Over the past few months, a lot has been made about football coach Joe Macor being a business-owner in the Fond-du-Lac area of Duluth, but very little has been shared about that business. That’s probably because he and his wife own a group home/adult foster care run out of their primary residence. Group homes rely heavily on social services from the state and county, some making, on average, $8,000 per month per resident. The Macor group home can have up to four residents.
This presents a huge conflict of interest for a County Commissioner. The largest portion of the St. Louis County budget (just over a quarter of it) goes to Human Services. That means as a St. Louis County Commissioner, Macor would have a say in how over $102 million human service dollars is spent, some of that in his industry.
A 2015 Duluth News Tribune deep dive into the St. Louis County Adult Foster Care industry revealed some troubling statistics. In 2015, St. Louis County had just 3.7% of Minnesota’s population of group home residents, however, the county had 9% of the state’s group home/adult foster care beds. That put the county at over 300 group homes and 1,200 beds. The News Tribune article shares that these group homes make between $180 and $400 per bed per day – that’s a range of $5,400-$12,000/month per resident, or $64,800 to $144,000/year. Certainly, the residents’ families aren’t able to pay this.
At the time of the article, Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff said that the county is dealing with a quantity of group homes that is “not –right-sized for county resources.” And the Adult Services Director for St. Louis County Health and Human Services Department, Mark Nelson, said that the county had 462 beds (more than 1/3) that did “not relate to county needs.” Instead, other counties were shipping patients that needed group home care due to mental illness or disability to St. Louis County. Most of the outsiders come from nearby counties like Carlton, Lake, or Itasca, but there are some that are sent from over 100 miles away. County officials agreed this is not “client-centered” treatment because these patients are far from family and friends and become isolated in their group home without any outside visitors.
This trend also places an unfair burden on St. Louis County taxpayers whose funds go toward supporting and monitoring these group homes – but it’s not just the Human Services budget that group homes dig into, they also pull resources from Public Services.
In the DNT article, Undersheriff Phillips is quoted as saying “I can’t think of another private-sector business model that so heavily relies on social resources as the ultimate fix.” Phillips was referring to the excessive law enforcement support these group homes require. The article mentions a Canosia Township home that called in sheriffs a dozen times in just six months for the same resident who was assaultive, suicidal, and walking off the property. The St. Louis County Rescue Squad, a volunteer program, has also been called countless times to help find group home residents that have run away.
Coach Macor may have a lot of fans when it comes to his work with kids on the field, but that doesn’t give him the experience needed to manage St. Louis County, and his business as a recipient of county services and funds should disqualify him as a candidate. You don’t have your star wide receiver call plays in a football game because they are more likely to want the ball thrown their way every time, the same should be true when it comes to elected officials, leave the budget to those that don’t stand to gain personally from votes and decisions.