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?