LA County Considers Measure to Remove Sheriff – NBC Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is expected to give final approval Tuesday to plans for a November ballot that would give the panel the power to remove a publicly elected sheriff from office for any reason.

By a vote of 4-1, with Supervisor Kathryn Barger disagreeing, the board gave preliminary approval last week to an ordinance that places the measure on the Nov. 8 vote. It requires another board vote on Tuesday and is expected to pass by the same margin.

If the measure is approved by voters in November, the board of directors would be given the power to remove a sheriff “for reasons” with a four-fifths majority of the vote of the five-member panel.

“Cause” is defined as “a violation of any law related to the performance of their duties as sheriff; flagrant or repeated dereliction of duty; misappropriation of public funds or property; willful falsification of any relevant official statement or document; or obstruction of any investigation into the conduct of the Sheriff by the Inspector General, the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission or any government agency authorized to conduct such an investigation.”

Although board members who supported the measure denied that it was political in nature, the move is a clear response to repeated clashes with current Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Villanueva has accused board members of devaluing his agency at the expense of public safety, and has also rejected subpoenas to appear before the province’s civil oversight committee.

Board chairman Holly Mitchell and supervisor Hilda Solis introduced the motion calling for the ballot measure. Mitchell said at the July 12 meeting that the issue goes beyond Villanueva.

“The question of sheriff’s liability before us is both urgent and systemic, and has had implications for past generations of Angelenos, but also with important implications for the future,” Mitchell said. “Unfortunately, the county has a long and disturbing history of sheriff oversight and transparency.”

The Mitchell and Solis motion referred to previous sheriffs Lee Baca, who was sent to federal prison on corruption charges, and Peter Pitchess, who “opposed any involvement in the first internal investigation into aid gangs from outside the department.”

Villanueva has labeled the proposal as unconstitutional. He sent a letter to the board last month saying the measure would “allow corrupt board members to intimidate sheriffs from carrying out their official duties to investigate crime.”

“This motion is a recipe for public corruption, especially when ’cause’ remains so broad and undefined,” the sheriff wrote. “Allowing political appointments with an agenda to determine the ’cause’ is fundamentally wrong.

“It appears that you are making yourselves judge, jury and executioner for the office of the sheriff, thereby nullifying the will of the voters. This illegal motion aims to undermine the role of the sheriff and subordinate the office to the Board of Trustees. His face, your proposed ordinance language is not a correct reading of the law and will be challenged on these multiple grounds.”

He called the move an attempt to derail his reelection bid. Villanueva faces a November 8 runoff with former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. All five members of the Supervisory Board have endorsed Luna.

Barger has questioned the motive behind the move, calling it politically motivated. She asked why it is only aimed at the sheriff and not other leadership positions in the county. She said in a statement after the vote that the proposal creates a “slippery slope for the Board of Supervisors to overturn the will of voters”.

Mitchell denied that the proposal was politically motivated.

“Since my election to this position, at no point have I speculated about what motivates a member to bring a case to us,” Mitchell said.

According to the motion, despite efforts to oversee the department, “the board of directors is nevertheless limited in its ability to act as a sufficient means of control against the sheriff’s blatant disregard for legal oversight and liability.”

The Republican National Committee released a statement labeling the proposal as “another great example of how Democrats like to change the rules when they don’t get their way.”

“Sheriff Villanueva is not just an elected official, he is one of the few willing to stand up to the board of directors for reducing law enforcement funding and effectively endangering Angelenos’ life,” he said. the RNC. “This decision by the LA County Board of Supervisors would be an attempt to intimidate the elected sheriff into doing what they want and would be yet another blow to a free and fair democracy, thanks to the California Democrats.”

Villanueva is a registered Democrat.

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