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Villaraigosa fighting to be California governor

And he’s counting on his LGBT friends to come through for him

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Antonio Villaraigosa at The Abbey in West Hollywood (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Antonio Villaraigosa saunters into The Abbey as if he lives next door. He’s relaxed, comfortable in West Hollywood’s gayborhood, as if visiting this second family is second nature. And in his very tight race to be the next governor of California, Villaraigosa is counting on his friends in the LGBT community to pull through for him in the June 5 primary so he can vie with another LGBT hero, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

But Villaraigosa concedes nothing in his embrace of marriage equality, Newsom’s signature 2004 historic moment for which he has won the hearts of many. In a recent 55-minute sit-down interview, Villaraigosa recalls the ease with which he vowed his early support for same-sex marriage.

It was 1994 and Villaraigosa was running for State Assembly from the 45th District that included Echo Park, Silver Lake, East Hollywood, and Highland Park. Eric Bauman, now the out Chair of the California Democratic Party, had just been elected president of Stonewall Democratic Club and was working to make it a key gay political organization in a year when radical right House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich was promoting the conservative “Contract with America.”

Villaraigosa—who was running against the closeted Brian Quintana—was brought to Stonewall seeking its endorsement by his cousin, John A. Perez, who then joined Stonewall himself. Villaraigosa was a progressive grassroots activist and organizer with a powerful personal story anxious to jump into politics.

Villaraigosa grew up in East LA during the 1950s and 1960s when sexism and homophobia pervaded the culture. “I think it’s prevalent in every community but in the Latino community, one could argue it was even more prevalent, more extreme in terms of sexism homophobia,” Villaraigosa says during a 55-minute interview.

“I grew up with a mom that was very progressive and a victim of domestic violence. I grew up in a home with alcoholism and a father who left three terrorized kids,” he says. “My mother was on her own and I watched her struggle to send us to school and get us the best she could. She emphasized education and keeping the family together. So I always had respect for strong women and I’ve been blessed to have strong women in my life.”

His grades fell in Catholic school after he was briefly paralyzed from the waist down from a benign tumor at 16 and was expelled after getting into a fight. But he found a passion—community organizing. “It started with the farm workers boycott at 15 years old, Villaraigosa recalls. “I never worked in the fields. I didn’t speak Spanish but I knew the workers had their right to a job with dignity and respect.”

It was the height of the Civil Rights Movement, with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta and Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. “And it was the challenge for the country to be all that held itself out to be. And I knew I had a responsibility, even at 15,” he says, noting that he got involved with or helped start a black union and United Mexican American students. He subsequently graduated from Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights after taking adult education classes and getting counseling from a teacher he’s never forgotten, Herman Katz, who paid for Villaraigosa to take his SAT college exams.

In 1968, Villaraigosa was a leader in the mass Chicano student walkouts in East LA demanding school reforms and an end to academic bias. Like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Villaraigosa read Saul Alinsky to learn how to be a more effective social change leader.

From community college in East LA, Villaraigosa transferred to UCLA, where he became a leader in MEChA, a Chicano empowerment movement. He graduated in 1997 with a BA in history and then tried his hand at law, but failed the bar exam. Nonetheless, his legal knowledge served him as an organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles, and later, as president of the LA Chapter of the ACLU.

In 1987, it was his idea to merge his last name Villar with that of his new wife Corina Raigosa after their marriage.

“I think what being a part of that civil rights movement was all about was saying that the forefathers had it right where we’re all created equal—except they also had it wrong,” Villaraigosa says. “They said it only meant white men. And we wanted to include women and blacks and Native Americans and people who didn’t come from Europe and maybe weren’t the landed class. I think the Civil Rights Movement, in many ways, was part of that effort to make—as President Obama said—to make America a more perfect union, to make it all that it has held itself out to be.”

In 1994, he left the Metropolitan Transportation Board to which he had been appointed to run for the Assembly. “Back then, there weren’t a whole lot of people that had come out of community organizing.”

But it was his mother who taught him to eschew sexism and homophobia. “In the 50s, we lived in a Jewish, Mexican neighborhood with Japanese-Americans. My mother had everyone over for dinner and we would go to their homes,” Villaraigosa says, naming friends and family who might have been gay.

“We grew up very open,” Villaraigosa says. “So it wasn’t difficult for me when at Stonewall, as I’m walking out after they’ve interviewed me for an hour, someone asked me ‘Do you support gay marriage? I said, ‘Well, actually, I never thought about it’ because back then they weren’t talking about it. We talked about civil unions. I said, ‘Why not.’”

And in 1994, riding in the CSW Pride Parade with your children was deemed courageous. “But I wanted to live true to my values.”

Antonio Villaraigosa running for Assembly in 1994 with Stonewall’s Eric Bauman (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Villaraigosa was elected to the Assembly, along with Sheila Kuehl, California’s first out legislator, and they instantly became allies, creating a gay caucus and working on legislation. Villaraigosa put his Speakership on the line to pass Kuehl’s Dignity for All Students bill, which failed but was later passed with help from Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg.

“I think I became Speaker in no small part because I was a bridge-builder and uniter,” he says. “People forget, but back in the day, everybody was on their own side. So it was a big deal.”

In trying to find common ground, Villaraigosa would sometimes refer to his children and how his love for them was more important than their sexual orientation. And when gay adoption was discussed on the legislative floor, Villaraigosa would describe how his gay cousin John played with his kids, and how much they loved him.

Villaraigosa did more than talk and promise. In 2000, he became chair of the No on Prop 22 campaign, the effort to stop the anti-gay marriage Knight Initiative. He contributed $10,000 of his own money to the failed effort.

Villaraigosa ran for LA City Council in 2003 and then mayor in 2005. His second bloc of voters after Latinos for that historic election was the LGBT community, support he has never forgotten. But the elation of his shattering the electoral glass ceiling as the first Latino mayor in 130 years was deflated when he was discovered having an affair with a reporter. In 2007, his wife filed for divorce.

“People did feel deflated, demoralized,” he says. “When I had my affair outside of marriage, I think it let people down. And when we got divorced, people felt hurt. I took responsibility and I said I’m sorry. I was focused mostly on trying to heal my family….[and] I became almost maniacal in my effort to do my job over 18 hours a day, seven days a week. I was focused on the challenges ahead.”

As mayor, Villaraigosa tried to reform the school system, advocating for charter schools, which prompted progressive school educators and unions to scream. “First of all, I don’t support for-profit charters, which would be not public. I support public non-profit charters. And more importantly, I support free schools,” he says.

Villaraigosa says he got involved after he turned around and saw that “everybody certainly looks just like me. And I said the role of the first is to open up the door for the rest. And I knew that a big reason why so many people were serving me was that schools were broken. One out of three schools were failing,” he says. “I took on the schools and we went from a 44 percent graduation rate to 72 percent,” from the one in three failing schools to one out of 10.

“So when powerful interests voices on the other side said their number one priority was to pass a moratorium on charters,” Villaraigosa replied: “I want a moratorium on failing schools. Let’s celebrate successful schools.” In the end, “I was willing to say no to powerful interests,” though other powerful interests favoring charter schools, such as former Republican Mayor Richard Riordan, now support him.

If elected governor, Villaraigosa intends to immediately call a special emergency legislative session to address the housing and homeless crisis. “I’ve always understood that to whom much is given, much is expected.”

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Los Angeles County

Heat Advisory issued as temps expected to be in triple digits

LA County will see hot & breezy conditions Monday. High temperatures will reach 90 degrees. Temperatures at night will fall to 64 degrees

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory warning for most of Southern California on Monday. Temperatures while remaining lower in the 80s and 70s in the coastal areas are expected to exceed triple-digits for most of the inland areas in the region.

Los Angeles and Orange counties will see hot and breezy conditions Monday. High temperatures will reach 90 degrees. Temperatures at night will fall to 64 degrees.

The valleys and Inland Empire will be very hot and windy Monday as temperatures soar to 105 degrees. Evening temperatures will drop to 72 degrees.

Beaches will see temperatures rising to 78 degrees amid breezy conditions on Monday. Overnight lows will dip to 64 degrees.

Look for a 20% chance of thunderstorms in the mountain communities on Monday, with temperatures reaching a high of 89 degrees. Temperatures will fall to 55 degrees at night.

Desert conditions will be sunny and windy on Monday, with temperatures expected to rise to 104 degrees. Nighttime temperatures will drop to 69 degrees.

Detailed Forecast

Today

Sunny and hot, with a high near 106. East northeast wind 10 to 15 mph becoming north northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Tonight

Clear, with a low around 69. Northwest wind 5 to 15 mph becoming east northeast after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Tuesday

Sunny and hot, with a high near 104. Southeast wind around 10 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 15 mph.

Tuesday Night

Clear, with a low around 68. West northwest wind 5 to 15 mph becoming east southeast after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday

Sunny and hot, with a high near 98. East southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday Night

Clear, with a low around 62. Breezy.

Thursday

Sunny, with a high near 94.

Thursday Night

Clear, with a low around 58.

Friday

Sunny, with a high near 92.

Friday Night

Clear, with a low around 57.

Saturday

Sunny, with a high near 90.

Saturday Night

Clear, with a low around 56.

Sunday

Sunny, with a high near 89.

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Orange County

Right-wing news anchor delivers obscenity-laden homophobic rant

“Guess what I came home to be greeted with? This fucking bullshit. [points to Rainbow Pride flag] What the hell is that?”

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Alison Steinberg (Screenshot/Twitter-Ron Filipkowski)

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Ca. – Alison Steinberg, an anchor and contributor for right-wing extremist media outlet One America News, launched into an obscenity-laden rant captured in a now viral video over an LGBTQ+ Pride flag flying in the beachfront business district of Huntington Beach commemorating Pride Month.

Steinberg had originally posted her video to her Instagram account but it was later removed.

In the rant Steinberg is heard saying: “And guess what I came home to be greeted with? This fucking bullshit. [points to Rainbow Pride flag] What the hell is that? Huntington Beach is the town of good old-fashioned hard-working American people, much less human. People who worked all through the COVID lockdown. Yes, that’s right. Huntington Beach never shut down through any of the COVID nonsense fuckery. And now we’re peddling this garbage?”

“What the hell is this? The only flag that should be up there is that American flag. This is a disgrace to our city and it should be taken down immediately. Whoever the hell is running this town needs to be fired. Make America great again. Make Huntington Beach great.”

Ron Filipkowski, a defense lawyer and former Assistant United States Attorney had captured the video and uploaded it to his Twitter account where many of his 402.9K followers retweeted it:

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas Prices Drop on Increased Production, Economic Worries

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $6.38, which is six cents lower than last week

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Screenshot/YouTube

LOS ANGELES – Gas prices dropped as local refineries reported their second-highest California-blend gasoline production levels of 2022 and economic concerns pushed down oil prices, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $6.38, which is six cents lower than last week.

The average national price is $4.94, which is seven cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $6.40 per gallon, which is six cents lower than last week, 30 cents higher than last month, and $2.14 higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $6.32, which is five cents lower than last week, 30 cents higher than last month, and $2.09 higher than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $6.32, which is three cents lower than last week, 29 cents higher than last month and is $2.10 higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $6.29, which is four cents lower than last week, 30 cents higher than last month and $2.11 higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $6.36 average price is the same as last Thursday, 36 cents higher than last month and $2.22 higher than a year ago today.

“The state’s refineries produced more California-blend gasoline last week than in any other week since January of this year, according to the California Energy Commission,” said Auto Club spokesman Doug Shupe. “At the same time, Oil Price Information Service says concerns about the U.S. economy are pushing down oil and wholesale gasoline prices.”

The Auto Club reminds drivers they can save money on gasoline by shopping around virtually using a tool like the AAA Mobile app, which shows users the cheapest gas prices near them. AAA members can also take advantage of discounted gas prices at participating Shell gas stations by joining the Shell Fuel Rewards® program.

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on June 23, averages are:

June 23
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