Elected leaders support embattled Council on Aging Director, calls continue for her resignation
BATON ROUGE- The family of a woman who died last month is calling for the Executive Director at the Council on Aging to resign or be fired.
Those calls came on Monday as a number of state elected officials stood on the steps of City Hall in Baton Rouge supporting Clark Amar and her agency.
Representatives C. Denise Marcelle, Pat Smith, Ted James and State Senator Regina Barrow were together as they called the latest attack on the Council on Aging typical.
"The oversight that's being asking of the board and Ms. Amar, it's unfortunate," Marcelle said. "We need to call it what it is. It's the same thing they did with the CATS tax, and we're seeing it again."
Last week, Councilmen Buddy Amoroso and Dwight Hudson called for Clark Amar's resignation. They were joined by State Senator Bodi White.
All of this stems from a WBRZ Investigative Unit Report which showed a will was drawn up without the family's knowledge last July which proved to be very lucrative for COA Director Tasha Clark Amar. The will indicated that Clark Amar shall pay herself $500 a month for the next 20 years after she was named as the "executrix" or trustee over Helen Plummer's will. The will was drawn up days before Plummer's 95th birthday by Council on Aging Board Member Dorothy Jackson.
"This is a humanity issue," Plummer's granddaughter Tracie Davis said. "This could be anybody's grandmother."
Davis said her and her family weren't notified about the will until after her grandmother died. Last week, they found out their grandmother's home was listed for sale without their consent.
"This is precedence setting," Davis said. "Anyone should be afraid that these individuals prevail at what they are attempting to do. The public should be afraid. That means all of us are in jeopardy."
Davis said finding attorneys who will even take this case hasn't been easy. She said each one tells her they won't take the case because Clark Amar's mother is the 19th Judicial District Court Judge, Janice Clark.
"The excuses, the enabling that's being done right now, it only feeds that dangerous sense of entitlement and that dangerous sense of selfishness that caused the actions of July 7, 2016," Davis said.
At the news conference Marcelle held, elected leaders said this was an attack on the Council on Aging due to a property tax that was recently passed. That tax would more than double the Council on Aging's budget.
Davis said she feels let down by her elected officials as none of them have reached out to her.
"The African American community of leaders have basically turned their back on this family," Davis said. "None have reached out to us... We sought out the media because we felt like we were fighting a dragon."
Last week, we tried to ask Clark Amar about her actions. She refused to answer any questions.
"Have a good day, Chris," Clark Amar said. "Have a good day."
The family said despite claims that they weren't there for Plummer, there is no evidence of that. Plummer died in Davis' care at Plummer's request. Plummer also said on her death bed that she had no will.
"It should be embarrassing to the lawmakers that have stood behind and beside Ms. Clark Amar in telling the public what happened on July 7, 2016 was okay," Davis said. "It's a dangerous precedent that's being set."
Today, Clark Amar released the following statement:
"For more than 40 years, the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging and its employees have worked to provide outstanding nutritional and social services to the members of our community who need it most, our parish's elderly population. As the Chief Executive Officer for nearly six years, I have had the privilege of leading this great organization, working to ensure that thousands of seniors receive the hot meals, counseling,
and other resources they need during the most critical, and often difficult, times of their lives. The work that we do every day has been praised by local officials and by the community at large, reflected through the recent passage of the millage tax designed to better fund our vital programs.
Everything we have done, and I have done as Director, has been according to the will and interest of our program's participants. I have never used my position to threaten, coerce, or in any way unjustly enrich myself at the expense of a single member of our community. The felonious accusations that have been lodged against me are simply the latest part of a concerted witch-hunt to call into question this organization's tireless efforts.
Neither the East Baton Rouge Parish Council on Aging nor I will permit false claims and negative attention to distract us from serving our most vulnerable citizens. The information that has been released thus far has been both incomplete and inaccurate. I am actively working to compile the relevant information to provide to the appropriate authorities who I have no doubt will independent and rightfully find that no laws or ethics provisions were violated by any conduct on our part. Respectfully, I ask all members of our community to reserve judgment until all facts have come to light, and to continue supporting our seniors.
For several years, Ms. Plummer was a pivotal part of our elderly community. She gave purpose and perspective to all those she encountered, and was an indispensable part of our day. She is sorely missed, and our prayers will continually remain with those who knew and loved her most. EBRCOA will miss her daily."