Supervisor Williams: “’In November 2017, Measure B passed with 85% in favor of taxing ourselves to generate tens of millions to support mental health services. The bulk of money was intended to “Provide for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment and recovery from mental illness and addiction by developing: 1) a psychiatric facility...’ The majority of potential Psychiatric Health Facility patients are inland, between Ukiah and Willits. Is there a community that will not fight against a Psychiatric Health Facility in their backyard? Where did the 85% in favor of Measure B expect the facility to be built?”
Um, Supervisor: Weren’t you the one who brought up the desirability of using the existing former emergency room at the Adventist Hospital which they moved out of and into the new one next door? Weren’t you going to work with the local Adventist manager to develop a proposal to County for such use that the Adventists themselves suggested (not the County)? Didn’t you point out that since that empty emergency room was already a hospital facility there would be no special hospital construction requirements? Didn’t you point out that having it near the existing hospital and staff would be good for the patients and easier to staff? Weren’t the Adventists going to put together a proposal for some kind of lease or purchase for use as a PHF? Wasn’t County Counsel going to opine on how such an arrangement could be set up? Wasn’t the main purpose of having a Measure B Advisory Committee to scour the County for potential PHF locations? Didn’t I write just such an email to the Measure B Committee at their first meeting which was handed out by Committee Chair Tom Allman with nothing more than a “He makes some interesting points,” never to be mentioned again in favor of a professional needs assessment that hasn’t been followed AT ALL? Wouldn’t it be nice if the occasional good ideas that were stumbled upon over lo these many months and years of structureless Measure B meetings noted and given deadlines and followed up on systematically?
Or do you and the County prefer to blame the “community” for the grotesque and inexcusable failures and delays that the County and the Measure B committee have inflicted on the people who voted for Measure B expecting that you and your well-paid colleagues would do your jobs?
Who’s Stigmatizing Who?
Supervisor Williams is basically saying that the voters were essentially hypocrites for voting for the Mental Health Facilities Measure but now some of them (mainly a few people/officials in Willits as far as we can tell) are supposedly resistant to locating a Pysch facility in their neighborhood. We noted that the Ukiah Adventists had offered to use their existing old emergency room as a PHF more than a year ago but that even though Williams had appointed himself as the point-Supervisor for that idea, nothing had happened. We did a little more digging on that Adventist option and found the following from the available Measure B Committee meeting minutes. January 2020, Measure B Committee meeting, Item 3e noted that County Counsel was asked for an official opinion on the legality of using the Adventists emergency room as a Pysch facility.
The next Measure B committee meeting was February 2020 where Item 3e appeared:
“3e) Discussion and Update Regarding Approval of Request from Mental Health Treatment Act Citizen’s Advisory Committee for Board of Supervisors to Direct County Counsel to Conduct Legal Evaluation, Research Analysis and Assessment of Adventist Health Partnership Legality; Including Restriction, Necessary Control, Implications, and Compliance Regarding the Possible Use of Public Tax Dollars to Fund Operations of a Private Entity. Presenter/s: Ms. Sarah Dukett.
“Sarah Dukett advised this is a carryover item from the last meeting. Acting County Counsel Christian Curtis provided a verbal update, advising the Committee that the opinion is not yet complete, but should be soon. Member Allman requested the opinion be distributed to the Committee as soon as it is ready. Counsel Curtis advised that if the Board of Supervisors waives privilege, the opinion could be made available to the Committee before the next Measure B meeting.”
The March Measure B meeting was cancelled, perhaps because of the onset of covid, but no official reason was given.
At the April Measure B Committee meeting Agenda Item 3j) appeared:
“3j) Discussion and Update Regarding Approval of Request from Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens Advisory Committee for Board of Supervisors to Direct County Counsel to Conduct Legal Evaluation, Research Analysis, and Assessment of Adventist Health Partnership Legality; Including Restriction, Necessary Control, Implications, and Compliance Regarding the Possible Use of Public Tax Dollars to Fund Operations of a Private Entity.” Presenter/s: Christian Curtis, Esq. - County Council [sic]”
This was more than four months from the original request for a legal opinion which was promised for February, then still not provided, so promised in March, but no March meeting. County Counsel Curtis, having labored mightily for more than four months with a highly anticipated request for a “Legal Evaluation, Research Analysis, and Assessment of Adventist Health Partnership Legality; Including Restriction, Necessary Control, Implications, and Compliance Regarding the Possible Use of Public Tax Dollars to Fund Operations of a Private Entity,” finally provided his “opinion.”
The minutes record Curtis’s response: “County Council [sic], Christian Curtis explained that in general, it is legal to use public funds to pay a private entity as long as the partnership meets the needs of the public good.”
Nothing was written. No “evaluation,” no “research analysis,” no “assessment of Adventist Health Partnership Legality,” nothing about “restriction, necessary control, implications and compliance…”
The minutes then reflect that “Committee Member Riley asked about the status of the detailed proposal that had been expected from Adventist Health months earlier.”
“Member [CEO Carmel] Angelo explained that in 2019, the top Regional Executive of Adventist Health, Jason Wells, met with Mendocino County CEO, Carmel Angelo regarding the potential of creating a psychiatric inpatient service/program. Based on that meeting, [Committee] Member Ace Barash who is an Adventist employee drafted a letter of interest at the request of Jason Wells. No further business between the public and private entities has taken place.”
“Member Barash believes that Adventist Health remains interested in working with Measure B.Project Manager, Alyson Bailey [and] will attempt outreach to Adventist Health through Member Ace Barash. If successful, this outreach will produce a feasibility study/option for inpatient care funded by Measure B.”
(Ms. Bailey was fired from her Project Manager position in February of 2021. We have not seen whatever letter Dr. Barash may or may not have sent to the Adventists, but if a letter was sent it certainly didn’t have the imprimatur of the Measure B Committee or the County.)
On May 27, 2020 we wrote: “Although local Adventist CEO Jason Wells offered to remodel their Willits and/or Ukiah emergency rooms into a PHF, and the Supervisors wanted that proposal to be pursued and costed out, nobody has yet officially asked the Adventists for a cost estimate.”
Of course, no “feasibility study/option” was ever produced and, as usual, the Measure B Committee and the Supervisors never raised the subject again. Nevertheless, Supervisor Williams who had also volunteered to work with Mr. Wells for some kind of study, proposal or option, says the problem in getting a Psych facility into operation is a resistant public, which, the committee has implied several times in recent months is a result of the public’s “stigmatization” of the mentally ill.
The “stigmatization,” if any exists in the public at large, which we doubt, is toward the County’s mental health apparatus, and their inability to propose anything workable or compliant with local rules — not the mentally ill.
Federal Trapper Service on the Block again.
Supervisors Agenda Item 6a:
6a) Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff to Author (1) a Resolution to Terminate Cooperative Services Agreement (CSA) with USDA Wildlife Services; and 2) a Resolution to Vest Administrative Responsibility for Implementation of the Mendocino County Non-Lethal Wildlife Damage Management Program with the Mendocino County Animal Care Services (Sponsor: Supervisor Haschak)
Direct staff to author a Resolution to terminate Cooperative Services Agreement (CSA) with USDA Wildlife Services; and author a Resolution to vest administrative responsibility for implementation of the Mendocino County Non-Lethal Wildlife Damage Management Program with Mendocino County Animal Care Services.
THIS COULD BE INTERESTING. It would mean ending the controversial Federal Trapper Program and moving Animal Control out of the Sheriff’s Department and under Animal Care Services (the Shelter). When the Trapper Service was up for discussion/termination last year Supervisors Carre Brown and John McCowen were two of the three votes (with Gjerde) to keep it going. Now Brown and McCowen have been replaced with Maureen Mulheren and Glenn McGourty.
FOR YOUR LONG OVERDUE FILES: Supes to finally consider distributing the pot tax revenue the way public voted for it…
Consent Calendar Item 4b) Direction to Auditor to Provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Documentation of Advisory Measure Implementation to Date Regarding “Use a Majority of that Revenue for Funding Enforcement of Marijuana Regulations, Enhanced Mental Health Services, Repair of County Roads, and Increase Fire and Emergency Medical Services?”; Direct Tax Collector to Provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Redacted Cannabis Business Tax per Applicant Per Year Since Inception
(Sponsors: Supervisor Williams and Supervisor Haschak)
Direct Auditor to provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with Documentation of Advisory Measure
Implementation to date regarding “use a majority of that revenue for funding enforcement of marijuana regulations, enhanced mental health services, repair of county roads, and increase fire and emergency medical services?”; Direct Tax Collector to provide Cannabis Ad Hoc Committee with redacted Cannabis
Business Tax per Applicant per year since inception.
4c) Direction to Auditor to Distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax Collected from Visitors Staying in Private Campgrounds and Recreational Vehicle Parks Equally to the 19Recognized Local Fire Agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch
(Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)
Direct auditor to distribute 96.5% of Transient Occupancy Tax collected from visitors staying in private campgrounds and recreational vehicle parks equally to the 19 recognized local fire agencies and 3.5% to Whale Gulch.
SO NOW CAMILLE SCHRAEDER is getting paid to deliver meals too? Retroactively?
4o) Approval of Retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc., in the Amount of $50,000 to Provide Meal Delivery Services, Medication Pickup and Delivery, Trash Disposal, and Transportation Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Effective October 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021
Approve retroactive Agreement with Redwood Community Services, Inc., in the amount of $50,000 to provide meal delivery services, medication pickup and delivery, trash disposal, and transportation support during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective October 1, 2020through June 30, 2021; authorize the Health and Human Services Agency Assistant Director/Public Health Director to sign future amendments to the Agreement that do not increase the annual maximum amount; and authorize Chair to sign same.
The retroactive approval of that item was on Tuesday’s Consent Calendar. It hands over another $50,000 to Camille Schraeder and Redwood Community Services (RCS) for essentially delivering meals and taking out the trash. The item is on the Supes agenda because it presumably requires their approval. But RCS has already been providing the service so what chance is there for the Supes to turn it down?
A TOTAL OF NINE (9) RETROACTIVE AGREEMENTS are on the Consent Calendar for Tuesday including $135,024 to Schraeder and RCS for Intensive Care Management and Development of Integrated Individual Service Plans. The caring professionals have ditched the old fashioned “case” management in favor of the more touchy feely “care” management. But RCS has been providing the services since last September.
A COUPLE YEARS AGO, the Supervisors directed that retroactive contracts come forward as regular agenda items — with an explanation of why it was late. Now they routinely appear on the Consent Calendar with no explanation of the hold up. But the CEO and her staff know they are operating in an accountability free zone. And ignoring the Supervisors has become a common practice for the CEO.
ANOTHER QUESTIONABLE PAYOUT to RCS is $180,000 to provide Specialty Mental Health Services at Haven House or Other RCS Supportive Housing Units. This contract will be effective from the time it’s fully executed through June 30, 2021.
THIS AMENDS AN EXISTING CONTRACT that paid RCS $186,150 for the same services from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. Except it looks like RCS has already run through the available money in just under nine months. And is now being awarded almost the same amount of money for just over three months.
MANY YEARS AGO the previous Board of Supes directed the CEO to provide monthly reporting of basic budget and financial information. CEO Angelo said she’d “try” to do it. It never happened. Every year or so Gjerde or McCowen would timidly ask for an update on the non-existent project only to be told staff was working on it. But it was very complicated. And impossible to provide monthly. But maybe bi-monthly.
WHEN PRESSED FOR A TIMELINE CEO Angelo would vaguely reply that the long requested financial reporting was coming soon but that Executive Office staff was training the department budget managers and software was being installed and…. With the new Board, the CEO is hoping the item has dropped off everyone’s radar.
THE GREAT MYSTERY is why the County is unable to do what every City and Special District in the county is able to do. Go to any City Council meeting or fire or water district board meeting and the agenda includes a balance sheet and monthly financial updates showing budgeted amounts and year to date expenditures.
IF SPECIAL DISTRICTS can provide timely reporting of basic financial information what’s preventing the county from doing so? Lack of accountability is the most obvious answer. The CEO routinely ignores direction from the Supes. And just as routinely springs her (sometimes retroactive) pet projects on them.
CASE IN POINT is another item on Tuesday’s agenda to create a Department Head position for Information Services. Item 5C on the agenda will create a “Director of Information Services (Chief Information Officer)” at a mere cost of $278,678. The staff report for this item is a masterpiece of double talk including this whopper: “The creation of the stand-alone department will not require the addition of any staffing resources at this time. With the Executive Office’s formation of a Fiscal and Administrative unit, this stand-alone department would be utilizing this unit to support the common departmental and administrative tasks, thereby reducing the common administrative overhead required of a stand-alone department.” Adding a highly paid Department Head apparently doesn’t count as additional staff resources.
THIS APPEARS TO BE another unnecessary use of funds to reward a loyal senior insider. CEO Angelo has announced her departure for the fall of 2022 but speculation is building that she may be preparing to leave earlier. On the way out she would like to create a soft landing for her loyal lieutenants, in this case Janelle Rau who serves as the CEO’s right hand deputy. Ms. Rau may be capable in basic administrative job but lacks the qualifications to be CEO or CAO. Any incoming CEO would naturally want to pick their own second in command which would leave Ms. Rau out in the cold. Spinning Information Services off into its own department will provide the perfect landing spot for Ms. Rau. The entire item, including formation of a “Fiscal and Administrative Unit” with the Executive Office raises more questions than it answers. (More to come after the Tuesday meeting.) One would at least hope that the price tag would cause the Supes to ask some questions.