Here's a snap shot of what happened at the February 9th BOS Mtg
(Thanks to SJPC Counsel Member Tess Townsend (@Tess_Townsend ) for being a SJPC note-taker on these meetings)
Little side note on Consent Items:
County Supervisor Patrick Kennedy went off on Department of Waste Management & Recycling Director Doug Sloan at the beginning of last Tuesday’s Board of Supes meeting for 1) not responding “whatsoever” to a formal memo about organic waste diversion he had sent Mr. Sloan, and 2) putting an item obviously controversial (at least to him) “on consent” - meaning, had Supervisor Kennedy not officially requested that the item be taken “off consent,” the item would move forward with no discussion about it.
“Consent Matters” (as the BOS calls it) is the list of items early on the agenda where non-controversial matters can be approved all at once, without any comment or discussion.
Two Consent items caught SJPC’s attention this week in particular. While neither needed to “come off consent,” Supervisor Kennedy’s remarks about an item being snuck in “on Consent” is a reminder we all need to continue keeping an eye out for items that may require more discussion and attention.
Money for Cops...and COVID! (Item #2)
Basically - the County is moving money around. $8.8 million of it, from last fiscal year to this fiscal year.
In December 2020, the County voted to allocate $49.6 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to public safety departments including the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and probation department. The County’s approval of the temporary allocation came with the stipulation that the money make its way back to public health.
Coronavirus Relief Fund moneys can only be spent on certain things, and $8.8 million was unspent and leftover from last fiscal year (FY 2019-20). To make the Coronavirus Relief Fund moneys available to use for eligible costs this fiscal year (FY 2020-21), the the Board of Supervisors approved this “Appropriation Adjustment Request,” allowing the $8.8 million to be spent on eligible costs incurred by the Probation Department, while the Probation Department trades the same amount in General Fund moneys (that aren’t restricted) to the Department Of Health Services, Department Of Human Assistance, and Office Of Economic Development for “continued response to COVID-19.” The expenditure plan for the $8.8 million in reallocated Coronavirus Relief Fund moneys approved by the Board of Supervisors at the December 30, 2020 Special Meeting included:
$5.8 million for continued COVID-19 testing;
$1,000,000 for expanded family meal programs;
$1,000,000 for economic support to small businesses impacted by COVID-19; and $1,000,000 for the Child Action Inc. program to support childcare providers and parents.
As for the other roughly $40 million from the $49.6 million? Dr. Kasirye said most of it was allocated to vaccine freezers and other COVID uses, but specifics are unclear.
Now is the time for COVID relief funding to actually go to community health needs. Last year, the County allocated most of the total $181 million in federal covid funding it received to salaries and benefits in the Sheriff’s Office, with only 3% going toward public health and medical expenses.
The next COVID Relief bill could include additional state funding. If it does, SJPC readers should monitor the next County and City of Sacramento spending plans to prevent a repeat of the previous allocation of funding to law enforcement, and to ensure equitable distribution that helps people with the greatest needs.
Sheriff Accepts $100,000 Grant for Cannabis Eradication & Suppression (Item #15)
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Office is coming for your illegal grows! They’ve been receiving grants from the U.S. Department of Justice Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program to go after illegal grow locations in Sacramento County since 2011. This year, the Sheriff’s Office was granted $100,000 from the Program.
Per the County’s memo for this item “All funding will be used to cover overtime costs and related supplies for deputies involved in the cannabis eradication process.”
The $100,000 grant seems miniscule relative to the larger than ever ($317 million, up from $277 million last year) total budget of the Sheriff's Office -- so the grant is really only meant to defray costs of what the County describes as “costly and resource intensive” efforts. The question, then, is how much local taxpayer money is the Sheriff’s Office spending on seizing marijuana grow operations?
What is the County doing to ensure these funds won’t go towards efforts that disproportionately impact marginalized people?
Until entry into the legal, permitted cannabis cultivation market is more accessible and equitable, the black market will continue to thrive and “grow” despite the County’s attempts to “eradicate” it. Perhaps the County should consider nixing its ban on outdoor cultivation in unincorporated areas of the County to incentivize legal operations and boost the competitiveness of entrepreneurs who get the permits they need, comply with regulations, and pay (and charge customers) the required taxes.
While there has been coverage of issues of racial inequity in the marijuana industry within the City of Sacramento (links below), more scrutiny is needed to ensure biases are not being perpetuated through the County’s ongoing cannabis criminalization efforts.
Stories about City of Sacramento: