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'I took someone’s life — now I am giving back': In California's prisons, inmates teach each other how to start over
The men Daniel Hopper teaches about drug and alcohol abuse are serving sentences of 10 years to life at a state prison tucked away in the Vaca Mountains of Northern California. They grew up in different places, most of them under difficult circumstances: dangerous schools and neighborhoods, fathers behind bars, brothers in gangs. Hopper, a tall 35-year-old with cropped black hair, rectangular glasses and piercing wit, can relate to them on a level few others can. He is doing time for killing another teenager when he was 17 and a San Diego gang leader. “Going to prison was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Hopper said. It forced him to face what he did — and live differently, he said. A largely self-educated inmate who had resigned himself to dying within prison walls, Hopper became a substance abuse counselor through the Offender Mentor Certification Program. Now, with Proposition 57 ushering in a massive overhaul of the state’s prison parole system, the program could bring him and his students closer to an early release that some of them thought they would never see. [Article]
by JAZMINE ULLOA, Los Angeles Times. 2017-04-21
 
Reuters Investigates: Lead’s hidden toll is felt across L.A.
LOS ANGELES – With its century-old Spanish-style homes tucked behind immaculately trimmed hedges, San Marino, California, is among the most coveted spots to live in the Los Angeles area. Its public schools rank top in the state, attracting families affiliated with CalTech, the elite university blocks away. The city’s zoning rules promote a healthy lifestyle, barring fast food chains. [Article]
by JOSHUA SCHNEYER, California Watch. 2017-04-21
 
Construction workers in L.A. make less now than 40 years ago. Here’s why
ddie Ybarra and Francisco Martinez, both in their 40s, work side by side building the walls of two of the newest condo buildings in downtown Los Angeles. They drive pickup trucks to work, park in adjacent lots and both take their lunch break around 10 a.m. That’s about all they share. Ybarra, born in Los Angeles, has built a solidly middle-class lifestyle on more than two decades in the carpenters’ union, earning $40 an hour on top of a pension, healthcare and unlimited vacation days. Martinez, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, works for a nonunion contractor, installing metal panels and other parts for $27.50 an hour. He doesn’t have retirement savings, his insurance doesn’t cover his family and he gets five vacation days per year. The story of these two men illustrates the radical shift that has put construction front and center in the national debate over declining blue-collar jobs and President Trump’s views of immigration. [Article]
by NATALIE KITREOFF, Los Angeles Times. 2017-04-21
 
Migrant workers are making thousands trimming marijuana in California
They sit for hours at a time, hunched over tables with scissors in one hand and marijuana in the other. The work is tedious, but it pays well — for now. This once mostly black market trade is slowly becoming more regulated, hindering the flow of quick under-the-table cash. Hours meld, the sound of snipping and sticky scissors clinking when they are dipped in jars of alcohol as the workers groom the weed. Most people sitting around this table in Mendocino County are migrant workers. They flood into the region during the cannabis harvest in the fall. They are the trimmers, those hired to cut marijuana for hours on end. Many trimmers in the county looking for work this season have come from all over the U.S. and all over the rest of the world, including Spain, France, Portugal and Switzerland. [Article]
by OLIVIA SMITH and DAVID MILLER, KABC Los Angeles ABC 7 News. 2017-04-21
 
Can California Cars Save the Climate?
Eric Noble works in the automobile industry, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t worry about climate change. When he and his two sons, 11 and 15 years old, travel south to surf on Baja’s Pacific Coast a few times a year, they can detect the impact greenhouse gases are having on the earth. “We can see the sea level rising,” he says. “Little coastal roads we used to be able to drive on are inundated now. This is happening.” He understands that transportation is responsible for more than a quarter of the greenhouse gases that linger in our atmosphere, and light-duty vehicles—passenger cars, mostly—emit close to two-thirds of that pollution. [Article]
by JUDITH LEWIS MERNIT, California Watch. 2017-04-21
 
California sells $1.2 billion of bonds to finance construction of bullet train in the Central Valley
The California treasurer sold $1.2 billion in bonds Thursday to help finance construction of high-speed rail in the Central Valley, a significant development after years of delays in tapping the bonds that taxpayers approved in 2008. The move makes clear that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to move forward with the $64-billion project in the face of difficult political, technical and financial challenges. The bullet train is years behind schedule, faces stiff opposition from state Republicans and has failed to identify sources of funding necessary to complete even a partial system. But proponents have argued that such mega-projects often face financial uncertainty. “The California high-speed program continues to make significant progress on the nation’s first high-speed rail system,” said rail agency spokeswoman Lisa Marie Alley. “The first Proposition 1A bond sale is another milestone.” [Article]
by RALPH VARTABEDIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2017-04-21
 
Infographic: LA Metro draws 130,000 rides, but still in race to make bike share goal
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will know in three months if its bike share program — which the agency hailed as revolutionary upon its July debut — is hitting a target for ridership. [Article]
by AARON MENDELSOHN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-04-21
 
A datathon for the arts: Harnessing the power of spreadsheets to expand arts access
226: the number of museums in Los Angeles County. 185: the number of community arts organizations that provide arts instruction in county public schools during the school day. 20,000: the number of businesses registered by independent artists, writers, performers in the city of L.A. Dozens of researchers, artists, educators and community members are expected to spend this Saturday slicing and dicing numbers like these at the inaugural Los Angeles Arts Datathon.  [Article]
by PRISKA NEELY, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-04-21
 
Rabid bat found at Irvine park; did you come into contact with it?
IRVINE — A bat found last week at William Mason Regional Park has tested positive for rabies, the Orange County Health Care Agency said Thursday, April 20. The bat was found dead Saturday, April 15, on a picnic bench by the lake and near a restroom. The rabies virus is found in saliva and because bats have very small teeth, their bites may go unnoticed. The agency said most recent cases of human rabies in the U.S. have come from bat strains of rabies. Once symptoms start, rabies is almost always fatal, so preventative treatment is given to anyone who may been exposed to stop the illness. [Article]
by COURTNEY PERKES, Orange County Register. 2017-04-21
 
Opioid epidemic in OC’s low-income residents
Painful stories about the people who overdosed and the people working to prevent such tragedies are part of the Orange County Register’s ongoing and eye-opening coverage of the opioid epidemic by columnist David Whiting and others. No one disagrees that our county is in the midst of a lethal opioid epidemic, and the human toll is too high. Indeed, the numbers of people dying are distressing. County reports show that drug overdoses have killed 1,769 Orange County residents in the past five years. In 2016 alone, there were more than 400 fatal drug overdoses. More than two-thirds of these involved opioids, including common prescription painkillers such as Percocet, OxyContin and Vicodin. And as controls tighten on these medications, those addicted often turn to heroin and deadly synthetic heroin analogues like Fentanyl. [Article]
by RICHARD BOCK, Orange County Register. 2017-04-21
 
Focus on quality education, not grads
California’s graduation rate increased for the seventh year in a row with the class of 2016, reported the California Department of Education last week, hitting 83.2 percent of students who started high school in 2012–13. Orange County’s graduation rate topped 90.8 percent, making it the only county in California with at least 3,000 students to achieve graduation rates above 90 percent. Of course, such success should be lauded, because higher graduation rates at least indicate there’s a strong enough support system to encourage and enable students to graduate on time. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Orange County Register. 2017-04-21
 
Audio: Community college remedial program 'broken,' doing more harm than good, advocates say
A report out this week and a proposed state law take aim at the way California community colleges place most incoming students into classes to improve their skills. In a typical year, California community colleges rely mostly on placement tests to enroll about 170,000 students in one or more remedial classes to raise their skills, allowing them to do college-level work. [Article]
by ADOLFO GUZMAN-LOPEZ, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-04-21
 
Audio: Construction begins on LA project called a 'model' for homeless housing
Construction began Thursday on what officials are calling a "model" for what housing for homeless could and should look like in Los Angeles.  The multi-phase project in East Hollywood known as PATH Metro Villas is expected to eventually house 187 formerly homeless individuals and families. It will also host on-site job training and health services. In addition, the facility, slated for opening in Summer 2018, is expected to have 88 beds for people awaiting permanent housing.  [Article]
by RINA PALTA, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-04-21
 
State Proposal Would Mean No More Schools Like Thrive
Thrive Public School in San Diego is finishing its third year of operation, and things are looking up for the San Diego charter school. In three years the school grew from 45 students to 460, and next year plans to have about 700 students. Thrive began as a K-8, but this year opened a high school. Its founder, Nicole Tempel Assisi, says she’s welcomed more than 1,000 visitors to Thrive, some coming from as far away as India and England. Most come to check out how the school creates individualized education plans for each student or supports their social-emotional learning, Assisi said. [Article]
by MARIO KORAN, Voice of San Diego. 2017-04-21
 
Morning Report: Pre-Ordained Next DA
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced Thursday she will resign in July before her term is finished. This widely anticipated move officially clears the way for Dumanis’ preferred successor, Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan, to seek (and likely achieve) appointment to the DA job temporarily and run as an incumbent in 2018. Dumanis herself has described this all as a “smooth transition” of the DA office to Stephan, someone not yet vetted by voters. [Article]
by SETH HALL, Voice of San Diego. 2017-04-21
 
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis To Step Down In July
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced Thursday she is resigning in July. The district attorney said she is being encouraged to run for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. [Article]
by AMITA SHARMA, KPBS - San Diego. 2017-04-21
 
Count Shows Unsheltered Homeless Growing In North County
This year’s annual Point-in-Time count shows North County’s share of the region’s homeless population has remained about the same: 23 percent. But the number of unsheltered homeless has increased. About 200 of the approximately 2,000 homeless living in North County have shifted from the sheltered to the unsheltered column. [Article]
by ALISON St JOHN, KPBS - San Diego. 2017-04-21
 
Dumanis to resign July 7, mulls run for county board
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced Thursday she is resigning effective July 7, ending a nearly 15-year tenure as the county’s chief prosecutor.She may not, however, be leaving public life. In an email sent to the staff of the District Attorney’s Office at 7:30 a.m. announcing her decision, Dumanis said she is considering running for a seat on the county Board of Supervisors but has not made up her mind. [Article]
by GREG MORAN, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-04-21
 
Homeless up 5 percent in the county, skyrockets downtown
The number of homeless people across the county increased 5 percent in the past year, while those living on the streets of downtown San Diego spiked 27 percent, according to a report based on an annual count conducted in January.Another big regional jump in homelessness was in inland North County, which had an 11 percent increase from last year.The report, released Thursday by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, found 9,116 homeless people countywide, an increase of 3 percent over five years, with more living on the street and fewer in shelters than last year. [Article]
by GARY WARTH, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-04-21
 
Supervisors Hear Update On Imperial County Veterans Memorial
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors heard an update regarding the Imperial County Veterans Memorial at their Tuesday meeting. The Imperial County Veterans Memorial has been a project that has been on the works for years now thanks the vision of a young, motivated Eagle Scout by the name of Joaquin Villegas. County Board Chairman Mike Kelley asked for an update on the project last week and the update was given by Joaquin’s father, Jesus Villegas. [Article]
by MARIO CONDE, Imperial Valley Press. 2017-04-21
 
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