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Plenty of blame in CCH fiasco

Published: Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Now that most of the details of the financial situation of Custer County Housing (CCH) has come to the forefront, it’s clear to see that the near collapse of CCH was a complete and across the board failure on the part of a lot of people involved, either directly or indirectly, with CCH over the past few years. There may not be enough fingers to point at all the people who had a hand in the situation.
Many people want someone—anyone—to “pay” for what has happened to CCH. Whether or not any criminal charges are eventually filed is anybody’s guess, as is whether those charges would be state or federal charges. The possible legal ramifications are just another piece of what is a confusing, mind-boggling pie that has been nearly a decade in the making. Returning CCH to a stable, respectable entity won’t be easy, but it can be done. It’s going to take some time, however.
When a problem dates back a decade, it’s not just the fault of the current or most recent administration. Many people want to lay this problem solely at the feet of former CCH director Connie Gorsuch and the former CCH board. While it is true they deserve their fair share of the blame for what has gone on, it isn’t their problem alone. The federal and state governments—which in most cases watch over people like a hawk—let this activity go on unchecked for years, appearing indifferent to how the tax money they were giving CCH was being spent. Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development share blame in this tragedy. For them to swoop in after the new CCH board came in and began trying to clean up the mess with the intent of hammering the new volunteers was even more ridiculous.
The Custer County Commission isn’t without fault, either. Although the commission’s mantra has been that it can only appoint CCH board members, it did get reports from CCH from time to time and could have pushed a lot harder a lot sooner for answers to questions that some of them probably wondered about deep down. It’s 2013. The fact that a completed, final audit had not been received since 2005 should have sent red flags flying. Some of the commissioners have admitted as much and are eager to get CCH back on a positive track.
There are no winners when a situation like this occurs. CCH seems to have been floating in this nebulous area where many entities had a stake in its well being, but none of those entities were actually checking to see if the ship had sprung a leak or 12. The worst part is that several honest, caring citizens who believed in CCH and the project it was trying to launch in Hermosa loaned money to help see the project to fruition but never got any return on their investment. Some have been only partially paid back for their trust; some not at all.
Now is the time to repair trust, rebuild CCH and rid CCH of the black eye it has from this situation. The new CCH board is dedicated to replenishing the bank accounts, cleaning up the facilities and putting its best foot forward in returning CCH back to respectability. The honest and decent people who comprise the vast majority of CCH’s residents deserve as much. With new bylaws and oversight in place, we can rest assured a situation like this will not occur again within the walls of CCH. CCH is badly wounded, but not dead. Now is the time to come together to nurse it back to health.

Now that most of the details of the financial situation of Custer County Housing (CCH) has come to the forefront, it’s clear to see that the near collapse of CCH was a complete and across the board failure on the part of a lot of people involved, either directly or indirectly, with CCH over the past few years. There may not be enough fingers to point at all the people who had a hand in the situation.

Many people want someone—anyone—to “pay” for what has happened to CCH. Whether or not any criminal charges are eventually filed is anybody’s guess, as is whether those charges would be state or federal charges. The possible legal ramifications are just another piece of what is a confusing, mind-boggling pie that has been nearly a decade in the making. Returning CCH to a stable, respectable entity won’t be easy, but it can be done. It’s going to take some time, however.

When a problem dates back a decade, it’s not just the fault of the current or most recent administration. Many people want to lay this problem solely at the feet of former CCH director Connie Gorsuch and the former CCH board. While it is true they deserve their fair share of the blame for what has gone on, it isn’t their problem alone. The federal and state governments—which in most cases watch over people like a hawk—let this activity go on unchecked for years, appearing indifferent to how the tax money they were giving CCH was being spent. Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development share blame in this tragedy. For them to swoop in after the new CCH board came in and began trying to clean up the mess with the intent of hammering the new volunteers was even more ridiculous.

The Custer County Commission isn’t without fault, either. Although the commission’s mantra has been that it can only appoint CCH board members, it did get reports from CCH from time to time and could have pushed a lot harder a lot sooner for answers to questions that some of them probably wondered about deep down. It’s 2013. The fact that a completed, final audit had not been received since 2005 should have sent red flags flying. Some of the commissioners have admitted as much and are eager to get CCH back on a positive track.

There are no winners when a situation like this occurs. CCH seems to have been floating in this nebulous area where many entities had a stake in its well being, but none of those entities were actually checking to see if the ship had sprung a leak or 12. The worst part is that several honest, caring citizens who believed in CCH and the project it was trying to launch in Hermosa loaned money to help see the project to fruition but never got any return on their investment. Some have been only partially paid back for their trust; some not at all.

Now is the time to repair trust, rebuild CCH and rid CCH of the black eye it has from this situation. The new CCH board is dedicated to replenishing the bank accounts, cleaning up the facilities and putting its best foot forward in returning CCH back to respectability. The honest and decent people who comprise the vast majority of CCH’s residents deserve as much. With new bylaws and oversight in place, we can rest assured a situation like this will not occur again within the walls of CCH. CCH is badly wounded, but not dead. Now is the time to come together to nurse it back to health.



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