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.

Invocation by Anne Sadeghpour

We began this week’s meeting with a beautiful invocation by Anne Sadeghpour. Anne is a retired children’s school teacher and librarian in the Santa-Monica-Malibu School District and a member of the global Baha’i community since 1971. She spent ten years in Nicaragua collaborating with the local Baha’i community. She is also a former Member of the School Board District Advisory Committee for Education Equity and Excellence and a mother to 5 children.

The Baha’i Faith originated in Persia, teaching the essential worth and unity of all religions and peoples as well as a harmony between science and religion. Despite facing persecution since its beginning, the Baha’i faith has persevered and expanded around the globe, with 5 to 8 million followers worldwide.

We are so grateful that Anne joined us and shared her Baha’i traditions and practices with the Board.

Honoring LGBT Center Veterans and Staff

For decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender service members have been forced to serve in the closet. Even after the adoption in 1993 of the Federal policy of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”, which was supposed to prevent the aggressive investigations of service members rumored to be gay, LGBT service members were still forced to serve in silence, and thousands were discharged. Although this harmful policy was repealed in 2010 by President Obama, the victory was short-lived. In the past few weeks, the ruling denying president Trump’s transgender military service ban was overturned. And so, the fight goes on.

The Board and I honored LGBT Veterans and Veterans Affairs staff from the Los Angeles LGBT Center each of whom had also made significant contributions to the Center’s Veterans Initiative. This program provides essential resources to LGBT Veterans, including housing, medical assistance, and a safe environment to connect with other LGBT Military Veterans.

We presented scrolls to Belita Edwards, 1st Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Clayo Hughes, U.S. Marine Corps, Michael Laborde, SR-E1 Seaman, U.S. Navy, William Duckworth, Chief Warrant Officer-2, US Marine Corps Reserve, Jesse Ortiz-Barreto, the activities coordinator of Veteran Affairs, Kiera Pollock, director of senior services, and Yelba Carrillo, manager of social services, all from the LGBT Center in LA.

The veterans we honored are also members of the United States’ first and only LGBT-Identified military guard, which is the first guard to include the rainbow flag.

Awarding Fair Housing Funds in LA County

As part of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing motion I co-authored with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas last January, the Board authorized extending $5 million to the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) for fair housing activities.

These funds will be incorporated into LACDA’s 2019-2020 fiscal year budget and will allow the LACDA to hire 5 new full-time positions including a customer services program designed for landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers. With these new positions, Section 8 landlords will be able to speak to someone in real-time when they need to call the LACDA.

The Board also approved $600,000 in funding for the Housing Rights Center, sourced from Fair Housing Funds and through a Community Development Block Grant. The Housing Rights Center is the nation’s largest non-profit, civil rights organization dedicated to promoting and securing fair housing. This funding will help Los Angeles County continue its fight for fair housing.

Increasing Rights for Fire Department Employees

In the last few years, Los Angeles County and California as a whole have seen numerous record-breaking fires, including the devastating Woolsey Fire of just last year. Every year thousands of firefighters are exposed to carcinogens while helping to keep us safe from these fires. However, many other fire department employees face similar risks.
On Tuesday, the Board voted on a motion I brought along with Supervisor Barger to support Assembly Bill 1400, which would grant certain non-firefighter employees of fire departments the right to a presumption that cancer is a work-related condition in order to file workers compensation claims.

This bill will help ensure that all who put themselves at risk making our state safer from fires are adequately compensated.

Reducing Waste of Single-Use Packaging

The Board voted on a motion I brought along with Supervisor Hahn to support Senate Bill 54 and Assembly Bill 1080, the California Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Acts.

These bills would require the California Department of Resources and Recovery to adopt regulations requiring manufacturers and retailers of single-use packaging and priority single-use plastic products to reduce waste generated from these products by 75% by 2030.

Single-use plastics are anything from plastic straws and coffee lids, to styrofoam take-out containers. These plastics take thousands of years to decompose and contaminate our water and soil. These toxic chemicals also harm plant and animal life on our planet.

With bills like these, we can reduce the destruction caused by single-use items and protect our environment for generations to come.