News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
This week, the Board adopted a budget for 2919-20 that reflects its values. The $32.5 billion budget for fiscal year addresses key social issues while embracing innovation, jobs, and quality of life improvements—including the launch of a new “human-centered” voting system and the County’s first Department of Arts and Culture.
The programs recommended for funding bring to life a progressive agenda of fighting homelessness, promoting health and well-being, improving the justice system, championing the rights and needs of immigrants, creating better lives for children and families, and enriching communities through recreation and sustainability projects.
Learn more here about the budget.
Countywide Youth Advisory Board
We took a big step towards giving youth a voice in helping to find solutions to issues many young people face. The adopted motion calls for the assessment of all current youth engagement strategies and a recommendation to how the advisory board should be set up. The Board also called for a recommendation as to how young people may best be compensated for their work on improving county programs and services.
This step signals a shift in the County’s culture on youth engagement. Empowering young people to have a role in finding solutions and designing new programming that affect them as a population can help lay the groundwork for better youth outcomes. It’s important that our policy solutions be created with, and not just for, youth. Elevating youth voices on this advisory board is more than inclusion; it’s the catalyst to sound public policy.
Criminal Justice Fines and Fees
The Board passed a motion by Supervisor Solis, which I co-authored, to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the fines, fees, and penalties, including non-economic penalties, levied against adults in the criminal justice system.
Going through the criminal justice system is expensive. Many costs and fees aren’t part of any sentencing law – they are tacked on by Probation, by the Sheriff’s Department, by the Courts, and by diversion and community service programs. If someone doesn’t pay their fees, they risk being hauled back to court and jailed or offered the “choice” of discharging their fines and fees in jail time. The result is the criminalization of poverty.
Unfortunately, the most distressing aspect of these ongoing costs is the fact that the people most burdened by them are those least able to bear them. In 2015, a report by the US Department of Justice revealed how deliberate and intentional racial bias pervaded the criminal justice system of Ferguson, Missouri, resulting in the African American population being systematically subject to selectively enforced laws, and continually increasing monetary penalties, that would ultimately result in black residents going to jail for failure to pay fines for petty infractions. While the intent may not be the same here in Los Angeles County, unfortunately, the effect is the same.
It’s critically important that our criminal justice system treat all who come before it equitably. When a person’s ability to pay fines and fees that are not part of a criminal sentence results in disparate treatment, we have a duty to look at those laws and see if we can make appropriate changes in the way penalties are assessed.
Finally, the Board extended a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger in March to place a moratorium on County departments’ use of glyphosate — a main ingredient in the herbicide brand Roundup.
The original motion also directed County Departments to conduct a study to determine whether the chemical is appropriate for use by the County and to report back on the study’s findings, including providing alternative options and measures to Glyphosate.
In a 2015 study led by 17 experts from 11 countries, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that glyphosate should be classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In response to the growing body of scientific study about the potential adverse effects of this weed-killer, this week’s motion extends the moratorium on County department use of glyphosate until public health and environmental professionals can determine if it’s safe for further use in L.A. County.
We value your input on alternative measures and products to Glyphosate for weed abatement and vegetation management. You can provide feedback directly to the Department of Public Works here.
Pawsitive Steps Academy at Camp Scott
The Board also voted to accept a $21,000 donation to the Director of Animal Care and Control (DACC), from their foundation. These funds will be used for supplies to the Pawsitive Steps Academy, a program for fostering kittens with the girls at Camp Scott in Santa Clarita. The donation will also be used for vet care supplies like food, litter, and pens.
Pawsitive Steps Academy is an innovative program that provides skills and education about animal care to young people in probation camps while providing kittens too young to be placed in shelters with vital care and nurturing. The program emphasizes the human-animal bond and its effect on emotional development and well-being.
The goal of the program is to provide foster homes for vulnerable kittens and nurture an environment where the youth can learn new skills, reap the benefits of interacting with animals and open pathways to educational and career opportunities.