Options for removing sheriff, COVID-19 vaccine efforts return to Supes’ agenda

Los Angeles County Seal.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is once again set to discuss options for limiting the sheriff’s powers and ultimately removing him from office during Tuesday’s meeting, amid an ongoing conflict with Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

In November, a motion aimed at looking into authorizing an appointed sheriff, as well as removing certain existing responsibilities of the sheriff and “curtail(ing) the sheriff’s resistance to transparency, accountability and the faithful performance of duties,” passed 3-2. 

The two who voted against the motion were Supervisor Janice Hahn of the 4th District and Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District includes the Santa Clarita Valley, who said that while she doesn’t agree with many of Villanueva’s decisions, she noted he was independently elected and did not feel the board should be making long-term policy decisions.

On Tuesday, county counsel, in conjunction with the inspector general and acting CEO, along with the executive director of the Civilian Oversight Commission and justice advocates, are expected to return to the board with their report.

Though the California Constitution limits the scope of the authority the Board of Supervisors has over the sheriff, the report is expected to include any legislative changes necessary. 

Measures to assist COVID-19 vaccine efforts

In addition, the supervisors are expected to discuss a motion aimed at creating a coordination effort with the county’s Department of Public Health, along with any other relevant departments or community agencies, to provide a vaccination plan for the implementation of Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination.

Phase 1B, which is split into two tiers, includes education and childcare, emergency services and food and agriculture workers in the first tier, as well as transportation and logistics, industrial, commercial, residential and sheltering facilities and services, critical manufacturing, incarcerated settings, and homeless settings in the second tier. 

While L.A. County had hoped to receive more vaccine doses in a faster timeline, Public Health expects to begin vaccinating those in Phase 1B by early February and that everyone in this phase should have been offered at least one dose of vaccine by late March.

Another motion would allow the Board of Supervisors to send a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department in support of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which was developed in the UK and has yet to be approved for use in the U.S., along with any other federal proposals that would expand vaccine supply and distribution.

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