The local chapter was criticized over how it handled $410,000 in donations for victims of the January 2001 Alpine fire, the Associated Press has reported. A national audit found less than $25,000 had gone directly to victims.
Mona De La Riva, district director for east San Diego County, said the Red Cross raised $343,746 for the Alpine fire and already committed $264,267 of that money. The Alpine Community Planning Group will decide how to spend the rest of the money.
In a press release, Jim Topping, Red Cross national chairman of the Chapter Services Network, said the national board came to the difficult conclusion that nothing short of a fresh start would give the San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter of the Red Cross a chance to rebuild.
The action comes one week after national Red Cross officials removed Dodie Rotherham, the San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter's chief executive officer for two decades.
Rotherham was the highest-paid executive for local chapters for two consecutive years. Before being let go, her salary this year was $203,000 plus up to half her salary in incentives, as decided by the local board.
San Diego County officials also are investigating allegations of fraud in the nonprofit organization's transportation program.
The national directors said they did not think the local chapter board could fix the problems or regain the public's trust in the local chapter.
The national board authorized a local advisory committee to work with the interim management team to help rebuild the community's confidence in the Red Cross.
The Red Cross says the change is an issue of governance. The chapter will continue to be open to provide community disaster preparation, prevention and relief functions. National Red Cross officials put the chapter under its Mountain Pacific Regional Management team.
Preciado is looking for a person to represent Imperial County with the San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter board of directors.
>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org
>> The Associated Press contributed to this story.