VENTURA COUNTY: Officials Feud Over Budget Cuts
As the Ventura County budget battle continues, Health Care Agency Director Pierre Durand told the Chief Administrative Office to slash its own spending before asking his agency to cut services, the Ventura County Star reports. Interim Chief Administrative Officer Harry Hufford, angered by the demand, ordered Durand to abandon his "diversionary tactics" and submit a report outlining the impact that the proposed $3.6 million in cuts will have on the HCA. In a memo to Hufford, however, Durand said he refused to shear the agency's budget, while the amount the county bills the agency for administrative costs continues to increase. "Efforts to reduce costs should focus on areas including overhead that provide(s) the least benefit to the taxpayers of Ventura County," he wrote. County Supervisor Frank Schillo, a past supporter of Durand, also criticized the director for his insubordination. "I'm really quite surprised by Pierre (Durand). He is not doing his job as a department head. We can't have that attitude at this point in time. This is not the time for people to strengthen their own little empires," Schillo said, adding that Durand could face disciplinary action if he fails to comply with Hufford by June 13, the date the budget is released (O'Donnell/Koehler, 5/31).
Durand Whacks Juvenile Justice
Using hardball negotiation tactics, Durand announced that he plans to dismiss 27 psychiatric professionals from the juvenile justice system if he is forced to cut $3.6 million in services next year, the Star reports. The HCA director called for dropping a $1.7 million mental health and substance abuse partnership with juvenile detention facilities, which provides services to 602 troubled youths and their families. "The Mental Health Department can no longer absorb the cost of this program," Durand wrote, while at the same time citing numerous adverse effects that would result from its termination. Although Hufford requested an array of service reductions from the HCA, Behavioral Health Department Director Dr. David Gudeman said that, the bulk of the cuts will come from mental health programs (Koehler, 6/1).