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Abby Sewell
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Abby Sewell

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In November 2014, Los Angeles County Counsel Mark Saladino signed off on a memo giving the go-ahead for Supervisor Don Knabe to collect more than $100,000 in vacation pay when he retires at the end of this year.

Seven months later, the other supervisors consulted a second attorney who concluded that Knabe was not entitled to the payout.

Within days, Saladino abruptly resigned from the top attorney position and moved to a lower-ranking position in the office of treasurer and tax collector, which he had headed up before being appointed county counsel in 2014.

The vacation pay memo is part of a political drama unfolding at the county Hall of Administration that includes two lawsuits filed by Saladino against his former clients, the county and the Board of Supervisors.
In November 2014, Los Angeles County Counsel Mark Saladino signed off on a memo giving the go-ahead for Supervisor Don Knabe to collect more than $100,000 in vacation pay when he retires at the end of this year.
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Abby Sewell

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Mental health competency cases are on the rise in L.A. County, and officials are scratching their heads as to why. Competency cases in the Los Angeles mental health court increased by nearly 50% from 2014 to last year. Between 2010 and 2015, the annual total ballooned from 944 to 3,528. Some chalk it up to greater awareness of mental illness, others to cutbacks in mental health services over the years and rising homelessness. Whatever the reason, the increase is testing the court's resources and causing some defendants to spend more time in jail.
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Abby Sewell

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A lot of times when I write about mental health care, it's about systems that are broken. Here's a story about a hopeful development, for a change.
At the psychiatric urgent care center in Boyle Heights, a young woman wearing a nightgown knelt in a corner, praying in Spanish.
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My story in today's LAT on the bottlenecks in emergency psychiatric care that leave patients and the cops who transport them waiting -- and waiting -- and waiting outside of county hospitals' psychiatric wards.
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Los Angeles County supervisors will likely vote today to approve a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that the sheriff's department targeted minorities -- and particularly those in the Section 8 housing program -- in the Antelope Valley.
Los Angeles County supervisors are expected to vote Tuesday on a settlement ; with the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations that sheriff’s officials systematically targeted racial minorities in the Antelope Valley.
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Criminal defendants who have been found incompetent to stand trial because of mental illness or developmental disabilities often face lengthy waits in county jails before they are sent to state hospitals for treatment. State and county officials, attorneys, advocates and mental health professionals agree that the persistent backlog is a problem, but haven't been able to agree on a solution.
In January 2014, Edward Lamont Mason allegedly attacked and injured a woman with a baseball bat.
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Even as officials talk about expanding diversion programs and as overall inmate populations are shrinking, the number of mentally ill people in state prisons and jails is growing. Here's the story of Reginald Murray, one man in the system.
Reginald Murray sat next to his mother for the first time in more than a year, under the alternately bored and watchful eyes of the guards in the visitors’ room at Atascadero State Hospital.
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Despite spotty implementation, researchers found promise in a Los Angeles County program that used risk assessment in an attempt to prevent foster kids from crossing over to the juvenile justice system.
Five years ago, Los Angeles County child welfare officials teamed up with criminal justice experts in the hope of stemming the flow of foster kids into the juvenile justice system.
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When I first learned of the case of Jesse Opela, a 17-year-old kid in the Los Angeles County Probation foster care system, he appeared to be on track to get adopted -- an exceedingly rare outcome for probation foster youth. That didn't work out. What emerged over the next few months was a much more complicated story.
Jesse Opela hunched on a plastic chair in the "music room" at Central Juvenile Hall, a cramped space with no air conditioning, an old CD boombox, a keyboard and a bookshelf filled with aging bestsellers. Tears rolled down the sturdy 17-year-old's face as he apologized to his probation officer.
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LA County supervisors will probably be voting shortly to end the 287(g) immigration enforcement program in the county jails. Here's a look at the political dynamics behind the decision.
A change in Los Angeles County elected leadership last year paved the way for the end of a controversial collaboration between sheriff's deputies and federal immigration officials in the county jails.
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The story of one family's struggles with the fragmented and often impenetrable California mental health system, and its tragic ending.
Cynthia Hernandez was thinking about the missing dog when she awoke early that September morning in her family's two-story tract home, tucked away in a residential enclave north of a busy commercial corridor in Chino.
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Yes, though deinstitutionalization was well underway by the late 70s.  I worked in a small locked facility (technically a specialized skilled nursing facility) where most of the patients were under family or court-appointed conservatorship , and I'd agree that it has generally gotten harder to get to the conservatorship step (not necessarily called that in other states, but the same idea).  The civil liberties issues are real, of course, but sadly the individual experiencing untreated psychosis is not particularly "free" either.
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Audit confirms cheating on L.A. County firefighter hiring exams.
An audit probing allegations of cheating in the Los Angeles County Fire Department's hiring process found that high-ranking officials improperly shared job interview questions and answers that were supposed to be confidential.
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I'm a metro reporter with the Los Angeles Times, covering regional government and whatever else seems interesting. 
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