South Shore wants fair share from county |

South Shore wants fair share from county

What began as an optimistic county-wide community process to spend tobacco tax revenues on children has become so confusing it is uncertain which programs will receive funding.

More than $1.75 million has been deposited into the El Dorado County’s Children and Families Commission bank account for children ages prenatal through 5 as a result of Proposition 10. The 1998 measure collects and distributes tobacco product tax revenues into the 58 California county commissions.

South Lake Tahoe and the West Slope have been working diligently to decide which programs should receive priority funding.

South Lake Tahoe work group members have scrambled in their four meetings – the community process is required by the state commission – to identify South Shore’s needs. The group thinks that the two areas have diverse needs that need to be addressed separately.

For example, South Shore has an acute need to provide services to the estimated 100 or more families living in motels because they can’t afford first and last month’s rent, the wait period for basic health care services is up to three weeks long and transportation to the region’s resource centers is extremely limited.

In order to make some sense of the data compiled from the workgroup sessions the state commission has adopted the Friedman model – a results-based methodology – to input Tahoe and the West Slope’s information into one homogenized package.

The final draft report was introduced Monday and group participants will have three weeks to recommend changes to the commission.

“I want the process to be fair and open,” Joyce DeWitt, a South Shore work group member, said at a Lake Tahoe Collaborative meeting Thursday.

“I think we have to be sure that everyone has enough time (to decide what the community’s priorities are),” DeWitt added.

The South Lake Tahoe work group and its hired facilitator, Bill Thorpe, opted for a plan that included all the Tahoe-oriented information in an attempt not to be ignored. The drawing of Tahoe’s plan ended up looking like a butterfly, but Thorpe said its results still fit into the Friedman model.

He called it a transformational symbol that could be the first model to lead the county out of its historically dysfunctional community process system.

Thorpe said he was instructed by the commission not to show Tahoe’s model to Placerville because it might confuse the group members and plant the idea to construct their own model, too.

Sheila Silan, facilitator for Answers for Better Children, or ABC, said she is concerned that by Tahoe’s coming up with its own model, it might be misleading to other areas since the commission had already chosen to work within the guidelines of the Friedman model.

Silan doesn’t want there to be a competition for funds between the two slopes because it will slow the process.

“If Tahoe pushes in a certain direction it could be easily dismissed (by the commission),” Silan said.

“But there is a competition and it is real,” Judi Harkins, assistant to Dave Solaro responded.

She said that when it comes to Tahoe funding, the area always seems to get much less than Placerville.

Dave Solaro, 5th district supervisor and the only one of nine commissioners representing the South Shore, did not attend the meeting but wrote a letter supporting the work group participants, encouraging them to stick with their model.

“Strategic Design Associates were hired to input Tahoe’s information into the Friedman model,” Solaro wrote.

“In so doing, however, South Lake Tahoe information is rendered virtually unrecognizable. This concerns me a great deal,” Solaro added.

“While the commission has agreed to adhere to the Friedman model standards, I am unwilling to diminish the innovative input derived from your hard work. I believe we can, as a community, better assess our needs and design our strategies in a more open, comprehensive approach and still retain the integrity of the results-based programming.”

“I felt that the draft report format is confusing,” Solaro wrote, assuring South Shore participants that they had designed a plan that is being talked about around the state.

“We’re not going to solve these problems here,” Dave Soper, facilitator of the Children and Families Network said.

He wants the issue to be discussed at the next commission meeting because the presentation made by Thorpe was intended to be an update, according to Soper.

Vicki Barber, county superintendent of schools, wasn’t at the meeting, but commented that the commission was surprised when Tahoe presented its own model.

Barber is confident that work group members will have ample time to comment on changes they want made to the draft of the final report and assured Tahoe that their needs would not be set aside. She said that the commission sees itself as a total county and that no one will be left out of the process.

If the work group members don’t believe, after seeing the report, that their hard work isn’t reflective of the discussions that occurred, they will be able to change it, Barber said.

Meeting Box:

What: Children and Families Commission meeting

Where: County Office of Education, 6767 Green Valley Road, Placerville

When: Monday, 5 p.m.

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