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Political Landscape: Antonovich takes the county reins

December 09, 2010

On Tuesday Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich started his year as "county mayor" – or chairman of the board of supervisors – with an address laying out his priorities.

The 30-year veteran of the board, whose vast district stretches from Claremont to Lancaster and Chatsworth – and includes Glendale and Burbank – warned of on-going budget woes.

"It's going to be a very challenging year when you consider that we're faced with about a $26 billion deficit at the state level and nearly a $14 trillion deficit at the federal level," he said, according to prepared text of the speech. "That's going to require every city, county and school in our state to take a little different approach on how we do our job."


Antonovich, a Republican, has warned of severe cuts in the years ahead. He has asked for a close examination of the county's pension system and said public unions will have to make concessions for the county to close the budget gap.

In his speech he decried the effect of term limits on the state legislature, and repeated his call for state lawmakers to implement a two-year budget cycle to make life more predictable for local governments and school districts. Antonovich also touted new programs the county will launch in 2011.

One is his own initiative to bring letter grades to convalescent homes. The grading system, to take effect Jan. 1, is a variation on the county's successful system for rating the health and safety conditions at restaurants.

"I want to ensure that that is fully in force so that the families of those loved ones who are placed in convalescent hospitals will know before they place them the rating of those facilities, not afterwards when it's too late to do anything," Antonovich said.

Also on Jan. 1, the county will expand housing, job and other services for emancipated foster youth. These young adults often face severe obstacles establishing themselves when they reach 18 and become independent. The county received federal support for expanded services several years ago, but funding was tied up at the state level until now.

"We want to see that these young people have the ability to have those critical services, otherwise their only options, many times, sad to say, is the county jail, the county morgue or the cemetery," Antonovich said.

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