1st District Candidates Respond

The AVA asked all Mendocino County Supervisor candidates the following questions:

  1. Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor? Which countywide problems do you see as primary? What specific improvements do you want to make? And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure your success?
  2. How do you view the functioning of the present board?
  3. Do you think promotion is among the best uses of bed tax revenue? (Roughly $5.5 million a year)
  4. Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program.
  5. Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting.
  6. Do you think the County’s Mobile Outreach program is working as funded? Are the walking wounded getting attention in proportion to the money spent on them?
  7. Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed?
  8. Do you think the County is doing enough to buy from local businesses? If not, what would you do to see that buy local is enforced.
  9. What is your opinion of effectiveness of the $20 million the County spends with the privatized Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services?
  10. Do you think the County is doing enough to promote creative solutions to homelessness, i.e., trailer parks, tiny houses, FEMA trailers etc.?

First District candidate answers below...

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First District Supervisor Candidate James Green

Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor? Which countywide problems do you see as primary? What specific improvements do you want to make? And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure your success?

Why am I running? I care deeply about this community we all call home with its natural beauty, and history of agricultural way of life. This community is filled with hard working families and I'd like very much to be an advocate for them. Some of the issues here that need continued addressing are The Potter Valley Water Project, fire threat/safety awareness, homelessness/mental illness, and everyone's favorite subject, cannabis. I've got skin in the game. I have a 2 year old son. I wish for him, and for every child to have good schools, career opportunities here in Mendocino County, and a safe neighborhood to grow up in. The county has difficult challenges, for certain, but they are not insurmountable. I want to serve the county as a supervisor to help bring people together, and bring good ideas to fruition. I want to be a bridge between the government and the governed, and, for everyone working hard to make Mendocino County a wonderful place to call home, I want to have their backs.

It’s difficult to outline objective goals in terms of financial. There are so many variables here in the county and also at the state and federal level on our revenue streams. I want to optimize cannabis revenue, make the climate more economically inviting to come into compliance and possibly reduce the heavy up-front cash costs. I have absolutely no personal stake any cannabis-related business. I just believe the county can make adjustments to help optimize the potential for tax and fee revenue. I also will advocate for more housing to provide property taxes to help with our limited and strapped $75 million dollar general fund. I understand the need and desire to protect agricultural lands and I wish to balance that need.

The more subjective successes are measured by the impressions. I think the easiest thing I can do is host town halls through the district with specific topics of discussion to allow the citizens to hear from me directly and take in any input and ideas they might have. This has been a Grand Jury complaint and a complaint of many in the county feeling like they don't have direct access to their elected representatives.

How do you view the functioning of the present board?

The sincerity of the 5 BOS members, the CEO, County Council and all staff can't be questioned in my opinion. They are all endeavoring to do a very challenging job with restrictions at all levels (state, federal).  The county has 5 distinct districts, each with their own variances in economy, geography, agriculture influence, tourism influence and social services access. Every BOS meeting reveals how these differences affect each of the BOS members, which, in turn, affects how they function as a whole. Competing needs with a very limited budget and resources lead to debate and an inability to agree on all issues. I'm sure there are times when the BOS staff feels pulled in opposite directions, or overworked due to so many tasks put on their plate. I've been asked on a few occasions whether I favor the CEO position or favor returning to a CAO model. I've done my research, and have spoken to several people who work for the county, including a couple of board members. The opportunity to return to a CAO model is theirs to pursue. It always has been. Even after the criticism of the Grand Jury report and the questions asked, there has been no effort that I have seen to to make such a change. If elected, I will continue to be open and judge for myself if any changes need to be made.

Do you think promotion is among the best uses of bed tax revenue? (Roughly $5.5 million a year)

I will be the first to say that I am not a marketing expert. “It takes money to make money” applies here. Promotion of business opportunities and tourism for Mendocino County is a requirement. The county of course should make sure they are getting a return on tha $5.5 million investment. Of course, we need ambulance service, we need to completely repair/replace our county communications systems. So clearly, there are several competing high priority needs.

Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program.

Streamline the permit process, reduce upfront costs if possible. Adjust the canopy and acreage limits to make sure small farmers are able to compete. Its a fledgling industry and the ordinances may need to change yearly based on market and industry conditions, even if CEQA requirements come into play. Keep phase one active indefinitely until a determined percentage of growers are in the system. The county should not move forward to allow anyone new in the program until these issues are addressed. To reiterate, I have absolutely no personal stake any cannabis-related business. These are my opinions from 2 years of observing the BOS and county navigate this issue, and also research I have done regarding other counties navigating cannabis issues.

Do you think the County is doing enough to promote creative solutions to homelessness, i.e., trailer parks, tiny houses, FEMA trailers etc.?

A few hundred souls are considered homeless here in Mendocino County. These are individuals, families with children, and people with mental illness. Its so important to understand the individual cause of a person being homeless. No two cases are exactly alike. Therefore, individualized attention is needed. The best way to do this is to centralize a service center. Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) Continuum of Care has done such a wonderful job providing resources for our homeless population through county funds along with millions of dollars in grants. The new Building Bridges homeless resource center in Ukiah is one such place. It serves as a day use center, evening shelter during the winter, and provides permanent housing resources along with access to CalFresh and CalWorks resources. It also provides a mailing address and phone/messaging center. All of these are provided to not just help short term, but to get them long term help and solutions. There are also so many non-profits providing assistance as well. Last year, the county received $ 4.9 million in HEAP grants to provide housing and shelter for our homeless population as well. I believe all options are being investigated to house and assist those in need. Ultimately, any solution needs funding and cooperation from all parties on where to put said solutions.

Regarding the rest of your questions, I am not in a position to go on record with opinions about these. I'm still digging into this and certainly do not want to appear changing my mind or flip flopping. Hopefully, you understand. I look forward to reading my comments, along with the other candidates' comments in the AVA.

Thank you

James Green for First District Supervisor

https://jamesgreensupervisor.com/

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First District Supervisor Candidate John Sakowicz

Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor?

I'm running for Supervisor because Mendocino County needs a change in leadership.

Real change. Real leadership.

Elected in 2018, Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak represent change. Hopefully, with three new Supervisors elected in 2020, the County will have an entirely new Board.

And we need a new Board!

County CEO Carmel Angelo has been running Mendocino County for the last ten years. The Board of Supervisors has acquiesced to her for ten years. Bent to her will. Angelo controls the Board agenda. Angelo hires and fires department heads. Angelo develops the County budget. Angelo hides important departmental financial data and performance metrics from the Board.

Angelo's control is evidence by the 2019 Grand Jury report, "Who Runs Mendocino County". (See: https://www.mendocinocounty.org/home/showdocument?id=28581 )

It's time for change!

Which countywide problems do you see as primary?

Caring for our homeless population, a few of whom have died in public places this winter -- died cold, wet, and alone -- should be our first priority. It's a humanitarian issue.

As a related issue, our County's adult mental health services, and drug and alcohol rehab, have failed, as these services were privatized. At first, Ortner Management Group (OMG) got the contract and failed. Now Redwood Community Services (RCS) has the contract, and RCS is failing.

Another important issue is affordable housing. The average family income in Mendocino County is $47,000, yet the average price of a home is $350,000.

Related to housing and family incomes, we have little economic development that is led by County government.

Also related, Mendocino County needs to capture the many millions of dollars in the cannabis industry that are now being sucked out of our local economy by both black market profiteers and by the carpetbaggers at Flow Kana.

I also strongly believe that our County's pension system, the Mendocino County Employee Retirement Association (MCERA) is in trouble. MCERA's unfunded pension liability is more than $200 million. Perhaps even more troubling, MCERA has a negative cash flow of $600,000 per month. And MCERA is what bankers call "upside down". In other words, MCERA has more people getting paid retirement benefits than it has workers paying into the system. Specifically, we have about 1,400 retirees and 1,100 workers.

Finally, if elected Supervisor I will openly and honestly address our County's history of civil rights abuses. I will introduce a resolution designating the entire county as a "sanctuary city" for undocumented immigrants who are committing no crimes and who are otherwise just working to support their families. And I will introduce another resolution to support reparations, however symbolic, along with a formal apology, to local Pomo Indians (and other local tribes) for the terrible crimes committed by white settlers not that long ago...crimes including genocide, slavery, sex trafficking, and theft of lands. 

What specific improvements do you want to make? And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure your success?

Regarding caring for our homeless population, we need to seek more court-ordered public conservatorships and interventions for homeless people incapacitated by their mental illness and/or alcoholism and addictions.

The primary type of conservatorship, Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) conservatorships, are established by order of the superior court, if a person is a danger to self or others. Here in Mendocino County, we need more LPS conservatorships. 

"Laura's Law" (Assembly Bill 1421) also allows for other interventions. Specifically, it allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings, or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards self or others. Here in Mendocino County, we need more Laura's Law interventions. 

Concerning our adult mental health services, Redwood Quality Management Corporation (RQMC), and RQMC's subcontractors, especially Redwood Community Services (RCS), need to be subject to an independent financial audit. They also need to be subject to a mental health outcomes study. 

Also, I would like to see someone really competent to be recruited to head up the stalled Measure B program -- someone like retired sheriff Tom Allman.

Concerning affordable housing, we should look at several options.

More Class K Housing Permits from County Building and Planning Department: Class K applies to the construction, enlargement, conversion, alteration, repair, use, maintenance, and occupancy of low-density, owner-built rural dwellings. Class K housing allows for the use of ingenuity and preferences of the builder to allow and facilitate the use of alternatives to the specifications prescribed by the uniform technical codes to the extent that a reasonable degree of health and safety is provided by such alternatives.

More Homestead Exemptions from the County Assessor's Office: The Mendocino County Tax Assessor can grant Mendocino County homestead exemptions, which can provide a modest property tax break for homestead properties which are used as the primary residence of their owners. Additional exemptions might be available for farmland, green space, veterans, or others. 

More Community Land Trusts: Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations designed to ensure community stewardship of land. Community land trusts can be used for many types of development (including commercial and retail), but are primarily used to ensure long-term housing affordability. To do so, the trust acquires land and maintains ownership of it permanently. With prospective homeowners, it enters into a long-term, renewable lease instead of a traditional sale. When the homeowner sells, the family earns only a portion of the increased property value. The remainder is kept by the trust, preserving the affordability for future low- to moderate-income families.

Concerning economic development, the Board of Supervisors needs to create an Office of Economic Development. Brent Schultz, who is currently the head of the Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Department, is a perfect fit for this job. Mr. Schultz's resume includes for 13-year stint as the redevelopment director for the City of Anaheim, where oversaw master planning and implementation of downtown revitalization projects and public improvements in all redevelopment areas that lead to over $250 million of new public and private investment.

Mendocino County must commit itself to negotiated disposition and development agreements to attract outside investment -- agreements which lead to completion of high profile mixed use multi-family, for-sale, historic preservation projects, commercial projects, and major public and capital improvement projects. High profile success will attract future investment.

Concerning capturing many millions of dollars currently being exported out of Mendocino County to Wall Street investors, the County must partner with local farmers in creating a non-profit, supply chain business -- in other words, a processing and distribution company to connect permitted cannabis farmers to the hundreds of retail outlets across the state.

This direct-to-consumer model is happening all over California.

See Wall Street Journal article:  https://www.wsj.com/articles/cannabis-supply-chains-coming-out-of-the-shadows-1535016610

We don't need the carpetbaggers at Flow Kana. We don't need Flow Kana's $175 million investor, Jason Adler, one of Wall Street's most notorious hedge fund banksters.  We can finance our own supply chain business here in Mendocino County with a $10 million low-interest Industrial Revenue Bond from California's Bank for Infrastructure and Economic Development (also known as IBank).

We can do this! 

How do you view the functioning of the present board?

As previously stated, Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak are two new bright additions to the Board.

Smart. Inquisitive. Analytical types given to critical thinking, and not disposed to capitulate to County CEO Carmel Angelo.

Ted Williams, in particular, will be a star in state politics someday soon. 

The rest of the Board? 

The public should decide. Here are the facts.

Mendocino County has over $600 million in deferred road maintenance, per Department of Transportation Director Howard Dashiell's January 2019 presentation to the Board of Supervisors.

We have a $200 million unfunded pension liability and a retirement system that is "upside down" with negative cash flow.

We have thousands of unpermitted cannabis farmers.

We were told we have a $5 million "surplus", which is really a fiction. Why? Because the so-called surplus is due to many job vacancies budgeted in the County job chart.

We have a "wealth gap" between the County's executives who make $200,000 to $300,000, including generous benefits, and home health aides who up until last month made minimum wage and no benefits.

We have a County CEO who is allowed to not merely fire those who challenge her authority, but who is allowed to try to destroy their careers. What the County CEO tried to do to Public Health Director Barbara Howe in orchestrating a falsified case for a restraining order is reprehensible.  The guilty parties should have been charged with perjury. 

We need a change. 

Do you think promotion is among the best uses of bed tax revenue? (Roughly $5.5 million a year)

All cities in the County of Mendocino, and the County, have transient occupancy taxes. Transient occupancy taxes are general taxes, and authorized by law for use to provide basic City and County services, so that $5.5 million is important money. It's also discretionary money. 

If elected Supervisor, I believe TOT monies should be spent in following manner: (1) funding for promotion, tourism, and marketing for Mendocino County; (2) funding for projects that benefit the County as a whole, such as public parks, infrastructure improvements, and historical and environmental preservation;  (3) funding maintenance and improvements to County communications and information technology, especially as the projects relate to wildfire and other emergency readiness; and (4) reparations for the Native American tribes in Mendocino County for past civil rights abuses, and other funding, as it benefits the County's numerous Pomo tribes, and the Cahto, Yuki, and Athapaskan people.

Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program.

I'll keep this section short and sweet based on over 20 years experience in the cannabis industry in four states, most recently New Jersey.

First, cannabis needs to be zoned as agriculture, and not as commercial.

Second, cannabis needs to be a code enforcement issue, not a law enforcement issue.

Third, we need to create a path to amnesty for legacy farmers.

Fourth, we need to create a "Cannabis Micro-Grant & Loan Advisory Committee", along the lines of Humboldt County's  Project Trellis Committee. A "Local Equity Program" (LEP) should be aimed at assisting individuals who were negatively or disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of cannabis during our country's insane, so-called "war on drugs".  

Fifth, we need to work with other counties in rewriting Prop 64, which has a clear pro-corporate bias and a clear anti-local farmer bias. And the permitting process needs to be streamlined and simplified in any new state cannabis law, with lower permit fees.

Sixth, the County needs to partner with local cannabis farmers in creating a non-profit supply chain business. It can be a socialist model inspired by the Mondragon Corporation in the Basque region of Spain, where almost every business is collectively owned by workers.

It works!

Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting.

Monthly departmental reporting to the Board of Supervisors is an absolutely nonnegotiable issue for me, particularly as those reports relate to budget updates, savings and efficiencies, and performance metrics...again, reported  by department.

We need  facts, in other words, statistical reports.

I would also like to see capital projects updates, public works reports, fire and rescue reports, crime statistics reports, public information - citizen information reports, landfill and waste management reports, economic development reports, and human resources- employee safety, and health and well being reports.

Do you think the County’s Mobile Outreach program is working as funded?

No. 

Discussed in other sections of this survey.

Are the walking wounded getting attention in proportion to the money spent on them?

No. 

Discussed in other sections of this survey.

As a footnote, I'm madder than hell! The County gives RCS $20 million a year, and millions more in Medi-Cal billings -- and what do the "walking wounded" get for that money? 

Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed? 

Why are County social services understaffed? Because working conditions are deplorable. Our workers? Burned out. Under-paid. Over-worked.

If they strike, I will never cross their picket line.

Do you think the County is doing enough to source contracts with local businesses? If not, what would you do to improve it?

The County could do a much better job at local contracting and sourcing.

First, the County should sets goals for local contracting and sourcing. It should be specific, in other words, dollar goals by department budget.

Second, the County should develop a formal policy for reasons for doing business with local contractors and sources, including: good for PR, demonstrates investment in the local community, good for local suppliers who benefit from serving their local community, easier to travel to suppliers for development, management and site inspection purposes, easier to satisfy local preferences and source-specialized products, and shorter supply chains and therefore greater predictability of delivery times and lower costs.

What is your opinion of effectiveness of the $20 million the County spends with the privatized Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services?

We can do much better. See comments above. I'm madder than hell. And I'm heartbroken.

"Poverty pimps" are nothing new in health and human services. But please, not here. Not here in Mendocino County. We're better people than that. 

Instead of subsidizing a privileged class of so-called "helping professionals", the money we spend on health and human services, particularly mental health services, should have real and measurable outcomes.

Do you think the County is doing enough to promote creative solutions to homelessness, i.e., trailer parks, tiny houses, FEMA trailers etc.?

With the exception of Supervisor John McCowen, our past Boards of Supervisors seemed to be either unaware of the size of our homeless population and the distinct nature of their problems, or unwilling to solve those problems. 

But we, as the proud people of Mendocino County, can no longer stick our head in the sand. Homelessness is a national problem. It's a state-wide problem. And it's our problem. We must "own" the problem. 

Recently, California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter to federal housing chief Ben Carson urging the Trump administration to address homelessness by providing more funding for affordable housing...and more.

I'll explain.

Newsom’s letter advocated for additional housing vouchers from the federal government ― and pointed out the state had requested 50,000 more vouchers in letters to Trump last year. The governor also pointed to how California recently required state agencies to identify state land that local governments could use free to provide shelter and build housing for unhoused residents ― and he suggested the Trump administration do the same with surplus federal land.

But helping the homeless is not just about providing shelter. To address homelessness, we must also pushed for those resources to go toward initiatives that “go beyond temporary tent villages, ” Newsom wrote.

Money helps, of course. Governor Newsom’s proposed budget for 2020 includes over $1 billion to address homelessness. That's a start at the state level. 

“Emergency shelter solves the problem of where to sleep for the night -- and we agree this is an urgent priority,” wrote our governor. “But only housing and services solve homelessness for the long-term.”

President Trump turned a deaf ear, of course. 

At one point last year, Trump said that people living on the streets were ruining the “prestige” of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Trump pushed cities to round up homeless people and destroy their makeshift tent cities.

Here in Mendocino County, we can do better than Trump. 

John Sakowicz, Candidate, Mendocino County, 1st District Supervisor, and proud member of the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance

Candidate's website:  https://johnsakowicz.org/

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First District Supervisor Candidate Glenn McGourty

Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor? 

With its distinct communities and stunning environment, the 1st District is an incredible place to call home. As Supervisor, I will preserve our natural environment, and work to improve our communities with enhanced essential services services like thorough disaster preparedness and emergency response, reliable electrical and communications access, and well-maintained roads and infrastructure. To support these critical needs, we must grow our economy. By re-establishing an ‘investment mentality’, County government can create economic resilience in our communities while spurring business activity, growing the tax base, and creating economic opportunity for working people. 

I don’t take entering the race for 1st District Supervisor lightly. With no incorporated areas, the 1st District County Supervisor is the only county-level elected representative of the roughly 18,000 residents of the East hills, Redwood Valley, Talmage, and Potter Valley. The people of the 1st District deserve truly local representation that has the knowledge and experience to make government work for them. As Supervisor, I plan to ensure that County government meets the needs of the 1st District and beyond in a manner that is transparent, accessible, accountable, and fair. 

Which county wide problems do you see as primary? 

Economic opportunity, living wages, and housing

Homelessness 

Natural resources management and conservation

Roads and Infrastructure

What specific improvements do you want to make?

Economic opportunity, living wages, and housing: Economic development needs to be restored as a priority for Mendocino County government. As Supervisor, I will lead the charge to appoint a new Economic Development Officer and update the Overall Economic Development Plan. A Board of Supervisor that makes smart infrastructural investments and policy decisions can help grow Mendocino County small businesses, create living wage jobs, and attract new businesses to our community. Tourism, cannabis, and wine are all vital parts of our economy. As Supervisor I will continue develop policies that support the unique businesses, products, and services of Mendocino County. Finally, solving the housing crisis will provide economic opportunity in home ownership, reasonable rents, and well-paying construction jobs. I support the concept of “Smart Growth” that focuses on infilling of areas where housing densities are higher and infrastructure is available. 

Homelessness: 

First and foremost, no one should die due to lack of shelter. I will work with my collegues to ensure access to emergency shelter during all periods of life-threatening weather. Many communities are beginning to take a case management approach to homelessness, interviewing people in resource centers and doing street-level outreach to determine and address individual needs Once an individual’s needs determined, then we can provide useful assistance, involving family and friends whenever legal and possible. Ultimately, the goal of our homelessness programs should not only be to help people become housed, but to help them become well.

Natural resources management and conservation:

The waters, soils, forests, and landscapes of Mendocino County are part of what make our home special. I’ve spent my career working to make Mendocino agriculture more sustainable and prosperous. My experience as a researcher, educator, and farmer also give me unique insights for the overdue task of revisiting water policies in light of the Potter Valley Project relicensing effort. It is my aim to do this in a way that provides adequate water for agricultural and residential use, while protecting fisheries, wildlife, and the Russian River itself.

Roads and Infrastructure:

Mendocino County roads need a tremendous amount of improvement, and the 1st District needs an effective advocate to ensure that our roads and infrastructure are well-maintained. County staff should be supported in developing effective and creative solutions that reduce deferred maintenance and provide emergency access. Ensuring rural access to broadband, cellular, and landline services are essential to comfort and safety. These systems need better backup power and redundancy to provide communications in emergencies.

And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure your success?

When you ask a researcher and scientist how something should be measured, expect a long answer! The voters should assess me on the following criteria: Work performance: Am I actively participating in all of the duties of a Supervisor?

Do I pay attention to advisory boards, committees, consultant reports and staff?

Do I bring valuable expertise on specific issues?

Do I come to meetings prepared?

Am I engaged in the issues presented to the board?

Do I collaborate well and am I respectful to the other supervisors and staff? 

Do I lead on issues and am I decisive when difficult issues are presented? 

Am I accessible, listening to people respectfully in my district and elsewhere?

In the community:

Are 1st District residents receiving the services they need to be safe and prosperous? 

Are public safety services being maintained and improved? 

Are homeless people being helped? Are there fewer people living on the streets?

Have we accomplished the goals of Measure B? Are people with mental health issues being treated and getting better? Are their families being helped?

Is our economy improving? Are more people earning living wages? 

Are county tax revenues going up?

Are we protecting our environment and public trust resources?

How do you view the functioning of the present board? 

Our county faces a number of difficult problems, and we need board members with the knowledge and experience to be up to the task. With the structure of a County CEO, and very little direct communication between the Board and individual departments, individual members often get filtered and incomplete information, leading to inefficient meeting and mediocre results. The board has a very difficult job to do, but that is precisely what we sign up for. 

Do you think promotion is among the best uses of bed tax revenue?

Legislation creating TOT was implemented in the 1970’s for the purpose of generating revenue from and promoting tourism, an essential part of our economy. While the majority of TOT funds still become part of the county’s general fund, spending some TOT funds on promoting tourism brings valuable economic activity to our community. In the 90s, I was involved with passing Measure G to create, funding for the Mendocino County Promotional Alliance (now Visit Mendocino). Since then, Visit Mendocino has been essential in promoting Mendocino County, bringing visitors, businesses, and new members to our community. Promotion, at our current level, is a sound investment.

Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program.

Cannabis production is an important part of Mendocino County’s agricultural tradition and economy. We need a cannabis program with a simple and straightforward application process, clear agricultural zoning to minimize neighborhood conflicts, and reasonable fees to facilitate more cultivators joining the regulated marketplace. As Supervisor I will advocate for changes to State policy to ease the challenges faced by small producers in Mendocino County including support for direct sales by small farmers and allowance of agricultural cooperatives and conjunctive branding. 

Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting.

The current ‘indirect’ reporting model serves as an effective firewall between County Supervisors and many of the departments that carry out the policies set by the Board. Having monthly, written executive summaries and occasional direct in-person reports from each of the 24 departments would make the BOS substantially more knowledgeable about County operations and more vastly more able to make good policy decisions. 

Do you think the County’s Mobile Outreach program is working as funded?

Mobile Outreach is a very good solution to the challenge of delivering quality mental healthcare in outlying areas of our large county. The law enforcement and mental health clinicians assigned to Mobile Outreach need specialized training to better serve clients and in case crisis intervention is needed. The current program is grant funded and needs additional staffing and equipment to adequately cover the needs of our communities, but making Mobile Outreach work for our community should be a high priority for the BOS. 

Are the walking wounded getting attention in proportion to the money spent on them?

(I called the editor for clarification of their use of “walking wounded”. They intend it to mean homeless people in this context.)

We see too many people in need every day to believe that our community and county government are adequately addressing homelessness. While we are making strides in reducing services duplications through the Continuum of Care, there is still tremendous room make our homelessness services and partnerships better. 

Homelessness is not a monolith—people are homeless for different reasons. These include financial insecurity and housing affordability, mental health issues, and substance abuse. Working with our non-profit partners, the County needs improved processes for assessing the unique needs of individual homeless people and connecting them with the resources they need. Financial insecurity may be solved with as simple an intervention as a small loan toward a security deposit; mental health and substance abuse conditions require efficient delivery of diagnosis, treatment, and follow up care. 

Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed?

It is essential that basic County services have adequate staffing. Until recently, many county positions had salaries severely below those of our neighboring counties, making recruitment and retention of qualified staff difficult. The increases in pay negotiated between the county and SEIU 1021 tie county salaries to market rates and will assist in attracting talented applicants. Making county wages competitive is essential to providing quality services and supporting the working people who deliver them.

While wages are increasing, the County is attempting to lower overall cost by implementing a strict hiring freeze, and reducing county workforce by attrition. This approach will ultimately create the same under-staffing issues as low wages and will undermine the end goal of quality services for the people of our community.

Do you think the County is doing enough to source contracts with local businesses? If not, what would you do to improve it? 

Mendocino County government should spend money locally whenever possible. Sourcing local contracts creates a ripple effect, with local businesses hiring local people, banking locally, paying local taxes, and supporting local charities, sports, arts, etc. When it makes sense, our contract assessment should place a monetary value on local spending, giving local businesses a leg up in contract bids.. 

What is your opinion of effectiveness of the $20 million the County spends with the privatized Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services?

While adult mental health care has improved since RQMS assumed responsibility for services, there is still considerable room for improvement. When the Board of Supervisors was unhappy with Ortner Management Company (the first company hired to fulfill adult mental health services), they did not follow the recommendations of Lee Kemper (the consultant the BOS hired to assess the situation). After terminating the OMC contract, the County reassigned delivery of services to Redwood Community Services without a request for proposals, essentially creating a no bid contract. This contract, like any fair and transparent private partnership, should be put out to bid to ensure that we’re getting the best results possible for our spending. 

Do you think the County is doing enough to promote creative solutions to homelessness, i.e., trailer parks, tiny houses, FEMA trailers etc.?

No. Solving the homelessness crisis in our community requires leaving no stone unturned and creative and cost-effective solutions to providing adequate shelter and housing are certainly an area worth our investigation. Tiny houses, trailers, and other alternative structures must provide quality living conditions and be carefully designed and placed to be compatible with surrounding neighborhoods.

https://www.mcgourtyfor1st.com/

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First District Supervisor Candidate Jon Kennedy

Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor? 

I’m running because I’ve done the job previously, and it was the most challenging job I’ve ever done. It’s the most challenging because good and poor decisions affect so many people, you have to do your best to get it right. After spending the last 2 years working with Fire Survivors, having to navigate through federal, state and local government (mostly local) I felt a strong desire to become more involved which will result in having a positive effect on even more lives. I have many time sensitive commitments to families waiting to get back in their homes, so I’m not able to reach out to as many people as I’d like, to have those one-on-one conversations. If elected, my number one commitment will be the citizens of the entire county.

Which countywide problems do you see as primary? 

Although the Potter Valley project is more a District 1 issue, it also affects the entire county, additionally neighboring counties. The fact that PG&E isn’t relicensing the project, it’s a problem. I have confidence that the hard work of others and future collaboration will result in a positive outcome for all stakeholders.

The county has a housing issue and in my opinion is experiencing a homelessness crisis. Whether I get elected or not, I will continue having a role in chipping away at the housing issue. I can explain in detail at another time. Another problem is the demand put on Fire Districts and EMS providers. I will advocate strongly to begin bringing the local fire districts, although separate governmental agencies (in most cases) into the annual budgeting process in a more robust and meaningful way.

What specific improvements do you want to make? 

All local government agencies could use improvement, everywhere. My general improvements I’d like to make is to improve the lives of the residents of Mendocino County. Whether it’s individuals who need mental or physical health services, helping with criminal recidivism reduction, builders, owner builders, developers who want to improve and increase our housing stock, or just someone who needs a little personal or business advice on matters unrelated to local government, I’m a proven resource to do just that.

And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure your success?

I promise to inspire more involvement from the public, by way of doing what I promise, and admitting when I’ve failed for not being able to accomplish certain goals. I’ve spent the last 8 years working on different iterations of civic engagement tools. I’ve always maintained an open and robust social media presence, and my cell phone is open to anyone who wants it — and I answer my phone and return calls. If elected, and the public pays close attention, my performance will be obvious.

How do you view the functioning of the present board? 

I think there’s a good mix of different perspectives that results in more questions being asked and answered.

Do you think tourism promotion is among the best uses of bed tax revenue? (Roughly $5.5 million a year) 

Not in the least. I feel the original purpose for levying a TOT is to help offset costs for the influx of visitors. The TOT collected in the county is roughly about half from parts of the coast and the other half is spread throughout the rest of the County. Local Fire and EMS, in addition to law enforcement are naturally asked to respond more when the population increases. I feel the TOT would be better spent on funding Fire / EMS. I always have.

Your ideas on how to create an effective cannabis program. 

Those in the cannabis industry can create their own effective program, it’s not the job of the county to do this. However, most likely the intent of this question is more in line with how does the county improve the process for the cannabis industry to do be effective? There are many businesses I’ve owned, managed, consulted with and have subject matter expertise, however, the cannabis industry isn’t one of them. If I get elected, I’ll end up being a subject matter expert, but until then, here’s what I think. The State already imposes its minimum regulations, fees and rules, I think it’s possibly a mistake for local jurisdictions to double down on those rules, regulations and fees. Local government should never see a private sector opportunity as an opportunity to expand its coffers beyond basic costs to regulate the process. Local government shouldn’t create its own industry on the back of another. Also, the cannabis industry shouldn’t expect local government to carve a path for its success; it doesn’t do it for any other industry. Our job is to protect the community, the people and the environment. Let’s not dream of ways to expand our role above and beyond.

Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting. 

I’m not privy to how each department head reports their progress, but periodic reporting and updating is typically always an effective way to remain on track. Aside from regular reporting, good Supervisors can do their own work, not in a micro-manage sort of way, but rather as a partner in achieving the same goals.

Do you think the County’s Mobile Outreach program is working as funded?

If we’re referring to MOPS, I couldn’t tell you if the program is achieving its goals in respect to the deliverables tied to funding. But if we’re referring to the mobile outreach units (vans) that are apparently funded but not set up, then no. We may be missing an opportunity for some much-needed outreach in this regard.

Are the walking wounded getting attention in proportion to the money spent on them? 

Most likely, not.

Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed? 

I have not analyzed allocated positions and the variance between filled and unfilled. If I get elected, that’s one of the first drills I will do. It’s part of understanding the entire budget. At this time, I can not opine on the staffing levels of Social Services.

Do you think the County is doing enough to source contracts with local businesses? 

Another topic I’m not sure of. If not, what would you do to improve it? It depends on the services or goods needed to be contracted. The number one priority when contracting out for services, is not where we get the services, it’s who will provide the best services that will meet the needs of the citizens. I will always advocate for shopping local, but not if it compromises the quality of services. I do believe the county offers a local pricing incentive for equipment and goods when it relates to procurement of goods that require a bidding process. I support this, of course.

What is your opinion of effectiveness of the $20 million the County spends with the privatized Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services? 

Too complicated a topic and anyone who hasn’t been a County Supervisor and hasn’t worked directly with Mental Health departments and provides an opinion to this, is simply doing his or her best guesswork. One of my passions as a previous County Supervisor, was to better understand the funding and services expected to be delivered by Behavioral Health. If elected, identifying better ways to address mental illness, and assisting in a robust outreach program utilizing MHSA funds will be a top priority.

Do you think the County is doing enough to promote creative solutions to homelessness, i.e., trailer parks, tiny houses, FEMA trailers etc.? 

No. There probably isn’t a County in the State that’s doing enough. FEMA trailers are typically used in the event of a federally declared disaster. Some Native American communities have been provided FEMA trailers using NAHASDA funding, but we don’t typically tap into that possible resource. I believe Mobile/Manufactured home parks provide an excellent opportunity for families to live in clean and safe communities while not breaking the bank.

https://jonkennedyforsupervisor.com

2 Responses to "1st District Candidates Respond"

  1. James Marmon   February 7, 2020 at 7:49 am

    RE: ADULT MENTAL HEALTH

    It looks like I’m not the only one who noticed that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, I’ve complained about this for 4 years.

    “After terminating the OMC contract, the County reassigned delivery of services to Redwood Community Services without a request for proposals, essentially creating a no bid contract. This contract, like any fair and transparent private partnership, should be put out to bid to ensure that we’re getting the best results possible for our spending.”

    -Glenn McGourty

    I don’t agree that keeping all the money local should be the determining factor in choosing a provider, not if it means inferior services. These are lives we’re talking about, not products to be used for advancing Mendocino’s economy.

    James Marmon MSW
    Former Mental Health Specialist
    Sacramento, Placer, and Lake Counties

    Reply
  2. James Marmon   February 8, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    The only way a Mendocino PHF Unit could actual work is with a big stick, like SB 640. However, it could mean the loss of millions of dollars of a year for the County in homeless and mental health grants from the feds and State “other people’s money” used to build expensive “housing first” apartment complexes like the one on Gobbi Street in Ukiah. 12 million dollars to house 37 people.

    ‘The vast majority have serious mental illness and drug addiction, which means they are not going to magically walk in to housing and have their problems disappear.’ ~ Dr. Drew Pinsky

    The LPS Act as written, is why I left mental health in the first place having to leave people on the streets to die burned me out. I urge everyone to contact your senator and demand he/she vote yes on SB 640. It would make Allman look like a genius.

    Revise the LPS Act with SB 640

    “In 1967, California passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. The intention of this bill, which was co-authored by State Assemblyman Frank Lanterman and State Senators Nicholas C. Petris and Alan Short, was to “end the inappropriate, indefinite and involuntary commitment of persons with mental health disorders.” But it missed the mark by putting severely mentally ill people on the streets and in our prisons because the people who often care for them most—their families—lost all tools to give their loved ones the care they needed, at times, involuntarily.

    Pinsky says, “The LPS Act maintains the silent genocide on our streets, because if you say I’m going to kill myself or somebody else, and you end up in the emergency room, but then a few hours later say ‘I’ve thought better of it,’ you’re released as long as you can answer the questions, ‘do you know how to get food and do you have shelter?’ Even if that means McDonald’s across the street and a tent on the sidewalk. No treatment and no assessment. You can just go.”

    Senator John Moorlach, the author of Senate Bill 640, summarized on his website how the bill would remedy the issues of the LPS Act. “SB 640 would clarify the definition of ‘gravely disabled’ to align it with the original intent of the LPS Act. If an individual, as a result of a mental health disorder, is incapable of making informed decisions about their own personal wellbeing, there should be better metrics to help those who are simply incapable of helping themselves. This is especially important when the absence of significant supervision and assistance puts the individual at risk of substantial bodily harm. This failure has converted our jails and prisons into makeshift mental institutions and left a high number of seriously mentally ill homeless individuals with no means of treatment or care.”

    https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/the-only-plan-to-end-homelessness/

    James Marmon MSW
    Former LPS Conservatorship Case Manager
    Lake County Mental Health

    Reply

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