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.
A mysterious and frightening vaping-related outbreak of life-threatening lung disease has, to date, killed seven people and sickened 530. While much remains unknown about this rash of illnesses, we do know that vaping has become an epidemic among adolescents and children, and we also know that four out of five kids who have used tobacco started with a flavored product.
Flavored products, whether in vaping or in cigarettes, can mask the harsh taste of tobacco, making it easier for children and young people to smoke. Many of the young people are likely not even aware of the level of nicotine in flavored e-cigarettes, unwittingly exposing themselves to a toxic poison at a period in their life crucial to brain and physical development. Last year we closed loopholes in county mandated smoke-free zones to include e-cigarettes, and now was necessary to address the disturbing prevalence of flavored nicotine products.
The ordinance that passed at the Board this week means that tobacco retailers will no longer be able to offer any tobacco products with a flavor in any form, including the fruit-flavored pods of liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes. Additionally, the ordinance requires a business license, and not just a public health license, for tobacco shops, and strengthens tobacco retailer public health requirements in an effort to prevent youth exposure to tobacco.
Campus Kilpatrick Repair and Recovery
Campus Kilpatrick is the flagship location of the County Probation Department’s “LA Model” for juvenile rehabilitative service facilities, embracing the core tenets of safety, empowerment, and engagement to promote youth development and rehabilitation. The Probation Camp is based on a holistic, therapeutic approach to rehabilitation in a home-like setting that encourages the development of personal goals, enhances interpersonal skills, and emphasizes peer and staff support.
Last November, the newly opened Campus Kilpatrick stood directly in the path of the Woolsey Fire, the most destructive wildfire in LA County’s history. Miraculously, all present were evacuated, and Campus Kilpatrick was not destroyed. However, the facility did experience extensive damage that has left it uninhabitable. This week I authored a motion giving our departments the authority to quickly do the work needed to repair the fire damage — and reopen Campus Kilpatrick as soon as possible.
Supporting Foster Youth Who Identify as LGBTQ
This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that seeks to improve the system of care for LGBTQ+ foster youth.
Nearly one in five foster youth in Los Angeles County identify as LGBTQ, a much higher percentage than in the general population, yet this vulnerable group is often not identified within the County’s child welfare system. This lack can mean that targeted services are not regularly provided by staff who may not have received the training necessary to support the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. In addition, LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth, and suicide attempt rates among youth who identify as trans are even higher. Sadly, the tragic suicide of a young trans man named Andrew, preceded this motion. This motion outlines requirements for an investigation on various factors related to that case and targeted programs in the Department.
The Board has passed a series of motions on to propel the necessary systemic changes and extensive work on overhauling support systems is underway. This motion seeks to expedite these changes and calls for a report back in 60 days from the Office of Child Protection, DCFS, and other relevant departments. The report includes focusing on how to handle cases involving family rejection, and requires collaboration with the LGBTQ+ community to help us develop training for staff and caregivers so we can better meet the needs of this vulnerable population.
Implementing Body-Worn Cameras in Los Angeles County
This week at the Board meeting, we affirmed our commitment to accountability and transparency in our law enforcement agencies by passing a motion authored by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis, to begin the phased implementation of a body-worn camera program in the Sheriff’s Department.
Body-worn cameras, when used correctly, have numerous benefits both for the public and law enforcement officers working in the field. The recording 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. Access to footage from these cameras will extend to the District Attorney, Public Defender, and Alternate Public Defender.
Last year, the Chief Executive Officer, Sheriff’s Department, and Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission worked together to provide the Board with recommendations and cost analyses for implementing the use of body-worn cameras for all Sheriff’s deputies. Now that those reports are in, it is time to put the wheels in motion. As directed by the motion, the Sheriff will provide the Board with a final body-worn camera policy, and the Office of Inspector General will provide bi-annual reports as to the progress and effectiveness of this program.
Preserving Public Access in Malibu
On Tuesday, the Board took action to protect public access and public safety in sensitive habitat in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains.
In this ordinance, we’ve tried to strike a balance between people’s desire to enjoy this environmentally sensitive area, and the need for safeguards to protect habitat and prevent fire. To simultaneously preserve coastal access and residents’ safety, we have included numerous safeguards to do just that. Safeguards include: prohibiting open flames and smoking, banning camping on red flag days, requiring daily inspections, and establishing maximum capacity and emergency management procedures.
Our recommendations now go back to the Coastal Commission for approval and then on to a judge for final review.