!Update! Are you surprised that (nearly) DHHS Director Kristin Brinks bailed?

You asked for the full list of buildings leased by the DHHS, and THC could not help but comply! Here is what we obtained from the County in our Public Records request: DHHSrentals1DHHSrental2DHHSrental3We’d like to make special mention of the frickin’ idiots who decided this lease from PWM (a.k.a. Tom McMurray) was a good idea:

DHHSrental55If you read the fine print there, you’ll see the lease is for 32 parking spaces – which comes out to $202.47 per parking space. Per month! Yikes.

Also, kudos to the magic trick pulled by the Grace Good Shepherd Church, for netting $3,600 per year for renting the County 0 sq. ft. Impressive!

DHHSrental66And last but not least, a huge shoutout to Old Town 3, LLC., (we aren’t sure who owns this one) for continuing the proud Arkley tradition of extortion for the spaces in 507 F Street and 510 Fifth Street in Eureka. (You see, Arkley once owned these buildings, or so we are told.)

DHHSrental77Geez Louise, that’s a lot of hooch!

Just in case you were wondering, the monthly grand total comes out to $360,128.28, while the average price per square foot for the DHHS is $1.17. Not terrible – but certainly not in keeping with the norm for commercial leases in Humboldt County.

On the one hand, THC wonders how some of these landlords sleep at night, knowing what they’re doing to the County coffers.

Probably quite comfortably, in fact. How tacky though - poor taste, rich kids, poor taste!

Probably quite comfortably, in fact. How tacky though – poor taste, rich kids, poor taste!

On the other hand, we can’t find it in our hearts to blame them all that much. It’s really not their fault that the County has proven themselves to be suckers over and over and over again.

As we sign off, we’ll leave you with a comment left on the original post (which you can read here, or below) which highlights an excellent point: the Count SUCKS at maintenance and repairs. More on that later, though.

From the cleverly named Anonymous:

“The county often leases buildings for two reasons. One is because the particular program that needs the facility is funded by a short term grant or one that doesn’t allow capital purchases. Since the funding is not guaranteed on a long term basis it doesn’t make sense to buy a building. The other reason is that the county is really shitty at setting aside funds for maintenance and repairs. You don’t have to look any further than our roads for a perfect example. The county has been receiving taxes for roads for decades and spending it on other “priorities” now our roads are in dire condition and they are pushing a new tax to pay again for maintenance that we have already paid for. The same applies to building. It’s way more sexy to announce a new program then it is to put on a new roof. Since a new roof won’t get your picture in the paper or on a plaque it’s no wonder our Stupidvisors don’t fix our roofs or other maintenance issues. If they rent outside facilities then the property owner is responsible for maintenance and it usually gets done. This is why the many local governments have sold off their buildings and then leased them back. It’s often the only way that routine maintenance gets done. Humboldt might well want to consider this concept before many of our buildings fall down. The issue of the poor condition of county buildings would be a great topic for a recurring post and a cpra for deferred maintenance reports and expenditures.”


 

Original post below


 

Was it the streets of Eureka?

Was it the absolute clusterf*** over at the Mental Health Branch?

Was it all the creepy comments about her looks in the LoCO Thunderdome? (We swear it wasn’t us!)

We’re guessing that, mostly, it’s the really shitty legacy that Phillip Crandall has left behind him – and the fact that it would have been nearly impossible (thanks, AFSCME!) for Kristin Brinks to rid the top-heavy, mismanaged, and inefficient department that is the DHHS of all the shitty administrators and lackadaisical workers that plague it.

Whatever it was that chased Kristin Brinks away, one thing is absolutely certain: we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not an easy or necessarily desirable sort of job to jump right into with – what we are guessing – is relatively little experience manning the helm of a sinking ship.

Sure, she worked for the El Dorado County government (and still does, we suppose – any bets she got a nice fat raise for staying?). But that doesn’t mean she was prepared for what awaited her at the DHHS. With all respect to Ms. Brinks, it seemed to us from the start that she must have been the only person crazy enough to consider taking the job.

Which is a total shame. Because even if it was a gargantuan task, we were very much looking forward to seeing what her “fiscally responsible” approach (per the County’s original press release announcing her appointment as Director) to serving the Humboldt community was going to be.

Which is why we buckled down and did some homework to help her out.

As we mentioned before, reducing budget obligations via getting rid of incompetent administrators and employees, or lowering their salaries, is essentially a no-go. Not gonna happen, folks.

So we did some digging into what other areas she could potentially trim some fat from. And, wouldn’t you know it, the CPRA that we submitted to the DHHS came back with some very interesting results.

Today, we’ll start with real estate, or more precisely, commercial real estate rental. That’s right, we’re talking about the rates that Humboldt’s DHHS pays for the buildings they operate out of.

We just got the CPRA documents, so we’ll update you fully later, but here are some specific buildings that jumped out at us immediately:

  • Public Health Office Space, 550 I Street, Eureka:                      2630 sq. ft. @ $4,144.32 ($1.58/sq. ft.)
  • Social Services, 445 W. Washington Street, Eureka:         3,960 sq. ft. @ @6,406 ($1.62/sq. ft.)                                            (We feel compelled to note that that is some shitty space!)
  • HHS Admin Offices, 507 F Street, Eureka:                                 25,132 sq. ft. @ $54,479.54 ($2.17/sq. ft.)                       (THC note: WTF?)

And our personal favorite, for reasons to be made clear momentarily:

  • Wellness Center, 908 7th Street, Eureka:                          11.550 sq. ft. @$24,610.60 ($2.13/sq. ft.)

Now, the point is this: the County of Humboldt is hemorrhaging a ridiculous amount of money in the rent it is paying, and in this case, specifically the DHHS. Granted, there are a few of the spaces that DHHS rents that are a little closer to $1/sq. ft. – but from what we can tell, even that is a higher than the norm in Humboldt County.

Heck, there are some major cities in the U.S. which have lower commercial rental rate averages than . We’re talking Atlanta and Dallas, to name just two of them. So why in the world does the County of Humboldt feel the need to bend over any time a landlord makes high rate demands? Are they just stupid, or do they enjoy getting screwed?

In any case, let’s get back to the Wellness Center, and why we think it contributed so greatly to Ms. Brinks’ reconsideration of the DHHS director job. As we mentioned, the Wellness center costs a whopping $2.13/sq. ft. a month, for an annual total of just under $300,000. She was probably further discouraged that the Wellness Center has two more years left of the original 10-year lease, and that there are two 5-year options to extend the lease remaining. Any bets on whether the County will just blindly pony up and continue to pay such exorbitant amounts?

Lastly, as Brinks was thinking about how she was going to have to watch as the County squandered her budget, and how she was going to take the blame for all the bullshit financial obligations she’d been saddled with, THC strongly believes she went to Google Earth to find out exactly what P.O.S. building the DHHS was paying so much for.

And what she saw was this:

Wellness snip 1Meh, not the the most attractive place, but it’s certainly not the worst in Eureka.

But wait….what’s that? Let’s enhance the image.

Enhance

Enhance

Enhance

Enhance

Gadzooks! Kristin must have realized that the DHHS services are being overrun by homeless nazis! Thanks a lot, Google, for putting such a stellar advertisement for the “beautiful” streets of Eureka out there for all to see.

And there you have it, folks. Ain’t nobody that’s capable of fixing the DHHS debacle going to take the job while they have to contend with that.

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7 Responses to !Update! Are you surprised that (nearly) DHHS Director Kristin Brinks bailed?

  1. Esther says:

    Tom McMurray is an absolute asshat. It pisses me off beyond belief that public dollars are paid to that fool for something as meaningless as parking for the equally worthless DHHS.

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  2. Gail O. says:

    A few observations:
    1. As to the parking spaces at 638 W Clark, they are not using that space for parking vehicles. They us it to park 3 Modular units which they have been renting from Performance Modulars Inc since 2000. Total 9,000 SF current rent totals $9515 per month. The rent has probably risen to that rate over the 16 years, but using the current rent that adds up to a total of $1,826,880 in RENT for those mods. I wonder what it would have cost to buy them in 2000? Then you add the rent of the parking spaces, again todays rent of $6479 per month since 2000 for a total of $1,243,968. Using today’s rent would give us a grand total of $3,070,848 in RENT for 3 modular units for 16 years. Call it 3 million for lesser rents in prior years (I hope!!).
    2. 430 F Street is listed twice, and all details are identical. Is that one lease or two? Was it counted once or twice in the total rent? Would not make a lot of difference, either way.
    3. Most commercial property is leased using triple net leases, under which the tenant pays taxes, insurance and a good share of maintenance. Does the County use triple net leases? Are we saving on maintenance by renting? The County would be exempt from property taxes if they own property, do they pay the taxes of the landlord in a triple net lease? How much are we saving?
    4. These are all being leased by DHHS. What about all of the other County agencies? How much property do they rent? What is the total amount of rent the County is paying every month?
    5. The goal of DHHS should be to assist people in standing on their own two feet. I would prefer to invest in the future of the people who need help, rather than just provide life long maintenance at a subsistence level. The goal should be to help these people outgrow the need for assistance, and shrink DHHS.

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  3. Gail hits the bottom line. The goal of the conservative focus on government is to shrink government. “The goal should be to help these people outgrow the need for assistance, and shrink DHHS.”

    And of course that is one of the goals. The DHHS is part of a social safety net that includes federal, state and local resources. The actual goal of this program (imho) is to make sure that in the wealthiest country in the world we do what we can as a nation, state and county to make sure people are not starving nor do they go without preventative and critical medical needs.

    So THC, kudos to you and yours on this investigation. I will follow with great interest what your and your reader’s conclusions will be. We see where Gail is headed, and I betcha Rob Arkley and Tom will agree with her. “Lookit, sure we talk the talk of cutting government spending, but when the money goes to us, well lookit, we do a better job than the government could do anyhow.”

    THC, you are on dangerous grounds here for a conservative. This is something known as a wedge issue for your side and is all good for the libs. Libs, despite what conservatives understand are for good government, not big. I hate the fact that these buildings are owned by the private sector when as good or better job at construction planning and maintenance can be done by the right political leaders.

    Not that HumCo’s political leaders have shown good leadership in construction in the past century. Yes, I am upset a the loss of both the amazing former Eureka City Hall and County Courthouse. And, who builds a jail in the middle of the County seat? Ugh.

    Good going gumshoes and keep up the good work on this story. I’m not optimistic that it will have legs though. We’ll see.

    In the mean time, there are two County Supervisors who don’t even have opponents. Why all the complaining if we can’t even find an opponent for these two? Maybe, b/c in the end people understand that Rex and Estelle agree with the conservative notion that government is meant to increase efficiencies for business and property owners. Estelle, btw, used to head an organization dedicated to rural property rights (whose founder’s name actually comes up on this list). Dontcha think a property rights advocate would be fine with the status quo and would much rather rent to property owners than have government own their buildings?

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  4. Truth says:

    “The actual goal of this program (imho) is to make sure that in the wealthiest country in the world we do what we can as a nation, state and county to make sure people are not starving nor do they go without preventative and critical medical needs.”

    That may have been the goal of those who created the program. The goal of the program in Humboldt County is to bring in outside grant money to create jobs for people who would not otherwise have jobs, while ensuring conditions so disastrous that they would push poor people out of Humboldt. That’s what the supervisors wanted and that’s what they got.

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  5. Bama says:

    Looks like former Arkley partner Kurt Kramer is a big winner with the DHHS building and all the other old town LLC properties. Holly shit!! Closet to 100 k per frickin month!! WTH

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  6. Just Watchin says:

    An interesting comparison might be a list of properties that the county owns, then see if exhorbanite fees are charged for maintenance, and who performs them. Then figure out the connections.

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