No on N | A Letter to the Editor from Doug Yokomizo

A pillar of the community gives his thoughts on why he is voting against the controversial measure

Dear Editor:

I am voting against Measure N. Many others have written about the impacts passage of the measure would have on the community, and there’s no need for me to repeat them here. My opposition to the measure is based on two concepts that everyone across the political spectrum should be able to support—local control and local accountability. I’m all for saving money, but not at the cost of losing control over essential local services.

For example, it was not so many years ago that our City Council gave serious consideration to contracting our police services to the LA County Sheriff’s Department as a cost-saving measure. If we had replaced our Police Department with the Sheriff’s Department, how often do you think we’d see Sheriff Jim McDonnell at a community event? Or how easy would it be to get an appointment with him to air a grievance or concern with him?

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The Sheriff’s Department provides services to 42 cities and 141 unincorporated communities covering an area of more than 4,000 square miles. South Pasadena, with its 3.44 square miles, small population, and relatively low incidence of serious crimes would be very low on his priority list. Our police chiefs, at least in my 21 years in town, have been highly visible in the community and easily accessible to its residents.

If we were under the Sheriff’s jurisdiction and the Sheriff wasn’t addressing an issue to your satisfaction, you could always vote against the Sheriff in the next election. But, there are approximately 5 million registered voters in the County and your vote wouldn’t hold much sway. Alternatively, you could complain to the Sheriff’s boss, but, who would you go to, Sachi Hamai, the LA County CEO with her $31 billion budget and over 110,000 employees (of which the Sheriff’s Department accounts for approximately 20 percent of both the budget and employee count)? Or, our County Supervisor Kathryn Barger? Her district includes 22 cities and 70 unincorporated communities covering an area of approximately 2,800 square miles with a population of over 2 million. Good luck pressing your complaint about lax enforcement of the stop sign at Mission and Marengo with either of them.

No thanks—I’d rather keep our services under local control. I like having a city manager and city council who I can speak with about my concerns, and who are generally responsive to those concerns. Moreover, as has been demonstrated in the past, if the city council is not responsive to the community’s concerns, our votes have meaning and consequence at the local level.

The proponents of Measure N raise some important issues, especially the looming government employee pension crisis. I recently read that the City’s unfunded pension liability is $35 million, which should be of concern to all residents.

But, Measure N will do nothing to solve that problem. Instead, it would force us to cut back on services and look for other ways to save money, such as contracting out police and fire services to the County of Los Angeles or other providers. I don’t think that’s the right path for South Pasadena and that’s why I’m voting against Measure N.

Doug Yokomizo