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Pro-equality voters are showing up — so are SoCal haters

HRC stumps for Harley Rouda as Rise Above Movement gains influence



HRC President Chad Griffin with congressional candidate Harley Rouda. Photo Courtesy HRC

For several hours edging late into the night of Aug. 7, politicos fixated on the ticker at the bottom of cable news channels watching the results of Ohio’s 12th congressional district election roll in. Popping up behind network reporters at Democrat Danny O’Connor’s election party were blue posters with yellow equal signs emblazoned with the words Equality Voter. The same signs bobbed up and down when Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama’s Special Election for U.S. Senate over accused pedophile Republican Judge Roy Moore on Dec. 12, 2017. By now, most Americans with a hint of political acumen know that “equality” is code for LGBT and LGBT politicos recognize that sign as the brilliant branding of the Human Rights Campaign.

But Democrats were denied their surge of euphoria when reports indicated that Republican Troy Balderson—for whom President Trump and a slew of high-profile GOP loyalists stumped—appeared to eek out a victory in what had heretofore had been solid red territory for 32 years. But with 8,500 provisional ballots still to be counted, HRC and others hold out hope that the bellwether district would still ring in for the young Democrat.

HRC identified “more than 1.8 million equality voters” in Ohio, “voters who support LGBTQ-inclusive policies including marriage equality, equitable family law, and laws that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” HRC says. With an expected Balderson and O’Connor rematch in November, HRC’s get out the vote effort may be even more significant, especially if the GOP fails to pour in more millions and fly in GOP honchos. 

Last February, HRC released a report — “A Path To Victory In 2018: The Power Of The Equality Voter— explaining the new and growing political power of the LGBT movement and their allies, which HRC dubbed “Equality Voters.” Then last July, HRC launched a proactive grassroots political initiative to work in coalition with other progressive and civil rights groups and organizing efforts on the ground to counter the Trump-Pence agenda and elect “pro-equality” candidates across the country.

Their new HRC Rising initiative builds on the historic defeat of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory—the only incumbent governor of either party to lose re-election in 2016 and the only incumbent governor to lose re-election in North Carolina’s history—due in large part to his signing the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ HB2 law.  It was during this period that HRC started refining a “Equality Voter Model” they’d been working on with data and analytics firm Catalist to determine which voters were more likely to be supportive of LGBT policies. The model allows for direct outreach to millions of equality voters in crucial battleground states, “moving them to action in support of pro-equality issues and legislation, as well as our endorsed candidates.”

“It is clear that LGBTQ voters — and their allies — are one of the most reliable and highly engaged voting blocs in the United States,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “From North Carolina to Virginia to Alabama to a wave of historic victories for transgender candidates across the nation this past fall, equality voters are making their voices heard at the ballot box. These victories are a model for our battles nationwide. And in 2018, HRC is mobilizing like never before to pull the emergency brake on the Trump-Pence administration’s hate-fueled agenda and send a loud and clear message that if you come for our community, we’re coming for you on Election Day.”

This year, HRC Rising is focused on Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. But HRC is not forgetting the imperative of flipping at least six congressional seats in Southern California needed to win back the House—and has identified over 9 million voters as likely “Equality Voters.” On Aug. 4, Griffin flew to Huntington Beach to endorse attorney and businessman Harley Rouda in his race against longtime anti-LGBT Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

“While Dana Rohrabacher has sought to undermine the rights of LGBTQ people at every turn,” said HRC President Chad Griffin, “Harley Rouda has spoken out for the equal dignity of all members of our community. Harley Rouda is the pro-equality leader the people of California deserve, and we look forward to working with him in Congress to pass the Equality Act and secure full federal equality for all Americans.”

“Our campaign is honored to receive the endorsement of HRC. This is a great moment for a campaign dedicated to the pure and powerful principal that too many LGBTQ Americans lack basic legal protections in states across the country. That’s why the first piece of legislation I will sign my name to as a member of Congress will be the Equality Act,” Rouda said. “Sadly, the same cannot be said for my opponent Dana Rohrabacher, who has never met a policy intended to roll back LGBTQ rights that he does not support. The CA-48 LGBTQ community – our entire community – deserves much, much better. As an equality candidate, as an equality voter, I applaud HRC’s effort to turn out millions of equality voters this election. This can be a watershed election for LGBTQ rights in America and I look forward to working with HRC to make that happen.”

Rouda has been getting a lot of attention lately, with his square-jawed Republican looks. “If Democrats suddenly have a shot in Orange County, it’s because Trump has made basic decency a partisan position,” New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg writes in “Will the Birthplace of the Modern Right Turn Blue?”

Yahoo News reporter Andrew Romano tells of a Q&A Rouda had at University Synagogue in Irvine, saying the “biggest issue” of 2018 is that “institutions of our government and culture — the foundations of democracy — are now under attack.” Rouda then paused, recounting a recent visit to the German Historical Museum in Berlin.

“[T]he rise of Hitler was all based on nationalism….Hitler said, ‘Our country is getting screwed … [but] stand with me and we can take our country back,’” Rouda continued. “That process then evolved into the denigration of minorities as a rallying point for his base,” warning that America could become like Nazi Germany if Trump is left unchecked.

“What’s going on right now is we’ve got a president who’s trying to divide us,” Rouda said. “If we allow him to be successful, then our country’s going to go down a path that none of us wants to see.”

Those unfamiliar with Orange County’s past may not know that the ultra-conservative region spawned such Religious Right activists as Rev. Lou Sheldon and enforcers such as the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the KKK and pockets of swastika-tattooed Neo-Nazis. In the early 1990s, WAR tried to burn down the law firm of young attorney John Duran who was simply trying to secure a parade permit from the Santa Ana City Council for the first Gay Pride in Orange County.

With the changing times and an influx of Latino and Asian immigrants, many politicos believe the bad old days are gone. Not so, says ProPublica journalist A.C. Thompson, whose documentary “Documenting Hate: 48 Hours in Charlottesville” aired on PBS Frontline Aug. 7.

Image Courtesy ProPublica/Frontline documentary ‘Documenting Hate’

After seeing the unleashed racist violence in Charlottesville last year, Thompson set out to track the new white supremacists. He viewed videos of numerous rallies that led up to Charlottesville, in Anaheim, Sacramento, Huntington Beach and Berkley, and spotted one fighter who was particularly violent—Robert Rundo, a Neo-Nazi who settled in San Clemente, Orange County after being released from prison. He interviewed retired probation officer Lowell Smith whose 30-year career was spent dealing with white supremacists. Now the movement is emboldened by Trump, a whole new generation pushing politics into the mainstream. “I’m really concerned,” he said. “I’m afraid Charlottesville could happen again and be a lot worse.”

“Rob Rundo is part of that trend,” Thompson said. “His group’s first public appearance wasn’t at a torch march—it was at Huntington Beach at a pro-Trump rally behind a banner that read ‘Defend America.’ When antifascists showed up, Rundo and his crew attacked them. He pinned one of them on the ground and pummeled him.” Rundo became famous, a leader after that MAGA rally.

“This is more than a couple of random people. There’s something much more organized,” Gustavo Arellano, former editor of the OC Weekly told Thompson. His team found the name of Rundo’s gang: The Rise Above Movement. RAM. “Patriotic nationalists” who celebrate Hitler and train with Neo-Nazis in an area off the 405 freeway in Irvine.

But, notes Thompson, these “defenders of traditional white culture-traditional masculinity” do not stand out like their tattooed elders. They find ways to blend in. Thompson matched images of one violent RAM member with another violent hater from Charlottesville—and found Michael Miselis, UCLA Ph.d candidate who held a government-issued security clearance for his job at Northrop Gruumman. Miselis was fired the day after Thompson’s story appeared in ProPublica.

Rouda is right to be concerned, especially since these RAM haters are the ones President Trump called “very fine people.”


Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here



Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel


Go behind the scenes at the moving new exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

Return Your Vote by Mail Ballot Early

You don’t need to wait until Election Day (April 4) to make your voice heard in the City of Los Angeles Council District 6 Special Primary Election.

Once you’ve completed your ballot, sign and date the Return Envelope and use one of these easy return options:

  • Return by mail: No postage is required.
  • Ballot Drop Box: There are 14 convenient Ballot Drop Box locations in your community.

Track your Ballot

Tracking your ballot – when it is mailed, received, and counted – has never been easier. Sign up to Where’s My Ballot? to receive automatic notifications on the status of your ballot.

At Your Service

Upcoming Webinars for Landlords & Tenants


DCBA will host a series of webinars that will explain which protections from the COVID-19 Tenant Protections Resolution expire after March 31st, 2023, and the impacts of that expiration on landlords and tenants.

Webinars for Landlords

On Thursday, March 23 at 10 a.m., DCBA will host the first in a series of webinars for landlords. We can help you understand your rights and responsibilities. 

An additional webinar is currently scheduled for Thursday, April 13. Visit our website at to learn more and register for upcoming webinars.

Webinars for Tenants

On Thursday, March 30 at 10 a.m., DCBA will host an online workshop for tenants to discuss changes to tenant protections, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance in Unincorporated Los Angeles County, and other available resources for tenants.

Economic Opportunity Grants

LA County’s Economic Opportunity Grant program will award more than $54 million in grants to small & micro businesses, and non-profits impacted by the pandemic.

Grants ranging between $20,000 or $25,000 per grant will be available for non-profits starting in February. Interested businesses can visit to learn more or access multi-lingual support.

Out and About

Parks After Dark

It’s Park Time, L.A. County! Parks After Dark (PAD) returns this March with fun, free and safe recreational experiences that brings, teens, families, and communities together at 34 LA County Parks for two evenings during Spring Break.  Parks After Dark is an award-winning program designed to bring communities together by activating park spaces with hands-on activities and entertainment that transforms local parks into safe havens.

The Spring edition of Parks after Dark kicks-off March 23 and runs through April 15 on Thursday and Saturday nights from 6 to 9 pm for two evenings of fun.  Come experience an array of workshops and activities such as music, canvas painting, culinary art, family dances, arts, and crafts, and so much more. The Department of Parks and Recreation is dedicated to bringing the “World to You” through cultural performances sponsored by the Los Angeles Music Center.  Enjoy snacks, refreshments, and entertainment in our community zone.

For more information on an LA County Parks After Dark location near you, visit Parks After Dark Spring 2023 – Parks & Recreation (

Free Yoga Classes

LA County Beaches and Harbor is offering FREE yoga classes on Fridays at the Dockweiler Youth Center.

Fridays | 6:30-7:30PM
Dockweiler Youth Center
12505 Vista Del Mar, Playa Del Rey, CA 90293

Note: Students must bring their own mats.

Visit for more information.

Photo Finish

Photo: Los Angeles County / Mayra Beltran Vasquez

LA County African American Infant and Maternal Mortality Prevention Initiative.

Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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Legislators, Capitol community to celebrate Trans visibility week

Trans Visibility Week and the International Transgender Day of Visibility, acknowledge and uplift the societal contributions of trans+ people



Trans flag flies over the Capitol Building in Sacramento (Blade file photo)

SACRAMENTO — On Monday, March 27, California legislators, Capitol staff, and community advocates will join trans+ community members to celebrate Transgender Week of Visibility, a series of celebrations leading up to International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31. 

Legislators will wear buttons declaring “trans people belong” and spread their message of solidarity and inclusion for trans+ Californians across social media channels. The message will be echoed by leaders in the executive branch, labor, and advocacy organizations who are working to create a more just world for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. 

“Across the country and even right here in California, trans people’s lives are being used for political purposes. These attacks bring real harm to our trans+ friends, colleagues, and loved ones, particularly our children,” said LGBTQ Caucus Chair Susan Talamantes Eggman. “It’s up to all of us to stand together with trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary people to create communities that are safe for trans+ people to thrive.”

Trans Visibility Week and the International Transgender Day of Visibility, acknowledge and uplift the societal contributions of trans+ people. The week also raises awareness of widespread discrimination and violence that the community faces in the United States, around the world, and sadly, right here in California. 

Trans visibility is more important than ever, as 429 bills attacking LGBTQ+ rights have been introduced in state legislatures across the nation, a record number, many particularly targeting transgender youth. Some of these proposals would force teachers to out trans students, deny trans youth the right to participate in sports and other activities, and deny affirming health care.

“Trans people shouldn’t have to fight just to exist or live safely in our communities,” said Evan Minton (he/they), a former Capitol staffer and national transgender advocate. “Trans visibility is an opportunity to celebrate the joy of being who we are.”

“The trans community deserves to live their authentic lives without the fear of harassment or violence. We are proud to join community advocate Evan Minton, state legislators, staffers, and the Capitol community to send a strong message that trans people belong and will never be erased,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “Now more than ever taking a unified stance against LGBTQ+ hate is imperative. Equality California remains committed to achieve full, lived LGBTQ+ equality for all.” 

Monday’s Capitol events come after several historic actions this week in support of the trans+ community.  Earlier this week, the Sacramento City Unified School District board held its first annual trans pride flag raising, sending a powerful message of inclusion to trans students, teachers, and the entire school community. Last week, the District also passed a strong resolution affirming the rights of trans students and encouraging classroom discussion on the importance of trans visibility. On Tuesday, the Sacramento City Council adopted a resolution declaring an annual Transgender Week of Visibility in the city. Sacramento County is considering a similar resolution on March 28.

For more information, follow @eqca, #transpeoplebelong #TransgenderDayofVisibility 

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Newsom eases drought restrictions

Since Governor Newsom announced the 15% voluntary conservation goal, Californians conserved 600,000 acre-feet of water



Governor Gavin Newsom lifts emergency water restrictions (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

YOLO COUNTY – Governor Gavin Newsom today rolled back some drought emergency provisions that are no longer needed due to current water conditions, while maintaining other measures that support regions and communities still facing water supply challenges, and that continue building up long-term water resilience.

Amid climate-driven weather whiplash, the state has taken action to boost water supplies through groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, reservoir storage, and more. 

Today’s action comes as the state announced increased water deliveries to 29 public water agencies that serve 27 million Californians, now expecting to deliver 75% of requested water supplies – up from 35% announced in February, and the highest since 2017. 

While recent storms have helped ease drought impacts, regions and communities across the state continue to experience water supply shortages, especially communities that rely on groundwater supplies that have been severely depleted in recent years. Today’s order is responsive to current conditions while preserving smart water measures: 

  • Ends the voluntary 15% water conservation target, while continuing to encourage that Californians make conservation a way of life;
  • Ends the requirement that local water agencies implement level 2 of their drought contingency plans;
  • Maintains the ban on wasteful water uses, such as watering ornamental grass on commercial properties;
  • Preserves all current emergency orders focused on groundwater supply, where the effects of the multi-year drought continue to be devastating;
  • Maintains orders focused on specific watersheds that have not benefited as much from recent rains, including the Klamath River and Colorado River basins, which both remain in drought;
  • Retains a state of emergency for all 58 counties to allow for drought response and recovery efforts to continue.

 A copy of today’s executive order can be found (here).

“We’re all in this together, and this state has taken extraordinary actions to get us to this point. The weather whiplash we’ve experienced in the past few months makes it crystal clear that Californians and our water system have to adapt to increasingly extreme swings between drought and flood. As we welcome this relief from the drought, we must remain focused on continuing our all-of-the-above approach to future-proofing California’s water supply,” the governor said.

Since Governor Newsom announced the 15% voluntary conservation goal, Californians conserved 600,000 acre-feet of water – representing 1.2 million households’ yearly usage. 

The Governor today visited the Dunnigan Groundwater Recharge Project in Yolo County, where he highlighted the state’s work to accelerate and increase groundwater recharge to make the most of winter storms. California is working to expand groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet in potential capacity as part of our water supply strategy.

Governor Newsom tours the Dunnigan Groundwater Recharge Project in Yolo County (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

Leveraging the state’s long-term water supply strategy and more than $8.6 billion committed by Governor Newsom and the Legislature in the last two budget cycles to build water resilience, California is taking aggressive action to prepare for hotter and drier conditions driven by climate change that could reduce the state’s water supply by up to 10% by 2040. In the 2023-24 state budget, Governor Newsom is proposing an additional $202 million for flood protection and $125 million for drought-related actions.

Here are other actions that Governor Newsom and the Legislature have taken to boost water supply, expand storage, and improve infrastructure: 

  • EXPANDING SUPPLY & STORAGE BY 1.1 MILLION ACRE-FEET: California has bolstered supply and storage through groundwater recharge and other projects, including a combined 1.1 million acre-feet of water – enough for 2.2 million households’ yearly usage. 
  • EXECUTIVE ORDERS TO CAPTURE & STORE MORE WATER: During recent storms, Governor Newsom signed executive orders to accelerate stormwater capture to boost groundwater recharge and other conservation measures.
  • FAST-TRACKING GROUNDWATER RECHARGE: The state is expanding groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet in potential capacity – streamlining permits and $1 billion for groundwater recharge projects for 88,000 more acre-feet per year.
  • MAXIMIZING STORMWATER CAPTURE: $176 million for 67 stormwater projects and streamlining permitting to take advantage of major storm events.
  • EXPANDING STORAGE ABOVE & BELOW GROUND: California is supporting seven locally-driven water storage projects that would expand the state’s capacity by 2.77 million acre-feet – about three times as much water as Folsom Lake can hold. And, California is working to expand San Luis Reservoir by 135,000 acre-feet to store more storm runoff.
  • ADVANCING CLEAR, AMBITIOUS TARGETS: 142 actions to improve water resilience and bolster water supplies, and a roadmap for expanding urban stormwater capture capacity by 250,000 acre-feet and adding 4 million acre-feet of water storage capacity.
  • MODERNIZING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE: California is working to modernize aging water conveyance systems across the state to safeguard long-term water reliability and help carry winter storm runoff into storage.

Climate change has made California’s dry and wet spells more extreme and unpredictable – after the three driest years on record, recent rain and snowfall have dramatically changed conditions in many parts of the state. The state has also advanced actions to boost storage and supply. Today’s action eases drought emergency provisions that are no longer needed while maintaining others to support impacted communities statewide.
Harnessing water captured and stored from recent storms, the state also announced a major increase in expected State Water Project deliveries to local agencies – now an anticipated 75% allocation.

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Los Angeles County

LA County Sheriff seeks public’s help in death of Uber driver

The victim and the two passengers were involved in a physical altercation- one suspect produced an unknown firearm and shot the victim



38-year-old Marines veteran Aaron Orozco (Courtesy of Orozco family GoFundMe)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators are continuing their investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a 38-year-old Marine veteran, Aaron Orozco, who was shot and killed in Lynwood while working as an Uber rideshare driver.

On Friday, March 24, 2023, at approximately 1:33 a.m., Century Sheriff’s station deputies responded to the 2800 block of Imperial Highway, in the city of Lynwood, regarding a gunshot victim call. Upon arriving, they located a male Hispanic adult in his late 30’s suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the upper torso.
During the initial investigation, deputies learned the victim was working as a rideshare driver and had picked up two male Black adults. During the duration of the rideshare, the victim stopped his vehicle in the parking lot of the indicated location.
The victim and the two passengers were then involved in a physical altercation, at which time, one suspect produced an unknown firearm and shot the victim.
The suspects then fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle. The abandoned vehicle was located a short distance from the location by Century Station deputies.
Orozco, resident of Lynwood, was pronounced deceased at the location.  The investigation is ongoing and currently, there is no additional information.

KTLA journalists Cameron KiszlaEllina Abovian spoke to Orozco’s wife who indicated that his 9-year-old son is autistic and that he was an extremely devoted father to both of his children.

“I’m still in shock. I can’t believe this happened to our family. I just don’t know how to react right now, really. It’s just so hard,” Orozco’s wife, Sandra Medina told KTLA.

The two attackers remain at large and anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website

A GoFundMe has been set up for Orozco’s family. To donate, click here.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas prices drop as refineries increase production

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.83, which is six cents lower than last week



Typical oil refinery (Screenshot/YouTube American Petroleum Institute)

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices continued dropping for a second week as oil prices stayed low and more local refinery production rates improved, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch.

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.83, which is six cents lower than last week. The average national price is $3.44, which is two cents lower than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.85 per gallon, which is six cents lower than last week, two cents higher than last month, and $1.17 lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.87, which is six cents lower than last week, four cents higher than last month, and $1.10 lower than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.85, which is four cents lower than last week, nine cents higher than last month, and $1.08 lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.79, which is five cents lower than last week, six cents higher than last month and $1.11 lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.88 average price is two cents lower than last week, 14 cents higher than last month, and 94 cents lower than a year ago today.

“According to Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), the U.S. Energy Information’s Wednesday report revealed that West Coast refineries are now at their highest utilization rate in three months,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “Oil prices are at their lowest level since December 2021, so that has also helped to drive down gas prices locally. However, a supply issue with Arizona gasoline could end up affecting Southern California prices, since local refineries produce some Arizona gasoline and some of their production could be diverted to alleviate that supply issue.” 

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 March 23, averages are:

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Newsom delivers State of the State letter reflecting on tour of Calif.

The Governor’s letter highlights key legislative victories over the past four years and the major policy announcements he made on his tour



Governor Gavin Newsom met with leaders from across California (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SACRAMENTO – Fulfilling his annual duty to report to the Legislature the condition of the state, Governor Gavin Newsom today delivered a letter to lawmakers outlining his vision for the year ahead while reflecting on his recent Tour of the State of California.

The Governor’s letter highlights key legislative victories over the past four years and the major policy announcements he made on his tour to improve the lives of all Californians, lower costs for families, and create safer and healthier communities. 

“As we rededicate ourselves to the work we started together four years ago, I offer you a renewed commitment of partnership and cooperation – as we strive to make the California Dream achievable for everyone who calls our great state home,” the governor said.

On his four-day tour, the Governor announced $1 billion in homelessness funding and the state’s largest mobilization of small homes, a historic transformation of San Quentin State Prison, $30 insulin through CalRX, and a transformative proposal to modernize California’s behavioral health system and more mental health housing:

Tour of the State of California – Day 1
Governor Newsom Announces $1 Billion in Homelessness Funding, Launches State’s Largest Mobilization of Small Homes
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

The Governor’s Tour of the State of California started in Sacramento with state and local leaders, First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and advocates to announce the release of $1 billion in funding to support communities across the state stepping up their work to reduce homelessness. The Governor also announced California’s largest mobilization of small homes to serve people experiencing homelessness, especially those living in encampments. The California National Guard will assist in the preparation and delivery of 1,200 small homes to Los Angeles, San Diego County, San Jose, and Sacramento — free of charge and ready for occupancy.

“In California, we are using every tool in our toolbox – including the largest-ever deployment of small homes in the state – to move people off the streets and into housing. The crisis of homelessness will never be solved without first solving the crisis of housing – the two issues are inextricably linked. We are tackling this issue at the root of the problem by addressing the need to create more housing, faster in California,” said Newsom.

Tour of the State of California – Day 2
Governor Newsom Announces Historic Transformation of San Quentin State Prison
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

Continuing his tour, the Governor traveled to San Quentin State Prison – soon to be “San Quentin Rehabilitation Center” – to announce that the facility, which is currently a maximum-security prison home to the largest “death row” in the United States, will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind facility focused on rehabilitation and education. The transformation will build on California’s existing work and best practices, utilizing evidence-backed research, and will be guided by an advisory group composed of world-renowned rehabilitation and public safety experts, along with survivors of crime and formerly incarcerated individuals. This historic effort will serve as a nationwide model to advance a more effective justice system that builds safer communities.

“California is transforming San Quentin – the state’s most notorious prison with a dark past – into the nation’s most innovative rehabilitation facility focused on building a brighter and safer future. Today, we take the next step in our pursuit of true rehabilitation, justice, and safer communities through this evidenced-backed investment, creating a new model for safety and justice — the California Model — that will lead the nation,” the governor said after completing a tour of the facility.

Tour of the State of California – Day 3
Governor Newsom Announces $30 Insulin Through CalRx
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

In Downey, Governor Newsom, alongside California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, health care advocates, and members of the legislature, announced California will be manufacturing and distributing its own insulin for $30 per vial. The announcement made good on the Governor’s promise on his first day in office to bring down the price of prescription drugs for Californians and increase accountability and transparency in health care. The state will pursue other prescription drugs through the CalRx program – next up: Naloxone, as part of Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis.

Newsom told those at the event: ““People should not be forced to go into debt to get life-saving prescriptions. Through CalRx, Californians will have access to some of the most inexpensive insulin available, helping them save thousands each year. But we’re not stopping there – California will seek to make our own Naloxone as part of our plan to fight the fentanyl crisis.”

Tour of the State of California – Day 4
Governor Newsom Proposes Modernization of California’s Behavioral Health System and More Mental Health Housing
(Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

The Governor concluded his tour at a hospital in San Diego, where he proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness: A bond to build state-of-the-art mental health treatment residential settings in the community to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders and to create housing for homeless veterans, and modernize the Mental Health Services Act to require at least $1 billion every year for behavioral health housing and care.

“This is the next step in our transformation of how California addresses mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness – creating thousands of new beds, building more housing, expanding services, and more,” Newsom said adding: “People who are struggling with these issues, especially those who are on the streets or in other vulnerable conditions, will have more resources to get the help they need.”

While traveling across the state for these transformative policy announcements, the Governor and First Partner spoke directly with residents and diverse community groups representing a broad range of constituencies. The Governor met with small business owners, nonprofit leaders, civil rights activists, artists, innovators, researchers, healthcare advocates, public safety experts, and community leaders.

Watch a video recap of the Tour of the State of California: (here).

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West Hollywood

WeHo to host 3 free LA County Fire disaster preparedness training

CERT program is a nationally supported, locally implemented initiative that teaches people how to better prepare themselves for hazards



LA County Fire Department - WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – When disaster strikes, will you know what to do? The City of West Hollywood is getting the word out that the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Community Emergency Response Team (“CERT”) is presenting disaster preparedness CERT Training.

There will be three free full-day workshops on Saturdays, April 15, 22, and 29 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the West Hollywood Park Aquatic and Recreation Center in the San Vicente / La Cienega Room located at 8750 El Tovar Place.

Space is limited and expected to fill quickly. Participants must register in advance and attend all three sessions to receive a certificate of completion. To register for CERT Training, please visit the LA County Fire Department CERT training website.

Following a disaster, police, fire, and medical professionals may not be able to meet the immediate demand for emergency medical attention. Residents and neighbors may need to rely upon one another to help with immediate life-saving needs. CERT Training was developed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide basic fire safety and life-saving skills.

CERT Training participants will learn valuable survival skills, including disaster preparedness, terrorism, disaster fire suppression, disaster psychology, disaster medical operations, light search and rescue, team organization, and drill simulation, which can be vital in the immediate aftermath of a major disaster.

CERT program is a nationally supported, locally implemented initiative that teaches people how to better prepare themselves for hazards that may affect their communities. Since 1993, CERT trains the public in basic disaster response skills such as team organization, disaster medical operations, fire safety, and light search and rescue. The ability for CERT volunteers to perform these activities frees up professional responders to focus their efforts on more complex, essential, and critical tasks.

For more information, please contact Jessica Anukam, the City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Specialist, at (323) 848-6436 or at [email protected]


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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San Bernardino County

CalTrans worker beaten, tased by Montclair police has died

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation into his arrest and resulting death



Montclair Hospital Medical Center (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

MONTCLAIR, Calif. – 42-year-old Antonio Ibanez was on life support after Montclair police allegedly used batons striking him multiple times and then tased him on March 5. Ibanez, who was listed in critical condition after the beating, has died at Montclair Hospital Medical Center according to an attorney hired by Ibanez’s family.

According to a Montclair Police Department spokesperson, officers had responded to a 911 call at a mobile home park on the 4100 block of Mission Boulevard. Arriving officers were confronted by Ibanez who was allegedly threatening “the female victim caller who lived at the same location armed with an object.”

KTLA 5 reported that Ibanez’s family said that the CalTrans worker has struggled with drug addiction. He was renting a room and it was the homeowner who called the police with the intention of getting him some help after he didn’t open the door, they say.

“She called for assistance. There was no one in danger or domestic disturbance, simply a call for assistance,” said Christian Contreras, the attorney representing Ibanez’s family. “That begs the question as to, ‘Are police equipped to help people?’ They’re not; they’re equipped to brutalize people and use force.” 

“You know he’s fighting for his life,” Rosendo Rojo Jr., Tony Ibanez’s brother told KTLA. “Eight officers using a baton, a taser – it wasn’t a disturbance. It wasn’t a violent call.”

Ibanez family members and Christian Contreras, their attorney, held a news conference on March 13, 2023, to call for justice and the release of police body camera footage.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is handling the investigation into Ibanez’s arrest and resulting death.

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Newsom proposes modernizing state’s behavioral health system

Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness



Gov. Newsom speaking on a proposed 2024 ballot initiative in San Diego, March 18, 2023 (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

SAN DIEGO – Governor Gavin Newsom, in partnership with state Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), has proposed the next step to modernize how California treats mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness. 

Governor Newsom proposed a 2024 ballot initiative to improve how California treats mental illness, substance abuse, and homelessness: A bond to build state-of-the-art mental health treatment residential settings in the community to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders and to create housing for homeless veterans, and modernize the Mental Health Services Act to require at least $1 billion every year for behavioral health housing and care,

An initiative would go on the 2024 ballot that would:

  1. Authorize a general obligation bond to:
    1. Build thousands of new community behavioral health beds in state-of-the-art residential settings to house Californians with mental illness and substance use disorders, which could serve over 10,000 people every year in residential-style settings that have on-site services – not in institutions of the past, but locations where people can truly heal. 
    2. Provide more funding specifically for housing for homeless veterans. 
  2. Amend the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), leading to at least $1 billion every year in local assistance for housing and residential services for people experiencing mental illness and substance use disorders, and allowing MHSA funds to serve people with substance use disorders.
  3. Include new accountability and oversight measures for counties to improve performance. 

The MHSA was originally passed 20 years ago; it is now time to refresh it so it can better meet the challenges we face. Key changes that the Governor is proposing include: Creating a permanent source of housing funding of $1 billion a year in local assistance funds to serve people with acute behavioral health issues, focusing on Full Service Partnerships for the most seriously ill; and allowing MHSA to be used for people with substance use disorders alone.

 “This is the next step in our transformation of how California addresses mental illness, substance use disorders, and homelessness – creating thousands of new beds, building more housing, expanding services, and more. People who are struggling with these issues, especially those who are on the streets or in other vulnerable conditions, will have more resources to get the help they need.”  

According to the Governor’s office, the Administration plans to work in close partnership with legislative leaders in this space including Senator Eggman and Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), as well as with the California State Association of Counties, other critical local government stakeholders, community-based service organizations, advocates, and people with lived experience as bill language is developed. 

Previous initiatives include:

  • $2.2 billion for the Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Program.
  • $1.5 billion for Behavioral Health Bridge Housing.
  • $1.4 billion to expand and diversify the behavioral health workforce.
  • $4.7 billion Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, of which the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative is the central component.
  • $1.4 billion to build out a Medi-Cal benefit for mobile crisis response, as well as $38 million to expand 9-8-8 and CalHOPE crisis call center.
  • Over $600 million to support community-based alternatives to state hospitalization for those who commit felonies who are incompetent to stand trial.
  • Over $1 billion to address the opioid epidemic.
  • $7 billion to reform CalAIM – enhanced care management for people with serious mental illness, a no wrong door approach to care, and more. 
  • $1.6 billion proposed to implement the California Behavioral Health Community-Based Continuum Demonstration to strengthen services and supports for those who are at risk of homelessness, incarceration and foster care placements.
  • $50 million for the California Veterans Health Initiative (CVHI) for veteran suicide prevention and mental health.
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West Hollywood

20K runners cross ‘Rainbow Mile’ in WeHo for LA Marathon 2023

KTLA telecast the marathon on “The Rainbow Mile,” so the scene was festive as runners crossed WeHo between miles 14 and 15 of the course



38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023 - Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Over 20,000 participants passed through the streets of West Hollywood Sunday morning for the 38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023. West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson referred to the turnoff at the Rainbow District on Santa Monica Boulevard as the “Rainbow Mile.”

“It’s the best mile,” he told Wendy Burch of KTLA. “We’ve got all the colors, we’ve got all the diversity, and there’s no better place to do it than West Hollywood… we love that they come through the city every year. We can see the crowds come out, every family from all walks of life, and we do it right here in West Hollywood because this is where everyone is welcome.”

KTLA chose to telecast the marathon on “The Rainbow Mile,” so the scene was festive on Santa Monica Boulevard. People dressed in costumes, held up signs cheering their loved ones on, and spectators fist bumped the runners as they rushed by.

38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

The 26.2-mile marathon kicked off at Dodger Stadium at 6:30 a.m. beginning with wheelchair participants, followed by the women’s division. Then a short distance later, the men’s division kicked off, followed by the general public. The course ran through Downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and the finish line was at Century City.

Kenya’s Stacy Ndiwa was the first to cross the finish line Sunday in the women’s division. She clocking in at 2 hours and 31 minutes. Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer won the men’s division in 2 hours, 13 minutes and 13 seconds. Elite female runners always start the race 18 minutes and 19 seconds ahead of the men.

38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES
38th Annual Los Angeles Marathon 2023 – Photo by Mike Pingel for WEHO TIMES

The portion of the route that runs through the City of West Hollywood remained unchanged from previous years. Runners made their way westbound into the City of West Hollywood along Sunset Boulevard at Marmont Lane, just west of N. Crescent Heights Boulevard. From the Sunset Strip, runners turned left (south) onto N. San Vicente Boulevard; then right (west) onto Santa Monica Boulevard; then left (south) onto N. Doheny Drive, where they will enter the City of Beverly Hills. The Marathon ran through West Hollywood between miles 14 and 15 of the course.


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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