The County is Taking My Mothers Property...


root - Posted on 12 August 2002

A low-income African-American family have lost their disabled Grandmama and all their property to the precarious world of the Alameda County Guardianship Program. Advocates and family attempt to fight back…

by Lisa Gray-Garcia and Ashley Adams

"This county is taking my mother’s property and evicting us illegally." Scott Sloan’s salt and pepper ‘fro glistened in the 9:00 am glare while he addressed POOR Magazine and DAMO staff – the only attendees of an emergency press conference held outside the Alameda County Courthouse on a bright morning in May. POOR Magazine staff in conjunction with Disability Advocates of Minorities Organization were present to report, support and advocate for the Sloan family – a low-income African-American family who have lost their disabled Grandmama and all their property to the precarious world of the Alameda County Guardianship Program.

"I live in L.A," Miss Moore, Mrs. Sloan’s daughter spoke next, "but I’m up here to lend support because everything they’re doing to my mother is wrong, like the way they evicted my sister out of my mothers house, they told her they were gonna fix the house up then she could move back. Soon as they fixed the house up they told her she was out, she had to go, had to find her own self a place to stay. No compensation, but she just had to go."

Four of Mrs Sloan’s seven adult children, several grandchildren and their extended family stood silently beneath the massive steel and concrete structure of the County building that wielded arbitrary control over the legacy of Mrs. Beatrice Sloan

Beatrice Sloan as the single parent of 7 children worked full-time as a dishwasher for thirty years to come up and out of poverty and buy property for her and her family. After endless sacrifices she bought and maintained four houses, which mostly housed her large extended family. Then she became ill and the county of Alameda seized control of her estate. Now her family faces homelessness and she is held captive in The Excell Nursing Home, a board and care facility in East Oakland.

The Sloan family have been trying to get justice for their grandmother ever since she was placed in Conservatorship. One by one Mrs. Sloan’s properties have been sold out from under the family without their consent to "pay" for the extremely high fees charged to her estate in the nursing home and have faced an endless number of mysterious surrounding the "loss" of her family assets.

"We’re trying to find out what’s going on with her and why the county wants to take the conservatorship of her, Charles Woods, Mrs Sloan’s grandson in law who has lived with his wife Javelyn and father in law Scott Sloan and has just received a 30 day eviction notice from one of Mrs. Sloans’ houses related some of the confusing bits of information they have been told by the county officials, " the county told us; we can get Conservatorship of her person but not her property; and soon as the county got control of the property they started selling the properties.

If they had liens-tax liens on her property there should’ve been liens on the bank account. She had no liens on the bank account that means she had no liens on the property but this is what they were telling us – the tales they were telling us.
Charles Woods continued, " I’m just here to speak for my father-in-law’s behalf .

Since Mrs. Sloan has been in the care of the Alameda conservative she’s been neglected, and abused at the Excell Nursing facility . The county conservator’s care more about her property than her well being .." Charles went on to relate the families recent attempt to visit their grandmother at Excell, who on other visits has been found in her own feces, with burns and bruises on her body and/or so drugged up that she is unable to move or speak, this last time they visited – they had to deal with a new shock, she just wasn’t there at all – and in true form, the family had to file a missing person’s report with the Oakland police department just to find out that Mrs. Sloan had been taken to Alta Bates Hospital.

"We just want to make this situation right.." Charles shook his head after this last statement, as though he was shaking off the impossibility of it all

The court day to-be bustled officiously around our small press conference; $300.00 suits, deep bronze and ruby red designer shoes, glistening leather briefcases dangling off of bejeweled hands. The "law" at their fingertips, judges and lawyers buzzed by, ready to take what little assets and/or dignity folk might have had left or like in the Sloan’s case, remove what small trace of equity and assets remained.

"How many properties did Beatrice Sloan originally own?" POOR staff inquired

"Four."

"Does she any of them now?"

"Only two – sort of."

"How is that set up, does she actually own them, is she on the deed, or is she…?"

"She is the sole owner. She’s on the deed… no one else."

"Then how is Alameda charging you guys $2000 dollars rent and evicting you?"

"Because they can that’s what they’re doing." They’re getting back at us for fighting them for what they’re doing ...They are actually stealing the property." Scott Sloan finished by looking angrily towards the court house

"What is the reason for the thirty day notice that you’ve just been given right now?"

Scott answered emphatically, "No reason, they gave us no reason, Oakland don’t have to give you a reason to evict you – at any given time they can evict you. You don’t have to have a reason, this is the only city that don’t have to have a reason to evict you."

The POOR staff, many of us victims of those no cause evictions ourselves, chimed in together, "There’s no just cause at all."

Before the press conference was over we asked the Sloan’s what they would like to accomplish at today’s hearing

"We would like to take conservator of person so that we can take care of our mother and grandmother in the way she deserves to be taken care of "

9:25 am The Hearing

The Sloan Family and the POOR Magazine and DAMO crew of media advocates, Ashley, Isabel, Jewnbug, Charles, Leroy, and Tiny entered the Alameda County Court building. One by one we were screened and scanned for weapons and unnecessary pieces of metal or paper , including the POOR Magazine poster boards, which they told us were prohibited in government buildings. For a minute, we all thought we were at the airport, as these facilities are not much different from each other, both cause stress.

Once we arrived in the court room The court clerk gave a run down of court procedures had asked to make sure everyone had seen the video on Conservatorships. Scott Sloan said that he had not seen the video, and the man said he would show it to him. We all wondered in shock, Why has Scott Sloan not seen the video when his mother has been under the county’s conservatorship since 1996?

"All rise..The honorable Judge William McKinistry presiding"

The Sloans looked towards the bench in disbelief. This judge was different than what the court papers said. They were expecting to see Judge Harry R. Shepherd, instead the judge was William McKinstry. McKinstry is the judge that the Sloans have been dealing with for a few years regarding the conservatorship of Beatrice Sloan, a man who the Sloans have seen on some of the transfer of deeds and deeds of sale of Mrs. Sloans property, a man who the Sloans believe has his hand "in the cookie jar" so to speak. .

Judge McKinstry, an older white man who entered the room quickly and had a habit of tilting his head to the side like a confused puppy and then emitting a short laugh at his own remarks quickly called the Beatrice Sloan case. Mrs. Sloan’s son, Scott Sloan, grandaughter, Richalda Williams, grandson-in-law, Charles Woods and POOR media advocate, Lisa Gray-Garcia (aka Tiny) all walked silently toward the front of the courtroom. Connie Rutherford from the Alameda County Counsel, also joined them. She was in place of an attorney that has been on the Sloan case through the County Counsel. Mary Lou Griffin, the current conservator did not get up from her seat and Alfred Fisher, another player in this complicated drama, entered the court room and sat down in the audience...

After introductions were made to the judge about who was present. The family stated their case, "We are here to take over the conservator of person"

"Well, I am afraid you can’t do that today- you can state your objection to the county taking over conservator of person which they are filing for, but you would have to file a formal petition to the court with your objections to their conservatorship and as well you would have to file a petition to take over conservator…"

"Your honor this family cannot do these legal documents themselves- they need a lawyer appointed to the case" Lisa Gray-Garcia, brought up the fact that this family desperately needed some legal representation.

The judge replied that it is not required that an attorney be assigned to the case and that the best advice he could offer is the family should contact the Alameda County bar Association

"Well what about the fact that Mrs. Sloan is being abused by the care facility she is in" Lisa implored.

"I am not able to deal with an elder abuse case but the family should contact the County Council’s office about that"

"W have made several calls to them and they never follow through on our complaints" Richalda Williams spoke up

" Well I am afraid that you’ll have to take that up with them – they are in court today maybe Mrs. Rutherford could talk to you today"

After a few more issues were brought up by the family and the advocate from POOR
The judge bounced around impatiently in his seat and switched out of dialogue mode and into judge-speak and set a date with the public defender present who was allegedly there representing Mrs. Sloan for July 13th court hearing and informs the family that they can file objections or petition to become conservator of person by June 20th \

The case ended without dealing with the health of Beatrice Sloan which is in jeopardy, especially if she goes back to the Excell Care Center.

After the hearing the whole family, POOR staff, Connie Rutherford of the County Counsel, Mary Lou Griffin, and Alfred Fisher filed into the hallway "to talk"

The family and their advocates confronted the county officials with facts regarding the negligence of the conservatorship, and the misuse of the funds the County received from selling two of Beatrice’s estates. Mary Lou Griffin had a difficult time with eye contact. She was constantly fidgeting with her hands, shifting her stance, and avoiding the eyes and faces of those addressing her.

Connie Rutherford was there to offer support to Mary Lou but she refused to answer any questions pertaining to the Sloans’ case, She did state that the Sloans have the right to petition for both the conservatorship of person and estate. To petition for conservatorship of estate they have to be bonded which is dependant upon the value of Beatrice’s estate. The odd thing is when asked about the value of Mrs. Sloan’s estate, Mary Lou and Alfred Fisher claimed they had no idea how much her estate is worth….

One of the POOR staff members asked why the baby of Javlyn and Charles Woods had lead poising from 588 55th street when two properties were sold to ‘supposedly’ finance repairs on the others…no one really answered… the subject was quickly changed.

It was about at this point that Connie Rutherford called for a close to the adhoc meeting. … the County Council team seemed slightly "shook" from having to spend 20 minutes telling the truth…

If you are an attorney willing to help the Sloan Family or have any more information for them call POOR Magazine at (415) 863-6306

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