County Notes (December 4, 2019)

The behavioral health forum in Caspar last week (Monday, November 25th), inspired nothing but frustration, best expressed by Measure B's lead proponent, Sheriff Allman, who remarked that if he had it to do again, he wouldn't have suffered an 11-person committee to get some mental health programs up and running. The B Committee… Well, they don't even manage an agenda or assign the committee members specific assignments. Allman also pointed out that of the 305 persons confined that morning to the County Jail, 124 of them were mental cases. And we're sure the Sheriff is aware that the County's three emergency rooms devote a large part of each shift dealing with the mentally ill.

Back to basics? Most people, I think, voted for Measure B to get the burgeoning street nut population into rehab via a revived Puff (“PHF” — Psychiatric Health Facility) Unit, a place where the volatile cases could be held and, presumably, stabilized unto minimal public acceptability. The second priority, which overlaps with the ever larger population of unconfined nut cases, was remedial treatment for substance abuse, including alcoholism which the mental health staff refuses to deal with on grounds that substance abuse is not mental illness. As of now, with $30 mil in the kitty, nothing is happening that's consistent with the intent of Measure B.

As we've suggested several times, do something! Measure B. Now. Set up a Puff in a modular until the perhaps fanciful Taj 5150 can be erected. The mobile outreach vans are already funded but seems to be on hold for some reason. Get that going. And everyone seems to agree that a crisis van should be implemented, but nobody follows up. If we wait for $3-million dollar-plus architects to draw up plans to even begin the long, long journey to permanent structures, and wait for the Measure B Committee to act, well, nothing will happen in our lifetime.

Recently both Sheriff Allman and Supervisor Williams have requested specific steps that can be taken now. Here they are again, based on things they already have begun but not followed up on:

One: get a damn crisis van going! Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt proposed pursuing this at the September Measure B Committee meeting and everyone seemed to agree that it should be explored and implemented in Mendocino County, but the idea was loosely pawned off on the local NAMI rep who expressed no real interest in it at the time and without even a deadline date to report back.

Two: Get the mops program going again by having monthly status reports from Mental Health Director Dr. Miller about what they’re doing to staff this FUNDED program. Do not accept lame excuses about hiring difficulties, etc. If they can make the status of hiring a program manager a monthly reporting topic, they can certainly make the much more directly useful MOPS program status a monthly topic. 

Three: Get (lease/buy) a commercial mobile crisis modular unit and put it on the vacant lot the County just bought back from RCMS. Then, if/when a facility is actually built there, move the modular to the Coast to reduce the ER crowding at the Coast Hospital Emergency Room.

There is no excuse for not doing these three very specific things NOW. How can Mendo officials let the Measure B mandate be delayed for years when there are workable interim solutions like these available? It’s downright disgraceful! All three of these proposals would also serve as a useful pilot or training program for when the longer-term facilities finally open someday.

And don’t give me the lame excuse that a mobile or modular facility is “not a long term solution.” At the rate the Supes and the Measure B Committee are going now there will never be a “long-term solution.”

Measure B has been taken over by the usual Mendo Meeting “WHENEVER” Mentality. Meetings are not action! People need these services. Get off your ass, Mendo!

Did you know that that famously wine-hating area called “Napa County” has a rule prohibiting weddings at wineries (unless, oddly, you’re one of the five famous old wineries)? That’s right: Most Napa County wineries are prohibited from hosting weddings, wedding parties, anniversary events or any parties that aren’t considered directly linked to the marketing of wine. Wineries must also abide by a rule that requires them to host tours and tastings by appointment only. Napa County’s “Winery Definition Ordinance” prohibits events that are not strictly “wine related.” 

In a recent Napa County press release, the Napa County wine industry representatives “commended the new rules. All four of the County’s major wine trade organizations supported the new ordinance and accompanying resolution.” And “Napa County Farm Bureau Executive Director Sandy Elles praised the rule as “one more important step in protecting Napa County’s agricultural heritage.” 

Imagine, if you will, what would happen if someone In Mendocino County suggested anything even titled a “Winery Definition Ordinance.” Much less a “Winery Definition Ordinance” that excluded wedding and wedding related activities. Imagine what Mendo vintners would say. Or what the Farm Bureau would say.

Funny headline to a recent AP story: “Grocery-carrying robots are coming. Do we need them?” As if needing something ever mattered to the techie crowd. 

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