Civilian Oversight Commission Strengthens Community’s Voice on Law Enforcement
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors moved forward in establishing a nine-member Civilian Oversight Commission to monitor the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is still recovering from a series of scandals over recent years.
“Civilian oversight is a key component of fair, compassionate and effective 21st Century community policing,” said Board Chair Hilda L. Solis. “Civilian oversight will ensure that the public is given a voice, holding people in power accountable.”
The motion, authored by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and co-authored by Solis, directs County lawyers to draft legislation enacting the Commission and also directs the CEO to propose a budget for “robustly funding” the Commission.
“There is a moral imperative to ensure constitutional policing in the County’s communities and jails,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “The establishment of a permanent oversight entity without delay is well justified and can play a vital role in promoting transparency, restoring public trust and validating reform efforts.”
Of the nine members, five will be appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the remaining four will be nominated by a process that solicits input from community advocates. The Board did not ban former law enforcement personnel from serving on the Commission, though they must be out of law enforcement for at least a year before being appointed to the Commission. The Board deferred until May the decision on whether to endow the Commission with subpoena power. Doing so would require an amendment to the County charter.
Though the Commission will not have subpoena power, the County’s Inspector General will be empowered with greater access to records within the Sheriff’s Department without resorting to the use of a subpoena, according to the motion.
To read the motion, click here.
Board of Supervisors Approves Initiatives Supporting Small Businesses
Recognizing that roughly 200,000 regional small businesses contribute significantly to the region’s economy, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion that designates the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs as the lead agency to oversee initiatives that will support independently owned shops and companies.
“About 70 percent of all businesses in East Los Angeles are mom-and-pop shops and the County must do more to support these local establishments,” said Board Chair Hilda L. Solis, who co-authored the motion with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas added, “The motion would bring a triple-bottom line benefit: meaningful employment for the disadvantaged, reducing the demand on County services, and increasing the tax base.”
Small enterprises generate local sales and property tax revenues that fuel local public services, Solis said.
Representatives from organizations that support local businesses applauded the motion and came to speak in its support.
“Establishing a fair and equitable local preference policy that increases the percentage of contracts to small business owners will definitely take into account the over 330,000 Latino-owned firms that deliver goods and services to the County of Los Angeles and that reinvest those revenues back into the local economy,” said Theresa Martinez, CEO of the Los Angeles Latino Chamber of Commerce.
“We applaud the goals of this motion. More contracting opportunities for our small businesses is a win-win for everyone,” said Jessica Duboff of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
The motion instructs the Director of Consumer and Business Affairs and the County’s Chief Executive Officer to provide a written report to the Board by May 17 outlining how the County can best support small establishments.
“Local business owners are closely connected to their local communities. They are often leaders in civic organizations and naturally invest in the well-being of their communities,” said Solis. “We recognize their contributions and we want to support them.”
To read the motion, click here.
Local NAACP Sets its Sights On Progress
Celebrating its 61st year of dedicated service in advocating for civil rights, the Pomona Valley Branch of the NAACP held its year-end reception on Dec. 19 at the Kennedy Austin Foundation Center.
The branch was charted in 1954 and was reactivated in 2014. This past November, the branch aggressively recommitted to advocating and protecting the civil rights of all local residents.
Community leaders & representatives from throughout the region attended the event and were treated to a robust keynote speech from Dr. Wilma Ellis-Kazemzadeh, who reminded the audience that the struggle continues, and united, we remain strong!
City of Commerce
Businesses Helping Local Communities
The City of Commerce, East Los Angeles, and Montebello chambers of commerce recently gathered for a breakfast networking event to brainstorm ways in which they can help their local communities.
On Jan. 13, the group met at Stevens Steak House to share ideas on how they can work more collaboratively in future endeavors.
All three chambers came together because they want to strengthen their working relationships among one another. Such partnerships stimulate our local economy and improve the quality of life for all residents in the East Los Angeles region.
Downtown Los Angeles
Working to End Homelessness
More than 500 people met at the AT&T Center on Jan. 13 to offer their feedback on a set of ambitious initiatives unveiled by the County of Los Angeles that aim to reduce homelessness.
In a statement read at the gathering, Board Chair Hilda L. Solis said, “Everyone has heard of the saying, ‘There’s no place like home,’ but for too many in our community, there is no place to call ‘home.’”
In the past, the County has made significant strides in addressing the needs of the area homeless. For the first time, the County opened its winter shelters six weeks in advance and increased the number of beds at sites.
“If we want to help people who have no shelter, then we have to collaborate with other cities, nonprofits and government agencies,” said Solis. “As we work together, we can find innovative solutions.”
Attendees requested that County officials consider the growing wage gap among the rich and the poor when they consider solutions to end homelessness. Many also voiced a concern about the lack of resources offered to victims of domestic violence.
The County plans to continue expanding and improving its services for people who are homeless, as well as working with community members to find more effective solutions.
“By adequately investing in solutions that help people who are homeless get off the streets and into actual homes, we are helping them take the first step onto a path that will lead them to a healthy future,” said Solis.
A video of the meeting is available by clicking here. Until Jan. 21, the public can submit comments online by clicking here.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported on the County's litigation expenses for fiscal year 2014-2015 and reporter Abigail Sewell quoted Solis, who said increased costs are "an urgent call for introspection and action." To read the story, click here.
Eastern Group Publications reporter Nancy Martinez examines the concerns many have expressed over the State’s slow response in helping those affected by lead contamination from the Exide recycling battery factory. Click here to read the report.