Reader’s suggestions for Zero Tolerance Policy Dear Editor, I am so grateful that community m embers such as the County Commission and Social Services were able to get AFAN’s Executive Director and the Board of Trustees to change this policy. With no phone, email, or mailing address made available on how to contact the Board, it’s gotten costly for me over the few past months mailing in letters and packets to their business addresses. They never respond. It seems impossible to get a hold of any of the Board members. It’s confusing that on that AFAN’s leadership stated in a Community Release in May on Facebook that this policy has been in place since 2004. Every policy I have signed from 2008 till 2010 clearly states its revision was made on 9/06, not 04, and they do not include incidences in regards to “slander and libel communication.” How can AFAN’s own Executive Director and the Board of Trustees not be
aware of such a policy? For as long as I have gone to AFAN for services the Zero Tolerence Policy has always been displayed within AFAN’s ofﬁces. There are and have always been medium and large sized prints of this policy hung on the walls in many of the ofﬁce spaces in AFAN. And in AFAN’s waiting room for clients there is a huge print of this policy on the wall. It’s kind of hard to miss any of them. But for argument sake, what if AFAN’s leadership truly was not aware of this policy for the past 6 years? That is incredibly irresponsible. These individuals are in charge of the life saving services at Southern Nevada ‘s largest and oldest HIV/AIDS agency, and they have no idea what has been going on all this time? That is outrageous. To sum it up, their response in the Community Release was that “They didn’t know. It was here before they got here. But it’s ﬁxed now. Hey look at our new programs!” Where is the apology to clients that were punished under this
Note: The letters above and to the right are unsigned. AFAN’s pattern of intimidation and applications for Temporary Restraining Orders against their critics forces many people to hide their identities for fear of losing benefits or getting financially strapped with frivolous law suits. Additionally, requiring names be printed is a violation of their medical privacy, could impact their earning ability, or be a cause for discrimination. No one should be forced to expose their medical status to the world, just to fight this battle.
Drag Day to benefit Sisters AIDS Drug Assistance Program Where’s My Lesbian, an international LGBTQ artist website, is celebrating International Drag Day (IDD) for the second year in Las Vegas on Saturday, July 16 at Tommy Rockers from 7 to 9 p.m. The evening will include rafﬂes, drink specials, food, a guest performance and audience involvement. There is a suggested donation of $10 per person; proceeds will beneﬁt the Sin Sity Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence AIDS Drug Assistance Program (SADAP). In Las Vegas, International Drag 12 $ July 2011 $ Las Vegas Night Beat
Day is a 21+ event, in which audience members are encouraged to come dressed in drag, and celebrate with the performing Kings and Queens. International Drag Day was set up to give Drag Artists a well deserved chance to shine and be celebrated for everything they give to gay life and culture. It is now in its third year thanks to Adam Stewart, its founder. On the ofﬁcial International Drag Day website, Adam writes that on July 16 each country is to “create events on local and even national levels, put on shows or just go out and celebrate drag”.
policy? Where is the accountability of the Board and the Executive Director? What measures are they taking to prevent this from happening again? What I ﬁnd disappointing about this current revised policy is that the rules stated are unclear. Such as for part A thru D and in G, do these incidents reported have to take place on property, off property, online, at AFAN related events? How to do they prove if you’re abusing a substance without any drug testing? How long are clients’ services terminated for? Are clients without internet access being notiﬁed about the changes made if they had already signed the previous version of the policy? AFAN is the only HIV/ AIDS agency I have been to that has its own policy. Where are the rules hung at AFAN for staff in regards to their treatment of clients? If they truly care about the people they help and provide services to then they need to make their own rules clear and fair for everyone. A Nameless Client Las Vegas, NV
Lack of response unsettling, costs AFAN funds Dear Editor, Thank you for writing the detailed article “AFAN’s Zero Policy: Silence = Services. I only see one side but I hope that we get a response soon as this silence from Jennifer and AFAN is unsettling at best. I have volunteered for AFAN, worked on Black and White, and still contribute every month through a United Way designation. It saddens me that the organization has already lost signiﬁcant funding because of this lack of a response. The lives of my friends are at stake here. Today your article showed up in a Grants Council Meeting where AFAN was denied $65,000! How many clients will now be denied services or sent elsewhere? I hope you get some answers soon so that we can all rest easier or if needed divert our funds to other agencies who are responsive to inquiries. Concerned AFAN Contributor Las Vegas, NV
Application denied: Who’s harassing who? AFAN’s Executive Director goes to extremes to silence critic By Bill Schafer Night Beat Publisher In January this year, AFAN client Jeffrey Hames began distributing a ﬂyer he created calling attention to events taking place at Aid For AIDS of Nevada (AFAN) and “and to get the reader to ask questions.” He posted them in the building where AFAN’s ofﬁces are located. Hames notes, “AFAN actually does not have a building. They do have a suite in a building on Shadow Lane that houses other separate agencies like UMC Wellness Center and Apothecary Shop. And no, although I wanted to reach more clients I never posted them in AFAN’s suite.” Like any good grass roots activist, Hames’ goal was to reach as many people as he could with his message. He didn’t keep count of how many ﬂyers were printed and with electronic communication, there’s no telling how many people he reached with his warning. “I mass emailed out a printable version of the image, and I also handed prints to different people where ever I went. Some just wanted one ﬂyer, others wanted a couple to take.” Then AFAN Executive Director Jennifer Morss got hold of a ﬂyer. She claims she thought the ﬂyer was intended to cause her “to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or harassed,” according to a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) application she ﬁled on April 13 this year. Although this incident occurred in January, Morss did not apply for the TRO for Protection Against Stalking, Aggravated Stalking or Harassment (NRS 200.591) until mid April, just before the AIDS Walk.
The TRO application indicates she never ﬁled a report with law enforcement, even though she “believes it may lead to actual harm.” Some folks close to Hames question why she waited two and a half months before ﬁling for the TRO, since she
felt his actions were meant to terrorize, frighten, intimidate or harass her. It was suggested the restraining order was sought simply as an attempt to silence Morss’ critics. In fact, Morss included as a location where protection is needed the AIDS Walk Las Vegas at World Market Center on April 17. (Other TRO applications were ﬁled on the same date and included the AIDS Walk as an area where this protection was needed.) Morss stated on the TRO application,
“This is part of an ongoing pattern of threats, harassment and intimidation coordinated by a group of friends of a former emp’ee, including [Jeffrey Hames]. This conduct continues to escalate & [Morss] believes it may lead to actual harm.” She cited no evidence as to how this conduct continued to escalate or what harm she anticipated from the distribution of ﬂyers. When contacted, Hames said he did not intend for these ﬂyers to cause Jennifer to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated or harassed. “That was not my reason for making this ﬂyer.” Hames is a peaceful critic. He says he was not working in conjunction with people who intend to continue to harass and/ or stalk Jennifer, as stated in the TRO application, “and I would not support anyone that would intend to do that.“ The TRO application claimed Hames was working with former AFAN employee Lane Olson in a campaign of harassment and defamation against AFAN and Jennifer Morss. Hames responds: “Again, no. I have not previously nor am I currently working with Lane Olsen or anyone in such a campaign” This application was denied on the date it was ﬁled, Aplril 13, 2011 by Judge William Kephart (Justice Court, Department 6). “The conduct alleged to have been committed by the Adverse Party does not fall within the deﬁnition of ‘stalking’ or ‘aggravated stalking,’ pursuant to NRS 200.575 or ‘harassment,’ pursuant to NRS 200.571.” Although the application was denied, it appears Morss will stop at nothing to
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AFAN’s emails speak volumes
Saavedra extends olive branch, Morss whittles it into a spear; AFAN Board spent nearly $30,000 to investigate ‘hear say’ By Bill Schafer, Night Beat Publisher AFAN offers olive branch Hello Bill: My name is Patricia Saavedra, I am the Board President for AFAN. I was sent a copy of your upcoming article and would really like to speak with you. I would also like to invite you into AFAN to meet with staff and Jennifer Morss to get your questions answered; I believe that your prosepective on the story at hand may drastically change. Most people who have sat down to discuss the slanderous lies being told in the community tend to become our biggest supporters. Let me share a couple of facts with you now: The Zero Tolerance policy was developed and implemented years prior to Jennifer Morss becoming the Executive Director The policy has never been used or implemented. It was only recently discussed because we have recieved threats of physical and property violence. I believe one client, possible two now recieve services via mail from AFAN because of violent behavior. However, this was not done under the policy. I would really like for you to meet with myself, other board members, Jennifer, our awesome staff. I am sure you will leave impressed and with a very different outlook on the Agency. Patricia Farley-Saavedra HR BUSINESS PARTNERS
Patricia, I would be happy to meet with you and your staff. I emailed Jennifer regarding your Zero Tolerance Policy and received no reply. (See email below). Therefore I printed the article without input from AFAN. Do clients have to sign the Zero Tolerance prior to receiving services? Have any clients been asked to sign the policy? Bill Schafer Publisher, Las Vegas Night Beat
Invitation accepted We accepted the invitation, but had a couple of questions for Saavedra. A requirement to sign the policy would appear to be, at the very least, implementation of the policy and even if term of the policy are not enforced clients are lead to believe they can lose their lifepreserving services under the policy.
Information request sent to attorneys
Hi: We are in a civil litigation with one of the individuals who I am sure provide a great deal of information too you. Jennifer sent your request to our attorney who advise that we do not respond, given the policy has not been enforced. I guess we should have handled your request differently, I apologize. (email continued on page 19)
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This email exchange took place on Sunday, May 29. The ﬁrst email, from AFAN Board President Patricia Saavedra was sent at 1:58 p.m. The second came at 4:03 p.m. Saavedra in her ﬁrst email, extends an olive branch to Night Beat publisher Bill Schafer: an invitation to meet with AFAN Executive Director Jennifer Morss and staff. Apparently she felt she had viewed an advance copy of the Night Beat. Fact is, the Night Beat was distributed starting around noon on Friday, May 27. This is an important point, since the Zero Tolerance Policy revision was announced on AFAN’s Facebook page on June 5, but dated May 31. The presumed motive for this dating discrepancy: the Night Beat article in the June issue was not going to be given credit for prompting the change. An AFAN staff member took the credit for this policy change. AFAN’s announcement said the change was made during an “annual review”. Note that the “Zero Tolerance Policy was developed and implemented years prior to Jennifer Morss becoming Executive Director. But, she says, “The policy has never been used or implemented.” Was it implemented or not? The policy which was revised on May 31 (?), redeﬁned “slander” and “libel”. Perhaps AFAN has redeﬁned “implemented”.
Is someone lying at AFAN? Here Saavedra says the Night Beat request for information about the Zero Tolerance Policy was sent to their attorneys by Morss, but later Morss says she never received the request. Continued on next page
All clients sign
AFAN’s Zero Tolerance Policy I believe all the clients sign that form and have for the last 10 plus years - but don’t quote me on that, I will have Jennifer give you the accurate process and dates. Use of this policy recently become an internal discussion point, because we had several folks make threats against Jennifer and the agency; the threats were of a serious nature and the FBI and Metro are very involved. All of AFAN’s Board Members are educated, professionals with stellar reputations in the community. We have researched the complaints beyond our duty too respond with outside third parties - all of this is documents and conducted by very reputable professional ﬁrms in our community. We have asked the folks making alligations for proof (names, dates, times, witnesses) today we have nothing. The Board has probably spent nearly $30,000 on outside experts to look into “hear say” situations, only to ﬁnd out the “hear say” could not be further from the truth. I am going to ask Jennifer to contact you and set up a meeting this week; I will make myself available to meet your schedule. I think once we sit down and talk and you see all the great things the AFAN Team and Jennifer are working on and accomplished - I hope that you will be impressed and become a supporter of the Agency’s mission. Thank you for the email response. Jennifer will be in touch soon! Patricia Farley-Saavedra HR BUSINESS PARTNERS
Saavedra also repeats the policy has never been enforced. Morss never got back to us on the ten plus years, so we’re left to quote Saavedra. Also, the Night Beat has several copies of the Zero Tolerance Policy from before Morss’ tenure at the helm. These copies don’t contain the intimidating section H: (We do, however, reserve the right to suspend or terminate a client’s services/privileges for any of the following:) “Slander (harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech) and libel (harmful statement in a ﬁxed medium, especially writing, but also picture, sign or electronic broadcast)”
AFAN Board spent nearly 30,000 for investigators It appears that spending nearly $30,000 for outside experts to investigate “hear say” is more important to the Board Members than funding condom distribution or educational outreach to minorities or any of a myriad of client services. Continued on page 21
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Survey says: Problems only with AFAN
In an email sent to Night Beat by AFAN Board President Patricia Saavedra, she said “The Board has probably spent nearly $30,000 on outside experts to look into ‘hear say’ situations …” And AFAN has engaged an attorney who successfully and unsuccessfully ﬁled applications for Temporary Restraining Orders against a couple of clients, a former employee, the head of another HIV/AIDS agency (Tracy Skinner of the Sin Sity Sisters) and a movie actor. And AFAN is currently engaged in a litigation with at least one former employee. Questioning whether the problems which seem to plague AFAN are an issue with other HIV/AIDS organizations, Night Beat surveyed Golden Rainbow,
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Saint Therese Center, and the Sin Sity Sisters. Community Counseling Center was also queried, as they also provide service to HIV/AIDS clients and are in talks with AFAN to merge the two organizations. It appears that only AFAN has serious legal issues and spends money on investigations to clear itself of allegations. Many people who have discussed the results of this survey asked the question, “Is Jennifer responsible for all this?” The email survey asked: In the last four years, how many lawsuits has your organization been involved in? All four agencies responded “none”. In the last four years, how much has been spent by your organization on outside experts to look into allegations about your organization? Any investigative costs whatsoever? All four agencies responded “none”. In the past four years, have there been any threats against your organization or its staff which required involvement by Metro, the FBI, or any other law enforcement organization? The Sin Sity Sisters and Community
Counseling answered “no”. Community Counseling Center responded” No threats. The arson, however did occur. Fire Department is investigating. In the past four years, have you applied for restraining orders against anyone – former employees, volunteers, clients? Golden Rainbow responded: “We did have one client that was bi-polar and off his medication. We called Metro because he wouldn’t calm down and was threatening to Leslie who was alone in the office.” Saint Therese Center responded: “[A] client threatened Father Joseph OP with killing him. We researched it with Metro. It was strongly recommended by Metro that Father Joseph OP file a restraining Order.” “Perhaps foolishly, Father Joseph did not follow up on the restraining order but local Captain of the Station where Father Joseph lives, is aware of the situation and at anytime will walk Father through the process of Restraining Order. Client goes off his meds and is more harm to himself – thus Father has not followed through basically in charity to the guy.“ In the past four years has there been any litigation regarding former employees? All agencies answered “no”.
Jennifer Morss’ email: Is someone lying at AFAN? Bill, I have spoken with our Board President, Patricia Saavedra in regards to your communication with her today. Let me know when you are available to meet this week and I will also make myself available. It’s unfortunate that we have never met or spoken, with my 10 years of history with AFAN. Yet, you ﬁnd it acceptable to print poor judgments and opinions about my ethical standards and business practices. While we will have an abundance of information for you regarding the great work of this organization and our highly trained staff, I also look forward to reviewing the proof Mr. Olson and his followers have presented you with to proceed with the three (3) articles you have printed over the last six months. We’re curious why you did not reach out to us for the previous two articles to obtain a full story and the facts behind the rumors. Mr. Shaffer, this organization is being violently harassed and terrorized by individuals who have lost their employment with this organization. These individuals acted with a lack of appropriate judgment during their employment, and have continued to do so since being asked to leave the organization. Legally, we must now ask you to prove that there was no malicious intent to the articles you printed and ask for your proof as to write such egregious statements about this organization and my leadership capabilities. I assure you, your email to me was not received. I would have responded, timely. Perhaps next time you wish to disparage hateful, unsubstantiated rumors, a phone call may be more advantageous. I look forward to meeting you and working towards a more positive relationship in the future. With Respect, Jennifer Jennifer Morss | Executive Director
Will merger put an end to scandal? Economically, and compliance with Federal healthcare plan A possible solution to the AFAN intimidation scandal does exist. After hearing rumors about a possible merger of AFAN and Community Counseling Center, the Night Beat contacted CCC’s Ron Lawrence for clarification. Lawrence responded: “AFAN and Community Counseling Center are in discussion about a possible merger. “These are congenial discussions and are borne out of concern regarding the well-being of both agencies under the up and coming new Federal healthcare plan.” While Lawrence did not indicate this was in reaction to the scandal, a merger at this time could be a good partnership as a way to deal with the Federal healthcare plan and as a way to economize. Currently CCC is considering purchasing the building which they currently occupy. They are moving forward on rebuilding thier offices which were destroyed in a fire last December. AFAN now occupies a costly suite in a building on Shadow Lane. Moving into the old CCC building on Almond Tree Lane would put AFAN closer to the center of town. It would reduce their rent substantially. A merger could be good for everyone, especially AFAN clients.
WOW! Morss starts out by taking up the olive branch which Patricia Saavedra extended in her emails. Morss then proceeds to carve the tip into a sword and hurls it at us. She accuses us of “poor judgments and opinions”. She expects this visit which we’re invited to to be a faceoff with proof from conﬁdential sources. True to form, she proclaims the organization to be a victim. She claims – without offering proof – AFAN “is being violently harassed and terrorized by individuals who have lost their employment with this organization.” My legal advisers have laughed and said there’s no legal reason for her to ask for proof of no malicious intent. It’s awefully hard to prove a negative. The best-guess reason to ask for such “proof” is if she’s planning legal action. Then, contrary to what Board President Saavedra claims, Morss emphatically states the email with questions about their Zero Tolerance Policy was not received. Hmmmmm. Is someone at AFAN lying? The Night Beat has avoided telephone communication with Morss and Saavedra because it’s far too easy to deny verbal comments. Email is much more difﬁcult to lie about. Since Morss endeavored to change a “feel good” dog and pony show into a demand for an explanation; and since Morss appears to be planning legal action – if her previous behavior is any pattern in silencing critics – the Night Beat has chosen not to visit or give her any opportunity to sue. We won’t be sending any emails to Morss. We will, however read and consider printing anything she wishes to send us. Being that Morss’ email was copied to Saavedra, we assume the AFAN Board will take appropriate action. The community has endured Morss’ vindictive bullying for too long. What is supposed to be a caring environment has degenerated into fear and loathing. This is all due to Morss’ management.
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CPAs could remove suspicion from ED Right up at the top of this page, the header proclaims “Gossip, Gossip, Gossip”. Why anyone would think anything in this column is anything but gossip, I can’t fathom. Gossip is fun stuff. Gossip is juicy stuff. Gossip isn’t necessarily factual stuff. When I write about Jennifer Morss, it’s the stuff I’m hearing in the community. I only repeat it so she knows the community knows. Maybe if she knows what the community is talking about, and what her reputation is like in the community, she’ll straighten up and ﬂy right. I haven’t yet mentioned the gossip in
the community about her mother and her mother’s husband. Or about her husband, or his brother and his brother’s partner. They’re all rumored to be counting AFAN’s money in a trailer after AFAN events, like the Black & White Party. Huuuuu? A blind person can see that’s not above suspicion.
Don’t know if that’s true, but having your family counting AFAN’s cash just raises eyebrows. Especially after personal ﬁnancial difﬁculties. If there isn’t a group of staff members you can trust – ohhhhh, I forgot that scandal – or volunteers you can trust, Continued on next page
Correction: In last month’s column, I wrote that Wes Davis was the owner of Get Booked. The owner of Get Booked is Wes Miller. I apologize to Miller if this besmirched his image or ruined the fine reputation of Get Booked.
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Atello to sing at Pride; Parade to honor GLBT vets Continued from previous page why not hire professionals, set up some money handling procedures and get yourself (represented by family) out of an area where suspicion can and should be rampant. A CPA ﬁrm would remove any suspicion from staff, and assure the contributors that the money which they generously donate is going where it should go – not to pay off someone’s mortgage. Talk about gossip: I heard, a long time ago, that Ralph Vandersnick contributed a good chunk of change to help start up AFAN. Perhaps it’s because I think the world of the late Snick’s Place owner, or maybe I was just lazy, or chose to believe, but I recounted that story in last month’s column. I received a very nice email correcting my gossip from respected gossip columnist Claire Voyant: “Regarding AFAN, I have some early history with them, as I was the person who organized their ﬁrst major fundraiser (a bit before there was a Golden Rainbow). You had a couple of mistakes in your story in the May issue of Night Beat. The beginning of AFAN was not funded by Ralph at Snicks. He did not contribute to the organization until it was already established. I worked with the ﬁrst AFAN director, Wes Davis … which brings me to your second mistake. Wes Davis is not the owner of Get Booked. The owner of that longtime business is Wes Miller. If your facts about the way the organization is being run today, shame on them! I would happily warn folks to contribute money to AIDS charities through other sources (Broadway Cares - Equity Fights AIDS, for example).” Thanks, Ms Voyant. I appreciate your taking the time to write. How about recommending a local AIDS organization, such as the Saint Therese 36 $ July 2011 $ Las Vegas Night Beat
Center or Golden Rainbow? Even Community Counseling Center does a lot for the HIV/AIDS community. —•— Last month was Pride month around the world. Las Vegas, like a lot of cities, celebrates during other months. Coming up in September is our Pride celebration and I just received news that my former future ex, Larry Atello, will be singing the national anthem at the festival. Congratulations Larry. Larry will be tying the knot soon with his real future husband, Fred Reyes. So on Wednesday, July 13 they’re having a Bachelor Party at the Fun Hog Ranch,
after Larry gets off stage at Tony N Tina’s Wedding where Larry is the wedding singer, Danny Dolce. —•— The theme for Las Vegas Pride 2011 is “We take pride in who we are and where we are going” and no group of people could represent this statement better than the area’s GLBT military veterans. The annual Las Vegas Pride Night Parade, being held on Friday, Sept. 16 is going to honor them. “This is way overdue, we owe them this honor” said Ernie Yuen, Pride President and Parade Chairman. “With the help of Charles O’Neil, Director of Ministry for Imago Dei, we hope to have as many of our former and current military service personnel participate in our annual parade.” O’Neil will be the main person organizing this endeavor. Although not a veteran himself, Charles comes from a military family and was inspired by seeing veterans similarly honored at other gay pride parades. Charles has met many gay, lesbian and transgender people here in the Las Vegas community, who have severed in various branches Continued on next page
Published on Jul 14, 2011
HIV/AIDS organization revises intimidating policy. Client still feel bullied. AFAN's Excecutive Director goes to extremes to silence critic.