Collaboration was the word of the day at a Monday meeting of Alameda leaders who gathered to weigh in on how California Forward’s proposed realignment plan could work within the East Bay county. Many in the group of around 30 had attended a workshop on this topic in the past and were now back to focus in on specifically how the plan could be implemented.
Alameda is no stranger to the concept of combining services – with the relatively new Family Resource Center that acts as a clearinghouse for local families in need touted as a major success story. The goal, many agreed, would be to run more programs such as that one on the local level.
“We should be partnering with schools to provide mental health services, probation services, and even food, because some students are having trouble focusing in school because they haven’t eaten,” said John Rusmisel, district manager for Alameda County’s Mosquito Abatement District.
Beyond integrating services at Alameda schools, Kathy Siegel with the public defender’s office said getting more disparate elements of the community intertwined would help boost Alameda County as a whole.
“We could use these resources to create volunteer teams to fill in some of the gaps we’re seeing in health care,” said Siegel. “For example, we have an army of baby boomers who could be put to good use providing translation services for the elderly.”
However, many speakers agreed that plans to work together would be useless if the resulting realignment legislation didn’t allow for wiggle room.
“We also need to see flexibility of funding,” said Stephanie Casenza, Executive Director of the Peralta Foundation. “We need to be able to identify where the money is needed, and use it there. When it comes to initiatives, in the past we as voters have voted for plans that make officials inflexible. Voters don’t always understand exactly what they’re voting for.”