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Free Transit on Election Day

A new motion aims to help eliminate a leading barrier to voter participation, by providing all riders with free Election Day rides on Metro.

The co-authors — Los Angeles County Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia — put the proposal forward at the Metro Executive Management Committee meeting, directing the transit agency to lift fares for all riders on Nov. 6, 2018.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) found that 51% of California voters cited a lack of transportation as a factor for not voting. Other studies have shown that lack of access to transportation to get to polls disproportionately affects minority voters, people with low incomes, persons with disabilities, and young people; these populations are also the ones most reliant on Metro for mobility.

“On election day, our priority must be making sure voters in all corners of the county are undeterred from getting to the ballot box and exercising their right to vote,” said Director Mark Ridley-Thomas. “Free rides are a great way to help make that happen.”

“A lack of transportation should never stand between a voter and the polls,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Every vote counts in this democracy, and we have to do everything we can to help Americans exercise our most fundamental right.”

“Voting is one of the most important acts of civic engagement,” said Metro Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, “And Metro wants to make sure our County voters get the message: ‘Please vote! We want to make it easy for you.’”

“Unfortunately, transportation is an obstacle many voters face when trying to get to their polling place,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “I’m glad that free transit will be offered as a resource to ensure every voter has a way to get to their polling place and cast their vote.”

The motion will go to the Metro Board of Directors for approval at its regular meeting on October 25.

County Begins Phase One of Construction on Vermont Corridor Project in Koreatown

Los Angeles County leaders break ground on Phase One of the Vermont Corridor project on October 17, 2018. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

The County broke ground on Phase One of a comprehensive effort to redevelop along the Vermont Corridor, as part of its commitment to provide a state-of-the-art home for County employees and clients and revitalize communities that are home to County facilities and services.

Rendering by Gensler of 468,000-sq. ft. office tower that will be developed by the Trammell Crow Company to serve as the Vermont Corridor Administration Building.

Officials from the Community Development Commission/Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles (CDC/HACoLA) joined Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH), the Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services (WDACS), and other dignitaries to celebrate the commencing of construction for the multi-phased mixed-use Koreatown development.

This 21-story office building is one of three sites that will begin to transform Vermont Avenue, between 4th and 6th Street. Once completed, it will house LACDMH and WDACS.

This location will include walk-in mental health services, utilizing ground-floor clinic and office space. With access to the Metro Vermont/Wilshire Red Line Station, Los Angeles County residents will be able to access an array of mental-health services. LACDMH will also consolidate its administrative functions into this centralized building, and expand several of its operations.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg / Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas shared, “The Vermont Corridor Project represents our commitment to revitalizing the communities that are home to County facilities and services. In addition to supporting a robust and thriving community, we are also supporting our own. Every year, LACDMH and WDACS help tens of thousands of residents. Through these state-of-the-art County facilities, LACDMH and WDACS employees will be able to deliver improved services – from prevention to recovery – and assist their clients in taking the first steps on a journey toward healing and self-sufficiency.”

The Vermont Corridor Project was a collaborative effort between the County, Trammell Crow, and community organizations, such as the Anderson Munger Family YMCA and NewStory Church, which took several years to come to fruition.

“There has been a lot of hard work and collaboration leading up to this groundbreaking,” Monique King-Viehland, CDC/HACoLA Executive Director shared. “The Vermont Corridor will soon be transformed into a place where many people can call home and can receive reliable, supportive services.”

Dr. Jon Sherin, Director of LACDMH, said, “I’m so proud of Los Angeles County for working together to reduce barriers and build a better future of mental health care. This new building will support a whole-person approach to recovery and wellbeing, with an open, friendly environment that’s healthier for the people we serve and a better workplace for the staff who inspire hope and work so hard to help people in great need.”

“This is a place where life transformation is bound to take place,” Pastor Tom Kang from NewStory Church shared. “We ask that this would be a place of hope, of positive life transformation to the community at large as well as to every employee and client who will be using this new building in the future.”

In addition to the new County Administrative Office Building, future phases of the Vermont Corridor Project will include a 72-unit housing development and supportive services reserved for seniors with limited means and formerly homeless seniors, as well as market-rate housing.

A New Mission and Vision for Probation

The Probation Reform and Implementation Team meets at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration.

The Probation Reform and Implementation Team (PRIT) met to discuss a new mission and vision for the nation’s largest Probation Department, as well as to consider an organizational structure that supports separate adult and juvenile probation operations.

It was the third in a series of public meetings being held over several months to develop a comprehensive plan for reforming the department, as well as to transform the existing Probation Commission into a new – and strengthened – Probation Oversight Commission. The effort is in line with the Board of Supervisors’ far-reaching commitment to criminal justice reform, and is expected to result in better outcomes for youth and adults under Probation supervision, and to make Probation more transparent and accountable to the public.

At the meeting, the PRIT had a chance to hear from experts and stakeholders in Probation reform, including the current Probation Chief, a former Probation Chief, judicial representatives, and union representatives.

“Systems change requires deep and sustained engagement from multiple perspectives. By hearing from judges, probationers, union representatives, the Department’s leadership, and the public today, the Supervisors’ appointees will  be able to present an effective, integrated reform plan to produce more transparency and accountability,” said Saul Sarabia, chairperson of the PRIT, an educator who has been working for 25 years to try to end structural racism and discrimination of all kinds by developing leadersteaching, and engaging in collective action to change laws.

PRIT Chairman Saul Sarabia

PRIT member José Osuna said, “It is critical to ensure that a culture of transparency and accountability is rooted at all levels of the Probation Department. This community dialogue regarding the revision of the Department’s mission and the restructuring of its operations will allow LA County taxpayers and residents, and people who have been on Probation, such as me, to inform this major reform effort. As a member of the Board’s original working group to reform the department in 2016, and current appointee to the PRIT, I will not rest until the community and the Board’s vision for reform is realized.”

“Probation reform cannot wait, as demonstrated by increasing evidence of safety concerns in the County’s juvenile halls,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, principal author of the motion that created the PRIT. “Fundamental to reform is the mission of the department, and how it structures its staffing, operations and service delivery to support that mission. These are the building blocks for creating a culture of care in our adult and youth justice systems. I commend the PRIT for giving these topics the attention they deserve.”

“I commend the Probation Department for taking these steps towards realizing the Board of Supervisors’ vision for reform,” said Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, who coauthored the motion. “Developing the mission and systems for true accountability and transparency are critical for implementing the vision for change that is shared by Probation, the Board, and most importantly, the communities that we serve. The PRIT process and today’s conversation gives stakeholders a leadership role in determining the Probation Department’s future, alongside the Board and the Department.”

“At LA County Probation, we have embraced the challenge and opportunity to restructure the Department to best serve clients and the public while creating the foundation for change,” said Probation Chief Terri McDonald. “We welcome these discussions as we continually examine how we should perceive ourselves, serve clients, value staff and work with the community.”

PRIT members Alex Sanchez, Cyn Yamashiro, Mack Jenkins,José Osuna and Sheila Balkan

The PRIT is made up of a diverse and committed group of experts with deep experience in criminal justice, violence prevention and intervention, and social justice advocacy. The panel includes members appointed by each of the five County Supervisors:

  • Alex Sanchez, First District: Co-founder of Homies Unidos and an advocate committed to violence prevention through racial tolerance and cultural understanding;
  • Cyn Yamashiro, Second District: Former public defender who established a criminal defense legal clinic at Loyola Law School and currently leads the County’s juvenile indigent defense team;
  • Sheila Balkan, Third District: Research consultant and sentencing evaluation specialist who has participated in over 4,000 state and federal cases;
  • José Osuna, Fourth District: Consultant specializing in gang rehabilitation, community based re-entry solutions, community organizing and social justice advocacy;
  • Mack Jenkins, Fifth District: Expert in evidence-based practices for community corrections, serving as Chief Probation Officer for San Diego County from 2007 to 2016.

The team also includes one representative each from the Probation Department, the Office of County Counsel and the County Chief Executive Office.  The panel is to meet consistently for six to nine months to develop recommendations for the Board, with the public’s input.

Probation has a budget of almost $1 billion and supervisory responsibility for more than 40,000 adult clients and about 8,000 youth, more than 900 of whom are detained as juvenile clients in the halls, camps and other facilities.

Statement by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas On the Typhus Outbreak

“Public health crises do not discriminate between housed and unhoused individuals. We hope that the work our public health department is leading will help address both the immediate typhus outbreak and the underlying drivers that put our communities at risk for this and other public health harms.”

Care Harbor Provides Free Health Care to Thousands

Volunteer dentists at Care Harbor on October 13, 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

An estimated 3,000 people will receive medical, dental, vision and preventive care – all for free – at this year’s Care Harbor mega health clinic.

Over three days, thousands of volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists and other healthcare professionals provide primary and specialty care, immunizations, screenings, eye exams, dental extractions, Type 2 Diabetes management and prevention, and many other health services at The Reef in downtown Los Angeles.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas speaks at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“We’re here today because, despite all the progress we’ve made, there are still too many people who slip through the cracks and go without medical treatment,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “Together, we’re all committed to providing a healthcare safety net that’s robust and responsive to the needs of our most vulnerable communities.”

“With the help of our generous partners, Care Harbor offers a wide range of health services at no cost for people who lack access to the care that they need,” said Don Manelli, founder and president of Care Harbor, a nonprofit organization that works with volunteer healthcare professionals and community resources to organize large-scale free urban health clinics for uninsured and medically underserved populations. “In addition to medical, dental and vision care, we’re providing preventive care, mental health counseling and referrals, social and legal services,” Manelli added.

Optometrist performs vision test. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor offers an excellent opportunity for residents with unmet healthcare needs to access the healthcare and prevention education resources necessary to thrive,” added County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. “Thanks to the tremendous leadership of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the partnership of committed community partners, Los Angeles County can participate in Care Harbor and help meet the medical, dental, vision and prevention care needs of our most vulnerable residents.”

“Each year, the Care Harbor clinic shows the unfortunate magnitude of the uninsured in Los Angeles County and the tremendous unmet need for basic medical, dental and vision care despite coverage gains,” County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “When individuals, especially those with chronic illnesses, avoid medical care because of the high cost or because they do not have access to a regular provider, they place their health and the health of their families in jeopardy. The County Health Services Department is proud to be an annual Care Harbor event sponsor and build healthier communities by linking participants to ongoing, affordable care within our County-run health system.”

Volunteer physician serves a patient at Care Harbor 2018. Photo by Hugh Williams / Board of Supervisors

“Care Harbor, made possible through the work of hundreds of clinicians, staff and dedicated volunteers in service to our County’s most vulnerable residents, is a grassroots approach to the fundamental need for integrated health care,” County Mental Health Director Dr. Jonathan Sherin said. “Through this effort, and follow-up visits to local clinics throughout the County, clients are receiving vital services for their physical and mental health, with a focus on how to maintain good health and achieve wellbeing.”

“L.A. Care and Care Harbor share a common desire to serve the most vulnerable communities in Los Angeles County and help residents live healthier lives,” said L.A. Care Health Plan Deputy Chief Medical Officer Alex Li. “As a physician who has volunteered at this event, I am always inspired by the incredible spirit of all of the volunteers.”