Mixer: Election recap and scathing LASD report

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MixerBannerGene Maddaus is reporter for the LA Weekly, and Seema Mehta joined us from the LA Times to talk elections and Sheriff’s Department.

Last Tuesday was primary election day in California and a handful of other states across the country.

With candidates from both parties on the ballot, in a new, open primary.

Governor Brown won big in the gubernatorial contest… and he’s set to take on Republican and former treasury department official Neel Kashkari. For his part, Kashkari says he’s going to need more than just political support.

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom will face Republican Ron Nehring in the fall.

Locally, there was some other races of interest… and even some surprises…

The biggest loser in this election seems to be democracy. Because in California, fewer than 1 in 5 people actually mustered enough strength to go to the polls. A low, low 18 percent at last official count. With provisional and absentee ballots, that total could top 20 percent.

One race that may not have gotten full attention this week was the LA County Sheriff’s contest. Former Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell garnered the most votes in that race. And he’ll face former LA County undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, who finished a distant second.

On election night, Tanaka’s campaign closed its headquarters at a local restaurant to the local media, not allowing reporters, cameras or tape recorders in. To the chagrin of people covering the election.

Tanaka’s been under fire since a blue ribbon commission report pointed fingers at his leadership as LA County Undersheriff in a blasting report about abuse inside county jails.

The Sheriff’s race is so interesting to me because the department has been under fire for so long on so many accusations in a federal investigation. 20 current of former deputies are under indictment, alleged to’ve abused inmates and trying to cover it up, among other things…

But that apparently didn’t factor much into the election.

There’s also the latest scathing federal report that came out just today concerning how the department handles its mentally ill inmates.

Despite some improvements, a U-S Justice Department review found that the County jail system still falls short in its suicide-prevention programs for inmates.

And the review also found serious deficiencies in the county jail’s mental-health services, inadequate supervision of inmates with mental-health issues, and deplorable environmental conditions in the way they are housed.

According to the report, there were 15 inmate suicides in a little more than 2 years in county jails, and some of them may have been avoided if adequate prevention techniques were in place.

The report did find the county had made significant gains in SOME areas, including improved mental-health screening at intake and implementation of an electronic medical records system.

Federal officials say they want to negotiate an agreement with county officials, in which a court would be able to enforce reforms at the jail system.

But the LA Times reports county officials are disputing the federal government’s findings.