Good Government

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Appoints Mark Saladino as County Counsel

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has appointed current Los Angeles County Treasurer, Tax Collector and Public Administrator Mark Saladino as County Counsel.

In his most recent role, Saladino was responsible for the oversight of over 450 employees and for the management of the County’s finances, including the receiving, investing and disbursing of County funds, as well as billing and collecting property taxes, business regulatory fees and a variety of debts owed to the County. Saladino is an ex-officio trustee of LACERA’s Board of Retirement and Board of Investments, an extension of his role as the Treasurer and Tax Collector of Los Angeles County. He has a legal background and extensive experience in management, finance, investments, and treasury-related issues.

“As the Treasurer and Tax Collector of the largest and most populous municipality in the country, Mark Saladino’s management of a complex operation was paramount in Los Angeles County receiving its highest short-term and long-term credit ratings ever, which have allowed for more investment back into the communities,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe. “Mark’s previous experience working in the Office of County Counsel, as well as his emphasis on accountability and transparency, make him the right person for the job.”

Saladino’s notable accomplishments include:
• Principal Deputy County Counsel, specializing in the areas of finance and investments.
• Successful private practice at Hawkins, Delafield & Wood in New York City and at Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue in Los Angeles.
• Public speaker on topics related to public finance and investments for the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors, the University of Southern California, the University of California, Los Angeles; the National Association of Bond Lawyers; the California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission; and the California State Association of Counties.
• Drafted California legislation regulating certain sales of local government securities.
• Testified on securities issues to the California Legislature and the United States Congress.
• BS, with high honors, University of Illinois.
• JD, New York University.
• Admitted to practice law in New York, California, and the District of Columbia.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Now Available at County Facilities for Public Use

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe announced the installation and launch of electric vehicle charging stations at various County facilities for public use. Electric vehicle owners headed to certain County destinations will be able to charge their vehicles for up to four hours, free of charge, during the initial year of the program.

“From hospitals, to Sheriff’s stations to the Registrar-Recorder’s, we have facilities across the county that our 10 million residents visit or drive near-by,” said Knabe.  “We hope this program will encourage people to consider an electric vehicle by making charging options more accessible and convenient.”

Currently, there are over 20 electric vehicle charging stations at facilities across the County, with additional stations planned for installation in the coming months. Parking rates and restrictions may apply at certain facilities.

For an interactive Google Map of all current EV charging stations in LA County, please visit:

Knabe Calls for Reforms to Ensure Long-Term Fiscal Stability for L.A. County

To help ensure the County’s unparalleled standard of fiscal prudence remains long-term, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved amending its “Budget Policies and Priorities,” due to a motion made by Chairman Don Knabe. The revisions will help position the County financially to meet future economic challenges, while protecting public services and programs.

Over the past decades, Los Angeles County has established itself as a national model of fiscal responsibility. The Board has enacted numerous reforms to curtail growing pension costs and retiree healthcare spending, and created a sizable “rainy day” fund to help the County weather the Great Recession. In turn, the County’s conservative budgetary practices have been rewarded with significant credit and bond rating increases, allowing for more investment back into the communities.

“As the Board of Supervisors prepares to undergo its biggest changes in decades, we have an obligation to ensure that the County can continue providing the safety net services our 10 million residents depend on,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Los Angeles County saved in the good times to prepare for the bad times, leaving us in better shape than other municipalities that can no longer fix their streets and sidewalks. More reforms are still necessary to keep the Board’s policies and priorities relevant in the current and future economic environment.”

The revisions to the Board of Supervisors’ “Budget Policies and Priorities include:

  • Setting aside funds to buy down retiree health care costs, address deferred maintenance on County property, fund low income housing and other critical capital projects, and to pay debt service requirements on future infrastructure projects.
  • Requiring a four/fifths requirement by the Board of Supervisor on any revisions to the “Budget and Fiscal Policies,” as well as labor agreements that impact salaries and employee benefit cost increases.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ “Budget Policies and Priorities” can be found here:

Following today’s approval, the proposed policies will be reviewed by the Chief Executive Officer, Auditor-Controller, Treasurer-Tax Collector and County Counsel and a report will be issued on September 30 with necessary recommendations.

Knabe Calls for Aggressive Water Conservation Measures

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a measure by Chairman Don Knabe to adopt the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) emergency regulations for water conservation.

The motion calls for the implementation of the State’s regulations by August 1, 2014.

On July 15, 2014, the SWRCB adopted a resolution of emergency regulations, including:

  • Prohibiting certain water uses, including washing down driveways and sidewalks, using a hose to wash a car unless it is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain, unless the water is recirculated
  • Limiting outdoor watering to two days a week
  • Requiring suppliers to report per capita usage

Further information about the SWRCB’s regulations is available here:

“Eighty percent of California is suffering from extreme drought conditions with no relief in sight,” said Supervisor Knabe. “As the largest employer in Los Angeles County, we maintain and operate over 5,000 buildings and facilities.  We need to ensure our house is in order and not only do our part in our unincorporated areas, but also set an example for the 88 cities in the County.”

The Department of Public Works will report back in 30 days on the status of implementation and any changes that need to be made to the County’s Water Wasting Ordinance to ensure compliance with the SWRCB regulations.

Board of Supervisors Approves Sweeping Reforms to County’s Retiree Healthcare Obligations

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe released the following statement upon the ratification of reforms to the County’s retiree healthcare obligations, which could save up to $840 million over the next 30 years:

“Today’s vote marks the final step in a months-long approval process, with reforms agreed to by labor leaders, County management, and the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association Board of Retirement and Board of Investments.

The County was on-the-hook paying for healthcare for people who had never even worked here. We had a responsibility to reduce spiraling obligations for future employees, while still providing a level of retiree healthcare that is both sustainable and fiscally responsible. Over the last several years, our labor partners were essential to helping the County weather the recession by sacrificing raises and cost of living increases. I’m grateful that labor has stepped-up once again, agreeing to reforms that could save us up to $840 million in the decades ahead.”

Los Angeles County Receives Highest Credit Ratings

The County of Los Angeles has once again received the highest short-term ratings from the nation’s leading credit rating agencies. As an added benefit of these outstanding credit ratings, the County also secured record-low borrowing costs this week, ultimately resulting in more money being available for public services and community programs.

Since 1977, the Board of Supervisors has authorized the annual sale of Tax Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) to assist with short-term cash management. This temporary borrowing program is necessary since the County receives certain revenues, such as property taxes, unevenly throughout the year.

In connection with the sale of the 2014-15 TRANs, the County recently received the highest short-term ratings from each of the three major credit rating agencies. Fitch Ratings, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard and Poor’s assigned ratings of F1+, MIG 1, and SP-1+, respectively. Each of the credit rating agencies cited the County’s improving financial condition, fiscal discipline and conservative management practices as positive factors in making their ratings determinations.

As an added benefit of these highest-possible ratings, the County is able to secure lower interest rates when borrowing money needed to temporarily finance operations. The $900 million of TRANs notes sold by the County this week were secured at a record-low borrowing cost of 0.12-percent, which is more than five basis points lower than the County’s prior low record of 0.174-percent achieved last year.

“These exceptionally high ratings, and the record low interest rates, represent a vote of confidence in the County’s fiscal stewardship,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe. “Our Board’s policy of living within its means has reduced our borrowing costs and yielded tremendous savings to the benefit of all County taxpayers.  While other jurisdictions continue to struggle, these low borrowing costs allow us to invest in the infrastructure projects and programs and services which matter most to our residents and their quality-of-life.”

Knabe Keynotes Annual State of L.A. County Event

Supervisor Don Knabe addressed the state of Los Angeles County and the Fourth District at a luncheon at the Long Beach Convention Center yesterday.

In his seventh annual address, hosted by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Supervisor Knabe spoke about the big challenges facing the County, in particular, the January 1, 2014 roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. He also provided an overview of his “bucket list” – the infrastructure, public/private partnership and safety net services projects he would like to see completed before his term ends in 2016.

Knabe announced significant infrastructure investments, including $25 million for sidewalk repairs and $45 million to upgrade county libraries in the fourth district. He discussed a plan to build two community health clinics and a junior golf academy, and repeated his commitment to direct transit connection to LAX and to keep it a priority at Metro and with transportation officials in Washington, DC. Knabe reinforced his commitment to eradicating child sex trafficking and showed the new, recently-launched Safe Surrender campaign. In a surprise announcement, Knabe revealed that the Long Beach Chamber was increasing its traditional event proceeds donation from $10,000 to $50,000 with the extra funds going to seed scholarships for Safe Surrender children and the victims of child sex trafficking.

Regarding the speech, Supervisor Knabe said, “While polls expose Americans’ on-going frustration with government gridlock, I think these poll numbers are beside the point. I think what people really want is invisible government. You are safe in your home; you put the garbage out and it is collected; you drive to work and the streets have no potholes and the lights work; your kids go to school and they learn; you come home and the playgrounds and parks are well maintained and safe – and if all of this is true, you don’t notice government. It’s invisible. And it works. And that is what our County government is trying to do.”

For those unable to attend the event, text and video of the speech are available at

Los Angeles County Advances Pay-For-Success Financing

With a goal of improving service results and reducing public spending, Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas are looking to launch “Pay-for-Success” financing for County programs.

Pay-for Success is a concept where government pays service providers only if results are achieved.  Rather than the traditional look at number of clients served or services provided, results are measured by prevention and outcomes. In some models, private financing is used to fund the program so that program risk is not held by taxpayers; however, if the program is successful, then investors may receive a modest return on their investment.

In a motion presented today by Supervisors Ridley-Thomas and Knabe, they asked for the County’s Chief Executive Officer to convene an advisory group of external Pay-for-Success financing experts to work with county officials to develop guidelines to launch Pay-for-Success programs across county departments.  Within 90 days, they requested a financial and operational blueprint for selecting and executing the Pay-for-Success concept.

Chairman Ridley-Thomas said: “Results matter. Pay for Success is an exciting opportunity to transform government by investing in social programs that work.”

Through the Pay-for-Success model, started in the UK and launched in the US in New York City, private sector innovation is used to improve outcomes for constituents, while also realizing savings for the public.

“The Pay-for-Success model is being tested across the United States and Los Angeles County should be leading the way in finding innovative ways to develop public-private partnerships which require proof of program results,” said Supervisor Knabe.  “The County’s budget will continue to be challenged by federal and state mandates.  We must look at creative ways to fund critical programs, while also improving the services we provide to those most in need.”

Knabe Calls for Review of County’s Military Leave Policy

On a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Los Angeles County will review its current military leave policy for County employees to ensure they do not lose any opportunities or seniority while on deployment. Currently, in order to protect reservists and their families from loss of income and benefit coverage during deployment, the County makes up the difference, if any, between a reservist’s military pay and their County pay for up to 720 days.

“Our Country has been at war for over a decade, and many of our nearly 100,000 County employees have been deployed across the world to protect our freedoms,” said Supervisor Knabe. “This is our way of ensuring that those serving our Country do not miss out on promotional opportunities and their families do not lose benefits such as health insurance and income. County employees deployed on active duty must maintain the same rights and privileges as any other non-deployed County employee.”

The Chief Executive Officer will review the County’s current policy and report back within 60 days. Pending the receipt of recommendations, the Board can vote to suspend the current 720-day limit policy. The Chief Executive Officer will also report back on options to ensure that County Employees receive their seniority rights and privileges as well as report on efforts to develop a County-Wide Military Leave Coordinator.

Knabe Urges the County to Stop Sending Mail to Itself

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe today put forth a motion to address federal regulations requiring the County’s Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) to send mail to itself.  Under the federal guidelines, DPSS must send paper mail to all those who receive General Relief or food stamps.

Some program participants use a DPSS District Office address to receive their mail because they are homeless.  As a result, it is estimated that DPSS mails over one million pieces of U.S. mail to itself each year, and stores the mail until the participant comes to the DPSS office to pick it up.

“The County has unprecedented demands on our programs due to the ongoing economic situation, so we must ensure that we are using our limited resources for the people and services who need them most,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Sending mail to ourselves clearly does not meet the standard of using resources wisely.  While the regulation may be well-intentioned, we need more flexibility at the federal level.   I’ve also asked the department to look at a better way of ensuring that participants receive their mail in a more timely and cost-effective manner.”

The large volume of mail received by DPSS offices for homeless participants creates a costly and inefficient burden for DPSS and hinders its daily operations. Participants often fail to come to the DPSS office to pick up their mail and when they do, the workload involved in staff having to search through the thousands of pieces of mail results in long wait times for the both the participant waiting for his/her mail and other participants waiting to be served.