Sunday, August 18, 2013
Six-Part Series in the Ukiah Daily Journal, by Eric Krueger, "Denny vs. Jones: The Welfare War," March 4-9, 1979
March 4, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, Denny vs. Jones: The Welfare War, by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer,
March 5, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, Denny vs. Jones: Temple members kept out of top jobs, by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer, (Second in a series of six articles)
The Mendocino County Social Services Department kept Peoples Temple members it employed out of management and supervisory jobs because it feared they might abuse power on behalf of Jim Jones.
Social services Director Dennis Denny justified what he admitted was discrimination against temple members in his employ by alluding to the way things "proved out."
Eight employees "identified" themselves as temple members to Denny during his early years at the department. "They came forward. I never asked them. I will not do that. They identified themselves to me," said Denny.
"Some of them told me that Jim Jones told them to do that. Others said, 'We're proud to be members of this great humanitarian effort (the temple), and we want you to know this'."
Following each name is information from county records, job title, dates of employment and monthly salary range at the time of departure. Denny named:
— Linda Amos, social service worker II, Nov. 1968 - Oct. 1976, $919-$1,117.
— Latrie Efrein, eligibility worker II, Oct. 1970 - Aug. 1876, $702-$901.
— Barbara Hoyer, eligibility worker, left as a III, May 1972 — April 1976, $794-$917.
— Claire Janero, clerk II, Nov. 1971 — Dec. 1971, $415-$505.
— Laura Johnston, eligibility worker, left as a n, Aug. 1970 — April 1977, $742-901.
— James Randolph Jr., social worker II, Dec. 1966 — March 1977, $919-$1,117.
— Joyce Shaw, eligibility worker, left as a II, Aug. 1971— Feb. 1973, $547-$665.
—Grace Stoen, clerk II, Sept. 1970 — Oct. 1971, $415-$505.
County Personnel Director Gordon McKillican said a "I" is a trainee, a "II" is a fully-trained employee, and a "III" is a program specialist, the "lead" person in a unit.
"A III would never make policy decisions," according to McKillican, who said IIIs sometimes fill in for absent supervisors but are not supervisors themselves.
Denny said he never discovered more than the eight employees he named as having been temple members.
None were fired
Social services, said Denny, never had to fire any of them for illegal acts or incompetence — nor did it try to do so during their various periods of employment between 1966 and 1977.
Asked if he suspected other department employees of being temple members, Denny said: "Sure, we always wondered...you always worry about that."
Denny said, "Every one of the employees I've listed came up to me and said, 'You know,I've got to give 25 percent of my income (to the temple.)' Everyone of them told me that. Some of them gave 50 percent -- half their pay from here went right to the church."
No small wonder Jones reportedly was worth $26 million by the time he died in Guyana.
According to Denny, the eight temple members "were very acceptable employees." Asked if they damaged social services, Denny answered, "Surely in retrospect they haven't helped the department's image.
"However, during the period of time they were active members here, they matter-of-factly did some very creditable things."
He said Linda Amos did "some of the better social work with clients." "I have to be convinced that there was nothing damaged during that period of time...the (temple) people that were on staff here were in the lowest classifications that we had: eligibility worker I and II that's as high as they ever got; social worker I, II that's all they got. They never went into IIIs. They never went into supervision 'They never went into management. We never wanted them in a compromising situation."
According to Denny, eligibility workers decide if someone qualifies for benefits like cash grants, medical care or food stamps by determining if the applicant meets eligibility requirements based on factors like length of residence in the county, employment and number of children. "They're like insurance clerks, if you will."
Social workers help people through 'traumatic" experiences when they can't support themselves, he said. They help the elderly live on their own outside a nursing home, protect children from abusing parents and help people work out myriad individual problems.
Denny said although temple members did "standard or above-standard work," the department did not want them in "compromising" situations, namely supervisory and managerial roles where they could abuse power -- where, as decision-makers, they could influence staffers and department policy to the temple's benefit. So the department did not promote them into its officer caste.
Soul-searching yet defensive, Denny said, ' "In retrospect, and I must admit this, it was possibly unfair of this department to make the judgments it did about (certain) persons because of their particular beliefs. 'However, we felt we did it in the interest of this department when we made those decisions. It's quite obvious none of them went higher than the lowest journeyman class. I think if everything was status quo today and somebody would bring an action against our department. I'm not sure we would prevail (in a job discrimination suit filed by a temple member).
"I think our affirmative action (fairness despite religion, race, sex etc.) to that religious group was something to be desired. "But again, we would defend it by which we felt we knew... and we attempted to combat that."
Would Denny say the department didn't trust the temple members on its staff?
"No, I wouldn't call it distrust. I would say good management. I would only say good management from a defensive posture that since I'm responsible, I want to know who and what loyalties are on my staff."
Apparently admitting what the department did secretly, Denny said, "I guess it's easy for me to say today that we possibly retarded their professional growth...I think it was in the best interest of this department to do what it did: not promote. In retrospect that is a violation of a lot of people's rights.
"But to keep the credibility of this department above reproach...I had to take that particular route.
Fortunately, it has proven out to be the best course, but it does not make me feel very good...as an administrator... that's pretty sad in our democracy, but I have to admit it's fact."
(Cont'd on Page 2)
Page 2—Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah, Calif.
Monday, March 5, 1979
Denny. Jones welfare war (Cont'd from Page 1)
Denny said the department makes promotion decisions through a "participative management" process.
No single person makes the decision. A group of senior managers does.
Was promotion retarded by group decision?
"At any given point in time, that's correct," said Denny. "Some of the (temple) people that were here for years surely did not grow in their profession as others around them did. I guess...their professional growth was retarded by our actions."
Denny said the department's temple members could have damaged it — even without promotion — if they ever had succeeded in creating case files on nonexistent people. The practice, called "dummying," results in welfare checks going to someone not entitled to them.
The department also would have been damaged if a temple member stole a confidential file that was the only evidence in a pending court case or if the person covered up complaints about things like child abuse or service in a residential care home.
Never Manipulated System
Denny said temple members on his staff never — to his knowledge — manipulated the welfare system from within and never tried to influence him.
However temple staffers were sometimes unproductive at their desks because they were suffering from lack of sleep, according to Denny. They were especially "tired" on certain Mondays, said Denny, after spending most of the night driving back to Ukiah from a temple meeting in Los Angeles.
Did any ever look as if they'd been beaten at a temple meeting?
"None," said Denny, they just looked "tired."
He said "it was never so serious that we had to put a reprimand in a person's file," but he and his supervisors had to "kick tail, you know, to get that production out of those people."
Denny said the sleepy staffers improved, but "then it would happen again," more lethargy on the job, Yet Denny stressed they were "average and above-average" workers.
Social services only had one serious case, he said, a temple staffer reported "sleeping in a car" while on duty. Denny wouldn't reveal the name on grounds of personnel confidentiality.
The department transferred the staffer to Fort Bragg.
Denny said Jones repeatedly called him in an effort to stop the transfer. The transfer of a clandestine sleeper to the Western Front is but a footnote to Denny's war effort. The name of his ultimate defense against temple guerrillas was "Internal Security" —and that had nothing to do with "kicking tail," as part three will attempt to show tomorrow.
UPI, page 2, Temple members sue to recover money Georgetown, Guyana,
(UPI) — Eight surviving members of the Peoples Temple cult, including two jailed on murder charges, have filed a counter-suit trying to get the money the sect left in Guyana banks.
The papers in the suit, made public Saturday, were filed by Rex McKay, the attorney who is defending Temple members Larry Layton and Charles E. Beikman on murder charges.
The suit mentioned no figures, but the cult is believed to have well over $2 million in Guyana banks.
Two weeks ago, the Guyana government filed suit setting an order to restrain three Guyana banks and Temple survivors from disposing of any Temple funds left in the three accounts.
The government is trying to get its money back from the sect for the shot- up aircraft chartered by the late Rep. Leo Ryan, D-Calif., in his ill-fated investigative mission to the jungle commune, as well as the costs incurred for the cleanup of the 913 bodies after the mass murder-suicides last Nov. 18.
Sue over Patty film
SAN FRANCISCO (UPI) - ABC television's three-hour movie "The Ordeal of Patty Hearst" drew far from rave reviews from the family of the newspaper heiress, who said they are considering a lawsuit over the film.
Vickie Hearst, sister of the kidnapped newspaper heiress, said that the movie shown Sunday night was full of errors and misrepresented the facts.
She said that the family took particular exception to a scene that showed Patricia Hearst smiling following the Hibernia bank robbery in San Francisco during which she held a gun as a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
The family also protested the portrayal of chief investigator Charles Bates of the FBI as in intimate friend of the family.
Vickie Hearst said the family also objected to the fact that Patricia Hearst was never contacted during the making of the film.
She said that most of all, the family opposed the timing of the film because Miss Hearst is trying to get a full pardon from her bank robbery conviction. She is now out of prison on a commutation of her sentence by President Carter.
The events in the movie were "certainly not pardonable material," Vickie Hearst asserted. She said the family is considering legal action, which she said would be pursued through the attorney for Catherine Hearst, mother of Patricia and Vickie.
BATTLEGROUND — The Mendocino County Social Services Dept. building on Main Street in Ukiah was Dennis Denny's base of operations in his war with Peoples Temple pastor Jim Jones. Denny said he had a double agent feeding him information on Temple activities. — Journal photo by Kalkman.
March 6, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, Jones vs Denny: Welfare's 'internal securities', by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer, (Third in a series of six articles)
Paranoia or legitimate fear?
Mendocino County Social Services Director Dennis Denny said he was not going to let Peoples Temple members and would-be traitors sabotage his operation. To prevent people from tampering with welfare payments, records or cases, the department had "internal securities," he said.
"We have many, many securities. Those were put in place the first six months that I was here."
Of his department's security system ranking among the best available, Denny said: "We think it speaks for itself."
Describing his position, Denny said, "You live in constant fear of somebody stealing from you — of doing things to cases. So you put in systems that counteract that. I put a great deal of energy and time into those systems of protections, possibly more so than maybe a lot of people."
One part of the system was to make sure temple members on the department's staff had nothing to do with licensing foster and residential care homes for the elderly, since other temple members ran such homes in Ukiah and Redwood Valley.
A licensed home got public assistance money for taking care of elderly clients or foster children.
The core of the system, according to Denny, was what might be called the vertical structure of case review within the department. Simply: people watching people watching people.
"Never in my ten years here have we ever had anyone inside who committed a fraud," said a confident Denny.
Such a "tight system" is possible, he said, because the department is much smaller than its San Francisco or Los Angeles counterparts which he said are just too big for tight security.
Eight "edits" form the front line against welfare fraud from within or without in Mendocino County Social Services. An edit is a review. It is counter-manipulation.
Denny described the department's eight, compartmentalized edits as follows: Edlit one— an eligibility worker gets a welfare applicant's case and determines whether the person qualifies for aid.
Edit two — a supervisor double-checks the applicant's eligibility.
Edit three — a continuing eligibility worker takes over the case, so that it doesn't return to the first eligibility worker when the time comes to decide whether the person can stay on welfare.
Edit four — a second supervisor looRs for mistakes and irregularities in the continuing eligibility worker's caseload.
Edit five — state and federal auditors.
Edit six — the department's quality control person scrutinizes sample cases to make sure edits one through five weren't fouled by accident or purposely.
Edit seven — an account clerk tracks the money flow to aid recipients.
Edit eight — the program manager, who runs the system under Denny, reviews any case at any time.
Said Denny, "We were relatively convinced here that because of our eight edits we were as secure as we possibly could be."
Denny said he brought the fraud detection system with him from Orange County. "That's my baby, and that's my management style."
Of course, how much fraud gets past the department totally unnoticed is anybody's guess. Said Denny, "What gets by us is always an unknown. But that which we prosecute, is about three percent of what we investigate of our entire caseload at any time. And what we convict is less than one percent."
He said Mendocino County's fraud rate is "pretty comparable" to other California counties and lower than metropolitan areas where "street-wise" people view the welfare system as easy prey and try to cheat it.
Denny said he warned temple members on his staff not to tamper with or fabricate cases in attempts to funnel money to the temple.
In the world of espionage, a double agent masquerades as a spy for a nation while actually working for its enemy. One of history's most famous doubles, Kim Philby, spent more than 20 years as the second highest officer in British intelligence but was in fact an agent for the Soviets.
Now that's big league. Denny thought big. So did Jones.
(Cont'd on Page 2)
Page 2—Uklah Dally Journal, Ukiah, Calif,
Tuesday, March 6, 1979
TEMPLE WARS (Cont'd from Page 1)
Denny no doubt laid awake nights imagining Jones' Panzer divisions roaring over social service systems and procedures, and wondered how he could gather more information, more "intelligence," about Jones — until he finally pulled an ace from his defensive sleeve: A double agent.
One of the eight temple members in the department was his informant, telling him what was going on inside Fort Jones as it related to social services.
Denny repeatedly declined to name the informant — who had to have been one of the following: Linda Amos, Laurie Efrein, Barbara Hoyer, Claire Janero, Laura Johnston, James Randolph Jr., Joyce Shaw or Grace Stoen.
But he did note, "In a humorous way, I figured if we could have six and seven staff members working in here as informants to them — which my anxiety told me was happening — I felt it was only fair if I had one of them be a double agent. I felt comfortable enough about that."
The Journal: "Did you really have a double agent?"
Denny: "That's right. I am a bad fellow."
"Bad" in the sense that he could play as rough as Jones.
Using a double agent, said Denny, "is very bad to acknowledge. But they pay me a salary to make sure everything happens correctly here."
Denny worried his double agent might betray him. "When I would ask about this and this and this, I would always wonder whether that person would go back and tell Jones, 'Yeah, I'm in the confidence of this guy'."
Is the double alive? "Unfortunately, that person is dead."
Only one identical name appeared on the list of confirmed Jonestown dead released by the State Department. That person, Barbara Hoyer, was listed as black. Yet the Barbara F. Hoyer that worked for social services here was white.
Although implying the double died at Jonestown, Denny did not say so, nor did he disclose what the double told him.
He apparently brought up the double agent to strengthen the credibility of his broad statements about the temple. To further prove that his assertions about Jones' machinations were true even when he could not or would not reveal the evidence, Denny showed the Journal two reputedly official temple identification badges —one yellow and one black. They were dated and numbered and had the name of an ex-member still living in Ukiah, a woman whose name Denny asked be withheld.
He said the woman gave the square, clip-on badges to his department, which used them to infiltrate temple activities. Said Denny, holding a badge to his chest with the pride of a master spy, "What happens to me when I dummy this up with whoever I want to send? What happens? Nobody knows everybody in an organization of 2,000."
The Journal: "You did send someone in to temple functions?"
Denny: "You can make any conclusion that you wish to make. But I don't know that you're hearing any denial of what you're saying."
The Journal: "Can I assume that department investigators at one time may have used the badges to gain entrance to a function?"
Denny: "I believe that's a conclusion that cannot be argued."
Denny did not say what information the badges yielded. Along with espionage, social services practiced overt intelligence gathering by listening to ex-temple members who told the department "everything" they knew about the temple, according to Denny.
Referring to the people who signed a Jan. 28,1979 Ukiah Daily Journal letter to the editor, he said, "Everyone of them on more than one occasion" gave information to social services.
The letter signers were: Brenda Ganatos, Nancy Busch, Leroy Busch, Elma Cantu, Linda Blankenship, Joann Long, Linda L. Teach, Virginia Lamb, Doris Rupe, Gisella Minahan, Evelyn Detro, Myrna McKeehan, E. Madison, Ruth Boele, Robbie Renfro, Yvonne Alexander, Chris Zynda, Becky Lawson, Anita L. Krupa, Glennell Marsh, Denise Kindopp, Kuby Bogner, Don Ponts, Carlie Borba, Marion H. Freestone, Opal B. Freestone, Theresa Freestone Contreras, Lena McCown, George McCown, Ross E. Case, Luella Case, Evelyn Emery.
Temple defectors, security edits, infiltrators, a mysterious double agent: vanguard of the war effort.
Confronting the menace of Peoples Temple, Denny applied a personal version of the Monroe Doctrine to Mendocino County. He could not control Jones outside the county, but within it, Jones would have to obey welfare law or face the wrath of Denny's social services.
As Jones advanced, Denny and his aides pondered methods of containment, searched for alliances, studied the domino theory as it related to welfare and dug in ever deeper.
During one skirmish with Jones, Denny found he could forget about an alliance with a man theoretically on his side: Mendocino County assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen— who moonlighted as a top Jones lieutenant.
Denny said he and a social services investigator went out to see Jones at his Redwood Valley church March 5, 1971. Denny wanted to check on two truckloads of federal surplus food missing from a San Francisco warehouse. (The department gave food to clients before it joined the food stamp program.).
Said Denny, "One of the things that was terribly disturbing to me that day was that myself and the investigator were standing there talking to the Reverend Jones. While we were talking, who should come up but the assistant district attorney..."
Denny said he asked Stoen, "Whose counsel are you today, Tim? Here I talked to you last month and you're my counsel, and all of a sudden I'm talking to you (now) and you're this person's counsel.
"And at that point in time, to my displeasure and disappointment, Mr. Stoen reflected the fact that he was Peoples Temple's (legal) counselor... "That, needless to say, brought about strained relationships between this department and the district attorney's office, and especially Mr. Stoen."
Asked if Stoen impeded the investigation of stolen foodstuffs, Denny said, "In my judgment he did. We could not move as fast — even at that day and hour — as we would have liked. I felt his action that day impeded us."
Asked to offer specific examples of Stoen putting his allegiance to Jones before his duty to the county, Denny said he had to "hesitate because those questions are being asked by a (Mendocino County) grand jury investigation. Of course there are answers to those things, and they will be answered in the proper arena."
Denny nevertheless noted, "Tim had a severe, tremendous conflict of interest."
Stoen has "no comment" on any temple matter, according to his San Francisco attorney Patrick Hallinan. "I'm advising him not to talk," said Hallinan, calling Stoen's case "messy and bizarre."
To answer questions about "Timmy" and the temple, he said, "you have to literally put yourself in an Alice-in- Wonderland world." "Everybody's looking for a scapegoat," said the lawyer, so they look at "Timmy."
Donald Scotto, the social services investigator who was with Denny March 5, said he and Denny left the temple grounds after the exchange with Stoen. However Scotto said he was standing too far from Denny and Stoen to hear any of the words that went between them.
The department turned the case over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which had ultimate jurisdiction over the allegedly stolen food, known as "surplus commodities."
According to Scotto, USDA made an initial investigation but took no further action. The results of an earlier social services investigation alleged the temple was trucking USDA food stolen from a San Francisco warehouse up to Redwood Valley.
The temple allegedly had some kind of supply line for peanut butter and canned apricots. Scotto said a social services informant had spotted a 40-foot flatbed truck hauling USDA food — and that truck was registered to.the temple. Scotto guessed Jones may have been using the food to supply temple care homes and to feed followers whose earnings were depleted by donations to Jones.
Asked if he ever saw armed guards on his visits to the temple in Redwood Valley, Denny said: "Never. Never. I saw people that were there, but no one ever brandished weapons or carried them."
Denny said he was only on the temple grounds "a few times" and never went inside the temple or Jones' house.
"The violent discussions that we had would not have been conducive to him inviting me into his house or into his parish."
Did Jim Jones move to Redwood Valley for safety from nuclear holocaust — or to set up money-making care homes for mental patients released from Mendocino State Hospital? Tomorrow, a look at the answer.
March 7, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, page 1, Jones vs Denny: Temple leader saw MSH as gold mine, by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer, (Fourth in a series of six articles)
Jim Jones reportedly moved to Redwood Valley in 1965 to be safe from nuclear holocaust — or did he?
Mendocino County Social Services Director Dennis Denny said that reason doesn't wash. "The reason that he moved to Mendocino County," Denny asserted, "was Mendocino State Hospital,"
During the mid-sixties' said Denny, Mendocino State Hospital was one of the only institutions in the country running a special project that returned people with alcohol, drug and emotional problems to the community for care.
"The Rev. Jim Jones read about this project in Indiana," said Denny, adding that the name of the hospital program was the "Mendocino Plan." Jones saw a "built-in clientele" for residential care homes and brought people who knew how to run them to Mendocino County, Denny said.
Jones' wife, Marceline, worked at the hospital as a nurse. Other temple members also worked there.
According to Denny, Jones used the homes to generate money and followers.
"It was obvious he was building a base. It was obvious he was building a financial empire from other people's money and that he was taking personalities that were less than competent in society and leading and directing their lives." Denny said.
Dr. Ernest Klatte was running the hospital program to place disturbed patients in care homes.
Klatte doesn't fully support the Denny version.
Klatte was Superintendent and medical director of Mendocino State Hospital. He left in 1969, the year Denny arrived to direct Mendocino County's social services department.
(Cont'd on Page 2)
Page 2—Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah, Calif.
Wednesday, March 7, 1979
TEMPLE (Cont'd from Page 1)
At present, Klatte is director of mental health, alcohol and drug abuse services for the Orange County Health Services Agency.
Did Klatte dream up the Mendocino Plan?
"Sure it was me," he said, adding that the plan "was never activated."
Under the plan that never was implemented as Klatte envisioned, Mendocino State Hospital would have absorbed social workers from the now defunct state Bureau of Social Work, according to Klatte.
The goal was to create a program that would give patients optimal care both in the hospital and after placement in family care homes, he explained.
"Frequently we felt like the patient fell through the cracks and got lost," once released from full-time hospital care, said the doctor.
Klatte said the pre-1969 state social work bureaus in Ukiah and Santa Rosa were responsible for looking after patients released from the mental hospital.
But, Klatte noted, coordination between the bureaus and the hospital was less than ideal — so he came up with his proposal to improve it.
"Some social workers," he said, dubbed his proposal the "Mendocino Plan."
They thought up the name as a: pejorative, he said with amusement, in the sense "we must fight the Mendocino Plan."
They saw it as a "threat to their autonomy," said Klatte.
For reasons he was not sure of, someone transferred the Bureau of Social Work out of the state mental health department and into the social services department, where people like Klatte couldn't mess with it, according to the former hospital superintendent.
Nevertheless, the so-called Mendocino Plan resulted in at least informal coordination between hospital staff and social workers in placing mentally ill patients, he said.
Of Denny's theory that the Mendocino Plan lured Jones here, Klatte said: "He's got it all distorted. The Bui-eau of Social Work had been placing chronic patients throughout the state for years," including the mentally ill, the retarded and the elderly.
What the hospital routinely did — since before 1956 — said Klatte, was to use "family care placements."
The only unique facet of the hospital, he said, was perhaps the work his staff did with other agencies to set up "community-oriented" health services having "nothing to do with placement" of the mentally ill.
Family care placements meant putting mentally ill but "harmless" people — supported by federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — in private homes where they received board and care, he said.
According to Klatte, the 20 to 45 care homes operated in Mendocino County while he was superintendent received a certain amount of each patient's SSI money as payment for the room, board and care they provided.
Prior to 1963, when SSI took over funding of the family care patients, the state paid for them.
Now-defunct state social work bureaus were responsible for certifying homes and making sure patients received good care.
The "hospital had no role as far as certification of a home was concerned," according to its former director.
Klatte said the program "worked out very well." Patients were happier in care homes than in the hospital, and placing patients in homes cost the state less.
At the same time, he said, "Patients got follow-up care in the community, so they weren't placed and forgotten."
The hospital used a van to take patients around the county and nearby areas to visit potential care homes. If a patient liked a home and seemed compatible with its operator, the hospital and bureau would make a placement.
By the time Klatte left the hospital in 1969, its population had dropped from 3,000 to 1,100 and it was handling many acute drug and alcohol cases not requiring long-term hospitalization.
The hospital closed in 1972. "I'm sure other states for many years have had ways of placing patients in the community. "As long as you've had a welfare system, there's been some way for disabled people to live in the community," Klatte said.
Klatte said he didn't know if patients were ever placed in homes owned by temple members. He said the temple never contacted him to have patients placed in its homes despite the fact that Marceline Jones, whom he described as a "very good nurse," was on the hospital staff.
He said he had heard of no more than six temple members on its staff, but there were "probably more." Of the temple members, "All the reports that I heard were very positive," said Klatte. "They didn't seem to proselytize."
Klatte observed no conflict of interest between temple members on his staff and the hospital itself.
That Jim Jones could have moved elsewhere but didn't, Denny contends, supports the argument that Jones moved to California because of Mendocino State Hospital. "What corroborates his coming here is that he did not choose to go to Metropolitan State Hospital (Los Angeles County). He didn't choose to go to Napa State Hospital. He chose to come here."
Mendocino County, said Denny, had a per capita care home bed rate "higher than any other county in California" after Jones' arrival. Family care homes in Mendocino County "was big business," according to Denny, not only for Rev. Jones and his followers, but for many others. The "big business" simply got bigger with the addition of the temple's homes.
Although unsure if hospital mental patients were placed in temple members' homes, Denny said: "I am led to believe in my assumptions that there were in fact (temple) homes that were receiving these kinds of people."
Dr. Harry Hook, former assistant superintendent for psychiatric services at Mendocino State Hospital, said the hospital began "phasing down" its population in 1965 to deal with the hospital's inevitable closing. Growth of other county mental health programs was absorbing the hospital's work, he said.
Now a staff psychiatrist for the Mendocino County Health Department, Hook nevertheless added, "It would surprise me to hear Jones heard (in Indiana) that here was a hospital phasing down with an awful lot of patients to be placed." (Klatte, according to Hook, launched his "vague concept" — the Mendocino Plan — in 1961 or 1962.)
However, Hook supported Denny's assumption that hospital patients were going to temple-operated homes. He said Marceline Jones "certainly promoted and actually arranged" patient placements in temple homes.
Hook's hunch is that five to 10 temple homes took patients from the hospital, although the hospital didn't know for sure what homes were affiliated with the temple. Said Hook: "The hospital to some extent was always isolated in its communications with the community," and, he believed, it never did know much about Jones.
According to an ex-employee of the former "state Department of Mental Hygiene," temple care homes that received patients amounted to a "very, very small minority" — less than a dozen — of approximately 40 homes affiliated with many religions in the county and adjacent areas.
The ex-employee still works for the state and asked not to be named. He said the Mendocino Plan was unique in California, but it had nothing to do with placement. The source, who described Marceline Jones as having been "a very, very professional person, a very gentle person," doubted the hospital used her to place patients. He said it sent her out to look after patients already placed.
Denny said he was astounded to find Mendocino State Hospital operating "close to 50" family care homes.
"A small community, a small social services department, a small sheriff's office, a small police department — how do they handle that kind of action? "We didn't even have that many (homes) where I came from, a metropolitan area of Southern California. That kind of program brings about severe problems in any community." "What's the scam?" Denny said he asked.
Denny maintains that Jones moved to Redwood Valley not only for a piece of the family care home action, but also because of the potential money in residential care homes for the elderly and foster homes supervised by social services.
Before Denny arrived to become social services director in 1969, his department corresponded with Indiana welfare officials about Jones, and from that correspondence Denny concluded Jones was the "greatest humanitarian con man ever to hit this valley."
Denny said he confronted Jones in 1970 with the Indiana information, which showed, according to Denny, that Jones had set up a personal "clientele" to milk the Indiana welfare system. Denny said he accused the temple leader of plotting to do "the same damn thing" here.
Denny said Jones' reaction of "Oh my God; who told?" convinced him of Jones' ulterior motive. Denny said he told Jones: "I want you to know that if you start fooling around with our department, I'm going to blow the whole scene on you."
The Indiana correspondence, according to Denny, is "confidential" and has been turned over to the Mendocino County Grand Jury, which is investigating the temple.
Although social services never signed a check payable to Peoples Temple, it licensed care homes for the elderly operated by Jones' followers — homes that grossed an estimated half million dollars or more in ten years. How the money flowed will be considered tomorrow.
March 8, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, Jones vs Denny: Temple members were most exploited group, by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer, (Fifth in a series of six articles)
In the no-man's land between Peoples Temple and the Mendocino County Social Services Department, Jim Jones' followers ran nine residential care homes for the elderly and six homes for foster children between 1965 and 1978. Temple members who cared for the elderly gave Jones up to half of their meager income, a transfer social services Director Dennis Denny was powerless to stop because welfare law didn't apply to church donations. But the law did apply to the level of care each home provided — and Denny said he watched for violations with unblinking vigilance.
By the time this pitiful chapter in Denny's war with the temple ended, it was clear Jones had mostly exploited his own followers, not the larger community of Mendocino County. At least, that's the way Denny describes it.
Although social services licensed and monitored homes for foster children and the elderly, it had no authority over the temple-owned Road K Ranch, 2451 Road K, Redwood Valley, because the ranch's program for the mentally retarded was under state jurisdiction. The state removed the ranch's clients after the Guyana murder-suicides and apparently does not intend to renew the home's license.
Denny's department says the following people were "affiliated" with the temple and ran care homes allowed a maximum of 15 aged clients
(address, number of allowed clients, years of licensed operation and why the operation ended follow the names):
— Edith and James Bogue, Route 1, Box 443 A, Road B, Redwood Valley; six, June 1967 to Sept. 1970, license changed from residential care to family care.
— Rheavina Deam, 244 Laws Ave., Ukiah, six, Jan. 1967 to Dec. 1975; home closed at operator's request.
— Archie and Rosabelle Ijames, 9810 Ranched A Road, Redwood Valley; six, Aug. 1966 to Aug. 1974; home sold.
— Alice and Jimmy Inghram, 9810 Rancheria Road, Redwood Valley; six, April 1976 to June 1977; closed when home they leased was sold.
— Birdie Ithell Marable, 410 W. Henry St.. Ukiah; six, Aug. 1972 to present; still in operation. Marable is no longer a temple member.
—Clara Ruth Phillips, 1450 Knob Hill Road, Ukiah; 12, Oct. 15 to Jan. 1974; sold home.
— Maine and Nathaniel Swaney, 7625 East Road, Redwood Valley; 10, April 1977 to Nov. 1977; sold home.
— Helen Swinney, 1551 Road D., Redwood Valley; 14, Jan. 1977 to Nov. 1977; sold home.
—Mary Wotherspoon, 1450 Knob Hill Road, Ukiah; 12, May 1975 to Jan. 1978; sold home. Died at Jonestown.
According to Denny, the total number of residential care homes, temple and non-temple, between 1969 and 1977 was approximately 75 county wide. A majority of them were small, licensed for two or three aged, ambulatory people. The state handled licenses for homes that took in the mentally retarded, physically handicapped and mentally disordered. Denny's department, tired of fighting with Jones about matters like who really owned the homes his followers ran, turned over care home supervision and licensing to the state in 1977.
The amount of money going from the homes to Jones was not dazzling, but made up one more strand in the madman's fiscal web. Before the federal Social Security Administration took over payments to care home residents in 1973, said Denny, payments were 50 percent federal, 25 percent state and 25 percent county, with social services determining the amount a person was eligible for to cover room, board, care and incidentals. Of $200 a client might receive, $15 went for personal items and the rest to the operator, according to Denny, who said checks were sent directly to the clients.
People got "excellent" care in temple homes, Denny said. 'We had social workers that had continual contact during those years with the clientele that was residing in those homes, and all of those files indicate and show, through very good social work technique, that they were well-cared for " Denny said.
The department did not have a 'documented case" of poor care 'We never could get any recipient to come forward and say my money's being misspent,' never ever." he said.
The possibility of poor treatment "was always our concern," said Denny, whose department made sure operators didn't try to save money by feeding clients "broth instead of beef." All the clients, according to Denny, were well-fed, well-clothed and "always clean."
The people Jim Jones "ripped off" were the operators, Denny argued. He cited a typical husband and wife grossing a total of perhaps $1,200 per month from six clients in their home "Okay, they've got to pay the rent on the place, the utilities. They've got to buy this and buy that. They've got to make sure the food is on the table. They've got to make sure that somebody goes and gets their (clients) medical care and so forth. "They weren't getting a dime for their supervision. What I'm suspecting is they were contributing maybe $200 a month to the church from their (net) income. That's why they were gelling ripped off."
According to Denny, care home operators belonging to the temple had to give it 25 to 50 percent of what should have been their income. (Cont. on Page 2)
Page 2—Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah, Calif.
Thursday, March 8, 1979
TEMPLE (Cont'd from Page 1)
The department could not tell elderly clients where to stay, said Denny, adding normal procedure was to give someone who wanted to know about homes a list of those licensed. Jones imported most of his clients, which was "perfectly legal," according to Denny, who claimed it was "obvious" the temple brought in elderly people from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Indiana and, Louisiana to fill its care homes.
Denny estimated that a typical six-client home in 1973 only grossed $12,000 for the year. But temple homes, he said, could have made a "profit" for Jones because of their high occupancy rate. Denny said the profit total is "conjecture," but if Jones' operators saved $30 per client per month, they would have a "pretty good amount of money" for the temple treasury.
Although social services never added up clients or money that went through temple homes, Denny's rough calculations show the homes collectively grossed $648,000 between 1966 and 1976. A portion of this amount presumably was net profit, and up to half of the profit went to Jones. Denny could not say whether temple members getting welfare, like Aid For Dependent Children, which he called a "pittance," turned their money over to the temple.
But the veteran Jones-watcher observed: "You put that (pittance) with the residential care; you put that together with baking (and selling) cookies; you put that together with employees giving salaries — you put that all together, and you've got a moneymaking thing going. "You don't have a moneymaking thing going in one specific area, but you sure have it when you put it all together — and it's quite obvious that he amassed a fortune. This conglomerate was very diversified — under the guise of humanitarianism."
Denny reportedly believes Jones' assets were more than $5 to $6 million when he left Redwood Valley in 1977. While admitting his department could be viewed as deficient because it never formally tallied the money that went from its programs to temple members, Denny said, "We never tried to isolate the dollars that were going to people who were affiliated with that organization. We were too busy trying to make sure that they and their enterprises were meeting all regulations." He also said there was "no purpose" at the time to calculate the money flow to temple members.
"Every religious group has rights, and we know that with the money they (temple members) got, they had the right to spend it and tithe it to the church." said Denny, adding "I personally disagree with that."
Denny said that for someone to do a study now of the money flow to temple members would be "very difficult" and involve 'a lot of guessing, " but he conceded the department has enough information in its files to make a study possible Just calculating the sum total of money that went to temple foster and residential care homes, said the welfare director, would take three accountants six months of fulltime work and cost whomever was paying a minimum of $50-$75,000.
To study the cash flow from 1966 to 1976, accountants first would have to learn (from social services) what data to look for and then have to identify who lived in a temple home, Denny said, advising that the work could be done on a case-by-case basis if cases are available.
The department destroyed many case files five years after expiration and final audit, or sent them to the Social Security Administration, he noted.
Asked if the department ever signed a check payable to the order of Peoples Temple, Denny said, "That never happened. We never had any payment directly to the temple." "We even had a rule here," said Denny, "we would not take their candies — they came around every Christmas — big box of homemade candies — we would not take their pies and cakes. We don't do that. We don't take liquor from people. We will not take anything. They (the temple) had a lot of difficulty dealing with that...My God! They even tried to give (candies) to my kids at my house. That really kind of disturbed me."
Denny alleged the temple set up a mysterious "pipeline" which illegally transferred "between 15 and 20" elderly people from temple care-homes in Mendocino County to homes in Southern California, beyond Denny's jurisdiction. Denny said he first learned about the pipeline from a care-home operator and from families who complained to the department they didn't want their elderly relatives moved from one home to another. He noted that the few complaints social services ever got about temple care homes concerned improper transfers.
Because of the Mendocino County Grand Jury's temple probe, Denny refused to name the victim or homes in a May 1975 case in which the temple allegedly transferred an elderly man to a Southern California home.
Said Denny: "There's confidentiality of case on the man. He's protected by our confidentiality of records. The liability of this department about saying that somebody was taking people (from) here illegally — that's a pretty bad charge."
Jones' payoff from the illegal transfers is still a mystery to Denny, who said he never found out whether Jones owned a Southern California home or was skimming off the top of someone else's operation. Without jurisdiction and resources to track Jonnes southward, Denny turned over his pipeline findings to the proper authority, what was then the state Department of Health.
"What happened to those investigations that we turned over to the Department of Health? That's what bothered us. Nothing substantial has ever come back to my knowledge that shows that they ever did anything about those kinds of things," Denny recalled. "The stuff we would get in response to our initial inquiries (to the health department) would be 'case closed.' Well, in my jurisdiction, you don't close a case until you (have) the reasons (for closing it)."
Denny refused to name state officials who sent back "case-closed" letters, noting the information is in his desk drawer — locked, of course — and is with county District Attorney Joe Allen.
All inquiries to the state health and welfare bureaucracy in Sacramento led to one man, J. Shawn Ortiz, public information officer for the state Social Services Department. Asked about Denny's charges of illegal transfers and "case-closed" letters, Ortiz said, "We have no comment to make in regard to his allegations. I don't know anything that would remotely correspond to his allegations."
Ortiz said he couldn't possible answer Denny's charges if Denny refused to name the allegedly guilty officials or reveal the alleged correspondence. Said the information officer, "If I were you, I would make a request for Denny's information under the Public Records Act." When asked if he knew the whereabouts of state care-home officials who once dealt with Denny, the information expert said, "That's anybody's guess."
Denny said that without knowing all the "facts," it would be "unfair" and "irresponsible" of him to "analyze the ineptitude" of state, county and local agencies (other than the health department) that might have been derelict in dealing with Jones. "What other agencies are finding they've got skeletons? — I don't know," he said.
Tomorrow: Denny's battle with Jones over foster children — a battle waged long before some of their bodies turned up at Jonestown.
March 9, 1979, Ukiah Daily Journal, page 1, Jones vs Denny: Temple foster homes weren't used, by Eric Krueger, Journal Staff Writer, (Last in a series of six articles)
Last Sunday, on Page 1, we carried a photograph of the late Jim Jones as part of the series on the Peoples Temple vs. Social Services. The photo was taken years ago at a rally in San Francisco. Backgrounding Jones were two photos of Dr. Martin Luther King. To those who found this offensive, we offer our apologies. There was no intent to link Jones and Dr. King. Tlie philosophy of Dr. King was 180 degrees from what Jones wound up preaching.
The series on Social Services has prompted more comment than we anticipated. Numerous people who were involved have stepped forth to offer very interesting comments. More on this next week.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS - While the county grand jury met behind this door Thursday with the board of supervisors, the chambers within will be the scene of intense questioning of Social Services Director Dennis Denny in the future on his department's involvement with the late Jim Jones and his People's Temple.
—Journal photo by Dale Kalkman.
Mendocino County Social Services Director Dennis Denny seemed to fear and detest what he perceived as the life in store for any child whose parents were members of the temple. When some of those members began qualifying for foster home licenses and legal guardianships, Denny apparently feared they would come lo believe Jim Jones was God— without much opportunity to believe otherwise.
Social services licensed and monitored foster homes, which, according to Denny, Jones saw as a potential revenue source because people got welfare money to support the foster children they took in. Denny said Mendocino County, at any one time between 19 and 1977, had approximately 50 foster homes, six of them run by temple members between 1971 and 1976. The .six homes had licenses to take children from Alameda, San Francisco or Contra Costa Counties.
Social services department files identify them as follows:
- George Donald and Bonnie Jean Beck Jr., 400 Empire Drive, Ukiah; licensed for one child 1972, discontinued by choice 1974,
Among their references, the Becks list Tim Stoen. (The Becks were on Jones' infamous Planning Commission, according to temple defectors Al and Jeannie Mills, who served with the Becks. When last contacted Bonnie Beck had no comment on the subject.
The Planning Commission reportedly maintained discipline within temple ranks, among other governing duties.)
- Robert and Elizabeth Davis, 7550 East Road, Redwood Valley; licensed for one child 1976; cancelled 1976 when couple moved to unknown location.
- Donald and Thelma Jackson, 1119 S. Dora St., Ukiah; licensed for two children 1974; discontinued 1976 when couple moved to San Francisco.
- Frank and Georgia Lacy, 2260 Road K, Redwood Valley; licensed for five children 1974; discontinued 1976 when couple moved to San Francisco.
- Elmer J. and Deanna May Mertle (who ultimately defected from the temple and changed their names to Al and Jeannie Mills), Route 1, Box KK), Tomki Road, Redwood Valley; licensed for one child 1971; chose not to renew 1973.
- Myra Wilson, 2114 Carleton Drive, Ukiah; licensed for two children 1973; discontinued 1974 due to Wilson's death by heart attack.
Denny said the department doesn't know how many children from Mendocino County foster homes run by temple members ended up dead in Jonestown but it's "checking on that right now."
(Cont'd on Page 2)
page 2--Ukiah Daily Journal,
Friday, March 9, 1979,
TEMPLE (Cont from page 1)
Said Denny, "We do not believe that any children were placed from this county in (Temple) foster homes here. But we're waiting to substantiate that. Our best evidence over the last two years is zero."
A "few" children placed here by other counties, he added, may have died in Jonestown.
Denny said his department didn't place children in temple foster homes because it believed they would not have "freedom of choice" in "religious training."
"We can't even count on one hand - over ten years - where we placed a kid in one of these licensed homes of theirs," said the welfare director. "Maybe we might have put one in for a day or two until we could find a place - because we had to put a kid where there was a bed - but we here didn't place them."
Asked what the department's policy was, Denny replied, "I'm saying our referral procedure was never to use any of their homes."
Because the department kept a close watch on foster children placed in homes it licensed, temple members increasingly opted for legal guardianship, a tactic which removed them from social services jurisdiction.(Meaning the county welfare dept. was circumvented & the kids became wards of the state thereby eliminating local scrutiny.)
Denny said temple members became legal guardians to 25 children in Mendocino, San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and Los Angeles Counties.
Four of the seven children in Mendocino County guardianships died at Jonestown, according to Denny, who said three children from Bay Area guardianships also died there.
Dewy said the four dead youngsters from local guardianships did not come from here originally, but just where they came from remains a mystery.
He would not release the names of children involved in temple guardianships, saying they were confidential on orders from Mendocino County District Attorney Joe Allen and the U.S. General Accounting Office, which is investigating foster child placement and the temple.
Former Mendocino County Assistant District Attorney Tim Stoen said temple attorney Eugene Chaikin did the legal work for temple guardianships in Mendocino County, according to Denny, who mentioned but didn't reveal "documentation" supporting his assertion.
Denny also said Jones brought or had placed here approximately 150 foster children who were "in and out" of licensed and unlicensed homes between 1966 and 1977.
More than 100 of the imported youngsters were from the Bay Area and Los Angeles, living illegally with temple families not licensed to have them, alleged Denny who recalled, "We then were asking those jurisdictions in the Bay Area what was going on and why they were placing those kids here without our authority."
When social services discovered children in unlicensed temple homes, it forced Jones to send them back to where they had come from, he said.
Denny declined to name Bay Area probation officers and social workers who were sending foster youngsters to licensed or unlicensed temple homes here.
Although People's Temple didn't include child abuse in the repertoire of twisted behavior that led to Jonestown, some of its members allegedly practiced it at home in ways ranging from beatings to sexual molestation, according to the social services director.
Denny, who could not "hazard a guess" as to the total number of Child Protective Service cases involving temple adults, said that in five of the cases, Jones or his aides intervened on behalf of the accused and hired the "best" attorneys for them. The cases are not public record, said Dewey, declining to name the "best" attorneys.
Nevertheless, parents who were temple members committed no more child abuse than members of any other religious group, said Denny whose department monitored the temple very closely for violations against children.
Neither informants nor anyone else, said Denny, reported child abuse or batterings at temple meetings. "We never," he said. "went to the temple and saw a kid that had been beaten in the temple - never happened, never happened."
Relying on reports from ex-members and informants, Denny said that what took place at the temple was "at least" paddling and usually the paddling of adults.
Even though social services didn't make life easy for Jones in Mendocino County, Denny said Jones left the area mostly because of the income, power and ego, rewards big cities offered.
"I think he had to broaden his base, he had to get to San Francisco, and set up a base there where he could control the political environment..."
"I don't think he did that up here, I didn't see it then, and I'm not seeing it in retrospect now."
According to Denny, controlling the political environment largely manipulating politicians by showing an ability to produce votes for or against them, and "in the arena down south that's an acceptable practice."
Outside Tim Stoen, Denny didn't think Jones controlled powerful people in Mendocino County, nor did Denny have any evidence to show Jones controlled public agencies like the Ukiah Police Department or the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.
Were Denny's efforts to stop Jones from breaking welfare law in Mendocino a success?
"He survived," said Denny, "I'm questioning the success. You can always do better. We did as good a job as we could at the time - I'm convinced of that, yes."
Life seems quaint now at the Mendocino County Social Services Department.
Welfare applicants sit in a tiny waiting area with a soda machine. Venetian blinds cleave the sunlight of a winter afternoon. Behind a tall partition shutting out the waiting area, department staffers go about their well-oiled business in the systems and procedures labyrinth.
Dennis Denny is working another endless day.
He has a lot to do this month, sending the Mendocino County Grand Jury information about the man who again permeates his life, about the war that was hot and cold, the success of internal security, the way he could admire Jones' charisma and detest his duplicity.
Denny may one day testify before the grand jurors, who no doubt will listen to his story of his war against apocalypse with a measure of awe, humility and gratitude - and perhaps with some perplexity over what measures government should take to curb a religion's abuse of freedom.