CERT, a Tale of Two Stories

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Photo Tom Abbott

Oct. 29, 2014 (Julian) The Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) are locally based, volunteer teams, there to assist in times of disaster. They are locally managed teams and they almost always are sponsored by an Agency.

Brian Kramer who is the current administrator of the Julian Fire Department sponsored department who told Reporting San Diego, the county did not recognize the team sponsored by Johnny and Deanna Hake, since they were not affiliated with an agency.

Johnny and Dianne Hake said they operate independently and they broke their relationship with the fire department over philosophical differences.

After talking with Kramer and asking the county of San Diego, we know he leads the recognized team by San Diego County Office of Emergency Services (County OES), but they are recognized by the federal government.

According to the email sent to us by Kim McDermott Emergency Services Coordinator | San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, the status for the team under the Hakes is as follows:

Per the FEMA CERT guidelines, the Julian Cuyamaca Resource Center CERT Program does not have a recognized partnership with a “local government, emergency management and response agencies,” and is currently not eligible to participate in the California State Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program. (http://www.fema.gov/community-emergency-response-teams/frequently-asked-questions).  As the Julian CERT program sponsored by the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District (JCFPD) has a recognized partnership with a local government, emergency management and response agency, San Diego County OES administers the Disaster Service Worker Program for the Julian CERT members. In accordance with FEMA guidelines some CERT programs do operate without a government-sponsoring agency, but they are not eligible for coverage under the California State Disaster Service Worker Volunteer Program. 

Because the program run by the Hakes is operating without a sponsoring agency, they are no eligible for the California disaster volunteer workers’ compensation program. That said, this matches what they told us and the list of partner agencies. Nowhere in the list provided by the Hakes is County OES.

The relationship between all involved is very tense.

To be specific, relationships between all involved are better described as a very nasty divorce. The Julian team, not associated with the Julian Cuyamaca Resource Center, has an Area of Responsibility (AOR) that matches that of the Fire Department. This is where the tension originally started according to the Hakes. When Chief Rick Marinelli came in, he wanted the team to limit operations to just his AOR, and the Hakes, who have been doing this for close to 10 years wanted to continue working with other communities, including Shelter Valley.

In the end, the Hakes broke their relationship with the fire department, which started with retired Fire Chief Kevin Dubler. Though the Hakes would like to resolve some of the strained relationship with the fire department. In case of a real emergency since they recognize this could be a problem when assisting the community.

Sources in Julian say that the problems started when the Fire Department wanted to inventory all the assets for the CERT team, and separate them from the nonprofit. This is the point when the divorce took place between the fire department and the Hakes.  The Hakes say they chose to go their separate ways, but other sources say that they were dismissed.

The Hakes also said they relieved Kramer from the board of the non profit they run, and they say they did this with advise from a lawyer. Kramer says that this was done illegally with clear violations of the Brown Act. Given that the Hakes have gotten community redevelopment grants, some of their actions are covered under the Brown Act, those specifically related to those grants. According to the Hakes part of the matter was some equipment that belonged to the Resource Center, mostly radio equipment.

Regardless, what we were able to find on the Brown Act and Non Profits, makes this part of the argument clear as mud. It might apply to the Resource Center, due to the fact that the Center has received county grants.

Still, all this led to a small claims lawsuit, over equipment that the Hakes said belonged to the Julian-Cuyamaca Resource Center. The court judgment from Sept. 25, reveals:

The Court finds judgment on the Amended Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to go to Small Claims Court for Brian Kramer, Kathryn A Payne and against Julian Cuyamaca Resource Center Inc., DBA CERT Julian in the amount of: $0.00 principal, $0.00 costs, $0 pre-judgment interest. TS-790 is to be returned to John Hake, and the additional equipment is to be given to Greg Hidley in trust for Plaintiff.

The case number is: 37-2014-00305475-SC-SC-CTL

The plaintiff is the Julian- Cuyamaca Resource Center. While Kramer said that the only thing that Johnny Hake got back was the radio, and nothing more, and the rest was put in trust, Hake said the equipment was returned to the JCRC. So in a way, both are telling the truth as they see it. From what we can figure out, all parties agree that the rest of the equipment was placed in trust, but I guess the definition of what this trust means is what might be in question.

Red Cross Response

There were also claims made that the Hakes deployed in an illegal manner during the Banner fire back in July. So we asked the Red Cross. Their representative, Courney Pendleton, wrote that the team undercharge of the Hakes activated during the Banner Fire. She wrote in an email to a Reporting San Diego when we asked about the status:

The short answer? We do have formal agreements in place with (both) Julian CERT teams. At the time of the Banner Fire in July 2014, Johnny & Diane Hake did have their formal agreement in place, the team was trained and had their badges. Activation was done simultaneously. They were ready to respond and did so in line with the agreement we have with them (the copy of the agreement I have is dated June 24, 2014 and is a Community Based Partner- Shelter Personnel Agreement).

She also stated that the American Red Cross has agreements with over 70 community partners, and as long as they all follow the protocols and standards, “it is a win-win for all of us.”

So it is time to get to some conclusions here. This is quite a messy situation, but there is only one thing clear in this. Over the last few years the community of Julian has become increasingly divided. The division is over emergency services, whether it is volunteers or the Julian Cuyamaca Fire Department. In case of a major disaster, everybody will have to pull together. As the community has learned in the past, help is not around the corner.

Twitter: @nadinbrzezinski

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Categories: CERT, Julian, policy

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