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Voters to determine if L.A. County supervisors can take away sheriff


Los Angeles County voters will determine in November whether or not to present the Board of Supervisors the ability to take away an elected sheriff from workplace.

The proposal, which stems from supervisors’ long-running feud with Sheriff Alex Villanueva, would severely undercut the autonomy sheriffs in L.A. County have all the time been granted and hand a rare stage of authority to the already highly effective supervisors.

The five-person board, which can be elected, voted 4 to 1 on Tuesday to put a measure on the poll that, if authorised by a majority voters, would amend the county constitution to permit a sitting sheriff to be jettisoned. To kick out a sheriff, at the least 4 supervisors would wish to agree that she or he isn’t match for workplace.

Within the Nov. 8 election, voters additionally will determine whether or not to reelect Villanueva, a controversial, pugnacious chief who has repeatedly clashed with the board all through his first time period in workplace. Villanueva is dealing with a tricky runoff towards retired Lengthy Seaside Police Chief Robert Luna.

“The voters deserve a chance to determine whether or not that is the appropriate approach to improve accountability of the sheriff, of the elected sheriff, and shield the lives and liberties of county residents,” Supervisor Holly Mitchell stated final month when she first proposed the plan together with Supervisor Hilda Solis.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger forged the lone vote towards the measure Tuesday. She has questioned why the proposal applies solely to the sheriff and never the opposite seven elected county officers, together with board members.

“I simply need to warning us all that this motion has broader implications than one particular person, as I strongly disagree with the motion,” Barger stated final month when the board was debating the concept. “I believe it ought to use not solely to at least one elected [official] however to all — and if we’re going to do it for the sheriff, we must always do it for the assessor we must always do it for the D.A. and fairly frankly, perhaps for this board as properly.”

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl countered that the added oversight was wanted as a result of the sheriff holds an distinctive quantity of energy. “I don’t see the assessor getting individuals killed,” she stated. “It’s actually concerning the capacity to carry somebody accountable once they have a really highly effective place.”

In a letter final month to the board, Villanueva referred to as the transfer a “low cost political stunt” designed to harm his bid for reelection. He urged that he could mount a authorized problem, saying he believed the measure can be deemed unconstitutional by the courts.

“The Board is making an attempt to cheat the system and create a ‘fast-track’ pathway to take away a duly elected sheriff, one which circumvents the legislation and the foundational ideas of due course of enshrined within the Fourteenth Modification,” the letter stated.

Beneath the proposal, the board would have the authority to take away a sheriff for critical misconduct, together with “flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of funds, willful falsification of paperwork or obstructing an investigation.”

The language about obstruction is especially related to the supervisors’ dangerous blood with Villanueva, who has repeatedly refused to seem earlier than a civilian oversight panel when it has subpoenaed him to reply questions beneath oath about teams of deputies which can be stated to resemble avenue gangs, and different issues within the division.

Whereas critics of the concept argue it’s dangerous governance to create insurance policies round a person, proponents deny it was not pushed solely by Villanueva.

“This modification to the county constitution isn’t a political assault on anybody sheriff,” Stephanie Luna, the aunt of Anthony Vargas, who was killed by two deputies in 2018, stated earlier than the board final month. “It’s a push for the board to have the flexibility to step in when any sheriff in cost obstructs justice and permits a tradition of violence throughout the division that in the end endangers our communities.”

“We’re not asking for something loopy,” she continued. “We’re asking {that a} sheriff — any sheriff that commits any kind of misconduct and obstruction — be held to the identical requirements that we’d.”

Former county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who stated he isn’t a Villanueva supporter and needs to see him defeated on the polls, cautioned the constitution modification may give Villanueva a bonus on the marketing campaign path and assist him get reelected.

“The unintended consequence might be that the sheriff might be reelected,” Yaroslavsky stated. “He’ll posture himself because the sufferer of an influence wrestle.”

The L.A. County supervisors aren’t the primary to have had this concept.

In 2001, then-California Atty. Gen. Invoice Lockyer concluded {that a} county constitution could grant the board of supervisors the authority to take away the sheriff, district legal professional or different county officer for trigger with a four-fifths vote.

The opinion was cited by a California appeals court docket in 2005 when it declared constitutional an ordinance authorised by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors that allowed them to take away a sheriff for sure causes — together with flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of public property, violation of any legislation associated to the efficiency of the official’s job duties or willfully falsifying an official doc — with a four-fifths vote.



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