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California Mental Health Care Staff Ask for Help to Save Their Organization

Some staff members at Asian Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS) in Alameda County, California, are asking for help to save their organization.

A Change.org petition, started Jan. 21, outlines accusations made against ACMHS Executive Director Philip Sun, including his creation of a hostile work environment leading to high staff turnover and the allegation that Sun is often absent from the office while traveling on agency funds.

Sun's leadership has ballooned administrative costs beyond levels allowable by the organization's contracts, the petition alleges. It calls for dialogue between ACMHS staff and the organization's board of directors as well as an independent financial audit and the removal of Sun as executive director.

"Over the past several months ACMHS managers and staff have been working to save Asian Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS)," the petition, started by an organization called Support ACMHS, reads. "Managers and staff have filed multiple grievances against the Executive Director Philip Patrick Sun regarding his leadership, competence, and financial management of the agency. These grievances were filed with the ACMHS Board of Directors. The Board has failed in its fiduciary duty to conduct fair, impartial, and complete investigations into these matters."

More than 700 signatures have been collected on the Change.org page in the week since the petition was started. On Tuesday morning, ACMHS staff members took their complaints a step further, appearing before the Alameda Board of Supervisors, which contracts with ACMHS to provide services to its citizens, and asking the county to intervene and conduct an audit. More than a dozen current and former employees of the 41-year-old organization, as well as people who receive services there and advocates and partners of the organization, spoke and asked the board to act.

"This agency is already in a crisis," Josie Camacho, executive secretary-treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council, which represents workers at ACMHS, said during the meeting. "It's chaos at this agency. What's in jeopardy and has suffered is the staff's ability to deliver services that they love giving to this community."

County staff members acknowledged they had asked ACMHS for an audit by the time the comments were made, putting in their request the same morning as the meeting.

"A group of people came to us today, and they say there's a problem," Alameda County Board of Directors President Scott Haggerty said. "After I've listened to them, there's obviously a problem."

The timeline and scope of the county audit should be known within two weeks, according to county staff. ACMHS Board of Directors Chair Luana Shiba-Harris and ACMHS Executive Director Philip Sun did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

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