Rep. Jeannie Darneille Saves: Passing The Mental Health Tax in Tacoma

Pierce County is Not Going To Help...
posted May 29, 2012
Tacoma, Tacomic, Jeannie Darneille, Savior, Hero, Mental Health Social Safety Net
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Behold the ebay: "Make RR Draw a Political Cartoon 4 YOU" Winner's Tacomic!  The plan was to have me draw a cartoon and my winning bidder (a PHD psychologist ultra-smart person) would write a short explanation paragraph about the tragedy unfolding in Pierce County...  but let me see if I can summarize while we wait. 

As the conservative power players of the Pierce County Council (drawn smaller above/below) strangle the big government social safety net in the bathtub or whatever and whereas PUBLIC Mental Healthcare is being transferred to the private sector contractors (For Profit Mental Health Crisis Services what could go wrong?) the county's most vulnerable are getting thrown into the mystery vortex of OPTUMHEALTH DOT COM all the while cheer-leaded by PAT, ONE REPRESENTATIVE from the 27TH DISTRICT HAS RISEN ABOVE AND BEYOND to show her quality AS A TRUE PATRIOT AND HERO: JEANNIE DARNEILLE.  

I quote now from her 2012 Legislative Wrap-up newsletter:
  "HELPING OUR CITY HELP THE MENTALLY ILL - Legislation passed in 2005 allowed counties to raise sales taxes 0.1% (10 cents on a $100 purchase) to fund treatment programs for mental health and chemical dependency. Every urban county has done that--except Pierce County. I sponsored a bill to allow the cities of Tacoma, Lakewood and Puyallup to do the same. Tacoma has now adopted the tax to expand its therapy programs."

Thank You Rep. Jeannie Darneille, and thank you Tacoma City Council. Your synergy here will save the lives of a people with no real voice. 

key points:

  • But while some of Optum's results look good on paper, several troubling developments have coincided with the company's brief reign in Pierce County. Both suicides and suicide attempts have steadily increased countywide since Optum took over in 2009. The number of mentally ill people booked into the Pierce County jail (formally, the Pierce County Detention and Correction Center) in downtown Tacoma has risen to the point that one official says it has become "a de facto psychiatric facility." And, although fewer people are being hospitalized for mental illness, sources say some patients in dire need of long-term psychiatric care are frequently turned loose or pawned off on King County so that Optum avoids footing the bill.
  • "They kept her in this kind of holding pattern where she didn't get any real treatment," Bowen says. "I said to one of the mental-health workers, 'If you don't treat her, she's going to end up homeless.' She said to me, 'Well, there are lots of homeless people.' I'm like, 'Thank you, but this is my daughter.' "
  • …But Bowen says waiting for Azadeh to ask for help was like waiting for someone in a coma to wake up and ask for medicine. To improve her level of care, Azadeh's family ultimately took an extraordinarily drastic measure: They sent her to live with her father in Iran.
  • Of course, times aren't so tough for everybody: OptumHealth generated $5 billion in revenue in 2011, according to an estimate from the business intelligence group GlobalData. In addition to managing public mental-health services in New Mexico, Utah, and other states, the company's website says they offer "unique healthcare solutions to employers, health plans, public sector entities, and over 58 million individuals."
  • Asked about the delicate balance between public safety and patient needs, Dolezal says Optum errs on the side of freedom. "Are we perfect?" she says. "No. But I think we're willing to take risks. We're willing to take risks for the sake of these individuals." Optum's strategy sounds like a win-win: Keeping people out of an insane asylum is not only more humane, it saves tax dollars. But when the messy unpredictability of mental illness comes into play, things aren't always so straightforward.
  • When the company submitted a proposal to DSHS last year suggesting the state downsize from 13 RSNs to three, with Optum controlling more of western Washington, Shoenfeld penned a response that called into question some of their supposedly positive outcomes. (Although not explicitly stated in their proposal, the implication is that Optum would take over everything south of King County.) He noted that although Optum boasted that they served 15,000 people in 2010, nearly 26 percent more than the state-managed Pierce County RSN did in 2009, they neglected to mention that in 2008 the RSN provided services to more than 18,000 people—18 percent more than Optum's total. Since 2008, King County has seen a corresponding 18 percent increase in its number of patients.
  • "All the decisions are made based on the profit motive," says Susan Cave, the director of theSanta Fe County Sheriff's Department's forensic evaluation team. "People are denied services until they end up in jail or prison, where it's really expensive. It's a sad, sad state of affairs."
  • And lives are certainly at stake: In 2008, there were 508 attempted suicides—a rate of 62.8 per 100,000 residents—in Pierce County, according to hospital admissions data from the Department of Health. Those numbers increased to 603 and 75.3 in 2009, and again to 636 and 79.5 in 2010. With the exception of Skagit County, where suicide attempts also spiked over the past two years, the suicide-attempt rates for western Washington counties have remained comparatively constant. Even more unnerving, the number of successful suicide attempts in Pierce County steadily increased from 2008 to 2011, from 124 per year to 145, according to the Pierce County medical examiner
  • Former King County Executive Randy Revelle, now senior vice president of the Washington State Hospital Association, says Washington ranks near the bottom nationally in number of mental-health beds per capita. Revelle is leading a Task Force on Inpatient Mental Health, seeking solutions to the dilemma. "We have a serious problem," says Revelle, who recently announced he'd be retiring by the end of the calendar year. "People can't get into Western State, can't get into one of their local mental-health facilities, and end up waiting in the halls of our hospitals without adequate support, without adequate care, and being put into rooms not really made for psychiatric care. It's a real mess."
  • One hundred and forty-one people were referred for involuntary commitment at the Pierce County jail last year, compared to 82 in 2008 before the Optum era began. Judy Snow, the jail's mental-health manager, says she has seen "a marked increase" in the number of inmates with mental illness, and recidivism—mentally ill inmates released and rebooked for another offense—has also been on the rise
  • "They're pleased with the reduction in hospitalizations," Snow says of Optum. "I agree, hospitalization is not the answer. But if you have a reduction without community support, they're going to end up in jail, and that's what's happening. The jail is becoming a de facto psychiatric treatment facility."
  • In the meantime, Snow says that while Optum has succeeded in sending fewer Pierce County residents to Western State Hospital, many of those gains are superficial. For instance, Snow points out that since 2009 there's been a roughly 25 percent increase in the number of mental-competency evaluations performed at the jail, indicating that many of the patients Optum claims are receiving treatment in the community are likely ending up behind bars instead.
  • "To paint a rosy picture of Pierce County is not accurate," Snow says bluntly. "We need additional services."
  • "I've been here a long time and this is a real low point," one says.
  • "We had one person where [the DMHP] wouldn't detain them, but then jail wouldn't release them because they were so psychotic," another recounts.
  • "[Optum employees] don't use clinical words like 'depressed' or 'paranoid' or 'hallucinating,' " the conversation continues. "It's all euphemisms—'Oh, they're just having a bad day.' "
  • "Maybe I'll put that on my next evaluation form," a colleague jokes in response. " 'This person is having a very bad day and needs to be detained for 90 days.' "
  • But Pierce County officials are still on the fence about Optum. In light of the ongoing issues at the jail and the steadily rising suicide rate,Deputy Pierce County Executive Kevin Phelps says the county has "been having discussion about going back to the state
ANONYMOUS COMMENTARY: "This article is very good. The only thing missing s how King Co's clients used to get a slice from our funding because so many ended up here and stayed here. This was part of the original problem. No one in King Co will write about that, however. "


by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 2:01am
Hey look she's running for Senate! 

by debivans on 5/29/2012 @ 5:00am
I suspect the building I live in and a few more in my neighborhood are some of these private sector contractors. OK, I'm going to go listen to the voices now. Bye.

by fredo on 5/29/2012 @ 5:02am

Hey look, you misspelled her name! 

by CaptainBritton on 5/29/2012 @ 6:44am
EDITOR! Quick-Photo-Shop Fix-It!

by jenyum on 5/29/2012 @ 8:10am

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 8:13am

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 8:14am
(e-z fix)

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 8:39am
thanks for the YOUTUBE link TacomaMama! 
will fix the Typo tonight, sorry for the inconvenience folks! 

by InvaderPet on 5/29/2012 @ 9:39am
That "Safe Place" had better not be my house.

by cisserosmiley on 5/29/2012 @ 10:13am
But WE have a world class golf course, why do you criticize?

by The Jinxmedic on 5/29/2012 @ 10:16am

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 10:41am
yes the mentally ill with no place to go could be the caddies !   or grounds crew.. 

by cisserosmiley on 5/29/2012 @ 11:15am
WE should mandate a certain number of dd employees at OUR PUBLIC golf course. What about that Pat McCarthy?

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 11:21am
the homeless love golf too!

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 12:06pm

"After the state legislature slashed millions of dollars in funding for mental-health services, the Tacoma region opted to become the first area in the state to put their local mental-health operations in the hands of private business. OptumHealth, typically shortened to just Optum, was chosen in 2009 to coordinate the county's crisis and psychiatric services. As incentive to do the job well, Optum is allowed to keep for administration and profit 10 percent of the $54 million in state funds dispersed annually to Pierce County."

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 12:24pm
"Both suicides and suicide attempts have steadily increased countywide since Optum took over in 2009. The number of mentally ill people booked into the Pierce County jail  in downtown Tacoma has risen to the point that one official says it has become "a de facto psychiatric facility."

(see the Traveller)

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 1:07pm
That seattle weekly article is huge.  Hope everyone reads it. 

by Maria on 5/29/2012 @ 7:43pm
Eight pages / 20 minutes -- wow, RR, that's an amazing and sad article. There were a few good changes that were made, and it's always great to save money and have more efficient social services. But not if the suicide rate goes up and if mentally ill folks are not getting the help they need. Funneling them through the courts and prison system versus getting them proper help is also not wise spending.

Hope Pierce County can work with Optum (the private company providing services) to change some of these problems. Private contracting can work, but sounds like there needs to be some extra oversight, benchmarks and accountability in place.

by NineInchNachos on 5/29/2012 @ 9:05pm
POUND THAT REFRESH!  typo fixed with BONUS content infusion 

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 9:26am
she is on #FB !

by JesseHillFan on 5/30/2012 @ 2:10pm
Honestly the best looking girl I ever met in my entire life was completely insane.Insane but insanely beautiful.

by fredo on 5/30/2012 @ 3:54pm
Darnielle isn't saving poor people. She just introduced a new way for elected officials to slam the poorest among us with a new regressive tax. 

 Her meddling will probably save some government workers jobs so I guess there will be a few greatful people out there.

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 4:03pm
You are wrong Fredo.  Darnielle and Tacoma have probably saved lives  and prevented untold Gabby Giffords style shootings as well.  Guns don't kill people, but unstable psychotic patients off their meds might. 

by cisserosmiley on 5/30/2012 @ 4:20pm
We probably should take better care of prople with mental health challenges.

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 4:22pm
what are civilizations for?

by The Jinxmedic on 5/30/2012 @ 4:40pm

by fredo on 5/30/2012 @ 5:04pm
 " Darnielle and Tacoma have probably saved lives and prevented untold Gabby Giffords style shootings as well." 

So when poor people are taxed out of their homes to pay for these mental health services and become depressed they will then have some place to go and get mental health treatments? That makes zero sense. 

Also, what about the non-gabby giffords killings that go on aroud Tacoma all the time. Didn't some mother just kill her 3 year old son and some other hilltop resident stabbed his buddy and cut off all his arms and legs? Tell us how the Darnielle style mental health taxes helped to prevent those killings.  

by cisserosmiley on 5/30/2012 @ 5:42pm
A person without mental health challenges will be able to endure the injustice of higher taxes.

by fredo on 5/30/2012 @ 6:12pm
People with no obvious mental health challenges become depressed all the time. The cause of this depression is frequently mounting personal economic issues. But of course the liberals don't want to limit people becoming mental health patients they want to increase the number. Keep people tethered to some type of program as long as possible, old chap.  

More depressed voters means more votes for people pretending to be concerned about depressed voters.

by Maria on 5/30/2012 @ 6:58pm
We're going to take care of the mentally ill, one way or another. Either wage-earners taking time off work to care for family members, the county/city jail wasting very expensive space and staff for people who need a different type of care, homeless shelters filling up with people unable to care for themselves, emergency rooms receiving patients that could have been handled differently, and/or violent episodes by psychotic or delusional folks, harming others or themselves.

Untreated clients with mental health illnesses are 4-6 times more likely to be incarcerated which increase expenses in the state’s justice system.
Cox, J.F., Morschauser, P.C., Banks, S., & Stone, J.L. (2001). A Five-Year Population Study of Persons Involved in the Mental Health and Local Correctional Systems. Journal of
Behavioral Health Services & Research, 28, 177-87

Approximately 16 percent of jail and state prison inmates have a diagnosable mental illness.
Ditton, P.M. (1999). Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers. Bureau of Justic Statistics Special Report. NCJ 174463.

Approximately 60% of juvenile detention inmates have at least one mental health disorder.
Teplin, L.A., Abram, K.M., McClelland, G.M., et al. (2002). Psychiatric disorders in youth in juvenile detention. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59, 1133-1141.

During 2006, roughly 4.3 million people visited an emergency room due to a mental disorder.
Pitts, S.R., Niska, R.W., Xu, J & Burt, C.W. (2008). National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2006 Emergency Department Summary. National Health Statistics Report.

It's kinda like the thing with healthcare. Those who can't afford health insurance still get healthcare, but in the most expensive way possible (i.e., through the emergency rooms, when they're extremely sick and costs are exponentially higher for things that could have been addressed at the beginning stages). There's even a term for it: spillover. When people can't get mental health care, they spill over into the medical and justice system.

However--I get your point, Fredo, that we can't let government grow and grow to the point where everything is a handout and taxes are are ridiculous. But if we can spend $1 to save spending $10-$100, that sounds like good fiscal management. I'm sure the city and county prosecutors would rather the police force and court system focus on dealing with criminal offenders and making our region safer, rather than taking care of the mentally ill.

This seems to be a reasonable and very small tax increase. If combined with other community services (the alcohol impact area, group homes, early detection of disorders and substance abuse treatment), studies have shown that mental health initiatives can save costs and get people help.

We all want a more vibrant and healthy neighborhoods. This amount of spending isn't much, but small steps of progress on multiple levels will lead to a safer and more liveable community. There isn't a magic want to make cities wonderful...but adequate mental health services is a part of being a decent, compassionate and responsible public entity.

by fredo on 5/30/2012 @ 7:36pm

I think what you are saying is that those people living along the financial margins for whom a small tax increase is a major problem (and may end up with depression themselves) are just collateral damage in the war on mental health problems.  

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 7:39pm
it's the christian thing to do god damn it!  Don't like paying the tiny tax, move to texas. 

by Maria on 5/30/2012 @ 7:50pm
Fredo, if they're living on the fringes, at the poverty level of $11,170 for an individual, even if they spend their entire income on items that would be taxed, it would only be $11.17. Hardly a deal breaker for anyone, especially since it's over 12 months, i.e., $1 a month.

If it were a frivolous tax, let's say for tropical rain gardens with mango trees on Pacific Avenue, then we'd best veto this. But to spend ten cents to save up to a dollar or more (on jail, ER, juvenile detention, etc.) is a good investment!!

I hope some of the money will go to substance abuse treatment. That's probably the biggest factor in violent crime and incarceration by the way.

by fredo on 5/30/2012 @ 8:11pm
Every minor tax increase is only a small increase...when considered by itself.

Unfortunately, we have taxing districts all over the place which keep adding minor tax increases on everybody and they are all cumlative. We just had a .1% sales tax increase to support 911. And Pierce Transit is coming with a sales tax increase this fall and the city council is coming with a .50/1,000 property tax increase in the fall. The effect of ALL these increases will be a "deal breaker" for some people. Just because a sales tax increase is meant to address mental health issues doesn't mean that it won't inadvertantly increase mental health issues.

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 8:30pm
blah blah blah  be a patriot and pay your taxes Mr. house in the Philippines

by cisserosmiley on 5/30/2012 @ 8:44pm
I'm not much for new taxes, but this one is smart for everyone Fredo. Most people who pee on busses need MH services. Think of how much more use we could get out of pierce transit if the pee smell was gone.

by NineInchNachos on 5/30/2012 @ 8:46pm
yes forget the mad shooting rampages...  no pee smell should be worth it alone!!! 

by fredo on 5/31/2012 @ 7:47am

Don't get your hopes too high. After the tax takes effect there will still be crazy murders, overcrowded emergency rooms, and pee on the buses. And the people who were poor before will be just a litttle poorer afterwards.

by NineInchNachos on 5/31/2012 @ 7:57am
hey that Seattle cafe shooter who killed 5 people before turning gun on himself?... NPR said today he has a history of mental illness.  
I wonder if he was on the OPTUM healthcare plan?

by cisserosmiley on 5/31/2012 @ 7:58am
There us some truth there Fredo. Studies reflect that MH diagnosis will rise to slightly above treatment capacity, regardless of how high or low capacity is. But when treatment levels drop below parity with surrounding areas it puts a strain on our services often resulting in ot pay, law suits, and poor performance. Tacoma is simply adjusting upward to the rest of the surrounding areas because low balling MH services did in fact coincide with more MH cases going untreated.

by fredo on 5/31/2012 @ 11:20am
Maria, you say that when there are insufficient mental health services that the problem spills over into police/incarceration/ and emergency rooms. And that's a more expensive way to treat them, according to your posting.

Well, if that's true then why don't we take the extra money we're using to treat them in police stations, prisons, and  emergency rooms and use that money INSTEAD to pay for their mental health services?

I don't see how we're SAVING funds by generating MORE funds. 

by Maria on 5/31/2012 @ 4:13pm
Good questions. Here are my answers:

While we're taking "extra" funds from the jails and hospitals, we should go ahead and transfer money from the parking fund and from the city utilities!

Creative accounting is not a long-term fix for financial or social problems. If mental health services are underfunded, and if it would best serve our community to provide some services, they must be allocated and budgeted properly, not left to balloon as a parasite tick on the abdomen of the budgets for city/county jails or hospital emergency rooms. I can't see how it would add to city fiscal responsibility to intermingle funds. How it saves funds is very simple.

Does it make sense to send your kid to school on a bike, or pay for a limo? Is it necessary to have a limo take him the four blocks to school? Even if you had to work a few extra hours to afford that're already losing hundreds every day by charging the limo on your credit card or using your grocery money to pay the chauffeur. You save money by not wasting it on unnecessary expertise (a bike would work just as well as a limo for the purpose needed). The old folks used to call that "penny-wise but pound-foolish.

"In the same way, if mental health care is provided through community-based services, the cost is lower than when we use super-expensive public entities like jails or ER rooms.

Community-based mental health care--$12 per day
Homeless shelter--$22 per day
Supportive housing for mentally-ill--$24 per day
Jail cell, no treatment--$45 per day
Prison--$86 per day
Jail cell with mental health treatment--$140 per day
Juvenile detention hall--$230 per day
Psychiatric hospital--$280 per day
Short-term hospitalization via ER--$1600 per day

The danger is that social service spending outpaces economic growth, and we enter into a fiscal crisis like Greece or Italy, lovely places where the government outspends revenue.

So I'm not saying overspend or overtax. Those are real dangers, I think. The economy is pretty bad right now and we can't afford to fully fund any social services, arts, road repairs, etc. to the degree we may want.

Yes, governments tend to expand and expand, becoming inefficient and collapsing. But isn't there a middle ground between medieval FEUDALISM where you had the haves and have-nots and zero safety nets, and COMMUNISM where the state dictates everything and no one has incentive to succeed and everything is lousy? Can't there be a progressive democracy that's compassionate and conservative?

Don't tell me I can own a 5 inch piece of metal and glass that receives photos from Mars, yet we can't improve in other areas!! That's fatalism, almost as bad as apathy.

by fredo on 5/31/2012 @ 4:21pm
I think what you are saying is that

If mental health services are provided in a context OTHER than the mental health arena then the taxpayers pay MORE.

But then you seem to contradict this philosophy by saying if we have mental health funding through a mental health tax that we will not experience any savings.

If we are going to save money in ER, police and incarceration then where is that Savings going to go?  Either there ARE savings or there AREN'T savings. You can't have it both ways. 

by Maria on 5/31/2012 @ 5:16pm
The savings goes to pay for jail time for criminals and health care for the sick...rather than being spent on locking up psychotic people or diverted to medical care for the mentally ill.

It doesn't get "saved" per se. When wasteful spending is reformed, there is not some transfer of the former amount wasted to another account. Otherwise that would be a tax on efficiency.

That's all I have to say about this. It's not that difficult to understand the difference in costs when one is spending $12 or $120 for similar services, and how that affects budgets for a municipality.

by fredo on 5/31/2012 @ 5:45pm
We are going to spend $12 for something we used to spend $120 for. 

But there are no savings.

"It's not that difficult to understand"

by NineInchNachos on 6/5/2012 @ 3:21pm
need to do another update.  Tim Farrell is the only pierce county council member to support our public mental healthcare system. 

by amsierra on 6/7/2012 @ 1:21am
The Seattle Weekly did a great job addressing this very complicated issue. Taxes are only one part of the solution and an important part. The control of these services needs to be returned to the local level. Optum is more than a contractor. They are a for profit organization and aim to take over MH services everywhere because that's what corporations do, the grow in order to make money. They also use their profits to elect their candidates and influence policy. The accountability becomes hard to enforce the bigger they get. They don't answer to us. They answer to someone at a state agency and primarily to their investors. Talk all you want about contracting out, but until it's someone you know you simply cannot imagine what it's like to suffer this fate. 
Imagine if you were diagnosed with cancer or diabetes and your care was through a government contractor corporation and you had no other choice of services. They prescribed the treatment, then cut you loose when done, except you weren't done. You still were ill and needed to be monitored or have someone give you your medication or… and there was no one to follow through until the next crisis. Meanwhile the state is debating about whether or not they should have to pay for something and the County continues to dismantle whatever services they used to provide. You're homeless and sicker by then and you become weak, dehydrated, and pass out. The cycle begins again. But this time you've lost hope and are so confused, discouraged and disempowered. Your family and friends are drained and feeling helpless. Dying is a real possibility. 
On a concrete level, I suggest you take a look at the Pierce Co. website and try to find information about the values, mission, and services for the elderly, disabled, and those less fortunate. Look hard. Then look at King Co.'s website. Hard to miss.  We are the only county in WA without a MH tax. We are the only county without an RSN. The state has been downshifting mental health services for almost 15 years and Pierce County leads the way in handing over care of our most vulnerable to a corporation. 
It's not just about serving the most seriously psychiatrically ill. They are a very small percentage of those suffering, but they are catching a lot of attention because of the damage they are wreaking on our quality of life, namely our sense of safety. Those with addictions issues are also not being adequately served and they are having a different and serious impact on our quality of life. These 2 groups are a very small percentage of the population needing services, less than 1%.  The bigger problem down the line is reaching out to the kids and families. Very few services are widely available and what's available keeps getting cut back more and more. We have HUGE problems with among our kids. HUGE! They need help NOW. 
If you want to learn more contact your local city, county and state representatives. Jeanne Darneille represents the 27th district in Olympia. Tim Farrell represents Tacoma on the Pierce Co. Council and is te only one on that Council who has any interest in social service or social policy. He could use our interest and support. Ryan Mello is the go to person on the Tacoma City Council. Stay tuned for Puyallup and Lakewood City Councils' votes on this very important issue. Enough said!

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 6:33am

Amsierra, mental health issues aren't the only issue in Pierce County. There are also the issues of the recession and high tax burdens for many people. Perhaps we could reduce salaries for government workers and use that money to fund mental health services. The taxpayers, I'm sorry to say, are pretty much tapped out.

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 6:52am
Taxpayers are tapped out for bs, but paying for MH issues is well supported in our community. Why rail against it Fredo when a majority of folks in Tacoma want it?

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 7:43am

The majority want it?

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 8:11am
thanks amsierra !  

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 8:41am

Actually cissero, I didn't indicate that mental health funding was a bad thing. I said additional taxes were a bad thing. I suggested that we fund MH services by reducing salaries for government employees. Why would my suggestion be less beneficial to folks who need MH services than the current arrangement? I don't get it. If you get some help with a MH issue do you really care where the money came from?

by amsierra on 6/7/2012 @ 10:02am
MH services are the most underfunded health service. Inadequate funding directly affects access and increases stigmatization, which we've been reducing for years. Lack of services affects those with a MH diagnosis in myriad ways and their families and communities. For example, the ability to care for oneself is impacted and other services are needed, such as social services, law enforcement, fire/EMT.

Reducing salaries might make a dent, but don't start with the social workers because they work too hard for their money now. The County Councilmembers make way too much, I believe, plus they have have other perks, such as a very generous car allowance on top of their 6-figure salary.

In the end what you need to do is study the problem, ask questions--lots+endless-and go to some meetings of the Pierce Co. Council, if you can.

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 10:21am
Pierce County spokesperson says not so fast! 
"Cute, but you've got it wrong. Pierce County fought to keep the system, but the state decided to try the private model."


by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 10:26am
There are two issues under consideration:

Should we fund mental health services?

AND (if the answer is yes)

Should we provide this funding from existing sources or new sources of revenue? 

Of course it's hard to fund from existing sources because you're going to step on some public employee's toes. On the other hand, increasing taxes is stepping on taxpayers toes. The fact is, not every "taxpayer" can afford an increased tax burden and some of these people will become depressed and need treatment. This will make the mental health of our citizenry WORSE, not BETTER. 

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 10:29am
Fredo, it's a statistical fact that voters in Tacoma will support a NEW tax on MH care at a 2:1 ratio. Give the majority what they want, higher taxes!

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 10:31am
  "MH services are the most underfunded health service."

Maybe if we reduced government salaries we could provide more funding.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 10:43am
  "Fredo, it's a statistical fact that voters in Tacoma will support a NEW tax on MH " cissero

What is the source of your information?

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 11:39am
The average margin of victory of the "districted" council members is 2:1. Each represents approx. 40k citizens. A sample of 5k-12k voted in each race and that is WAY bigger of a sample than needed for a solid confidence interval.
All council members voted for it. WE have a representative council. That means all 200,000 citizens' representative votes were for a MH tax. I'll give you 1/3 of voters voting for "other candidates" may disagree that their council member reps them personally. That's how I derive a 2:1 support statistic for new MH tax.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 1:13pm
The same council members voted unanimously for the Clear Channel Billboard settlement that would have placed digital billboards all over town.  

So does that mean that 200,000 people favored digital billboards? 

by The Jinxmedic on 6/7/2012 @ 1:38pm
+1 to Fredo!

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 1:50pm
No it does not. It's a very valid point I chose not to address because of length...but here it is. The 2:1 margin I used also is approx. the level of support an issue needs to be pulled back from gov. both formally as in veto overrule and informally WE as a voter population trend towards being ok with stuff when more than 2/3 support it.
If opponents of this tax increase had any numbers close to 2/3 opposition, as the billboard issue did, WE would have seen it & would have used that qualitative observation as an error term that worked against the validity of the 2:1 election margin statistic I started with.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 2:02pm


by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 2:17pm
To simplify for Fredo, if I was wrong there would be a parade of diverse citizens demonstrating city hall over MH taxes...but there's not.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 2:30pm
 " All council members voted for it. WE have a representative council. That means all 200,000 citizens' representative votes were for a MH tax" cissero

Try substituting the the term "clear channel settlement" for "MH tax."

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 2:47pm
I did. Then I subjected the clearchannel statement to the validity test of:
Did a parade of diverse citizens demonstrate at city hall until it was reversed? YES
Now subject MH tax to the same statement: NO, nobody but Fredo bitched...thanks for checking my work, but it is thorough.

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 2:51pm
now just replace "clear channel settlement" with pooping nazis.   really makes you think.  

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 3:16pm
  Here's your validity test simplified:

If the council votes unanimously for something I agree with then they are speaking on behalf of all of the citizens in Tacoma.

If the council votes unanimously for something I disagree with then I'll come up with some bullshit "validity" test that will indicate that they actually WEREN'T speaking on behalf of the citizens. 

Cissero you're too funny.

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 3:21pm
It's called representative democracy. Without larger councils we are left with a simple statistical measurement as you stated:
If a law passed and stays passed WE wanted exactly the vote of each council persons' most recent election.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 3:28pm

Incidentally, the Clear Channel settlement agreement hasn't been "reversed" as you claim. Clear Channel signed the agreement and is refusing to allow the city to back out of the agreement.  That agreement "is passed and stays passed like WE wanted it...exactly the vote of each council person's most recent election. 

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 3:30pm
Then where are all the digital billboards? The statistical fact is 0 digital billboards are maintained by CC in Tacoma.

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 3:38pm
It's in the court's hands cissero, but since the council voted for it unanimously I guess we're getting "what we wanted".  

Also, since we signed the agreement and then tried to back out of it, clear channel won't even remove the non-conformings. And the city manager declared a moritorium on enforcement. So we're basically double screwed now.

by The Jinxmedic on 6/7/2012 @ 3:50pm
Enough signatures have been collected for Referendum 74 that I suppose that everybody is against gay marriage, i.e. "representative democracy"...

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 3:52pm
But MH services will be funded to parity with many surrounding areas now:) I concede every point Fredo ever made about taxation, small gov, irresponsible expenditures, but MH care is a measurement of our own humanity and needs to be supported. A sales tax is how WE do it, please concede this is good Fredo!

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 3:55pm
Re: gay marriage
That's so loose what can I say? Signatures of registered voters aren't council members? How are they synonymous? On the day the Tacoma city council votes 9-0 against marriage equalization I can respond.

by CaptainBritton on 6/7/2012 @ 4:05pm
This comic is crazy-true it turns out...Here is a FB update.
"Jeannie DarneilleYesterday near TacomaCrazy
start to the day. I interrupted a home burglary at my next door
neighbor's house, chased two guys to the alley as they jumped on
motorcycles, caught one of the plates, called TPD, and they've got one
suspect in custody. Everyone should have a jolt of adrenaline as they
stand in the kitchen eating their oatmeal!"

She is a Super-heroine! Wowie!

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 4:05pm
I hear you Cissero

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 4:09pm
@britton.  HOLY CATS!

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 4:49pm
I hereby present Jeannie Darneille with the Phoenix Jones Honorary Jr. Patrol Merit Badge

by NineInchNachos on 6/7/2012 @ 7:52pm
cartoon update!

by fredo on 6/7/2012 @ 8:19pm

@6:33 this morning I mentioned that it would be OK to fund MH services by methods other than tax increases. Apparently I'm not opposed to funding MH services. I'll concede they are important. Will I concede that there is no way except a sales tax to fund the services. No, why should I?

by cisserosmiley on 6/7/2012 @ 11:59pm
Because sales tax is the most efficient way WE fund gov. Firing people reduces our economy. Sales tax revenue can start now but property tax would take a year to start. Firing people might take months to realize extra money. Sales tax is collected by "volunteer" tax collectors (thanks business owners) property tax needs the county gov. to collect money then give it to the city. It's solid, even if a bunch of liberals thought it up, it's fast, efficient and cheap to implement.

by fredo on 6/8/2012 @ 6:57am

I never suggested "firing people."

by NineInchNachos on 9/11/2012 @ 11:46am
go pierce county!

by cisserosmiley on 9/11/2012 @ 12:32pm
In more sun shiny news...the wife was at the pierce county facility on the golf course yesterday and she reports all are excited at the new restaraunt and hotel space that is being built to accommodate Tiger Woods groupies.

by JesseHillFan on 9/11/2012 @ 5:30pm
On another note our think different differently sane the traveller has been back in Pierce County Jail and he is scheduled for release on April 15,2013 at 8:00 AM.That's only 7 months away!So while the Tacoma City Council has been given a reprieve for a while TV Tacoma will get some comedy and become an entertainment channel again by next year 

by NineInchNachos on 9/11/2012 @ 7:57pm
will be interesting to compare his sanity level going in to when he gets out.

by JesseHillFan on 9/12/2012 @ 8:31am
Incarceration will likely make probably him more hostile and bitter.Not good for anyone's mental health much less those whom have problems to begin with.

by NineInchNachos on 9/12/2012 @ 8:39am
Perhaps Pierce County will blame the state for Mr. Hill 2013 as well. 

by cisserosmiley on 9/12/2012 @ 8:42am
Bus him to king county for proper MH treatment

by NineInchNachos on 12/10/2012 @ 8:22am
thanks for nothing Pierce County!

by NineInchNachos on 3/11/2013 @ 8:25am

by NineInchNachos on 3/20/2013 @ 1:27pm

by NineInchNachos on 3/31/2013 @ 8:10pm
pierce county council should be fired