[Board of Supervisors Agenda, January 5, 2021]
Ten More Deputies
Item 5j: Discussion and Possible Action Regarding the Operation, Staffing, and Fiscal Plan for Additional Ten (10) Deputies to the Sheriff's Operations to Address Organized Crime and Illegal Marijuana Grows in Mendocino County (Sponsor: Sheriff-Coroner)
“The Sheriff’s Office desires to hire ten (10) additional Deputies over a three-year period—4 in year 1 and 3 additional deputies in year 2 and 3—to address the increase in organized crime and illegal marijuana grows. The crime statistics connected to the increase in organized crime and illegal marijuana grows are fluid and rapidly changing.
Since the October 6, 2020 discussion with the Board of Supervisors, additional kidnappings and crimes of violence have occurred and are under investigation while more crimes associated continue to be reported.
It is thus imperative that the County address this ongoing crisis so that all Mendocino County residents can have a better quality of life and live in a safer community. MCSO staff projects that the ongoing dollar amount needed for 10 Deputies is $901,869 in year 1, $1,357,541 in year 2, and $1,783,482 in year 3. The total projected cost of all 3 years is $4,042,892.”
Gurr-Borges Lawsuit Continues
Item 9a (Closed Session): “Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(1) - Conference with Legal Counsel - Existing Litigation: Ann Marie Borges & Chris Gurr v. County of Mendocino et al. - United States District Court-Northern District of California Case No. 3:20-cv-04537-SI”
More Offices Next Door To The Schraders’ Orchard Ave. Operation.
Item 9c (Closed Session): Pursuant to Government Code Section 54956.8 - Conference with Real Property Negotiator - Property: APN 002-340-38, and Physical Address: 551 South Orchard Avenue, Ukiah, CA 95482. Agency Negotiators: Carmel J. Angelo, Janelle Rau, and Darcie Antle. Under negotiation: Property Acquisition, Price and Terms.
ms notes: The Schraeders’ Redwood Community Services office is at is at 631 So. Orchard Ave where soon there will be a Rolls-Royce of a Crisis Residential Treatment Center. The Newly purchased $11 million Best Western motel being remodeled into a homeless shelter is a 555 Orchard Ave. 551 Orchard Ave. appears to be an office buildling next door to the Best Western.
James Marmon clarifies: “551 Orchard Ave. is Dick Selzer’s real estate office (Realty World and Selzer home loans). If anyone cares to remember, he was very upset when the County bought the Best Western for the homeless. I guess buying him out is better than a big court battle. I don’t blame him, the neighborhood is headed downhill in a hurry. I recognized the address immediately, it’s where I send my mortgage payment each month.”
The Doctor Who Won’t Go Away
Item 4k (Consent Calendar): Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Noemi Doohan, M.D., Ph.D., in the Amount of $100,000 [$125/hour for up to 15 hours per week] for County Deputy Public Health Officer Services, Effective January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021
Sponsor: Health and Human Services Agency
ED NOTE: O hell yes. Give her another hundred thou for a job she did mostly without leaving her San Diego house and was mostly boilerplate statements of the obvious. Give us an honest bank robber any day.
Big New Per-Plant Penalties For Non-Permitted Pot Growers
Item 4o (Consent Calendar): New Proposed Cannabis Penalties
Penalties for Certain Cannabis Related Violations.
The penalties in this subsection, 1.08.060(H), may be used in addition to or as an alternative to any other penalties or remedies that may be applicable or available.
Cultivation of cannabis in the absence of a required County permit, or authorization, and a required State License is a violation of this Code that shall be subject to an administrative penalty of up to one hundred dollars ($100.00) per cannabis plant.
a. For the purpose of this subsection, 1.08.060(H)(2), a cannabis plant includes each mature or immature plant of Cannabis sativa L., Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis, which has breached the surface of the soil or other media in which it is growing.
b. If a per plant penalty is imposed pursuant to this subsection, 1.08.060(H)(2), the per plant penalty may be increased by the amounts specified below for each circumstance that applies:
By up to an additional one hundred dollars ($100.00) for each plant that is occupying space on graded land for which the required grading permit has not been obtained and finalized;
By up to an additional one hundred dollars ($100.00) for each plant that is occupying space in a structure for which the required building permit has not been obtained and finalized.
By up to an additional one hundred dollars ($100.00) for each plant if the plant is grown on a parcel on which any tree species identified in MCC section 10A.17.040(K) was removed for the purpose of growing cannabis. It shall be prima facie evidence of purpose if cannabis is being grown on or near the location at which the identified tree species were removed.
Gotta Get Glenn In There Quick to replace Potter Valley Grape/Water Don Carre Brown right away!
Item 4q (Consent Calendar, of course): “Adoption of Resolution Appointing Supervisor Glenn McGourty as Director and Supervisor Maureen Mulheren as Alternate Director to Serve on the Ukiah Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA) Board of Directors (Sponsor: Water Agency)”
The first half of the latest Measure B Committee meeting on Wednesday, December 16, was a long, tedious, and irrelevant bookkeeping discussion about which hours for which staff person should appear on which account. This appears to be a priority topic for the Measure B committee lately since they have no idea what they’re doing on actual mental health facilities or services. And even if they did, they’d be stonewalled by the staff (two of whom are committee members, conveniently) at every attempt to be involved.
After that waste of half their meeting, there was a minimally informative discussion of ongoing contracting activity.
Dr. Miller: “We are in the process of finalizing the evaluations for a provider for the Crisis Residential Treatment (CRT) facility that will be on Orchard Street in Ukiah. We are hoping to finalize that in the next week or so and a letter will go out to that provider and then we can start doing negotiations on a contract and make sure we have a good rate and what we want to see in that provider. We did close our Request for Qualifications for a Psychiatric Health Facility (PHF/’Puff’). Those closed on November 30. We have started the process of evaluating those. We have started meeting. There's not a lot of information I can give you because while we are in that process it is confidential but we did receive some proposals and we are starting a process. I'm not sure when we will be done with that process and have it in front of the Board (of Supervisors). We know it will be at least a month or two or more [sic]. We want to make sure we thoroughly evaluate these and then work with a potential provider to negotiate a contract.”
Measure B Committee member Mark Myrtle: “How many responses did we get for the CRT?”
Miller: “I cannot provide that information yet until it's finalized.”
Myrtle: “So we don't get any input on who the provider is going to be or what the details of the provider are?”
Miller: “The contract will be handled through Behavioral Health [Miller’s department] because unfortunately most of it is billed through Medi-Cal so it becomes a behavioral health contracted provider. We will let you guys [sic] know once we have more details and provide more information once it's no longer confidential.”
Myrtle: “So before you get into an agreement with a provider wouldn't you want to know what the expenditure requirement would be for Measure B?”
Miller: “I will bring that back if there is going to be a cost for Measure B. The hope is that they can provide services without any extra Measure B dollars besides the facility.”
Committee Member Tom Allman: “Will we know that before the contract is awarded or will it be after the signatures have already been collected?”
Miller: “If there is a need for Measure B dollars to fund either facility we will come back and at least let you know how much we would need to use Measure B dollars. That will still need to go to the Board. if there is a flat -- it is not going to cost anything. It is really Medi-Cal dollars and if there is no requirement for Measure B dollars to augment services then we wouldn't bring that back. But if there is a request that we are going to have to augment the program with Measure B dollars that will be brought back.”
Allman: “We are talking 100% operations and it has nothing to do with the physical brick and mortar?”
Miller: “100% operations right now, yes.”
Allman then asked about any other facilities?
Measure B project manager Alyson Bailey: “What is the status of the RFP for the psychiatric health facility?”
Miller: “The RFQ is out. It closed on November 30. We are in the process. We have a committee that is in the process of evaluating those and it's for an operator of a Puff or a psychiatric unit. That process is going to take a couple months as we go through and really evaluate them and we choose the right provider for our county. I cannot say how many we got but we got, um, some. So I can say that we did get some. We are in the review process for those right now.”
Let’s read between the lines here. Dr. Miller is saying they don’t need any Measure B money so there’s no need to bother mentioning any contracting details to the Measure B committee in a public forum. Instead, the contract will be secretly arranged and negotiated and presented to the Supes as a done deal package for them to rubberstamp.
Unless, of course, there is a “need” (as determined by Dr. Miller, et al) for Measure B money, which of course there will be and should be because Measure B was supposed to improve services, not just build a building for existing services. So by the time the Measure B people are notifed that Measure B money will be “needed” there will be nothing left to discuss. Camille Schraeder will say there’s a “need.” Dr. Miller will agree. And Measure B will happily provide it. They won’t have any choice. And absolutely nothing will change other than the value of the Schraeder’s “negotiated” contract.
Pretty neat, you have to admit. They’ve got this down to a fine art.
Also, we don’t understand all the secrecy revolving around even the number of bidders. After all, back in 2018 the Kemper Report made it clear and public who had the CRT contract and there’s no reason to think it will change.
From the Kemper Report: “Redwood Community Services (RCS), an affiliated agency of RQMC, was awarded a contract by Mendocino County to provide CRT services, as well as locate and secure a property [on Orchard Street] as the County’s designated [sic] grantee. RCS projects it will serve up to 800 individuals annually at the facility. SB 82 grant funds were provided to purchase real property, renovate real property, purchase furnishings, equipment, and information technology and to finance 3 months of start-up costs. The Land at 631 S. Orchard Street, Ukiah, was purchased with the SB 82 funding and construction of a facility, which would include a CSU on the same grounds, depends on receipt of other financing. [How long will it be before there’s a “need” for a CSU (Crisis Stabilization Unit) in the CRT?] The projected cost of construction for the combined Crisis Residential Treatment facility and CSU is approximately $4.66 million, not including the land that has already been purchased.”
Kemper was right about the approximate cost of the CRT but his estimate included a CSU. Either way, the muddled “services” to be provided are all in the giant, confidential gray zone range of services defined by Dr. Miller and overseen by no one, and can be labeled as they see fit to maximize the CRT utilization and billing.
The Letter to the winning “Provider” that Dr. Miller referred to should have already been sent out by now according to her own schedule. So you’d think that the County would have already issued a press release on the award of that CRT services contract to RCS/RQMC since it’s already essentially public. But of course, when it comes to such things everything has to be kept extremely hush-hush — to protect the privacy of the mental health patients and to maintain the integrity of the unbiased contracting process.
Just like they did with integrity of the Ortner evaluation and selection process back in 2013 — until the Grand Jury report came out more than a year later pointing out that the Evalauting Committee was set up by the former Ortner executive who had been brought in to privatize the mental health services and who scored Ortner’s main competing bid as “zero,” effectively torpedoing the competition.
The Supes at the time insisted that all that was completely above board and copacetic and scolded the Grand Jury saying they were not just wrong, but “wholly” wrong, wrong, wrong wrong wrong — nothing illegal had occurred, so no problem.
Until three years later when, after complaints from local cops and doctors, the same Mr. Kemper determined that Ortner wasn’t doing too great a job and soon Ortner’s contract was not renewed and all the mental health contracts — $20 million worth in total — were handed over to, guess who? “Redwood Community Services (RCS), an affiliated agency of RQMC.”
THE POT CONUNDRUM
Wrapping up the December 16th Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee’s virtual town hall, Supervisors Ted Williams and John Haschak tried to take a practical look at Mendo’s pot permit program problems:
Williams: In the big picture, the goal here is to legitimize an industry and have it be regulated. We are fortunate that we have so many players who want to come into regulation and be above board and pay taxes and protect the land and lookout for the environment and be good neighbors. We need some way to separate them from what Sheriff Kendall points out is real outlaw activity and organized crime, and gunshots at night, activity that's a nuisance and affects public safety. The mechanism we have to separate them is permitting and licensing. Yet the state has created a system that nobody can get licensed. So we are about to push the entire industry back into outlaw status where we lose the environmental oversight and the tax base and the protections of regulation. There may be some opportunities in the year ahead. It may not be the Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) that we are working with directly. The state is talking about merging the agencies. It may be an opportunity to reconsider some of this regulation. Mendocino County is in a unique position in that we have a large legacy industry. A lot of people ask me, Well, look at this other county and how they're doing it. Take Nevada County, I think they had 38 permits. When you are working at that scale the thousands of dollars you lose on each one isn't that big a deal. You have more of an administrative cost and you get the work done. But when you have 1100 applications and thousands more behind them and it's new development, we are not looking back two years or three years but we are looking back 30 years or 50 years on some of these parcels. There is a lot of development to document. So we have a unique problem. Compounded on top of that is our county has some culpability. I went in thinking CDFA was creating problems for us. But look at it from their perspective. They gave us about four years to connect the dots. We are three years in and we are saying, Hey, we can't do this. They would have stepped up. They are now wondering why did Mendocino County commit to this if they couldn't follow through? Obviously we didn't understand the extent of it and the disruption of having it implemented by the Ag Department and then moving it to the CEO’s Office, and then people coming and going -- there's all sorts of reasons. But the bottom line is it's not just the state. The legislature through SB 94, the voters through prop 64, made it very difficult for small farmers to transition into the legal market. But we certainly haven't helped. The people we have on this today are part of the solution. Megan Dukett is working incredibly hard, understand the details, pulling in Trent [Schultz, Director of Planning and Building] as necessary, looking at why the system has failed before and being honest. It's a lot harder to stand up and say this is not going to work than to say, Hey we are working on it, we are streamlining it, we will get through this. I think we should take note when staff is basically 100% in the camp of, this won't work, we should not shrug that aside. A year from now we may look back and say, Hey, it didn't work and they told us as much. There may be a point in time when we have to be honest with ourselves and realize that this is Mendocino doing something different than the rest of the state. We are not going to get the same sort of support as other counties that are all in line with each other.
Haschak: Someone brought up a situation the other day in Monterey County, Salinas area. They were working with a mitigated negative declaration and they had a process that was approved by CDFA. It was like 34 applicants and the total square footage was 4.1 million square feet. Doing the math, each applicant was averaging over 200,000 square feet for each one of those grows. That's kind of the conundrum we are in. It’s a situation that favors the big grows and the smaller guys are — We are trying to find a pathway through it and it isn't easy.
• Almost Half Of Mendo Is On Aid
“HHSA maintained public assistance benefits, including CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal for 39,257 County residents.” (Mendo has less than 90,000 residents, according to the census.)”
• But Not Many Get Housing Help
“HHSA provided payments of $66,021 through the CalWORKs Housing Support program to continue supporting 38 families in interim or permanent housing in the month of November 2020.”
(From the CEO’s December 15 report)
• This Odd Entry appeared in the minutes of the November 18, 2020 Measure B Committee meeting: “PUBLIC EXPRESSION: Jonathan Davis singing ‘Gonna Take a Lot of Love’ by Neil Young.”
• From The Minutes of the Behavioral Health Advisory Board meeting of October 21, 2020 (the most recent available):
“Suicides in Mendocino County have continued to increase; the latest count in mid-October was 30, very high compared to previous years.” … “Deaths by drug overdose decreased since the County went into shelter in place due to Covid. There have been 22 total drug overdoses this year to day; 17 between January and April, and 5 between May and mid-October.”