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County Supervisors Approve Reimagine L.A. Initiative – Second of Three Approvals

11:32 AM PDT on July 29, 2020

Today, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors took another step toward putting the Reimagine L.A. referendum on the November ballot. If passed by voters, Reimagine L.A. would shift ten percent of unrestricted county funds towards services and programs for under-resourced communities. Placing the measure on the ballot requires one additional county approval, expected to take place at the board's meeting on Tuesday August 4. Final November ballot submissions are due Friday August 7.

Fairly similar to last week's approval, the board heard mixed public comment and anti-Reimagine comments from Sheriff Alex Villanueva, then approved the measure on a 4-1 vote.

More than three dozen callers weighed in during public comment, with roughly two-thirds in favor of Reimagine L.A. Opponents criticized the measure as "rushed" and "last minute" while proponents characterized it as part of a "century long struggle."

Sheriff Villanueva called the measure language "deceptive" in that it focuses on programs that would be funded, and not on defunding his department (LASD). Villanueva went into great detail about the "billions and billions" that the count already spends on education, jobs, and social programs. He argued that the measure would "take away the safety net," "harm the public," and questioned "who will enforce domestic violence restraining orders?" He asserted that Reimagine L.A. would close and shrink LASD stations, and cost his department jobs of "African-American and Latino employees" who are "last hired, first fired."

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, the lone vote against the measure both last week and today, questioned the legality of the measure, job losses, fiscal inflexibility, county bond ratings, and expressed her general opposition to defunding the police.

Supervisors Hilda Solis, Sheila Kuehl, and Mark Ridley-Thomas have all championed the Reimagine L.A. measure. Kuehl weighed in strongly in favor, rebutting Barger's critique. Kuehl, a lawyer expects that the measure would hold up in court - and decried the county's paying out $45 million in excessive force lawsuits last year. Kuehl emphasized that the measure shifts only ten percent of sheriff/carceral funding, leaving the LASD with a "humongous budget." Regarding fiscal flexibility, Kuehl cited an added provision that allows the board, on a four-fifths vote, to reduce the funding set-aside during a fiscal emergency.

Solis and Ridley-Thomas both spoke of the importance of the measure to fund much-needed programs in Black and Latinx communities.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who voted to support Reimagine L.A. both last week and today, did speak of the importance of investing in programs and services, but broadly grounded her support in wanting to let county voters decide.

The vote was 4-1, with Hahn, Kuehl, Ridley-Thomas, and Solis in favor, and Barger opposed.

Find more information and and sign up for notifications via the Reimagine L.A. County coalition website.

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