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Mon, Jul

Proposal to Revamp LA County Government: A Push for Modernization and Efficiency

Supervisors Hahn (l) and Horvath (r)

LOS ANGELES

LA COUNTY - It has been over a year and a half since the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors directed staff to examine ways to improve governance, transparency, representation, and ethics. However, no study has commenced, and no contractor has been selected to conduct the study. This slow pace has prompted Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Janice Hahn to propose a direct approach: a ballot measure on November 5th to overhaul county government.

The Horvath-Hahn motion suggests several key reforms:

  1. Expansion of the Board: Increase the number of supervisors from five to nine. This change aims to create smaller, more manageable districts.
  2. Independent County Executive: Introduce an elected county executive position to ensure separation of executive and legislative powers.
  3. Ethics and Oversight: Establish a new ethics board to investigate government misconduct, along with a budget and management unit and panels to update county governance periodically. 

The current structure, dating back to 1912, operates without a chief executive, similar to the ineffective government structure the U.S. had post-Revolution. The proposed changes are meant to introduce necessary checks and balances, mirroring more effective government models. This motion comes after repeated failures to address crucial issues like homelessness, public safety, and economic development.

Horvath, the newest board member, emphasizes her frustration with the county’s dysfunction. Hahn, with deep roots in L.A. County governance, has also recognized the systemic failures up close. Both supervisors underscore that the changes will not result in additional costs to taxpayers, highlighting the county's substantial $46 billion budget as sufficient.

Implementation Timeline:

•    November Ballot: If approved by the board, the proposal will be placed on the November ballot.

•    Governance Reform Task Force: This body will oversee the implementation of the changes.

•    Charter Review Commission: Convening every 10 years to evaluate and update the county charter.

•    Elected CEO by 2028: Transitioning the county CEO to an elected position.

•    Board Expansion by 2032: Expanding the board following the 2030 U.S. Census. 

Why It Matters? The Board of Supervisors controls the county’s extensive budget and oversees vital departments such as the sheriff, public health, and social services. Expanding the board and introducing an elected CEO aims to increase accountability and better represent the diverse population of Los Angeles County, which is the most populous in the nation.

Horvath and Hahn’s proposal represents a significant step towards modernizing L.A. County’s governance structure to better meet contemporary challenges. The upcoming months will be crucial as the board finalizes the ballot language and prepares to present the proposal to voters.

(Prepared by CityWatch staff.)