Sunday, October 26, 2014
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In this file photo taken by AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Healthcare Foundation volunteer, Julnelle Fortes demonstrates an HIV screening test on fellow volunteer Hector Alcantara. An initiative, sponsored by AHF, calls for the city to sever its contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and establish its own independent health services agency.

A debate is underway on whether Los Angeles should have its own, independent health department

An initiative to create a Los Angeles city public health department was blocked today from being placed on the June ballot, City Attorney Mike Feuer's office said. The initiative, sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, calls for the city to sever its contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and establish its own independent health services agency. In a ruling on January 24, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield sided with the city and the county of Los Angeles, two agencies that sued last fall to keep the initiative from reaching voters.

The Los Angeles City Council signed off on placing the measure on the June ballot, but vowed to challenge the measure's legality, saying a city public health department would endanger public health and saddle the city with $260 million in set-up costs and hefty annual operations expenses.

``Today's ruling protects the public's health and saves precious taxpayer dollars from being wasted on a vote on a patently unlawful initiative,'' Feuer said on Friday.

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The AIDS Foundation has submitted an alternate ballot measure that appeared to back away from requiring the creation of a city health department outright. It proposes instead to form a 15-member commission that would regularly study the health needs of Angelenos and review the city's contract with the county health department. The commission would study the feasibility of forming a city health department to take over management of health services.

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