David Teeter, Lassen County District 2 Supervisor, continues to push state officials for answers regarding Susanville’s Morning Glory Dairy and its relationship with the two local prisons — the California Correctional Center and High Desert State Prison.
The local diary has provided milk and eggs to the state facilities under waivers for the past 55 years, but apparently the California Prison Industry Authority has decided not to renew the waivers even though the state would charge the prisons $110,000 more annually than it does to provide the same service.
Teeter acknowledged the prisons are the largest industry in the county.
“Our community wants to serve that industry,” Teeter said. “Our goal is to serve the largest industry in Lassen County. That’s all we want to do.”
Teeter said he had a polite but frustrating 20-minute telephone conversation with Ralph Diaz, the acting secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation who also serves as a member and chair of the CALPIA board.
“He apologized for the perception that CALPIA brought to our area,” Teeter said, but Diaz claims the two (CDCR and CALPIA) are two separate entities, and Charles Pattillo, the general manager and executive officer of CALPIA will have to answer for himself” regarding an alleged profanity laced and contentious, 17-minute Christmas Eve day meeting with Morning Glory’s owners at a Susanville eatery. Scott Perkins, the assistant general manager, operation division, of CALPIA reportedly also attended that meeting. Diaz said he was not aware of the meeting in Susanville
Teeter said Diaz clarified who holds the waiver.
“Morning Glory doesn’t get the waivers,” Teeter said. “The two prisons get the waivers and that allows them to buy from someone other than CALPIA.”
He said CALPIA has to grant the waivers to the local prisons.
Teeter expressed his frustration with Diaz’s answers to his questions.
“I am the chairman of two boards, and I feel responsible for what goes on on those two boards,” Teeter said. “If I’m the chair of a board, I’m responsible for that board.”
“Despite his responsibility as the board chairman Daiz used the same line that CDCR and CALPIA are two separate things,” Teeter said. “He didn’t acknowledge the good neighbor policy, either.”
According to the CALPIA website, “The Prison Industry Board was established in 1983 to oversee the operations of CALPIA, much like a corporate board of directors. The board sets general policy for CALPIA, oversees the performance of existing CALPIA industries, determines which new industries shall be established and appoints and monitors the performance of the general manager. The board also serves as a public hearing body, charged both with ensuring that CALPIA enterprises are self-sufficient and that they do not have a substantial adverse effect upon private enterprises. The board actively solicits public input in to the decisions it makes with regard to expanding existing or developing new prison industries.”
Teeter said Diaz told him CALPIA plans to hold a meeting in Folsom Friday, Jan. 25, and he will send him agendas and minutes, but Teeter said he hasn’t seen an agenda, so he doesn’t know if Morning Glory is going to be discussed.
“CALPIA appears to be in violation of California’s open meeting laws on its face,” Teeter said. “They don’t care at all about California’s open meeting laws, which irritates the hell out of me. I don’t love the open meeting laws, but I understand why we have them. They don’t make things easier to do — they’re supposed to make things harder to do so the people have a chance to actually know what’s going on. That’s the point of the open meeting laws. I get it. They’re ignoring it or they don’t care.”
According to the CALPIA website, its last board meeting was held in 2017.
“When Josh and Kimber (McKernan, owners of Morning Glory Diary) ask what can they do, the answer is nothing,” Teeter said, “because the waiver goes to High Desert or CCC, and we still don’t understand what those requirements are or what they’re supposed to do or show to get those waivers.”
Teeter said he plans to continue to press the issue through CALPIA, the governor’s office and the state senate, which has oversight over CALPIA.
The supervisor said he spoke with 1st District Assemblyman Brian Dahle, now a candidate for the state senate seat vacated by Ted Gaines, when he recently was sworn in as a member of the state board of equalization.
“I pointed out to him, this is the very job a state senator does,” Teeter said, “and he’s going to continue to push legislatively … Whoever’s running for it, this is part of the job.”