California Victim Compensation Board October 15, 2020, Board Meeting Minutes
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Yolanda Richardson, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, via Zoom video call, on Thursday, October 15, 2020, at 10:00 a.m. Also present via video call was Member Richard Chivaro, Deputy State Controller and 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. Andrea Burrell, Acting Board Liaison, was also present and recorded the meeting.
The Board meeting commenced with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the September 17, 2020, Board Meeting
The Board approved the minutes of the September 17, 2020, 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.
There was no public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill updated the Board on a few items:
Last month CalVCB received more than 3,700 applications, the highest number since March when the stay-at-home order began. Nearly half of these applications were submitted through the online portal. We are hopeful that victims who were unable to seek help during the height of the pandemic are now able to reach out and receive the assistance that they need.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Approximately one quarter of the applications submitted to CalVCB in Fiscal Year 2019-20 came from victims of intimate partner violence and/or their children. Collectively, they received nearly $13 million in compensation, with mental health, relocation, and income support/loss being the largest compensation categories. This month CalVCB conducted public outreach on this issue, including a press release and social media campaign to raise awareness of available resources to help victims.
October 1 marked the third anniversary of the Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting. Approximately 65 percent of the more than 24,000 attendees were from California. At the time of the shooting, the deadline to apply for compensation was 3 years from the date of the crime. However, as of January 1, 2020, victims of all violent crimes now have 7 years from the date of the crime to file. This extension now gives Route 91 Harvest Festival victims until October 1, 2024, to apply for CalVCB compensation.
CalVCB has received an $8.3 million grant from the Office for Victims of Crime’s Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP). This is a federal grant to assist victims of the Harvest Festival shooting. The AEAP grant is currently funding virtual support group meetings in eight counties in Southern California, coordinated by Give an Hour, a mental health service provider, and the Ventura County District Attorney’s office. The anniversary of the shooting allowed Give an Hour the opportunity to conduct considerable outreach to victims and they have received more than 300 needs assessment requests from victims.
CalVCB has paid out over $6 million in compensation costs and has received more than 3,500 applications from this incident. We continue to do outreach as we know that victims may not need the help immediately but may experience trauma as the years pass.
Today marks two other important events for California. First, it is the last day to complete the census. It is critical that all Californians who have not completed the census take a moment today to do so. Federal funding for the next 10 years will be determined by these Census numbers and the state relies on this information.
Second, today’s overlaps with the exact time of the Great Shake Out Earthquake drill. Today, along with millions of other people, we practice how to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On” to reduce the chance of injury during an earthquake. Many Californians may be in a different location than they usually are, which provides an opportunity to assess a new surrounding for earthquake safety. Also, for those who are home, possibly with their children, it is a good time to talk about emergency preparedness, which we all know is so important in California.
Finally, Ms. Gledhill announced the hiring of a deputy executive officer over the new Policy, Outreach, and Grants Division, Andrew LaMar. The division was created to bring together all the groups at CalVCB that work with CalVCB’s external partners, including the Grants, Legislation, and Public Affairs sections.
Andrew is currently the Deputy Director of Communications at CalHR and he previously worked for Senator Bob Hertzberg and was the Chief of Staff for Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett. CalVCB is looking forward to him joining the team.
Chair Richardson congratulated Ms. Gledhill on the new employee.
Chair Richardson asked Ms. Gledhill if there has been any impact on the operations or capacity to meet internal deadlines with the increase in the number of applications received. Ms. Gledhill stated that it is being managed with existing staff and that we will continue to discuss with the Department of Finance CalVCB’s funding as we look into next year and ensuring CalVCB has the personnel that is needed to continue to do the work.
Item 4. Civilian Marketing Plan Update
Gretchen Ziegler, Public Affairs and Outreach Section Chief provided the Civilian Marketing Plan update. Earlier this year, the Board approved a contract with Civilian to organize a statewide public awareness campaign, using CalOES grant funds. The initial priorities were to increase awareness among individuals impacted by violent crimes on how and when to use the CalVCB program. The secondary goal was to increase awareness among valued partners within the crime victim support network. Ultimately, the thought was to create a campaign that would serve to increase qualified applications from traditionally underrepresented minority populations and non-English speakers. Specifically, to serve racially, culturally, ethnically, visually impaired, and geographically diverse populations.
Serving these populations poses unique challenges, and after the contract was underway, the COVID pandemic took hold and created even more challenges. It became clear that significant work was needed to update the CalVCB website to ensure any resulting marketing campaign was successful. Work on the website redesign is currently underway, with a contract the Board approved in August.
CalVCB, however, wanted to also share with the Board Civilian’s work, which lays the groundwork for a comprehensive campaign in the future. Civilian has developed targeted marketing strategies and tactics utilizing violent crime statistics and a data-driven approach to enhance outreach through traditional, digital, and social media channels.
Two representatives from Civilian, Travis Kushner, Account Supervisor, and Katie Harris, Senior Account Executive provided the update to the Board.
Travis Kushner shared a summary of the work done pursuant to the contract. He explained that the basic guideline for this campaign strategy was a focus on putting the victims and their needs first. Civilian has built a trauma-informed media and outreach plan that supplements CalVCB’s previous marketing efforts with a more advanced, data driven approach to guide the suggested media placement, outreach tactics, creative language, and treatment. The campaign utilized a deep dive into violent crime data and applicant data in order to inform the planning process, from the media tactics to the geographies, to the focus of the outreach. In order to truly be trauma-informed, the campaign promotes a culture of safety, empowerment, and ease of use. Mr. Kushner acknowledged that violent crime is a tragedy that is more widespread than the best data might suggest, and that CalVCB can be a trusted partner on the road to recovery. All of this leads to building awareness in a considered and constructive way creating a better experience for everyone involved. The more that the public and victims are aware of the services and the better that CalVCB is portraying and conveying its services, the better the experience will be for everyone.
There are several intended audiences for this campaign. While anyone can be a victim of violent crime, there are several communities that are underserved. First, the primary audience is the “Underserved Crime Victims and their Communities,” such as culturally, linguistically, racially, ethnically and geographically diverse populations across the state, inclusive of individuals with disabilities, with a focus on the visually impaired. African American, Latino, and Native American communities. Communities who may also be underserved, because of language, culture, disabilities, socio-economic standing, legal status, location and other factors that may limit access to standard public information channels and serve as a barrier to receiving necessary assistance were also considered. Secondary is the “Support Networks of Crime Victims.” For example: First Responders, including Law enforcement, social workers, victim service programs, Colleges and Universities. Secondary Responders, including medical and mental health professionals, hospital systems and administrators, and social service centers. As we worked through the data and information, a tertiary campaign came about that will focus on the members of the Legislature and the Governor’s Office.
Katie Harris, also of Civilian, shared the “Market & Target” analysis, and noted that what was being shared was the tip of the iceberg of the information that went into this work. She noted the presentation being shared at the meeting also included an appendix section with more information and details.
Civilian recommended focusing on a tiered approach to marketing allocations and targeting that drilled down from individual counties, to individual zip codes, to detailed demographics due to: Statewide campaign presence, limited budget, highly defined target audience, and minimum spend thresholds for media tactics.
Mr. Kushner emphasized that everything Ms. Harris shared had a lot of data and work behind it.
Civilian described the recommended Implementation Approach and explained it was purpose-based and identified advertising tactics for consideration in paid media based on which media channels will be more effective in driving short-term and long-term campaign goals, reviewing media consumption habits of key audience segments, and considering which tactics deliver on targeting strategy and maximize reach within budget.
Chair Richardson thanked Mr. Kushner and Ms. Harris for sharing and stated that she is excited to see what Officer Gledhill and her team will have at their disposal for outreach materials.
Item 5. Proposed Board Meeting Dates for Calendar Year 2021
Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier shared the proposed Board meeting dates for the calendar year 2021.
Ms. Gauthier reminded the Board that historically it has met monthly, which appears to have been directly related to the Board’s workload and corresponding deadlines when it was still the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board. Since the Government Claims portion of the work was transferred to the Department of General Services in 2016, CalVCB has continued to review its’ processes and procedures to best meet the needs of the victims and constituents it serves.
With that in mind, CalVCB recommended the Board meet every other month beginning in January 2021. Due to the primary business conducted at the board meetings, which is reviewing and adopting Proposed Decisions and hearing and deciding erroneously convicted persons claims, staff does not believe there will be any negative impact to application review, processing, or the timely disbursement of compensation to victims because of this proposal.
Ms. Gauthier advised the Board that there may be occasions or circumstances that warrant a meeting outside of the proposed schedule. For instance, there may be a specific claim or appeal that needs to be resolved as soon as possible in order to ensure timely compensation for a victim, or an erroneously convicted person claim based on a finding of factual innocence that requires action within 30 days. For situations such as these, the Board could and should schedule any additional meetings necessary with 10 days’ notice consistent with the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act.
There were no questions about the dates.
Board member Chivaro moved for adoption of the proposed meeting schedule for 2021 and Chair Richardson seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The meeting dates for calendar year 2021 are:
- Thursday: January 21, 2021
- Thursday: March 18, 2021
- Thursday: May 20, 2021
- Thursday: July 15, 2021
- Thursday: September 16, 2021
- Thursday: November 18, 2021
Item 6: Frank Dixon (Pen. Code, §§ 4900, et seq.)
Presented by Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier.
Ms. Gauthier provided a brief summary of the claim. Frank Dixon filed his application for compensation under Penal Code section 4900 based on his 2001 conviction for murder, which was vacated in 2016 in a federal habeas proceeding due to ineffective assistance of counsel. Mr. Dixon requested compensation in the amount of $376,040. for 2,686 days of his total incarceration of 5,608 days. This calculation excludes the time attributable to Mr. Dixon’s subsequent conviction for involuntary manslaughter.
In the proposed decision, the Hearing Officer recommended denying Mr. Dixon’s application because he did not meet his burden of proof. Overall, the Hearing Officer concluded that compensation should be denied because the weight of the evidence presented in the administrative proceeding did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Dixon was more likely innocent than guilty.
Throughout the proceedings, Mr. Dixon was represented by his attorney Eric Multhaup. The Attorney General’s Office was represented by Deputy Attorney General Barton Bowers, both of whom were present and addressed the Board.
Mr. Multhap, Mr. Dixon’s counsel, reiterated his position that the circumstances at the time of the shooting showed that Mr. Dixon was in the presence of the three people he cared about most in the world – his father, his wife, and Mr. Barry O’Connell. This context showed that Mr. Dixon did not have any conscious disregard for their safety. He had a complete absence of any idea of what a danger he was to those in the room. It was as much of a shock to Mr. Dixon as anyone in the room that the gun went off and Mr. Dixon is not guilty of murder.
Chair Richardson thanked Mr. Multhap for his comments and asked Mr. Bower for his comments.
Mr. Bower, Counsel for the Attorney General’s Office stated his belief that the Proposed Decision was correct and strongly encouraged the Board to deny the application.
Board member Chivaro moved for adoption of the Proposed Decision in its entirety. Chair Richardson seconded the motion. The motion unanimously passed.
Chair Richardson thanked Mr. Multhap and Mr. Bowers for joining the meeting.
Victim Compensation Program
Conclusion of Board Meeting
After no more questions or comments were posed, the Board closed the open meeting.
Pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3), the Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:37 a.m., to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-37 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(c)(3) at 10:42 a.m.
The Board adopted the hearing officers’ recommendations for Proposed Decision numbers 1-37 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board meeting adjourned at 10:43 a.m.
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 19, 2020.