MENDOCINO Co., 3/20/21 — The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors has subpoenaed individuals and documents associated with the Ortner Management Group (OMG) which provided mental health crisis services to the county on a contract basis from 2013 to 2016, and Acting CEO Darcie Antle said by email those individuals are scheduled to appear by Zoom in a special meeting 9 a.m. Monday morning. OMG generated headlines and controversy during their stint with the county, including a Civil Grand Jury report concluding that their contract with the county had been improperly awarded.
“An appearance of a conflict of interest in the adoption of the mental health privatization contract,” a report published June 9, 2014, found that no illegal activity occurred, but the grand jury recommended an update to county ethics policies as a result of their investigation. According to the report, an OMG employee was working for the county as a consultant and the county’s mental health director had a business relationship with OMG. As a result, OMG was able to access inside information, and exert undue influence in the competitive bidding process.
“There is an appearance of impropriety in the process of bidding and awarding the contract to Ortner Management Group because of the previous relationship of the Mental Health Director with Ortner Management Group,” the report concludes. “There is no evidence that impropriety occurred.”
The board of supervisors at that time rejected most of the report’s findings in their response but did agree that no illegal activities appeared to be involved. OMG cancelled their contract with the county in May 2016, but had agreed to provide the county any remaining paperwork related to services provided.
OMG’s CEO Thomas Ortner and former CFO Melissa Lance have been ordered to appear at 9 a.m. Monday and produce financial documents, payroll records and program logs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016. According to the meeting agenda, supervisors intend to examine Ortner and Lance. This item is expected to occur during the open session.
There are also several consent calendar items on the agenda for Monday’s special meeting, including two construction contracts for the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office totalling roughly $242,000 and a letter of support for Assembly Bill 2120, which would use federal money to repair local bridges through the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. You can check the agenda out for yourself here. Video from the meeting will be available on the county’s YouTube channel.