County Supervisor a No-Show at Mental Health Board Meetings

Nick Gerda/Voice of OC

County Supervisor Andrew Do at a supervisors meeting.

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do sits on the county’s Mental Health Board, which is charged with evaluating how officials manage a large and complex mental health system that thousands of people count on.

But he doesn’t show up to many of the board’s meetings. In fact, he missed all but two of the 12 meetings in the year after he joined the panel last February.

Under the board’s bylaws, which require a board member’s removal if he or she misses four meetings in a calendar year, Do should have been kicked off a year ago. But if he and his supervisors colleagues pass a proposed rule change at their meeting Tuesday, the rules won’t apply to him.

Do is one of two county supervisors who have taken a high-profile commitment to fix problems with the county’s troubled mental health system.

Issues currently before the mental health board range from policy changes for restraining people against their will for mental health treatment to expanding hours for the county’s mental health referral hotline, which has received hundreds of calls that aren’t answered because it’s closed on weekends and after 6 p.m. on weekdays.

In an interview Monday, Do said his record on mental health speaks for itself, including his efforts to draw public attention to problems with the system; holding dozens of meetings with stakeholder groups; and helping to get a formal request released for two new psychiatric crisis centers.

As for the mental health board, which usually meets once a month for an hour-and-a-half, Do said he stays on top of the issues by sending a staff member, who takes notes and reports back to him.

“We sit on a lot of boards and it’s a lot of responsibilities,” Do said. “I feel like my time is better spent trying to understand the issues than attend the meetings.”

Under changes up for approval at the supervisors’ meeting, language would be inserted into the mental health board’s bylaws that exempts the absence rules from applying to “the Supervisor’s seat.”

Do said he supports the change, and wasn’t shy in his critique of the board.

“What Supervisor [Lisa] Bartlett and I are doing is exactly what that commission is supposed to do. And they haven’t done it,” he added, referring to the mental health ad-hoc committee of himself and Bartlett, which has mostly met in secret.

“We haven’t had a direction out of [the Mental Health Board],” Do said.

Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. He can be reached at ngerda@voiceofoc.org.