Message received from Supervisor Coonerty:
The SSP report is not on this week’s agenda. It was mistakenly put on the agenda by the clerk and was removed yesterday. It will be on next week’s agenda. All that information is here on our website:https://santacruzcountyca.iqm2.com/…/detail_meeting…
The report will be released on Thursday with the agenda and the chair will determine which number it will be on our regular agenda, as I promised to concerned members of the public last year.
|to:||Ryan Coonerty <Ryan.Coonerty@santacruzcounty.us>,
Bruce McPherson <Bruce.McPherson@santacruzcounty.us>,
Greg Caput <Greg.Caput@santacruzcounty.us>,
Zach Friend <Zach.Friend@santacruzcounty.us>,
John Leopold <John.Leopold@santacruzcounty.us>
It is with great disappointment that we write to you to once again to point out the County’s lack of transparency and failure to provide adequate notice to the public with regard to a Syringe Services Program report being presented at a Board meeting. Health and Safety Code Section 121349.3(a) requires that:
“Law enforcement, administrators of alcohol and drug treatment programs, other stakeholders, and the public shall be afforded ample opportunity to comment at this biennial meeting. The notice to the public shall be sufficient to ensure adequate participation in the meeting by the public.”
The plain language of the statute makes it clear that notice beyond those requirements contained within the Brown Act is required.
Stealthily adding the Report as Item No. 70 on your Agenda – which very few members of the public even know they can access online– does not in any way satisfy this notice requirement. Moreover, in our last NIPS report, we specifically requested that we be notified directly: “As a community stakeholder, Take Back Santa Cruz’s Needles Solutions Team asks that it be directly advised of the next open Board of Supervisors meeting where the Syringe Services Program will be discussed.”
We received no such notice, and apparently neither did the City Council (a very obvious stakeholder). Of course, the Emeline neighbors (another obvious stakeholder group) – who bear the greatest brunt of the unintended consequences of this program – were not notified either. We also note that the report isn’t attached to the Agenda for the public to review; it simply says “materials pending.”
It was just by happenstance that we learned today that this meeting would be taking place in three days. There are numerous ways in which the County could have notified the community to ensure “adequate participation”.
- The County could have honored our request and notified us directly of the meeting via email.
- The County could have put up a post on its Facebook page.
- The County could have written a post on Nextdoor.com.
- The County could, and should have, put notice of this meeting on its Syringe Services Program web page.
All these methods of communication are free and would take literally minutes or seconds for County staff to take advantage of.
This is simply unacceptable. This goes beyond a debate about the merits of having a needle program in our community. This is about a continued lack of respect for the community at large and a lack of transparency by those who are tasked with representing us.
We ask that this Board take this item off the Agenda and postpone the presentation of the SSP’s Biennial report until such time as the community at large is actually notified of this important meeting and given an opportunity to have a say.
Needles Solutions Team
Take Back Santa Cruz