By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday put off to Nov. 10 consideration of a motion to direct specified officials to report within 30 days on how to go about removing Alex Villanueva as sheriff.
Under the motion, by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Shiela Kuehl, a report in writing would be required on:
“a. Options for removing or impeaching the Los Angeles County (County) Sheriff (Sheriff), including any necessary changes to the County Charter or County Code;
“b. Legislative changes required to authorize an appointed Sheriff, including the path and timeline required to amend the California Constitution and Los Angeles County Charter as needed;
“c. Legislative changes required to potentially remove certain existing responsibilities of the Sheriff, such as municipal law enforcement services and court services, as well as the authority of the County Board of Supervisors to appoint a County Police Chief to perform municipal law enforcement services; and
“d. Any other mitigation measures that could be taken to curtail the Sheriff’s resistance to transparency, accountability and the faithful performance of duties for the benefit of the residents of the County.”
Villanueva is an independently elected official. He has accused supervisors of seeking to ignore the voters’ choice of him for the office in the 2018 election.
Among the officials designated in the motion is the “county counsel.” The holder of that post is currently Mary Wickham, who is resigning as of Sunday to take office as a Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner.
Inspector General Max Huntsman and Acting Chief Executive Officer Fesia Davenport would also be required to report, should the motion be passed. They would be required to act “in consultation with the Civilian Oversight Commission and justice advocates.”
The motion declares:
“Under the current Sheriff, hard-fought vital progress is being undone, and community trust is rapidly eroding. While the Board has been able to navigate challenging times with previous Sheriffs, this Sheriffs actions demonstrate the dire need to explore options for removing a Sheriff who refuses oversight or, at a minimum, mitigating damages caused by unacceptable behavior.”
The county succeeded in obtaining a writ of mandate to block Villanueva’s rehiring of a deputy who had been fired by the previous sheriff, Jim McDonnell, for misconduct.
Antipathy toward Villanueva has been expressed not only by Ridley-Thomas and Kuehl, but by other supervisors. Kathryn Barger commented last month in an interview with the Santa Clarita Signal:
“There is a pattern that is growing a great concern to me with the sheriff and his lack of transparency, and he’s doing a disservice to all the men and women within his department by not cooperating with the inspector general. It leads me to believe that either he doesn’t respect his communities or he thinks he’s above the law. And both of them concern me greatly.”
Supervisor Hilda Solis has expressed exasperation over a remark the sheriff made about her, using a Spanish word for a traitor, with a connotation of being a person of low morals.
However, Supervisor Janice Hahn has said:
“I absolutely have no animosity toward the sheriff.”
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