Last Thursday we witnessed a video of the worst public meeting we’ve ever seen — and we’ve seen several Green Party Meetings, numerous KZYX Board meetings, contentious school board meetings, several LAFCO meetings, and even a Climate Change Advisory Board Meeting! Badly prepared, badly run, rambling, aimless, pointless discussions about the most mundane things that a committee could conceivably discuss and even that was botched so badly that one committee member withdrew their simple motion in disgust when the discussion of it got so muddled as to be unintelligible.
OF COURSE, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT Wednesday afternoon’s Measure B Mental Health Advisory Committee meeting.
FOR ALMOST AN HOUR they blathered on, free associating inarticulately about the possible the use of Old Howard Hospital in Willits as a Psychiatric Health Facility. Never mind that that idea had been thrashed through at length almost four years ago, ending up with a pointed letter from the Willits City Council saying that they had a number of serious questions about the facility and that it would have to go through the full Willits City planning process. That letter was addressed to the Board of Supervisors who referred it to now-long-departed County Counsel Kit Eliott who, after months of deliberation, issued forth her official opinion that she couldn’t answer even Willits’s most basic questions because there was no actual proposal to use the Old Howard Hospital on the table.
LAST WEDNESDAY, after the hour-long Old Howard Blatherfest, the Committee sort of concluded that 1) the stigmatization of the mentally ill is bad (as if that was the primary motivation behind the Willits letter), and 2) the question of using Old Howard is a matter for the Board of Supervisors, not the Committee! “If the Supervisors want to run with it, let ’em!” exclaimed Committee Chair Donna Moschetti at the end of the discussion.
MOST OF THE WASTED SECOND HOUR was spent in a discussion of — get this — what kind of lighting should be installed in the Training Center Nobody Wants in Redwood Valley!
THE ONLY TEENSY BIT OF USEFUL INFORMATION to dribble out from the meeting was Mental Health Honcho Dr. Jenine Miller’s’ brief report that a little — very little, but some at least — progress has been made on the Mental Health Crisis Response Team, aka Crisis Van. Miller said that they now envision two county operated teams and one Ukiah[based team and that they have indeed put the three mental health crisis van positions out for recruitment and they’re indeed using the “Butte model” and that they “hope” to have some people hired and ready to “train” — “soon.” And they accomplished this giant step forward in only six months!
THE SUPERVISORS would be well advised to disband this embarrassingly dysfunctional committee and reappoint new members who can take their roles seriously. At the moment, besides the County employees who apparently must be retained, only Mark Mertle, Shannon Riley and former Sheriff Allman seem to be familiar with basic committee functions and roles and seem to put in some of their own time besides just showing up (or lately zooming) and babbling once a month. Or alternatively, short of that, just let them keep meeting but formally ignore them as the obstacles to any progress they are and remove the pretense of needing any input or recommendations from them. They don’t want to make any decisions anyway. Except maybe the lighting in the training facility — that took an hour of mush-talk.
AM I EXAGGERATING? Was it really that bad? Here’s a transcript of the last few minutes of Wednesday’s meeting. (Complete with some very ungrammatical sentences that were both odd and meaningless.) The subject was the oh-so difficult question of whether to install sprinklers, and two different kinds of lighting in the Training Center Nobody Wants. (And if you’re wondering what this has to do with “mental health,” you’re not alone.)
YOU BE THE JUDGE:
Project Manager Alyson Bailey: We would need to add if we did all the C and the cost would be a request for $19,154.
Moschetti: I don't know if I can officially make the motion.
Riley: No you can't. But --Commissioner Allman lighted up.
Former Sheriff Tom Allman: To be quite honest Chair, Ross [Liberty] was making a motion and got right down to the third one and he was cut off by you and he was going on with a motion so with all due respect I would like Ross to finish what he was saying before he was interrupted.
Moschetti: Well, you could be exactly right. I just wanted to make sure that we were on the same page.
Allman: That's okay. We are past the meeting. Let's just ask Ross if he's willing to make that motion.
Ross Liberty: Yeah. I would say -- I think do – wait on the, the alternate C until we see exactly how much we are going to use this facility and then we can decide of a page [?] Let's wait until we have all the numbers. We don't have that right now.
Moschetti: Okay, that's --
Liberty: Maybe that takes no motion but I, I, just, just --
Moschetti: But we still need to do the fire suppression. There's three components to this.
Liberty: I thought I covered them in my earlier remarks.
Moschetti: We need to deal with all three components.
Liberty: I covered that already.
Moschetti: No, no.
Allman: Can I make a motion? That we – the motion is, let's start with this one at a time, that we do not approve the sprinkler system. That's my motion right now.
Mark Myrtle: I second.
Moschetti: This is beautiful. This is the way it has to happen. It's perfect! Any community -- any committee comments? None? Thanks. All those in favor. Roll call. Really quick.
[All members say yes individually.]
Moschetti: Thank you. Let's just get down to say no on the lighting. And that's it, we're done.
Allman: Allman makes the motion that on option 2 we do nothing.
Myrtle: I'll second it.
Moschetti: Number two is tabled or we are not in control. Tabled?
Bailey: I'm sorry, but we can't table it. It has to be yes or no.
County Counsel Christian Curtis: Madam chair, if I may.
Moschetti: Yes please.
Curtis: I would suggest that we just clarify between what would be no action and possibly no recommendation by the commission versus a recommendation for or against that particular option. I understood Commissioner Allman’s last motion was a recommendation against the sprinklers. Or against approving the contract with the inclusion of the sprinklers. If the commission wanted to take no action then the board would essentially have to decide in the absence of a recommendation from the commission whether or not to take up the particular alternative and so, there's been some talk about no action meaning it doesn't happen. I just want to clarify that this is a recommendation to the decision-making body. They are going to have to figure out whether or not -- whether they are receiving no information in terms of a recommendation or whether they are receiving a recommendation against the particular option.
Moschetti: Gotcha. Mr. Allman, I'm sure you understand all that.
Allman: Well, I do. So I'm -- as far as lighting goes, I make a motion that we do not approve, but we do not recommend, make a recommendation to approve the lighting as submitted.
Moschetti: Got it. Do I have a second on that?
Myrtle: I second that.
Moschetti: All those in favor? I'm going to assume that if there are no big nays that we got everybody.
Liberty: I say no. I vote no.
Riley: Also, I specifically requested at the beginning of the meeting that we have the names of the each of the people voting please.
Moschetti: I'm going to let county staff -- this is unfair. Completely unfair! And I'm going to put it down in writing -- unfair! But yes, Shannon, I agree.
[Somebody laughed.] What?!
Moschetti: No, it's unfair because I'm not doing it. And I'm in charge of this and I'm not thinking very straight.
Moschetti: Okay. That's where we are. I would like to get community comments and then we will go on. Thank you for going over and hopefully in the next few months we will get everything done and if we open up we will do Fort Bragg and Willits like we planned. But who knows? Thank you everyone --
Myrtle: Are we voting? Are we not voting?
Moschetti: I’ve been meaning to call the roll. And—
Bailey: Donna [Moschetti], I'm so sorry, but there's just three. Two different lightings. Addles [sic] . You have to wait for—
Moschetti: Sorry. My bad.
[Laughter in the room.]
Moschetti: So what's the motion on the floor?
Bailey: The issue is to — not to recommend the option B for LED lighting, so option C is the one that we have outstanding and option C., the not to retrofit the full replacement at $19,154.
Curtis: Madam Chair, could we ask for clarification from the maker of the motion?
[crosstalk, muddled reception]
Allman: The maker of the motion says this: this conversation has gone on way too long. I am withdrawing my motion. That simple. Because we make motions, they're clear, and every time clear motions are made someone wants to clarify the motion so the maker of the motion has withdrawn his motion.
Moschetti: Thank you Commissioner Allman. That makes it very easy for us to do this. So we will move on to item 4a committee member reports. If anybody wants to --
Allman: To be quite honest, Chair, you should ask if anybody else has an alternative motion.
Moschetti: And to be honest, I should. I'm going to be honest with you. I am very sorry. Very sorry. I'm being very bad and you are absolutely correct. Does anybody have any problem with Chair [sic, Moschetti is the chair] Alllman’s motion? I understood we went through the motions and if there's no alternative motion then we'll go on.
Allman: If anybody else wants to make a motion this is the time to do it if I understand correctly.
Moschetti: Yes you are absolutely correct.
Myrtle: I would like to make a motion that we approve alternate C as we are remodeling this building and it's a one-time expense and we need new light fixtures for our new behavioral health training center in order, so I would like to approve alternate C for the $19,154.
Moschetti: So your motion on the floor, Commissioner Myrtle, if I'm not incorrect is for lighting only, not -- not for fire suppression.
Myrtle: Alternate C only.
Allman: Allman will second Myrtle's motion.
Moschetti: Do I have any committee comment? Or sorry, community comment? Do I have any public comment? Hearing none, give me a roll vote please.
[All committee members but Liberty vote yes.]
Moschetti: Okay. Now. Unless I have messed anything else up we will go to 4a. committee reports and can we please --
Riley: I know there were some no votes. Can we please get what the count was please.
Liberty: I was the no vote.
Moschetti: Sometimes I've been by myself. You know how it is, Tom.
Bailey: I have the counts if I may. This is Alyson. We have six for and two against. And that was for the Addall [sic] C.
Allman: Wait. I'm sorry. Who was the other against? I only heard one.
Moschetti: I only heard one, that was Rossie [Moschetti’s cute nickname for Committee member Ross Liberty, famed Ukiah industrialist].
Riley: I don't think she counted Dr. Miller who was absent.
Moschetti: Okay. So Dr. Miller abstained, she doesn't — she wasn't here.
Liberty: She would have voted with me.
Bailey: I will re-watch the video when I do my minutes.
Moschetti: Alright guys. I would like to hear from each of you just as to what you are going to do -- I don't care about Measure B! I want to know what's happening in 2021! Come on guys! This is our report time! Let's go! Call on them, Lily! [The newly hired Measure B administrative assistant.]
Riley: Nothing to report.
Committee member (a new woman from behavioral health), a Ms. Rich: On the mental-health services front, the providers shortage is acute in that it does impact facilities down the line. So that's important to keep in mind.
Lloyd Weir: Nothing to report.
Myrtle: Nothing to report. I don't want to keep you any longer.
Jared Diamond: My report is that we work really hard together as a committee and a community under some difficult circumstances. So I just want to appreciate everybody and specifically our Chair today who has had to chair a meeting under really hard circumstances so I just want to appreciate this group that works hard and it's difficult sometimes. That's all.
Ace Barash: Nothing to report.
Allman: Nothing to report.
Moschetti: Wonderful! I appreciate everyone! Everyone!