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Confusing Photo Ops with Leadership: A Response to RantZ & RaveZ

VIEW FROM HERE--Surprised and disappointed to read the grossly inaccurate and offensive post from Dennis Zine regarding my involvement and that of my hardworking staff in response to the devastating Woolsey fire.

Perhaps he confuses photo ops with leadership. Fortunately, we do not. Ever since the Woolsey fire broke out on November 8th, my staff and I have been working literally night and day to protect lives and property, as well as assist in the recovery effort.  

I and my field, front office, communications leadership and policy staff have worked closely since day one with the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), LA County Fire and the Sheriff’s Department, working to create a Recovery Task Force within 24 hours of the start of the fire comprised of all County Departments, along with our state and federal partners, to focus on the monumental task of protecting residents and providing immediate services to those who needed them. On the first day of evacuations, we called CHP and Cal Trans to insist that they open all traffic lanes on PCH to run westward so evacuees could reach Santa Monica more quickly.  

We had boots on the ground everywhere: My office has attended every public event, and actively supported constituents, county agencies and nonprofits at the shelters in the Valley and Pacific Palisades. My Chief of Staff spent many long hours at Incident Command. My field staff worked out of the emergency shelters at Pierce College, Taft and Pali High schools making sure people had food and water. They helped residents get animals evacuated and sheltered and helped identify additional shelters to accommodate all the evacuated animals. Our six Valley staff at my west and east Valley field offices and front office staff responded to thousands of emails and calls and tried to be everywhere. Some people needed assistance evacuating. One resident needed help ensuring a caregiver could reach a terminally-ill family member. Many, many people sought up-to-date information about the status of their property. We helped them all. 

Working with OEM and County CEO, we coordinated public communications through a single website that included verified comprehensive information as soon as it was available, the best coordinated and centralized emergency communications effort in County history. 

We pushed to quickly establish two Disaster Assistance Centers in convenient locations which opened less than a week after the fire began, and within the first few days had helped more than 1,000 people with critical services from document recovery to mudslide preparation. As Chair of the Board, my staff and I insisted that County departments provide ample staffing for the centers.  My staff has also maintained a presence there.  

I and my staff are meeting regularly with FEMA, the state, and OEM to oversee the long process of recovery and helping local jurisdictions who are organizing town halls to provide additional support to those whose lives have been so profoundly disrupted by this tragic fire. 

I’m proud of my representation of and service to my constituents, including those in the Valley, on the coast and throughout my district on the west LA, Hollywood and Los Feliz side of those same mountains. I’m proud of the work of my office, and doubtless our efforts explain why, at virtually every press briefing conducted by the Fire Department, Chief Osby has thanked me and my incredible staff for their outstanding support and leadership. 

I realize there are some politicians who believe that “leading” means little more than getting their face on the local TV news, but my standard for leadership has always been to work, even outside the spotlight, to get my constituents what they need when they need it.

 

(Sheila Kuehl is LA County Supervisor for the 3rd District and serves as current Chair of the LA County Board of Supervisors.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.