Commentary and Opinion By Branden Bieber – May 12, 2023
Catering to a Welfare County, Del Norte County Board of Supervisors (BOS) continue to prioritize homelessness, substance abuse, and Government mandated mental illness diagnoses. Approving 12 Items during the 5-9-2023 BOS meeting, board members continue to devalue the community. Without the ability to recognize their own influence, the Board rubber stamped approval of all 12 consent agenda items.
Considering the Board’s abuse of Consent Agenda items, citizens are left to speculate about the lack of transparency being conducted behind closed doors during “Closed Session” discussions. Tuesday’s closed door policy included the “Public Employee Evaluation” that isn’t for the public. The Director of Health and Human Services (DHHS); and County Counsel were the subject of Tuesdays non-public discussion. An honest assessment of the employees is obviously not in the interest of the County.
Over the past three years, no two departments have been more damaging to Del Norte County than DHHS and County Council. Not only did their departments benefit from mandating a no-work policy, they created systemic social service dependence and consented to lawless administrative policy. DHHS publicly acknowledges its mission to increase consumers (patients), with a “whatever it takes” commitment.
In an effort to expand welfare throughout the County, DHHS recommended 5 agenda items for the consent vote. Starting with a renewed agreement supporting Tobacco Use Prevention Program (TUPP) with an additional $21,840 allocated to their already approved $300,949 budget. Other substance abuse budget funds are allocated for:
Tobacco Prevention $ 354,548
A drug and alcohol fund $1,920,842, and
Four separate budget’s for Narcotics totaling $ 55,148
Yes, it’s odd “TUPP” has a budget fund under one department (408), then another budget line for “Tobacco Prevention” with another department (415.)
The second agenda item for DHHS allocated another $200,000 to educate underserved citizens to grow food in community gardens. That’s on top of the $38,884,352 budgeted for welfare administration and services. Other social service food budgets consist of $610,583 allocated to WIC (Women Infants Children) and $152,150 for Snap-ed (food stamps) administration. The cost of food products is not included in these County budgets, and comes directly from the State. The Board failed to look at the numerous local Community Gardens untilled and growing weeds. They could be great gardens, but that would require actual work.
The third DHHS request at Tuesday’s meeting was approving a Contract that started July 1 of last year (2022). Directly conflicting with the D.N. Administration Manual the contract is for Psychiatric Inpatient Hospital Services costing over a thousand dollars a day per consumer (patient.) Getting the consumers to their services in Auburn California is not represented in the cost, and hard telling where that money comes from. The agreement approval also allows the director to sign ALL future agreement’s to the contract without discussion or Board approval.
The fourth request was Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). Asking the Board to approve the Director sending a letter to the lobbyist coalition at CSAC (California State Association of Counties.) Despite our Counties rapid increase of social service dependent consumers, the State of California will be reducing their financial obligation to slow the increasing State deficit. It’s also because MHSA is funded through a tax on people making over $1 million dollars a year. As Californians continue to flee the State, the County should expect this funding source to go away.
The fifth and last request was a revised classification description for the Assistant Director of Health and Human Services. The job description approved will decrease the minimum qualification further lowering the standards of the County.
Del Norte County Budget illustrates what their priorities are. More social services, more housing for homeless, more mental diagnoses, more fentanyl lying in your yard, more consenting to degrading Del Norte. What we finance is where we are heading, and it will only get worse!