A Bridge to Nowhere

So we have an admission, finally, that this commission shouldn’t have appointed the sheriff. In response, to protect her fragile ego, rather than removing her, they have stripped a total of 8 members and the sheriff of their “voting rights” on the commission. They have also realized that not including deputies on this commission was a mistake and given deputies 1 seat in addition to the laughable experience in corrections operations by Mr. Grilli who is the other seat representing us. While it’s an admirable attempt to fix what they broke before they even finished building it, we need better.  We deserve better.

They’re trying to fix a problem within the jails, with a commission that already has undergone the correction of two failures before it’s even started and still has issues with bias, balance and diversity.  Are they kidding us? If our supervisors were architects designing a building, it would fall down.

Things change fast, and I think all of us, through this blog, through your own efforts to speak out, and the effort of yet others who have reached out to supervisors, we can push for changes to make this situation even better for everyone.

Even the Mercury News has noted, though they quickly change the headline, that this commission is troubled — it suffers from the usual political Happy Bill Syndrome that infests this county and the ideology of our current supervisors and their political allies.

Sheriff others stripped of vote on troubled jails commission · Mercury News · Disqus

As I pointed out earlier today on the Mercury News editorial (don’t worry, I took a screen shot in case they change it up yet again), the public should not trust this commission for a number of reasons. And while I think the latest news, that the sheriff and other invested county members have been stripped of a vote, it should be noted, we now have 9 people that, as David Cortese describes them, “We can get the opinions and recommendations of…any time,” as county officials.

Why? Why are these people taking up 9 seats on this committee that we could assign to people that are knowledgeable and independent and who can add further value to this effort? These are people who work for the county and would be obligated to provide any information at any time requested, in person or via documentation. They can be called to state their opinions, provide and verify information, etc. as needed, even if that means appearing at every meeting. Why do we need NINE – 36% of the commission — non-voting seats filled by these people? People who, while not voting members, still are sitting in a place of power where they can manipulate the direction of efforts. This remains unacceptable.

As I noted, in my response to the Merc Editorial, there is not a single at large representative of the community and the county. Every last one has politically ties. With somewhere around 2 million people in this county, I refuse to buy the story anymore that the community is so small it’s impossible to find people who don’t have influential political ties. This is 2015, not 1975, it’s not an orchard any more.

There is not one single individual that they have indicated a background on, other than of course Ladoris Cordell. They have failed to provide any kind of blurb to the general public about each individual and what they bring to the table beyond being a part of some civil rights group or another, or political affiliation. Why?

The County Counsel’s office is saying they won’t provide the applications from who applied to the commission. It’s not public record. Seriously, it’s not public record who applied to a transparent, public commission to represent the taxpayers interests in on investigating the jails? I think that could be referred to as a transparency fail. We have a right to know who else applied, and if they were better suited to represent a more diverse committee, or at least the community in an honest bid.

Why is this commission so overladen with individuals with an interest in mental health? While it is a critical factor, again, it is hardly the only burgeoning gap that needs to be filled in these jails. There is no diversity of subject matter experts on this commission which therefore continues to limit its ability to truly fix the problems. The diversity of appointees should match the diversity of problems — it doesn’t. It’s like they didn’t even try.

I am appalled at Cindy Chavez. So appalled I wonder what a freedom of information act request of all the supervisor’s emails on the matter of the development of the commission would bring to light. She “forgot” that she had emails from deputies seeking to be on the commission? I’m sorry, given her regular defense of the sheriff, her disdain for the deputies, I have an immensely difficult time believing she “forgot” she had been in communication with deputies who were interested.

As I said in my post, this is tiresome, this is old. Two people are dead, a murderer was told to walk off, there are untold problems inside the jail and the enforcement division for an untold number of reasons endangering people every day and we’re still playing politics. When are our elected officials going to be embarrassed enough by their blatant behavior to stop.

Go back to the drawing board and do this commission right.  Do not fix the broken jails with a broken commission. You owe us at least that much.