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One of the most influential Republicans in Los Angeles County has responded to pressure from progressive activists, withdrawing her nomination of celebrity physician Dr. Drew Pinsky to a local homeless commission.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger made the announcement Monday evening. She is the only Republican on the powerful, five-member L.A. County Board of Supervisors, where each official represents approximately two million people residing in the nation’s most populous county.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “Barger, who represents the 5th District, said she was dismayed that anyone would question ‘the appointment of a doctor with a passion for addressing these issues when a new voice is clearly needed.” According to the Times, “she said the nomination and outcry it generated had become a distraction from important conversations about care for people experiencing homelessness.”
“We need to face the sad reality of homelessness in Los Angeles: individuals are dying on our streets from preventable causes due to mental illness and substance abuse,” said Barger. “I hope we can move past pettiness and instead focus our time and energy on working to solve the hard problems, rather than looking for excuses to place blame.”
The Times could not reach Pinsky for comment.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Board of Supervisors was set to vote on Pinsky’s nomination to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) during Tuesday’s meeting. The ten-member commission is a joint powers authority of the City and County of L.A. and the lead agency that coordinates housing and services for unhoused people in the area.
According to the Times, more than 100 people had submitted public comments by Monday evening asking the supervisors to reject the appointment. “Fewer than five people wrote in supporting Pinsky’s nomination,” the report said.
Pinsky, 62, more commonly known as Dr. Drew, formerly hosted a local radio show on KABC radio where he often lashed out at California politicians over their handling of the increasing number of homeless people in the region. He also gained popularity on national platforms, such as the “Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew” reality television show and “Loveline,” a syndicated radio program.
Supervisor Barger selected Pinsky for the position last week, saying he would “bring a fresh perspective with vast medical experience.” But the choice sparked an immediate backlash by local homeless advocates who said Pinsky had a long history of espousing “problematic” views and making unsubstantiated claims. Pinsky’s critics, led by a coalition of progressive groups, launched a #DumpDrDrew Twitter campaign and urged elected officials to deny his nomination.
Shout out to @HousingHumanRt who has also joined our sign on letter!
The message is loud and clear:
— West Valley People’s Alliance (@WVPple) April 19, 2021
The Los Angeles Daily News reported:
Barger said she shared Pinsky’s approach to homelessness, which puts a strong emphasis on mental health treatment and addiction recovery — the flip side, critics say, of those calling for bulking up the housing inventory and adding new layers of affordable dwellings — as a remedy for the crisis of the unhoused. Pinsky has angered advocates for the homeless by urging law enforcement to more assertively enforce drug laws as an incentive to get people with addiction issues into mandated treatment programs and on to recovery.
L.A. County’s homeless population is estimated at approximately 66,000 people. The Economic Roundtable, a nonprofit research organization, projects that number will increase to 89,760 by 2023.