LynnThird year in a row, worst plan yet. Colossal screw up. Not sure why the county can’t get its act together, but it seems to be a political struggle between staff and the elected officials. The executive and legislative branches. Meanwhile, people suffer. And they all admit this isn’t a good solution, but they are “satisfied” even tho they are not “tickled” – but that has nothing to do with the condition of homelessness, just being told what to do by their colleagues.
I had a bunch of snarky comments I was going to make, but that really pisses off these unusually thin skinned folks on the county board. So I’m just going to say, listen and watch for some really privileged and patronizing comments that come out of the mouths of these supervisors, then read carefully what Heidi Wegleitner and Ronn Ferrell have to say at the end. They said it better than me ranting and pissing people off by holding them accountable in plain language that people understand. Why not listen to the homeless people who come before them and tell them what they need, why bother having a Homeless Issues Committee if you aren’t going to listen to them.
Supervisor and County Board Chair John Hendrick explains:
- Homeless Issues Committee recommends adoption of sub. 1 to resolution 135 by a vote of 5 – 2 (United Way and Madison Police voting against)
- Personnel and Finance Committee recommends adoption of sub. 2. to resolution 135 by a vote of 6 – 0 with a youth governance vote of 2 – 0.
- Health and Human Needs recommends adoption with the following amendments:
- – #3 should read “to and from the service providers available to them and meet other individual needs, the list of providers is eliminated
- – The dates in #3 are Nov. 1st 2013 through October 31st 2014. That is correcting the date crossing out March 31st.
- – Add in #4 to direct the Department of Human Service to locate free storage space for individual lockers as well as storage of supplies that support the homeless community and office space for Shine 608.
- – Be it further resoled clause – cross out the county executive and county clerk so it reads that the Department of Human Services is directed to execute contracts specified in this resolution for a state date of November 1st, 2013.
- – Add this sentence at the end of number 3 – “To have Porchlight present their plan for transportation services for the homeless under this contract to the Health and Human Needs Committee for Nov. 1st 2013.”
- The Personnel and Finance proposal is before them.
Hendrick then calls on Supervisor Carousel Bayrd (Vice Chair of the County Board) who says she would like to propose a sub. 3. Hendrick says there are registrations and he was out of order. He made a mistake. He calls on David Wiganowski (Wiggie) who asks if it was the first one today. Hendrick says just for tonight.
Includes a weird freak out by Carousel Bayrd. I spoke along with 3 currently homeless and one formerly homeless persons. We spoke in support, mostly, of the Homeless Services Committee proposal which included $10,000 of bus passes and $12,000 for daytime storage/lockers, a place to get mail and storage space and office space for about 10 grassroots organizations that help the homeless when they don’t get services elsewhere. Including possibly a new service of getting emergency kits to those turned away from shelter.
We were ignored, as was the Homeless Issues Committee recommendation. Apparently, the county board members know better. Even those it is the worst. plan. yet.
Carousel Bayrd says that there are 4 provisions to sub. 3. She says will hit on perhaps one of the more important ones that they touched on, transportation first. She, along with many of her colleagues will acknowledge, this is not perfect. They had hoped they would be talking about a homeless day shelter. They are not talking about that today, and that in itself is frustrating, but she is satisfied that at least this is moving us forward further than they are today. And that is a step, it might not be the step they wanted to take, but it is the step that they are taking and she is satisfied that they are making things better. She says the transportation services is a combination of the two, it talks about van service and bus service, both fill different gaps and fill different needs. It provides funding for the van service, but it specifically asks for Porchlight to present their plan for the transportation services to Health and Human Needs by November 1st. A tight timeline that Supervisor Melissa Sargent is aware of and supports. The issue was raised by Brenda Konkel and others that we don’t know what the plan is, where does the Porchlight van go and maybe we need it to go places where they are not going right now. Or where they haven’t gone in the past, and that conversation needs to happen. The second piece of it is to allow for a review of adding bus passes. She understands it doesn’t say that bus passes will be added, she gets that, and it won’t be ideal for everyone, but it does say that we need to have a conversation with Shine 608, by November 1st, with HHN to talk about $10,000 of bus passes, how would they be utilized, how would we prioritize them and how we can coordinate multiple concepts of transportation. The other piece is the ones we were talking about all along. The other piece is addressing the needs for day services by making sure Bethel Lutheran Church is open 5 days a week. The second portion talks about Shine 608 providing case management services and the last piece talks about finding permanent space, storage space or storage for lockers to individuals can store the things that they need. This is not enough, this is not everything, but again, she thinks satisfied, is the right word, she is satisfied that they are putting things on the table and moving forward and she urges them to support sub. 3.
^^^^^ This is so infuriating when they do this. They take public testimony and then hand out their new proposal which the public didn’t get a chance to see or speak to, and don’t have copies for members of the public to even see what they are discussing.
Dennis O’Loughlin says at Personnel and Finance they talked a lot about showers and they have not addressed that issue. They also talked about bus passes and they were hoping they could get that to work and they could get bus passes in the program. He also serves on Salvation Army board and he is well aware of the issue they are talking about and the critical nature when you see the clock spinning and we are now into October and it is getting cooler. But he has a third issue, he was going to say that he doesn’t know if it is ready for prime time, but he would like someone to help him understand why we, the 37 members of this body, are taking $30,000 out of our audit account and using it for this program. He feels that the audit function of the county board has provided an awful lot of services for the people of Dane County and we are taking $30,000 of their money, why not general purpose revenue and transfer $30,000 into this account and leave the county board whole. He knows it will take 2/3s of those present and he is questioning if they have 2/3 votes based on that issue. He is wondering if the chair can share his thoughts on why we use that money that was our money for audit purposes, very beneficial audits I might add, to put into this program, he is wondering if someone can help answer that.
Hendrick says there are a few people rung in and they may try to answer the question, he would love to answer the question, but he will try to chair the meeting instead.
Paul Rusk has a question – in two places it says shall present to HHN by Nov. 1st a proposal and he understands that, things go to committees all the time, but are we saying that HHN will decide the plan is a good plan, and make modifications in the plan, and come up with the solution, is that what we are saying, it doesn’t say that. Can I just assume that since it has to go to them that the committee will work real hard to figure out what the answer is. That is how our system works the best, that is a very large committee, that is the committee that knows the most about all these issues and he wants to make sure that is the committee that will review these plans with Lynn Green and say “yes” that is the best we can do and we are going to go forward, so that is his question.
Hendrick says they have two questions.
Bayrd says to address the first question by Supervisor O’Loughlin, there is extra money in the audit line, there is enough money to fund all the audits that are before us on the county board on the executive committee budget and the audits were coming in under budget and there is extra money. I suppose we could carry it over, just like we have in the past, but we decided that this was a priority, as a member of the Executive Committee she knows there is enough money to cover the audits and then some. As to the second question, she plugged in for the first one, and she can say that was the intent and presumption. For number 2, the Shine 608 information they were going to take back and develop what they thought appropriate, or any member of the county board could develop a budget amendment. Number three, to Porchlight shall present a plan, correct, it does not say it shall accommodate any HHN request, but that was her understanding and HHN chir can speak for herself, but that was the intent, she was with me and that was the understanding when we were drafting this substitute.
Jeremy Levin says that HHN spent 60 minutes last night making sausage and with this resolution, we actually went as amended on the first one and they had many friendly amendments, with the Porchlight one basically making sure that since this is amending the 2013 budget, that we would get a report back and we wanted a date certain as part of that plan as the department was going to do the contract. He wanted to mention what the committee was thinking on the bus passes, they had quite a lot of discussion on the van vs. the bus passes. One of their supervisors did talk about how Vet Services has done bus passes with disabled vets and in 5 months had already spent over $5,000 so that was a big issue with the committee and why they thought that bus passes for $10,000 was not going to be enough and that what we did through a friendly amendment was to talk about the fact that getting the van, which they will talk with Porchlight before November 1st, that they will be able to get not only to service providers but also individual needs of those taking the van, that was important to the committee. He must admit that he is not the biggest fan of the line at the end of section 2, not only because the committee talked about it, he thinks they felt that the van was a better use of dollars and also use of the actual van that we are going to be able to transfer a title to Porchlight, so it will also help out the department, but he was a little disturbed that we are already going to have an amendment in 2014, since we are talking about 2013, so he has a concern that it isn’t germane, but he will look past that.
Nick Zweifel says he is on the Homeless Issues Committee and the Health and Human Needs Committee and they worked really hard at this and they are in a pickle. The homeless community, service providers and advocates, we worked really hard to find a homeless day center location around the square and we worked really hard at it and we couldn’t. Now we have decided that, hearing from the homeless community that we can expand out, that is ok, because we realize we are not going to find that, now we are a year later and we don’t have a homeless day center and we are sort of in a pickle. He wants to thank Lynn Green, and the committees and service providers for coming up with something to help us get through this winter so we can continue to keep working to get something up and running by next year, and I hope we are not sitting here having the same debate next year at this time. Lynn Green has found a van in our fleet that she was going to auction off, and offered that in this situation to Porchlight for free and will sign the title over to them. The reason Porchlight would be the provider we would use is that they already have the licensing and insurance and everything they need to operate that van and other service providers don’t necessarily have that capacity or ability. The other thing that is important is that there may be a possibility to use that van once the day center is open. The one thing that will go away tonight if we don’t secure it is the van, one thing that is not going to go away is the bus service. There will be other opportunities, we hope, to accommodate those requests. Its our budget season, its the City of Madison budget season and there are numerous charities and people in the community that we can work with. Madison Metro is not going to go away, and bus passes are not going to go away so that opportunity will lend itself to us and anyone else in the future, the opportunity to secure the van will not. This is our opportunity to secure the van. The other issue he has with bus passes is that they are a commodity, there was nothing in the resolution about how it would be tracked and we also heard from supervisor Levin, which we heard last night, about how much the Veterans’ services has already spent this year and he has serious doubts that $10,000 is going to be enough money to cover bus passes for the homeless community this winter. So with that money, with the money possibly running out really quickly and them not having the van didn’t seem like a good idea to them last night, support sub. 3.
Ronn Ferrell asks what is before them? Sub 3 is the substitute to the committee action.
Ronn Ferrell asks about the back page, line 86, it says the Department of Human Services was directed to execute contracts, is that normal for Health and Human Services to execute contracts without board and county executive approval?
Hendrick directs the question to Lynn Green about whether that is normal?
Ferrell says that he asks because the resolution says that groups will present their plan, we don’t even know what contract we are authorizing them to approve, or execute.
Lynn Green says it is normal, they execute nonprofessional contracts, they don’t come before you after you approve the budget, they sign over 250 contracts based on the budget you executed. If you adopt a budget and the line is to do these services, then it is normal to sign the contracts.
Ferrell asks if these are not professional services contracts?
Lynn Green says these are not professional services contracts.
Ferell says that he’d like to expound on the Veterans Services bus passes. Do the math, $10,000 where a bus pas costs $27.50 per month, you could buy a monthly pass, that is 364 passes. 120 per month for three months, we would burn through those pretty quick. If you go with a day pass for $3, thats 3,333 days, that’s a lot, except if you have 100 people a day using those, that is only 33 days, that will only get you to the 2nd of February, maybe you can strike a deal with Madison Metro and get them for $2/day, or a group of bus passes, but the bus passes are not going to work, the dollars are way too low, the van certainly has issues, it doesn’t go everywhere, it has limited capacity, but we have to be real careful with the bus pass program, learm from the Vets program, there have been a lot of adjustments made over the 6 momths of that successful program, but they have that under control, that is a very small group of people to work with, unfortunately we are working with 100s of homeless in Madison and it is difficult for staff at any location to make sure the bus passes are used properly. He doesn’t see anywhere in the resolution where the $10,000 is coming from. The $30,000 is talked about, the $8,000 and $22,000 is in there but nothing about the $10,000. I guess it does say it won’t start until the 2014 budget, so we will have no bus passes til the 1st of January at best, so what will we do til then, there are a lot of issues with this, I know there has been a lot of work done, but a former colleague on the city council often said, its not soup yet. This just came before us tonight, the Health and Human Needs Committee spent a lot of time on it. The Homeless Issues Committee spent a lot of time on it, there can be a better solution before the board and I really hope that you find it.
Melissa Sargent urges them to support sub 3, they postponed action two weeks ago because they wanted to hear what the Homeless Issues Committee thought before moving forward and they were meeting after the board, and she had many contacts with many people across the community, by email, on the street corners, with her collegues and she does believe that we do have a lot of work to do when it comes to how we take care of the homeless in our community, she agrees with supervisor Ferrell on that. She does very much believe this resolution is ready to go, they have put a lot of work into it, they have taken the strongest pieces of the conversations that they have had and they have come up with something that is workable, there are parts of this she is not tickled with, as Supervisor Levin has pointed out, in section 2, and as Ferell point out, the proposal for bus passes for the homeless. She is not used to resolutions mandating agenda items for committees. She doesn’t know that is the direction this board wants to go, but it is a compromise she is willing to take to get this moving forward. We have a budget process coming up, she believes they can continue this conversation, bus passes is not going to go far. But if having that language in here passes this tonight, that is what we need to do. Everyone agrees that Bethel Lutheran Church is a fabulous resource in our community and supporting them so they can support the vulnerable in our community is a good step. Shine 608 is a new emerging agency, I know many of the people associated with Shine 608 are not new faces in our community, however they are a new emerging agency, this is a great step for them to take, to let them shine, so to speak. They are going to be very helpful with these services and she believes they will do a very good job for out community. Porchlight, also, I know there are many people in our community that have mixed feeling about them, we heard people just tonight talk about the benefits of them, we have heard other people talk about the fact that they have a bad taste in their mouth. However, they are an important part of the safety net, they are there and they are ready to serve. That bus, that 15 passenger bus will be able to help people across the whole county, we are the county board. They will be there and we will continue this conversation and we will make sure that we are providing for the individual needs of people in our community. We have heard over and over again the importance of storage space, we are continuing conversations, this codifies those conversations, she is confident they will have a place for those lockers to go. And we will also be able to provide storage for our providers so they have some place for things to go so they are not in their cars and in storage sheds scattered across our whole county. Again, we have a lot of work to do, this is an emotional topic, I agree with Supervisor Ferrell that we have work to do, but not on this resolution. We have work to do in our community, she urges them to vote in support of sub. 3.
Mary Kolar echos and concurs and supports Sargent’s comments. She is the chair of the Veteran’s Service Commission and she can tell you that when the Veteran’s Service Commission received the angel donation, thanks to coordination by Supervisor Ferrell they received $15,000 and $8,000 in the county board 2013 budget. As has been stated, over $20,000 has been expended through the program, but what they did to the Veteran’s Service Commission was to say, tell us how you think this will work. And one of the reasons that I appreciate sub 3 is that it is saying to service providers and the Human Services Department, tell us how you think it will work. And as has been stated tonight, we can learn from the Veteran’s Service about how it will work. The advantage the Veteran’s Services office has is that the veteran has a form, a DD214 which you receive when you are discharged. She has one. It tells her length of service and what they are eligible for and that is what the veterans service uses. There have been Veterans who have gotten bus passes and there have been veterans that have abused the bus passes sadly,but because of the system they set up, and they can tell who is abusing it and they cut they veterans services bus passes off. The system was set up with people who have to live with it. She appreciates this sub 3 because it lets those who have experience working with people who would potentially be using the bus passes, how the services will be delivered. The van is also a good option, we are not depending on one option, we are not micromanaging the system, as has been stated, this is what we need to do tonight, this is money we have available, money we need to do services that are needed now.
Heidi Weglietner says that she will support sub 3, but she does so with skepticism and limited expectations. She is disappointed that 15 months later, and she knows she is not alone, that we are still not adequately responding to the most pressing needs. In July 2012 MUM gave us a report on emergency needs and we started working on a day center over a year ago, we put money into the budget and we still don’t have a place and we still need money to run the place. I know we are all frustrated, but she wants to highlight what the homeless services consortium found, in the survey they did in the fall and winter of 2012. They ask in question 7 what help was/is hard to find. And the top vote getter with 71 votes was lockers and personal storage space. And they are concerned that this sub 3 puts in language that the department will locate storage space for individual lockers as well as storage space for homeless services community and office space. She is worried, that space we don’t have, might be difficult to find, so we will be asking that, I assume I will be asking staff, and Health and Human Needs is going to be asking for how that space is going to come about. When we look at what comes up, 66 is laundry, 64 is showers and this substitute doesn’t get to the laundry or the showers. She hopes the HHN works hard, and they can give pressure in the community to find the space we need until we have a day center. She is reluctantly supporting this and will continue to push to make sure we can deal with these most basic needs. The part she is most concerned about and it kind of breaks her heart really, we set up a Homeless Issues Committee, and we did so intentionally, to include the voices of homeless people and she does think that this sub 3 takes some of what was heard in the committee and tries to improve over the resolution, and she appreciates that, but she hopes in the future that we deliver on these promises so that our homeless brothers and sisters don’t think that their participation in local government is done in vain. So that they know that we are listening to them and supporting not only the organizations that are assisting them in the traditional sphere, but the organizations that they are leading, the organizations that are in positions to make decisions and that they are working with and not just getting served by. She wants us to work on that and that when we are thinking about how we want to make a more equitable county we are listening to and empowering those voices that are directly impacted by those policies.
Ronn Ferell says that a year ago we were all in this same room and we were discussing a homeless day shelter and at that time he said something to the effect that we were out of time and we need to do something. After 15 months, this is what we are doing, we should all be ashamed of ourselves. We should all be ashamed of ourselves after 15 months. He is going to vote for it, but his ashamed of what we have done, and not done.
Passes unanimously on a voice vote, with confirmation that there were not objections.
CONVERSATION WITH LYNN GREEN IN THE HALLWAY
She’s not looking for space to put the lockers. She says the city should do it. Or we (advocates and homeless persons) need to come up with a proposal for a location. Doesn’t matter what the resolution says, she’s not doing it. Just like we don’t have a daytime resource center yet, and might not have one next year either.
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