Dairy owner, state officials hold contentious Christmas Eve meeting in Susanville

Charles Pattillo, the general manager of the California Prison Industries Authority and Scott Perkins, assistant general manager, operations division, held a 17-minute Christmas Eve meeting at a Susanville eatery to discuss the future of Morning Glory Dairy and its relationship with Susanville’s two state prisons. CALPIAS reportedly terminated the local dairy’s contracts with the prisons and instead plans to supply milk and eggs to them at a higher cost — forcing the local company to lay off half its employees, raise milk prices in the community and possibly force the eventual closure of the business.

According to a letter from Morning Glory owner Josh McKernan to Lassen County Supervisor David Teeter, the two state officials said they were in town “to honor Dave Cox” … and “to see if we have 1,500 cows.”

Morning Glory Dairy does not own cows, but distributes milk produced in the Central Valley by Crystal Creamery.

McKernan also alleges the state officials complained about driving all the way to Susanville on Christmas Eve and even used profanity during the meeting.

“We left this meeting feeling bullied, and (we were) basically told that there was nothing else we could do,” McKernan wrote.

Michele Kane, chief of external affairs with CALPIA, said she was aware of the meeting, but did not want to respond to McKernan’s letter. She said she would respond to the newspaper’s questions.

Among the questions the newspaper asked were: When and how was the decision made to drop Morning Glory? The CALPIA board apparently has not held a meeting since 2017 according to its website.

Was this an official meeting, and were these men acting in their official capacity when they came here to Susanville?

If not, why are we having an unofficial meeting?

Why would the CALPIA officials be frustrated by attending a Christmas Eve meeting in Susanville that they called for and arranged?

Is it normal for CALPIA officials to use profanity during such a meeting?

How is the final decision (about the diary and the prison) going to be made? Is it made by a single person? Mr. Pattillo apparently told the dairy owners he alone will make the decision. Has the decision been made or is it still up in the air?

Does CALPIA plan to buy milk from Crystal Creamery and sell it to the Susanville prisons at a higher price than that offered by Morning Glory? How does that decision make any sense?

How is this decision to buy milk and eggs at a higher price than Morning Glory charges affect the prisons’ budgets? Morning Glory projects the difference in price at $110,000 annually. Shouldn’t that increase in cost be a state concern?

Kane did not respond to the newspaper’s questions by deadline.

Teeter said he has contacted both CALPIA and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation regarding the meeting in Susanville and has lodged a protest.

“I don’t understand why they held that meeting or how it fits into their policies and procedures,” Teeter said. “The entire thing just doesn’t make any sense, and they gave me no answers at all.”