OurWeekly recently offered all candidates of three local races the opportunity to answer surveys on a variety of issues particular to the seat that they are seeking and the constituents of the respective districts.
Candidates vying for positions as Supervisor, 2nd District; State Senator, 25th District; and State Assemblymember, 52nd District responded to the surveys.
Each question required a maximum word count of either 50 or 100 words. This proved to be a challenge for some of the candidates.
The responses are unedited, except where the word count was too excessive. Then, the last sentences were trimmed and edited for readability only.
If the word count was within the limit, the responses were printed exactly as submitted.

2nd District, Supervisor
Q: There is tremendous racial/ethnic diversity within the 2nd District, not simply African Americans and Latinos. How do you plan to bring all the groups onto the same page without isolating or upsetting one group in favor of another?
MORRIS GRIFFIN – As a LA County Supervisor, I plan to invite, each year, all ethnic groups to one of the Hotels on Century Blvd. I also plan to hold Town Hall meetings regarding issues of concern such as gang violence, foreclosures, universal health care, etc. I would like to arrange outings to Dodger Baseball games, Lakers and Clippers Basketball games, soccer and hockey games with bus loads of ethnic diversity. In addition, I plan to arrange fishing outings at any of the many LA County parks. I’m thinking of arranging summer camps for boys and girls.
THOMAS NEUSOM – One of the strengths of the 2nd District is its diversity. The district wasn’t always this way. My grandfather moved into a neighborhood in the district from Michigan in the 1940s and my family has lived in the area for many years. We need to remember that when it comes to economics the pie can always keep getting bigger if things are handled properly. A common mistake is to think that if A and B get this then that meens there won’t be any left for C. Under my leadership as Supervisor A, B, C, and everyone else is going to work together to increase the prosperity of the district. This type of vision distinguishes me from the other candidates.
BERNARD PARKS – Ethnic diversity is a source of strength and pride to our community. It need not and must not mean division and conflict. An elected official has an obligation to assure that the public’s business is conducted evenly, that services are provided equitably, that the administration of justice is color-blind. We cannot abide government officials or work force who are racially insensitive, lack diversity and culturally ignorant, for example, and we cannot have large swaths of our County that happen to be “minority-majority” park-poor, service-poor and violence-ridden. Cross cultural education, events and activities should be the norm. Fairness and fair play have always characterized my public service and will continue in my role as Supervisor.
DR. DELANY SMITH – The Second district is perhaps the most ethnically diverse district of any county within the United States. Our ethnic diversity should be viewed as a strength and not a weakness. Divisiveness between the various ethnic groups can be best overcome by education that includes ethnicity related courses that cover a broad spectrum which begin in grade school. I should add that the concept that different means… “different” and not “bad”… should be introduced to our children at an early age. Ethnicity sensitivity education related training should be part of the orientation of every new employee. Complaints of discrimination in the workplace should be taken seriously by employers, and if there is evidence of racial discrimination the responsible party should be punished with time off (without pay).
MARK RIDLEY-THOMAS – I am proud to have the most ethnically diverse group of endorsers of any candidate in this race. I have earned these endorsements because I have spent my lifetime in public service bringing diverse communities together around common issues of concern to change public policy; access resources; and create safer and healthier communities. Together we worked hard to close liquor stores and motels which contribute to crime in our communities; brought health care services to women in South LA; created the Empowerment Congress to facilitate greater public participation in government decision-making; and facilitated city-wide dialogues on issues including the health care crisis, homelessness, school campus violence and police conduct.
DR. FLORIAN THOMPSON – Black and Latino unity will rebuild our community. National statistics in the Pew report show that 1 out of 36 hispanics are in Prison, and 1 out of 15 Blacks are in Prison. The critical problem facing the second district is that Blacks and Latinos are lagging far behind all racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles County in Health Care, Education, and earnings. If Blacks and Hispanics can unify our common goals, we can open our hospitals, raise our quality of education, and rid ourselves of poverty, blight, and the scourge of gangs.

Q: How will you address the overcrowding in jails?
GRIFFIN – All misdemeanor law breakers who are tagged with the 3 Strikes Law get out – 25 years to Life is ridiculous – especially when they’ve already done their time for their previous crime. Plus I would provide manufacturing employment of livable wages. As supervisor, I will show them how a quitter never wins and a winner never quits.
NEUSOM – Jail overcrowding needs to be addressed with sensible sentencing. We also need to focus on rehabilitation and assist parolees and others who are released from jail so they don’t reoffend. The penalties for various drug offenses should also be reduced. Jail overcrowding needs to be reduced by lowering the incarceration rate, not building expensive new jails.
PARKS – I support the Sheriff’s $523 million proposal to improve facilities and bed capacity at the Men’s Central Jail, the Pitchess Detention Center and the Sybil Brand Institute. I would also support work-release programs for non-violent, non-felony offenders and early release for non-violent, non-felony offenders who complete in-jail rehabilitation and education programs. I support community reentry programs that address the recidivism rates.
SMITH – Metropolitan State Psychiatric Hospital now operating at 25% capacity should be fully funded to accomodate the homeless with severe mental problems, which cause them to be frequent visitors to our jails. There should be penalties for county prosecutors, who deliberately ommit and distort facts, which lead to wrongful convictions. Plea bargaining should be eliminated. Evidence should be required before bringing charges. Drug users should be offered rehabilitation instead of much more costly incarceration.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – 1. Streamline the pretrial process to reduce pre-sentence detention periods. 2. Increase diversion programs. 3. Stop treating our jails as homeless shelters and properly identify and treat those persons with mental illness and substance abuse disorders, who represent large numbers of our jail population and contribute to recidivism rates.
THOMPSON – 3 new prison’s have been requested for LA County, however, to solve the problem of jail overcrowding we must make a sound investment by educating and training our youth. Our educational curriculum must be standardized to make all students outstanding in Math, Science, and English to keep prisons empty!

Q: Where do you stand on the Three Strikes Law?
GRIFFIN – I think it’s wrong none of your representative or leaders in favored us of the consequences of the 3 Strikes on the radio, double jeopardy is wrong. 3 Strikes should be for violent criminals not non violent criminals. Too many of our men are serving 25 to life for petty theft.
NEUSOM – Three strikes and other draconion sentencing doesn’t help anyone. We need to reform the three strikes law. Rather than face life for a third strike, the penalty should be reduced to five years. A fourth strike could add seven years and there could be incremental increases in the penalty. This type of reform will make the law a deterrent but won’t have people languishing in jail who are ready to turn their life around and be productive members of society.
PARKS – I support the Three Strikes Law as it applies to the commission of violent crimes or significant violence history, but the law needs to be changed to either permit district attorney/judicial discretion in determining what crimes count toward “strikes” or to eliminate from the three strike rule crimes that are non-violent, no violent criminal history or do not involve the use of weapons.
SMITH – Three strikes sentencing is unconstitutional, and a violation of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires equal application of the laws, and due process. The evidence was concealed when the DEA stopped publishing it’s figures of illicit drug use [street drugs] by race in 1993 which revealed:
White…… 73%, Black….. 15%, Latinos… 8%, Asians… 3%, Others…. 1%
The DEA figures don’t match up with the supporting claim that 80% of all incarcerations drug related.
Three strikes are not being designated according to the intent of the legislature for violent criminal acts, and such designations are oftentimes made by the arresting officers who need to be educated as to legislative intent.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – The existing Three Strikes law is in need of reform. I supported Proposition 66 (Three Strikes reform) in 2004 and I am interested in efforts to limit the scope of the Third Strike to violent felonies. The law in its current form has contributed to prison/jail overcrowding and fails to adequately reduce violent crimes. It’s just plain bad law.
THOMPSON – The three strikes law is devastating the Black and Latino communities. 1 out of 36 Latino’s and 1 out of 15 African Americans are in prison in the United States. We must invest in education to avoid incarceration by developing college prep boarding schools with a standardized curriculum of excellence in Math, Science, Writing, and Communication. This investment on the “front end,” will reduce incarceration on the “back end”. Additionally, a mandatory minimum sentence for any person carrying an illegal firearm will dramatically reduce death, injury, and incarceration of at-risk-youth whom are overcrowding our prisons.

Q: Group violence is horrendous in the 2nd District. Besides increasing police presence and community youth programs, what are some of your plans to ease the tension and help decrease the violence?
GRIFFIN – I want cameras in the classrooms, hallways, cafeterias and around the troubled schools. We need cameras covering teacher and student parking lots. Also I want trouble spots to have cameras in the alleys to the valleys and on freeways. Store fronts that are operated in gang areas where people are forbidden to go to the store. Police can’t catch everything or everybody but cameras can! I want livable wage jobs created for residents to monitor locations of cameras on a daily basis, use gang prevention money for salaries. Ethnic lotto is designed to supplement salaries for jobs – unemployment – foreclosures.
PARKS – There are 1,000 street gangs and 80,000 gang members in the County, with many of them operating in the 2nd District. Gang-related homicide is the leading cause of death for all persons age 15 through 44 in the County. Youth development is the key element and component of raising healthy and educated children. I support the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program (CLEAR) that provides a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency approach to gang suppression, prosecution and rehabilitation and incorporates strategies for neighborhood recovery as well. I will also work for passage of legislation that would provide funding for a full spectrum approach to criminal justice, prevention, education, intervention, enforcement, incarceration and rehabilitation.
SMITH – Gang members have oftentimes reported that the circumstances which led to gang involvement, and their continued involvement was largly economic. Los Angeles County is the largest employer and consumer of goods and services in California, it also generates more related contracts that all too often are issued to contractors in other states and countries. Our local business community should receive preferential consideration before any contracts leave LA county, as these contracts serve to generate jobs for our youth and adults. More jobs for our youth with longterm goals… ie. apprenticeships, and paid training programs would demonstrate that time has value and should not be wasted.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – A comprehensive approach that incorporates prevention, intervention and suppression is necessary to stem the tide of violence in our communities. While on the LA City Council, I worked to develop programs for former gang members that trained facilitators and interventionists in efforts to work with young African American and Latino gang members. I will continue that work with community stakeholders (law enforcement, businesses, labor, social service providers, former gang members and faith-based organizations) to develop a coordinated, multi-jurisdictional strategy for that includes health and mental health services delivery, job and workforce training, and educational intervention programs that directly address the social and economic reasons young people join gangs and to provide alternatives.

Q: Where do you stand on deporting illegal immigrants who are gang members or violent crime offenders?
GRIFFIN – Jamelslaw.com – In short, if illegal immigrants commit a crime and do their time in jail, they should be deported back to where they came from. It should be a Federal Offense. Special 40 law written by former Police Chief Daryl Gates needs an addendum or extra clause to protect citizens from illegal violent crime offenders. Asking residents to turn in illegals is not enough because the people feel it’s not their job, plus they don’t want any repercussions.
NEUSOM – Those who are gang members or violent crime offenders are subject to various penalties such as incarceration. Deportation is a reasonable penalty if someone is subject to deportation anyway.
PARKS – I absolutely support the deportation of illegal immigrants who are involved in criminal gang activity or convicted of criminal acts. I would beef up the gang-affiliation data check of all law enforcement agencies to ensure that illegal immigrants arrested for these crimes are not released to the community but returned to their countries of origin.
SMITH – Gang members who are illegal immigrants should be deported to their countries of origin. Violent offenders should be deported to their country of origin after completing the jail time for their offenses.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – We must protect our communities from violent crimes and Federal law currently allows for the deportation of undocumented persons convicted of violent crimes. We must enforce this law. We must also ensure that we are not racially profiling any ethnic group and that each person accused has gone through a full and fair legal process.
THOMPSON – Illegal immigrants who are gang members or violent crime offenders must be deported to their country of origin to serve out their sentence – not released here. Law enforcement must arrest and deport any violent illegal immigrant returning to this country to discourage their return to the United States of America.

Q: Describe the financial health of the County. Include which key programs must survive any budget cuts?
GRIFFIN – No budget cuts. As Supervisor, I will not stop until I restore the Martin Luther King Hospital. Strokes are at an all time high, along with heart disease and lung cancer. As Supervisor, I will not rest until I appoint a Doctor’s Committee that will help appoint the Administrator to each department. Universal Health Care, I’m a supporter of, if not national, if not state, then we will have County or 2nd District Universal Health Care. Trust me!
NEUSOM – The County government was in good financial health about a year or so ago. The County itself has a lot of stratification and disparities that must be addressed. The 2nd District is one of the areas of the County that has many needs. Education must not be cut. Job training programs should not be cut. Homeless assistance should not be cut. Aid to families in the 2nd District who need it should not be cut. Cuts in services would have to be looked at very closely.
PARKS – The County is in a precarious financial condition with declining revenues, increasing demands and $300 million in state cuts so far this year. The County also faces an unfunded pension and retiree health care liability of more than $20 billion. Priority programs that must be protected include public health, public safety, infrastructure and social services.
SMITH – The county cut backs in education, Medi-Cal healthcare benefits and childcare are unfortunate, and not acceptable. The county of Los Angeles should be robust in that supervisors oversee a 22.5 billion dollar budget. However, there is much waste, and loss of monies due poor management and corruption within various agencies. The savings could be redirected to expand existing worthwhile programs. DCFS System is Broken: In 2006 there were over 76,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles County…over half of which did not have to be removed from their families as the “federal” financial incentives for such conduct must be stopped to discourage what one newspaper describes as a “cash for kids scheme” which largely targets poor blacks and latinos]. There should be sentencing reform, which makes sentencing uniform for general categories of drug possesion, ie. crack cocaine [years] v. cocaine [days]. Unless the possession of a drug is for resale with large quantities, prison time should be replaced with rehabilitation….. at considerable saving to the taxpayers.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – The key programs which must be spared at all costs are healthcare, public safety and education. As administrative units of the state, county government budgets are not immune from the cyclical economic and structural budget challenges facing California. Fundamental budget reform that re-evaluates revenue sources and expenditures, and realigns funding streams to services provided by each level of government is long overdue. The current revenue shortfalls are attributable to a variety of factors ranging from the bust in the housing markets to the Governor’s decision to cut the Vehicle License Fees. Preservation of public safety, health care and essential county services area are high budget priorities. We must identify a more strategic approach to budgeting issues particularly healthcare and education which might include public/private partnerships to offset some of the funding strains on the County.
THOMPSON – The LA County Department of Health Services is currently operating at a 197.8 million dollar deficit – causing DHS to loose 111 positions, and patient care to suffer, as Harbor-UCLA has failed a federal inspection. The sheriff’s department will gain 240 positions, and prisons gain 523 million dollars.

Q: Is L.A. County prepared for a major disaster?
GRIFFIN – In short! Yes, the National Guard is in place, military helicopters ready to be deployed. We have the Fire departments ready to assist any and all communities. Beds are available at all hospitals that has been shut down, if a National Disaster or terrorist attack takes place.
NEUSOM – LA County is probably as prepared for a major disaster as anywhere else. We need to stay prepared, but we also need to maintain the proper perspective and not let fear guide our policies.
PARKS – L.A. County is a national leader in emergency preparedness but the major flaw in their response is the lack of interoperability in their radio and communication systems. Mainly because the 54 law enforcement agencies and 31 fire departments that serve the County do not have interoperable communications systems that can talk to one another, hampering emergency response when there is a major disaster. We have made progress since 9/11, but far much more needs to be done.
SMITH – Los Angeles is probably more prepared for disasters than most other urban centers, in that disaster preparedness is tested annually during the fire season, rainy season with related mudslides, and there have been occasional earthquakes of high magnitude. However, there is always room for improvement.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – I do not believe the County Health Department’s surge capacity is adequate to expand beyond normal delivery of services to meet increased demand for medical care in the event of disaster. It is one reason why I authored legislation to establish a Master Plan for the delivery of health services and have sponsored emergency preparedness workshops.
THOMPSON – On May 5, 2008, experts told a congressional hearing that a terrorist attack would be catastrophic and overwhelm Los Angeles. The emergency rooms were projected to have to turn away critically ill patients, as Dr. Lewis of Harbor- UCLA detailed. Consequently, LA County is not prepared for a major disaster.

Q: What are your plans for reestablishing King Drew and other closed emergency services in the 2nd District?
GRIFFIN – Do this to appoint a Doctor’s/ Nurse’s Committee. “Universal Health Care” I want one plan, one public trust fund that would pay all the Health Care bills by collecting all the money that is paid for Health Care and Health Premiums. It eliminates health premiums – taxes 0 employees – employers – co-pay one public trust fund is an affordable premium. If done by the State of California it would save billions in 10 years. SB840 State of California saves. I will join the State Gov. in implementing if we get 2/3 votes or put it on a State or County Ballot, let the people decide.
NEUSOM – I have already been talking to medical profesionals about the problems at King Drew and how they can be solved. I will assemble a team of top medical professionals to develop a plan to reestablish King Drew and other medical emergency services in the 2nd District and throughout the County. This can be done.
PARKS – Few if any hospital management entity wants to assume operation of King Drew under current conditions. Potential eligible operators faced the prospect of certain failure if they reopened King Drew as a full service hospital all at once and under the current governance of health care in the County. The County should solicit interest in the phased reopening of the hospital and the new operator (government, private-public partnership, educational institution or a combination) should be assured that the governance will be independent, accountable and apolitical. No closed emergency rooms can be persuaded to reopen without a system of national and universal health care to fund patient medical costs for ER services.
SMITH – A) In reopening King Drew Medical Center, I would first contact a friend of mine, a physician who was formerly a supervising physician with the hospital review agency that closed the hospital,.. for the purpose of expediting the process of reopening the hospital. B) To prevent reclosure incoming patients should be largely triaged to off campus freestanding urgent care centers, and only patients with potentially life threatening problems, or in need of a higher level of care should be seen in the ER.[approximately 30% of present ER volume]. C) Fiscal funds must be restored that were cut, which caused hospital to close when it could not meet the state law required 1:6 Nurse/ Patient ratio; as the patients could not be moved rapidly enough through the ER up to the floor of the hospital… which resulted in ER wait times of up to 24 hours and one patients died on the floor without being seen.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – I have the support of health care leaders because they know I understand the complexity associated with reestablishing MLK Medical Center. It’s why I was named chairman of the Select Committee on the LA County Health Care Crisis and have already begun convening prominent county and state officials, private health care providers, and community stakeholders to work on a strategy for re-opening the hospital, and addressing the vast health disparities confronting the residents of the 2nd District. I will ensure that we have strong in-hospital management and committed and responsible health care providers; and will build upon my work in the Legislature, where I authored policy to expand School Health Centers so children don’t have to use emergency visits for primary care.
THOMPSON – My father was a founding Commissioner of King-Drew Hospital and his name is on the cornerstone. As a doctor I trained at King-Drew in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – I will reopen King-Drew Hospital as an outstanding 4- year Medical School to provide care and effective treatment to our community. California has mandated 7 Billion dollars to care for 10,000 prison inmates. These funds could be used to reestablish King-Drew and coordinate inmate care in the LA County Hospital system. Additionally, LA County hospitals must rotate Physician teams to establish a uniform, accredited standard of patient care.

Q: How will you bring more jobs and businesses into the 2nd District?
GRIFFIN – Limits on contracting out civil service jobs for the next 75 years. Economically with the County ballot measures redirecting State Lotto LAUSD 34¢ to recreate manufacturing jobs lost through NAFTA, by changing the name but the product will remain the same. 2,000 companies is the goal for of L.A. County 2nd Dist. will get the pick of the litter. Put along alameda corridors for all cities.
NEUSOM – Bringing more jobs into the 2nd District is crucial and as Supervisor I will do this. Compton, Watts, South Los Angeles and other parts of the 2nd District need improved educational institutions and job training centers. I will work with the private sector and major corporations who are considering opening new operations in the district. Reduced local taxes for busineses who open in the District is something that should be looked at.
PARKS – As I have done on the City Council, I will create a system of workforce training and local hiring on County projects, make better use of economic redevelopment tools (there are only two redevelopment areas in the 2nd District) and update Community Plans to make the process for residential and commercial development more predictable. Create incentive for business attraction, concentrate on infrastructure improvements and aid in land assemblage.
SMITH – As a county supervisor, I would bring more jobs into all LA county districts, by redirecting contracts for goods and services generated by LA County, to the LA county business communities, and local church organizations. I would encourage building business parks within south Los Angeles, through public-private partnerships for the purpose of attracting corporations. I would work with city officials to reduce their taxation, as an incentive to attract businesses into urban centers.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – As Chairman of the Business and Professions Committee in the Senate and the Committee on Jobs, the Economy and Economic Development in the Assembly, I was an awards-winning legislator because of my commitment to small business and job growth. Small businesses are the economic engine of our County and my plan is to bring more jobs and business is to develop partnerships between business, the community and the County, in order to leverage public resources with private funds to generate urban revitalization and jobs. Doing so allowed me to bring $500 million in economic development and housing projects and 2,800 new jobs to my City Council District.
THOMPSON – I will bring more jobs and businesses to the second district by following the development model of the Century corridor in Inglewood. Many of our homes and retail facilities are dilapidated, undesirable, and require beautification. I will bring an NFL franchise to the second district to stimulate growth, development, and investment.

Q: According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the 2nd District has the highest percentage of homeless, 34%, and growing. What are your plans to deal with homelessness in the 2nd District?
GRIFFIN – Provide overnight shelters by using warehouses that are not being used. Make portable toilets available they may shower at certain places. Throughout the 2nd District, a list of fall-out shelters will be provided.
NEUSOM – I have worked with the homeless for over fifteen years and I am proud of it. We need to assist the homeless in a formal way by making sure they get all of the benefits they are entitled to. Many of the homeless are injured, mentally ill, illiterate and have other problems. By helping them deal with their individual prblems we can get them off the street. The Section 8 program should also be strengthened and we need to assist those homeless who want to be a part of the Section 8 program.
PARKS – The tragedy is that the County itself compounds homelessness by its unwillingness or Inability to integrate services by the multiple County agencies that individually hold a piece of the homelessness puzzle. Among many other things in what for me will be a very high policy priority, I will force the integration and coordination of County services, work to abolish the “Rule of Five” that governs the allocation of resources for so many programs, and absolutely insist that the County eliminate the chronic backlog (currently 5,000 cases) that denies the otherwise eligible poor and homeless Social Security and Disability allowances. Concentrate prevention efforts on year round shelters with services, areas with high concentration of Section 8 vouchers and areas that have a high concentration of unauthorized housing.
SMITH – The homeless problem in Los Angeles can be best addressed by identifying those with serious psychiatric illnesses and they should be transported to Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, and the state of California should fully restore funding to the hospital which is now funded at a 25% capacity level. There should be low income housing identified for the purpose of housing women and children. Groups such as “Crystal Stairs” should be funded to take care of homeless children, while parents attend school and or work.
RIDLEY-THOMAS – Homelessness is an economic, healthcare and moral issue that I have addressed while serving on the Proposition 63 Mental Health Oversight Commission where we allocate money to counties for homeless facilities, mental health and physical health treatment and counseling. I have ensured that Los Angeles County receives its fair share and that projects that expand health treatment/intervention programs, finance low-cost, affordable housing and create additional shelter beds are funded. I have also focused on this issue as Chairman of Days of Dialogue facilitating problem-solving discussions with mental health advocates and civic and business leaders.
THOMPSON – The homeless population will continue to increase until we provide housing facilities, healthcare, and hospitals to treat and house the homeless. The reduction or closure of services at King-Harbor, Daniel Freeman, and community health centers have left our homeless population in the cold. I will address these concerns as the next Supervisor by (1) Redeveloping long-term mental health facilities to end homelessness once and for all. (2) Opening King-Drew Hospital as a caring facility to treat the homeless. (3) Job-Training for the homeless is required to allow them to participate in society.