Publishers Note: WEHOville is proud to present a series of editorials from all the candidates for LA County Supervisor which serves West Hollywood. Here once again is Richard Bloom’s editorial and West Hollywood Councilmember and current Mayor Lindsey Horvath’s editorial.
And now.. once again, meet the LA City Controller Ron Galperin exclusively in WEHOville!
This week marked an exciting turning point in Los Angeles — as our state fully reopened and those who are fully vaccinated can now go mask-less in most public settings.
But it isn’t enough to just go back to the way things were. Southern California — and West Hollywood — have always been the home of creativity, innovation and dreams. As we begin to emerge from more than a year of COVID-19, we face enormous challenges. Among these are revitalizing our economy, homelessness, affordable housing, poverty, transportation, justice reform and climate change. These challenges predate COVID-19 yet have become all the more urgent as we begin to emerge from 15 months of social distancing. I am running for the L.A. County Supervisor in the 3rd District (which includes the great City of West Hollywood) to tackle these problems head-on.
Doing more of the same isn’t an option. The world around us is changing rapidly, and government has to keep up — and even be ahead of the curve in anticipating needs and shaping better communities.
It’s been my privilege to serve as L.A.’s elected Controller since 2013. In that capacity, I’ve been the watchdog for the people, working to ensure that public dollars are spent transparently, efficiently and effectively, while also overseeing the City’s finances and reducing government fraud and waste.
I came into public office with a background as a journalist, attorney and business person. I kept wanting to know where our money was going and why our government wasn’t often getting the results we should be seeing. That got me involved in my neighborhood association, Neighborhood Council, then as a City and as a County commissioner — and eventually running for public office. What I wanted to bring was an independent voice — working within government, but at the same time with an outside perspective.
Community service is something with which I grew up. My parents were both immigrants to America and I’m the first in my family born here. My father escaped the Holocaust where many of his family members were tragically killed. He and my mother started a new life in the U.S., arriving with only a few basic sentences in English — but they learned. Both had early careers as opera singers and my father went on to a career as a Rabbi and a principal; my mother as an educator. Fortunately, my parents were able to create a very good life for themselves and their kids, but for so many today, it’s a struggle. And my parents taught me that our greatest calling in life is to be engaged, to do and to give. That’s what’s guided me.
In my role as Controller for L.A., I’m proud to say we’ve improved public services by using data transparency, technology, audits and reports, dashboards, maps and more — to better meet people’s needs. It’s been my mission to fight for local residents and to address clear shortcomings in homeless housing and services, planning, public safety, infrastructure and more.
I began my term as L.A.’s Controller by launching the region’s first open date portal: Control Panel L.A. It details every dollar spent on goods, services and salaries —- and helps measure how equitably City departments serve us. I think of it as radical transparency. Because of these nationally recognized efforts, L.A. was named “No. 1 Digital City” by the U.S. City Open Data Census three years in a row.
This past year, I created a comprehensive COVID-19 Resource Hub for the L.A. area to track testing, vaccination, spending, equity and more. The site has hundreds of resources for individuals, families and businesses in need – including the state’s most comprehensive Food Map with food banks and food pantries detailed for the many in our midst who are food insecure and lacking in resources to afford basic groceries. It’s about empowering people with information to help them get the help they need.
Through advocacy, Reports and Audits, I’ve tackled better allocation of funding for street maintenance, arts, how we can more efficiently manage local government monies, better management of LAX, growing our tree canopy, cleaning up parks, emergency services, illegal dumping, better use of government-owned properties, senior and youth services, and much more.
And serving our LGBTQ+ community has been a priority – especially as the City of L.A.’s first out and proud citywide elected official. It’s been my honor to work with just about every LGBTQ+ organization in the West Hollywood and L.A. area. This month, to celebrate Pride, I created a new online LGBTQ+ Pride resource with a map and a Guide to L.A.’s LGBTQ+ history, a report on the impacts of COVID on our LGBTQ+ households, an outline of priorities we need to be working on in the ongoing fight for true equality and equity, and a comprehensive map of resources for for homeless LGBTQ+ youth.
At this time, I believe there’s no greater imperative than addressing the crisis of those experiencing homelessness in the L.A. area. We have more unhoused individuals than in any city in the U.S. It’s a crisis, a tragedy, a shame and an emergency. And while our City and County collectively are spending billions of dollars every year on the many costs associated with homelessness, the number of unhoused has only grown — disproportionately impacting people of color.
There are, of course, many reasons for homelessness, including poverty, mental illness, joblessness, lack of affordable housing, addiction, trauma and a broken criminal justice system. And, there’s not one solution to the crisis. But we can and must do much better. My office has been actively engaged in exposing what works and what doesn’t and pushing for ways to save lives — today. An average of three people are dying on the streets of L.A. homeless every day of the year. That’s a crime.
I’m a big believer in permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness. But, let’s be honest, it’s taking three to six years to build. And in L.A., these units are costing an average of $530,000 and up to $750,000 to build with bond money. At that rate, and at that cost, we’ll see literally thousands of people die on our sidewalks in the coming years.
My Meeting the Moment call has been for our County and the cities in the County to take more immediate actions to help get people off our sidewalks. These include safe parking and safe tenting areas, with supportive services, and trailers for showers, bathrooms and laundry. I’ve created the first ever map of every property in the L.A. area owned by local, state and federal governments: Property Panel L.A. Using even a fraction of these vast real estate holdings could do a world of good — and quickly. We can couple this with more adaptive reuse projects that get built faster and cheaper, bridge housing, mental health facilities for more acute cases, shed homes and more. These are all admittedly imperfect, but they are vastly better than what we have now. And they are meant to be a pathway to help transition people into more permanent and stable circumstances. While we work to create more permanent housing solutions, let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Let’s save lives today. That will be my priority as an L.A. County Supervisor.
It will be a top priority in all of the 3rd District which I hope to serve — including the City of West Hollywood, which is near and dear to my heart.
West Hollywood is where I came out and could be my true self. It’s where I experienced my first Gay Pride. It’s where I met my husband of now-nearly 24 years, Zach Shapiro (who like my father, became a Rabbi). It’s where we’ve celebrated, protested, connected within friends and savored more meals than we could ever count. It’s where we take our twins Maya and Eli for a weekend stroll and swings in the park. It’s where we grocery shop, go to the hardware store and where I usually get my morning caffeine. It’s where Zach and I feel most at home.
I love the mix of cultures and languages, the incredible diversity of people, the creativity, the fashion, art, architecture and commitment to values of inclusion and equality. WeHo is truly a beacon and a place to which people around the world aspire. There are plenty of challenges, of course; ways in which it can improve, but the people who live and work in WeHo help the city constantly reinvent itself.
And now, we must reinvent the whole of the County of Los Angeles so that this $36 billion-a-year bureaucracy — bigger than most U.S. states and many countries — truly serves the needs of all our residents and becomes more nimble, responsive, transparent and accountable. With your help, I intend to innovate our County — and to help West Hollywood be all it can be. I hope you’ll join me!