Good Government

Knabe Opposes Sales Tax Increase

Supervisor Don Knabe announced his opposition today to a proposed half-cent sales tax increase to pay for transit projects across Los Angeles County. The Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) Board of Directors, which Supervisor Knabe is a member of, is scheduled to discuss the sales tax proposal at tomorrow’s Board Meeting.

Now is not the time to burden the residents of Los Angeles County with yet another tax increase, said Supervisor Knabe. Taxpayers in our County already pay the second-highest tax rate in California, behind only Alameda County. Metro’s proposed increase would unfairly push our local tax rate even higher.

We need to make long-range investments in expanding mass transit options and improving our existing transportation infrastructure across every part of our County, but now is not the time to do it on the backs of taxpayers. We have too many people in Los Angeles County struggling to make ends meet right now. This tax increase, at this time, is an unnecessary burden on residents.

Knabe Calls For Conservation Efforts

Supervisor Don Knabe responded to rising gas prices and the statewide drought this week by directing County leaders to begin reducing commuting times for County employees and reducing water usage in County facilities.

In his first motion, Supervisor Knabe called for creative solutions to rising gas prices by updating County polices on telecommuting, offering flexible schedule options, and offering incentives to employees to use public transportation. With tens of thousands of employees, Los Angeles County is the largest employer in Southern California.

A second motion was introduced by Knabe in response to Governor Schwarzenegger’s proclamation of a statewide drought due to a severely low water supply, below-average rainfall, and court-ordered water restrictions. The motion asks for recommendations on how to immediately reduce water usage in hundreds of County-owned facilities.

Higher gas prices and lower water levels are both serious issues facing the County and our employees, said Supervisor Knabe. We need to be sure the County is doing everything possible to address these challenges with creative solutions.

In February 2007, Supervisor Knabe responded to the need to increase the use and longevity of the local water supply by creating the County’s Office of Water Recycling, which was tasked with doubling the region’s use of non-potable recycled water by 2030 – an annual increase of 54 billion gallons.

LA County Department Of Children And Family Services Looking For New Hires

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) will host a Job Fair on Saturday, April 26, 2008, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., at its Chatsworth Office located at 20151 Nordhoff Street in Chatsworth. The Job Fair is open to the public. Anyone committed to changing the lives of children by working as a Children’s Social Worker or in a supportive clerical role is invited to attend.

DCFS offers multiple positions in a variety of fields including clerical, nursing and social work. A Children’s Social Worker II can earn as much as $66,068 annually and Children’s Social Workers Trainees can earn up to $41,140 annually. Additionally, the County of Los Angeles offers an excellent benefits package, retirement plan and 10 paid holidays per year. At the Job Fair, free educational workshops will touch on topics such as the job application process and "A Day in the Life of a Social Worker."

Applications and information regarding minimum requirements for available positions can be found online at in the "careers" link, by calling the DCFS Job Hotline at (213) 351-6417 or by visiting DCFS Headquarters at 425 Shatto Place, Room 105, in Los Angeles. Applications and information will also be available at the Job Fair, along with technical assistance in completing the necessary forms.

Statement By Supervisor Knabe On Proposed 2008-2009 Los Angeles County Budget

The Chief Executive Officer’s proposal for the Los Angeles County 2008-2009 Budget rightly focuses on limiting growth of government programs in the time of a slowing economy and slowing revenue into County coffers.

For the first time in several years, we are experiencing a loss in property tax revenue from the stalled real estate market and the potential loss of state funding in many areas. However, this proposed budget reveals that Los Angeles County remains in solid financial shape and today we are not facing the widespread financial shortfalls and cutbacks that many other levels of government are currently suffering.

What we will have to keep a close eye on is the potential impact the proposed Federal and State budgets could have on the County in the year ahead. Proposed cuts in both of these budgets could potentially mean a loss of up to $500 million in funding to the County in the year ahead. Both the Federal and State budgets proposals are still very uncertain at this point, so the potential hit the County could take is unknown today. We likely will not know more about these impacts until September or October. If State and Federal budget cuts impact the County, then we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Until then, the County will move forward with our own budget proposal that is free of service cuts at this time.

As far as our budget proposal, I am very pleased to see $4.6 million in new funding for enhanced unincorporated Sheriff patrols. This means our unincorporated area residents will benefit from dozens of additional patrol deputies in the near future. Additionally, $3.3 million in new funding will be dedicated to gang prevention efforts.

Although the vast majority of our County programs and departments remain financially solvent, the ongoing deficit in the Department of Health Services is still deeply alarming and continues to loom on the horizon. With a potential structural deficit of over $700 million in the next two fiscal years, the time to act and to make difficult decisions has arrived. We must resolve this deficit without reducing health services to patients. Closing clinics and access points to healthcare is not the answer in a time when we should be opening additional clinics. We need creative decisions and a willingness to look at out-of-the-box solutions to solve this deficit and we need to make these decisions now.

Knabe Responds To Plan To Close Clinics

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe issued the following statement today in response to the County’s Chief Executive Officer’s recommendation to close and/or reduce clinic services throughout the County, as a means to balance the County’s Department of Health Services Fiscal Year 2008-09 Budget:

In the upcoming fiscal year, our Department of Health Services is looking at a budget shortfall of up to $300 million. In an effort to balance the budget, the CEO has brought forward a recommendation that calls on this Board to close or reduce services at most of our health centers and comprehensive health centers throughout the County. And although, this is only a starting point of the conversation, I am shocked by the proposal and deeply concerned by it.

It is true that this plan will generate millions in savings, but what it fails to address is the effect that closing clinics will have on our already overworked emergency rooms. With the recent overcrowding issues at Harbor-UCLA and the closures of the emergency rooms at King-Harbor and Daniel Freeman Hospitals, the system can ill-afford any further strain. The emergency care system at both private and County hospitals is already in a fragile state, and further increasing the workload of our emergency rooms is creating a time-bomb waiting to explode. We need to be opening more clinics in the County, not closing them.

I will be introducing a motion at Tuesday’s Board Meeting that will ask the CEO to come up with a comprehensive list of all possible options to balance the Health Department’s budget. We have some very difficult decisions on the horizon, but this proposal should be viewed as our last resort and not just a quick fix.

Employment Opportunities For Veterans

A County program introduced by Supervisor Don Knabe and Supervisor Mike Antonovich to assist veterans with employment opportunities is seeing tremendous success.

The program is available to local military veterans who have been honorably discharged, the County recruits applicants whose training, education and skills match those needed by the County. Successful applicants are hired as trainees for up to 24 months and receive job training and experience. They receive benefits and are eligible to compete for permanent County positions.

Already, 250 veterans have been placed in employment opportunities and another 1,400 are currently being evaluated. Interested veterans are encouraged to visit or call (213) 738-2175.

Knabe Announces New Funding To Improve Juvenile Probation Services

The Los Angeles County Probation Department will soon add dozens of new jobs that will benefit juvenile service programs, thanks to new funding totaling $4.6 million that was successfully sought by Supervisor Don Knabe. The new funding comes after Supervisor Knabe directed County budget staff to fund a reduction in field caseload levels within the Probation Department. The resulting recommendations include the $4.6 million allocation, which will fund 71 new positions.

34 of the positions are for the Juvenile Services Placement Bureau, to reduce the current caseload level down to 25 cases per Deputy Probation Officer. These positions will also improve efforts to properly manage and administer State and Federal regulations that govern case management.

33 of the new positions will be in the Juvenile Special services Bureau, which will reduce the current caseload to 50 cases per officer. This will help the department adopt a home-based service delivery model to increase family participation and decrease risk factors which lead to crime.

The final four positions will be Assistant Probation Directors in the Residential Treatment Bureau. They will support and assist camp managers in the administration of the juvenile camps.

Proposal Will Speed Catalina Island Fire Recovery

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe called today for County agencies to expedite permits needed to begin repairs to critical infrastructure that was damaged or destroyed during the wildfire on Catalina Island in early May.

Although the 4,750 acre fire claimed only a single home and several small outbuildings, the fire still destroyed several miles of fencing, nearly 100 utility poles, and caused extensive damage to roads used to access the unincorporated interior of the Island. Additionally, the fire left significant ecologic damage to the island habitat that could lead to flooding, mudslides and erosion.

Any repairs or rehabilitation to fire-damaged areas will require standard permitting by numerous County agencies. Supervisor Knabe’s proposal will require the County to expedite permit processing and allow for swift approval of repair and recovery projects in the Island’s interior. The proposal will also examine having temporary housing placed on Catalina Island to accommodate repair crews that may otherwise struggle to find housing in Avalon’s limited housing market.

Normally, permitting can be an extended process that involves a number of County agencies, but in the case of Catalina Island recovery, I want a coordinated system so that all departments work together, said Supervisor Knabe. We need to get Catalina on the road to recovery and we need to stabilize it against any further ecological damage as a result of this fire.

Los Angeles County Collects Record Child Support Payment

The Los Angeles County Child Support

Services Department on Monday received the highest collection in the history of child support enforcement in the United States, Supervisor Don Knabe announced today.

The payment of $311,491 in overdue support payments was collected from a

man seeking reentry into the United States. The payment occurred when the Federal Passport Intercept Program flagged his passport as he was entering the United States from China. The full amount was routed through the Child Support Services Department and paid directly to the man’s ex-wife, who has custody of their 12-year old daughter.

The man had sold his business in Los Angeles County several years ago and fled to China with the assets from the sale. His payment included child and spousal support arrears due on his case and his

outstanding child support obligation of almost $6,000 a month.

"Rigorous enforcement of child support orders works," said Supervisor Knabe, who hailed the efforts of the Department on behalf of this family. Last year, the Department collected over $495 million in child support payments on behalf of over 500,000 families, many of whom are low-income and on public assistance.

On Monday, Supervisor Knabe directed the County to appropriate $500,000 to the Child Support Services Department to initiate a partnership with the District Attorney to increase enforcement of child support orders against parents who are the most delinquent in their child support


"For every dollar we invest in child support enforcement, we see a return of two dollars in collections that are passed directly onto the families," Knabe added. "These efforts will improve the well-being of children in our communities, and I can’t think of a better return on our investment than that."

Confirmation of this collection being the single largest payment since enforcement began in the United States came from Margot Bean, Commissioner of the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Overhauling Education In The Council Juvenile Justice System

The schools designed to teach children incarcerated in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system may be seriously underserving students, according to a new report by the Children’s Planning Council (CPC). As a result, Supervisor Don Knabe today called for a top-to-bottom reform of the education system in the County’s juvenile halls and probation camps, including the possible use of charter schools.

According to the CPC, recent student performance data show that most of the youth in the juvenile justice system have been – and continue to be – left behind despite ongoing research that shows that education is one of the areas most in need of improvement in the system.

Among the recent findings:

– In 2004, 74 percent of juvenile justice students did not pass the California High School Exit Examination.

– 20 percent of all Probation students require special education programs; double that of the general school special education population.

– School attendance records for Nidorf Juvenile Hall reveal that on one particular day in April 2007, 14% of students in the hall were not enrolled in the on-site school and only 78% of the enrolled students attended that day.

– Students in some high-risk units received little more than one hour of instruction on a particular day.

Knabe’s call for reform directs County agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to dramatically reform education programs in the County’s juvenile halls and probation camps, including an exploration of the feasibility of charter schools and other innovative models of education.

We have nearly 3,000 children enrolled in our probation schools and we have an obligation to provide each and everyone one of them with access to educational opportunities, said Knabe. If we want to keep these kids from returning to the juvenile justice system or from ending up in County jails later in life, then access to quality schooling must be a critical component of how we are serving children in our camps and halls.