March 23rd - Other Happenings at BOS Meeting
We got errthang from Criminal (in)justice, environmental justice, and budget in this mug. Thanks Michelle Wright for these submissions on items that SJPC readers may not be aware of.
Let's start with the budget discussion
ITEM 30: Budget
County staff recommended more conservative budgeting and building of reserves. Serna pushed back due to additional funding needs to address the pandemic and homelessness crisis (Thank you).
Nottoli noted that Public Health has been consistently underfunded in the past. (THANK YOU, SUPERVISOR NOTTOLI) Nottoli wants more funding to go to community investments. Nottoli was not prepared to adopt the budget policies today.
Desmond mentioned putting away some money for reserves, but also using more funds for humanitarian needs. Kennedy felt like adopting these policies ahead of budget discussions did not make sense (We appreciate that!). Frost supports increasing reserves and seemed more concerned with what creditors might think than anything else (Of course, she did!) These budget policies were not adopted, nor was there a vote to adopt.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE? ARE THERE IMPORTANT NEXT STEPS ON THIS ISSUE? WHAT SHOULD SJPC READERS DO?
This item further exemplified that county executive staff is not concerned with the unhoused community or other community members experiencing poverty and lack of care. The county exec. staff consistently does work contrary to the desires of the Board and its constituents. It sounds like Britt Fergusson may be leaving, though! We need to ensure that better executive staff is hired in the future, and that we continue to push the Board to put general funds towards services that actually help communities.
(Michelle Obama agrees)
Item 13: Probation Funds
This item provides funding to probation, a racist institution that reduces people’s rights and opens them up to further policing, which makes its easier for them to be arrested and incarcerated later.
Item 14: Training for Peace Officers as Requested by Sheriff Jones
Funds training for peace officers. Unanimously approved on consent (meaning non controversial, not meriting discussion) calendar without discussion. These are funs spent on policing that could be used elsewhere to help people. (i.e. by funding a 911 alternatives to respond to those experiencing a mental health crisis without law enforcement...but we digress)
Item 27: Report on Covid-19 from Public Health Officer
739 inmates have been vaccinated so far at main jail and Rio Consumes Correctional Center (RCCC). There were significant outbreaks from Dec. to Feb. at main jail and RCCC, but rates have subsided in March.
There is a disparity in access to the vaccines for people of color. Dr. Kasirye stated that this is due to the state’s prioritization in administration by occupation and to those in long-term care facilities. However, the state is changing prioritization. At least 40% of vaccine supply moving forward will be reserved for zip codes of underserved communities. Vaccine equity metric goals will be factored into tier changes.
Drive-thru locations have not been accessible enough for BIPOC. New approaches: closer sites, pop-up sites, community liaisons. Dep’t of Public Health is working with community-based agencies on outreach. A health equity task force was created to select pop-up sites and develop messaging.
211 has begun assisting with vaccine appointment scheduling, transportation, and language services.
Dep’t of Public Health is planning to leverage community-based testing sites for vaccinations. A group of healthcare providers have volunteered to visit shelters to help vaccinate the unhoused. Only around 100 people have been vaccinated at shelters so far.
County executives are meeting next week to address unhoused community issues. Nottoli noted it’s been months since the county exec’s announced they were working on a pilot to address encampments and provide services to the unhoused community. He asked for an update in the 3/24 session.
Nottoli also asked whether there is a program to bring vaccinations to agricultural workers.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE?
Marginalized communities were not previously prioritized in the state vaccine program, and, as such, there has been a disparity in access for people of color. The state has since included vaccine equity metric goals in its pandemic response and ratings and Public Health is developing new approaches to increase access. Next step is to ensure these new approached are carried out and effective, and the state holds true to its promise of ensuring equity moving forward. The unhoused population continues to go without resources and no action from county staff to address this. No bueno.
ITEM 29: Diverting Recyclables to Landfills (whhaaaat)?
There was a discussion about diversion of recyclable to landfills. About 200-300 tons/mo. of recyclables are diverted to landfills due to contamination (40-60% of recyclables?). In all neighborhoods, contamination averages 25%. Where contamination is 35% or more, the load is diverted to landfill.
The Department of Waste Management & Recycling’s (DWMR) education efforts with residents have been failing (as to what can and cannot be recycled). Last summer, DWMR, without Board approval, and in order to reduce costs, began to more aggressively send material to landfills, because they couldn’t match rate to expenses. A rate increase was just approved, yet DWMR has not increased sorting and reduced the amount of recyclables sent to landfills.
They said the rate increase was not enough. DWMR never mentioned this issue at rate hearings, however. DWMR will return to the Board on 4/20 for further reporting on the matter.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE?
DWMR is sending refuse that could be recycled to the landfill, and made this decision without public knowledge. We need to push for a better education program on the part of DWMR.