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WHERE IS THE TRANSPARENCY IN LOS ANGELES, CA?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jun. 9, 2013) — Every Tuesday morning, the Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors meets to discuss matters of concern to its constituents.
There are five supervisors, one for each of the districts of the City of Los Angeles, which has a population of more than 10,000,000.
An agenda of each Tuesday meeting can be obtained in advance, and the public may submit documentation for consideration before any upcoming meeting.
An eyewitness at last Tuesday’s meeting told The Post & Email that for the first hour, “they passed out awards to Polish-American citizens, and the firefighters…”
We were then told that the supervisors “then…went into chambers. When I left at 1:30 or 2:00, they were still back there, and what we were told by the mediator is that they’re going to discuss all these things in closed quarters and then they’ll make their decisions known to the public.”
The observer voiced the question she had asked at the time, “But isn’t it all supposed to be public?”
The supervisors said that their reason for retiring to private quarters was that “there were too many agendas and it would have taken too long if the public were involved.”
“They said that ‘that’s not good for everyone,'” the observer said. “But it’s good for me…!” She added, “When I have problems in my household, we sit down, we discuss them, we put the solution to the table, and if it takes three hours, it takes three hours. The goal is a solution. There was a group of eight or nine of us there, and several were going to speak with prepared speeches, so we were a little disappointed.”
One of the items on the agenda was a group home called “Teens Happy Homes” for teenagers, where residents were found to have been injured, become drug-addicted or severely traumatized while in the state’s care. They were receiving “upwards of millions of dollars a year,” the eyewitness said. “This has been going on for years, and The Lost Angeles Times reported it.”
The operator of the home was eventually charged, tried and convicted of money laundering. However, the investigation had been ordered by the Board of Supervisors and carried out by the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), which the eyewitness observed “was not checks and balances.” “Recommendation were made to shut down this facility, and the Board voted against it initially,” she said.
“There were a lot of other measures, one of which is that the ARA and the CSA, which are two top positions for DCFS for the county – Assistant Regional Administrator, and I forget the acronym for the other one – they’re going to the state to pay these people’s salaries. The county is the one that gets all the tax; the state’s broke. So the state says it will pony up to pay these people’s salaries for the next five years,” we were told.
“It was a great learning experience, and I’d like to go again to see if it was a fluke where maybe they were really busy or if this is something that happens every time. It is definitely going to be something I will keep my eye on,” the attendee said. “Not one agenda item was discussed, but again, I left at 1:30. They could have gotten back in there and had a couple of productive hours; I don’t know. I haven’t watched it on TV, so I don’t know the conclusion of the matter. But it would be hard for me to believe that they got through all 101 agenda items in three hours. If they were to do something like that, it would be coming out and voting on something that they’d already discussed and not including the public at all.”
The observer said that people were “in and out” as awards were distributed, but those seated in the audience numbered “fewer than 20 people in a gigantic auditorium that seats over 750 people.” “The buck stops at the Board of County Supervisors,” she added.
The agenda for June 11 includes the distribution of more awards, a discussion of the 2013-2014 budget, and a request to authorize the purchase of a new Microsoft software product “to standardize all Microsoft products throughout the organization” at a cost of more than $130,000.