politics

Karen Bass returns to Los Angeles – and all her problems


Sunday’s inauguration, which will include a swearing-in by Vice President Kamala Harris, marks a historic moment for Los Angeles: Bass will be the first woman to lead the city.

Here are five of the biggest challenges Bass faces when she takes office:

Angelenos wants homeless people removed from streets and sidewalks

Ask any political consultant or city official what singular question will define Bass’s time in office, and you’ll get the same answer: homelessness.

Los Angeles’ homeless population has exploded to 40,000 in recent years, an estimate that some experts believe is rather low. Bass warned that the crisis cannot be resolved in four years, but offered a plan that would still go beyond what any previous mayor has accomplished.

At the top of that list, 15,000 people come off the streets in its first year. This plan is based on finding unused urban land to build more temporary housing and improving services to allow people to access jobs and permanent living conditions. She also pledged to declare a state of emergency to mobilize more state and federal funding.

The number of federal dollars flowing into Los Angeles will almost surely decrease with the Republican takeover of Congress. And funding alone hasn’t been enough to keep the city’s homeless population from growing in recent years.

Adding pressure on Bass is the upcoming 2028 Olympics, which will put an international spotlight on Los Angeles.

“There needs to be visible improvement on homelessness relatively quickly,” South said. “Or I think it will cause problems for Karen Bass.”

Rising crime worries residents

Crime and public safety were key issues in the mayoral race, with Bass and his billionaire opponent, Rick Caruso, vowing to bolster the city’s police department and demand that the LAPD institute more effective policing practices.

Violent crime has been on the rise in Los Angeles since 2019, with gun violence reaches highest level in 15 years Last year. Property crimes increased by 15% over the same period. Bass herself was the victim of a burglary this year, which she described as “very traumatic”. Among other items, the burglars stole two handguns that Bass had stored in a safe in his closet.

Bass offered to hire hundreds of officers to bring the understaffed LAPD back to its full strength of 9,700 (police officials blamed an administrative bottleneck in the application process) and allow new training for the department that includes de-escalation tactics and an emphasis on agent accountability.

She also plans to create a municipal fund for victims of crime to help people with funeral costs and “the physical, financial and emotional impact of crime”. The mayor of Los Angeles also appoints the chief of police; Bass didn’t say she was looking to replace Chief Michel Moore, but she pledged to set “clear goals and expectations” for him and the city’s police commission.

Kevin de León, member of the Council, will not leave quietly

Bass is expected to play a leading role in mending the wounds reopened this fall by the leaked recording — a task complicated by the city’s long history of racial tension.

A longtime community organizer who founded a nonprofit in 1990 Aiming to empower black and Latino communities harmed by the crack epidemic, Bass drew on her past while appealing to voters angered by the betrayal of elected officials.

But vocal community activists say the healing can only really begin when council member Kevin de León, who was part of the recorded conversation, steps down. The former head of the state Senate has shown no signs that he plans to step down.

Bass has said little about de León’s fate since calling on him to resign immediately following the scandal. If a serious recall effort is launched, she will be expected to take sides in a campaign that could cost millions and inject drama into the early stages of her tenure.

The bass will have to make inroads with LA’s many powerful players

Bass will be just one functionary in a vast ecosystem of political heavyweights, each of which has the ability to help or undermine his goals.

Building consensus – and balancing egos – will be key to keeping promises.

In addition to the city council, she will have to contend with the formidable Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, a five-person body that oversees an annual budget of $40 billion and provides essential services to city residents. The council will be essential in helping Bass secure the services needed to address the homelessness crisis while working in tandem with the city, which is responsible for housing people and building affordable housing.

She will also be expected to work with the city’s large and powerful labor organizations, such as the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, whose former president Ron Herrera was among those caught up in the conversation. disclosed. Then there’s Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s largest school district, which faces immense pressure to give teachers a 20% raise.

An economic slowdown could threaten progress

Los Angeles is already unaffordable for many of its 4 million residents, and one would expect Bass to do more with less as inflation continues to weigh on families and the once-flush state faces to a projected budget deficit of $24 billion.

Fans and former colleagues have praised Bass’s ability to budget even when times are tough. She led the state Assembly during the 2008 financial crisis, when California was forced to make severe cuts to schools and public services. She was the last legislative leader to work with a Republican governor – Arnold Schwarzenegger – and was credited with keeping the state budget afloat during one of the toughest economic times in its history.

Bass will have broad authority over the city budget and will submit an initial spending proposal to the council each year, much like the governor does with the legislature. Last year, Los Angeles passed a budget of nearly $12 billion, including $1 billion for homelessness.

The city also needs to prepare for the 2028 Olympics. It has the sporting venues and hotels to handle the crowds, but transport improvements in the famously car-centric region are much needed. Bass said she plans to use money from the recently passed federal infrastructure law to rebuild streets and sidewalks and expand public transit.

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