Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘The Turmoil In the County’s Finances and Financial Departments Continues’—3rd District Supervisor John Haschak’s Monthly Update

The following is a monthly letter written by Mendocino County’s 3rd District Supervisor John Haschak to constituents:

[Picture provided by Supervisor Haschak]

The turmoil in the County’s finances and financial departments continues. It is unfortunate that charges have been filed against the Auditor/Controller/Treasurer/Tax Collector and former payroll clerk for misappropriation of public funds. The Board suspended the ACTTC until the situation is resolved. 

Meanwhile we face a huge budget deficit. As Albert Einstein said, “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity”. This is a chance for the County to eliminate wasteful practices, develop modern processes, and provide better, more efficient service.  

The acting ACTTC stated that she discovered that there were County bank accounts that were not part of the Treasurer’s system. Even the outside auditors seem to be unaware of these accounts. These accounts apparently have existed for quite a while. Cleaning up these situations is a top priority.

While providing substance abuse treatment and other behavioral health and mental health services is a priority, the mental health wing of the jail must be built. Construction of the mental health wing is now costing $44 million instead of the $26 originally estimated. There have been a series of delays with the state bureaucracy, supply chains, the pandemic and so forth which have led to cost overruns. 

The County received a $25 million grant from the State to build the wing. The County’s cost was to be one million. The State’s contribution stays the same while our County must pay for all increases. The latest, and supposedly last, overrun is $6.8 million. That is why the Board decided to borrow that amount from Measure B funds. This will be repaid. Former Sheriff Allman, author of Measure B, supported this approach.

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Talk with the Supervisor is the 2nd Thursday of the month at 10:00 at the Brickhouse Coffee in Willits. I am available by email haschakj@mendocinocounty.org or phone 707-972-4214.


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  1. Wow, this reads like you must have been asleep during the BOS meeting.

    You’re appointed Auditor/TTC, first reported these outside bank accounts as something borderline criminal. Then she had to backtrack and say these accounts are legitimate but there is no current signors. That can be fixed rather quickly. These accounts were set up because it saved employees on the coast time and travel, not to mention safety, in order to deposit funds. The bank then issues receipt to Treasurer, and holy shit, it not outside county’s general fund.

    Admit it John, you and your fellow supervisors have sent Ms. Pierce in there to continue the “Get Cubbison Plan” You should resign for taking part in this vindictive process.

    You also should resign for simply having no backbone!!! You are Ted Williams punching bag.

    To circumvent the process of voters, by suspending another elected official goes against our democracy. At the very least voters should recall you, Mulheren and Williams.

    The charges against Cubbison do not involve her taking any money, she certainly isn’t a flight risk. The DA’s case doesn’t mention or accuse Cubbison of any theft of money.

    If you thought this county had money problems, wait until Cubbison wins a wrongful termination and defamation suit.
    All on your watch, great job, John. Go back to sleep!!!!

    • Wait until she (Cubbison) has had her day in court before speculating on wrongful termination. The county still will have money problems regardless of her outcome. She may be part of a larger problem and/or a scapegoat. Both are plausible at this point.

      • You should be counseling Mr. Haschak with your name.

        This Board blew up the finances by combining the two financial offices.

        Let’s ask John a couple of questions.

        1- Why does the CEO Office need 18 analysts? Boy, what a great job they’ve done in telling you the County is broke.

        2- Why do Supervisors never talk about money that should be collected, only talk about cuts?

        3- Do you believe in putting a person in charge of an office with no experience? Supervisors have done it twice. You all knew current Treasuerer/Tax Collector with over 42 years of experience warned you not to combine the offices, you even met with her and then voted “No”. Board voted 4-1 to combine. This forced Cubbison , who has no Treasurer/ Tax Collector experience, to lead the office. When the vendetta against Cubbison was accomplished, you put in a CEO analyst, no Treasurer/Tax Collector experience.

        You did vote “No”, at the time I complimented your action. Since that time, you have just rolled over.

        To the person that posted, I’m out of patience, that’s what this Board can do to a person.

        • 1- The CEO’s office is a spider web network of Nepotism, gate keepers, and agenda setters. The office is likely overstaffed due to the lack of expertise within the office. This often happens in other Depts in Mendo too. Mendo lacks competent Mgmt and therefore the Mgmt promotes more incompetent Mgmt. (I.E. HR ignores most of the complaints made by departing employees making Mendo’s legal costs/risks rise and expediate the brain drain) Its the life cycle and consequences of maintaining a small community with a small legal market of expertise.

          2- BOS speaks about cuts because this is the only function in the gov’t they can control with certainty. The BOS is dependent on other “elected” heads to bring in sizable tax revenue. (I.E. the Assessor’s office, and Auditor/Tax Collector’s Office) Plus they have to curtail their own actions to not oppose their own voter/sponsor base. There are many streams of revenue Mendo leaves on the table and some of it is on purpose. Voters don’t like paying taxes and especially more so in Mendocino. The massive black market here has little to no interest in contributing to the community general fund but they still vote/bribe with their ill gotten money and time. The Assessor’s office has maintained a high 50% plus turnover vacancy for nearly 10 years with two different Assessor’s at the helm and both were “elected” (with no contested elections as incumbents). It’s not always popular to govern well.

          3- Experience is a double edged blade. It can be your friend in one instance and turn on you in the next. If the Dept has had dubious/poor/outdated practices developed over time, the experience from this office is going to be jaded and full of disappointing/less desirable results for future agendas. Sometimes starting with a fresh new person breaks up the conflicts of interest and bad habits of the old guard. Change can be hard. Cubbison was not forced into this position. No one put a gun to her head to take this job. She wanted the job. The new software transfer mixed with the combining of the new office was going to be a challenge to anyone walking into this office and the BOS felt she wasn’t the most ideal candidate to fix the future problems in Mendo.

          • That’s not their decision about Cubbison, it’s the voters!!!! It’s called Democracy.

            You know what they do control? 18 people in the CEO’s office

            Staffing departments that are understaffed that collect money. The CEO’s office took a position out of the Tax Collector’s office whose job was the treasury to do payroll. That left Tax Collector office another person down and now they scramble to find and fill that duty.

            Are you serious experience is a double edge sword? No experience is dangerous, it doesn’t matter if you’re a new set of eyes.

            According to John Pinches and John McGowan prior to the combining of offices, the Teasurer/Tax Collector’s office was the most well run office in the County. Years of experience starting with Irene Lange, Tim Knudsen and Shari Schapmire had a lot to do with Pinches and McGowan comments. Experience is vital to these offices which are regulated by State and Federal laws.

            • The State legislators enabled several county BOS boards to appointment their heads in the Auditor and Tax collectors office. Mendocino was one of those counties. Democracy comes in several flavors. Direct Democracy isn’t the only way to run a gov’t, in fact sometimes it’s the least effective. CA’s direct democracy has often been ineffective or poorly executed due to the way propositions were written. (Like Prop 64 ) Voters aren’t experts at all faucets of regulations. That’s why a Republic model is more often used in Democratic processes.

              John McGowan was one of the main architects of the poorly written cannabis ordinance. I wouldn’t use his opinion to strongly. There is a reason he stepped down before the Cannabis ordinance fiasco unfolded. McGowan was instrumental in putting Angelo in charge of the CEOs office in 2010. You remember when they cut budgets last time, that was under Carmel and McGowan’s watch. It’s clear the County culture is part of the reason there is an imbalance in the budget.

              Experience is relative. Sometimes people have experience that isn’t from the legacy system. Some new types of experience is necessary and comes from the outside. Clearly the county can’t balance its budget or this wouldn’t be a problem. This didn’t unfold overnight. It was building for years. The county dropped huge amounts money into the Cannabis program and it mostly failed and didn’t generate revenue.

              The Tax Collector isn’t the reason we are in a budget crisis now. It’s because the county has deficient methods on how to collect tax revenue. This would be the Assessor (another elected head). The Auditor was the reason property tax bills were so delayed and the balances weren’t balancing after the data transfer. The Auditor hasn’t run a tax defaulted property auction since 2019. Clearly the offices need to evolve beyond 1985.

              • You don’t know what you’re talking about. Tax bills are delayed because of the Assessor. They provide information to the Tax Collector. The Auditor audits, pretty simple. Every piece of information Supervisors want can easily be provided by CEO’s office.
                CEO puts the budget together with very little help from Auditor.
                By the way, the Assessor is another and first combined office that has failed for 20 years. If current BOS did a little homework they would know combined offices fail. Things fall through the cracks are prioritized because of workload.BOS is responsible for these budget issues by blowing up the financial offices of the County. You can believe what you want, but an elected official is there to represent us, the people. If you want to replace them it’s called Recall.

                • There is definitely more to the story of the tax bills and “Patience IS A Virtue” probably isn’t entirely off base. I doubt you could find an employee in any of the three offices that would honestly tell you the software changes went well.

                  • You have the privilege of responding to one of those recently departed county employees here on this article.

                    Many tax payers were waiting on refunds from the tax collector but no one would answer the phones to the demands of the tax payer except the Assessor’s office. We were explicitly told not to say the Auditor was delaying the tax bill process or allude to it. We also were forbidden from transferring calls to the Auditor’s office or else there would some angry people in the other office.

                    The Assessor’s office was basically a customer service shield for the Auditors office. We kept telling them that the refunds would come any day for a whole year. There were refund delays going back well over two years. Old Audits were falling off the four year term limits and it was essentially a grid lock. There was thousands of bills and refunds waiting on the Auditor’s side to process.

                    The Assessor’s is also behind no doubt but there were thousands of assessments waiting on the Auditor to process. The software transfer was a big part of this debacle. When over 2k bills were released in one batch that was not the Assessor holding it up. This is one of those underpaid employees telling you that your gov’t is struggling. It’s your gov’t and I think you should know the details even if they are inconvenient to preconceived narratives.

                    • Sounds like you are Katrina or one of her workers. (you keep referring We ) If you do work in the Assessor’s office, why don’t you explain to people why it takes nearly two years to assess a property that just sold.

                      If this phone tag you’re going through is upsetting, here’s a solution, just drive down to County offices and walk in to what ever office you need to do business with.

                      I’m not saying the Auditor is doing everything right and especially when it comes to Tax Collection. She has no experience in that department.
                      But this BOS wants you to believe she is the sole problem. Why is that? When you really look at that question, the answer becomes clear. BOS combined the offices to remove Cubbison from office and get their Director of Finance. It’s about CONTROL!!!!!!!!!

                  • Let me take a wild guess… MUNIS??? TYLER TECHNOLOGIES???? If so, a simple google search would show dozens of lawsuits against this crap software company all across the nation, which means if the County awarded a contract to Tyler Technologies, your procurement department didn’t do the proper responsibility check when checking for responsiveness and responsibility when vetting proposals in response to an RFP and could have thrown out Tyler Technologies proposal as non-responsible due to all the litigation and saved you guys a lot of headaches.

                    I am not a County employee so I don’t know if you use MUNIS or any other product from Tyler Technologies, but if you do, there’s your problem right there.

                • Call It As I See It – You are not reading/comprehending my comments very well. You have no idea what I’m talking about or the context to which I refer. I said my piece. Take a chill pill.

                  • Sorry, I comprehend the message of your posts. Maybe you don’t comprehend my posts.

                    It’s clear to me, you have no problem with an elected official being removed from office. She is presumed innocent.

                    Your posting name, Patience Is A Virtue, is exactly what this BOS didn’t possess in this situation. But you insinuated I had no patience. Simply because I commented on potential lawsuit.

                    You keep coming up with reasons why the Board could act the way it did and the AssessorOffice is not the blame, but it’s okay to blame everything on Cubbison’s office.

                    Now I’m suppose to chill and I don’t understand your words. Maybe your words are poorly written.

                    Anyway, have nice day at your county job.

                  • Hmmmmm….. I don’t work at the County but the delays bring to mind crap software. This smells like MUNIS. Let me take a wild guess. Am I right. Does the County use Tyler Technologies? There’s one of the County’s big problems right there if they do.

  2. “The acting ACTTC stated that she discovered that there were County bank accounts that were not part of the Treasurer’s system. Even the outside auditors seem to be unaware of these accounts. These accounts apparently have existed for quite a while. ”

    Did you miss the part where the accounts were explained? I’m pretty sure I saw you in the room when they were explained

  3. John, what is the basis of your belief that the county will repay the Measure B fund? There has been no public discussion of a repayment plan. There has been no public discussion of any analysis of what it would cost not to build the new jail, nor has there been any public assurance that this last $6.8 million is the last time the costs will rise exponentially.

  4. You sound like a rambling nonce. Listen to these sentences. They don’t even make sense:

    1) “This is a chance for the County to eliminate wasteful practices, develop modern processes, and provide better, more efficient service.”

    RE: This is politician talk soup inserted randomly in this article. You want to develop modern processes? What processes? Budgeting? Tax collecting? Payroll? AP? Procurement? I bet you don’t even know what business process you want to modernize because you have no boots on the ground and no business acumen to properly survey your Business Services Dept.
    You want to streamline? That takes an IT expenditure AKA software, which costs money and millions of dollars. You don’t “develop modern processes” without introducing new software or a more robust ERP. So if that’s what you’re talking about, say it. Did you budget for these random “modernizations”? No I bet you didn’t.

    2) “The acting ACTTC stated that she discovered that there were County bank accounts that were not part of the Treasurer’s system. Even the outside auditors seem to be unaware of these accounts.”

    RE: Way to instill trust in government all you a$$holes that work at Mendocino County Government. I can guarantee there’s some county workers that know these accounts exist. This is fraud and should be a whistleblower event- hiding public money. The external auditors are not aware of it because the routine mandatorily required audits are financial audits not forensic audits. The auditors would only be aware of it if someone on the inside of the business services department would tell the auditors about it. So someone in the business services department should let whatever firm the County uses for financial auditing know about it. It’s either Eide Bailly LLP or Vavrinek, Trine Day & Co. LLP.

    3) “Construction of the mental health wing is now costing $44 million instead of the $26 originally estimated. There have been delays with the state bureaucracy, supply chains, the pandemic and so forth which have led to cost overruns.:”

    RE: Sounds like your Public Works and Procurement department are in over their head and didn’t perform what in the government procurement industry is known as an Independent Cost Estimate or ICE as it’s required with every procurement action. If they did, they would have an accurate estimate that factors in these overruns, CPI increase and inflation, change order deviation, supply chain delays etc. Then you would use that accurate estimate for the budget so you would have budgeted 44 million instead of 26. Then you wouldn’t be over budget!
    Imagine that! What’s that you say? You don’t have 44M? Then you don’t do the project do you? I wonder where you jokers got the rando garbage 26M number from? What is it in government that makes you think you can spend money you don’t have? By the way, I bet you didn’t even factor the personnel expenditure for all the people that have to be hired to work in the mental health wing. Oh yeah forgot about that I bet.

    4) “The County received a $25 million grant from the State to build the wing. The County’s cost was to be one million.”

    RE: If the County received $25 million to build the wing, why would your cost be one million? No sense made.
    You can’t even build a house for a million dollars anymore with construction costs soaring.

    How the hell are you qualified to do anything other than work as a door greeter at Wal-Mart?

  5. Hospitals and Jails are the most expensive public works projects due to building codes and safety/security requirements. I know for a fact there are plenty of trades people that live in the Mendocino and Lake counties that would jump at a chance to work locally as opposed to having to travel. Maybe start taxing wine grapes the way cannabis has been taxed , that would add substantially to the county coffers. It’s pretty hard to entice companies to move to Mendo county when the work force is so limited and drug addiction is not being addressed! Jails DONT REHABILITATE, drug treatment programs do! Stop with the “Lock’em up attitude towards drug addicts it’s a waste of funds!

    • Too bad it doesn’t work like that. Formal bidding procedures for government procurement of Public Works require an award of contract to the construction firm who has the lowest responsive, responsible bid- regardless of their location.

      Some government entities have a local preference policy but that normally only accounts for 5-10% reduction in comparative bid price and only if the project is 100% locally funded and that type of policy is normally used for professional services, not Public Works. If it’s funded with State or Federal funds, all that goes out the window and it’s still lowest responsive responsible bidder regardless of location.

  6. 1) I would like to know what percentage of our County’s Personel Costs go to paying Retirement Pensions (just to know). 2) I would like to see a transparent contest for improving dept efficiencies that involve input from all levels of workers including the bottom tier. Heard (from a past County employee) that Dept Heads have history of making sure to spend ever last $ of their budget every year to ask for more the following year. I Wish Everyone Involved the Best of Outcomes; while see it is time for some changes. Cordially, William A. Self

  7. Why is the county so top heavy with a plethora of managers across every agency supervising only one or two supervisors and making 150,000 working from home? Why do dozens of supervisors only supervise 1-4 people? That’s millions of taxpayer dollars being wasted. We know who does the real work. The workers, not the talkers and watchers.

  8. Regarding Supervisor Williams announcement that he is running for Assemblyman Jim Woods’ seat in Sacramento, how does he plan on doing the job that we elected him to do, and campaign at the same time? The County is in crisis. The Supervisors all seem to be dithering about what to do. Williams comments at the last BOS meeting about changing the light bulbs in the BOS room are akin to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Much chaos has been self-inflicted because upper level management does NOT talk to the people doing the actual work. Combining the Auditor Treasurer Tax Collector offices for example. Moving Public Health and Behavioral Health out of their former offices in Willits, and moving them into the Justice Building where people in crisis have to march past the police dept. Not a very “trauma-informed care” approach. Making the Willits home visiting team nurses meet with their families in a cement room with no rugs, furniture or windows that was formerly an evidence storage room. Wtf is wrong with these so-called “managers” who clearly have no clue. Money – your money – is being wasted on stupid ideas, ad-hoc committees and outside contractors. The boots on the ground will tell you what needs to happen. Fewer middle-management positions, put an end to managers creating a toxic work environment resulting in losing experienced staff, and talk to your employees! Supervisor Williams would do better to focus on cleaning up the financial dumpster fire that we’re in.

    • I was wondering about this too. Is he allowed to sold his BOS seat in case he doesn’t win Assemblyman? Also, why has MendoFever not covered this announcment ?

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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