The Times asked the nine candidates in Tuesday’s election for the Los Angeles County Board
of Supervisors to answer several questions on pressing issues facing the county and the 1st
District. The following are their responses, which have been edited for space. One candidate, Louis Chitty III, declined to respond.
TAXES: Should a license tax on businesses in unincorporated communities be levied that would raise $16.6 million for mental health and health programs?
Calderon: I do not support an additional tax on unincorporated communities. The unintentional result would be a heavy burden on businesses on the largest unincorporated area of the county, East Los Angeles, and that would discourage businesses from locating there.
Flores: I would be opposed to a business license tax that would only affect the unincorporated communities. What we need to do is to ensure that the state of California pays the county of Los Angeles for programs it mandates.
Khalil: Health care is on the state level and the state as a whole should work together to solve it. So, if taxes need to be levied, it should be on statewide basis.
Mihalka: The county can’t afford to impose taxes on businesses or individuals. Higher taxes would cause individuals to move and businesses to relocate to another state, causing more unemployment and exacerbating the budget problems.
Gloria Molina: The business license fee is a reasonable tax levied in cities throughout the country. However, the county has not imposed it on businesses in the vast unincorporated area. It is only fair that a business in Malibu should pay the same tax as one in El Monte.
Gonzalo Molina: Yes.
Torres: No. The unincorporated areas are among the least affluent--and the hardest hit by cuts in existing services. Rather than raising taxes--and discouraging new business--we need to create incentives to encourage economic development in these areas.
FEES/TAXES: Should the county consider other fees or taxes to raise more money for crucial programs?
Calderon: I support an immediate audit of the county’s expenditures to identify any waste or surplus of funds before there is any discussion of raising taxes.
Flores: I walked door-to-door in November urging voters to support the nickel-a-drink proposal. I would support this measure again to increase county revenue. I would also support a change in the formula of car registration fees to increase revenues.
Khalil: If the crucial programs will help the people of the unincorporated areas, specifically, the raises are justified.
Gloria Molina: I would not consider additional taxes until I was certain the county was operating as efficiently as possible. Then, and only then, would I be willing to consider revenue enhancements earmarked for specific and vital services.
Gonzalo Molina: Taxes should be raised among those who have the ability to pay only.
Torres: We don’t need new taxes, we need to manage existing resources better. And we need to begin by cutting the fat in county government. No more fat pay raises for county executives who don’t perform. No more wasteful contracting out practices.
SHERIFF: Should there be a citizens review panel to oversee cases of alleged abuse by sheriff’s deputies?
Calderon: I do not support the creation of additional layers of bureaucracy to monitor the activities of sheriff’s deputies. That is clearly the role of the Sheriff’s Department and current personnel commissions.
Flores: I support creating a special panel within the Grand Jury to review abuse cases. In addition, I believe the Los Angeles district attorney’s office special investigation section should conduct a review of all allegations of abuse.
Khalil: The sheriff is elected by the people, to serve the people. Part of his oath of office is to protect people’s rights and his job is to do his best to see that cases of alleged abuse have no place in his department.
Mihalka: Yes. It should be made up of people from both the community and those familiar with police operations.
Gloria Molina: Absolutely. It is imperative to establish an objective, independent panel of citizens to oversee and monitor the performance of the Sheriff’s Department and assure that they are accountable to the community.
Gonzalo Molina: Yes, definitely. No harm could come of that.
Torres: Yes, I’ve already proposed that this be done. The Sheriff’s Department needs to be more accountable to the community and to the Board of Supervisors.
PRIVATIZATION: Should more services now provided by the county be contracted out to private firms?
Calderon: I do not support the privatization of government, but I do believe some county services may be more efficient and cost-effective if contracted out. Specifically, the Department of Health Services has contracted out some of its obstetrics services with great success.
Flores: I support contracting out when it is cost-effective and the taxpayers save money. I oppose contracting out when the county can do the job better and save money.
Khalil: Yes, but with nonprofit organizations which have no profit motives. That will increase the number of volunteers and the spirit of giving. Contracting out just for the sake of cutting county government is wrong and absolutely is driven by special interests.
Mihalka: No. The county should provide the services and maintain effective control on the quality and costs of those services.
Gloria Molina: No. Contracting out of vital government services has neither improved services nor reduced taxpayer-financed costs.
Gonzalo Molina: No, unless it could be proven, without a doubt, that the private contractors do a less expensive and better job. County civil servants who have made public service their career are also entitled to job stability and protection.
Torres: Two Grand Jury reports have already shown that contracting out has not saved taxpayers money. Too many contracts are being awarded on the basis of cronyism, not competitive bidding.
AIDS: Do you support the distribution of bleach kits and condoms to help reduce the spread of the AIDS virus?
Calderon: As part of the county’s educational efforts to prevent expansion of this disease, I would support distribution of condoms. I am open to the distribution of bleach kits if I can be convinced those kits will not lead to, or imply, that we condone drug abuse.
Flores: I want to see results of Los Angeles city’s (distribution) project before permanently establishing a project that could cause more harm than good.
Khalil: No. Education in the school and within the family on being responsible and religious (is needed). Love and mercy are the guiding lights, plus more financial resources in research to help minimize the spread of AIDS.
Mihalka: We need to direct our resources towards the cure and prevention of this deadly disease called AIDS.
Gloria Molina: Certainly. We must explore every method to prevent the spread of this deadly disease.
Gonzalo Molina: Any public program of disease prevention, including AIDS prevention, merits careful consideration and implementation if it helps to prevent disease. I support this one as preventive, for those who request it.
Torres: Yes, as long as they are accompanied by straightforward information about AIDS prevention and drug rehabilitation. We can’t condone or facilitate drug abuse, but we must give people the tools they need to save lives.
TRASH: Do you favor hauling trash to the desert to relieve the burden on county landfills?
Calderon: I would consider hauling trash to the desert if the cost were reasonable and the recipient of the trash would agree to a long-term contract. Waste reduction should include comprehensive recycling efforts and developing new markets for recyclable materials.
Flores: Yes. When elected, one of my first priorities will be to implement a trash-by-rail program. In addition, we must begin an aggressive recycling program.
Khalil: Yes, momentarily, until we find safe and long-term solutions like recycling, use of incinerators and changing our ways of creating trash.
Mihalka: I favor the trash-by-rail concept. I also propose: all bottles sold in the county should be from recycled glass; all plastic bottles should be banned, and plastic grocery bags should be eliminated.
Gloria Molina: A part of the multifaceted approach to our waste management crisis must include siting landfills in remote, safe desert locations. The county must also establish comprehensive recycling programs and create innovative waste treatment programs, such as composting.
Gonzalo Molina: Yes, if it could be done without hurting the ecology. If it harms the environment, some other solution should be found.
Torres: Yes. Experts predict we’ll run out of landfill space in the next five to seven years. We must find alternatives to urban dumping, including source reduction, recycling and rail-haul.