Poor Relations

Guess what happened when Cleo Sims and her felonious offspring took over a Dallas anti-poverty agency

Sims, meanwhile, has nothing but contempt for Green and Hawkins, to whom she refers as "those idiots." The former, she says, "has run for everything and never won"; the latter "hasn't been with [any organization] for more than five minutes."

While Sims has been able to keep Green and Hawkins at bay, she's had a harder time with Khaleef Hasan, a human services program administrator for the City of Dallas and a member, back in the 1960s, of the original Black Panthers. Hasan is Dallas City Councilman Al Lipscomb's appointee to the DCCAC board; he took the position last year.

"I'd ask Cleo Sims questions and, you know, people acted like I'd slapped my mother," he says. "The board doesn't know anything about what's going on."

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In Sims' view, Hasan was "rude" and "disrespectful," and the agency's board, alleging that Hasan had brought in outsiders to disrupt the organization, voted 8-2 to oust him at its last meeting, held July 22.

That move prompted Lipscomb to weigh in with a scathing letter defending his man to Givens and the board. "Khaleef Hasan will remain my board appointee," wrote Lipscomb.

The councilman, after whose mother the group named its strip shopping center in 1993, ripped the board for not following its bylaws in voting the removal. A two-thirds majority is required. And he questioned whether the sitting board has any authority at all.

"Most of the people on this board should have been removed because of continued absenteeism," Lipscomb wrote. "Even your position as president is questionable, since this was basically decided without the board voting."

Givens declined to respond when asked about Lipscomb's letter and hung up the phone.

As for Hasan's style on the board, Lipscomb wrote, "It appears that this agency is not used to board members examining and questioning information that's given to them. Judging from the facts of the audit from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Khaleef had good reasons to seek this information."

Sims had even less luck during an appearance three weeks ago on Commissioner Price's radio show on KKDA-AM. Unbeknownst to Sims, Price had sought out a copy of the state's new report for the visit. "I pulled my file from the old DCCAC...And I've got a problem," said Price, referring to the agency's last scandal. "This almost reads exactly like the 1988 audit. It was as if someone had pulled it...I'm having a real problem understanding why I'm seeing the same kind of report."

While Sims fends off critics locally and attempts to answer state auditors' questions, the grass at the Meadows finally got mowed a few weeks ago. It had been allowed to grow about two feet tall.

Two tenants, Lakesha Thompson and a neighbor, say Cleo Sims' son, Harvey Scott the maintenance man, agreed to pay them $50 to mow the grass. The neighbor had the mower stowed in her living room and said she was waiting to be paid.

Tenant Beverly Thompson says she doesn't want to sound like a "bad tenant," but she is tired of having to fill up her bathtub to flush the toilet, and "this gate out here--that's never been finished."

"It's hard to get anything done," she says. "People say, 'This is a family deal here. That's why nothing gets done.'"

Dallas Observer intern Rebeca Rodriguez contributed to this story.

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