The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is taking steps to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center during the coronavirus outbreak, officials said Thursday.
The March 31 board meeting agenda indicates that supervisors plan to vote on the removal of Villanueva as the head of emergency operations, replacing his role in charge of the county’s emergency response with county Chief Executive Officer Sachi A. Hamai.
“They keep insisting ‘this is a health crisis.’ No, this is a humanitarian crisis,” Villanueva said during a Thursday press conference, referencing opinions had been shared stating that law enforcement was not the proper choice for crisis leadership during a pandemic.
During the county coronavirus update on Thursday, Supervisor Kathryn Barger acknowledged that there were some issues regarding who exactly is in charge, but noted that it was not the foremost issue.
“Now is not the time to argue about who is in charge, there is really nothing to respond to,” said Barger. “This action is in response to an outside auditor in November.”
Barger went on to state that the Sheriff was given an opportunity to respond before the originally scheduled date of discussion, which had been set for March 17.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ve moved on, because I respect the rule that we have during this pandemic,” Barger said.
Villanueva suggested the board was moving now because of a subsequent controversy over his plan to close gun stores across the county. Villanueva claimed that he has the authority to force them to close under California’s coronavirus response guidelines, but several county representatives disagree.
“This is pretty much a silent coup, what they’re trying to orchestrate,” Villanueva said in an interview with the L.A. Times on Wednesday. “We should be worried about masks, about test kits, and I have Kathryn Barger worried about guns and ammunition.”
Villanueva noted Thursday that there were safety issues in the way that other county leaders were running press conferences, stating that audiences stop paying attention when too many people get in front of a microphone to thank one another.
“I say let’s stop thanking each other and focus on the task in hand, and when it is all said and done, then at the end of the day, then will be the time to thank everyone, starting with the people on the ground who are depending on good leadership,” said Villanueva. “When we have this type of thing, unfortunately people that may have an important message (are) going to get lost because people are going to tune you out.”
On Thursday, Villanueva hosted a press conference addressing several issues in the county, including the proposal to remove him, a decision that Villanueva described as an issue that “reared its ugly head” on Wednesday.
He noted that despite the controversy, he was largely concerned about the safety of Los Angeles County residents, saying that “this type of attempt or transition puts everyone in peril.”
When asked if egos are partially to blame for the apparent power struggle, Villanueva agreed.
“That is absolutely correct. Because some people just don’t want to be told what the limits of their Authority are or what their role is … As the elected Sheriff I have a role as a Director of Emergency Operations, but when I’m working with a unified coordination group I just have my perspective from law enforcement and the impact that’s going to have on whatever decisions are made by the group,” said Villanueva. “That is how the process works. That is what teamwork is all about. So I encourage my counterparts on the Board of Supervisors to join the game and let’s do this the right way.”Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send an email to email@example.com. Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking KHTS Santa Clarita News Alerts delivered right to your inbox. Report a typo or error, email Corrections@hometownstation.com
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