Travis County

Agenda Item

Consider and take appropriate action on an appointment to the Sobering Center Board of Directors, including:

a. Approve interview questions
b. Conduct interviews of the selected finalists
(Judge Eckhardt)


Department:CC Agenda requestSponsors:
Category:General Government

Meeting History

Feb 11, 2020 9:00 AM Video Commissioners Court Voting Session
draft Draft

Members of the Court heard from:

Julie Wheeler, Intergovernmental Relations Officer, IGR

Sherri Fleming, County Executive, HHS

Roger Jefferies, County Executive, JPS

Lynn Sherman, Candidate for the Sobering Center Board of Directors

Paula Coopwood, Candidate for the Sobering Center Board of Directors

Kenneth Lambrecht, Candidate for the Sobering Center Board of Directors



Feb 11, 2020 9:00 AMVideo (Windows Media) MP4 VideoCommissioners CourtVoting Session

3:14 PMDiscussed in executive session this morning.

3:14 PM[executive session]
We'll bet get the questions. we're back in. We finished off our executive session but we're not going to take action on any those items just yet. We're going to do the sobering center interviews first. That's agenda item number 12. And that -- let me go ahead and read out that item. 12 is to consider and take appropriate action on an point to the sobering center board of directors, including approve interview questions and conduct interviews of the finalists. Let's go to a. We've got six questions before us. Do we have suggested changes or additions?
3:15 PMI have a question. and that is, my sense is that there have been issues with regard to -- I guess micromanagement by the board of the executive director. And I don't know if we need to -- I think one of the questions here is what are the top three attributes you expect to see in an executive director. What i'd like to get at is, how would you understand your role as a board member with regard to any ongoing oversight or oversight of the executive director? Do they think they need to be involved in the nitty-gritty, the day-to-day? I don't know how the board is constituted, if it has a charter that says you're a governance board, not involved in the day-to-day operations.
How do you define the role of a board member with respect to an executive director. What is uniquely the do domain of the board.
3:16 PMThat's what I want to get. yep.
We can add that as a separate question.
Already in there?
It was one that was in the mix that didn't make the final cut. I'm just yanking it back out of the bin. [ laughing ]
There's 25 minutes for each interview. We have three. If there's anything we did not capture, and it sounds like on this one we did not, we are happy to put it in. Is there a question of one of the six where you want to add that --
Or take away one.
When is the executive director selected?
[ off mic ]
So they'll be involved in selecting -- so we want to know what the they think is important.
It's an added question.
There was a question that said how do you define the role of a board member with respect to the executive director. What roles belong uniquely to each and which do you feel are shared.
3:17 PMLet's add that in.
Combine four and five.
We're trying to get it on a piece of paper so we can put it in front of the applicants while we ask them questions.
That could be --
Whoever is reading the questions --
Read that question again, because maybe we can just leave it to the first sentence. Does the first sentence cover what we're trying to get?
How do you define the role of a board member with respect to the executive director.
Could we just leave it at that? The next part is further elaboration.
Sure. does that meet with everybody's --
Four as written and make it how do you define --
No, it's an added question -- scrapping.
3:18 PMOkay.
Do we think that one essentially would cover five?
Could be left out if you didn't want to add another question. Four and five are so similar.
Do we think one kind of gets at five? Your vision for the board, describe your familiarity with sobering centers and what initiatives you'd suggest to the board. I just realized --
We could scrap five. i'm good with that.
Because I think one and two would bring out much of what we might get --
Take five out and add the new one.
Keeping four or scrapping four as well?
Keeping four.
So how do you define the role of a board member with respect to an executive director.
That's the new number five. oh, sorry.
3:19 PMHow do you define the role of a board member with respect to the executive director?
Is that good?
All right. so we're scrapping the current five and replacing it with how do you define the role of a board member with respect to an ed and everything else stays the same. Yeah?
And it there another -- besides Dr. --
Dr. Coopwood was on the central health board.
I'm sure paula --
Paula is his wife. mmhmm. Okay. Are we good?
Are y'all good if I ask the questions?
And then we'll leave the last question, do you have any questions for us at this time.
3:20 PMAre you going to give them, what, four minutes for each one?
Four minutes for each one, that would be about right, yeah.
Six minutes for any questions that they have.
Okay. let's say three minutes for each one. Okay.
The first interview will be with lynne sherman.
Are you going to ask them to sing a high school fight song?
That's only when they get chosen. [ laughig ]
I'm good. i've got it.
Their voice is liable to influence me. [ laughing ]
How well they sing?
High school fight song, or college fight song?
You know, barbara prep turned -- r you.
I think my high school fight song was white rabbit. [ laughing ]
3:21 PMScary thought.
That's totally inappropriate for a sobering center. [ laughing ]
We're not talking about your senior graduation song.
I went to a performance arts high school and white rabbit, I think, probably would qualify.
Which high school was that?
Hspva in houston.
Sometimes I worry. [ laughing ]
Are you over there praying for me?
All the time.
And you know the president -- [ laughing ]
Yeah. like he's in a position to say anything about anyone's religion.
Oh, that guy.
That guy. he hates people.
3:22 PMHe does.
Stop right there.
Hello, Mr. Sherman. sorry to keep you waiting. We were quibbling over questions. But important quibbling, very important quibbling. So, we have about 20 to 30 minutes. We have six questions and three minutes for each question. And i'll do all the questioning on behalf of the commissioners court.
Is it three minutes for each question?
We're going to do three minutes to give us ample time to hit six and see where we go. Are you good with that?
All right. so, the very first one, what is your vision for the sobering center board? Describe your familiarity with sobering centers and what initiatives you would suggest to the board over the next five years to realize that vision.
All righty.
In three minutes.
In three minutes. i'm going to start with the familiarity. The only sobering center that i'm familiar with is the one here in travis county. And i've been generally familiar, but more intimately -- initially yem generally, more intimately over the last year. My vision, first, to get it stabilized. It's a very important service to this community. Took a long time to get it created. Had a little bit of a rocky start. It needs to have stable funding long term. And I think that's really what's going to be required first and foremost. Secondly -- finally, relative to the five-year vision, I think -- part of what I bring today is experience working with nonprofits and other organizations in town that provide services to people suffering from issues dealing substance use in general. And I think the availability of services -- not necessarily to direct people there directly, but to make them available is really important. I think those relationships can be strengthened over time. So two-part answer. One, get it financially stabilized. Once that happens, begin to open up avenues for people who want to be able to -- or feel there's a need to receive other types of services, to get them as readily as possible.
3:24 PMSecond, how do you see the sober center's relationship now and in the future with respect to law enforcement, the medical community, and the recovery community?
So, relationship is an interesting word. I think it's a necessary relationship to have. I mean, just to recognize the benefits, which I know y'all do, otherwise you wouldn't be supporting the sobering center, to be able to allow people a place to sober up outside of our jail system is something that has value in and of itself. That's an important relationship without talking about the relationship between law enforcement and the sobering center. It has to be viewed from legislator. -- with law enforcement, we're including ems or maybe in the medical community. It ought to be viewed as the first path toward people who are intoxicated, provided they're not putting people in danger, which is a different category. That's a real important relationship to maintain. As I understand it, there are difficulties in dealing with different types of populations. And the folks who are chronic users of the sobering center, which is taking me to the first question, too, many n terms of a vision -- we need to develop relationships between law enforcement, the medical community and the recovery community to deal with folks who are chronic users of the sobering center. When I was talking about services before, that's where those need to be in place. That's just something that we as a community need and those who are chronic users need them as well. And I guess i'm here to be as candid as I can. Oftentimes, services like this are harder for the medical community to see because of the nature of which whenever somebody presents at the emergency room or in some fashion, it's not the first place they think of going. And they really don't understand what happens when people get there. So it's not first of mind. And it's not really a system that people understand. And we need to make it more familiar so it's more readily accessible for those who might present at the emergency room than would be presented at the sobering center through law enforcement itself. I'm not that familiar with the relationship between law enforcement and the sobering center today. I can't opine on that. But we've got a real need of people who present at the emergency rooms who could otherwise be presenting, provided it was done in the right way through law enforcement, which I understand is the current method of getting in the sobering center. But the other thing I would add back to the first question is I hope we can up open other avenues that make sense where we don't overrun the sobering center with folks who are presenting, but to be able to provide a place for people to sober up and make choices going forward. Bottom line, it's imperative to make sure all those different elements -- law enforcement, medical, and the recovery community -- are all supported and we find systems to move people from the sobering center into where they need to be. The medical piece is a hard piece, but it needs to be developed.
3:27 PMThe third question, what strategies would you pursue with the board to ensure financial viability for the long-term mission of the sobering center?
3:28 PMWell, there's clearly a relationship between the questions, at least in my mind. So, let's go back to the medical community. Because I do know -- my resume -- i've served on both the st. Davis foundation, and we support hospitals there. The one thing I know from those two different positions is the emergency rooms are flooded with people who are dealing with issues related to drugs and alcohol. And to the extent we can remove people from the emergency room and that high cost of care, particularly whenever it's publicly supported in some way, and into something which is where the county and the city becomes relevant, right? In terms of expenditure of funds h. And to get them into a system that provides quality care but at a much lower rate, and also a higher success rate -- the emergency room is not the right place to treat people who have issues with drugs and alcohol. There are other facilities and other programs to place them in rather than there. And because that's the and because that the case we can get the medical community and others developing other types of expensive places where people are currently be received, I think it would be really important. In other words, the medical community, I think to the extent you could have an insurance element, I don't know what exactly that would look like, but you are going to have to look for other sources of funding other than government for it to be sustainable, I believe. I would love to tell you philanthropy could step in and do it, I think it would be ill-advised to rely on that sole. We have too many in this community burdened by the cost of those dealing with drugs and alcohol. And I think that those are probably the sources that ought to be looked at first. Although we have -- when I say I have to acknowledge at least in the hospital situation we're a community that's blessed with philanthropic or hospitals, nevertheless they are a source but other types of governmental functions and institutions that benefit from having off loading I think would be important as well. By the way, when i'm talking about this and I made this point, i'm a person in long-term recovery so this position is directly relevant to me. Frankly would have benefited from the sobering center at a place in my life. This is not something -- this is not intellectual exercise for me.
3:30 PMThe fourth question, what are the top three attributes you expect to see in an executive director of the sobering center?
3:31 PMWell, okay. my first answer do I say it directly because i'm here talking about the sobering center, my standard is always integrity. You've got to have something with integrity. That falls into the second one that is relative to the sobering center and that's integrity of the mission. The sobering center today has a very specific mission, very specific limitations on what it can and can't do. That doesn't mean they couldn't change and expand over time but it has a very specific mission today. I think it's really important whoever takes the executive director's role recognizes what the mission is today and make sure it's funded and as sustainable as it's currently designed to do. I think that's real important. Third is I think the executive director has got to be someone who will get out of the office and develop relationships with other institutions that we were talking about. It's one thing to have government officials, community, civic leaders, people on the board and whatnot trying to make those relationships, but at the end of the day unless you have an executive director who is going to sustain those relationships over the long haul after board members leave and government officials move on and focus on other things, it's not a successful exercise. It has to be somebody who is willing to do not only taking care of what needs to happen within the house, but they get out of the house and meet with community partners with whom they need to develop relationships. The e. D. Has got to be involved in that role. That's an attribute that needs to be looked to as well.
3:32 PMThe fifth question, how do you define the role of a board member with respect to an e. D. ?
3:33 PMSo there's -- I assume part of what's intended here is -- or looked for here, I think there's a delicate balance between ensuring that the executive director is fulfilling their own job description and doing what they need to do in micromanaging what the e. D. Does in fact do. And it can be very difficult, frankly, in a new entity when everybody is trying to figure out exactly how do you make it sustainable, which sustain ability falls on the board to the same degree it does on the executive director. But the short answer is is that the board's role is to set the vision to ensure the executive director, the staff, the organization is fulfilling that mission and then plays a direct role in ensuring that the entity, the organization is financially sustainable. That means in partnership with the executive director seeking funds, being able to ensure that they are used responsibly and in accordance with how they are given and what they are intended to be used for. But boy, in an organization that's this young in trying to find its footing, I think that there is a lot of -- I think there's a lot of more of a regular -- just because it requires more hands on deck, frankly, I think board members are needed to roll up their sleeves and get involved within their parameters with the executive director to really try to broaden the base of support. Which makes what I just got through describing all the more difficult. A clear line of demarcation, but it's more difficult in an early organization because you need more people to get the work done.
3:35 PMThat was a very quick five questions.
Oh, i'm sorry. I can opine on anything. Do you need me to go back?
We could go over them again. Instead let's go to the sixth question because that could be more open ended and free wheeling. Do you have any questions for us or points that you think we should touch on?
I do. based on discussions with just kind of the sobering center staff in an earlier juncture, right now the way the sobering center is set up, and I understand why and I think it is important to stay focused initially, but it's a law enforcement dropoff. And I understand essentially why that is. I think there's -- going back to what I was talking about wih the emergency rooms, I know that ems can drop folks at the sobering center and that's how it's brought the definition of law enforcement I guess for that purpose includes ems. But one of the things that I think that is -- would be important to consider and i'm curious if you all have and if so does this fit within the current mission, and that is referrals from ems, I mean from the emergency room. So somebody presents at the emergency room, is there a vehicle where they can be rerouted directly to the sobering center or once they presented there is the mission of the sobering center not an option or being able to go to the sobering center an option. I don't know the answer to that question. And if the answer is no, they can't once they've presented at the emergency room, my question is why not and is that something we could explore.
3:36 PMIt's my understanding the sobering center had invested in a van so that they could move people from emergency room to sobering center when appropriately referred.
So that's good news.
3:37 PMI knew that was in play. I didn't know it had actually been done. That's helpful. Because I think it could be a real source of both folks getting the services they need, keeping them out of the emergency room and developing those relationships.
Is it is same van they are utilizing to bring people over from caritas?
So I think there is some work in place in that regard. Roger? With regard to the van that the sobering center purchased for transport.
[inaudible - no mic].
So, you know, we are struggling to fly.
I get it. I fully do. And I think that's a good thing.
Roger, let me make sure that you understand I think what lynn is saying. I don't think the design behind the van was if you are at the emergency room, that the emergency room says this person really doesn't need, you know, our care, you know, send them back over to the sobering center. I mean who better to make this determination probably than somebody in the emergency room. But that's not -- that really wasn't the design of it. I mean, it was really the -- once they get to the emergency room, somebody has decided they don't belong at the sobering center, right? That was the design behind what we put in place.
3:38 PMI think it can go both ways.
I mean it probably can, but I mean I just don't think it started out that way. The only way you got to the emergency room is if ems said no, i'm not taking you to the sobering center. You are more than drunk. I'm taking you to the -- then if the emergency room says no, they are more drunk than anything else, take them back over there.
3:39 PMBut there are some procedural issues that need to be work out because once somebody is admitted into the hospital, they are admitted and that's an issue. It's an issue for billing, it's an issue for insurance, it's an issue all the way around.
It comes from a personal experience. I've actually presented somebody at the emergency room. The person at the window said only alcohol, yes, only alcohol. How much, whatever. % and then the question was, well, you can admit here. I can't tell you what to do, but here is what your bill is going to look like, or you can make sure that person is all night supervision somewhere and the election was to supervise that person all night which I had the distinction of doing which I was not comfortable with. I would have loved them to have an option to go to the sobering center at that moment rather than place me in charge of their -- effectively their medical care knowing what I know now, I would be more inclined knowing that, as I think everybody is aware, I mean we don't allow people into residential treatment until they are -- while they are drunk. Because detoxing off alcohol, i'm sure you all know is deadly -- literally you can smoke crack in the parking lot of a treatment center and immediately be admitted for residential treatment, but you can't drink alcohol in the parking lot and be admitted because you have more of a chance of having negative consequences off alcohol than crack.
3:40 PMIt is very dangerous and we've had anectdotal issues with the criminal justice system as well where an individual would be released on personal recognizance bond and in a safe and medically assisted facility known as the jail.
Right. yeah. And all that, if you want to look at like a five-year and beyond plan, needs to be fully integrated. I'm loathe to recommend that's where you jump off now because you are dealing with a fledgling organization that needs to get its wings, but I think eventually what this community needs is have all those pieces work out. And the other thing too because I very much appreciate the sensitivity, just because somebody detox off a drug or alcohol for a period of time does not necessarily mean they have to go into long-term treatment and recovery. It's merely at that point it's a harm reduction exercise, it is not mandating that they have to remain sober or drug free for the rest of their life. But I do think we view detox more often than not as being a precursor to long-term recovery and I think that's a mistake. I think if harm reduction has done anything, hopefully it season ties us to the fact we have to save lives even if it's for a short period of time. But while you've got them, it's important to make sure we have the systems in place where people are able to detox in an appropriate way.
3:42 PMI have a brief follow-up that's more unique to you than just to the general questions. Because you've been so actively involved with the whole recovery system throughout the community, do you think there would be any either potential conflict or on the flip side a potential ability to deepen relationships between recovery services and recovery networks and the sobering center? So both a pro and a con on it.
I think the opportunity is great. I think -- yeah, no, the organizations that i'm -- well, and i'm not sure, I think you know this, but the organizations i'm involved in actually tried to step in, they offered to step in with a executive director help when you all were in the middle of a transition. The organizations --
3:43 PMI thought that was robin.
Robin ultimately, yeah, and we had multiple options really. Than that was really what needed to happen. And even when robin was transitioning, we were looking for trying to find some solutions. Most of the organizations that i'm familiar with, and it's really the more established ones in town, I think every one of them wants to see the sobering center succeed and find a way to develop relationships to develop that full-blown system. I don't know of any that are -- ha that. I know some folks do because of personal histories relatively to law enforcement, but I don't think that comes into play here. I really don't.
Thank you.
Any other questions? all right. Thanks so much.
3:44 PMYou don't have any further questions of us?
No, well, no I do, actually. So I know how long does the -- this county support for the sobering center last?
Well, right now we are simply supplying the building and maintenance and operation of the building, so right now no general fund other than maintenance and operation coming out of facilities. That -- there, of course, are discussions about real estate going back and forth between the city and the county that have to be considered. But I don't --
It's the city that funds the sobering center.
Provides the 1.7 million and y'all provide the space, but I have the same question for the city. I think at some point the sobering center needs to sit down with its benefactors, frankly, to have a long-term conversation about what the expenditure and the reason I ask the question is what my relatively brief experience, nine years, working in this area is that things don't get funded for long, and this is a long-term effort.
3:45 PMDo we know the contract duration?
That's where i'm headed.
It's a quasi governmental corporation that was created to which we dedicated the real estate long term, but we still maintained the ownership for the real estate.
But does the city's funding contract have a duration?
We can take a look at that.
I don't know what the answer is.
Those are the kinds of discussions that need to be had, need to be really clear. I'll end where I normally do, three facts, I just want to share them with you while I have a chance. Accidental overdose is now the number one cause of death for people under 50, of all kinds, cancer, heart attack, whatever. That's just accidental overdose. That's not all the other ways, means of death for people due to drugs and alcohol. Second is 81 in three households deal with addiction. Either have someone in active addiction or someone in recovery. Here's the one to me the most alarming is the fastest growing demographic are kids 18 to 25. Where one in six meet the clinical definition of being addicted to a substance. We're dealing with the number one public health issue in america and have no systems to deal with it. So we need to get systems in place and one of them is making sure people safely sober up and are able to get on about their business without dying in between or causing harm to someone else, but it goes beyond that. So all that goes to say we need to make sure what our funding streams are are long term. Anyway, i'm pretty passionate about this. Thank you all very much.
3:47 PMThank you.
So we're back on schedule. Pretty much back on schedule.
3:48 PMWe have six questions and roughly 30 minutes, 20 to 30 minutes. So we figured about three minutes per question, and I will ask all the questions on behalf of the commissioners court. Are you ready?
Would you like a girl scout cookie? That's not one of the questions.
No, no, part of the new year i'm trying to not eat that type of thing. For now.
The first question is what is your vision for the sobering center board, it's a two-parter, describe your familiarity with the sobering center and what initiatives you would suggest to the board over the next five years to realize that vision.
3:49 PMWell, my vision for the sobering center is that -- well, first of all I think it's an excellent opportunity out there for people in need at a critical time. It's important that we provide a safe environment for people that maybe have made a one-time careless mistake or a chronic mistake. And so provide them a safe environment to go to -- sober up. And in order -- and then if they choose to at that time have a service there to provide them help, if they choose it. Sometimes they May make a one-time foolish mistake and they are not really looking for the service. Some people May be chronically impaired and the time May come where they May be taken to the sobering center more than once or twice or even several times and they May have a time where they decide that now is the time I need help. And they ask for help. And the center is able to provide that service for them. So i'd like to see it start with the foundation, a stable foundation of a sobering center, providing someone to get off the streets without ending up with an enormous emergency room bill or record of having to go to jail and it was just for public intoxication. But I would like for it to progress into a broader scope of needs whether it be alcohol, drug abuse, homelessness. But I think it needs to start with a foundation and grow from that foundation into a broader needs of the community.
3:51 PMThe second question, how do you see the sobering center's relationship now and in the future with respect to law enforcement, the medical community and the recovery community.
I see the sobering center as a great facility to provide relief to the emergency rooms. So many of these -- I mean it's just such a burden to the emergency room staff, it's a burden to the capacity of the emergency room, it's a burden to the patient whenever they get that machine -- emergency room bill. But also it takes time away from the law enforcement, the ems community where they are needed in other areas instead of taking care of someone that has bottom intoxicated and they just need to sober up. So I see them as a replacement for these areas that -- I feel like we're babysitters, but it's very expensive to the community, that's very detrimental to that person whenever they get taken to jail, then they have a record.
3:52 PMThe third question, what strategies would you pursue with the board to ensure financial viability for the long-term mission of the sobering center?
It's got to be a community effort. It can't -- it's going to have to be a lot of creativity. I think it's going to have to be the public is going to have to be aware of it and to get the public to buy into the center. I think as far as being creative, I mean there's different ways of doing that from just campaigning for the -- a funds campaign to donation on public media to word of mouth, through community events. Just the organizational events. So the word has got to get out and campaigning for funds. Besides just taxes.
3:53 PMThe fourth question, what are the top three attributes you expect to see in a executive director of the sobering center?
3:54 PMA leader, someone that sets goals and gets their committee or their employees, their constituents to buy into her leadership and to support what she or he presents or the goals that she sets forward. Support. A team player. Are the three attributes I think are important.
The fifth question, how do you twine define the role of a board member with respect to the executive director?
I think the board member and the executive director have to agree on the goals of the sobering center. The long-term goals are set, they should -- the goals are put out there what needs to be met, and the board member relays to the director this is our end stay point and we have -- and it is your job to get there working within the means that we have to work, the rules, the regulations, the means that's available to get to this end point. The steps of the way you express how it's going to be done and if it's in the way that's -- works within the system, getting us there is the end point of meeting the goals. You have to -- the executive director needs to be very vocal, let us know her plan or his plan and the steps what she's going to do to get to the end goal.
3:56 PMDo you have any questions for us or comments with regard to where you think we should be helpful to the sobering center?
I guess the -- my main question right now, what are the priority goal, the number one goal of the sobering -- the board right now for the sobering center is I guess the long-term goal.
Why don't we start on my right with Commissioner Gomez and work down the list.
Well, I think when we first started discussing the whole idea of a sobering center was to avoid taking someone to jail and instead giving them an opportunity to kind of sleep it off. And especially if it was, like you said, a one-time violator. But then we -- we never got into you've got to go to treatment, you've got to do this, that, just kind of let them sleep it off and get on the bus and go home. That that would reduce the jail population for us, instead of them going to jail, they are going to sleep it off and go about their way. The second thing was to save money at the e. R. , the emergency room. So we've tried to kind of focus on those issues, although there's the other funding thing that kind of works itself into the discussions and strategic plans and that kind of thing. That an organization looks at.
3:57 PMCommissioner Daugherty.
Well, I think she touched on -- I was real involved in the center being established. I went to san antonio, I went to houston at 1:00 in the morning to both of them because I really wanted to see them in action. I didn't feel like I could buy off on this thing unless I really saw it work. The thing that I fear and that I shared this with the first executive director that was there is, you know, she had a lot of credentials and I told her, I said, now, before the creep gets into what the sobering center eventually could be, I mean, you know, but I mean in the embryonic fashion or stage that we are because we're still, you know, so early with it, that I really wanted to get the blocking and tackling done. And what have we seen? We've seen there's been some difficulty with that, which has not made me feel, you know, real comfortable. Now, Judge Holdengartner has walked me back off the edge. She's leaving and I think the board, you know, has got to be strong enough board that that e. D. Can feel like that they are going to support whoever that e. D. Is, and especially if they lay the ground work for, you know, expressing what they really want. Let get this set up and let's make sure that this is done really, you know, adequately. And, you know, I hate to say that I think that we May be kind of starting over, I mean, you know, we've got the basics, you know, we've got the spot and we've got people that are working, we've got some financial people over there. I think you've got the commitment from the county with the facilities and the city hasn't bought on the operational dollars that goes to it, but a board, I think, and let's face it, a lot of e. D. S, a really good e. D. Really does depend on their board. And a board has got to be strong enough to go we know where to stop -- the firewall stops here. You take it from here and the board is the one that sets the stage for here's what we want and here's what we want to get out of this thing. Now you, whoever that person is, you make sure that we get there with this. And I think this is a critical time for this board to really step up and almost have to really take on the task of making sure that this thing gets done and the mission is fulfilled. So . . .
4:01 PMCommissioner Travillion.
For me, a board defines the direction, the board really is the epicenter of the policy. That there are a thousand things that could be done, but we can only do one at a time. So how do we define what it is that we're doing and make progress of those things, eyelet things that it's important for me to know that the board really understands its strategic planning purpose, that the sobering center might be a front door to a continuum of services that are necessary to, a, cut the costs so that someone doesn't have to go to the emergency room or has an alternative to jail, but also has someone there that can counsel them on opportunities for treatment if they choose to go in that direction. So for me the ability to define the mission, the ability to break the mission into phases and make progress towards addressing issues. We could do a thousand things, as was mentioned, but what are the most important things to do in this particular one with the staff that we have, the resources that we have, the support that we have. So just clear definition mission. And then the ability to manage and direct one who would be responsible for the operation.
4:02 PMCommissioner Shea.
So if the question is what's the number one goal of the center as they define it or the number one goal that I think is needed for the center, they are two slightly different questions so i'll answer both of them. I think the number one goal for the center has to be to help people who should not be in the machine room or in the jail -- emergency room or the jail get sobered up, and then connect them to service. If they are chronically abusing drugs or alcohol. Can't force them to.
4:03 PMRight.
But to, you know certainly encourae them to get connected up with services and then have those services be available. We have a drug and alcohol court, we have a mental health court, we have trouble getting people into those programs because there's not enough beds. That to me is part of the larger problem with the sobering center. I don't know the record on trying to get people into those programs if they've tried, they are willing but there's not beds available. So that's a data point I would need more information on. I think what the center needs just as sort of a semi casual observer, I haven't been to the meetings, was not involved with the formation, so i'm really just picking it up from the news coverage and what little I hear directly, it seems to me their top priority needs to be to stabilize the sobering center. I think they really need a strong board and strong management, leadership to do that. And then I think they need to expand their relationships with other providers in the community to have a stronger, healthier, powerfully connected center and suite of services.
4:04 PMI depart from my colleague to my right a little bit on the mission creep issue. I actually expect the sobering center to mission creep. Right now it's really looking at public intoxication predominantly in the downtown area. And that's really all it has the capacity to deal with right now. And that is understandable. You got to crawl before you walk and you got to walk before you run. And i'm totally good with that and I want to see that stability. And I have wanted and advocated along with the rest of the commissioners court for sobering center for a very long time because this communiy is absolutely soaked with drugs and alcohol. Laying aside just the public intoxication statistics, the 2018 medical examiner's report had 210 people dying of drug overdose. Our criminal courts docket, 260,000dwi cases. 228,000 possession of a controlled substance cases. 70,000 manufacture and sales tastes. We've got a lot of drug and alcohol issues in our community and sobering center is a moment where we can suspend that decision of whether we have a compelled moment or a voluntary moment. And for those folks who are not currently a public safety threat, we should err on the side of the voluntary moment and that's why a sobering center is so important, I think. And why I think that mission creep to expand the numbers of people who are not a public safety threat but are definitely in the churn of our pretty robust drug and alcohol economy have an opportunity to disrupt that churn.
4:07 PMThank you. I agree with all of you, everything you had to say. I was just hoping that -- I agree that the foundation needs to be stabilized with the sobering center. Not that i've gone to any of the meetings, but what I read in the paper about it is always the conflicts that are going on with the sobering center, the good that they are doing. And I believe that they are doing a good job for what they are doing and I just hope it continues -- I just want it to continue doing the job of helping these people that are there for, you know, for the help.
We really appreciate your interest and serving on the board tremendously.
Thank you. thank you.
Thank you so much.
Good to meet you.
Do you want me to leave my questions here?
4:08 PMWe've got another copy if you want to take them. It's entirely up to you. Thanks so much. Stay warm and dry out there.
4:09 PMHello.
4:10 PMHey, Mr. Lambert, how are you?
Well, thank you.
It's been a while since our kids were together at open door.
It has been a while. it's nice to see you.
It's good to see you. we have six questions and 20 to 30 minutes, so that's three questions -- three minutes per question, and i'll ask all the questions on above of the commissioners court.
Thank you.
We'll get started. the first one is what is your vision for the sobering center board and describe your familiarity with the sobering center and what initiatives you would suggest to the board over the next five years to realize that vision?
Wonderful. well, thank you for that question. I'm happy to be here today. And as you know, i'm -- as the ceo of planned parenthood for three-quarters of the state of texas, we see a lot of patients, 85,000 patients, many of whom have drug and alcohol either dependency issues or certainly issues with binge drinking and decisions that result from that that fall into the scope of our care. And the sobering center I think is an incredible community resource. I'm thrilled that it's available so that individuals can avoid prison and unnecessary emergency room visits and have the initial introduction to the recovery community, if that's what they need for an assessment to help them understand these resources are available in the community. So to me it's continuing to do what's already been done incredibly well over the last few years since it's founding, and trying to increase the assets of the organization to be able to better serve the community recognizing it's a partnership between the county and the city, but also there's a nonprofit fundraising component that needs to grow. And within the planned parenthood movement, i'm considered, if you were to ask our former president cecile richards, she would say i'm probably one of the best fundraisers in the federation, it's what I do. And I enjoy it very much, and in the state of texas because our state does not invest in the health care we provide or the patients we serve, much like individuals at the sobering center, we have to look for private resources and 52% of our $40 million budget is private. And I believe that looking at the financial health of the sobering center, the diverse indication of its revenues, focusing on the fiscal stewardship and reaching out in our community to people that I believe should be supporting the organization financially would be of great benefit. So I think programs already offered are wonderful. I would look forward to learning more about programs that could be offered and partnerships with other area nonprofits as well as funders who May be drawn to the commission. -- to the mission.
4:12 PMYou've anticipated the second question. Let me ask it anyway to see if there is anything you would like to add. How do you see the sobering center's relationship now, actually no, it was the third question that you anticipated. We'll get to that. Let's go in order though. 2 is how do you see the sobering center's relationship now and in the future with respect to law enforcement, the medical community, and the recovery community?
4:13 PMYou know, I -- I -- i'm, just to be honest, I always say what I don't know but i'm a quick study, I don't know the current relationship. I'm not on the board and not as familiar. What I would hope -- I know some, I know that law enforcement has the opportunity to bring individuals to the sobering center now if they haven't committed a crime, so public intoxication, i'm assuming instead of getting public intoxication and going to jail they can go to the sobering center and I think it's wonderful. And I think the biggest issue I would assume is capacity because I don't doubt that we are at a loss for people who have been binge drinking in our community and May need a place other than jail or any yard to show up in. So I think with law enforcement it's trying to help them understand how to provide compassionate outreach as they try to help people get access to the care that they need and/or a place just to sober up and determine if they need other resources in our community. I think the medical community, we have a role in this because especially as a nonprofit provider of health care, we serve a population that is at risk, and so many of our parents come to us either with depression issues or other mental health issues and/or -- and many times these issues do lead to drug and alcohol abuse disorders and I believe that we're the first line in screening individuals and I think the sobering center working with the medical community to help screen individuals who come in to determine what is the best way to help them live a somebodier life and/or understand the need for recovery. I know austin is fortunate to have organizations like austin recovery and other nonprofits that help people who -- whether it be day programs or inpatient and planned parenthood partners with a lot of them, our role in this is we recognize when people are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, they are much more likely to have sex and they are much more likely to have unprotected sex. So our role has always been to try to educate individuals about that and help them plan while they are addicted how to prevent pregnancies and plan families and prevent stds as best we can through education, access to contraception, access to birth control that you don't have to remember to take every day. And I think it's more of that, helping the sobering center understand that information be able to to provide to the people that they have overnight there. So there's an education component that we could provide through planned parenthood or through other medical communities, brackenridge -- it's not brackenridge anymore, is it, but at dell medical school and all the relationships there.
4:16 PMSo it was the third question you had anticipated. What strategies would you pursue with the board to ensure financial viability for the long-term mission of the sobering center?
I would say this is probably my greatest strength as a candidate in that when I inherited my role at the ce off of planned parenthood in objection which is 15 years ago, shocking to me, but we were about a third to half of our funding was still governmental back then. And we were -- when I became ceo in austin it was a $3 million organization. We are now a $40 million organization that covers what used to be eight separate planned parenthood organizations in the state. The only way to do that was diversify revenues. We had to look where are the governmental options and how can we leverage those to the best of our ability to bring funds in to help people. And I know the sobering center has to do that. And whereas the private partnerships, whether it's insurance for corporations that want to take through employee health programs and/or private philanthropy. There are so many people in our country are impacted by drug and alcohol abuse and misuse and I believe it would speak to a significant number of travis county residents wanting to support this initiative. And I think they just May not even know about it because it's relatively new in the community still, and I think that the more we can raise awareness, the more funds that could be raised privately to support not only the current programs but proposed growth. And we've seen that so it's a matter of even within fundraising, it's a matter of diversifying fundraising. We need individuals who can give significant seven figure gifts and individuals who can give one dollar. One dollar buys five condoms and it's a matter of ensuring that all people feel -- who feel drawn to the mission understand it, understand what they can do to help contribute to the health and safety of our community.
4:18 PMThe fourth question, what are the top three attributes you expect to see in an executive director of the sobering center?
I would think the top three attributes, a dedication first and foremost to the vision and mission of the sobering center with an understanding of its role in the recovery community and its role in the medical community in relation to preventing unnecessary medical costs and unnecessary incarcerations, saving the community while investing in the health, somebody who understands that as strategy and attributes, has business acumen, understanding how to make a dollar stretch farther. You know, we all are at a loss for the resources that we need in the state of texas to do what we need to take care of our people here. So how do we make a dollar go farther. So somebody who is creative. I started my health care career at seton and I feel like there are five core values that are the same as planned parenthoods, respect, simplicity, advocacy simplicity, honesty and straightforwardness, advocacy for the poor, poor financially or poor in spirit. Somebody who is sobering up might be poor in spirit. Quality service, and then inventiveness to infinity, boundless create activity with limited resources. Planned parenthood has more in common with the catholic hospital system. We just vary on birth control and reproductive access but core values are the same I believe would be needed for a leader in this role is straightforwardness, honesty with compassion for people to try to help solve the problems.
4:20 PMAnd the fifth question, how do you define the role of a board member with respect to the executive director?
Having just hung up the phone oregon off a zoom meeting with my finance committee of my board, i'm not only as a ceo, I have a 28-person governing board. I also sat on the national board of planned parenthood federation of for america for six years and served on the board in austin and multiple boards. And what I believe a board member needs to understand their role in governance in a small, nonprofit or small organization. They need to be willing to be flexible to the extent that the executive director and the staff want or need involvement. So I think of the small komen foundations May need board members actually working at a desk and helping them some days. An organization with a $40 million budget needs individuals raising awareness and raising funds. Good fiscal stewards and asking questions about financials and guidance and guiding the strategic vision of the organization. And I think a good board member understands that every nonprofit has a life cycle. I would sewell assume the sobering center be a few yes, sir in, I would leave it up to the board to determine how involved should the board be. I personally prefer not to get into the day to day operations of a executive director. Certainly if they are doing a good job and don't want you there. At the same time, if they need the assistance or somebody to bounce ideas off of, to bounce ideas off individuals who have worked with large boards of directors and large organizations could help. So to me the best board member is a flexible board member. Somebody who can ebb and flow with the needs of the organization and be as involved as needed to help it be successful without alienating a good executive director while asking the questions and providing the support to ensure that they are a good executive director. So -- so really I would -- I would think through a strategic planning process at an organization at year 3 would be identifying best practices for its board and documenting the roles of the board and what would be expected. And there would be an agreement, so even in our organization was founded in austin in 1937, and chartered in '38, so we're about 80 -- almost 85 years old. And we still partner with board source and have a consultant coming to our board meeting next Thursday working with our board just to ensure that the relationship with the executive leadership is the healthiest to fulfill the -- so I think much like everything else in medicine, it's scientifically based medically accurate. Board services is scientifically based. There's a science and board source is a great source to look for to determine exactly as the organization grows. But we need to be as involved as needed to ensure the success while giving the staff time and support to do their jobs.
4:24 PMAnd the sixth question, do you have any questions for us or suggestions for how we could be supportive?
You know, that's a great question. I don't have questions. I'll say that -- I know paul coopwood and I know lynn sherman. So I think regardless of the decision you make today, any one of the three of us I think we're very different individuals with unique skill sets, but I think all three of us would bring very positive energy to this board and i'm just thrilled to see --
I want all three of you. [laughter]
And that's what I love about this community. And I was a little worried because the sobering center is to new. When I saw the board position posted, I didn't know who would apply. But I was thrilled when I saw paula and lynn because I believe any situation you make today would be wonderful for this organization. And i'm thrilled that we're all here and interested in helping. I think the sobering center is to important to this community. I don't believe people should go to jail or into the health system that already costs far too much and there should be a place that can sober up and get help if needed and/or seasoner up and go home and live their life. I'm thrilled this has come to fruitionen a I just want it to continue. As a travis county resident here 30 years and having been in texas 48 of my 49 years, I just want this to continue to be a resource that we invest in as a community and i'm thankful for all that you do to support travis county. You do so much across so many avenues in this community and I know several of you and appreciate you very much.
4:25 PMWhere is your daughter going to college?
Good question. so she looked nationwide and she said travis county and austin is the number one place to live in the country, why leave. And she's going to go to st. Edwards.
4:26 PMBoth of our kids were at open door together.
Montana state.
Oh, that's great. good for him. A little further away.
I think he wanted to be far away from me.
I should not say sarah reminding me this is recorded, but we told her, we said go, go to california, go to oregon, go to washington, go to new york, go to a blue state, see what it's like. And i'm not speaking as the ceo of planned parenthood% right now. Go see what it's like. It's like austin on steroids. If you come back to austin know what you come back to as a native austinite and native texan. She came back with I was born here, it's the number one place to live in the country, why would I leave it. So we're happy. But she will live on campus.
That is wonderful. thank you so much for your interest in this -- i'm sorry. Commissioner Shea.
4:27 PMI'm really impressed with all of what you've said. I've been very impressed with your work.
Thank you.
My question is how as the ceo of an organization that is just constantly, you know, having to deal with so many issues, how would you have time for the board?
I would make time. I just rotated off the national board and within the planned parenthood movement nationally i've served in many roles. At this point I have my leadership role in texas and I have one leadership role among my affiliate ceos, 47 in the country, and i'm the leader of a group with them. But I would make the time. I -- our daughter was in seven homes in the first 14 months of her life because her parents had drug and alcohol issues. And I learne the meaning of addiction watching them in these courthouses. They loved her more than anything in the worlden a you could see it in their eyes, and the system did not treat them as compassionately as I wish it could have at the time. And samantha's biological mother said it was the eye contact that we made with her throughout the process that she knew that we cared and that we would be good parents even though we were a same gender couple and that was before that was more normal. And knowing that our daughter was in seven homes in the first 14 months of her life because of drug and alcohol addiction issues in her biological family, I feel very called to working in a sobering community and the recovery community. I love that we get to do that at planned parenthood, that we get to help people. We partner with austin recovery, we provide educators who go to austin recovery. So i'm thrilled that we have the ability to help, but I believe this position allows -- woulo do so more overtly. I also realized recently that I used to be very involved in travis county with the interagency council for aging, austin elderly listen alzheimer's association. And when I was hired with planned parenthood, all of my volunteer work became nationally. I've been part of travis county and the austin community for 30 years and haven't served in a civic capacity in probably a decade or more. Since I was on the integrated care collaboration board. So I feel a civic duty to invest more in this community and with our daughter going to college, it frees up a little time also. So that's why now and why today is -- because I feel like while I am responsible for a regional health organization, part of a national organization, I am called to do more for this community. I love travis county and love austin and want to in have vest my time here as
4:30 PMAny other questions?
Thank you so very much.
I hope the rest of your meeting is very efficient for your case.
This has been great?
Thank you for all you do.
Commissioners, I see no need to go back up on the dais. We can finish up our work from these -- from this less lofty perch. Yes, sir.
-- I need to get some things from up there.
We can finish the day from down here. No need to reset. It's 4:30. Why don't we take a five-minute break to gather anything we need to get our votes. It's 4:30. We'll come back to these seats at 4:35 and finish up our votes. [ recess ] .
4:35 PMWe are back after a brief recess, and we're going to complete our work for today. We already handled 28, correct? We did. So let's go to agenda item 42, which was discuss in executive session. There is no need for action today. Although there is lots of good work going open behind the scenes. On agenda item 43 blessedly there's no action because that case is dismissed. Item 44, no action necessary today. 45, no action necessary today. On agenda item number 46, Commissioner Daugherty, do you have a motion?

4:36 PMExecutive session regarding travis county versus r steven mcnaly.
Motion by Commissioner Daugherty, seconded by Commissioner Gomez. All those in favor. That passes unanimously. Next let's go to the sobering center item agenda item 12. Is it the court's desire to take a vote today? Would you like to take a week to consider? We have three amazing candidates. I do know that the city of austin is also engaged in filling a vacancy on the sobering center. I don't know where they are in their process.
Do you know where they are in the process?
They're in the middle -- they're in the middle of interviews right now. It does not appear that they've made a selection yet.
4:37 PMDo we know who is heading that up?
That would be the health and human services committee of the city of austin.
Who chairs that? do you know?
That is chair natasha harper madison.