As a result of an increasingly nasty dispute with the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation has collected a sufficient number of signatures to qualify its “City of Los Angeles Public Health Protection Act” (the “Initiative”) for the ballot in June of 2014.
If passed by a majority of the voters, the act would require the City to establish its own Public Health Department within 120 days after the ordinance is enacted. At the same time, the City would be prohibited from working with the County in enforcing public health laws.
The proposal for the City to create its own Public Health Department does not make any sense as it would be a managerial, operational, financial, and public health disaster.
For openers, the City does not have the managerial or organizational capability to operate a highly complex organization, especially one that is a startup and that is subject to the constant interference by all the organizational geniuses and healthcare experts that occupy City Hall.
Hell, the City cannot even manage a parking garage.
Furthermore, the new Public Health Department would be a massive drain on the City’s already perilous finances. Miguel Santana, the City Administrative Officer, estimated that the minimum hit would be $261 million, an amount that he implies in dramatically understated.
The net result: if passed, the City would be declared a public health disaster area.
So our only alternative is to vote NO on the Initiative and rely on the County which provides more than adequate results.
However, the political implications of AHF’s Initiative are very interesting.
In a little over two months, AHF and its dedicated members collected almost 70,000 signatures, which, after sampling, was more than enough to meet the threshold of 41,138 valid signatures, an amount equal to 15% of all the votes cast in the 2009 mayoral election (275,000) when 17% of the electorate voted.
Today, 61,500 valid signatures would be required based on 410,000 voters in the recent May election, representing 23% of the electorate.
The collection of a sufficient number of signatures requires the City to place the Initiative on the June 3, 2014 Statewide Primary Election at a cost of $4.6 million. Alternatively, and highly unlikely given the disastrous consequences of this Initiative, the City could adopt the proposed ordinance without alteration.
On May 28, the City Council passed a Resolution opposing the Initiative with only one dissenting vote. However, on Wednesday, June 19, the City Council followed the law to place the measure on the ballot while at the same time voting to file a lawsuit against the measure in hopes of removing it from the ballot.
Over the past year, three initiatives have qualified for the ballot, including two related to marijuana that forced the City Council to construct its own ballot measure.
Earlier this year, Mayor Riordan’s plan to reform the City’s seriously underfunded pension plans by amending the City Charter. This would have required over 250,000 signatures, a very difficult task, especially in the face of strong opposition by the leadership of the City’s unions. However, would he have been able to achieve similar results through an initiative placed on the ballot?
So stay tuned. We have not heard the last of the Initiative nor have we heard the last about the initiative process that will allow voters to bypass the City Council and the campaign funding union bosses.
Crossposted on City Watch