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New Bill Outlines Protections For Incarcerated Trans Californians

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An amended bill protecting transgender individuals, SB132 from out San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener, was introduced Monday, March 18 and is scheduled for legislative action next month. The bill would protect transgender inmates incarcerated in California’s correctional system from the violence that frequently arises when they are housed according to their birth-assigned gender instead of their actual gender identity,

“This bill will save lives and will enable trans women serving sentences in California prisons to avoid some of the worst horrors they currently face on the inside,” said Shawn Meerkamper, Senior Staff Attorney, for the Oakland-based Transgender Law Center. “California is falling behind on this issue, and for our communities’ sake, it desperately needs to catch up.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CAL-CDCR) confirmed to the Los Angeles Blade that often the risk of violence, including sexual violence, leads to trans inmates being placed in isolation, also known as special custody units, “for their own protection.”

Removing them from the general population and placing them in limited housing access or solitary confinement curtails access to services like rehabilitative programming, educational programming, religious programming, and work opportunities, all of which has been proven to reduce recidivism and further rehabilitation efforts.

The legislation requires:

  • During the initial intake process, CDCR record the individual’s self-reported gender identity, preferred first name, preferred pronouns and honorifics, and preferred gender identity of any officer who may conduct a lawful body search on the individual.
  • House people according to their gender identity, unless a specifically articulated security concern counsels otherwise, or the individual believes it would be safer to be housed according to their birth gender.
  • All staff and contractors of CDCR to consistently use the gender pronoun, honorific, and preferred name the individual has specified in all verbal and written communications with and regarding that individual.

“Transgender people deserve basic dignity, respect, and safety while incarcerated, and we should respect the gender identity of all individuals regardless of their current situation,” Wiener said in a press release. “To house transgender individuals in facilities that do not correspond with their gender identity puts these individuals at great risk of physical assault and sexual victimization, and reduces their access to programming that creates a successful transition from prison back to their community.”

Currently, CAL-CDCR houses incarcerated trans individuals based on their assigned sex at birth, unless they have undergone gender-affirming surgery or have received a medical evaluation and been referred to a classification committee. This leaves many trans inmates stranded and at risk in correctional facilities. The bill says trans inmates who don’t undergo gender-affirming surgery should be housed according to their gender identity – period.

“Having Trans people having the autonomy to choose where they want to be housed when they have to do time in a state prison is in a way liberating,” said Bamby Salcedo, President of the LA-based TransLatin Coalition, a co-sponsor of the bill. “It gives people the autonomy to take agency to their own identification and where they can spend their time while incarcerated.”

 

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Arts & Entertainment

2023 Best of LGBTQ LA Finalist Voting

Winners will be announced on January 20th issue and at the Best of LGBT LA Party on January 18th at 10 DTLA

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The 2023 Los Angeles Blade Best of LGBTQ LA Awards are here! Final voting is now open until December 26th, 2022.

Winners will be announced in our January 20th issue and at the Best of LGBT LA Party on January 18th at 10 DTLA. More details about the party will be coming soon.

Vote below or by clicking HERE.

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California

Newsom announces $480.5 million grants for youth mental health

Grants will support 54 projects to bolster behavioral & mental health infrastructure expanding capacity of treatment facilities

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

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom today announced $480.5 million in awards for 54 projects to improve California’s behavioral health infrastructure for children and youth.

As part of Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, this historic investment provides grant funding to construct new facilities and expand existing facilities that help children, youth, transition-age youth, and perinatal individuals with a mental health and/or substance use disorder.

“We’re overhauling our mental health system to connect young Californians with the care and support they need,” said Governor Newsom. “Too many Californians are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. This funding will support critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that have committed to serving the diverse range of children and youth covered by Medi-Cal.”

These projects will increase care, especially in the least restrictive, community-based settings, with community wellness/youth prevention centers, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders, school-linked health centers, and outpatient community mental health clinics. Projects include: 

  • $57.4 Million for a Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital. In Los Angeles, the Kedren South Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital & Children’s Village will receive funding for a psychiatric acute care hospital with 36 beds.
  • $27.6 Million to Treat Substance Use Disorder, Boost Slots in Orange County. The Orange County Health Care Agency will expand adolescent residential treatment facilities for youth suffering from substance use disorder (SUD) with 32 beds, perinatal residential SUD with 24 beds, and community mental health clinic outpatient with 2,626 slots.
  • $9.3 million to Fund an Adult Residential Treatment Facility in Watsonville. The facility will assist Californians suffering from SUD, with seven beds and Outpatient Treatment for SUD with 106 slots. 
  • $7.9 million to fund a Community Mental Health Outpatient Clinic in Hoopa. Managed by the Yurok Youth Center, the grant funds 300 slots in the clinic, a community wellness/youth prevention center with 1,450 slots, outpatient treatment for SUD with 27 slots, and a school-linked health center with 50 slots. 

“With significant and innovative state and federal investments in homelessness, health care delivery reform, and the social safety net, California is addressing historic gaps to meet the growing demand of services and supports for children and youth across the state,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency.

Additional information on this round of awardees is available on the BHCIP Data Dashboard.

“These investments offer a unique opportunity to expand new capacity and address the needs assessment gaps within California’s behavioral health continuum,” said DHCS Director Michelle Baass. “With these grants we significantly increased outpatient capacity related to mental health and substance use disorder services for children and youth. Successful treatments for children and youth experiencing mental health and substance use disorders are evident in outpatient settings that integrate family support. These investments align with other state efforts around integration, such as California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.”

In California, the rates of serious mental illness and substance use disorders are highest for individuals ages 18 to 25, and rates of children and youth experiencing behavioral health conditions, youth emergency department visits for mental health concerns, and youth suicides continue to rise. Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of diagnosable mental illnesses begin by age 14, three-fourths begin by age 24, and most substance use begins in adolescence, emphasizing the need to strengthen prevention and early identification and intervention services. Also, in California, 13 percent of children 3-17 years of age reported having at least one mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral health problem, and 8 percent of children have a serious emotional disturbance that limits participation in daily activity.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is releasing $2.1 billion through six grant rounds targeting various gaps in the state’s behavioral health facility infrastructure: 

  • Round 1: Crisis Care Mobile Units;
  • Round 2: County and Tribal Planning Grant;
  • Round 3: Launch Ready, totaling $739.5 million, were awarded in 2021 and earlier this year;
  • Round 4: Children and Youth grants include cities, counties, Tribal entities, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations statewide that serve target populations;
  • Round 5: Crisis and Behavioral Health Continuum Request for Application for $480 million was released on October 20, and awards will be made in spring 2023. This round of funding will continue to expand behavioral health service capacity across the state;
  • Round 6: Outstanding Needs Remaining After Rounds 3 Through 5.

For more information about these grants, as well as other BHCIP rounds of funding, please visit the Improving California’s Infrastructure website.

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News Analysis

Walking a fine line: The self-harm incident & anti-LGBTQ Ted Cruz

Cruz’s anti-LGBTQ+ stance has been particularly filled with animosity especially directed at trans youth & the LGBTQ+ community in general

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Responding Houston Police cruiser in front of the home of Sen. Ted Cruz (Screenshot/YouTube ABC 13 News Houston)

LOS ANGELES – National media attention has been focused on a Houston, Texas teenaged girl today in what sources are saying to multiple outlets was a self-harm potential suicide attempt.

The intensity of the coverage is driven by the girl’s father, controversial right-wing Texas Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and in part driven by a social media post in a comment thread between the daughter and another person on a TikTok post over her listing her sexual orientation as bisexual.

Senator Cruz has two daughters, Caroline (14) and Catherine (11) and is widely known for his political stances on social issues including immigration, but his anti-LGBTQ+ stance has been particularly filled with animosity especially directed at transgender youth and the LGBTQ+ community in general.

Last night Houston Police and EMS responded to the Senator’s home in the toney River Oaks area of Houston, a neighborhood where the median listing home price was $1.8M in October 2022.

According to Houston media outlets, a 14-year-old female was suffering from self-inflicted stab wounds and was rushed to hospital. A spokesperson for the Senator confirmed it was his daughter and also said, “This is a family matter, and thankfully their daughter is OK, then added there were no serious injuries and that “the family requests that the media respect their daughter’s privacy at this time.”

Senator Cruz is indeed a public figure and his children are not. While the request made for privacy by the media seems reasonable, given the circumstances, it is also problematic in a “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” cliché when reviewing the numerous hateful attacks that Cruz has made on LGBTQ+ youth, their parents, and the LGBTQ+ community.

For example:

  • Cruz, on treating transgender children with respect: “We have entered the world of politically correct lunacy.”
  • Cruz, on discussing transgender issues at the university level: “My name is Ted Cruz and my pronoun is ‘kiss my ass.'”
  • Cruz reflecting on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive actions defended Abbott who called on “licensed professionals” and “members of the general public” to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care.

Journalists face constant ethical struggles with certain topics, issues, or news coverage that present concerns around privacy, is especially with minors. Likely one of the top areas being children of public figures especially politicians. The ages old adage of “the kids weren’t elected the parent(s) were” has been a nearly universal guide for editors and reporters alike.

There are numerous examples especially when reporting on the progeny of the occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The Online News Association offers this perspective:

“Ordinary, “private” citizens are another story. When journalists consider reporting on the personal life of someone who does not already live in the public eye, a careful consideration of both the news value of the disclosures and the potential harm those disclosures might cause can serve as a guide.

In most cases, when ordinary people draw the attention of journalists, it is because they are in some way associated with a high-interest issue or event, such as a crime. In these situations, many journalists set certain rules to guard against disclosures that might unfairly damage personal lives or, worse, turn out to be wrong. Journalists might not publish the name of a suspect until he or she is charged with a crime, for example (laws sometimes determine what can be said, but sometimes the journalist is free to make that decision). Reporters might take extra care around the personal lives of children and teenagers, who are still in the care of their parents and who act with less independence and consciousness than adults.”

All which is applicable, yet given Senator Cruz’s bombastic hateful public attacks on LGBTQ people, and the very fact that Caroline Cruz went viral in early 2022 thanks to a TikTok  post, (it should be noted she took her channel private afterwards) where she explained she disagrees with her father’s political stances on “almost everything” and also complained about her lack of privacy: “I literally have to have security following me everywhere.”

Caroline Cruz also expressed her displeasure that a family Christmas card was altered to make her top appear longer than what it was.

The Cruz family Christmas card, as shared by Caroline (right).
The Cruz family Christmas card, as shared by Caroline (right).TikTok/@_caro_iguess_

Finally noting her displeasure at being judged due to who her father is and in the comment threads the discussion over her sexual orientation.

Screenshot via Gay Times UK

For many journalists, whether and to what degree to report on private aspects of a person’s life begins with that person’s expectations of privacy Online News Association noted and added:

Celebrities know a loss of privacy is a cost of fame. Politicians and other public servants know their power brings public scrutiny, and they carry that awareness into many of the decisions they make.”

The fine line to be walked here is how should privacy apply to a 14-year-old high schooler whose parent is a ranking elected member of Congress, a powerful voice in some Republican circles, and one who stands opposed to that young person’s identity.

The truth is clear. This compelling and tragic story is newsworthy but must be treated with respect.

The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth (13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

Nearly half of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, according to a survey from the Trevor Project.

According to the survey, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Additionally, nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide.

More than 60% of LGBTQ youth said their home wasn’t affirming, the survey found. Nearly 2 in 5 LGBTQ youth said they lived in a community that wasn’t accepting of LGBTQ people.

If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (En Español: 1-888-628-9454; Deaf and Hard of Hearing: 1-800-799-4889) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

You may also dial 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

Police called to Houston home of Sen. Ted Cruz:

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Caribbean

Aruba, Curaçao ordered to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples

‘The right to same-sex marriage has been established’

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Curaçao is one of the constituent countries in the Caribbean that are part of the Netherlands. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WILLEMSTAD, Curaçao — A court on Tuesday ruled Aruba and Curaçao must allow same-sex couples to marry.

The Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba that has jurisdiction over three constituent countries (Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten) and three special municipalities (Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba) within the Netherlands issued the ruling in two marriage equality cases that Fundacion Orguyo Aruba and Human Rights Caribbean in Curaçao filed on behalf of two women who want marriage rights in Aruba and Curaçao.

“The court has come to the conclusion that excluding same-sex marriage is in violation of the prohibition of discrimination and incompatible with state regulations,” reads the ruling, according to the Curaçao Chronicle, an English newspaper in Curaçao. 

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry and adopt children in Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba since 2012.

Same-sex couples cannot legally marry in Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. The countries, however, must recognize same-sex marriages from the Netherlands, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba.

The Court of First Instance in Curaçao on Sept. 13, 2021, ruled the lack of marriage rights for same-sex couples violated the country’s constitution. Prime Minister Gilmar Pisas’ government appealed the decision in the Human Rights Caribbean case. 

Aruba’s registered partnership law took effect in September 2021. Accion 21, a centrist party that openly gay Sen. Miguel Mansur chairs, in June introduced a marriage equality bill.

Janice Tjon Sien Kie of Human Rights Caribbean on Tuesday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview the ruling could take effect as early as March 7 if the Curaçaoan government does not appeal it to the Dutch Supreme Court in The Hague.

“As of March 7, Curaçao has marriage equality,” she said. “If they (the government) go into appeal, it would only cause a delay of approximately 18 months.”

Mansur and Melissa Gumbs, an openly lesbian member of the Sint Maarten Parliament, attended the LGBTQ Victory Fund’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference that took place in D.C. this past weekend.

“Essentially the right to same-sex marriage has been established by the appeals court in both Curaçao and Aruba,” Mansur told the Blade on Tuesday.

Mansur noted the ruling does not address adoption rights for same-sex couples. He told the Blade on Wednesday he does not expect the Aruban government to appeal it, and the Advisory Council will receive the marriage equality bill on Dec. 16.

Gumbs, who founded the center left Party for Progress in Sint Maarten in 2019, on Tuesday told the Blade there “is precedent now within the Caribbean part of the kingdom (of the Netherlands) that it’s not right to withhold same-sex marriage rights from people.” Gumbs added her party plans to introduce a marriage equality bill in Parliament.

“That’s something that we will be using,” said Gumbs, referring to the ruling.

Cuba, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Martin, St. Barthélemy are the other jurisdictions in the Caribbean in which same-sex couples can legally marry. 

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Politics

Herschel Walker defeated in run-off election by Raphael Warnock

Warnock’s victory means Democrats gain the outright majority in the Senate, with 51 seats to 49, freeing them from a power-sharing agreement

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U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, a graduate of Morehouse college (1991), campaigning there on Nov. 30, 2022 (Photo Credit: Warnock/Facebook)

ATLANTA – U.S. Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock defeated his Republican challenger Herschel Walker Tuesday night in a run-off election. In last month’s election, Warnock led Walker by 37,000 votes out of almost 4 million cast, but fell short of the 50% threshold needed to avoid the runoff.

Warnock’s victory means Democrats gain the outright majority in the Senate, with 51 seats to the Republicans’ 49, freeing them from a power-sharing agreement for committee assignments and diminishing the power of moderate Democrats Senators Joseph Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Political commentator and journalist Jacob Rubashkin, reflecting on Warnock’s victory noted on Twitter; “In 1934, no Democratic senators lost re-election. But since 1934, every president, Democrat and Republican, has seen at least one senator from their party lose re-election in every single midterm cycle. Biden becomes the first president since FDR not to lose a single senator.”

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State Department

State Department spokesperson sharply criticizes new Russia propaganda law

Statute ‘pushes LGBTQI+ persons further to the margins of Russian society’

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State Department spokesperson Ned Price, center, speaks at the LGBTQ Victory Fund's International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington on Dec. 3, 2022. Price, who is openly gay, has criticized an anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed this week. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

WASHINGTON — State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Tuesday sharply criticized the anti-LGBTQ+ propaganda law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the day before.

Price, who is openly gay, noted to reporters during a press briefing the law “further criminalizes the sharing of information about LGBTQI+ persons.”

“The law is another serious blow to freedom of expression in Russia, and a continuation of the Kremlin’s broader, long-running crackdown against marginalized persons, dissenting voices, civil society and independent media that it has intensified, as it has failed to achieve its objectives in its unconscionable war against Ukraine,” said Price. 

“The law pushes LGBTQI+ persons further to the margins of Russian society, fueling and amplifying the prejudice, discrimination, violence and stigma they face. The legislation is a clear attempt by the Kremlin to distract from its own failures by scapegoating vulnerable communities and creating phantom enemies,” he added. “We stand in solidarity with LGBTQI+ persons in Russia and around the world who seek to exercise the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognizes that all human beings are free and equal in dignity and rights.”

The law that Putin signed on Monday expands the existing “Protecting Children from Information Advocating a Denial of Traditional Family Values” statute that took effect in Russia in 2013. 

The new law will ban so-called LGBTQ+ propaganda and materials that discuss gender reassignment surgery and LGBTQ+ and intersex issues to minors, which it categorizes as the promotion of pedophilia. Russian media reports indicate the new law will apply to films, books, commercials, media outlets and computer games.

Anyone who violates the law could face a fine of up to 10 million rubles ($165,152.80.) Authorities could also force businesses and organizations to temporarily close, and foreigners who violate the law could face arrest, incarceration for up to 15 days, a fine of up to 5,000 rubles and deportation.

Putin signed the law against the backdrop of Russia’s continued war against Ukraine.

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Los Angeles County

Investigation in death of LGBT Center worker still misgendering her

The discovery of her remains came after intensive efforts by family and friends who actively searched for her filed a missing person’s report

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – In an updated statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into the death of Los Angeles LGBT Center staff member Day Rodas, a 27-year-old transgender woman, the agency continues to misgender her.

Rodas, who worked in the Community Health Program at the L.A. LGBT Center, was a San Fernando Valley native and UCLA graduate. The discovery of her remains came after intensive efforts by family and friends who actively searched for her and filed a missing person’s report.

 Day Rodas (Family photo)

Her body was left along the road in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains north of El Matador Beach in Malibu. A motorist found her on the side of the road and pulled over to try to help, California Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Patricia Thomas told media outlets. However, Rodas was already dead.

In the updated statement issued Tuesday December 6th, 2022, which continued to misgender Rodas, the LASD said that an autopsy of the decedent was conducted on Friday, December 2, 2022, by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Office. 

The Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office did not find any obvious signs of trauma and preliminary findings indicated there were narcotics in the decedent’s body.  LASD Homicide Investigators are treating this incident as a possible narcotics overdose and CHP spokesperson Thomas, said that it was likely the victim’s body was brought to the location.

GoFundMe post made on Sunday to raise money for her funeral expenses was created by her sibling Susie Rodas.

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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”

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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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San Francisco

Wiener responds to bomb threat

“The email listed my home address, threatened to shoot up my Capitol office saying we will fucking kill you & called me a pedophile & groomer”

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California State Senator Scott Wiener (D) speaking on U.S. Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act at San Francisco City Hall with U.S. Senator Alex Padilla other elected officials (Photo Credit: Office of Senator Scott Wiener)

SAN FRANCISCO – California State Senator Scott Wiener (D), an openly gay lawmaker who represents San Francisco, in an emailed statement to the Blade responded to the bomb threat which had been emailed to the San Francisco Standard, a local news outlet, early Tuesday morning.

“Early this morning, I was informed by the San Francisco Standard and the police that someone had issued a bomb threat against me, listing my specific home address and also threatening to shoot up my Capitol office. The email said ‘we will fucking kill you’ and called me a pedophile and groomer.

“This latest wave of death threats against me relates to my work to end discrimination against LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system and my work to ensure the safety of transgender children and their families. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and MAGA activist Charlie Kirk recently tweeted homophobic lies about me, falsely accusing me of supporting pedophiles and child ‘mutilation.’

“The extreme homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that has escalated on social media and right wing media outlets has real world impacts. It leads to harassment, stalking, threats, and violence against our community. People are dying as a result. Responsible political leaders on the right must call it out and stop tolerating it.

“I will always fight for the LGBTQ community — and for the community as a whole — and will never let these threats stop that work.”

A source with the SFPD confirmed the incident.

According to the Standard’s reporting on the incident:

The email was sent by a person using the name Zamina Tataro, the email said that they placed bombs at Wiener’s San Francisco home and threatened to shoot up his Sacramento office “in 20 minutes, I am willing to die.”

The subject line read “Scott Wiener will die today,” and the author called him a pedophile and accused him of grooming children.

A week ago on the heels of a Twitter attack by Georgia far-right extremist MAGA  Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA), far-right extremist radio chat show host Charles J. Kirk, while loosely channeling an InfoWars host Alex Jones style-attack, went after Wiener implying that the veteran lawmaker endorses and supports child molestation.

Kirk, 29, is a co-founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative right-wing political group aimed at influencing college and university students and young people. Ironically, Kirk himself dropped out of Harper College, a junior community college near Chicago, without having completed any degree or certificate.

Kirk hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show, called The Charlie Kirk Show, on Salem Media which is known for owning conservative websites Townhall.com, RedState, Hot Air, and PJ Media, as well as Twitter aggregator Twitchy, calling itself a ” for-profit Christian broadcast corporation.”

He is also an avid supporter of impeached former president Donald Trump, consistently refers to himself as a MAGA Republican and has asserted that the concept of white privilege is a myth and a “racist lie.” He also has spread false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on social media platforms, such as Twitter, in 2020.

Recently Kirk has been attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the subjects of trans youth and also following the lead of far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) in attacking Senator Wiener:

Kirk’s attack on the senator commenced with: “Thousands of pedophiles in California are going free after just a few months in jail, thanks to the state’s radically reduced penalties for child molestation. One reason so many of these predators are going free so early is California lawmaker Scott Wiener.”

Wiener responded on Twitter saying: “Not even 24 hours after MAGA grifter Charlie Kirk tweeted homophobic lies about me, I received this threat repeating one of his lies. But that was the point: Riling people up against me & other LGBTQ people. Words have consequences & Twitter is becoming a cesspool for this crap”

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang upon learning of yet another threat against Wiener:

“The bomb threat against Senator Wiener is another clear indication that the hateful rhetoric and lies from far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and pundits have dangerous consequences. They aren’t playing political games. This is not an issue with two sides. They’re inciting violence against Senator Wiener and the LGBTQ+ community, and their actions and words should be treated as such.

“Silence is not an option. Responsible leaders, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, must reject and condemn these hateful lies about Senator Wiener and LGBTQ+ people. To do any less is to be complicit in the violence they incite.”

Three months ago a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury convicted a 51-year-old San Ramon, Calif. man for threatening the life of Wiener and on state weapons charges.

Erik Triana was convicted guilty of threatening the life of Wiener, two counts of possessing assault weapons (an AR-15 rifle and a privately made 9mm pistol), two counts of manufacturing or assembling unregistered firearms (commonly known as ghost guns), and two counts of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Both the San Francisco Police Department and California Highway Patrol investigated the threat, the SFPD’s public information officer Officer Kathryn Winters told the Blade.

Senator Wiener released a statement after the conviction:

“I’m deeply grateful to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the court system for taking this death threat — and my personal safety — seriously, and for seeking accountability.”

“Death threats against public officials undermine democracy. A public official should make decisions based on what benefits the community, not based on whether a decision will get the official killed. Modern politics can be polarized and toxic, but we must never normalize or tolerate death threats,” the senator added.

Local Contra County journalist Tony Hicks, writing for Bay City News, reported:

Triana was arrested after he sent Wiener the threat through the senator’s “contact me” portal on his website that read: “Vax my kids without my permission and expect a visit from me and my rifle.”

According to the district attorney’s office, the San Ramon father of three signed his message “Amendment, Second” and listed his address as the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Triana was charged in April.

When Wiener testified on Sept. 6 he noted the threat was unlike others his office receives because of the reference to the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (who, along with Supervisor Harvey Milk, was shot and killed at San Francisco City Hall in 1978), the specific threat to use a gun, and that Triana lived in the Bay Area.

The threat was traced back to a work computer Triana used at his job in Pleasanton. When investigators executed the search warrant they found an unregistered AR-15 assault weapon with nine loaded magazines and an unserialized privately made 9-mm pistol referred to as ghost guns.

Police also seized another unserialized pistol in a backpack, along with two loaded 9mm magazines and two loaded AR-15 style magazines.

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Colorado

Club Q suspect: 300+ charges to include murder & hate crimes

The 22-year-old suspect will face 305 charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and bias-motivated crime

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Memorial to the victims of the Club Q outside of the nightclub (Screenshot/YouTube Inside Edition)

COLORADO SPRINGS – El Paso County Colorado District Attorney Michael Allen announced in the first in-person hearing Tuesday, the 22-year-old suspect in the mass shooting at the LGBTQ+ nightclub Club Q, which killed five and wounded dozens other will face 305 charges including first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and bias-motivated crime.

The Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper reported that Anderson Aldrich appeared in a Colorado Springs courtroom wearing a green jumpsuit and handcuffs. Aldrich’s facial bruising had significantly healed since a video hearing two weeks ago. 

The total list of charges according to the Gazette is as follows: 

• 10 counts of first-degree murder.

• 86 counts of attempted first-degree murder.

• 86 counts of first-degree assault.

• Four counts of second-degree assault.

• 48 counts of bias motivated crime. 

• 71 counts of violent crime causing death and using a weapon.

Allen said the prosecution may request to amend the charges in the future.

“We are not going to tolerate actions against community members based on their sexual identity,” Allen said at a news conference after the hearing. “Members of that community have been harassed and intimated and abused for too long. And that’s not going to occur in the 4th Judicial District.”

During the hearing Judge Michael McHenry, following the filing of formal charges, granted a request from District Attorney Allen for the suspect’s arrest affidavit to be unsealed. The court papers should be available to the public by the end of the day Wednesday, the Judge noted according to the Gazette.

Allen said that while he couldn’t talk about what is in the affidavit, he told reporters that it might contain “much less information than you might expect.”

Suspect in Club Q shooting appears in court:

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