Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I'm a Ron Castle Fan!

[NOTE: Ron Castle is the CEO of Community Health Centers (CHC) -- a company that's contracted to provide health care services to low-income residents in SLO County -- services that the County is legally mandated, by the State, to provide. However, SLO County Supervisors keep hacking away at his budget, and it's threatening health care services for low-income patients in the county, like the elderly, and kids. And now Castle's pissed. His exchange today with 2nd District Supervisor, Bruce Gibson, is some of the best official government-types exchange I've ever seen... period. So good, it motivated me to pop out the following e-mail.

When the video link to the meeting is available, I'll hook it up.

This... is... GREAT!]

- - -

Hello Mr. Castle,

I'm researching a story, and I happened to catch your brilliant presentation at today's Supervisors' meeting, and I wanted to quickly send you this e-mail, that I think you are going to find VERY interesting.

I know where to find the CHC funding.

It's in the women's jail project.

Here's how:

If you watch this item:

"A-4 Update and status report for the new women’s jail and jail medical facility project." Board of Supervisors, February 22, 2011

... at this link:


... what you'll see (or, more accurately, WON'T see) is the Board NOT discuss a smart piece of State legislation called SB 959. It allows California counties to enact a MANDATORY home detention program for "low-risk" county inmates. The 2007 law (signed by a Republican Governor, and supported by our Republican representative [Blakeslee]), is designed to help with jail overcrowding. The rationale goes like this: Instead of just turning inmates loose due to overcrowding, counties with SB 959 programs can now slap a bracelet on them, and force them to do home detention.

The vast majority of CA counties have enacted SB 959, and rave about its success, however SLO County is NOT one of them, even though the women's jail is overcrowded. In fact, that's WHY the Supes unanimously voted, last February, to spend some $10 million on a new women's jail... to alleviate the overcrowding.

But here's the catch. At that Feb. 22 meeting, as you'll see if you watch that link above, they NEVER discuss SB 959 once!

And, to make things worse, before that meeting, the entire County law enforcement brass, according to the staff report, met several times to discuss the women's jail project, in order to advise the Supes at that meeting, and THEY also NEVER discussed SB 959 once!

And, to make things worse(er) ; - )... I actually submitted public comment to the Board, at this link:


... before that meeting, outlining the massive benefits to the County of SB 959, and they totally ignored it.

In other words, HAD the Supes discussed SB 959 at that meeting, and implemented a mandatory home detention program, they could IMMEDIATELY fix the ripe-for-litigation overcrowding that currently exists at the women's jail, by slapping bracelets on the over-the-limit "low risk" offenders, and putting them on home detention, and then that would have ALSO changed the entire complexion of the "We MUST have a new jail" discussion.

For example, from all reports, the current women's jail facility is an unacceptable mess, however, with a SB 959 style program, the current facility MAY just need a, oh, let's just say, $5 million (if that) remodel, however, we'll never know, because they NEVER discussed SB 959.

Another interesting twist in this story, is that most of the cost of the new women's jail project is coming from a $25 million State grant, but here's the twist: The County would actually end up saving tens of millions of dollars, by simply NOT accepting that grant, and, instead, just adopt an SB 959 style program, and then "remodel" the currently illegal (almost exactly "Dan De Vaul-illegal," by the way) facility.

Interestingly, just today (Tuesday), I watched a local report on how the Santa Barbara County Sheriff, in an effort to keep their north county jail open, is proposing just that -- a "remodel" (his word) of the facility.

HAD SLO County Supervisors discussed SB 959 last February, that above-mentioned arrangement -- a simple remodel, instead of a new jail -- would immediately save some $5 million dollars, and, almost certainly, much more! And THERE's your CHC funding.

Additionally -- and this is REALLY important for the CHC funding subject -- the estimates, according to the staff report, to staff and operate "the new women’s jail and jail medical facility project," hover around $2 million a year.

Some simple number crunching shows that it would take just a fraction of that YEARLY amount to, instead, staff an effective SB 959 style program, and that would leave about $1.5 million/YEAR remaining from the estimated yearly new jail costs.

All CHC is requesting from the County is, what? Half that?

Well, there it is.

Which is great, because that will ALSO leave more-than-enough yearly funding for my personal, pet SLO County project: A women's only drug and alcohol rehab program, which will help reduce the number of female inmates to begin with.

So look what's happening here, during this 2011 FY budget process... it's great:

This so-called "liberal" Board of Supervisors is spending $10 million of COUNTY funds on a new "women's jail and jail medical facility project" -- that may not even be needed (and, almost certainly isn't, when SB 959 is in the discussion) -- while at the same time cutting medical care for poor children, and the elderly.

And if this jails-over-poor-sick-kids, so-called "liberal" SLO County Board of Supervisors wants to go to the, "Well, Governor Brown is proposing to send us 100s of inmates, so we still need the new facility," card, then, we (good SLO County residents like me and you, Mr. Castle), and with a SB 959 program in place, can now tell the Governor, "Well, he better send A LOT of electronic monitoring bracelets with them."

So, I just wanted to show you this, in hopes that it will help with your negotiations with the County.

One more thing: SB 959 was also supported by the California State Sheriff's Association.

If you have any questions on this VERY interesting subject, please just ask. I've researched it, and written on it, extensively.

And, if you have any comments that you'd like to add to this story, I'm interested in hearing them.


P.S. Oh, one more thing: If you ask me, after your brilliant presentation at today's meeting, you're underpaid! That was some of the best CEO-ing I've ever seen.

I mean, immediately responding to Supervisor Gibson's whining on how he's cut his pay by "5-percent," and therefore CHC management should do the same (while apparently forgetting that he's an elected official, and your organization is staffed with, you know, highly trained medical professionals) with, "Well, that's wonderful."?

Absolutely brilliant!

You're a bargain at twice the price.

Ever think of running for public office? You've got my vote!

P.P.S. I've published this e-mail on my blog: sewerwatch.blogspot.com



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