Foster Funding Snafu May Have Led To Removal of Saylor From First 5

Saylor-Don
Supervisor Don Saylor

The Yolo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to remove Supervisor Don Saylor as the board representative on First 5 Yolo Commission. While the move followed some discussion about a rotation of roles, some of which have been in place for years dating across tenures of supervisors, there is some indication that the move had more specific purposes.

Supervisor Oscar Villegas moved to remove Mr. Saylor both from the First 5 Yolo Commission and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments board of directors. These were the only recommended changes from the list that Supervisor Matt Rexroad put forward.

Supervisor Saylor pushed back on both moves, stating, “neither of them are good changes to make.” However, he noted that the SACOG move would be “extremely unwise” given that he had just been elected incoming chair of the board of directors, a position that would put Yolo County in a significant position of influence in one of the foremost land use agencies in the region.

While Mr. Saylor argued that there was significant turnover on First 5 Yolo, which will have four of its nine members turning over and is in the midst of a strategic planning process, Mr. Saylor stated, “I’m also aware that there is some concern about the work that I have done and I believe that the board has a need to have confidence in what happens in that arena.”

Supervisor Villegas quickly backed off the SACOG move when he recognized he lacked the votes. Supervisor Jim Provenza agreed that Supervisor Saylor should stay on as the SACOG representative.

Supervisor Rexroad pushed back against his colleague, Mr. Villegas. He argued that as a matter of historical consistency that board members often inherited assignments from their predecessors and gave them up only when they voluntarily exchanged them with colleagues.

He pressed the matter asking what Don Saylor had done at First 5 Yolo that was unsatisfactory?

Mr. Villegas had recused himself from the broader First 5 Yolo discussion earlier in the day due to a cited conflict. His wife, Katie Villegas, is executive director of the Yolo County Children’s Alliance, and the organization receives some of its funding from First 5.

When asked, Mr. Villegas responded, “I can’t answer that question … because I have a potential conflict … so the notion of me engaging in dialogue about going forward with a strategic plan has its issues for me.” He felt it was within his rights to weigh in on a representative, something that the county counsel appeared to sign on to.

Matt Rexroad turned to Duane Chamberlain, who seconded the motion to remove Don Saylor. Supervisor Chaimberlain simply answered, “I just think it’s good to change people around once in a while.”

Matt Rexroad quickly responded that it did not feel right to him to focus on Don Saylor. He defended the practice as “the way we’ve always done business in Yolo County.” And he noted that Supervisor Helen Thomson, who held Mr. Saylor’s seat for eight years prior, had served for that entire time on the First 5 Yolo Commission – and no one expressed concerns.

The question is whether these were simply publicly stated niceties by the three Supervisors, or whether it reflects deeper concerns.

First 5 has gone through serious hardship this year, with a 50% reduction in First 5 Yolo’s annual operating budget anticipated for the 2015 Strategic Plan duration. Based on that, Executive Director Julie Gallelo in her report noted, “not all of the goals and objectives outlined in the

Commission’s Strategic Framework could be funded.”

She writes, “Through consensus, Commissioners identified five goals, which fall within a funding range of $625,000 on the low end, to $925,000 on the high end. These goals are classified as Tier 1 level because they scored highest during the prioritization exercise.”

She added, “The Commission also identified three goals which “tied” for sixth place. These goals are classified as Tier 2 level and will be considered for funding if there is money remaining after allocating dollars to each Tier 1 goal.”

The elephant in the room is that Yolo County’s highly successful and well supported Foster Care program was among the funding that was pushed to second tier status.

Critics have pointed out questionable decisions by the First 5 Commission to spend down its fund reserves in the last several years.

The decision by First 5, a partner of the county to remove a vital and important program without notification to the board of supervisors has drawn the ire of many.

The finger has been pointed to Don Saylor for overseeing these decisions as well his failure to inform his board of those decisions. The board found out earlier this fall by happenstance when a key stake holder raised the issue of the funding cuts to the Foster Adopt program much to the surprise of the rest of his colleagues.

However, on Tuesday nobody would state that and the discussion coincides with a board retreat in which the issue of rotation of duties was raised. Nevertheless, the only two changes proposed were to Don Saylor’s duties and the only one that went forward was his removal from First 5.

Jim Provenza agreed to fill the seat with Don Saylor taking on the role as alternate.

Matt Rexroad and Don Saylor dissented on the 3-2 vote.

Supervisor Rexroad told the Vanguard this morning, “We have had a very collegial way of doing things during my 8 years on the board.  This is a departure from that.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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16 thoughts on “Foster Funding Snafu May Have Led To Removal of Saylor From First 5”

  1. Matt Williams

    Is anyone intrigued (like I am) by the fact that this article about foster care for children has gotten zero comments and only 397 views, while two prior articles about obesity in children have gotten 51 and 86 comments respectively and 1,141 and 1,414 views respectively?

     

    1. Mark West

      Not really Matt.  It is much easier to argue about things that will never make a difference, than it is to act on something that will.  Foster care requires action, not hot air.

      1. Matt Williams

        Interesting. Thank you for that perspective Mark. That’s an angle I would never ave considered if you hadn’t pointed it out.

        The achilles heel of your argument is that because of risk pools in health insurance, obesity costs each person who (or business that) purchases health insurance is having to pay for a portion of the substantially increased health costs that obesity causes. So obesity does make a fiscal difference for each of us, while foster care has no personal fiscal impact on any of us.

        1. Mark West

          So obesity does make a fiscal difference for each of us, while foster care has no personal fiscal impact on any of us.

          I never said that obesity didn’t matter, or wasn’t fiscally important.  The things that were being argued about, sugar tax and changing the default beverage choice, are what will never make a difference.  They are band aid efforts to make certain people feel good.

          Most of the children who age out of Foster Care without a connection to a new family will end up dead or in prison, so I don’t think you are correct in saying that there is no fiscal impact on the rest of us.  They just are hidden from society, so in that sense I guess you can say ‘what you don’t know doesn’t matter.’

          In home Foster Care, in a County licensed home or the licensed home of a relative, are the least expensive ways of caring for the youth ‘in the system.’  All other forms of care, group homes, agency licensed homes, etc. are all considerably more expensive ‘to the rest of us’ and in most cases, are not as effective providing for the needs of the child. Training of prospective Foster Parents is one of the most critical steps in the process of providing in home, County licensed care.

          Making a difference in the life of a Foster Child requires more than sitting at your computer advocating for band aid efforts to change society.  It requires acting to make a difference in the life of that child.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Why is a soda tax which would fund breakfast and other programs, never going to make a difference?

  2. Tia Will

    Another reason for the lack of commentary might be the framing and focus of the article.

    This piece as presented seems to be more about the shifting of roles of the members of the Board of Supervisors than it is about the specifics of either the foster care program or its funding. First 5 is not even mentioned until 1/2 way through the article and there are no specifics mentioned about what the funding cuts will actually  mean to the program.

    While this article might bring up many thoughts about the motives of the various board members and the implications of the actions taken, there is really no information  in this article that would provide a basis for comments about the program itself.

    I can guarantee you that in venues in which there is information being shared, actions are being taken in the form of direct communications to those who are in positions to evaluate the program and its needs making them aware of the public concerns over this issue.

  3. Tia Will

    For anyone who believes that nothing is being done with regard to foster care issues, I would recommend attending the types of public meetings at the county level that deal with this among other public health and wellness issues. Learn something about the current programs, activities and initiatives, decide what issues would be best addressed with your particular set of skills and interests and volunteer to take action.

    Regardless of your stand on a particular issue, your welcome participation in the well being of our community through volunteering will always speak louder than your voice on the Vanguard which is a great venue for conversation, but unless you participate actively by submitting your own articles, or at forums, is a very weak venue for action.

  4. Davis Progressive

    as i understand it, a large portion of the funding the foster care program in this county is provided by first 5.  first 5 is in danger or has already lost about half its funding.  so now there are two issues.  one is why the decisions were made in the last few years to spend down the fund balance.  second is don saylor’s apparent decision to not inform his colleagues of the cuts to the foster care program.

    in don’s defense should be two points.  first, that the time passage between the cuts and when the board found out was relatively short.  second, i think he believed that given board priorities that they would simply find the money to fund it.

    we also don’t really know why don was removed – duane is the only one to specify a reason – but the timing is certainly suspicious.

  5. Anon

    Tia Will: “Another reason for the lack of commentary might be the framing and focus of the article.
    This piece as presented seems to be more about the shifting of roles of the members of the Board of Supervisors than it is about the specifics of either the foster care program or its funding. First 5 is not even mentioned until 1/2 way through the article and there are no specifics mentioned about what the funding cuts will actually  mean to the program.
    While this article might bring up many thoughts about the motives of the various board members and the implications of the actions taken, there is really no information  in this article that would provide a basis for comments about the program itself.”

    Spot on Tia!

  6. Alan Miller

    “Matt Rexroad and Don Saylor dissented on the 3-2 vote.”

    You can vote on whether or not you are going to be removed from a position without there being a conflict-of-interest issue?  How can that be?  Essentially . . . Don Saylor voted against DonSaylor’s removal from First 5.  Odd.

    1. Miwok

      Someone else voted FOR it which put them in the position. Wouldn’t the whole bunch of them be in the same conflict?Maybe Supervisor Villegas was angling FOR getting on the First 5?

      1. Davis Progressive

        don’t you guys remember when souza attempted to nominate himself as mayor – you can always vote for yourself.

        villegas is not angling to get on the first 5, he even recused himself.

  7. Dave Hart

    I’m intrigued by the fact that Supervisor Villegas cited conflict of interest on why he couldn’t discuss why he wanted Saylor removed but didn’t see a conflict of interest on voting to remove him.   I’m probably missing something.  Can anyone illuminate for me?  Then, Supv. Chamberlain’s comment that it’s just a good idea to change things around once in awhile sounds pretty lame.  The only picture we get is that Villegas doesn’t like Saylor, got Chamberlain to go along with the vote and Provenza participated without comment.  Weird.

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