California Victim Compensation Board January 30, 2020, Board Meeting
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session at the call Holly Pearson, Deputy Secretary and General Counsel for the California Government Operations Agency, sitting as designee by Acting Secretary Julie Lee, at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, January 30, 2020, at 10:07 A.M. Also present was Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and Chief Counsel, acting for, and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller, and Member Mayor Tubbs.
Interim Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill and Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong attended. Michelle Greer, Board Liaison, recorded the meeting.
The Board meeting commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item 1. Approval of Minutes of the December 12, 2019, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the December 12, 2019, Board meeting. Member Tubbs abstained from voting because he was not at that Board Meeting.
Item 2. Approval of Minutes of the June 27, 2019, Board Meeting
Before the Board approved the minutes of the June 27, 2019, Board meeting, Chairperson Pearson explained that, because of changes in the Board membership during 2019, there were board minutes from previous meetings that were not approved and were being addressed that day. Member Tubbs abstained from voting because he was not at that Board Meeting.
Item 3. Approval of Minutes of the October 19, 2019, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the October 19, 2019, Board meeting.
Item 4. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment. Linda Siegel wished to address the Board.
Ms. Siegel started by stating that she wished everyone a happy new year and noted that this was the first Board Meeting of the 2020 calendar year.
She continued by saying that she worked with Governor Jerry Brown in 1981 as a minor appointee and was told to go out and find non-tax revenues for child abuse victims who were unserved of their mental health benefits. In doing this Ms. Siegel found the Victim Compensation Fund.
Ms. Seigel said that she has been involved with the fund for the past 40 years. From the Brown administration she was introduced to Gray Davis and became one of his advisers for the Victim Compensation Program. She worked closely with the Program during the Davis administration as well as working with him when he was the State Controller; and if you (the Board) have looked at the figures, you know that about $120 million a year was paid out from his administration and now it is down to $55 million today.
Ms. Seigel continued by stating that you (the Board) will hear reasons why that occurs, like health benefits are more available today, but it is because fewer victims are being reached. Ms. Seigel led a loosely knit group, a Statewide organization called the Coalition of Crime Victim Services which authored among other bills AB 2435, by Hannah-Beth Jackson. This was chaptered and went to Eileen Adams as a comprehensive Report of Victim Services.
There are two important things that have not happened yet, Ms. Seigel continued. One being the Crime Victims Trust Fund in which surpluses could be kept. This program has a long history of being unable to forecast spending – of course it can’t. You cannot predict victimization, you cannot predict group events; you cannot predict any of that. Because of this, there is a very up and down flow of operating and it is very difficult to fund.
The second thing was a recommendation to create a new Department of Crime Victim Services to handle both the compensation and grants, which are currently handled by Cal OES. And although there has been some progress made on this, it has been a long time since 1990, or whenever they passed the statute, and she believes the Board will find that if these services and grants were served under one entity it would be a lot easier for funding to go back and forth depending on what happens with crime victims.
Ms. Siegel continued by stating that she is concerned about the Governor’s General Fund appropriation for the comp program. We in the field have always been very proud of being a non-tax supported program, where fines and penalties and Federal funds fund 100 percent of the program, and there have been many years of surpluses when the Legislature has transferred much of the excess funding to the General Fund; so, I suppose you can regard this as paying back some of that loan. This was done more formerly in proceeding decades.
In her discussion with a legislative analyst about this matter, Ms. Seigel said, Ms. Seigel found that the analyst said that this was due to fines and penalties dropping because of more payment plans being put into effect, and more people being let off of probation without paying their fines and penalties. Ms. Seigel does not believe that is the largest part of the fines and penalties that goes to CalVCB. She believes that drunk driving fees and traffic violation fees, and perhaps now texting and driving violation fees are the bulk of the fund that goes to CalVCB. This is along with the 60 percent Federal Government share which you lose if you drop your payments, your payments to victims have to be up for that to keep rising. This is a tricky calculation.
Ms. Siegel then said that she believes Governor Newsom is a very inclusive Governor, and she believes that he would want to see all victims served. She believes he would want to see homeless victims served, non-English speaking victims, those from other countries – all served if they are crime victims, and this is a very difficult population to reach. Although CalVCB has put together the Trauma Recovery Centers, which Ms. Seigel was also there from the beginning with those, they do not extend to suburban and rural areas. Last year, Ms. Seigel tried to help someone write a grant for a rural area, which was in fact Auburn California, which is not that rural, and it was very difficult to fit into the parameters of the fund, so they gave up for the time being until those parameters can be expanded.
Ms. Siegel continued by stating that she also hoped to see providers and independent advocates included in the conversation. In the past they have not been included because the people here (CalVCB) believed that they took money out of the fund and therefore biased, but Ms. Seigel believed that if the Board took everyone in the room out of the fund, they would be a very lonely Board.
In conclusion, Ms. Seigel stated that she was looking forward to hearing about CalVCB’s progress with all of these things.
Chairperson Pearson thanked Ms. Siegel for sharing her comments with the Board and asked her to continue doing so. Chairperson Pearson also suggested Ms. Siegel reach out to Interim Executive Officer Gledhill to have discussions with her directly.
Ms. Seigel then said that it would be very helpful to receive a copy of the Legislative Report as well as the Executive Officer Report as publicly available documents, so the public knew where things were going.
Item 5. Executive Officer Statement
Interim Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill started her report by stating that she was honored to be there today and to serve as the CalVCB Interim Executive Officer. Over the last few weeks, she has met with many of the staff here at CalVCB and is impressed by their commitment to CalVCB’s mission of serving victims of crime. She continued by stating that she looked forward to working closely with the CalVCB Board as CalVCB continues their mission and enhance services and outreach to victims in California.
Ms. Gledhill announced that the Governor’s budget was released earlier this month. The Administration indicated its intent to consolidate victims’ programs operated by CalVCB and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) as part of the 2020-21 Budget. While the Administration still intends to pursue this consolidation, the plan has been temporarily paused.
Strategic Planning with Cal OES
To increase collaboration between CalVCB and Cal OES, Ms. Gledhill continued, a joint strategic plan was finalized last fall. The plan reflects our shared commitment to raising awareness and improving delivery of services to all crime victims across the state. Two important elements of the plan are also highlighted in the Governor’s Budget:
- Redesign of the CalVCB website to provide a centralized platform of victims’ programs offered throughout the state
- A public awareness and educational campaign to share information with victims and service providers on how to apply for compensation through CalVCB’s new online portal.
This comprehensive outreach campaign will be funded by a grant from Cal OES.
Trauma Recovery Centers (TRC’s)
The last item Ms. Gledhill spoke about was the TRC’s. Earlier this month, CalVCB posted a “Notice of Funds Available” for TRCs. Since 2013, CalVCB has awarded grants to TRCs in California. TRCs provide trauma-informed mental health treatment and case management to underserved crime victims who either may not be eligible for victim compensation or may be fearful of reporting a crime to law enforcement. Funding for the TRC program comes from the Restitution Fund and Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act (SNSA) Fund. Initially, the TRC program awarded $2.0 annually. Currently, CalVCB provides over $17 million to fund 14 TRCs in counties across California.
Item 6. Contract Update
Interim Executive Officer Gledhill presented the Contract Update, which was purely informative.
The first two are continuing IT contracts that CalVCB will be using for Microsoft.Net services as well as services for our Online Portal in the amount of $168,000.00.
The third is an extension of an already existing contract for consultative services with programming expertise utilizing Microsoft .NET technologies in the amount of $141,570.00.
Item 7. Legislative Update
CalVCB Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong presented the Legislative Update.
SB 417 (Portantino) – Erroneous Conviction Claims Bill
This bill would appropriate $136,780 from the General Fund to pay the erroneous conviction claim approved by CalVCB for Moonshadow Naomi Taggart.
Status: Scheduled for Senate Appropriations Committee on January 21st
Ms. Wong reported that the bill has been sent to from the Senate Floor to the Assembly.
Item 8. Claim of Lionel Omar Rubalcava (Pen. Code, § 4900 et seq.)
CalVCB Acting Chief Counsel Jenny Wong explained that Lionel Omar Rubalcava seeks compensation for his wrongful conviction and incarceration pursuant to Penal Code section 4900.
Ms. Wong began by stating that Lionel Omar Rubalcava submitted an application for compensation under Penal Code section 4900 based upon an attempted murder conviction for which he was imprisoned over 17 years. With the express agreement of the prosecution, the Santa Clara County Superior Court vacated Rubalvaca’s conviction and found him factually innocent. The court’s finding was based upon Rubalcava’s strong alibi evidence that he was in a different city 46 miles away when the crime occurred, the absence of any incriminating physical evidence, and the victim’s recent admission that he was uncertain of the culprit’s identity. In accordance with the automatic compensation provision of Penal Code section 1485.55, the Proposed Decision recommends that the Legislature appropriate $874,440 as payment to Rubalcava, representing $140 for each of the 6,246 days that he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Chairperson Pearson asked if there was anyone who wished to speak on this matter. Paige Kaneb from the California Innocence Project asked to make a statement on Mr. Rubalcava’s behalf.
Ms. Kaneb stated that she did not have an argument to make, but just to thank the Board for compensating Mr. Rubalcava for his wrongful incarceration.
The Board voted to adopt the proposed decision.
Victim Compensation Program
The Board commenced the Victim Compensation Program portion of the meeting at 10:23 A.M.
Request for Authority to Begin the Rulemaking Process for the California Code of Regulations (Title 2, Section 649.32.1)
CalVCB Acting Chief Council Jenny Wong presented CalVCB’s Request for Authority to Begin the Rulemaking Process for the California Code of Regulations (Title 2, Section 649.32.1)
On October 8, 2019, Ms. Wong stated, Governor Brown signed AB 629 (Chapter 575, Statutes of 2019) which amended statutes (Government Code section 13957.5) governing CalVCB to include compensation equal to the loss of income or support that a victim incurs as a direct result of the victim’s deprivation of liberty during the crime of human trafficking.
The bill requires the Board, to adopt regulations by July 1, 2020, that allow it to rely on evidence other than official employment documentation in considering and approving an application for such compensation. The proposed regulation clarifies the evidence that may be submitted in order to file a claim with the Board for the loss of income or support.
CalVCB has had conversations with stakeholders on the proposed regulations, received input, and received a letter of support from the organizations Bet Tzedek and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.
CalVCB Staff proposes the adoption of the proposed regulation, title 2, section 649.32.1, to comply with the legislative mandate imposed by AB 629. It is requested that the Board authorize staff to begin the rulemaking process with this proposed regulatory change. This includes a public comment period, final approval by the Board, and submission to the Office of Administrative Law.
The Board approved the request.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Interim Executive Officer and Acting Chief Counsel at 10:25 A.M. to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-39 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened into Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:28 A.M.
The Board adopted the hearing officer’s recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-39 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:29 A.M.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 20th.