Departing LA Times columnist offers recipe for improving county governance

The Los Angeles Times was dealt yet another blow with the announced departure of Jim Newton – the man many in the newsroom believed, and hoped, would be the next editor of the paper.

Newton announced his departure shortly after the hiring of new publish Austin Beutner, and today penned his final piece for the Times.

In it, Newton offers some of his prescriptions for how to improve governance in Los Angeles and LA County. Among his suggestions: make the sheriff’s office an appointed position, get rid of term limits and abolish the Los Angeles school board.

“The recently departed John Deasy once pointed out to me that he was responsible for more students, by far, than any other American superintendent who reported to a board,” Newton writes. The parochial interests of board members — and the limited sources of money to fund their campaigns — do not mesh well with the expertise needed to run quality schools. Two mayors, Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa, spilled much political blood trying to devise a better system for overseeing schools. They came up short, but they were right.”

Newton also called for consolidating services for abused and neglected children.

“Yet another blue-ribbon commission recently recommended this, and the supervisors are working on it. Children in the system desperately need coordinated help, but they don't get it. Instead, one agency might be responsible for mental health, another for the child's schooling and yet another for housing. The solution to complex problems isn't always consolidation, but in this case, it could make services simpler to access and easier to coordinate.”





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