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Equality California’s Zbur announces run for the Assembly

I’ve thought long and hard about the next phase of my life

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Rick Zbur (Photo Credit: Equality California)

LOS ANGELES – In 2014, Rick Zbur left his Los Angeles area law firm to become the Executive Director of Equality California, (EQCA) the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. Tuesday, March 30, some seven years later he officially entered the race for California’s 50th State Assembly District.

Zbur took over EQCA at a time when the only clear cut victory in the battle for LGBTQ+ rights had been the dismantling of the “Don’t Ask- Don’t Tell” policy which had barred open military service by gay and lesbians although still without a clear path forward for Trans Americans to serve openly.

In 2017, EQCA along with then California Attorney General Xavier Becerra were plaintiffs in the case, Stockman v. Trump. Alongside the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) they sued the Trump administration representing the four active-duty Californian transgender service members, and three transgender people who hope to enlist in the U.S. military to end the discriminatory bad.

Earlier this year President Joe Biden signed an executive order ending the ban and clearing a path forward for Trans military service.

Federal marriage equality came in the first year of his term as Executive Director with the U. S. Supreme Court decision  on June 26, 2015, the Obergefell v. Hodges decision which occurred on the second anniversary of the United States v. Windsor ruling that struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages, as being unconstitutional. (Previously in 2013, the SCOTUS decision Perry v. Hollingsworth  legalized same-sex marriage in the state of California.) 

Working closely with the legislative leadership, and in close consultation with the LGBTQ Legislative Caucus, mobilizing the membership of EQ California, Zbur pushed through passage and signature into law major legislation that had impact on the Golden State’s diverse LGBTQ population.

Zbur has also pushed hard for intersectional legislative efforts in areas including gun law reform, immigration, and especial racial justice issues.

Zbur’s significant accomplishments in shepherding through critical legislative included AB 2943, which made California the first state in the nation to ban the widely discredited practices of “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy,”  from being performed on both children and adults. Senate Bill 239, which modernizes the outdated HIV criminalization laws in California, and then SB 159 which authorizes pharmacists to furnish pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to patients without a physician prescription.

In making his announcement, Zbur also indicated he will withdraw from the race for Los Angeles City Attorney in order to run for Assembly. He enters the race as the first declared candidate with a significant cash advantage — as of his most recent campaign filing on December 31, Zbur had $202,632 on hand, which can be moved from the City Attorney Committee to the Assembly Committee.

Zbur launched his campaign for Assembly by releasing the following statement:

“Last September, my beautiful sister Jackie lost her three-year battle with ALS. She was one of the bright lights of our world and one of the most important people in my life. Watching her fight this truly horrendous disease — both physically and financially, spending her entire life’s savings on her care — broke my heart and devastated my entire family. I’m glad that she’s finally at peace, but losing her was unbelievably painful. Too many families in our community, throughout California and around the world have endured similar pain over the last year — too many empty chairs at kitchen tables, too many empty nightstands on the other side of the bed.

“Since Jackie passed, I’ve thought long and hard about the next phase of my life — how I can make the greatest impact on the toughest issues our communities face: healthcare, the environment, civil rights and economic inequality. After many conversations with my family, friends and community leaders, I’ve decided to run for Assembly District 50, and I can’t wait to get to work.

“I’m running to represent the people of California’s 50th Assembly District because during this unprecedentedly difficult time, our communities need bold, progressive leadership, an unyielding commitment to equality and an unbending resolve to achieve racial, gender, economic, environmental, educational and health equity and justice for all. I’m running to make sure someday, no one else has to go through what my sister Jackie did — to fix our broken social safety net for the most vulnerable members of our communities. I know that together, we can build a brighter future for our children and for generations to come.” 

A campaign statement noted that Zbur grew up in a rural farming community in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, the same area that his mother Erlinda Chavez and her family lived for generations. On the farm, his parents taught him the values of hard work, commitment to family and service to community. He and his siblings worked before and after school on the family farm and helped care for their grandparents. 

He ultimately became the first person from his rural community to attend an Ivy League university. After graduating from Yale College and Harvard Law School, Rick moved to Los Angeles in 1985 and joined Latham & Watkins, one of the nation’s most respected law firms. There he practiced law for over 25 years, became the firm’s first openly gay partner in 1994 and was recognized as one of California’s leading environmental and government law attorneys.

Photo Credit: From the collection of Karen Ocamb

Zbur saw hundreds of his friends become ill during the initial years of the AIDS crisis, which motivated him to become an AIDS activist at a time when the federal government was failing to act.  He worked to help elect public officials including former President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer as a part of that effort.

In addition to his work as an environmental lawyer, served on the Board of the California League of Conservation Voters for over 20 years — as president for six of those years. As board president, Rick helped shape the organization’s priorities to address environmental justice and a focus on vulnerable communities that are hardest hit by pollution, and to advance sustainable housing and green job programs to address climate change. 

The California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus also released the following statement with their endorsement of Zbur’s campaign:

“LA County has had a rich history of strong LGBTQ+ representation in the Legislature for decades — from Sheila Kuehl and Jackie Goldberg to John Pérez and Ricardo Lara. Unfortunately, today there is not a single openly LGBTQ legislator representing the nation’s largest county. The California Legislature should reflect the dynamic mosaic of California’s population — the people we serve. We also need more bold LGBTQ+ leaders who are ready to take on California’s toughest issues and deliver results for our communities. For these reasons and so many others we are proud to support Rick Chavez Zbur in his run for California’s 50th Assembly District.”

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Los Angeles County

Critics attack LA DA over complicated case involving Trans woman

The crime would sit unsolved until 2019 when her DNA was entered into a database after she was arrested in Idaho on suspicion of battery

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Screenshot: Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón being interviewed by KABC7 LA in April of 2021

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is facing sharp criticism over his policy to never prosecute children as adults after a 26-year-old Trans woman pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl when she was 17. But, according to Gascón, the nature of the case is complicated.

Hannah Tubbs was weeks shy of her 18th birthday when she walked into a Denny’s bathroom in Palmdale, grabbed a 10-year-old girl by the throat and sexually assaulted her, according to prosecutors. 

The crime would sit unsolved until 2019 when her DNA was entered into a database after she was arrested in Idaho on suspicion of battery, reported the Los Angeles Times. Prosecutors filed charges in 2020, shortly after Gascón took office. 

According to the paper, Tubbs, who pleaded guilty, might be sentenced to a short stay in juvenile hall or probation later this month. 

“I would ask the public to reach out to Mr. Gascon and express their concerns and their outrage on a matter such as this involving a sexual predator.”

Lt. Richard Ruiz of the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Special Victims Bureau

Critics of Gascón are expressing their frustration with the district attorney, saying Tubbs’ case highlights the problems with a blanket ban on not trying juveniles as adults. 

“It’s useless to catch criminals like [Tubbs] if we don’t follow through and seek justice for victims such as the 10-year-old girl [she] sexually assaulted. She bears the burden of a lifetime of trauma,” L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes Palmdale, told the Times. “[She] will be offered therapeutic interventions under the auspices of ‘restorative justice’… and possibly granted only probation or parole. Where is the justice for [her] young victim and her family?”

Some critics are using the case as ammunition to fuel another recall effort of Gascón. The earlier attempt to recall the district attorney didn’t make it to a vote as proponents couldn’t collect enough signatures. 

However, Gascón has said that the case is complicated due to the years between the crime and Tubbs’ capture, as well as her criminal record and the impact on the victim. 

Tubbs has also been arrested for battery, drug possession and probation violations in Idaho and Washington, according to the paper. 

The victim, who did not want to testify on trial, has since moved from California and is still in therapy, said an impact statement read in court last month.

Gascón has also raised concerns about Tubbs’ becoming a victim herself if she was held in an adult facility because of her trans identity. A probation report recommended she be sentenced to home confinement, according to Gascón.

An email reviewed by the Times said Tubbs is diagnosed with multiple mental illnesses and might also qualify as “developmentally disabled.” These factors lead to legal questions about whether she can even be found responsible for the crime. 

In addition, at 26, Tubbs is too old to be legally held in a county juvenile detention facility, leading to more questions over Tubbs’ sentencing.

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West Hollywood

West Hollywood will engage community in MLK Jr. Day of Service

Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates his life & legacy

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Los Angeles Blade graphic

WEST HOLLYWOOD – In January 2022, the City of West Hollywood will continue its tradition of joining hundreds of communities across the country in a National Day of Service to commemorate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday by providing an opportunity for community members to make an impact locally with a donation drive for people who are experiencing homelessness.

The City of West Hollywood, in partnership with West Hollywood Elementary and Friends of West Hollywood Elementary (FOWHE), will be collecting monetary and gift card donations to support new socks, blankets, and sleeping bags for the City’s Homeless Initiative, which partners closely with nonprofit service providers, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, and Los Angeles County agencies to provide a wide variety of services aimed at reducing homelessness and supporting community members who are experiencing homelessness.

This year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service activity reflects the desires of students from West Hollywood Elementary to help those most in-need in the community.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year’s City of West Hollywood Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service will take place as a two-week virtual donation drive instead of an in-person Day of Service event.

It will run from Saturday, January 15, 2022 to Monday, January 31, 2022. Donations can be made online at https://secure.qgiv.com/for/homeless or donations of physical gift cards or of personal checks made out to ‘City of West Hollywood’ may be mailed to:

West Hollywood Homeless Initiative/MLK Day of Service

West Hollywood City Hall

8300 Santa Monica Boulevard

West Hollywood, CA 90069

The City is, additionally, encouraging donations to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, which has posted a “CARE 4 Youth Essentials” wish list on Amazon at lalgbtcenter.org/care4youth.

The City of West Hollywood would have hosted its tenth-annual clothing drive for the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center on Highland in January 2022, but due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, this year the City is instead encouraging virtual donations of needed supplies that will be distributed to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who are experiencing homelessness.

For more information about the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Youth Center, please visit www.lalgbtcenter.org/social-service-and-housing/youth.

The City of West Hollywood encourages community members who seek to make a difference to volunteer in response to the urgent call and unprecedented need for volunteers during these uncertain times.

To find out more about local volunteer opportunities with the City of West Hollywood’s community partners, please visit www.weho.org/volunteer.

For addition information about virtual and in-person volunteer opportunities to address critical needs, please visit California Volunteers at www.californiavolunteers.ca.gov/get-involved/covid-19 or call (888) 567-SERV; visit Volunteer Match at www.volunteermatch.org; or visit LA Works at www.laworks.com or call (323) 224-6510.

The City’s West Hollywood Homeless Initiative seeks to address homelessness with a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, collaborative response. For more information about the West Hollywood Homeless Initiative, including ways to help and resources for those in need, please visit www.weho.org/homeless or call (323) 848-6590.

The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, January 17, 2022, is the 27th anniversary of the Day of Service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday was designated as a National Day of Service by Congress in 1994. Each year, the City of West Hollywood participates in this call to action.

For more information about MLK Day of Service activities and recognitions across the nation, please visit www.nationalservice.gov/serve-your-community/mlk-day-service

For more information about the City of West Hollywood’s 2022 Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service please contact Larissa Fooks, the City of West Hollywood’s Community Events Coordinator, at (323) 848-6413 or at [email protected].

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

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West Hollywood

British tourists robbed at gunpoint in WeHo area caught on video

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point”

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Screenshot via KTLA

WEST HOLLYWOOD – Two young British men who had been visiting a nightclub in the area of 961 N. La Cienega Blvd. were accosted by robbers as they left the club to catch an Uber.

Cellphone video by a witness caught the robbers struggling with one of the victims KTLA reported.

William Saunders, who identified himself as one of the victims in the robbery, said that he and his friend had just left a nightclub and were hailing an Uber ride when they were approached by the robbers.

“Guys with their hoods pulled tight, could hardly see their faces, jumped out at us, grabbed us,” Saunders said. “One of them had a small handgun on him, pointed it to my head, told me to give him my watch, my bag and my phone.”

Saunders said he threw his watch to the floor, pushed the robber and ran into a restaurant, where he learned that there was video of the assailants wrestling with his friend, ripping his bag off him and taking his watch.

Deputies from the West Hollywood substation patrolling the area responded immediately. In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said that the victims were accosted by two suspects wearing hoodies and that a firearm was displayed. The suspects were able to get away with what one of the victims described as a bag that contained expensive watches, their passports and an unknown amount of cash, the Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

“We’re visiting from England,” Saunders told KTLA. “Only one night in L.A. and it has ended like this.”

“I’ve never even seen a gun before, let alone have one at my head,” he added. “I honestly thought I was going to lose my life at one point.”

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