SUPERVISORS TO MENDO’S HOMELESS: We’re Spending Millions Of Dollars On Ourselves To Help You, But You Ingrates Are Still Homeless.
In August, the County Grand Jury released a report entitled: “Homelessness In Mendocino County Is A Community Concern.”
In that report, Finding 7 reads: “The majority of members on the COC [Continuum of Care] are employees of other agencies and struggle to address the level of service needed locally without policy guidance from the Board of Supervisors, City elected officials, or other assigned staff.”
”Struggle” wouldn’t seem to be the word for secure, comfortable people occasionally gathering to fake concern, the ghost of Marie Antoinette blessing their assembly.
All the GJ’s findings and recommendations were similarly as earnest and generic as finding 7 was innocuous and obvious.
But in a recently prepared Board of Supervisors response to the Grand Jury’s report on homelessness, the Board of Supervisors whines that “the Grand Jury [should] focus on verified facts and avoid unsubstantiated opinions that tend to inflame instead of inform discussion of this critical issue.”
There is absolutely nothing in the Grand Jury’s report that is remotely inflammatory. And the Supervisors’ “unsubstantiated opinion” that the Grand Jury “tends to inflame” is itself entirely free of “verified facts.”
For example, one of the Grand Jury’s findings (mis-numbered in the Supervisors’ response, by the way) was:
“The majority of members on the COC are employees of other agencies and struggle [sic] to address the level of service needed locally without policy guidance from the Board of Supervisors, City elected officials, or other assigned staff.”
The Supervisors’ response:
“Partially Disagree. While the COC has been set up to be outside of normal political influence and control, the BOS has implemented policy and actions which will provide needed services. The COC homeless strategic plan was adopted by the BOS. Most of the recommendations of the Marbut Report were adopted in the Strategic Plan. Of the 28 recommendations, only six were not adopted due to reasons of unclear jurisdictional purview.”
Says who? The word “Marbut” appears exactly three times in the so-called “strategic plan” (and only then in passing) and there’s no list of the 28 recommendations with the responses thereto. Therefore, the claim that 22 of Marbut’s recommendations were “adopted” is entirely selective and subjective and is typical of the “Continuum of Care’s” self-serving rhetoric. Their claim that “six were not adopted due to reasons of unclear jurisdictional purview” is similarly bogus. Which six? What “reasons of unclear jurisdictional purview”?
Another “inflammatory” GJ recommendation: “R7. County and local elected officials [should] prioritize the development of specific objectives that meet the homeless issues identified in the Strategic Plan within 180 days of the release of this report.” (The Grand Jury had correctly noticed in the Strategic Plan that it had no “specific objectives” or target completion dates. The only thing they “prioritized” was making sure that their funding was uninterrupted.)
“The County has many homeless support programs offered by Mendocino County Social Services and Behavioral Health. The BOS does receive updates. There is a need for greater collaboration between funding sources. A working group was formed before the pandemic but has not met since. [Despite thousands and thousands of zoom meetings. – ms] The working group should start up again to collaborate across programs to better provide services to those willing to accept them.”
Not even an acknowledgement that the “strategic plan” had no specific objectives, much less a direct order for the vague “working group” to even meet. In fact, one of the COC’s strategic plan’s “goals” was to “reduce homelessness in Mendocino County by 5%” — an impossible to measure “goal” which of course the Continuum of Care thinks is some kind of standard, when it is nothing but irrelvent text inserted for lack of anything else.
Translation: Nothing will be “prioritized,” much less changed. And if you’re still homeless after all the money the County/Continuum of Care’s 31 separate agencies spend on their self-serving, ineffectual, and hard to enroll in homelessness programs, it’s your own damn fault.
PS. If the Supervisors are defending this cruelly vague homelessness “strategic plan,” you can be sure that their grand $75k-plus-expenses County “Strategic Plan” will be similarly pointless.
PPS. The drafters of this ridiculous and insulting proposed response to the Grand Jury are Supervisors John Haschak and Maureen Mulheren, the ad hoc committee formed for that purpose on August 17, 2021.
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BIG OVERRUN PREDICTED FOR JAIL EXPANSION PROJECT
In a harbinger of looming fiscal disasters to come, the proposed Psychiatric Health Facility now being considered for the old nursing home on Whitmore Lane in South Ukiah, Item 5c. on Tuesday Supervisors Agenda says:
“Discussion and Possible Action Including Acceptance of a Presentation Related to New Jail Facility Including Update on Timeline for Completion and Construction Costs; and Direction to Staff Related to the $3.6 Million in Estimated Additional Funding That Will be Necessary to Award Construction Contracts for the Project. (Sponsors: Executive Office and Sheriff-Coroner)”
The jail expansion project has been in the works since 2013 and has received unanimous support over the years because it addresses housing for the growing population of mentally ill. Mostly paid for by state grant funds, it is supposed to be a separate new wing specifically designed to hold mentally ill inmates. When Sheriff Allman was trying to get what became “Measure B” for a new Psychiatric Health Facility passed, critics said he had carefully avoided discussing the apparent overlap between the jail expansion and his proposed PHF.
But Mendo voters, alarmed at the increase in deranged persons on the County’s streets didn’t seem to care, voting overwhelmingly for Measure B on the grounds that many of Mendo’s many street crazies — the drug-addled and unwanted non-reimbursables — would somehow be dealt with. Unfortunately, they weren’t. And the new jail wing won’t do much about that either since the drug-addled and non-reimbursables won’t be housed there either unless they have committed a crime.
The state of the art expansion project was designed by the same outfit now developing preliminary plans for the County’s Measure-B funded Psychiatric Health Facility, CEO Angelo’s personal favorite and very expensive consultants, Nacht & Lewis of Sacramento.
The County then assigned the jail expansion project to another expensive Sacramento-based Construction Management firm called “Vanir Construction Management,” which got a little over $1.5 million for management of the project which was originally estimated to cost about $26 million, including a comparatively small County match.
When Vanir got the construction management job the County announced that “Vanir will be responsible for managing costs and risks for the project by keeping it on time and budget.” Vanir was also expected to “pick a cost-effective design, market the project to regional construction firms, track construction issues, and other building processes.”
Mendo’s grotesquely over-complicated construction processes make it difficult to determine who’s responsible for what. The $5 million “Crisis Residential Treatment Facility” now being built for the private business presided over by Camille Schraeder on Orchard Avenue in Ukiah — a simple four-bedroom house that somehow exploded into a $5 million project — Mendo first hired Nacht and Lewis to design the platinum-plated project (complete with electric vehicle charging stations), and then hired a construction management outfit which in turn hired a contractor, adding layer upon layer of costs to what should have come in well under $2 million.
In February of 2017 Nacht & Lewis architect Eric Fadness told the Board of Supervisors that the County would be on the hook for about $1 million in matching funds, “but it could go up to about $2 million,” he added with a cavalier vagueness.
Now Nacht & Lewis is coming back before the Board with the bad news that the project is overruning by at least $3.6 million — and that’s after the design is scaled back significantly to remove several original parts of the expansion on which the project was sold.
Mysteriously, there’s no mention of Vanir in Tuesday’s presentation by Nacht and Lewis.
The presentation says that the project, after being downscaled, is now expected to cost almost $30 million. But the presentation’s numbers are, as is typical for these things, jumbled and unclear.
Nacht and Lewis says that the increase has something to do with increased “hard costs” (construction), soft costs (fees, testing, extra equipment), contingencies (design/estimating and construction management), “escalation” and “Geographic Market Factor.” But they don’t explain how much each of these categories impact the added cost. “Soft costs” (presumably including the cost of Nacht & Lewis and Varin) were estimated to be about $6 million back in 2018 and we don’t see any new estimates for them.
Part of the increase may be attributable to recently received construction trade bids, but if so, they are not mentioned.
The apparent reason for the presentation to the Board is to 1) get the board to rubberstamp the downscaling of the gold-plated project in an attempt to reduce the overrun, and 2) figure out how to handle the increased local costs.
As usual, the CEO’s pre-canned presentation leaves the Board with no options. They obviously can’t abandon the project. They probably have to accept the downscaling to partially mitigate the overrun (unless the Sheriff wants to keep some of it), and they have to try to find some way to fund the overrun.
At no time during the period of design and management was the Board ever warned of possible problems or cost increases, although according to the Nacht & Lewis timeline the County has rubberstamped a series of local match increases since early 2017.
Originally, the Board was told that Mendo would have to contribute just $1 million in matching funds. Then in April of 2018 the County forked over another $1 million, In “FY 19-20” they approved another half a mil, and the following year they added another $250k for an “all electric heat pump system.”
Now all of a sudden they’re being asked to find another $3.6 million.
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AGENDA NOTES: READ ‘EM & WEEP
DR. JENINE MILLER TO GET SWEETHEART CONTRACT on Consent Calendar. Consent Calendar Item 4c: “Approval of Employment Agreement Between the County of Mendocino and Jenine Miller in the Approximate Amount of $176,130.00/Annually to Serve as the Director of Behavioral Health for a Three (3) Year Period Commencing October 3, 2021 and through October 2, 2024 (Sponsor: Supervisor Gjerde)” Dr. Miller will also get the full panoply of benefits provided in the County’s very generous “Department Head Memorandum of Understanding.”
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BIG INCREASE FOR ASSISTANT CEO DARCIE ANTLE TOO. Consent Calendar Item 4n: “Adoption of Resolution Revising the Salary Range of Assistant Chief Executive Officer, from $134,472.00 - $163,425.00 to $147,160.00 - $178,859.20 and Authorizing Salary Adjustment of Incumbent from Step 5 of the Current Range to Step 5 of the New Range.”
PS. Do you know what Ms. Antle did prior to being hired by CEO Angelo as a Deputy CEO? From her linkedin page:
“Experienced Restaurant Owner with a demonstrated history of working in the wine and spirits industry. Skilled in Wineries, Food & Beverage, Retail, Customer Satisfaction, and Hospitality Industry. Strong operations professional with a Master of Science (MS) focused in Health Services Administration from St. Mary’s College of California.”
Ms. Antle had also worked quite a while as an office manager for Adventist Health. But we’d bet it was her experience as owner of Ukiah’s Enoteca wine bar on Church Street in Ukiah that got her the nod over other candidates for the Deputy CEO job. Enoteca’s on-line description says they’re an “Intimate gathering venue where wine meets the mind! Featuring local boutique wines and unique selections from Italy, France and Portugal. Cin Cin!!” They also offer “Tasty cheese with locally made breads and treats!” (“Enoteca” is Italian for wine shop.) Ms. Antle’s wine shop is listed at the top of one website’s list of “Ten Nightlife Spots in Mendocino County that you shouldn’t miss.”
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IT’S OFFICIAL: Animal Control is no longer under the Sheriff’s purview and is now part of Animal Care Services under Health & Human Services. According to Consent Calendar Item 4m on Tuesday’s agenda, Two Animal Control Officer positions are being moved to HHSA and both positions will stay in the Services Employees International Union (not the Law Enforcement Officers bargaining unit). Effective Date: October 3, 2021.
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ALMOST EVERY BOARD MEETING, Camille Schraeder’s ever-expanding Redwood Community Services Social Services monopoly gets another contract for some kind of helping services. It’s impossible to keep up with them all. For example, Tuesday’s consent calendar will hand over about $336k to RCS for one year’s worth of “Family Urgent Response System Mobile Response Services to Current and Former Foster Youth Through Age 21 for Social Services, Family and Children’s Services, Effective October 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.”
WE’RE ALL FOR Mobile Response Services, but this contract will make it nearly impossible for the County to staff the adult Mobile Crisis Unit. Why can’t they be combined? And how is Schraeder able to provide a 24/7, 365 days a year Crisis Van for kids when Mendo can barely manage one for adults one shift a week? If they were combined the staff would not only be more efficient, but would maintain client continuity since there’s plenty of overlap in Mendo’s client base families.
The upshot is Mendo will have round the clock crisis response for under 21 crises, but only limited crisis response for adults. Having starved the adult crisis van for a year or two, it won’t be long before the Schraeder Combine appears on a future consent calendar with a much more expensive proposal to expand the under-21 van to taking over the adults too. Ms. Schraeder is also moving to expand her monopoly on the Coast with the newly proposed Crisis Respite services for Fort Bragg.