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County Notes (January 29, 2020)

DARREN BREWSTER, former commander of the Mendocino County Major Crimes Task Force, was introduced by Sheriff Matt Kendall Tuesday morning as Mendocino County’s new Undersheriff. Kendall said that he’s gone without an undersheriff since his appointment and “it was like a two week long root canal.” Apparently, the new Undersheriff will assume responsibility for the Sheriff’s Office budget, among other duties.

Brewster, Kendall

JAMES WILBANKS is quitting as the County’s retirement system administrator to go back to Oklahoma City for an “offer too good for him to turn down.” Apparently he is willing to stay on as a consultant during recruitment and after — at a nice rate, of course.

MENDO’S $2 MILLION JUVENILE HALL came up as expected on Tuesday. CEO Angelo told that Board that she had no plans to close the expensive and underutilized 32-bed facility, but promised the Board that she and Probation Honcho Izen Locatelli have been working on ways to find “additional funding streams” and “repurposing” some of the Hall to cover some of the activity at the Hall. Nevermind that Angelo’s had two years to work on this with very little to show for it — nor that she would never even have known about the problem in the first place until Lake County pulled their delinquents saying it was too expensive to send them to Mendo for “services.” Angelo tried to spread the blame for the long-ignored problem by noting that Juvenile Halls around the state are underutilized and overbudget. Angelo promised that she’d have a report for the Board maybe in March after their ideas are “fully vetted” and the funding streams are better defined. For his part Locatelli noted that his wards tend to be “youth” with either mental health, drugs or gang problems. When asked why the daily census went up and down between 8 and 15, Locatelli said that the numbers are small, so “one gang fight can bring in four kids in one day.”

CEO ANGELO ALSO told the Board that Behavioral Health Board chair and Measure B Committee stalwart Jan McGourty is “retiring.” (She was unpaid in both positions.) The assumption is that Behavioral Health Board Vice Chair Meeka Ferrettawill be next to hold both positions after formal approval of the Board. Ms. Ferretta appears to come from a pot advocacy background, saying in her on-line profile: “I am passionate about three things: Mental Health, Cannabis Regulation, and Policies that promote the community wellbeing. I am grateful to Casey O’Neill [Mendo’s lead pot advocate] for teaching me how to advocate, interview and to be brave enough to speak out.”


As expected, nothing substantive came out of last Wednesday’s Measure B Oversight Committee meeting. (Some things never change.) The committee leadership talked about the additional cost of equipping the new Sheriff’s training facility in Redwood Valley, but didn’t decide anything. They talked about their own sub-committees. They talked about their budget. They talked about talking about the Kemper Report. They talked about their own meeting schedule. They talked and talked and then they went home, kinda like the impeachment hearings. 

One interesting point was clarified regarding the bum’s rush (after years of delay) being focused on a pending Crisis Residential Treatment facility on the Orchard Avenue parcel next door to the existing Redwood Community Services operation in Ukiah. In answer to a question from former Sheriff Tom Allman, Mental Health Director Jenine Miller replied that whatever additional funds will be required over the $500k state grant that is tied to that parcel will have to come from the Measure B Committee and the Supervisors. In other words, by accepting this comparatively small state grant, the state is forcing Mendo and Measure B to spend whatever that facility ends up costing (nobody knows how big or how much) — and before any other facilities are even considered — without all the plans and studies and budgets and processes the Committee seems so proud of and which they’ve been endlessly discussing. Why all these discussions and delays if the state is going to force Mendo’s hand and take a big chunk out of the money before they even start talking the cost of the Psychiatric Health Facility and its staffing — the main point of Measure B in the first place? 

A note about the lack of seriousness on the part of some members of the Measure B Committee. 

At last Wednesday’s Committee meeting, Committee member Ross Liberty (appointed by former Supervisor Dan Hamburg who has now moved to Oregon) commented on the pending legal analysis of the possibility of spending Measure B money to remodel some of the Adventist Health facilities, saying that he thought former County Counsel Kit Elliott had already opined on the subject, i.e., that the Committee should exercise due diligence) that such spending was legal but maybe not a great idea. Liberty then added, “That’s my recollection, albeit not always great recollection.” 

The subject of the County Counsel’s pending legal analysis was on the Committee’s agenda days in advance and there are minutes kept of the meetings. Yet Liberty apparently can’t be bothered to look up his own committee’s minutes to make whatever point he was trying to make, preferring instead to muddy the water with a “not always great recollection.” 

One more note to Measure B Committee members: We are not impressed by their habit of tossing out terms like “modalities” and “covenant restrictions” and “cross-functional teams” — (I'm not making this up!) — as if they’re experts in mental health blah-blah. 

We would be impressed if the Committee dealt with some of the important subjects that they have previously supported and discussed but continue to ignore such as Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt's proposed Crisis Van and the nearly non-functional Mobile Outreach Program which could help mental patients in the here and now. But such practical matters continue to be ignored, in favor of irrelevant discussions like how much the kitchen at the training facility will cost. (Since the County’s police departments *are* the County’s de facto mental health program how about tuning in their suggestions?) 

TO GET the Measure B Committee off the dime, former Sheriff Allman, who got the Measure passed in the first place, should appear at the next meeting, lock the door behind him and, unholstering his taser, announce, "No one leaves until this sucker is done. Anyone who uses a word like "modality" or phrases like “cross functional teams” or "covenant restriction" gets zapped. Yes, even you girls!" 

TERRY D’SELKIE POSTED on the Fifth District Supervisor Facebook page:

So, this thing happened and I filed a complaint with Mendocino County enforcement. A law was broken by Mendocino Redwood Company, many, many times. I can see one of these stands and it is ugly and sad. I have heard nothing from enforcement about what they plan to do. They called me one time and wanted to come out and see what I can see from my deck, when I look across the river at MRC land. They never came. They never called back. What is happening with the enforcement of the law, Ted Williams? If I break the law, I get a ticket or I am arrested. What happens when MRC breaks the law? NOTHING! They get to be involved in an Ad hoc meeting to see how they can get around breaking the law. They are not held accountable. Democracy is broken when the voices of the people are drowned out by the corporations breaking the laws. Pitiful! I expect better and so do my neighbors! PS. If any of my facebook friends can see any of these dead standing trees from their land, PLEASE I implore you to file a complaint with county enforcement. This is not going away, according to MRC for at least 20 more years! Devastating our forests!” 

TED WILLIAMS REPLIED (to the question about what is being done): “To be blunt, not much.”

IN A RELATED ITEM, buried deep in a recent summary of the “debate” between Fourth District Supervisor candidates Dan Gjerde and Lindy Peters by Fort Bragg Advocate editor Chris Calder we found this:

“Gjerde said county counsel has told supervisors the county is unlikely to prevail in court. ‘We have not been given the go-ahead with legal advice that the county would win that lawsuit,’ he said. ‘ If you lose the case, if the government loses the case, it would have to pay the legal bills of the people sued. That could easily be a million dollars that’s as much as we spend in any one year on extra paving of roads.’ 

“Peters said he would push to enforce the measure anyway. ‘If we lose the court case, we lose the court case,’ he said. ‘This is a democracy,’ he said. ‘Basically, you folks out in Mendocino County came up with this initiative. You supported this and put it on the ballot So, I don’t think it’s a sign, whether I’m for something or not. You folks voted for something, and you’re expecting your elected officials to follow through’.” 

THERE IS NOTHING on the record indicating that County Counsel Christian Curtis has “told supervisors the county is unlikely to prevail in court.” In fact, Curtis wrote a convincing formal opinion that MRC’s “we’re exempt” argument is wrong in several respects. If Gjerde wants to ignore Measure V and the voters who approved it, he should just say so like McCowen, not cite non-existent opinions from County Counsel or pretend that pursuing the case would take a million dollars from the road fund. 

LET’S REVIEW the recent history of County officials who have resigned or been fired after having one or another responsibility for the Cannabis Program: Chuck Morse resigned when told he’d be responsible for cannabis, Diane Curry (resigned over a clash with CEO Angelo), Joe Moreo (resigned after a week over a dispute over who’d be in charge of cannabis), Kelly Overton (resigned without notice or explanation), Sean Connell (resigned without notice or explanation), and now Ms. Dukett, with zero cannabis program experience (she had been the museum “program administrator” in the newly formed Cultural Services Agency) and apparent sister of Deputy CEO Sarah Dukett is handed the job. The salary for the job was listed in 2018 as up to about $80k a year, but Mr. Overton somehow managed to earn a $100k/year salary for his four months (plus generous severance) — all with another 50% more in perks and bennies.

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