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Breaking: California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman resigns

Despite midterm victory, internal firing squad aims at gay political operative

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Eric Bauman at the California Democratic Party Convention Feb. 2018. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

Breaking: Eric Bauman, the first openly LGBT Chair of the California Democratic Party, announced his resignation Thursday following a story in the Los Angeles Times in which 10 staffers and political activists allege sexual harassment and misconduct by the longtime Democratic activist.

“I have made the realization that in order for those to whom I may have caused pain and who need to heal, for my own health, and in the best interest of the Party that I love and to which I have dedicated myself for more than 25 years, it is in everyone’s best interest for me to resign my position as chair of the California Democratic Party,” Bauman said in a statement to The Times after Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, state Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Controller Betty Yee and others, including Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur,  called on him to step down.

The Times did not indicate whether the investigation would continue or now be halted or what process might occur to replace Bauman.

The following is the cover story for the Los Angeles Blade filed Thursday morning before Bauman’s announcement:

In addition to the historic flipping of rock red Republican congressional seats and electing California’s first openly gay statewide official, Democrats virtually decimated the state GOP during the midterm elections. “It’s been decades since California Democrats had this much power at the Capitol,” blared a Nov. 26 Sacramento Bee headline.

Democrats, The Bee wrote, “are on pace to control three-fourths of the Assembly — 60 out of 80 seats — a feat has not been accomplished in 135 years, in 1883. In the Senate, Democrats are likely to grab 29 seats out of 40, which would be the party’s largest advantage since 1962 (except for a brief period in 2012).”

But Democrats seem to have a penchant for complicating victories, forming a circular firing squad to kill off or maim someone perceived to have too much power.  A rump group of House rebels—considered by some to be the Democratic equivalent of the Republican Freedom Caucus—is challenging establishment Leader Nancy Pelosi in her historic campaign to re-take the gavel as Speaker next year, despite Pelosi’s winning midterm messaging.

And in California, a handful of Democratic Party staffers and associates—some of whom were aligned with Kimberly Ellis, Bauman’s 2017 Berniecratic opponent for party chair—have alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault charges against Bauman, forcing him to take a leave of absence while Debra Henshaw Vierra from the outside law firm of Churchwell White investigates the allegations.

But given the publicity, the rush to judgment and societal interpretations of gay male gestures and flirtations by today’s #MeToo standards, it is very possible that no matter what the determination of the official investigation, Bauman—one of the key architects of the California midterm success—may not be able to shake the scarlet letter of misconduct.

So what happened? Is Bauman the political Kevin Spacey or California’s Al Franken or an old-fashion gay guy who talks sincerely about sexual harassment but hasn’t applied it to his own gay culture flirtations?

The story that may bring down a “kingmaker” burst into the open the weekend of Nov. 23-25 during the CDP Executive Board meeting. But it originated before the Nov. 6 elections, according to news accounts. Bauman was leading a statewide get-out-the-vote bus tour when “two young women on the bus reported alcohol was consumed and inappropriate sex talk occurred on Nov. 1,” out David Campos, chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party, told the Associated Press. 

They were headed for a Nov. 2 event in San Francisco with Leader Pelosi but when “her campaign team and Campos learned of the incidents aboard the bus,” they told state party officials “that Bauman and the bus should stay away,” Campos told AP. The wire service added that “it appeared Bauman engaged in the misbehavior and did not intervene to stop others from acting inappropriately,” citing Campos as the source.

“We felt, and I felt, it was important for us, given we had serious credible allegations, not to have Chair Bauman attend this get-out-the-vote event in San Francisco,” said Campos, who first revealed the details to the Bay Area Reporter. 

On Nov. 28, the Los Angeles Times published interviews with the two young women. Grace Leekley, 21, identified as a temporary worker in the party’s communications department, who said she did not want to ride on the bus because of Bauman. But she met up with the tour Nov. 1 in Chico and joined the staff for lunch. She sat next to Kate Earley, 21, identified as having started about six weeks earlier as the party’s digital director.

“Leekley and Earley said that during the lunch, Bauman shushed the staffers at the table and then asked the women, within earshot of their colleagues, if the two were having an affair. When both women said no, Bauman pressed the issue, they said, telling them he would not mind if they were involved in a sexual relationship so long as it did not affect the workplace,” The Times reported.

Described another way—Bauman teasingly asked the two young women if they were a couple—it was OK if they were, just not at work. And herein lies a problem: Bauman may have thought he was warmly joking around but it was apparently perceived by the two new young staffers as sexual harassment and they felt intimidated.

CDP Chair Eric Bauman with Michael Andraychak, his husband of more than 30 years. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

“I felt really embarrassed, almost ashamed, and uncomfortable,” Leekley told The Times. “I’m basically bottom-of-the-barrel staff — and he’s the most powerful man in the party. I didn’t feel comfortable saying anything.”

“A party staffer told The Times that he heard Bauman make the comments and said the two women told him afterward they felt deeply uncomfortable. Earley filed a complaint to her supervisor within 30 minutes of the incident and spoke with the human resources department later that day, she said. Her attorney said the complaint remains unresolved,” The Times reported Nov. 28. “As of the time he took a leave of absence on Monday, Bauman had not seen a formal complaint, according to a source close to the chairman.” As of Nov. 29, CDP spokeperson Mike Roth has not replied to inquires from the Los Angeles Blade about if and when any complaints have been officially filed and by whom.

It is not yet known what Earley’s supervisor or the human resources department did with her complaint. But here’s where things get murky.

The bus tour incident occurred on Nov. 1 but apparently nothing more was said or done until Nov. 23, the Black Friday after Thanksgiving, when party Vice-Chair Daraka Larimore-Hall suddenly circulated a “Statement of Charges” to members via email and on social media alleging sexual harassment and sexual assault and a call for Bauman to resign. But he apparently did not confront Bauman directly during the Executive Board meeting.

“This past weekend, I learned of multiple serious and credible allegations that Chairman Bauman sexually harassed, and in some cases sexually assaulted, individuals during party functions, and of at least one incident of Chairman Bauman tampering with witnesses. I have spoken directly with two victims, who confirm the allegations, and I spoke to the potential witness whom Chairman Bauman intimidated. I understand there are additional victims as well,” Larimore-Hall wrote. “ I believe the victims. Their stories illustrate a clear and escalating pattern of Chairman Bauman’s horrific and dehumanizing behavior.”

Larimore-Hall is not specific about the charges, doesn’t identify the victims and asks for respect for the victims’ privacy rights. In a second letter, he explains that he was approached “by a number of Party staff who confided in me their stories of sexual harassment and assault” by Bauman. He calls them “survivors,” and “young political professionals, many of whom are at the very beginning of their careers.” Obviously, he says, “it is completely unacceptable for Chairman Bauman to remain in office given these credible, corroborated and utterly heart-breaking allegations.” 

The first note sounds like Leekley and Earley and the party staffer who overheard Bauman talk to the young women at lunch. But when and how did the two turn into a “number of Party Staff” who came forward to share their experiences? This is before Rep. Ro Khanna (D-San Jose) broke the allegations wide open with a tweet on Friday, Nov. 23.

The allegations of sexual assault that @DarakaKenric is filing against @EricBauman are shocking. CalDems should replace him with @mldauber who is one of the nation’s foremost scholars on sexual harassment & led the Persky recall campaign. We need a bold feminist to lead for 2020.”

When Stanford law professor Michele Dauber said thanks but no thanks, others suggested that “a more fitting successor for Bauman would be Kimberly Ellis, who lost the election for party chair by just 62 votes after a contentious race in 2017. Dauber and Khanna agreed that Ellis—who represented the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party—would be well qualified for the role, if she still wants it. Ellis did not immediately respond to a request for comment,” sanjoseinside.com reported Saturday.

Were the Party staffers Ellis supporters who Bauman hired to try to create unity after the infamously contentious race for Party chair? Or were they staffers from former chair John Burton’s regime, when Bauman served as party vice-chair? If the latter, why did none of them come forward during that 2009-2017 time period when Burton was more intimidating than Bauman? And while there were rumors about Bauman being “handsy” at parties, as one gay person told the Los Angeles Blades, there were no official or registered complaints or leaked stories about Bauman during the 17 years he served as Chair of the LA County Democratic Party.

Bauman, a registered nurse, started his political career at Stonewall Democratic Club where he grew the club into a political powerhouse helping elect local, state and national candidates. His behind-the-scenes strategic political acumen resulted in senior-level positions in state government, including serving as Senior Advisor and LA Director of office services for Speakers John A. Perez, Toni Atkins and Anthony Rendon; Senior Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez; Senior Advisor to Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and when Garamendi served as Insurance Commissioner; Special Assistant to Gov. Gray Davis and Director of Davis’ LA Office. While some politicos complained about his gruff Bronx/Jewish style, he also served as a generous mentor to many and no credible complaint was leaked to the press or filed from a staffer or party-goer during this time.

Eric Bauman (on right) at event where Gov. Gray Davis (seated) signed domestic partnership bill. (Photo by Karen Ocamb)

However, during Bauman’s unexpectedly heated race to become the first openly LGBT CDP chair in May 2017, a number of inaccurate accusations from the Ellis camp emerged. The worst was that he had engaged in “inappropriate behavior with 14- and 16-year-old boys,” an old but painful and effective trope used against LGBT people. “What they’re accusing me of is being a child predator! And I lost it. I started crying uncontrollably,” Bauman told the Los Angeles Blade (May 15, 2017). Then Bauman thought: “how many people are accused of things or are victims of abuse and they hide in shame and so it continues?”

He fumed in an email. “This is despicable! This is not the Democratic Party! These are Trumpian tactics and it has to stop! I’m a pretty tough guy and I can take the attacks, lies, distortions, and mud that has been slung at me pretty well,” Bauman wrote. “But to accuse me of child abuse, especially of this nature, is beyond the pale and 100% unacceptable.”

The Machiavellian rumor was apparently started by a gay Ellis supporter. Ellis denounced the tactic but references to the rumor have shown up in social media responses to the current allegations. It’s hard to un-ring a bell. 

Bauman seemed too politically savvy to cross lines of propriety. In Dec. 2011, in an unflattering LA Weekly story calling him the “L.A. Democratic Party Kingmaker,” the author describes Bauman’s arm-twisting as “machine politics at its finest.” To which Bauman replied: “I don’t make promises or ask people to do things in a quid pro quo format. That would be against the law. I’m way too high-profile, way too visible a guy to do that.”

The Los Angeles Blade spoke with numerous gay and straight politicos familiar with Bauman and his decades-long leadership in the Democratic Party. They requested anonymity for fear of being dragged into a controversy that might sully their own name or out of respect for the due-process investigation or not wanting to appear to attack the alleged victims. 

Two gay men independently said that years ago Bauman said hello with a lingering pat or quick grab of the butt at an event—but neither man considered the touch sexual harassment. They said Bauman never followed up with anything physical or with sexually explicit comments. Several people said they saw him drink but never saw him drunk. Others said he was often flirtatious, would give an unexpected shoulder rub and sometimes made lewd jokes and risqué gestures that made some people uncomfortable—but never to the degree that he should be reported for sexual harassment. No one ever experienced or witnessed him commit the crime of sexual assault such as grabbing or groping. 

But there were notes of hesitation, too. “I don’t believe any of it,” one politico told the Los Angeles Blade. “Except Larimore-Hall is too smart to use the term ‘sexual assault’ unless he had something behind it.”

“I take seriously any allegation brought forward by anyone who believes they have been caused pain,” Bauman said in a statement that did not include an abject denial. He announced the independent investigation “ensuring these individuals making the charges are treated with respect and free from any concerns of retaliation.” He added that he looks “forward to putting these allegations behind us and moving forward as unified Democrats.” Alex Gallardo-Rooker, another party vice chair, is serving as acting chairwoman during the investigation.

The story grabbed national headlines but seemed to disappear as other splashier news moved center stage. And then came the Nov. 28 bombshell, with The Times interviews of 10 party staffers and political activists who claimed Bauman “made crude sexual comments and engaged in unwanted touching or physical intimidation in professional settings.”

“People just didn’t know how to speak up about it,” Allan Acevedo, an activist with California Young Democrats told The Times. “There was a sense of loyalty. Not just to him, but to any advancement that any LGBT person makes in terms of us having representation at the table.”

“Eight current party staffers said that, while he was serving as chairman, Bauman would regularly make sexually explicit comments in the workplace to men and women, including remarks about sexual acts, his and other staffers’ genitalia, and being sexually attracted to staff members,” The Times reported, citing some accusers by name. “The eight staff members each said they also experienced or witnessed Bauman engaging in unwanted touching, particularly directed toward male staffers.”

The California Democratic Party’s handbook defines prohibited behavior, including sexual harassment and assault, and prohibits the use of alcohol while at work. On Nov. 28, Bauman, 59, said he’s going to rehab.

”I deeply regret if my behavior has caused pain to any of the outstanding individuals with whom I’ve had the privilege to work. I appreciate the courage it took for these individuals to come forward to tell their stories,” Bauman said in a statement. “In the interest of allowing the CDP’s independent investigation to move forward, I do not wish to respond to any of the specific allegations. However, I will use the time I am on leave to immediately seek medical intervention to address serious, ongoing health issues and to begin treatment for what I now realize is an issue with alcohol.”

What will the investigation determine? Was this a behind-the-scenes political coup by progressive purists who want to rid the CDP of the old guard? Are the allegations asserted by a new generation with internalized homophobia? Or might Bauman have been blind to his own bad behavior? In any event, there has been a coup—an overthrowing of the old gay cultural attitudes of physical and verbal coziness, which is unacceptable in today’s professional environment.

“Leading the California Democratic Party to historic victories has been the honor of a lifetime, and I look forward to continuing this important work upon the conclusion of the investigation and when my health allows,” Bauman said in his statement.

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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Southern California

Triple A: ‘Summer Blend’ begins affecting gas pump prices

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.52, which is nine cents higher than last week

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Screenshot/YouTube

LOS ANGELES – The transition from winter-blend to summer-blend fuel in Southern California has already started pushing pump prices upward as refineries begin producing and soon distributing the more expensive summer blend before the April 1 deadline to switch, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. 

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $4.52, which is nine cents higher than last week. The average national price is $3.50, which is 12 cents higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $4.55 per gallon, which is four cents higher than last week, 11 cents higher than last month, and 12 cents lower than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $4.58, which is four cents higher than last week, 13 cents higher than last month, and four cents lower than last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $4.51, which is four cents higher than last week, one cent higher than last month, and nine cents lower than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $4.42, which is four cents higher than last week, 13 cents higher than last month and 18 cents lower than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $4.52 average price is four cents higher than last week, two cents lower than last month, and six cents lower than a year ago today.

“Southern California’s shift to producing summer-blend gasoline, annual refinery maintenance that can affect fuel supply, increasing oil prices worldwide and increased gas demand in the spring are the reasons that prices are likely to rise in coming weeks,” said Auto Club spokesperson Doug Shupe. “We recommend that drivers continue to conserve fuel and shop around for the lowest available gas prices using a tool like the free AAA Mobile app.”

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 Jan. 26, averages are:

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West Hollywood

A Sip of Coffee with WeHo Mayor Sepi Shyne

Sips with Sepi is a monthly event that takes place at various coffee shops throughout the City of West Hollywood

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West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne and others gather for coffee (Photo Credit: WeHo Times)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – Outgoing West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Commissioners, Richard Maggio and Historic Preservation Commissioner Lola Davidson hosted this month’s Sips with Sepi, as part of a monthly meet and greet with West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne.

The event took place in WeHo’s eastside, at the Domain’s lobby, located at 4171 Santa Monica Boulevard this past Saturday.

Breakfast Republic provided pastry treats and the coffee came from the local Starbucks nearby in the West Hollywood Gateway.

Community members and residents of The Domain had an opportunity to chat with the Mayor and ask questions, or raise concerns about issues important to them in the city.

Outgoing West Hollywood Rent Stabilization Commissioners, Richard Maggio and Historic Preservation Commissioner Lola Davidson hosted this month’s Sips with Sepi, as part of a monthly meet and greet with West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne. The event took place in WeHo’s eastside, at the Domain’s lobby, located at 4171 Santa Monica Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Breakfast Republic provided pastry treats and the coffee came from the local Starbucks nearby in the West Hollywood Gateway.

Community members and residents of The Domain had an opportunity to chat with the Mayor and ask questions, or raise concerns about issues important to them in the city.

Photo Credit: WeHo Times
Photo Credit: WeHo Times
Photo Credit: WeHo Times
Photo Credit: WeHo Times

Captain Moulder of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station was in attendance, along with Danny Rivas, the City of West Hollywood’s Director of Community Safety, and Shae Gibson the Block by Block Operations Manager. Various members of boards and West Hollywood Commissions also attended the meet and greet over sips with Sepi.

Maggio and Davidson were both appointed by former West Hollywood council member and Mayor John D’Amico. They finish their terms as West Hollywood commissioners on January 28, 2023.

Photo Credit: WeHo Times

Sips with Sepi is a monthly event that takes place at various coffee shops throughout the City of West Hollywood. This is an effort for the Mayor to be accessible and transparent to the community she serves with the hopes to engage West Hollywood residents with the Mayor and City Staff.

Mayor Pro Tempore John Erickson hosted a similar event that Saturday at Plummer Park. “Have an issue?” Reads his events invite on social media. “Need to get connected to services? Just want to chat with your Councilmember? This is our eighteenth event in Plummer Park and I’m looking forward to you all joining us! Bring a chair, a reusable cup for some coffee, and your dog (or cat), and let’s talk! Come out to the Great Lawn (along Vista St.) at Plummer Park and meet and speak with West Hollywood Councilmember John M. Erickson. Can’t make this event? Email John at [email protected]

Mayor Shyne can be found on Instagram under the handle @sepishyine.

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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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Los Angeles County

Monterey Park grieves as investigators probe for a motive

As the community grieves the Langley Senior Center in Monterey Park has become a resource center for survivors and families of the victims

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The Star Ballroom in Monterey Park Calif. (Star Ballroom/Facebook)

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. – As Monterey Park police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department homicide investigators piece together the events of Saturday’s massacre at the Star Ballroom on the eve of the Lunar New Year, the majority-Asian community is in deep grief.

UPDATE from the Los Angeles Times Monday:

The death toll in the Lunar New Year mass shooting in Monterey Park rose to 11 Monday, after one person who was injured in the massacre died at the hospital.

The first 10 victims were all in their 50s, 60s or 70s, according to the L.A. County coroner. Only two – My Nhan, 65, and Lilan Li, 63 – have been identified by name. No age or name was immediately given for the latest victim.

A spokesperson for the LA County Sheriff’s Department told the Blade Monday that detectives are attempting to determine the motive that drove 72-year-old Huu Can Tran to kill 10 people and wound 10 others in the mass shooting at the Star Ballroom before traveling to the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra. Tran was forcibly disarmed and fled in a White cargo van.

Tran was later found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot would hours later after a stand-off with LASD and local police tactical units in Torrance.

Law enforcement sources said that the investigation is focused on Tran’s prior interactions at two dance studios targeted and whether jealousy over a relationship was a possible motive stressing that the investigation is in its early stages. But detectives believe that Tran had frequented both clubs.

Speaking to reporters, Congresswoman Judy Chu who represents the area and is herself a former Mayor and City Councilmember of Monterey Park stated: “I still have questions in my mind, which is: What was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he get these guns and was it through legal means or not?” 

Brandon Tsay, 26, who helps run the Lai Lai dance hall with his family, spoke to ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview Monday on “Good Morning America,” telling her he heard the front door click close behind him.

He 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.”

Tsay speaking with ABC News’ Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America:”

As the community grieves the Langley Senior Center in Monterey Park has become a resource center for survivors and families of the victims. The American Red Cross, Los Angeles Mayor’s Crisis Response Team and the Department of Mental Health are there to offer assistance. The center is located at 400 W Emerson Ave.

A GoFundMe has created a central page with all verified fundraising campaigns.

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Los Angeles County

Monterey Park shooter is deceased & identified, no motive known

Huu Can Tran, 72, was identified by Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna as the suspect in the mass shooting

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Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna (Screenshot/YouTube KNBC 4 LA)

MONTEREY PARK –Huu Can Tran, 72, was identified by Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna as the suspect in the mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio late Saturday night that killed 10 people and wounded an additional ten persons.

Sheriff Luna confirmed that the suspect was discovered deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being confronted by Torrance Police and LA County Sheriff Department’s tactical teams Sunday morning in the parking lot of a shopping center off Hawthorne Blvd near Sepulveda Blvd in Torrance. He was driving a vehicle sought in the shootings, a White cargo van with stolen plates Luna noted.

The Sheriff also told reporters in the late Sunday evening press conference that police recovered a semi-automatic assault style handgun with an extra capacity magazine. Less than 20 minutes after the mass shooting in Monterey Park, bystanders wrestled a gun away from a man at a dance hall in Alhambra, Luna added.

Luna said that at this time the motive for the shooting has not been established he also indicated that the majority of the victims appeared to be older past the age of 50 although victims have not been identified as the investigation is ongoing.

The White House released a statement from President Biden late Sunday:

Jill and I are thinking of those killed and injured in last night’s deadly mass shooting in Monterey Park. While there is still much we don’t know about the motive in this senseless attack, we do know that many families are grieving tonight, or praying that their loved one will recover from their wounds. 

Even as we continue searching for answers about this attack, we know how deeply this attack has impacted the AAPI community. Monterey Park is home to one of the largest AAPI communities in America, many of whom were celebrating the Lunar New Year along with loved ones and friends this weekend. 

Early this morning, I directed my Homeland Security Advisor to mobilize full federal support to local and state authorities as they continue to respond and investigate this shooting.  As we await more crucial information from law enforcement, I want to assure the community of Monterey Park and the broader area that we will support you in every way we can. 

The President also issued a honoring the victims:

As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on January 21, 2023, in Monterey Park, California, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, January 26, 2023.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

Watch Live: Monterey Park Shooting Update:

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