County Begins to Take Mental Health Problems Seriously



Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler has begun to shift his priorities and increase his interest in solving decades-old problems with Portland’s public mental health system.

Sign of his shifting priorities include recent private comments from a variety of close watchers of County politics and public health services, changes to the County’s web site, and close attention to the County’s contracting policies.

The County’s web site, Update on Cascadia Transition, maintains a basic status report, last updated on June 30, now includes several documents from the Chair’s office about the end of Cascadia.

Memo from County Chair Ted Wheeler, from June 16 2008 – PDF.

“Executive Summary” of the “Cascadia plan,” from June 16 2008 – PDF.

Memorandum of understanding among the State of Oregon, Multnomah County and Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., dated June 16 2008 – PDF.

Cascadia Behavioral Heath Financial Condition, memo from Mindy Harris and Jim Scherzinger, dated June 11 – PDF.

“Full Transition Plan” for Cascadia – undated, but probably from June 16 2008 – PDF.

The three policy documents are PDFs of faxes – the original documents have not been circulated. The policy documents went on this web site on June 16.

Finally, according to press accounts Wheeler & company are now aware the County’s contracting capacity has been politicized and respondent to crisis versus using the basic tools of bureaucracy to assure the common good and a good price. A new Contract Compliance Advisory Committee will get the usual carping from Tribune bloggers, while the rest of us give a knowing nod of approval. This is the slog of politics.

Members for this Committee are not finalized. What got Cascadia into trouble was insufficient public oversight of the County’s contracting process. If you’d like to know more about this committee or potentially join, contact Jana McLellan at 503-988-3953.

Do you know of other ways the County administration is beginning to take our community’s public mental health problems seriously? Use the comments section below to tell us.

EXTRA – read County Resolution creating the Contract Compliance Advisory Committee
EXTRA – County Moves to Tighten Contracting Rules – Chair Wheeler’s site, July 31 2008
EXTRA – New committee takes a hard look at county contracts – Portland Tribune, August 1 2008