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LA Watchdog’s Voters Guide: Board of Supervisors and LAUSD

LA WATCHDOG

LA WATCHDOG - It is difficult to recommend qualified candidates for dysfunctional organizations such as the County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles Unified School District. This supplements my previous Voters Guide of February 12, 2024. 

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors 

Three incumbents are looking to be re-elected: Holly Mitchell in District 2, Janice Hahn in District 4, and Kathryn Barger in District 5.   

Unfortunately, the County is an organizational disaster area.  Issues that have not been successfully addressed by the Supervisors (often referred to as the Stupidvisors) include the Men’s Jail, juvenile detention centers, delivery of services to the homeless as outlined in a comprehensive report by Tim Campbell prepared for the LA Alliance for Human Rights, and Metro with its poor service to riders, a poor safety record that discourages ridership, and cost overruns and blown deadlines on its many construction projects. 

We should not be surprised if the Supervisors place a tax increase on the November ballot. 

Reform: the County, unlike the City, has not begun to address governmental reform of its outdated governmental structure.  The County needs to increase the number of Supervisors from five (each representing two million residents) to at least 15 (each representing 667,000 residents) and create a mayoral position that is elected by the County’s voters.  One thought is to establish a reform commission headed by former Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky who discussed this issue at length in his recent book, Zev’s Los Angeles

District Two.  No endorsement.  While incumbent Holly Mitchell will most likely be re-elected because of her huge union financed campaign war chest, she has not shown leadership in addressing the important issues facing the City. The parochial Mitchell is part of the problem. 

District Four: No endorsement.  Like Mitchell, Hahn is part of the problem, not the solution.  Lots of chatter, but no action.  Like Mitchell, she is a resounding favorite with a union financed campaign war chest that dwarfs those of the two other candidates, including the controversial former Sheriff, Alex Villaneuva. 

District Five: Kathryn Barger.  A fiscal conservative and a supporter of law enforcement, she is the voice of reason on this very progressive board which has very little practical experience.   

Los Angeles Unified School District Board 

There are four Board seats on the ballot, including two incumbents.  

The major issue facing the School Board is how to improve the education of its over 425,000 students, many of which come from underprivileged backgrounds and non-English speaking households, whose reading and math scores are far below grade level.  Other issues include demographics and a declining school population, the need to close neighborhood schools, class size, safety, the maintenance of its facilities, its aggressive union, charter schools, an unproven Superintendent, its Structural Deficit, and billions in unfunded pensions and other retirement liabilities. 

LAUSD is not a very transparent organization, in large part because of its complicated finances and the poor coverage in the media.  There is high probability that the Board may place a tax increase on the November ballot to pay for its new labor agreements and to address its Structural Deficit.    

Overall, this is not a very exciting group of candidates, especially given the size of LAUSD’s operating budget and the level of capital expenditures over the next ten to twenty years.   

District 1. Sherlett Hendy Newbill. Recommended by a knowledgeable source despite the fact she is underfunded. An alternative is Didi Watts who is endorsed by School Board member Nick Melvoin.  Do not vote for Kahllid Al-Alim who, while endorsed the United Teachers Los Angeles, at least for the time being, is alleged to have agreed to postings involving antisemitic content, that glamorized guns, and celebrated pornographic images. 

District 3.  Dan Chang.  Again, recommended by a knowledgeable source and has good ideas on how to reform LAUSD. The incumbent, Scott Schmerelson, is an opponent of charter schools and is endorsed by UTLA.  

District 5. A toss up, although my knowledgeable source leans toward Victorio Gutierrz, a retired school administrator who is not backed by the Board’s two unions, UTLA and SEIU.     

District 7.  Tanya Ortiz Franklin.  The one-term incumbent who is being challenged by a perennial candidate who is underfunded.

 

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These two organizations, LAUSD and the County’s Board of Supervisors, along with Metro, are an embarrassment to all Angelenos and cost us billions a year in wasted funds and poor services.  Before we approve any new tax increases, including those for the homeless, these organizations need to clean up their acts and address serious reform.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)

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