Scrap $Million Monument & Offer PTSD Help To Aid SB Massacre Survivors & Families, Claim Advisor Tells Supervisors

More than 25 months after Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, used semiautomatic AR-15s to gun down fourteen people at the Inland Regional Center during a combination training session/holiday season celebration on December 2, 2015, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday committed $175,000 to pay a San Francisco-based company for the provision of a framework for the ultimate selection of the artist, design, creation, and installation of a memorial to the victims.
Prior to the board’s vote, a claims adjustment specialist advocating on behalf of the victims and their families suggested the money county officials appear to be willing to spend to erect a physical monument to the horrific event would be better spent on psychological counseling for both the surviving victims of the shooting and the family members of the fallen.
Farook was a county employee, a health inspector with the environmental health services division whose primary function was certifying restaurants around the county. According to most reports, Farrook, a 2010 Cal State San Bernardino graduate, appeared to be relatively well adjusted within his work environment despite being the product of a home in which his father engaged in violence against his mother. His coworkers described him as quiet and deferential. A native American born in Chicago, he was a devout Sunni who apparently became a radicalized Muslim, possibly after marrying Malik, a native Pakistani living in Saudi Arabia whom Farook met over the internet before traveling to Saudi Arabia to bring her to America in 2014. Two weeks before the attack, Farook maintained during a discussion in his workplace that Islam was a peaceful religion. Farook’s and Malik’s murderous rampage targeted his work colleagues. They wounded 22 besides those they killed. Thirteen of the 14 dead were county employees. Some four hours and 15 minutes after the attack, Farook and Malik were killed in a shootout with police.
After intermittent discussion of building a memorial to the victims of the massacre, the second deadliest mass shooting in California history and ninth deadliest shooting in U.S. history, the board of supervisors, with supervisors Josie Gonzales and Curt Hagman absent, voted to approve a contract with Community Arts, Inc., doing business as Community Arts International, in an amount not to exceed $175,000, for the period of January 9, 2018 through January 8, 2019, to assist the county in selecting an artist, most likely a sculptor, to create the December Second Memorial as well as install it, with the option to extend for one additional year through January 7, 2020 for the completion of optional Phase 3 of the project. The county sent out requests for proposals to roughly 150 firms that could serve as a qualified consultant to assist with the solicitation, evaluation and selection of and contract award to a designer of the monument.
Four companies, Community Arts, Inc. of San Francisco; NINEdotsARTS of Denver, Colorado; Griffin Structures, Inc. of Irvine; and Erik Qvale Consulting of Los Angeles responded. All four submittals were deemed responsive and an evaluation team selected by the county’s top administrator recommended a contract with Community Arts, Inc.
The county has not delineated, exactly, where the memorial will be erected, although it is assumed it will be somewhere near the grounds of the Inland Regional Center. How much, precisely, the county will be willing to pay the artist, i.e., sculptor, to create the work has not been set. This is a problematic issue because some believe the county must pay a substantial amount of money for the memorial so as to not slight the victims and their survivors, as if the amount of taxpayer money to be expended will in some fashion equate to the degree of esteem in which the victims and their families are held. A counterpoint to that somewhat absurd equation was given by Robert Fredericks, of the Redlands-based firm Lindsey Fredericks Employee Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC.
“It is fitting that such a memorial be established,” Fredericks said. “However, that memorial will be tarnished for a generation in the living memories of every survivor and the families of the victims you memorialize as they suffer for the rest of their lives the psychiatric scars of the willful neglect of the county and this board as they deny the medical care for these survivors under your self-funded workers comp[ensation] plan. In the last week I have learned of utilization denials of counseling treatment for PTSD [post traumatic stress depression] for these survivors. Given the history of denials of medical treatment by utilization review in the preceding 15 months, I predicted after considerable research the treatment for PTSD would be denied by utilization review. Of four survivors I know personally, three have had PTSD treatment denied. One was denied counseling and benefits for 19 months and after 12 approved sessions, further treatments were denied. PTSD is a multi-year, prolonged condition. The longer it goes untreated, the more deeply embedded the condition becomes. It can actually permanently change the structure and chemistry of the brain. While some people subjected to the same trauma are unaffected with PTSD, others are, and it can become permanent and irreversible. For some of the survivors with PTSD, they will have a lifetime of haunting effects, their own private memorial, which will pay regular spectral visitations.”
In his comments, Fredericks made direct reference to supervisors Gonzales and Hagman, neither of who was present. He spoke as if both were on the dais.
“It is ironic that Josie Gonzales, a respected member of the board, is the head of the memorial committee,” said Fredericks. “It is you who told a survivor at the 12-2-2016 anniversary memorial service, ‘We cannot override utilization review. If we did it for you, we would have to do it for all the county employees.’ Supervisor Hagman, you were with Supervisor Gonzales when she made this comment. This [was] only days after the California State Department of Industrial Relations advised the county CEO and board on the day of the special board meeting of November 29, 2016, ‘This is a unique situation, which requires extraordinary action.’ You can override utilization review. It has never been a matter of ‘we can’t’ but instead of ‘we won’t.’ Many other employers with self-funded workers comp[ensation] plans with less compelling claims choose to override utilization review. I would encourage you to table the $175,000 contract and repurpose those dollars as well as the reserve fund for the memorial to provide the PTSD treatment these survivors need and deserve.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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