Improving Lives

State Proposal Threatens 10,000 Local Jobs Program

A program designed to create 10,000 temporary jobs across Los Angles County using President Obama’s stimulus funding is now at risk because of a State proposal to eliminate the CalWORKs welfare program.

On March 3, Supervisor Don Knabe introduced the program, which would utilize over $159 million in federal stimulus funding to create temporary subsidized employment opportunities for CalWORKs welfare recipients in County departments, private sector employers, non-profit organizations, and in cities across Los Angeles County.

CalWORKs is a welfare-to-work program that uses federal funding to provide temporary financial assistance and employment focused services to families. Most parents are also required to participate in employment services programs with the goal of finding work and getting off welfare permanently. The 10-thousand jobs effort is an expansion of this program. This portion of stimulus dollars must be used towards benefitting welfare recipients – so the goal of the 10,000 jobs program is to use it to create thousands of job opportunities – lifting people off of the welfare rolls and from being a burden on taxpayers – and putting them into temporary jobs that may lead to permanent employment.

The program is now in jeopardy, because when State leaders proposed ending CalWORKs last week, it threatened the cutoff of federal funding for welfare coming to California, including the $159 million in stimulus funding needed to make this program a reality.

There is a limited timeframe for when this federal funding is available, so we have no time to waste to make sure our unemployed residents can benefit from the thousands of jobs we can create with these funds. Our local unemployment rate is hovering around 11-percent and we have a major opportunity to do something about it, said Supervisor Knabe. This program is a win-win situation, and we intend to make the most of it. The problem is that Sacramento is once again about to screw up a good thing. If the threat of cutting CalWORKs continues, it jeopardizes these 10-thousand jobs and all the other "work" in welfare-to-work. Washington has the money, and Los Angeles County has the means. It’s time to make the 10,000 jobs initiative a reality.

Under the program and the rules of the federal funding, 80-percent of the cost of a subsidized worker will be covered by federal funds, and the employer will only be responsible for 20-percent of the overall cost. The 20-percent can be further reduced by an employer’s supervision and training costs. Even though the jobs can be anywhere in the County, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board acts as the employer of record. They perform payroll functions, pre-screen candidates, and absorb Workers Compensation liability. All sectors are being targeted, the public sector – including County departments and other public agencies, nonprofits (including community and faith-based organizations) and the private sector. A chief requirement for all employers wishing to participate is that subsidized workers cannot displace existing employees.

Two resources are available for employers looking to hire workers or welfare recipients looking for a job. The first is the County’s telephone hotline, 211. The second is a dedicated website,

County Waives Park Fees For Veterans, Military Personnel And Their Families

In honor of Memorial Day, admission fees and vehicle entrance fees have been waived to the regional park facilities on May 23-25, 2009, for Veterans and their families. The motion, introduced by Supervisor Don Knabe, was unanimously approved today by the Board of Supervisors.

As Memorial Day approaches, it is important that we recognize the many contributions that Veterans and their families have made for our great County over the years, said Supervisor Knabe. We owe them many freedoms that we have today, and they truly deserve the honor and respect of their fellow Americans.

All Veterans, military personnel and their immediate families are invited to visit the following Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation facilities from May 23 through May 25, 2009:

Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park

120 Via Verde Drive

San Dimas

(909) 599-8411

Castaic Lake Recreation Area

32132 Castaic Lake Drive


(661) 257-4050

Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area

4100 North La Cienega Boulevard

Los Angeles

(323) 298-3660

Santa Fe Dam Regional Park

15501 East Arrow Highway


(626) 334-1065

Schabarum Park

17250 East Colima Road

Rowland Heights

(626) 854-5560

Whittier Narrows Regional Recreation Area

750 South Santa Anita Avenue

South El Monte

(626) 575-5526

Arboretum of Los Angeles County

301 North Baldwin Avenue


(626) 821-3212

Descanso Gardens

1418 Descanso Drive

La Canada Flintridge

(818) 952-4400

South Coast Botanic Garden

26300 Crenshaw Boulevard

Palos Verdes Peninsula

(310) 544-6815

Virginia Robinson Gardens

(310) 276-5367

By appointment only

County Budget: Preserves Critical Services

Los Angeles County Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka released the 2009-10 Proposed County Budget, recommending reductions in programs and hiring, but preserving critical services.

Fujioka said though the fiscal situation is one of the most challenging since the early 1990s, the County is in much better financial shape than many local governments, largely due to its conservative fiscal practices.

The proposed $22.799 billion budget is $415 million less than the current budget and calls for 1,684 fewer budgeted positions than the current 102,458, but preserves core services and avoids layoffs by cutting vacant positions.

Fujioka estimates there will be a $300.4 million budget gap in local revenues, which he proposes to close with $107.2 million in ongoing department budget curtailments, $115.5 million in bridge funding, and $77.7 million in federal stimulus funding.

The County’s unemployment rate, which has gone up 24 consecutive months and registered at 10.9 percent in February, has fueled increased demands for County services, expected to hike the public assistance costs 5.5 percent to a total of 26 percent of the budget. The situation is compounded by the steep drop in home prices, resulting in lower property taxes. For the first time since the mid-1990s, property tax assessments are down.

The proposed budget reflects a 1 percent drop in property tax assessments, but a recent estimate further reduces that figure to 3.3 percent. Fujioka said if the new estimate is correct, the Board of Supervisors would need to make an additional $88.3 million in cuts when budget adjustments are made in September.

The County continues to see an erosion in several other key revenue sources, including the deed transfer tax (-31.3 percent), Proposition 172 sales tax (-5.8 percent), local sales tax (-5.9 percent), and interest earnings (-56.8 percent).

Fujioka said he had asked all departments other than Health Services to include a 5 percent reduction in their funding requests to him, but he ended up recommending that some departments take no cuts while others take more than the 5 percent. The larger cuts were taken by departments that consistently generated savings year-after-year from vacant positions or unspent funds.

Net position loss for larger departments include: Public Social Services, 899; Health Services, 165; Public Health, 141; Parks and Recreation, 119; Child Support Services, 104; Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, 80; District Attorney, 70; Internal Services, 52; Public Library, 51; Office of Public Safety, 50; and Sheriff, 9.

Some departments will see increases. An addition of 82 positions is proposed for the Department of Children Services and 105 for the Department of Mental Health. Of these, 111 positions are to further implement the Katie A. Settlement Agreement Strategic Plan involving better care for foster children. The Museum of Art will see a $2 million increase and the road fund for unincorporated areas will increase $41.1 million. The Arts Commission is receiving eight more positions, funded through grants, to further implement its Arts for All initiative.

Fujioka is proposing to consolidate some departments, merging the Ombudsman and Human Relations Commission with the Department of Community and Senior Services, and placing the Commission on Aging under the Area Agency on Aging Advisory Council, saving $700,000 and reducing six positions.

Use of a portion of the funds from the County’s reserves, saved over the past several years during the strong real estate market and healthy local economy, is recommended to offset cost increases or revenue losses directly related to the economic situation that can be considered one-time or short-term. Included in this one-time bridge funding is General Relief assistance, deed recording, and $26.8 million to retain jail beds.

The Department of Health Services will save $13.2 million and require 165 fewer positions to operate facilities related to the implementation of various efficiencies; however, the department still has a $257.3 million deficit that must be addressed.

Fujioka says uncertainty surrounding the state budget remains a concern. If the County loses additional funding beyond the estimated $253.1 million reduction from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 adopted state budgets, it will further impact the County’s ability to provide needed services.

Federal stimulus funding, enacted on Feb. 17, could provide the County with as much as an additional $441.7 million through December 2010 for Medicaid, foster care and adoption payments, with $204.5 million of that in 2009-10. Another $89.1 million is expected for hospitals, highways, jobs, nutrition, community services and justice grants.

Fujioka says the County does not yet know about every funding opportunity for which it may qualify under the stimulus bill, as all regulations and funding have not yet been released.

The federal stimulus package is expected to temporarily decrease the County’s contribution to the In-Home Supportive Services program by $77.7 million, increase $105.8 million in funding through the CalWORKS program for transitional subsidized employment programs, and provide $30.8 million through the Workforce Investment Act program to create employment for adults, youth and dislocated workers.

Funding for capital projects significantly decreased in the new budget, down $289.9 million, but there is $1.4 billion allocated for high-priority projects, including:

$493.1 million for public protection facilities, including a jail master plan, new construction at Biscailuz Center Training Academy, new fire stations in the Santa Clarita Valley, refurbishment and expansion of the Coroner’s facility, security improvements at juvenile halls and camps, a new animal shelter in the east Antelope Valley, and four new spay/neuter clinics.

$214.6 million for recreational facilities, including new community rooms, refurbishment of swimming pools, and facility refurbishments at beaches.

$161.4 million for general government facilities, most notably the new countywide data center in Downey.

$155.3 million for health facilities, including a mental health urgent care center, expansion of emergency room and construction of tuberculosis unit at Olive View Medical Center; and replacement surgery and emergency suites at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

$98.2 million for new or replacement libraries in the San Gabriel Valley, Topanga Canyon and East Rancho Dominguez, and refurbishment of Patriotic Hall.

$106.4 million for infrastructure improvements in flood control and aviation facilities, soil and groundwater investigation and radiation activities, and watershed testing efforts.

Fujioka said the expected additional reductions from the state, the decline in home values, a projected deficit for 2010-11, the temporary nature of federal funding and the use of one-time bridge funding require the County to continue to find ways to ensure it is not spending beyond its means.

Public hearings on the proposed budget will begin May 13, with adoption expected June 22.

C-17 Critical To Protecting Jobs And Homeland Security

Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Los Angles County Board of Supervisors, denounced a decision by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to end purchases of the C-17 cargo aircraft after 2010.

Knabe will be calling on his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors in opposing the suspension of the C-17 program by introducing a formal motion of opposition next week.

At a time when the Federal Government is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into efforts to protect jobs and shore-up the economy, it is counterproductive and foolhardy to cut a program that employs 5,000 people at the C-17 plant in Long Beach and another 30,000 people at supplier facilities across the nation, said Knabe.

Beyond the economic impact from losing these jobs, the C-17 continues to prove that it is needed in the battlefield. Now we need to continue the fight in the political battlefield. This airborne workhorse is critical to U.S. forces and to our homeland security. The C-17 has shown its value many times in Iraq and Afghanistan and its usefulness closer to home during disaster relief missions.

Nirupa Sejpal-Parmar Named Fourth District Woman Of The Year

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe is pleased to announce that he has chosen Nirupa Sejpal-Parmar as his selection for the 2009 Woman of the Year Award. The coveted award is presented by the Los Angeles County Commission for Women each year to ten women, five from the community-at-large and one from each of the County’s five Supervisorial districts.

Nirupa Sejpal-Parmar is an active Board Member with the South Asian Helpline and Referral Agency, better known as SAHARA. SAHARA, located in the City of Artesia, was founded by a courageous group of women, and provides services to what is regarded as a very private society, where victims of domestic violence suffer silently within the confines of their culture, with literally nowhere to turn. Nirupa develops innovative programs for the families SAHARA works with, actively pursues funding and grants, and provides treatment in her capacity as a licensed child psychologist.

I do not know of a more persistent and passionate advocate not only for SAHARA, but for the women and children they serve, said Supervisor Knabe. Her tireless efforts, along with the outstanding people of SAHARA, to shed light on what many in their community would rather not acknowledge is truly a profile in courage and service that flies in the face of fear.

Homeless Housing Program Leads To Significant Cost Savings

A County program that has created permanent housing opportunities for dozens of homeless individuals has resulted in a cost avoidance of over $800,000 in medical and hospital costs in the past year. The Access to Housing for Health pilot program (AHH) was created by Supervisor Don Knabe in December 2006 and utilizes $3 million of the $80 million in funding for Countywide homeless prevention initiatives that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in 2006.

The primary goal of AHH is to improve discharge opportunities for homeless men and women receiving taxpayer-subsidized medical care at County hospitals by connecting them with permanent housing resources. Upon leaving County hospitals, homeless individuals are provided with housing vouchers, as well as supportive services designed to help them successfully address their chronic illnesses and remain in housing.

As of January 30, 2009, 49 homeless clients in the AHH program have been placed in permanent housing, including 37 men and women who have been housed for more than one year. The 37 clients had a combined total of 152 emergency room visits during the 12 months prior to their enrollment. Since their enrollment, the 37 clients only had a combined total of 27 emergency room visits, a reduction of 82-percent.

The 37 clients also had a combined total of 305 inpatient hospital days in the 12 months prior to their enrollment in AHH. Since enrollment, these same clients only had 27 inpatient days, a reduction of 93-percent.

The reduction in emergency room visits represents a cost avoidance of approximately $117,000 and the reduction in inpatient hospital visits represents approximately $748,000 in taxpayer funds. All told, the AHH program helped avoid $865,000 in taxpayer spending that would have otherwise been used to pay for emergency and inpatient hospitalizations for homeless men and women. By addressing the underlying issue (lack of housing), the AHH participants can better manage their chronic conditions in an outpatient setting, shifting away from costly emergency medical care.

The AHH program is designed to place up to 115 homeless individuals into Section 8 or conventional public housing. The Housing Authorities of the County and the City of Los Angeles each set aside 50 of their Section 8 vouchers for the program. In addition, the County Housing Authority set aside 15 conventional public housing units for the AHH program.

The AHH program staff works with the Housing Authorities to fast track these vouchers within one month of application submission. The AHH program also provides temporary housing, so that participants will not have to remain homeless while waiting for their permanent housing placement.

"Above all, this program has successfully connected dozens of homeless men and women with permanent housing, but also saving tax dollars in the process," said Supervisor Knabe. "Before AHH, we had virtually no way to ensure that homeless men and women leaving our hospitals would receive safe permanent housing or appropriate care. Now we do."

Fake Immigration Lawyer Gets 10 Years In Prison

One of the largest immigration fraud cases in Los Angeles County history was recently concluded with a fake immigration lawyer being sentenced to 10 years in prison. Romina Zadorian, a 39-year-old resident of Montebello, was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay a full refund to each of the victims of the immigration scam, totaling $900,000.

Dozens of victims of the scam attended Zadorian’s sentencing on February 3, including several who testified about the fees they were charged for fake immigration services. Because Zadorian is not a United States citizen, she also faces possible deportation to her native Armenia upon completion of her prison term.

The extent of the immigration scam was revealed after complaints started coming into the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. In April 2008, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office charged Zadorian with 51 counts of felony grand theft. Prosecutors added 55 more counts two months later after identifying more victims. The victims are from many different countries, including Israel, Mexico, Armenia, China, and Belgium.

Victims reported that Zadorian charged fees ranging from $6,000 to $30,000 for services she never provided, said Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She assured her victims that she could help them with their cases because she knew special laws and had special connections with immigration officials. Instead, Zadorian filed wrong documents, submitted bad checks for payment of fees, or did nothing at all.

The Department of Consumer Affairs hopes this action sends a message that this type of fraudulent activity will not be tolerated in Los Angeles County, said Pastor Herrera, Director of Consumer Affairs.

Consumers can follow these tips to spot and avoid immigration scams:

Confirm bond
Non-lawyers who provide immigration services must have a $50,000 bond. You can file a claim against the bond if you are defrauded. Click here to confirm bonds.

Non-lawyers cannot give you legal advice
Consult an immigration attorney if you need help. Non-lawyers can hurt your case and cost you a lot of money. Click here to verify attorney licenses.

Get a contract in your language
You have the right to get a contract in your language and in English that lists the services you are getting, tells you how much you will pay, and gives you 3 days to cancel without any charge.

Cancel your contract in writing
If you cancel your contract, do it in writing. Send your letter by certified mail and keep a copy.

Get receipts
Request receipts for each payment you make. Save them.

Don’t give out your original documents
Give them copies only, and keep your originals in a safe place.

Beware of promises
People who tell you they know special laws, have connections with immigration officials, or can rush your case are lying.

Look for signs inside the office
Non-lawyers who help with immigration cases must display signs that say they are not lawyers, show their name and bond number, and list the fees they charge for each service.

Check your case status with US Citizenship and Immigration Services often
If you have a receipt number from USCIS, you can click here to check online. If you don’t have a receipt number, you can check in person. Click here to find your closest office.

Report fraud right away
If you believe something is wrong, file a complaint with the County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer Affairs: 800-593-8222,

Local Children Lose Out On $162 Million In Child Care Funding

Thousands of local children are losing out on access to millions of dollars in free child care funds because of non-flexible rules in how this funding can be spent. Supervisor Don Knabe, Chairman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, unveiled a plan today that includes changing these funding rules in order to ensure that local children fully benefit from all the child care support they are entitled.

Child care providers in Los Angeles County, both in-home and private provides, have access to millions of dollars in child care funding from the State of California every year to provide subsidies that allow children from low income families access to child care. The problem is that child care providers face antiquated contracting processes which impair their ability to serve as many children as possible at the highest level of quality.

The result is that between 2005 and 2008, over $162 million in unused child care funds were sent back to the state from providers in Los Angeles County. The need for those dollars is well documented. In the 2008, only 11,000 infants who qualify for subsidized care were served, out of an eligible population of 116,000. Only 28,000 qualifying school-age children were served, out of an eligible population of 260,000. Only 32,000 of preschool aged children are served out of an eligible population of 110,000. There are also over 51,000 children on waiting lists for subsidized care in this County, 60 percent of who are in need of full time care.

The fact that we are sending even a single dollar back to the state is unacceptable, and this situation is but one example of the inefficient, silo approach we have in place on this issue, said Supervisor Knabe. Clearly the rules for how this child care funding can be spent are not aligned with the needs of our children locally.

With my motion today, we are going to be looking closely at why this is happening and how we can fix it so that our children have access to all the child care they are entitled to have.

LA County Celebrates 25 Years Of Trauma Services

December 2008 marks the 25th anniversary of Los Angeles County’s trauma system. Nearly 400,000 critically injured trauma patients have been treated in local trauma centers since the first trauma centers were designated in 1983. Traumatic injuries continue to be the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 44.

Critically injured trauma patients include those who require immediate life-saving surgical intervention because of major blood loss or shock as a result of motor vehicle crashes, gunshot or knife wounds, falls, or other violent accidents. These patients are brought by ambulance directly to a trauma center for specialized care rather than being transported to the nearest emergency room.

Unlike regular community hospitals, trauma centers maintain an entire team of specialized medical personnel, including a trauma surgeon, who are available 24 hours a day to ensure that life-threatening injuries to be treated at a moment’s notice. There are currently 13 trauma centers in Los Angeles County, making it the largest organized trauma system in the country.

As we saw during the recent train collision in Chatsworth, trauma centers are crucial to disaster response, says Cathy Chidester, Director of the Emergency Medical Services Agency. There are four to five multi-casualty incidents every month in the county, where critically injured victims are taken to a trauma center.

Over the past 25 years, the number of trauma patients treated annually has grown from 15,138 in 1984, to 19,481 in 2007. The most recent data shows that males have more traumatic injuries than females (14,584 males vs. 4,897 females) and that the top five mechanisms of injury are: motor vehicle crashes (5,039), falls (4,045), auto vs. pedestrian/bicycle (2,947), gunshot wounds (2,366), and motorcycle crashes (1,339). Out of 19,481 trauma patients, nearly 1,800 were pediatric.

Trauma System History

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors officially designated the first eight trauma centers on December 15, 1983. The system grew to a peak in 1985 with a total of 22 designated trauma centers. The county currently has 13 trauma centers.

During the initial period of growth, there were many perceived advantages in seeking trauma center designation, such as marketing advantages, prestige, and favorable impact on post-graduate training programs. However, it quickly became evident that the perceived benefits were not enough to offset the high levels of uncompensated care for trauma patients.

The decline of trauma centers was finally halted with the implementation of secure trauma catchment areas, which helped keep patient numbers high enough for trauma centers to maintain high-quality training programs, and the Board of Supervisors’ decision to allocate newly available Proposition 99 tobacco tax monies to offset the trauma centers’ financial losses.

Additionally, the recent stability of the trauma system network is largely due to the voter-approved special parcel tax (called Measure B: Trauma, Emergency and Bioterrorism Response Assessment) that was approved in 2002. Part of the money that is collected allows the county to maintain and enhance the trauma network.

The trauma system has proven to be cost effective because it lowers mortality and morbidity rates, decreases permanent disabilities, and decreases the number of productive years lost to society, says Chidester. More importantly, the system saves lives every day by providing highly specialized care for the most life-threatening injuries.

Knabe Hosts Youth Trauma Conference

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe sponsored a conference for mental health professionals, probation officers, community workers, school administrators and teachers that examined how trauma and violence shapes the behaviors of young people.

The one-day training was developed in partnership with the Probation Department, Department of Mental Health, Los Angeles Unified School District and the Children’s Council of Los Angeles County, and focused on those engaged in delinquent behavior and under the supervision of the Probation Department.

For far too long, we have viewed kids involved in the juvenile justice system, over 27,000 in Los Angeles County alone, from primarily a prosecutorial standpoint, and that really impairs our ability to help them move past their delinquent behaviors and overcome the significant obstacles they face, said Supervisor Knabe. The goal of the conference is to impart upon staff who work with these young people everyday specific, concrete practices that take into account the trauma and violence these kids grew up with and are continually exposed to. I hope that these new groundbreaking practices will be a positive and significant step towards improving their lives and ultimately eliminating violence and the pervasive influence of gangs in their communities.