The battle of words between San Francisco and Sonoma County over mental health care continues. For those keeping track, this began when San Francisco Controller Ed Harrington wrote a letter that we published as a “Close to Home” Feb. 20 taking Sonoma County to task for shutting down its last inpatient mental health clinic. He noted that “it is not OK to dump your mental health patients on other counties . . . “
Deis responded with his own Close to Home piece. (Both of these can be read in previous entries in this blog.) But Deis also responded with a letter March 4 to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom in which he apparently complained about Harrington’s actions.
In his reply to Deis on March 12, Harrington holds back little. (We were sent a copy of the letter.)
He wrote, “You noted that I did not have my facts correct on what was happening to health care in Sonoma County. You also noted that ‘if any senior manager from Sonoma County uses their public official status in a way similar to Mr. Harrington, they will be severely disciplined if not terminated.’
“You may be offended that someone spoke up about what is happening to health care – particularly mental health services – in Sonoma County, but I stand by the substance of what I said in my letter to The Press Democrat.
“On the other hand, elected officials in Sonoma County have every right to decide not to raise taxes and to prioritize ‘sheriff patrol and criminal prosecution’ over health services as you wrote in your op-ed piece.
“hat I find surprising is your attempt to threaten my job because I spoke up. In San Francisco, expressing opinions is a right that we hold dear for our residents and our employees. I find that elected officials typically make better decisions after a robust and open debate of the issues. Perhaps you disagree.
“With regard to getting your facts straight, comments like ‘your county is subsidizing your health care facilities to the detriment of other programs’ would indicate a lack of knowledge on your part about how San Francisco sets its priorities.
“Finally, under the get-your-facts-straight topic, I am an independent official in the City Charter and do not work for the mayor so he cannot take the actions you suggest – not that I would imagine firing or disciplining me would be of interest to him merely for expressing my opinion.
Sincerely, Ed Harrington, Controller.”

We’ll keep track of this to see if there is a response.
– Paul Gullixson