‘Tired of Waiting for L.A. County?’ Press Teleconference, Monday November 4th 10:30 AM Pacific Time
LOS ANGELES (November 3, 2013)⎯Health and public policy advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will unveil ‘Stop L.A. Corruption,’ a new advocacy and awareness campaign highlighting the profound failures of Los Angeles County and its key elected and appointed officials in carrying out their sworn duties to serve and protect the nearly 10 million residents of the County. The campaign formally launches Monday, November 4th with a 10:30am (PT) teleconference and the roll out of elements that include several ‘Tired of Waiting for LA County?—Stop LA Corruption’ billboards placed throughout Los Angeles, a similar double-sided Sticky Note advertisement on the Los Angeles Times, as well as the launch of the official website, www.stopLAcorruption.com, which features artwork of a line of people queuing for services. The graphic has been animated so that the line appears to be shuffling forward at a glacial—L.A. County norm—pace.
“From oversight of the Departments of Children & Family Services, County Jails, the Departments of Public Health and Environmental Health, to management of the L.A. Coliseum, Los Angeles County officials continue to demonstrate profound ineptitude to outright corruption in carrying out their sworn duties to serve and protect L.A. County residents,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “This new ‘Stop LA Corruption’ campaign is intended to make all County residents—as well as County officials—aware of just how poorly the County and its officials and bureaucrats execute their duties. That is a tragedy in and of itself, but even more so, when one realizes that lives have been lost due to the corruption, mismanagement and lack of responsible oversight by L.A. County leaders and officials.”
With 9.963 million people (as of 2012) living in 88 cities and unincorporated areas in over 4,000 square miles, Los Angeles County is more populous than 42 individual U.S. states. The County has an annual budget of $24.7 billion to serve the needs of its citizens and communities with a wide array of services including police, fire, jails, children & family services, health care, public health services and more. The 2010 census showed 3,792,621 residents in the City of Los Angeles, or roughly 38% of the entire County population. Over the past decade, AHF and other health advocates have watched as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health stumbled or fell short on managing several public health issues including tuberculosis and syphilis.
“As a longtime safety net medical provider operating in—and often on behalf of—the County, we have also experienced firsthand the corruption, cronyism and insider dealing that is so rampant throughout the County, particularly in its handling of its public health responsibilities,” added Weinstein. “Following lawsuits filed by AHF, the Superior Court of the State of California has now twice found that L.A. County violated the law by handing out seventy-five million dollar “no-bid” contracts to favored vendors—private for-profit companies—without any oversight or competition. With a County Public Health Director and five L.A. County Supervisors who are accountable to no one, AHF decided it was high time to lead a call to demand leadership reform and expose the corruption eating away at L.A. County.”
Ballot Measure to Create an Independent City of Los Angeles Public Health Department
Many of the additional examples of the County’s incompetence, cronyism and corruption documented on the ‘StopLACorruption’ website—the foster care debacle, County hospital crises, mismanagement of the Coliseum, misconduct and brutality in County jails, unreported (or delayed reporting of) TB outbreaks in schools in El Monte and elsewhere—came to the attention of health and policy advocates after AHF successfully mounted a petition drive for a ballot initiative to allow Los Angeles voters to weigh in on creating a separate City of Los Angeles Public Health Department. Since the measure qualified to appear on the ballot, it has met with strong opposition from County officials.
AHF spearheaded the initiative as part of an ongoing campaign to improve the delivery of health services, including HIV/AIDS clinical care as well as including HIV and STD prevention services throughout Los Angeles. AHF and other advocates believe the County public health system is too vast and inefficient a bureaucracy that oftentimes jeopardizes the health of the public it is charged to protect. The City of L.A. had its own independent Public Health Department up until 1964; since then, it has contracted with the County for its public health services.
“The County is putting L.A.’s public health at risk by wasting taxpayer dollars on its bureaucracy instead of fighting disease, improving our hospitals and strengthening prevention,” said Whitney Engeran-Cordova, Senior Director of AHF’s Public Health Division. “A lack of professional leadership, coupled with under-the-table dealings and favoritism has literally left people tired of waiting for L.A. County to act.”
“County bureaucracy has become so dysfunctional that L.A. residents cannot access basic County services without long lines and never-ending delays, said Tom Myers, General Counsel & Chief of Public Affairs, AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “Our ballot measure—and this ‘StopLACorruption’ campaign—is a direct response to what we see as the corruption and lack of accountability by County officials. We hope to ensure that people will be held accountable for their duties and that services to L.A. County residents will be vastly improved.”