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California Democrats jel under Party Chair Rusty Hicks

Trump’s negativity will spur Democratic activism

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Out Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez and California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks at a July 30 debate watch party (Photo courtesy LACDP)

If the country wasn’t reeling from three mass shootings in a row, the news out of Orange County, California might be more stunning. The bastion of rock-ribbed red conservative Republicanism and cruel anti-LGBTQ Christian zealots who preached that AIDS was God’s revenge against homosexuals has officially turned blue.

According to statistics released Aug. 7 by the county Registrar of Voters, Orange County has 547,458 registered Democrats, compared to 547,369 registered Republicans. No Party Preference voters swelled to 440,770 or just over 27 % of voters behind the once impenetrable Orange Curtain.

Since last February, the California GOP has officially been a third party, according to the California Sec. of State, with 23.6% of registered voters compared to 43.1% Democrats and 28.3% No Party Preference.

Democrats attribute the Orange County sea change to “changing demographics, aggressive recruitment efforts and President Trump,” the Los Angeles Times reports, while Republicans blame the numbers on GOP flight from “high housing costs, poor schools and lackluster job opportunities.”

This is the region where Democrats flipped four of the House seats Speaker Nancy Pelosi fears may flip back if 2020 election politics focus on impeaching Donald Trump. Nonetheless, Reps. Katie Hill and Harley Rouda endorsed holding impeachment hearings.

Another 2020 drama is playing out between the White House, Republican National Committee, and the state GOP who filed two lawsuits Aug. 6 against California Gov. Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla to block a new law requiring presidential candidates, including Trump, to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the March 3, 2020 primary ballot. Meanwhile, in California’s 22nd Congressional District, Trump ally Rep. Devin Nunes has filed a defamation lawsuit against his own constituents. In Hollywood this is called “jumping the shark.”

California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks, the party’s new steward elected to mend internal fences and build on the progressive victories of 2018, is off to a good start. He was lauded last June for creating a task force, which included Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur, to address misconduct and harassment within the party.

Hicks is keenly aware of his responsibilities.

“We are at a moment in our history in which we have a current occupant in the White House that is not just tolerating white supremacy but is perpetuating and promoting white supremacy,” Hicks told the Los Angeles Blade by phone Aug. 6. “White nationalism is something that we, as a society, and certainly as the California Democratic Party—it’s particularly important that we stand up, step up, and speak out against the hate and the rhetoric that we’re seeing. Hate and rhetoric is turning into hateful action on so many different fronts.”

The CDP, Hicks says, is committed to “ensuring that voices that are reflective of the diversity, the strength of our state and of our party, are up front and center.”

But with identifiable openly LGBTQ leaders such as former chair Eric Bauman now out of the picture, how is the LGBTQ community represented within the top CDP structure?

“We have just recently appointed our standing committees within the party. These are the nine committees that carry out the work of the party. We had a goal of ensuring that a large number of those were from the LGBTQ community,” Hicks says. “Today, 20% of our appointees to standing committees are members of the LGBTQ community; 60% are delegates and party activists of color; a large number of young leaders—more than 20% are under the age of 35. I’m really proud of the inclusivity and the diversity that we’re seeing in some of our party’s decision-making body.”

Hicks, a straight white ally who marched in the LA Pride Parade, says he is monitoring what is happening in Modesto as plans unfold for a white Straight Pride rally. “We’re certainly coordinating with our partners on the ground to ensure that we push back against events like this,” he says, though no specific action plans have yet been developed.

Modesto is in the 10th Congressional District that Democrat Josh Harder took from Republican Jeff Denham in a close 2018 race. Harder’s seat is considered vulnerable. But Hicks promises to work hard to retain that seat and the other 2018 seats that flipped the House for the Democrats.

We’re certainly going to ensure that we protect and preserve the gains of 2018 by harnessing the power, the energy that brought us those victories, like Congressman Harder’s, Congressman Cox, the four members in Orange County, one right here in Los Angeles,” says Hicks. “There was a lot of activism in 2018. I know with the negative energy coming out of the White House, I’m certain that activists on the ground are prepared to do the hard, gritty, house-to-house work that it takes to be successful, to actually communicate with your family, and friends, and neighbors about why protecting and preserving this seat is so incredibly important at this particular moment in our history. Just as we did in 2018, we’re prepared to hold that seat in 2020 and beyond.”

  Hicks is also keenly aware of the importance of LGBTQ voters and activists.

“You could look from one campaign to the other in the success of Democratic candidates—the LGBTQ community is an important part of that victory and that path to victory, not just in raw votes on election day, but on the organizing, plan, and path to get to Election Day, be it field organizing capacity, financial resources, the ability to communicate with a large number of voters within the LGBTQ community,” says Hicks. The LGBTQ community “is an important community for our long-term success.”

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West Hollywood

Unprovoked attack in WeHo may be latest in a string of violent crimes

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object

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File photo of LASD deputies making an arrest -unrelated- (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

WEST HOLLYWOOD – After an evening out with friends in West Hollywood at the Abbey on November15, Matthew McGrath found himself in hospital the next day with a fractured jaw and his wallet and mobile phone missing.

According to McGrath, who has lived in WeHo for five years, he was walking home along San Vicente Boulevard when he heard “some slurs, some profanity.” “I’m not exactly clear on what, [happened next] but sort of a few minutes later, I just felt a really blunt force to my head, blacked out and was knocked unconscious,” he told KTLA.

McGrath spent two weeks in the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries due to injuries that doctors told him were caused by a blunt object KTLA also noted.

Matthew McGrath via GoFundMe page

He said that he has filed a report with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s substation about the assault and theft but as of Friday had not received a response.

KTLA also reported that the night after McGrath was assaulted, a person was beaten and stabbed on Santa Monica Boulevard. David Cook, 44, was arrested for that stabbing last month. There were also two similar attacks involving a different man using a baseball bat and a boxcutter on Nov. 18 resulted in another arrest last month the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station said in a statement posted to the webpage for the LASD.

“I’ve always felt safe in this neighborhood,” McGrath told KTLA. He observed that although his attack was unprovoked given the other cases and arrests the timing seems suspicious. “We get a crime here or there in West Hollywood, but I have never heard of it happening multiple days in a row,” he said. “Similar assaults, similar attacks, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

GoFundMe page has been created to help McGrath.

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WeHo attack leaves victim shaken, could be part of larger crime trend

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West Hollywood

The Los Angeles Blade celebrates West Hollywood as it turns 37

The City of West Hollywood was incorporated on November 29, 1984 by a coalition of LGBTQ activists, seniors, and renters

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Courtesy of the City of West Hollywood

LOS ANGELES – Incorporated on this date 37 years ago, the City of West Hollywood became the 84th city in Los Angeles County. The “Creative City” was formed during an extremely difficult time for the LGBTQ+ people who lived in the region as the HIV/AIDS pandemic took countless lives.

The city’s founding was also unique as it brought together an eclectic mix of renters, seniors, LGBTQ+ and others to form the basis of what is arguably one of the world’s most prominent LGBTQ+ communities.

The spirit of that inclusivity and free-spirited thinking continues today even as the city and the surrounding greater LA region has survived yet another pandemic.

Celebrate West Hollywood’s 37th Birthday!

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California

California expands broadband infrastructure & internet access across state

The initial project locations based on unserved/underserved areas that don’t reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second

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

SACRAMENTO – Advancing California’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state has identified 18 projects to begin work on an open-access middle-mile network that will provide missing infrastructure paths to bring broadband to all communities.

As part of the historic $6 billion broadband investment advanced in partnership with legislative leaders earlier this year, the initial project locations are based on known unserved and underserved areas across the state. The projects will connect to the core of the global internet and interconnect to last-mile infrastructure, which is the final leg that provides internet service to a customer.

“California is committed to taking on the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities across the state,” said Newsom. “These projects are the first step to delivering on our historic investment that will ensure all Californians have access to high-quality broadband internet, while also creating new jobs to support our nation-leading economic recovery.”

The initial 18 projects represent a range of geographic locations and technical approaches. Projects are being initiated in the following tribal communities, counties and cities: Alpine County; Amador County; Calaveras County; Central Coast; Coachella Valley; Colusa Area; Inyo County; Kern County; Kern/San Luis Obispo Area; Lake County Area; Los Angeles and South Los Angeles; Oakland; Orange County; Plumas Area; Riverside/San Diego Area; San Bernardino County; Siskiyou Area; and West Fresno.

Evaluation of project areas included consideration of public comments, prioritization of unserved or underserved areas of the state, and inclusion of tribal communities, cities and counties. An unserved or underserved area has households that do not reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload of at least 3 Mbps.

“Core to our success will be the deep partnerships we’ve built with a diverse set of community organizations and last mile providers. Through many years of engagement with metropolitan planning organizations, CPUC-supported broadband consortia, Tribal organizations, community-based broadband advocacy groups, and organizations like the Rural County Representatives of California, the NAACP, and the California Emerging Technology Fund, we are now ready to take this historic step towards broadband equity for California,” said Louis Fox, Founder and Chair of GoldenStateNet, the state’s third-party administrator.

State partners implementing the middle-mile initiative include the California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Caltrans. GoldenStateNet was selected as the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to manage the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation of the statewide open-access middle-mile broadband network. As the TPA, GoldenStateNet will partner with key stakeholder groups across the state to investigate the best technical, financial and operational models to meet the needs of the project sites.  

A map and additional information on the initial projects can be found here.

“A reliable broadband connection makes the difference between having access to full-service health care, education and employment or sometimes going without,” said State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong. “Through a historic partnership between our Governor, the Legislature, state agencies and a third-party administrator, we are taking immediate action to improve connectivity for Californians in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.”

“These initial routes have been identified to accelerate projects in areas of the state that are unserved because of the lack of open middle mile infrastructure to serve them. We are accelerating the selection of a diverse set of routes — those that are ready to build and those that are not ready to build.  This allows the state to partner with locals on these diverse projects and learn by doing, as we concurrently work to finalize all the needed routes in the State. There are many more communities like those in Phase I that will be included in the final map,” said Martha Guzman Aceves, Commissioner at the CPUC.

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