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.
Photo: Supervisor Kuehl and Supervisor Solis stand with those impacted by the regrettable forced sterilization practices from 1968-1974 and their families.
Next Steps on Body-Worn Cameras
This week the Board underscored our commitment to accountability and transparency in our Sheriff’s Department by passing a motion, submitted by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, to explore the potential use of mandatory body-worn cameras.
Body-worn cameras, when used correctly, have numerous benefits both for the public and for law enforcement officers working in the field. The recordings captured by body-worn cameras can provide evidence in criminal prosecutions, improve both citizen and officer conduct, assist with assessing complaints about deputy misconduct, and ultimately enhance law enforcement and community relations. However, implementing such a program across an entity as large as Los Angeles County would be complicated and costly, so it is essential for the County to move forward with a clear understanding of long-term impacts.
The motion put forth this week directs the Chief Executive Officer, Sheriff’s Department, and Civilian Oversight Commission to work together to provide the Board with recommendations and a cost analysis for implementing the use of body-worn cameras for all Sheriff’s deputies.
Assisting People Living in Vehicles
In an important step towards addressing the growing number of individuals living in vehicles, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas that would establish a pilot program aimed at reducing public health hazards, increasing the availability of Safe Parking, and ultimately facilitate transition into affordable housing.
Earlier this year the Board instructed the Directors of the Departments of Public Works, Public Health, Regional Planning, and the Chief Executive Office’s Homeless Initiative to report back to the Board with recommendations for sustainable solutions to assist individuals living in vehicles, particularly in the unincorporated communities of West Rancho Dominguez, Rosewood, and Willowbrook. The ensuing report recommended that the County implement a pilot program in this area which, if successful, may be expanded to other areas.
The program would focus on outreach, connecting individuals to supportive services with the goal of making a transition to permanent housing, and seeking to expand Safe Parking where individuals can begin accessing these services. It would also educate people about parking policies and the proper disposal of hazardous materials, and explore the possibility of a mobile waste collection service. Finally, the program would allocate funding from the Homeless Prevention Initiative to incentivize the voluntary surrender of substandard and unsafe vehicles and ensure that these improper dwellings are destroyed rather than returned to the streets.
Apologizing to Sterilization Survivors
Writer and philosopher George Santayana famously said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In the spirit of this sentiment, the Board of Supervisors passed my motion, co-authored by Hilda Solis, that acknowledges the County’s regrettable participation in coerced sterilization programs from 1968-1974 and formally apologizes to the victims of this abhorrent practice.
Coerced sterilization is a shameful part of America’s history, as it was a widespread practice marked by cruelty and motivated by racism and discrimination towards immigrants, people of color, poor people, unmarried mothers, the disabled and the mentally ill. Research based on historical documents indicates that a majority of those deemed “unfit for reproduction” and subjected to this heinous practice were women and girls, and that Latinas were 59% more likely to be sterilized than non-Latinas. Eugenic sterilization programs are now recognized as a human rights abuse. Although patients did agree to give written or oral consent for these procedures, due to language and cultural barriers, it is unlikely that the consent provided was informed, making the practice questionable at best and at worst a contemptible violation of reproductive rights.
This motion expresses the County’s support for Senate Bill 1190, which would establish the
Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Program. The motion also issues an official apology to victims and instructs the Department of Health Services to design and install a plaque or suitable work of art at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center to express our sincere apologies to the women and families victimized by this practice.
Improving our Voter Systems
This week, the Board also passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn requiring the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk to take steps recommended after a thorough investigation to ensure the integrity of our election process in light of issues experienced by voters in June.
On the June 5th Primary Election, over one hundred thousand names of registered voters were omitted from the printed rosters in precincts across Los Angeles County, and there was a 21-minute outage on the County’s voter information website, LAVote.net. In response to these occurrences, the Board ordered an extensive independent review by IBM Security Services. The investigation found that software misconfigurations (not a cyber attack) and massive demand on the LAVote.net website, respectively, caused these issues. The motion passed this week implements software updates and quality controls and directs RR/CC to resolve deficiencies in the system used to create the printed roster and increase capacity on LAVote.net to accommodate periods of high demand. These changes should ensure that state and local databases are compatible, and provide for a much better experience for LA County voters.
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A Plan for Purposeful Aging
Supporting and protecting our seniors is a very important responsibility. The City and County of Los Angeles have joined forces with the Purposeful Aging Los Angeles (PALA) Initiative. I co-authored a motion with Supervisor Hilda Solis this week which will implement PALA’s newly released Age-Friendly Action Plan. This plan will build age-friendly communities ensuring seniors, and individuals of all ages, can thrive in their neighborhoods.
As we age, most of us hope to remain in our homes and communities for as long as possible. This means we must ensure that our communities are age-friendly by including walkable streets, easy access to grocery stores and services, and opportunities for older adults to stay engaged through volunteering or other community activities. The Age-Friendly Action Plan will guide efforts over the next three years to enhance our region’s age-friendliness in key areas such as transportation, housing, emergency preparedness, social participation and outdoor spaces. The plan was crafted with input from over 20 partners, including the American Association of Retired Persons and residents across Los Angeles County.