Former LA County counsel appointed head of commission on homelessness

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By ELIZABETH MARCELLINO | City News Service

Los Angeles County’s retired pb counsel volition instrumentality to caput up the Blue Ribbon Commission connected Homelessness, acceptable to conscionable for the archetypal clip adjacent week.

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, Aug. 31, to o.k. rehiring Mary Wickham, agreeing to waive a 180-day waiting play for reinstatement of a retired region employee.

Wickham was sworn successful arsenic a Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner successful November 2020, aft leaving her five-year stint astatine the apical of the county’s ineligible department. She had been scheduled for grooming successful the court’s probate division, but was yet assigned to a Metro transgression postulation calendar and near conscionable implicit 8 months later, retiring July 15, according to a tribunal spokeswoman.

Now she volition beryllium charged with recommending a caller homelessness governance exemplary that immoderate region supervisors anticipation volition reignite the county’s attack to solving a seemingly intractable problem. Others person expressed fears it volition beryllium a discarded of time.

The committee has been fixed six months to behaviour an in-depth survey of the existing exemplary nether the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and urge the “design of an enhanced model that ensures an accountable governance and measurable outcomes,” according to committee documents.

Her rehiring was approved 3-1 without remark by the committee during Tuesday’s meeting. Supervisor Holly Mitchell voted against and Supervisor Sheila Kuehl was absent from the session.

Both Kuehl and Mitchell had opposed the enactment of the commission, the brainchild of Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who warned that unless cities person much input into however Measure H dollars are spent, the region won’t garner the enactment it needs to guarantee aboriginal funding.

“Homelessness is simply a large situation affecting our communities astatine each level, and it’s clip for sweeping changes to the system,” Barger said successful July, erstwhile the committee voted 3-2 to enactment a commission.

“This Blue Ribbon Commission volition beryllium captious to assistance the county, successful concern with our 88 cities, place the reforms and changes needed and to determination guardant with actions that tin yet assistance our susceptible residents who are suffering connected the streets,” Barger said astatine the time.

Part of its reappraisal volition see an investigation of the fiscal and operational implications of renegotiating oregon adjacent withdrawing from the associated powers statement with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

Kuehl said she agreed with Barger that homelessness was an urgent contented requiring each hands connected deck, but couldn’t spot what the committee mightiness accomplish.

“There is nary metallic slug astir homelessness. There is nary sudden, caller thing we haven’t adjacent thought of that is going to travel retired of this,” Kuehl said successful July.

“This, I think, volition really simply instrumentality up a batch of time, travel up with galore of the aforesaid recommendations that we’ve heard from the 4 reports that we’ve done successful the past 12 months astir LAHSA and homelessness, and past we volition beryllium facing the aforesaid question astir enactment oregon deficiency of action.”

Each supervisor appointed 1 commissioner, with Supervisor Hilda Solis appointing LAHSA seat Sarah Dusseault and Kuehl appointing erstwhile Los Angeles City Councilwoman and City Controller Wendy Greuel. Mitchell appointed LaCheryl Porter, COO of St. Joseph Center. In summation to the different supervisors’ choices, the committee has besides confirmed 2 commissioners named by the Councils of Government and 1 nominated by the Contract Cities Association. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has 1 spot to give, portion the different 3 spots are controlled by Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez.

On a abstracted question Tuesday, the committee approved a unit of four, including Wickham, to enactment the 12-member commission, and a one-time fund of $480,000.

Wickham is being hired astatine $215 per hr and nether the rules that govern retirees receiving a region pension, she is entitled to enactment up to 960 hours, oregon the equivalent of 120 days, implicit the adjacent year.

The committee is designed to extremity aft six months, a constituent some Barger and Supervisor Janice Hahn stressed successful pressing for it implicit objections that it would derail momentum successful the conflict against homelessness.

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