Measure B Stumbles On a Good Idea

The Measure B Oversight Committee met for a mind-numbingly long four hours on Wednesday, yet they somehow managed — albeit only three years late — to unanimously recommended that the Supervisors allocate $340k for a pilot crisis/mobile van program. (Of course, from here it’s more like at least 15 years late — they could have easily financed and implemented a crisis van back in 2005 when Prop 63 passed, but….) The proposal appears to have been initiated by Sheriff Matt Kendall who marshaled an impressive array of statistics from Butte County showing, among many benefits, how, with only one unit operating on only one 40 hour shift a week, 5150 (danger to self or others) calls were down by about 40%. The Butte County data indirectly also shows how lame Mendo’s mental health data collection and reporting is because there is no comparable reporting in Mendo on which to measure the effectiveness of the crisis van program — if they ever get one going. 

Mendo’s Mental Health Director Dr. Jenine Miller summarized the rather obvious benefits of the program citing her own experience with similar programs in the Bay Area. But with such great benefits and such unanimity of support, it begs the question we have been asking for years: Why so damn late? 

Fortunately, the program will be run out of the Sheriff’s office, not Health and Human Services, so there is at least some chance that the “pilot program” will actually get rolling. But there are still a number of unanswered practical questions to be addressed such as who will draft the protocols? Which vehicle will be used out of which department? Who will staff it? Where will it be based? Can it be set up like an ambulance, as it should be, so it can cover more than just 9-5 weekdays? (The idea is supposed to be one law enforcement person and one mental health person responding to crisis calls together, and doing client outreach and support during their non-call times.) So there are still plenty of opportunities for the program to stall or get off track. As usual no dates were mentioned other than the Measure B committee saying they’d like to take another look at the program in six months. Despite the fact that two years ago these same Measure B stumblers and bumblers voted to spend over $500k to supplement the pre-cursor Mobile Outreach program which was then quickly disbanded then never followed up on, we remain cautiously optimistic. 


The committee spent an hour or so on a presentation from Sacto-based architects Nacht & Lewis, complete with a detailed — and ornately wasteful — 3-D simulation of their design of a Crisis Stabilization Unit next door to Camille Schraeder’s Orchard Avenue offices in Ukiah. 

The committee members — whom on-again/off-again Chair Donna Moschetti repeatedly and grandly called “commissioners” — um’d and uh’d along at great length wondering what procedures should be used, how it would be staffed, making incoherent semi-motions that weren’t seconded, speculating on costs and funding sources, backtracking, dropping on-line hook-ups, interrupting each other, switching committee chairs, complaining about how long the meeting was but repeating the same points over and over again… a typical Mendo meeting. Former Committee Chair Dr. Ace Barash of Willits summarized any normal person’s reaction to the blitheringly incompetent disarray toward the end of the meeting. 

As the meeting ever-so slowly wound down, Chair Donna Moschetti returned to the virtual grouping on her cell phone to announce that, well, golly, it seems like the Nacht & Lewis presentation was sorta just informational and they really didn’t need to vote on anything, just informally gloss over the pro-forma pre-destined recommendation to contract for yet another layer of outside construction management because — to use CEO Carmel Angelo’s latest favorite phrase, “we don't have the bandwidth to staff it,” that’s just the way Mendo does things. And why should they vote? The facility is going to be handed over to Schraeder Inc. when it’s built — target date October of 2021 — anyway, no matter what the Measure B committee or the Supervisors or anyone else says or does. 

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