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: Thank you to the Trevor Project team for the life-saving work they do to help LGBTQ+ youth.)
Winning Library of the Year
A huge congratulations to the Los Angeles County Library for being named the Library of the Year by the national magazine, Library Journal!
The award recognizes service through creative and innovative community-specific programs.
This is the third honor LA County Library has received in the past 12 months from Library Journal following Skye Patrick, director of the LA County Library, being named the 2019 Librarian of the year, and LA County Library winning Marketer for the year in 2018.
I, along with the rest of the Board, could not be more proud of the LA County Library for its continuous work to develop new and innovative ways to engage with customers across all our communities.
On your next visit to the library, be sure to congratulate the staff for this award — it would not have been possible without the incomparable Library Director Skye Patrick and her fantastic team!
Report on the Elimination of the Use of Pepper Spray
Following the approval of my and Supervisor Ridley-Thomas motion to phase out the use of oleoresin capsicum spray (pepper spray) in all of our County juvenile facilities, the Chief Probation Officer has issued a report stating that OC spray will no longer be used in Los Angeles County Juvenile Camps and Halls by the end of 2019.
The OC spray used by the Probation Department is considerably more potent than the type of mace available to the general public. In a number of instances, the use of this powerful chemical was excessive and unjustified, which can cause psychological harm to young people.
The proposed plan will be multi-phased and is part of a paradigm shift from a custodial model to a more therapeutic one. It also calls for a five-to-one staffing ratio, and there will be at least one “Crisis Stabilization Unit” comprised of psychiatric technicians and other Department of Mental Health Staff who would provide treatment.
California is only one of fifteen states to allow the use of OC spray. I am glad to see progress when it comes to protecting the safety of young people in our juvenile facilities as we move in line with the rest of the nation.
Support for Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019
Supervisor Solis and I co-authored a motion to support HR 763: The energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019. This is a bipartisan bill proposed by three Republicans and three Democrats that is currently making its way through the House of Representatives.
This bill would impose a fee on the carbon components of fuels, including crude oil, natural gas, coal, or any other product derived from those fuels.
The fee would be imposed on the producers or importers of the fuels, with the rate beginning at $15 in 2019 and increasing by $10 each year. The fees would then go into a trust fund, where they would be used to pay for administrative costs and as dividend payments to U.S. Citizens and Lawful residents.
While I wish this bill went further, it is a necessary step towards facing the threat of climate change and reducing the damage greenhouse gas emissions are doing to our planet. Los Angeles County has long been a leader in the fight against climate change, and we will continue the work of protecting our natural resources and environment with our support of this bill.
Establishing a Pilot Job Center for Incarcerated Women
Today the Board approved $2 million in one-time funding for a job-training pilot program at the County’s women’s jail, the Century Regional Detention Facility. It will provide skills training in high-growth industries, as well as soft skills and resume creation to eligible women based on their expected length of stay at CRDF, their personal needs, and their career interest.
A study published by the U.S. Department of Justice found that women often face unique and challenging barriers to employment after serving their sentence, particularly if they are a custodial parent for children. Nationwide, unemployment among formerly incarcerated people is exponentially higher than for the general population and is highest within the first two years of release, according to research conducted by the Prison Policy Institute. Pre- and post-release employment services are critical to reduce recidivism and help incarcerated people quickly integrate back into society.
We can’t expect people to rebuild their lives if they’re not given a fair shot at a steady good-paying job. This pilot program will help women while they are still in custody to overcome at least one of the significant barriers that prevent them from building stable, productive lives after they are released.
Increasing Access to Toilets and Hand-Washing Facilities
The Board voted on a motion I authored to Instruct the Director of Beaches and Harbors to allow, temporarily, the placement and operation of two portable toilet and hand-washing facilities in the Venice Beach Rose Avenue parking lot from 10:00pm through 6:00am, while the permanent bathrooms are being renovated.
There are over 36,000 homeless people in the city of Los Angeles, and only 31 public bathrooms operated by the city for these people. Through motions like this one, the Board is simultaneously working to make it possible for more people to access restrooms throughout the night, as well as helping to lower the amount of disease caused by unsanitary living conditions.
I applaud LA City Councilman Mike Bonin for spearheading this effort as well as the plans to renovate the permanent bathrooms. Homelessness is a severe problem throughout LA County, and I look forward to more initiatives such as this one in the future to help improve conditions for those experiencing homelessness.