Mystery of Missing Isolation Trailers Solved

By: 
Stephen Downing

In a Beachcomber story originally published on April 13 entitled “LBPD Brass Condemned for Neglect,” it was reported that LBPD sources expressed concern about officers being deterred by department brass from going into self-isolation after having been in the presence of COVID-19 victims.

Specific reference was made to public complaints made by officer Mary Katherine Covarubias that LBPD officers were generally not being protected from COVID-19 exposures.

Officer Covarubias explicitly denounced LBPD brass alleging her colleague, K-9 Officer Mike Parcells, was not allowed to be tested after being exposed to a felony suspect determined to be COVID-19 infected and was subsequently denied his request for isolation “in one of the many empty allotted trailers that we spent a lot of money on … and made him spend his own money because he did not want to stay at home for fear of exposing his family.”

Following publication of that story, the Beachcomber learned – after examining video footage of as many as 20 mobile homes in place at the LBPD academy parking lot – that the mobile homes had been removed.

As a result of that finding the Beachcomber emailed the Long Beach Joint Information Command Post (JIC) and asked to what use the trailers were put, why they were moved, where they were taken and to what use the city intends to put them, if any.

The JIC spokesman refused to offer any details, told the Beachcomber to file a Public Records Act request and concluded the communication with the statement: “We have no additional information to offer.”

The Beachcomber filed a public records (PRA) request on April 21.

On May 18 the city responded to the PRA by providing 13 pages of documents that detailed acquisition and invoice records related to the rental of 20 mobile homes from a vendor in Phoenix Arizona.

Examination of text messages contained within the document response ultimately lead the Beachcomber to Sandy Wedgewood, director of the Long Beach Public Health Emergency Management Division.

Wedgewood acknowledged that her department approved the 20 trailers once located at the Police Academy Park for the purpose of isolating COVID-19 exposed and diagnosed individuals, which included residents, first responders and other city employees.

Wedgewood said that isolation housing was a requirement of the federal government as part of a COVID-19 emergency grant program.

She said that at the time the department was required to comply with the grant isolation facility requirement, city hotel and motel owners insisted on charging their full rates.

Wedgewood said the rental of the 20 mobile homes at that time was less expensive and she therefore approved their acquisition on a month-to-month basis.

Within a matter of a week following delivery of the mobile home trailers, the hotel and motel owners saw the COVID-19 “Stay at Home” orders eliminated most of their business and subsequently offered to lower their rates for the purpose of the isolation and quarantine needs approved by the Health Department.

Wedgewood said that the rates offered by the hotel and motel owners was less than the cost of the mobile homes and the decision was made to end the month-to-month lease.

According to invoices acquired by the Beachcomber through the PRA, the one-month mobile home package totaled $76,500, which included a delivery, setup, tear-down and pickup fee for 20 trailers totaling $15,900; sheets, pillows, kitchenware and toiletries $2,500 and a security deposit of $5,000.

The monthly rental cost for the 20 one-bedroom, kitchen and living area equipped mobile homes was $53,100 or an average of $2,655 per unit per month. According to city records the mobile homes were delivered and set up March 21 and removed on April 16.

Wedgewood said to her knowledge the mobile homes were never used.

The contract agreement between the city and the vendor – OnSite Temp Housing Inc. of Phoenix Arizona – indicates that their price quote “does not include the cost for utility installation if electric, sewer and water are not ready and available at the time of trailer delivery.”

The emergency division manager did not know if the utilities were ever installed by the city. She said, “I never visited the site after they were delivered.”

Since contracting with motel and hotel vendors, Wedgewood said that the overall isolation approvals by the health department for COVID-19 related use of city hotel and motels has totaled 60 to 70 with as many as 20 isolations in one week – all of which rotate out once the isolation period has expired.

The isolation approvals include first responders and other city employees, she said, “but most prefer to isolate at home.”

When asked about Officer Parcells’ experience with the LBPD denying his use of the trailers, Wedgewood said that she was never made aware of the situation or of the officer’s request to self-isolate at city expense.

Downing is a Long Beach resident and retired LAPD deputy chief.

stephen.beachcomber@gmail.com.

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Comments

This police pussyfooting, trailer-gate and related LBPD long-standing always obfuscation is just another of many police and city games on such simple issues.

Police, staff and City Hall always hide the truth making them look stupid and money wasting as they are. Just another reason to seriously audit and "blue ribbon, red alert, task force, public outcry, review.

An honest consideration of hiring, perhaps phase in, the Los Angeles/Lakewood Sheriffs for parts of Long Beach again. And we'd not have turmoil and underfunded pensions, payroll, lawsuits we have now. Let's make a list of how much LBPD really costs Long Beach (Measure A is most recent, Zerby family, Mary mask the list continues into the millions of dollars DOESN'T IT?

The city and the Police Department are not only corrupt but incompetent. I can't believe they made the Beachcomber file a PRA just to hide this instead of just be forthcoming. Why can't they just tell them!! They will do whatever they have to do to hide the truth. Our tax dollars are being wasted and they don't care, Why? Because all officers are making over $100,000 and the PD admin about $200,000.

Let me guess: Mayor Garcia you are going to push for more tax money to pay for all your waste and incompetents. Let's bring back LASO and save this city some of our tax dollars. Impeach these corrupt people.

It appears that the Police Department paid $94,900 (plus a $5,000 security deposit) for trailers that were in place for less than a month and were not used. Incompetent is a kind term. Who authorized this waste? Perhaps that sum should be deducted from his/her salary?

Is this part of the reason for the need for Prop A money? I would love to see an audit of the city’s discretionary funds.

Well, we do have a city auditor, who is an ELECTED OFFICIAL, but she is too busy to look into these matters because she is busy counting dead trees in our parks? She is up for election in 2022 along with the mayor. We need to vote both of them [out] and also replace our city clerk who is appointed by the mayor, but is allowing a Fountain Valley [resident to] run for City Council here?
Mr. Mayor, could you be the reason WHY?

I heard that a probationary officer who contracted Covid19 was dismissed for “abuse” of sick time on the last day of probation
Should be looked into

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