Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County CEO.
Supervisor Don Knabe hosted his annual State of the County address at the Long Beach Convention Center last week, largely focusing on County budget woes, problems in dealing with the federal government, prison realignment and the Affordable Care Act (ACA), among other issues.
The self-proclaimed moderate Republican has never minced words when it comes to the way in which the County deals with the Feds, noting that if the left and right can agree on one thing, it is the fact that American citizens become increasingly annoyed when the government exacerbates problems rather than solves them. He referred to a problem-solving government as an “invisible government.”
“Our elected officials in Washington need to take a long-term view of what is best for this country by working together,” Knabe noted. “If they need a lesson in how this is done, they can see the example of local governments across this nation who cannot play these games, but must solve the problems impacting their communities… I sometimes think what people really want is invisible government. You are safe in your home; you put the garbage out and it is collected; you drive to work and the streets have no potholes and the lights work; your kids go to school and they learn; you come home and the playgrounds and parks are well maintained and safe–and if all of this is true, you don’t notice government. It’s invisible. And it works.”
Noting the upcoming $25M to be invested in sidewalk repairs–35 miles in all–through Knabe’s district, the Supervisor led into what he called “prudent budgeting” that has detracted from “ideology [getting] in the way of of getting our jobs done.”
Further playing upon his invisible government metaphor, Knabe noted infrastructure projects through a video (yes, one set to Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound” dance-a-thon track): 1-5 improvement projects; the County’s large anti-sex trafficking program; the Safe Surrender Program which takes in unwanted babies anonymously from their mothers; the lease of the LA Coliseum by USC; the El Segundo Beach Lifeguard Station; the development of the Manhattan Beach Library; and several others.
The issue of our prisons was a topic which was easily one of the most grave: noting the State’s realignment of its prisoners to local government, LA’s inmate population has increased from 15,000 to 19,000, with some 17,000 additional parolees to watch over. On top of the over-crowding of jails–California is not just home to the most cells but cellmates as well in the nation–is the much publicized internal problems facing the jails, leading to the creation of the County’s first Inspector General.
“You have also probably read reports on issues in our jails,” Knabe noted. “The Board established a Jails Commission to investigate. Long Beach Police Chief McDonnell was my appointee and I appreciate his time and commitment to a thoughtful effort. The Commission made 60 recommendations late last year. We have fully implemented 43 of them.”
Moving onto the ACA, Knabe described as the initiative as “the Granddaddy” of issues facing the County. While 36 other states opted for the much-maligned Federal website to sign citizens onto healthcare, California is one of 11 states which opted to create its own, CoveredCA.org.
“Our goal here in LA County was to enroll 300,000 of the uninsured into Healthy Way LA, our insurance system,” Knabe said. “To date, we have enrolled 290,000 through aggressive outreach efforts. But it’s not just about getting people signed up. Los Angeles County has well over 2 million uninsured residents and the largest population of undocumenteds [sic] in the country. Like the federal government, we need paying customers to choose us because we will still have 1 million uninsured in Los Angeles County.”
Supervisor Knabe is set to serve through 2016.
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