4th 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.?

Fourth District candidate answers below...

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Fourth District Candidate Dan Gjerde

Why, specifically, are you running for Supervisor? Which countywideproblems do you see as primary? What specific improvements do you want tomake? And, if elected, how will the public be able to measure yoursuccess? 

I am running because I want my community and my county to be led by people who do more than simply identify problems. I work at solving problems, and making this a better community to live in. Frankly, it’s pretty easy to point out problems. The hard work comes with solving them. I work with people to develop solutions. This requires creative thinking, building trusted relationships, and tenacity. I am running for re-election because we continue to be faced with new challenges that require effective problem-solvers.

You asked me what I see as the primary issues today. Well, today, these are among the top issues facing those of us living in Mendocino County: 1) Housing. We need more housing of all types, especially for people in our work force. I’ve been working to get a proposal to the Coastal Commission to give property owners the ability to construct second residential units, exclusively for long-term residents. I will continue working with volunteers on the Coast Housing Action Team to inform residents of County housing incentives, to protect the County’s Class K building code and to advocate for funding for new housing in the 4th District. 2) Homelessness. For several years I have sought a fresh look at homeless services. As a result, we are now revising County contracts. Focus is shifting from reporting the number of meals and bed nights to demonstrating progress in moving unsheltered people into permanent housing. These reforms should result in more effective programs. This will allow the County to target new State homeless funding for the most effective services and housing programs. 3) Mental health services. In the next two to four years we will significantly expand mental health services provided here in Mendocino County. The County jail will get a state-of-the-art, $27 million addition to better serve mental health clients who serve time in the County jail. The County will establish residential treatment facilities in multiple locations, including Fort Bragg and Ukiah, so that locals can get the respite they need near family and friends here in Mendocino County. For residents in crisis, the County will also establish one or two psychiatric health facilities and likely one crisis stabilization unit. Together, these new services will work to keep people in crisis out of hospital emergency rooms. I write more about mental health services further in this interview.

If you had asked me the top issues a few years ago, I would have listed several different issues – because, at that time, those items needed to be addressed. Over the past seven years, I have worked with community members and the rest of the Board to find solutions to these issues. For example, a few years ago the top issues would have been: 1) Roads in disrepair. I was able to persuade supervisors to join me in allocating an extra $6 million for road repaving, by prioritizing one-time funds for one-time projects like road repairs. Now we will benefit from new State funding that will pay to resurface the County’s major collector roads. I’m bringing a proposal to the board to fund repairs of neighborhood roads, building on our recent practice of allocating one-time County revenues to one-time projects like road resurfacing projects. 2) Fiscal Solvency. We have been successful in stabilizing County finances and building up reserves. Today reserves are $37 million. In contrast, in 2007 and 2008 reserves were just $7 million, which is why the County was unprepared for the Great Recession. At the same time, we have moved faster and farther than the State in reforming the Mendocino pension system. Ahead of the State, we lowered assumed investment returns from 8% to 7%, a target met during the last 15 years, even including the market losses in 2008. Also ahead of the State, we shortened our payment periods for any new debt. 3) County in disarray. We all saw how County departments struggled in the years following the Great Recession. With virtually no reserves, the County was forced to hastily eliminate 24% of County jobs and cut wages by 10%. The board I joined in 2013 was united in our work to ensure the County would not go through that again. We found efficiencies, rebuilt reserves, and grew revenues through economic development. Our many years of fiscal discipline is now paying dividends for the public. With fewer total positions, the County is nevertheless offering improved services. In addition, the reduction in the number of employees is allowing the County to pay living wage salaries, which should lead to less turnover. For the public, that means they will increasingly see the same Mendocino County employee carry out a task from beginning to completion, improving customer service.

Here’s the point I’m making: the primary issues facing the County today will be replaced by other issues tomorrow. What we deserve from our supervisors is a track record of positive changes on large issues such as these, and the small ones, too. This is how our success should be measured.

How do you view the functioning of the present board?

The current board is getting the big issues right. The board is fiscally responsible and is working to make County services responsive to the public. 

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

Of the $5.5 million collected, $450,000 is re-invested in promotion. That’s fair. It is estimated that visitors spend roughly $250 million each year here in Mendocino County. That said, $450,000 is a lot of money, which is why I have worked to assure the money is spent effectively. In fact, just three years ago a number of lodging operators were at odds over the management of promotion funds. I stepped in to mediate between the parties. Working with Supervisor John McCowen, we reformed the governing and oversight of the promotion funds. With those reforms in place, we have ceased hearing concerns over the management of promotion monies.

Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program. 

I support the work underway to reduce the paperwork and fees for the County’s annual renewal process, as these businesses have already gone through the County’s approval process. I am also open to other suggestions. That said, we know that the greatest obstacles facing commercial cannabis are not with the County of Mendocino. We know that 92 percent of applicants waiting for permit approval have met the standards established by Mendocino County. They have not, however, shown they have obtained their required permits from State Fish and Wildlife or State Water Board.

But here’s the really big issue. If people truly want to fully integrate California’s cannabis industry into the legal market, then we need an end to federal prohibition. Federal law prohibits legal interstate commerce, and federal tax law prohibits commercial cannabis businesses from deducting business expenses. Federal prohibition is also inflating the price of California’s black-market cannabis. Truth is, federal prohibition is the number one deterrence to California cannabis businesses considering an entrance into the legal market.

Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting.

I support it, as does pretty much everyone else. In fact, quite a few items are already reported monthly, and we are adding more items for monthly and quarterly reporting all the time. To make it easier for the public to see the updates, we recently asked for more of the monthly updates to be included in the CEO’s monthly report. In addition, the board recently endorsed a proposal by Supervisor John Haschak and myself to have County departments provide quarterly updates on their work plans. We proposed the departments and the CEO office present the information in a fashion similar to the way it is presented to the Mendocino retirement investment board, where I serve on behalf of the board of supervisors.

I strongly believe our government can only be effective if people have much of the same information. That’s why I spend time providing updates on significant issues from the Board’s meetings on local radio stations, as well as on multiple community Facebook pages for my district. It provides a great feedback loop.

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

The outreach program has connected people in the most remote areas of the County, namely Covelo and the South Coast, to mental health services. Some people may expect more. We applied for funding to serve these residents with an upgraded crisis intervention team, however the grant was not funded. In the perfect world, the County would offer the higher level of crisis intervention services, but for the County to expand services it needs to be done in a way that is financially sustainable into the future.

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

I’m not satisfied with the status quo. Is anyone? It’s obvious we need to identify the most effective homeless programs, and then do more with them. I want Mendocino County government – and all of our partners inside and outside of government – to address this crisis together. Governor Newsom has ordered state agencies to identify state lands that can be used for emergency shelters, and he wants to coordinate state and local programs to be more effective. I want the County to do the same. This crisis didn’t happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take action now. You can count on me to pursue any innovative solution that will provide people with immediate shelter and long-term housing, along with any needed childcare, medical assistance, mental health assistance, financial literacy assistance, and drug and alcohol treatment that may be needed.

Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed?

Some positions are chronically understaffed. Others are not. County of Mendocino jobs with high turnover are typically due to two reasons: 1) insufficient salary, or 2) high stress and high risk, compared to other County jobs with similar pay. Across the board, all rank and file County employees are seeing salaries brought in-line with the regional market, as part of a new three-year contract. That means we should see less turnover due to salaries. Jobs with high turnover due to high stress and high risk will take work to address. I’ve spoken with management at health and human services, and they are working on initiatives to address this. 

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

We sometimes have a tug of war on this. The board wants the County to contract with local businesses. But oftentimes County staff want to manage fewer contracts, and that sometimes means contracts become too big for local businesses to be eligible to place a bid. If a local business sees a County contract that was structured in a way that prevented them from placing a bid, I encourage the business to contact myself and the rest of the board of supervisors. We sometimes catch these problems on our own, but additional eyes are always helpful. 

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

I have worked very hard to effectively advocate for adult mental health clients and to assure we see improvement to mental health services here in Mendocino County. I was the first Supervisor to call for an end to the contract with Ortner Management. We selected Redwood Quality Management Services (Redwood), a Mendocino organization with a track record of providing services to at-risk populations with compassion and integrity. When Ortner handed their FY 2015-16 client caseload to Redwood, it consisted of 302 adults. Last year Redwood served 1,518 adults, a five-fold increase in three years. Also under Redwood’s contract, the State is now approving 98.3% of reimbursement requests (primarily Medi-Cal). Due to the high reimbursement rate, I asked if County administrative costs could be reduced. At my request, the County cut its administrative costs by $400,000, which has freed up an extra $400,000 for direct services for adult clients. Specific to services on the Coast, I worked with County staff and Redwood so that adult clients can get their medications prescribed four days a week in Fort Bragg. Previously, they were offered just one day every two weeks. Likewise, adult clients wanted the choice of getting services at either the Hospitality Center or at Redwood. I negotiated with County staff and Redwood so Coast community members would have both choices. I believe these facts provide at least some indication that Redwood is providing good and improving services throughout the County and on the Coast. But we only make these programs better when the Board listens to community input. If anyone has ideas, I want to hear them. 

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

We implemented a creative solution in the recent past, and it provides a model for future creative problem-solving. In response to the 2017 Redwood Complex fire, Mendocino County successfully worked with federal agencies to create recreational vehicle sites for FEMA trailers at Lake Mendocino. The Army Corps and FEMA only granted approval for a limited time, but that work could serve as a model for establishing a trailer park on other public land. The challenge will be to establish permanent delivery of water and wastewater services to an appropriate property. To do so would likely be very expensive and require extensive environmental review, under the California Environmental Quality Act and State public health codes. I bring to the board a deep understanding of land use policies and skills in negotiating that would be helpful if we are to make such an ambitious undertaking a reality. 

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Fourth District Candidate Lindy Peters

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?

Many people have felt that the 4th District has been missing a strong voice on the Board of Supervisors for too long. It is easy to see why. Just look up the last 2 election cycles for 4th District Supervisor on the County Clerk website and you'll find that our current Supervisor has always run unopposed. That's right. Unopposed. No one ran against him in 2012. No one ran against him in 2016. It is no wonder that a misguided sense of complacency might set in. So the first reason I am running is to give the voters a choice in this election. Secondly, I am entering my 18th year of service as a Fort Bragg City Councilman and I believe I have the institutional knowledge and political skill set to truly represent this diverse region and the necessary qualifications to do a good job for the people if elected. I will speak-up at meetings, question staff reports and voice my opinion. And finally, I want to get out and hear what the public has to say on a regular basis. I was the first and only Mayor to ever host a weekly informal meeting for the public to bring ideas, suggestions and, yes, criticisms. It also afforded me the opportunity to update the public on civic business. I pledge to continue this as a Supervisor. On a weekly basis, I'll give the folks who cannot drive all the way to Ukiah to attend a Board meeting a forum to voice their concerns. These can then be brought to the full Board's attention for possible action if merited. I will specifically strive to provide more access for the general public to engage with their Supervisor. And measure my success by asking these questions. Did he do his "homework" ? Did he engage the public to gain their views? Did he question the staff report? Did he respect his colleagues on the Board? Did he respect staff time? Did he make sure the Board was running the show and not the County CEO? Yes means success.

How do you view the functioning of the present board?

There are reasonable questions as to whether the current Board-CEO relationship is functioning as designed.  A majority of Supervisors have been there many years together.  You think maybe they might be getting too reliant on staff information and recommendations to guide their decisions?  Some do. Just think.  Carre Brown is not running.  There will be a new Supervisor in the 1st District.  John McCowen is not running. There will be a new Supervisor in the 2nd District.  Both Supervisors Haschak and Williams are relatively new.  So if I am elected in the 4th District, there will be a complete Board change over from just a few years back.  A whole new dynamic and a whole new relationship with the CEO.  

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

Yes, I believe a major portion of the TOT revenue should be repurposed for promotion. Not all of it however. For example, the City of Fort Bragg apportioned some of the recent voter approved 2% increase in the TOT to the Noyo Center and it remains a vital source of funding for moving this ambitious project forward. Some goes for maintenance of the popular Coastal Trail. Perhaps we can find similar public benefiting uses of these funds at the County level that go beyond promotion. And let's make sure the 4th District is getting our fair share of the pie. Remember, the Coastal region provides a huge chunk of County TOT.

Your ideas on how to make an effective cannabis program. 

The County Permit process for cannabis is 17 pages long. To say it can be daunting is not an overstatement. And that's just the County. The State process is equally cumbersome. Not to mention expensive. We should try and simplify the process first-off. This should also save on staff time. Let's work with the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance and other knowledgeable advocates to create a policy that is fair but also one the industry will support. But let's get going. 

Your views on regular (monthly) departmental reporting.

Yes. There should be regular departmental reports to the Board on a monthly basis. Is the County running efficiently? Are the employees making progress on their workloads? One way to find out. Consistent information from each major department will let the public know how efficient each department is and how each one is progressing. A productive use of the Board's time too if I might add.

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?

None of the programs run through County Social Services seem to be getting the results you would expect for the money being spent. This includes Mobile Outreach. We need more mobile units and more manpower to handle the existing problem countywide.  There also needs to be more accountability for the effectiveness of these program dollars.  Are the clients being cared for in a professional manner?  Are current services goal-oriented? Do the programs minimize administrative costs? Are they making progress in what they are intended to do? Is there a measure of successful outcomes versus dollars spent for each one?A permanent facility with Measure B funding will help all aspects of Mental Health Treatment but is very slowly slogging through a lengthy committee process.  The Kemper Report exposes what happens when you outsource a contract to an outfit like Ortner for delivery of Social Services. It was a catastrophe on so many levels, but anytime you put profit ahead of performance with an outside agency, you can expect trouble eventually. Those were not dollars well spent. 

Why are the County’s social services programs understaffed?

They are understaffed, I believe, in part due to the inefficiency of the very programs they are trying to administer. If there is any way to reduce the bureaucracy involved, the staff would no doubt become more productive in processing applicants and working their caseloads. This should improve client outcome success levels. This, of course, is easier said than done.

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

It is so much easier to manage a Capitol improvement project when the contract bid goes to someone local. The same can be said for consulting agencies, auditors, engineering firms and others who might respond to various county RFPs.  If the company has a stake in the community, is providing local jobs and can do the required work at the required skill-level, then go local if the bid is competitive. When you do, you have a local contact for change orders.  They have a reputation to maintain in the community and are thereby more apt to do good work. They have a stake in our future.  I would encourage the selection of local contracts by staff if said contracts are able to meet the basic criteria spelled out in the RFP. Some degree of outsourced help will always be needed but let’s be self-sufficient any way we can. Besides, there are some very talented people around here!What is your opinion of effectiveness of the $20 million the County spends with the privatized Redwood Quality Management Company for mental health services?

The County’s funding of $20 million for mental health services with Redwood Quality Management Co. has been ineffective.  There needs to be an efficiency study done to fully analyze the reasons why.  There continues to be a huge mental health problem among our transient homeless population. County funded programs do not seem to be helping diminish this problem. Our law enforcement have become the County’s frontline Mental Health assessors and incarceration has often been the only “treatment” option. This needs to change.  Measure B funding will help once it becomes available. But when is that going to be?  Is it possible to begin a psychiatric care unit as part of the Mendocino Coast District Hospital curriculum?  Can a program as such avail itself to funding from Measure B ?  Will the Board itself have the ability for discretionary spending of at least some of Measure B’s pool of money? Bottom line is this. You may save some money when you contract out for services. You will lose accountability. And it is harder to fix a problem that is not occurring in-house.

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

I think the County can try and be more creative in addressing homelessness.  A parking area with some solar night lights and a septic tank for porta-potties has helped some areas assist those who actually own campers, RVs or vehicles of any kind by getting them off public roadways and in to a safer environment.  Tiny home villages have helped some communities implement their Housing First goals and policies at a minimal cost. These units are highly mobile and ready to move-in with minimal infrastructure.  But where would you site either of these ideas? You can get creative in your vision however there has to be community buy-in for it to be a success.  Your solution has to fit-in with the community.  

7 Responses to "4th District Candidates Respond"

  1. Kathy   February 6, 2020 at 7:38 pm

    Thanks for asking these questions and thanks to the 4th district candidates for their responses.

    Reply
  2. John Robert   February 7, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Sounds like Do Nothing Dan Gjerde is still trying to take credit for things he has had little or nothing to actually do with. He keeps reminding us he’s a fourth generation resident of the coast. That in itself should be enough to create doubt in any intelligent voters mind. Was Dan and his corrupt legacy residents who gave us the disgusting downtown blight of homelessness occupying a grand historic hotel.

    Ridiculous also the amount of money spent on signage for Gjerdy. Obviously his few fat cat lazy supporters are fearing a disconnect from the trough.
    Each one of those large signs costs more than a good meal. A meal that could feed one of the many struggling families here scratching out a living.

    Lindy is correct in that this county does need a fresh new Board of Supervisors.

    Please people, come out to vote!

    Reply
  3. James Marmon   February 7, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    RE: DAN DJERDE. “REDWOOD”, AND MEANINGLESS NUMBERS

    When Ortner handed their FY 2015-16 client caseload to Redwood, it consisted of 302 adults. Last year “Redwood served” 1,518 adults, a five-fold increase in three years.”

    -Dan Djerde

    There you guys go again, throwing out meaningless numbers that tell us nothing. How about breaking that number down so it actually means something. How many of those folks received just assessments, and how many actually received actual services beyond assessments? We know that law enforcement is having all their detainees assessed before being booked in the jail and every parent in the Child Welfare System receives assessments as part of their case plan. The 302 files OMG turned over to the Schraeders, or “Redwood” as you call them, were “open outpatient” cases, how many “open outpatient” cases does your precious little “Redwood” have? Your comparison of OMG’s 302 open outpatient cases to “Redwood’s” 1,518 persons served is like comparing apples to oranges. A comparison of apples and oranges occurs when two items or groups of items are compared that cannot be practically compared.

    Djerde and the rest of the board needs to stop trying to blow smoke up everyone’s ass and get real and ask some questions, they’re the stupid asses, not us. I guarantee you “Redwood does not have 1,518 open adult cases, could you imagine their workers’ caseloads numbers if that was true, my God?

    James Marmon MSW

    P.S. I love his little shit trick of referring to all of the Shcraeders’ enterprises as just “Redwood” really clears things up, as clear as mud.

    Reply
    • James Marmon   February 7, 2020 at 3:32 pm

      According to Kemper’s report there was 1420 adult crisis assessments during the same period of time that Djerde is so proud of, I wonder how may of them received ongoing outpatient services, certainly not the walking wounded, or what we in the business refer to as the “mild to moderate”. They’re deemed “unbillable” which if served would screw up Camille’s 98.3% of reimbursement request (primarily Medi-Cal) approvals and cost her money, not the County. That’s why that number has improved.

      James Marmon MSW

      Reply
  4. Ted   February 9, 2020 at 10:27 am

    We are fortunate to have a person of such intelligence, integrity and effectiveness as Dan Gjerde to represent us on the Mendocino County Board of Supevisors. He has outlined with clarity of detail the issues facing the county and the various solutions he and the Board have implemented and intend to implement. Thank you Dan!

    Reply
    • mr. wendal   February 10, 2020 at 6:24 am

      Really, “Ted”??? The Board of Supervisors during Mr. Gjerde’s term has been largely ineffective. If you had been attending their meetings, or watching the recordings, you would see a mostly mute Supervisor Gjerde sitting there…until he learned that he has competition for his seat. He received over $107,000 in total pay and benefits in 2018. I would say that our money can be better spent on Lindy Peters. While on the City Council he has been is accessible and receptive to everyone. While representing the 4th district, Supervisor Gjerde has been unresponsive and invisible to most district residents except when he is campaigning. No thank you, Supervisor Gjerde.

      Reply
  5. James Marmon   February 9, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    RE: ALTERNATIVE FACTS

    “the State is now approving 98.3% of reimbursement requests (primarily Medi-Cal)”

    -Gjerde.

    That high of a percentage scares the living shit out of me, it’s way too high. I wonder how many mental health clients are being denied services due to the Schraeders wanting to stay on the safe side. Gjerde thinks it’s a big savings for the County but it is not, it’s a only a big savings to his precious “Redwood”. All that changed when they went to the ASO model. Before that when RCS was directly contracting children’s mental health, pre RQMC, they didn’t care how much they over billed. It was the County’s fault because they didn’t catch the mistakes.

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

    Reply

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