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How bi-curious Hugh Hefner and the gays emboldened free speech and the sexual revolution

Hefner’s death reveals ties to gay community

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Hugh Hefner (Photo wikiCommons)

The right of individuals to exercise free speech without fear of government censorship, coercion or crack down has been much in the news recently as President Trump tries to bully NFL owners into firing football players who “take a knee” during the national anthem to protest police shootings of unarmed black men.

The First Amendment is perhaps the most cherished—and most assailed—of constitutional rights, with the interpretation changing with time and administrations. That became abundantly clear on Wednesday as Americans learned that Playboy Magazine founder Hugh Hefner died at age 91.

Marilyn Monroe was a Playboy covergirl several times.

Hefner is widely believed to be one of the instigators of the sexual revolution of the 1950/60s, launching Playboy Magazine in December 1953 featuring a nude centerfold of actress Marilyn Monroe at a time when chaste ultra-conservative conformity and McCarthyism were in full swing. From the beginning, Hefner championed the First Amendment, not only by celebrating female nudity but by serializing such controversial works as Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and in 1955, The year was 1955, science fiction author Charles Beaumont’s futuristic short story “The Crooked Man” in which homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is criminalized.

But perhaps Hefner’s greatest contribution to the sexual revolution and the parallel quiet movement for LGBT equality was the Playboy Forum where wide ranging discussions on taboo topics, including homosexuality, were enthusiastically encouraged.

“What makes Hugh Hefner really important is the combination of his belief in the First Amendment and his Playboy philosophy,” which rebelled against religiously-mandated codes of sexual morality, Charles Francis, president of the Mattachine Society of Washington DC, tells the Los Angeles Blade.
“He was an early supporter of LGBT equality,” says Francis. “Playboy gave a platform where the first serious considerations about homosexuality could take place, well before Stonewall. (Mattachine Society/DC founder) Frank Kameny had serious back-and-forth discussions with psychiatrists and psychologists who thought homosexuality was an illness and a perversion. The Playboy philosophy was basically liberally enlightened about sex and humanistic and empathetic— homosexuals should be treated as human beings, not as perverts or deviants. It wasn’t porn or smut; it was progressive and encouraged open-minded inquiry.”

In fact, Francis says, Frank Kameny introduced his famous slogan “Gay is Good” in the “Playboy Forum” in the March 1969 issue. The forum enabled him to express his outrage at “normal” anti-gay attitudes and policies.

“The Playboy Forum gave Kameny the space to engage in substantive debate, over years, with such psychiatrists David H. Barlow and Gerald Davison about aversion therapy and whether or not homosexuality was a mental illness,” Francis says. “Dr. David Barlow is a past President of the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association, and still very much alive.

In the day, Barlow was promoting various therapies at the University of Mississippi, including something called ‘fading,’ in which a patient seeking to be ‘cured’ of homosexuality would be exposed to a series of images, ‘fading’ from a naked young man into a highly sexualized black woman.”
Though the Playboy Forum pushed back on Frank “that homosexuality is a ‘compulsion based on phobic responses to heterosexual stimuli,’” Francis says, “the Forum itself was the only mainstream, popular platform to give him that much space and the ability to write at length about his ideas and reactions to psychiatrists like Davison and Barlow.”

Historian Mark Stein wrote in his 2010 legal accounting of the sexual revolution, Sexual Injustice, that Playboy created “what may have been the country’s most influential forum for public discussion about homosexuality during this period.”

Francis discovered in the Kameny Papers at the Library of Congress that “Playboy Forum Associate Editor Henry Fenwick actually shared with Frank many of the letters (names withheld) Playboy had received on these exchanges–from groups like Texas Advocates for Human Dignity,” Francis says. “Fenwick wrote Kameny on May 7, 1969, just months before the Stonewall riots: “In spite of our differences of opinion I hope we can continue to keep our lines of communication open. I believe the dialogue to be very useful, and we appreciate your continued cooperation.”

It turns out Hefner may have read Kameny’s “Gay is Good” missives, too. In a 1999 interview, Carrie Leigh, who lived with Hefner for five years in the 1980s and filed three lawsuits against him, told the Washington Post that Hefner’s infamous and misogynistic sexual swinging also included men.

The Post reported: “Leigh and other Hefner girlfriends from the 1980s say they were also disturbed by Hefner’s propensity for sexual encounters with men. Leigh says she interrupted Hefner’s liaisons with men a couple of times. The irony that this symbol of heterosexual male virility was involved homosexually was not lost on her. But her real fear was that it indicated Hefner’s only true interest in women was exploitive. ‘It bothered me. It totally flipped me out,’ she says. ‘I tried to accept it. He thought it was all okay.’”

Indeed, in the interview with the Post, Hefner acknowledged having bisexual trysts.

“There was some bisexuality in the heterosexual, swinging part of my life,” Hefner told the Post, adding that Leigh, who also had lesbian dalliances was “obsessed” with gays and her suspicion that he preferred men was only a “projection” on her part.

“I was testing the boundaries, just knocking down walls,” Hefner said. “That period of sexual experimentation is long gone.”

Aside from dabbling in bisexuality and promoting open discussions, Hefner also stood up for civil rights, gay rights, and opened his Playboy Mansion for AIDS fundraisers. When straight readers sent in angry letters about Beaumont’s sci fi depiction of straight people having to sneak into dark barrooms to find someone to love, Hefner was quick to reply. “If it was wrong to persecute heterosexuals in a homosexual society,” he wrote, “then the reverse was wrong, too.”

But the greatest boon to Hefner and his Playboy Enterprises—and hence the goose that jump-started the sexual revolution and the sexual liberation movement was a gay lawsuit that reached the US Supreme Court—ONE Inc. v. Olesen, the landmark lawsuit that the gay publication, ONE Magazine, was not obscene and could therefore be sent through the US Post Office.

“ONE filled a very critical role for gays and lesbians during a very dark time,” BoxTurtleBulletin founder Jim Burroway wrote on January 13th, 2008, the 50th anniversary of the first gay victory at the Supreme Court on January 13, 1958.

Sen. Joe McCarthy and chief deputy Roy Cohen

ONE’s 1953 debut coincided with a major anti-gay push by the federal government, with President Dwight D. Eisenhower siding with communist and gay-hunter, Sen. Joe McCarthy, who framed gays as a subversive national security risk and a threat to the country’s moral fiber. Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450 included a “sexual perversion” clause that prohibited gays and lesbians from federal employment; homosexuality was a crime in every state and considered a mental illness.

J. Edgar Hoover launched a major FBI crackdown on every aspect of homosexuality, from entrapment stings to confiscating and trying to shut down publications such as ONE Magazine, which was sold in gay bars and by subscription. The FBI, Burroway writes, “went so far as to write to the employers of ONE’s editors and writers (they all depended on their day jobs for income), saying that their employees were ‘deviants’ and ‘security risks.’ Fortunately, no one lost their jobs, the FBI decided it wasn’t worth their time, and ONE continued publishing.”

The U.S. Post Office then took up the mantle, with the Los Angeles branch checking each issue before shipping. In August 1953, postal authorities held up the issue on “Homosexual Marriage” for three weeks to check if it violated federal laws. It didn’t and it was released. ONE sniped back in the October issue, saying on the cover “ONE is not grateful”:

“It is true that this decision is historic. Never before has a governmental agency of this size admitted that homosexuals not only have legal rights but might have respectable motives as well. The admission is welcome, but it’s tardy and far from enough. As we sit around quietly like nice little ladies and gentlemen gradually educating the public and the courts at our leisure, thousands of homosexuals are being unjustly arrested, blackmailed, fined, jailed, intimidated, beaten, ruined and murdered.”

The victory was short-lived. Having seen a copy of the March 1954 issue—“The Importance of Being Different”— Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Alexander Wiley (R-WI), wrote a protest letter to U.S. Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield, registering a “vigorous protest against the use of the United States mails to transmit a so-called ‘magazine’ devoted to the advancement of sexual perversions.” Allowing a homosexual magazine to operate, he wrote, “(a) runs utterly contrary to every moral principle, (b) runs utterly contrary to our intentions to safeguard our nation’s youngsters, (c) likewise, it is the very opposite of the entire purpose of our governmental security program…”

ONE tried not to get shut down through government censorship, having their young straight lawyer, Eric Julber, to write rules to avoid conflict. But the October 1954 issue featured a fictional short story entitled “Sappho Remembered,” in which two young lovers touched four times and declared their love—and, most deplorable—the story had a happy, not dire or suicidal ending. The issue also featured a snarky poem about the gay arrests of British notable and two ads postal authorities construed as promoting obscenity.

LA postal officials seized the “You Can’t Print It!” issue and, Burroway reports, “charged the editors with violating the 1873 Comstock Act, which prohibited sending ‘obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious’ material through the mail.”

Broke, ONE’s editors waited a year to sue, with Julber,30, taking the case pro bono. The ACLU, which was still defending anti-sodomy laws at the time, refused to help. Julber flew solo and it didn’t go well as he argued that ONE Magazine was not pornographic but educational. In March 1956, the judge ruled for the Post Office, as did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in February 1957, writing that the magazine “has a primary purpose of exciting lust, lewd and lascivious thoughts and sensual desires in the minds of persons reading it.”

Julber filed his petition with the Supreme Court on June 13, 1957. He argued that lower courts had allowed publications advocating nudism, so why did the 9th Circuit “singled out and discriminated against” ONE because it dealt with homosexuality?

In fact, Hefner’s HMH Publishing Company sued the US Post Office in 1955 because Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield deemed Playboy obscene and prohibited its distribution through the mail. Hefner won and received $100,000 in damages, as well as Playboy being granted a “B” class permit to operate without the risk of government censorship.

In a quirk of fate, the Supreme Court had been dealing with the issue of obscenity in Roth v. the United States. New York book dealer Samuel Roth was appealing his conviction for selling and mailing sexually explicit books, circulars and advertising. The Justices upheld his conviction in a 6-3 decision, but narrowed the definition of obscenity, which is not constitutionally protected free speech under the First Amendment.

“All ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance — unorthodox ideas, controversial ideas, even ideas hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion — have the full protection of the guaranties, unless excludable because they encroach upon the limited area of more important interests; but implicit in the history of the First Amendment is the rejection of obscenity as utterly without redeeming social importance,” wrote Justice William J. Brennan, adding that “Sex and obscenity are not synonymous.”

The Court handed down its ruling on June 24, 1957, 11 days after Julber filed his petition. The Court took ONE’s case and rendered a one-sentence ruling in ONE Incorporated vs Olesen on January 13, 1958, reversing the 9th Circuit decision, expanding the First Amendment and limiting the Comstock Act. No longer branded “obscene,” ONE Magazine—and similar magazines—could be sent through the mail without legal action taken by the Post Office.

ONE editors noted this coverage from The New York Times: “The court today reversed a post office ban on a magazine, One, which deals with homosexuality. The petition for review filed by the lawyer, Eric Julber of Los Angeles, had apparently raised only one question: was the magazine ‘obscene’ within the statute banning importation of obscene matter? The court’s order appeared to answer: No.”

Hefner existed in a parallel universe, with Playboy Magazine, like ONE Magazine, also considered “smut” by the moral arbiters at the Post Office. And despite Hefner’s earlier win—and despite ONE Magazine’s win in January, by November 1958, the Post Office was after Hefner again, this time trying to ban the “lewd” Playboy from the mail system entirely. Hefner got a restraining order, which enabled him to keep distributing Playboy, while he continued to challenge the Post Office through the courts. Hefner won his lawsuit at the Supreme court, HMH Publishing vs the US Post Office in 1959.

ONE Magazine writer and editor Jim Kepner said Hefner was always grateful for the legal victory achieved by ONE Magazine at the Supreme Court, which paved the way for his victory—and for the sexual revolution. And gays were grateful, too, for the Playboy Forum that allowed them to see themselves as human beings, not society’s deviants.

Indeed, one can almost say that gays bought Playboy for the articles.

California

Newsom calls for Federal investigation of high Natural Gas prices

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

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Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – As millions of California families experience soaring gas utility bills, Governor Gavin Newsom took action today urging the federal government to investigate the recent price spike affecting the Western U.S. and highlighted the state’s action to provide relief to Californians.

In a letter to the federal agency responsible for regulating wholesale natural gas, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Governor requested that the agency “immediately focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior, or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the western gas markets.”

Additionally, millions of Californians will soon see relief from high utility bills – with credits of $90 to $120 showing up on gas and electric bills as soon as next month. 

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted to accelerate the California Climate Credit to help California families with high gas bills.

The $90-$120 credit will be applied to residential utility customer bills starting in March for customers of PG&E, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and Southwest Gas will also receive an accelerated credit of varying amounts. 

Tomorrow, the CPUC and the California Energy Commission will host an en banc hearing to examine the causes and impacts of the recent spike in natural gas prices. 

“Millions of California families are opening their utility bills to sticker shock – and we’re taking action now to provide relief to help with those high gas bills,” said Newsom. “We know this provides only temporary relief from soaring bills. That’s why I’m asking the federal government to use its full authority to investigate the spike in natural gas prices and take any necessary enforcement actions. We’re going to get to the bottom of this because Californians deserve to know what’s behind these exorbitant bills.”

California accelerating bill credits of $90-$120 starting next month to support with high gas and electric bills

Californians do not need to do anything to get the credit. Every spring and fall, millions of Californians receive credits on their electric and natural gas bills identified as the California Climate Credit. The California Climate Credit comes from the State’s cap-and-trade program managed by the California Air Resources Board. The credit on utility bills represents the consumer’s share of the payments from the State’s program.

The CPUC and California Energy Commission will hold an en banc hearing on February 7 to bring together market experts to examine the possible drivers behind the natural gas price spikes and explore potential state actions that can be taken. The hearing includes participation of the California Independent System Operator and market experts from across the country to discuss possible drivers and explore any state measure to protect California customers.

More information is available here.

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West Hollywood

WeHo hosts public hearing on PrEP & PEP February 23 at City Hall

Access to PrEP & PEP & adherence to recommended treatment are just 2 necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV

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Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) pills (Photo Credit: San Francisco AIDS Foundation)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood will host a public hearing to gather input from community members about whether individuals at high risk for HIV transmission are able to effectively access medications approved as part of FDA-approved protocols for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis(PrEP) and Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP).

City staff and officials have become aware from anecdotal information in the community that there may be barriers to easily accessing PrEP and PEP at pharmacies in Los Angeles County and other regions of the state.

While statewide legislation, SB 159, authorizes pharmacists to furnish PrEP and PEP without a physician prescription and prohibits insurance companies from requiring prior authorizations to obtain PrEP coverage, there is concern that national pharmacy chains and local pharmacies may not be participating in ways the legislation intended.

City outreach to local pharmacists indicates that many local pharmacists have not taken the California State Board of Pharmacy (CSBP) training to dispense PrEP and PEP, and may not have been aware of the training at all.

The City’s aim in hosting a public hearing is to gather input from impacted residents and community stakeholders; findings will then be relayed to legislators and other key decision makers.

The public hearing is open to the public and will take place on Thursday, February 23, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers/Public Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Limited validated parking will be available in the adjacent West Hollywood Park five-Story structure.

Community members may view the public hearing live on WeHoTV on Spectrum Channel 10 within West Hollywood; by clicking on the ‘Watch Live’ link on the City’s WeHoTV website page www.weho.org/wehotv; or through City’s WeHo YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/wehotv.

It will also be live-streamed on streaming services such as AndroidTV, AppleTV, FireTV, and Roku. Digital streaming platform viewers can find programming by searching for “WeHoTV.”

Individuals who would like to provide comments but are unable to attend the hearing, or who would prefer to share their experience directly, can send their comments by email to Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at [email protected].

In January 2019, Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco introduced SB 159 HIV: preexposure and postexposure prophylaxis. The bill, which was signed by Governor Newsom into law on October 7, 2019, seeks to make PrEP and PEP more readily available to HIV negative individuals who are at high risk of HIV infection. SB 159 does so, among other things, by:

  • Authorizing a pharmacist to furnish PrEP and PEP in specified amounts and requires a pharmacist to furnish those drugs if certain conditions are met, including that the pharmacist determines the patient meets the clinical criteria for PrEP and PEP consistent with federal guidelines; and
  • Requiring a pharmacist, before furnishing PrEP and PEP, to complete a training program approved by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

Having easy access to PrEP and PEP and proper adherence to the recommended treatment are just two necessary steps in the efforts to reducing community transmission of HIV. PrEP is a key prevention strategy for ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports fewer than 25% of the approximately 1-million Americans who could benefit from PrEP are using this preventative medication. One of the goals of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative is to have 50% of people who could benefit from PrEP using it by 2025.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic has had a significant impact on the City of West Hollywood. The disease’s elevated infection rate among gay men caused a devastatingly high number of deaths in the City in the era following the City’s founding in 1984.

The City of West Hollywood was one of the first government entities to provide social services grants to local AIDS and HIV organizations. The City sponsored one of the first AIDS awareness campaigns in the country in October 1985 and the City’s response to the AIDS crisis has been recognized as a model for other cities, nationally and globally.

In 2015, the City of West Hollywood City Council adopted the HIV Zero Strategic Plan. The City Council directed staff to work with social service providers, community clinics, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and other governmental agencies to develop a strategic plan aimed at reducing the rates of transmission and slowing disease progression.

The City’s HIV Zero Initiative embraces a vision to “Get to Zero” on many fronts: Zero new infections. Zero progression of HIV to AIDS. Zero discrimination. Zero stigma. The City currently contracts with APLA Health, Healthcare in Action, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Men’s Health Foundation, and Planned Parenthood to provide biomedical interventions, such as PrEP and PEP to community members at risk of acquiring HIV.

For more information, please contact Hernán Molina, the City of West Hollywood’s Governmental Affairs Liaison, at (323) 848-6364 or at [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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West Hollywood

WeHo to consider making restaurant OutZones permanent

The Chamber of Commerce says businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining

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Outzone in front of Stache (Photo Credit: WEHO TIMES)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – The West Hollywood City Council will discuss and debate the process, guidelines, and policies regarding making the restaurant OutZones permanent in the city.

Its Agenda Item 5.A. will be under review and is slated to be taken up at the regular city council meeting scheduled for Monday, February 6, starting at 6pm.

City Staff is recommending the City Council adopt an ordinance amending Chapter 11.28 regarding outdoor dining in the public right of way, authorizing the Director of Finance & Technology Services to allocate $25,000 from unallocated reserves in General Fund for the development of the Outdoor Dining Eligibility and Site Design Guide and related costs.

City Staff will provide any feedback, if necessary, on the proposed updates, including the eligibility criteria and design standard.

Restaurant OutZones 2020-2021 WEHO TIMES
Restaurant OutZones as of January 2023 – WEHO TIMES
OutZone at Larrabee Street – WEHO TIMES
Abbey Road Outzone 2020
Abbey Road Outzone 2023 – WEHO TIMES
Abbey Road Outzone 2023 – WEHO TIMES

According to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, City Commissions, Boards, and Staff met with the Chamber numerous times and then attended a number of the chamber’s standing meetings with business leaders. Overall, there was support for developing new standards to convert the temporary OUTZones into permanent outdoor dining.

An email from the The Chamber states that businesses expressed concern over the limited applicability of using on-street parking spaces for outdoor dining. As outlined in the report, the use of on-street parking for outdoor dining would only apply to businesses fronting a narrow sidewalk condition.

There were also concerns around the inability for a business with a limited frontage to expand dining areas in front of neighboring businesses. Because this item is addressing outdoor dining on the public-right-of-way and not outdoor dining on private property, the current proposal does not allow the business to establish separate arrangements with neighboring businesses for use of their adjacent public right-of-way.

“We are grateful to the Staff and Council for moving this issue forward, allowing us to keep this critical element for our restaurants and bars to continue to recover and help us to thrive,” reads a statement by WeHo Chamber CEO Genevieve Morrill.

OutZones 2020 – WEHO TIMES

In July 2020, the City began its Temporary Outdoor Expansion Permit (TOEP) program by offering streamlined approval for businesses to use sidewalks, on-street parking spaces, and private parking lots as areas to expand operations.

In August 25, 2020, the city had a soft opening for the first phase of the new OUT Zones program.

On August 31, 2020, the installation of protective k-rail barriers were completed in time for National Eat Outside Day, which is a day when people are encouraged to enjoy a meal, picnic, or snack in the outdoors.

Community members and business owners are encouraged to make comments, express concerns, and provide suggestions.

Editor’s Note: To participate by public comment via phone:

1. You are strongly encouraged to e-mail the City Clerk at [email protected] no later than 2:00 p.m. on the City Council meeting day, to be added to the Zoom Public Speaker List for the meeting. Please include your name, the phone number from which you will be calling, and which item you would like to speak on.

2. Dial-in 10 minutes prior to the start of the meeting (the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.)
• Dial-in #: 669-900-6833
• Meeting I.D.: 847 9061 1250, then the pound # key

**************************************************************************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

******************************

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California

Newsom honors CHP officers w/Medal of Valor, names CHP head

Governor Newsom recognized CHP officers Ryan Ayers & Kenneth Weckman for their bravery & names Sean Duryee to head the agency

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CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee, Calif. Attorney General Rob Bonta, CHP officers Ryan Ayers & Kenneth Weckman with Governor Gavin Newsom (Photo Credit: Office of Governor of California)

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom recognized California Highway Patrol officers Ryan Ayers and Kenneth Weckman for their actions that went above and beyond the call of duty by awarding them with the Governor’s Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor – the highest state award for valor presented to a public safety officer.

“The heroes we are honoring today are men who showed extraordinary compassion, bravery, and sacrifice,” said Newsom. “Officers Ayers and Weckam are examples of the California spirit, our dedication to each other, and to doing the right thing. I am proud to recognize their heroic efforts and work.”

On August 6, 2021, Officer Ryan Ayers was off duty driving on US 101 in San Luis Obispo, California, when he observed a crash involving a semi-truck which ran off the road. Ayers climbed down the hillside to access the cab of the truck and found the driver unconscious. As the vehicle began to fill with smoke, without regard for his own safety, he cleared debris to access the driver. He was able to safely remove the driver seconds prior to the vehicle becoming fully engulfed in flames.

On December 6, 2021, Officer Kenneth Weckman was dispatched to a vehicle blocking the roadway in Marysville, California. As Weckman investigated the abandoned vehicle, he found a woman in crisis in a canal, attempting to smother a small child in the dirt and water. Weckman immediately attempted to rescue the child from the woman, as she violently resisted. After a struggle, He was able to save the child from the muddy waters. With the assistance of other officers who arrived on scene, the woman was safely taken into custody.

“Officer Ayers’ and Officer Weckman’s heroic actions undoubtedly saved the lives of these individuals” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Their bravery, character, professionalism, and willingness to serve with such extraordinary valor exemplify their commitment to the communities they serve.”

On Friday Newsom announced his appointment of Sean Duryee as Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol, where he has been serving as Acting Commissioner and has held several roles since 1998. 
 
“A veteran of the CHP, Commissioner Duryee has dedicated his career to serving the people of California, starting as a Cadet decades ago,” said Newsom. “His leadership, extensive experience and dedication will continue to serve California well and I thank him for taking on this new role.” 

Governor Newsom with CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee
(Photo Credit: Office of Governor of California)


Duryee, 48, of Galt, has served as Acting Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol since January 2023. He served in several positions at CHP from 1998 to 2022, including Deputy Commissioner, Executive Assistant to the Commissioner, Special Representative to the Legislature, Commander of the Department’s Commercial Vehicle Section, Academy Instructor and Cadet.

He is a coach for the Liberty Ranch High School Girls Varsity Basketball Team. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $315,348. Duryee is registered without party preference.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices move up slightly, but more increases expected

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week

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Fuel types by octane ratings at a Chevron in SoCal ( Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5 )

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices moved very little in the past week, but increases are expected in coming weeks related to the process to switch to selling summer-blend gasoline, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.57, which is five cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.50, which is the same as a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.57 per gallon, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month, and 13 cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.59, which is one cent higher than last week, six cents higher than last month, and six cents lower than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.51, which is the same as last week, one cent lower than last month, and 12 cents lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.44, which is two cents higher than last week, seven cents higher than last month and 18 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.57 average price is four cents higher than last week, two cents higher than last month, and one cent lower than a year ago today.

“Los Angeles wholesale gas prices are almost ninety cents higher than at their lowest point of last year in December, but retail average prices have risen by less than 20 cents,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “We expect prices will continue rising during the spring months. For drivers who are interested in avoiding these high prices by going electric, AAA has a new resource available – the AAA Used EV Buyer’s Guide.”

The Auto Club reminds drivers of the following tips to save money on gas:

  • If you use premium unleaded fuel, make sure it is required for your vehicle, not just recommended. The Auto Club’s Automotive Research Center found that vehicles with recommended premium fuel performed safely with regular unleaded gasoline.
  • Make sure your tires are properly maintained and inflated to the correct level.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard accelerations. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. Fuel economy peaks around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speed increases. Reducing freeway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
  • Use cruise control on the highway to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because you could lose control of the vehicle.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning.
  • Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in colder temperatures. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.
  • Remove unnecessary and heavy items from your car.
  • Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use.
  • Download the AAA App to find the cheapest gas prices near you. 

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on Feb. 2, averages are:

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California

Governor Newsom announces new gun safety legislation

In 2021, Calif. was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, seeing a 37% lower gun death rate than national average

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Governor Newsom announcing new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – In the wake of multiple mass shootings that took the lives of 19 Californians in just 72 hours last week, Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta, and Senator Anthony Portantino (D-Burbank) announced new gun safety legislation to modernize and strengthen California’s public carry laws.

“Only in America do we see the kind of carnage and chaos of gun violence that destroys our communities and our sense of safety and belonging,” said Newsom. “America is number 1 in gun ownership and we far surpass every developed nation on Earth in gun deaths – it’s not complicated. In California, we’ve passed common sense gun safety laws and they work: we have a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average. We’re doubling down on gun safety and strengthening our public carry law to protect it from radical Republican attacks.”

According to the Center for American Progress, efforts to weaken concealed carry laws across the country have increased violent crimes – with studies showing gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws and violent crimes with a firearm went up 29%.

Newsom signed a package of gun safety laws last year, making it easier for Californians to sue manufacturers of illegal assault weapons and those spreading them, allowing lawsuits against irresponsible gun industry members, strengthening prohibitions on ghost guns, as well as restricting marketing to minors. 

“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities. The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public. When a gun is placed in the wrong hands, it is deadly,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “The Second Amendment is not a regulatory straightjacket — we must protect our communities. The time for thoughts and prayers has long passed, we need brave and immediate action by our leaders – here in California and beyond. We owe our community stronger protections. I urge our state leaders to quickly adopt SB 2. We can’t afford to wait even one minute more.”

Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law, aspects of which mirrored California’s public carry laws, and the legislation announced today – Senate Bill 2 by Senator Portantino – would make fixes necessary to update the standards and processes for obtaining a public carry permit in California.

Senate Bill 2 strengthens California’s restrictions regarding public carry laws by:

  • Enhancing the existing licensing system – ensuring those permitted to carry firearms in public are responsible and law-abiding individuals;
  • Protecting children – setting a minimum age requirement of 21 years of age to obtain a CCW license;
  • Advancing stronger training requirements – ensuring proper handling, loading, unloading, and storage of firearms; and
  • Identifying certain sensitive public places – establishing safe community places where people should expect freedom from gun violence.

“In the wake of the recent tragedies in Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay and the continued threat of mass shootings, it’s critical that California leads on the issue of gun safety and reform. I am proud to be working with Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta and activists on SB 2 to strengthen our existing public carry laws and ensure every Californian is safe from gun violence.  We must be diligent in addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country and public carry laws are a key component of this,” said Senator Anthony Portantino.

California launched an 18-month campaign to promote gun violence restraining orders – “red flag laws” – that allow law enforcement, family, coworkers or friends to petition a court to temporarily remove weapons from people deemed dangerous to themselves or others. A study from the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis found that California’s red flag law was used to stop 58 threatened mass shootings since 2016.

California’s gun safety laws work. In 2021, California was ranked as the #1 state for gun safety by the Giffords Law Center, and the state saw a 37% lower gun death rate than the national average.

According to the CDC, California’s gun death rate was the 44th lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people – compared to 13.7 deaths per 100,000 nationally, 28.6 in Mississippi, 20.7 in Oklahoma, and 14.2 in Texas.

Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts noted: “The Supreme Court’s reckless Bruen decision opened up the floodgates for more guns in more places — but with this bill California once again renewed its commitment to being a national leader in the fight against gun violence. While the gun industry celebrated the ruling that put their profits over our safety, our grassroots army is proud to stand with our Gun Sense Champions in California to pass this critical bill and make our communities safer.”

“Following the Supreme Court’s egregious decision in the Bruen case, it is vital that the Golden State takes meaningful action to protect all Californians from the threat of gun violence. SB2 would do just this by updating and improving the state’s already strong concealed carry license system, and ensure that loaded and concealed weapons are not allowed in certain sensitive places. With SB2, leaders in California are continuing their leadership in prioritizing the public health and safety of all its citizens,” said Brady Campaign President Kris Brown, adding “Brady applauds Senator Portantino for introducing this important bill, and thanks Governor Newsom and Attorney General Bonta for their continued leadership on this issue, and urges the California legislature to pass it without delay.”

Giffords State Policy Director Ari Freilich stated: “In the face of tragedy, California’s leaders act. They’ve led the nation on gun safety reform and made California a much safer state than most. But today, grieving communities know all too well how much more work there is to do. California achieved an all-time record low gun fatality rate in 2019. But like the rest of the country, we have faced record spikes in gun sales and violence since the start of the pandemic and a flood of new weapons in public spaces as a result of the US Supreme Court’s dangerous Second Amendment ruling last year. Passing SB (2) will strengthen communities’ ability to respond to these threats by requiring stronger vetting and safety training to carry weapons in public and by designating vital community spaces like parks and playgrounds as off-limits to weapons throughout the state. We thank leaders like Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Senator Portantino for their work and commitment to make all Californians safer and freer from violence.”

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Orange County

Costa Mesa police arrest suspect in Latina mural vandalism

The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women

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Alicia Rojas in front of her defaced “Poderosas” mural October 2022 (Photo courtesy of Alicia Rojas)

COSTA MESA, Calif. – On Oct. 31, 2022 Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers were dispatched to the 3000 block of Killybrooke and upon arrival officers found that the Poderosas mural, a local landmark that commemorates Latina heritage, was vandalized with white supremacy language.

The mural is well known in the community and spans over 70 feet of a block wall and honors immigrant Latina women. The mural was created in October 2020 by an all women crew and was led by artist Alicia Rojas.

Individuals in the area observed the suspect vandalizing the mural by spray painting a hate crime message on it. Witnesses reported the crime and also provided video of the incident to CMPD investgators.

(Photo courtesy of Alicia Rojas)

During the investigation, Daniel Alec Hotte, 27, of Dana Point was identified as the vandalism suspect. Shortly thereafter, CMPD Gang Investigators checked numerous locations in Orange County and Riverside County but Hotte could not be located. Investigators then learned Hotte had a pending court date on Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

On Monday morning, Hotte was located at the Harbor Justice Center and arrested. Hotte was then booked at CMPD Jail on an outstanding warrant, vandalism, and hate crime. CMPD will file the case with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for charges.

“Costa Mesa is a great city known for its inclusivity. We celebrate our diversity and are proud of our various backgrounds,” said Mayor John Stephens. “This type of crime flies in the face of what we have achieved as a multi-cultural community. I’m grateful for the witnesses who came forward to help identify him and thankful the police stayed on the case and captured the suspect.”

“I represent a community rich in culture,” said Councilmember Loren Gameros. “This suspect came from another city into Costa Mesa to commit this crime and hurt the identity of some of our neighbors. That is unacceptable and now he will have to face justice.”

“Vandalism crimes like this can often go unsolved,” said Police Chief Ron Lawrence. “I commend the quick action of the witnesses to capture evidence of the incident and the great police work of the Costa Mesa Police Department that solved this case.”

Anyone who may have been a witness in this incident and has not spoken to CMPD is asked to contact Investigator Eric Molina at 714-754-5694, or Sergeant Matt Selinske at 714-754-5093.

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Los Angeles County

Brandon Tsay; hero who disarmed Monterey Park shooter honored

The White House announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7

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Brandon Tsay (Screenshot/YouTube KNBC)

ALHAMBRA, Calif. – The City of Alhambra honored Brandon Tsay, the hero who disarmed the Monterey Park shooting suspect, at a ceremony this past Sunday. Tsay, 26, was awarded a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department. 

The White House also announced that President Joe Biden has invited Tsay to be his guest at the State of the Union Address on February 7.

In a surveillance video, Tsay is seen struggling to take a weapon away from the deceased suspect, Huu Can Tran, in the lobby of his family’s dance studio, the Lai Lai Ballroom, in Alhambra eventually gaining control of the gun causing Tran to flee.

In an interview with ABC News anchor Robin Roberts in an interview last Monday on “Good Morning America,” Tsay told Roberts that the gunman was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets — people to harm.”

“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it.”

“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay said. “I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.”

“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” he added. “We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Robbery-Homicide division is piecing together the facts as to why Tran killed 11 people and wounded nearly a dozen others others in the mass shooting at the Star Ballroom in Monterey Park before traveling to the Lai Lai Ballroom.

“The carnage would have been so much worse had it not been for Brandon Tsay,” California U.S. House Representative Judy Chu whose District includes Monterey Park said Sunday during the ceremony.

Rep. Chu also presented Tsay with a certificate of congressional recognition, calling his story “was so amazing” that she noted she had asked him to be her guest at the State of the Union address on Feb. 7. According to the congresswoman though, barely an hour after her request to him, the President called Tsay to personally invite him to be his guest.

According to the White House, the president in the call told Tsay: “I wanted to call to see how you’re doing and thank you for taking such incredible action in the face of danger. I don’t think you understand just how much you’ve done for so many people who are never going to even know you. But I want them to know more about you.

“You have my respect,” Biden added. “You are America, pal. You are who we are — no, no, you are who we are. America’s never backed down, we’ve always stepped up, because of people like you.”

There was also a highly visible law enforcement presence at Sunday’s event, held during the city’s own Lunar New Year Festival.

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Los Angeles County

What do you think about LASD budget priorities?

The deadline to submit comments for this survey is March 2, 2023. Learn about LASD’s Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget

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LASD Entertainment District Patrol, West Hollywood (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – The Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission’s Budget Ad Hoc Committee is asking for public input on Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s (LASD) annual budget prioritization process for Fiscal Year 2023-2024.

All public safety priority recommendations and public comments will be reviewed by the Commission’s Budget Ad Hoc Committee, posted publicly, and shared with the full Commission, LASD, Chief Executive Office (CEO) and the Board of Supervisors throughout the budget prioritization process. The ultimate budget decisions rest with the Board of Supervisors.

Submit Your Comments.

The deadline to submit comments for this survey is March 2, 2023. Learn about LASD’s Fiscal Year 2023-2024 budget with these additional resources:

Questions? Email [email protected] or call (213) 253-5678.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

Celebrating Black History Month in February, Implementing a New Organics Collection Program, ‘WeHo Reads’ Launches on February 8 plus more

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West Hollywood City Hall (Photo credit: City of West Hollywood/Jon Viscott)

City Celebrates Black History Month in February

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood celebrates Black History Month with events held throughout the month. Black History Month recognizes, celebrates, and honors the rich and diverse history and important contributions and achievements of African Americans, and is observed annually during the month of February.

On Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 9 a.m., the community is encouraged to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event (previously postponed due to weather) at West Hollywood Elementary School, located at 970 N. Hammond Street. Residents, visitors, and community members are invited to take part in this day of service where volunteers will be helping to perform various landscaping, clean-up, painting, and other beautifying tasks at the school. Volunteers must be 13 years of age or older to participate.

To sign-up as a volunteer, please register on the City’s volunteer portal at https://volunteer.weho.org/.  For more information or questions about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event, please contact the City’s Community Programs Coordinator, Larissa Fooks at (323) 848-6413 or [email protected].  

On Saturday, February 25, 2023 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., visit the Black Women Lead Pop-Up Market. This free, open-air event will feature Black vendors, panelists, and performers, providing the community with the opportunity to celebrate Black History Month in West Hollywood. This event will take place at the West Hollywood Park Great Lawn, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard. Event updates will be provided on the City’s website calendar at www.weho.org/calendar.  For information, please contact City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator Jasmine Duckworth at (323) 848-6559 or [email protected].

Additional programming during the month of February includes:

The City of West Hollywood presents WeHo Reads: Writing Paths Toward Justice: an exploration and panel discussion with authors who examine what happens when the social contract fractures along the journey towards justice will take place online at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, February 22, 2023.

Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated writers with over 50 published books. His recently published novel, Every Man a King, is the second installment in his Joe “King” Oliver series.

Steph Cha is the author of Your House Will Pay, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the California Book Award, and the Juniper Song crime trilogy.

Kellye Garrett is an Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty award-winning author whose most recent suspense novel, Like a Sister, is about the death of a disgraced reality TV star. 

Joe Ide is the author of the award-winning IQ series, including the most recent installment, Smoke

Jordan Harper has been a music journalist, film critic, and TV writer. His most recent novel, Everybody Knows, is a crime thriller about a publicist who works for the corrupt and depraved elite in Southern California.

More information and an RSVP link is available at www.weho.org/wehoreads. For more information about WeHo Reads, contact City of West Hollywood Arts Coordinator Mike Che at (323) 848-6377 or [email protected]. For information, please contact City of West Hollywood Community Programs Coordinator Jasmine Duckworth at (323) 848-6559 or [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City Encourages Community Members to Participate in American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED Training

When an emergency happens, would you know what to do? Get certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), First Aid, and Automated External Defibrillators (AED) to give you the confidence you need to respond in an emergency.

The City of West Hollywood is offering a free American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED Certification Training on Saturday, February 4, 2023. The training will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center, located at 8750 El Tovar Place in the San Vicente/La Cienega Meeting Room. The training schedule will include a meal break. Parking will be available at the West Hollywood Park 5-Story parking structure, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard.

This American Red Cross Certification Training will cover adult and pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED topics and participants will learn how to respond to medical emergencies. Prior to meeting in-person, participants will be enrolled in an online learning session that takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. There will be in-person section reviews and tests that will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hours per section for participants to receive certification. The online learning session link will be sent out seven days prior to the in-person training session. All online coursework must be completed before the in-person training session.

Space is limited and is anticipated to reach capacity quickly. Enroll using the City of West Hollywood’s “ActiveNet” online reservations portal. RSVPs require ActiveNet registration, which takes just a minute to complete.

Once capacity reaches limits, community members who are interested are encouraged to join a waitlist. The City will host additional American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED Certification Trainings during the 2023 calendar year. To join this waitlist, please contact Cortez Jordan, in the City of West Hollywood’s Recreation Services Division, at (323) 848-6585 and the City will reach out as future trainings are scheduled.

Knowledge in first aid has multiple benefits. Accidents are inevitable, and there is no guarantee that people are safe from any physical injury, illness, or trauma. The best thing that people can do is to be prepared when and if any accidents, mishaps, and occurrences happen. Every year, millions of people are hurt or killed from injuries due to inadequate response or lack of timely assistance.

The biggest difference between victims who survive and those who do not is a bystander’s willingness to help. Performing any sort of basic life support on victims while an ambulance is on the way doubles a person’s chance of survival.

For additional information about the City of West Hollywood’s free American Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED Certification Training, please email [email protected] or call (323) 848-6538. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

West Hollywood’s 2023 ‘WeHo Reads’ Series ‘Mindful Journeys’ Launches on February 8, 2023

The City of West Hollywood is launching its 2023 WeHo Reads literary series with a reception, readings, and the launch of a new photographic exhibition. Community members are invited to celebrate art, literature, poets, and authors. 

The kick-off event will take place on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room, located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard. 

At 6 p.m., there will be a reception for an exhibition of photographs from a contest that was held around the theme of the 2022 WeHo Reads series about creating joy in times of sorrow. The contest was held in the fall of 2022 and was juried by writers/photographers Lynell George and Marisela Norte. Photographers featured in this exhibition include: Natalia Affonso, Nadia Alamah, Rick Castro, Arpan Basu Chowdhury (who had the first-place winning submission), Gabriella Maria dos Santos Silva, Victoria Goring, Haro Istamboulian, Louis Jacinto, Alessia Piscopo, Mateo Salas, and Don Tinling.

At 7 p.m., there will be readings by authors featured in WeHo Reads including: bridgette bianca, Shonda Buchanan, Jen Cheng, Lisbeth Coiman, Flint, Charles Flowers, Peter J. Harris, Reuben “Tihi” Hayslett, Lester Graves Lennon, Malia Márquez, Thea Pueschel, Luivette Resto, Carla Sameth, Sehba Sarwar, Lynne Thompson, and Hazel Kight Witham.

RSVPs are required to attend this event at www.weho.org/wehoreads.    

This year’s theme for WeHo Reads is Mindful Journeys, and the events will feature writers who are seeking to navigate joy in the midst of sorrow and craft mindful journeys toward better futures, whether through fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry.

WeHo Reads is presented by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division and produced by BookSwell, LLC. Additional support for WeHo Reads is provided by UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and Poets & Writers as well as media partnerships with Bookshop.org, Book Soup, and Los Angeles Review of Books.

Additional WeHo Reads 2023 series events will follow:

  • WeHo Reads: Writing Paths Toward Justice on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at 6 p.m. (online).

This discussion will explore what can we learn about human nature from imagining the paths taken by criminals and outcasts. Walter Mosley is one of America’s most celebrated writers with over 50 published books. His recently published novel, Every Man a King, is the second installment in his Joe “King” Oliver series. Steph Cha is the author of Your House Will Pay, winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the California Book Award, and the Juniper Song crime trilogy. Kellye Garrett is an Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty award-winning author whose most recent suspense novel, Like a Sister, is about the death of a disgraced reality TV star.  Joe Ide is the author of the award-winning IQ series, including the most recent installment, Smoke. Jordan Harper has been a music journalist, film critic, and TV writer. His most recent novel, Everybody Knows, is a crime thriller about a publicist who works for the corrupt and depraved elite in Southern California. This online event will take place on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/wehoarts. Members of the public can RSVP and be sent a direct link to view the event by visiting the WeHo Reads webpage on the City’s website at www.weho.org/wehoreads.

  • WeHo Reads: Crafting Literary Legacies on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, at 6:30 p.m. (online).
    During Women’s History Month, we speak with authors creating new truths through storytelling and putting women at the center of literature. Natashia Deón is a two-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Literature, Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award Nominee in Fiction, a practicing criminal attorney, and author of the critically acclaimed and widely reviewed novels, The Perishing and GRACE. Toni Ann Johnson is the winner of the 2021 Flannery O’Connor Award for short fiction with her linked collection Light Skin Gone to Waste. Malia Márquez is a teacher and author of work that has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Hobart, Coffin Bell Journal, and elsewhere and of her award-winning first novel, This Fierce Blood. Laura Warrell is a writer and teacher whose work has appeared in HuffPost, The Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. Her first novel is Sweet, Soft, Plenty Rhythm. This online event will take place on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/wehoarts. Members of the public can RSVP and be sent a direct link to view the event by visiting the WeHo Reads webpage on the City’s website at www.weho.org/wehoreads.
  • WeHo Reads: Lounging with Poets on Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ‘spa day’, 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. program (in-person).
    Self-care is a radical act. Come lounge with a poet at our inaugural Poetry Spa Day at the respite deck of the new West Hollywood Aquatic and Recreation Center. From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., guests will receive a menu of services and tokens to have individual, one-on-one experiences with former West Hollywood Poet Laureates and special guests, ranging from cucumber poetry facials to poetry speed dating. At 7:30 p.m., we gather at the steps at sunset to hear all the poets share their words in a ritual closing and celebration of National Poetry Month. City of West Hollywood Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace emcees this event, and will be joined by Jen Cheng, Kim Dower, Charles Flowers, Linda Ravenswood, and Steven Reigns. This in-person event takes place at the Respite Deck of the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center (ARC), located at 8750 El Tovar Place, next to the West Hollywood Library. RSVPs are requested ay www.weho.org/wehoreads
  • WeHo Reads: Shaping Motherhood online on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 7 p.m. (online).
    We consider motherhood–joys, hardships, challenges, graces–and the role they play in shaping ourselves and future generations. Amber Flame is an interdisciplinary creative, activist and educator whose work has garnered residencies with Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and more. Gerda Govine Ituarte, Ed.D., poet, art curator, columnist, and CEO of G. Govine Consulting, was born in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and emigrated to New York City in the mid 50’s and California in the early ’80s. Luivette Resto is a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fan who was born in Puerto Rico but proudly raised in the Bronx. Carla Sameth, 2022-2024 Altadena co-poet laureate, is the author of the memoir One Day on the Gold Line and the poetry chapbook, What Is Left, and teaches creative writing to a variety of ages. Colette Sartor’s linked short story collection, Once Removed, won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the NYC Big Book Award for Short Story Collections, and the Juror’s Choice Award, and the Short Stories Award from the National Indie Excellence Awards. This online event will take place on the City of West Hollywood’s WeHo Arts YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/wehoarts. Members of the public can RSVP and be sent a direct link to view the event by visiting the WeHo Reads webpage on the City’s website at www.weho.org/wehoreads.

All events are free to attend. For additional information about these events and to RSVP, visit www.weho.org/wehoreads

WeHo Reads is the City of West Hollywood’s literary series presenting authors of interest to the West Hollywood community since 2013. Past participants have included: André Aciman, Andrew Rannells, Arlene and Alan Alda, Armistead Maupin, Bianca Del Rio, Bryan Fuller, Carrie Brownstein, Charles Phoenix, Charles Yu, Chris Kraus, Danez Smith, Dasha Kelly Hamilton, David Ulin, Eileen Myles, Eloise Klein Healy, Emma Donoghue, Erwin Chemerinsky, Henry Rollins, Imani Tolliver, Jacob Tobia, James Sie, Lester Graves Lennon, Josephine Giles, LeVar Burton, Lillian Faderman, Lloyd Schwartz, Lorna Luft, Luis J. Rodriguez, Lynell George, Lynne Thompson, Michael York, Michelle Visage, Myriam Gurba, Natalie Goldberg, Natasha Deón, Nina Revoyr, Patrisse Cullors, Patt Morrison, Peter J. Harris, Randa Jarrar, Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco, Ryan Gosling, Ryka Aoki, Sarah Silverman, Seymour Stein, Shonda Buchanan, Stephen Chbosky, Tananarive Due, and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim.

BookSwell, a literary events and media company dedicated to lifting up writers from historically excluded communities, is producing the WeHo Reads 2023 season. BookSwell was founded in 2017 by Cody Sisco.

For more information about WeHo Reads, please contact Mike Che, City of West Hollywood Arts Coordinator, at (323) 848-6377 or at [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

As Part of the ‘Moving Image Media Art’ Exhibition Series, The City of West Hollywood Presents: Kassaram (Adapted) by Artist Thania Petersen and Reverse Women by Artist Sarah Rara On the Sunset Strip from February 1 through May 31

The City of West Hollywood announces the debuts of the next exhibitions in the Moving Image Media Art (MIMA) program. MIMA is an ongoing exhibition series of moving image media artworks on multiple digital billboards at various locations along Sunset Boulevard. The goals of the MIMA Program are to foster cultural equity, expand accessibility, inspire communication, create public space, and enhance the human experience of the Sunset Strip. 

Kassaram (Adapted), a short film from artist Thania Petersen, will debut at the Streamlined Arbor billboard, located at 9157 Sunset Boulevard, and will air at the top of every hour for 10-and-a-half minutes. Reverse Women, a short film from artist Sarah Rara, will debut at the Invisible Frame billboard, located at 8743 Sunset Boulevard, and will air at the top of every hour and 30 minutes past each hour. Both works will be on exhibition from Wednesday, February 1, 2023 through Wednesday, May 31, 2023.

About Kassaram (Adapted)The historically significant building that sits at the base of the Streamlined Arbor inspires artwork as an authentic reexamination of cultural identity, by amplifying the voices of those silenced and marginalized. Thania Petersen’s vivid and layered work, Kassaram (Adapted) examines how embedded clichés devalue culture and provide the framework for the permission of subjugation. Across a timeline of slurs and stereotypes, nuanced imagery devolves into more familiar scenes of chaos. Petersen subverts the narrative by illustrating how structural racism serves to further isolate, diminish, and dehumanize. 

Thania Petersen is a South African multidisciplinary artist who addresses the intricacies and complexities of identity. Petersen’s work has been presented at such institutions as Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), Whitechapel, Istanbul Modern, Ballroom Marfa, Alte Kelter Fellbach, and Jeffrey Deitch. Her work is collected by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town; IZIKO South African Museum, Cape Town; Pérez Art Museum, Miami; and many others.

About Reverse WomenImages of running women advance backwards in slow motion, as if the ground is being pulled out from under them, evoking unsettling allegories of agency, power, and progress. In Reverse Women the gesture of running is pivotal and intentionally ambiguous, seen both as a sign of practiced liberation, wellness, resilience; yet infused with suspense by the discomfort of watching someone struggle to escape. Reverse Women ultimately illustrates the disorientation of our unreliable and faltering constitutional protections. 

Sarah Rara’s multi-disciplinary practice explores the position of witness within fragile systemsRara is a contributing member of the ongoing project Lucky Dragons (with Luke Fischbeck). Their work, solo and in collaboration, has been presented at such institutions as the Hammer Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Walker Art Center, London’s Institute for Contemporary Art, PS1 in New York, REDCAT, LACMA and MOCA in Los Angeles, among others. Rara is a 2018 recipient of the LACMA Art + Technology fellowship and holds an Assistant Professor of Moving Image at Williams College.

The Moving Image Media Art Program (MIMA) is a City of West Hollywood exhibition series administered by the City’s Arts Division, as part of its Art on the Outside Program, and is presented with the Sunset Arts and Advertising Program. MIMA offers artists the opportunity, and the funding, to create immediate, remarkable, and ambitious works of art that engage with the unique visual landscape of the world-famous Sunset Strip, and experiment with the state-of-the-art technology of high-definition digital signage.  

MIMA enables artists to occupy, contest, and play with the boundaries and uses of public space and manifest moments of connection and awe. Artists exhibited in the program are selected from the MIMA Prequalified List, a rolling, open-call for moving image media artists, curators, and non-profit arts organizations, with applications reviewed bi-annually by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, in May and November. The MIMA Prequalified List includes a diverse list of artists of all career levels; from emerging to internationally recognized: www.weho.org/community/arts-and-culture/visual-arts/mima  

The City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division delivers a broad array of arts programs including Art on the Outside (temporary public art), Arts Grants, City Poet Laureate, Free Theatre in the Parks, Human Rights Speaker Series, Library Exhibits, WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, Summer Sounds + Winter Sounds, Urban Art (permanent public art), and WeHo Reads. For more information about City of West Hollywood arts programming, please visit www.weho.org/arts. 

For more information about MIMA, please contact Rebecca Ehemann, City of West Hollywood Arts Manager at [email protected] or at (323) 848-6846. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

City is Implementing a New Organics Collection Program in Compliance with SB 1383, a Statewide Effort to Reduce Emissions of Short-Lived Climate Pollutants

The City of West Hollywood is implementing a new organics collection program in compliance with SB 1383, a statewide effort to reduce emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) by reducing organic waste disposal.

Under SB 1383, community members throughout California will be required to place all food scraps, food-soiled paper (100% fiber-based), and landscaping waste into a green waste container. Athens Services, which provides waste collection and recycling services for the City of West Hollywood, is implementing food scrap collection, which applies to all customers including single-family-home residents, multifamily buildings, and commercial customers in West Hollywood.

To assist community members in collection of food scraps, the City of West Hollywood and Athens Services will be hosting two events on Saturday, January 28, 2023 to provide free kitchen pails. From 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., there will be a Kitchen Pail Giveaway at West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard, and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., there will be a Kitchen Pail Giveaway at Plummer Park, located at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. West Hollywood community members are eligible for one free kitchen pail, limited to one per household or commercial customer.

“West Hollywood has long been a leader in green policies and practices. I’m excited to see our city develop this new program in adherence to SB 1383 to help collect organic waste and, ultimately, turn food scraps into soil compost,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne. “Community-based efforts to reduce waste and emissions are essential in our greater efforts in combating climate change.”

West Hollywood residents in single-family homes and multifamily buildings must, under SB 1383, separate food scraps, food-soiled paper (100% fiber-based), and landscaping waste into green waste containers. SB 1383 establishes statewide targets to achieve a 75% reduction of organic waste disposal from 2014 levels by the year 2025.

With its new organics collection program, Athens Services will accept all types of food scraps. Its American Organics compost facility converts organics waste into nutrient-rich soil amendment. The resulting compost is used by commercial farmers, projects, garden shops, landscapers, and residents.

The Athens Services outreach team is currently in West Hollywood visiting customers, including those in multifamily and commercial buildings, to ensure they are set-up for the new organics recycling program. Many buildings in West Hollywood already have a green Athens organics bin and in such cases the Athens Services outreach team is educating and informing building management that food scraps must now be put in those bins.

For Athens Services customers who do not yet have a green bin, the Athens Services outreach team is working to get them set-up. Additionally, Athens Services will provide a kitchen pail to any customer in West Hollywood who requests one. The outreach team has found that for residents of multifamily buildings, kitchen pails make it much easier to collect food scraps and then empty them into green Athens bins situated at their property.

To contact Athens Services to make a request, or for community members who may have questions about the new organics collection program, please contact the Athens Customer Care Center at (888) 336-6100 or visit www.athensservices.com/sb-1383

To learn more about acceptable items for organics collection, including types of green waste, food scraps, and food-soiled paper that Athens Services collects, visit www.athensservices.com/in-the-news/food-waste-recycling. For a complete recycling guide, visit www.athensservices.com/recycling-guide. For more information about SB 1383, visit www.calrecycle.ca.gov/organics/slcp.

In the spirit of “think globally, act locally,” the City of West Hollywood aims to inspire sustainability and eco-conscious programs, projects, and policies. In December 2021, the City adopted its people-centered Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) to guide the implementation of the climate measures and actions and will help to ensure that West Hollywood is a sustainable, vibrant, livable, and equitable city for current and future generations. To find out more, visit www.weho.org/climateaction. For additional information about the City’s ongoing sustainability efforts, visit www.weho.org/gogreen.

For more information, please contact Matt Magener, City of West Hollywood Environmental Programs Coordinator, at (323) 848-6894 or at [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

For more information, please call the City of West Hollywood’s City Council Offices at (323) 848-6460. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

For up-to-date information about City of West Hollywood news and events, follow @wehocity on social media, sign-up for news updates at www.weho.org/email, and visit the City’s calendar of meetings and events at www.weho.org/calendar.

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