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Final Curtain for the Gay Men’s Chorus?

Unsubstantiated accusations rock the chorus as John Duran departs



Artistic Director Dr. Joseph Nadeau saying goodbye. (Photo by Troy Masters)

It was a long time ago when gay men with KS lesions covered up with makeup and frail, thin men propped up by their brothers sang their hearts out to weeping audiences watching their friends defiantly use music to resist the dying of the light, to proudly stand as a band of brothers fighting discrimination and AIDS, sometimes tossing in a sassy gesture of fun flamboyancy.

After all, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles started in 1979 as a social organization to give gay men an alternative to the bars. In fact, Jerry Carlson, co-founder of a gay chorus in Chicago, caused some consternation when he took over as conductor in 1980 and started transforming the singing group into a more professional chorus worthy of tackling Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.”

The chorus also realized their larger responsibility of representing gay men in a hostile world. In 1985, a year after AIDS first hit them hard, the chorus won a blind audition to sing at the American Choral Directors Association western division conference. However, when the association discovered that the winning group was gay, they tried to withdraw the invitation. Backed by the ACLU, the chorus filed suit and the association relented.

“It was a powerful experience,” Jon Bailey, chair of the music department at Pomona College, and former head of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University, told gay Los Angeles Times reporter David Colker for a huge Dec. 1988 feature. “They sang very well, with great confidence. There were standing ovations.”

In July 1986, Carlson developed AIDS. The 95-member group met to develop a contingency plan and invite Bailey to take over when the time came.

“Jerry was very close to all of us,” Craig Woodbury told The Times. “When we talked about him, we were talking about how all of us had the potential for coming down with the disease.” They pledged to affirm who they were as gay men and to support each other.

Carlson died at his West Hollywood home on Nov. 23, 1987. He was 31.

That Gay Men’s Chorus doesn’t exist anymore.

At a Jan. 28 meeting, the once famous brotherhood seemed more like “Boys in the Band” meets the Salem Witch Trials as members fumed over how to get rid of longtime GMCLA board chair John Duran and executive director Jonathan Weedman.

The basis for their fury was a report in WEHOville that appears to heavily emphasize innuendo and claims from anonymous sources, relying particularly on “[a] person involved with GMCLA and with intimate knowledge of the incident, who asked not to be identified for fear of being thrown out of the organization.” This person suggests having direct knowledge of the report conducted by “private investigator Steve Rodig of RCS Investigations and Consulting, a former Anaheim police officer.”

WEHOville reports that Rodig was hired to investigate an allegation “that Weedman, who is 59, had forced a then-20-year-old chorus member to perform oral sex on him in December 2017….However, it also has been said that Weedman performed oral sex on the young man.”

GMCLA executive director Jonathan Weedman during bomb threat. (Photo by Troy Masters)

In Duran’s case, a young man, subsequently identified in the LA Times as Jason Tong, alleged that Duran inappropriately pushed his fingers into the waistband of Tong’s underwear last October as they were dressing for a joint concert with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Mexico City at the chorus’ performance home at the Alex Theatre in Glendale to launch its 40th anniversary.

WEHOville reported that “Duran has denied the allegation, noting that the alleged incident took place in a room full of 150 people. A half dozen of those near Duran said they did not see the alleged incident take place. Duran said he asked to meet with the young man, who was a part-time GMCLA employee, but that he declined to meet Duran and resigned from GMCLA.”

GMCLA Board Chair John Duran. (Photo by Troy Masters)

In both instances, the allegations were vehemently denied by Weedman and Duran and were investigated by credible outside investigators hired by GMCLA’s own counsel who found no evidence to support either charge. However, since both are Human Resource issues, those reports remain under seal for privacy reasons, having only been seen by the counsel, and the executive committee of GMCLA’s board of directors—all of whom read through the reports and agreed with the investigators’ conclusions.

The board includes longtime activist, politico and attorney Diane Abbitt (MECLA, ANGLE, EQCA) and Betsy Butler, executive director of the California Women’s Law Center, neither of whom would shirk their responsibilities or risk their reputations by ignoring or glossing over any allegation of wrongdoing, even for a friend.

Abbitt also chairs the HR Committee and told the LA Times for their story that GMCLA has policies and procedures in place to discreetly handle any claim of harassment or abuse. In her 10 years on the board, this is the first and only allegation against Duran.

“If there was a problem, if there were allegations of sexual harassment, they would have been brought to the board,” Abbitt told the LA Times. “Nobody has even asked me privately to have a discussion about allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct.”

So what happened and why now, after 40 years, have these dismissed allegations surfaced in the media and been given credibility, causing an existential crisis for the once beloved Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles?

The Los Angeles Blade has spoken with a number of people, some of whom would only speak off the record or on background. But three individuals independently told the same story about what was told to investigators for their reports that we think we can reliably report how the allegations came to be dismissed.

A number of people believe the crisis started with a behind-the-scenes power-clash between Weedman and Artistic Director Dr. Joseph Nadeau. (The Los Angeles Blade reached out to Nadeau but received no reply.)

GMCLA had not had an executive director for seven months and fundraising was slow with a lot of debt. Weedman, the well-known longtime Wells Fargo Foundation Senior Vice President and fine arts advocate, was hired in Feb. 2017 to “shepherd the organization’s considerable 270-plus choral membership,” and use his relationships with people with money to create new opportunities for donations.

Weedman made a number of changes that he deemed necessary but several people grumbled over his management style and his leadership capabilities.

Despite celebrity appearances and wider visibility, ticket sales had been declining and audience surveys said the chorus’ quality and sound were declining. Weedman and some board members wanted to try different artistic approaches. Nadeau was reportedly furious, especially that he had to report to Weedman, as opposed to reporting to the board as he had requested. After six years with the chorus, he resigned, taking his final bow on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018.

But before then, odd things started happening.

On June 21, there was a bomb threat at the Alex Theatre and everyone was evacuated. On the same day, flyers with photos of Weedman began to circulate accusing him of sexual misconduct. Fearing a crazy person was targeting him, he installed surveillance cameras on his house.  A month later, postcards start circulating, this time with photos of Weedman, Duran and board member Steve Holzer. No one can figure out who was doing it or why. Shortly thereafter, the story about Weedman and Duran appeared in WEHOville.

What sources say Weedman told the investigator was that the young man came from a troubled background, was looking for money and Weedman offered him a job to help inventory about 300 boxes in his garage. The job took several days, during which Weedman, his husband Raymundo and the young man went to dinner and the man spent the night in the guest bedroom. Later, when Raymundo is in Mexico, the man comes over again to work. They go to dinner, a movie and then by the time they get home, it’s late so the man spends the night again.

But this time, late in the night, the young man comes into Weedman’s bedroom, pulls down his pants and says he wants to cuddle. He gets into bed, Weedman freezes—he and his husband are monogamous—quickly gets out of bed, goes to the kitchen then curls up on the couch to sleep. The next morning is awkward. Five months later, Weedman started wondering if the young man might be behind the nasty rumors because the man wanted his help getting an audition at a school, which Weedman did not do. When the investigator asked, Weedman said he did not do what he was accused of doing.

The investigator’s report was reviewed and discussed by the entire board and no action was taken.

“What this all comes down to is what I think has been a well-orchestrated, highly-choreographed, deliberate attempt to slander me, to slander John Duran, and to remove us from our posts in the chorus,” Weedman told the Los Angeles Blade. “It has been pervasive, it has been persistent, it has been ongoing, and I can’t even – I don’t know when the next bomb is going to drop, because the people who are doing this are hell-bent.”

In Duran’s case, the criminal defense attorney and West Hollywood mayor also says he didn’t do what’s alleged, nor did he know Jason Tong. Duran told the investigator that the alleged incident happened 15 minutes before the curtain, five witnesses can attest to not knowing Tong or if Tong was even present and that they did not see Duran supposedly tuck his fingers’ into Tong’s waistband.

When the investigator pointed out that Duran had five witnesses, Tong apparently recanted and withdrew his complaint before resigning.

The LA Times subsequently reported that two more people had come forward—but neither of them had filed a complaint with the GMCLA board or HR or gone through any of the procedures outlined to the membership.

Much has been made of the one filed complaint against Duran (later withdrawn) juxtaposed against the backdrop of the City of West Hollywood’s settlement of a lawsuit filed by his former deputy, Ian Owens, as if the settlement alone suggests guilt. However, as the LA Times reported after the verdict in Michelle Rex’s trial in May 2017, jury found Rex’s allegation of being fired because she supported Owen’s claim to be unsubstantiated. Duran and Owen both took the stand in that trial.

“I was called to the stand and testified under oath in the Rex trial where the Owens claim was resurrected.  And Owens also testified at that trial,” Duran told the Los Angeles Blade. “Owens testified that I NEVER touched him or sexually assaulted him.   His testimony was that I showed him pictures of men that I had been intimate with and that he found it objectionable.

“I testified that was true but that Owens also showed me pictures of men he was sleeping with. We were friends before he worked at city hall and what we did by sharing photos of men we had been with – was true,” Duran said. “The difference was that I said he did not find it objectionable and that he never complained about it with HR.  Ever.

“Remember that Owens had NEVER filed a claim with the city about sexual harassment until he was walked out of city hall for unlawfully eavesdropping on his colleague.  Once that happened, he raised the issue of sexual harassment for the first time,” Duran said.

The bigger issue, Duran said, is the culture clash happening right now. Older gay men who lived through the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s and 1970s are rooted in finally being free to no longer being ashamed of their desires as if they were perverse and evil and were emboldened to experience and express their sexuality in drag or leather or through safer sex during the AIDS crisis. They could flaunt their sexuality in the same way heterosexuals have flaunted their sexuality as the norm for years.

But today, with the MeToo movement re-shaping the culture, that open expression of sexuality has to be negotiated in many new ways.

“We haven’t figured out how to talk to each other about it yet,” Duran said. “We have to recalibrate and step up. But the younger generation never had to fight for their lives or fight for the right to sexual identity and culture. It is critical that we figure this out or we’ve going to have one generation constantly at the throats of another.”

And meanwhile, with the loss of due process where an accusation is given more weight that the conclusion of an independent investigation, the Gay Men’s Chorus is facing its final curtain.
Duran, who credits GMCLA for saving his life after he got sober in 1996 and joined the chorus in 1998, may be leaving before the end of his term this summer.

After years of being in the spotlight as a community leader or as an attorney representing an important client in a highly publicized case, Duran enjoyed being “one among many” as a member of the chorus. But the value of his fundraising, his board participation, and his membership has been besmirched by an accusation that was discredited and withdrawn but lives on in the rumor-mongering of those who wish him gone.

They may get their way—and with him goes several board members. And Weedman may also depart, taking with him several board members.

And then there is the expected decision by many foundations and corporate sponsors not to invest in an organization with any kind of controversy.

So that leaves GMCLA without a board chair, without a number of board members, without an executive director or Artistic Director and around $180,000 in debt with upcoming fundraisers, like the Voice Awards (the group’s largest fundraiser) that will no doubt have to be cancelled.

And right now it appears that the 50 or so members leading this ouster, what Duran called a “coup d’etat,” apparently have no plan other than to “burn it down and start all over. Well, it doesn’t work that way.”

Years ago, GMCLA stood up to AIDS and the hate-mongers but today, members apparently cannot stand up to or for their own.

– Troy Masters contributed to this story.


Los Angeles

LA Marathon 2023 dozens of streets, freeway ramps closed

The marathon will result in widespread road and freeway ramp closures throughout the city on Sunday morning into the early afternoon



Courtesy of the Los Angeles Marathon

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Marathon will take over the city of Angels for the 38th running March 19, 2023.

The weekend includes a 2-day Health & Fitness Expo at the famed Dodger Stadium on March 17 – 18, a Saturday 5K, the LA Big 5K, and the Charity Half Marathon and Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, March 19.

The marathon will result in widespread road and freeway ramp closures throughout the city on Sunday morning into the early afternoon.

The 26.2-mile race begins at Dodger Stadium, ends on Avenue of the Stars in Century City, and passes through some of L.A.’s most historic neighborhoods including Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Hollywood, West Hollywood, parts of Historic Route 66, and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

Freeway ramp closures include (times vary):

Northbound 110:

  • Hill Street/Stadium Way
  • 110 N/B to 101 S/B Temple Street

Southbound 110:

  • Hill Street
  • Stadium Way
  • Sunset Boulevard 

Southbound 101:

  • Temple Street
  • Broadway
  • Highland Boulevard
  • Vine Street (Right turn lane)
  • Gower Sttreet (Right turn lane)
  • Hollywood Boulevard

Northbound 101:

  • Spring Street
  • Grand Avenue
  • Echo Park Avenue/Glendale Boulevard
  • Hollywood Boulevard
  • Gower Street (Left turn lane)

Southbound 405:

  • Santa Monica Boulevard(Left lane)
  • Wilshire Boulevard(eastbound)
  • Wilshire Boulevard (westbound)

See the full list of freeway ramp closures with specific times: (Link)

Marathon street closures will be extensive, generally starting at 4 a.m. and reopening progressively as the final athletes travel the course.

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Los Angeles

LAPD seeks public’s help to find suspect in teen’s fatal stabbing

Detectives believe the same suspect is involved in a separate assault with a deadly weapon cutting, on March 3, 2023, around 8:55 p.m.



The LAPD released these images of a man suspected in two separate stabbings, killing a teenager in El Sereno on March 3, 2023. (Photo Credit: LAPD)

UPDATED WEDNESDAY 8 March: The LAPD announced that the man believed to be the suspect in the brazen fatal stabbing of Xavier Chavarin, a straight-A student who attended Woodrow Wilson High School, was taken into custody after barricading himself inside an Alhambra home.

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Bureau Homicide detectives are asking for the public’s help in providing any information that would lead to the arrest of the suspect involved in the murder of a teenager.

Last Friday officers from the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station responded to a call of an assault with a deadly weapon at around 3:55 p.m. in the 4500 block of Valley Boulevard. When the officers arrived, they located a 17-year-old male victim suffering from stab wounds.

Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to the scene and attempted to perform life saving measures, but unfortunately the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at scene.

Xavier Chavarin, a straight-A student who attended Woodrow Wilson High School and was supposed to graduate this June, was waiting outside King Torta restaurant for his mother to pick him up.

Surveillance footage obtained by LAPD homicide investigators captured the suspect stabbing Chavarin. According to the LAPD, the unnamed suspect drove to the location exited his vehicle and approached the victim standing on the sidewalk. The suspect produced a large knife and stabbed the victim multiple times.

The suspect is described as a male Hispanic, long wavy black hair with a long beard, wearing a long black jacket with a black shirt underneath, black pants, black shoes, and a black baseball hat with white writing. The suspect’s vehicle is described as a 1996-2001 Honda CR-V SUV, black in color.

In an interview with KABC 7, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said he was shocked by the attack and sent 10 additional counselors to Woodrow Wilson High School to comfort staff and students.

“I’m shocked, as the entire community should be shocked,” Carvalho said. “When something goes wrong with a kid like that, the entire community should bow its head and think about what’s happening in Los Angeles.”

Chavarin’s family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for his funeral and memorial services.

Detectives believe the same suspect is involved in a separate assault with a deadly weapon cutting, on March 3, 2023, around 8:55 p.m. at the 5400 block of Valley Boulevard. The suspect approached the 33-year-old victim and stabbed him several times without saying anything. The suspect in this incident appears to wear the same clothing, however he was not wearing the baseball hat and he was riding a skateboard during his assault.

Detectives believe the same suspect is involved in a separate assault with a deadly weapon cutting, on March 3, 2023, around 8:55 p.m. at the 5400 block of Valley Boulevard. The suspect approached the 33-year-old victim and stabbed him several times without saying anything. The suspect in this incident appears to wear the same clothing, however he was not wearing the baseball hat and he was riding a skateboard during his assault.

Two Stabbings Leaves One Dead:

Anyone with additional information is urged to call Central Bureau Homicide Detective J. Calzadillas, or S. Ruiz at (213) 996-4116.

During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (877-527-3247).  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call the LA Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or go directly to 

Tipsters may also visit and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to submit an online tip. 

Lastly, tipsters may also download the “P3 Tips” mobile application and select the LA Regional Crime Stoppers as their local program.

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Los Angeles

Food insecurity worsens among low-income Angelenos

Throughout 2022, 37% of low-income residents of Los Angeles County lacked access to sufficient food for an active, healthy life



Brenda and Gilberto Marquez shop for groceries with daughter Jacqueline Marquez,3, at Vallarta Supermarket (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

By  Ileana Wachtel  | LOS ANGELES – In March, nearly 1.4 million CalFresh beneficiaries in Los Angeles County will receive their final pandemic-era boost intended to help make food more affordable for low-income people. Every household will receive at least $95/month less, and some could see reductions of as much as $250/month.

The expiration of the three-year-long supplement to the federal program, known as SNAP in other states (and formerly known as “food stamps”), coincides with new research findings revealing that last year, more than 1 in 3 (37%) of low-income residents of L.A. County experienced food insecurity. That’s 10 percentage points higher than in 2018 and just 5 points shy of the early pandemic rate of 42% in 2020.

Food insecurity is defined as a lack of access to enough food to live a healthy, active life.

The study, published by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences’ Public Exchange, also determined that about 1 in 4 of all Angelenos, or approximately 800,000 households, experienced food insecurity in 2022.

Key Points:

  • In 2022, 37% of low-income Angelenos experienced food insecurity — 10 percentage points higher than 2018 and just 5 points shy of the early pandemic rate of 42% in 2020.
  • Nearly one-quarter of all Angelenos — about 800,000 households — experienced food insecurity in 2022. Rates for Latino and Black residents were three times higher than for white residents.
  • During the pandemic, beneficiaries of the federal food assistance program, known as CalFresh in California and SNAP in other states, received an emergency boost in payments. March is the last month the three-year long supplement will be offered.
  • A related study of four eastside L.A. neighborhoods designated “food deserts” revealed that the biggest issue for residents isn’t access to food but rather price, quality and variety.

“After a dip in 2021, food insecurity clearly worsened last year. The expiration of the emergency boost to the CalFresh program, while inflation and food costs remain high, could push low-income Angelenos to the precipice of a ‘hunger cliff,’” said Kayla de la Haye, the lead researcher and associate professor of population and public health sciences at Keck School of Medicine of USC.

As one Latina mother explained to researchers in December 2022: “[During the pandemic] that was my fear, that [my children] didn’t have enough. I started skipping a meal to make sure they were fed. And it’s worse now. Because the bills went so [high]. And it’s kind of scary.”

Women, young adults, and Latino and Black residents were disproportionately impacted by food insecurity in L.A. County in 2022, with rates of food insecurity three times higher among Latino (33%) and Black (33%) Angelenos than white residents (11%). Additionally, more than 4 in 10 food-insecure households have children.

The CalFresh program was created to improve the health and well-being of low-income Californians through financial assistance that can be used to buy food at many markets and food stores. The emergency boost in benefits was introduced in March 2020.

The study findings are based on data from a representative sample of more than 1,000 L.A. County residents who participate in the USC Dornsife Understanding America Study.

L.A.’s Eastside: Many Grocers — Few Affordable, Quality Options

related study led by de la Haye and coordinated by USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange evaluated access to food by residents of Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, El Sereno and City Terrace — eastside neighborhoods designated “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The researchers determined that contrary to what the “food desert” label suggests, those neighborhoods have 269 retail outlets that sell groceries. Nine in 10 households had access to six or more stores selling groceries within a 15-minute walk of their home. A lack of access to food stores, which is a contributor to food insecurity and health, wasn’t a top concern for residents — however high prices, low quality food and a limited variety of healthy items were.

“The stores in my neighborhood are small and a little pricey,” said one eastside resident. “But if you need something immediate, this is where you come. … Sometimes the vegetables go bad quickly, faster than other companies.”

Many in the predominately Latino neighborhoods said they had to go to multiple stores to get the type and quality of groceries they want, which adds time and transportation challenges. They also said they’d like to see existing stores provide better access to a wider variety of food that is healthy, high-quality, organic and affordable.

To address the issues they identified, the researchers include several recommendations in their study report:

  • Leverage existing programs, or develop new programs and initiatives, to improve the quality, variety and healthfulness of foods.
  • Identify more opportunities to make high-quality, organic, healthy foods more affordable. For example, expand subsidies and enrollment in government food programs like CalFresh and Market Match, and help local grocers get set up to accept them.
  • Tailor strategies to improve access to groceries to households that need it most. .
  • Expand community programs that can supplement healthy food access and strengthen a culture of healthy eating and well-being.

Read the complete study (link)


The preceding article was previously published by USC Dornsife’s Public Exchange and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles

UCLA police need public’s help to ID robbery/kidnapping suspect

If you have any information, please contact: Detective M. Freund at the UCLA Police Department at 310-825-1491 (24 hour line)



Suspect sketch provided via the UCLA Police Department

LOS ANGELES – The UCLA Police Department is asking for the community’s help in providing any information that would assist in identifying a man wanted for attempted kidnapping and robbery on campus.

UCLA police investigators said that on February 5 at about 4:30pm, that a suspect described as a Black male between 25 and 40 years old, 5’10”, slim build, short dark hair, brown eyes, and wearing a dark blue shirt with white lettering with light blue jeans. approached a victim near Parking Structure 1 on campus.

He grabbed and held her hands and refused to let go, demanded she provide him money, and attempted to take her to another location while claiming he had a gun although the victim said she didn’t see a weapon. Then, at about 6:45pm, a suspect with a similar description approached 2 other victims near Structure 7 and committed similar acts.

In both cases, the victims, who are are UCLA Students. were able to pull away from suspect and leave the area. Police added that the suspect had an orange/red blanket with him during second incident. A witness later described contact with someone who resembled the suspect wearing a black “puffy” jacket with the right sleeve missing.

With assistance of the victims, the sketch depicted above was created. (Featured image)

If you have any information, please contact:

Detective M. Freund at the UCLA Police Department at 310-825-1491 (24 hour line) or the UCLA Police Department Anonymous Reporting Line at 310-794-5824 and refer to report #23-0283.

Note: The Anonymous Reporting Line is not monitored 24/7.

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Los Angeles

Councilwoman Park leads vote for new green space to Westside

The unanimous vote will transform LAX’s northside area with tennis courts, soccer fields and other recreational amenities



Los Angeles Councilwoman Traci Park (D- CD11) (Photo Credit: City of Los Angeles)

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Councilwoman Traci Park (D- CD11), led a unanimous vote on Wednesday by the city council to approve a historic $65 million agreement between Los Angeles World Airports and Lulu’s Place that will bring state-of-the-art recreational and enrichment opportunities to approximately 20 acres of LAX’s Northside Area.

The transformative project will include new tennis courts, soccer fields, a dog park and community playground.

“Activating LAX’s Northside area with green spaces and recreational opportunities has been a long-time community vision,” said Councilwoman Park. “I’m thankful for this groundbreaking partnership with Los Angeles World Airports and Lulu’s Place, which will serve and enrich countless generations of Westchester residents and Angelenos, while honoring the life and legacy of an extraordinary woman  – Lulu Kimmelman.”

The restoration of LAX’s Northside Area for community-based uses goes back decades when LAWA first acquired 340 acres of land abutting LAX’s northern boundary in the 1970s. After robust community engagement, the City Council approved an Environmental Impact Report for the site in 2016 which envisioned the development of new green spaces, airport use, and commercial use, in addition to design guidelines for the site.

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is excited to work with CD11, the community, and the Kimmelman Foundation and its partners to bring a state-of-the-art recreational facility to a portion of the vacant LAX Northside campus,” said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, LAWA. “The Lulu’s Place team is developing this multimillion-dollar facility that will bring tennis courts, pickleball courts, soccer and multi-purpose fields, a dog park and a children’s playground to the community at no cost to the City or to the airport.”

Lulu’s Place is inspired by the passion and generosity of its namesake – Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman – a California native who passed away in 2017. A lifelong tennis player and former public school elementary teacher, Lulu believed fervently in the power of tennis and other sports to transform the lives of young people from all backgrounds. 

“Lulu believed all children have the potential to achieve greatness. By harnessing the power of athletics and education, Lulu’s Place will serve generations of young Angelenos as a living legacy to an extraordinary woman,” said Doug Kimmelman, president of the Kimmelman Family Foundation and husband of Lulu Kimmelman. “We’re grateful to LAWA, Councilmember Park, and Mayor Bass for enabling yesterday’s momentous approval, and look forward to being great partners with the City as this world-class community center takes shape.”

The project has been celebrated by the local community, over 100 of whom gave public comments and submitted letters of support during this week’s Trade, Travel and Tourism Committee, which heard the item before City Council’s consideration.  

“As a mother and president of the NCWP, this is an exciting investment in our community that will bring new recreational opportunities for our children to add to the resources available to our local schools,” said Paula Gerez. “ I am proud of the significant role our Neighborhood Council played in working with the Kimmelman Foundation to make sure Lulu’s Place is successful, and we look forward to the on-going partnership that will help shape this project as it moves forward.”

“The Lulu’s Place project is an exciting one for the St. Bernard High School community, and I am thrilled about our families having access to the amazing parks, athletic facilities and especially the learning opportunities, said Rosalie Roberts, principal of St. Bernard High School. “As an educator for more than 20 years, I know these learning resources can change the lives and the future academic trajectories of a young person by exposing them to hands-on relevant learning opportunities. We are grateful that the Lulu’s Place project is moving forward.”

In approving the lease, Councilwoman Park also instructed Los Angeles World Airports to continue their engagement with the surrounding community to address concerns related to the construction and operation of the project.

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Los Angeles

Capitol insurrectionist arrested in LA after standoff with FBI

Seen wearing a black sweatshirt with ‘Fags for Trump’ silkscreened on it, draped in a Pride flag, & carrying a hammer on January 6, 2021



Eric Christie, seen standing on a U.S. Capitol Police vehicle on the East Front of the Capitol on January 6, 2021 (Screenshot from video released by anti-fascist activist and security researcher Chad Loder/Twitter(archived))

LOS ANGELES – After an hours long stand-off outside a home at Willis Avenue and Burbank Boulevard in Van Nuys with FBI agents, Eric Christie was arrested for his role in the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Christie is seen in multiple video and still photos on the East Front Capitol steps wearing a black sweatshirt with ‘Fags for Trump’ silkscreened on it, draped in a Pride flag, and carrying a hammer.

According to NBC News, Christie is a known local far-right anti-vaxxer and protested against coronavirus pandemic restrictions around the Los Angeles region and often attended rallies supporting former president Trump.

Christie, whom the Associated Press said is 56 years old, was identified for his role in the January 6 insurrection by online sleuths and was publicly identified and named by the anti-fascist activist and security researcher Chad Loder in February 2021.

The U.S. Department of Justice still has Christie’s case under seal, though the criminal complaint reveals some of Christie’s alleged actions that day.

According to prosecutors, he ran toward the Capitol after a crowd pushed through barriers, then runs up steps on the east side of the building while repeating “This is our Capitol” on the bullhorn.

He later stood atop a government vehicle parked near the Capitol and added more chants to his bullhorn, including “It’s a MAGA party, it’s a MAGA party,” “Welcome to MAGA country, District of Columbia” and “Beverly Hills is in the house,” prosecutors said.

“Christie was previously named by a defense attorney in another Jan. 6 case, in which the court filing suggested Christie was a ‘suspicious actor’ and questioned why he hadn’t been arrested yet,” NBC News also reported.

Christie was also a write-in candidate for Los Angeles City Council in 2020.

According to law enforcement sources he was arrested at an address associated with him.

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Los Angeles

Mayor Bass declares state of emergency over homelessness crisis

Latest count by L.A. Homeless Services Authority revealed there were 41,980 unhoused people in the city this past year, up 1.7% from 2020



Karen Bass' first press conference as Mayor of Los Angeles (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – In her first official press conference, newly sworn-in L.A. City Mayor Karen Bass issued a declaration marking a state of emergency on the city’s homelessness crisis as her first official act as mayor.

Flanked by L.A. City Council President Paul Krekorian and Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Janice Hahn along with other elected and city officials, Bass told reporters “we are united and serious about the city’s crisis of homelessness.”

“I will not accept a homeless crisis that afflicts more than 40,000 Angelenos and affects every one of us. It is a humanitarian crisis that takes the life of five people every day,” the mayor added just prior to officially signing the declaration. “It must stop, and change starts now…There will be no holding back on my watch.”

Her campaign for the office of Mayor of L.A. was largely focused on ending the homeless crisis — a promise the new Mayor addressed Sunday in her inaugural speech. 

“Tragically, our city has earned the shameful crown as being home to some of the most crowded neighborhoods in the nation—Pico Union, South L.A., East L.A., the East Valley. We know our mission – we must build housing in every neighborhood,” Bass told the audience gathered at Microsoft Theatre.

The latest count by the L.A. Homeless Services Authority revealed that there were 41,980 unhoused people in the city this past year, up 1.7% from 2020.

“The mayor’s first priority and likely the main one for some time to come is homelessness,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles told KABC 7 Eyewitness News Monday.

“The voters don’t expect a miracle but will be looking for a clear and credible path toward measurable and visible improvement,” Sonenshein said. “It’s an opportunity for an energetic reset on a crisis that has seemed stuck, and also a chance to restore confidence in local government in Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass declares a state of emergency on homelessness:

The order immediately gives Mayor Bass the power to lift rules and regulations that slow or prevent the building of permanent and temporary housing for the unhoused; to expedite contracts that prioritize bringing unhoused Angelenos inside; and that allow the city to acquire rooms, properties and land for housing for Angelenos in need. Moving forward, Mayor Bass will issue executive directives to advance these critical reforms.

Immediately prior to signing the declaration, Mayor Bass met with her department heads – as well as the heads of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and Metro – to outline her strategy to move Los Angeles forward with a unified approach to homelessness. The Los Angeles County CEO was also present for the meeting.

She also met with frontline service providers and Janice Hahn, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; Hydee Feldstein Soto, City Attorney; Kenneth Mejia, City Controller; Paul Krekorian, City Council President; Curren Price, President pro tempore, Los Angeles City Council; and Nithya Raman, Los Angeles City Councilmember and Chair of the Homelessness and Poverty Committee.

All of the above attended the signing. 

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Los Angeles

LA City Council bans Styrofoam, plastic bags, & have “Zero Waste”

“There is no place in the City of Los Angeles for harmful environmental products like Styrofoam, & today we are making that a reality”



Trash that has washed up on Los Angeles beaches (Photo Credit: Heal the Bay/Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council today approved an ordinance that will prohibit the distribution and sale of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) products, commonly referred to under the trade name Styrofoam, in the City of Los Angeles.

“I am pleased that we were able to advance yet another transformative environmental policy with unanimous support of the City Council,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River committee. “Angelenos want to be good stewards of the environment, and this legislation is reflective of that value – as well as the urgency with which it must be implemented. There is no place in the City of Los Angeles for harmful environmental products like Styrofoam, and with today’s decisive action we are making that imperative a reality. I hope that future Councils, along with other jurisdictions across the country and the world, follow our lead on environmental justice and the elimination of products that degrade public health.”

“Our world is drowning in plastic. To the point where, in any given week, each of us ingests enough plastic from our food and water to make a credit card,” said Council President Paul Krekorian.  “The petrochemical industry is lying to the people of the United States by trying to convince them that somehow it’s OK to use these products because they’re recyclable. They’re not. Almost no plastic ever gets recycled and styrofoam definitely does not.  The steps that we’re taking today are an important part of changing industries, changing consumer behavior and educating the public about the harm that this is causing them,”  Krekorian said.

“EPS foam, also known as Styrofoam, is toxic from production to usage to landfill. The Styrene and Benzene in EPS are both known carcinogens and can also negatively affect workers inside EPS factories. The manufacturing process can contaminate neighborhoods outside EPS factories. The toxins can leach into hot drinks and food as people use cups and food containers. And then EPS ends up as little white bits marring our world-class beaches,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the author of the original legislation. “Even worse, the manufacturing process releases significant amounts of hydrofluorocarbons, which are massively potent greenhouse gasses. It’s way past time for Styrofoam to go away forever.”

The Council also approved an additional ordinance that adds to the Los Angeles Municipal Code a section promoting the use of reusable bags and regulating the use of plastic and paper single-use carryout bags at apparel stores, farmers’ markets, food or beverage facilities, hardware stores, and open air markets. In addition, the Council approved instructions to LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) requiring reports back to the Council, by April 2025, regarding compliance with these new policies. The Council also instructed LASAN to prepare outreach programs to educate stakeholders on both ordinances.

Additionally, the Council requested that all proprietary departments, along with their respective boards, adopt and implement the ordinance requiring “zero waste” at City facilities and events, along with a direction to LASAN to prepare an outreach program and further instruction to all departments to report back on progress with this ordinance, which was passed earlier this year. 

“LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) has a unique responsibility when it comes to protecting public health and the environment,” said Alex Helou, LASAN Assistant Director. “We do that through the hard work of collecting, recycling and composting materials, but also through the much less visible work of educating residents on what can and can’t be recycled. Items like expanded polystyrene, plastic bags and single-use foodware accessories do not belong in the blue bin.”

“For more than 30 years, Heal the Bay has conducted thousands of cleanups, removing millions of pieces of plastic off of our beaches and out of our waterways. It is clear that cleanups will never solve the issue of plastic pollution. To truly protect public health, we need aggressive and responsible solutions like today’s unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council to ban polystyrene addressing upstream sources and slowing the production and sale of plastic products, said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “We commend Councilmembers Koretz, Krekorian, and O’Farrell for their leadership on this issue and look forward to helping put these laws into effect in the new year.”

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Los Angeles

21 years in prison for gunman who shot gay dogwalker

“You shot me and left me to die, and both of our lives have changed forever. […] but I do forgive you and everyone involved with the attack”



Booking photo: James Howard Jackson LAPD (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge handed down a sentence of 21 years in a California prison to James Howard Jackson, who had shot then thirty-year-old Ryan Fischer, a gay professional dog walker in Hollywood on Feb. 24, 2021.

The robbery/dognapping made global headlines after it was revealed that the two French Bulldogs taken were owned by Oscar and Grammy award winning singer Stefani Germanotta, known as Lady Gaga.

Fischer was walking three of the singer’s dogs when Jackson shot him during a struggle and then along with an accomplice grabbed two of the dogs in the 1500 block of N. Sierra Bonita Avenue just off Sunset Blvd, taking off in a late-model white Nissan Altima 4-door sedan.

Koji and Gustav (Photo Credit: Lady Gaga Twitter account )

The Lady Gaga connection was a coincidence, authorities told KTLA/Associated Press. The motive was the value of the French bulldogs, a breed that can run into the thousands of dollars, and detectives do not believe the thieves knew the dogs belonged to the musician.

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, the sentence handed down was part of a plea deal.

“The plea agreement holds Mr. Jackson accountable for perpetrating a coldhearted violent act and provides justice for our victim,” the office said in a statement. Howard had been charged with attempted murder, conspiracy to commit a robbery and assault with a semiautomatic firearm.

In a victim’s impact statement made prior to Jackson’s sentencing, Fischer said:

Your honor, thank you for the opportunity to give my impact statement here in court, and for everything you, Michele Hanisee [Deputy LA District Attorney] and the DA’s office, and detectives and law enforcement have done to bring these cases to completion. It’s hard to believe that it’s nearing 2 years since I was taking Asia, Koji and Gustav out for an evening stroll when – in an instant – I suddenly found myself fighting with everything I had to protect those dogs from being stolen. But it wasn’t enough: I was beaten, strangled, shot and left to die bleeding out on a sidewalk and gasping for my life. And Koji and Gustav were gone.

In some ways that night and everything that followed: from hospital stays, lung collapse after lung collapse and eventual surgery and partial removal- physical therapy that I’m still in to get mobility and sensation fully restored in my shoulder, chest and hand, the media storm that made me terrified to even go back to my home or walk on the street, the loss of a career, friendships, sense of self and savings and then aimlessly traveling this country for over a year as I went into debt, contemplated suicide, and struggled – and continue to struggle – with my identity and how to move past such a life-changing, earth-shattering event…

Sometimes it feels like all that happened to someone else, and other times it feels like I never left that sidewalk. A part of me is still trying desperately to save those dogs knowing you were going to shoot me. I’m sure it feels the same for you, Mr. Jackson. I imagine you’re on that sidewalk sometimes too. You shot me and left me to die, and both of our lives have changed forever. A limbo neither of us asked to be in.

In my darkest hours, when I feel lost and abandoned and mourn a life and those dogs I sacrificed myself for, a life I’ve accepted – through a lot of therapy – I’ve accepted I’ll never see again, I try to focus on what I’ve gained:

  • A deeper love for friends and family that have shown up and continue to show up even when I’m still such a mess. I love you and thank you.
  • That, despite everything and the trauma I still work through in regards to them, I love dogs so so much and look forward to continue bringing them back into my life.
  • Gratitude for strangers that became family and have supported me in countless ways.
  • And that I finally feel healthy enough to stop running from my problems.
  • Forgiving myself for not being able to save those dogs that night and falling down again and again these last two years.
  • Forgiving friends who didn’t and don’t know how to be there for me in the lengthy recovery process this continues to be.

And forgiveness for you. It’s something I’m still working on but I do forgive you and everyone involved with the attack. You completely altered my life, and I know I can’t fully move forward from the night you shot me until I said those words to you.

My hope for you is the same for me: to live a life of purpose and grow from what happened that night. Moving forward, it’s going to be a hard road for both of us, and I know from prison it won’t be easy. But I do hope you find a calling there as I continue to search for my own and live life contributing to others. It’s the only way to heal from this experience.

I also wanted to give gratitude, to thank you for not killing – for not harming – the dogs after everything and the media storm. They were returned and returned to their mom. I don’t think I could have lived with myself if they died.

And, in general, I just wanted to say how guns have impacted my life and countless others and continue to harm our society. I look forward to contributing to a future that doesn’t destroy so many lives and so many people in this country. It doesn’t make sense to fear for your life at school, places of worship, clubs, or when you’re taking dogs out for an evening stroll.

Thank you all for your time today.

Ryan Fischer via Instagram

KTLA/AP also reported that another accomplice, Harold White, pleaded no contest Monday to a count of ex-convict in possession of a gun. White, who was in a relationship with McBride at the time, will be sentenced next year.

The couple had allegedly tried to help White’s son, Jaylin White, avoid arrest in the aftermath of the shooting.

Jaylin White and Lafayette Whaley earlier this year pleaded no contest to robbery.

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Los Angeles

Vice President to swear in Karen Bass as Los Angeles mayor

The inauguration ceremony is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. at City Hall. Bass’ term as mayor officially begins on Dec. 12



Rep. Karen Bass campaigning with Second Gentleman Douglas C. Emhoff on November 5, 2022 (Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign/Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas C. Emhoff will attend the mayoral inauguration ceremony of Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass on Sunday, December 11, 2022. The Vice President will ceremonially swear in Bass as the city’s 43rd Mayor, becoming the first woman and woman of color to serve as the city’s chief executive.

The inauguration ceremony is set to begin at 11:30 a.m. at City Hall. Bass’ term as mayor officially begins on Dec. 12.

The Vice-President, and on separate occasions husband Doug Emhoff, both had campaigned together last fall with Rep. Bass.

During a Get Out The Vote student rally at UCLA Harris told attendees:

“I know Karen Bass,” Harris told the crowd. “I’ve worked with Karen Bass. When I was in Sacramento and she was in Sacramento, I saw how she would tirelessly fight for the people of this region, the people of our state and the people of our nation. Karen Bass has a long history of always being on the side of people, fighting for the people.”

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