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Schiff inspires, candidates charm at California Democratic Convention; Buttigieg surges in Iowa

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For several minutes on Saturday, the California Democratic universe stopped jousting for their favorite candidates and gave a rousing vote of confidence to Rep. Adam Schiff, who is steadily leading the House Intelligence Committee’s historic impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump.

Introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal as “our protector,” Schiff opened his remarks to the three-day California Democratic Party (CDP) Endorsing Convention in Long Beach by acknowledging the one minute/20 seconds standing ovation.

“I feel like I should just stop there,” Schiff said wryly in a strained voice. “You will forgive me if I’m a bit exhausted. It’s been an eventful week.”

Schiff has been sounding the alarm about the Trump presidency since before he became chair of the Intelligence Committee, recalling to the Los Angeles Blade the despondency he saw Election Night 2016 at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. “The reality of the next two years proved every bit as bad, in some ways worse, than what we feared,” Schiff said Nov. 2018. “It really takes your breath away.”

It’s gotten worse, Schiff told convention delegates. “Our democracy is at risk, more so now than any time in my life,” Schiff said.

“Two years ago, I stood before you and I urged you to resist and you did. But we are more than a resistance now – we are a majority. We are a majority in one House and we will become a majority in the other and we will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from,” Schiff said.

“The most grave threat to the life and health of our democracy comes from within, from a president without ethical compass, without an understanding of or devotion to our Constitution and the beautiful series of checks and balances it established, setting ambition against ambition so no one branch of government could overwhelm another. And most importantly, so no despotism could take root,” said Schiff.

“There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes he is above the law,” said Schiff.

That has been a theme of presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris who consistently says, “justice is on the ballot.

Out Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Sen. Kamala Harris, Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur (Photo courtesy Equality California) 

But Harris’ campaign has been struggling of late — including a drop to 3% in the most recent Iowa poll that caused some buzz among longtime political consultants that she should drop out and save herself the embarrassment of losing in the early states and limping into her home state’s Super Tuesday Primary. However, Harris and her campaign seemed energized at the convention, including an appearance Friday night at a “Dems, Drinks and Drag Queens” party sponsored by the LGBT Caucus and Equality California. “I don’t know what you’ve been told, Kamala is strong and bold,” Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters he plans on campaigning for her in Iowa.

In fact, all the headlines about Harris’ flagging campaign have caused something of a backlash, especially among black women who are angry that only Harris is being targeted and pressured to drop out among all the other lower-performing candidates. Harris has been endorsed by Higher Heights for America PAC, an organization “dedicated to electing more progressive Black women” that is holding several mobilization events for her in Atlanta, Georgia and Columbia, South Carolina following Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. The Friday, Nov. 22 event features LGBTQ icon actress Sheryl Lee Ralph.

 

Harris was the first of eight presidential candidates to take the stage at the CDP/Univision forum Saturday afternoon, which was broadcast and live streamed in both English and Spanish.

Many Democrats were confused and angry  that former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren skipped the endorsing convention. Univision correspondent Jorge Ramos told the forum audience that their absence illustrated a broader problem with Democrats because “they know they’re going to get about 70% of the Latino vote and they just take it for granted.”

Taking the Latino vote for granted in California is especially unwise now since this year marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of Prop 187,  the Republican anti-immigration initiative that dramatically changed the California political landscape. Latino voters surged in response and the GOP started its steady decline — registering now as a third party behind No Party Preference among California’s 20,328,636 registered voters, 44.1% of whom are Democrats. 

Turnout is another matter, according to PPIC. “Voter turnout continues to lag among nonwhite Californians,” PPIC reported last August.  “Our surveys over the past year indicate that 45% of Latino adult citizens, 53% of Asian American adult citizens, and 57% of African American adult citizens are likely to vote, compared to 68% of non-Hispanic white adult citizens…. Latinos—California’s largest racial/ethnic group—represent 35% of the adult population, but they account for only 19% of those most likely to vote. Asian Americans comprise 15% of the adult population and 13% of likely voters. The share of African American likely voters matches their representation in the adult population (6%).”

PPIC apparently does not consider California’s LGBTQ population a demographic worth counting.

The need to reach and inspire Latino voters is considerable since California starts vote-by-mail on Feb. 3, for the March 3 Super Tuesday Primary, with nearly 500 delegates at stake. Feb. 3 is the same day as the Iowa Caucuses – and California Democrats have long helped phone bank, fund and advocate for their candidates in the Nevada Democratic Caucus, this year on Feb. 22.

In addition to the CDP/Univision forum, Harris, out South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former HUD Sec. Julian Castro and investor-philanthropist Tom Steyer participated in a 90-minute forum at Cal State Los Angeles on Sunday, which was sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, the California Latino Legislative Caucus and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

Univision smartly began their forum with a question from Yvette Mojica, a student at the Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, who wanted to know what Harris would do to help her feel safe about going back to school without being afraid of being shot.

Harris, who has herself experienced the sudden threat of violence, addressed the trauma that’s now the norm among school children.

“I’m sick of what happened to you, to your classmates, I’m sick. I’m fed up with it and it’s got to stop,” said Harris, adding that even elementary students think shooter drills are “normal.”

“And these tragedies keep happening, which tell them that they need to pay attention,” Harris said. And “instead of opening their minds to the wonders of science and art and math, half their brains are worried about who’s going to come bustin’ through the door. It is traumatizing our children and it’s got to stop.”

Harris said that as president, she would take executive action if Congress didn’t present her with a bill in her first 100 days.

Harris segued from mass shootings to the trauma experienced by children afraid to come home to find their undocumented parents taken away by ICE.

And with that, Ramos asked the question that Joe Biden probably expected would be asked: “Can we have an honest conversation about Obama’s legacy? Of course, he gave us Obamacare and DACA and the Paris Agreement. And of course, the country was going through a terrible economic situation, I agree with that. However, he deported more than three million people. Was that a mistake? Do you think President Obama made a mistake?”

Harris probably expected that question, too – but not framed in a way that would create a sound bite around the word “mistake.”

She dodged and stalled. “I think that President Obama did many great things and is probably one of the greatest presidents we’ve ever had,” Harris said as the audience applauded.

“I think many people agree with that but he deported three million people,” Ramos said.

Harris shifted to how, as California attorney general, she disagreed with the policy and “informed California law enforcement that ICE detainers are not mandatory.”

“So, do you think he made a mistake?” Ramos asked

“Because I was aware that there were people who were by ICE’s own definition, non-criminals, that were being deported. That was wrong,” Harris said. “I disagreed with it and that’s why I issued that policy for the sheriffs and the district attorneys of California telling them that these were not mandatory.”

That Harris had not used the word “mistake” was underscored when Ramos asked the same question of popular Bernie Sanders, who is the largest recipient of Latino contributions and drew crowds of young Latinos in LA – and Sanders answered quickly with a simple “yes.”

Sanders then pivoted. “What I’m going to tell you is in fact what the American people want, and they want to stop this ugly demonization of the immigrant community and the racism that is coming from the White House,” Sanders said against the larger backdrop of calls for the ouster of white nationalist/deportation mastermind Stephen Miller.

Sanders pledged to reestablish legal status for 1.8 million “Dreamers” on Day 1 of his presidency.

Harris, however, ended the day with the endorsement from the highly regarded, 10,000-member United Farm Workers. She had already been personally endorsed by civil rights icon Dolores Huerta, who co-founded UFW with Cesar Chavez and Gilbert Padilla.

Sanders, who emphasized that his health is good after his heart attack, came out of the convention with the endorsement of the California Young Democrats and the earlier endorsement of the powerful California Nurses Association, affiliated with the National Nurses United.

Meanwhile, during his time in LA, Sanders also endorsed the Rental Affordability Act, a ballot initiative by AIDS Healthcare Foundation on the Nov. 2020 ballot.

The biggest surprise of the convention was the news after his forum performance that Pete Buttigieg had surged to the lead in the Des Moines Iowa poll. He jumped to 25% in the new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers — a 16-point increase since the September CNN/DMR poll.

There was a three-way battle for second place with Elizabeth Warren registering 16%, and Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders coming in at 15%.Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar jumped to 6%, while Harris, Steyer, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Andrew Yang all ranked at 3%.

Interestingly, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg — who has not officially entered the race — got 2%. In fact, Bloomberg created the other major surprise of the weekend by apologizing for his “stop-and-frisk” policing policy during an appearance at a black megachurch in Brooklyn on Sunday.  “I’m sorry that we didn’t,” Bloomberg said. “But I can’t change history. However, today, I want you to know that I realize back then, I was wrong.”

Adding another surprise on Monday — Bloomberg received the endorsement of Columbia, South Carolina Mayor Steve Benjamin.

“He’s got what it takes and he’s got the resources to take it to Trump,” Benjamin told AP  in an interview. “I believe firmly that Mike Bloomberg can win. I think resources are going to matter.”

Buttigieg was circumspect after hearing the polling news in Long Beach, saying they were “extremely encouraging.” But, he added, “We have felt a lot of momentum on the ground.”

To some pundits, Buttigieg’s surge means Iowa voters are favoring a more centrist agenda, underscored by the new presidential ambitions of Bloomberg and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who attended the Long Beach convention, got a few nods and didn’t get booed.

Last Friday, former President Barack Obama expressed concern to a clutch of wealthy liberal donors about more progressive Democratic candidates getting out over their skiis with “big structural” change proposals on health care and immigration issues.

“Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision we also have to be rooted in reality,” Obama said. “The average American doesn’t think we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.”

And Buttigieg fits right in that scenario during the Univision forum.

After a few pleasant exchange in Spanish — Buttigieg speaks seven languages — KMEX anchor  Leon Krauze asked him about Bloomberg and Patrick getting in the race. “Some seem to doubt whether the current group of candidates is strong enough to beat President Trump. Is it?

“First of all, I think every one of the candidates competing on the democratic side would make a monumentally better president than the one we have right now,” Buttigieg said, adding that he thinks he’s “the best person to go into that competition, but the job is for each of us to go out there and prove it.”

Buttigieg said it was not his “place to characterize somebody else’s plan,” regarding Warren saying she wouldn’t not push for Medicare-for-all until the third year of her presidency. But he still has concerns about commanding people leave their private plans.

“I would rather allow Americans to make the decision for themselves, so the idea of our plan, Medicare-for-all who want it, is we make it available for everybody, but we trust you to decide whether and when you want it,” he said. “And my thinking is if this is the best plan for everybody, then everybody will choose it and it will become the single payer. If, on the other hand, there remains some Americans — I’m thinking, for example, about a lot of union members who negotiated good private plans who would prefer to keep their plan — I’m not going to command them to abandon that plan.”

Buttigieg was also asked about Obama’s apparent advocacy for centrism.

“Here’s what I agree with is the idea that the role of activists is to move the country as far forward as possible and to tug the politicians forward,” Buttigieg said. “That’s different from the role of those seeking office and holding office who have to balance the concerns of different constituencies. But I also believe that being bold and having big ideas should not be measured by how many people you alienate. Because the things I’m proposing, for example, it’s true that they’re not as extreme as some of the others, but they would still make me the most progressive president of my lifetime.”

Buttigieg said:

“The most important thing is to put forward the policies that we believe make the most sense. But also, I think this is very important — right now, there is an American majority ready to back us up, not only on issues like minimum wage and family leave where people have trusted Democrats for a long time, but in the areas where Democrats had been on defense in the past — guns, immigration, healthcare. We should do everything we can to hold that majority together, galvanize, not polarize it. And if we can do that, and I’m talking not just about how to win elections, but how to govern, if we can hold that majority together in a unifying way for a divided country, we have the opportunity to deliver the boldest, biggest changes that we have seen in longer than I had been alive.”

 

Buttigieg said that, as a veteran, his foreign policy involving committing American troops to conflicts abroad would be “based on the need to save American lives, the knowledge that there is no reasonable alternative, and the network of alliances that helps save American lives and preserve American interests. All of those things have to go together.”

The “real tragedy” of Trump’s “betrayal in Syria is that what you had there was preventing endless war.”

Buttigieg also addressed drug cartels killing Americans in Mexico, border security, the cost of caregiving, and, mass school shootings.

“Finally, Mayor, over the last ten years around 150 shootings have been committed by children, teenagers, minors, 17 and younger. How do we keep guns outside the access of children, at least children?” Krauze asked.

“This is something that has affected my community,” Buttigieg said, referring to South Bend, not Pulse nightclub. “The darkest moments I think for most mayors are the moments when you find yourself consoling parents of children who have been killed or teenagers who have been killed in violence and often it is also teenagers perpetrating gun violence. It is why the time has come to insist that it is a matter of national security that we stop allowing the Second Amendment to be distorted into an excuse to do nothing whatsoever when it comes to common sense gun policy.”

“The things I trained on in the military have no business being sold for profit in American communities,” Buttigieg said. “They’re weapons of war.”

With 90% of Americans, including most gun owners, including most Republicans, supporting background checks and the red flag laws, why has Congress not acted?

“This is what tells us that our democracy is broken and that gerrymandering, money, and politics and the other distorting forces that make our democracy less democratic need to be confronted and need to be reformed to deal with this and every issue,” Buttigieg said. “Everybody can have a water balloon, nobody can have a nuclear weapon. Anyone can have a slingshot, nobody can have a predator drone. So this is not some new constitutional idea we are asserting. It’s just that we’ve got to decide where to draw the line and we need to draw the line tighter than we have so far.”

Buttigieg was not asked if Obama made a mistake deporting 3 million people.

While Buttigieg may have charmed Democrats in Long Beach — including former Rep. Katie Hill who supports Harris but likes Buttigieg — he still has a major problem with black voters as illustrated by the NBC News headline on Sunday: “Pete Buttigieg is struggling with black voters — and not just because he’s gay.

Janell Ross reported:

“ROCK HILL, S.C. — On a recent Sunday morning, Pete Buttigieg stood before rows of black churchgoers, a group he and the other Democratic 2020 candidates must win over for a reasonable chance of capturing their party’s presidential nomination.

“I know what it is to look on the news and see your rights up for debate,” he told the crowd gathered in the sanctuary of an African Methodist Episcopal events center in Rock Hill. “I also know what it is to find acceptance where you least expect it and to find compassion when you most need it.”

As Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, highlighted his personal knowledge of the marginalized American experience, and as he quoted verses from the books of Proverbs and Matthew, he did not overtly describe himself as gay or mention the husband he adores. He was trying to connect with a group of potential voters who, on the whole, have been skeptical of his candidacy.”

“The true Pete Buttigieg test, the one he’s unquestionably failing,” Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist, “has to do with the résumé and the issues.”

“Buttigieg must contend with questions about his record on race, police accountability and crime reduction in South Bend, which came to the forefront after police there shot and killed a black man in June. The city’s violent crime rate is double the average of comparably sized cities. And the number of shooting victims in the city has nearly doubled since 2018. Buttigieg was also criticized for firing the city’s first black police chief, who viewed himself as working to expose and remove racist white officers, in 2012, the year Buttigieg took office. Buttigieg is widely perceived as not having handled the situation well,” Ross reports.

That, and Biden scored 21 to 39 points ahead of Buttigieg in a series of South Carolina Democratic polls last October.

On Monday, two days before the MSNBC/Washington Post Democratic Primary debate, Buttigieg is in Atlanta with an appearance at Morehouse College where he will have the opportunity to explain the campaign screw up of putting the photo of a black woman and young boy on the cover of Buttigieg’s Douglas Plan to combat racial inequality, which the candidates billed as a “comprehensive investment in the empowerment of black America” —only to discover the photo was a Kenyan woman portrayed in a stock photo.

“This is not ok or necessary,” tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), a Somali-born refugee.

The campaign apologized and said it was “selected while a contractor was running our site.”

There are other issues dogging the campaign. But Buttigieg’s “bold new plan to grow paths to opportunity for all Americans through more affordable college as well as through workforce development and training opportunities,” announced Monday, plus his pledge to make a historic $50 billion commitment to HBCUs, may prompt young black voters to listen to his plans and not make the 37-year old candidate’s mistakes emblematic of his character, his intellect or his ability to compete with others to defeat Trump.

The California Democratic Endorsing Convention ended with only a handful of state and federal seats pulled from the Consent Calendar for further consideration. There was no endorsement in CD 25 in the contest to replace former Rep. Katie Hill because there was not enough time under party rules to consider Assemblymember Christy Smith and her apparent likely Democratic opponent Cenk Uygur who Equality California and others have accused of using anti-LGBTQ, sexist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric in multiple videos posted on Twitter. This could be an expensive distraction from keeping the seats Democrats flipped in 2018 out of the hands of Republican Steve Knight who is fighting to get that seat back.

If Donald Trump isn’t impeached and removed from office, 2020 could prove to be the most expensive year for elections in America history.

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”

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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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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

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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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LA Times: LAPD execute search warrants in racist audio leak probe

It is unclear how the recordings were made. Recording conversations without a person’s consent is illegal in California, with rare exceptions

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LAPD Chief Michel Moore being interviewed by KTLA 5 in October (Photo Credit: LAPD Public Affairs/Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – Several law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday that Los Angeles Police Department detectives have served several search warrants as they attempt to find out who recorded a meeting filled with racist and offensive comments among three L.A. City Council members and a powerful labor leader.

The Times reported that the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is ongoing, did not identify the specific targets. But they said the department obtained warrants for several social media accounts, including the Reddit account that first posted the audio leak.

This past October, LAPD Chief Michel Moore announced in a press briefing that detectives were investigating the source of the leaked racist recordings that thrust City Hall into a harsh national spotlight.

“The department has initiated a criminal investigation into the allegation of eavesdropping into the L.A. Fed meeting involving then-Councilperson Nury Martinez, Councilmember Gil Cedillo and Councilmember Kevin de León and the Fed president Mr. [ Ron] Herrera,” Moore said, referring to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The recordings took place at the offices of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which has called the leak “illegal” and vowed to have those involved prosecuted. The union attempted to block the Los Angeles Times from publishing details of the recordings, saying they were obtained illegally. The Times refused to halt publication.

It is unclear how the recordings were made. Recording conversations without a person’s consent is illegal in California, with rare exceptions.

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Trans remembrance vigil held at LA LGBT Center

“We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity”

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LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad

HOLLYWOOD – A Trans Remembrance Vigil was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Monday, November 21st.

Candles and white, pink, and lavender flowers mounted on tiers draped by a trans flag adorned the center stage. A large monitor served as the focal point of the evening above the memorial display. 

The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles started the ceremony with an acapella performance. Following the song of hope and redemption, opening remarks were given at the pulpit by the Anti-violence project manager for the LGBT center, Mariana Morroquin, and representatives from the Trans Wellness Center, Bienstar Human Services, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Friends Community Center, APAIT, and [email protected] 

Trans Chorus of Los Angeles (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“I think it is very important to acknowledge our partners,” said Morroquin, somberly addressing the seated audience of about one hundred and fifty. “We know that hate is real. A lot of us have seen hate pretty close. We are very grateful to have you. We open our arms to receive your love and your support. The way we support each other is by providing jobs, providing spaces for us, and providing opportunities. Because hate is out there. We need this space. We need to welcome everyone. I want you to keep that in your heart. And tomorrow, when we get back to work, let us open our hearts and our minds. Don’t make decisions for us. Invite us to those tables. We know what we need. We’ve been doing this forever. We are going to keep fighting because this is what we do.” 

She then added, “We refuse to let violence rob us of the possibility to gather, to love each other, and to dream together in solidarity. We gather because we must remember what is worth fighting for. For now, we commemorate. We tell the stories of the ones we lost. For tonight, that will be enough.” 

One by one, members of the audience approached the pulpit to read the names and stories of a multitude of trans people whose deaths were the tragic result of hate crimes. The photos, names, and ages of the victims were displayed on the center-stage monitor. 

“My name is Nikai David,” said one speaker, the photo of a pale, curly-haired young lady displayed behind them. “I am a model and social media influencer who aspired one day to own my own clothing boutique. I had just celebrated my birthday a week before I was shot in Oakland California, on December 4th, 202. I was thirty-three years old.” 

Stories of these deaths included shootings by assailants, police, and family members, brutal beatings, and stabbings. The bodies of these victims were found in their homes, in garbage cans, and on streets where they were left, still dying, among other locations. 

The final name read was Daniel David Aston, who died in the recent Club Q mass shooting.  This year, TDOR came on the heels of the senseless massacre in Colorado Springs that left five members of the LGBTQ+ community dead and 25 injured. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer gave an impassioned closing speech, first inviting the audience to take several deep breaths in unison. 

Reverend Valerie Spencer (LA Blade Photo by Simha Haddad)

“We will mourn our family, our siblings,” said Reverend Spencer,  “but we are not having our primary focus on the violent conclusion of their life. We are choosing to see them and know them and celebrate them in the full context of their living. For they were fierce and powerful people.”

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Los Angeles

Karen Bass speaks to Los Angeles for first time as mayor-elect

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background & love for the city of LA She addressed issues including homelessness

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Karen Bass speaks to LA for the 1st time as mayor-elect (Screenshot/YouTube KABC 7)

LOS ANGELES – Rep. Karen Bass, (D-Calif.) addressed the City of Los Angeles for the first time as mayor-elect since she was declared winner Wednesday and her opponent billionaire real estate magnate Rick Caruso conceded in a press conference.

With her daughter at her side, the mayor-elect spoke of her background and love for the city of Los Angeles. She addressed issues including homelessness and economic hardship promising that her administration would work hard to get things done for the city.

Her primary focus she said when she takes office in December is to declare a state of emergency and execute actions on the homeless crisis that has enveloped Los Angeles.

KABC 7: Karen Bass to address city of Los Angeles for the 1st time as mayor-elect:

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Los Angeles

Beloved North Hollywood bookstore suffers arson attack

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in North Hollywood for 35 years, the fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators

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The Iliad Bookshop/Instagram

LOS ANGELES – The Iliad Bookshop, located 5400 Cahuenga at the corner of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvds. in North Hollywood, was the target of an alleged arson attack at around 11 p.m. this past Thursday evening.

LA Fire firefighters responded to the blaze in front of the rear entrance which was fully engulfed after an unknown person or persons stacked up books and items left out by the store.

In interviews with KCBS2 LA, KABC7, and other media outlets, the bookshop’s owner Daniel Weinstein, said that a flyer, which he categorised as “terroristic,” was left at the scene of the blaze. The damage to the building was primarily to the entrance area with noticeable scorch marks, there was smoke damage inside as well. Weinstein added that the store’s iconic two live-in cats, Zeus and Apollo, were not harmed.

There was no information as to the extent of the damages to the store’s inventory.

In a GoFundMe started by the bookshop to repair and recover from the attack, Weinstein wrote:

“We were very lucky: neighbors saw the flames and flagged down a passing firetruck; had the firefighters arrived mere moments later, the entire store would probably have gone up. As it is, we suffered heavy damage to the main entry. The doors (which are metal) are still functional, but will need to be either replaced or fixed. We lost lighting fixtures, signage, and wood framing; we also suffered damage to the mural on the right side of the doors. Smoke filled the interior of the store, but we were able to rescue our two cats Zeus and Apollo and we’re hopeful that the damage to the books and fixtures is minimal.

We have high insurance deductibles so we need to cover the cost of replacing the exterior lights, sign, and trim, and touching up the mural. We expect the funds we’re looking for to be divided between repair costs and a mural artist.”

The Iliad Bookshop has been a fixture in the North Hollywood community for over 35 years. In a March 2019 profile article by Los Angeleno magazine writer Augustus Britton, the shoppe was described as “a cozy mix of librarial reverence and old lore magic. The walls are lined with literary memorabilia, most notably art by R. Crumb and posters of Bukowski alongside author obituaries from days past. An aged photograph showing Weinstein drowning in a pile of hardcovers hangs on the wall.”

Britton goes on to say: “Weinstein’s 10 employees are awesome. There are no better poetic words to describe them. One could say they all look like fictional characters. Grateful Dead fans, Philip K. Dick spies or Stendhal savants eating Chinese food at the counter while the shop’s spunky cats Zeus and Apollo — more nods to Greek mythology — climb over their shoulders.”

The fire is currently under investigation by LAFD arson investigators.

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Los Angeles

LAPD asking for public’s help finding missing teen in West LA

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

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UPDATED: Monday Nov. 7, 2022 from KABC 7.

A Los Angeles teen who went missing from his home on Halloween night has now returned safely and been reunited with his family, police said Sunday.

On Sunday, the LAPD issued a brief statement: “Andrew was located and reunited with his family.”

Andrew’s mother Anna posted on Facebook that Andrew came home Saturday. She said her son left home voluntarily because he was struggling with some mental-health issues. He then decided to come home on his own volition after about five days of sleeping on the street.

She expressed thanks to the public for providing support and said Andrew saw some of the missing-person flyers “and knows now that he is cared about by so many people.”

LOS ANGELES – The family of 18-year-old Andrew Jason Wright and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Missing Persons Unit are asking for the public’s help in locating him. Wright, an 18-year-old high-school senior, was last seen Monday around 6 p.m. near the 1700 block of Federal Avenue in West Los Angeles.

Wright is described as an 18-year-old male Asian with brown hair and brown eyes. He stands 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs approximately 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black coat, maroon vest, gray pants, and black leather shoes.

His mother told KABC Eyewitness news that Wright has recently been suffering from depression and is extremely worried.

“He went on a walk around 6 p.m.” Anna Wright said. “He was supposed to go trick-or-treating with his little brother and sister at 7. And he never came back.”

Andrew’s father set up a search party where volunteers have been going around looking for him and passing out flyers.

If you have seen, or have any information regarding the whereabouts of Andrew Jason Wright, please contact Los Angeles Police Department, Missing Persons Unit, at (213) 996-1800.

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 Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).

Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most Keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.

From KABC 7:

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Los Angeles

Trixie Mattel & LGBTQ youth celebrate 30th annual Models of Pride

The sponsor of this year’s Models of Pride was Glamazon L.A.—Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group along with the Los Angeles City College

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Trixie Mattel accepts Model of Pride Leadership Award from LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner (Photo Credit: LA LGBT Center)

LOS ANGELES — Amazon’s LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, Glamazon L.A., celebrated the 30th anniversary Models of Pride youth conference which drew hundreds of LGBTQ+ young people and allies—and special award-winner Trixie Mattel—to Los Angeles City College this past Saturday.

Attendees connected with peers, learned from role models, and got to celebrate with live performances and festivities. Parents and professionals had opportunities to learn from one another, build community, and gain tools to support the LGBTQ+ young people in their lives. 

The day’s highlights included drag queen, musician, entrepreneur, and television phenomenon Trixie Mattel accepting the first-ever Model of Pride Leadership Award.

“Right now, we are witnessing drag becoming weaponized by bad actors on the far right. They are banning Drag Queen Story Hours and trying to paint drag queens as enemies of family values,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner said in his opening remarks. “This is a disturbing trend happening across America. What we at the Los Angeles LGBT Center know, and what Trixie Mattel’s prolific career embodies, is that drag is powerful. It is a pathway to unlocking new potential for freeing yourselves of the shackles of gender norms and for embracing the creativity that is waiting to be unleashed inside each and every one of you.”

“I didn’t grow up with much representation on television. At most, gay people on TV were allowed to be the snippy gay assistant or the funny makeup artist or, at best, the sexually ambiguous villain,” Mattel said in her acceptance speech. “I think the reason drag is so inspiring is because queer people are told to minimize everything. We’re told to be the friend or the supporting character. Drag makes us think, what if I’m the main character? I want you guys to know that you are all the main character.”

The Rolf/Uribe Models of Pride Leadership Award, given annually to youth and adults who have been models of pride to the LGBTQ community, was awarded to youth activist Alex Flores and PFLAG Los Angeles Vice President Steve Krantz.

The event was attended by more than 500 youth—including more middle schoolers and younger attendees than any previous Models of Pride—as well as more than 200 parents and professionals. Youth, parents, and professionals attended 100 workshops, with the offerings for youth ranging from “Rights of Youth in CA Public Schools” to “Drag Queen Story Hour.” Adult workshops ranged from “When Your Kid Transitions” to “Creating Affirming Spaces for Queer & Trans Elementary-Age Children.”

Entertainment highlights included performances by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles, Gay Freedom Band of Los Angeles, The Voice finalist Hailey Mia, Mayhem Miller of RuPaul’s Drag Race, DJ Brynn Taylor, and Mike Xavier. Attendees also enjoyed a continental breakfast, a catered backyard BBQ lunch, and a dessert extravaganza.


Models of Pride is the world’s largest free conference for LGBTQ+ youth and their allies, filled with life-enriching workshops, entertainment, resources, and more to help attendees to build confidence and self-esteem while developing valuable life skills. The conference also offers family members, educators, professionals, and all other LGBTQ+ supporters the opportunity to attend the Parents and Professionals Institute at Models of Pride, which offers tailored workshops, a resource fair and celebratory reception.

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Los Angeles

LAPD announces criminal probe into leak of racist audio recording

According to Chief Moore it was Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera who approached the LAPD last Friday and asked for an investigation

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Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore (Screenshot/YouTube LAPD)

LOS ANGELES – Speaking to reporters at a briefing Tuesday, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore announced the department’s Major Crimes Division was overseeing an investigation into the source of the leaked racist recordings that has thrown the city government into crisis.

Moore acknowledged that the results would be presented to “the appropriate prosecuting agency” for possible criminal charges. “The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping,” Moore said.

Under California law, all parties must consent to the recording of a private conversation or phone call. Otherwise, the person who made the recording could face criminal and civil penalties.

Disclosure of the racist and homophobic audio recording earlier this month by The Los Angeles Times and Knock LA resulted in the resignation of Nury Martinez, first from her position as council president and then stepping down from her seat. Of the three others heard on the audio recording, powerful labor leader Ron Herrera, the now former president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor had offered his resignation which the federation’s executive board accepted.

City councilmembers Kevin de León and Gill Cedillo also heard on the recording have defied demands that they step down from their seats. Councilmember de León has been actively making the rounds of media outlets in the city offering apologies but refusing to consider stepping down, telling Univision’s León Krauze “No, I will not resign because there is a lot of work ahead,” he added; “I feel very bad, I feel very sorry for the damage, for the wounds that exist today in our communities.”

Calls for him and Cedillo to resign have included Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA mayoral candidate, Rep. Karen Bass, California Governor Gavin Newsom, President Joe Biden and councilmember Mike Bonin, who along with his minor son, was a target of the racist and homophobic comments heard on the recording.

According to Chief Moore it was Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera who approached the LAPD last Friday and asked for an investigation.

“This (request) was done by the principals – this wasn’t done through some intermediary or otherwise,” he added.

LAPD’s Major Crimes Division detectives have since interviewed the four involved parties about why they believe the recording was made “unlawfully and surreptitiously,” he said.

“We’ll also look, as far as possible, to understand how such a recording was made and identify, if possible, the person or persons responsible,” he said. No suspects have been identified, he added.

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Protestors at City Hall demanding Kevin de León, Gil Cedillo resign

Tuesday’s agenda included discussion of holding a special election to fill the seat of Nury Martinez who resigned from the council

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Screenshot/KABC 7

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles City Council was again meeting in-person Tuesday after a week of virtual meetings due to COVID-19 exposure and were joined in city council chambers by dozens of protestors.

The protestors angered that Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo have defied widespread calls for their resignations after a leaked 2021 audio tape of them and former councilmember Nury Martinez with a former labor leader were heard making racist and homophobic comments, continued chant and shout as newly installed Council President Paul Krekorian continued to conduct business.

KABC 7 Eyewitness News reported that on Monday, Krekorian wrote a letter to de León denying his request to be excused from attending meetings, returning a letter that de León sent last week in which he asked for time to focus on the healing process and take professional sensitivity training. De León has conducted numerous television interviews over the last few days stating that he will not resign.

“There is no path forward that includes your continued participation in this council,” Krekorian said.

Tuesday’s agenda included consideration of holding a special election to fill the former seat of Martinez. She had resigned a few days after the recording was leaked.

The election would take place on April 4, 2023 at the earliest, with a runoff — if necessary — taking place on June 27. The council was set to discuss calling a special election at Tuesday’s meeting and allocating $7.65 million for the two elections.

From KABC 7:

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