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Politics on Tap: 08/01/2017

Politics on Tap

State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) has officially announced that he will run for a second term. The former Sonoma County Supervisor has enjoyed a very busy first term representing the sprawling Second Senate District that runs from the Golden Gate Bridge along the coast to Oregon, including all or parts of Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Trinity counties.

The announcement was made on July 17 by campaign associate Grant Martin of the Mike McGuire for State Senate committee.

McGuire raised almost a million dollars to succeed State Senator Noreen Evans in 2014. He has worked closely with Transform SDC, a coalition of government, nonprofit and private groups formed to monitor and guide the closure of the sprawling 900-acre facility for the developmentally disabled situated south of Glen Ellen.

McGuire is a third-generation Northern Californian whose family farmed prunes and grapes in the Alexander Valley for nearly a half century. He and his wife Erika, a local elementary school principal, live in Healdsburg.

McGuire attended Santa Rosa Junior College and graduated from Sonoma State University, first working in radio and television.

He started serving as a school board member when he was 19, then served as a council member and mayor of Healdsburg before being elected a Sonoma County supervisor.

The primary election is June 5, 2018. The general election is November 6, 2018.

North Bay Regional Center's Bob Hamilton to retire

After more than 40 years working for the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Kenwood resident Bob Hamilton is retiring. He has been the Executive Director of the North Bay Regional Center since 2007, and served as CFO from 2006. He will step down on Dec. 31 this year, but says he will continue to work for the Center in an advisory capacity for the near future.

Hamilton has played a pivotal part in preparing homes for clients being transitioned out of the Sonoma Development Center (SDC), slated to close at the end of 2018.

Hamilton was pleased to note that housing for all SDC clients who need it has been identified, if not fully prepared for occupancy yet.

Overhaul of developmentally disabled services proposed

The state of California has been scurrying to address a wide spectrum of issues that cropped up when the Federal government pulled its support for institutional care for the developmentally and other behaviorally challenged people. Withdrawing federal support has resulted in the closure of almost all of the state's large developmental centers, including SDC, now scheduled to be shuttered at the end of 2018.

Since the early 1970s, only the most severely challenged of the developmentally disabled were placed in developmental center institutions. The vast majority of the population either lives at home or in community homes specially designed for individual needs and administered through 21 Regional Centers. The state stopped institutional admissions in 2012.

A statewide task force convened in 2014 to look at the closure process for the developmental centers and many of its recommendations were adopted by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), a division of the California Department of Public Heath.

One insight of the original task force findings was that the regional system was not fully capable of coping with the influx of high-need patients, and they called for a second task force to work out ways to strengthen the regional system.

The original task force was re-convened and has issued draft findings. Recommendations include rethinking and overhauling the overall rate structure used to pay providers and employees. Such a study is underway with findings expected by March 1, 2019.

The core staffing formula used by DDS needs revision, with an eye to smaller caseloads and more frequent reviews.

The DDS needs to evaluate where there are “service gaps in crisis and 'wrap-around' services” statewide.

The state's housing crisis is directly impacting the ability to provide adequate housing for clients. Funding mechanisms need to be more flexible and incentives need to be developed.

It is expected that the services task force will morph into advisory committees for long term studies and policy implementation.
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