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L.A. County supervisors take their time in discussing oversight for Sheriff’s Department
While calling Los Angeles County “late to the party” when it comes to police oversight, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday discussed the role of a new oversight commission for the Sheriff’s Department but took no action. The supervisors heard a presentation from a working group that has met for the past six months on the new Civilian Oversight Commission. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who along with supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis supported the creation of the oversight board, said it has been “challenging” to get to this point and called L.A. County is “late” to the oversight party. [Article]
by SARAH FAVOT, Los Angeles Daily News. 2015-07-29
 
L.A. County supervisors reach compromise on temporary vineyard ban in Santa Monica Mountains
The Los Angeles County supervisors reached a compromise Tuesday with vintners and grape growers who spoke out against the extension of a temporary ban on new and expanded vineyards in the north area of the Santa Monica Mountains. The initial temporary ban, imposed last month and set to expire July 31, was spurred by an unprecedented flurry of applications to establish vineyards in the region. In the past year, the county’s Regional Planning Department received 51 applications for vineyards covering nearly 500 acres of land. Nineteen applications were approved and 25 are pending, according to the planning department. In the previous year, only three applications were received. [Article]
by SARAH FAVOT, Los Angeles Daily News. 2015-07-29
 
LA County to inventory all oil fields in wake of safety issues raised over fracking
LOS ANGELES >> The Board of Supervisors called today for a detailed inventory of all oil fields operating within Los Angeles County, along with recommendations to ensure consistent regulation. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis proposed the review in the wake of a recent report by the California Council on Science and Technology about how hydraulic fracturing or fracking and acid well stimulation — processes used to extract oil — could impact air and water quality, seismic activity, wildlife, vegetation and human health. The report raised concern among constituents about the Inglewood Oil Field, one of the largest urban fields nationwide. [Article]
by ELIZABETH MARCELLINO, Long Beach Press Telegram. 2015-07-29
 
LA Sheriff resists subpoena power for civilian oversight panel
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell has said he supports the creation of a new Civilian Oversight Commission to watchdog his problem-plagued department, but his second in command told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday McDonnell opposes giving that panel subpoena power to access deputies’ personnel and other internal records. “The Sheriff doesn’t know what sorts of people are going to be selected for membership,” Sheriff's Executive Officer Neal Tyler said. Under a proposal unveiled last week, nine civilians would be selected by the Board of Supervisors to serve three year terms. [Article]
by FRANK STOLTZE, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2015-07-29
 
Bid for 2024 Olympics brings nostalgia of traffic-free LA during 1984 games
Forget the gold medal performances from the likes of Carl Lewis and Mary Lou Retton. Talk to longtime Los Angeles residents about the 1984 Olympics and many will say what they remember most is how well the freeways worked. Officials warned of gridlock, so hoards of residents left town, stayed home or used public transit. "It was really enjoyable to zip down the freeways since traffic was free-flowing," said Marc Littman, a spokesman for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority who in 1984 was doing public outreach for its predecessor, the Rapid Transit District. [Article]
by MEGHAN McCARTY, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2015-07-29
 
L.A. County supervisors compromise on Santa Monica Mountains vineyard ban
After hearing from grape growers upset by a drought-inspired ban against new or expanded vineyards in the north Santa Monica Mountains, Los Angeles County supervisors compromised Tuesday, voting to extend the ban four months instead of 10 and letting existing permit applications proceed. The proposed 10-month extension was prompted by an influx of vineyard applications over the last year and concerns about water use and the environmental effects from such a potential rapid expansion of grape-growing operations. [Article]
by ABBY SEWELL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
408 people rescued from strong rip currents at L.A. County beaches
Dangerous rip currents have prompted warnings at Southern California beaches after lifeguards rescued more than 400 people swept away by strong waves on Tuesday. Using rescue boats from Baywatch Santa Monica and Baywatch Del Rey, Los Angeles County lifeguards pulled 18 people from the waters at Venice Beach in one operation about 2:30 p.m. after a strong rip current dragged them away from the shore all at the same time. “It’s scary because you don’t want to lose anybody,” lifeguard Capt. Kenichi Haskett said. [Article]
by VERONICA ROCHA, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Pushed by El Niño, California faces days of dangerous weather
Extreme heat and humidity, along with a possibility of lightning, thunderstorms and heavy rain are on tap as a new El Niño-influenced monsoonal flow moves into the area. Officials warn the storms could cause flash flooding and the temperatures may be harmful to those at risk during heat waves. Here's a breakdown of what to expect. [Article]
by JOSEPH SERNA AND RONG-GONG LIN II, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Drought now Californians' top concern, poll finds
Voter concern over California’s drought is “extremely high and intensifying,” according to a new poll, while a majority of respondents said they would willingly pay “a few more dollars a month” to improve state water infrastructure. As residents struggle to meet mandated cuts in urban water use, voter concern over drought has now eclipsed concern over jobs, the economy and eduction, according to researchers. As a result, poll sponsors say Californians are now more open than ever to long-term changes in the way the state manages its water resources. “The public wants more to be done to address this issue,” said Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, which commissioned the survey. “They don’t think this is temporary. ... They really see it as a long-term problem.” [Article]
by MONTE MORIN, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Column California is falling apart; here's why
On July 19 the collapse of a "functionally obsolete" bridge shut down nearly 50 miles of Interstate 10. What was the problem? Too much rain, too little infrastructure. Infrastructure? Don't stop reading: Your life, literally, depends on infrastructure. Steven P. Erie, a political science professor at UC San Diego, says that if California infrastructure were a student in his class, he'd give it an "F." His many books — the latest is "Paradise Plundered," about San Diego's civic failings — detail the scale of California's governance mess and the massive task of remedying our la-de-da attitude that freeways and airports and levees built 60, 80, 100 years ago will last forever. The I-10 bridge washout makes me think of the adage, "For want of a nail, a horseshoe was lost, for want of a shoe, a horse was lost, and ultimately a kingdom is lost — all for want of a nail." It's bridges, it's pavement; we have difficulty expanding our airports and ports. California, and particularly Southern California, used to be a world leader in physical infrastructure, and we've gone from the top of the pack in 1960 to the bottom. We have been asleep at the wheel. We're like Rip Van Winkle when it comes to infrastructure maintenance. [Article]
by PATT MORRISON / COMMENTARY, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Op-Ed A study of California prosecutors finds a lack of diversity
In one police killing after another over the last year, as the nation has waited to find out if charges would be filed against officers, we've been reminded that prosecutors are in many ways the most powerful officials in the American criminal justice system. Prosecutors decide whether to bring a case before a grand jury, how hard to press for an indictment, what charges to request and how punitive a sentence to recommend. Grand juries almost never refuse to file the charges prosecutors request. And mandatory sentencing laws often allow prosecutors to determine the penalty by picking the charges. Moreover, the vast majority of criminal cases in the United States end in plea bargains, not in trials. So the discretion exercised in our justice system is mostly not by judges but by prosecutors, and typically not by elected district attorneys but by the legions of far less visible lawyers they employ. [Article]
by DEBBIE MUKAMAL, DAVID ALAN SKLANSKY, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
L.A. County supervisors debate ways to structure sheriff's oversight group
Los Angeles County supervisors began Tuesday to publicly hash out how a new civilian commission overseeing the Sheriff's Department should be structured and how the monitors should get access to confidential law enforcement records. The board voted in December to create a civilian panel to monitor the department, which runs a massive county jail system and patrols the streets of unincorporated areas and 42 cities that contract with the county. The agency has come under fire in recent years over allegations of widespread abuses in the jails that culminated with federal criminal charges against multiple deputies and former top officials, including retired Undersheriff Paul Tanaka. A working group appointed by the supervisors spent six months hashing out recommendations on how to structure the new oversight body and what powers it should have. Now the board must decide how to move forward. [Article]
by ABBY SEWELL, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Group to mark end of Thai workers' captivity at El Monte factory in 1995
For nearly a year and a half Rotchana Sussman worked 18-hour days and slept in a room with eight other people in a makeshift garment factory surrounded by barbed wire in El Monte. The barbed wire wasn't intended to keep anyone out — but instead to keep Sussman and 71 other Thai workers in, holding them in virtual slavery for years. The workers were not allowed to speak to one another and were threatened with physical harm if they tried to escape. "We didn't know what to do," Sussman said. "We were scared for our lives." Despite her hellish ordeal, Sussman had nothing but smiles Tuesday at a kickoff of events to commemorate the end of her and other workers' captivity Aug. 2, 1995, when authorities raided the gated apartment complex where she and others were being held against their will. [Article]
by BRITTNY MEJIA, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Watts Riots: Traffic stop was the spark that ignited days of destruction in L.A.
It all started with a traffic stop. On Aug. 11, 1965, California Highway Patrol Officer Lee Minikus responded to a report of a reckless driver in the Watts section of Los Angeles. Shortly after 7 p.m., he pulled over 21-year-old Marquette Frye near 116th Street and Avalon Boulevard. Frye failed sobriety tests as a crowd of about 50 people began to gather nearby. Police were going to tow Frye’s car, so his older stepbrother, Ronald, brought their mother, Rena, to the scene to claim the vehicle. When she got there, Rena Frye began berating her son for drinking and driving, according to police and witness accounts. Marquette Frye had been talking and laughing with Minikus and other officers who had reported to the scene, but after his mother’s arrival he began “cursing and shouting that they would have to kill him to take him to jail,” according to report later issued by a state panel. With tensions rising, the CHP officers attempted to handcuff Marquette Frye, but he resisted. His mother jumped onto an officer’s back. [Article]
by JAMES QUEALLY, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Keeping up with the Joneses' drought-friendly yard boosted MWD's tab for rebates
When it came down to it, the number crunchers at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California knew they saved a lot more water for every dollar spent subsidizing low-flush toilets than drought-friendly lawns. But there was one thing the MWD planners didn't bank on when they threw an unprecedented $340 million into persuading residents to tear out their lawns: The value of one-upping your neighbor. They said it contributed to a rush of rebate sign-ups that, in a matter of weeks, exhausted all the turf removal funds for the rest of the year — and provided an unexpected lesson in social engineering. A drought-friendly lawn became a badge of honor, said MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger, adding, "The toilet is somewhere buried in your house. No one knows if you did the right thing or not.… People want that 'Yeah, I did the right thing for the drought, and I want people to see it.'" [Article]
by ROSANNA XIA AND RONG-GONG LIN II, Los Angeles Times. 2015-07-29
 
Report: Orange County Will See Job Gains, But Growing Inequality
A new report has found that strong job growth in Orange County projected over the next decade won’t be enough to keep up with the cost of housing and rising income inequality. [Article]
by ADAM ELMAHREK, Voice of OC. 2015-07-29
 
Margot Carlson, longtime head of nonprofit for struggling youths, dies at 85
Margot Carlson, co-founder of Community Service Programs, who helped change how local law enforcement and courts treat juvenile delinquents and victims of crimes, has died. She was 85. Carlson, who led the Santa Ana-based organization as executive director since 1986, died July 23 after a brief illness. “Although no words can sufficiently express our sadness at Margot’s death, we know her legacy of social justice will continue to aid individuals who are struggling to find their place in the world and others who are dealing with crisis,” said Kris Thordarson, Community Service Programs board president and owner of K2 General Contractors. [Article]
by KATHLEEN LUPPI, Coast News. 2015-07-29
 
Reporter's notebook: To catch a coyote in the city
Scientists with the National Park Service have launched a first-of-its-kind monitoring program of coyotes living among the skyscrapers and dense urban neighborhoods of Los Angeles. The program, which was announced on Tuesday, is designed to increase understanding of how the animals are able to exist in an environment utterly counter to their evolved habitat. Little is understood about how coyotes have been able to live successfully in the area. [Article]
by JED KIM, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2015-07-29
 
City To Release Environmental Study On Proposed San Diego Stadium In August
City and county of San Diego officials met for three hours Tuesday with National Football League executives about a proposed stadium in Mission Valley to prepare for a presentation to franchise owners in less than two weeks. At a news conference after the meeting, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the discussions covered a variety of topics, including the expedited environmental study being conducted on the site, a financing plan, the local economy and market conditions. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, KPBS - San Diego. 2015-07-29
 
Running Out of Landfill Space? That’s Garbage.
We’re always running out of space for trash, it seems. Back in the early-1990s, when the Gregory Canyon Landfill in North County was first approved by voters, official estimates suggested all the county’s major landfills would be out of space by 2005. Fast-forward to 2005, when the county had not run out of room but fretted it could “possibly run out” by 2016. Voters heard the same story – a looming lack of trash capacity – in June 2010, when they OK’d Proposition A to set aside 450 acres in East Otay Mesa for a landfill and recycling facility. [Article]
by RY RIVARD, Voice of San Diego. 2015-07-29
 
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