Welcome to our letters to the editor/opinion section. To submit yours for consideration, please send to email@example.com. Please consider including an image to be used–either a photograph of you or something applicable to the letter. However, an image is not necessary for publication.
Remember opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of MendoFever nor have we checked the letters for accuracy.
I was present at the October 17th BOS meeting and watched how the board handled item 4D, the Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) recommendation to move forward working with Ford Street Project’s Substance Use Services Request for Proposal to financially support the Ukiah Recovery Expansion Project. Ford Street has already secured $3 million for the first phase of the $7.1 million project and is looking for $4.1 million to complete the project.
Instead of deciding to approve or deny the request from BHRS and the Mental Health Treatment Act Citizens’ Oversight Committee, aka the Measure B Committee, some of the supervisors attacked Ford Street’s director, Jackie Williams, over a lack of a budget, questioned the cost estimate of the project, and the funding requested. Then the BOS promoted their own proposal to use the Measure B funds to help fund a behavioral health wing of the new jail expansion. County Counsel is researching whether Measure B funds can even be used to fund the jail.
I understand that we need a new jail. Our old jail has outlived its engineered lifespan and a new jail is necessary for the health and safety of inmates and officers. The estimated construction cost of the new jail has increased beyond the original $26 million estimate but the $25 million funding commitment from the State has not. The County will ultimately pay the difference unless additional funding is secured. I don’t dispute any of this.
What I dispute is the process. Measure B was passed to fund mental health services including building new facilities. The Measure B committee is supposed to oversee the funds generated from our taxes, vet project proposals, and bring projects deemed worthy of funding to the board for final approval. During the BOS meeting, it looked as though the board was looking to usurp the role of the Measure B committee. This doesn’t sit well with me.
I watched the Measure B committee meeting today and saw the effort to work around the process codified in the Mental Health Treatment Act continue. There was a request for Support from the Measure B Committee for construction of the Behavioral Health Wing of the Mendocino County Jail on the agenda. Agenda items are supposed to be within the purview of the board or committee. There is no proposal before the committee to use Measure B funds to fund a portion of the new jail. The request for support was more than a symbolic gesture. It was an attempt to pressure the Measure B committee to fund a portion of the cost of the new jail without going through the proper procedures set forth to secure funding for projects. Regardless of the merits of the project, it should follow the same process that Ford Street has and that process should not be unduly undermined by the BOS which effectively circumvents the responsibility and authority of the Measure B committee. I want to thank committee members Shannon Riley and Sherrie Ebyam for asserting the duty of the committee to follow due process.
In our democracy, there are reasons we have checks and balances. They ensure fairness, reduce mistakes, and decrease the risk of the consolidation of power. The merit of Ford street’s project should continue to be vetted through the Measure B committee. If the jail project wants to seek funding, it should bring a proposal to the Measure B committee. The BOS should be patient and not interfere or intervene on behalf of other projects before they go through the Measure B committee.
Candidate for 1st District Supervisor