EBR Council on Aging holds emergency meeting over check-writing policy after WBRZ report
BATON ROUGE — The East Baton Rouge Council on Aging held an emergency board meeting Wednesday to review the agency's check-writing policies after a WBRZ Investigative Unit report last week showed the board granted CEO Tasha Clark Amar sole authority to sign checks.
During the meeting, those who review the agency's finances said it writes about 20 checks per week. They said it became too much of a hassle to get two signatures, so that requirement was removed.
"The banks no longer required two," one board member said. "It was also spoken that it was cumbersome to get the checks signed, and I don't know about you all, but I don't know nobody that wants to wait on their money. It was cumbersome, secretary out of pocket, and Chairlady Denise Marcelle was out of pocket because she was at (the legislative) session."
Clark Amar's past has landed her in the sights of corruption watchdogs. In 2017, she named herself in an elderly client's will and almost got to her money. Following a series of WBRZ Investigative Unit reports then that exposed the scandal, Clark Amar backed away from the will. Many of our sources said back then that her mother, Janice Clark, who was a sitting judge at the time, was the reason that her daughter faced no consequences.
During Wednesday's board meeting, retired Judge Clark was present. At least one board member, who is a lawyer, was seen hugging her. Those involved at the Council on Aging said Judge Clark never shows up at meetings.
Also during the meeting, we learned that routine expenses like water bills and utility bills can be signed by Clark Amar, but expenses outside of that require a review by those working in the finance department. However, those expenses still don't require a second signature.
"We do have oversight and take that oversight seriously," another board member said. "We realize that oversight actually strengthens the agency, compliance with statutory requirements. We are here to take that very seriously and we work together."
Clark Amar didn't say much during the meeting, and the board did not take any action changing her authority to be the only person who can sign checks.
"The monthly expenditures, those need to go on and need to go on timely," one board member said. "That's what we were seeking."
An audit is conducted once a year on the finances at the Council on Aging, employees said during the meeting. They said that audits in the past have been clean.
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