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California

New poll finds many Californians hesitant to return to indoor activities

Nearly half of respondents said they wouldn’t eat indoors at a restaurant and almost the same portion said they wouldn’t go to a sporting event

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Screenshot KTLA – Emerson Poll

LOS ANGELES – A poll released Monday by Emerson College Polling and Nexstar Broadcasting Inc.’s six California television stations, including KTLA, found that a significant number of Californians were hesitant about returning to indoor dining and outdoor sporting events.

According to the results nearly half of respondents said they wouldn’t eat indoors at a restaurant and almost the same portion said they wouldn’t go to a sporting event even as officials are shifting many of the state’s 58 counties back into less restrictive measures.

As of Wednesday, according to the California Department Of Public Health, more than 90% of the state’s population of nearly 40 million residents will be out of the most limiting red tier in California’s color-coded coronavirus plan.

KTLA reported that COVID-19 was identified as the top issue facing California by 21.6% of those polled, followed by homelessness at 19.1%, corrupt politicians at 17.5%, housing costs at 14.9%, and the environment at 6%. No other issue topped 6%.

The poll also surveyed Californian’s on the state’s vaccination rollout. According to the data collected “a plurality of Republicans respondents — 46.6% — said they do not plan on being vaccinated. Only 3.9% of Democrats and 24.5% of independents responded the same way.”

Screenshot KTLA – Emerson Poll

Spencer Kimball, Director of Emerson College Polling, said “the data suggests the age difference is not being driven by who is vaccinated but instead by the 21% who said they don’t plan to get the vaccine: 77% of them plan to eat at an indoor restaurant and 70% of those who don’t plan to take the vaccine will attend a sporting event, suggesting those most vulnerable to getting Covid will be at these events.”

Just over a fifth of those polled said they didn’t plan to get vaccinated, while nearly the same portion said they’d already been vaccinated. Almost half of respondents said they’d get vaccinated as soon as they could, and another 12.5% said they planned to do so but not immediately.

On the hot-topic issue of Facial Masks as ordered by Governor Newsom nearly three-quarters said the mandate is “about right” or doesn’t go far enough.

Screenshot KTLA – Emerson Poll

The poll surveyed more than 1,000 registered voters across the state, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Northern California

West Hollywood Poetry Team brings home Poetry Slam Trophy

“The West Hollywood team brought brilliance to the Chill List stage,” said Chill List founder and host Sam Pierstorff

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Courtesy of West Hollywood Poetry Team

By Paulo Murillo | MODESTO, Calif. – The West Hollywood Poetry Team brought home the winning trophy after competing at the Chill List Poetry Slam Invitational in Modesto on Saturday, April 20. Amongst a competitive field, the West Hollywood poets emerged triumphant, claiming the top prize in a dynamic display of original verse.

The event, renowned for spotlighting the nation’s premier slam poetry collectives, saw teams vying for a $2000 award through a series of group and solo performances. Five judges from the audience awarded points to teams based on the strength of their poems and the quality of their performance. West Hollywood won with a cumulative score of 113.4, beating our competing teams from Oakland (111.4), Salt Lake City (110.1), and Visalia (108.7).

“The West Hollywood team brought brilliance to the Chill List stage,” said Chill List founder and host Sam Pierstorff. “Our Modesto audience loved their range from the humorous to the deeply emotional, intellectual, and inspirational.”

The genesis of the West Hollywood Slam Team dates back to July 2023, initiated by former West Hollywood Poet Laureate Brian Sonia-Wallace and poet/coach Nate Lovell, the architects behind The Mic @ Micky’s WeHo. Comprising both founders and five standout poets from Micky’s, including Meliza “Missy Fuego” Bañales, Dan “Pastiche Queen” Lovato, Tee Gardiner, and Raul Herrera, the team embodies the vibrant spirit of its locale.

According to Pastiche Queen, a team member, the collective mirrors the essence of West Hollywood itself, fostering a sense of community and mutual support. “The team operates as a microcosm of West Hollywood itself; nobody is gonna take care of us like we take care of us.”

Missy Fuego, a seasoned slam veteran and team member, underscored the historic significance of their ensemble. “The West Hollywood team is not only the first slam team in WeHo, it’s the first all Queer/Non-Binary/Non-Labeled Slam Team in North America,” they said. “For years, slam has typically been dominated by heterosexual and cis narratives, with one or two members representing the LGBTQ community. The West Hollywood Slam Team steps forth, proudly, as the first all-inclusive team to prioritize LGBTQ issues and culture as well as regularly center sexual orientation and gender.”

The West Hollywood Slam Team is currently creating a showcase performance with  revolving guest poets, and is available for Pride performance bookings through rentpoet.com.

******************************************************************************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

The preceding article was previously published at WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Southern California

Bonta files for permanent ban of Chino school’s forced outing policy

Bonta noted that the policy was detrimental to the physical, emotional safety, well-being, & privacy of trans students

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta along with California's Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber at a April, 2024 Sacramento press conference. (Photo Credit: Office of the Attorney General/Facebook)

OAKLAND, Calif. — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a motion for final judgment in Bonta v. Chino Valley Unified School District seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to ensure that the Chino Valley Unified School District Board of Education (Board) does not reenact or implement their recently-rescinded forced outing policy.

In a press release, the Attorney General noted that the policy – Policy 5020.1 – was detrimental to the physical and emotional safety, well-being, and privacy of transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

In August 2023, Attorney General Bonta sued to challenge the policy on the basis that it violated students’ civil and constitutional rights under California law, and in October 2023, obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining the facially discriminatory provisions of the forced outing policy. While the District voted to rescind the forced outing policy on March 7, 2024, in response to the San Bernardino County Superior Court’s preliminary injunction order, the District’s Board continues to stand “proudly” by Policy 5020.1, the District’s counsel continues to maintain that it was “common sense and constitutional,” and the District continues to make comments echoing the anti-trans comments they made publicly before enacting the policy.

As a result, Attorney General Bonta is seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory relief to protect students’ civil rights and ensure that the Board does not reenact or implement its original, discriminatory policy.   

“Chino Valley Unified has an obligation to protect the safety and well-being of the students it is charged to serve, especially our most vulnerable student communities who are susceptible to violence and harassment,” said Attorney General Bonta. “It took a lawsuit and court order to get Chino Valley to rescind their discriminatory forced outing policy, but even now, the Board has continued to assert that it was lawful, and board members continue to echo the anti-trans rhetoric they relied upon when passing it. Today’s motion seeks to ensure no child becomes a target again by blocking Chino Valley Unified from ever adopting another forced outing policy. As we continue to defend the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming students, I urge all school districts to take note and ensure every student can enjoy their right to learn and thrive in a school environment that promotes safety, privacy, and inclusivity.”

Even though Attorney General Bonta issued a letter to the Board on July 20, 2023 stressing the potential harms and infringements on students’ civil rights from the adoption of Board Policy 5020.1, the Board enacted the policy nonetheless. The forced outing policy required schools to inform parents, with minimal exceptions, whenever a student requested to use a name or pronoun different from that on their birth certificate or official records, even without the student’s permission and even when disclosure would cause physical or mental harm to the student.

The policy also required notification if a student requested to use facilities or participate in programs that did not align with their sex on official records. In August 2023, Attorney General Bonta announced a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of Policy 5020.1, asserting it violated several state protections safeguarding students’ civil and constitutional rights.

Shortly after securing a temporary restraining order, the San Bernardino Superior Court issued a preliminary injunction against the Board’s forced outing policy in October 2023. The Court held that several provisions violated California’s equal protection clause and discriminated against transgender and gender-nonconforming students, causing them irreparable harm.

In today’s motion seeking a permanent injunction and declaratory relief against the forced outing policy, Attorney General Bonta underscores the importance of the Court’s issuance of final adjudication to guarantee the safety and well-being of transgender and gender-nonconforming students from future identical or similar forced outing policies, and declare that the forced outing policy violates students’ constitutional and statutory rights to be free from unequal and discriminatory treatment on the basis of sex, gender, and gender identity.  

As part of today’s motion, Attorney General Bonta urges the Court to issue a final judgment because a live controversy exists, as the District’s conduct signals that it could re-adopt the discriminatory policy absent a final ruling by the Court, the discriminatory message communicated by the enactment of a discriminatory policy must still be redressed, and the case presents clear issues of public interest broadly affecting students, parents, school officials, and teachers that are likely to recur.

The Attorney General underscores the importance of securing final injunctive and declaratory relief against Policy 5020.1 to:

  • Prevent the Board from re-enacting the discriminatory forced outing policy in the absence of a final injunction.
  • Provide relief against the stigmatic harms inflicted by the Board’s adoption of the forced outing policy.
  • Declare that the Board’s forced outing policy violates California’s equal protection and antidiscrimination laws.

Today’s motion also asserts the Board’s plain motivations in adopting Policy 5020.1 were to create and harbor animosity, discrimination, and prejudice towards transgender and gender-nonconforming students, without any compelling reason to do so, as evidenced by statements made during the Board’s hearing.

In discussing the policy before its passage, board members made a number of statements describing students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming as suffering from a “mental illness” or “perversion”, or as being a threat to the integrity of the nation and the family. The Board President went so far as to state that transgender and gender nonconforming individuals needed “non-affirming” parental actions so that they could “get better.”

The Attorney General has a substantial interest in protecting the legal rights, physical safety, and mental health of children in California schools, and in protecting them from trauma, harassment, bullying, and exposure to violence and threats of violence. Research shows that protecting a transgender student’s ability to make choices about how and when to inform others is critical to their well-being, as transgender students are exposed to high levels of harassment and mistreatment at school and in their communities when those environments are not supportive of their gender identity. 

  • One-in-10 respondents in a 2015 national survey said that an immediate family member had been violent toward them because they were transgender, and 15% ran away from home or were kicked out of their home because they were transgender. Fewer than one-in-three transgender and gender nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
  • Nearly 46% of transgender students reported missing at least one day of school in the preceding month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable there and 17% of transgender students reported that they left a K-12 school due to the severity of the harassment they experienced at school.
  • Seventy-seven percent of students known or perceived as transgender reported negative experiences such as harassment and assault, and over half of transgender and nonbinary youth reported seriously considering suicide in the past year. 

A copy of the motion seeking declaratory and injunctive relief is available here.

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Ventura County

“Queers in the Valley” Ojai launches & is ready to celebrate Pride

Queers in the Valley are fundraising for Ojai’s first ever Pride Picnic & Celebration following the 33rd annual Pride Walk on June 30th, 2024

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Queers in the Valley-Ojai (Photo Credit: JoEllen Depakakibo)

OJAI, Calif. – JoEllen Depakakibo, founder of Pinhole Coffee in San Francisco’s charming Bernal Heights has resettled in northeastern Ventura County with a new mission, a Pride Picnic & Celebration in Ojai.

Depakakibo along with her wife and child now call Ojai home and when not running a Pinhole Coffee EV-van have gathered with other LGBTQ+ community members launching the effort to raise funds for Ojai’s first Pride Picnic & Celebration.

The Pride Picnic & Celebration following the 33rd annual Pride Walk on Sunday, June 30th, 2024. According to a Facebook Post by Depakakibo, organizers enlisted the help of Rachel Lang the first out LGBTQ+ Ojai City Councilmember and support from Ojai Mayor Betsy Stix.

In a GoFundMe page and on the group’s ‘Queers in the Valley’ website the group is soliciting assistance to fund their efforts:

We are Queers in the Valley, and are fundraising for Ojai’s first ever Pride Picnic & Celebration following the 33rd annual Pride Walk on Sunday, June 30th, 2024!

Our mission is to find, build, strengthen, support and inspire the Queer Community in Ojai Valley. Our intention is to make it as Ojai as possible, and lay a foundation of safety and inclusion for our Trans, BIPOC, Disabled, and Low-Income Queer Family.

Help us raise $3000 to:

– pay our Queer Entertainers

– pay our Queer Graphic Designer and build out our website

– print signs and flyers

– rent Libbey Park

– make the event as accessible as possible for BIPOC, Disabled, and Low Income folx through things like ASL interpretation, non-police security, free covid testing, discounts for food options, etc.

– purchase 1-day event insurance

– pay for materials for such things as a kids crafting corner

Send us a message if you want to get involved!

gofundme.com/ojaipride

instagram/@queersinthevalley

The group noted:

If you are a local Queer artist, vendor or organization that wants to be featured on our website/want to volunteer/have any suggestions or questions…reach out to us (contact info on website).

This group was started with the yearning of mentioned intentions above from many people. Representation matters

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Southern California

Equality California decries recall of elected Calexico trans official

During her tenure, Mayor Ureña championed numerous initiatives aimed at improving local infrastructure and public services

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Mayor Raúl Ureña (Screenshot/YouTube Calexico City Council session)

CALEXICO, Calif. – Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, has publicly denounced the recent recall of Calexico Councilmember and former Mayor Raúl Ureña, the first out transgender mayor in the city’s history.

The organization’s response underscores significant concern over what it views as a politically motivated attack leveraging anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

Tony Hoang, Executive Director of Equality California, expressed profound disappointment over the outcome of the recall effort, criticizing the focus of the recall on Ureña’s transgender identity rather than his accomplishments in office.

“We are deeply disappointed that a group of far-right extremists succeeded in recalling Calexico’s first out transgender Mayor Raúl Ureña, who has a proven track record of delivering for the people of Calexico,” Hoang said.

“This recall campaign was spearheaded by a group of disgruntled former politicians and littered with misinformation and transphobic rhetoric, focusing on Ureña’s identity and not the successful tangible results she has generated for her city. This was a calculated, anti-LGBTQ+ attack against Ureña that has sadly resulted in her recall and will no doubt lead to backsliding for a community already at a crossroads. 

We were proud to support Mayor Ureña throughout this ordeal, and will continue to speak out against any and all anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.”

During her tenure, Ureña championed numerous initiatives aimed at improving local infrastructure and public services while fostering a community environment that valued diversity and inclusion.

The recall campaign, however, argued that new leadership was necessary to fulfill unmet promises such as reducing water costs, revitalizing public spaces, and addressing homelessness and housing shortages.

Ureña posted a Facebook video addressing the recall along with the following caption: 

“The recall made a lot of promises. The clock of new administration begins. From now on my decisions will not affect the municipality.

My message to the youth: DON’T QUIT!

My message to the recall: Keep your promises between now and November. We want a standing Calexico:

  • All the poles fixed
  • All parks to perfection
  • Streets and new benches
  • Let the cost of water go down
  • Downtown Clean
  • Zero Homeless
  • More Housing
  • Police and Fire Department complete
  • City Wide Transport
  • More recreation for the seniors.
  • Line to Mexicali and traffic solved

I wish them luck for the good of Calexico.”

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Following the recall’s success, statements from the new administration promised to focus on various infrastructure projects, enhancements to public safety, and improved social services for seniors, pledging to transform campaign promises into tangible outcomes.

The decision to recall Ureña has polarized Calexico, with many residents and advocates worried about the potential regression in civil rights gains. Equality California has pledged ongoing support for Ureña and reaffirmed its commitment to fighting anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination.

For further details on Equality California’s initiatives and stance on this matter, please visit eqca.org.

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Riverside County

Murrieta Valley School Board votes to defy state over trans policy

The policy includes requests by students to use a name that “differs from their legal name or pronouns that don’t align with their birth sex”

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Murrieta Valley Unified School District support services & administration building. (Photo Credit: Murrieta Valley Unified School District)

MURRIETA, Calif. – The Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board on Thursday voted 3-2 to defy the California Department of Education’s written order and keep its anti-trans parent-notification policy.

The California Department of Education found that it violated the state’s education codes and warned MVUSD that the policy “provided no educational or administrative purpose that could justify the discrimination of LGBT+ students.” The Department of Education stated the policy “singles out and is directed exclusively toward one group of students based on that group’s legally protected characteristics of identifying with or expressing a gender other than that identified at birth.”

The Board essentially countermanded Superintendent Dr. Ward Andrus’ order to his staff reversing the policy after the April 10 DOE order was received. In an emailed notice sent out last Friday to parents, faculty, and staff members, school district administrators stated that the policy was reversed.

The policy, which was originally proposed by school board President Paul Diffley and trustee Nick Pardue and passed states:

[…] any member of a school’s staff “shall notify the  parent(s)/guardian(s), in writing, within three days from the date any District employee, administrator, or certificated staff, becomes aware that a student is: a. Requesting to be identified or treated, as a gender (as defined in Education Code Section 210.7) other than the student’s biological sex or gender listed on the student’s birth certificate or any other official records.”

The policy includes requests by students to use a name that “differs from their legal name (other than a commonly recognized diminutive of the child’s legal name) or to use pronouns that do not align with the student’s biological sex or gender listed on the student’s birth certificate or other official records.”

Last month the MVUSD school board voted 3-2 to keep the forced outing policy on the books even though, according to a Press-Enterprise report, MVUSD Board President Paul Diffley was warned by the district’s law firm, Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo (AALRR), that “‘going ahead (with the policy) in such an environment’ could cost the district $500,000 in legal expenses.”

After the board vote, two district educators, Jamie Goebel and Karen Poznanski, filed a complaint with the California Department of Education about the policy due to its “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.”

“This policy not only violated the privacy and dignity of our students but also perpetuated harm and discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals and their families,” Poznanski told the Press Enterprise once the California Department of Education sided with the teachers last week.

Reacting to the board vote, Tony Hoang, the Executive Director of Equality California told the Blade:

“Yet again, the extremist majority on the Murietta Valley School Board put politics over the safety and well-being of students. These politicians ignored the experts at the California Department of Education and their district staff and doubled down on a policy that is unnecessary, cruel, and opens students up to harm and discrimination.

The school board’s own student member Isabella Dadalt said it best – “if you’re a parent, and you feel threatened by the fact that your student is going to a teacher instead of you, I think you need to rethink your parenting.”

The members of the Murrietta Valley School Board should take note of what happened last month when extremist school board members in Orange Unified and Woodland Unified were successfully recalled after they attacked LGBTQ+ students.

Equality California will continue to for the rights of all students to have safe and supportive learning environments in Murietta Valley, and across the state.”

The Blade has reached out to the California Department of Education and the Murrieta Valley Unified School District Board for comment.

 

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West Hollywood

Bouncer at Heart WeHo arrested in brutal beating of gay stylist

Anyone with questions or information about this incident is encouraged to contact the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Station

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Captain William (Bill) Moulder, commander of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station speaks with KTLA about the beating of 54-year-old Albert Jimenez last month outside of Heart WeHo nightclub. (Screenshot/YouTube KTLA 5)

By Paulo Murillo | WEST HOLLYWOOD – An arrest has been made in the brutal beating of gay hair stylist Albert Vasquez, 54. According to a statement by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a security guard at Heart WeHo was identified, arrested, and charged with battery causing great bodily harm.

The statement by LASD reads as follows:

On Friday, April 05, 2024, at approximately 10:40PM, the victim attempted to enter a nightclub in West Hollywood. The suspect, who was working as a security guard, did not allow the victim entry due to the victim not having proper identification. Both the suspect and the victim engaged in a verbal and physical altercation, in which the suspect punched the victim once in the face. The victim fell to the ground and was transported to a nearby hospital.

The suspect was identified and arrested for battery causing great bodily injury.

Vasquez’s sister, Gloria Jimenez, tells WEHO TIMES that a detective at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station reached out to the family earlier today, and she can confirm that the beating happened in front of Heart WeHo. She also said one of their bouncers was arrested.

The family will be allowed to view the surveillance footage to see exactly what happened on Friday night, April 5, 2024, when Vasquez was found in a pool of his blood with two head fractures, bruises to his lungs, a black eye, and scrapes and bruising to his arms and legs.

“They reached out to me and said an arrest has been made,” said Jimenez. “We kept saying it was Heart WeHo and it happened at Heart WeHo and it was one of their bouncers. We want to see the footage, and we’ll be able to see it because we are family, so we can determine exactly where to go from there. We’re glad an arrest was made, and we’re going to take the next step necessary. We don’t know what that step is. He’s still recovering. We don’t know how long his recovery will take. We don’t know.”

Family, friends, and supporters of Albert Vasquez were relentless in getting the story out to the media, and they pressured the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to step up the investigation. They also demanded that Heart WeHo release video footage from that night.

Heart WeHo complied and released the following statement:

“Heart WeHo remains deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our community. We are aware of the incident that occurred on April 5th and have been actively collaborating with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department to assist in their investigation since the beginning. We have provided the authorities with unrestricted access to our security footage,” reads the statement by Heart WeHo. “We urge anyone with additional information pertaining to this incident to come forward and assist the West Hollywood Department in their efforts to ensure the safety and security of our neighborhood.”

According to authorities, Heart WeHo was asked not to release the footage to family until authorities were able to investigate the footage first.

Jimenez’s sister points out that Heart WeHo turned over surveillance footage to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station on Monday, ten days after the incident occurred.

Doctors discovered a second skull fracture on the other side of Vasquez’s head ten days after he landed in the hospital, according to his family. They also discovered that his lungs had bruising after the fact, which went unnoticed throughout his stay at the hospital.

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However, despite his newly discovered injuries, Albert seems to be on the mend. He was in a coma for one day when he was brought to the hospital but is currently awake and seems to be aware of his surroundings. He starts therapy this week and is expected to be in the hospital for another week and a half. He has not spoken about what happened to him that Friday night, mainly because he’s heavily medicated, and nurses feel it’s too soon to pressure him to relive the trauma.

Jimenez thanks the community for their support and for being relentless in holding investigators accountable and demanding they get answers. She’s also grateful for the public’s generosity to help cover medical expenses.

Anyone with questions or information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Station Detective Lombera at (310).
358-4028.

The link to GoFundMe campaign is here: (Link)

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

The preceding article was previously published at WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Los Angeles County

New on the LA County Channel

You can watch on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

New on the County Channel

L.A. County is investing millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan funds for paid early education apprenticeships. The Early Care and Education Assistant Teacher Apprenticeship Program aims to bolster the education career pipeline and bring relief to those hoping to avoid financial debt.

You can watch more stories like this on Channel 92 or 94 on most cable systems, or anytime here. Catch up on LA County Close-Up here.

In Case You Missed It

April is “Sexual Assault Awareness Month”

This April marks the 23rd observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month is a chance for each of us to think about the role we can play in preventing sexual abuse, assault, and harassment.

Violence is preventable. Stopping sexual abuse, assault, and harassment before they happen requires us to work together to support healthy, safe, and respectful behaviors and environments. To build truly connected communities, we must start with community accessible services and support and expand the network of service providers. When it comes to sexual violence, everyone has a role to play to help build a community that is safer, inclusive, and equitable. Below are some resources and ways for you to get involved:

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673.

Learn more at lacounty.gov/sexual-assault-awareness-month/.

At Your Service

Commercial Acquisition Fund Program

The Los Angeles County Department of Economic Opportunity recently launched the Commercial Acquisition Fund to provide grants to qualifying nonprofit organizations to support the acquisition of vacant or abandoned land and buildings in designated communities that were most negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Commercial Acquisition Fundis funded by the County, with $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds and will be awarded as recoverable grants, ranging from $500,000 to $2,000,000. Acquisitions and funding must occur before December 1, 2024.

To learn more, apply, or sign-up to attend a community webinar, visit lacaf.info.

Out and About

April 21 – April 27th is “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week”

Join District Attorney George Gascón, the LA District Attorney’s Bureau of Victim Services and the LA District Attorney Crime Victims Advisory Board for this special National Crime Victims’ Rights Week panel discussion: “Pathways to Healing: Supporting LA’s Crime Survivors.”

This hybrid event will be on Thursday, April 25 at 6 PM, with doors opening at 5:30 PM. Click here to register to attend.

Photo Finish

Photo Credit: Los Angeles County/Mayra Beltran Vasquez

Celebrate the 4th year of SOAR at the South Coast Botanic Garden when butterflies return May 1!


Click here to access more photos of LA County in action.

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West Hollywood

City of West Hollywood is hosting a Public Safety Open House

The open house is an opportunity to engage as a community to prioritize safety and well-being along with WeHo Public Safety partners

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WeHo Times/Los Angeles Blade graphic

By Paulo Murillo | The City of West Hollywood is partnering with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, Block By Block Security, Los Angeles County Fire Department and Public Safety Commissioners for a Public Safety Open House on May 1, 2014, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Plummer Park, Room 5 at 7377 Santa Monica Boulevard. The open house is an opportunity to engage as a community to prioritize safety and well-being along with our Public Safety partners.

The event is being billed as an informal meeting to interact with Public Safety partners and Commissioners, learn about available resources, and discover ways to actively contribute to keeping West Hollywood a safe place for everyone. The event will also be serving pizza, salad, and refreshments, with vegan options available.

The Public Safety Commission was created on September 18, 1989 and is comprised of five (5) members, appointed by individual Councilmembers, and two (2) members appointed by the Council as a whole (at-large). Each member of the Commission shall serve a two-year term commencing March 1st following a general municipal election. Members shall be residents of the City and shall not be officers or employees of the City. The Commission shall meet no more than once monthly, and if a member of the Commission is absent for any reason for more than three regular meetings in any twelve-month period, the office of such member shall be vacated.

The Public Safety Commission shall evaluate and recommend mechanisms involving public safety issues, assist the City Manager’s office and City Council in strengthening community response to emergencies, evaluate and make recommendations to City Council regarding neighborhood livability and domestic violence prevention.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station is part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and provides essential law enforcement services for the community. If you need to file a crime report online, you can do so through the SORTS system. Captain William Moulder leads the station, ensuring safety and security for residents and visitors alike.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) provides firefighting and emergency medical services for the unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County, California, as well as 59 cities through contracting, including the city of La Habra, which is located in Orange County and is the first city outside of Los Angeles County to contract with LACoFD

Block by Block Security Ambassadors is a program in the City of West Hollywood that provides a highly visible uniformed presence at the street level. The program was first established in 2013. The ambassadors are deployed on bicycles or on foot along major streets, alleys, City parking lots, and residential neighborhoods. They work in collaboration with the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to provide supplemental safety services. The ambassadors provide safety escorts, conduct foot and bicycle patrols, and offer helpful guidance to community members and visitors.

******************************************************************************************

Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist. Murillo began his professional writing career as the author of “Love Ya, Mean It,” an irreverent and sometimes controversial West Hollywood lifestyle column for FAB! newspaper. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, which include the “Hot Topic” column in Frontiers magazine, where he covered breaking news and local events in West Hollywood. He can be reached at [email protected]

The preceding article was previously published at WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Southern California

Triple A: Gas price increases slow down

The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.45, which is four cents higher than a week ago

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Triple A Auto Club/Los Angeles Blade

LOS ANGELES – Southern California gas prices are still up for the week, but are not increasing as quickly as they were earlier this month, according to the Auto Club’s Weekend Gas Watch. The average price for self-serve regular gasoline in California is $5.45, which is four cents higher than a week ago. The average national price is $3.67, which is also four cents higher than a week ago.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area is $5.39 per gallon, which is three cents more than last week, 43 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than last year. In San Diego, the average price is $5.38, which is four cents higher than last week, 44 cents higher than last month, and 44 cents higher than this time last year.

On the Central Coast, the average price is $5.35, which is four cents higher than last week, 41 cents higher than last month, and 43 cents higher than last year. In Riverside, the average per-gallon price is $5.32, which is five cents higher than last week, 49 cents higher than last month and 46 cents higher than a year ago. In Bakersfield, the $5.31 average price is seven cents more than last week, 48 cents more than last month, and 42 cents higher than a year ago today.

“According to Oil Price Information Service (OPIS), yesterday’s U.S. Energy Information Administration report showed that West Coast gasoline inventories are at their lowest level in two years,” said Auto Club Spokesperson Doug Shupe. “However, OPIS also reported that imported gasoline should be on its way to California in the next few weeks, which should help ease the upward pressure on pump prices.”

The Weekend Gas Watch monitors the average price of gasoline. As of 9 a.m. on April 18, averages are:

041824 final chart

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Los Angeles County

UCLA survey says quality of life in L.A. County is way down

High cost of housing is the most important factor impacting the annual Quality of Life Index, particularly among renters

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(Photo: Los Angeles County/Mayra Beltran Vasquez)

LOS ANGELES – Affordable housing, groceries and consumer goods that have all spiraled upward in cost has lowered the quality of life for Los Angeles County residents this past year according to a survey conducted by UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Interviews were conducted with 1,686 L.A. County residents between Feb. 22 and March 14, both in English and Spanish.

The Quality of Life Index, or QLI, is a project of the Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs measures county residents’ satisfaction in nine categories. The overall rating fell two points from last year to 53 on a scale from 10 to 100, marking the second time in three years it came in below the survey’s 55 midpoint since the index launched in 2016. That means a majority of respondents are dissatisfied with the overall quality of their lives.

Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

Zev Yaroslavsky, director of the study at UCLA said renters, who make up nearly half of survey respondents, are being disproportionately affected by the economic and inflationary pressures facing the region. More than half, or 59%, cited housing as the most important factor in their rating.

“Housing costs have gone up,” Yaroslavsky said. “And incomes have not gone up anywhere near commensurate with what’s happened to housing.”

Los Angeles Initiative at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

While 61% of homeowners feel optimistic about their economic future in Los Angeles County, 51% of renters report being pessimistic. Only 23% of renters think they will be able to buy a home where they would want to live at some point in the future.

KTLA reported that according to data released by the National Association of Realtors earlier this year, parts of L.A. County rank 8th highest in the nation for highest housing prices. Just 23% of the renters that responded to the survey believed that they’d be able to buy a home in an area they find desirable in the future.

Homelessness problems are worsening

This year’s survey also produced striking results on the issue of homelessness.

“We discovered very little optimism about whether the current programs and efforts to eradicate homelessness will work,” Yaroslavsky said.

More than half, or 60%, of respondents said homelessness in their area has gotten worse over the past year, with only 10% saying it has gotten better. Just 20% are more hopeful than they were last year that the homelessness situation in Los Angeles County will improve.

Respondents were also asked whether they worried about becoming homeless themselves, with the highest levels of anxiety expressed by people living in households earning less than $60,000 annually at 44%, renters 37% and African Americans 33%.

“Despite the best efforts of state and local officials, the public is more negative and less hopeful about solving homelessness,” Yaroslavsky said.

In an email to the Blade Wednesday, Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath said:

“Watching my neighbors struggle with affordability or be on the brink of homelessness is what calls me to be of service to our community. We need to urgently address our overlapping homelessness and affordable housing crises by expediting production of all forms of housing, expanding tenant protections, and ensuring fair wages to address rising income inequality.”

Dissatisfaction with the government

Noting the fact that this is an election year Yaroslavsky, a former member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors from December 1, 1994 – December 1, 2014, said: “It feeds an overall sense that things aren’t working well.”

He framed this year’s results in the context of nearly a decade’s worth of research showing positive results for neighborhood quality and racial/ethnic relations, but low marks in categories commonly associated with decisions by public officials.

“A main theme over the last nine years is that Angelenos love the neighborhoods where they live. We appreciate diversity and get along with others better than some people think. And the quality of life for most of us is pretty good,” he said. “But at some fundamental level, people think our governmental institutions are letting them down.”

The last year has seen a modest decline in most ratings for elected officials.

  • Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna is viewed favorably by 34% and unfavorably by 26%. Last year was 37% favorable and 21% unfavorable.
  • Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass is viewed favorably by 42% and unfavorably by 32%, a drop from 46% favorable and 23% unfavorable in last year’s QLI.
  • Respondents had a slightly favorable view of the city councils in their cities: 37% favorable and 32% unfavorable. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is viewed more negatively: 27% favorable and 35% unfavorable.

The Quality of Life Index in issues regarding the environment found that 25% of respondents said climate change had a major impact on their quality of life in the last year; 38% saw a minor impact.

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