County Commissioners Present: Bob Workman, Common Chair; Kathy Campbell, Bernie Heier, Larry Hudkins, and Linda Steinman
City Council Members Present: Jon Camp, Common Vice-Chair; Jeff Fortenberry, Cindy Johnson, Annette McRoy and Coleen Seng
Others Present: Dr. Jim Ganser, Board of Health President; Steve Beal, Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department; Mike Thurber, Corrections; Doug Thomas and Ken Kuszak, Information Services; Terry Genrich, Parks & Recreation; Kathleen Sellman, Kent Morgan and Terry Brinkman, Planning Department; Dave Johnson, Deputy County Attorney; Kerry Eagan, Chief Administrative Officer; Ann Harrell and Jennifer Brinkman, Mayor's Office; Chris Hain, Journal Star; and Cori Beattie, County Board Secretary
Heier moved approval of the April 21, 2000, Common minutes; seconded by Steinman. Roll call vote. Ayes: Campbell, Heier, Hudkins, Johnson, Seng, Steinman and Workman. Nays: None. Motion passed 7-0. (Camp, Fortenberry and McRoy absent for vote.)
BOARD OF HEALTH QUARTERLY REPORT
Ganser, President of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Board of Health (LLCBH), commented that over the course of the last six months, the LLCBH has decided to become more of a policy-oriented board (setting policies versus regulating them). To help achieve this goal, the LLCBH will be seeking input and exchanging information on a regular basis with various stakeholders, including City and County officials.
Healthy People 2010 comprised a list of national objectives which Ganser noted have been accepted by the LLCBH as its objectives for the next decade. Over the next few months, these objectives will be prioritized in relation to Lincoln, Nebraska. By the next quarterly meeting with the Common, priorities will be defined and the Health Department's budget will be broken down to reflect percentages going toward each priority. Measurable and quantifiable standards will be set by which the LLCBH will judge itself as to how these goals are being achieved.
(McRoy arrived at 8:25 a.m.)
Ganser mentioned concerns about the mobile health clinics and felt they are primarily mechanical issues and poor allocation choices. Concerns will be addressed to make them maximum functioning machines.
The LLCBH will also be reevaluating its position on animal control. Input is being sought from groups such as the Humane Society, Police Department and Sheriff, and by the next meeting, a more concrete picture should be available as to how certain issues will be addressed.
Johnson asked Ganser to give a brief explanation of "stakeholders" as the community sometimes does not understand what this means. Ganser said it was brought to the LLCBH's attention that within the community, especially minority groups, there seems to be many different levels of participation. An attempt has been made to increase the participation of those who will be receiving services from the Health Department and to get their feedback.
Hudkins commended Beal and his staff for the linkages established with regard to such things as lead poisoning. The time spent with other organizations to increase awareness has really paid off. Ganser added that an unbelievably dedicated staff works for the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department and officials should be very proud of their efforts.
Beal said the new role of the LLCBH with regard to public health policy development will be a very important one to fulfill. Not only will the LLCBH be paying a lot of attention to the Healthy People 2010 objectives but also to the nine priorities outlined in the Human Services Needs Assessment Comprehensive Plan which was presented to the Common in April.
Ganser stated that the Health Endowment will also provide opportunities to change the health of this community as dollars will now be available for projects which were previously denied funding. Beal said $177,000 was received for enhancing the minority health outreach programs, as there are still huge health disparities within the community. It was noted that the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry will also be teaming up with the Health Department to better utilize the mobile health clinics.
Copies of the Health Department's Monthly Report were distributed (copy on file). Steinman said the County Board used to receive these reports and would like to resume doing so. Beal said he would make sure the County Board receives copies.
In regard to future Health Department quarterly reports, Workman suggested the LLCBH President and Common staff person coordinate dates/times.
(Fortenberry arrived at 8:35 a.m.)
JUDICIAL PRACTICE OF SITTING OUT FINES IN JAIL
Workman indicated that the County Board was briefed on this issue some time ago and he felt it was important enough to bring forward to the Common.
Thurber, Corrections Director, said the jail population has been kept under capacity in the past while maintaining the current number of staff. But in the last four months, it is operating over capacity with 219 people housed in the main facility. He felt the following things should be considered to help relieve this overpopulation: 1.) Should every person actually be in jail; and 2.) If not, what is the best alternative. An existing judicial practice in County Court, which allows offenders to sit out fines in jail at $60 per day (an amount set by State Statute), is contributing to the population increase. District Court does not allow this practice.
The jail has been tracking the number of persons choosing to sit out fines/fees. (Actual fine/fee population statistics were included with today's meeting packet. The abbreviation FTC refers to "Failure to Comply.") Anywhere from 22 to 38 people per day are sitting out fines either at the downtown or Airpark facility. Thurber said he met with Judge Pokorney and offered suggestions for the Courts to review. One suggestion was, of course, eliminating the ability to sit out fines/fees. It was noted that if this practice was eliminated and offenders would be required to financially pay something toward their fine, in time, the FTC's would peak but then decrease. He feels offenders should have an equal amount of obligation in paying a fine when ordered by the Court as they do in serving a ten-day sentence.
Hudkins asked Thurber to explain the stipulations surrounding the practice of sitting out a day of fines/fees. Thurber said the designated release time is 6:00 p.m.. If someone arrives at 3:30 p.m. and leaves at 6:00 p.m., they get credit for the whole day. He added that the County does have increased liability in housing these people. The County and City have an interlocal agreement for the housing of City prisoners. Thurber said County populations have increased 40% in the last year; the City's increased 12%. Per diem charges are billed to the City, when applicable. Last week 150 prisoners were billed to the City, plus those people received credit for time served.
Thurber shared an example of a person who was brought to jail for criminal trespassing and had $250 cash with him. His bond was set at $50 and he refused to pay it. He spent the night in jail and the next morning he went to Court. The judge found him guilty, granted him time served and $122 in fines/fees. This person still had $250 but insisted on sitting out the fines. After sitting in jail for two days, he could have paid a few dollars on the third day and been released. But, he chose to stay overnight a third time. The next morning he ate breakfast and then decided he was ready to leave. Since he didn't complete the last day, he was required to pay the remaining amount of his fine (a few dollars) upon release and the City was billed for his entire stay. Thurber said this scenario is not all too unusual, thus, the issue of sitting out fines should really be addressed. He added that It simply comes down to the fact that most prisoners can pay but choose not to. (NOTE: Most fines fall between $300-$400.)
(Camp arrived at 8:48 a.m.)
Workman noted that while the Common could not take any formal action regarding this issue, officials could discuss the matter with judges. Seng asked if it would be appropriate to send a letter to County judges or perhaps the County Board could meet with them to encourage discontinuing this practice. Steinman said that the more elected officials who are aware of this problem, the greater success there will be in dealing with the judges, although, not all will comply. She asked if anyone from the City Council would be interested in attending a meeting with Heier, Thurber, some judges and herself, to discuss the issue. Heier said judges will probably not eliminate the option of sitting out fines. However, a maximum number of days may be established or the per diem rate could be changed. Campbell said it would be helpful for the City Council to provide a letter to the County Board stating that it supports whatever action is necessary. The Board can then take the letter to the meeting with the County judges. She also felt that the County and City legal staffs should review possible legislative changes.
McRoy questioned if it would be possible to garnish fines from wages. Thurber said this has been suggested but enforcement will still need to come from the Courts. Camp stated that garnishments may be taken from pre-tax dollars, thus, taking away from Social Security and other taxes. He feels it would be nice if while sitting out fines, offenders provided some form of labor. Hudkins asked about work limitations for prisoners. Thurber said jail crews work at the Health Department, Community Mental Health Center, Childrens Museum, etc. Generally, if prisoners do not have work release they volunteer for kitchen, laundry or janitorial detail. There are not enough Correctional Officers to allow crews to do outside work.
Seng asked the Mayor's Office staff to prepare a letter to the County Board regarding the City's position on the practice of sitting out fines/fees in jail.
(Cindy Johnson left at 9:00 a.m.)
TEMPORARY CREDIT CARD FOR
INFORMATION SERVICES POLICY COMMITTEE
Thomas noted that Information Services is losing potential discounts in computer equipment by not having a single credit card issued to the department. A handout was distributed which shows the comparison of credit card versus purchase order pricing (copy on file). Workman added that obtaining a permanent card is in the works and will hopefully be received by September 1, 2000 - a temporary card is really what is needed at this time. Thomas said the Auditing Department did provide the option of getting a credit card where Thomas would be held personally liable. He added that, for obvious reasons, this wasn't an option.
Kuszak stated that $1.3 million is spent annually on computer equipment. By using a credit card, the department could realize a savings of $2,000 per month. He stated that the lowest vendors will often times not accept purchase orders and this forces him to purchase certain items at a higher price.
Hudkins said the savings seem justifiable and perhaps the City and County budget departments could get involved to help the process move forward. Seng said she prefers the City Finance Department take the charge since it's an administrative issue. Thomas stated that Don Herz, City Finance Director, and Vince Mejer, City Purchasing Agent, are both aware of the problem. Steinman said it may be ideal to have the card issued to the Purchasing Department. Thomas said Kuszak has already been authorized as the Purchasing Department's agent due to the large volume purchased. It was agreed that City and County budget officers could meet with Thomas to acquire a temporary card.
STEVENS CREEK UPDATE
Terry Brinkman noted that people raised various issues during the first two Stevens Creek open houses. They would like to see the following things addressed:
Brinkman noted that the Conceptual Plan Committee has attracted the names of 40 people. Also, stakeholder meetings, including the City, County, fire departments, utilities and schools, are planned for the next few weeks. Eventually, meetings with the business community will also be conducted.
Fortenberry questioned the timeline for conclusion of the analysis. Brinkman said information will be collected throughout the process. Analysis work will continue until the end of summer. Recommendations regarding conceptual plan development should be done this fall with the complete set of recommendations being finalized by the end of the year. Fortenberry asked how structured the process will be. Brinkman said the Conceptual Planning Committee will meet once a month to review various issues and to hear presentations from groups with an interest in Stevens Creek.
Heier inquired as to how many people will be chosen for the Committee and who will select the final members. Brinkman said at this point, there is no real process for selection. The goal is to keep the group as well represented as possible and at a size which can easily interact with people. Heier asked if the City Council and County Board will be involved in the selection process. Sellman said the actual process has not been decided, but they will let officials know as soon as it is.
Camp asked about the time table for the Committee being in place. Brinkman said the first meeting is targeted for late June. Camp noted that this puts things at a little disadvantage since the process isn't defined yet. Sellman said specific issues are emerging in the open house process which will target areas for heavier concentration during the selection process. Hudkins suggested that the City Council and County Board receive a copy of the Committee so they may offer their input. Sellman said copies will be provided. Seng agreed that it will be very helpful for the Council and Board to have this list.
Workman questioned what, if any, type of apprehensions are being felt regarding the beltway selection. Sellman commented that this "is a major issue."
Workman noted that there was a request for an additional item on today's agenda but it was received a little late and, therefore, was not listed as to remain in compliance with open meetings laws. He asked departments to contact the Common staff person by 4:30 p.m., on the Tuesday prior to the Common meeting if there is a last-minute agenda item. Also, since Common meetings are informational in nature, there will no longer be "Unfinished Business" or "New Business" listed as agenda items. The course of business will address the main agenda items only.
Campbell noted that the County appreciates the issue the City wanted the Common to address today. The Board will be discussing the Change of Zone for 84th Street & Waverly Road at its next staff meeting. Seng added that the City is interested in knowing how the County feels about this issue.
Fortenberry moved to adjourn the Common meeting; Seng seconded. Roll call vote. Ayes: Workman, Seng, McRoy, Hudkins, Heier, Fortenberry, Camp and Campbell. Nays: None. Motion passed 8-0. (Steinman and Johnson absent for vote.)
Cori R. Beattie
County Board Secretary