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County Notes (Sep. 18, 2019)

As expected, the Supervisors approved the fishy buyback of the Redwood Quality Management Service Orchard Ave property on the Consent Calendar Tuesday morning without comment or question. So we have begun preparing a Public Records Act request for related and prior documents.

The “fact sheet” from the County’s shared private attorney rep at the CPUC hearings was briefly discussed Tuesday, despite its contents being at odds with the PG&E and Public Utilities Commission reps previous presentations. Supervisor John McCowen bemoaned the fact that the “requirements” being imposed on PG&E for Public Safety Power Shutoffs in “Phase 2” should have been imposed in Phase 1. But otherwise nobody seemed to be bothered by the “fact” that none of the points in the “fact sheet” were mentioned by the PUC and PG&E reps at their prior appearances when the Board grilled them. 

Jim Donnelly, former Assistant Ag Commissioner now Acting Ag Commissioner in the wake of the unexplained departure of yet another Ag Commssioner, Harinder Grewal, appeared before the Supes to discuss the possible allowance of non-psychoactive hemp to be grown in Mendo. After the usual aimless discussion the Board fobbed the question off to the existing “cannabis economic development” ad hoc committee of Supervisors Ted Williams and Dan Gjerde with support from staff. The idea, as far as we could tell, is that some “farmers” want to grow industrial hemp but the County has to “protect” the psychoative pot growers from the harmful (i.e., neutralizing) effects of wind-blown male pollen from the hemp plants. It’s a confusing subject that we’re sure the Board and staff will handle in their usual muddled way which will wind up costing more money to “protect” than it’s worth.

It’s Official: The EOA is DOA (as we suspected it would be for years)

Subject: RFP #56-17 Exclusive Emergency Ambulance Service Operator for the Exclusive Operating Area.

The County of Mendocino received one proposal in response to RFP 56-17; this one proposal was determined to be non-responsive. At this time, the competitive process regarding RFP 56-17 has concluded and the Board of Supervisors is no longer pursuing an Exclusive Operating Area for Emergency Medical Services. The County of Mendocino would like to thank all of those that participated in the process.

The Mendocino County Executive Office


 Now that the County has finally admitted that the Exclusive Operating Area for ambulance service is no longer an option, County officials are scrambling for to address: What now? A sales tax is being discussed. A county-wide ambulance district is being discussed. A Ukiah-centric option is being discussed. Ukiah Valley Medical Center is talking about taking over the lucrative “interfacility transfer” business which might mean that local ambulance services will be deprived of that cash cow. Etc. None of the options being discussed will produce anything like results for at least a year, probably more. The Coastal Valley EMS problem is also being discussed. Meanwhile, ambulance services, public and private, volunteer and professional, continue limping along doing a lot with very little. 

ACCORDING TO CEO Angelo’s latest CEO report for September 4, 2019 there are a whopping 404 FUNDED vacant positions in the Health and Human Services Department’s “Social Services” branch. Of those FUNDED positions (and yes, we’re capitalizing that because we’re yelling) 91 are vacant and 55 are “in recruitment.” But there have been only nine “new hires” since July 1, 2019 along with 7 “separations” (which could be resignations or inter-department transfers), and eight more people are “on leave,” whatever that means. Oddly, these stats produce what the CEO says is a “13.6 vacancy rate.” 91/404 would be a 22.5% vacancy rate. And 91-55 = 36/404 would be an 8.9% vacancy rate. It turns out that our math-challenged CEO calculates “vacancy rate” as “based on positions currently in recruitment.” Or 55/404 = 13.6%. Which is the wierdest way to calculate “vacancy rate” we’ve ever heard of. A proper vacancy rate calculation would be 91 plus the 8 “on leave” divided by the funded positions of 404 — 99/404 = almost 25%. Basically, the Social Services department is woefully understaffed with only about 75% of their FUNDED positions filled. 

Similarly the County’s Mental Health Branch is only 53% staffed of their 59 FUNDED positions. With 8 “in recruitment.” (And if you wonder why they need 59 positions in Mental Health after they’ve privatized the whole operation and turned it over to Camille Schraeder and her crew you’re definitely not a Mendocino County official.)

All this understaffing is after the big pay raises the County awarded starting in July which were supposed to improve recruitment and retention.

Yet no one in authority expresses the slightest interest in the understaffing situation, the lack of funding coming in to Mendo for such staffing, the effect of the understaffing on benefit issuance, backlog, wait times, daily stress and morale, etc. — much less the budget itself.


  1. James Marmon September 18, 2019

    The issue should be why is RCS getting a bailout when they used the $380,000 grant money to make a down payment on a 2.2 million dollar office building when the grant was for a Crisis Residential Treatment center only. Especially when a three bedroom house would have sufficed? Had the Schraeder’s bought a home or used one of their failing foster care group homes, hundreds of thousands of dollars could have been saved in hospitalizations over the past two years.

    New child welfare laws (families first do not allow placement in group homes more than 6 months. Rumor has it she is currently using one of her homes now as a crisis residential treatment facility, but that is being kept under wraps until Angelo can divy out all the Measure B money.


  2. Betsy Cawn September 20, 2019

    One of Lake County’s favorite ways of concealing the spending of public revenues is the outside “contract” to “non-profit” agencies, such as North Coast Opportunities. NCO received hundreds of thousands of donations following the Valley Fire, funneled to another non-profit, to construct replacement housing (for those with clear title to their land, but no insurance to replace lost dwellings, and neither organization has accounted for any of those funds.

    The second organization swept into Lake County and brought its experience in deployment of volunteers from members of second string religious denominations and the AmeriCorps program; whipped up enthusiasm via local “fundraisers” (at humble venues such as the former Finley Grange, entertained by locally popular bands); and at the outset of the “long-term recovery” promised to build a hundred homes a year. So far it has claimed a total of 29, and 20 of those were the result of affiliated case management efforts to bring in modular homes, which are not the skill set of the self-proclaimed community re-builder.

    When the County received $700,000 from the Golden State Finance Authority, it was swiftly transferred to the NCO coordinators of long-term recovery case managers. No one knows the results of overall distributions from NCO to provide what assistance to whom, but there are still unhomed elderly who were among the 48% of prior inhabitants of the Cobb Mountain communities, many of whom had occupied decrepit but satisfactory cabins left behind in the wake of failed antique “resorts” on the mountain.

    Cobb Area residents determined to reclaim their bucolic lives and regenerate the gentility of once-peaceful enclaves ensconced among the forest glades have created dynamic systems of community redevelopment, and most importantly pulled together the state funding for consolidating their once fragmented water systems, providing the important basis for infrastructure management that was long needed.

    FEMA’s relief and support for the local long-term recovery group was not only short-lived but wickedly driven by the leading recipient of those unspecified charitable donations funneled through NCO — with FEMA’s collusion — to reduce the effort beginning in 2016 to non-existent support for those former residents who Lake County Supervisor Rob Brown declared were undesirable (interview with KQED reporter Sukey Lewis for the California Report).

    Meanwhile, through a sleight of hand barely seen in the County’s long-term recovery program (now no longer mentioned in its web-published, the property taxes on destroyed parcels were raised sufficiently to protect the county and special district revenues, and — despite the County’s claim that post-emergency-response losses of $12M in reserves (due to lack of compliance with the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000) that public services would have to be cut due to those losses — has seen rising general fund revenues that now exceed $250M.

    Yes, Lake and Mendocino Counties have the same budget mumbo jumbo based on “unfilled” staffing positions, and our two management organizations perennially claim insufficient funding and staffing to meet basic health and safety needs. We have the same problems with child “protection” and “mental health” and homelessness and hunger and school attendance, ad nauseum. Why this system is allowed to rule the roost is beyond my ken, except for the fact that the process of decision making is obfuscatory to anyone who cares, and the rest of the general population either pays no attention to the man behind the curtain, or has grown depressed and cynical after ages of trying to “participate” and support beneficial community programs.

    Thanks again, Major.

  3. mr. wendal September 20, 2019

    This report makes me glad that we’re getting more candidates for the 4th district seat. It’s too little too late for Supervisor Gjerde should he begin to look like he’s performing his job at this point. I wouldn’t trust an about-face by him and I hope that those who support him because he is one of the “good guys” will take the time to research his record as Supervisor and watch his sitting in silence at the Board meetings during his term.

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