Tag Archives: Butte County Behavioral Health Department

Write to your county supervisor and tell them to stop funding Butte County Behavioral Health

23 Aug

As my husband and I drive around Chico and use Bidwell Park, it’s apparent our town has an out of control transient population. These people aren’t “from around here” – read the police logs, when arrested, these people admit to having no local address and list towns up and down the state as their prior residence. That’s not “homeless,” it’s “transient”. 

At retail centers, parks, greenways and intersections around town, we see an increasing number of transients standing alone or sitting in groups, laying in their sleeping bags, smoking cigarettes, sharing alcohol, at whatever time of day. One day waiting at a local sandwich shop for our lunch, my husband and I watched a couple stoned out of their gourds, weaving in and out of traffic at a busy intersection, laughing hysterically, as though it was the running of the bulls or something.

It used to be worse around the Jesus Center and Torres Shelter, but now it’s spreading all over town. They walk out in front of cars on Mangrove Avenue, stand at medians at the Mangrove Safeway, wander dazed up and down the sidewalks, sit in bus stop shelters babbling at spirits. 

And they get violent. I’ve had personal experiences, I’ve witnessed stuff, heard about the weird experiences of my friends, neighbors, tenants, and people in line at the grocery store or post office. And today I ran across this face book page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/butte.county.fires.accidents.crimes/

These are folks who, like me, feel the local media has got a “vested interest” in suppressing negative news about our town. I’ve always known the college, for example, has an obvious interest in keeping bad news about town out of the spotlight because it would  make it harder to get parents to send their kids here. That whole “Number One Party School” thing was a nightmare for the administration at Chico State, it  really made a difference in how parents perceive our college. And then high profile tragedies – drinking and hazing deaths at fraternities. The police have put us on the radar for killing people and beating up young coeds.  Now it’s the bums. The college has obvious reasons to pressure the local media to keep a lid on these stories. 

One man puts a finger right on the problem – “Take a look at the June 26th Butte County Board of Supervisors agenda. It is online. The county behavioral health department had 19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars dealing with mental health programs. Is seems those programs are not getting to those aggressive transients on our Chico streets.”

Here’s what he doesn’t know – it’s these very programs that are bringing the aggressive transients into our town. “19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars…”  Yes, millions of dollars in “transfer fees” – the county gets $550 a day per transient they take from other towns/counties/hospitals.

Furthermore, they can hold these “clients” at the county psychiatric facility – nick-named “The Puff” – for 45 days without their consent – you do the math. 

So as you scroll down this facebook page, reading about people from other towns ripping newly planted trees out of the ground at a business on East Eighth Street and threatening the staff with the stakes from the trees, throwing and threatening people with a hatchet Downtown, breaking into cars at the Enloe Center at Cal Park, lighting a fire with a blowtorch on the front lawn of the Chico library – how do you think these people get to town? They are transported here by Behaviorial Health employees from cities and counties all over California. 

When I last inquired, Butte County Behavioral Health staffer Dorian Kittrell, who enjoys a salary of over $130,000 plus about a $35,000 package, told me they get about $63 million a year in transfer fees. 

When that 45 days involuntary hold is up, the “client” is released on their own recognizance, oftentimes with prescription medicine. They are offered rides to shelters in Oroville and Chico, but they are not required to either take the ride or register at the shelter. 

Yes, contact your county supervisors and tell them, first of all, these items need to be set on the regular agenda. They’re on almost every agenda, under the consent section, where they pass without any sort of discussion. 

You realize, many towns/counties don’t even have a psychiatric facility, they just send them to counties like Butte.  

Speak up to your supervisor, write a letter to the editor, describe how the situation is affecting your life. Like another commenter says on the BCFAC Facebook page, I used to  believe these programs were for the good of the citizens of Butte County, but it’s just another revenue scheme that ends up costing us more than it brings in. 

 

 

 

Questions for our county supervisor: Butte County Behavioral Health gets $61 million a year in “Revenue Transfers” – is that the money they get for taking crazy people from other counties?

20 Jan

I’ve been chatting with Chico PD and my third district supervisor Maureen Kirk about transients, illegal camping, and crime in our neighborhoods. When I read that city council had just agreed to more money and more staffing for Chico PD – even when our city manager tells me our “resources” are “constrained” –  I had to ask, does this mean more cops in Bidwell Park to rout the illegal campers? 

O’brien responded, “Both the Rangers and our Police Officers move campers out of the Park, but it is helpful to have the specifics as to when and where.  I am including Interim Lieutenant Scott Zuschin in this email and would ask that you reach out to him specifically with the specifics of the camping sites.”

What do you hear – I hear “No!” I also hear, “we will continue to expect you to do our job…”

When Kirk chimed in to complain about crime in her Cal Park neighborhood, I told her I’d just seen a tent encampment along that little creek that runs adjacent to Hwy 32 east, in that new Oak Valley subdivision.  I just saw the little tent again yesterday, just below the new Cal Water tower.

I also told Kirk I believe Butte County Behavioral Health is behind this problem, because they bring transients here from other counties, selling “beds”, as BH director Dorian Kittrell  calls spaces at the psychiatric facility, known officially as “The Puff”.  Kittrell told me the county  gets $550 a day for housing a patient. The county passed an ordinance last year allowing BH to place people on a 45-day involuntary hold. At $550 a day, that’s $22,500 for each person, for a month and a half of cooling their heels at The Puff.

Here’s one man’s story, about how he was 5150’d in the town he’d lived for 30 years, and then ended up at the Torres Shelter by way of shelters in Yuba City and Oroville. 

http://www.newsreview.com/chico/searching-for-snipes/content?oid=9361141

When I shared this story with Kirk she  responded, “I don’t agree with your conclusion that we are bringing people into Butte County for financial gain. It seems that the author of the article brought himself to Butte County.”

Does Kirk even understand what a 5150 is?  This woman’s refusal and denial are a huge part of the problem. I told her I’d look at the county budget and get back to her. Here’s the adopted 2016-17 budget:

http://www.buttecounty.net/administration/CountyBudget/FY16-17AdoptedBudget.aspx

You can skip to Behavioral Health through the table of contents:

http://www.buttecounty.net/Portals/1/Budget/FY16-17Adopted/13-BH.pdf

This budget is not written for the public to understand, but I did learn some stuff.  One phrase I kept seeing again and again was “Intergovernmental Revenue”, another was “Revenue Transfer.” I suspect this is the funding received with these patients that travel from county to county like a plague – they bring funding, funding to pay salaries and benefits.

Here’s a report that explains things in more human terms:

https://www.buttecounty.net/Portals/1/FY15-16RecommendedBudget/Behavioral_Health.pdf

There you see, according to BH director Dorian Kittrell, $61 million a year in transfers. I forwarded this information to Kirk and asked her for an explanation. We’ll see if she gets back to me, I think she’s a little pissed off right now.

As for the little tent along Hwy 32, Chief O’Brien forwarded my concerns to Public Relations Officer Zuchin, and he responded:

“The Target team linked up with realtor Tamara Lambert-Valencia from Coldwell Banker DuFour to address the encampment issue near the water tower located inside the new Oak Valley subdivision two weeks ago. This camp is no longer an issue.”

Really? It was still there yesterday, rain fly  a flappin’, bicycles with carts piled up next to the  tent, a well-worn  path off Humboldt Road. Well see if it stands through this dumper, but I don’t  think the cops  are going to do anything about it. That area has been a homeless camp for years. 

Hey Maureen,  keep your garage locked!

UPDATE:  Kirk responded with an e-mail from Behavioral Health Director Dorian Kittrell:

Hi Maureen

The overall budget is approximately 61 million dollars.  This total comprises the county general fund contribution of roughly $280,000 dollars which gives the county access to state and federal funding via state sales tax revenues and vehicle license fees.  The dollars (also known as “realignment revenue”) is spent on treatment which includes outpatient and inpatient services.  In spending these dollars we are able to receive federal (medi-cal) reimbursement (anywhere from  50% to 95% of the cost of treatment)  We estimate each year how much reimbursement we will expect to receive based on previous years claims for medi-cal that we received.    When all these at totaled we project the total budget.  Of course, this explanation is a broad overview.  There are also some grant dollars and other funding streams (for example MHSA tax dollars) that add to the total.   I am happy to sit down with Juanita and my finance person if she would like further clarification.

So, “intergovernmental revenues” refers to any dollars that come from local, state or federal government sources.

Call me if you have any questions!

Dorian

I realize Kittrell’s response is in heavy Bureaucratese, but really, read it – that’s just what I told Kirk in the first place. In fact, it looks like they get all but $280,000 of their BH budget from those transfers.  Does Kirk understand it? Then why did she have to ask Kitrell to explain it?

Maureen, you need to start making plans for that Del Webb  Leisure Village you were talking about. 

 

Is crime on the rise in Chico, or is police response at an all-time low?

3 Aug

I don’t know if there is actually more crime in Chico, or more problem reporting crime and getting the cops to do something about it. I do know, I see more “homeless” people around town than ever before, and I hear more complaining and anecdotes from people about petty thefts, vandalism, and generally unpleasant behavior. 

This problem is NOT confined to the little section of the city known as “Downtown,” but city council only discusses the problem within those boundaries.  “Sit and Lie” only applies to Downtown, for example.  

So I turned to my county supervisor,  Maureen Kirk. I wrote her a nagging e-mail about how the Mangrove Plaza/Vallombrosa Post Office area is becoming a magnet for panhandlers and drunks. They take positions right outside Safeway, oftentimes between the shopping cart bay and the front doors, with dogs, with all their stuff. They will actually walk out in front of supermarket customers to ask for money. They camp pretty unabashedly around the post office annex, tearing bricks out of the retaining wall  where they sleep at night and leave their belongings/garbage during the day. 

I’m waiting for Maureen to come back to me with an update regarding a roughly million dollar grant Butte County Behavioral Health received this year to beef up services for the mentally ill, including transients picked up by Chico PD. At meetings I’ve attended, the police have complained that Behavioral Health was underfunded, and after 5pm and on weekends, the police had nowhere to take folks who seemed to be a “danger to themselves or to the public,” except the ER at Enloe.

Imagine yourself in there at 1am with a screaming child, and there’s a guy laying on the gurney in the next slot, covered with his own poop and muttering obscenities. Or not muttering at all, looking pretty dead. A person who is believed to be “a danger to himself or to the public…”  They’ve used our hospital ER, which charges roughly $7,000/hour, as a drunk tank.

I knew Behavioral Health was understaffed – I’d looked at the salaries, and seen – the director seemed to be a revolving door position, often empty. The salary was only about $58,000/year, while other management were making in excess of $75,000/year salary. “Staff” consisted of interns making less than $10,000/year, with no benefits. These folks came and went, and I can’t believe that kind of staffing is conducive to anybody’s mental health.

When the grant came up on the agenda, it looked as though they were hiring a couple of senior doctors, both compensated at well over $100,000/year including salary and benefits. One of these doctors will only be available via computer link. The rest of the hirees – it looked like, the folks who actually have to deal with the day-to-day problems of the clients, were to be compensated less than $50,000, total salary and benefits. 

I don’t like the salary scheme, but at least the department is getting staffed. I dropped Maureen a note  asking, does this mean the center will be open 24-7 for Chico PD to drop off transients and other patients? She said she’d check on this and get back to me. I’ll be interested in hearing what she finds out, thanks Maureen.