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October 30, 2009 - 9:52pm

Candidate has not volunteered for CASA, contrary to repeated claim

posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, city council, election, Julie Wallace, CASA.

"The children" is a key part of the City Council campaign platform for Julie Wallace, but when it comes to her claims of serving the kids of Genesee County, there appears to be inconsistencies in her resume.

In our Oct. 15 candidates' forum in which The Batavian and WBTA interviewed Wallace, Wallace said, "I do a lot for the children. That's basically what I want to do. I want to do more for the children than anything."

She also claimed that evening that she is a volunteer for CASA, a claim repeated in her bio in the Daily News interview earlier this week.

"I do a lot of volunteering," Wallace said Oct. 15. "I volunteer for CASA."

After being tipped by a reader, The Batavian called Tara Pariso, executive director of CASA, and Pariso said Wallace has never volunteered for CASA.

CASA stands for "Court Appointed Special Advocates" and the job of volunteers is to help children in foster care.

Pariso said her predecessor, Sara Munger, had started the application process with Wallace, but Wallace never completed the interview process required for all volunteers. Pariso said Wallace was supposed to do one of the two required interviews last week, but missed her appointment. She also said volunteers require an extensive background check, checking for any criminal record, and Wallace has not yet had a background check.

Wallace today had a different story. She didn't explicitly repeat the claim to volunteer for CASA, but she did say that Munger interviewed her and cleared her for training to begin in November.

When asked if she had that in writing, she said she did not.

"I just touched base with Tara last week, since Sara had left," Wallace said. "Everything was all set to go with Sara."

Wallace was adament that she will start training in November. 

When we spoke to Pariso yesterday, she was equally adament that Wallace had done no volunteering of any kind for CASA and that she needed to be interviewed and pass a background check before she could start volunteering.

UPDATE Monday, Nov. 2, 9:42 a.m.: We just received this e-mail from Sara Munger:

As the former director for Genesee County CASA for Children I would like to   verify some misconceptions that have been shared with your readers.  I did in  fact interview a Julie Wallace near the end of my service as the Director for  CASA for Children.  At no time during the interview did I tell Ms. Wallace  that she was accepted as a volunteer for CASA, or that she would be going  through the training process as a volunteer.  When interviewing CASA  advocates it was my policy to review all of the materials after our  interview, check at least three references (by phone, or through mail) and  complete a thorough back round check on all potential candidates.  When I  interviewed Ms. Wallace I explained to her that after reviewing her  application and completing these appropriate steps, I would then contact her  to set up a time for training.  Shortly after our interview, I stepped down  from my position as the Director, and Mrs. Tara Pariso was hired as the new  CASA director.  At this time Ms. Wallace's application was handed over to  Mrs. Pariso, and the application process and background checks had not been  completed.  Ms. Wallace did contact me to follow up with the interview, and  it was explained to her that due to current circumstances, I was not able to  move forward with her application, but ensured her that I would hand over her  information to the new director.  At no time did I indicate to Ms. Wallace  that she was accepted as a CASA advocate, or indicate that she would be  training in November.

Charlie Mallow
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Howard, that's kind of a cheap shot, don't you think? Julie obviously met with the group and as far as she knew was set to volunteer in November. Maybe you should chalk this up to a lady who has never been interviewed before and told you about the last thing that she intended to become involved in?
Howard B. Owens
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Charlie, she said "I volunteer for" not "I intend to." There's no mincing words there. It also appeared in the Daily that way. Very clear cut. It's hard to see how that is a rookie mistake. It wasn't just some verbal gaff. It was part of the bio she gave the Daily, not just some off the cuff remark on a radio interview. She's made "the children" a key part of running for office, but she's misstated a key part of her resume related to children. Further, it's hard to see how she could believe she is set to begin training in November. Tara seemed unaware of that and I find it hard to believe that somebody who is so close to starting training for such an important volunteer position doesn't have anything in writing. And she hasn't gone through a background check yet? (at least as I understand it from Tara, and remember, Tara also said she hasn't even interviewed yet) Come on, Charlie, she's supposed to start training within weeks, at minimum, and she has nothing in writing, not even a letter of confirmation telling her what day, what time and where to report?
John Roach
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I agree with Charlie. She seems to have gotten away with herself and put herself already doing a job she was applying for. I think she just got carried away, and not trying to deceive anyone. I will not vote for her because she wants to increase spending on things like a “roller rink” and a “outdoor pool”. At the same time she said she wants to keep taxes low. You can not do both, it's as simple as that. The money for either will have to come from taxes and no matter how nice it would be to have either one, we can not afford them.
Nathan Fix
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Rite on Howard rite on.
Gary Spencer
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I agree with Howard, she may not have wanted to purposely deceive anybody, but she did "pad her resume" a bit, I wish her the best.
Charlie Mallow
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When a person asks another to run for office they are morally obligated to give advice, guidance and support. It’s a shame that after being coerced into running Julie was given nothing. The silence from her mentors is deafening.
George Richardson
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It looks like she was trying, most people don't. I sure as heck don't. No good deed goes unpunished and I don't want to go there.
Howard B. Owens
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Note: Just added an update to this post with an e-mail from Sara Munger.
Charlie Mallow
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In the absence of any other Democrat with the guts to step up for an endorsed candidate, I’ll speak up for my neighbor. The premise of this slap is that Julie some how used this volunteer work to promote her campaign. There is no way on this earth Julie attempted to take on volunteer work for her “political career”. In my book, offering yourself up to take a term on Council would also be volunteer work. There is no personal gain in serving on Council. From what I hear everyone saying, Julie went to CASA to volunteer her services. Julie offered herself and began to take the steps needed to help this organization. Julie was going through the process and that was tied up because of a change in the organization. For her efforts, she gets dragged through the mud. Julie is obviously a lady who is interested in public service and helping her community. This is a fact no matter how complete the paper work is.

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