CEO Carmel Angelo opened Monday morning’s Supervisors meeting by saying that Mendo has been approved for a “phenomenal” $750k reimbursement from FEMA, 75% of about $1 million that the County has accumulated in “emergency” expenses that they applied for and are eligible for. Angelo added that they have spent about $250k more than that, of course. Later, the Supes were told that the State is considering covering 75% of the remaining 25%, which would leave Mendo to cover the a remaining $60k or so of expenses so far. But of course, that’s only through the end of March. So more to come.
Angelo also said that the City of 10,000 Buddhas outside of Talmage plans to donate some face masks for first responders which were supposed to be picked up this week.
Interim County Health Officer Noemi Doohan said she was about to issue some minor relaxations of the Shelter in Place order which would allow driving up to ten miles for “recreational activity”; allow non-essential businesses to deliver existing inventory; and the lift of singing prohibition for such things as the live streaming of religious services (which apparently had caused serious consternation among some exuberant local evangelicals). Dr. Doohan noted, however, that wind instruments such as trumpets, saxophones, oboes, flutes, French horns, trombones, kazoos, etc. are still banned.
On the other hand Dr. Doohan said she was about to issue a face mask requirement for public places. (See separate item.)
Dr. Doohan urged local businesses and non-profits to start preparing limited re-opening mitigation plans for after May 10 when she hopes some of the state’s restrictions will be reduced for some non-essential businesses. Apparently the County is working with West Company (a business advice non-profit) to develop guidelines for various business and organization categories (including schools) for operations post-relaxation. Expect the guidelines to be schoolmarmishly detailed and difficult to implement much less police.
Dr. Doohan also said that although there’s no indication of community spread in Mendo so far, “we still face possible community spread from neighboring counties.” So she is not ready to significantly loosen restrictions. She added that she anticipates some relaxation in early to mid-May “based on what the Governor does” at that time. Several Mendo officials specifically mentioned the likelihood that the Boonville/County Fair (scheduled for the third weekend in September) will probably not occur this year and that it would be better to make a formal decision on canceling it earlier than later to allow time to adjust.
Dr. Doohan said she was “outraged” at the overall testing capacity shortage in general and in-county, adding that the State has set up a “testing task force” to address shortages of swabs, transport media, reagents, etc,
Dr. Doohan said that based on some recent experience in Lake County, Mendo plans to test raw, unprocessed sewage in some areas to see if the virus is present. On April 8, all four raw sewage samples that Lake County tested were positive, “So it’s likely that there’s some community spread in Lake County” due to the virus’s presence in sewage.
County Budget Manager Darcie Antle told the Board that all virus expenses are being manually tracked outside the County’s standard budget system. A reported 381 employees have put in about 26,000 hours (an average of about 68 hours per employee, mostly in March and early April) on virus-related matters.
Antle also reported that the county has issued about $188k in motel vouchers for the aged and vulnerable homeless, but did not give a breakdown of what areas those vouchers have been used in.
CEO Angelo made several remarks about the County’s looming budget gap. She said that her staff and the County Auditor now estimate a decrease in revenue of about $4.5 million. “It’s quite possible” it won’t be $4.5, Angelo added, trying to be optimistic.
We assume that the CEO’s $4.5 million estimate is for this fiscal year ending on June 30. So it’s also “quite possible”that the shortfall could exceed $4.5 million. Not to mention the long-term forecast, post July 1. Either way, “It will be five years before our finances return to 18-19 levels.” Austere budgets are coming, said Angelo, perhaps like back in the 08-09 “great recession.” “I’m very concerned about the budget and these revenue reductions,” said CEO Angelo, adding, even more ominously, “We know what that means.”
Yes, we do. If it’s anything like 08-09 the County will face a number of difficult options: voluntary or mandatory time off, staff reductions (which have not returned to 08-09 levels in most general fund departments), early retirements, office hour reductions, across the board pay cuts…
Angelo said that austerity measures should begin now. “I don’t want to go back to [recent] commitments to employees,” said the CEO, obviously expecting just that.
If the CEO and the Supes had any real sense of leadership, knowing the “austerity” that is surely upon them — not to mention the general public —they’d immediately give themselves a pay cut to 2008 levels — setting an important example for the kinds of cuts that obviously will have to be made soon.
Angelo also predicted that some capital expenditures that the Board had approved but have not been implemented yet “will be in front of you again” — aka canceled.
The Board decided to defer the deadline for payment of bed tax and business improvement district lodging fees for three months to allow the County’s hard-hit lodging industry to hang on to the money a little longer. It’s not that much, considering that it’ll still be due this summer anyway, but presumably every little big helps.
Coastal Supervisor Dan Gjerde noted that he supported the idea because, “If any lodging operators are foreclosed on or go into bankruptcy that would delay it by years.”
Does Supervisor Gjerde know something about the Coastal lodging industry collapse that the rest of us don’t yet know?
Mendo’s $20-Mil Homeless Strategic Plan
On Monday, April 20, Mendo presented its long-awaited (two years in the making) “Strategic Plan To Address Homelessness In Mendocino County.” The recipients were everyone, aka, the Continuum of Care Committee, aka co-conspirators for those of you of a skeptical perspective.
Supervisor John McCowen said time and again in open Board meetings that the plan would incorporate the Marbut recommendations as directed by the Supervisors two years ago. But besides a few grudging passing references to the Marbut report, there’s no list of recommendations or objectives deriving from Marbut, much less how his phantom recommendations might be implemented.
Instead we get page after page after page of the usual generic homeless agency pablum, including a laughable (unless you’re homeless) four-page chart showing each of the many local continuum of care members and how much funding they get from each grant source and what it’s supposed to be spent on.
Surprise! The bulk of the money goes to various County Health and Human Services Agency programs along with Redwood Community Services and their many local affiliates and subsidiaries.
$925k goes to the Continuum of Care itself for “Rental assistance/rapid rehousing, operating subsidies and reserves, landlord incentives, outreach and coordination (including employment), prevention and shelter diversion to permanent housing.”
Our favorite is $121k to Redwood Community Services for “Housing navigation expertise to develop and secure transitional and permanent housing solutions.”
There’s $1.7 million for “Permanent supportive rental housing for people living with a serious mental illness who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.”
HHSA itself got $75k for “Assistance in the coordination and implementation of local homelessness plans.”
One line item for almost $1.7 million goes to “Redwood Quality Management Company and their subcontracting agencies” which allegedly “Benefits individuals with severe mental illness in need of case management and housing support.”
A quick summation of the total is over $20 million just for this fiscal year, depending on how you spread some of the larger multi-year grants.
If you use their own grossly inflated and obviously self-interested “Point In Time Counts,” there were just over 1200 sheltered and unsheltered people in 2016 which came down to around 800 in 2019 (but much of that was re-housing for people displaced by the 2017 Redwood Complex Fire). There were 123 chronically homeless persons, some of whom were sheltered.
Just for the sake of mathematics: 800 persons divided by $20 million = $25,000 per homeless person (on the high end of the count), and $20 million divided by 123 = about $160k per chronically homeless person on the low end.
For that money, the homeless continuum of care collective’s “Strategic Plan” concludes “The goals, strategies, action steps delineated in this section were derived over the course of approximately four months by the Strategic Planning Committee (Strategic Planning Committee) of the CoC governing board. Many of the recommendations from the Homeless Assessment are included as strategies here. In addition, the Strategic Planning Committee benefitted from technical assistance provided by the Technical Assistance Collaborative through a grant from the Department of Housing and Community Development to improve the delivery of homelessness programs. The Strategic Planning Committee was inspired by the All Home collaborative of Kings County, Washington in deciding on its overarching goals.”
And what are those overarching goals?
Goal 1: Making Homelessness Rare [a list of items beginning with the words, “promote,” “identify,” “review,” and “source”].
How We Will Know It Worked?
We will see a 5% annual decrease in the total number of homeless as measured by HUD’s Longitudinal Systems Analysis (LSA).
Goal 2: Making Homelessness Brief and One-Time [a similar list of non-specific “strategies”]
How We Will Know It Worked?
We will see a 5% annual decrease per year in the length of time that people are homeless as measured by HUD’s LSA.
Goal 3: Improve community and policy maker engagement around homelessness
How We Will Know It Worked?
We will see increased engagement of residents as measured by increased attendance at CoC board and committee meetings.… We will see increased engagement and leadership of business and faith leaders increased attendance at and/or joining the CoC board.… We will see homeless services expanded to the outlying regions of the County, such as the South Coast and North County, including Covelo.
Goal 4: Improve the CoC’s capacity to govern itself.
How We Will Know It Worked?
We will have effective and efficient governance at the CoC and within the homeless system infrastructure as measured by surveys conducted before and after listening sessions by whomever conducts listening session.
HHSA and CoC contracts all include measurable performance measures."
Which they clearly don’t. Marbut might laugh, but he would not approve.
Measure B Funds Transfer
OVER STRONG OBJECTIONS from County Auditor Lloyd Weer, Former Sheriff Tom Allman, Fort Bragg electrical contractor Mark Myrtle and Ukiah City deputy manager Shannon Riley, seven members of the Measure B committee voted to approve CEO Carmel Angelo’s recommendation that the Supervisors divert $1 million — “a nice round number” Angelo said by way of explanation for the amount — of Measure B services money to “support and expand” existing mental health services Wednesday afternoon. As described by Angelo, the money would go to the Community Foundation of Mendocino first, and then be handed out to existing mental health service providers (i.e., Camille Schrader and her subcontractors) who can apply for the money to the Community Foundation through some as yet undefined process. (An ad hoc committee of some of the yes-voters will be formed to work on the process.) If, by some chance, FEMA were to reimburse any of the $1 million, the reimbursement would go back to the Measure B coffers. The no-voters said the proposal was outside the scope of what the voters approved when they voted for Measure B and with the current economic downturn there’s going to be a hit to the Measure B sales tax revenue which should not be further reduced by a $1 million diversion. But those arguments didn’t sway the Angelo faction of the Measure B committee who thought that handing money over to the existing outfits will somehow help address the general stress and anxiety some members of the community may face these days with the virus and related stressors. How the Supervisors will receive this recommendation is anybody’s guess. But it will be interesting to hear the likely exchange between former Sheriff Tom ‘Measure B’ Allman and the other no-votes vs. CEO Angelo and her mental health services faction when the item appears on an upcoming Board of Supervisors agenda.
GRABBING a million or so from the Measure B fund is not supportable, although a majority of the Measure B oversight committee somehow thinks it's a swell idea. And routing the diverted Measure B funds, in direct contradiction to what voters thought would be money spent on the specific purpose of in-county sequestration of the mentally ill, through the palsy-walsys of the Community Foundation Fund of Mendocino County, is a pointless subterfuge added to the insult of the diverted million. But now it goes to the Supervisors for a vote where, as always, CEO Angelo's ongoing, no questions asked relationship with Camille Schraeder, will be approved, 4-1, Williams perhaps dissenting.
THE ONGOING root of the prob here is the Schraeders’ management of the $20 annual million they already get from Mendocino County's bamboozled taxpayers. Twenty annual millions is a lot of money for a county with a population of not quite 90,000 people to be handing over to the privatized services of Mr. and Mrs. Schraeder. As we have often asked, what are we getting for our twenty mil? How many people are getting services, and how many people are serving them up? Giving the Schraeders a hurry up additional mil out of designated sales tax money that was not supposed to become a county slush fund, should not be approved, but…
Of the seven yes-votes, six of them are connected to the existing mental health system in one way or another and the seventh is a personal friend of CEO Carmel Angelo.
The Angelo faction is:
CEO Angelo herself.
Committee Chair Donna Moschetti, chair of the local chapter of the alliance for the mentally ill.
Dr. Jenine Miller, County Mental Health Director
Meeka Ferretta, newly appointed director of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board
Dr. Ace Barash, a Willits-based emergency room physician with an interest in mental health.
Dr. Jed Diamond, Willits-based social worker with a PhD in “International Health.”
Ross Liberty, whom CEO Angelo views as the second coming of Andrew Carnegie; Liberty himself is a fan of Angelo for helping him get some County help when he bought the old Masonite plant site north of Ukiah.
ON THE OTHER HAND, the four no votes, Former Sheriff Tom Allman, Fort Bragg electrical contractor Mark Myrtle, County Auditor Lloyd Weer and Ukiah Deputy City Manager Shannon Riley have no mental health system connections.
ANGELO’S SIMPLISTIC ARGUMENT that $1 million dollars of Measure B’s declining mental health services money be diverted for no other reason than that Covid-19 is making people nervous and existing mental health funds are likely to be reduced in the future is all the Angelo faction needed to hear to go along with it.
WHATEVER ONE THINKS about Measure B, the primary purpose of the Measure was to fund new facilities for mental health purposes and to provide some funding to help staff those new facilities; it was not to be.a slush fund for the county's privatized mental health business. Given the state of the economy and the plummeting sales tax funding much of county business, there are obviously going to be huge local deficits, including in the Measure B money itself.
SUPERVISOR WILLIAMS’ QUESTION about how the “services fraction” of the Measure B money is going to be spent was conspicuously avoided several times prior to the virus crisis. But CEO Angelo still feels free to lead her majority faction of the Measure B committee to take $1 million without any idea what they may need to operate the new Measure B facilities?
ANGELO’S PROPOSAL to route the diverted $1 million to “service providers” through the Community Foundation is an obvious attempt to launder the subsidy through an organization that is generally approved of locally, but who, in the end, can be counted on to hand out the money to same insiders who already know how to play the application and funding game.