California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
July 15, 2021, Board Meeting
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Gabriel Ravel, General Counsel of the Government Operations Agency, acting for, and in the absence of Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, via Zoom, on Thursday, July 15, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. Also present via Zoom was Member Diana Becton, District Attorney, and newly appointed Member Shawn Silva, Deputy State Controller and Interim Chief Counsel, acting for and in the absence of, Betty T. Yee, Controller.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier, attended in person at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California. Legal Secretary and acting Board Liaison, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Before starting the formal meeting, Chairperson Ravel updated the public on the recent change to the Board’s membership. Chairperson Ravel stated that Mr. Chivaro had recently retired, and that Shawn Silva would be joining the board in his stead.
Shawn Silva introduced himself to the public. Mr. Silva has been an attorney at the State Controller’s Office for 21 years and also served as a Deputy District Attorney at the beginning of his career. He indicated his familiarity with criminal cases and criminal law.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the May 21, 2021, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the May 21, 2021, Board meeting. Member Silva did not vote because he was not present at the May 21, 2021, Board Meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Burrell reminded everyone that, consistent with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, items not on the agenda may not be discussed at this time but may be put on a future agenda. (Gov. Code, § 11125.7.)
Eric Gallegos appeared via Zoom. Mr. Gallegos explained that he wanted to participate more in the meeting and was using an interpreter. Mr. Gallegos said that he was still waiting on an appeal for application number A20-7909427. He said that he was working with his local District Attorney’s Office on his case and wanted CalVCB to know that he still believes that the people that committed this crime do not deserve to just walk away free and that he believes there should be consequences for their actions. Mr. Gallegos continued by stating that he believed that the Board’s decision to deny his application was incorrect, and urged the Board to take his appeal into consideration. Mr. Gallegos thanked the Board for considering his request.
Chair Ravel thanked Mr. Gallegos for speaking before the Board.
There were no other public comments.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Chief Executive Officer Ms. Gledhill updated the Board on several items:
Ms. Gledhill started by thanking former Board member. Rick Chivaro for his leadership and long-term support of CalVCB. She then welcomed Shawn Silva to the Board.
Ms. Gledhill discussed the Governor’s budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year and noted that included in the spending plan is a $33 million General Fund backfill for CalVCB. Ms. Gledhill expressed her gratitude for the General Fund support, which will ensure CalVCB can carry out its mission and continue to compensate all eligible victims of crime. Moving forward, CalVCB will continue to work with the Governor’s Office and the Legislature to improve the financial outlook and help grow the program, services and outreach.
Ms. Gledhill then updated the Board about specific funding also included in the budget, which is $7.5 million in funding for CalVCB to compensate the victims of state-sponsored sterilization. This practice was allowed by eugenics (yo͞oˈjeniks) laws that existed in California between 1909 and 1979 and was carried out on women in state prisons after that. This budget provision sets aside money to pay survivors an estimated $25,000 each. Ms. Gledhill explained that CalVCB is working on plans right now to stand up this program, which includes outreach, a specific victim application and procedures for processing payments. CalVCB’s goal is to reach as many of the remaining survivors of this practice – which number about 700 – as possible and have them apply for and receive compensation.
Ms. Gledhill also gave an update to the Board on the Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) grants. She explained that since the Board voted to approve the grants in May, staff have been working diligently to execute the contracts. One of the TRCs, Fathers and Families of San Joaquin, notified CalVCB of its intent to close effective September 3, 2021. CalVCB will fund their operations through that date. Fathers and Families will use only a small portion of the $967,000 it was awarded for 2021-2023 and, consequently, after it closes and its final claims are processed, CalVCB expects there will be a significant amount to redistribute to the other 11 TRCs that also won grant awards for this funding cycle.
Ms. Gledhill also updated the Board on the department’s operations. Ms. Gledhill described CalVCB’s roll out of its long-term telework, which will start on September 1st. It is anticipated that employees will be in the Sacramento office at least one day a week with their teams, and teleworking the remainder of the week. Many of CalVCB’s employees have been successful working from home, and a recent survey showed employees want to continue doing so. CalVCB believes this hybrid approach strikes the right balance – it capitalizes on all the advantages of teleworking, while maintaining regular in-person contact in the office to foster a strong organizational culture.
Ms. Gledhill finished her update by sharing two important changes to CalVCB’s executive leadership team. First, Jeannine Fenton, CalVCB’s Deputy Executive Officer for Administration, is retiring. Ms. Fenton, who joined the Board in 2019, has been a tremendous source of support for Ms. Gledhill. In her time at CalVCB, Ms. Fenton has worked extremely hard to improve CalVCB. She launched our employee recognition program with a full guide on how to recognize, evaluate and reward the achievements of our staff. She also established clear processes for hiring, administrative processes and worked tirelessly during the past year to help CalVCB deal with the ever-changing Covid rules and restrictions.
Prior to joining CalVCB, Ms. Fenton served as Chief Deputy Director at the California Department of Aging, where she also held the Administration Division Deputy Director position since 2015 and she held multiple positions at the California Employment Development Department from 1988 to 2015, including office chief, manager, project manager, executive consultant, and senior accounting officer.
The second change Ms. Gledhill shared is the promotion of Natalie Mack to Chief Deputy Executive Officer, effective July 1st. Ms. Mack has served as the Deputy Executive Officer over the Victim Compensation Program since May 2020. In this role, she did exceptional work. She has led multiple efforts to improve the CalVCB program, including decreasing processing times, implementing workload tracking and aligning policy with statutes. She has worked closely with staff, managers and her colleagues to strengthen program operations.
Before coming to CalVCB, Ms. Mack developed her leadership skills through a long and impressive state career, including eight years at the Employment Development Department, where she held several positions. Since beginning her state career in 2001, Ms. Mack has worked for the State Controller’s Office, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of Health Care Services, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Justice.
Item 4. Legislative Update
The Legislative update was provided by Deputy Executive Officer of the Policy, Outreach and Grants Division, Andrew Lamar.
Mr. LaMar stated that the bill concerning forced sterilization was turned into a trailer bill, which is almost identical to AB 1077, the legislative proposal on the same topic. Mr. LaMar estimates that there are about 700 victims that will be eligible for compensation as a result of this bill, but noted based on the experience of two other states that have offered this type of compensation, only about a quarter of that number will apply. The Governor’s budget included 7.5 million dollars to CalVCB for implementation and compensation costs, including two million dollars for outreach, up to one million dollars for plaques and memorial markers, and the remaining 4.5 million to compensate victims.
Mr. LaMar reported that this week the legislature is wrapping up all of its policy meetings for this year’s session. On Friday, the legislature goes on summer recess, returns to session on Monday, August 16, 2021, and is due to adjourn for the year on September 10, 2021.
The Board also received an update on AB 1593 by Assemblyman Gonzalez, which contains a 5.7million dollar appropriation to pay for five erroneous conviction claims approved by CalVCB. This bill has been passed by both houses of the legislature and has been sent to the Governor for his signature.
Lastly, Mr. Lamar reported that CalVCB continues to have discussions with the sponsors of SB 299, which would compensate victims of police violence. That bill has passed the Senate and the Assembly Public Safety Committees and will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee in August.
Item 5. Contract Report
This presentation was given by Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill.
Ms. Gledhill explained that this contract report is purely informational, and intended to keep the Board Members updated on CalVCB’s spending and purchases. Ms. Gledhill described a purchase for laptops, which will support CalVCB’s future telework plans and ensure that all employees have CalVCB equipment, no matter their primary work location.
Item 6. PC 4900 Claim No. 18-ECO-17, William Richards
This presentation was given by Chief Counsel, Kim Gauthier. Ms. Gauthier gave a brief summary of the Penal Code section 4900 claim filed by William Richards.
On June 13, 2018, Robert Richards submitted an application for compensation as an erroneously convicted person pursuant to Penal Code section 4900. The application is based upon Mr. Richards’ 1997 murder conviction, for which he was found factually innocent by the San Bernardino County Superior Court after serving 19 years in prison. According to the Proposed Decision, Mr. Richards is entitled to an automatic recommendation for compensation in the amount of $1,165,920, representing $140 for each day of the 8,328 days that he was wrongfully imprisoned.
Ms. Gauthier noted that Mr. Richards is represented by Caitlin Weisberg of Mcclane, Bednarski & Litt and Wendy Koen of the Law Offices of Wendy Koen and the Attorney General is represented by Deputy Attorney General Timothy O’Hair.
Counsel for Mr. Richards appeared before the Board via Zoom. They thanked the Board for its consideration of this claim and Staff Attorney Harbarger for her hard work on this case. They asked that the Board adopt the proposed decision.
Mr. Ravel thanked counsel for appearing before the Board.
Mr. Richards also appeared before the Board via Zoom. He thanked the Board for its consideration and indicated he was happy to move on with his life.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. Richards for appearing before the Board.
Mr. Timothy O’Hair from the Attorney General’s appeared via Zoom and also urged the Board to adopt the proposed decision.
Mr. Ravel thanked Mr. O’Hair for appearing before the Board.
The Board adopted the Proposed Decision.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:19 a.m., to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-80 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:35 a.m.
The Board adopted the hearing officers’ recommendations for proposed decision numbers 1-80 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:37 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 23, 2021.