Programa Comunitario Abre Nuevo Jardín en Este de Los Ángeles

July 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La octava y última gran apertura de un jardín, parte del programa “Little Green Fingers”, fue celebrada el sábado 16 de julio, en el Parque Belvedere de acuerdo a un anuncio de la oficina de la Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Hilda L. Solis.

Gracias al jardín, los residentes del Este de Los Ángeles tendrán acceso a crecer sus propias frutas y vegetales. También podrán recibir clases de cocina y jardinería.

El nuevo promueve mejores opciones de alimentos saludables para los residentes en la zona e incluye contenedores de compostaje, según el comunicado.

Solis asistió ha el evento y agradeció al programa Little Green Fingers y a la Corporación de Conservación en Los Ángeles por ofrecer una alternativa para mejorar la salud de la comunidad.

“Este jardín comunitario ofrece un ambiente sano donde las familias pueden cultivar hábitos saludables mientras sus niños disfrutan crecer sus propias frutas y vegetales,” dijo Solis en una declaración.

Little Green Fingers es un programa dirigido a ayudar a familias con niños menores de 5 años de edad y a vecindarios de bajos ingresos en el Condado de Los Ángeles.

El nuevo jardín está localizado en el Parque Belvedere, 4914 East Cesar Chávez E Avenue, Los Ángeles, CA 90022.

Foto: Oficina de la Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Hilda L. Solis.

Foto: Oficina de la Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Hilda L. Solis.

County Supervisors Place Parks Parcel Tax on November Ballot

July 7, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to put a measure on the November ballot that would levy a one-and-a-half cent per square foot parcel tax on properties countywide to fund parks development and maintenance.

They also approved a motion to draft three potential tax measures for the November ballot to increase funding to address homelessness.

The board directed Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai to present proposals at next Tuesday’s meeting for a parcel tax, sales tax increase or marijuana tax.

The votes come on the heels of a Los Angeles City Council decision last week to ask voters to authorize $1.2 billion in bonds to address the city’s homelessness problem, rejecting a competing proposal for a city parcel tax measure.

If approved by voters, the parcel tax to fund park services is estimated to raise roughly $95 million annually. The annual tax bill for a 1,500-square-foot house would be $22.50.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, who recommended pushing the measure forward, said it was a small price to pay.

“We’re not asking for a lot,” Solis said. “We’re being very cautious about the taxpayers.”

The board’s vote was 3-1. Supervisor Don Knabe voted against the measure because a sunset clause that would end the tax in 35 years was eliminated.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich was absent for the vote.

The Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Beaches, Rivers and Water Conservation Measure would replace funding under Proposition A, first passed more than 20 years ago. The last of that Proposition A funding is set to expire in 2019.

L.A. County voters will decide in November on whether to raise taxes to fund parks. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

L.A. County voters will decide in November on whether to raise taxes to fund parks. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Solis pointed out that the new measure seeks to raise only about $10 million more than the original proposition.

Voters are expected to consider several revenue-generating measures in November, including the Measure R half-cent sales tax for transportation and a statewide measure to renew income tax increases to fund education, as well as the parcel tax to fight homelessness being pushed by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who said Tuesday it’s “time for the board to identify an ongoing funding stream” to put before voters in November.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored Solis’ motion, took a different perspective.

“This is like walking into a Starbucks … and getting anything you want for free, forever,” Kuehl said. “Because the parks are free, the beaches are free.”

In 2014, the board tried to replace Proposition A funding with Measure P, which fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage, with 62.8 percent in favor.

At the time, Ridley-Thomas, who represents the Second District, had pressed for more dollars to be allocated to underserved areas.

The new measure has a greater needs-based component, though 50 percent of dollars raised will go back to the communities where they were raised.

The parks assessment found that about 51 percent of county residents do not live within a 10-minute walk of a park. The incidence of health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease is higher in park-poor communities, said Cynthia Harding, interim director of the county’s public health department.

The Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations opposed the measure.

Chamber CEO Gary Toebben told the board that transportation and homelessness are the organization’s local priorities and that it wasn’t “strategic” to add another measure to a ballot expected to include 17 state propositions. Toebben also objected to the fact that commercial property owners would pay nearly two-thirds of the total tax raised.

Priorities for spending the money — should the measure pass — have been set based on meetings with residents from 188 study areas aimed at identifying each community’s top 10 parks projects.

Thirty-five percent of funds will be tagged to pay for those projects.

Another 15 percent will be used to fund parks maintenance in the communities where taxes were levied. Thirteen percent will go to high-needs communities.

Another 13 percent will be used for environmentally-oriented projects, including beach and waterway clean-up; with 13 percent more for regional trail and accessibility projects that connect urban areas to nature.

The balance will go to related job training for youth and veterans and to administrative costs.

Even if the measure passes, the county will only have a fraction of the money needed to complete the $8.8 billion in priority projects identified by the area study groups and another $12 billion in deferred maintenance.

A two-thirds majority of November voters is required for passage.

Residents Displaced by Maywood Fire Begin to Return Home

July 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

“Significant accomplishments” were made over the July 4 weekend in cleanup operations of hazardous materials released by a spectacular fire at a Maywood warehouse, officials said Tuesday.

The three-alarm fire on June 14 gutted the warehouse in the 3500 block of Fruitland Avenue that housed Gemini Plastic Enterprises, authorities said.

Magnesium, copper, zinc and lead were among the explosive materials present at the business, along with chemicals and propane, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said.

The fire sparked a series of strong explosions that sent a thick plume of noxious smoke over the region and resulted in evacuations.

In the aftermath of the blaze, a unified command was established that includes personnel from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles County Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division.

“Since June 30, 16 households were moved from their previous temporary accommodations to new hotels/motels,” according to a joint command statement.

“All displaced households were offered free public transportation cards, food and water provided by the Food Center, Tzu Chi Water Company and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis’ office. Further, the Los Angeles Dodgers donated free tickets to an upcoming baseball game to all displaced residents.”

The first residence for re-occupation was approved on Saturday by the Department of Public Health and Unified Command.

“The returning household was greeted by representatives from the city of Maywood, LA County Fire Department, DPH and EPA,” officials said.

“Residents were provided a ‘Welcome Home’ gift basket by (the city) in celebration of their re-occupancy.”

Four more residences were approved for re-occupation on Sunday, the same day that all outdoor cleanups were completed and 14 of the properties were signed off by cleanup and assessment teams.

Four more residences were approved for re-occupation this morning and it’s anticipated that eight more will be cleared in the next two days.
According to the Unified Command:
– 37 households have been temporarily relocated, including four on the south side of East 52nd Street;
– 172 people remain temporarily relocated;
– all outdoor soil sampling, which was conducted at 24 parcels, including seven parcels on the south side of East 52nd Street, has been completed;
–outdoor cleanup is nearly complete on three parcels not yet cleared for reoccupation;
– all indoor sampling has been completed;
– nine residences have been identified as requiring indoor cleaning, and all have been cleaned up, but officials are awaiting verification sampling results to return before clearing the homes for re-occupancy.

Authorities opened a Community Information Center last week for residents and businesses affected by the fire.

The center, at the corner of Everett Avenue and East 52nd Street in Maywood, is open daily and can be reached by calling (323) 267-3843.
More information is available at publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/fire.

Se Reanuda Recompensa para Encontrar a Sospechoso de Ataque con un Martillo

June 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La Junta de Supervisores renovó el martes una recompensa de $15,000 para encontrar a un hombre que atacó a dos personas con un martillo en el Este de Los Ángeles.

La supervisora Hilda Solís recomendó extender la recompensa, que expiraría el 10 de julio, llamando a los ataques del 25 de marzo “brutales” y diciendo que las víctimas parecen haber sido elegidas al azar.

El primer ataque ocurrió en el bloque 1400 de South Bonnie Beach Place  y el segundo en el bloque 4400 de la calle Triggs, de acuerdo con el detective Ed Sánchez, de la estación del alguacil del Este de Los Ángeles.

En el primer ataque, el sospechoso se acercó a un hombre a quien Sánchez describió como “una persona mayor” y, sin provocación, lo golpeó con “un arma que parecía un martillo”.

(Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department)

(Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department)

“Cuando la víctima cayó al suelo, el sospechoso le dio una patada” antes de salir corriendo, dijo Sánchez.

Unas horas más tarde, y a menos de tres cuadras de la primera escena del crimen, una mujer que estaba parada frente a una casa fue atacada de manera similar por un hombre empuñando un arma similar a un martillo, de acuerdo con el detective.

La mujer fue golpeada varias veces “en la cabeza” y la dejó inconsciente, dijo Sánchez.

Ambas víctimas fueron ingresadas en un hospital en estado grave.

El sospechoso fue descrito como un hombre hispano corpulento con una barbilla de chivo. Se

cree que tiene alrededor de 40 a 45 años, mide de 5 pies, 10 pulgadas a 6 pies de alto y pesa entre 200 y 240 libras.

Los detectives dijeron que en el momento de los ataques el sospechoso llevaba un sombrero de paja, una chaqueta azul tipo cortaviento, gafas de sol, pantalones cortos color café y zapatos blancos.

Se instó a cualquier persona con información llame a la estación del alguacil de Los Ángeles al (323) 264-4151 o a Crime Stoppers al (800) 222-TIPS (8477). Todas las llamadas pueden ser anónimas.

Q&A: Sup. Hilda Solis On Why L.A. County Parks Matter

June 30, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

In response to a recent needs assessment report that found most Los Angeles County Parks in need of significant improvements, county supervisors will next week consider placing a measure on the November ballot to raise money to pay for future improvements and maintenance.

 For the last two decades, funding for county parks was supplemented through Proposition A, a county parks tax, which generated millions of dollars for park projects and maintenance. The special tax is scheduled to expire in June 2019.

In an interview with EGP, Supervisor Hilda Solis explained why she supports the ballot measure proposal.

(Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis)

(Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis)

EGP: Why do parks play a vital role in the lives of Latino residents in particular?
Solis: Parks serve as a gathering place for family barbeques, birthday parties and simple picnics not just for Latino families but for all families. Many densely populated communities do not have the necessary amenities and parks provide an outlet for families either for recreation, learning, socializing and tiny tot programs, exercise and organized sports.

EGP: How important are parks to the health of the community?
Solis: According to a recent report published by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, “Parks and Public Health in Los Angeles County: A Cities and Communities Report”, rates of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes and prevalence of childhood obesity were inversely related to park space per capita; as park space per capita decreased, premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and diabetes and prevalence of childhood obesity increased. Park space per capita was also associated with race/ethnicity. African Americans and Latinos were more likely to reside in cities/communities with less park space per capita.

EGP: How could these potential improvements make a difference in your district? In the County?
Solis: When LA County completed the “Park Needs Assessment” it included a price tag of over $20 billion worth of projects. While we know that the County cannot fund everything, we do want all residents to have a park within a 5-minute walk for residents. We have a public health epidemic and would like to build, use of our public spaces as opportunities for recreation, such as walking paths around our cemeteries.

EGP: With another potential tax measure (for transportation) on the ballot, why should County residents welcome this tax for park improvements? And why is there an urgent need to place a parks funding proposition in the November ballot?
Solis: Parks do not have a permanent funding source at the local level or at the State level. Especially with the recent economic down-turn, general fund dollars for health and safety related repairs, deferred maintenance and/or critically needed new parks and amenities have decreased significantly, especially in working and poor communities. To build new parks, local government needs to create funding sources that provide the ability to build new parks, new fitness zones, and new playgrounds.

The County Board of Supervisors will take up needs assessment and proposed ballot measure at its meeting on July5.

For more information about Los Angeles County Parks, visit http://hildalsolis.org/services/for-our-health-recreation-and-memories.

Maywood Fire Displaces Families: Triggers Emergency Declaration

June 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Board of Supervisors declared a local emergency Tuesday in the wake of last week’s explosive fire at a Maywood warehouse, saying hazardous levels of magnesium were found in the fire ash.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended the declaration and proposed reaching out to Gov. Jerry Brown to ask that he declare a state emergency. Both motions were unanimously approved.

“Over 300 residents were impacted,” Solis said. “Many were not able to go back to their homes” because of magnesium levels.

It took three days for the blaze, which broke out June 14, to be fully extinguished.
Families living on the south side of 52nd Street were cleared to go back into their homes last Wednesday evening, but those on the other side of the street, closer to the fire, sheltered at the local YMCA.

The Maywood YMCA doesn’t have air-conditioning, so when temperatures soared this weekend, county officials helped residents move into area hotels.

On Friday, the South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that samples from areas around the fire scene had been tested, and a preliminary analysis “showed ambient metal concentrations did not exceed short-term, health-based thresholds.

“The information … only pertains to the results from preliminary metals sampling near the incident,” the SCAQMD said in a statement.

“Additional laboratory analysis is still underway for other pollutants and from other sampling locations. Updates will be provided as results become available.”

The three-alarm fire — reported at 2:30 a.m. June 14 — in the 3500 block of Fruitland Avenue ripped through a pair of commercial buildings early the first morning, sparking a series of strong explosions and sending a thick plume of noxious smoke over the region.

Firefighters found flames shooting through the roofs of two structures, a warehouse serving Gemini Plastic Enterprises and a metal-recycling plant.

Crews began pouring water on the flames, but the oxygen from the water created a chemical reaction with the burning magnesium, one of the metals being stored at the facility and awaiting recycling, producing what one fire official described as “fireballs” and setting off strong explosions.

In addition to magnesium, other metals such as coppers, zinc and lead were present at the metal-recycling plant, along with chemicals and propane, according to County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

Crews were able to prevent the blaze from spreading from the two commercial structures that were destroyed to other businesses and nearby homes.

Da Xiong Pan, the owner of the recycling facility, was recently charged with multiple felonies for alleged improper storage and disposal of hazardous materials at the site, according to media reports, which also stated that Pan, who owns Panda International Trading Co. at 3570 Fruitland Ave., pleaded not guilty to five felony charges last month.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Public Blasts DTSC at State Committee Hearing

June 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials first held a hearing on the decontamination of the now shuttered Exide Technologies facility, eastside residents made a turnaround trip to the Capitol where they demanded state legislators step up and push for funds needed to address the cleanup. Five months later, with $176.6 million now set aside by Gov. Brown for the cleanup effort, it was the Committee’s turn to pay residents, which they did last week, holding their meeting not far from the Vernon plant.

As is customary, officials from the state, county and city of Los Angeles updated the committee on their respective cleanup efforts and community outreach. But residents who live in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights, Commerce, Maywood, Vernon and Huntington Park – areas believed to be contaminated with lead and arsenic – told the committee that those reports were not giving legislators a full picture of what’s really going on.

Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council President Vera Del Pozo said she was tired of hearing officials and DTSC go talk about things the community has heard repeatedly.

“Stop telling us what you’ve done and just clean this up now,” she said, prompting applause from the audience.

One after another, residents renewed their calls for a quicker, more efficient remediation process, starting with a cleanup plan they said should have already been completed.

“There are many ongoing and serious problems that need to be addressed,” said Gladys Limon, staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment during the assembly committee’s meeting at Roosevelt High School.

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) must prepare an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the approval of the cleanup plan. The agency, charged with overseeing the investigation and remediation of the 1.7-mile preliminary investigation area, is soliciting input from the public before drafting the cleanup plan.

The public comment period begins June 16 and will continue for 30 days, ending July 18. Once the draft impact report is completed the public will have 45 days to review the document and provide comments that will be used to prepare the final report. Two scoping meetings to gather public comment are planned for June 25 at Perez Park in Huntington Park and June 30 at Commerce City Hall.

 Students from Bell Gardens High School attend a public hearing held June 9 at Roosevelt High School, where dozens of residents called for greater oversight of the Exide cleanup. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Students from Bell Gardens High School attend a public hearing held June 9 at Roosevelt High School, where dozens of residents called for greater oversight of the Exide cleanup. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

DTSC Director Barbara Lee explained that under the current CEQA timeline, cleanup, which could end up being the largest in the state’s history, would not begin until June 2017.

Jane Williams, executive director of California Communities Against Toxics, urged legislators to force DTSC to expand the investigation area to 4.5 miles, a demand repeated by dozens of residents living just outside the zone.

“We’re leaving people behind,” Williams stressed.

Roosevelt student Michael Valencia said he lives two blocks from the meeting site, yet his home and the school itself are outside the preliminary cleanup area.

Dr. Brian Johnston, chair of emergency medicine at White Memorial, asked that the agency do more soil sampling beyond the 1.7 miles. He cited a 2010 study conducted by the Air Quality Management District that stated Exide’s cloud of toxins could reach as far as Altadena and Palos Verdes.

Lee explained that results from soil samples collected as far as 4.5 miles from the Vernon plant led the agency to conclude lead emissions could have traveled 1.7 miles from the facility. She reminded the committee that the state’s multi-million loan can only be used to address remediation in that area.

Many residents, however, complained that the agency’s report was a repeat of an “infomercial” they’ve heard many times before, and even argued that DTSC lacks the expertise to carry out the cleanup.

“[The problem] is bigger than what they’re trying to paint,” said a frustrated Joe Gonzalez.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who sat in for committee members unable to attend, said that many of the community’s complaints are valid.

“We need to expand the area,” she told EGP. “We definitely need to do that.”

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, who also sat in on the committee, told EGP he expects the committee to include what was discussed at last week’s meeting in an end of the year report on all the hearings.

“This is one more example of us being more inclusive,” Santiago said. “It demonstrates legislators are taking this seriously, putting pressure and holding DTSC accountable.”

Garcia told EGP she plans to use the public testimony to ask the agency better questions.

“We get regular updates from DTSC but it is through their eyes and their perspective,” she said.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis reminded legislators that more funds would be required to not only decontaminate the area but to also educate the community about the dangers of lead exposure, known to cause neurological diseases, learning disabilities, cancer and other serious health problems.

“This can’t happen again,” Solis said of the contamination. “There needs to be an investigation.”

Lee defended herself and the agency, reminding the committee and the public that in April 2013 Exide was ordered to suspend operations and in March 2015, months after she took over as director, the plant was forced to close permanently.

Since then, 1,800 homes have been sampled, 3,400 access agreements have been signed and over 200 homes have been decontaminated, she said, adding DTSC currently samples 135 properties a week but expects to increase to 200 per week in the coming month.

“We have much to do but we have made progress,” said Lee.

In the minority, one resident thanked the agency for cleaning her East Los Angeles home. But most residents felt their demands and frustration were justified.

“Just because we are asking for more doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge what you have already done,” said Boyle Heights resident Irene Peña.

Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, told EGP the group encountered problems while working with the agency to gather access agreements, an effort they do not plan to continue.

“We have had to push every step of the way to get to the point we are at now,” he said. “It is time for DTSC to step up and accept the challenge to do better.”

County Sups. React to Orlando Shooting

June 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Board of Supervisors observed a moment of silence Tuesday for victims of the Orlando shooting and their families, and urged county residents to continue to fight prejudice against LGBTQ people.

Supervisor Don Knabe opened the meeting with a prayer.

“We come with heavy hearts,” Knabe said, extending the county’s sympathy and condolences to those who lost loved ones in the “horrible and horrific Orlando situation.”

Supervisor Hilda Solis called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history “an outrageous act of violence.”

The 49 people killed and another 53 wounded by gunman Omar Mateen at the gay nightclub Pulse were mostly Latino, Solis noted.

“This tragedy is a harsh and sobering reminder of the continuing need for committing resources to educate and prevent prejudice and violence in all of its forms,” Solis said.

“The mass shooting in Orlando is an extreme expression of an all-too-common, everyday homophobic, transphobic, sexist and racist violence facing gender non-conforming people, especially of color, in the United States and around the world,” Solis said before extending “heartfelt condolences and compassion to the families … and loved ones of those who were killed” and asking for prayers for those still healing.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was joined on the dais by more than a dozen senior county employees who identify as members of the LGBTQ community, including Department of Health Services Director Mitchell Katz, Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald and Assessor Jeffrey Prang.

“I’m kind of sick of moments of silence … I’m ready for moments of screaming and moments of rage and moments of weeping and moments of keening and moments of decision and moments of commitment and all of the things that we talk about after each of these tragedies,” Kuehl said.

Kuehl, a longtime advocate for gay rights, said she was proud of the work the county, California and the country had done to try to eliminate “inherited hatreds” and called on residents to rededicate themselves to working against prejudice and violence.

“There will never be enough grief, there will never be enough words, there will never be enough that we can do,” Kuehl said, holding back tears.

The county’s Commission on Human Relations also issued a statement expressing “our most profound sympathies and condolences to the people, their families, friends and communities, whose lives were so brutally ravaged by the recent violence in Orlando.”

The commission’s preliminary analysis for 2015 found that anti-gay/lesbian hate crimes in the county had reached their highest level in more than a decade.

“However, we know that, together, with deliberate, persistent effort, we can transform prejudice into acceptance, inequity into justice, and hostility into peace,” the statement continued.

The commission also cautioned against other forms of prejudice.

“We must not allow the violence in Orlando to lead to increased Islamophobia and further tragedy and loss of innocent life,” the statement continued. “We must remind ourselves and those around us that the actions of one person do not in any way represent the beliefs of the thousands of Muslims who we live and work with each day, and that we need to defend them against those who would act out of anger and ignorance or political convenience to do them harm or deny them basic rights.”

County to Push for Tax on the ‘Rich’

May 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to press for a change to state law that would allow the county to put a “millionaire’s tax” on the November ballot to fund the fight against homelessness.

Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl proposed the legislative push last week, but were denied the three votes needed for passage when Supervisor Hilda Solis chose to abstain.

On Tuesday, Solis opened the board’s meeting by saying, “We have resolved our differences and we have agreed to move ahead.”

The board also approved a related proposal by Solis and Supervisor Don Knabe, directing the CEO’s office to take a harder look at spending on homelessness, with an emphasis on how to more effectively serve single homeless adults.

A 34-page study by the CEO’s office in January found that the county spent nearly $1 billion on roughly 150,000 people who were homeless at one point or another between July 2014 and June 2015.

Services provided included health care, mental health care, welfare, law enforcement and probation services, with the study estimating that about 40 percent of those dollars were spent on just 5 percent of homeless single adults.

“The vast majority of these services are mainstream services,” said Phil Ansell, director of the county’s Homeless Initiative, meaning that the services are not designed specifically for homeless people or to directly combat homelessness.

However, homeless individuals end up using a disproportionate share of those services and the chronically homeless use even more, with the county spending an average of more than $50,000 per person on the most costly 5 percent.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich argued that the problem of homelessness cannot be solved “until the state changes the law that limits 72-hour holds” for mentally ill individuals and treatment for mental health problems is mandated.

Tuesday’s vote clears the way for the county to submit a trailer budget bill to state legislators asking for the authority to put the so-called “millionaire’s tax” on the November ballot.

If a majority of legislators support the bill by June 15 and if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it into law by June 30, then the board will have to decide whether to actually back a ballot measure that would require two-thirds voter approval for passage.

Pollsters commissioned by the county were confident about voters’ positive response to such a measure. A preliminary poll showed 76 percent support for such a tax, even in light of several other potential ballot proposals for new taxes or fees.

Ridley-Thomas said the board should pursue every option to fund its fight against increasing levels of homelessness, with more and more people living on the street in makeshift encampments.

“It is the most compelling issue confronting us at this time,” Ridley-Thomas said. “It is a crisis, no one can deny that.”

More than 100 community leaders and activists spoke out about the issue, most advocating for those who are homeless and many applauding the effort to review current spending.

“Some areas of Los Angeles County look like a bomb has hit,” community activist Glenna Wilson told the board.
County CEO Sachi Hamai has estimated that the county needs to raise about $500 million in ongoing revenue to effectively address the problem.

County staffers and pollsters considered several ways of raising that money, including a half-percent increase in sales tax, a parcel tax, redirection of Measure B revenues — designed to support trauma centers — and a marijuana tax.

The idea of a half-percent tax on personal income in excess of $1 million garnered the highest support, with 76 percent of voters polled in favor.

The board has the ability to raise local sales taxes on its own, but needs the state to give it the authority to place the “millionaire’s tax” on the ballot.

A half-percent bump in the sales tax would raise three times as much money — an estimated $746 million versus $243 million according to board documents — than the so-called millionaire’s tax. However, support for a sales tax increase polled at 68 percent — within the margin of error of the two-thirds of voters needed to pass any such measure.

Antonovich warned that a county millionaire’s tax would drive businesses away.

“Making the tax higher is taking those dollars from the job creators,” he said.

Solis said she wanted to increase funding options that didn’t rely on a tax increase, leaving open the question of whether she would ultimately support putting the millionaire’s tax on the ballot.

California millionaires are already paying a 1 percent tax on income in excess of $1 million, as mandated by Proposition 63, passed in 2004 as the Mental Health Services Act.

Last week, Brown endorsed a plan to issue $2 billion in bonds to finance the construction of housing for homeless individuals. paid for with Prop. 63 funds. The governor’s May Revision to the budget proposed $267 million in first-year funding statewide, which would fall far short of either a new local millionaire’s tax or a sales tax increase in terms of Los Angeles County revenues.

LASD Scandal Prompts New Policy

May 5, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Sheriff Jim McDonnell, who is suffering his first major embarrassment as sheriff over the departure of his chief of staff because of racially insensitive emails, says he will turn the episode into a teaching moment for his department.

The department announced Sunday that Tom Angel has resigned over the emails, which were obtained from the city of Burbank by the Los Angeles Times under California’s open records act and reported on last week. No details about the search for a replacement were immediately announced.

The emails, sent in 2012 and 2013 when Angel was the No. 2 police official in Burbank, contained derogatory stereotypes of blacks, Latinos, Muslims and others. Some contained jokes that Angel had received and then forwarded.

McDonnell initially said he had no plans to discipline Angel but appears to have changed his mind about the viability of his chief of staff amid calls for Angel’s departure from black and Muslim community activists.

“This incident is one that I find deeply troubling,’ McDonnell said in a statement Sunday. “Chief Angel has offered his resignation, and I have accepted it. I thank him for his many years of service, and wish him and his family well.”

McDonnell said that despite the department’s recent effort to strengthen public trust and improve internal and external accountability and transparency, the incident “reminds us that we and other law enforcement agencies still have work to do. I intend to turn this situation into a learning opportunity for all LASD personnel.”

He said the department will also be assessing existing policies and systems to ensure “accountability and enhancing cultural and ethnic sensitivity and professionalism among our personnel.” This will include a new system of random audits of the e-mail accounts of department personnel.

“The law enforcement profession must and can demand the highest standards of professionalism, fairness and constitutional policing individually and collectively from its personnel,” McConnell said. “We are only as effective as the relationships, credibility and trust we have with our community; this is a fundamental point that I and LASD personnel take very seriously.”
Hilda Solis, the chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, praised the sheriff’s department.

“Sheriff McDonnell has done an admirable job of steering the department in the right directions with necessary reforms,” Solis said in a statement.

“We must move forward and strive for a law enforcement work culture that values diversity and promotes tolerance.”

Angel has told The Times that he did not mean to embarrass or demean anyone. He said it was unfortunate that his work emails could be obtained by the public under the state’s records laws.

“I took my Biology exam last Friday,” said one of the emails. “I was asked to name two things commonly found in cells. Apparently `Blacks’ and ‘Mexicans’ were NOT the correct answers.”

In Burbank, Angel had been brought in to reform an agency reeling from misconduct in its ranks, including allegations of brutality, racism and sexual harassment.

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