Budget Problem? What Budget Problem?

Notes from the Supervisors Agendas for June 9 & 10.

MENDO HEALTH OFFICER NOEMI DOOHAN of San Diego is up for another costly extension of her contract: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Fifth Amendment to Standard Agreement No. PH-19-024with Noemi Doohan, M.D., Ph.D., Increasing the Amount from $225,000 to $325,000, for County Health Officer Services, Effective When Fully Executed Through December 31, 2020.”

THE CEO REPORT for next week’s Supervisors meeting is much lamer than usual, including large irrelevant swaths of routine county reports and lists such as the position vacancy list (which should be discussed but never is because of high workload and turnover indicators), and this week the CEO has thrown several pages of the Transportation Director’s decent but highly technical road info and updates which is usually separate.

The CEO Report also includes “justifications” for the filling of quite a few new positions, such as: 

Two new staff assistants for the Executive Office have been declared “essential” because, says CEO Angelo: “The Executive Office has been focusing on reorganization. This has created shifts in tasks and staff. Currently there is a need for an additional staff member to work in our front office. Additionally, the COVID-19 event has created substantial more work and many staff members are being assigned tasks related to that event. The Public Health Officer and Deputy Public Health Officer are both working out of the Executive Office and require one FTE staff member to assist them.”

The Supes never question these vague “justifications.” But they’re always careful to worry about how much “work” their own routine inquiries might involve.

The DA says he needs another investigator because: “Position is responsible for conducting criminal and civil investigations related to District Attorney's cases; conduct investigations in Officer Involved Shootings; assist other law enforcement agencies with investigations; assist probation Department with check-in on individuals placed on Post Release Community Supervision; assists in community emergencies.”

We didn’t know the DA’s staffers were now doing work for the Probation Department.

Health & Human Services says they need a new Legal [sic] Secretary because: “Risk of not meeting State and Federal Mandates, risk of overtime and/or assigning duties elsewhere working someone out of class.”

This boilerplate “justification” is used whenever there’s no real reason besides CEO Angelo and her HHSA sycophants want it.

We also noticed the seemingly random mention of an “Emergency Project” that had to be dealt with at the jail: “On June 1, 2020, Facilities staff were called to clear a clogged sewer line in Wing 4 of the County Jail. The auger line hooked an object, and became stuck upon retrieval. The object and the line cannot be retrieved, and the floor must now be cut to expose the sewer line and clear the drain. This work has been declared an emergency to minimize the potential for delays in restoring full functionality at the Jail.”

The CEO doesn’t say how the rotor rooter got stuck, what’s being done to prevent similar future “emergencies,” how much the emergency project cost, nor what the “object” was.

According to the County’s eight (!) person Cannabis staff:

“The County applied for a Cannabis Equity Grant administered by California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). Mendocino County successfully was awarded $2.2 million in Cannabis Equity Grant funding for the 2020/2021 fiscal year. Equity funding will go toward a program of services for equity eligible applicants such as grants, technical assistance, training, and fee waivers. 10% or approximately $224,000 can and will be used toward the administrative management of the grant by County staff or subcontracted staff as needed. The Cannabis Program plans to recruit a temporary extra help Analyst to assist in the management of the grant, funded by the Equity Grant Program —no general fund will be used.”

As we’ve noted before, the euphemistically titled “Cannabis Equity Grant” is more accurately described as a money laundering process to help fund the grotesquely overlarge cannabis bureaucracies that have sprung up in California’s several cannabis counties. And Official Mendo will end up getting the money to “help” cannabis permit applicants who are not otherwise capable of handling all the complicated pot permit application paperwork (one of the many flaws in the turgidly bureaucratic program was that it assumed that stoners and pot growers with no other “skills” could navigate and complete a gauntlet of bureaucracy that even many lawyers find daunting). The Equity Grant is similar to First Five, where counties get special grant money to “help” parents of young children. In both cases the grant money goes to bloated staff, not permit applicants, not parents. But they always pretend the money is for some alleged “good thing,” when it’s nothing but a featherbedding subsidy for make work staff exercises that don’t help the target much at all.

The Cannabis staffers also say that one of their “Goals/Challenges for FY 2020-2021” will be “Processing 800+ ministerial applications with current staffing levels.”

This of course assumes that the failed cannabis program will be “streamlined” in “Phase 3” to the point of a simple ministerial checklist process — which it should have been in the first place, obviously (see below) — but which has not yet been described or approved. It also assumes that Mendo’s legions of pot growers, having flown the white flag of defeat in their battle with the County’s grotesque pot permit program, will suddenly discover that it’s been magically “streamlined” and will rush to apply — never mind that the County permit fees have not been described or tallied up, nor have the state’s daunting requirements been “streamlined.” Does Mendo have enough residual credibility to magically bring the outlaw pot growers in from the cold black market? After all, the eight cannabis program staffers reported that they have already: “Developed streamlined processes for annual permit renewals turning a multi month process into a 1 day over the counter application.” 

Right on cue there’s an item on Wednesday’s Supervisors agenda that says: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff Regarding the Potential Re-direction of the Cannabis Cultivation Program (Sponsor: Supervisor McCowen).”

Three weeks ago, McCowen signaled that he wanted to do something like this, albeit from the person most responsible for the pot permit mess, three years late. But the agenda item has no attached information. What the Cannabis staff or Supervisor McCowen have in mind remains a mystery, although there’s no doubt that Mendo’s cannabis permit program is long overdue for a major weight reduction. But if they do that, will they cut the corresponding fees? Or will they spend all that new “equity grant” money on themselves?

ANOTHER dubious spending item: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Retroactive [sic] Agreement with Sonoma County In the Amount of $1,182,221.62 to Provide Emergency Medical Services Administration in Mendocino County, Effective July 1, 2019 Through June 30, 2022.

This SoCo-based emergency services admin monopoly has apparently decided that the previously approved $300k per year, which was already a huge increase over the earlier $92k per year, now has to be RETROACTIVELY increased to almost $400k per year. The item does not say where the money will come from, but it’ll come out of the general fund which is already stretched thin with new costs and covid-related revenue reductions. Cash-strapped local emergency services outfits are already worried that the money for Coast Valley EMS will be taken out of their budget, not the County’s bloated top staff.

The County is also going to hand over more than $150k of additional funding to Camille Schrader’s Redwood Community Services monopoly, again RETROACTIVELY: “Discussion and Possible Action Including Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services in the Amount of $152,742 to Provide Services to Individuals and Families in Accordance with Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Guidelines and Create a Program Guide to Homeless Services in Alignment with Mendocino County Homeless Services Continuum of Care’s Strategic Plan, Effective March 1, 2020through December 31, 2020.

Why did they mention the “program guide” as one of the cost items? Wouldn’t it be part of whatever, possibly reimburseable, “services” they provide?

TAKEN AS A WHOLE, along with all the other spendings and businesses as usual with no specific cost reductions in the face of obvious revenue declines, it’s alarming that CEO Angelo and the Supes don’t seem to have even the slightest clue that their funding is in serious jeopardy.

DA DAVID EYSTER COMMENTED: Dear Messrs. Anderson and Scaramella: There some misinterpreted information in the mix. In covering the comings and goings of the BoS, you report today (Friday) that, “The DA says he needs another investigator…” Not so. I am not asking for a new investigator position. My long-approved investigator positions are all filled, including the investigator dedicated to work emanating from the coast. You also reported that, “We didn’t know the DA’s staffers were now doing work for the Probation Department.” No disclosures needed here. You are correct. The DA investigators are not doing work for the Probation Department. They are doing public safety investigations all across Mendocino County under direction of the District Attorney.


FROM THE INTRODUCTORY NOTES in CEO Angelo’s proposed 2020-2021 budget, for review at Tuesday’s Supes meeting:

“Going forward in FY 2020-21, the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Oversight Committee will continue to provide the Board of Supervisors with crucial recommendations regarding options associated with the development of a Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) Facility and a 24-hour Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF) that would provide a safe and therapeutic environment for individuals experiencing a mental health related crisis. Other plans, strategies, and projects may be explored in addition to the aforementioned.”

THE CEO declined to list the “crucial recommendations” that the Committee has already provided.

And: 

“As the Board is aware, there are many uncertainties in disaster recovery, especially FEMA disbursement of funds. Disaster Recovery is requesting a $2.5 million allocation for fiscal year 2020-2021 to cover for the County’s 25% non-federal match requirement for FEMA eligible activities and costs for ineligible, yet important activities.”

THE CEO declined to say what those “ineligible yet important activities” are.

YOU’D THINK that if they’re so “crucial” and “important” that the CEO would at least say what they are and take some credit for them.

One Response to "Budget Problem? What Budget Problem?"

  1. JLSeagull   June 15, 2020 at 11:25 am

    “ineligible yet important activities” read that as contributions to the Mendo County employees retirement fund deficit.

    Reply

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