By Veronica Miller
LOS ANGELES, CA- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is asking voters for the power to be able to remove the elected Sheriff, Alex Villanueva, from office.
Through a change in the county’s charter, the Board of Supervisors would need approval from the voters to be able to have the authority to be able to remove the Sheriff; if the measure passes, the board would then need four of the five Supervisors to vote in favor of the removal.
The LA Times states that “under this proposal the board would have the authority to remove a sheriff for serious misconduct, including flagrant or repeated neglect of duties, misappropriation of public funds, willful falsification of an official statement or document, or obstruction of an investigation into the sheriff’s conduct by the inspector general or Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission.”
This plan was proposed by Supervisors Holly Mitchell and Hilda Solis, who have been vocally critical of Villanueva. They believe this plan is needed because the board has been “limited in its ability to serve as a sufficient check against the sheriff’s flagrant disregard of lawful oversight and accountability.”
Supervisor Kathryn Barger spoke out against the timing of the proposal since Villanueva is seeking reelection in a runoff against former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna.
The Sheriff’s Department, through a spokesperson, called this plan a “politically motivated stunt,” adding the plan is “creating a pathway for politicians to remove a duly elected sheriff (and) is a recipe for corruption, particularly when ‘cause’ is whatever suits their political agenda.”
Villanueva has been accused several times of opposing and stonewalling county watchdogs by not cooperating with their investigations.
And, just last week, Villanueva and his second in command resisted subpoenas to testify in front of the oversight commission during a public hearing about “deputy gangs.”
“Deputy gangs” have been around for decades and include deputies with alleged ties to groups that have been accused of using aggressive tactics and violence, according to the community.
Andrés Kwon, an attorney and organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union of California, stated, “Villanueva’s defiance of subpoenas and other resistance to oversight underscore the need for the Board of Supervisors to have the proposed powers.”
Kwon added, “Villanueva wasn’t the first, he certainly won’t be the last—unless we act now.”