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.

Ending Exorbitant-Cost Phone Calls in LA County Jails

I was very happy to support a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda Solis that furthers LA County’s goal of tackling the exorbitant costs of phone calls in LA County Jails and Juvenile Facilities that place a steep financial burden on the families of incarcerated people.

The motion includes several directives to help LA County get the funding, infrastructure, and contracts that could make phone calls more affordable. Healthy social connection helps with mental health, lower rates of recidivism and overall wellbeing. If our overarching goal is to encourage rehabilitation and reintegration, we should be removing barriers to engaging support networks, not profiting off the human need for connection.

COVID-19 Update

The Board received an update from the Department of Public Health on vaccination rates in LA County and how changes at the state and national level might affect our efforts.

The big news this week: California is the first state to announce plans to require student vaccinations – adding the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of vaccinations already required for schools, such as the vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella. Of course, mandatory school vaccinations are nothing new. Hopefully, measures like this will protect our youth from disruptive outbreaks and threats to their health and facilitate a return to the normal schooling and recreation they all deserve.

Indigenous Peoples Day & Land Acknowledgement and Access

I’m really happy that the Board passed the motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis promoting Indigenous Peoples Day and facilitating Land Acknowledgement and Land Access policies for LA County.

It’s important to engage in more than just symbolic gestures. We must also address inequity and the ongoing issues related to accessing County-owned and other public lands for Native cultural practices. The motion we passed this week calls on the Departments of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), the Native American Indian Commission, and the Department of Arts and Culture to work with a consultant and, most importantly, local tribal leaders, to develop policies that will remove barriers that now prevent Native American people from observing traditional practices.

Supporting Haitian Immigrants and Their Families

After years of unimaginable political, natural and socio-economic crises, the number of Haitian immigrants seeking asylum has drastically increased. Unfortunately, our federal agencies’ response has often fallen short of our values. As LA County has done before, we affirmed our commitment to welcoming and supporting all immigrants by passing a motion to develop a plan for outreach and wraparound support for Haitian refugees who may settle in our region.

In the past several months, Haitians have endured political turmoil following the assassination of their president, and lost homes and personal security after two major natural disasters, all during a global pandemic. I think doing what we can to welcome and assist refugees is a central, foundational American value, so I’m grateful to Supervisor Mitchell for introducing this motion.

International Pronouns Day

Finally, at this week’s Board Meeting, we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis proclaiming October 20th as “International Pronouns Day.” The motion encourages the use of inclusive pronouns in all types of communication, whether verbal or written, as an expression of our continuing commitment to diversity and inclusion.

One easy way to support transgender and nonbinary individuals is to include your pronouns in your email signature. The more people who include their pronouns, the more normalized the practice becomes, building a more accepting and inclusive culture. Studies show that affirming transgender and nonbinary youth, for example, by respecting their pronouns, as well as other signs of respect, is associated with lower rates of attempted suicide, so small actions like this can make a big difference.