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25th CD special election Tuesday is a referendum on Trump

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History will mark this moment, this May 12 special election in the California 25th congressional district as either a rebuff of President Trump or a resignation to Trumpism. In the race to fill former Rep. Katie Hill’s vacated seat, Democratic Assemblymember Christy Smith is neck-in-neck with Trump fanboy Mike Garcia, whose primary qualification seems to be that he is a former defense industry executive and one-time fighter pilot who promises to cut taxes.

Trump wants to win the seat badly, tweeting over the weekend: “Governor @GavinNewsom of California won’t let restaurants, beaches and stores open, but he installs a voting booth system in a highly Democrat area (supposed to be mail in ballots only) because our great candidate, @MikeGarcia2020, is winning by a lot. CA25 Rigged Election!”

In fact, as KPCC reported May 5, it was the twice-elected Republican Mayor of Lancaster,  R. Rex Parris, who requested an in-person voting center from the LA County Registrar of Voters because he is concerned about the disenfranchisement of his very GOP city’s high concentration of black and Latino voters.

“This is something the county should fix immediately,” Parris told KPCC, even though voter confusion would help Garcia, whom he supports. “There should not be even the appearance of affecting the outcome by limiting the ability to vote.”

Parris added: “I want Mike to win, I think he’d be a better congressman, but I don’t want to ‘jimmy’ the election.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Newsom issued an executive order that all elections must be conducted through mail-in ballots, although ballots can also be dropped off and some areas still offer in-person voting at local voting centers, preferred by low-income and foreign-born voters, according to election officials.

Republicans tend to turn out more than Democrats for special elections. On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times reported that “a ballot was mailed to each of the 25th District’s roughly 425,000 voters, with return postage paid. As of Saturday, 39% of GOP voters had mailed in their ballots compared with 25% of Democrats, according to Political Data Inc.”

Without a shred of irony, Garcia, 44 — who praises proud sexual harasser Trump at every juncture — used Hill’s resignation over leaked revenge-porn nude photos to augment his campaign against Smith.

“The last year and a half has been an embarrassment for our district,” Garcia wrote in an op-ed in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal. “And it’s time we restore integrity to our representation in our nation’s capitol.”

Meanwhile, Smith, 50, has campaigned as an educator and community activist who cares more about the health, social and financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic than false and dangerous survival-of-the-fittest bravado. One Smith campaign ad features video of Garcia extolling Trump’s leadership and says, “Everyone should have to figure out how to fend for themselves” during the pandemic.

During a Zoom debate, Garcia also touted the 2017 tax cut as “the catalyst and the fuel that started this booming economy that is now the best economy, before the coronavirus, that this world has ever seen.”

The reality now, however, is that the coronavirus has hit the state hard: as of Monday, May 11, California has 67,939 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 2,770 deaths. That’s in addition to  4.5 million unemployed and businesses in all sectors that may or may not survive, schools closed to the end of the year and May serving as “the transitional period into the Western Fire Season,” with some areas of concern for the summer months.

Meanwhile, Gov. Newsom has to delicately deal with a temperamental narcissistic president in order to get desperately needed federal funding.

Even when the times weren’t so dire, the Los Angeles Times  April 17 endorsement of Smith was clear: “There’s no question which candidate is better prepared to step into the debate and help shape smart policy. That’s state Assemblywoman Christy Smith, a quietly accomplished and centrist Democrat whose background includes stints as a U.S. Department of Education policy analyst and as a longtime member of the Newhall School District board. Her experience guiding a school district through the last economic downturn and now the state through its pandemic response makes her uniquely qualified for precisely this job at precisely this moment,” said The Times.

“Smith’s opponent, by comparison, is simply not a good fit for Congress at any moment,” with the editorial noting that Republican Mike Garcia‘s “nice backstory…doesn’t translate into legislative competence.”

But as Trump’s presidency indicates, competency is no longer a qualification to be an elected or public official.

Smith’s race against Garcia is a test: will those who claim to value their vote actually vote for a representative democracy or will voters slough off civic responsibility despite knowing the calamity a Garcia victory portends?

Mail-in ballots will count if they are postmarked by midnight on Tuesday, May 12, as long as they land at election offices in Ventura and Los Angeles counties by the close of business on Friday.

If Republicans succeed in flipping this blue district back to red, they will certainly cheer and Trump will tweet his thumbs off. It may also serve as a wake-up call for Democrats who do not think they have to worry about losing ground in November.

But this is not like any other predictable election year and while Smith and Garcia will face each other again on Nov. 3 to seek their own full two-year term, the winner of the CA 25th race on May 12 will have bragging rights and time in Congress to vote on funding and other matters immediately critical to California.

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Los Angeles

LAPD Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides on reducing violence

Rising violent crime is affecting cities across the U. S.- LA is no exception as homicides & shooting victims up by approximately 50 percent

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Screenshot via YouTube

WASHINGTON – Rising violent crime is affecting cities across the United States. Los Angeles is no exception, with homicides and shooting victims both up by approximately 50 percent compared to 2019.

Emada Tingirides, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, joined Washington Post Live with Post criminal justice reporter Tom Jackman on Wednesday, Jan. 12 to discuss new recommendations for reducing violence in cities – including her own.

Some areas included recommendations published in a new report by the Council on Criminal Justice Violent Crime Working Group on how to effectively reduce violence in cities.

One of our recommendations is to ensure that our city leaders agree with this type of work – like in Los Angeles. We have the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development. There is a direct report to the Los Angeles mayor as it relates to our intervention and prevention efforts in our city. The solutions can be implemented throughout this country. They are based in relationships, in coordination,”  Tingirides told the Post.

Tingirides told the Post that officials need to look at the root causes of rising rates of homicides in cities like Los Angeles. “Mental health…post-traumatic stress…those are things that strategic enforcement alone can’t solve…” 

LAPD’s Deputy Chief noted that in discussions of violent crime, the voices of the victims are left out. “Our victims need to be part of those solutions and recommendations that come from our government…a wholistic approach…to make our victims whole.” 

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Watch the entire interview:

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Los Angeles

LAPD seeking public’s assistance in Taco Bell shooting Saturday night

Employee working the drive-thru window refused to accept fake money and that’s when the suspect opened fire

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Photo Credit: City of Los Angeles LAPD

UPDATED WEDNESDAY JANUARY 12:

Authorities have arrested a man on suspicion of fatally shooting a Taco Bell employee Saturday in South Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Police Department named 39-year-old Jonathan Madden as the suspect late Tuesday. He was arrested Monday at his home in South L.A., police said. Madden is accused of shooting 41-year-old Alejandro Garcia Galicia shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday, police said.

LOS ANGELES – Investigators for the Los Angeles Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance in identifying the man who shot and killed a Taco Bell employee late Saturday night at the fast-food chain’s restaurant located in South LA.

Officer Norma Eisenman, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, told media outlets that the incident unfolded around 11 p.m. Saturday, when a male suspect drove up to the drive-thru window at the Taco Bell on the 9900 block of Avalon Boulevard and attempted to purchase food with counterfeit money.

The employee working the drive-thru window reportedly argued with the suspect and refused to accept the fake money at which point the suspect opened fire through the drive-thru window striking the employee.

According to the LAPD, the employee who was not identified and described as a 41-year-old Hispanic male, was shot multiple times in the torso and died at the scene.

The suspect fled in a black or dark colored sedan and no further details were released.

Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD investigators at 213 972-7813 or contact Los Angeles Crime Stoppers, http://www.lacrimestoppers.org/, (800) 222-8477 or [email protected]

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Los Angeles

License plate recognition cameras deployed in Melrose District

“If you commit a crime on Melrose we’re gonna stop you, we’re gonna catch you, and we’re gonna prosecute you”

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Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz being interviewed by KTLA (Screenshot via KTLA)

LOS ANGELES – After a series of recent violent ‘smash & grab’ crimes along with a rise in physical assaults and robberies, the City of Los Angeles is installing automated license plate recognition cameras in the Melrose business corridor and surrounding neighborhoods.

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz announced that the city partnered with community organization Melrose Action and is implementing the installation of 12 cameras.

“It’s just another step to send a message that if you commit a crime on Melrose we’re gonna stop you, we’re gonna catch you, and we’re gonna prosecute you,” Koretz said and added the cameras being installed will “provide a next level of surveillance.”

Melrose Action raised more than $30,000 and Koretz contributed another $10,000 to get the program off the ground, according to a news release announcing the project.

Melrose Action co-founder Peter Nichols told the Los Angeles Times he has been disturbed by recent crimes in the area.

“We went through a homicide cycle. Then we then we went through an armed robbery cycle that lasted for several months,” Nichols told the Times. “Now the latest is the smash-and-grabs.”

License plate readers have come under fire over potential privacy issues as usage has grown among law enforcement agencies, the Times reported.

The Times also noted that the California state auditor said last year that the LAPD and three other law enforcement agencies had not provided sufficient privacy protections.

Koretz told KTLA that the images will be shared among local law enforcement agencies including the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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