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LA LGBT Center’s ambitious Anita May Rosenstein Campus opens

A new symbol of LGBT triumph

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Anita May Rosenstein Campus across from The Village, with trees in lower left (photo courtesy the Center)

Strong women are emerging as political powerhouses in 2019. In addition to California Sen. Kamala Harris and the five other female presidential hopefuls, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Reps. Maxine Waters, Katie Hill, Katie Porter and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rivet the imagination among the 127 outspoken women in Congress.

That’s what we see in Trump’s America, strong women standing up and fighting back in their own fashion. What we may not see are the powerhouses on the ground, the strong women who are creating, funding, building achievements that blow our minds at the ribbon cutting and endure years beyond anyone remembers why that ribbon cutting moment made history.

Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and philanthropist Anita May Rosenstein are two such strong women whose vision, commitment and determination led to the grand opening of the massive Anita May Rosenstein Campus on Sunday, April 7, marking as monumental a moment in LGBT history as the Stonewall riots did for the gay liberation awakening 50 years ago. There’s nothing like this campus anywhere in the world—and no one else has even imagined it.

LA LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean and Anita May Rosenstein. (Photo courtesy of LA LGBT Center)

Located at 1118 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood—just blocks down the street from where Center co-founder Morris Kight lived for many years—the two-acre complex on nearly one full city block directly across from the Village at Ed Gould Plaza will provide comprehensive intergenerational services for LGBT seniors and youth with emergency and transitional housing and beds, affordable housing, a new Senior Community Center, Youth Drop-In Center and Youth Academy, and employment programs. Phase II will add more apartments by mid-2020.

Additionally, the Center is moving its headquarters to the AMR Campus, turning the current four-story McDonald/Wright Building into an LGBT health center.

“Without a doubt, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus will change lives,” LA City Council member David Ryu said Sept. 7, 2018 after the council approved his motions for $850,000 in funding. “I firmly believe that when completed, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus will be the pride of Hollywood.”

The idea for the complex grew out of an in-depth planning process that began in late 2006 and culminated in February 2008. The Strategic Planning committee was comprised of Loren Ostrow, LuAnn Boylan, Marki Knox, Eric Shore, Glenn Tan and three staffers—Jean, Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings, and Chief Administrative Officer Kathy Ketchum.   

“We were trying to figure out what would be the future needs of our community,” Jean tells the Los Angeles Blade. 

They came up with five priorities: 1) medical care for the entire community (not just people with HIV); 2) housing, especially for youth and seniors who faced homelessness and discrimination; 3) expand services for seniors; 4) expand services for all youth, not just youth experiencing homelessness; 5) Build a public policy and community building department. (A 6th priority was added in Aug. 2014 to expand substance use prevention and treatment programs.)

“All of this expansion was to be in the context of making our services more geographically accessible, ensuring that we had the managerial capacity to implement plan goals and that new programs and services were financially feasible and sustainable,” says Jean.

“It was a bold vision. But it was such a bold vision, Darrel and I freaked out. We said to the board ‘We’re not sure we’re up for this!’”

Jean and Cummings previously left the Center burned out by years of around-the-clock pressure and upon their return, they promised themselves they’d find more balance in their lives. Wanting to keep the two prized executives, the board offered to change the plan. “No, it’s the right plan,” Jean recalls saying, suggesting that perhaps the two were not the right people for the job.

Jean and Cummings took a few weeks of soul searching, though they finally told the board, “OK, we’re in.”

But Jean was frank. “This is going to mean a capital campaign because the only way we’re going to be able to afford the space to do all of these things that we’ve set our sights on is we’ve got to raise it,” she remembers telling the board. “’And I have my eyes on exactly the property I want – I want that property across the street from the Village, which belongs to the state of California. And I want to get it for free.”

They immediately started working on the state of California and making their rounds, meeting with LA City Council member Eric Garcetti, in whose district is the Center headquarters. They preferred speaking with him rather than Council member Ferraro, in whose district sits the Village.

And then the stock market crashed. “So that delayed everything because nobody knew what was going to happen,” Jean says. “We put many things on hold for about a year. We were still growing in the other program areas, if we had the money to support them—but we weren’t going to launch anything dramatic in light of the crash.”

In addition to the crash, the Center was also in the No on Prop 8 coalition that 2008. Prop 8 passed and Barack Obama was elected as America’s first black president. Meanwhile, the Center kept working.

Lorri Jean, CEO Of the Los Angeles LGBT Center (Blade photo by Karen Ocamb)

“We began to achieve different bits,” Jeans says. “We became a federally qualified health center. We were setting our sights on what we were going to do for youth and what fell in our lap but Life Works. We got into the foster youth business when GLASS folded. And we began to open up other sites—Boyle Heights; last year Korea Town with our Trans Wellness Center; right now doing tenant improvements on a site in South Los Angeles; we did the new clinic in West Hollywood; Gay & Lesbian Elder Housing came to us and that was right, perfectly in the wheelhouse.”

The whole time, “we’re talking to the state of California about how we want that property. And so finally they agree to give it to us for $1. We were getting it for free!,” Jean says. 

And then comes a twist. “We found out that the federal government had equity in the property. And because it was an Employment Development Department building, it was the Department of Labor – headed by Sec. Hilda Solis! So we worked with Hilda and she agreed to let the state give it to us for a dollar,” Jean says.

And then another twist. Hilda Solis steps down to run for the board of supervisors — “before the deal was consummated. Tom Perez stepped in (as Obama’s new Secretary of Labor). He was brand new,” Jean says, “but we had a deadline running with the state that we had to fish or cut bait. And even though we got (Rep.) Adam Schiff’s help, Tom Perez did not have the guts to follow through on Hilda’s deal—and he had toured the Center!

“So I will always be very disappointed in Tom Perez for that decision,” Jean says. “So we had to pay $12.7 million for it.”

But the team was undeterred.

“During this time, we began to define the scope of what this project would be,” though it was a number of years before they were secure in knowing they actually had the two acres, getting help from a number of people, including Assembly Speaker John Perez.

“We pulled in a lot of favors to get that state building without having to go to a public competition,” she says. “Within a year after we bought the building it was appraised for more than $17 million.”

They also knew they had to “over-achieve” in their fundraising.

“We had momentum right out of the gate,” says Jean. “Before this campaign, no living donor had ever had ever made a seven-figure gift or a seven-figure pledge, excluding estate gifts. There have been a few people who’d reached the million-dollar mark in cumulative giving over the decades. But no one had ever said, ‘yeah – here’s a million dollars’ or anything above that. In this campaign, excluding some estate gifts, we have 15 people who gave seven figure gifts. Our biggest gift is $8 million from Anita.”

Jean waxes poetic about one particular night of fundraising. “We were at an amazing party at a board retreat in 2013 at Anita May Rosenstein’s Laguna Beach home,” she says. “She hosted a dinner and that night I announced how much we had raised in the first two months. I think it was almost $4 million. Well, damned if Anita didn’t say, ‘I’ll match it.’ That inspired more gifts. One donor was so inspired, he said,  ‘Maybe I ought to call my wife. What the hell – a million dollars, if Anita will match it.’

“So by the end of that night, we were at $13 million,” Jean recalls. “It was the most incredible, amazing evening of fundraising I have ever experienced in my life! And we were off and running.”

And then came 2016 and the election of Donald Trump as president instead of Hillary Clinton.

“When Trump got elected, people got scared, myself included,” Jean says. “And there were a number of people who came to me from the community, donors, members of my staff who said should we re-think doing this Campus because what if we face all these cuts and we need that money for services and not for bricks and mortar. First of all, I said to them, if we don’t build the building the money goes back. People won’t give it to us for services. That’s how capital campaigns work.” 

More importantly, she said, “we have to do this project now more than ever. We have to show that we will not be stopped, that we cannot be stopped! It’s become to me an even more powerful metaphor. Here we have a president and his team of people who want to build a wall to keep the most vulnerable out. And what do we do? We build a beautiful campus to invite the most vulnerable in.”

And an inspired LGBT community and allies raised money to make it happen. “The estimated total project cost is approximately $141.5 million,” Jean says.  “I say ‘estimated’ because two big pieces of the puzzle haven’t yet been completed, i.e., the affordable housing to be completed in Phase II (senior units and youth micro units).  Our affordable housing development partner, Thomas Safran & Associates, estimates they will cost $63 million; the remainder is for the rest of the campus.”

And powerful women are leading the campaign.

“I like to think of this project as woman powered!,” Jean says. “Two of our top three donors are women—Anita and Ariadne Getty.  And Ariadne has generously named both our Youth Academy and our Senior Housing. Moreover, 5 of the additional fourteen 7-figure gifts are partially or entirely from women.”

The Youth Academy at the new campus will be named The Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy.

For Lorri Jean, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus now symbolizes the triumph of the LGBT community in Los Angeles. 

“This campus is a testament to more than those of us who worked on it. It is a testament to 50 years of Center staff and volunteers toiling. And it is a testament to this community,” Jean says.

“Our community in Los Angeles has had the ability to envision things here that no one else ever did—from the Mattachine Society or Edith Eyde (Lisa Ben) and Vice Versa, or the ONE Institute, or the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Cooper Donuts—the first demonstration against gays in the military in the early 60s. The Metropolitan Community Church. People have had courage and boldness in our community in LA. And this could not have been created anywhere else. Something like this is not even being contemplated anywhere else in the world.

“And that is a testament to this amazing Los Angeles LGBT community and increasingly, with our allies,” says Jean. “And I’m just proud of all of us. Proud of this community. LA doesn’t get its just due in terms of our role in our movement.”

Perhaps until now. 

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, we inaccurately noted that the property was appraised for $70 million one year after purchase. It was actually appraised for $17 million. We regret the error. 

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California

Newsom highlights state & local action to combat drought

At a Los Angeles County Water Recycling Facility, Newsom called on Californians to take immediate action to avoid a crisis

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At MWD water recycling facility in LA, Governor Newsom highlights drought action. (Office of the Governor)

CARSON – Governor Gavin Newsom visited a Metropolitan Water District of Southern California water recycling facility Tuesday to discuss the administration’s response to the ongoing megadrought affecting the western United States.

January through March were the driest first three months in the state’s recorded history, the state’s largest reservoirs are currently at half of their historical averages, and the state’s snowpack is just 17 percent of average. Governor Newsom called on local water agencies and Californians to step up and take action to conserve water.

“California will need to use every tool in its toolbox to safeguard our communities, businesses and ecosystems from the severe, climate-driven drought being felt throughout the West,” said Newsom. “The state is taking urgent action to tackle drought impacts, drive water savings, and empower local water agencies to step up conservation measures across the state. All of us must take aggressive action to meet these challenges head-on while we work to build a climate-resilient water system.”

Governor Newsom has taken swift action to combat the drought conditions, including extending the drought emergency statewide last October and in March, issuing an executive order calling on water agencies to implement, at a minimum, Level 2 of their drought contingency plans to achieve water use reductions in response to a supply shortage of up to 20 percent.

In addition, under proposed emergency regulations by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the local agencies that have not yet adopted conservation plans, covering just 8 percent of the state’s population, will be compelled to take steps to achieve water use reduction with steps like limiting outdoor water use. 

(Office of the Governor)

The Governor’s March order was based on lessons learned from the last drought including that conservation actions are most impactful when imposed at the local level, based on regional needs and behaviors, and can be an effective means to achieve statewide conservation goals.
 
In response to the Governor’s direction, many local water agencies, including the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), have taken aggressive action to combat the drought. While an overwhelming majority of the state’s water agencies have drought plans at the ready, plans covering about 50 percent of California residents have not yet been activated at the level urged by the Governor.
 
On May 13, the SWRCB released draft regulations that will require all local water suppliers to implement Level 2 of their Water Shortage Contingency Plans, and compel those that have not developed their own plan to take the following steps:   

  • Limit outdoor water use to two days per week.
  • Ban watering during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Ban irrigating ornamental grass at business and commercial sites.
  • Enforce fines of up to $500 a day for districts and corporations not in compliance. 

 The draft regulations will be considered by SWRCB at their May 24 meeting and, if adopted and then approved by the Office of Administrative Law, will ensure all local plans are in effect by June 10. The SWRCB also will consider regulations banning the watering of decorative grass at business and institutions, which the Governor’s March order directed the Board to consider. 

The state is calling on Californians to take immediate action to avoid a crisis, including: 

  • Limiting outdoor watering – on average, each time you water your yard equals about 240 flushes or 13 full laundry loads (for a washer that uses 30 gallons per load).
  • Taking shorter showers. Going to a 5 minute shower to save up to 12.5 gallons per shower when using a water-efficient shower head. 
  • Taking showers instead of baths – a bath uses up to 2.5 times the amount of water as a shower.
  • Using a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas to save 6 gallons of water every minute.
  • Washing full loads of clothes to save 15-45 gallons of water per load.
(Office of the Governor)

The Governor’s California Blueprint proposed this year would invest an additional $2 billion for drought response, which includes $100 million in addition to a previous investment of $16 million this fiscal year for a statewide education and communications effort on drought. These investments build on the previous $5.2 billion three-year investment in the state’s drought response and water resilience through the California Comeback Plan (2021). 

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood in brief- City government in action this week

The new mural “Our Pride” by LaToya Peoples at City of West Hollywood City Hall, WeHo Pride 2022 Update, WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival

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Photo by Uriel Malak Brewer/Facebook

WEST HOLLYWOOD – The City of West Hollywood is reminding community members about events surrounding the upcoming #WeHoPride season. The City will provide regularly updated information about WeHo Pride 2022 programming as it becomes available:

  • WeHo Pride Weekend will take place on Friday, June 3, 2022, Saturday, June 4, 2022, and Sunday, June 5, 2022 in and around West Hollywood Park, located at 647 N. San Vicente Boulevard and will include will include a free WeHo Pride Street Fair representing a diverse array of LGBTQ+ community groups as part of visibility, expression, and celebration.
  • The annual Dyke March and the new Women’s Freedom Festival will take place beginning on Friday, June 3, 2022 at 5 p.m. The Dyke March will feature the presentation of the Melissa Etheridge and Community Activist awards, a poetry reading, sign-making and supplies, speakers, a DJ, and the Dykes on Bikes contingent. The Dyke March will step off and return to the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica Boulevards. The Women’s Freedom Festival will take place immediately following the Dyke March at the #WeHoPride Street Fair stage and will feature emerging LGBTQ and BIPOC women and non-binary musicians, comedians, poets, and activists, along with a featured performance from Milck, singing her latest protest song, We Won’t Go Back
  • WeHo Pride Weekend will feature OUTLOUD: Raising Voices, the award-winning three-day LGBTQ concert series produced by JJLA at West Hollywood Park. Headliners, artist lineup, and ticket information are available by visiting https://weareoutloud.com
  • The City of West Hollywood’s Pride Parade will step-off at noon at Crescent Heights Boulevard on Sunday, June 5, 2022 and will make its way west along Santa Monica Boulevard to the City’s Rainbow District.
  • WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival (formerly known as the One City One Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival) will take place during 40 days from Harvey Milk Day on Sunday, May 22, 2022 to Thursday, June 30, 2022 live at various locations throughout the City of West Hollywood, along with selected online programming. The theme for 2022 is With Liberty, Diversity, Inclusion, and Progress For All. The WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival runs for 40 days, from Harvey Milk Day through the end of Pride month and is organized by the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Division with input from the City’s Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board, Transgender Advisory Board, Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, and community partners. A full calendar of events is available online.

More information and details about WeHo Pride Weekend will be posted as it becomes available at www.weho.org/pride.

Dyke March and Women’s Freedom Festival is scheduled to take place on Friday June 3, 2022

WeHo Pride Weekend will Take Place from Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5

OUTLOUD: Raising Voices Three-Day LGBTQ Concert Series Produced by JJLA Take Place from Friday, June 3 to Sunday, June 5

WeHo Pride Parade will Step-Off at Noon on Sunday, June 5 Along Santa Monica Boulevard

WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival Will Take Place from Sunday, May 22 to Thursday, June 30

For more than three decades, the City of West Hollywood has been home to the largest Pride celebration in Southern California, as hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people and allies from around the world make West Hollywood their destination for the Pride season. Home to the “Rainbow District” along Santa Monica Boulevard, which features a concentration of historic LGBTQ clubs, restaurants, and retail shops, the City consistently tops lists of “most LGBTQ friendly cities” in the nation.

Since incorporation in 1984, the City of West Hollywood has become one of the most influential cities in the nation for its outspoken advocacy on LGBTQ issues. No other city of its size has had a greater impact on the national public policy discourse on fairness and inclusiveness for LGBTQ people. More than 40 percent of residents in West Hollywood identify as LGBTQ and three of the five members of the West Hollywood City Council are openly gay. The City has advocated for nearly four decades for measures that support LGBTQ individuals and the City is in the vanguard on efforts to gain and protect equality for all people on a state, national, and international level.

The City of West Hollywood is one of the first municipalities to form a Lesbian & Gay Advisory Board and a Transgender Advisory Board, which each address matters of advocacy. As part of its support of the transgender community, the City has a Transgender Resource Guide available on the City’s website, which provides information about a variety of resources including legal, health, and social services, available in the Greater Los Angeles area to enhance and improve the well-being of transgender people.

For more information about WeHo Pride, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Events Services Division at [email protected].

For more information about the WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival, please contact the City of West Hollywood’s Arts Coordinator Mike Che at (323) 848-6377 or [email protected].

For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

The new mural “Our Pride” by LaToya Peoples at City of West Hollywood City Hall! Commissioned through WeHo Arts is now on display swing by and check it out.

Photo by Uriel Malak Brewer/Facebook

The City of West Hollywood is debuting a new mural at West Hollywood City Hall on its east-facing exterior wall facing N. Sweetzer Avenue. The mural celebrates LGBTQ Pride and is installed as part of the City’s WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival. City Hall is located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard. The LGBTQ Arts Festival is part of the City of West Hollywood’s annual Pride celebration.

Our Pride’ by artist LaToya D. Peoples features four hands to symbolize aspects of LGBTQ equality and activism. The first hand is in a rising fist shape, symbolizing the fight against oppression throughout history. Next, a painter’s hand, symbolizing LGBTQ creativity and openness as a community. A hand holding a sunflower comes next, as a symbol for self-love and seeking light. And finally, a hand in a classic peace sign. The background color is a gradient bright blue sky, symbolic of the progress the LGBTQ community has made and will continue to make. Each hand is painted as a realistic representation of the diverse people of our communities.

LaToya D. Peoples is a BIPOC, queer, multidisciplinary artist, educator, and entrepreneur working in the realms of visual art, public/community arts, and design. Her work focuses on figuration, natural elements, color, and pattern, as a way of exploring identity and history. She carries these themes over to her mural and sculptural installation work, creating transformative pieces guided by youth and community engagement. Her commissioned works live in the collections of University Maryland Medical Center, Denver Urban Arts & Venues, Baltimore Office of Promotion and Arts, and Baltimore Department of Parks and Recreation.

Peoples has also worked as an educator and coordinator for visual arts programming in Pennsylvania and Maryland. She has served youth and adults through teaching partnerships with the Baltimore City Public School System, National Museum of Ceramic Art, Arts Everyday, Jubilee Arts Center, Enoch Pratt Free Library, and the McDonogh School.

Our Pride’ will be on display through Sunday, April 30, 2023 at West Hollywood City Hall, located at 8300 Santa Monica Boulevard.

The WeHo Pride LGBTQ Arts Festival runs over the course of 40 days from May 22 (Harvey Milk Day) through the end of Pride Month (June 30) in-person at various locations throughout West Hollywood, along with selected online programming. For full details about the Festival and for information about #WeHoPride weekend (June 3-5, 2022) events, please visit www.weho.org/pride.

For more information about the Our Pride mural, please contact Mike Che, Arts Coordinator, City of West Hollywood at (323) 848-6377 or [email protected]. For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, please call TTY (323) 848-6496.

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Orange County

Mass shooting at a church in Orange County- 1 dead, 4 wounded

Deputies were dispatched to a scene of a shooting in the 24000 block of El Toro Road at around 2 p.m Sunday

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Screenshot/KABC 7 News LA

LAGUNA WOOD – Orange County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched to a scene of shooting at 1:26 p.m. at the Geneva Presbyterian Church in the 24000 block of El Toro Road Sunday afternoon.

The Orange County officials on scene confirmed that one person was killed and four others were critically wounded during the incident, one other individual also suffered minor injuries.

UPDATED SUNDAY: Churchgoers stopped and hogtied the shooter, described as an Asian male in his 60s, preventing further carnage. “That group of churchgoers displayed what we believe is exceptional heroism … and bravery,” Orange County Undersheriff Jeff Hallock told reporters.

UPDATED MONDAY: Orange County sheriff’s officials have identified David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas as the suspect in Sunday’s shooting at the Geneva Presbyterian Church. Chou was arrested Sunday and is being held in lieu of $1-million, jail records show.

Sheriff’s spokeswoman Carrie Braun said he was booked on one count of murder and five counts attempted murder. But authorities are still trying to determine the motive for the shooting, which left one churchgoer dead and five others injured.

The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Chou appeared to be motivated by political hatred of the Taiwanese community, Orange County sheriff’s officials said. While investigators provided few details, they said their investigation suggests the deadly attack was a “politically motivated hate crime” carried out by David Wenwei Chou, 68, of Las Vegas.

“Based on preliminary information in the investigation, it is believed the suspect involved was upset about political tensions between China and Taiwan,” Sheriff Don Barnes said.

Another man who saw the attack Sunday at Geneva Presbyterian Church told the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets that a pastor struck the gunman with a chair while he was reloading, giving others a chance to tackle and hogtie the suspect. The shooting marred what was meant to be a special occasion: The pastor had just returned from two years in Taiwan

According to the OCSD on Twitter: “Deputies are responding to reports of a shooting at a church on the 24000 block of El Toro Road in Laguna Woods. Multiple victims have been shot. More details to follow, PIO en route. We have detained one person and have recovered a weapon that may be involved.

The Orange County Fire Department tweeted “Our FF/PM’s are on scene and treating and transporting multiple patients. Updates will follow.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office released a statement Sunday afternoon that said it was monitoring the shooting and working closely with local law enforcement.

“No one should have to fear going to their place of worship. Our thoughts are with the victims, community, and all those impacted by this tragic event,” the statement read.

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