The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has stripped Sheriff Alex Villanueva of his designation as the county’s chief of emergency operations, citing the historical inability of the sheriff’s office to navigate disaster response efforts during the 2018 Woolsey Fire, which occurred before Villanueva was elected.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the unanimous decision was made on Tuesday morning, several months after the board of supervisors brought up the need to remove the emergency responsibilities from the sheriff’s office. The decision does not change Villanueva’s designation as sheriff, a position he was elected to serve until 2022.
The decision consolidates the emergency response duties with the county’s chief executive, a move Villanueva has called a “brazen attempt to consolidate power.”
“This is pretty much a silent coup, what they’re trying to orchestrate,” Villanueva previously told the news agency, remarking that the board of supervisors was retaliating against him for trying to close gun shops. “We should be worried about masks, about test kits.”
“This is not about him,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said at Tuesday’s meeting, which was conducted online, reports the news agency. “He was not really elected to represent county residents. The five of us were,” she continued, arguing the move was a matter of public safety.
During the board of supervisors meeting, Villanueva expressed his objection to the move, arguing that they were simply adding additional layers to the bureaucracy, which would hinder the county’s disaster response efforts, reports Fox News.
“The last thing you want in the world is to have voices that have a different point of view silenced,” Villanueva said at the virtual meeting. “I’m the voice of Los Angeles County.”
According to The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Sachi Hamai, the county’s chief executive and appointee to head disaster response coordination, was supposed to retire on March 31, the very same day the county transferred power away from the sheriff and toward the chief executive’s office. Hami has since announced she will postpone retirement to serve in the new position.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the sheriff has deemed gun shops as non-essential businesses on two occasions during the coronavirus pandemic — and reversed himself both times.
The most recent time the sheriff decided to close gun shops was after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) told him that the sheriff’s office can, in fact, close them during an emergency.
This reasoning prompted several Second Amendment groups, including the National Rifle Association and the California Gun Rights Association, to file a lawsuit against both the governor and the sheriff.
“Twenty-eight years ago, the LAPD had to withdraw their officers to protect their safety,” said Gene Hoffman, chairman of the CGRA. “We hope that the stay-home orders will mean that our public servants will not become infected in this pandemic, but the Constitution guarantees that everyone has a right to acquire arms and defend themselves should law enforcement not be able to respond before it’s too late.”
But after the groups filed the lawsuit against Villanueva, the sheriff once again reversed his decision to ban gun shops, this time citing the Trump administration’s new guidelines that deem shooting ranges and gun shops as essential businesses during the coronavirus pandemic, reported The LA Times.