THE MEASURE B COMMITTEE “MET” Wednesday afternoon. It was the most pathetic excuse for a meeting I’ve ever seen in Mendo, bar-none — and the problems had nothing to do with their difficulties with on-line meeting technology. I’ve seen some bad Mendo meetings, but this one takes the prize. It was so bad that Committee Chair Donna Moschetti even apologized in her aw-shucks-I’m-sorry-for-not-knowing-what-I’m-doing-oh-well way for wasting everybody’s time for an hour on a ridiculously vague item entitled “Discussion and Possible Action Regarding Treatment and Service Monies Disbursement,” which concluded after an hour of superfluous opinion on the subject from each committee member with Chair Moschetti’s motion to “allow” some experts to look into mental health service gaps in Mendo — a subject which, if needed at all, should have started years ago. No specifics. No dates. No names of experts or organizations. Nothing. Former Sheriff Allman said that such a silly observation didn’t need a “motion.” But the Chair didn’t care, so Allman meekly seconded the “motion.” Then, like a bunch of braindead lemmings, the committee members voted unanimously one by one in favor of the pointless motion. And THAT was the highlight of the meeting! Nobody needs to know what else happened, obviously, but we’ll plod forward with some notes on it in the next couple of days. Or, as Measure B project manager Alison Bailey said about her alleged “numbers” for a Psychiatric Health Facility, Crisis Residential Treatment Center and Crisis Stabilization Unit, maybe in two weeks “if all goes well,” but surely “less than a month” — which is as close to a specific as anybody got all afternoon. PS. There was one good thing: Nobody brought up last month’s 7-4 recommendation to siphon off $1 million for ongoing services.
In June of 2019 the Mendocino County Grand Jury quoted from Measure B which was overwhelmingly passed into law in November of 2017:
Measure B, in part, states:
“Provide for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment and recovery from mental illness and addiction by developing:
1) A psychiatric facility and other behavioral health facilities; and a regional behavioral health training facility to be used by behavioral health professionals, public safety and other first responders.
2) Provide for the necessary infrastructure to support and stabilize individuals with behavioral health conditions, including addiction and neurological disorders.
3) Create a Mental Health Treatment Fund entirely dedicated to fund improved services, treatment and facilities for persons with mental health conditions into which 100% of the revenue from this measure shall be deposited.
4) Create a politically independent “Mental Health Treatment Act” Citizen’s Oversight Committee which shall review the independent annual audit of expenditures and the performance management plan for compliance with the Specific Purpose of this ordinance.”
Measure B also required Mendo to “Conduct an independent annual audit and develop a performance management strategy which measures the effectiveness of the improved services, treatment and facilities and assesses the impact of the ‘Mental Health Treatment Act’.”
The Grand Jury noted that “In 2018, Mendocino County contracted with the Kemper Consulting Group to provide a recommended plan of action for allocation of Measure B revenues. The Kemper Report recommended a continuum of care including: A Crisis Stabilization Unit, A Crisis Residential Treatment Center, A Psychiatric Health Facility.”
The Grand Jury further quoted then-Sheriff and committee chair Tom Allman:
“The CSU would be a locked facility and provide a location in which sheriff’s deputies, hospital emergency personnel, and mental health workers could transport people in need of a safe, secure place for up to 24 hours.
“The CRT would provide a place for people to remain voluntarily for up to a month while receiving mental health and/or addiction treatment.
“The PHF would be a long-term psychiatric facility for people with more intense mental health issues where they could receive the treatment they need over the course of several weeks.”
In a blast of understatement, the Grand Jury then concluded: “The Grand Jury is concerned about the length of time it has taken the Committee to make just three recommendations. After eighteen months of meetings, the public has no clear view of the progress of Measure B facilities and programs.”
In responding to the Grand Jury’s recommendation that the Board of Supervisors “prepare and publicize a plan with goals and timelines fore the completion of the CSU, CRT and PHF,” the Board said that “this recommendation will be implemented on an ongoing basis although timelines are somewhat contingent on the pace of recommendations from the Committee.”
The Supes added that according to the text of Measure B: “This [oversight] committee shall also provide recommendations to the Board of Supervisors on the implementation of this ordinance.”
It’s nearly another year since that Grand Jury report and the Measure B Committee has still not made any of the three primary recommendations, nor have any been proposed, considered or discussed.
To date, now almost two and a half years later, the Measure B committee has provided only minimal recommendations to the Board of Supervisors, and those few were of the no-brainer variety: The conduct of a Needs Assessment (which has since been ignored, despite being specifically re-referred to the Committee in the Supervisors response to the Grand Jury), the purchase of an old church building in Redwood Valley, supplemental funding for the Mobile Outreach program (which has not been spent, not a nickel), and the hiring of more admin staff and out-of-county consultants.
The Committee has not made a single recommendation relating to the core requirements of Measure B, the PHF, CRT or CSU. Nor has any member of that committee or its staff proposed any recommendations relating to those core requirements. Nor has anyone mentioned the requirement that an annual audit be performed much less that a performance management strategy be developed, not that anyone on the Measure B committee would know performance management if it fell on them from the sky.
Nevertheless, the committee and its staff have repeatedly described themselves and their paid functionaries as “hard working.”
In response to our recent criticism of last Wednesday’s pathetic excuse for a meeting, Supervisor Ted Williams commented:
“[Project Manager] Alyson [Bailey] has been diligent and realistic. She’s part of the solution to unblock Measure B. My frustration is about the board’s role. We’re three years in and we don’t have a business plan or financial model. We’re spending public dollars on planning facilities without documentation that we can actually operate the facilities once built. The B oversight committee is comprised of hard working [sic] volunteers. They need a professional resource to plan the financial model.”
There is zero evidence to substantiate these claims that newly hired Ms. Bailey is diligent or realistic, whatever that means. Supervisor Williams’ repeated calls for a business plan or financial model, would be nice, but there’s no such requirement in the text of Measure B. In fact, neither Supervisor Williams nor the oversight committee have even brought up the Measure B requirement to “Conduct an independent annual audit and develop a performance management strategy which measures the effectiveness of the improved services, treatment and facilities and assesses the impact of the ‘Mental Health Treatment Act’.”
There have been no independent ANNUAL audits and Supervisors Williams’ vague attempts to develop a performance management strategy (aka a business plan, aka financial model) which ‘measures the effectiveness of the improved services, treatment and facilities and assesses the impact of the 'Mental Health Treatment Act’ have been delayed and postponed time and again. At the moment Ms. Bailey and Dr. Jenine Miller are going off on separate tangents working on whatever they think Williams may want.
Predition: Both of them will end up concluding that a PHF is too costly to build and operate, choosing instead to build grossly overdesigned and costly CRT and/or CSU after which there will be no money left for a PHF.
Former Fort Bragg Hospitality Center manager Anna Shaw commented: “I support Alyson's efforts in this Sisyphean task. I've know Alyson professionally and personally for many years and we are all very fortunate that she took the position. Let's not attack Alyson. And I am as frustrated as anyone at the lack of Measure B progress over the years."
Here’s the only thing I wrote on Thursday relating to Ms. Bailey, the recently hired and very well-paid Measure B Project Manager: “Or as Measure B project manager Alyson Bailey said about her alleged ‘numbers’ for a Psychiatric Health Facility, Crisis Residential Treatment Center and Crisis Stabilization Unit, maybe in two weeks ‘if all goes well,’ but surely ‘less than a month’ — which is as close to a specific as anybody got all afternoon.”
Has the definition of “attack” been widened to the point that it even includes making light of Ms. Bailey’s vague time estimates?
Last Wednesday when a well-meaning member of the public named Emmy Good reminded the Oversight Committee about the recent Press Democrat article describing Sonoma County’s new PHF which reportedly won’t cost much more than what Mendo has already allocated for architectural services, Oversight Committee Chair Donna Moschetti simply replied, “Thank you, Emmy. Any other public comment?” (A typical Mendo brush-off)
There was none. And nobody on the committee thought that that significant development in Sonoma County merited the slightest attention.
Later in that meeting former Sheriff Tom Allman tried to remind his colleagues about Ukiah Police Chief Justin Wyatt’s “detailed” presentation on Eugene, Oregon’s “CAHOOTS” crisis van program and its obvious desirability in Mendocino County. Allman said that “somebody” should pick up the ball and look into it as all “hard workers” had agreed that it should be explored. But Allman didn’t know who should do it.
Of course, nobody else on the inert committee even responded, preferring to revert to more of their aimless discussion about “disbursements” and so forth.
We had wondered why the Redwood Valley Jehovah’s Witnesses had sold their former church property with two buildings on it to the County as a training center/substation for the suspiciously low price of less than $250k which the commercial market had somehow failed to snap up.
Toward the end of Wednesday’s meeting, Oversight Committee member (and Fort Bragg electrical contractor) Mark Myrtle said that he was working with the newly designated “training center” ad hoc committee to see “what it would take to upgrade the existing electrical system.” Myrtle added that he was looking at “cost savings” ideas for fixing the electrical and septic systems “and other things that they have proposed.”
Which implies that Mendo picked up a white elephant of a building that nobody else wanted and now, in Mendo’s hyper-rule-bound style, they’re stuck with bringing it up to every conceivable gold plated building code at who knows how much cost to Measure B.
When trying to urge the County’s Public Health apparatus to move a little faster on preparations to re-open Mendo’s marginal economy recently, Supervisor John McCowen complained that he didn’t see much of a “sense of urgency” among staff. Oh, the howls of indignation from staff — how could he say such a terrible thing when they’re all working so hard?
Too bad McCowen and the rest of the Board don’t make any similar calls for Measure B.
The Measure B committee members have failed miserably at every turn by their own standards and by the explicit requirements of Measure B and not one person involved seems to care. As long as the Supes insist on describing the Committee’s near total inaction as “working hard” or “diligent” the situation is not going to change.