Monday, May 23, 2011

Everything You Need To Know About The Role of Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors -- AND A GOOD QUESTION TO PONDER (B.O.S. 101 for Dummies)

Someone contacted me about the Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors (Stupidvisors) with a link to this blog post: "Is the Structure of L.A. County a Quasi-Dictatorial One?" from the "Citizen's For Constitutional Rights" blog. (O.K., I'll bite. I read it. Liked it. And the author agreed to allow me to post it. If you like this, check out here blog. I like how all of this unfolded before her very eyes, and the question she raises.

Is the Structure of L.A. County a Quasi-Dictatorial One?

Introduction

A little less than a year ago, a friend of mine who holds a seat on his neighborhood town council, began sharing with me some very serious on-going problems bubbling in his community. At first, I listened with half an ear but over time I started to wonder what the heck is going on out there? Random complaints about any system is bound to happen but when the stories accrue and the numbers of afflicted individuals grow then it may be time to see if there is a flaw in the system?


As I began putting together information about the board of supervisors, I decided to do a simple Google search on the subject. To my dismay and frustration, I have found very little definitional material. My keywords were: role of the board of supervisors. Apparently, each county has its own set of rules. From state to state, the title and obligations can mean many different things.

After scouring the internet, I feel just as clueless now as I did before I started. After giving up, I decided to phone Sachi Hamai, the Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors’ office. Perhaps they could direct me to some relevant materials instead of me wasting a lot of time on this mystery hunt.

The following phone call caused me to speak with four different staff members because I apparently threw them a curveball in my question.


1) I spoke with Celine, a secretary in Ms. Hamai’s office. I asked for information online telling me the role of the board of supervisors. She asked to put me on hold.

2) She transferred me to Maria, a representative of their Public Affairs department. Maria directed me to a page on their website that offered general links but no specific information. Maria put me on hold and came back saying that David Summers, acting Public Information Officer suggested I go directly to my supervisor’s website for better information. Then, Maria offered to transfer me.

3) Georgia, a secretary answered and was very cool on the phone. She gave up too and then transferred me to my fourth and final phone conversation.

4) David, an administrative assistant offered to give me a verbal overview of the role of the supervisor but I told him I want to be directed to official information on their website. He suggested I look under Supervisor Yaroslavsky’s “Our Mission” page and that will answer my question but actually it didn’t. It is a nice introduction with a nice photo of the supervisor but no clear definition of his role.

Since he had nowhere to direct me online, David suggested I look up the answer on Wikipedia. I told him I thought it was funny that I would have to go to an independent source to get that information where it should be easily accessible on their own site. The analogy I used was, “If someone is applying for the position of teacher then it only makes sense that a brief description of the role is attached to the ad.” David explained, “The role of supervisor is more complicated than the role of a teacher.” Ultimately, David gave up on me too and put me on hold. He came back on the line to inform me that his Press Deputy would call me back.

After this hot potato game of talking to multiple people, I felt exhausted. Was I asking too much in this request? When I started, it seemed simple enough. Nevertheless, while I waited for the Press Deputy to call me, I decided to take David’s suggestion to check out Wikipedia’s answer about what the role of supervisor is. It confirmed that the Board oversees all three branches of Government, including: legislative, executive and quasi-judicial roles. So, by definition, does this mean we are being led by a “quasi-dictatorial” system? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_supervisors

Then the phone rang. David was nice enough to call back with a link directing me to the hidden treasure. I finally found what I was looking for. He made me feel good by saying that my suggestion will be passed along to his website staff to provide the below information in a more easily accessible location. That would be nice. Please read the below quote from the County's own website:


It has the largest population (10,441,080 as of January 2010) of any county in the nation, and is exceeded by only eight states. Approximately 27 percent of California’s residents live in Los Angeles County. The Board of Supervisors, created by the state Legislature in 1852, is the governing body. Five supervisors are elected to four-year terms by voters within their respective districts. The Board has executive, legislative and quasi-judicial roles. It appoints all department heads other than the assessor, district attorney and sheriff, which are elective positions. The Board has delegated its role in selecting all but a few of the department heads to the chief executive officer, but still must approve appointments. As a subdivision of the state, the County is charged with providing numerous services that affect the lives of all residents. Traditional mandatory services include law enforcement, property assessment, tax collection, public health protection, public social services and relief to indigents. Among the specialized services are flood control, water conservation, parks and recreation, and many diversified cultural activities.

If you are ambitious, you can see the actual link by going here: http://lacounty.info/wps/portal/lac. Then, you have to go to the bottom right side and click on the tab County Overview.


Designed in a small list, the supervisor’s roles of “mandatory services” are as follows:

  • law enforcement
  • property assessment
  • tax collection
  • public health protection
  • public social services
  • relief to indigents

Being that the Supervisor oversees all of the above activities, if an aggrieved party has a problem with any of the assigned agencies, who is he/she supposed to complaint to? Can we assume there may be a conflict of interest here?

When I did a keyword search on finding information about the role of president, well, that was a snap. Many educational links provided a general list of duties that seem rather clear cut:
The President has a vice president and 15 cabinet level department which oversees areas such as: State, Defense, Interior, Transportation and Education, Federal Government, Homeland Security and political and economic interests around the world.

And, most importantly, the President operates under a three branch Government structure working shoulder to shoulder with the senate and congress. Why is it set up this way? Naturally, to ensure checks and balances so our constitutional rights are upheld.

Contrastly, the Board of Supervisors needs no approval from outside bodies to apply their own rules, regulations and amendments.

As I continue to hear painful stories of aggrieved individuals who talk about their encounters with the Sheriff’s department, Regional Planning Code Enforcement, Nuisance Abatement Team, Child Protective Services, and others, it really makes you wonder how it is possible that this long standing county structure has not truly been challenged. I think it’s time.


References:
“County Overview”, lacounty.gov, http://lacounty.info/wps/portal/lac (4-21-11)
“Seven Roles for One President”, 2011-1996, scholastic.com, http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=4683 (4-21-11)
Trethan, Phaedra, The Branches of Government, About.com, http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/usconstitution/a/branches.htm (4-21-11)

AND A SIDE NOTE FROM ZUMA DOGG: I don't care how many times he kissed your group's ass at some event...DO NOT EVER VOTE FOR ZEV YAROLOSLOBSKY FOR MAYOR OF L.A. (or janitor of Mayberry). Forget that he's shady...he's just a plain inept fool. The only thing he knows is a quicksand pit of bureaucracy. He spent $200,000 to set up his social media platforms. (Didn't you and I do it ourselves, for free? So maybe he had to pay someone to do it. $200,000???? DOH!)

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