AHF OK'd to Donate $100K to Help Start Up L.A. Health Commission

Mar 5, 2015 4:49 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — The City Attorney’s office has given its formal blessing for a plan to accept $100,000 from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to fund the Los Angeles City Health Commission, a panel that would oversee delivery of health services and have considerable influence over public health policy in the municipality.

The City Attorney’s office was asked by the City Council in late January to determine whether the city could accept the donation.

Yesterday, City Attorney Michael Feuer, in a memo to City Council, said that there was no legal prohibition to bar such a gift.

“Although the city legally may accept donations, to the extent any donation creates a conflict of interest or violates due process, the city will analyze those issues in the future on a case-by-case basis,” Feuer wrote through his chief assistant, David Michaelson.

AHF’s proposed donation is significant because the Hollywood, Calif., organization was the primary driver in getting an ordinance passed to launch such a commission, which, once it is properly funded, would be composed of 15 members appointed by the members of the City Council.

The AHF, which continues to seek Los Angeles County's performance over the Measure B porn-condom law, has also proposed a new California ballot initiative that, if enacted, would make condoms mandatory on porn sets statewide, require adult filmmakers to be licensed and subject them to additional record-keeping requirements, as well as huge fines for miscreant producers.

The Los Angeles City Health Commission was voted unanimously last year in response to a ballot initiative spearheaded by five health and policy advocates affiliated with the AHF. The measure, which would have likely appeared on the November 2014 election ballot, would have allowed voters to weigh in on creating such a commission.

Instead, City Council members unanimously adopted the measure outright as written and submitted to voters for signature. Since Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declined to sign or veto the measure, it became law.

Michael Weinstein, president of the AHF, has previously said that city residents are often short-changed in health services provided by the county and that a City Health Commission might provide a new level of accountability and oversight.

Now, with the City Attorney’s blessing, the $100,000 proposed donation has been incorporated into an ordinance, which will be voted in several subcommittees before it goes to the full City Council for a vote.

The $100,000 proposed donation, according to the proposed ordinance, would be established as start-up funds for the Los Angeles City Health Commission for the purpose of “offsetting the city’s administrative and overhead costs,” including salaries for staff.

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