LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors wants to remove Sheriff Alex Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center, it was reported this morning.
Villanueva told the Los Angeles Times Wednesday night the move being pursued during the coronavirus outbreak is a “pure power grab at the worst possible time.”
Three supervisors told The Times the potential move has been in the works for months and is tied to the center’s response during the deadly Woolsey Fire, which killed three people and burned nearly 97,000 acres in Los Angeles and Ventura counties in 2018 before Villanueva took office.
Villanueva said the timing of the move is payback for his decision Tuesday to close gun shops during the coronavirus pandemic, a move he reversed Wednesday morning.
“This is pretty much a silent coup, what they’re trying to orchestrate,” Villanueva said. “We should be worried about masks, about test kits, and I have (Supervisor) Kathryn Barger worried about guns and ammunition.”
Barger told The Times in a statement she has not commented on the sheriff’s decision to close gun stores and said the move was prompted by a need to “modernize our emergency operations efforts and align with best practices in other jurisdictions.”
The motion to replace Villanueva as the head of the county’s emergency operations center was brought before the board in November, a Barger aide said.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told The Times the board is not interested in “petty conflicts” with the sheriff and, instead, is focused on managing the coronavirus threat.
Villanueva and the board have clashed over issues such as hiring and spending since he took office in December 2018.
The proposal is scheduled to go before the board next week.