Opinion

When and how to contract for country services

To the editor: I agree that AB 1250 is an unworkable plan. It would make it nearly impossible for Los Angeles County to contract out necessary work to nonprofits and health professionals. However, the status quo is unacceptable. (“A costly contracting limit,” editorial, Aug. 6)

Since joining the Board of Supervisors, I’ve been shocked how often we are asked to approve million-dollar contracts for services county employees could do. Contracting proposals that go through so-called “Prop A analysis” inevitably determine that contracting will save the county money. But too often, contracts go to companies that overwork low-wage workers. Occasionally, contracted companies act irresponsibly, and we spend more cleaning up their mess.

This is changing. My fellow supervisors and I are bringing jobs in-house. Last month, we replaced 70 contractors with 57 county employees in our building and safety division and brought 191 nurse assistants in-house. Progress is slow, but soon unnecessary contracting will be a thing of the past.

Janice Hahn, San Pedro

The writer is an L.A. County supervisor for the 4th District

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To the editor: Your editorial accurately described the problem with AB 1250: the state’s effort to limit the county’s ability to contract for vital services.

I fully support our dedicated team of county employees who are committed to public service and providing top-notch programs and services. However, as your editorial suggests, it doesn’t always make sense to have the largest county in the nation handcuffed in its effort to adequately serve its 10 million residents without the ability to contract out some of these critical functions.

The support and expertise provided to our county agencies and departments in healthcare, mental health and social services by the multitude of qualified contractors and contract agencies operating efficiently in the private sector are crucial to our mutual goal to assist the most vulnerable.

Additionally, the significant increases in operational costs associated with this measure would result in substantial increased costs to county taxpayers.

Kathryn Barger, San Marino

The writer is an L.A. County supervisor for the 5th District

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