The LA County Observer

Observations of a LA County Resident

Response to Los Angeles Times article

Written By: raconte - Jan• 26•12

Posted on the Los Angeles Times website:

What a lively discussion this article has generated.  I’d like to respond to the many people who have suggested that we need to have term limits imposed on the Board of Supervisors — which we’ve already done.  In March 2002, we passed Measure B ( by more than 63%.  This measure limited them to 3 consecutive 4-year terms.  However, all the measures, laws and referendums aside — I think the most effective term-limit is when WE THE PEOPLE refuse to re-elect them.  If memory serves Yaroslavsky and Molina are termed out, Antonovich and Knabe can run for another term, and Ridley-Thomas can run up to another 2 terms.  However the good people of the above mentioned incumbents can put the kibosh on this by not voting for ANYONE who’s an incumbent the next time around.  And voilà we’ll have a totally new Board of Supervisors

Update – The Los Angeles media wakes up and reports on the LA County Board’s Attempt to Quash Public Input

Written By: raconte - Jan• 22•12

Well, finally the assorted Los Angeles area newspapers have decided to weigh in on the LA County Board of Supervisors’ attempt to “limit” (I call it quash) public input at the weekly Board of Supervisors’ meetings.  The Los Angeles Daily News reported on Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s motion to “limit” public speech under the pretext of needing to “manage” the Board’s time.   Their article “Proposal to limit public speaking at supervisors’ meetings put under review” was the first salvo by our local media, followed by an op-ed  “Supes should watch nixing free speech” in the Pasadena Star News.

This morning the Los Angeles Times came, albeit a little late to the dance, with a rather insightfully reported article providing readers with a snapshot of what a Board of Supervisor is like.  Their article “L.A. County supervisor moves to restrict speakers at board meetings” did a pretty good job at debunking Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s excuse that “oh my, we have to do this to help us better manage our time”.  As of the writing of this post the LA Times article had garnered 106 comments.

You might ask yourself “why is this important” – the simple answer is because if they succeed in quashing our right to address our input during Board meetings then we give permission to them and every other body of elected officials to whittle away our right to address and seek redress from those we elect.  Remember at a recent Board Meeting Molina labeled those members of the Public that address the Board on far too many items (as defined by the Supervisors) as people who speak gibberish and has ordered that a list of these “offending” people be drawn up and given to her.

I sent in letters to the editor to the Daily News DN BOS Time Management  and Pasadena Star News PSN Board of Supes1 .

How the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors spends their time and your tax dollars:

Written By: raconte - Jan• 21•12

Every Tuesday (except for Holidays and Election Day) the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meet at the Hall of Administration located at 500 W. Temple Street in Los Angeles.  The meetings are scheduled to start at 9:30 in the morning, unless the preceding Monday is a holiday in which case the meeting is scheduled to begin at 1:00 in the afternoon.

It has been my experience, as a consistent Board watcher, that the meetings rarely if ever start on time at 9:30.  Rather the meeting is likely to begin at 10:00, 10:30 or even later Thus my goal this year is to provide the good people of Los Angeles County a snapshot of how the Board spends its time at each meeting.  The form below breaks the Board down into three segments: Pomp and Pageantry (the time the Board spends on commendations, adjournments, and other puffery), The People’s Business (the time the Board spends on items affect and effect our lives) and Public Comment (the time when members of the Public may address the Board on items not on the agenda but under their purview).

Meeting Date: January 10, 2012 – Called to order at 09:52

Pomp and Pageantry 0 hours 42.62 minutes
The People’s Business 1 hours 20 minutes
Public Comment* 1 hours 5 minutes
   Total Length of Meeting 3 hours 57.49 minutes

*Public comment was combined with Item 12, so the time reflects the combined speaking time for both items.

Meeting Date: January 31, 2012

Pomp and Pageantry 0 hours 47.18 minutes
The People’s Business 0 hours 31.00 minutes
Public Comment* 0 hours 25.00 minutes
   Total Length of Meeting 1 hour 43.18 minutes

Meeting Date: February 14, 2012 – Meeting started at 09:48

Pomp and Pageantry 1 hours 05.50 minutes
The People’s Business 1 hours 50.15 minutes
Public Comment* 0 hours 10.16 minutes
   Total Length of Meeting 3 hours 06.21 minutes

Meeting Date: February 21, 2012 – Meeting started at 13:28

Pomp and Pageantry 0 hours 12.05 minutes
The People’s Business 0 hours 40.00 minutes
Public Comment* 0 hours 24.00 minutes
   Total Length of Meeting 1 hour 16.05 minutes



Los Angeles County Board moves to quash public’s right to address the Board

Written By: raconte - Jan• 15•12

The recent proposal to limit public speaking at supervisors’ meetings put under review is just one more ludicrous action proposed by our not so illustrious LA County Board of Supervisors.

I’ve monitored the Board for the past 12 years, and I’ve made a point to hold their feet to the fire when it comes to all things health related.  At the meetings I rarely hold more than a couple of health related items, but I know that there are others who hold 10 or 20 items or more.  The holding of so many items may appear inconvenient to some, but who’s to say that those individuals holding the items don’t believe that these items are important.  Occasionally, there’s an individual that uses very hateful language when addressing the Board.  Is this worth limiting all our rights to free speech to rein in this one person?  And if we limit language that is deemed racist, hateful and so forth what stops the Board from adding other types of speech to the “banned” words list – this is a slippery slope.

To provide some historic perspective, the LA County Board of Supervisors used to meet twice a week, now they meet once a week.  Meetings are set to start at 9:30, but I can’t recall one that has ever started on time – so meetings usually don’t begin until 10:00 or later. Could this delay be due to private meet and greets held up on the 8th floor, mini-press conferences and so forth?  I’d argue that if time management were an issue then why don’t they start on time, because it doesn’t make sense to start 30 to 45 minutes late if time management is an issue.  Also, why spend one to two hours a meeting on handing out commendations, this puffery is best left for a celebratory day held once a month, and not as part of a meeting that Supervisor Yaroslavsky says is about carrying out the business of the County.  Watch the Board long enough and you’ll even witness the handing out of commendations to departments that the press or Board has lambasted only weeks before for mismanagement, allowing children to die while under their care, etc.

Of course there are always going to be those who choose to abuse the system – that’s life.  However attempting to quash the public’s right to address the Board on agenda items isn’t the way to do it.  And this isn’t the first time that the Board has attempted to quash the rights of the public to address and speak freely at Board meetings.  Several years ago, while under Supervisor Molina’s leadership the Board attempted to pass a nearly identical motion, “The Merrick Motion”.  Yes, they even named it after the offending member of the public.  We were able to convince the Board to shelf the motion, at the time even Supervisor Yaroslavsky admitted that the motion was a slippery slope, but apparently not slippery enough since he chose to resurrect it nearly intact from its grave.

Supervisor Yaroslavsky and other members of the Board insist that it’s about managing their time, if that’s the case then they need to first take steps to start on time, and to move all the puffery to another day or at least limit it to fifteen minutes.  And if you actually watch the Board you’d notice that the average meeting ends somewhere around 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm – so do the math last week’s meeting started almost 45 minutes late, they then held over one hour of commendations and whatnot, leaving just over three hours to conduct the business of the people.  No wonder they bristle when people ask to address items on the agenda because those three minutes eat into their rush to return to their lofty perch (where members of the public must wrangle an appointment to have the privilege to cross the threshold) on the 8th Floor.

It’s a rare day that more than a handful of people take the time to trek down to the Hall of Administration to address the Board on any subject matter, but I guess they want to nip in the bud any desire for more public involvement – because we can’t let the people get the silly notion that they can actually influence their elected officials.  God forbid!


Paying attention to the Public

Written By: raconte - Jan• 15•12

Over the past several days we’ve heard from various representatives and members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors about how they pay attention and listen to the Public.  As the saying goes a picture says a thousand words. Here are a few snapshots of the Board in action when the public addresses them.

Welcome to The Los Angeles County Observer

Written By: raconte - Aug• 04•11

Welcome to the Los Angeles County Observer where ordinary Los Angeles County citizens, such as you and I, will strive to bring transparency back to Los Angeles County government and hopefully these actions will in turn cause the five-member board of supervisors to regain respect for the Public that they are elected to serve and become re-engaged in a truly democratic partnership with us.

So we welcome you to become subscribers to the blog and to contribute if you are so inclined and to share our link www.LACOUNTYOBSERVER.COM with friends, family members, and others who live in Los Angeles County – because politics shouldn’t be a spectator sport.