An open letter to the HAF: Help THC get answers!

Have you ever heard of a Public Records request? Basically, concerned citizens can request information from government entities, which are legally required to comply.

Now, the thing about such requests is that non-government groups don’t have to follow the same rules. Which is a shame, because if all of Humboldt were to send the Humboldt Area Foundation a request for records about some of the nefarious and politically motivated happenings going on around there, we might all be able to get some answers to the hard questions we’ve been asking. (And THC would finally be able to move on from this months long ordeal – it’s really exhausting fighting the good fight, you know?) So, while they aren’t legally required to respond to questions, don’t you think that, as a locally funded, “non-partisan”, and philanthropic organization that has been using our money to fund political movements, that they should feel morally obligated?

Apparently, Cleary and Co. don’t think so. We’ve heard from THC commenters and in emails that HAF hasn’t done anything to respond to direct questions posed to them by the public about their association with the True North Organizing Network, and the apparent mismanagement of the HAF’s funds. We’ve learned from personal experience that the HAF never returns our calls, either, even though we don’t blame them – we’re kind of fighting right now.

So, wouldn’t it be cool if someone, somewhere, were to take the initiative and draft an open letter to the HAF asking for answers and transparency?

Good news, THC fans! We just started doing just that. But wait, there’s more – we’ll even give you a chance to help us draft it. We’ve listed some of the questions we are going to ask below – if you don’t see one that you’d like answered, let us know and we’ll be sure to add it.

Then, we can all band together and send them loads of copies. Don’t have a printer? We’ve got you – we’ll print out a bunch at Kinko’s and send one to you. Don’t have the time? We’ve still got you covered – just tell us how you want the letter signed, and we’ll send it for you! (No questions asked or names released.)

At the end of the day, it’s not about pestering HAF, even if that is tons of fun. It’s about finally getting some real answers as to just what the heck is going on over at HAF, why Cleary thinks he can run it as his political piggy bank, and why the heck they are so damn inefficient with the funds donated by our families and friends over several generations. Don’t you think we are owed as much?

Here’s what we’ve got so far – feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section or by emailing us from here:

1. What is the total administrative cost of operating the Humboldt Area Foundation? How does that cost compare to the amount of money given back to the community?

2. How many people are employed by the Humboldt Area Foundation? How many of those employee positions are grant-funded?

3. How much money does Humboldt Area Foundation commit to operating the True North Organizing Network? What is the source of the funding given to True North? How many people are employed by True North Organizing Network?

4. Why was the decision to appoint long-term HAF Board of Directors member Terry Supahan as the director of True North made? Is Mr. Supahan still a member of the Board of Directors?

Of course, THC-heads, this is just the beginning. And we’ll be sure to post a final version of the letter for everyone to see before we make it official and send them out to ol’ Pat Cleary.

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24 Responses to An open letter to the HAF: Help THC get answers!

  1. Azalea Mom says:

    What a great idea! I hope you get more of a response than I have after four calls directly to Mr. Cleary and Ms. Rice.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I used to work with John McBeth who is one of the most giving guys in our community. He’s been honored by Rotary, the Boys and Girls Club, and a dozen other great groups in addition to being one of the biggest employers in the county. I know for a fact that he applied to be on the HAF board and was turned down flat. Any other organization would have been proud to have him. I want to know why he wasn’t good enough for HAF?


  3. Milldoin says:

    Since the Humboldt Area Foundation is funding a political organization, does that prohibit High Schools from participating with them in awarding scholarships?


    • Mac Towner says:

      Good point. They should be asked exactly where in their charter it says that they should promote a particular, partisan political agenda? I checked out their website and annual report and couldn’t find anything. Another good question might be for them to provide a list of shareholders. I want to know exactly who owns this company and who is therefore personally legally responsible (and liable) for their monkey business.


  4. jchiv says:

    THC I will be glad to reprint the letter on my blog with links to this and the last post.

    I think all media should run this letter or do a follow up, if they don’t they are not providing public information.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ken d says:

    It would seem to me that this situation has become worthy of an investigation by; Grand Jury, Board of Supervisors, some friggin body. The HAF has been a sacred, non partisan and very important benevolent institution for decades in Humboldt County with no controversy like this. The minute some wealthy do gooder gets control, he starts using it to push his personal policies and left wing agenda. This is outrageous. Can someone answer whether the judicial branch of the County intervene? This should not be political but Cleary has made it so.

    I have forwarded previous postings on this by THC to several former board members of HAF who have retired and left the area, all of whom share the outrage. How much autonomy does this group have with all the millions of dollars they control?


    • Mac Towner says:


      Lots of us share your outrage. HAF was once a true backbone of our community and has now become a sham for extremism. Perhaps if some of your former board-member friends would visibly come forward with their indignation that might spur action from our officials. Until enough of us say ENOUGH they will presume that no one cares and continue on their merry way. Let them know that they can send a letter here and it will receive real and meaningful attention.


  6. Lion heart says:

    The more this pot is stired the more it stinks! What the hell is going on over there? Next thing you know they will put ken miller on the board !


  7. Big tipper says:

    I’m not going to donate to any fund that HAF is involved in. Sorry Betty but it’s all going to salvation army until u divest from these political hacks.


  8. Arcatan says:

    Will, I believe the comment refers to Betty Chin. Her organization has used HAF as a conduit for some funding. I know of one specific example where HAF received funds from a donor to purchase a van, held the money for a week or so and then paid it out to a dealer. The fee for the exchange was in the neighborhood of $10,000 for handling around $50,000. Totally obscene and an embaressment to Betty Chin. HAF and Patric Cleary didn’t bat an eye at the gouging that effectively took weeks of food and housing from our homeless community. Shameful.


  9. Azalea Mom says:

    A few months ago I wouldn’t have believed that Humboldt Area Foundation would screw Betty Chinn of all people. After reading everything that THC has uncovered and what I’ve seen for myself I’d believe anything now. Ripping off our school kids, overcharging the homeless, what’s next? Stealing from the collection plate at church?


  10. Arcatan says:

    Mom, you’ve actually come closer than you thought. I can’t confirm it but as I understand it the money for the van came from the Catholic Church. And you thought you were kidding about HAF having their hand in the church tithings. This might be a good question for the THC crew to ask Pat Cleary if they’re not too hungover from the last case of Mikes.


    • Anonymous says:

      It would seem to me that the Church could demand an explanation. Does anyone know an official at the Santa Rosa diocese that could take up the cause. Churches everywhere are hurting for money. If they’re out $10k it would seem to be worth their time to try to get it back. If not maybe the THC crew could let them know. I’m sure the Church would keep their identities private.


      • Arcatan says:

        I’m not sure that HAF has done anything illegal in the Betty Chin fiasco so there’s probably not much the church can do. On the other hand, I’m not sure that HAF is who I would want to trust with my charitable contributions if that’s the way they treat Betty, legal or not. Their overhead is massive and far exceeds what similar groups cost. Equally problematic is what they are charging for fund management. Most Community Foundations keep overhead and costs down so as to increase what they can do for their respective communities HAF does exactly the opposite. All this extra income presumably goes to fund their political programs. I personally doubt the community at large would choose to fund kids scholarships and other local causes less in order to push a political agenda even if it’s one that they might agree with. It certainly stands to reason that the HAF board knows this and that’s why they are reticent to openly discuss their organization and it’s programs. Frankly, I wouldn’t talk about it either if that’s what I was doing. In short, don’t expect Cleary and company to come clean anytime soon. It’s up to us to make a difference if it’s going to happen. HAF created their own agenda and operational plan, it stands to reason that if not forced to change they won’t.


      • Arcatan,

        We were so impressed with your analysis we just had to take a break from the best Thanksgiving dinner ever, complete with turkey dog casserole, marshmallow smores, and of course a boat-load of Mike’s hard cider. We think you’ve nailed it exactly. If the community doesn’t force a change at Humboldt Area Foundation it simply won’t happen. Thanks for your clear and succinct explanation. Free Stuff might be coming your way! For now we’re heading back to the feast. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


  11. Will I Am says:

    Seriously? These people actually ripped off Betty Chinn and the Catholic Church and no one besides a blog is doing anything about it? Humboldt is well known for rampant activism from all spectrum’s but no one seems to care about what should be a front page story. This doesn’t seem like a particularly partisan issue. I get that Cleary is some kind of poster child for the left but come on this is totally out of control. At a minimum they should be required to respond to these very serious allegations. If none of it is true why not simply say so. The silence is pretty damning.


  12. Tinman says:

    Ok THC you wanted questions to ask HA so here’s a couple. 1- how exactly do they choose board members and who decides on the members. Can anyone apply and is the vetting open and transparent? Ask them to list the exact process and steps on choosing a board member. Personal observation-At looking at the current board there are many good people but you can sure see that the board is from center left to far left and could use some diversity. (2)next question- where the hell did Cleary come from and what besides lost coast outpost, radio station partnership with politically active blue lake casino (remember Paul Gallagos,Bonnie Neeley etc) hsu radio, and who knows what else does he have his fingers in? I have heard that Cleary was a New York investment banker in his life befor Humboldt.Let’s find out who this guy is. I also agree that some former board members need to stand up and demand some answers and changes, somthing that Arkley totally failed on when he and Cleary were on talk shop. You sure gave Cleary a pass Arkley !


    • Bay Front View says:

      Well, well. If we assume the Tinman moniker is appropriate then it would appear that yet another O & M employee is being heard from.


  13. Q: How many people are employed by the Humboldt Area Foundation?
    A: x+1 where x was the number of people employed before a political witch-hunt driven letter-writing campaign started by those who don’t seem to like their generously-given-hard-earn-tax-avoidance-money going to part of the community that may have different priorities than those having earned that money. Someone has to answer these completely non-political concerns.


    • Blue Collar says:

      Jon, It seems that once again you’ve missed the point. HAF shouldn’t be involved in politics at all. Not right wing, not left wing. Might be hard for you to understand but some organizations shouldn’t be in any wing at all, ever. That’s how HAF was run for decades and neither end of the political spectrum had anything to bitch about and guess what? They didn’t.


  14. jmms says:

    We’d like to know how Mr. Cleary plans to inform the public, especially the conservative donators that HAF has taken a clear(y) left turn politically. We feel betrayed by HAF. Thank you, THC, for continuing to probe into this unfortunate situation caused by poor decision making and mismanagement. We’ll definitely support an open letter.


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