Tuesday, June 27, 2017

[Humboldt] County grand jury reports on employment, waste management

The Humboldt County civil grand jury released separate reports on the Humboldt County Workforce Development Board and Humboldt Waste Management Authority on Monday afternoon.
The report titled “Should the Workforce Development Board update its resume?” recommends in part that the board should focus on targeted employment needs and opportunities and broaden program descriptions to include clearly defined skill levels.
“The Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury wanted to find out how the [Workforce Development Board] is dealing with persistent reports of few desirable job opportunities while employers note the lack of qualified applicants,” the report summary said.
The Workforce Development Board provides workforce investment activities to increase employment, retention and earning of participants thereby improving the quality of the workforce while reducing dependence on welfare, according to the report.
“Some broad measures of changes in total employment figures for Humboldt County are used to claim overall effectiveness for [Workforce Development Board] programs, but these are not directly correlated to specific programs, and many details of the outcomes are not available to the public. The CalJOBS database is inaccessible to all but program administrators,” the report’s first finding said.
Grand jury foreperson Jim Glover said they started investigating this a year ago.
“It’s a matter of are we spending the money in the right places? Are we getting the most bang for our buck?” he said.
Humboldt County Administrative Office public information specialist Sean Quincey said he can’t comment on specifics of the report until an official response is issued.
“We appreciate what the grand jury does, it gives us the time to look into the issue and we’ll respond to it within the time frame,” he said. “ ... We’re in the early stages of viewing the report.”
Quincey said county staff will look into the report’s findings and recommendations and draft a response.
Waste management
The report titled “The authority to manage our waste” recommends in part that the waste authority board should improve financial accounting and reporting and make sure up to date systems are available for use by trained staff.
“We decided to review Humboldt’s waste management operations, particularly in view of the recent closure of the landfill east of Eureka,” the report’s summary said.
The authority provides waste management for 80 percent of solid waste in the county, the report states.
“[Humboldt Waste Management Authority] is caught in the middle of growing pressures to deal with an increasing volume of waste, a shrinking market for recycled materials, and a 30-year commitment to continue monitoring and cleanup of the closed Cummings Road Landfill site,” the report’s first finding said.
Glover said this report is also the result of a lengthy investigation.
“As we have found throughout most of the year most of our county agencies do minimal planning for the future,” he said.
This is “especially true” for Humboldt Waste Management Authority, Glover said.
Humboldt Waste Management Authority executive director Jill Duffy said the authority operates on planning documents that look a decade into the future when approved.
“The authority has adopted a strategic plan which was approved in 2013,” she said.
Duffy said a number of the grand jury’s findings and recommendations were already things the authority and its board were trying to or in the process of addressing.
“A lot of what we’ve been doing is working to identify those items that have been long in the works,” she said. “We will be continuing with our long term planning because there are opportunities on the horizon.”
Duffy said authority staff will put together a draft response to the report for board approval within the allowed time frame.
Required responses from the Humboldt Waste Management Authority Board of Directors, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Workforce Development Executive Board and staff are due within 60 days of the reports being issued. Invited responses from other people and agencies are due within 90 days, Glover said.
June 26, 2017
Eureka Times-Standard
By Hunter Cresswell

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