County faces transit, healthcare issues, Yaroslavsky says
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who is preparing to return to private life after nearly four decades in public office, offered some thoughts on the direction of the county and the city of Los Angeles at a lunch forum Wednesday.
Yaroslavsky cited expanding the county's public transportation system and adjusting its healthcare system to implement the Affordable Care Act as two priorities before he terms out in 2014.
With the impending implementation of healthcare reform, the county will be forced to court newly insured patients who previously relied on the county's four hospitals. Yaroslavsky said it is critical that the county gets it right.
"Our challenge is to convert our county culture from one where we didn't have to be nice to people, or we didn't have to compete with Kaiser or the next guy," he said.
He praised outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's efforts to accelerate the expansion of the region's public transportation system, but had harsh words about the city's budget issues.
He blamed in particular the 2007 decision to raise thousands of city workers' pay by 25% over five years for creating a budget crisis that has forced the city to cut back on services such as graffiti removal. County workers have not received a cost-of-living raise for four years.
"We've lived within our means. The city's got to live within its means, and that means sometimes you have to say no to your friends," Yaroslavsky said.
The supervisor had been widely expected to run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2013, but opted not to, saying he wanted to return to private life. His term as county supervisor ends in 2014.
Yaroslavsky did not speak about his plans at the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum lunch beyond joking that he had decided not to throw his hat in the ring for pope.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. Credit: Los Angeles Times