire Nate Hare.’ Of course he would step up and say, ‘What’s going on?’”

“…and try to get his arms around what’s happening. But it’s not because the CAO is ‘owned’ by the mayor – we have five other elected officials that [by law] designate people to the board. We have people who work for private companies, who are represented on the board; we have low-income people who are members of the board.”

“This is just a fallacy and a hoax being perpetrated by these reporters at The Buffalo News,” Hare said.

Hare noted that all documents sent to the newspaper and all letters and op-eds, are posted on the CAO web site, www.caowny.org, along with Hare’s reports to CAO employees.

He also noted that federal and state agencies, as well as outside private accountants, audit the agency each year and representatives of those regulators sit in unannounced on board meetings. Bellavia noted that as CAO’s leader for 17 years, Hare and the CAO have always had audits that provide guidance where needed, but also clean bills of health.

Hare added that on the agency’s web site, and shared multiple times with the newspaper, is a letter from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the federal authority that regulates Head Start and Early Head Start programs at the CAO. It gave both early-education programs a clean bill of health following an inspection dated Feb. 6, 2019.

The report, from the HHS’s Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start in Washington, shows the CAO’s programs are not only operating fully and properly. It also affirms that past, routine issues faced by many similar programs nationwide, were corrected.

“Based on the information gathered during our review, we have closed the previously identified findings. Accordingly, no corrective action is required at this time,” said a letter about the review, signed by Dr. Deborah Bergeron, director at the federal Office of Head Start.

This clearance came after a newspaper article asserted that the CAO’s Head Start programs were somehow deficient. The paper reported that one part of the grade for the Head Start in Niagara Falls rated 2.1 out of seven. But the paper said nothing else about nine other grades of the program, all of which were passing or better.

Bellavia asked Hare about many of the allegations against him and Hare explained what had really happened in each case. Said Bellavia:

“You have the chairman of the CAO of Western New York, who’s being accused of the most vague, without any bite, no merit whatsoever these allegations in The Buffalo News. [Yet] nobody has given Nate Hare a chance to get a microphone and say, ‘defend yourself.’ This is a man who dedicated himself to the community.”

Bellavia asked Hare about supposed FBI and Department of Justice “investigations” reported by the News and then ridiculed those reports as unfair. Hare said no federal officials, outside the regular agency relationships with its regulators, have come to the CAO. Bellavia said it was improper for the newspaper to suggest there was an investigation where mere preliminary questioning of third parties may, or may not, have occurred.

In the last year, the CAO helped 46,490 people, utilized 117,258 volunteer hours, operated in 238 partnerships and found non-agency jobs for 341 people.

At the end of the show, Bellavia concluded:

“No one deserves to have their character assassinated because of some infighting in an organization and what happened there. And I don’t necessarily look at these journalists at The Buffalo News and think they’re bad people, I think they’re doing their job. But it would’ve been a little more intellectually honest to get the other side of the story. We presented that to you today.”

More about the Community Action Organization of Western New York

The CAO’s mission is to promote opportunities for low-income individuals, families and communities to achieve and sustain self-sufficiency through advocacy, partnerships, access to services and low-to-moderate income housing development. The agency uses a five-pronged approach to fight poverty. These are community health, economic empowerment, educational advancement, neighborhood revitalization and workforce development. For more information go to https://caowny.org and to find the agency’s latest Form 990, go to https://caowny.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/990-2017.pdf