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LA County redistricting: With time of the essence, commission zeroes in on the final-final map
The fate of where a cluster of Southeast Los Angeles cities land could determine voting power in a traditionally African American supervisorial district and as well as the nearby South Bay and East L.A. communities, as a county citizens commission strides toward drafting the final boundaries for the county’s new election districts. The panel is also zeroing in on how to align the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys, with the deadline for all this once-in-a-decade work swiftly approaching. [Article]
by , Daily Breeze. 2021-11-26
LA County reports 29 new COVID deaths, more than 2,000 new cases
Los Angeles County health officials on Friday, Nov. 26, reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases and 29 new deaths. There were 553 people hospitalized with coronavirus on Friday, according to Los Angeles County Public Health. The cumulative case count as of Friday was 1,524,294, while the death toll rose to 27,102. Of the nearly 9,370,000 individuals tested to date, 15% have tested positive for the virus, according to the department. [Article]
by , Daily Breeze. 2021-11-26
Union seeks details on LA’s hiring, housing plans for 2028 Olympics
The 2028 Olympics and Paralympics will once again place Los Angeles on the world stage, but a local union wants to ensure the events create decent paying hospitality jobs, promote the hiring of Black workers and preserve affordable housing in the city. The city recently released a draft of the Olympic Games Agreement it plans to sign with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and LA28, the nonprofit responsible for financing, organizing and delivering the 2028 Games. Unite Here Local 11 says the plan — subject to City Council approval — was long in coming and is lacking in details. [Article]
by , Daily Breeze. 2021-11-26
Coronavirus: L.A. County reported 2,000 new cases and 29 new deaths since Wednesday
Los Angeles County public health officials reported 2,000 new cases of the coronavirus since Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases to 1,524,294, as of Friday, Nov. 26. The total number of cases represents 15% of Los Angeles County’s population. Officials reported 29 more deaths linked to the coronavirus since Wednesday, for a total of 27,102 deaths since tracking began. The total number of deaths represents 0.26% of Los Angeles County’s population. There were two more hospitalizations reported since Wednesday, bringing the total count of people hospitalized with coronavirus down to 553. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2021-11-26
Angry pandemic-era customers? Restaurateurs, retailers fear vaccine mandates will make things worse
Camila Perry, who owns two bars in Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, tried to be proactive in notifying her patrons ahead of time about the city mandate that requires people to show their proof of vaccination before entering establishments. A month ago she posted a reminder on social media about the rules. A few days later, she displayed a sign requiring patrons to show their immunization cards. But some of her customers were still surprised when they were asked to provide their vaccine verifications in early November. The same night the mandate went into effect, a group of patrons got so upset they began yelling at her staff. “They were arguing with us,” she said. “They were getting (angry).” [Article]
by , Los Angeles Daily News. 2021-11-26
Thanksgiving meals, fund-raisers, runs put emphasis on helping LA County’s homeless
With homelessness on the rise in Los Angeles County, helping the unhoused was a goal shared by many of Southern Californians on Thanksgiving 2021. The week leading up to the holiday was filled with scores of food giveaways, free hot meals and other activities aimed to aid people in need around the region. Drumstick Dash LA took over the streets of North Hollywood on Thursday, Nov. 25, helping to raise money to help feed the unhoused and others in need. [Article]
by , Pasadena Star News. 2021-11-26
World races to contain new COVID threat, the omicron variant
Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world raced Friday to contain a new coronavirus variant potentially more dangerous than the one that has fueled relentless waves of infection on nearly every continent. A World Health Organization panel named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the predominant delta variant, which is still a scourge driving higher cases of sickness and death in Europe and parts of the United States. [Article]
by , Daily Breeze. 2021-11-26
Central California begs to send COVID-19 patients to L.A.
The COVID-19 surge still affecting Central California is so dire that health officials are pleading with state officials to make it easier to transfer hospital patients to areas like Los Angeles County. “We don’t have enough hospitals to serve the population and the needs,” said Dr. Rais Vohra, the Fresno County interim health officer. Hospitals across the entire San Joaquin Valley are “often running over capacity, so that they’re holding dozens and dozens of patients in the emergency department.” Officials in the San Joaquin Valley are expecting a difficult winter. Vaccination rates are still relatively low, and in Fresno County, the region’s most populous county, the COVID-19 hospitalization rate is quadruple what is being seen in L.A. and Orange counties, and more than quintuple that of the San Francisco Bay Area. Hospitals are consistently operating above capacity, and emergency rooms are still so packed that ambulances are stuck waiting outside hospitals to drop off patients, said Dale Dotson, operations coordinator for the Central California Emergency Medical Services Agency. Some hospitals are so crowded that ambulance patients suffering from strokes or cardiac-type symptoms are diverted to different facilities than typical to ensure that there’s enough staff available to take care of them when they arrive. Hospitals and ambulance providers continue to report struggling with staffing, Dotson said. Officials from the San Joaquin Valley are pleading with California state officials to find a way to make it easier to transfer hospital patients to other, less impacted areas. “It’s really hard to transfer across counties in the state of California,” Vohra said. “When you look at Los Angeles ... they have hundreds and hundreds of open beds in Los Angeles County.” “If we need to transfer patients out to keep our hospitals operational, we should really be able to do that with one or two phone calls. That’s not the situation right now. And so that’s a point of frustration that we’re hearing from multiple different facilities,” Vohra said. “We’re trying to really decompress as much as possible in anticipation of those winter numbers.” It was not immediately clear why Fresno County hospitals are reporting difficulty in transferring patients to other parts of the state. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
With vaccine, Thanksgiving in nursing homes comes 'back to life'
More than 100 people filled the dining room at Ararat Nursing Facility to celebrate Thanksgiving. Children and grandchildren embraced their loved ones. Friends in wheelchairs sat beside one another chatting in Armenian. Residents rose from their seats to dance to “Hey Jan Ghapama,” an Armenian song written about a stuffed pumpkin dish. At one of the tables in the Mission Hills nursing home, 82-year-old Anahit Papiryan danced as best she could from her wheelchair, throwing her hands up in the air and turning them from side to side. At times, she kissed her granddaughter Ruzanna Grigoryan’s hand. “You’re the light of my life,” Papiryan told the 34-year-old in Armenian. Papiryan, originally from Yerevan, immigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago. “You’re my heart,” responded Grigoryan, who wore a blue surgical mask to keep her grandmother safe. The Thanksgiving scene was a far cry from last year, which consisted of limited outdoor visits and calls from behind windows to protect vulnerable nursing home residents amid a surge of COVID-19 cases. Gone was the COVID unit that once held dozens of people and with it the darkness that followed the deaths of 36 residents and two staff members. A resident hasn’t tested positive at Ararat since Dec. 20, according to Margarita Kechichian, the facility’s executive director. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
How some restaurants have defied L.A. County on COVID-19
Again and again, public health inspectors returned to the Italian restaurant at the Westlake Village shopping center. They found Novo Cafe serving diners indoors and out, despite a Los Angeles County order forbidding it during the worst wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to county records. Over and over, they handed out citations with a $500 fine. In February, the county revoked the restaurant’s public health permit. Novo Cafe stayed open. This summer, co-owner Massimo Forti told an NBC4 news crew who filmed unmasked workers in the restaurant that he saw adhering to mask requirements as a “sign of submission.” As of early November, Novo Cafe had been fined $86,000 for scores of citations — and none of those fines had been paid, county officials said. It had gotten more than 90 citations by the middle of November, according to the public health department. Novo is among a small number of businesses that have tested the powers and patience of the L.A. County Department of Public Health amid a pandemic that has put new demands on its enforcement arm. Experts say that across the country, public health agencies have struggled at times to enforce such rules amid strained resources and overt challenges to their authority. “Health departments have their hands full right now,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, chief executive of the National Assn. of County and City Health Officials. At the same time, “public health authority is being challenged all over the country,” as many states have sought to clamp down on their powers. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
DCFS again at crossroads as director departs amid child deaths
The sudden resignation of Bobby Cagle as head of the Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family Services this week caps a tumultuous period for the nation’s largest child protection agency and will force county leaders to grapple with major policy questions around how social workers respond to reports of abuse and neglect and choose to intervene in families. DCFS faces mounting scrutiny following a series of highly publicized deaths and injuries to children on its watch, including a 4-year-old boy in foster care who was hospitalized in a coma last month. The agency is still contending with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, when teachers and other mandatory reporters had far less contact with children and court closures led to a skyrocketing backlog in cases. And Cagle’s exit, which takes effect Dec. 31, comes as county leaders and an array of civic groups have intensified calls for DCFS to address racial and ethnic disparities, including an overrepresentation of Black children in foster care. Although 7.5% of children in L.A. County are Black, they account for more than 27% of children in foster care. County leaders must find a new director to oversee a sprawling staff of 9,000 in about 20 offices and a budget of more than $2.4 billion — but also carry out reforms amid a tangle of political and civic pressures. “It’s not a job for the faint of heart,” said Charity Chandler-Cole, the chief executive of CASA of Los Angeles, which pairs court-appointed advocates with children in foster care. Chandler-Cole described the agency as at a crossroads: “There’s so much reckoning with the histories of our past. There’s a lot of attention into how L.A. County and DCFS is going to respond to these challenges of addressing equity and racial justice.” [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
LA County's board is too small for 10 million people
California’s independent redistricting commission is struggling to satisfy all demands as it draws new legislative and congressional district maps to reflect the 2020 census. [Article]
by , CalMatters. 2021-11-26
Glendale's homeless community lost access to showers during the pandemic. A nonprofit sees racism
At the outset, in May 2020, there appeared to be little that could cause controversy around a program offering showers to homeless people in Glendale. There was clearly a need, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Homeless shelters were shedding capacity to avoid overcrowding. Public health officials urged frequent hand washing and cleanliness. The program was operated by a nonprofit, Shower of Hope, that had successfully operated similar services throughout Southern California for several years. And cities had access to new federal funding, under the COVID-relief CARES Act, allowing them to expand services. Five months later, Shower of Hope had shut down its Glendale operation after being hounded by the city of Glendale for information it said it could not provide. Looking back now, a top city official says it was all a mistake. But some critics see the specter of racism in the bureaucratic standoff. At the core of the dispute was the city’s insistence that federal regulations required the program to verify that anyone asking to take a shower was actually homeless. Shower of Hope officials said that rule was almost impossible to fulfill and ran counter to the organization’s philosophy of helping anyone who needed it. But there was no such requirement. “There was a misunderstanding on the city’s part,” said Onnig Bulanikian, Glendale’s director of community services and parks. By the time the city acknowledged the mistake, the program was long gone. Rather than risk turning people away, Shower of Hope ceased operations in Glendale as relations between the two camps became increasingly strained. Roughly 20 to 30 people a week had used the service, accepting warm showers and hygiene basics such as shampoo and towels when they were offered Mondays in the parking lot of the Glendale Central Library. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
It’s time to stop misleading consumers about recycling
You’ve surely seen it before on a laundry detergent bottle label, printed on a ready-made salad bag or stamped onto the container of a thousand other products lining the shelves of grocery and retail stores: A symbol with three “chasing” arrows that form a triangle. It may be green or black. It might have a number between 1 and 7 inside the triangle, which corresponds to the type of plastic resin used to construct it, or have a suggestion about how to recycle. To the consumer, this symbol conveys the message that this item is recyclable and, for the sake of the planet, ought to be treated accordingly and not dumped into the trash bin. But to environmentalists and waste reduction advocates the symbol is, in many cases, a half-truth used by manufacturers to “greenwash” their products. The truth is that many, if not most, of the plastic products bearing the symbol aren’t being recycled no matter if they are placed in recycling bins. In fact, less than 10% of all the single-use plastic ever made has been recycled, and that is unlikely to change without serious intervention. That’s the thinking behind Senate Bill 343 by Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica). The bill would prohibit manufacturers from using a “chasing arrows” symbol on their products starting in 2024 unless they can prove it is not just potentially recyclable but is actually getting recycled in any meaningful way in California. It was passed by the Legislature and is now awaiting action by Gov. Gavin Newsom, along with a package of other sensible, if incremental, proposals to improve recycling. The symbol was created in 1988 by the plastics industry with the good intention of conveying helpful information to consumers about what items could be recycled. But it went off the rails pretty quickly when package makers started plastering the symbol on just about anything, whether it could be recycled or not. The result is that consumers are optimistically filling up recycling bins with things that have no hope of being recycled, and making it difficult and more costly for recycling facilities to sort. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
How to find a Buy Nothing group near me
It’s never been easier to get involved in the Buy Nothing Project, the giving-and-wishes movement that saw its numbers soar during the pandemic. That’s because of a new BuyNothing app that throws the user into gift offers and asks more quickly than through Facebook, the original home of the hyperlocal Buy Nothing groups. With the smartphone app, prospective members don’t need to apply to a local administrator to join a group, a process that can take days. And your search parameters can be expanded significantly. “It’s exactly the same, except now we have the geo locator that makes it easier so we don’t have to have the artificial boundaries that we set up in Facebook,” co-founder Liesl B. Clark said. The swelling popularity and accessibility mean a growing crop of newcomers must navigate the groups’ jargon, rules, etiquette, ethics and personalities. Occasionally, drama breaks out, although generally not at Nextdoor’s flame-war levels. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
Oil sheen scare revives concerns about damaged pipeline
An oil sheen spotted off Huntington Beach this weekend served as a potent reminder of how long it will take Southern California to untangle the legal, regulatory and environmental fallout of an October pipeline spill that released an estimated 25,000 gallons of crude into the ocean. A sheen 70 feet by 30 feet was spotted Saturday morning and gone by nightfall, authorities said. The U.S. Coast Guard said it was probably a residual leak from the ruptured 17.3-mile pipeline, which has been shut down since Oct. 2. Divers preparing for a routine inspection of the damaged pipeline spotted the sheen about 9:30 a.m. Saturday, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said. Underwater, they saw oil droplets near the damaged section, which since the spill has been encased in a material called Syntho-Glass. Divers removed the wrap and installed a new one. If Amplify Energy, the Texas-based company that operated the pipeline, was responsible for the weekend’s release of the oil, there may be repercussions, said Ted Borrego, an oil and gas lawyer with 50 years of experience in the industry and adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center. “If it is a repeat problem which is caused by a company, then fines are in order,” Borrego said in an email, adding that authorities could take other steps depending on the circumstances. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
Biden borrows from California environmental justice tactics
Residents in this economically stressed patch of the San Joaquin Valley gripped by respiratory sickness were not surprised to learn local officials had exempted all four area fuel refineries from fully complying with a new state air quality rule. “This is a low-income, Hispanic community where a lot of the people are foreign laborers who are not going to say anything,” said Jose Mireles, 59, who lives down the road from a Kern Oil & Refining Co. facility that processes 25,000 barrels of crude oil daily. “Sometimes you are inside your house, the doors are closed, the windows are closed, and you can still smell it.” What did surprise Mireles was that the state attorney general put the full weight of his office behind the residents, joining Earthjustice and other environmental groups in suing the air regulators. The legal pursuit showcases a California model for protecting overburdened communities that other states and the Biden administration are working to replicate. It is built around California’s uniquely sophisticated screening tool that pinpoints census tracts most overburdened with pollution and where it originates. The tool, called CalEnviroScreen, uses the data to direct resources to communities overwhelmed by toxic air and economic hardship — and to force local officials to consider that history when granting permits. The Biden White House is overseeing the creation of a nationwide replica of California’s screening tool as part of a presidential directive to federal agencies to make confronting environmental injustice central to their mission. Pollution data California collected in the Bakersfield region were key to the state’s action after the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District gave refineries a pass on some of the new rules requiring high-tech air monitoring equipment. Now, the district has orders from a Fresno judge to draft new regulations. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
Tackling climate change by prioritizing impacted communities
Something remarkable is happening in the Northeast San Fernando Valley communities of Pacoima and Sun Valley – something that shows how the U.S. can fight climate change while building healthier, more livable and more prosperous communities for all. [Article]
by , CalMatters. 2021-11-26
For farmworkers, no escape from California heat, high prices
For 24 years, Jaime Villegas left his mobile home in the Central Valley every summer to follow a path paved by generations of California farmworkers. He would get into a car packed with duffel bags of clothes and coolers with food and embark on a 14-hour journey through acres of agriculture fields, past giant sequoias and unmarked dirt roads to their final destination: Oregon’s blueberry harvest in a town called Boring. He was a boy when he first started doing this trip with his parents, and in later years he went with his wife, Enedina Ventura, and their children. But the ritual was almost always the same. Friends would run into each other on the way up north. The fathers drove the cars; mothers helped in the fields while children attended school until they were old enough to help with la cosecha. “It felt nice,” Villegas, 38, said on a recent October evening. “The good thing is family supports you.” But that ritual has been upended. Fewer and fewer Californians are now showing up for the blueberry harvest. Experts and farmers say economics and a lack of affordable housing are largely to blame. [Article]
by , Los Angeles Times. 2021-11-26
How bad is the British Columbia and Pacific north-west flooding and what caused it?
A huge storm dumped record rainfall across swathes of British Columbia in Canada and Washington State in the US between Saturday and Monday. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, others became trapped on cut-off roads, and several towns were completely cut off. Mud and landslides have destroyed parts of major highways. British Columbia’s premier issued a state of emergency on Wednesday and troops have been deployed to help those still stranded. The port of Vancouver, the largest in Canada, was forced to suspend all rail access, and the city itself was all but cut off from the rest of Canada. At least one person has been confirmed dead and others are missing. [Article]
by , . 2021-11-26
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