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Santa Monica Supervisor Opposes Plan to Expand County Board, Suggests Sexism  

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By Jonathan Friedman
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May 15, 2017 -- Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Santa Monica, issued a statement over the weekend slamming a proposal by State lawmakers to expand the number of seats on the County board from five to seven.

Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza, who lives in the small Los Angeles County city of Artesia, proposed the plan as an amendment to the California Constitution.

Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) is among the co-authors.

The amendment would require all counties with a population above 5 million in the 2020 Census (only Los Angeles has a population this high) to have supervisors representing no more than twice the population size of two congressional districts.

This would reduce the number of people in a supervisor’s district from about 2 million to 1.4 million.

A constitutional amendment requires approval by two-thirds of both State Legislature chambers and by a simple majority of California voters. That people outside the county would have a say on this issue bothers Kuehl.

“It’s hard for me to believe that elected representatives in [other] counties would welcome the specter of Angelenos removing their right to local self-determination,” Kuehl wrote.

She continued, “Nor do I imagine that voters in Northern California should have the right to vote on a constitutional amendment to change the governance structure of a county hundreds of miles to the south.”

The size of the board has remained the same since it was created more than 150 years ago, and Mendoza said earlier this month that “it is imperative to adjust how a board of supervisors is structured for large, urban counties.”

This is not the first time the board is criticized for its size. Other plans have been proposed to expand it in the past and failed for various reasons. Mendoza put up a plan two years ago that was rejected.

He has persuaded some opponents to his previous effort (Sen. Allen among them) possibly due to an addition this time of transforming the County executive from an appointed to elected position.

But to Kuehl, that addition makes the plan even worse.

“An elected CEO [would] deeply politicize the administrative and ministerial work of County government and would reverse a significant change recently made by this board that is already improving accountability and transparency by County departments,” Kuehl wrote.

She went on to suggest interesting theories on why Mendoza and others want to expand the size of the board, which currently includes four women and one man.

“It’s suspicious that centrists in the legislature want to water down a progressive board,” she wrote.

Kuehl continued, “Or perhaps there are just too many women? All the authors of this wrong-headed bill are men except for one woman from Stockton. I’m just saying.”

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