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Commissioners want money back from Vermillion charity

Updated Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 | 2:08 p.m.

Clark County wants its money back from an organization that helps homeless teens get off the street.

Commissioners Chris Giunchigliani and Lawrence Weekly will ask fellow commissioners to consider terminating a Jan. 17 resolution that granted the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth $214,217 for operational and service costs.

The homeless youth group has come under scrutiny after its executive director, Arash Ghafoori, asked the Nevada attorney general last month to investigate how the organization was spending its money, which it receives through donations and government grants.

Weekly said the grant money is a precious commodity and he wants to be sure it goes to an organization where it won’t get “caught up in red tape.”

“(The partnership) is an excellent organization but if there are some problems, I just don’t want to have these dollars tied up and I’d like to see them go where they can be utilized right now,” he added.

Giunchigliani said her rationale has nothing to do with the embattled homeless organization. She doesn’t want to take back all of the money, just about $100,000. She said that will enable the county to put money toward a program to provide free access to swimming pools in the summer and job training to keep kids off the street.

She also said that this should give various agencies, in coordination with Clark County, a chance to view how money is allocated to at least four organizations that deal with homeless youths.

“(The Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth) is seeing a decrease in volume, in numbers coming to their drop-in center, so why not look to see how he money can best be used?” she added.

Former Henderson City Council member Kathleen Vermillion was let go by the organization last week. Ghafoori, meanwhile, was reinstated after Vermillion had put him on paid administrative leave after he questioned spending in December.

Ghafoori did not return calls for comment Tuesday and could not be reached Wednesday morning.

Vermillion has also filed a lawsuit against Clark County and Commissioner Steve Sisolak, claiming they defamed her and invaded her privacy by alleging they spread information about her drug test result.

Sisolak fired back with a lawsuit against Vermilliion, her attorney Rob Martin and Martin’s public relations adviser Mark Fierro, after Martin and Fierro asked him for $3.9 million to make Vermillion’s lawsuit “go away.”

Sisolak had abstained on the vote to grant the Nevada Partnership the $214,217. He has previously said he gave about $250,000 in donations to the organization over the years.

“I will continually support the charity and will be stepping up my support,” he added.

Vermillion has also said that two other organizations that deal with homeless youths, WestCare and HELP of Southern Nevada, have been asked to consider taking over the Partnership’s responsibilities.

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