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Women Olympians Honored at Coliseum

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Posing with new plaques at the Coliseum in honor of two outstanding women Olympians. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors 

The images of two pioneering women Olympians have been enshrined on plaques at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum’s Court of Honor. Joan Benoit Samuelson, winner of the first women’s Olympic Marathon, and Anita L. DeFrantz, Olympic medalist for rowing and International Olympic Committee member, are only the second and third individual women athletes since 1932 to be memorialized this way.

“The Coliseum Court of Honor welcomes two extraordinary athletes who exemplify the Olympic spirit and paved the way for women to excel in sports at the highest level,” Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas during the ceremony, co-sponsored by his office. “We celebrate Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz for their achievements as Olympians and as female role models.”

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

Pioneering Olympians Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson are honored at the ceremony

 

After unveiling the plaque, DeFrantz said, “We all know that women’s sport historically has been underreported. I’m thrilled that women’s accomplishments will be celebrated at the Coliseum with these plaques.”

Nearly 60 plaques have been installed at the Court of Honor since 1932. Until now, the only individual female athlete commemorated was Babe Didrikson, and her plaque was installed in 1961. LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril led the effort to bestow similar honors on both Samuelson and DeFrantz.

“Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz showed girls across the world how a sporting dream can spring into reality, and inspire our work every day to keep closing the gender gap in sports,” Simril said, adding the pioneering athletes’ contributions on and off the field are “nothing short of transcendent.”

Diandra Jay/Board of SupervisorsWith the goal of leveling the playing field so that sport is accessible to all children, LA84 supports thousands of Southern California youth sports organizations through grant making, while also training coaches, commissioning research, convening conferences and acting as a national thought leader on important youth sports issues.

Anita DeFrantz is a 1976 Olympic rowing bronze medalist and 1980 U.S. Olympic Team member.  She later became vice president of the Olympic Village for the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, and a president of the LA84 Foundation. Currently, she is a member of four IOC commissions – Finances, Legal Affairs, Olympic Channel and the Coordination for the Tokyo 2020 Games. She is one of Chairman Ridley-Thomas’ appointees to the Women & Girls Initiative’s Governing Council, representing Los Angeles County’s Second District.

Joan Benoit Samuelson became the first woman to win the inaugural Women’s Olympic Marathon at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 1984. In 2009 she was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. Currently, she serves as a consultant to Nike and as a clinician.

Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors

Supervisors Approve $1 Billion Plan to Fight Homelessness

On the heels of an unprecedented commitment to a public planning process, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a wide-ranging set of recommendations to put voter-approved Measure H funds to work for the county’s homeless citizens.

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

“Today is another historic day in the County of LA that highlights the energy and community collaboration being invested into the question of homelessness,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

A 50-member planning group composed of individuals from diverse backgrounds convened to develop funding recommendations for the first three years of Measure H revenue. After five public meetings, the planning group, composed of County government staff, as well as formerly homeless individuals, technical experts, nonprofit service providers, and leaders of the faith, business and philanthropic communities reached a consensus.

Over sixty organizations signed a letter to the Board of Supervisors in support of the open planning process and next step to allocate funding to homeless services. Implementing those recommendations will begin in earnest during the new fiscal year, which begins July 1. Core strategies include:
· Sending outreach and engagement teams to reach the homeless on every street corner;
· Providing permanent housing with healthcare and other services;
· Expanding rapid rehousing for the newly homeless;
· Enhancing the emergency shelter system, including for those leavings jails and hospitals; and
· Strengthening the network of community nonprofits already serving homeless single adults, families and youth.recommendations

This landmark funding plan commits nearly $259 million to combat homelessness in the next fiscal year—and tentatively earmarks more than $1 billion to the effort over the next three fiscal years.

In its first five years, Measure H aims to help 45,000 families and individuals escape homelessness and to enable 30,000 others to stay housed. The ¼-cent sales tax was approved by 69.34% of County voters in March 2017. The expanded funding comes as the latest Homeless Count found a 23% increase in homelessness in L.A. County over the past year, now nearly 58,000—underscoring the urgency of the crisis and need for action.

“The data is daunting, but we’re prepared. We have a plan. We’re motivated. And we’re moving forward on time to deliver services that our most vulnerable homeless residents need and deserve,” said Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Photo by Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Chairman Ridley-Thomas introduced a unanimously approved motion to closely track data and measure progress on measure H goals every six months. To that end, a five-member Citizens’ Oversight Advisory Board will also be reviewing expenditures twice a year and publishing an annual accounting.

For more information on the County’s groundbreaking Homeless Initiative, go to http://homeless.lacounty.gov/.

Stellar Credit Ratings Lead to Millions in Taxpayer Savings

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Saving taxpayers millions of dollars in interest payments, Los Angeles County achieved its highest long-term credit ratings in a decade, thanks to an upgrade by Moody’s this week.

Moody’s joined Fitch and S&P, the Big Three credit rating agencies, in deeming the County to be very creditworthy and unlikely to default on its financial obligations. In upgrading the County’s rating from Aa2 to Aa1, Moody’s cited its “strong and stable financial position” and “strong management team that has positioned the County well to address ongoing challenges,” among other factors.

Treasurer and Tax Collector Joseph Kelly estimates every upgrade in the County’s long-term credit rating can slash interest and debt service payments on a $100 million loan by as much as $3 million over a 30-year period.

The Big Three also assigned the highest short-term rating to the County’s $800 million Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note (TRAN) issuance, which will finance current operations before tax revenues are received.

“Excellent credit ratings mean lower interest payments, saving the County millions of dollars that can instead be used to pay for critically needed public services,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas. “It also validates the County’s prudent, disciplined and conservative fiscal management with long-term strategic planning over the last several years.”

The credit ratings upgrade came after Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas, along with the County’s Chief Executive Officer Sachi Hamai, Auditor-Controller John Naimo, and Treasurer and Tax Collector Joseph Kelly met with representatives of the Big Three in New York late last month. Health Agency Director Mitch Katz, M.D. participated by teleconference.

They discussed the County’s efforts to build reserves, pre-fund long-term liabilities, and stabilize the Department of Health Services during a time of uncertainty over the fate of the Affordable Care Act. They also noted the County successfully went to voters seeking ongoing revenue for combatting homeless, which constitutes a threat to the solvency of the County with respect to the drain on resources associated with law enforcement and emergency health services.

The County, which has a budget of approximately $30 billion, has a track record of fiscally responsible practices, which allowed it to weather the Great Recession without substantial service cutbacks or any layoffs.

Right to Counsel Without Fees for Indigents

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Assistant Public Defender Candis Glover and Alternate Public Defender Bruce Brodie testifying in favor of eliminating the $50 registration fee. Bryan Chan/Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Board Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas to revoke a prior County resolution that charged indigent defendants a $50 registration fee to obtain legal services from a public defender.

 “Charging a $50 registration fee to obtain a public defender undermines the constitutionally-protected right to an attorney,” said Board Chairman Ridley-Thomas said. “This motion will ensure that economic status does not prevent an accused from receiving proper legal representation.”

Supervisor Kuehl added, “Imagine you’re an indigent defendant and the first thing your ‘free’ government lawyer does is hand you a form that requires you to pay $50 within five days!”

“We want to be sure that low-income defendants who are eligible for legal counsel from the Public Defender’s office can actually get the services of that legal counsel,” she said. “That is their constitutional right.” 

Assistant Public Defender Candis Glover said the Public Defender’s Office is in favor of doing away with the fee, which is usually discussed with the client for the first time during arraignment. “We believe that discussing registration fees with a client you just met, when you’re trying to gain that client’s trust, and you’re trying to identify legal issues connected with the case, are barriers to our representation,” she told the Board.

Los Angeles County has “requested” that defendants pay the registration fee since 1996, to offset the cost of providing court-appointed counsel. It is estimated that the Public Defender’s office will collect approximately $300,000 in such fees for this fiscal year. Defendants who don’t pay are referred to a private for-profit collections agency to recoup uncollected registration fees.

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Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, Public Counsel and Human Rights Watch testifying in favor of the motion by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl.

 

Impact of Cannabis Businesses

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas at June 6, 2017 meeting. Bryan Chan / Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas issued the following statement regarding an ordinance prohibiting all cannabis businesses and activities in the unincorporated areas of the County. The ordinance also imposes reasonable regulations on personal cannabis cultivation while businesses are further studied for potential regulation.

Many of us here face a great task — that of implementing Prop. 64. The ban does not mean that we are reinstating the war on drugs or that we are opposing the vote of the people. We are trying to create rational, responsible, and accountable cannabis commerce. This is not a gold rush for businesses. It is the people of California calling for smart, responsible regulation of marijuana, and those who operate illegally are in direct opposition to this call for accountability, transparency, and responsibility.

This is particularly salient in the 2nd district, where both alcohol and marijuana businesses have operated irresponsibly for years, wreaking havoc on not only the quality of the neighborhoods, but the health and safety of our residents. We know this given our failed efforts to date to control the sale of cannabis in County unincorporated communities, which has been illegal since 2010. We also know this given our efforts to regulate alcohol sales with its well documented history of causing blight and increased crime in our disadvantaged communities.

The Board recognized the necessity of establishing enhanced standards of conduct for liquor stores with the recent adoption of the “Deemed Approved” Ordinance for pre-1992 liquor licenses. We can expect that the sale of cannabis will have comparable impact including increased crime, addiction and private sector disinvestment in neighborhood-serving commercial corridors.

And unlike alcohol, cannabis remains illegal under federal law, which adds to the difficulty of effectively regulating the business. There can be no doubt that businesses that operate outside the legal banking system and federal law and taxation regulations are particularly vulnerable to infiltration by organized crime and gangs.

The County needs to establish guidelines and regulations for the cannabis industry to minimize these anticipated negative impacts. We need rules focused on creating responsible and accountable cannabis commerce. Equally important, we cannot ignore the public safety and public health issues associated with cannabis. We can expect that the issues we confront as we move forward will be unique and more profound than has been the experience in other jurisdictions.

Likewise, we regulate personal cultivation, to the extent allowed by the law, because one’s right and choice to use marijuana does not negate their obligation to be a good neighbor. These are psychoactive substances with a pervasive odor that must be grown and kept in a responsible manner.

Los Angeles is not Denver or Seattle. The problems we face are far more dynamic and impactful, requiring a sustained investment of time and resources. We should look to the industry to provide the resources the County will need to address the impacts from the cultivation, distribution and sale of cannabis in those communities that allow it. The County must prepare itself, not just as it pertains to land use regulations, but in addressing the public health impacts on our youth and vulnerable populations, and with the increased resources that will be required to address the foreseeable demands places on public safety resources.

Legalization of cannabis in California will have a disproportional impact on low income communities and communities of color. We cannot let businesses profit off of these communities until we can effectively minimize these negative effects and regulate these businesses for the benefit of these neighborhoods.