San Diego County Mental Health Groups Critical of Composition of County Proposition 63 Panels
Some mental health advocates say efforts by San Diego County officials to avoid conflicts of interest in the county panels that distribute its Proposition 63 funds are preventing some important mental health experts from contributing to the distribution process, the North County Times reports.
Alfredo Aguirre, director of county Mental Health Services, earlier this month sent letters to officials in county health agencies saying that any individual who has a connection to a company or organization that could potentially receive Proposition 63 funds cannot sit on the panels. Aguirre said such conflicts of interest could jeopardize the county's expected $40 million in Proposition 63 funding.
The state must approve the county's plan for distributing the funds.
However, Karen Luton, executive director of the Mental Health Association in San Diego County, and Paul Cumming, a member of the county Mental Health Advisory Board, last week said the restrictions will eliminate the contributions of many mental health specialists. Luton and Cumming said people who are volunteer board members for agencies that provide mental health services do not present conflicts of interests.
For example, Cummings said he cannot participate because he is the volunteer board director for the San Diego chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, a mental illness advocacy group that several years ago provided a bookkeeping service for the county. Members of the Mental Health Advisory Board also have been barred from the panels.
Aguirre said people in the groups are still allowed to attend the panels' meetings, but they are not allowed to vote on the panels' decisions (Conaughton, North County Times, 7/24).