Travis County

Agenda Item

Consider and take appropriate action regarding the scope of work for the Energy Savings Performance Contract Proposal at Travis County jail facilities. (Commissioners Shea & Gómez)


Department:CC Agenda requestSponsors:
Category:General Government

Meeting History

Feb 5, 2019 9:00 AM Video Commissioners Court Voting Session
draft Draft

Members of the Court heard from:

Travis Gatlin, Budget Director, PBO

Greg Knudson, Regional Coordinator, Schneider Electric.

MOTION: Approve Option 2, with funding from Certificates of Obligation (CO's).

MOVER:Brigid Shea, Commissioner
SECONDER:Jeffrey W. Travillion Sr, Commissioner
AYES:Sarah Eckhardt, Jeffrey W. Travillion Sr, Brigid Shea, Margaret J. Gómez
NAYS:Gerald Daugherty


Feb 5, 2019 9:00 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoCommissioners CourtVoting Session

3:02 PMTogether --
What I had suggested before was that we do a pilot where we suggested that we selected specific surgeries that do have a tendency to be low-risk and then compare the results and then fold our bundled surgical model in ot over time. But that's fine. We've voted and it's time to move on to the next thing, I think.
I'm good --
Before we move on, I think the other thing that we will get is we will be able to compare the cost of doing something out of the network as well, won't we? So we can kind of compare what we have now and what we would have, additional costs. Yeah.
And I just wanted to remind the court that this item will come back in a couple of weeks with modification of the contract, which would include cost so that mark could help us with that rfp.

3:03 PMSo that will come back in a couple of weeks to the court.
Wonderful. let's take up 12.
Thank you.
Consider and take appropriate action regarding the scope of work for the energy savings performance contract proposal at travis county jail facilities. We've got a couple of different proposals. Staff has a recommendation in regard to which proposal to go forward on. I believe that from a policy standpoint, all of this looks very good. The sticking point is probably on the issuance of certificates of obligation. Is that a fair statement? I'm trying to speed us along, because we've got large items today.
There's two different options. Option two is an expanded scope that provides more resiliency and does a chilled water plant. And then ultimately we can talk about the financing options.
3:04 PMAgain, I hate to step on toes because there's some tremendous work that's gone into this, as well as some very good backup. Is there -- let me take it this way. Is there a motion for the staff recommended option?
Judge, could we just have the staff state their recommended option?
Okay. just real briefly, so, option two is $27. 1 million. The payback is 14. 5 million years. If you look at the backup, the last page of the backup, you'll see that would be funded with roughly $1. 9 million of funding from our cash on hand account that would fund led lighting. That particular portion of the project would not be eligible to be debt financed. Then we'd include 14. 9 million this year and the remaining $10 million in fy20. The advantages of this proposal are again, it provides a chilled central water plant. We would not have to replace chillers at the new facilities. New buildings would not require chillers. I think snyder could do a better job of walking through the advantages. The challenges are we have a lot of capital needs this year and we are having larger than normal debt issuance. So the timing is a little bit of a challenge, but there are benefits, long-term benefits to option two over option one or doing nothing.
3:05 PMSo what i'm suggesting is that the commissioners court take this in two bites. One is, is this an endeavor that we want to move forward on. And two, how we would finance it. So, what i'm looking for in the first motion is i'm gauging support from the commissioners court for the staff-recommended option two, which is the 27. 1 million-dollar option generating $3. 9 million in savings for a net present value of 3. 7 million and a payback of 14. 5 years.
3:06 PMJudge, I move approval.
I would like to take the financing piece as a second item, if I could.
I'd like to know, you know, the financing before I vote on -- [ chuckling ]
Sure. i'll just repeat that again. So if you go to the last page of our -- I guess our agenda cover sheet, so, what we would be proposing is that of the 27. 1 million, roughly 1. 9 million would be funded with cash in this year's budget with c. A. R. For the l. E. D. Lighting project that has the highest payback return of any project. Because the individual pieces are not very expensive we're not able to debt finance it. The remaining part, which is about $25 million, that would be funded with cos. Year one of the project would be $14. 9 million funded later in the year. And then 10 million would be funded in yf20. We wouldn't be asking you to a-- the cos wouldn't be approved today, but for planning purposes, if the project was approved based on our recommended financing, we would include that in our planning parameters and whenever we bring back the final documents to issue certificates of obligation, that project for the 15 or 14. 9 million would be included in those numbers. The project essentially pays for itself when you factor in the contributions either from the savings that are from utility budget or from also resources that we would have to put in for capital replacement. There are years where there are shortfalls. We can go in more detail about the financing now or whenever it's appropriate.
3:07 PMI'm sensing from you Commissioner Daugherty, that you would like to take both issues up together, whether to move it forward and on a co basis.
3:08 PMListen, y'all know how I feel about this. I mean, cos are making me very, very, very nervous. And, I mean, I get. I think that there are savings. You've got to take into consideration it is a number of years before you witness, you know, the savings. And it does -- it can pay -- I mean, all of those are good things. But somebody's got to write a check to get the deal done. And the only check that we can write is by issuing the cos. We know that something -- we know that it's a freight train coming at us. We just don't know, you know, how big the freight train, what it weighs. I mean, but we know it's coming. There are revenue caps coming our way. And that is the reason that I am very, very nervous about committing right now with additional cos. So it's not a motion, it's just a comment.
3:09 PMWe've explored the other type of financing options called capital lease. It would still be debt. There would be $25 million of debt on the co side or the capital lease. We would be paying for the capital lease out of our maintenance and operations budget. It would cost us more. And it would take away a little flexibility because whatever savings that you have for this project would have to -- it would put more pressure on the maintenance and operations side at the same time we possibly May have revenue caps. So there's lots of reasons why we can't fund $25 million worth of cash for the project. We don't really -- we have other options but this is the best option of the two options we've explored.
3:10 PMCommissioner Shea --
If I could just ask for a clarification, it's my understanding that some of the existing cooling equipment is coming near the end of its useful lifetime. So we would have to budget to replace it anyway. And correct me if i'm not stating this accurately, but it's my understanding that this proposal essentially allows us to put in much more energy and water-efficient systems that will save us every month for I think a minimum of 50 years or more on our utility costs. And so this is one of those things where to me, this is a management decision. We can either continue to have inefficient systems that waste water and energy, and that we know will break down and need to be replaced, or bite the bullet and make the investment in a system that's going to save us money on our utility bills and our operations virtually every year. There will be a few years where the cash flow is uneven, but am I understanding it right, the folks from snyder or travis, that we will essentially -- this will essentially pay for itself most years with the utility savings?
3:11 PMMay I take that as a motion in favor of option two, utilizing cos?
So we have a motion by Commissioner Shea seconded by Commissioner Travillion. Deliberation on the motion?
I understand the concern about cos, but we have a constitutional duty to operate a jail. And when our systems break down, we don't go to the voters to ask for approval to fix the mechanical systems. We have to fix them. So.
3:12 PMI just think that given the fact that we're going to have to replace equipment and given the fact that this has savings built into it, and given the fact that it's going to build capacity in the area as well, that's why I support it.
And is this something that just absolutely needs to be done this year?
I wouldn't say it's something we have to do this year. I think delaying this, the costs are going to cost more and at some point in the very near future all that equipment we need to replace will have to be replaced. If we take those resources rather than putting it towards these projects, these projects wouldn't make financial sense anymore. So I wouldn't describe it as a have to this year at this moment, but the longer we wait we're going to have to replace the equipment. Then we won't have those resources to put into the project.
We would lose the $300,000 cost of the investment audit and our cost-benefit ratio would change with time.
3:13 PMThe longer we wait, the more expensive the project will cost and less savings we'll have.
Judge, commissioners, if you look at the level of savings that option two provides the county, about a million three a year, that's more than $100,000 a month. Any delay would delay those savings. So every day of delay is about $5,000 a day. So delay will cost the county tremendously over time.
This is precisely the kind of item that cos were designed for.
That's right. [ laughing ]
There is no question about that. We've got some big cos that we are looking at. That's the only question that I have. But I get it.
3:14 PMIt is frustrating, the pace of -- as the last item indicated as well, Commissioner Daugherty, the pace of managerial decision-making has quickened. There have been very good studies with regard to the need for speed in adjusting to market forces in order to maximize resources. Democracy was invented two centuries ago, and anticipates a much slower deliberative decision-making process than sometimes we have the luxury to afford. So, all those in favor?
3:15 PMI am going to vote for it only because it is something that we can't escape. We have to take care of it because it's part of the criminal justice system. But I do wish that we would prioritize some of our expenditures -- mandates, absolute mandates. This is a mandate, and then other mandates, I wish we could prioritize those at the top of the list and then whatever is left we could spend on other things. I get it that everything has piled up all at one time. And they're all big items. But I think for me I would rather prioritize those mandates to the top of the list.
That is a good suggestion. I believe this is on a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Daugherty, was yours an abstention or a no?
3:16 PMNo.
4-1 vote, Commissioner Gomez, your points are well-taken. We'll continue to endeavor to line out from a budgetary standpoint how much of our debt goes to mandated with unfunded or underfunded mandates and in what instances did we use certificate of obligation and in what instances do we use debt referenda or bonds. And also the overall cost of borrowing in those two instances, because I think that's nstructive to the point of sometimes speed will save you a lot of money if it's something that you really don't have the option not to fund, like chillers for the jail.
27 million, that's not something we do every day. But for me, it's important and it needs to get done. But i'm not sure that I feel that way about other expenditures. So I think i'd rather vote for the top ones that are mandated.
3:17 PMVery good point. all right. That passes on a 4-1. Thank you so much for all of this very deep work on what our options were here and the tipping point in savings.
Thank you all for your hard work.
Thank you.
Next, let's take up number 7. seven is to receive an update from the dna working group.
3:18 PMGood afternoon, y'all. it's good to see you.
Good afternoon.
This is another area where we've had a lot of people from a broad cross section working for some time to correct an implosion and build a better way forward. Good
Good afternoon, roger jeffries, county executive justice and public safety, here with some members of the dna working group. We'd hike like to give you an update.
Good afternoon, cameron johnson, juvenile public defender.
Scott, attorney with the juvenile public defender's office.
John, da's office.
Dana, the forensic science bureau, city of austin pd.
I'm stacy, director of the forensic project at caps.
3:19 PMBradley, deputy director of caps.
You recall from our previous presentations to you, we had five tasks in our project plan. One was the materiality review of past convictions. Two the retroactive scientific case reviews with the university of north texas. The interim solution was all the resources that were put together to continue dna testing in the community on an interim basis. The root cause analysis, which we hired quattrone to take a look at what happened to the dna lab and make recommendations. Finally, you appointed a dna advisory panel. The members of that include, just as a reminder, gary, mike, anna, and john mccormick. Today we're going to give you an update on tasks one and two, the materiality review and retroactive scientific case reviews, and also on the root cause analysis, task number 4. I'm going to ask john lopez if he would kick off that discussion.
3:20 PMOkay, so, during the course of this project, we have been engaged in doing independent reviews of cases that were impacted by the dna lab. The ones that c. A. P. S. Has been working on, we received a sons response from our brady notices that we sent out, and that's 600. On our part, the da's office, we decided we wanted to look at a little over 1800 cases touched by the lab from its inception. As we do our independent reviews we get together -- roger, do you want to hit that -- and worked to develop a list of cases to second to the university of north texas for reanalysis. We've tried to prioritize cases where the person is in custody, where based on their review, they feel like these are the ones that are the highest priority. Once we agree on those, we're sending them about ten at a time and they're being sent from apd. They receive the entire case file, which includes the bench notes, the photographs of the evidence, all the original data from the machines, and those are sent to the center for human identification at the university of north texas. They will look at the raw data and conduct their own reinterpretation. They look at the work that was done, look at the data, and send us back a report. And so that's been the process to this point. In terms of our reviews, we're looking at 1833 cases that we've identified. Of those we've gotten through about 884 so far. Of those, we've identified about 180 where we think dna May have affected the outcome. So just my process, I look at the case, I look at the evidence and I just ask if the dna was not here, would the person still have been convicted. If the answer is yes, then I set it over here. If the answer is no, then I put it in our list. If it's maybe I put it on the side of no, i'm erring on the side of let's review it if it's close.
3:22 PMFirst i'd like to start by introducing stacy lieberman, who you all just met, our new director. As you probably recall, having updates or hearing about, we conducted a nationwide search and selected stacy to head up this project for us after an interim director had filled the former director's position for some time. Stacy comes to us with extensive experience in post-conviction litigation and she's just starting to sink her teeth into the project, so we really think it's going to lead to an improved project for c. A. P. S. So we're looking forward to that. I want to introduce you to stacy and let you know a little bit about her background. So, as john was saying, there are over 600 cases that are under review. These are the clients that responded to us. 50% of the cases have undergone some level of materiality review. It's a process where we begin with the discovery from the state and conth continue through with communicating with the client and independent investigation because of the responsibility that we're charged with, our ethical obligations are a little different than the state. The state is able to confine their initial review, in most situations, to the case file, where we start with the case file but we do have to do a little bit beyond the case file depending on what we're seeing in the case file. So we're just beginning the litigation stages where cases are being developed for possible writ, and the writ is the process by which we will hope to correct any inaccuracies, any convictions that shouldn't be as they were. That's the legal process that an appellate action will undertake. If you hear us refer to writs, that's what that process is, is that legal process.
3:24 PMSo far we've sent 56 cases to unt for review and received results on 53 of those. They get the entire lab file. They are again reviewing the original notes. It's important to know they are not actually doing any testing of physical evidence. So they are just basing their review on the data that was originally generated. And in each case that we send, there are often multiple pieces of evidence that they're reviewing. This is reflected in the results we get back. Roger, the next slide. For each item of evidence for which we send them data, unt sends in their report either that they concur with the original results, they May agree that the person could not be excluded as a contributor to the sample but they recalculate the statistics. What that means is the way dna results are reported, there's first an initial question of can this person be excluded as contributing to this sample. If they cannot be excluded then the next part of the analysis is to determine what is the probability that somebody else could have contribute that sample. And so when we talk about statistics that's what we're talking about. In some cases they agree the person should not have been excluded but recalculate the statistics. Sometimes it's higher, sometimes it's lower. And then the other instances, in some cases they May say the results are inconclusive. Apd May have said this person cannot be excluded and unt will say no, based on our review, this should have been inconclusive. Okay. So, of the results that we have received, there have been 11 writ applications filed by capds and that was something where we agreed to temporarily stay cases and it had to do with technical issues in terms of timelines that are in place in the federal writ system. So those are filed, but they're kind of temporarily on hold while c. A. P. S. Continues their investigation. And the reason why this is important is because under texas writ law, you pretty much just get one shot. So if they think there's dna issues for which they want to do a writ, they also have to investigate any other potential claim that could be included in that writ, otherwise it would be waived. And so it's a bit more work once they decide that they want to pursue a writ on a particular case. That's part of why it's taking so long, is because they're having to really dig deep into the entire record. In some cases they're talking to witnesses and they're doing a lot of extra work to make sure that they're not missing any potential ground to not waive that on behalf of the client.
3:27 PMJohn, could I just take this moment to punctuate how straightfextraordinary that is, that prosecution and defense in the guise of capds are working together on agreed writs, and working through all of the possible issues with the case as not to disadvantage the defendant in the writ process. This is an extraordinary circumstance. I would be curious to know if something like this has -- when and under what circumstances this has occurred in other places in the united states. You don't have to answer that.
3:28 PMWe're not aware of any. [ laughing ]
But it does point to how our community has come to rely very heavily on prosecution to do defense-related justice initiatives. And I think that speaks well for our community, that our prosecution, traditionally, for decades has believed very fervently in the idea that justice must be served, that that's its goal, not convictions.
The fact that the prosecution and part of the defense team are working together, my question is how has the civil rights community weighed into this part of the process? Or how has it been briefed and how has it responded or had a chance to yet?
3:29 PMIn the form of the advisory committee, i'm assuming that's what you mean, we've had the opportunity to meet with them quarterly. Our last meeting with the advisory group, they were included in the audience with the working group to hear the presentation by quatron, quatron came to town and gave us a presentation. We keep them informed of all the information the working group puts out and invite them to provide input to the extent they would like to. For example, we did forward this to them prior to presenting it to you all and invited them to participate in this presentation.
So they had an opportunity to look at the materiality reviews and give you some feedback before we brought it here?
The presentation materials. Are you talking about information on specific cases?
3:30 PMThe interest was that the civil rights community also have -- be involved in the process particularly the materiality reviews because the last meeting that I participated in, there were several key points and questions brought up by the community that were going to be involved. And my interest is that we incorporated those elements into the evaluation and worked through them together so that whatever we come up with is -- includes those issues.
Early on, commissioner, around the time you are referring to, we had a series of open houses and we did some community outreach around that time to make sure that the materiality review that we were designing and how we were going to work with our clients addressed some of those concerns. I don't know if every concern has been addressed, if there are ones brought to anyone, we are open to that. I know that we've continued to meet with them through the advisory group. But to your point out the materiality reviews were couldn't, that was something we met early on about because I know there were concern about that.
3:31 PMAs the process goes forward, because a lot happens between a quarterly meeting.
And the whole issue in my mind was integrating them into the system so that we are having these conversations so they are just not responding to a document, but there is conversation going on and those ideas and concepts being incorporated as well.
I wanted to point out from the results we received from -- to date, we have not received any cases where the original report indicated that the person could not be excluded and the reinterpretation says they should have been excluded. So in dna world they don't talk about including people, but they talk about whether or not they can be excluded. This is about as close as I can come to saying I don't think we've come across a says that's been reviewed by unt where it looks like this was the completely wrong person, if that makes any sense. That was one of our biggest concerns is did we get somebody in there who did no do this. At least as far as the dna results have said there haven't been any who have said --
3:32 PMThe first case for the tipoff for the d. A. 's case to ray the flog is a cause of probable -- where the description of the assailant was so radically different from the defendant produced, correct?
3:33 PMYes. in every case they are looking for any evidence or anything in the report that would indicate the possibility of contaminations. That's part of their analysis.
I suppose the good news is although the case that broke open this problem was bad, it May have been an outlier of bad that nevertheless opened up a much needed investigation.
That's good news. I don't know if you all recall that it was a sexual assault case, I believe, and the assailant was described as being of run race and the defendant produced was an individual of a different race and a different height than described by the victim.
Okay. of the -- in 23 of the cases, unt has said at least one item should have been inconclusive as opposed to to the person not being able to be excluded. But it's difficult to draw any broader conclusions because each case has different evidence, in some cases there might have been multiple pieces of evidence and one of them was inconclusive, but the other ones they concurred with the results. Or it could be a case where the dna was inconclusive, but there was also other evidence presented or available. So we are looking at all of these cases and based on the results that have come back, like I said, caps has filed 11 potential writ applications and as they -- once they finished their investigation, we're going to sit down and try to determine which ones we can agree to a resolution on and which ones we'll just proceed with the normal writ process.
3:34 PMOver the public course of this process, we've talked about the impact the dna closure had on the adult criminal justice system, it also had an impact on the juvenile justice system and we've asked cameron to give you an update on the materiality reviews his office is conducting.
3:35 PMWe came a little late into the process, but what we've done is that we've taken on the role to look at every case identified as a juvenile case. When I say juvenile case, those cases that occurred when the individual was between the ages of 10 and 17. When we look at those cases, some of the cases at the time they were brought forward, the individual May have been over the age of 17, particularly example we call those delayed outcry cases on cases of sexual assault. So the case we're actually looking at now is we've identified individuals between the ages of 16 to 35. And we've identified, we've whittled it down to about 107 cases. What we've done is is that we have actually -- we are professionalling protocols we wanted to make them the gold standard. We started with the total number of case that the district attorney's office identified, so that 1800 cases, and actually we actually started with actually even more, I think it was about 2400 cases that included some of the cases we were already taking a look at that were from department of public safety from a different forensic interview. So we went and we mainly tried to take a comparison, we looked at the date of the offense and looked at the age of the individual. And so to make sure that we were not missing any individuals. So after doing that, we have gotten down to 107 cases that were from the austin police department laboratory during the time that they were open. What we've done is we've decided we're going to look at every single one of those cases. When I say every single one, represented by our office, but even if they were not we are taking a look at all those cases. I've taken the position that when we're talking about a materiality review, the first thing I have to do is we have to do as an office is to look at the case and just do some factual background to make a determination as what do we think. Did the dna have any impact on this case. For example, there May have been dna, but by the time we did the case is that dna was not introduced or it was not relevant to the case. In a juvenile world, we move a whole lot faster than on the adult side. 90s typical that we've had -- for exe handled a murder case within 90 days from the date it occurred all the way to its completion. So there is sometimes where there would be -- dna results were not back and that was because we felt they were not relevant to the actual specific facts of the case. So what we're doing is we have a expansive review of our case reviews and so what we -- for example, we're just looking at -- we're looking at the information and we are also working in conjunction with the state's office and they've been very helpful in giving us information and providing that. So we're looking at their file. We're looking at the defense file. We're also looking at the court's file. We're looking at any and everything that we can find to be able to make a determination is that did dna have an effect on this case. We are also able to do a more expansive scientific review in our office, and that's, you know, greatly -- we have a great advantage of having scott rupligger as part of our team. He is essentially a sign advertises. He's worked -- scientist. He's worked on cases in new york as well as here. What we've been doing, we are able to take the lab reports, lab files and even make a more thorough determination as to whether or not the dna had some affect on the case. And that May also involve us, you know, we are using our investigative team. We May go out and find the individuals where they are, you know, who were involved, for example if someone is in prison as a result of this, you know, we're reaching out to them, talking with them. And we are also looking at the cases that we've represented over the years where there was some dna issues or concerns that we had that didn't result in a finding of guilt and trial. For example, you have those few cases where it's like hey, individuals identified as being responsible through a dna, we had some concerns, and we did some independent testing, you know, during the process. And, you know, those cases came back and we were able to exclude some of those individuals. What do we do on those case that maybe did or did not happen on some of these type cases. In addition to that, wherever we can find information, transcripts, reviews and that's the other collateral interviews. So where are we now? Of those 107 cases, we've actually been able to close some of the cases. We've done a thorough review of the case, looked at it and made a determination that dna didn't impact the case. In a sense that it -- we've got the results we wanted to be looking at. We've got another -- the vast majority of the cases are still in review. That means we are either reaching out to the attorneys who handled the case, we're still needing to get back dna, laboratory results and things of that nature. Because what we are wanting to do is to be able to before we actually select cases that will be sent to unt for further testing is that we want to have a pretty good idea of what we're looking for. We're not only looking for cases where individuals are in custody or in a penitentiary, we're looking for individuals that have some sort of collateral or direct impact of consequences. For example, on a sexual assault cases, they May have completed their term of confinement, they May have completed their term of probation, they May be under still some sort of registration, for example, being on the sex offender registry list, you know. Or they May still have these cases on their record. So we're looking at all of them and then we are prioritizing them on -- we're trying to identify those cases we feel as though the greatest issues of them because we want to be able to reach out to all of those cases. So what do we have? We -- based on what we're doing is my expectation is that by the end of this fiscal year, we should have, of all the cases we're looking at, we should have completed the file review as well as the scientific review. The cases that we identify or send off for additional testing, the expectation is that, you know, within the next fiscal year, 2019 and 2020, we should be able to identify and get all those cases set. What we are also doing is is that we have the resources and we have the expertise is that we are going to be doing the -- the appellate review on all of the cases. That's important because the juvenile cases have a completely different appellate process than adult cases. It's very, very unique and it's highly, highly specialized, but we're going to be -- we've done those before, we've done juvenile writ cases and we're going to be doing all of those in house. And once we identify those cases and we already started. One thing that's different from adult cases is that we don't have the restriction that we have to identify every single issue before we can go in and file an appeal on the case or do a writ. It's sort of like if we identify an issue that they say dna was done improperly, we're going to be reaching out to the state, you know, john and his team and being able to see if we can agree on a process, you know, that this case needs to come back and we need to take a look at it. If not, we're able to go forward and litigate those cases in the courts. The other thing we've been doing is because it's so unique and highly specialized have already been keeping our juvenile judge, Judge Hurley, abreast of this whole process and what we'll be doing. Because, again, our goal is to be able to create a protocol and a structure that is truly going to be the gold standard so that we can -- if that needs to be duplicated, we'll have a process in place to being able to do. One of the things we've also been doing, we've been operating independently, but working with all the stakeholders. Like I have reached out individually to the -- for example, the civil rights community, i've been working individually with individuals on the advisory board, been working with them and being able to talk to them so we can have some sort of community involvement and being able to address these issues. And it's been very, very, I think very effective because this is -- this is new, as Judge Eckhardt stated. And, you know, i'm really proud of travis county and the collaborative effort that we're being able to do and we're hoping that we are going to be able to continue in this and develop some protocols that are going to be duplicated in other parts of the country.
3:46 PMWe wanted to give you a quick update on task number 4, which is the look forward, look backward, the root cause analysis. As you recall the city actually penned a contract with quatron, out of the pennsylvania school of law. I think it was late last spring, they've begun their work and this is a map of their work that they are doing and it reads almost like a backward s. Where we are is at that red circle, there's still interviewing athe -- the quatron staff and the subject matter experts are conducting interviews of the various stakeholders that had something to do with the dna lab and its closure. I think they have scheduled 45 interviews. They've completed 24 of those. They plan to complete those in march. They are also doing a scan across the country of dna labs, best practices, various models that they can -- cog information back to the working group for working with them to develop recommendations. You can see what the next tasks are, to analyze interviews, prepare draft of the contributing factors to what they believe went wrong with the -- with the lab, and then to draft potential interventions for the work consider.
3:48 PMAll of this work is so super important, and again, I can't stress how unusual but very gratifying it is to see law enforcement and prosecution and the scientific community and the judiciary all working together. We also have a very unusual -- an unintended control group, control rat x and y in that we have a juvenile public defender in this circumstance and a managed assigned counsel on the adult system. So this is very, very interesting work to me. I am very, very committed to seeing what the quatron study reveals. This is a city contract looking at what is a -- I don't think that -- I want to be delicate in what I say because this is a really good partnership. I don't think there is any disagreement that the source problem was in dna analysis. Is that fair to say? The course issue is in the dna analysis?
3:49 PMI think that's fair. yeah.
So it was appropriate that the city is paying for the study since that's the locust -- the location of that.
Just to clarify, we've got an agreement with the city where we're splitting the costs with them.
3:50 PMOh, that's right.
They are splitting capds, we're splitting quatron.
That's right. that's right. Thank you for that reminder.
So you don't have to be as delicate. [laughter]
I don't want to put my thumb on the scale of what I -- what of what quatron is going to come out with regard to recommendations, but this is a scientific endeavor, the analysis of forensic scientific evidence. It is, after all, forensic scientific evidence. So I want us to stay open to what quatron brings to us with regard to best practices on forensics. We have really struggled in this community with the forensic sciences. We continue to struggle in this community with the forensic sciences and how they should be managed. We are not alone in the nation in how we struggle with the -- the data revolution in the criminal justice context. So stay tuned.
3:51 PMJudge?
Yes, ma'am. I am so sorry, brigid, why see you on my screen so thank you for speaking up because i'm looking at numbers.
That's quite all right. could I just ask for kind of a summary recap of what you are seeing in terms of the cases that are being reviewed and the ones that you have either identified or put in the maybe pile that would need to be -- I term is, re-examined, brought back to court, but ones where clearly the problems with the dna process May have resulted in some injustice? Can you give us kind of a summary? I thought I recalled reviewing 800 and finding 160-some, if you can give a summary statement of where this review stands.
3:52 PMThe type of cases --
Yeah, you said you were putting them into piles. One was clearly there's a problem, one was maybe there's a problem. What's the general sense of what we're finding? I thought somebody described going through a stack of 800-some cases and identifying 160-some that were either questionable or clearly there was a problem.
Well, the cases that -- that was -- the numbers were about 180 in a little over 800 cases where we think dna May have played a role. And actually the more I have been reviewing the reports that have come back from unt, if I were to go back I May reallot. As we get records back from unt with analysis, i'm learning more about the types of cases where the dna results are likely to change. For example, there are a lot of cases where the dna evidence involves a single source. On those cases, the doctor has basic confirmed those results. And so if I were to go back and look at the cases now, some that I looked at six months ago, I May reevaluate based on what I know know about the types of dna evidence likely to be changed by the reviews.
3:53 PMDo you have any on what% might come out of this review, reexamine the case, 60%, 40%, or is it too early to give any indication?
3:54 PMIt's kind of early. the issue is because a lot of these cases involve more than just the dna evidence. The difficulty is sitting down and trying to evaluate exactly how to weigh the nondna evidence. And I think, you know, we May agree on some and we May disagree on some, but at this point it's just too early to say. It's hard to generalize because each case is so unique in terms of the changes made to the dna evidence, the original strength of the evidence as well as other nondna evidence that was available.
When do you think you will be able to get a solid handle on where this all stands?
Well, as of right now we've got the 11 cases that caps has identified as ones they want to file a writ. Of those there's one for sure i'm willing to agree on. The others are ones that we May need to discuss because the evidence May have changed, but it doesn't clearly state that the person wouldn't have been convicted. It May have made the case a little weaker. Trying to determine what the right results should be in that situation is what we need to discuss next. That's on our plate going forward.
3:55 PMI'm trying to get the big picture sort of when do you think you'll complete this process? Not just the 11 cases, but the whole review.
Well, I guess as we send cases to unt, those results have been coming back slower. It May take a couple more years depending on how many additional cases we identify that need to be sent. And how long it takes unt to get results back to us. So our initial estimate was about ten per month, but that has not been the rate at which we've been getting them.
3:56 PMJudge, I don't know where we -- where we fit this in, but I think there will be value in having us look widely at how we can have a better for instancic operation here in this -- forensic operation that can handle this stuff accurately and timely.
Absolutely, and that's what i'm looking to that quatron analysis, the look-back as well as the look-forward recommendations for our consideration. I'm just asking everyone to stay open to what the possibilities are. Let's just stay open. Let stay open to what those possibilities are, what their price tag is, what kind of reorganization might come from that. There will be -- there will be some very interesting conversations to come. Some very interesting conversations to come. But we are engaged in a very meaningful revisioning of our criminal justice system in travis county. We are -- we are on the very edge of this movement. And I appreciate y'all's willingness to be out there beyond the barricades where everyone is shooting at you from all directions. I know what that feels like to have victim advocates shooting at you as well as defense advocates shooting at you. It's a difficult place to be, but if they are shooting at you from all directions, you are probably in the right place. So in terms of really genuine reform. So thank you. Any other questions?
3:57 PMThank you.
3:58 PMSo stay tuned. that quatron report is going to come back and then we're going to be back on a bucking bronco, I believe. But during this time where you all are really -- I really appreciate the league he will beagle looking at all this and our citizens advisory group which has some technical expertise, because not just your regular citizen can sit on those quarterly meetings and get procedurely what our options are. Big thanks go out to our stakeholder group for sticking with us on this.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thanks so much. a couple of other items before we go into executive session. First on the local behavioral health authority, where we are on that is I did some -- just a quick update. We don't have a local behavioral health authority, but we have a local mental health authority. Integral care does convene the samso of a significant number of of our behavioral health providers. And the county and the city pay for the samso. Stands for substance abuse managed services organization. Samso. It's possible a local behavioral health authority like the esds do an overlay for medical assistance, this would be an overlay on our mental health uthority for a behavioral health authority, would provide us the ability to plan for, braid and coordinate substance abuse and mental health services for individuals. We're at a very preliminary stage. I've done some initial outreach just to make sure just on a go, no go analysis, I haven't gotten any heart no gos. I reached out to sherri and roger who just left for some technical expertise. They engaged integral care and so at our request integral care did an f aq on local behavioral health authorities which I believe went out to all of you electronically. I'll be glad to supply that. We took that faq to the psychiatric stakeholders committee of central health. Which includes many of the services providers as well as political leaders and trundled out the idea, ran it up the flagpole to see on a go, no go basis if there was real hard push-back there. We didn't get negative, we got predominantly positive response and a desire to continue to explore a local behavioral health authority. The next steps at this point is to build the most complete stakeholder list we can possibly build and reach out to those stakeholders to really kick the tires on this idea and start fleshing it out. That's where we are right now is building that list, making those contacts, doing those meetings, bringing people in together to talk. We welcome any suggested additions to that stakeholder group, also anything you all are hearing in the community about concerns or hopes or longings for local behavioral health authority. In any case, it would come back to the commissioners court for a decision of whether to request of the department of health and human safety for the designation of a local behavioral health authority in travis county and what that would look like. Is that a fair description, sherri?
4:02 PMYes, ma'am. if I may, sherri phlegm, county executive for health and human services, also at the prompting or from the discussion that the Judge Had last week with the psychiatric stakeholders group, our great team in i. T. Has also put together a page that we can use with your blessing to solicit feedback on this concept, of this idea.
4:04 PMHopefully, i'm sorry, judge, the easy thing about this is that you could copy the url and drop it in an email if you are concerned about somebody particular that you want to make sure they see it or have a comment off your computer and drop that in.
4:05 PMAs much as Commissioner Shea is participating via video, peter just instant messaged me it is live, he just tried it on his home computer.
Thank you, peter. feel better at home.
Thank you so much. do you all have any other questions? We really are -- I think we're past the go, no go, now we're into how we would go about it to bring that proposal back to commissioners court. It will really be a decision of the commissioners court about whether or not y'all are interested in this behavioral health overlay.
It might be worth it to schedule this for a work session because it seems like this -- this would be worthy of a longer discussion than we might have time for on a regular court day.
Oh, absolutely agreed. what we're doing right now is we ourselves are trying to learn up what a behavioral health authority could do for us. We're not quite ripe for a work session. We're learning right along with the rest of the community.
4:06 PMThat's right.
So when we have some more meat on the bones and also to provide information to you all to do your own exploration individually, then we can move it forward. But I just wanted to give you all an update of the conversations that had been had so if somebody asks your thoughts about a local behavioral health authority, you all wouldn't be like what the heck, what's happening. So explore it, let us know, you know, what your exploration produce and we'll certainly have -- we'll put it all into a pool of meaning and then at the end of the day we'll all be prepared to make a decision. But yeah, you are absolutely right. Your feelings of wow, what do I not know here are completely valid. I think we're all in that space right now. All right. Next agenda item number 28 regarding subcommittees and the retreat. 28, let me rita -- read that out. Consider and take appropriate action regarding board and committee assignments and appointments for commissioners court members, b, commissioners retreated, discussion of travis vision, mission, work plan. We have a full commissioners court here. Why don't we go ahead and dispense with 28a with regard to the board and committee assignments.
4:07 PMI'm fine with mine.
I'm okay with mine and Commissioner Shea and I have agreed that she is going to stay on the bcp coordinating committee for again this year. So that's -- we are in agreement with that, right, Commissioner Shea?
4:08 PMThat sounds great.
Same ones from last year.
Except for tnr, judge. we need to add those on.
With regard to the transportation and natural resources subcommittee. So currently the transportation and natural resources subcommittee is Commissioner Travillion and Commissioner Shea. Is that correct?
There is a desire by Commissioner Gomez and Commissioner Daugherty to be on the tnr subcommittee. No?
I time I feel like I need something, I just call tnr and get them in. If you want to post it, I think that was your suggestion, Commissioner Gomez, just post it and go.
So we can post them. we have some concerns about that and why don't you come down, cynthia. One concern we have is if posted and if there is an audience, it's no longer -- no longer serves the same function that the subcommittees normally serve, which is as a bellwether to kick the tires on ideas before they go public as they will be public in that.
4:09 PMYes, cynthia mcdonald with transportation and natural resources. And we did talk about that. One of the concerns as the Judge Noted is that if it is posted, there are some negotiations, especially like with our run-away or other legal issues that we can't openly discuss, and I think it would be a bit premature to have it posted publicly and a lot of working conversations go on with our subcommittee, so I think that would be probably not the most ideal way to do it. I had talked to our directors and our management team and one of the proposalsthey had was -- or actually we agreed on was to perhaps do -- still do a two-person subcommittee, but do it as rolling. Two people would sit on it, one would drop off, another would come on maybe on an annual basis so we'll always have at least two years on there but one stays and we have some continuity, but it allows the entire court an opportunity in a very short period of time to weigh in. And as Commissioner Daugherty pointed out, when there are specific issues for a particular precinct, we're always very good about doing one on ones. There are a lot of times when we are doing countywide initiatives and we will visit with each of the commissioners separately as-well on, you know, how that would affect their particular precinct. So we can do it a number of ways, but we thought if everybody wants to get on at some point, perhaps a rolling one on, one off would serve its purpose.
4:10 PMSo we also had some discussion in agenda setting about whether or not we would add this as a discussion at the retreat about the -- the rolling subcommittees so that each member of the commissioners court would have opportunities to serve on all of the subcommittees over time. I think that that is a very good suggestion for consideration that we would have a rotation.
4:11 PMI mean I can schedule a meeting with you, maybe a monthly meeting or quarterly meeting so we can talk about issues.
Okay. before we start talking about rolling, i'll schedule something and see how that works out.
That would be great. I really appreciate that. We can have a further discussion at the retreat or in any other forum about rotation, some kind of staggered rotation so that we have continuity in the subcommittees, but do get an opportunity to serve more broadly.
4:12 PMOkay.
I did pose the possibility of me rolling off of the clean air coalition. Commissioner Shea, are you interested in the clean air coalition?
I do have an interest in it to the extent that it can -- ca body, and that probably sound -- didn't come out the way I wanted it to, but if we don't need to make this decision, i'm still investigating all of what the clean air coalition does and what is possible with the group, i'd like to have a few more conversations with people before I make a final decision.
Sure. then just for the -- to give them some stability, i'll stay on the clean air coalition for this year. I find it a very valuable organization. Also I had -- I have a desire to roll off of the community advancement network. I've been on it for a very long time, i've also been the chair of it. It's a great organization, but again in the spirit of rotating folks, there are two representatives of the county on the community advancement network, Commissioner Travillion and myself.
4:13 PMWhat's it called?
The community advancement network.
Roll over as executive director.
It is probably the best networking opportunity for moving policies forward. It does not move policies itself, but all the stakeholders are at the table for meaningful issues we have faced.
I have served on that several times, otherwise I would say -- but i've served on it several times.
4:14 PMCommissioners shea or daugherty?
I had served on it for much of my first term and I think we were just looking at total numbers of committees. I was on when I rolled off that last year, I think.
Uh-huh. so i'd have to look at the he total number of committees and evaluate my ability to put the time in.
I was on it once and got banned from it so I probably don't need to -- [laughter]
I will continue to serve on the community advancement network. This will be, I believe, my 11th year. So that does it for the committee assignments, I believe. But I do think that it merits a conversation at retreat with regard to rotations because I think we see that sometimes there is -- there is little movement with regard to committee assignments. And we might be able to profit by a little more movement. Let's go to the retreat. We did identify a date we think might work. Andromeda, did we send out an email to the commissioners with regard to the preferred date?
4:15 PM[no microphone on].
We were looking at March 14. This is difficult to schedule. If you all could help us find a date that will actually work. We're struggling with finding a date that all five members of the court will attend.
What happened to the March 1st date? I thought we all agreed on that? That was the request I made of the person who we had been trying to find and give us a big picture emerging technology impact on local government.
4:16 PMWe'll go back and look at the March 1st. We can take a look.
Because I do have confirmation for a speaker. It's been hard to find someone. Those people are very busy and traveling and lots of conferences so i'd hate to lose that opportunity, but --
Believe me, I know. i'm really struggling with getting this scheduled. We'll continue to work on a date that will work with everybody.
Tuesday afternoons.
We did. the agendas are filling up. That's time we would take away from our deliberation and voting. So that was -- that was a suggestion that I made, but I did get significant push back on taking up our deliberation time.
4:17 PMSo March 1 we're talking all day or what?
I think we certainly have not two. But we'll keep it to one.
I'll go ahead and block out the whole day.
I'm good for March 1st.
I'm good for March 1st.
March 1st works for everyone, the full day?
And I do have a confirmation for the outside speaker to go there from 9:00 to 10:30 on March 1st
All right.
So March 1st it is?
Sounds like we've landed on a date.
We will make it happen.
And have we identified a location?
No, we have not. again, we really need to do land on a date first. So that's great. We've landed on a date. And then based on my previous notes, I had that Commissioner Gomez was working on a speaker with regard to economic outlook.
4:18 PMWe have some speakers.
And Commissioner Travillion was working with staff on issues around procedure, quality procedure.
Already identified them. I didn't have a date. That's all I needed.
Great. and Commissioner Shea working on horizon issues.
And we have a confirmation for a speaker for March 1st in the morning.
Fantastic. and then we will also go over our travis county vision mission, guiding principles and goals as well as the travis county work plan that was put together by all of the county executives as well as igr and pio. Really great work. And I would suggest that we also throw in some conversation with regard to rotation of our subcommittees. All right. Then I think that dos it on that.
4:19 PMJudge, what's the process for deciding a location? I know the speaker, the one i've arranged, would like to get that on his calendar as soon as possible.
Really it's a matter of availability. We'll be probably taking a look at something that is downtown and readily accessible. Because I have heard from the court that that's really preferred, to do something close at hand.
Does that discount all right?
Somewhere close to jackal learn's, I hear it's pretty good -- jack allen's.
My suspension is find someplace in the central business district, something that we own that we don't have to pay for.
Should be able to find something.
And that's really where we really need to do land on a date first because that does dictate what facilities we own would be available for a full day. Okay. Does that work for everyone? So it will be something. Something we own downtown. Any other questions?
4:20 PMAre we looking at roughly like 8:30 to 4:30 or something like that? Just so --
Let's try and block this out, but I would block out the whole day, including lunch. I think that we -- I think that we have enough work to do for a full day.
So when you say full day, 8:30 to 5:00 or 8:00 to 5:00?
Again, we have a lot to cover. It May be 8:00 to 5:00 with a working lunch. It May be 9:00 to 5:00. But if you would like to go ahead and put brackets on it now, you are welcome to.
I just would like to confirm with the speaker because we initially indicated 9:00 to 10:30. I figured it would make sense to have the big picture vision stuff at the beginning and told him I didn't think it would go more than an hour, hour and a half. He's blocked out 9:00 to 10:30. I presume we might want to start earlier than that. So 8:00 or 8:30?
4:21 PMSure. why don't we -- your proposal is to start at 8:00. How about that?
Or 8:30.
Which would you like it?
Probably 8:30.
Okay. 8:30?
We'll get started 8:30, not at 9:00.
So 8:30 to 5:00 with a working lunch?
Is somebody going to be there with a camera or the clock?
The horizon issues from 9:00 to 10:30 is what Commissioner Shea is suggesting. If we do that for an hour and a half and economic issues for an hour, hour and a half?
4:22 PMAn hour.
An hour. and then procedural expectations for how much time?
An hour.
We'll keep it within an hour, I guess.
Keep them all within an hour?
That way presentation, materials, if we need to do more, we'll have something to write on and share with each other later.
Okay. so we could do the -- if you would all like, we could do all three of those presentations in the morning. That leaves us a half an hour at the top and a half an hour at the bottom. And then that would leave us the afternoon for vision mission guiding principles, goals and the travis county work plan. And a discussion of the utilization of subcommittees.
Judge, we've been talking with the county attorneys about issues related to open meetings act requirements, and I think we could add a brief item, probably 15 minutes to the retreat for a briefing from the county attorney's office on open meeting act requirements. Walking quorum issues, meetings with staffs on issues the whole court is dealing with just so we're all really clear on that.
4:23 PMThat would be a great addition. Why don't we post an agenda for the retreat on the bulletin board and start working through it. I can see with five different people we might -- we might have difficulty scheduling everything appropriately. Maybe we could work through the bulletin board rather than just on tuesdays and continue to refine the schedule and the expectations. Does that sound good? A crowd sourcing of the agenda and the time expectations?
For planning the external speakers, are we in agreement we would start with the vision big picture at 9:00 in the morning.
I think that's certainly fine for me, but I don't know what the -- what you all are envisioning in terms of speakers you are bringing in. I'm a little concerned about throwing down a marker on a specific time if there's going to be a conflict.
4:24 PMI don't think he has time outside that window.
What i'm suggesting is rather than take this deliberation time on tuesdays if we could do this on the bulletin board with an agenda we keep refining sort of in a crowd sourcing, I think that would be really helpful.
So I couldn't confirm with him today he should finalize that on his calendar?
I'm fine with it. is the rest of the court fine with Commissioner Shea confirming with her speaker from 9:00 to 10:00.
Tell him.
9:10:30, but we can keep it shorter than that.
Let me just check in because I heard from Commissioner Travillion we should keep the presentations to an hour.
Okay. I can confirm that with him.
But if we want to change it up, i'm totally good with that. I don't want to be in control of this, y'all. [multiple voices]
4:25 PMYou are not in control.
I think an hour would be fine.
I think an hour would be fine for each speaker.
9:00 to 10:00 then.
That would be great. and would anybody like to take a stab at putting the agenda up on the bulletin board? All right. I will put something up on the bulletin board for folks to react to and add stuff. I'm trying to stay true to what i've heard so far.
If you had a county administrator, you could get all this stuff done and you wouldn't have to do it.
We'll get it up there. all right. So that takes care of that. Next let's go to executive session. Executive session we've got a handful of items. We have agenda item number 14, which is consider and take appropriate action on the civil and family courts facilities project. This is under consultation with attorney and real property exceptions to the open meeings act. Agenda item number 31, which is receive legal briefing in amy smith versus city of austin, case number 1:18-cv-5051, under consultation with attorney exception to open meetings act. 32, consider and take appropriate action regarding a real estate issue in east austin. Consultation with attorney and real property exceptions to the open meetings act. 33, consider and take appropriate action on a counteroffer received for the purchase of parcel 19 required as right-of-way for the fm 1626 road project. Consultation with attorney and real property exceptions to the open meetings act. And 34, consider and take appropriate action regarding a potential chapter 381 grant application. And this is under the economic development exception to the -- economic development and negotiations exception to the open meetings act. We'll return to open court before taking any action. [executive session].
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5:34 PMWe're done? we're back?
We have returned from executive session where we discussed a number of items, we will take them in chronological order. On agenda item no. 14 with regard to civil and family courts capacity project, do I have a motion in favor of amendment no. 1 to the ena and authorization to the county Judge To -- to execute amendment no. 1?
So move.
We have a motion and a second, all those in favor? Passes on a 4 -- 4-1 vote. Okay. Next, also, is there a motion to direct staff to do a $133,500 transfer to effectuate the items discussed in executive session?
So move.