Wednesday, May 23, 2018
SALINAS, Calif. —
A new Monterey County Civil Grand Jury report shows 70 percent of cats brought to two shelters in the last three years have been euthanized.
In fiscal year 2016/17, 898 cats and 331 dogs were put down at Monterey County Animal Shelter. Salinas City Animal Shelter also had a high rate of euthanasia in the last year, where 839 cats and 296 dogs were put down.
The animals were evaluated and deemed to be too sick, old, or not eligible for adoption.
Some dogs were also put down after experiencing kennel-induced stress.
"There is a term, called 'kennel crazy,' where the animal has been in the kennel for so long, it doesn't have the ability to be adopted by anybody," said John Ramirez, director of the county's Environmental Health Bureau.
Many of the euthanized cats were feral. In an effort to reduce the feline euthanasia rates, the county is trying to implement a trap, neuter, release program.
"Somebody can bring a cat in, have it spayed or neuter and then return it back to where they found it, rather than us taking it in and ending up euthanizing it," Ramirez said.
The program would likely help reduce the feral cat population because cats are territorial and will prevent other cats from moving in and multiplying the problem.
The county is working on getting funding from Friends of the County Animal Shelter and could start the program in as soon as a month.
When you break down the current euthanasia numbers it's almost one dog a day and almost three cats a day that are euthanized.
"Our employees care for and love animals, so anytime they have to euthanize a cat or a dog it is very hard for them," Ramirez said.
County shelter employees are sent to compassion training and staff rotate so there is a shared responsibility for the difficult task.
The problem of both cat and dog euthanasia is a community-created issue. The grand jury report cites that increased spay and neuter programs throughout the county could be beneficial.
Ramirez said the county is considering a spay and neuter ordinance similar to the one in place in Santa Cruz County. However, that ordinance is in the early phases.
The Monterey County Animal Shelter and the Salinas City Animal Shelter have been considering a merge or shared services since 2015. The move would likely save both facilities some cost.
"We're two facilities doing a lot of the same things, and so are there some economies of scale that can work together to bring us together, we're both low on staff so what does that look like when we are working together.," said Cynthia Burnham, the director of animal services for the county.
Last week, Burnham was hired by the county to look at the pros and cons of consolidating services.
At this time, Burnham can't say if it will save more lives, but she is hoping to answer that question in a report due out in October.
The grand jury's investigation did not include other animal rescue centers and shelters in the county, such as The SPCA for Monterey County.
May 22. 2018
By Caitlin Conrad
[Santa Barbara County] Grand jury calls for change in Sheriff’s Office mandatory overtime for custody deputies
A Santa Barbara County grand jury report is sharply critical of the Sheriff’s Office mandatory overtime policy for custody deputies that it says has become an integral part of budgeting and personnel management procedures.
While the grand jury said it could not determine the impact of mandatory overtime in human terms, it did note the Sheriff’s Office acknowledged the policy is “a significant cause of dissatisfaction for many of our staff.”
In their final report on an investigation into mandatory overtime for custody deputies, grand jurors acknowledged that the very nature of law enforcement requires personnel to work overtime.
They pointed to the back-to-back Thomas fire and 1/9 Debris Flow disasters that required many hours of overtime by first responders as an example, and noted law enforcement deputies have also worked a significant amount of overtime since 2002.
“Nonetheless, the decade-plus mandatory overtime policy for custody deputies raised questions for the jury about staffing and personnel management practices, the morale and welfare of custody deputies, financial implications and Sheriff’s Office priorities,” the report said.
Grand jurors said there is no evidence the Sheriff’s Office has made finding ways to avoid mandatory overtime a priority and expressed concern that when the new Northern Branch Jail opens, the situation will get worse.
The report, released May 9, includes five findings and 10 recommendations to address those findings.
Sheriff’s Office officials have 60 days, or until July 8, to respond to all five findings and six of the recommendations; the County Board of Supervisors has 90 days, or until Aug. 7, to respond to three of the findings and four of the recommendations.
During budget workshops earlier this year, supervisors indicated they were not happy with mandatory overtime in the Sheriff’s Department and expressed a desire for the staff to find a way to avoid it.
The grand jury’s finding No. 3 says the Sheriff’s Office “has not considered all possible measures” to reduce mandatory overtime in the short term, and the report contains three recommendations for the sheriff and one for the Board of Supervisors to pursue.
Grand jurors recommended the Sheriff’s Office “review budget allocations with county auditors and accountants to identify potential cost savings” that could fund recruiting and personnel activities and “review the assignment of custody deputies to nonline positions” to see if those jobs could be done by civilians, contractors or retired former deputies.
They also recommended the Sheriff’s Office assess “alternative business models,” including cross-training law enforcement deputies to rotate through custody positions, thus increasing the number of custody personnel available.
Grand jurors also said the Board of Supervisors should direct the staff to perform a comprehensive study of Sheriff’s Office staffing “to provide a clear understanding of staffing requirements, shortfalls and costs … .”
They recommended the study include the allocation of law enforcement and custody positions, how the average 1,578 productive hours per deputy — per the Sheriff’s Office estimate — compares to other law enforcement agencies.
The study also should include the number of additional custody deputies that would be required to eliminate the mandatory overtime policy and the projected costs of funding additional positions.
The grand jury became aware of the mandatory overtime issue while inquiring into the conditions and management of the jail and, through anecdotal accounts and information from the Sheriff’s Office, indicated custody deputies were not happy with the policy.
The grand jurors’ report is based, in part, on more than 60 questions submitted to the Sheriff’s Office, statistics from the sheriff and consultants’ staffing studies, and interviews with Sheriff’s Office personnel, custody deputies, County Executive Officer’s office senior staff, county supervisors and a Deputy Sheriffs Association representative.
“Despite repeated requests, the jury was unable to obtain an interview with County Human Resources,” the report noted.
The report noted jurors found discrepancies in the staffing numbers provided at various times by the Sheriff’s Office and could not get a definite answer on minimum staffing requirements for the Main Jail and Transportation Unit.
But it also said the Sheriff’s Office has set minimum staffing at 20 deputies during the day and 18 at night for the Main Jail and 21 deputies working 10-hour shifts for the Transportation Unit.
One response from the Sheriff’s Office indicated a total of 13 custody deputies positions are unfilled, while another said 14 positions were vacant in the Main Jail staffing alone and another five were vacant in the Transportation Unit, according to the report.
But grand jurors found that the average overtime hours worked by each custody deputy ranged from a low of 81 in 2001-02 to a high of 564 in 2016-17.
The costs for those overtime hours ranged from $394,398, or nearly 20 percent over the amount budgeted in 2001, to more than $5.08 million, or 221.9 percent over the budgeted amount in 2017.
Jurors concluded the overtime cost per custody deputy averages $78,900 per year, whereas the fully loaded cost for a full-time deputy is $125,000.
That difference is expected to shrink over time as more personnel pick up a greater share of retirement costs and the number of productive hours increases, the report said.
However, the Sheriff’s Office said although vacancy rates have always required the use of overtime to maintain required staffing, the office would be unable to maintain minimum levels even if all positions were filled, according to the report.
The grand jury noted in its first finding that the human toll from years of significant overtime for custody and law enforcement deputies alike is not known.
Jurors recommended the Sheriff’s Office survey all deputies to determine their opinions of both mandatory and voluntary overtime and assess the impact on morale, performance, productive hours and employee retention.
In its second finding, the jury said recruiting new deputies is a low priority and recommended the Sheriff’s Office have a recruiting firm review its procedures and make recommendations for improvements, including about incentive programs.
Jurors also recommended the Board of Supervisors direct a market survey be conducted to compare the Sheriff’s Office’s recruiting and personnel policies to those of police forces in this county and sheriff’s departments in other counties.
Grand jurors found the Transportation Unit is especially understaffed, leading to acute mandatory overtime issues.
They recommended supervisors order a near-term assessment of the time and costs, as well as impact on custody staffing, to implement video arraignments in the Main Jail and Northern Branch Jail when it opens.
Based on the results of that assessment, jurors recommended the board seek agreement from the Superior Court to implement video arraignments as soon as possible.
Lastly, the jury found the impact on existing overtime requirements when the Northern Branch Jail opens is unknown.
It recommended the Sheriff’s Office study the projected impact based on two scenarios — that all funded positions are filled, and that all vacant positions remain unfilled.
May 22, 2018
By Mike Hodgson
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A "simple internet search'' possibly could have saved the city of San Diego $125,000 in commission fees for securing new naming rights to the Mission Valley stadium last year, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday.
The San Diego County Grand Jury found that city staff had the "knowledge and expertise'' to seek new naming rights for the stadium. Instead, officials contracted a third party, Fox Sports College Properties, to issue a request for naming proposals after Qualcomm's naming rights expired in May 2017 following the San Diego Chargers' departure for Los Angeles.
Fox Sports received a 25 percent commission for securing new naming rights to the facility, now called SDCCU Stadium, as well as for selling other stadium advertising. San Diego County Credit Union paid $500,000 to put its logo on the building, though rights only extend to the end of this year, when the city plans to close the stadium.
Officials from the city's Real Estate Assets Division said they didn't have the expertise to value naming rights, though the grand jury asserted stadium staff were aware of colleagues' business strategies and "up-to-date market information.''
"Even without these professional connections, a simple internet search provides numerous hits on the value of stadium and arena naming rights,'' the report states. "... It also may be argued that there was no established market value for the naming rights for a 50-year-old decaying stadium with no professional sports anchor tenant. It was a unique item in the American sports world, and Fox Sports' market familiarity did not offer anything beyond the city's own resources.''
The city doesn't have procedures for contracting requests for proposals, according to the report.
The Chargers' departure could have allowed the city to recoup advertising dollars on a stadium that has traditionally generated millions in losses each year, but the grand jury decided city staff ultimately "gave away revenue,'' the report says.
The grand jury recommended that the city establish policies for selling naming rights to city assets leased to private parties; for valuing revenue-generating contracts; and for contracts where a private party issues a request for proposals on the city's behalf.
City officials haven't yet commented on the grand jury report. They have 90 days to formally respond to grand jury recommendations.
The grand jury's investigation into recent stadium management practices came after it learned of the city's agreements with Fox Sports and the nonprofit San Diego Bowl Game Association, which was also contracted in 2017 to sell suites and press boxes.
Chargers-held rights to suite sales reverted back to the city after the team left.
In a hurry to sell suites for upcoming events, the city contracted the duty to the Bowl Game Association. Under the agreement, the city received 40 percent of revenue, the association received 30 percent and the event sponsor received 30 percent. From July to December 2017, the city received more than $152,000 from suite sales.
The grand jury asserted the Bowl Game Association contract was unnecessary, as stadium staff were familiar with suites and past revenue streams.
"Stadium staff could have begun selling suites for all stadium events at that time, retaining most of the revenue and thus offsetting a larger share of the suites' O&M costs than was possible under the Chargers agreement,'' the report says.
City staff also didn't have authority to issue contracts to Fox Sports and the Bowl Game Association without first opening a competitive bidding process, the grand jury found.
Staff assumed a competitive process wasn't needed for revenue-generating contracts. A city attorney disagreed, according to the grand jury, because city code dictates contracts over $25,000 require a bidding process.
City staff approved the contracts anyway in September without receiving additional quotes, citing a need to sell advertising before a busy fall event schedule, the report says.
"The grand jury does not believe these justifications are sufficient to support use of the sole-source procedure,'' the report states. "The certifications relied on the short time before the Aztecs season began and the U2 and Coldplay concerts, but did not explain why the city had been unable to act more quickly when the suites and advertising had reverted to the city in January and the naming rights in May.''
May 22, 2018
Blog note: this article references a recent grand jury report on the subject.
If you think this story is just about people with badges doing bad things, think again. There’s plenty of blame to go around, including people who might normally be excluded from ‘the usual suspects.’
We have great candidates challenging the current County Sheriff and District Attorney. Their campaigns reflect the growing public desire to make the ‘Justice’ part of the Criminal Justice System an equal partner.
The institutions charged with protecting people and administering justice are, all-too-often, ailing–infected with racism, plagued by cronyism, and paralyzed by self-interest. Sworn personnel are expected to be enforcers of perceived class privilege by those benefitting from such advantages.
I’ll start with examples from the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.
From today’s Union-Tribune:
A fourth alleged victim has agreed to settle a lawsuit against San Diego County, accepting $240,000 in damages for an alleged sexual misconduct claim lodged against sheriff’s Deputy Richard Fischer.
The settlement pushed the total amount of money paid by the county past $900,000, and eleven other cases remain to be resolved. Fischer pleaded not guilty to 14 criminal counts filed earlier this year and faces trial later this year…
You could say the system is working, right? One bad apple and all that… Except the complaints against this Deputy were not initially taken seriously. Except that it took months for charges to be referred to the District attorney’s office. Except that this case isn’t isolated. And there are 11 more women waiting to hear about their damage claims.
In another instance, Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller resigned in March after a female coworker decided she’d had enough and came forward with years worth of stories about being sexually harassed.
The employee claims that on at least five occasions while she was employed as an Administrative Secretary with the Detention Services Bureau, Miller inappropriately hugged her and thrust himself on her in a sexually suggestive way. She also said in the claim that Miller only hugged her in that manner when the two were alone.
According to the claim, the alleged harassment led the victim to seek medical treatment and counseling from a therapist as a result.
As an assistant sheriff — one of three on the department’s executive staff — Miller ran the Sheriff’s Detention Services Bureau, which oversees the seven county jails.
I’m including this mention of Assistant Sheriff Miller because it’fits into a story told by City Beat columnist Aaryn Belfer on the quest of voting rights advocates to get access to the 65 to 70 percent of people legally eligible to vote who are incarcerated in San Diego County jails.
We’re talking about roughly 3500 people who are 18, U.S. citizens, and not on parole or sentenced to a state or federal prison. These are people arrested but not tried, stuck in jail limbo for weeks, months.
Infractions can be minor, such as being homeless and having a pocketknife. They can be erroneously invented, such as when Aaron Harvey and others known as the San Diego 33 were incarcerated for nearly a year on false charges. Many remain incarcerated because they can’t afford the price of bail.
Pillars of the Community, an organization in Southeast San Diego focused on supporting and assisting those affected by the criminal justice system, worried that the sheriff’s office wasn’t going to concern itself with the voting rights of those in its custody. They were right to be concerned.
Last December, Pillars representatives Laila Aziz and Jess Jollett sat down for a meeting with Registrar of Voters Michael Vu and members of his staff. (Assistant Sheriff of Detentions Rich Miller was supposed to be present but pulled a no-show and resigned shortly after in one of two sex scandals plaguing the Sheriff’s office.)
Miller’s replacement as jail overseer, Sheriff’s Commander John Ingrassia, has denied the group requests for access even as they have demonstrated having met all the legal criteria. It appears they’ll have to get a court order to make it possible for these inmates to vote.
In the meantime, they’re sending emails, having filed a California Public Records Act request for the names, booking numbers and facilities of every inmate.
A County Grand Jury has issued a report making recommendations for improving the city agency charged with oversight of San Diego Police Department.
City of San Diego voters overwhelmingly approved Measure G in 2016, a watered-down measure supporters hoped would improve the performance of San Diego’s Community Review Board on Police Practices, which evaluates public complaints about local police officers.
The grand jury report noted these reforms had not been put in place.
The Grand Jury recommends that the San Diego Mayor and City Council consider:
— Taking steps to bring forward the rules and regulations necessary to implement Measure G for approval within three months. The rules and regulations should provide solutions to the following deficiencies:
— a. The need for the CRB to have the ability and authority to track all complaints.
— b. The inability of the CRB and the SDPD IA to jointly categorize all complaints.
— c. The inability of the CRB to review all SDPD IA investigations of complaints whether the complaints were submitted to the SDPD or to the CRB.
— d. The need to clarify if the CRB has the authority to determine who may attend closed sessions other than the members of the board.
— e. The lack of required CRB periodic reports on all cases, or at least a summary of all cases, for review to the Mayor and City Council.
— Consider proposing an amendment to the City Charter to give the CRB Subpoena power, the authority to perform independent investigations of citizen complaints, independent investigators, and the authority to report directly to the Mayor and City Council.
— Taking action to begin filling CRB Appointed Member and Prospective Member vacancies immediately.
The citizens of San Diego wanted better oversight. The Mayor’s office has opted to mostly ignore the law. The grand jury was too polite to come out and say such a thing.
Take the last item in the Grand Jury’s list, for instance. The Mayor’s office hasn’t nominated any people to the what’s supposed to be on the 23 person board since December 2016, the month after the law passed.
Attrition through resignations and the expiration of term appointments means there are now only 16 people serving in that capacity. Meetings are canceled due to a lack of a quorum. And there are qualified people willing to step up to do the job.
Why isn’t it happening? I’d venture an educated guess that Kevin Faulconer has some political debts to pay, and not pissing off the SDPD–which hates the idea of outside oversight–is part of that process.
I would also maintain this is an example of the “Blue Wall” which all-too-often serves to protect those who have agendas other than serving and protecting the community.
Finally, let’s take a look at the expectations part of this equation.
Back in April, there was a boisterous demonstration outside a meeting of the San Diego Democratic Central Committee.
One of the issues people were upset about had to do with the treatment of the Martin Luther King Jr Democratic Club at a party event.
In other words, there were Black people making noise outside the meeting hall.
Phone logs released under a PRA request show calls made to the San Diego Police Department on behalf of the Democratic Party claimed acts of violence were taking place. This claim simply wasn’t true.
What I believe is true is the white people in the leadership of the Democratic Party making the phone calls had the expectation of the police showing up to be their personal racism valets.
Fortunately, there were plenty of people shooting videos with their cell phones, so when the police arrived, arrests were averted. SDPD officers handled the situation in a professional and courteous manner.
You can’t separate this incident from the other examples of racial injustice around the country, even if there were no arrests. The assumption being made by those calling the police was that arrests would be made.
As an op-ed in the Washington Post pointed out:
Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of biting commentary about things Black people can’t do without a white person calling the police: sit at a Starbucks, eat at Waffle House, work out at a gym, move into an apartment, go golfing, travel by plane, barbecue in a park, shop for prom, buy a money order to pay the rent, check out of an Airbnb, or take a nap in the common area of their own Ivy League college dorm. As many point out, these calls bring the police, and with the police comes real fear that they will show up with guns drawn, weapons that they might even use…
…As the political commentator Jason Johnson noted recently, “calling the police is the epitome of escalation, and calling the police on black people for non-crimes is a step away from asking for a tax-funded beatdown, if not an execution.” Johnson argues that these callers aren’t expecting cops to treat black folks politely, but instead to remind them that the consequences for making white people angry or uncomfortable could be harassment, unfair prosecution or death.
And here’s the thing; there are better ways to deal with most situations (excepting violent crimes or endangered lives) than calling the police.
May 22, 2018
San Diego Free Press
By Doug Porter
Blog note: this article references a 2018 report recently released by the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury on the subject. The reference is at the end of the article.
Up to 40, and possibly more, homeless people diagnosed with mental illnesses who had been living along the Santa Ana River Trail have been told they must leave a motel with county mental health treatment beds, and it’s unclear where they will go, according to people who have been staying there.
“They’ve not given a reason yet as to why they’re displacing these people,” said Buffy Christ, a homeless woman who has been living at the Baymont Inn & Suites motel in Anaheim. The county is leasing 99 beds at the motel for six months to provide mental health treatment through a contractor, Telecare Corporation, for homeless men and women who had previously lived at the riverbed.
“I’ve done nothing but cry for days and days and days,” Christ said in an interview Monday. She said she isn’t being required to leave, but that many of her friends are. “My friends, which are my family here, they have nowhere to go.”
She was among more than a dozen people staying in the mental health program who said in interviews a large number of people were told they have to leave in coming days. They expressed confusion and uncertainty about what would happen next.
News of the removals comes amid a series of complaints about Telecare’s treatment of people at the Baymont, including allegations it failed to provide health treatment, did not clean dirty rooms, and unnecessarily escalated a situation into physical confrontation.
Asked about the impending evictions, county spokeswoman Jennifer Nentwig said “approximately 30 people are scheduled to be exiting the motel on Wednesday.” She didn’t specify if additional people are required to leave on other days this week.
“Exiting” is the term county officials use to describe when homeless people are required to leave a shelter or other residential facility.
As for why this is happening, Nentwig said county health workers and Telecare staff conducted health assessments that determined an unspecified number of people at Baymont “do not require this level of intensive treatment as they do not have evidence of a serious mental illness,” as required by the mental health beds’ funding source, the Mental Health Services Act.
“These clients will be given an exit date from the program, and those who are willing to accept assistance will be connected to resources including general shelter, mental health treatment (at a more appropriate level of care), substance use treatment and/or recuperative care,” Nentwig wrote in her statement. She didn’t specify how many of the people required to leave have been offered the less-intensive mental health treatment beds.
“Where people go will depend on each individual and their specific needs,” Nentwig said. “For those who are referred to general shelter beds, there are beds available in the existing system of care.”
About 400 people have been staying each night at the Courtyard, the county’s 24/7 walk-in shelter for homeless men and women, which is in an abandoned bus terminal in the Santa Ana Civic Center.
In March, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter said the county has been “cramming” homeless people into already-full shelters, and that it’s “nonsense” to try to have more than 380 people stay at the Courtyard.
“Many individuals who have significant mental disabilities and have suffered past trauma destabilize when placed in one room together with so many hundreds of other people,” Carter wrote in a March court filing.
“The Courtyard, with its already crowded conditions, may not be an appropriate placement for many women and persons exiting motels who, as a result of previous trauma and/or mental disabilities, are unable to cope with being in a room with over 400 other men and women.”
Joy Torres is an advocate who serves on the county’s Mental Health Board as a representative for people who receive mental health services. In an interview Friday, she said there’s no real treatment happening at the Baymont, and that Telecare and motel staff won’t allow people to visit people staying there.
“They never implemented treatment,” Torres said, adding Telecare didn’t have a treatment program until Thursday, May 17. The company’s county contract for Baymont services started in March.
“They kicked out a lot of [people], because they really need a lot of help,” Torres said. “Now they’re kicking out 40 more after the [health] assessments.”
Voice of OC asked county officials about the allegations, including details on the number of mental health professionals permanently assigned to the motel, when patient assessments were made and response to other treatment issues raised by patients, some of which were made public two weeks ago. Nentwig didn’t have an immediate response Monday.
A Telecare spokesperson said Monday evening the company was preparing a response to the concerns.
“The county seems to be systematically removing people who were approved for the [mental health beds] program, and have yet to receive any medical care or supportive services, over the past month,” said Brooke Weitzman, a lead attorney for homeless people in an ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit, in a text message Friday.
“They do appear to be escalating that at the Baymont with no plan [for] where people should go. The shelters are still full, no new shelters have opened, and people who were put into 90 day options from the riverbed are nearly out of time.”
County officials contracted with the Baymont’s owners on Feb. 20 to lease 99 rooms at the motel. For mental health services at the motel, county supervisors approved a contract with Alameda-based Telecare.
The contract apparently was approved by county supervisors on March 27, and applied retroactively to March 1. Telecare, which is privately held, had about 2,750 employees in 2014 and was the second-largest woman-owned business in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to the San Francisco Business Times.
As former riverbed homeless people’s 30-day stays wrapped up in March, county officials referred people to various beds based on health assessments of 589 people.
In all, county officials said 149 people relocated to mental health beds, known as “Full Service Partnerships,” or “FSPs,” as of late March when the earlier, 30-day stays ended.
Another 22 people were not eligible for the program but were staying in the mental health rooms with a partner who was eligible, according to the county.
Several allegations were made about Telecare during the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting, on March 8.
During public comments, Anaheim resident and homeless advocate Jeanine Robbins said Telecare was not providing the medication people need, evicting people for “rule violations” despite people not understanding the rules and the rules changing “on a daily basis,” and “using snitches inside to try and divide this already frazzled community.”
“The county has failed again while spending huge sums of money,” Robbins told supervisors. “Basic food is not adequate nutritionally. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are given to those who have a fatal allergy to peanuts. Donuts [are served] for breakfast.
“There’s no refrigerator or cooking abilities in any room. Just yesterday a refrigerator was delivered by a private citizen for a diabetic woman who has to have [her] insulin stored. The staff was so hostile about accepting the refrigerator to store in their offices for her medication,” she added.
“[There are] reports of taking their [electronic food stamp] monies or their food allowance, disqualifying them for general relief,” Robbins said. “So I would hope that maybe somebody would get over there and investigate what is happening. Advocates have been banned. We had a flatbed trailer yesterday that had thousands of pounds of food from the food bank to give to those residents there, and it was not allowed on property.”
At the end of Robbins’ comments, Supervisor Todd Spitzer asked county CEO Frank Kim “…can you make sure your staff looks into those particular allegations and get back to the board?”
“Absolutely,” Kim replied.
Nentwig, the county spokeswoman, said Monday an investigation was completed regarding the concerns raised at the May 8 supervisors’ meeting. She declined to say what it found, but added she was “still looking into additional details we may be able to share on that.”
Tony Chargualaf, who has been living at the motel, said in an interview Friday people staying there “don’t even get water.”
“These guys have not moved on one treatment plan for any of the clients,” he added.
Chargualaf said the rooms are dirty, with no real cleaning happening and staff let trash pile up by the dumpster.
“They will not let you walk on the property — they won’t let a lawyer walk on the property,” he said.
Christ, the homeless woman who has been staying at the mental health beds, recalled a story about staff’s treatment of a woman with schizophrenia that was also told by two other people staying at the Baymont.
Christ said her next-door neighbor “truly is schizophrenic,” and when the woman’s husband came home from jail, she had an episode.
“He called downstairs for Telecare, the mental health people supposed to help us,” Christ said. “Instead they sent the [woman] at the front desk to help her.”
The employee “pushed her way in” to the room, Christ said. The schizophrenic woman then pushed the employee, she said.
The couple “had 15 minutes to be out of that motel,” Christ said. “Fifteen minutes to pack their shit and get the fuck out.”
Telecare is providing the motel services apparently under a 15-month, $11.8 million county contract approved by supervisors on March 27. The company was ranked first in a bidding process conducted from late 2016 to June 2017, according to the staff report.
In a report published last week, the Santa Cruz County Grand Jury was critical of that county’s management of its contract with Telecare to provide psychiatric crisis stabilization services, including oversight issues and lack of public reports of inspections and audits.
“The contract between [Santa Cruz] County and Telecare provides for periodic oversight meetings and the right to review services performed. There is no publicly available record of any County audit or inspection of the Telecare facility,” the grand jury found.
“We attempted to view the [mental health crisis center] but were unable to gain access,” the grand jurors wrote. “Grand juries do not have the authority to investigate the performance of private, for-profit contractors to government agencies so we were not able to evaluate the accommodations.”
The grand jury pointed to a 2016 report by the local Santa Cruz chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) that expressed concerns about Telecare’s care for people served under its county contract. In particular, they found a significant leadership turnover” after the resignation of Telecare’s top manager for the facility, leaving services seemingly “in disarray.”
“More and more concerns were made through the NAMI warm-line from families distressed about getting treatment and stability for their family members. We felt urgency for action,” the group wrote. It credited Telecare’s president and CEO, Anne Bakar, with acting quickly once the NAMI chapter brought the concerns to her and elected officials.
“We were impressed [by] Telecare’s transparency in acknowledging the problems, and the rapid action of hiring a highly qualified regional director…who then hired” other “highly qualified” managers, the NAMI chapter wrote in its report.
“Improvements in the culture of care are noticeable already.”
May 22, 2018
Voice of OC
By Nick Gerda and Spencer Custodio
A new Marin grand jury report endorses the new “housing first” approach to addressing homelessness that local municipal and nonprofit agencies are taking and recommends that the county provide the funding necessary for success.
“The leaders of the homeless services organizations have come up with a detailed business plan to bring chronic homelessness to ‘functional zero’ in the next four years,” the report states.
“Functional zero” would be reached if the number of people experiencing homelessness in Marin fell below the average number of homeless people being connected with permanent housing each month.
To achieve this aim, the grand jury recommends that the county provide capital funding for up to 400 units of additional housing for the chronically homeless, as well as the funding necessary for Homeward Bound of Marin’s Mill Street shelter to provide round-the-clock case managers to assist the homeless with their search for permanent housing.
It also recommends that the county create additional emergency shelter capacity to compensate for the end of the Rotating Emergency Shelter Team’s (REST) winter shelter program. It suggests that the county create a local housing voucher program to supplement federal housing vouchers. And it recommends that Marin and its 11 cities and towns seek developers to create housing for the homeless within their jurisdictions.
“They’ve done a good job of highlighting the importance of utilizing the ‘housing first’ approach,” said San Rafael Councilwoman Kate Colin, who serves on Marin’s Homeless Policy Steering Committee. “I was pleased to see they recognize that focusing on the chronically homeless in Marin County and providing them with permanent supportive housing is the way to go.”
The grand jury report recognizes the many possible causes of homelessness: “families temporarily displaced by loss of employment, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or other mental problems, substance abusers, teens trying to escape an intolerable home situation, or individuals suffering debilitating mental illness.”
The report recounts how past attempts to house the chronically homeless required them to meet certain requirements, such as sobriety, before being sheltered.
The reports states that as a result people with substance abuse problems were unable to solve their problems on the street and remained addicted and homeless.
“It is now recognized that ‘housing first’ is the most effective way to help these people,” the report states. “They must have a roof over their heads before they can be treated for their health care and substance issues.”
The report notes that in March 2017, Bergen County, New Jersey, became the first county in the country to end chronic homelessness after pursuing a “housing first” approach and issuing $11 million in county bonds to provide the needed funding.
Marin County has already committed to spending $10 million over the next four years, which will be matched by $10 million in federal funds, to institute a “whole person care” program for the chronically homeless. The program provides a case manager to coordinate all of the services a person may be receiving.
Since the county kicked off its new “housing first” approach in October, 32 chronically homeless people have been housed.
“That is about 10 percent of our chronically homeless population,” said Grant Colfax, county health and human services director. “We estimate that results in societal savings of about $832,000.”
The grand jury states that data from communities across the nation show that the public costs of homelessness — emergency room visits, interactions with law enforcement, incarceration, and regular access to social supports and homeless services — are often significantly higher than the cost of providing individuals with permanent housing and supportive services.
One of the grand jury’s chief findings, however, is that the “housing first” approach is dependent on the availability of housing.
“Working together, the nonprofit organizations and the county have shown that housing can be expanded by purchasing houses and building landlord partnerships,” the grand jury writes.
For example, it notes that St. Vincent de Paul Society has purchased three homes that are now housing chronically homeless people. Marin Housing Authority has brought 80 new landlords into the fold who will accept Section 8 vouchers. And Homeward Bound is planning to build increased shelter space in its Mill Street property in San Rafael for clients entering the housing-first system.
Nevertheless, the grand jury writes, “at least 400 units for the chronically homeless must be added to the existing housing stock to achieve functional zero homelessness. This can be accomplished by new construction as well as repurposing existing housing, motels, churches/convents, and office/retail.”
The grand jury also recommends that Marin County create additional emergency shelter capacity to replace the services lost due to the ending of the REST program.
“While progress has been made in providing permanent supportive housing, resources for emergency shelter are clearly inadequate,” the grand jury wrote.
Supervisor Katie Rice, who also serves on the Homeless Policy Steering Committee, said, “These are great recommendations; it’s just that for the county of Marin to step up and do it all out of our own coffer is impossible.”
Colin said she was surprised that the grand jury didn’t mention the Community Homeless Fund as a possible source of funding. In 2015, all 11 of Marin’s municipalities made a three-year pledge to provide an aggregate amount of $180,000 annually to help support REST.
Colin said even though REST has ended, “Right now all the cities and towns are reviewing their budgets and discussing continued participation in that fund for another three years.”
Colin said over the last 18 months the Community Homeless Fund money has been used to help fund San Rafael’s Downtown Streets Team mobile shower program.
Mary Kay Sweeney, executive director of Homeward Bound of Marin, and Paul Fordham, the organization’s deputy director, responded to the grand jury’s report in an email. Homeward Bound operates all of Marin’s permanent homeless shelters.
Sweeney and Fordham wrote that the county will need a number of community partners to achieve the goal of reducing chronic homelessness to “functional zero.”
“Nonprofit housing developers, the business community, foundations, state and federal resources, and other partners are key to creating these units,” the email read. “Bond measures and sales tax revenues have been utilized by other counties to address the ongoing need to build more affordable housing. It is time for Marin to engage in these strategies as well.”
The email added, however, that there is a “diminished need for winter shelters or an expanded number of shelter beds.”
Christine Paquette, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Marin County, said the county is already working on a plan for housing the homeless during extreme weather events now that REST has ended. St. Vincent de Paul Society managed and operated the REST program with the help of local religious institutions.
“It’s really important for people to understand that people who are homeless statistically don’t die from weather problems,” Paquette said. “They actually die from the many years that they’re living on the streets and not getting access to preventative medical care.”
“We feel it is very important that our work is all about getting permanent supportive housing for those people,” Paquette said. “That is what is going to save their lives.”
May 21, 2018
Marin Independent Journal
Monday, May 21, 2018
The Nevada County Grand Jury has again recommended the closure of Carl F. Bryant Juvenile Hall, citing the excessive cost of maintaining a seriously under-utilized facility.
The recommendation — which was previously made by the grand jury in 2016 — was part of its periodic inspection of Nevada County's detention facilities. The report, which was released Monday morning, also found issues with the holding facility at the Nevada County Courthouse, and with the Inmate Welfare Fund maintained by the Sheriff's Office.
In general, the grand jury found the public jail facilities in the county to be well-managed and in good condition, except for problems related to the age of the facilities at the courthouse and at the Truckee jail. A separate report was issued earlier this year regarding transportation of prisoners to and from Truckee.
According to the new report, the Superior Court holding facility inside the Nevada City courthouse is clean and well-maintained, but has an air quality problem. The jury found no record that the county has measured the air quality or whether the ventilation system had been maintained. During the visit, two members of the grand jury reportedly were affected by the air quality. The grand jury recommended that the air quality be tested.
The grand jury noted that despite its 2016 recommendation, Nevada County continues to operate the juvenile hall at a cost of approximately $2 million a year. According to the report, there are even fewer detainees being housed at the facility than there were two years ago, at a prohibitive cost.
At the time of the grand jury's inspection, there were only four detainees at the juvenile hall, all from Nevada County. According to the report, there have not been any detainees from out of county in several months, due to the recent completion of a new juvenile facility in Tuolumne County. The grand jury report suggests closing the facility and transferring local juvenile detainees to other counties. The report notes that the county is looking at other uses for the facility, such as a regional facility for prisoners with mental health issues.
The grand jury's last finding of note involves the Inmate Welfare Fund, which brings in revenue to fund programs that benefit the education and welfare of inmates and to augment county expenses for meals, clothing, housing and medical services. According to the report, the fund at Wayne Brown currently stands at nearly $400,000.
The Nevada County Sheriff's Office has procedures in place for the administration of the Inmate Welfare Fund — but it does not follow its own procedures, the grand jury found. The fund is supposed to be overseen by a committee, which does not exist. Instead, decisions about purchases are reviewed up the chain of command. Staff duties are carried out, but not by designated staff. And there is no inventory maintained, even though the Sheriff's Office directives state there should be.
The grand jury did not find any suspicious financial activity, the report noted. But, it stated, "the lack of an inventory and the sporadic summary reports of financial activity provided to the Board of Supervisors make any analysis of IWF income and expenditures challenging."
The report recommended the Sheriff's Office either comply with its own regulations, or draft new regulations that describe procedures that actually are being followed.
May 21. 2018
By Liz Keller, The Union
A grand jury report called on the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency to integrate its personnel into emergency responses. The county’s Behavioral Health Division collaborates with law enforcement agencies, the grand jury wants the division to expand its role and respond to 911 calls for people in crisis. That response could reduce load on law enforcement responding to the calls.
May 21, 2018
A San Diego County Grand Jury report released Monday offers several recommendations to improve the city of San Diego’s Community Review Board on Police Practices, which evaluates public complaints about local police officers.
The 23-seat board was created in 1989 via a ballot initiative to review complaints and offer policy and procedure recommendations. It cannot mandate action.
The grand jury’s report was spurred by a citizen complaint that the board is understaffed and unable to exhibit proper oversight of the San Diego Police Department.
Overall, the grand jury did find that many “do not consider the CRB as currently constituted to be independent from SDPD and do not believe the CRB reports reach fair and unbiased conclusions.”
City officials have 90 days to comment on the grand jury report. City spokeswoman Alma Rife said they won’t address findings before then.
Currently, the board is only referred cases already investigated by SDPD Internal Affairs, which doesn’t investigate all officer-related complaints made by the public. Not receiving all complaints made to the department hinders the board’s oversight role, the grand jury found.
“The CRB does not participate in the categorization of complaints submitted to the SDPD. Consequently, the CRB cannot be certain that it sees all complaints that may be relevant to its advisory responsibilities, and cannot determine whether any have been misclassified,” the report says.
The grand jury also found that city staff have failed to implement Measure G, a 2016 voter-approved initiative that requires the board to review all in-custody deaths and officer-related shootings.
The grand jury recommended city staff implement Measure G within three months, and allow the board to track all SDPD complaints.
The panel also advocated for the board to receive additional complaint evaluation tools.
Currently, the board only reviews completed SDPD investigations of complaints against the department. The grand jury asked city staff to consider providing the board subpoena power to complete its own investigations in order to create greater independence from SDPD conclusions.
Women Occupy San Diego advocated for similar recommendations during a ballot initiative proposal to the San Diego City Council’s Rules Committee in April.
The grand jury report additionally called for the appointment of more board members.
City officials who oversee the board decided, following a 2016 code amendment, that additional legislation is required to establish the authority to appoint to the board, which has 15 members.
No appointments have been made since December 2016, according to the grand jury, which found there’s no legal basis for halting appointments and that more board members are needed.
“This reduced membership has negatively impacted its operation. Limited membership reduces the number of members available to conduct reviews of police investigations of citizens’ complaints and makes it more difficult for the CRB to muster the 10 members needed to vote for approval or disapproval of a case review as required by the bylaws,” the report said.
In another section of its report, the grand jury recommended the board have formal authority to exclude SDPD personnel from closed-session complaint reviews.
Officers often attend sessions to answer questions, and typically leave when asked, but they do so “without fully acknowledging that the CRB has the right to exclude SDPD personnel from its closed sessions.”
“The presence of SDPD officers during closed CRB deliberations compromises the CRB’s independence and has intimidated some of its members,” the report said.
Finally, the report recommended that the board consult with the mayor’s office and City Council on findings more regularly in order to comply with city code.
The grand jury found board members typically discuss complaint reviews with SDPD personnel, while only referring to city staff when a compromise over policy recommendations cannot be reached.
“The CRB does not adequately fulfill its responsibility to advise the mayor and the City Council under the current reporting practices,” the report said.
May 21, 2018
Times of San Diego
By Ken Stone
May 21, 2018 – The 2017/2018 Nevada County Grand Jury (Jury) has conducted an inspection of the detention facilities in the County of Nevada (County) to “inquire into the conditions and management of the public prisons within the county” as required by Penal Code Section 919(b). The Jury toured and inspected the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility (Wayne Brown), the Carl F. Bryan II Juvenile Hall (Juvenile Hall), the Washington Ridge Conservation Camp (Washington Ridge), and two holding facilities: the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office’s Truckee Sub-Station (Truckee Jail) and the Nevada County Superior Court Holding Facility in Nevada City (Nevada City Holding Facility).
There are three problems with the detention facilities that the Jury believes should be addressed.
California law provides that the sheriff in each county may establish an Inmate Welfare Fund (IWF) to pay for services to inmates. The balance in the IWF at Wayne Brown at the end of the 2016-2017 fiscal year was approximately $400,000. The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO) has issued regulations concerning the administration of the Wayne Brown IWF but the regulations are not being followed. While the uses of the IWF are broadly discretionary and no misuses of such funds are apparent, compliance with written policies is important when large amounts of money are being collected and expended. The NCSO should either follow the policies it has promulgated or promulgate new policies that reflect how the IWF is being administered.
The Jury also was concerned by the air quality it experienced in the Nevada City Holding Facility. The Jury became more concerned when it could find no record of the air quality having been tested. The multitude of unhealthy agents that could be present in the ill-ventilated basement of an old building requires at a minimum that testing be done.
Finally, the 2015-2016 Grand Jury reported on the excessive costs associated with maintaining Juvenile Hall when the number of juvenile detainees has radically decreased. That report estimated an excessive cost in the neighborhood of $2,000,000/year. Juvenile Hall continues in operation notwithstanding that there are now even fewer detainees than there were two years ago. While the programs offered at Juvenile Hall are exemplary, the cost is prohibitive. The Board of Supervisors must investigate alternatives to this over-expenditure of scarce County funds.
Other than those issues, in general, the Jury found the public prisons in the County to be well managed and in good condition except for problems related to the age of the facilities at the Nevada City Holding Facility and at the Truckee Jail. The Jury has issued a separate report on conditions related to the transport of prisoners to and from the Truckee Branch of the Nevada County Superior Court.
May 21, 2018
By Nevada County Grand Jury