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NEIGHBORHOOD SUPPRESSION-At a recent hearing of a Neighborhood Council Election Challenge Review Panel, the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE), the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (DLANC) and the Skid Row Formation Committee testified before the Panel regarding three challenges on the Skid Row Neighborhood Council subdivision election. A special shout-out to General Jeff and his committee for their hard work in organizing an under-represented group of stakeholders in Skid Row. DONE and the DLANC were allowed 10 minutes each to speak against the challenges; the Skid Row Formation Committee, who filed the challenges, was allowed 10 minutes. 

NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Dear Council President Wesson and Board President Kevin James: We are writing you, as community advocates, to urge you to use your power to right a wrong that has tainted the City Council race in District 7 and threatens to undermine the public’s trust in city institutions.

The Board of Public Works was created to prevent the politicization of public works services, to ensure the city invests in public works projects according to residents’ needs, and to stay away from the corrosive influence of political machines, political campaigns and cronyism.

On Thursday, April 27, a person affiliated with Sylmar Graffiti Busters, a contractor with the Department of Public Works, was caught on security cameras trespassing onto private property in Sylmar (located at 13701 Sayre Street, 91342) and illegally removing campaign signs. The representative can be seen on video driving a Sylmar Graffiti Busters truck and wearing a vest like those worn by workers associated with this city contractor. In the video, the person walks onto private property through a gateway to remove signs that were legally placed there. The signs belonged to Karo Torossian, one of two candidates vying to become the next representative of Council District 7. As you know, the election is on May 16.

This breach of public trust was so blatant that CBS 2's David Goldstein investigated the misdeed and reported on it in a May 9 segment titled “Controversy Swirls Around Campaign-Sign Removals In LA City Council Race.”

We can reach no other logical conclusion than that this illegal act was perpetrated to benefit the campaign of Torossian’s opponent in the election, former Board of Public Works Commissioner Monica Rodriguez. Rodriguez has close ties with the organization in question and we have on good authority that she has met privately with their leaders and directors to discuss how they can help her campaign.

We hereby request an immediate investigation into this incident, and we demand answers on how the Board of Public Works plans to punish those involved in the misuse and misdirection of taxpayer dollars for private gain. Our communities already suffer by receiving an unfairly small share of city resources, which makes it all the more insulting to have beautification dollars being wasted on dirty campaign tricks to benefit a former Board Commissioner. This violation threatens to undermine our trust in city institutions and run contrary to the founding mission of the Board of Public Works.

We urge you to act quickly and do the right thing. This wasn’t a mistake. This wasn’t a fluke. It was a deliberate action taken to influence the outcome of an election. We would like a response in writing on or before Friday, May 12, detailing how you plan to address this matter. Please send it to chan@chanpai.com. 

(This letter, sent under the name ‘CD 7 Residents Against Corruption’, was signed by:  Chandra Prater, Abby Diamond, Hon. Patty Lopez, Dale Gibson, Doreen Przybyla, Pati Potter, Mary Ellen Eltgroth, and Alfredo Diaz)

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NEIGHBORHOOD POLITICS--Maybe there really is no there here — not now — maybe there never was.

Did we just all fall in love with the irascible Venice of our dreams? We imagine ourselves as the unique one — the interesting — the doers — we bask in the idea that we are the vibrant happening town overflowing with artists, one-of-a-kind, seriously intent on cultivating the feeling of being in a real place.

We smugly look at the ‘others’ with sad eyes. They, who hold urgent meetings to deal with a cracked sidewalk. We, the noble ones, superior human beings determined not to be swallowed up in that ‘good life.’ No utopia for us here! We’re Venetians! We thrive on the internecine development fights occurring on a near daily basis.

We thrive on the latest outrage inflicted on us by the city. We beat our chests to get the LAPD to take a report about a mugging on ‘the coolest street in America.’ And, we remind you, some schmo just paid 8 million bucks for a tear-down. We can only guess that he thought it was worth the price of admission to drink the best wine, eat the best sushi, crow about the endless new restaurants selling one kind of faux food or another, and who gives a damn if he has to wait a couple of days for the LAPD to get an officer out here to take a police report.

Over there, where the sidewalks don’t have a crack, three cop cars respond at once to the most minor crime. The biggest story there is the guy with his RV parked on the driveway for months — who knows, maybe they Airbnb there too. But, we unique ones — we’re tough! We’re tolerant. We’re patient. We’re loyal. We take all comers. One moment we grouse about the kid sleeping on a shop’s front porch, the next, we are trying to figure out if his puppy is getting its shots.

Maybe that’s our secret. We are not a myth. You can throw anything at us—we deal with it all like conquering soldiers — we don’t quit. Just don’t make us live where all the houses are white and the roofs are red. We reject their architecture police. We crave the distinct place. The big idea! Where else will you find impromptu cocktail hours form on a Sunday afternoon where regulars migrate like they were magnetized — all living that idea that this place is real. In this crazy topsy-turvy world our craziness is almost charming. No matter how Aspen-like we are becoming, the kernel of uniqueness is alive. But we sure have to put up with a lot of **** to live this vibrant madness. We don’t want that groomed HOA controlled neighborhood here — don’t clean us or polish us!

Corner lots sell for 8 million, lofts rent for 40K — one creative marketing company is even renting two of them on the street now — hot dog trucks park illegally for days, the line is around the block for $5 ice cream scoops and $4 donuts. And yet, they come. They come because they feel alive and that’s why we are not a myth—where else can you say that?

We old Venice denizens just want the cops to show up when we call them… and the Rooster truck to take a hike.

(Marian Crostic and Elaine Spierer are Co-founders of ImagineVenice)

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NC BUDGET ADVOCATES--After the releases of the City o Los Angeles Budget Summery on April 20, 2017, we went out into the community to get their perspective on the city's Budget Proposal. But after speaking with several Angelenos, who had a lot say but did not know where to take their concerns I spoke to Gloria Gonzalez a senior resident of the Eastside of Los Angeles. We asked Gloria, What are your thoughts on the Mayor's third proposed Budget? 

"I see the city of Los Angeles make promises to help the residents and increase services in someway year after year but nothing ever gets done and we hear the excuses about lack of funding, etc. I have been a resident of Los Angeles for over 50 years and I have never seen the city in such a state of disarray. The homelessness situation is out of control and waiting in line at any grocery and/or retail store takes hours. The infrastructure of Los Angeles is just deteriorating and I wish the Mayor and City official would do more to increase the value of our city. Los Angeles is starting to look like a 3rd world country, I can't walk down the street without someone asking me for change, someone living on the street or a rogue street vendor trying to sell me something. Every year the Budget Summary mentions something about addressing these issues but nothing is ever done about it." 

Q: So what can the Budget Advocates do to make sure these issues are addressed? 

Whether it's the Budget Advocates or anyone else, someone needs to hold the city responsible for the current state of Los Angeles. Regardless of what is going on behind closed doors in meetings, on boards etc. The city just looks bad and somebody needs to be held accountable. 

I told Gloria to take her concerns to the city council meetings and her local neighborhood council meetings. Go to EmpowerLA to find out when neighborhood councils meet, go to LA City to see a calendar of public meetings where you can voice your concerns.

Be up to date on what's going on in LA … especially your community … and get your questions answered. 

Also check out your the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate meetings twice a month, the first Monday of the month at 7 PM in City Hall and the third Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. to discuss the City's Budget and the City’s finances. 

Make your voice heard! Get Involved! It’s why Neighborhood Councils were created and made a part of the City Charter.

 

(Adrienne Nicole Edwards is a member of the NC Budget Advocate Committee.)

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ANIMAL WATCH-Captain Jeff Perry of The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced on May 16, that they had confiscated 7,000 birds in the largest-ever seizure of fowl used for illegal cockfighting. 

The raid was a joint effort by major agencies that included the Sheriff’s Department, LA County Animal Care and Control, LA County District Attorney, Bureau of Investigation; Humane Society of the U.S., and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA.) 

On Monday, the Sheriff’s Department served a search warrant on an 80-acre property in the 29000 block of Jackson Street in Val Verde, a rural, unincorporated area of the Santa Clarita Valley. Approximately 100 personnel from the sheriff's office, along with over 50 officers and veterinary staff from animal control were involved. 

Mobile fighting rings, gaffs (curved knives which are attached to the roosters’ feet for fighting,) medications, syringes, steroids and other items were found and confiscated at the site -- all indicative of illegal cockfighting.   

The sheriff's video of the raid takes us through the scene, from arrival to the discovery of dead roosters thrown in a garbage bag. Numerous dogs are seen running loose and in kennels, and hens are caged with numerous chicks. Officials said many of the birds were sick. 

Eric Sakach, Senior Law Enforcement Specialist for The Humane Society of the United States, described how cockfighting often "goes hand-in-hand" with such other crimes as gambling, drug-dealing, illegal gun sales and murder. 

While this site has pits for fighting, Sakach said it appears to be primarily used for breeding and selling the birds, which can be "extremely lucrative." 

Officials estimated that the sales price of these animals would range from $50 to $1,500 each, meaning this seizure could result in a total loss to the bird owners (aka "cockers") of $350,000 to $10,500,000. 

Sakach said this location had been raided in 2007, when approximately 2,700 birds were seized, but it apparently started up again and expanded. 

Marcia Mayeda, Director of LA County Animal Care and Control, emphasized in a written statement: 

Cockfighting is a serious crime. Not only is it an abusive practice in which animals suffer greatly, but cockfighting birds have been found to carry diseases that pose a threat to public health and the poultry industry. Many other serious crimes occur at cockfighting operations, including the presence of illegal drugs and weapons, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, and physical assaults. We urge residents to report any cockfighting activities, or locations where large numbers of roosters are housed, to their local animal law-enforcement agency. 

She confirmed that approximately 36 bird owners had relinquished their animals. All the dogs on the property were also relinquished and are receiving veterinary care and evaluation prior to being made available for adoption. 

Captain Perry said approximately ten people were initially detained, and the property owner has been identified and is the primary suspect in the case. The investigation is ongoing and the sheriff's department anticipates making more arrests. 

California law for cockfighting is multi-faceted -- addressing animal cruelty, training animals for the purpose of fighting, possession of implements, and being a spectator at an event. There is also an important prohibition against bringing a minor to a cockfight. 

Even if only convicted of misdemeanors, the financial penalties levied against the owner of a site for the cost of the investigation, seizure and care of the animals can be enormous and can become a lien against the property. 

Captain Perry urged anyone with information about any type of animal blood-sport activity to call their local law enforcement agency.  

Anyone with information about this current investigation, is asked to contact the Sheriff's Department Community Partnerships Bureau at 323-981-5300. Any illegal animal fighting can also be reported to "Crime Stoppers" at (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or any County law-enforcement agency. 

A SECOND COCKFIGHT BUST IN LOS ANGELES THIS WEEK 

The investigation of a location in the 13000 block of Telfair Ave. in Sylmar, prompted by complaints from neighbors of noise and offensive odors, caused members of the Los Angeles City Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) to obtain a search warrant. This week they discovered 454 gamefowl in what appeared to be a training site for fighting cocks, an official confirmed.  

Most of the roosters discovered were mature and had been "altered" (a procedure called, "dubbing," which involves removing the comb, wattles and sometimes earlobes of roosters.) Only about 20 of the birds were hens, and there did not appear to be a breeding operation at this location, according to the report.  

The ACTF was formed in 2005 and is made up of LAPD officers and detectives, LA Animal Services Officers, and Deputy City Attorneys. 

A petition filed on the LAPD website indicated a hearing under Penal Code Section 599aa was set for Monday, May 15. The LA Superior Court also authorized the disposition of the gamefowl, which was carried out on Friday, May 19. It is illegal to own or maintain gamefowl within the city limits of Los Angeles, an ACTF representative advised.  

The owner of the property is reportedly facing numerous misdemeanor charges, including training animals for fighting, cockfighting, and owning/maintaining gamefowl within the City limits. 

LA CITY'S ONE-ROOSTER LIMIT    

The City of Los Angeles has a one-rooster limit, with other specific allowances, introduced by then-Councilmember Janice Hahn and adopted in 2008, (Sec. 53.71 LAMC). At that time 31 surrounding municipalities had completely banned roosters or placed severe restrictions on owning them, including requiring health inspections and special permits which could be revoked upon complaint. 

Prior to its passage, City Council offices and Animal Services reported receiving hundreds of calls per month about crowing roosters all over LA. 

Officers say the LA limit has dramatically decreased the number of complaints about crowing, sanitation and odor issues related to neighbors keeping numerous (often free-roaming) roosters, as well as curtailed the incidents of cockfighting. 

The ACTF advised that they investigate all reports of more than one rooster on a property or of suspected cockfighting, and "one-by-one is assuring that no such operation exists within the city limits." 

Another restriction that discourages keeping even one rooster is that most Angelenos living in residential or commercial zones cannot meet the distance requirements (LAMC Code Sec. 40.03), which requires a rooster or any fowl capable of crowing or making "like" noises to be cooped or otherwise humanely confined 100 feet from neighboring dwelling. This distance includes attached garages and means zero free roaming.  

IS LOS ANGELES WINNING THE BATTLE AGAINST COCKFIGHTING? 

Similar to dog-fighting, cockfighting is difficult for law enforcement to effectively address unless there is an event in progress when they arrive. Neighbors are afraid to report known or suspected cockfighters because of the violent nature of the sport and its aficionados. 

Cockfighting is not a cultural or ethnic issue. It is animal cruelty in a disturbing, perverse, public display of brutality. Participation for generations does not make it an acceptable or excusable tradition. These events commonly include drugs, guns and prostitution and are often linked to human trafficking and international crime rings. 

When cockfights are held in backyards or vacant lots, the worst members of society converge upon neighborhoods where children and innocent adults also become victims of noise, violence and exposure to criminals who would not otherwise be in the community. 

Cockfighting is now illegal in all 50 states, and California has strong, comprehensive laws to address it (see below.) Law-enforcement agencies in LA city and county have committed to winning this fight -- but they will need our help. 

If you suspect cockfighting (or other cruelty to animals) in the City of Los Angeles, call the Animal Cruelty Task Force at (213) 486-0450 or provide as much information as possible -- anonymously if necessary -- to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (1-800-222-8477.) 

CA Fighting-Animal Provisions Related to Cockfighting: 

                                                           

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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EDUCATION POLITICS-Recently there was a piece on local NPR affiliate KPCC about how the homeless population, which disproportionately suffers from untreated mentally illnesses, has exploded in recent years. This story was told without ever mentioning that the State of California emptied out most of the state’s mental institutions during the 1960s and 1970s, releasing those who knew their names and what day of the week it was, irrespective of whether they were profoundly mentally ill and in dire need of treatment. 

This was done to save money in the short-term so the State would not have to hospitalize the mentally ill and address their needs in a timely manner. This segment of the population did and does not have the political power to advocate on its own behalf. 

At the time, State courts, having an undisclosed conflict of interest, determined that profoundly mentally ill people had the "civil right" to be free...and homeless. The fact that the State of California saved a short-term fortune back then is coming back to haunt everybody a half century later with an even more massive homeless population. And often, the term “mentally ill” is not even mentioned in the context of today's news about the homeless problem. 

In brief, "news" regarding the homeless situation in the state is consistently presented without relevant historic facts and context. This is not an accident, but rather the conscious manipulation of the public to limit our options so that those in government and their corporate supporters -- who financially profit from this perverse system -- are never held accountable for prior improper actions, actions that could have been avoided if the democratic process had not been mismanaged. 

But it is not necessary to go back half a century to find other illustrations of how the public is manipulated by not being presented with all options before deciding how to take action on a given issue. In the recent LAUSD Board elections for the 4th District, the only two candidates with financial support were either from the for-profit charter industry (Melvoin) or the corrupt UTLA union leadership (Zimmer.) Neither candidate ever addressed the important issues facing public education. And neither offered any ideas on how to fix what has purposefully been allowed to go wrong in public education. 

Maybe this is why only 8% of the eligible voters bothered to vote in the LAUSD Board run-off elections. What's the purpose of voting when neither one of the candidates offers any hope for real change or ways to address the needs of the majority? 

What do you think would happen in this country, if there was a third option on the ballot every election day: the chance to choose “none of the above?”

 

(Leonard Isenberg is a Los Angeles observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He was a second generation teacher at LAUSD and blogs at perdaily.com. Leonard can be reached at Lenny@perdaily.com) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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JUDICIAL CORRUPTION WATCH-As Ricky used to say to Lucy, “you’ve got a lot of splain’ to do.” So too does the California Commission on Judicial Performance. 

For the years 2009 through 2015, only one judge has been removed despite nearly 11,000 complaints. As regular readers know, in 2015, the federal court’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals complained that due to the behavior of California judges and justices, California courts have experienced an “epidemic of misconduct.” With an increasing number of complaints, averaging about 1,200 per year, the idea that over 10,000 people could be so far off mark that only one judge’s behavior was bad enough to merit removal is hard to accept. More investigation is required. 

Let’s Look at the Behavior of Some Judges over the Years. 

In 2010, the attorney for a Child Custody Evaluator appeared in Family Court to obtain an order compelling the father to cooperate in the evaluation in light of the evaluator’s suspicions that the father may have questionable conduct with his teenage daughter. The judge said that he would take the matter under submission and told the evaluator’s attorney that he could leave as the court discussed other issues not concerning the child custody evaluator with the attorneys for the divorcing parents. 

After the evaluator’s attorney had left, the judge spontaneously re-opened the issue raised by him and proceeded to fire him saying, it was not the evaluator’s business to delve into such matters and that he, the judge, would handle it the “old fashioned way,” i.e. the teenage girl would come to court and explain the situation to the judge. 

The judge then directed lawyers not to give any notice of ruling but that he would provide notice. Thus, the child custody evaluator did not know that he had been fired by the court and the judge prevented him from following up on the father’s conduct. Months later someone sent the child custody evaluator’s attorney a copy of the hearing transcript. While the evaluator’s attorney had been complaining that he had not received any order from the court, the presiding judge in the family court sent a hostile and intimidating letter. Subsequently it was clear that the presiding judge knew about the deception which was being perpetrated upon the child custody evaluation and the judge had stopped the investigation into the father’s behavior. 

Two years later, in 2012, the CJP wrote the evaluator’s attorney a letter saying, “The commission has considered the matter and taken an appropriate corrective action as to certain but not all of your allegations. Please be advised that this is the extent of the notice and disclosure allowed by rule 102(e) of the Rules of the Commission on Judicial Performance.” When the Private Admonitions for the year 2012 were consulted for this article, there is no fact pattern which fits the complaint. Thus, there had been no private reprimand. 

Since the CJP letter came in 2012, there was certainly plenty of time for the CJP to have included it in its description of 2012 cases. From the CJP files themselves, the logical conclusion is that the CJP lied to the complainant and in reality no private reprimand had been given for the judge’s re-opening the hearing and firing the child custody evaluator in order to protect the father from investigation. 

The CJP CYAs Itself by Adding the Following to its Website: 

“In order to maintain confidentiality, certain details of the cases have been omitted or obscured, making the summaries less informative than they otherwise might be, but because these summaries are intended in part to educate judges and the public and to assist judges in avoiding inappropriate conduct, the commission believes it is better to describe the conduct in abbreviated form than to omit the summaries altogether.” 

In other words, the CJP’s description of the basis of the wrongful behavior may be so vague and abbreviated, that the complainer cannot recognize his own complaint.  

CJP Allows Judges to Obstruct Justice by witness Intimidation. 

In another case dating back to 1995, the judge in a criminal case submitted a false but secret complaint to the state bar about an attorney who happened to be a witness in her court. Two weeks earlier, the District Attorney had threatened the attorney-witness that unless the witness committed perjury and testified exactly as the DA wanted some judge would get him. After it was discovered that it was the judge who had made the secret complaint (which had been worded to appear it had been made by the defendant) the CJP said that the judge had done nothing wrong in filing the false, secret complaint against the witness. The judge refused to recuse herself. 

This judge was the infamous Judge Jacqueline Connor who five years later in 2000 presided over the first trial of the Ramparts Officers and who reversed the jury convictions and acquitted them. She had previous involvement with one of the main witnesses, Officer Rafael Perez, and had reason to be angry with him. The public has no way to assess the reality behind the appearance. 

Serious Misconduct which the CJP Conceals. 

Based upon information from the data on the CJP website, there are a number of far more serious violations of both judicial ethics and law which the CJP Website ignores. 

Why do appellate court justices get to overrule trial court decisions when no one has appealed the trial court ruling? 

Why do judges and justices have the right to keep secret their ex parte communications from opposing counsel? 

Why do judges and justices get to change the facts in a case? 

Why do judges and justices get to manufacture evidence in a case? 

Why do judges and justices get to exclude attorneys from sidebars and hearings because the judges dislike the attorney for “refusing Jesus Christ?” 

Why do judges and justices get to make adverse rulings against parties because a given party’s attorney has been blacklisted for complaining about judicial misconduct? 

Why do judges and justices get to frame people for things which they did not do and then lock them up in jail for civil confinement? This practice is more widespread than previously believed and seems to be one of the prime methods the courts use to silence their critics. 

Why do judges get to ignore the fact that Prosecutors present falsified evidence? 

Why do judges get to ignore the fact that attorneys have presented perjured declarations? 

Why do appellate court justices get to communicate to trial court judges the decisions which they should make in cases? Does the use of the attorney for the superior court make the communication between the justices and the judges proper? 

Sources outside the CJP have no trouble finding these unacceptable behaviors, but the CJP seems to be blind. Or, could it be that the CJP and the judges retaliate against attorneys who make complaints. Only 3% of complaints come from attorneys, yet they are in the best position to recognize unethical conduct as opposed to an adverse decision. 

The CJP Encourages Misconduct. 

The more one looks into the Commission of Judicial Performance and the behavior of judges, one sees that the Ninth Circuit Judges understated the situation by saying that California judges and justices “turn a blind eye” to attorney misconduct. Not only do they condone and thereby encourage extreme attorney misconduct, but they themselves actively engage in outrageous behavior with impunity. 

While the various state court judges and justices can thank Justice Paul Turner for launching these series of articles, they should rest assured (or rest very uneasily) that so much additional credible information has already flowed in and the roster of miscreants has ballooned far beyond any expectation with information ranging from the San Francisco Bay Area down to San Diego. In the Internet days, reformers spread their data around the world with a few emails, forever placing the incriminating data beyond the power of the “bad boys” to retrieve and destroy. 

As the songwriters Gilman and Scott wrote (© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC):     

“Bad boys, bad boys

Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do

When they come for you?”

(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: Rickleeabrams@Gmail.com. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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GUEST WORDS--It's hard not being near the top of the political food chain. It's tough being white, proud, and so easily threatened by this:

As has been increasingly obvious, “Racial attitudes made a bigger difference in electing Trump than authoritarianism.” Part of that is the sense that growing ethnic and racial diversity is a threat to white supremacy and status. Not necessarily in the Klan sense, but in the societal privilege sense. “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”: 

All this anger we see from people screaming “All Lives Matter”  in response to black protesters at rallies. All this anger we see from people insisting that their “religious freedom” is being infringed because a gay couple wants to get married. All these people angry about immigrants, angry about Muslims, angry about “Happy Holidays,” angry about not being able to say bigoted things without being called a bigot... 

A poll last week indicates nationwide attitudes are definitely shifting, just ever so slowly. Like when they threw the wheel on the Titanic hard over and she kept heading straight for the iceberg for what seemed like minutes before beginning to turn.

Pew Research reported last week:  

In 2015, 17% of all U.S. newlyweds had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, marking more than a fivefold increase since 1967, when 3% of newlyweds were intermarried, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. In that year, the U.S. Supreme Court in the Loving v. Virginia case ruled that marriage across racial lines was legal throughout the country. Until this ruling, interracial marriages were forbidden in many states.

More broadly, one-in-ten married people in 2015 – not just those who recently married – had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity. This translates into 11 million people who were intermarried. The growth in intermarriage has coincided with shifting societal norms as Americans have become more accepting of marriages involving spouses of different races and ethnicities, even within their own families.

The most dramatic increases in intermarriage have occurred among black newlyweds. Since 1980, the share who married someone of a different race or ethnicity has more than tripled from 5% to 18%. White newlyweds, too, have experienced a rapid increase in intermarriage, with rates rising from 4% to 11%. However, despite this increase, they remain the least likely of all major racial or ethnic groups to marry someone of a different race or ethnicity. 

Furthermore (pg. 7): 

The decline in opposition to intermarriage in the longer term has been even more dramatic, a new Pew Research Center analysis of data from the General Social Survey has found. In 1990, 63% of nonblack adults surveyed said they would be very or somewhat opposed to a close relative marrying a black person; today the figure stands at 14%. Opposition to a close relative entering into an intermarriage with a spouse who is Hispanic or Asian has also declined markedly since 2000, when data regarding those groups first became available. The share of nonwhites saying they would oppose having a family member marry a white person has edged downward as well. 

Stormfront commenters were less sanguine about what that meant. One wrote,"... it just seems America is officially over. This WILL be a complete third world nation within thirty years. Absolutely finished." Strange, because when Obama became president and the T-party rose up, Ann Coulter declared "we don't have racism in America any more" like it was a good thing. Despite Pat Buchanan lamenting “The End of White America,” in Shelby v. Holder, Chief Justice John Roberts declared. “Our country has changed."

Ask black voters in North Carolina how much.

After calling for President Trump's impeachment, U.S. Rep. Al Green of Texas received racially tinged threats. He played a few voice mails for a town hall meeting Saturday: The seven-term Democrat told the crowd of about 100 people that he won't be deterred.

"We are not going to be intimidated," Green said Saturday. "We are not going to allow this to cause us to deviate from what we believe to be the right thing to do and that is to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump."

One male caller used a racial insult and threatened Green with "hanging from a tree" if he pursues impeachment. Another man left a message saying Green would be the one impeached after "a short trial" and then he would be hanged, according to the recording.

Green took to the House floor on Wednesday to say he believes Trump committed obstruction of justice and no one's above the law. 

The good news is their numbers are shrinking, but as Jesus said, bigots you have with you always. Or something.

(Tom Sullivan is a North Carolina-based writer who posts at Hullabaloo and Scrutiny Hooligans. A former columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, his posts have appeared at Crooks and Liars, Campaign for America's Future, Truthout.org, AlterNet, and TomPaine.org.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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TRUMP WATCH--Sadly, President Trump’s visit to the Middle East only confirmed my skepticism about what might come out of it. Trump went to the region with nothing to offer to mitigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and received no commitment from either Israeli or Palestinian leaders to resume the peace negotiations in earnest, but he received lots of platitudes and empty good-will gestures.

INFORMED COMMENT--Trump’s speech on Islam, written by notorious Islamophobe Stephen Miller, who used to organize Orwellian “Two Minutes Hate” sessions against Muslims at Duke, is just as bizarre as everything else Trump does. 

Miller-Trump imply, as has become common in right wing American discourse, that Muslims have a peculiar problem inasmuch as they produce terrorists. What do they think the Ku Klux Klan is? I estimate that people of European Christian heritage polished off as many as 100 million persons in the 20th century and that Muslims may have killed 2-3 million. 

Trump seems to think that pumping $110 bn in new shiny weapons into a volatile Middle East will lead to peace! If there is any sure correlate of war, it is massive purchases by one regional power of new armaments. You have to use them while you have the advantage or your rivals also acquire them.

Trump managed to insult Islamic civilization by implying that the pre-Islamic civilizations in the region were better:

“Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage. All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty.”

This is sheer Orientalism, an allegation that Pharaonic Egypt, Nabatean Jordan and Sumerian and Babylonian Iraq were great civilizations but that once Islam came, they went downhill. Miller-Trump do not know about al-Azhar University in Egypt being among the oldest in the world (George Makdisi argued it was *the* oldest). They don’t know about Harun al-Rashid’s House of Wisdom where Greek philosophy was debated in Arabic by the Abbasid caliph and his court sages at a time when Charlemagne was trying to learn to scratch out his name. They don’t know about the Abbasid invention of algebra or of Omar Khayyam’s use of geometry to solve algebraic equations. The only compliment they give Islamic civilization is that Dubai and Riyadh have skyscrapers, which is surely the blind spot of a Realtor.

Miller-Trump sweep up national resistance movements like Hamas and Hezbollah with al-Qaeda! Neither of these would exist if the Israelis hadn’t a) expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes in 1948 and then come after millions of their descendants and militarily occupied them in 1967 and b) if the Israelis had not launched a brutal war of aggression on Lebanon in 1982 and attempted to occupy permanently 10% of Lebanese territory. The Shiites of south Lebanon *liked* the Israelis before 1978. The 1982 invasion killed 10,000-20,000 people and involved indiscriminate artillery barrages and aerial bombing of Beirut, which Usama bin Laden alleged helped inspire him to destroy some American skyscrapers.

Designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization but not doing so to the armed Israeli squatters who routinely attack Palestinians in their own homes is typical of everything that is wrong with US policy in the region. Attacking civilians is always wrong (and is cowardly). But Hezbollah in 1984-2000 mainly attacked other soldiers, who were illegally occupying Lebanese Shiite land.

As for Yemen’s Houthis, they are not a creature of Iran, which has relatively little to do with them. They are rural Zaydi Shiites who resented Saudi attempts to proselytize them, marginalize them, and make them Wahhabis. You’ll never have peace in Yemen as long as you don’t recognize legitimate Zaydi interests.

For Trump to attack Iran, which just had a popular election where the electorate bucked the choice of the Leader, from Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy where the populace have no rights, is weird.

The American Right is deeply implicated in radicalizing Muslims. Afghan Islam was radicalized by the Reagan jihad against the Soviet Union. Eisenhower and Reagan both attempted to enlist Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism against Communism. Most Palestinians were secular or mainstream until the Israelis cultivated Hamas as an alternative to the PLO.

Trump wants to site a center for combating extremist ideology in Saudi Arabia! The Wahhabi form of Islam practiced in that country encourages extremist ideology! The Saudis took the practice of takfir or excommunicating Sunnis and Shiites to the next level. In the 19th century they even excommunicated the Ottoman Emperor!

If the Saudis want to combat extremism, they have to formally abjure this unfortunate heritage of Wahhabism and roundly condemn the unilateral branding of people as non-Muslim when they maintain that they are Muslims. (In the Sunni and Shiite mainstream, takfir or excommunication of a Muslim is rare and disapproved).

Contemporary radical extremism in the Muslim world is founded on a few basic principles:

  1. takfir or the excommunication of other Muslims for being insufficiently puritanical, anti-democratic, anti-Western, etc.
  2. exalting holy war or “jihad” as they understand the word (it does not mean holy war but merely struggle for the faith in the Qur’an) to a basic pillar of the religion.
  3. Willingness to commit suicide to blow other people up. Suicide is forbidden in mainstream Islam just as it is in Catholicism.

Saudi Arabia has to condemn all three– excommunication, the militarization of jihad, and homicidal self-sacrifice.

So Miller-Trump are barking up entirely the wrong tree here, as you would expect from completely ignorant people sticking their bare hands into about 50 bee hives.

Then they condemn Iranian intervention in Syria but don’t mention that Saudi Arabia backed the radical terrorist group Jaysh al-Islam that had genocide against Syria’s Shiites on their minds.  Nor do they admit that without Hezbollah, Homs would have fallen to al-Qaeda in Syria (which the US has tacitly supported; yes) and could have been used to cut off Damascus to resupply.

Any fair-minded and knowledgeable person in the Middle East would read this speech as a farrago of Orientalist prejudice against Muslims, coddling of Wahhabis, slamming of Shiites, and continued rank unfairness toward the Palestinians in favor of holding the Israelis completely blameless for their massive ethnic cleansing campaigns, which are ongoing.

That terrorism can be addressed by vague words and by failing to address the underlying social causes is a non-starter. That war and violence can be tamped down by unfairly taking one side in a sectarian struggle or by flooding massive new arsenals into the region are the pipedreams of bigots who cannot face their own bigotry.

(Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and an occasional contributor to CityWatch. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia. This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s website.)

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GELFAND’S WORLD--One person writing to the website Quora asks, "I love President Trump. Why don't people understand him?" Another questioner on the same site asks, "Why does CNN News lie about Trump?" It's all very strange. Those of us on the other side can't even keep up with the daily scandals, much less figure out why one-third of the country still supports the man. Why do they remain so loyal? 

Here are a few other such questions supplied by readers of the same site: 

Why do people think Donald Trump provides false statements, when they are actually true? 

Are there any news outlets that don't hate Trump? I’m not looking to cause controversy, I’m simply looking for some reliable (preferably non-biased) news outlets. I often find that the “credible” news outlets interpret his actions according to their own liberal bias. I don’t like conservative bias either, but news outlets tend to be mostly liberal. 

You've really got to wonder how Trump followers can hold to their slavish devotion, including the widespread misconception that the mainstream media somehow have a "liberal bias." What's biased about showing excerpts of Trump's latest speech? 

Perhaps there is an explanation, one in which we view Trump worship as akin to a neurotic fixation. How else to explain the continued support in the face of the hundreds of lies, the obvious mental laziness, the insensitivity to the real problems of real Americans? 

Perhaps there is an analogy in terms of mental problems. Think of alcoholics in recovery, who often say that they had to hit bottom before they were ready to attempt sobriety. Their symptom (drinking) is buttressed by all manner of psychological defenses. The condition goes on and on until the drinking causes so much pain in the person's life that withdrawal is seen as the only choice. 

Right now, Trump supporters are faced with an embarrassing situation, because the guy on their bumper stickers hasn't brought back the miners' jobs or negotiated improved trade agreements. Instead, he's committed one faux pas after another, yet they don't seem to be leaving him en masse. Here are some more comments from his supporters: 

Why do some Americans hate Trump when most of the people around the world seem to support him? 

Why is the western media anti-Trump? 

Will Democrats be mature and ask themselves if it's really worth impeaching Trump and hurting the country

Perhaps his biggest overreach as a politician came in his commencement address to the Coast Guard graduates. Graduation speeches can be corny or flattering, but you usually don't expect the invited speaker to wallow in self pity. When it comes to a military academy graduation, the least you can do is to avoid insulting the audience directly. Another fail. 

A hundred years ago, the budding field of psychoanalysis postulated that neurotic symptoms covered up deep conflicts. Since giving up on the symptoms (hysterical paralysis, say) would force the patient to deal with the underlying conflict, the patients would defend their symptoms desperately against therapeutic intervention. 

In the modern day, the old psychoanalytic approach is being modified by increasing knowledge about the brain and its chemistry. But perhaps that Freudian view of the mind, as much as it may no longer describe thought precisely, is a pretty good description for the current state of conservative politics. 

How else can you explain the slavish devotion to Donald Trump that is defended by his supporters against all fact, reason, and public display? Even the smallest level of intellectual honesty would demand a certain amount of disappointment. There must be a lot of emotional attachment to conservative thought among Trump voters. How else to explain the Quora questions listed above? 

Consider that the president just blabbed super secret material to the Russian ambassador (and it probably damaged the war against ISIS), that the president is using his office to make money using his hotel chain, and that presidential appointments are a complete freak show. How do you defend those scandals? 

In fact, we are caught up in a maelstrom where we have so many scandals that we can't keep up with them. In the past week alone, there have been at least three revelations that would have taken over the news for months in any previous administration. Referring to the former FBI chief as a "nutjob" is just one more data point in the Trump record.

It's long since time that liberals defend liberalism and go on the attack against the rants against media bias. We should ask why something is perceived to be biased when it is a simple statement of fact. And here's another one: Political correctness? Hell yes if we are simply responding to overt racism. It's time we all got on that train. 

In the meantime, we should be pointing out that continued defenses of Donald Trump as a leader or as a president are becoming more and more pathetic. How do you defend the indefensible? The explanation is that there must be a great deal of emotional need. Our political culture needs to move towards demanding real truth and real fairness, not the fake "balance" the right wing provides.

 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at amrep535@sbcglobal.net

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RAPE AND RACE POLITICS-In a calculated and cynical move, Bill Cosby -- a person who shamed poor black people for not “acting right” in front of white people; who chastised us on behalf of Whiteness; who made fun of our particular customs, our particular situations, and our particular names; who told us to stop using racism as an excuse for our condition — is now claiming that racism is behind all of the rape allegations against him.  And he’s claiming that to solidify the support of the very same black communities he spent a great deal of time berating. 

This is the definition of crafty. He knows our history and the history of the country. He knows that there is a horrific praxis amongst white people to falsely accuse black people of crimes we didn’t in no ways commit. There is a peculiar, sordid, and long-standing practice of white women falsely accusing black men of rape.  

Cosby is hoping to bank on this brutal history and use it as cover to cast doubt on his own crimes. I mourn that decision because of the confusion and chaos it will cause for black people who are actually innocent, who were actually falsely accused, whose innocence will be doubted even further because a clearly guilty person has misused a historical reality for his own benefit --  a historical reality he spent a good chunk of public speeches denying. 

And there is one huge detail that Cosby and others find themselves overlooking: not all of his victims are white women. 

There are a number of black women, including famous black women like Beverly Johnson, who have come forward with stories of being victimized by Cosby. 

Yes. We live in a country where we are innocent until proven guilty. And in a rape culture, rape is one of the hardest crimes to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. We are always looking to somehow blame the victim and absolve the rapist because consent is an abhorrent concept to the imperial mind; and this is, in all ways, an imperial nation. 

Please keep in mind that over 50 women have come forward. 

OVER. 50. 

If there’s more than 50 who came forward, the statistics say that there’s probably more than 100 who didn’t. Now isn’t the time to hold onto myths and symbols. Now isn’t the time to give in to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Now is the time to consider that Cosby’s sole black woman attorney quit, probably because she found her conscience. 

Now is not the time to be a fool. 

Now is the time to be a witness. 

(Son of Baldwin: To the tick-tock and you don’t stop. Writing for my life. And perhaps yours. Disturbing the peace in order to find it. No sleep ’til Crooklyn. Let’s get free. This piece originated in The Medium.com.)  Prepped for CityWatch buy Linda Abrams.

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LA WATCHDOG--On Thursday, the Los Angeles City Council approved a “fiscally responsible” budget for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017 despite what they claimed were “challenging” economic times. But despite all the self-congratulatory speeches, the City’s budget is a train wreck as pension denier Paul Krekorian, the Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, City Council President Herb Wesson, and Mayor Eric Garcetti continue to kick the budget can down our lunar cratered streets. 

LA WATCHDOG--The second most dangerous place in the City of Los Angeles is when you stand between cash and the City’s General Fund, even if the source of this revenue adversely impacts our neighborhoods and quality of life.  

This is the case with the City’s 14% Transient Occupancy Tax (the “hotel tax”) that is collected by Airbnb and other short term rental web sites (collectively, “Airbnb”) from their hosts who illegally rent their rooms, apartments, and houses for less than 30 days. 

We are not talking chump change for this recently discovered gold mine.  

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017, the City budgeted revenue of $5.8 million from Airbnb, up from zero in the previous year.  But lo and behold, the revised estimate is a whopping $27.5 million, a $21.7 million bump that aroused the financial wizards that occupy City Hall.  And for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017, the City is projecting a haul of $33.7 million, a 23% increase from the revised estimate. 

This implies that Airbnb hosts had revenues of $240 million, which, in turn, produced over $30 million of revenue for Airbnb. 

While Airbnb, its hosts, and the City each have a vested interest in maximizing revenue, this financial goal may run counter to the wishes of many Angelenos who believe that the in-and-out flow of transients disturbs their neighborhoods and compromises their safety, quality of life, and quiet enjoyment of their neighborhoods and apartment complexes.    

The hotel industry is also opposed to Airbnb because it represents a competitive threat, diverting revenue from their hotels by offering a low-cost alternative for tourists and the business community. 

The unions that represent hotel employees are also bent out of shape as they believe that the diversion of revenue from hotels will result in fewer union jobs and lower dues revenue to cover their overhead.  

The affordable housing and tenants’ rights advocates are also opposed to Airbnb because selected landlords are converting apartments to short-term rentals, depleting the supply and causing already high rents to increase.  This may force many displaced and already rent burdened tenants into even more over-crowded apartments or onto the harsh streets of LA.       

The budgeted revenue assumes that there will be no change in the existing policy. But the City Administrative Officer estimated that if the Airbnb hosts were limited to one property and if the annual number of nights booked is capped at 180, then revenue would drop from 46%, from $33.7 million to $18.2 million, a swing of $15.5 million.  

Several organizations such as Keep Neighborhoods First are proposing a 60-day cap that they argue will allow for true home sharing and preserve affordable housing by limiting the incentive for landlords to enter the short term rental market. But this cap may further reduce revenues for the City. 

The Planning and Land Use Management Committee chaired by Jose Huizar is expected to consider the Home Sharing Ordinance that will pit the financial interests of the City and Airbnb and its hosts against quality of life interests of homeowners and apartment renters, the hotel industry and their unions, and rent burdened tenants and their advocates.  

More than likely, the money grubbing Mayor and City Council will put on a show and express their concerns, but the result will be that the Garcetti and the City Council will sell us out and go with the dough.  

As a side note, overall revenues from the hotel tax are projected to increase by almost 7% to $282 million.  This represents almost 5% of General Fund revenue.  But this revenue estimate may be optimistic as international visitors, who spend more than twice as much as domestic tourists, may be turned off by the Trump Effect and the strong dollar. 

By the way, the most dangerous place in Los Angeles is when you are between the campaign war chests of our Elected Elite and cash campaign contributions from real estate developers, leaders of the City’s unions, and other self-serving ring kissers such as Airbnb.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

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LA WATCHDOG--On Tuesday, May 2, the 90-minute presentation, Back to Work to Fix LA, by the Coalition of LA City Unions to the Budget and Finance Committee of the Los Angeles City Council was not a discussion of the financial implications of achieving the goal of hiring 5,000 new civilian workers.  Rather, it is a follow up to the goals delineated in the “historic” 2015-18 labor contract and an outline of union demands for the upcoming labor negotiations for the contract that expires on June 30, 2018. 

While the goals of restoring public services, creating good jobs for Angelenos, and ensuring public safety are all laudable goals, how will the City be able to afford increasing the size of its civilian work force to 36,000 employees, the level before the City was hit by the Great Recession, from the current level of 31,000 workers? 

The Four-Year Budget Outlook that was prepared by the City Administrative Officer is projecting a budget deficit of $104 million for the year that begins on June 30, 2018 and a cumulative four-year deficit of almost $300 million.  

These shortfalls do not take into consideration an estimated $100 million increase in the annual required contribution to the City’s two pension plans associated with the lowering of the investment rate assumption to 7¼% from the overly optimistic rate of 7½%. 

[The projected rate of return for the City’s two pension plans is 6.2%, the rate of return projected by CalPERS, the country’s largest pension plan.  This implies that the annual required contributions based on the 7¼% assumption will short change the pension plans and result in an even greater unfunded pension liability.] 

Nor does the Outlook account for any increase is salaries and benefits that will come from a new labor contract with the civilian unions. This will probably add $50 to $75 million a year to the deficit. 

These extra cash expenses will increase the annual budget gap to $250 million in 2018-19 and the four-year cumulative deficit to almost $1.2 billion.  And this does not include any salary increases for the Police Department. 

The obvious conclusion is that the City cannot afford any raises to say nothing about expanding the size of its work force. 

There has also been no discussion about the efficiency (or inefficiency) of the City’s work force.  To the contrary, the civilian unions are trying to develop a monopoly over city services and contracts by making outsourcing even more difficult, even if independent contractors are more efficient. 

But it seems as if City Hall has not gotten the message from former New York Governor Mario Cuomo who said, “It’s not government’s obligation to provide services, but to see that they are provided.” 

This is not to say that you lay off City workers.  But a little “managed competition” between city work crews and private contractors will give us a better understanding of how efficiently(or inefficiently) our money is being spent. 

Despite the $1.2 billion increase in General Fund revenues, the spendthrifts that occupy City Hall have managed to perpetuate the Structural Deficit where the growth in labor costs exceeds the growth in tax revenues.  

While it may be difficult, Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Paul Krekorian (photo above) led Budget and Finance Committee, and the rest of the members of the Herb Wesson City Council must develop the political will to say NO to the demands of the campaign funding union leaders. 

We cannot afford any more budget busting contracts.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

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LA WATCHDOG--While the City’s General Fund revenues have increased by $1.24 billion (27%) over the last five years, why is the cash balance of City’s Reserve Fund projected to be $21 million below the policy goal of $289 million, an amount equal to 5% of General Fund revenue of $5.8 billion? 

But more to the point, why are the combined balances of the Reserve Fund and the Budget Stabilization Fund $215 million short of the $578 million policy goal (equal to 10% of General Fund revenue) recommended by the City Administrative Officer?  

Over the years, the CAO has been a broken record, stressing that the City maintain healthy and growing reserves because they are an important component supporting the City’s high investment grade bond ratings.  This is especially true given the City’s Structural Deficit (where the growth in personnel costs exceed the increases in revenues), the City’s massive unfunded pension and deferred maintenance liabilities, and the volatility of the Southern California economy. 

Underlying this deficit in the City’s reserves is the fact that City Hall has raided the Reserve Fund for $213 million over the last three years.  This is despite healthy increases in revenues.  As a result, the cash balance is projected to be $268 million on June 30, 2018, only 4.6% of General Fund revenue, the lowest level in years.  

But this estimate may be on the high side because the Reserve Fund may have to cover budget shortfalls for this fiscal year caused by lower than expected revenues and higher than anticipated legal settlements.  There may also be budget shortfalls for the upcoming fiscal year because of continuing legal liabilities that may exceed the projected budget of only $109 million.

City Hall was unable to divert funds from the Reserve Fund for the upcoming fiscal year because the cupboard was bare.  But that did not stop the financial wizards from diverting $75 million from the $95 million Budget Stabilization Fund. 

The City has funded the Budget Stabilization Fund with excess revenues from seven economy sensitive taxes: Property Taxes, Utilities Users’ Tax, Business Tax, Sales Tax, Transit Occupancy Tax, Documentary Transfer Tax, and Parking Users’ Tax.  Revenues are considered excess when they are more than 3.4% above the prior year’s budgeted revenues. 

But rather than devote the $75 million of excess revenues to the rainy day funds, City Hall allocated this cash to the Capital Improvement Expenditure Program, claiming these funds were devoted to one time capital expenditures.  But the Capital Improvement Expenditure Program is an integral part of every annual budget, not a bunch of one off expenditures as City Hall would like us to believe. 

In years of plenty, prudent stewards of our money would put excess cash into reserves so that we will have adequate resources when the lean years are upon us.  But the grasshoppers who occupy City Hall have not learned this basic lesson of life and finance as they continue their spendoholic ways and ignore the realities of our volatile Southern California economy. 

City Hall will more than likely issue $60 million of Judgment Obligation Bonds to help shore up the Reserve Fund.  But this is only an interim, ill conceived, debt financed maneuver. The real question is whether Mayor Garcetti, Budget and Finance Chair Paul Krekorian, and the rest of the Herb Wesson led City Council have the political will to do the right thing and sock away enough cash so we can endure the down economy. 

The odds say no way. 

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com.)

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RESISTANCE WATCH--Putting a fine point on the spin that President Donald Trump's trip to the Middle East has been a glowing, peace-dealing success, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross praised the fact that there were no protesters in Saudi Arabia—a nation where political dissonance is punishable by death. (Photo: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross)

Speaking to CNBC on Monday, Ross, who accompanied Trump on the weekend trip to Riyadh, said he found it "fascinating" that he did not see "a single hint of a protester anywhere there during the whole time we were there. Not one guy with a bad placard."

In turn, "Squawk Box" host Becky Quick pointed out "that might be—not necessarily because they don't have those feelings there—but because they control people and don't allow them to come and express their feelings the same way we do here."

"In theory, that could be true, but boy there was certainly no sign of it," Ross responded. "There was not a single effort at any incursion. There wasn't anything. The mood was a genuinely good mood."

He also noted that the Saudi security guards "all wanted to pose for a big photo op" before he left, after which they gifted him "two gigantic bushels of dates."

The remarks immediately caught the ear of Middle East experts and other observers.

Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in the Center for Middle East Policy, told CNBC afterwards that Saudi Arabia is among the "most repressive" of free speech in the Middle East, adding:  "Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy which forbids any political protest or any manifestation of dissent. It is also a police state that beheads opponents."

Others took to social media to highlight how outrageous Ross's statement was:

The New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait wrote, "Ross is a superficial man, inexperienced in foreign affairs, and easily manipulated by symbolism." However, Chait continued, "he also clearly looks at a society where, unlike the United States, he can sweep through his day without encountering any evidence of political discontent. And he sees in this something to admire."

This is in keeping with Trump, of whom Chait observed: "Rather than hypocritically overlook the authoritarianism of our allies, he actually admires it."

Similarly, the Washington Post's Philip Bump pointed out, "Few Americans have been as publicly vocal about their opposition to protests than Ross's boss, President Trump. One of his first tweets as president-elect and one of his first tweets as president both focused on disparaging protests against him."

Ross is the same administration official who described Trump's bombing of Syria as "after dinner entertainment."

(Lauren McCauley writes for Common Dreams [[commondreams.org]] … where this perspective originated.)

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RESISTANCE WATCH--One of Trump’s most horrendous campaign promises was to build a border wall — a divisive structure that will not keep us safe from harm nor create infrastructure to help our country fix crumbling roads and bridges.

There are countless examples of the failure of our nation’s outdated, underfunded infrastructure. Hurricane Katrina and the levees in New Orleans. Lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan. The crumbling Oroville dam and resulting evacuation in Northern California. These are all cases of critical structures that year after year are not properly funded in the federal budget.

Trump is either oblivious to or unmoved by the consequences of these catastrophic events on American lives as he remains fixated on the costly wall, even as his administration was forced to pull back the budget allotted for it to prevent a government shutdown

Resistance from Congress, and from grassroots efforts in cities and nationwide, is gaining momentum. Infrastructure aside, the symbolism of this wall deeply offends American values. It has increased racist anti-immigrant rhetoric and communicated to the entire world that people seeking refuge in America are not welcome here.

Here in Los Angeles in early May, my organization, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), joined Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo when he announced a motion requiring companies seeking contracts with the City to publicly disclose if they are also submitting contracting bids to build the controversial border wall. This proposal, which is the first of its kind, would also impose strict penalties and fines on any company who fails to disclose this required information.

The motion is aimed at ensuring transparency in the City’s contracting process. Nearly two out of three Angelenos are either immigrants or the children of immigrants who are a vital part of the City’s economic engine. Immigrants contribute billions of dollars in income and make up a significant percentage of both the workforce and business community.

Cedillo’s colleagues on the Los Angeles City Council agreed that residents deserve to know how public funding is spent, and whether or not they are supporting individuals or entities who are involved in the construction of a colossal barrier that is chilling and morally unacceptable to a majority of Angelenos.

Los Angeles labor groups have firmly supported the motion. Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said, “Our message is fairly simple – no wall, no way, not now, not ever. Los Angeles will enshrine the values of respect and inclusion, and reject the false notion that we have to choose between a good job and the safety and well-being of our immigrant neighbors.

Nationally, the Partnership for Working Families (PWF), a national network of leading regional advocacy organizations, has pushed for companies to publicly disclose their affiliation with the border wall. PWF called on Berkshire Hathaway, the company with the largest capacity to provide bonding required for federal construction projects, to publicly commit not to insure the border wall or detention centers.

The pressure is working. Most recently, Zachry Federal Construction Corporation and Shimmick Construction Co. have pulled out of the border wall bidding process. That means that at least 13 companies, including seven of the largest 25 design-build firms, have said they are not bidding.

“It’s bad enough that Trump is focusing his energy on dividing families rather than rebuilding our country,” said Nikki Fortunato Bas, Executive Director of the Partnership for Working Families. “We’re demanding that companies stand up for what is right and refuse to profit off of this politics of hate.”

Whether in Los Angeles or nationally, labor and community leaders are fighting the same fight alongside immigrant rights and other social justice groups. Together, we are resisting, and we are rejecting the false notion that we must choose between jobs and the safety and well-being of our neighbors. We insist that immigrants are not only welcome here — they are critical to the success and the life of our communities and our nation’s economy — and we will never support the building of a border wall.

(Roxana Tynan is Executive Director of the Los Angeles Alliance for New Economy.)

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RESISTANCE WATCH--Monday brought a victory for voting rights.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a lower court's decision that struck down North Carolina's controversial voter ID law. According to Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, the development means "[a]n ugly chapter in voter suppression is finally closing."

A federal appeals court last year found that law, which shrunk the early voting period and stopped the practice of pre-registering teenagers in addition to the ID requirement, was racially discriminatory as it targeted "African Americans with almost surgical precision."

Now, Ho added, the law has met "its much-deserved demise."

The ACLU, along with other civil rights groups, had challenged the law, which was passed in the wake of the high court's decision in Shelby v. Holder. That decision was decried as having "sounded the death knell" for a key provision in the Voting Rights Act.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also applauded the announcement, with its president and executive director, Kristen Clarke, saying it "now renders North Carolina's law null and void, and brings to close a long and protracted battle over a law deemed one of the most egregious voter suppression measures of its kind."

It also, according to Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP, "tells the people of North Carolina and across the country that the right to vote unencumbered by expansive restrictions or by racist politicians or racist policies is fundamental, and that under the laws of the land, it will be upheld.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) took to Twitter to call it "a huge victory against sham voter ID laws written to suppress the vote."

"Next," she continued, "we must restore the #VotingRightsAct gutted by #SCOTUS."

(Andrea Germanos writes for the excellent Common Dreams … where this report originated.)

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RESISTANCE WATCH--"Just when we thought all hope was lost, common sense prevailed today in the United States Congress," said Jessica Ennis, senior legislative representative with the environmental law organization Earthjustice.

That's because the Senate on Wednesday failed to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution that would have killed an Obama-era Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rule that limits methane flaring from fossil fuel production on federal and tribal lands. 

"Methane is a potent contributor to climate change, and letting companies simply vent or flare methane in vast quantities from their operations on publicly-owned lands is foolhardy," explained Jeremy Martin, senior scientist with the Clean Vehicles Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). "That’s why it's so important that we protect common-sense standards, and why this resolution deserved a 'no' vote."

That vote was 49-51, with three Republicans—Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Jon McCain of Arizona—joining Democrats in voting "no." 

The House already voted to kill the rule, which environmental groups said amounted to "giving away a taxpayer-owned resource for free," and was thanks to the CRA, "a dirty trick that Congress can use to do the oil industry's bidding."

If the resolution had been successful in the Senate, it would have made making fossil fuel companies accountable for their pollution "nearly impossible," said UCS's Martin—"not only would it have overturned current rules, it would have blocked future administrations from setting standards."

Now, with that effort stopped, climate campaigners are cheering, though "[t]he fact that Congress even considered this giveaway to the oil industry is stunning," said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity. "We applaud the senators who stepped up to kill this resolution, ensuring that people will breath cleaner air and saving taxpayers millions of dollars."

According to Lukas Ross, Friends of the Earth's climate and energy campaigner, the vote marks a "victory against Trump's plan to hand our public lands to Big Oil [and] is a win for the American people. Reducing venting and flaring from oil wells will reduce emissions contributing to climate change and save public resources. Today the Senate proved it will not always rob taxpayers to line Big Oil's pockets," he continued.

Still, it's not the time for climate campaigners to put their guard down.

"While we have beaten back this attack on the BLM methane rule, we know that Trump and his Big Oil cronies are eyeing other avenues," Ross cautioned. "An earlier Executive Order already instructs [Interior Department] Secretary Zinke to examine how to give Big Oil an ever bigger share of our public lands. We will continue to fight against any efforts to endanger the future of our lands and our climate," he said.

(Andrea Germanos writes for the excellent Common Dreams  where this report was first posted.)

-cw

ANIMAL WATCH--Let's say you’ve discovered some mouse droppings, maybe even seen a mouse or rat scurrying by one night.  So you decide to get some rat poison and put it out confident the problem has been solved. The rat eats the poison and makes its way across the yard where it catches the eye of a cat, a hawk, an owl that move in to catch this easy prey because it has slowed down or is moving erratically.  Let's say the neighbor’s cat catches it, eats it.  A few days later the heartbroken neighbor is posting signs wondering where their cat has disappeared to while a distraught neighbor a few doors over is calling dead animal pick up for the cat lying under the bushes. 

This is not an unusual scenario.  Using poison to kill rodents creates a serious hazard to cats and local birds of prey. 

From PetMD – 

Strychnine is a very strong and dangerous poison that is often added to bait for killing rats, moles, gophers, and other rodents or unwanted predators. Having a very short duration of action, the clinical symptoms of strychnine poisoning typically appear within ten minutes to two hours after ingestion, resulting in sudden death.

Patients often will die due to spamming of the muscles involved in respiration, resulting in strangulation. Cats of all ages are equally susceptible to the adverse effects of strychnine.

The following are some of the symptoms of strychnine poisoning:

- Limb rigidity
- Stiff muscles
- Uncontrolled violent seizures (sometimes in response to bright lights or noise)
- Severe spasms leading to arching of the head, neck and back in extreme hyperextension (opisthotonus)
- Elevated heart rate
- High body temperature
- Breathing difficulties, inability to breathe,
- Vomiting

So how do we get rid of rats without creating lethal danger to our wonderful local cats, hawks and owls, all of whom provide the BEST way to kill rats and mice?  

First of all a message to all the kind people providing food to their local feral population, do NOT put food out and keep it out.  Put it out at specific times in the day and pick up whatever the cat doesn’t eat.  That food attracts other creatures as well. Cats will know when the food is coming especially if you call them every time. 

We also discourage the use of glue traps as it is a particularly cruel and inhumane, time consuming way to kill a rodent.  The mouse runs onto it, sticks, and is terrified while its struggles to escape. It will either die slowly of dehydration or starvation. The traps can rip off fur and skin while they struggle, and rodents have attempted to chew through their own limbs to get free. Other animals can get trapped on it as well. 

There is now a popular, new and effective trap that is being used by responsible residents. An electric trap. Small box with lure at back. Only mice and rats can fit in and are immediately zapped.  More humane and less messy than the old fashioned snap traps. Just Google electric rat traps. 

Here are some websites that give excellent instruction on ways to discourage rodents from visiting at all including the use peppermint oil - Add 20-30 drops of peppermint essential oil to each cotton ball and lay strategically around your home. Refresh every week or so, or whenever you notice the smell is fading.) Did you know rodents hate to cross aluminum foil? 

MORE INFO 

 

(Dianne Lawrence is a dog trainer and the publisher of The Neighborhood News. Reach her at: whatagooddogla.com/) 

-cw

ANIMAL WATCH-At the March 14 LA Animal Services Commission meeting, Brenda Barnette included in her GM Oral Report a short but very precise and lucid overview of the Animal Services’ widely publicized hearing held on March 1. This was the inquiry to determine whether two Pit Bull that killed a tiny Pomeranian and then inflicted injuries which may have resulted in, or contributed to, the death of the dog’s owner, Valentin Herrera, 76, should be declared “Dangerous Animals.” 

Barnette concluded with a clear and succinct statement: “Those dogs have been humanely euthanized.” 

She later told a CBS reporter that she may have been confused and claims she “misspoke.” However, Barnette was voluntarily summarizing one single event---not discussing a number of cases or under stress that might have muddied her memory. 

None of the Commissioners has experience in animal control, but they are thoroughly familiar with LA Municipal Code SEC. 53.18.5.  HEARING PROCEDURES AND LICENSE REVOCATIONS, since, with Commissioner Larry Gross presiding, they serve as the Appeals Board in Dangerous Animal and Barking Dog hearings and review these cases regularly. In fact, they had heard four such appeals that morning. 

But, with three attorneys present, not one asked about the euthanasia of the Pit Bulls prior to an appeal period. GM Barnette’s statement was delivered so unequivocally that no one raised the basic question to determine the right of LAAS to euthanize: “Did the owner relinquish the dogs?” 

On Monday, March 20, after my CityWatch article appeared, LA Killer Pit Bulls Euthanized…Are Dog Attacks Now an Epidemic?, which quoted Barnette’s statement, I received numerous communications from reliable sources that the Pit Bulls in the Lincoln Heights attack were very much alive and being held at North Central Animal Shelter awaiting the end of the owner’s appeal period on March 22. 

At 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, March 21, I electronically submitted a California Public Records Act Request (CPRA) to Commission President David Zaft and GM Brenda Barnette, asking for the records in their database regarding the status of these dogs. 

Very promptly, at 2:20 p.m. I received all requested material, and a surprise! An entry by a shelter supervisor at approximately 3:45 p.m. on March 20, states: 

“Administration has notified me that (Redacted name) is appealing DA 171117 NC and the determination that her dogs are “dangerous” (A1679513 AND A1679514). These dogs are to be held until the appeal is decided.

How could Brenda Barnette, who has more than six years as General Manager at one of the largest animal-control agencies in the U.S. and is the person who signs the decisions made at all Dangerous Animal hearings, forget there is an appeal period before allegedly dangerous dogs can be euthanized under law? 

Also, there were two Assistant General Managers, Louis Dedeaux and Dana Brown, in the room at that time. Either could have slipped a note to their boss or whispered in her ear that she “misspoke.”  (Asst. GM Louis Dedeaux has over 25 years in field and shelter experience at LA Animal Services and is the person who approves ALL animal euthanasias in City shelters.) Since neither of them corrected her, there was no reason for anyone present or those listening to the "On Air" broadcast to doubt Barnette’s word. 

ALARMING INFORMATION FROM KENNEL IMPOUND 

Here’s a little more information garnered from the Kennel Impound Cards: The two Pit Bulls involved in the February 2 attack on Mr. Herrera and his dog are named, “Rocky” (60 lbs.) and “Blue,” (83 lbs.) Both have a DOB of 02/03/2015. Neither is neutered or microchipped. There is no indication of dog licenses. Their physical condition does not indicate any negative findings but the description for each under OBJECTIVE FINDINGS, reads, “Patient will not allow full examination – SCARED.” A note for Rocky’s skin condition states: “MUZZLE SOILED W/BLOOD O/W OK.” 

When CBS spoke to the grandson of the victim, Valentin Herrera, he was upset that the owner is requesting return of these dogs. However, an expert opined that it is possible the decision to appeal has as much to do with limiting potential civil liability. Simply allowing the dogs to be euthanized could be interpreted as an admission that they are dangerous, he said. The owner may believe there is a possibility of overturning the ruling by the LAAS Hearing Examiner, either on an appeal to the Commission or by filing an action in Superior Court. 

If the owner prevails, it could mean the dogs will be released to her and returned to the Lincoln Heights location or merely moved to a location outside the city limits. 

THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME GM BARNETTE HAS “MISSPOKEN.” 

Brenda Barnette -- who had no animal control or law-enforcement experience when she was appointed to be LA City’s “Top Dog” by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa -- has “misspoken” or “misinformed” on numerous occasions, with very costly results to taxpayers, animals and LAAS employees. 

Here are just a few of the published examples: 

Aug. 5, 2011 -- Guns, Ammunition Seized at L.A. Animal Shelters as Probe Expands  

Oct. 21, 2011 -- Phew! All of L.A. Animal Services' Guns Are Accounted For, Audit Finds.  

Feb. 14, 2012 – Six Animal Shelter Captains Benched Pending Vending Machine Contract Probe  

June 13, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services Captains Cleared   

Mar 18, 2013 – Los Angeles Animal Services' Brenda Barnette: 'No Night Care for Animals in City Shelters’   

Jul 3, 2013 – LA Animal Services’ GM Brenda Barnette Says Shelters Need Puppies  

Sept. 28, 2015 -- Memo to GM Barnette and LA Council: LA Animal Control Officers are at Risk  

July 23, 2017 -- LA Animal Services' Employee Mauled by Pit Bull ... Who Cares? 

SHOULD “MISMANAGEMENT” BE EXCUSED? 

Barnette’s annual salary is now over $230,000 (Comparatively, Governor Jerry Brown makes $190,100, and the Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro tem are each paid $119,734, according to the LA Times.)  

Shouldn’t we expect that she would not “misspeak” or “misinform” (without correction) on a matter as serious as Pit Bulls that are alleged to have killed a man and his dog? 

Should the Commission (or anyone else) believe her on other issues -- including her insistence that Los Angeles is almost “No Kill,” although streets in many areas are rife with stray dogs and cats and thousands of homeless animals are merely being transported to other cities/states or “fostered” without a permanent home? 

After more than six years, shouldn’t Barnette be expected to know the basic elements that are a regular part of her job? 

Barnette’s “mismanagement” has systematically devastated a vital public safety department and endangered her staff, the public and animals; but there have been no consequences. 

Is that because Barnette is automatically excused from “misspeaking” or “misinforming?” Or, is it because the political leadership of Los Angeles does not want to bring attention to its own rampant systemic manipulation of the truth?

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

ANIMAL WATCH-GM Brenda Barnette announced at the LA Animal Services’ Commission meeting on March 14, that the two Pit Bulls impounded after the tragic attack which killed Valentin Herrera, 76, and his small dog last month have been euthanized. 

Mr. Herrera and his 5-year-old Pomeranian were walking in the 2600 block of Lincoln Park Blvd. near his home on February 2, when two male Pit Bulls which had escaped from a nearby yard grabbed the tiny dog, "shredding his body like a piece of material,” according to a neighbor. An eyewitness said that the owner of the Pit Bulls saw the dogs attacking but took no action to stop them.

When he tried to save his best friend, Mr. Herrera was also attacked, suffering severe injuries to his head and arms. 

He underwent surgery but remained in a coma and never regained consciousness. According to a statement by a family member on their GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, "...after about 3 weeks of being in the hospital the doctors have told us that his brain is no longer functioning. The family and I have decided to let him go and rest, because we know he has been through so much."

Mr. Herrera died on February 28, just before a scheduled hearing on the attack by the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services on March 1.

Brenda Barnette told the Commission that because the hearing was so emotional for both the victim’s family members who attended and the owner of the Pit Bulls, reporters were allowed in the room but no cameras were permitted inside.

KABC reported that, although the owner of the dogs did not want to be on camera, “at the hearing he said he was on medication at the time and in shock.” 

A disabled woman, who claimed she lives on the same property as the owner of the Pit Bulls, previously told KABC  that “the dogs were her ‘security’… against intruders who invaded the yard to steal fruit from its trees.” An earlier report stated that the dogs were not licensed. 

Another resident of Lincoln Heights, Stephanie Grizelle, informed CBS that the same two Pit Bulls had killed her small therapy dog, Tulula, four days earlier, as her two young children watched. She added that both children required therapy. 

Valentin Herrera was a steelworker who came to Los Angeles from Jalisco, Mexico. He purchased the home in Lincoln Heights in 1996. His son, Luis, described his father as a strong, loving man and wonderful father. Mr. Herrera leaves behind his wife of more than 50 years, Anita, children and grandchildren, and a shaken and grieving community.

THE INDIRECT VICTIMS OF DOG ATTACKS 

Pit Bull attacks or other severe dog attacks, whether fatal or not, affect far more than the obvious victim. They impact neighbors and others who witness the grisly event or the aftermath. A family is often robbed of a parent, child, spouse, or animal companion. Even if the victims live, they may be permanently grossly disfigured and mentally traumatized -- unable to recover a previous lifestyle or continue a career. If a child is severely injured or killed, future hopes and dreams are lost forever. 

Additionally, the family of victim of a dog attack can often suddenly find themselves with overwhelming unexpected veterinary, medical and/or funeral bills.

ARE PIT BULL ATTACKS BECOMING EPIDEMIC? 

A prior CityWatch article about the attack on Valentin Herrera cited numerous recent local Pit Bull attacks, but this is not a problem unique to Los Angeles. 

Here are just a few of the many attacks reported across the country from December 2016 – March 2017: 

Woman undergoes surgery after attack by 2 pit bulls 

On March 16, 2017, a 63-year-old woman underwent surgery after she was attacked by two pit bulls in Pembroke, NC, according to the Red Springs Citizen. Both dogs were euthanized for rabies testing. The woman’s identity and condition were not yet disclosed because the case is also being handled as a “communicable disease investigation." 

Early during 2016 a pit bull attacked and killed a Lumberton child, the report said, prompting the city to adopt an ordinance targeting dogs deemed “vicious.” A Pembroke woman lost an arm after being attacked last year by a Pit Bull. 

Pit bull attack in Bensenville IL leaves man with 30 bite marks   

On March 13, 2017, Chris Kazmierczak, 22, was walking to his car with a friend in Bensenville, IL, when he said he heard something running up behind him. "...(I) turned around to see what it was and next thing I know the thing was on my arm," he told WGN-TV. He described the attacking dog as a white Pit Bull, wearing a collar. His friend was finally finally able to kick and pull the dog away, but Kazmierczak will need to undergo rabies treatment if the animal isn't found. 

Also, there is a gaping wound on his left arm and about 30 bite marks. Kazmierczak does construction for a living and said he won't be able to work with his hands for at least two months. 

Joliet’s Pit Bull Problems So Bad Police Dept Hires Dangerous Dog Officer  

Feb 22, 2017- Joliet will hire a part-time police officer whose sole job will be to follow-up on dangerous dog calls. Last year in July the city revealed that they had 11 dangerous dog hearings concerning 17 dog attacks in 7 months. The city admitted that most attacks were committed by pit bulls, but would not give exact numbers. In August, after that city report on dangerous dogs, another serious Pit Bull attack left a woman nearly dead.


Cape Cod, MA, records that Pit Bulls are top in dog bites  

So far this year, Yarmouth has seen at least three pit bull attacks on small dogs, one which led to the death of a 3-year-old terrier named Doc….the type of dog known as Pit Bull shows up more in reported attacks across the Cape than any other breed, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Between January 2016 and February 2017, Yarmouth logged 19 Pit Bull bites on dogs and people, according to data from the town's Board of Health. Not included was a recent incident in which a Pit Bull bit its owner, severing the top part of her finger when she tried to break up a fight between it and another Pit Bull, according to Yarmouth Deputy Police Chief Steven Xiarhos. 

Across the Cape during the same period, towns reported Pit Bull bites on humans and dogs 58 times. Pit bulls represented 12.6 percent of the breeds listed in the bite reports, but make up only 1.2 percent of the registered dogs on Cape Cod.  

Police Fatally Shoot Two Attacking Pit Bulls in Bushwick [NY] 

On March 11, 2017, police officers shot and killed two Pit Bulls that were mauling a man, according to the NYPost.com

NYPD reported that multiple officers rushed to an apartment near the corner of Hancock Street and Bushwick Avenue at roughly 10:30 p.m., where they found a 50-year-old man inside being attacked by the two dogs. The injured man, identified by the Post as Paul "Nitty" Davis, was rushed to Kings County Hospital.  

The dogs belonged to Devon Dixon, 26, a roommate of Davis, who said he had rescued them from a neighbor's yard after they had been abandoned, the Post notes.  Dixon recalled trying to beat the dogs back with a two-by-four board, but was unable to stop them until police arrived and shot both dogs. 

“But they had to, Nitty was losing a lot of blood," he told the Post

Pit Bull seriously injures four-year-old boy in Pocatello  

On Sunday, December 4, 2016, a four-year-old boy in Pocatello, Idaho, was attacked by a Pit Bull owned by his mother’s boyfriend, reports KIFI. The mother has custody of the child. 

The boy’s father explained that the “…attack damaged two of the boy's facial nerves, which control movements, like smiling. Other wounds damaged the spit glands, the upper lip and below one eye.” Surgery to repair the boy’s face took six and a half hours and more than 1,000 stitches, according to the father. He said the surgeon told him it was one of the worst cases he’d ever seen and they don’t know if his son would ever get back functionally and he will have a big scar. 

THE NATIONAL PIT BULL AWARENESS VICTIM page shows the faces and tells the stories of Pit Bull attack victims all over the country. The organization also provides the following statistics that show the increase in attacks: 

Pit bull attacks on humans in the U.S. have reached an epidemic level, increasing 773 percent from 2007-2014. In a 30-year study of dog attacks in Canada and the US, 3394 people were attacked by dogs in a fatal and disfiguring manner. 2,113 or 60% of the attacks were by pit bulls and pit bull mixes

FATAL PIT BULL ARCHIVES:   

From 2009 to 2016, the most recent 8-year period, pit bulls averaged 22.9 deaths per year, a 690% increase, according to U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities. 

Following are the listed attacks from June 2016 - Feb 2017: 

Valentine Herrera is the 508th American killed by a Pit Bull. 

  1. February 2017, Los Angeles County, CA
    Valentine Herrera, 76
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. January 2017, Fulton County, GA
    Logan Braatz, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. December 2016, Cabell County, WV
    Isaiah Franklin, 6
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. October 2016, Staten Island, NY
    Daisie Bradshaw, 68
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s) 
  1. September 2016, Shawnee County, KS
    Piper Dunbar, 2
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Jefferson County, CO
    Susan Shawl, 60
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Clark County, NV
    Derion Stevenson, 9
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. August 2016, Screven County, GA
    Michelle Wilcox, 30
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Honolulu County, HI
    Crisencio Aliado, 52
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Navajo County, AZ
    Kayden Begay, 3
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. July 2016, Wayne County, MI
    Elizabeth Rivera, 71
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. June 2016, Fresno County, CA
    Susie Kirby, < 1
    Fatal dog attack involving pit bull(s) 
  1. June 2016, Penobscot County, ME
    Hunter Bragg, 7
    Fatal pit bull attack 
  1. June 2016, San Joaquin County, CA
    Earl Stephens Jr., 43
    Fatal pit bull attack 

    (See more at U.S. Pit Bull Fatalities)

DogsBite.org provides Google State Map:  “California Fatal Pit Bull Attacks” 

 

(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams. 

ANIMAL WATCH-Before Brenda Barnette was hired as General Manager of LA Animal Services in 2010, the mantra for the Department was, at all times, “officer, animal and public safety.” Whenever there was a major disaster such as a fire or an earthquake, Animal Control Officers were placed on alert at all city shelters -- whether of or not they were ultimately dispatched to the emergency scene. 

The Animal Services’ Emergency Response Coordinator (for many years the well-known and highly experienced Captain Karen Knipscheer), once notified that a fire/disaster command center had been set up, and aware that the focus of fire and police personnel is to stop destruction and evacuate humans, would either go to the location or send a representative to advise that LA Animal Services was available to help with any animal-related need. 

But, in the current LAAS “Department Emergency Plan,” it states that, The Department of Animal Services will send an Agency Representative (AR) to the Police [Fire/Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control] Incident Command Post “ONLY when requested…” (Emphasis added.) 

On Monday, May 23, at 2:20 pm, a fast-moving fire was reported near the 13000 block of Wheatland Avenue above Lake View Terrace and at the border of the Angeles National Forest. Hundreds of city, county and federal firefighters joined to protect the multi-jurisdictional area. Spotter planes and water-dropping helicopters helped battle the blaze, which burned a total of about 185 acres. 

On that day, prompt response, the level of preparedness and expertise, and the wind-direction blew the fire away from structures and into the National Forest; no evacuation was required. 

However, notably absent to those who worry about pets and other animals in these situations (Lake View Terrace and other Valley areas still have substantial equine communities) was any announcement that LA Animal Services was on standby in case the wind-blown fire changed its course and headed toward populated areas.

City fire Capt. Daniel Curry told KTLA.  “The fire spread very rapidly due to the steep terrain and the status of the fuels in the area.” The south end of the fire, closer to homes, was part of the containment line, he said. Special attention was given to protecting structures in the Little Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Tujunga Canyon Road areas "as a precaution," according to Los Angeles Fire Department’s Erik Scott.

Angelenos are aware that fire season is approaching and that the “Big One” may rock Los Angeles at any time, putting their homes instantly in danger. The City advises us to be prepared. That message also applies to pets and large animals who will need to leave disaster areas with their owners or to be evacuated by LA Animal Services and taken to safety. 

But, recent changes in the allocation of funds for LA Animal Services by the Mayor and City Council have resulted in a lack of resources that have been the stalwarts of safety for animals during past emergencies. City Hall doesn’t seem to care much. 

While the Council Budget & Finance Committee easily allotted $800,000 of taxpayer money for a Feral Cat/Trap-Neuter-Release/Relocate Report so that feral cats can be released to roam unimpeded on residential and commercial property throughout the city and be sterilized using City funds, it rejected a request for ten badly needed animal control trucks as part of the replacement of the dilapidated and unsafe LAAS fleet not replaced since 2000 and 2003. 

The current situation is that the Animal Services’ entire fleet of animal control trucks (animal collection vehicles) needs to be replaced immediately. Some can no longer be driven safely on the streets and officers state that, even when sent for repair, they seem to break down almost immediately. 

Dangerous enough under normal conditions, but should trucks that break down or suddenly not start, with failing brakes and doors that fly open (both on the passenger cab and animal compartments) be allowed behind fire lines? 

This lack of assistance by Animal Control Officers to pick up pets trapped in homes during a fire or disaster, or to catch frightened animals that have escaped, could leave beloved furry and feathered family members behind to die. 

The Department is expecting (after unconscionable delays) to hire 30 new animal control officers soon; however, if there aren’t enough vehicles, they will not be able to work in the field. Even with 13 anticipated new vehicles that are tentatively expected within ten months, this will be fraction of what is needed to replace the current decrepit fleet. 

Even now, animal control officers that could be helping injured and stray animals and doing humane investigations are reportedly sitting in the shelters because of a lack of vehicles. 

This should be no surprise to Councilman Paul Koretz. 

During a report to the Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee (chaired by Koretz) on September 16, 2015, at which Koretz feigned great concern about heat affecting animals in collection vehicles with inadequate ventilation or cooling, he was advised that the officers, animals and the public are endangered by the deterioration and poor mechanical condition of the fleet of collection trucks. General Services Fleet Director Richard Coulsen confirmed there are repeated breakdowns while officers are driving trucks which are “falling apart.” Koretz has never agendized this matter again. 

Coulsen announced at the May 24 LAAS Commission meeting that there is now authorization to order twenty-two trucks by the end of the 2016-17 fiscal year for another partial fleet replacement. Director of Field Operations Mark Salazar has subsequently recited a litany of fiascos occurring from LAAS designing totally unsuitable vehicles and then receiving new trucks that have such serious defects they have been returned to the manufacturer. In addition, he has noted the painfully slow process of upgrading vents on ten 2008 animal-rescue vans currently not in use because they lack an alternate air-circulation system. This left Commissioners and attendees obviously confused. 

After Salazar’s additional lengthy and convoluted excuses for all these mistakes, frustrated activist Michael Bell stated in public comment, “…I didn’t understand anything you said. It seemed one thing piled on another…this is just silliness.” He encouraged the Commission to “just get this done because it is obvious that General Services and Officer Salazar are not doing it.” 

With the current deficit in officers and equipment (the Department also has 33% less horse-hauling vehicles,) it is important for all small and large-animal owners to realize that, if a disaster hits, you may be on your own.

The following are some basic tips from experts for saving or safeguarding your pets and horses in a disaster. However, since each situation and animal is different, please talk with your neighbors, experts and community advisors and/or go on the Internet for a wide variety of information. (Plus, we invite any readers to leave comments to help.) 

Devise a disaster plan in advance, which includes -- but is not limited to -- these basics, and please microchip your pets and horses. 

SMALL ANIMALS: 

  1. Have a strong kennel/travel cage that can be securely latched ready for each pet.  (Keep it in a place easy to access quickly.) 
  2. Store or fill containers with enough water to sustain your pet for several days. 
  3. Have a tightly closed container filled with enough food for each pet (use the kind your pet regularly eats) for several da
  4. Keep a fresh supply of medications your pet takes (enough for several days).
  5. Have some toys/blankets familiar to the pet ready to take. 
  6. Practice placing your pet in a kennel/cage at least monthly, so that it is comfortable with the process.
    Rotate/replace food/water/meds every 3 to 6 months. 
  7. Have your pets’ licensing/microchip info handy to take, along with a photo of you with your animal(s). Keep contact information current on microchip and license.

LARGE ANIMALS: 

  1. Have a plentiful backup supply of water, and plenty of buckets available to take with you. 
  2. Halter/lead rope for every animal. (For smaller farm animals, keep transfer cages easily available.) 
  3. Training and practice. Make sure your animal loads in a trailer quickly and easily before an incident occurs. 
  4. Have an evacuation plan in place. Know where you expect to take your animal(s) and practice ahead of time. 
  5. Have special feed or medications set aside with easy access in an emergency. 
  6. Have your horses microchipped and update the contact information regularly
  7.  Have any licensing/other info ready to take with you, along with a photo of you with your    horse, showing any special markings on the animal.

                                                                       

(Animal activist Phyllis M. Daugherty writes for CityWatch and is a contributing writer to opposingviews.com.  She lives in Los Angeles.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

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NATIONAL PARK POLITICS--I’m writing this from Yellowstone National Park (photo above). Established in 1872, this was our first National Park. The world’s first, in fact.

In an interesting window into how politics worked then (and now, arguably), Congress agreed to preserve this land only after being assured that it was entirely “worthless.” 

GUEST WORDS--The United States is the most militarized and jingoistic nation on earth. Its foreign policy is guided by imperialist militarism, neoliberal capitalism and racial xenophobia. For more than sixteen years now, three presidential administrations have carried out a so-called “War on Terror” (GWOT), a perpetual state of war that is waged globally, under the depraved reasoning that “the world is a battlefield,” to quote investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. As demonstrated by the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the GWOT is conducted through conventional warfare. More often, however, it is executed through covert or “dirty” wars, against groups and individuals in many other nations.

BELL VIEW--Yesterday morning LAPD took a homeless man from the front seat of my neighbor's car. My neighbor noticed him as he loaded his kid's into their car seats. The man was asleep, oblivious, he did not stir. My neighbor waited for LAPD on his front lawn, with a baseball bat in his hand. Just in case. 

THE COHEN COLUMN--Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to run the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, is widely respected by both parties after more than 20 years at the forefront of U.S. law enforcement.

EDUCATION POLITICS--Supporters of charter schools, homeschooling and other forms of school “choice” are so used to fighting in the trenches against the state’s muscular teachers’ unions that they often forget how much progress they’ve made in the last decade or so. Recent events have shown the degree of progress, even if they still face an uphill – and increasingly costly – battle. 

PLATKIN ON PLANNING-Yes, traffic congestion in Los Angeles is bad and getting worse. In fact, Los Angeles has the worst traffic congestion of any US city. A recent study from the Washington State based Inryx institute concluded that Angelinos are, on average, stuck in traffic 104 hours per year, and that Los Angeles has the planet’s worst traffic congestion. 

So, LA’s power brokers can boast that at least in one category Los Angeles is now a true global city. Of course, I don’t doubt there are those perpetual cynics who want to rain on this wonderful parade, and argue that Los Angeles – despite Beijing and Mexico City -- should instead claim world recognition for its poor air quality. They do have a case, too, since the only US cities with worse air than Los Angeles are Bakersfield and Fresno. 

Given LA’s notorious traffic congestion and poor air quality, we should not be surprised at the long list of fake solutions to the city’s gridlock. While these phony fixes allow contractors to build freeways and investors to pursue lucrative but short-sighted real estate deals, we get nothing but hems and haws about what could truly reduce traffic congestion: spending serious money, such as Measure M and much more, on alternative transportation modes, especially transit, biking, and walking. 

The major fake solutions? 

Freeway widening: The $1.6 billion spent on widening the still gridlocked I-405 could have been devoted to re-engineering many miles of local boulevards to lure drivers and passengers out of their cars and into alternative transportation modes. What is now happening through the My Figueroa project between downtown Los Angeles and USC could have appeared throughout much of Los Angeles. At $5,000,000 per mile, 320 miles of major Los Angeles area arteries could have had a new, well maintained tree canopy, grade separated bike lanes, enhanced street lighting, legal ADA curb cuts, and repaired and widened sidewalks. If combined with improved bus service built on rider comfort, lower fares, and more frequent service, this array of carrots would have achieved far more than resuscitating a dinosaur, adding two more lanes to the still busiest freeway in the entire United States. 

Encourage high-density residential buildings in neighborhoods “near” mass transit hubs, stations, and corridors. 

This approach to link transportation and land use planning is usually called Transit Oriented Districts, although both Los Angele City Planning and METRO defer to the alternative term Transit Oriented Communities. In theory, these areas should be substantially improved through My Figueroa-type public improvements for walking, bicycling, and access to public transit. 

But, as made clear by both agencies, their joint version of Transit Oriented Communities is really Transit Oriented Development. Their actual program is not major local public improvements for alternative transportation modes, but broad incentives to private investors for the construction of new market rate apartment buildings. In an amazing developer-friendly approach City Planning’s proposed guidelines have some startling features: 

1) The incentive areas will radiate out in a half-mile radius from major bus stops, Bus Rapid Transit stops, Metrolink Rail stops, and Metro Rail stops. As a result, except for the San Fernando Valley, most of Los Angeles will become a vast TOC incentive area.

2) In these incentive areas, residential projects with more than five units can increase the number of rental units between 50 to 80 percent, while the building’s mass (FAR) can reach a ratio between 2.5 to 4.0.

3) Other incentives include reductions in required parking, yards and setbacks, open space, lot coverage, lot width, density, height, and transitional height. 

In effect, this ordinance will completely undercut the existing zoning code’s residential requirements in much of Los Angeles, as well as some of re:code LA. It will also sidestep the City’s current efforts to update LA’s General Plan in several dangerous ways: 

1) There is no monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of these incentivized residential projects. Are the new affordable units actually there? Are they reducing homelessness and overcrowding? Were their occupants subjects to an income verification review? Do any of the residents in these new buildings regularly use transit? We have no way to answer these basic questions because there will be no monitoring to determine the TOC ordinance’s effectiveness, and there will be no on-site inspections of the supposed affordable units. None of this is new, of course, since the lack of monitoring or on-site affordable housing inspections is already standard practice in LA. The only difference is that will now be much more speculative real estate to sweep under the carpet. 

2) If these new residential projects actually increase local populations, there is no concern over the additional public services and infrastructure required to service these residents, even though this approach should be the essence of Transit Oriented Districts. Improved bicycle infrastructure and sidewalks? Tree canopies? Undergrounding utility wires? Park ‘n ride and Kiss ‘n Ride for mass transit stations? Street and parking capacity? Electricity, water, and telecommunications? Schools, parks, and libraries? Emergency services, especially to deal with special events, floods, fires, and earthquakes? Their status will continue to be, to quote Donald Rumsfeld, unknown unknowns. 

Stop high-density buildings so Los Angeles will not become another New York City. 

The grass roots campaigns against bad planning in Los Angeles are clearly moving in the right direction. But in some cases they have seen a few trees, but missed the forest with anti-density slogans like Not Yet New York and Manhattanwood. These well-intention community activists see the high-rise buildings of New York City, especially Manhattan, but forget that its high density is far more than high-rise buildings. New York City also has one of the planet’s best mass transit systems, as well as a dense network of public amenities. These include wide, well-maintained sidewalks, with ADA curb cuts and a tree canopy. It includes a vast network of small neighborhood parks and playgrounds, as well as local schools, libraries, and fire stations. Furthermore, in NYC, there are hardly any overhead utility lines or the visual pollution of super-graphics and billboards, except in Times Square. 

In other words, in NYC density refers to both private and public spheres, while LA’s density hawks, as well some as their opponents, only imagine that density refers to private real estate projects, not the entire built environment. 

Reduce the amount of required parking, while increasing its cost. 

This is a great bargain for real estate developers because it reduces their construction costs, without paying for any public improvements to make non-car alternatives more appealing. This stick only forces habituated car drivers to spend more time driving in circles looking for a place to park. The real solution is the carrot of changing the built environment – most of which is public space – to make alternatives to driving cars appealing in their own right. 

As for the real solutions, they are either ignored or left poorly funded so they cannot be put to the test. 

There is no evidence that building more market rate apartments within a half-mile of bus stops and mass transit stations increases ridership or reduces homelessness. So far, it is just an empty claim that also turns the relationship between mass transit and land use on its head. The purpose of housing should be put a roof over people’s heads, not fill up busses and subway cars. This is why the Los Angeles proponents of “Transit Oriented Communities” never bother to verify their claims that affluent tenants will switch to transit if it is “close” to their condo or apartment. As a result neither of their twin goals will be met: reducing traffic congestion and reducing homelessness and overcrowding. 

The real purpose of most of these fake solutions to traffic congestion is to put a fig leaf over real estate speculation, and this is why it is not the serious planning that could result from a systematic update of LA’s legally required General Plan. If City Hall really wanted an authentic connection between housing and transit, they would only build affordable housing near transit, and they would extensively upgrade neighborhoods on transit corridors to make alternatives to cars more appealing. As written above, this means wider, smoother sidewalks, ADA curb cuts, pedestrian safety improved streetlights, tree canopies, undergrounding utility lines, playgrounds, safe bike lanes. Certainly not cheap, but at least not a waste of money, like freeway widening. 

The idea of making the entire built environment supportive of transit, walking, and bicycling is hardly a new insight. What would be new, however, is forcing our elected official to look at the TOC folly they are about to unleash. While it might result in more market rate apartments, it will not reduce traffic congestion and freeway gridlock in Los Angeles. 

Remember you read it here. This fake solution will make LA’s traffic situation worse, not better.

 

(Dick Platkin is a former Los Angeles city planner who reports on local planning issues for City Watch. Please send any comments or corrections to rhplatkin@gmail.com.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

-cw

EASTSIDER-Ever since Anne Stausboll suddenly announced her retirement effective August 2016, I have wondered what’s going on with CalPERS. She was seemingly at the peak of her powers running the pension giant, and there was no particular event that precipitated her leaving. Now we have a new CEO, Marcie Frost, as of October 2016, fresh from Washington State’s Department of Retirement Systems (DRS.) 

GUEST COMMENTARY--What would you think if you were repeatedly rejected for promotion in favor of a less qualified and less experienced candidate? What conclusion might you arrive at if these "nationwide" searches always seemed to result in locals with ties to the current leadership being selected? How would you react if you saw a deterioration of morale of your fellow employees and how the unprepared outside hires were jeopardizing the mission?

PERSPECTIVE--If your financial adviser suggested that you invest in an arbitrage arrangement but offered no information concerning the risks, would you?

ROOS BLUES--It never was very clear why someone who attended private primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools, and then attended law school on a scholarship intended for the disadvantaged – it never made a lot of sense why he would ally forces with an advocate for a school system that is independent of the district on whose board he ran for a seat – none of this made a lot of sense until reading that all along he considers this entity of which he is an incipient board member, to be “an abstract concept”. 

RIDERS HAVE RIGHTS TOO-Ridership on Metro Buses is declining rapidly and in large percentages. Metro is in a tailspin. To reverse this decline, the mindset of Metro and the cities the buses pass through must change. Some of the changes must be directed to the routes, how often the buses run, how early and how late. Thinking must also shift to what occurs outside the bus when riders are approaching or leaving a bus stop, how well placed the stop is, how comfortable the stop is for the rider, and the experiences riders have when boarding and exiting a bus.  

PREVEN REPORT--“Our kids have to perform in front of audiences,” said then Harvard-Westlake School VP John Amato in 2013, referring to that school’s proposed multistory, 750-space parking garage and accompanying roof-top athletic field and 163-foot pedestrian bridge over Coldwater Canyon Boulevard, "so we have to have parking for visitors, and we want to have all our parking in one location.” 

CORRUPTION WATCH-The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate the Russian meddling in our elections shows that American institutions are on life-support. 

HULLABALOO--Nate Silver makes a helpful observation about Donald Trump's allegedly immovable base: 

A widely held tenet of the current conventional wisdom is that while President Trump might not be popular overall, he has a high floor on his support. Trump’s sizable and enthusiastic base — perhaps 35 to 40 percent of the country — won’t abandon him any time soon, the theory goes, and they don’t necessarily care about some of the controversies that the “mainstream media” treats as game-changing developments.

RANTZ & RAVEZ--After nearly three weeks of budget meetings with Department Heads, Councilmembers, the Budget and Finance Committee, various city staff, the City Administrative Officer, the Chief Legislative Analyst, and a host of other city hall personnel and members of the public, the final city budget for next fiscal year has been approved and presented to the people of Los Angeles. What can we expect to see as we move into the next fiscal year starting July 1 with this $9.2 Billion Budget? Just think what you could do with $9.2 billion if you ran the City of Los Angeles.

ALPERN AT LARGE--We just had one of the most important elections that no one paid much attention to, and which moved the LAUSD towards reform...and moved Angeleno parents and their children towards self-sufficiency. So here's a Nota Bene for you Millennials and post-Millennials (and even pre-Millennials!):  learn to take care of yourselves!

RESISTANCE WATCH-In normal times, Dee from New York would have ordered her copy of The Handmaid’s Tale from Amazon, but these are not normal times. Amazon is on the Grab Your Wallet list, a campaign to boycott retailers that sell Trump family products, which began as a response to the video revealing our now-president’s penchant for grabbing women "by the pussy." Dee bought her book from a smaller retailer instead.