Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Acrimony Monday As Mental Health Board Seeks New Head
Pat Owens, head of Crystal Lake-based chemical dependency treatment center The Advantage Group charged the MHB had made her agency "the target of a witch hunt...and a plan to close it."
Lyn Orphal, Development Manager for Woodstock-headquartered Family Alliance mental health and dementia agency charged the board was out of touch with its 27 providers asking "When was the last time you toured any of the facilities?" Crystal Lake County Board member Donna Kurtz charged MHB spent too much for administration. "Taxes were $12.7 million," she said. "Your group took $4 million of that."
The complaints all came during the Board's public comment session and President Lee Ellis observed afterwards that the period was not designed for a dialogue with the Board. Member Brett Wisnauski remarked later "We've already answered most of these questions," anyway.
Ellis had his own complaints about the County County Board's Mental Health Task Force which he also heads. It's supposed to find out how a major Board service provider, Family Service, collapsed two months ago and ensure nothing like it happens to the rest. "We had two meetings," he said, but all they showed was, "we need to have some clarification of focus on what we need to do."
The Advantage Group surfaced again as the Board struggled with a new budget, down $900,000 from this year. Although TAG provided more than $380,000 worth of MHB services in 2011, it wasn't on the list of expected providers for 2013. Led by Secretary Connee Meschini, the Board voted to include it on the list of agencies who could at least ask to provide services.
The Board scheduled a special meeting next week to decide how to find a replacement for Executive Director Sandy Lewis who announced last Thursday's she'd be leaving for a new job. "How are we going to search?" asked Ellis. "How much do you want to spend?" The problem turned out to be that hiring a national headhunter would probably run more than $30,000 and require a lengthy bidding process that would eat up the time left before Lewis's departure Nov. 12. "I do think we need to do more than look around McHenry County," observed member Don Larson.
There won't be any immediate search for a replacement for Lesser who'll leave Aug. 31. Lewis said that was so her replacement could have a say in picking the Board's number two exec. MHB members did vote to hire him Monday as a contractor to write new operations manuals, though. There are no plans at all to replace MHB's number three boss, Liz Doyle, retiring Nov. 30.
In the pic: Mental Health Board President Lee Ellis congratulated Assistant Director Bob Lesser on 28 years of service Monday. Afterwards, critics piled on the Board.