Despite the setback of an outraged sheriff and an affected county supervisor, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 28, green-lighted a proposed amendment to the statute asking voters if the county would spend tens of millions of dollars each year The municipality is expected to reserve investments in programs that include housing and distraction from the criminal justice system.
The supervisory authorities voted 4: 1, with the supervisory authority Kathryn Barger registering the no vote.
The change, which is referred to as part of the Los Angeles County "launch" effort, aims to "lift" a baseline of 10% of the county's total general fund income per year, between US $ 360 and $ 496 million, as the case may be -Dollar funding sources – for efforts that include:
- Community-based youth development programs;
- Vocational training and jobs for low-income residents, in particular construction jobs for the expansion of affordable and supportive housing;
- Access to capital for small, minority-owned companies with a focus on black-owned companies;
- Rental support, housing vouchers and accompanying support services for those at risk of losing their home or having no stable accommodation;
- Community-based justice restoration programs;
- Pre-trial non-custody services and treatment; and
- Community-based health services, health promotion, counseling, wellness and prevention programs, and services for mental health and substance disorders
It is a "reinterpretation of LA" because it tries to avert money from its traditional law enforcement pipeline by keeping some of the funds away from the sheriff's department and the prosecutor's office and reserving them for investment in the community. The funds would be diverted gradually over the next four years.
This type of investment has impacted the wider efforts of the board in recent years – and months – to reform the county criminal justice system. This reform includes efforts to create alternatives to detention.
But that's the problem – at least for Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
He sees the effort – and the proposed change – as an attempt to "disappoint the police", the rally cry from many demonstrators during demonstrations triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died during an arrest that have filled the streets of the nation by white officers on Memorial Day.
If voters approved the change, his department would lose access to valuable "unrestricted" dollars. At stake is the future of the sheriff's substations in unincorporated areas such as Altadena, South and East LA, and Marina del Rey. A $ 173 million cut would cut 1,000 jobs.
"We fully agree that care must be given to those suffering from drug abuse and mental illness," said Villanueva. “However, robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the solution. All you do is create a whole new group of victims. Domestic violence will no longer be enforced. That will happen. "
Villanueva pointed to other county funding offices that already provide hundreds of millions of dollars in mental health, public health, and housing for the homeless.
Villanueva questioned the broader interpretation of restorative justice, which according to today's understanding has ignored crime victims.
"Somehow the victim was deleted from the equation," he said.
The sheriff was not alone in his worries, though not all for the same reasons.
County leaders are concerned about the county revenue affected by the pandemic and the legal strength of the change.
The district's CEO, Sachi Hamai, warned the board that the change in funding could mean "profound restrictions and layoffs on our workforce" if the minimum of 10% were placed on the district's unrestricted resources, and added that preferred option is to maintain the county’s flexibility in what to maintain has exacerbated the financial crisis fueled by the corona virus.
The county's $ 34.9 billion budget is a huge cake made from a variety of ingredients – including funding from local, state, and federal sources. Most of the budget is "limited", which means that the money is required for certain purposes.
If voters approve the measure, the funding would come from general fund revenues of around $ 8.8 billion. There is a much smaller amount of it, which is "unlimited". But the sheriff department still has access to a lot of it.
For example, in the 2020-21 budget, $ 1.873 billion of the $ 8.8 billion will be allocated to the sheriff's department. However, if the 10% threshold of the statute amendment governs the budget for the current year, the department could ultimately lose about $ 114 million, according to the county CEO's office.
The ordinance prohibits the 10% general revenue from being passed on to the sheriff's department, the district attorney's office, the Supreme Courts, or the probation department.
Officials find that between 700 and 1,000 jobs could be affected if new revenue was not generated.
Barger, the chairwoman of the board of directors, is concerned that the amendment of the articles of association would bind the hands of the board of directors in the coming years – especially in the event of unforeseen health or safety crises. She too questioned its legality.
"This is not just a defection of law enforcement – it's about empowering the county that we don't have the discretion to fund departments that dampen the county’s net costs," she said.
So far, she was the opposition's only voice on the five-member board, complaining that it was a rash initiative that was quickly developed by supporters like the United Way of Los Angeles.
But others accepted the effort, even though it was quickly implemented. They argue that now is the time, given the historic moment of social justice, to experience the national and region. And after months and years of board votes to promote criminal justice reform, leaders like supervisor Sheila Kuehl say it is time for voters to weigh themselves up.
"This is a moment when people say to us," Why does every solution wear a uniform and a weapon? "Said Kuehl." This is not the appropriate way to work in society – we want something else. Everyone is worried about their job. Law enforcement has not worried about their job for many years because they know that we will protect them. Welcome to the club. "
Kuehl said the county was not trying to find law enforcement jobs, but was trying to steer the county in a new direction to deal with social problems that disproportionately affect colored people and people with limited or no income. She praised efforts to reduce the county's inmate population from 17,000 to just over 12,000 due to the pandemic.
"I assume there are custody officers who are not needed," she said. "Why is the sheriff talking about closing local offices in the cities?
“We added a section where the board can override the measure by four votes in the event of a tax emergency. To use the word "defunding" about law enforcement when they still receive huge sums of money when it is passed? I would call it the right size. Would you like this to be a longer term investment for the people of LA County? "
This week, the measure seemed to add some sort of emergency hatch.
District Councilor Mary Wickham, who also raised concerns about whether the regulation could pass legal scrutiny, wrote to the board that the amendment "enables the board to reduce decommissioning in the event of a four-fifths vote vote emergency, which jeopardizes the district's ability to fund mandated programs. "
Kuehl said the olive branch gives the board a way out if they are in a tax emergency.
Ultimately, said supervisor Hilda Solis, put the issue before the voters.
The action of the board on Tuesday was a first reading of the regulation, which means that they will return to the final vote in early August to get them to vote.
Publisher's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect the allocation of "unrestricted" and "restricted" funding in the general allocation to the sheriff department, and additional information has been added on how funding is managed.