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East Valley Focus

PACOIMA : Future Uncertain for Agency's Employees

October 26, 1994|TIM MAY

Resume-writing classes began Tuesday morning at Keeping the World at Peace Inc. as employees of the nonprofit agency prepared to look for other work in the face of the agency's financial and managerial difficulties.

Debra J. Santos, executive director of the agency, told her 10 employees Friday that she could no longer pay them because funding from CTSI Corp., the company that administers a water conservation program for the city of Los Angeles, has been cut back.

But Santos' employees showed up for work this week anyway, vowing to continue working as long as possible.

"We're not closed yet," Santos said, though the agency is helping workers prepare for potential job searches.

The agency, which opened last year, may soon shut down its water conservation program, which distributes free ultra low-flush toilets in exchange for old, high consumption models. The older toilets are collected for recycling. But a computer-training and services program offered by the agency will continue to operate--out of someone's home, if necessary, Santos said.

Santos and other employees will discuss the agency's future at noon Thursday at the Pacoima Coordinating Council's meeting at the Boys & Girls Club of San Fernando Valley, 11251 Glenoaks Blvd.

Keeping the World at Peace and other community groups in the Los Angeles area receive a $25 rebate for each old toilet replaced by a new low-flush model. But CTSI Corp., the Orange County-based company that manages the program for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District, began reducing the amount of payments to the agency several weeks ago, Santos said.

CTSI Corp. has denied any responsibility for the agency's problems. A company spokesman contended the agency's production has fallen off recently, citing that as the reason for the funding reduction.

"Basically, they were never able to make a go of it," said Rick Ruiz, program manager for CTSI. "They had problems from the beginning. It's unfortunate their incompetence may hurt the program."

Ruiz said the toilet exchange program would continue operating even if Santos' organization closes. "We are asking people who want low-flush toilets to call 1-800-660-8028. We'll tell them where they can get them," he said.

Santos accused CTSI of "squeezing us out of business" to cover up mismanagement of the conservation program.

Both sides accuse the other of refusing to communicate.

The Metropolitan Water District has refused to get involved in the dispute, saying it is up to the two organizations to work out their differences.

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