I hope you and your loved ones enjoyed a wonderful holiday season! It is always a special time to enjoy with family and friends, while we pause to reflect on the year behind and look ahead with anticipation to 2014.
As we close the door on 2013, I look at the many challenges we faced in Los Angeles County and am proud of what we were able to accomplish. I am particularly pleased that we launched a new Safe Surrender campaign and saved nine more lives in 2013, raising our total to 113 [updated on 1/6 — 114 lives saved!] In other efforts to protect our county’s most vulnerable, we continued to raise awareness of the horrific crime of child sex trafficking in our communities and across the nation.
Los Angeles County continued to remain fiscally prudent, balancing our budget and operating within our means. We were again recognized for this, when Standard and Poor’s (S&P) raised our long-term credit rating from AA to AA+, the highest credit rating S&P has ever assigned to the County. I cannot overstate the importance of this rating, which allows us to secure lower interest rates for our capital needs. That means that we can continue to invest in our infrastructure and do preventive maintenance, rather than costly repairs and replacements from neglect.
Our financial position also makes me excited about some future projects we have underway. We have three community centers under construction in the fourth district, in Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights and Whittier, all scheduled to be open in about 18 months. I’m also working on two community health clinics, which will provide preventative and primary care for families. And one of the most exciting projects we have ahead is my announcement late last year that we would be spending about $45 million on upgrading libraries in our district. Some people may wonder, “What do we need libraries for?” In fact, our County libraries are more popular than ever, from kids to teens and seniors. We need our facilities to keep pace with the information and recreation demands of our residents.
So, there is a lot to look forward to in 2014! I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you and I thank you for all the support you have given me over the years. Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous 2014!