The AVA calls Mendocino County Health Services a “stinking pile of privatized administrative manure”…


mEvan Johnson has photoshopped what many of us say every time we drive by…

From TheAVA

WE’RE AMAZED that no one in Official Mendocino County seems upset in the least about Mental Health Director Tom Pinizzotto — a former Ortner executive — negotiating billing rates and Mental Health contracts with his old pals at Ortner Management Group.

WE HAVE Supervisor Dan Gjerde pointing out that Ortner is overcharging for administration.
WE HAVE Ortner’s bill showing that they’re overcharging for case management (and probably more, buried deep in their nearly unreadable bills).

WE HAVE the Grand Jury’s report from last year pointing out in chapter and verse that Mr. Pinizzotto has an obvious “appearance” of a conflict of interest, i.e., an actual conflict of interest if not a technically illegal one.

SINCE Pinizzotto oversees Ortner’s Mental Health activities and acts as gatekeeper for information to the Board of Supervisors and the public, and since he’s a former Ortner employee who negotiated privatization of roughly half of Mendocino County’s mental health services (valued at $7 to $ million annually) with Ortner and then went to work as an administrator with the unprivatized part of Mendocino County’s mental health services, how could this NOT be an illegal conflict of interest?

WE HAVE a Mental Health Advisory Board that doesn’t interest itself in finances or actual delivery of services, which causes us to wonder how that board views its function. What is its reason for being?

WE STILL HAVE a bloated County Mental Health department — also overseen by Pinizzotto — in spite of most of the work supposedly having been farmed out to Ortner Management Group, a private for-profit business, and Redwood Children’s Management Company, another private business.

WE HAVE A Board of Supervisors (well, four of them anyway — Hamburg is either oblivious or complicit) who seem interested in looking into some aspects of the Mental Health Department’s finances but never gets around to actually doing it.

WE HAVE a small army of free-range nuts and drug-addled Mendolanders who get no “service” and cause a lot of trouble and expense because a huge chunk of the Mental Health money is not going anywhere near them. Instead, we have the Ortner people offering alleged services like Tai Chi and Geezers Talking To Each Other (“Senior Peer Counseling”) being charged out by the minute as a “Mental Health Service.”

WE HAVE this private contractor, Ortner, in business to make a profit for its owners deciding who gets what mental health service based largely on ability to pay or insurance coverage.

AND WE HAVE Ortner (via a subcontractor) about to move in to the Old Coast Hotel in downtown Fort Bragg where they will surely expand their admin services even more because Ortner has yet to bill at his full spending authority rate rubberstamped by the supervisors.

WE HAVE HHSA Director Stacey Cryer saying — admitting, really, after more than two years of privatization experience — they have a lot to learn about the process, and admits that the County and Ortner are still performing duplicate administrative functions.

WE HAVE AN ongoing multi-million dollar mental health deficit caused by state denials of mental health service reimbursement claims, which drains money away from other important county programs, including law enforcement which has become Mendocino County’s de facto mental health services provider although we’re paying a private provider between $7 and $8 million annually to care for this county’s adult walking wounded.

AND WE HAVE the Board of Supervisors throwing even more money at this badly broken and corrupt mess via two recent $500k Mental Health contract amendments and the pending $150k “Stepping Up” initiative as if any real good is being done for the bulk of the Mentally Ill with these wasted tax dollars.

HOW BAD DOES THIS HAVE TO GET before somebody at least audits this stinking pile of privatized administrative manure?

CALLING DA EYSTER: Is fraud still a crime? Isn’t Pinizzotto’s position illegal?


Scandals grow and multiply when criminals form a substantial segment of the influential class (i.e. wealthy folks). Although a terrible thing in itself, the darkly comical story of corruption in mental health is just a symptom of a much deeper an long standing problem of corrupt influences controlling Mendocino. Demand transparency and criminal consequences, not because that will work, but because it is the moral thing to do.

After 40 years in our fair county, I am still amazed/appalled at the level of obvious cronyism and corruption that passes for Business As Usual in local government. Of course there are the occasional good guys & gals trying to make a dent in it all, but the rough beast still slouches onward. Whether it’s perennial property scams in Brooktrails, ignored Grand Jury reports, or the Ortner debacle, things are different only in scale from such notorious cesspools as Hudson County NJ or Washington DC. There must be some lesson in human nature here. As above, so below?

    The really, REALLY big lie is that human nature is the problem. Far from being the problem, it is the solution we have been waiting for. We didn’t become a successful species by having a flawed nature. Granted we are best adapted to smaller social groupings, but our capacity for enjoying cooperation and expressing compassion have been the mainspring of our success. There is a whole branch of psychology called Disaster Studies, featured in Rebecca Solnit’s book “A Paradise Built In Hell,” that looks at how wonderful we can be when forced by circumstance to rely on mutual aid. The advent of violence as a means of organizing society (see The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler) subverted our natures by imposing chronic fear. The chief obstacle to exercising our natures without disabling fear is the power of clever psychopaths to take control large, hierarchically organized societies. Domination by psychopaths is the primary disease of civilization. In any setting where competitive competence is honored over cooperative competence psychopaths will rule. That is especially true in a place like Mendocino where psychopaths can hide and manipulate from the shadows. Knowledgeable sources (The Sociopath Next Door) estimate a 4% incidence of psychopathy (synonymous with Sociopathy) in the US. From experience and observation I suspect a higher percentage for Mendocino.

    Lacking any neurological capacity for compassion or conscience, psychopaths are champion competitors and masters of disguise and deceit. They are destructive preditors of normal humans who seem inferior. On a societal level they function as parasites on human society.

    Now that human society is organizing on a global scale the triumphal age of psychopathy is upon us and we are threatened by extinction as a species due to their destructive influence.

    In recent times it is possible to positively diagnose psychopathy with the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Perhaps we need to have a ballot initiative to require a clean brain scan for anyone running for office here.

One problem with MRI’s for detecting psycopathy is that the location of The Mind within each of us is not easily found. I do not speak of The Brain, that mass of grey matter where memories of perceptions are stored, although admittedly in people like George W. Bush even the brain is hard to locate. If you have such a road map of the Mind, Hruhs, please share it with us.

    There is a lot of research currently on MRI diagnosis of psychopathy, the actual medical condition. “Mind” doesn’t figure in the science. Most of the popular books are not up to date and use the Hare Psychopathy Checklist as a diagnostic tool. “Psychopath” has been used as mere invective in common speach that it can be difficult to shift to thinking about the purely biological phenomenon, What is clear is that we are dealing with a different, and dangerous, kind of brain that lacks the ability to form a conscience, something we normals take so much for granted that we have a hard time imagining being without. I still like The Socioapth Next Door as an introduction to the topic. MRI studies do support the effectiveness of the Hare Checklist and it continues to be a useful tool.

    Psychopaths vary like normals do across the spectrum of variation of development. Less intelligent ones become the garden variety pathological liars who exploit vulnerable people by manipulating them for modest gain. Psychopaths are unlikely to be serial killers, like Anderson Valley has specialized in producing, and which the mass media never tires of portraying, Actually, serial killers are a minuscule fraction of what is a large group. Recent research has focused on the high incidence of psychopathy in CEO’s.

    Hope you find your study of the phenomenon of psychopathy interesting.


Just viewed an excellent CBC documentary on psychopathy:

The Psychopath Next Door (2014) – ( Documentary ) – YouTube