The other day I told you who is responsible for the crisis in which criminals are released from jail after serving a small fraction of their sentence. Blame the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the voters who keep electing them:
The Supervisors say they are doing the best they can with the money they have. That’s a farce, of course. They could and should allocate much more to law enforcement. But they don’t expect to pay a political price for failing to do so. Because they won’t.
It all comes back to you, the voters and taxpayers. You keep voting down tax increases for law enforcement, on the (reasonable) theory that government ought to be able to provide for the public safety with the money it is already taking in. But you keep voting these same Supervisors into office, time and time again.
Someone at the L.A. Times gets this:
It’s really an ingenious political operation when you think about it. L.A. County supervisors are invincible, tossing around citations and millions of dollars in discretionary funds to seed their own reelections but avoiding tough choices and answering to no one for the resulting debacles.
The King/Drew fiasco exposed by The Times, in which patients lost their lives because supervisors didn’t have the will to challenge incompetent hospital administration, got supervisors squirming, but only a little. They can always point to another supervisor, the state, the system, anyone but themselves, or they can simply claim the solutions are in the works.
“There’s no accountability,” says Bob Stern of the Center for Intergovernmental Studies.
It’s the same with dangerously overcrowded jails, the disastrous lack of oversight of conservators and other entrenched problems that affect millions of lives. And yet the only two supervisors up for reelection next month — Yaroslavsky and Molina — appear to be in no danger of losing their jobs.
Who said that?
It’s Steve Lopez, who attended a meeting the other day, and watched as the Supes discussed all manner of trivia, while ignoring the real issues:
With so many big stories in the news, all of them critical to the welfare of Los Angeles County, I dropped in on a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday to see which tough and thorny issue they would tackle first.
The housing crisis? The horrific consequences of releasing inmates early from grossly overcrowded county jails, as documented in Sunday’s Times? The raging immigration debate and its many implications for Los Angeles County, which has more illegal immigrants than any other county in the nation?
The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. with two supervisors missing and no explanation for their absence, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Mike Antonovich and Gloria Molina were the no-shows, which cut down on the usual parade of citations, commendations and photo ops that make the start of each weekly session feel like a Russian circus.
. . . .
Sure, a tiny bit of business was conducted Tuesday, such as approval of a $300,000 payout to “the family of a man who died while in sheriff’s custody.” Then they moved on to other deaths.
Knabe honored, among others, a woman from his district who “was an avid player of the slots in Vegas.” It goes without saying, except in Knabe’s case, that she and the others on his list “will be sorely missed by all.” I’m surprised the supes don’t have a different color guard brigade come out each week to play taps and pick up several citations.
[Lopez describes several more dead people honored by the Supervisors.]
But there was one group of dead folks they never got around to discussing: The 16 people allegedly killed by guys who were supposed to be in jail but had been let out early because of county budget cuts.
The Get Out of Jail Free Program also resulted in charges for 518 robberies, 215 sex offenses, 641 weapons violations, 635 drunk-driving incidents, 1,443 assaults and 20 kidnappings during time the alleged perpetrators should have been locked up.
Why were those inmates released early? Not enough cells to keep them all. Why not? Not enough money to build new ones or pay additional staff, according to Sheriff Lee Baca. And what are the supervisors doing about this problem, which has been festering for many years?
They’re working on it.
Read the whole thing.