Grand Jury Decries Measure B Delays, But…

It was good that the Grand Jury looked at and highlighted the lack of serious progress on Measure B in their report released last month. (The full text can be found at theava.com or at the County’s website.) However, we found several questionable statements and a few omissions in the Grand Jury’s report on Measure B:

“PHF: 16-bed Psychiatric Health Facility.” 

Who says it has to have 16 beds?

“The Committee meets for two hours each month.” 

Not every month — they’ve skipped at least two months that we know of which has contributed to the lack of progress on Measure B.

“The Committee has identified three potential sites for the CSU, CRT and PHF; however, no site has been chosen by the BOS.” 

Which three sites? We only know of two sites: Old Howard Hospital and Orchard Avenue. They have also discussed (but not “identified”) using the now abandoned old Emergency Room at Ukiah Adventist Hospital which might have been at least at least considered for short-term PHF.

The Recommendation that “the BOS prepare and publicize a plan with goals and timelines for the completion of the CSU, CRT and PHF” will never happen. Not only is the Board incapable of producing such a plan, but the Supervisors have said several times that they won’t do anything related to Measure B without a recommendation from the Measure B Advisory Committee and that Committee has shown no interest in anything like a plan for anything. Such a plan would also require integration with the County’s other mental health services and facilities which is way beyond the capabilities of the present County administration. (And which should be prepared by the so-called Behavioral Health Advisory Board — another entity which has brought nothing to the table and which somehow escaped the Grand Jury’s attention.)

Several things are conspicuously missing:

With all the talk about “crisis” this and “crisis” that and 5150s, and the specific mention of “addiction” in the Measure B language, we see nothing about identifying and dealing with the rather small number of chronic “dual diagnosis” street offenders with drug/alcohol problems combined with mental health problems. They do not qualify for MediCal service reimbursements and should at least be addressed in the planning. Doing something about this small set of people was a primary reason Measure B passed, yet there’s been no focus on them and there’s no indication that the Measure B people care about it. In spite of the annual $7 million in new Mental Health money being added to the $25 million already being spent annually. The Sheriff knows who they are — he recently told us that over 100 of his inmates at any given time are on one kind of psych med or another. (PS. Assume that 80% of the $25 million that Mendo unaccountably shells out ever year for mental health “services” pay for people making around $100k per year (with benefits). That translates to around $20 million pays for 200 people. Has anybody ever asked what all those well-paid people are doing?)

There’s no mention of an interim modular PHF unit as we and the local National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) have proposed. Without even consideration for this short-term option, the grand jury’s “concern” about the “the length of time it has taken the [Measure B] Committee to make just three recommendations,” is empty rhetoric. 


PG&E’S ‘Public Safety’ Outages

This is going to get very interesting…

As if to prove they’re real, or maybe for practice, or maybe because they’re so spooked by ongoing liability and criticism, PG&E turned off power for several Northern California communities a few weeks ago. It’s a sure sign of things to come.

“To help reduce the risk of wildfire and keep our customers, their families and their homes and businesses safe, the company may be turning off power in areas of the North Bay and the Sierra foothills where extreme fire risks exist,” PG&E said in a news release. “We know how much our customers rely on electric service and would only consider temporarily turning off power in the interest of safety during extreme weather conditions,” Michael Lewis, PG&E’s senior vice president of electric operations, said in a prepared statement.

PG&E says they anticipate cutting the power only in “truly extreme fire danger weather” while recognizing that there “are safety risks on both sides of this issue,” vice president Aaron Johnson said.

Besides thousand and thousands of local residents, fire departments, hospitals, health clinics, telecommunications towers and other utilities such as water districts will also lose power, possibly for several days at a time. While some of these essential services will have backup power sources such as generators or batteries, it will be costly, and concern remains about whether residents will be prepared. 

It’s all very new territory for everybody. Especially PG&E.

Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber said he was worried about being able to get out emergency notifications such as evacuation orders, especially if fire is approaching while power is out. Email, text, video and call alerts can only go so far as the phones, computers, televisions and telecommunications equipment have power.

Marin County, which seems to be the first Norcal County trying to get ahead of the problem to the extent possible, plans to launch a pilot program in July that will create emergency plans for in-home support services patients. Skilled nursing facility officials are set to meet with PG&E in late June to discuss preparations. At the same time, they will work with local agencies and partners “to spread awareness of the outages to patients and residents.”

Nevertheless, it is possible that some areas may need to rely on themselves to have a stock of potable water until the power is turned back on. Local water districts are expected to discuss plans for other water saving measures during these outages, such as curtailing irrigation.

PG&E said they will try to provide residents a 48-hour notice of the planned shutoff with another update 24 hours later. But, there is no guarantee that this lead time will be consistent and there could be times when no warning is provided.

Most of Mendo is in the “elevated” danger category, with parts of eastern Mendo in “extreme” fire danger area, so essentially all of Mendo is subject to these “public safety power shut-offs.”

According to PG&E’s “Criteria For Determining A Public Safety Power Shutoff”—

“A Public Safety Power Shutoff will only be done when the most extreme fire danger conditions are forecasted to help reduce the likelihood of an ignition and help keep our customers and communities safe. 

No single factor drives a Public Safety Power Shutoff as each situation is unique. PG&E carefully reviews a combination of many criteria when determining if power should be turned off for safety. These factors generally include, but are not limited to: 

A Red Flag Warning declared by the National Weather Service 

Low humidity levels, generally 20 percent and below 

Forecasted sustained winds generally above 25 mph and wind gusts in excess of approximately 45 mph, depending on location and site-specific conditions such as temperature, terrain and local climate …

Condition of dry fuel on the ground and live vegetation (moisture content) …

On-the-ground, real-time information from PG&E’s Wildfire Safety Operations Center and field …

observations from PG&E crews …


PG&E’s plans, approved recently by the Public Utilities Commission, also say: “We anticipate that a Public Safety Power Shutoff could occur several times per year in PG&E’s service area, although it is impossible to predict with complete certainty when, where and how often extreme weather conditions could occur given the rapidly changing environmental conditions. The most likely electric lines to be considered for shutting off for safety will be those that pass through areas that have been designated by the CPUC as at elevated (Tier 2) or extreme (Tier 3) risk for wildfire.”

I.e., Mendocino County, among others.

“Our goal, dependent on forecasted weather and other factors, is to send customer alerts at 48 hours, again at 24 hours and again just prior to shutting off power, when possible.”

But if the power’s already out…?

“We are asking customers to go online to pge.com/mywildfirealerts to be sure we have their updated contact information. We will use this information to reach out to them by phone, text and email in advance of a Public Safety Power Shutoff, if forecasted weather conditions allow, and throughout the event until power is restored. 

In addition to notifying customers directly, we will provide outage updates and information through social media, local news, radio and the pge.com website. 

Public Safety Power Shutoff events may be cancelled if forecasted weather conditions improve. In that event, we would notify customers that forecasted weather conditions have improved in their area and we are not planning to turn off their electricity for safety. 

We are also encouraging customers to visit pge.com/wildfiresafety for tips to prepare an emergency preparedness plan for their home or business. 

Note, there is no advance notice when we need to turn off power at the request of a state or local agency due to an active wildfire or other emergency response situation.”


County staff along with PG&E will make a presentation to the Board of Supervisors next week (July 9) on County plans to deal with these outages when they occur. Coastal Supervisor Dan Gjerde noted recently that the County should also anticipate that if power goes out on very hot days over inland Mendo, a lack of air conditioning might produce a flood of cars heading for the Coast and the County and the Coast should be prepared for higher traffic there if the outages last for the few days PG&E says they will.

2 Responses to "Grand Jury Decries Measure B Delays, But…"

  1. George Dorner   July 6, 2019 at 10:07 am

    The public voted for Measure B because the mental health professionals in this county can’t come to grips with the homeless mentally ill. Those same mental health professionals have now taken over the Measure B committee and have stymied it from making up for their deficiencies.

    Previously, voters passed Measure A for the library. When this paper reported defalcations from Measure A funds, the library was crammed into a multi-services agency to merge its Measure
    A budget with others. I strongly suspect that the Measure A funds are again being secretly siphoned off.

    I have a feeling that I am far from the only voter disgusted with this situation. I doubt I will ever again vote in favor of a county measure, simply because any measure will be diverted into whatever the county administration wants. Certainly, I won’t vote for a county roads tax until the county’s failed pot permit program quits stealing the county road repair funds. If you want me to vote for such a tax, you are going to have to prove to me that the pot permit program has become self-supporting.

    As if….

    Reply
    • Eric Sunswheat   July 7, 2019 at 1:26 am

      Bravo!

      Reply

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