As Chair of the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee and a member of the City's Executive Employee Relations Committee, I have long advocated for reduced costs and increased efficiencies in the workers' compensation system. With my support, the City's Personnel Department and City Administrative Officer have undertaken extensive negotiations with the Los Angeles Police Protective League and the Coalition of City Unions to create Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Programs for more than 30,000 employees represented by those unions.
What are the advantages of these ADR Programs? Under the old system, a workers' compensation claim can take two or more years to resolve. Employees can be off work for a year or more. Some employees wait a long time to see a doctor and hire lawyers to litigate their claims. Under the new system, our goal is to ensure that employees receive prompt and appropriate medical care and return to work as soon as it is medically feasible to do so. By improving and expediting claims and medical care, we will reduce our workers' compensation costs. Therefore, we will reduce unnecessary litigation. I am also pleased that the programs will be overseen by Joint Labor Management Committees - one for the sworn members of the Police Protective League and one for the employees represented by the bargaining units in the Coalition of City Unions.
The City currently has in place an ADR program which covers about 8,000 employees represented by SEIU through four of its eight Memorandums of Understanding. This program has been in place since 2008. Expansion of the program from 8,000 to more than 30,000 employees will result in greater benefits for our employees - quicker treatment, fewer disputes, faster settlement of claims and opportunities for employees to return to work, and increased satisfaction with the delivery of workers' compensation benefits. As a champion of this effort, I look forward to its success and to workers' compensation savings for the City.
Update: Committee discusses Billy, the LA Zoo’s Lone Bull Elephant
On January 24th, the City Council’s Arts, Entertainment, Parks and River Committee held a lengthy hearing on Councilmember Koretz’s proposal to move Billy the elephant from the LA Zoo to a wild animal sanctuary so he can live out the rest of his life in a more natural, and presumably healthy, setting. The two-hour hearing featured testimony from celebrities Cher, Lily Tomlin and Slash (of Guns ‘n Roses) and dozens of other testifiers debating the pros and cons of the proposal.
The Committee, chaired by Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, decided not to make a decision at this time. Instead they followed member David Ryu’s suggestion to look for a panel of outside veterinarians to independently examine Billy’s physical and mental health and report back in a couple of months. Committee members and Koretz (who sat in with the committee for the occasion) made a variety of requests regarding additional issues and questions they wanted researched. The Chief Legislative Analyst was instructed to head up the effort.
Councilmember Koretz, long known as an animal welfare advocate, stated that his support for the additional research didn’t mean he doesn’t already feel Billy should be moved. “Because male and female elephants normally must be kept separate in captivity, [the exhibit has been bisected] and, therefore, his presence is unintentionally detrimental to his well-being as well as that of Tina, Jewel and Shaunzie,” he said later. “None of them have access to all of the Zoo’s elephant exhibit acreage at one time, which means they can’t move around as much as they need to for good physical and mental health. Turning the exhibit into an all-female mini-sanctuary will be better for all of them, and Billy will have a chance to thrive in a larger space. It’s a win-win.”
Racing Against Climate Change
Councilmember Koretz has been engaged in fighting climate change for more than a decade. During his time in the State Assembly, he was one of the co-authors of Senator Fran Pavley’s groundbreaking AB-32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which required California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels by 2020, a reduction of nearly 15% below emissions expected under a “business as usual” scenario. He was the first City Councilmember to call for Los Angeles to divest its energy supply from coal power and has been a leader in pushing the City toward reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. More information about his climate work can be found here on his website.
Climate scientists have agreed that the recent wildfires in Southern California, including the Skirball Fire right here in Council District 5, which destroyed six homes and severely damaged twelve others, have been exacerbated by climate change. Because severe climate disruption is occurring much faster than most people ever expected, Councilmember Koretz is continuing his strong advocacy to move the City faster on what he believes is an urgent emergency for the city and for the planet.
Toward that end he introduced a motion along with Councilmember Mike Bonin, calling on the City Attorney to report on options for filing legal claims against the oil and gas companies who have profited from the production and sale of fossil fuels, while knowing the climate impacts they cause. The motion also asks the City Attorney to prepare an amicus brief to submit in the claims filed by the City of New York against BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell.
He also introduced two new motions with Councilmember Bob Blumenfield. One will establish a City of Los Angeles Climate Emergency Mobilization Department to oversee an emergency effort to radically reduce and remove greenhouse gas emissions citywide. The second will have the City apply for California Office of Emergency Services mitigation funds to help establish the new department.
As the funding motion says, “Proactive measures are key. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that climate-related disasters cost the US $306 billion in 2017. The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) recently evaluated 23 years of federally-funded mitigation grants, and found that the nation can save $6 in future disaster costs for every spent on hazard mitigation.
“Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas called conditions the worst he’d seen in his 31-year career. The atmosphere over California was the driest in recorded history. Unprecedented wind strength reached a new color classification of purple, which means ‘extreme.’ In eighty-mile-an-hour winds, there is no ability to fight fires.
“On December 5, 2017, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles County due to the uncontrollable wildfires driven by hurricane-force winds that burned portions of the City and other nearby locations. We also have to deal with the larger challenge, which is climate change itself,’ he said.”
Dodgers Legends Celebrate 60 Years in LA with City Council
This week, The Los Angeles City Council paid tribute to the Dodgers, recognizing the team’s 60th year playing in the City.
Dodger radio announcer Charlie Steiner and former players Ron Cey, Steve Garvey, Steve Yeager and Fernando Valenzuela were among those in attendance for the City Hall ceremony.
|Councilmembers Joe Buscaino (CD15), Gil Cedillo (CD1) and Paul Koretz (CD5) pose with Dodger legends. Councilmember Koretz is holding his original Herald Express newspaper from 1958 “Welcome Los Angeles Dodgers.”|
Enjoy (below) the Dodger’s Video of their Day in City Hall
PHOTOS OF THE WEEK
Councilmember Koretz & Colleagues Joined More Than 500,000 Participants in the 2018 LA Women’s March
Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) Classes Available in Encino and Throughout Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Fire Department offers an all-risk, all-hazard Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training program available free of charge to participants 18 year and older. This valuable course is designed to help you protect yourself, your family, your neighbors and your neighborhood in an emergency situation.
New CERT classes are starting in locations throughout Los Angeles. In the Fifth District, they are being offered in Encino starting March 8th and continuing every Thursday for 7 weeks.
It is important to know, if a major disaster occurs, the LAFD, paramedics, and police WILL NOT COME! They will be deployed FIRST to major incidents such as collapsed buildings. That is why you MUST be prepared to take care of yourself. In the CERT course they say, “The Greatest Good for the Greatest Number of People.” Once trained, you are far more equipped to deal with your circumstances without needing aid from outside sources.
CERT members receive 17 1/2 hours of initial training (one day a week for seven weeks) in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. Training includes: how to prepare for emergencies, what supplies you should always have in your house, how much food, how much water but most importantly, how to protect your family in an emergency!
Click here for a full list of CERT training classes. To schedule a CERT class, you can do the following: Click on this link COMMUNITY TRAINING REQUEST or you can call (213) 202-3136 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Take A Stand Against Acts of Hate, Bullying & Oppression
Councilmember Koretz is proud to be a co-sponsor of this year's Parents, Educators/Teachers & Students in Action (PESA) annual event, “It’s Time to Take A Stand Against Acts of Hate, Bullying and Oppression” and hopes you will attend. The community is invited to attend this Sunday, January 28th. The event will also incorporate recognition of “International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
High School and College students involved in the Los Angeles Superior Court Teen Court Program will make educational presentations to the audience about Raoul Wallenberg, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other Genocides. The students will also illuminate the audience on what they can do to reduce the incidents of hate in our community.
Join Parents, Educators/ Teachers & Students in Action PESA for a day full of guest speakers, educational presentations by Teen Court Students and a tour of the Holocaust Museum! Sunday, January 28, 10:00 – 3:00 pm at Pan Pacific Park, 7600 Beverly Blvd. For free admission, register to the event here - Take a stand against acts of Hate, Bullying and Oppression!
Turning Point Reached in Westwood Senior Building Controversy
A situation which began with the shock of eviction notices being placed on the doors of Westwood Village senior tenants on Thanksgiving 2016, has finally been resolved in a manner acceptable to the remaining tenants and the 947 Tiverton Avenue building’s Arizona-based owners, Watermark.
Under a “Tenant Habitability Plan” (THP) approved by all parties and supported by Councilmember Koretz, the tenants will be relocated to the Glendon, a nearby fully-accessible apartment building, have catered meals to replace the in-house dining room they enjoyed for decades at the old building, and be furnished accessible bathtubs, as needed, at Watermark’s expense.
While the tenants are living at the nearby Glendon, Watermark will seismically retrofit the Tiverton building and do a massive upgrade to its electrical, elevator and heating-air conditioning equipment, among other things. The work is expected to take at least a year and the tenants who negotiated the THP conditions, with the help of the legal aid firm Bet Tzedek, will then be able to return to Tiverton under the same rent-controlled circumstances they have enjoyed for years.
The year-long effort to get to this point was marked with controversy and contention, with many of the 130 or so tenants in place in 2016 taking buy-outs to move. In 2017, in response to a Koretz motion, the City’s Housing Department investigated and determined that 947 Tiverton qualified for “residential hotel” status, which limits how the owners can operate the building after it is refurbished unless they go through elaborate and lengthy City processes.
“This experience has highlighted that one of the City’s most precious resources is its growing population of seniors,” said Koretz. “It’s been a reminder that we are woefully short of viable, affordable senior housing at the worst possible time, as the aging baby-boomers are beginning to retire and need a wider variety of housing options. It’s something I will continue to work on as a councilmember.”
Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count 2018
Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers for their participation in the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
Thousands of volunteers from all over Los Angeles County have been counting this week, part of a 3-day mission to count our homeless neighbors across Los Angeles. The more people we count, the potential for more funding we receive locally to help the homeless, and, therefore, we can better understand needs in the City, and improve services.
A special thank you to Lisa Chapman, President of the Westwood Neighborhood Council and Steven Sann, President of the Westwood Community Council, for stepping up and being the deployment site coordinators for the Westwood count.
There are four components to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Each of these components plays a vital role in understanding the state of homelessness in Los Angeles:
To see the 2017 homeless count results click here.
- Street Count - A visual-only tally of everyone unsheltered experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. This is the bulk of our volunteer opportunity and community engagement
- Shelter / Institutional Count - A count of everyone experiencing homelessness found in shelters, transitional housing, hospitals, and correctional facilities
- Demographic Surveys - A survey-based collection of all demographic information of those experiencing homelessness
- Youth Count - A survey-based count of unaccompanied and unsheltered youth and young families under the age of 24 who are experiencing homelessness
To learn more about the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, click here.
L.A. Has Reached "No-Kill" for Dogs In City Animal Shelters:
New strategies will further strengthen L.A.’s commitment to saving animals’ lives and finding homes for pets.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced this week that the City of Los Angeles has reached its “no-kill” goal for dogs under the care of the Department of Animal Services.
“Every pet should have a home where they are loved, cared for, and valued,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The City’s extraordinary partnership with the No-Kill Los Angeles Coalition has helped save the lives of hundreds of thousands of animals. Every Angeleno who loves animals can help by adopting, fostering, and volunteering at their local shelters.”
The City first committed to working toward no-kill — defined as 90% of dogs and cats entering shelters eventually leaving alive — in 2012. In 2017, L.A.’s live/save rate reached 92.4% for dogs and 81.3% for cats.
“Putting an end to the senseless euthanasia of domestic animals in our L.A. shelters has been one of my lifelong goals,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz of the 5th District and chair of the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee. “For more than thirty years I have worked on animal welfare issues including a ban on puppy mills. I couldn't be more delighted that in the same year the State of California has banned pet stores from selling domestic animals (modeled after my local ordinance), we have also come so close to fully-reaching No-Kill in Los Angeles. But what is really critical is that we create systems, programs and partnerships to not only achieve a 90% live-release goal in both dogs and cats but sustain it permanently. We want to reach a point where every adoptable healthy animal finds a forever home.”
Overall, the City’s total live/save rate in those six years increased from 57.7% to 87.2% — saving the lives of more than 227,000 animals. Led by Best Friends Animal Society, the No-Kill Los Angeles Coalition has been a key partner in this achievement.
“Since the City committed to becoming No-Kill, we’ve implemented more humane policies and practices and developed strategic partnerships with our No-Kill Los Angeles Coalition,” said Animal Services General Manager Brenda Barnette. “While we still have more work to do, I’m so proud of how far we’ve come.”
To reaffirm the City’s commitment to no-kill, Mayor Garcetti convened a November meeting with the No-Kill Los Angeles Coalition Steering Committee — to discuss new and innovative practices that will be implemented in the coming year.
Over the next several months, Mayor Garcetti and the Department of Animal Services will launch a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of spay/neuter laws, cat adoptions, and kitten fostering. Los Angeles Animal Services is also exploring options for expanding the City’s Spay and Neuter program.
In addition, new positions will be created to oversee the day-to-day work of reaching No-Kill. The new positions include an Assistant General Manager of Life-Saving and Life-Saving Coordinators in every city shelter — all of whom will use real-time data to guide strategies geared toward preserving animals’ lives.
“This is not only a game-changer for Los Angeles, but for the entire country. We know that if a city the size of L.A. can achieve this milestone, it will be possible across the country by 2025,” said Judah Battista, Co-Founder/Chief Regional Programs Officer, Best Friends Animal Society, the lead partner in the NKLA Coalition. “The NKLA initiative is anchored by an innovative public/private partnership between Best Friends, Los Angeles Animal Services and the 133 L.A.-based animal welfare organizations working together to Save Them All. We are incredibly proud to work with all of these dedicated people and are thrilled to be so close to achieving the goal we set out back in 2012.”
For more information on animal licensing, spay and neutering laws, and the location of your local shelter, visit www.laanimalservices.com.
For more information about the NKLA Coalition and the work of the Best Friends Animal Society, please visit www.BestFriends.org.
Adopt Some Love
Looking for a new furry companion? Check out this week's LA Animal Shelter dog, cat, bunny and guinea pig from the East Valley and West LA Animal Shelters. Please come meet these wonderful animals – they need homes now. The shelters are open Tuesday through Saturday 8 am to 5 pm; Sunday 11 am to 5 pm (closed Mondays). Click on any photo below for details.