Mike Arndt

Mike Arndt in a 2017 photo.

Mike Arndt, juvenile division manager for Tuolumne County Probation Department, abruptly announced his resignation at a public meeting on Tuesday after a dramatic exchange with County Supervisor Karl Rodefer amid talks about potentially closing the Mother Lode Regional Juvenile Detention Facility. 

Arndt first rebuked Rodefer for an earlier exchange with Dan Hawks, the newly appointed probation chief, whom Rodefer told to “open his ears” and come up with $600,000 savings if he wanted to keep the facility open.

“I just want to comment on the public flogging you just gave my boss,” Arndt said, pointing at Rodefer.

Arndt described Rodefer’s treatment of Hawks as “unprofessional” and told the elected county supervisor he should step down, before announcing his own resignation after 13 years of service to the county and walking out of the board’s chambers with his arms raised.

The county recently got approval from the state to do a so-called “warm closure” of the facility, which means they no longer detain youth at the facility but would keep providing supportive programs.

County Administrator Tracie Riggs is recommending the “warm closure” and estimates that it could save the county $600,000 per year, but Hawks said he and his staff believe the actual savings would only be about $200,000 because transportation costs to house youth elsewhere.

Hawks, who was promoted to the position in late April, said he and his staff felt taken off guard by the recommendation at Tuesday’s meeting, but Rodefer disputed that the cost of operating the $20 million facility that opened in April 2017 has been an issue for years.

“First of all, I want to keep the facility open. I don’t want anyone anywhere to think I don’t,” Rodefer said. “This is not a new issue. We’ve been fighting this issue every year.”

The board plans to hold a special board meeting next week to give further direction on whether or not to close the facility, because the county must give notification to the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office by June 1 if it does not plan to continue a contract for providing academic services at the facility over the next year.

 

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.net or (209) 768-5175.

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