(DISCUSSION/ACTION) Committee reports:
Comm Fetiçō recounted briefly that: a crisis in OT for juvenile hall (threatening $1.5 mil over budget), leading A Magee to think of asking the Controller to do another audit on the staffing needs of the hall. This reminded him (Fetiçō) of the audit of the Dept that he had asked to have done (but was passed on by the Commission), and then of another previous audit, on the dept’s Finance and Administration, and he felt that given the many issues that are still around (some of which were looked at in that audit), there should be a follow up audit on that too. Comm Beijen commented that this (audit) was not part of the meeting but could be taken up at the next Finance Committee. Comm Fetiçō mentioned a few other items reviewed at the last meeting; -budget preparation process still not starting as early as he feels it should be done.
-With skyrocketing OT, new hires are on hold, temp hires are exhausted.
-the merging of counselor classes is still not resolved.
-there’s a growing recidivism in detainees in juvenile hall
-contracts are, in the main, not approved so CBOs are not being paid
Comm Stiglich added that a vehicle log is being developed so that there is more accountability. As to OT, she said that is partly due to still transitioning to the new facility, but that the Dept should be past that now and that it should have an idea of what kind of staffing is necessary to offset that. A compelling argument for the cost effectiveness of more hires vs using OT should be possible.
President Queen asked the Chief for further amplification on the class merge, the OT, and contracts.
The Chief said there is a price tag to the merging of classes. Each time discussions about this start, they are stymied by this. A. Magee explained that previous discussions with DHR ended when staffing changes happened there. Now she has started them again (the last time was yesterday). She estimated that if the classes were merged, the first budget year it could cost about $400K, and the 2nd about $1.5 mil. The City has not given word one way or another, and they are hoping it will be expedited so that if approved, it can be enacted this next budget year.
Comm Stiglich asked about other ways to solve this, if not by merging. A. Magee said they are looking at all alternatives. Quest: will the solution save money in the long run? Yes.
The Chief noted that JH counselors have been very accommodating these past couple of years when staffing help was needed at LCR.
Re OT: the Chief said it was a complex issue complicated by the shrinking pool of on-call counselors. He also referred to the previous staffing audit by the Controller’s that under-estimated the level needed.
He mentioned that there is a misuse of sick time that they will look into. Impending retirements will also take a toll on staffing, but they are taking actions that will ease the situation (to be reported at the next Finance Comm, mtg).
Re contracts: now that L. Holmes is back to work, they will be moving towards completion of contracts. Also additional staffing will be added to Community Programs division.
Comm Beijen stated that it is a vicious cycle among out of control OT, lack of on-call, lack of permanent staff. A. Magee said Comm Beijen was correct about OT, and due to this the Controller’s office has frozen all requisitions for hire until a spending plan addressing OT is drawn up. She thinks they are making progress in getting the Mayor’s office to understand that there is a whole in the staffing—there just aren’t enough to do the job.
Even though they have some approved requisitions they will not just blindly go forward to hire. They have to look at the whole picture.
Asked about sick leave, A. Magee said they are looking into sick leave restriction for some and warnings for others.
President Queen commented that in view of all these issues around the budget, many of which have been around for some time, that was why he advanced the need to do early budget planning having discussions with all stakeholders. As chair of the Finance Committee, he thought the full Commission agreed to this principle. A Magee said she agreed and that these discussions now taking place are essentially serving that purpose.
President Queen asked if it could be reported each time to the Finance Comm what had been done since the last meeting, and possibly a timeline given for things that are on the table.
Comm Fetiçō said that it comes back to the Dept needs to put together a budget that reflects the true needs. President Queen said he thinks it is clear that it is a policy that the Commission wants such a budget, as opposed to a “cut-down” budget, and also that it should start as early as Sept. Hopefully at the next Finance Comm. meeting there’ll be updates that indicate some progress toward that.
Comm Woodson commented that much of the subject matter taken up in committee was discussed in the 2 agenda items above, but she added a couple of other items. 1) at a JDAI steering committee meeting the issue of the relationship or lack therefore between the Probation Dept and CBOs was discussed. She felt it was beyond the committee’s ability to deal with it. She said the Chief mentioned an organizational development initiative would be done, and this issue will be looked at. The consultant hired to do this work, Mark Morris and Assoc will be invited to report to the Program Comm about this.
2) G. Bieringer reported on the YASI instrument and hoped to see some data by the end of the year.
3) The CBO reps from CARECEN and Instituo gave very good reports of their respective orgs’ work. Some positive aspects were: written and oral reports are given back to the courts and dept so that concrete data is kept up to date. Their services also included “value-added” services by involving the services of other CBOs and agencies in their case management. Both orgs seemed to have an open, positive relationship with the Dept.
Comm Stiglich asked what requirements are there for reporting back by the CBOs.
L. Holmes said they are required to provide whatever information that is germane to any particular youth they are working with, as is relevant to the case carrying PO or the probation dept.
Comm. Woodson said that there isn’t the staff available on the Program Committee to digest all the self-assessment information. She is hopeful this initiative will generate some concrete analysis.
Comm Beijen reported that they reviewed the written report given by Norm Cole that outlined all the current and “standing” projects and status of each. The essential status is that the capital improvement budget hasn’t increased in 10 yrs, while facilities deteriorate and demand more and more repairs. He encouraged the commissioners to read the report.
Comm. Stiglich asked who was responsible for the court facilities/spaces in YGC? The Chief said that the courts are responsible alterations to their space. The Dept bears the responsibility for haz-mat costs.
Custodial costs and repair/maintenance are the Dept’s.
President Queen said that he hoped the Chief would prepare a budget that realistically reflects the costs to improve and maintain all facilities and that this will be part of the total budget.
Lonnie Holmes said that the majority of agreements have been completed, with the exception of 5 or 6, which will be done in the next couple of weeks.