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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA June 3, 2014 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Supervisor; County of Los Angeles; Supervisorial District 3

The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Foster Care, MTA, Oversight of Sheriff's Department

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What steps do you think the Board of Supervisors should take to improve the foster care system and in particular to provide safe emergency or temporary placement for infants and children?

Answer from Yuval Daniel Kremer:

First, I am an Educator; I was a Camp Counselor (7 and 8 year old boys), Bus Driver (Beverly Hills/PCH/Topanga route), and Jr Camp Arts & Crafts Specialist (for 3,4, and 5 yr olds); and I obviously care tremendously about the safety and well-being of all children, having worked with them almost my whole adult life, and even before I was an adult (as a Jr Counselor and tutor). I myself plan to adopt in the future, possibly fostering as well, likely an older child/children, who are harder to place. I am currently educating myself on the problems the County is facing in this area, apparently primarily in one of the five supervisorial districts. I am especially listening to the ideas that the other candidates have in this area. Each of us brings different skill sets and knowledge to this race, and it is a Huge 24/7 Job, that requires a steep learning curve FOR ALL OF US. The public needs to understand that the Supervisors oversee a very large geographic area of close to 90 cities (there are actually two LA's, the City of LA and the County of LA) and a budget of close to 25 Billion Dollars, and therefore have large staffs of specialists to help them carry out their duties. For example, Supervisor Gloria Molina has a staff of roughly 30 people. I plan to hire a great staff of specialists, each of whom are highly competent and passionate about the area they are assigned to, including this area. I will also listen to the County Manager's staff and Public Input in this area. Let's just say, should I be chosen, I will know what to do regarding this issue before I step into office. It's better to get it right than to throw out some quick razzle dazzle words and get it wrong. We have MANY months ahead of us, with the June primary, and a virtually certain November runoff (because there are 8 candidates). The winner only takes office in December !

Answer from Rudy Melendez:

In order to improve the foster care system in Los Angeles County I believe we need to start by "educating the public so as they can better understand the complexities of the foster care arena" and thus "remove the stigma associated with foster care"

Social worker case loads need to be reduced to acceptable levels.

In regards to safe and or temporary emergency housing for infants perhaps a safe haven could be made available in our local community hospitals and for under age children resources such as partnering shelters and homeless housing services must be fully supported by the county of Los Angeles and championed by the Board of Supervisors. It is our duty to see this through!

Answer from Bobby S. Shriver:

Create transparency and accountability. Multiple agencies and programs are currently responsible for aspects of child welfare but there is inadequate integration and coordination among them. Placing responsibility for overseeing reform and interagency collaboration in a single individual will bring accountability to the County's efforts to keep vulnerable children safe.

Increase the number of social workers. Currently, over 66% of current social workers manage a caseload of 31 children and sometimes 40 children. The County CEO, Board of Supervisors and the union have agreed to hire 450 new children's social workers to reduce caseloads. This is a positive step but it may not go far enough and the process of recruiting, training, and retaining highly qualified social workers requires active oversight. Bobby will be a leader in the effort to ensure that vulnerable children get the attention they need from competent social workers.

Reduce the number of kids in the system by focusing on prevention. We need to prioritize services for at-risk children and parents by adopting reforms such as mandatory health screenings and the cross-reporting of all abuse cases. We should also increase the number of home visitations and prioritize access to existing services for families in need.

Require performance based contracting with foster agencies and reward for better outcomes. Recent investigations have exposed serious problems among private foster agencies. We must review our contracts with private foster agencies and require providers to disclose the criminal histories of foster parents and adopt stricter screening practices. In addition, we must demand full compliance with reporting, staffing, and monitoring requirements to ensure better child outcomes.

Increase compensation for relative foster caregiving. California provides among the lowest levels of financial support for foster caregiving by relatives in the nation. Many of these families are already struggling to make ends meet and need help shouldering the financial burden of taking another child into their homes. Relatives should not be discriminated against for fostering a child in their home.

Embrace community organizations as models and as partners in reform.

There are many examples of best practices here in LA County that should be replicated. For example, Stuart House in Santa Monica collocates resources in a child friendly facility, services of the Rape Treatment Center, law enforcement agencies, the District Attorney's Office, and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)." The new facility being built in the San Fernando Valley will have collocation of services and this is a model of how we build the foundation for lasting reforms.

Answer from Eric Preven:

5000 new cases have been opened by DCFS since December 2013. The recommendation to put a Czar in place, something akin to the Supreme Allied commander in WWII is a good one. Silo mentality has failed the children of LA county. Engaging an outside "change agent" with authority to redeploy budgets cross departmentally is a critical first step to reform.

For example, the county sends our least trained and inexperienced social workers into the field to make, arguably the most important field decisions about taking children.  We collectively know that this is wrong, and yet, this is what we do.

We provide more money for "non-family" care providers, even though the statistics show that 'family-care-givers" struggle more with money and have significantly better outcomes -- we know this is wrong, and yet, this is what we do.  

The many workers we have are being asked to operate a system that is not functional. Many of the fixes we have been able to make, including the reduction of ludicrous amounts of pointless paperwork, has been thanks to the fine work of diligent and passionate child care workers. That said, in the simplest terms we must "reduce removal" and "support reunification."

Answer from Douglas P. "Doug" Fay:

Through improved supervision and accountability of County staff managing the foster care system. If elected, it is imperative that I (myself and staff) gain a complete understanding of the placement case load and qualified homes expediently.

A thorough evaluation of current County foster care policies, guidelines, and performance evaluation is a must. This should be mandatory in the current County General Plan Update process with full participation including, but not limited to, input from foster children, parents, relatives, social workers, healthcare professionals, mentor programs, community/spiritual organizations, and others that are involved in family welfare.

Prevention is the cure. Investing in programs that focus on the parents of potential foster children has the greatest potential to reduce case load and to keep families united. I will have members of my staff that are as passionate about social welfare as I am. We will advocate for/join the no child left behind policy.

The County foster care website appears to be excellent. The Board should continue to strive for increased transparency, quality control including adequate staffing for exceptional caring services, community programs and funding partnerships for our foster care system.

Answer from Pamela Conley Ulich:

I agree with the Blue Ribbon task forces recommendation that a Childcare Czar or one coordinating entity be appointed to:

"to work with the Board to ensure that all relevant departments are accountable for improved child safety.

That entity should oversee the development of joint strategic plans, including the combining of resources.

It also should be charged with consolidating, prioritizing, implementing, and evaluating reforms mandated by the Board.

In its Final Report, the Commission will highlight the important components of such an entity and recommend a streamlined system for vetting and implementing needed reforms.

Ultimately, the Board of Supervisors and County leadership should be able to answer confidently the question of whether the adopted strategies are improving child safety".

If elected, I will implement the final recommendations of the Commission as soon as possible.

We will be judged in the end by how we treat and care for the youngest and the oldest in LA County.

Answer from John Duran:

Transfer the more experienced social workers to the home visits rather than using novice social workers for home visits. Contract with private sector non profit organizations to increase number of social workers. Systems upgrade in technology that allows for greater cross communication between social workers, mental health providers, law enforcement, clergy and family members to better monitor what is occurring in the home.

Answer from Sheila Kuehl:

There must be a designated facility for emergency and temporary placement of infants and children. It is not acceptable to have children sleeping on the floors of offices. The County must hire more social workers and take more time to train them. The recently-opened academy for new hires is a good start, as is the addition of 450 new social workers recently approved by the Supervisors. However, social worker case loads are still too high. The County also must improve the placement of social workers so that experienced case managers also make many of the home visits and are assigned to deal with more of the most difficult and complex cases. The County must also improve its oversight of agencies that identify potential foster parents, as well as homes that house foster youth who are aging out of the system. We must do better at transition services for this population, as well.

? 2. The County Supervisors sit also on the board of the Metropolitan Transit District. What would be your top priorities for the MTA?

Answer from Pamela Conley Ulich:

To implement and insure that the transportation needs of LA County are met in a timely and professional manner.

Answer from John Duran:

Increase light rail/subway systems throughout the County. Build adequate parking at metro stops to make heavy/light rail use more user friendly. Connect the Expo Line to LAX. Build an underground tunnel to connect the San Fernando Valley to the greater Westside. Connect the Green line to the Norwalk train station. Expand beyond the Orange Line in the Valley for more mass transit throughout the San Fernando Valley.

Answer from Sheila Kuehl:

In order to get people out of their cars we need a comprehensive plan to get people to and from train stations, such as a DASH-like system in various parts of the County, bicycle valets and lockers. I support the creation of a line from the San Fernando Valley through the Sepulveda pass all the way to LAX. I would like to see a hub at LAX that connects the new Valley line with the Crenshaw line and the Green Line, where you can check your luggage, get your seats and hope on a people mover that takes you around to each of the terminals. We must continue to pay attention to our bus riders and find other ways to move Metro from the red to the black that doesn't involve raising fares. I support the expansion of the system through an extension of Measure R, which should soon be on the ballot.

Answer from Douglas P. "Doug" Fay:

Respecting the welfare of our County commuters by moving them as fast, safely, and efficiently as possible at the lowest possible fare. It's my understanding that the MTA was created to improve the transportation system through planning and funding infrastructure improvements that meet the demands of our population. Unfortunately, this hasn't occurred and as commuting times increase, quality of life decreases.

Riders recently testified that increasing fares and cutting back service would be a hardship, especially on low income commuters. Financial transparency and accountability of the MTA is a must. Auditing and reviews should be conducted independently and often enough to ensure that the MTA has the public's support, which will provide for maximum funding potential.

There's no easy fix for our transportation system. As I did in Monterey County, I would step away from the politics and analyze the available data to determine where deficiencies exist, then lobby for community support and policies that secure funding to implement solutions. This should be done through the transportation element in the County General Plan Update process. The MTA, Caltrans, County, and City officials must work together to draft a comprehensive transportation plan that includes walking, bicycle, vehicle, bus, and rail services.

Encouraging smart growth balanced jobs to housing and walkable community policies that reduce commutes in current and planned development will help alleviate congestion. For example: my wife and I chose our current resident location because she can walk our children to school and her place of employment, and I can ride my bicycle to work 1.6 miles away faster than I can drive and find parking.

LOS F = failure. There should not be any overriding considerations that allow for failure. As a member of the MTA, I would solicit the riders, and potential riders, for their valued input and do everything possible to make their lives better by working closely with the board.

Answer from Rudy Melendez:

I believe we must start by requiring an audit of the MTA and hold the MTA accountable to bus and rail line users before proceeding with any proposals for additional fare increases and furthermore if we as angelenos hope to improve our daily commute to work, school and market through a reduction of traffic effectively encouraging commuters to leave their cars at home in favor of public transportation we expect and demand as riders of the MTA for our paid fare that buses and bus stops need to be cleaner and inviting!

Answer from Yuval Daniel Kremer:

Let's first understand that Traffic in the Valley and on the Westside is Horrible because the MTA has decimated Bus Service, contrary to the promises made to Bus Riders in order to pass the Measure R Sales Tax Increase. I think this is an intentional effort by MTA to shift even more money to Very Expensive Rail which will take Decades to build, while making Taxpayers suffer enough so that they vote for tax increases to pay for that Rail, which will STILL require a massive Bus Network (including much-needed additional N/S service) because LA is so spread out. I oppose turning Carpool Lanes into Toll Lanes, which I consider to be Double Taxation, and I oppose so-called "Road Diets", which take lanes away from cars and hand them to bicyclists, and would make traffic even worse. I would restore the Bus Service Hours that have been cut. Since Bus Service has been cut in half, that would mean DOUBLING current Bus Service Hours. Heavy Rail is being built on the backs of Bus Riders, while MTA blatantly manipulates ridership data by making Bus Ridership highly inconvenient and allowing Rail folks to ride for FREE for the last Decade (unlocked gates scandal recently exposed by the Times). MTA has also added Rail Service in the middle of the night for drunk partiers every 15 minutes, while cancelling the Beverly Blvd Rapid used by workers to go East/West across the County's busiest that trip takes half a workday, stopping every two blocks. I would expand MTA's popular Red Rapid Bus program to all major streets, as well as increase its frequency and evening/weekend hours. Bus Riding has to be Convenient for the public to get out of their cars ! I would also keep fares low for public transit, audit the MTA's Multi-Billion Dollar Annual Budget, and eliminate the wasteful spending. The five Supervisors sit on the MTA Board along with others. I would use that seat to shine a media spotlight on MTA. I would fire MTA's CEO, whom I consider to be Anti-Bus. I would also lobby Sacramento to kill off the One Hundred Billion Dollar Bullet Train Boondoggle, and to instead use those Taxpayer Billions for local road repair, new carpool lanes, new light rail, local Rapid Bus Service, Neighborhood Circulators (DASH and Commuter Express), as well as Safety Stoplights, Pedestrian Crosswalks, needed Safety Stop Signs...and Bicyclist Safety Efforts.

Answer from Eric Preven:

Traffic is off the charts bad. Any fix is going to come down to vision and resources and compromise. I believe we need to inspire people who generally drive to actually use alternatives. The way to get them to opt in, is to provide a really good service.

I am among the 169,478 daily riders of the Red Line, at least once a week. The Red/Orange line through the Valley serves the largest commuter population and should be emulated elsewhere.

But if the big goal is to increase transit ridership while reducing automobile congestion, we must be sure that our transit system serves the communities that use it, equitably. The proposed concept of high tolls without an alternative becomes an equity issue because we'll be pricing working people off the road. If we move beyond the testing of toll routes, we'll need to ensure that we provide alternatives to driving... like dedicated lanes for buses.

Buses have two key advantages over underground rail systems; they're flexible and can serve the residents by population. Also, bus lines do not require ten years of digging and a whopping price tag that we'll be paying down for decades.

In Sacramento at present there is a motion to expand the MTA by two seats, which I think should be heard fairly at public hearings, to see what the people think.

I certainly support accommodations for bicycle commuters.

Answer from Bobby S. Shriver:

I will save commuters money and time wasted in traffic while alleviating congestion-related health and environmental problems. Specifically, I will work to finish the completion of the subway to West LA with stops at LACMA, Century City, and the VA. I will expedite connecting the Valley to the rest of the region by completing the San Fernando Transit Corridor with light rail and moving forward on options through the Sepulveda Pass. I will connect rail to LAX. I will support fixing roads in neighborhoods through local return on measure R funding and working with city efforts to improve infrastructure. I will work to continue the regional effort to lobby for federal and state funding.

? 3. Do you support the creation of an independent oversight commission for the Sheriff's Department?

Answer from Yuval Daniel Kremer:

No...I support electing a GOOD non-political Sheriff, with oversight from the Board of Supervisors (which controls funding). If that becomes insufficient, that is what ACLU lawsuits, the County DA, the State, and the Feds are for ! Oh, I forgot...the Local Media also is great at exposing Sheriff's abuses !

Answer from Bobby S. Shriver:

Yes. I support citizen oversight of the Sheriff's Department and implementation of reform including establishing stronger relationships within the diverse communities of our district.

Answer from Rudy Melendez:

I do not support the creation of an independent oversight commission for the LA County Sheriff's Department. I believe it would prove to be rather ineffective. Any oversight of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department must be the responsibility of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Answer from John Duran:

Yes. I also believe in separating the sheriff deputies who work in the county jail from the sheriff deputies who patrol the streets. These are 2 contrary environments. Rather than pass all new hire deputies through the county jail system, hire those who perform best in the strict jail environment to remain there. Then adopt community based policing for those deputies who would serve better with the public on county streets.

Answer from Douglas P. "Doug" Fay:

The answer to this question would depend on the roll and value to the public of the oversight commission. If the roll of the (temporary) commission would be to detail the problems that the candidates running for Sheriff need to address if elected, and hold them accountable through a written contract or other means for a sound election endorsement, I would say yes. Otherwise, I don't see a value in having a commission that has no power to change how the soon to be elected Sheriff runs his department.

Voters need to understand that the Board of Supervisors does not have the authority to tell the Sheriff what to do. They only control the funding needed to run the department. It is imperative that the Sheriff and the Board put politics aside and the welfare of the public, including inmates, in the highest regard. This leadership structure is problematic. It does effect the moral within the department and the communities served.

Scandals and lawsuits are costing us millions of dollars that could otherwise be invested into society. Sheriff Baca was known for introducing educational programs for inmates. It's one example of what an oversight commission could recommend if the overdue comprehensive reform of the County's law enforcement and incarceration system, which I support, was initiated.

Answer from Eric Preven:

I fully support the idea of setting up a citizen's oversight commission and personally attended and participated in most of the Citizen's Commission on Jail Violence [CCJV] hearings in 2012.

The crisis of leadership in the Sheriff's department has resulted in some very disturbing realities. To restore a sense of confidence and mutual respect between residents and the Sheriff's department, during the leadership transition currently underway by election, a strong reminder of who is working for who is needed.  

Miriam Krinsky, the executive director of the CCJV, explained the need for "golden key" access. The basic idea is that everybody, law enforcement included, behave as better citizens, when there is a feeling that a group of witnesses might walk in at any moment.  

Sheriff Baca supported this idea, so the fact that the Third District vote never materialized was a big disappointment and contributed to my decision to run.

Answer from Pamela Conley Ulich:

Yes and on February 25, 2014, I testified in support of the oversight commission in front of the Board of Supervisors.

Answer from Sheila Kuehl:

Yes, I am in favor of a citizen's oversight commission, as well as greater authority to the Inspector General to have access to the information he needs to assess the behavior of jail personnel. I also favor a citizens' oversight commission for the juvenile justice system in the County.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' answers are presented as submitted.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 9, 2014 18:43 PDT
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