The Issue Is: LA Mayor Karen Bass marks her first 100 days in office

This week, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass officially marked her first 100 days in office.

To honor the occasion, Bass sat down for her latest extensive conversation with Elex Michaelson on "The Issue Is" - this following conversations at the launch of her Mayoral candidacy, throughout the campaign, on the heels of her victory, and days after being sworn-in.

With 100 days now behind her, Bass discusses her progress, and lessons learned, in the fight against homelessness, as well as against rising crime.

This also happened on a week when LAUSD service workers went on strike for three days over a long-time dispute over higher pay. At the time of taping, Bass was involved in talks between the SEIU and LAUSD. By Friday afternoon, the dispute had been resolved.

In a wide-ranging discussion, Bass also discusses the lack of a working relationship with embattled City Councilman Kevin de Leon, her endorsement of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein, her family, and advice for women in politics.


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "We are actively in discussion, but I have been deeply immersed in this from the very beginning. And I am really hoping that we can get to a resolution soon. You know, the fact of the matter is, is that the workers that are striking really are very poorly paid and have difficult conditions. And then we have the fiscal constraints that the district faces. So challenges on both sides…

"Clearly, the conditions of the workers is something that has gone on for many, many years. But you know what, it's really an example of what we face in our city, which is really profound income inequality. I mean, some of the workers, you know, their wages are so low that they struggle with housing insecurity. The main issue that I've been dealing with over the last hundred days. But the reality is, is that our economy could take a dip. The state is going to have a deficit this year after a big reserve last year. And so that puts the district in a delicate place…"


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "'Inside Safe' is gathering the lessons from a variety of things that have happened before. So it's not as though we've come up with something brand new. It is literally doing outreach to people who are currently in tents, talking to them over a few days, finding out if they are interested in housing, and then we find them housing - and the housing that we have been placing people in are motels. We try very, very hard to find motels near their encampments because I think what a lot of Angelinos don't understand is that encampments are actually small communities and they have networks and relationships outside of the individuals that are in the tents. So we don't want to move people all across town. But, we've had challenges with that, we've been able to adhere to that in some cases, and in other cases we haven't because not every area has affordable motels near the encampments…"


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "I think what we have learned over the first 100 days, the amount of bureaucracy we are working on, I see a lot of that being cleared, andd so I imagine that we'll be able to house a lot more people. Now, you talk about the number 4,000. You know, I'm not saying all those 4,000 are a result of what I've done, but the majority of those are work that the council and the former mayor was doing years before with Proposition HHH. I'm the beneficiary. I get to go to the ribbon cuttings. So, in addition to more housing come on line that's been in works for years, then I do think we're going to be able to clear out the bureaucracy and get people in the vacant housing. We want to move them out of the motels as fast as possible into permanent supportive housing…"


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "We believe that's fentanyl, although I have asked for an exact report, because we're not positive they're all drug overdoses. One of the things that has been initiated in Metro are ambassadors, and those are Angelinos who are trained and paid, they're Metro employees, to be ambassadors on the trains. So one of the things that I proposed at the last metro meeting is for all of those ambassadors to be trained in the use of NARCAN. NARCAN is the drug that can reverse an overdose…"

"I actually have a problem with the design - three different agencies that police in three different ways. So it's not uniform. So I think that's an issue as well. And so one of the things that a motion that passed in the last meeting is a study to see whether Metro should have its own independent police force…"


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "We have a problem hiring in the city, period - another layer of bureaucracy. If you apply for a job today, you might not know whether you get hired for six or seven months. That applies to police as well. So one of the things that I called for was an examination of the process. It's not lowering standards, but why does it take so long to move people through the process? And that is a contributing factor. But it doesn't just apply to law enforcement. We have over 7000 vacancies in the city…"


MAYOR BASS’ CENTRAL TAKE: "First of all, I do have respect for all three. And I think one of the worst things about being an elected official is when you choose between your friends. Barbara Lee has been a very close friend of mine, probably one of my very best friends in Congress, and I've known her for many, many years. I have the utmost respect for her. So I do support Barbara. It's also very important to me that there are no African American women in the Senate at all. And in our U.S. history, over 200 years there's only been two…"

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