by Rick Orlov, Los Angeles Daily News
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, embroiled with Los Angeles County in a political battle over the formation of an L.A. City Health Department, launched a new campaign on Monday — a $30,000 multimedia effort attacking the county for poor service and corruption.
AHF President Michael Weinstein said the organization is trying to build a grass-roots movement to force change on the Board of Supervisors. “Los Angeles County is the most unaccountable government in this country,” he said.
“There is no other example of such a small body governing such a large number of people — 10 million people — and once they get in, they are never challenged. This looks more like a politburo than a democracy. We are trying to mobilize public opinion to create a change.”
Weinstein said AHF has created www.stopLAcorruption.com, which shows people lifelessly shuffling in line, under the headline, “Tired of waiting for L.A. County?” It accuses the entity of putting “bloated bureaucracy and cronyism” ahead of Angelenos.
The site lists a myriad of county services it feels are impacted by county inefficiency. It alleges that county monies go disproportionately to salaries and benefits rather than resident needs and that syphilis rates went up after the county declared the outbreak over.
In addition to the website, AHF is going full tilt on billboards and newspaper ads to make its case.
“It’s one thing to wait in lines for marriage licenses or to pay a ticket, it’s a tragedy when children die while in custody,” Weinstein said.
He complained about the attitude of county officials toward the public and their refusal to implement existing laws, such as Measure B, which passed last year and requires condoms be used in adult films.
Two members of the board, Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky, are being termed out this coming year, and Weinstein said he hopes to make the case that new officials be more open to the public.
“They treat the public with contempt,” Weinstein said. “They will spend 45 minutes giving out proclamations and pet adoptions, and when the public gets to speak, they are squeezed into two minutes while board members talk on the phone or leave the room.”
To Assistant County Executive Officer Ryan Alsop, the vehemence of AHF’s campaign is no surprise. “This is coming from the same individuals who are using the same kind of shock-and-awe tactics to carelessly and selfishly propose dismantling of the county’s public-health system,” he said.
“It’s obvious they have some personal vendetta against some folks here, and they are using their organization to wage an unnecessary war.”
AHF has qualified an initiative for a public vote on the creation of a new city Health Department, separate from the county operation. Both the city and county have filed motions asking that the initiative be invalidated.