Problems at MVMH

June 25, 2008 12:00 am

To the editor:

Dr. Larry Levinger, chairman of the board of directors of Mountain Valley Mental Health Programs Inc., condemns an evaluation of MVMH recently conducted by the Baker County Mental Health and Developmental Disability Advisory Committee, of which I am the current chairman.

What Levinger does not tell the readers of your newspaper is that all 10 active members of the committee signed off on the report and evaluation. Calling the committee's report "worthless," Levinger disparages 18 months of diligent and conscientious work on the part of all the committee members, members who were specifically appointed by the Baker County Commission because of their expertise and broad representation of the social service agencies and citizens of Baker County.

Levinger has some words for me personally. He states correctly, "It is well known that Mr. Dielman has always been antagonistic toward MVMH." However, that antagonism — I would call it "active concern" — which comes from many months of study of MVMH's operations and employment practices, does not disqualify me from being a valuable member of the advisory committee. I'm just a messenger, I'm not the problem.

The problem — the major problem — is MVMH's lack of transparency in spending over a million dollars of public money channeled to it via a contract with the Baker County Commission. The board of MVMH hides its decision-making by having secret monthly board meetings, a secrecy it justifies with the oft-repeated phrase, "We're a private nonprofit corporation." What Levinger does not point out is that for many years the MVMH board opened its meetings to the public and welcomed public input, until the present board came into being. Nothing to hide? Then why the secrecy?

(This is my personal statement and not made in my role as committee chairman.)

Gary Dielman

Baker City