Supervisor (D3): Rudy Melendez
North Hollywood resident Rudy Melendez, 46, is a lighting technician and member of the Motion Picture technicians union.
Two supervisors have proposed setting up a permanent citizen’s commission to oversee the Sheriff’s Department. Are you in favor of that?
I am not in favor of a citizen’s commission. This is the responsibility of the LACBOS.
What role should the supervisors play in the management and operation of the Sheriff’s Department?
The LACBOS shall require the sheriff to report to each BOS meeting and at anytime the supervisors deem necessary.
Former Sheriff Lee Baca has proposed replacing the Men’s Central Jail complex. What do you think should be done with the facility? If you believe it should be replaced, how large should it be?
The facility shall be properly maintained to house inmates.
I believe it would be irresponsible to replace the central jail complex.
Some officials believe the Sheriff’s Department should use vacant jails outside the county to relieve crowding and reduce the need to release inmates early. Do you agree?
I do not support early release of inmates for any reason other than egregious cases of judicial impropriety.
If necessary, vacant jails outside the county should be used to prevent early release of inmates.
What would you do to improve the juvenile detention system, which is under federal review following the misuse of force against children?
Center On Early Adolescence:
“An effective system works to build positive relationships between troubled youth and positive, caring, well-trained adults.”
We clearly do not have a system that is working effectively in LA and I would remove and or dismiss any individual that may be involved in the abuse and or misuse of force on juveniles in the county’s detention system.
State prison realignment has shifted more felons to local law enforcement oversight. How well do you think it has worked? Would you do anything to alter it? Has the program had any impact on public safety?
I believe state prison realignment has helped reduce overcrowding in state prisons and although costs to the county jail system may have increased it is my understanding it is still less expensive to house low level inmates in county jails versus state prisons which may be some relief for CA taxpayers.
At this point I would not change or alter the program but I also believe it is too soon to say for sure realignment is absolutely working. However according to the California Department of Finance estimates “California will save $1.5 billion over five years, while reducing recidivism and increasing public safety.”
Is the Sheriff’s Department doing enough to lower the cost and frequency of use-of-force, harassment and traffic-related lawsuits against the agency? If not, what should be changed?
I do not believe enough is being done to eliminate the cost and frequency of use-of-force, harassment and traffic related lawsuits against the department.
The LACBOS are empowered to develop and implement policy to correct this type of behavior.
It is fundamental the sheriffs department lead by example and I believe they are capable of doing so despite the recent federal investigation into the patterns of prisoner abuse.
Would you support state legislation that would give more authority to Sheriff’s Department civilian monitors? Would you support legislation that would make county sheriffs less autonomous and more accountable to county supervisors?
I do not support state legislation that would give more authority to sheriff’s department civilian monitors. I do not think it works and it is a waste of resources.
I do support legislation that would make county sheriffs much less autonomous and much more accountable to the LACBOS and the communities in which sheriff’s are expected to serve, uphold and make safe.
What would be your top priority in improving the county’s child welfare system and how would you accomplish it?
Case loads for social workers in LA County need to be reduced to more appropriate levels and I would hire more skilled and highly trained social workers to achieve these desired results.
The Los Angeles County child welfare system has been criticized for mishandling victims of abuse or neglect. Many experts say social workers are insufficiently trained to know when to separate a child from a parent. Do you agree, and if so what would you do to improve the system? Do you believe social workers should be required to hold a master’s degree in social service, as some others counties require?
I am not an expert but I disagree with the assumption that LA County social workers are insufficiently trained.
I think the issue here in Los Angeles is the overwhelming number of cases social workers are expected to address.
Perhaps holding a masters degree in social service is preferred but I do not think it should be a requirement for the job. LA county needs to hire more social workers to address the overwhelming number of cases in the system.
The Children’s Special Investigations Unit looks into problem cases and recommends ways to prevent the deaths of juveniles under the oversight of county workers. Because findings in each case have been declared confidential, the public and front-line case workers never learn what happened and how it might have been prevented. Would you support making the unit’s final reports public?
I believe these special investigation cases can be studied by experts in the field to better prevent these types of events from occurring but cases are private family matters and the final reports should not be made available to the public.
A special commission on child welfare is expected to recommend overhauling the child protection service and imposing greater oversight on private foster care providers. The group also wants to create a child welfare czar to coordinate services. Would you support such recommendations?
I believe there is always room for improvement regarding social services but I do not support adding any additional layers of bureaucracy to an agency that already needs to be overhauled to optimize better child welfare services.
With more than 36,000 children under county supervision, social workers complain that they have too many cases to effectively handle. The special commission was recently told that 683 caseworkers oversee 31 or more children and that some even have more than 60. Do you believe more workers should be hired? What would you consider a proper caseload? And if more social workers are needed, how do propose to pay for them?
Yes, of course more social workers need to be hired.
In my opinion a reasonable work load for social workers would be no more than 20 cases per month.
Consumer fees from city owned utilities such as the DWP would be a good place to start searching for extra revenue needed to pay for additional social workers.
What is your view of the job being done by Department of Children and Family Services Director Philip Browning and would you support his retention?
From all accounts I have read Phillip Browning was carefully selected for his role as DCFS Director recommended by the BOS and accepted one of the most challenging positions in the County. Although I believe the DCFS can still do better I would continue to support retaining Director Browning.
A $100 million plan to regionalize homeless services by placing a stabilization center in each supervisor’s district was shelved after community opposition arose in 2006. Should that plan be revived? How should the county deal with the homeless?
The growing homeless population in Los Angeles County is out of control particularly in downtown.
It is now 2014 and it is time to deal with the homeless population in Los Angeles.
A plan for stabilization centers throughout the five districts is long overdue and needs to be implemented.
What is the County waiting for?
The county periodically assigns the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to move people off the streets, offering assistance and shelter. Many who go in for treatment, however, quickly leave. How should the county close this revolving door while making sure money is not wasted?
In my opinion in order to best allocate resources The County should pursue the steps outlined in the Coordinated Entry System (CES) to develop a strategy that targets those individuals that are “chronically homeless and most vulnerable.”
About 60% of those on welfare are homeless. Some say they remain on the street because their monthly check of around $250 is far less than what it costs to rent. How would you address this issue? With federal housing vouchers frozen and rents continuing to go up, would you support raising the general relief amount? If so, how would you pay for it?
More affordable housing is necessary to alleviate the homeless population in LA.
I would support raising the general relief amount to offset the disparity between high rent and lack of affordable housing.
General relief assistance is mandated by the state and paid out from established county funds.
Increases in general relief assistance should come from city owned utility credits and or rebates currently paid to city owned utilities by the county.
As the Affordable Care Act increases the number of people with health insurance, a once-captive client base for county hospitals and clinics will be free to seek care elsewhere—and to take their newfound insurance coverage with them. What can you do as a supervisor to insure that county facilities don’t lose these now-paying customers?
As a supervisor I would encourage county hospitals and clinics to provide the best care possible to patients and in doing so I believe they will be “awarded more for their quality of care than they are for their volume of patients.”
County health officials have said they will continue to care for people who remain uninsured, including immigrants without legal status. Do you agree with this policy? Should there be limits to this care?
I agree with the County health officials policy and any limits to this care may perhaps be dependent on specific types of coverage and or reserved for emergency type services only.
The projected $237 million cost for rebuilding Martin Luther King hospital rose to $281 million last summer. Its reopening has also been delayed for months. Do you think the delays and increased costs are justified? Is there more county officials should be doing to get the project completed; and, if so, what?
I do not think the delays are justified and county officials should be holding these contractors accountable for delays and be willing to assess penalties and or fines.
How much more is expected from county officials to get this hospital completed in a timely manner as this community has waited too long to be served?
Studies suggest emergency room use is likely to increase at least initially as newly-insured people drop their reluctance to seek care because of cost. Given that most county emergency rooms are already overcrowded, what would you do to manage this growth?
“The heart of the problem of emergency room overcrowding is a pervasive financing system that favors elective medicine.”
We need to encourage hospital administrators to change the culture of “elective admissions as the economics of this practice are the driving force of emergency room overcrowding.”
Do you have any concern about the amount of influence business or organized labor groups exert in county politics and this race specifically?
No not particularly and I can tell you that neither organized labor nor any specific business has exerted any influence on my decision to run for Supervisor.
Supervisors boast of having maintained the county’s fiscal health by keeping purse strings tight during the recession. In that same period, the jails have been overcrowded and fallen under federal investigation; the child welfare system has been accused of failing abused kids due to heavy caseloads; public hospital emergency rooms have overflowed with patients, and programs to move tens of thousands of people off on the streets have seen limited success. What would you do as supervisor to raise new revenue or free up existing resources to address these budget challenges?
According to the Institute for Local Government “Revenues from the federal and state government are the largest source of funding for health and human services” in the county.
“Property taxes sales and use taxes, vehicle license fees, are the primary funding sources for many county services that don’t have a dedicated state or federal funding source.”
If we can not find the revenue here or free up resources from existing funding streams the BOS should explore raising new revenue through voter approved bond measures that target very specific needs and services.
The county currently requires many contractors to pay a “living wage” that amounts to $11.84 an hour. Given the current national and local movements to raise the minimum wage to a much as $15.37, do you believe the county’s required living wage should be increased; and if so, to what amount?
The County should require contractors to pay an acceptable living wage that allows workers to break free from the current state of “economic apartheid.”
Los Angeles County government has the largest workforce in Southern California, with about 101,000 employees. Many went without pay raises during the recession. Would you vote to give county workers higher pay at this point in the economic recovery?
I would vote to give pay raises to county employees based on the current contract offer that is subject to negotiation.
Los Angeles County is one of the few remaining jurisdictions that does not offer peace officers “3% at 50,” which would mean sheriff’s deputies can retire at age 50 and receive 3% of their highest year’s pay for every year of service. Do you believe the county should move to that standard?
The county simply can not financially support 3% at 50 retirement plans for officers.
I think it is unconscionable to think if you work, for example, thirty years as a peace officer that you would expect to receive 90% of your highest year wages in retirement salary.
Current civil service protections prevent the county from moving some veteran employees to posts where their experience may be most needed; for example, social workers who have already spent time in a difficult region of the county cannot be sent back without their permission. Would you do anything to change that civil service rule?
No, I would not change the rule as it is my understanding there is an appeals process that does not necessarily authorize the employee to refuse the assignment, transfer or change pending a completion of the appeal process to the director of personnel.
Oil extraction is on the rise in parts of the county and residents fear that some techniques might pollute the air and water. Do you believe it is acceptable to extract oil and gas in urban settings? Do you believe hydraulic fracturing is safe?
We can’t expect to become less dependent on foreign oil and gas without making some concessions that may lead to the extraction of oil and gas in urban settings particularly in LA where we love to drive our cars.
I am not an expert on hydraulic fracturing and no, I don’t think it probably is very safe, but can we ignore the fact that the oil and gas industry in California creates jobs in Los Angeles Co.?
What is your position on the proposal to transform the San Gabriel Mountains’ Angeles National Forest into a National Recreation Area either managed or co-managed by the National Park Service?
I support congressional legislation that would be required to transform the San Gabriel Mountains’ Angeles National Forest into a National Recreation Area managed or co managed by the National Park Service.
Should the county make another attempt to ask voters to approve a storm water cleanup fee? If not, how should the county address the cost of cleaning up storm water?
Yes, the county should make another attempt to ask voters to approve a storm water clean up fee and if it is not approved the county then must address the cost of cleaning up storm water through public education, public service announcements and better enforcement of the state’s current litter laws.
Given the statewide drought, should the county be doing more to conserve water; and if so, what? Would you limit new residential or commercial development?
Yes, the county needs to be doing more to improve public education and mandate much needed high priority water conservation efforts.
I would not limit new residential or commercial development but instead implement strategies for new developments that emphasize water management programs that increase user efficiency and emphasize reuse low impact and conservation.
The supervisors have been chastised for violating the state’s open meetings law, as they did in 2011 when they met in private with Gov. Brown to discuss state prison realignment. What will you do to improve government transparency and avoid violating the open meetings law and public records act?
As someone who has already completed certified ethics training in Los Angeles I would take an oath an abide by the Brown Act and open meeting laws in the State of California.
Unlike a standard practice at Los Angeles City Hall, people paid to lobby county officials are not required to disclose the issues they work on, and they sometimes violate existing reporting standards without punishment. Would you do anything to change the county’s lobbying rules?
Yes, I would require lobbyists to follow the rules and enforce strict penalties for violations of the County’s lobbyist ordinance municipal regulations code.
Each supervisor has a pool of money that can be spent at their discretion and without full board approval. What would you do to insure that the public easily sees how you spend your share?
I would provide a full public disclosure of any funds that were spent at my discretion.
The county’s current campaign finance law is designed to reward candidates who stick to a voluntary spending limit for elections. But critics say the current limit of $1.4 million is too low. Do you believe the campaign finance law should be changed; and if so, how?
Spending 1.4 million dollars on a county election in my opinion is wasteful and obnoxious and I would encourage anybody that might be considering a campaign donation to rethink your decision and make a charitable contribution to a serving and deserving organization in your community.
I have voluntarily chosen to spend less than 1,000 dollars on my campaign for LA County Supervisor - Third District.
Should the supervisors create or seek voter approval of a regulatory body similar to Los Angeles’ City Ethics Commission, which attempts to shape, administer and enforce laws regarding governmental ethics, conflicts of interests, campaign financing and lobbying?
Yes, LA County Supervisors like any other elected city official must be held accountable for their actions and should seek voter approval to expand the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission to allow oversight and evaluate the effectiveness of the LA County Supervisors.
Supervisors also serve as members of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, overseeing billions of dollars in subway, light rail and bus transit services. Do you use public transportation? If so, how often and what routes?
Yes, I do use public transportation approximately once a month and generally when I do I use Amtrak, Metrolink and light rail service from LA to Orange County.
Should Metro’s rail system be extended all the way to LAX; and if so, how?
Yes, Metro’s rail system should be extended from the Culver City station via Venice Blvd. to Lincoln Blvd. to LAX or from Culver City station to Culver Blvd. to Lincoln Blvd. to LAX.
What do you believe is the most pressing transportation issue that county residents face right now and how would you address it?
Automobile traffic is priority number one when talking about transportation issues that county residents face right now.
Maintenance and expansion are necessary to accommodate growth and the County should take a leadership role in promoting the development of intercity high-speed rail and better invest in California’s transportation infrastructure.
A sales tax for transportation projects (a new Measure R) will likely be on the 2016 ballot. Do you support a tax increase for transit? If so, what specific projects do you think such a tax should fund?
Yes, I support Measure R for very specific light rail projects to and from LAX and for a network of bicycle pathways from the Encino Basin recreation area to Los Angeles via the Los Angeles River and from downtown Los Angeles to the Westside via the Los Angeles River, Washington Blvd. and Ballona Creek.
A year ago, Metro and Caltrans converted the carpool lanes on the 110 and 10 freeways into experimental toll lanes that solo drivers are allowed to use. Would you support a similar conversion to toll lanes on other county freeways, like the 405 or the 5?
Yes, as long the experimental toll revenue generated is designated specifically to treat storm water clean up and remove litter garbage and trash from these same sections of freeways and on & off ramps.