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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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California

Newsom announces $480.5 million grants for youth mental health

Grants will support 54 projects to bolster behavioral & mental health infrastructure expanding capacity of treatment facilities

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

SACRAMENTO — Governor Gavin Newsom today announced $480.5 million in awards for 54 projects to improve California’s behavioral health infrastructure for children and youth.

As part of Governor Newsom’s Master Plan for Kids’ Mental Health, this historic investment provides grant funding to construct new facilities and expand existing facilities that help children, youth, transition-age youth, and perinatal individuals with a mental health and/or substance use disorder.

“We’re overhauling our mental health system to connect young Californians with the care and support they need,” said Governor Newsom. “Too many Californians are struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. This funding will support critical mental health and substance use disorder treatment facilities that have committed to serving the diverse range of children and youth covered by Medi-Cal.”

These projects will increase care, especially in the least restrictive, community-based settings, with community wellness/youth prevention centers, outpatient treatment for substance use disorders, school-linked health centers, and outpatient community mental health clinics. Projects include: 

  • $57.4 Million for a Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital. In Los Angeles, the Kedren South Psychiatric Acute Care Hospital & Children’s Village will receive funding for a psychiatric acute care hospital with 36 beds.
  • $27.6 Million to Treat Substance Use Disorder, Boost Slots in Orange County. The Orange County Health Care Agency will expand adolescent residential treatment facilities for youth suffering from substance use disorder (SUD) with 32 beds, perinatal residential SUD with 24 beds, and community mental health clinic outpatient with 2,626 slots.
  • $9.3 million to Fund an Adult Residential Treatment Facility in Watsonville. The facility will assist Californians suffering from SUD, with seven beds and Outpatient Treatment for SUD with 106 slots. 
  • $7.9 million to fund a Community Mental Health Outpatient Clinic in Hoopa. Managed by the Yurok Youth Center, the grant funds 300 slots in the clinic, a community wellness/youth prevention center with 1,450 slots, outpatient treatment for SUD with 27 slots, and a school-linked health center with 50 slots. 

“With significant and innovative state and federal investments in homelessness, health care delivery reform, and the social safety net, California is addressing historic gaps to meet the growing demand of services and supports for children and youth across the state,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health & Human Services Agency.

Additional information on this round of awardees is available on the BHCIP Data Dashboard.

“These investments offer a unique opportunity to expand new capacity and address the needs assessment gaps within California’s behavioral health continuum,” said DHCS Director Michelle Baass. “With these grants we significantly increased outpatient capacity related to mental health and substance use disorder services for children and youth. Successful treatments for children and youth experiencing mental health and substance use disorders are evident in outpatient settings that integrate family support. These investments align with other state efforts around integration, such as California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal and the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.”

In California, the rates of serious mental illness and substance use disorders are highest for individuals ages 18 to 25, and rates of children and youth experiencing behavioral health conditions, youth emergency department visits for mental health concerns, and youth suicides continue to rise. Research shows that half of all lifetime cases of diagnosable mental illnesses begin by age 14, three-fourths begin by age 24, and most substance use begins in adolescence, emphasizing the need to strengthen prevention and early identification and intervention services. Also, in California, 13 percent of children 3-17 years of age reported having at least one mental, emotional, developmental, or behavioral health problem, and 8 percent of children have a serious emotional disturbance that limits participation in daily activity.

The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) is releasing $2.1 billion through six grant rounds targeting various gaps in the state’s behavioral health facility infrastructure: 

  • Round 1: Crisis Care Mobile Units;
  • Round 2: County and Tribal Planning Grant;
  • Round 3: Launch Ready, totaling $739.5 million, were awarded in 2021 and earlier this year;
  • Round 4: Children and Youth grants include cities, counties, Tribal entities, nonprofits, and for-profit organizations statewide that serve target populations;
  • Round 5: Crisis and Behavioral Health Continuum Request for Application for $480 million was released on October 20, and awards will be made in spring 2023. This round of funding will continue to expand behavioral health service capacity across the state;
  • Round 6: Outstanding Needs Remaining After Rounds 3 Through 5.

For more information about these grants, as well as other BHCIP rounds of funding, please visit the Improving California’s Infrastructure website.

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Los Angeles County

Investigation in death of LGBT Center worker still misgendering her

The discovery of her remains came after intensive efforts by family and friends who actively searched for her filed a missing person’s report

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – In an updated statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into the death of Los Angeles LGBT Center staff member Day Rodas, a 27-year-old transgender woman, the agency continues to misgender her.

Rodas, who worked in the Community Health Program at the L.A. LGBT Center, was a San Fernando Valley native and UCLA graduate. The discovery of her remains came after intensive efforts by family and friends who actively searched for her and filed a missing person’s report.

 Day Rodas (Family photo)

Her body was left along the road in the unincorporated Santa Monica Mountains north of El Matador Beach in Malibu. A motorist found her on the side of the road and pulled over to try to help, California Highway Patrol spokesperson Lt. Patricia Thomas told media outlets. However, Rodas was already dead.

In the updated statement issued Tuesday December 6th, 2022, which continued to misgender Rodas, the LASD said that an autopsy of the decedent was conducted on Friday, December 2, 2022, by the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Office. 

The Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office did not find any obvious signs of trauma and preliminary findings indicated there were narcotics in the decedent’s body.  LASD Homicide Investigators are treating this incident as a possible narcotics overdose and CHP spokesperson Thomas, said that it was likely the victim’s body was brought to the location.

GoFundMe post made on Sunday to raise money for her funeral expenses was created by her sibling Susie Rodas.

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Los Angeles

LA City Council bans Styrofoam, plastic bags, & have “Zero Waste”

“There is no place in the City of Los Angeles for harmful environmental products like Styrofoam, & today we are making that a reality”

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Trash that has washed up on Los Angeles beaches (Photo Credit: Heal the Bay/Facebook)

LOS ANGELES – In a unanimous vote, the Los Angeles City Council today approved an ordinance that will prohibit the distribution and sale of Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) products, commonly referred to under the trade name Styrofoam, in the City of Los Angeles.

“I am pleased that we were able to advance yet another transformative environmental policy with unanimous support of the City Council,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, the chair of the Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River committee. “Angelenos want to be good stewards of the environment, and this legislation is reflective of that value – as well as the urgency with which it must be implemented. There is no place in the City of Los Angeles for harmful environmental products like Styrofoam, and with today’s decisive action we are making that imperative a reality. I hope that future Councils, along with other jurisdictions across the country and the world, follow our lead on environmental justice and the elimination of products that degrade public health.”

“Our world is drowning in plastic. To the point where, in any given week, each of us ingests enough plastic from our food and water to make a credit card,” said Council President Paul Krekorian.  “The petrochemical industry is lying to the people of the United States by trying to convince them that somehow it’s OK to use these products because they’re recyclable. They’re not. Almost no plastic ever gets recycled and styrofoam definitely does not.  The steps that we’re taking today are an important part of changing industries, changing consumer behavior and educating the public about the harm that this is causing them,”  Krekorian said.

“EPS foam, also known as Styrofoam, is toxic from production to usage to landfill. The Styrene and Benzene in EPS are both known carcinogens and can also negatively affect workers inside EPS factories. The manufacturing process can contaminate neighborhoods outside EPS factories. The toxins can leach into hot drinks and food as people use cups and food containers. And then EPS ends up as little white bits marring our world-class beaches,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz, the author of the original legislation. “Even worse, the manufacturing process releases significant amounts of hydrofluorocarbons, which are massively potent greenhouse gasses. It’s way past time for Styrofoam to go away forever.”

The Council also approved an additional ordinance that adds to the Los Angeles Municipal Code a section promoting the use of reusable bags and regulating the use of plastic and paper single-use carryout bags at apparel stores, farmers’ markets, food or beverage facilities, hardware stores, and open air markets. In addition, the Council approved instructions to LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) requiring reports back to the Council, by April 2025, regarding compliance with these new policies. The Council also instructed LASAN to prepare outreach programs to educate stakeholders on both ordinances.

Additionally, the Council requested that all proprietary departments, along with their respective boards, adopt and implement the ordinance requiring “zero waste” at City facilities and events, along with a direction to LASAN to prepare an outreach program and further instruction to all departments to report back on progress with this ordinance, which was passed earlier this year. 

“LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) has a unique responsibility when it comes to protecting public health and the environment,” said Alex Helou, LASAN Assistant Director. “We do that through the hard work of collecting, recycling and composting materials, but also through the much less visible work of educating residents on what can and can’t be recycled. Items like expanded polystyrene, plastic bags and single-use foodware accessories do not belong in the blue bin.”

“For more than 30 years, Heal the Bay has conducted thousands of cleanups, removing millions of pieces of plastic off of our beaches and out of our waterways. It is clear that cleanups will never solve the issue of plastic pollution. To truly protect public health, we need aggressive and responsible solutions like today’s unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council to ban polystyrene addressing upstream sources and slowing the production and sale of plastic products, said Tracy Quinn, President and CEO of Heal the Bay. “We commend Councilmembers Koretz, Krekorian, and O’Farrell for their leadership on this issue and look forward to helping put these laws into effect in the new year.”

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San Francisco

Wiener responds to bomb threat

“The email listed my home address, threatened to shoot up my Capitol office saying we will fucking kill you & called me a pedophile & groomer”

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California State Senator Scott Wiener (D) speaking on U.S. Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act at San Francisco City Hall with U.S. Senator Alex Padilla other elected officials (Photo Credit: Office of Senator Scott Wiener)

SAN FRANCISCO – California State Senator Scott Wiener (D), an openly gay lawmaker who represents San Francisco, in an emailed statement to the Blade responded to the bomb threat which had been emailed to the San Francisco Standard, a local news outlet, early Tuesday morning.

“Early this morning, I was informed by the San Francisco Standard and the police that someone had issued a bomb threat against me, listing my specific home address and also threatening to shoot up my Capitol office. The email said ‘we will fucking kill you’ and called me a pedophile and groomer.

“This latest wave of death threats against me relates to my work to end discrimination against LGBTQ people in the criminal justice system and my work to ensure the safety of transgender children and their families. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and MAGA activist Charlie Kirk recently tweeted homophobic lies about me, falsely accusing me of supporting pedophiles and child ‘mutilation.’

“The extreme homophobic and transphobic rhetoric that has escalated on social media and right wing media outlets has real world impacts. It leads to harassment, stalking, threats, and violence against our community. People are dying as a result. Responsible political leaders on the right must call it out and stop tolerating it.

“I will always fight for the LGBTQ community — and for the community as a whole — and will never let these threats stop that work.”

A source with the SFPD confirmed the incident.

According to the Standard’s reporting on the incident:

The email was sent by a person using the name Zamina Tataro, the email said that they placed bombs at Wiener’s San Francisco home and threatened to shoot up his Sacramento office “in 20 minutes, I am willing to die.”

The subject line read “Scott Wiener will die today,” and the author called him a pedophile and accused him of grooming children.

A week ago on the heels of a Twitter attack by Georgia far-right extremist MAGA  Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA), far-right extremist radio chat show host Charles J. Kirk, while loosely channeling an InfoWars host Alex Jones style-attack, went after Wiener implying that the veteran lawmaker endorses and supports child molestation.

Kirk, 29, is a co-founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative right-wing political group aimed at influencing college and university students and young people. Ironically, Kirk himself dropped out of Harper College, a junior community college near Chicago, without having completed any degree or certificate.

Kirk hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show, called The Charlie Kirk Show, on Salem Media which is known for owning conservative websites Townhall.com, RedState, Hot Air, and PJ Media, as well as Twitter aggregator Twitchy, calling itself a ” for-profit Christian broadcast corporation.”

He is also an avid supporter of impeached former president Donald Trump, consistently refers to himself as a MAGA Republican and has asserted that the concept of white privilege is a myth and a “racist lie.” He also has spread false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on social media platforms, such as Twitter, in 2020.

Recently Kirk has been attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the subjects of trans youth and also following the lead of far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) in attacking Senator Wiener:

Kirk’s attack on the senator commenced with: “Thousands of pedophiles in California are going free after just a few months in jail, thanks to the state’s radically reduced penalties for child molestation. One reason so many of these predators are going free so early is California lawmaker Scott Wiener.”

Wiener responded on Twitter saying: “Not even 24 hours after MAGA grifter Charlie Kirk tweeted homophobic lies about me, I received this threat repeating one of his lies. But that was the point: Riling people up against me & other LGBTQ people. Words have consequences & Twitter is becoming a cesspool for this crap”

Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, released the following statement from Executive Director Tony Hoang upon learning of yet another threat against Wiener:

“The bomb threat against Senator Wiener is another clear indication that the hateful rhetoric and lies from far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and pundits have dangerous consequences. They aren’t playing political games. This is not an issue with two sides. They’re inciting violence against Senator Wiener and the LGBTQ+ community, and their actions and words should be treated as such.

“Silence is not an option. Responsible leaders, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, must reject and condemn these hateful lies about Senator Wiener and LGBTQ+ people. To do any less is to be complicit in the violence they incite.”

Three months ago a Contra Costa County Superior Court jury convicted a 51-year-old San Ramon, Calif. man for threatening the life of Wiener and on state weapons charges.

Erik Triana was convicted guilty of threatening the life of Wiener, two counts of possessing assault weapons (an AR-15 rifle and a privately made 9mm pistol), two counts of manufacturing or assembling unregistered firearms (commonly known as ghost guns), and two counts of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.

Both the San Francisco Police Department and California Highway Patrol investigated the threat, the SFPD’s public information officer Officer Kathryn Winters told the Blade.

Senator Wiener released a statement after the conviction:

“I’m deeply grateful to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the court system for taking this death threat — and my personal safety — seriously, and for seeking accountability.”

“Death threats against public officials undermine democracy. A public official should make decisions based on what benefits the community, not based on whether a decision will get the official killed. Modern politics can be polarized and toxic, but we must never normalize or tolerate death threats,” the senator added.

Local Contra County journalist Tony Hicks, writing for Bay City News, reported:

Triana was arrested after he sent Wiener the threat through the senator’s “contact me” portal on his website that read: “Vax my kids without my permission and expect a visit from me and my rifle.”

According to the district attorney’s office, the San Ramon father of three signed his message “Amendment, Second” and listed his address as the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Triana was charged in April.

When Wiener testified on Sept. 6 he noted the threat was unlike others his office receives because of the reference to the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone (who, along with Supervisor Harvey Milk, was shot and killed at San Francisco City Hall in 1978), the specific threat to use a gun, and that Triana lived in the Bay Area.

The threat was traced back to a work computer Triana used at his job in Pleasanton. When investigators executed the search warrant they found an unregistered AR-15 assault weapon with nine loaded magazines and an unserialized privately made 9-mm pistol referred to as ghost guns.

Police also seized another unserialized pistol in a backpack, along with two loaded 9mm magazines and two loaded AR-15 style magazines.

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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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California

Newsom unveils price gouging penalty on big oil’s excessive profits

After big oil hiked gas prices making record profits Newsom convened a special session of the Legislature & called for a price gouging penalty

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

SACRAMENTO – Following unexplained gas price hikes that led to record profits for Big Oil, Governor Gavin Newsom and State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) today unveiled a proposed price gouging penalty on oil companies’ excess profits to deter excessive price increases and keep money in Californians’ pockets. 

The language of the proposed price gouging penalty can be found here.  
 
“California’s price gouging penalty is simple – either Big Oil reins in the profits and prices, or they’ll pay a penalty,” said Governor Newsom. “Big Oil has been lying and gouging Californians to line their own pockets long enough. I look forward to the work ahead with our partners in the Legislature to get this done.”

“Putting the Governor’s proposal in print allows the Legislature and the public to begin discussions on this important issue. No one can deny that California’s gas prices were outrageously high compared to other states. And those high prices hurt California consumers and businesses,” said Senator Skinner (D-Berkeley).

The proposal introduced today by Senator Skinner comes as the California Legislature is assembling in a special session called by the Governor to pass a price gouging penalty. The Legislature will also consider efforts to empower state agencies to more closely review gas costs, profits and pricing as well provide the state with greater regulatory oversight of the refining, distribution and retailing segments of the gasoline market in California.

The proposal would discourage oil refiners from fleecing Californians by making it unlawful to charge excessive profits – excessive refiner margins would be punishable by a civil penalty from the California Energy Commission (CEC). The amount of the maximum margin and the amount of the penalty will be determined through the legislative process. Any penalties collected by the penalty will go to a Price Gouging Penalty Fund and then given back to Californians.

The proposal also improves transparency and oversight of the oil industry by the state, expanding the CEC and the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration’s ability to investigate and obtain information on costs, profits and pricing so that the state can better address the causes of pricing irregularities and minimize the likelihood of future supply or price shocks. 

According to a recent poll from Consumer Watchdog, 60% of California voters support a price-gouging penalty.

In the third quarter of 2022, from July to September, oil companies reported record high profits:

Taking action to lower prices at the pump, Governor Newsom in September ordered the switch to winter blend gasoline and demanded accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California. Since California’s record-high gas prices of $6.42, the Governor’s actions have reduced those prices to $4.77 most recently – a decrease of $1.65 since the peak. 

Newsom’s office released a list of what the governor sees as Top 10 reasons for a price gouging penalty on Big Oil:

1. Big Oil made record profits last quarter – $63 billion in only 90 days – after hiking up the cost of gas on Californians.

2. California refiners like Valero and Marathon increased their profits by 500% and 545% in only a year, while Exxon reported their highest-ever quarterly profits and Chevron reported their second-highest – a staggering $19.7 billion and $11.2 billion, respectively.

3. Big Oil charged Californians historically high prices this summer and fall, peaking at $6.42 per gallon, despite the cost of crude going down and no changes in state taxes, regulations or fees.

4. Big Oil charged Californians a record $2.61 per gallon more than the rest of the nation.

5. Every oil refiner no-showed to California’s hearing on gas price hikes to answer basic questions about what happened, following their refusal to send in written responses.

6. The oil refiners kept blaming “refinery maintenance” for higher gas prices, despite the fact that it affected only 5.8% of California’s gas supply – not nearly enough to cause such drastic price spikes.

7. Oil companies like BP, Chevron, Exxon and Shell spent billions on shareholder buybacks that benefit Wall Street investors.

8. Amid a spike in gas prices, Big Oil CEOs got huge raises – $394 million in 2021 – while laying off workers. And just this week, Exxon’s CEO and top executives got another big raise.

9. Experts say Big Oil charges Californians a “mystery gas surcharge” that “can’t be explained by state taxes and environmental regulations alone,” and the industry refuses to provide answers.

10. 60% of California voters support a price gouging penalty and holding Big Oil accountable for making record profits by hiking up prices at the pump.

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Los Angeles County

LA LGBT Center worker misgendered in death investigation

“Following Day’s death she was repeatedly misgendered by authorities and the local news media. We categorically condemn such carelessness”

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 Day Rodas (Family photo)

MALIBU – The body of 27 year-old  Day Rodas was discovered last Thursday in Malibu. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Lost Hills Station deputies received a call for service in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway regarding a person down call at approximately 7:30 a.m. When responding deputies arrived, LA County Fire Paramedics were on scene treating the victim.

The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Investigators initially determined that the deceased was a woman but then in a statement said the descendant was a male adult, with no obvious signs of trauma. The statement added that cause of death was pending and will be determined by the LA County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner at a later time.

In a GoFundMe post made on Sunday to raise money for her funeral expenses, her sibling Susie Rodas wrote:

Hi my name is Susie Rodas my older sister Day Rodas has passed away and the death still remains unknown. Her body was found in Mulholland highway around 7:45 am Thursday. My family and I went to the police station to file a report on a missing person in hopes she was only missing since she stopped responding to texts and calls.

Her boss from work called saying she didn’t show up to work so we knew something was wrong. She also had moved back in with us so when she didn’t arrive home for two days we knew there was a problem. Once we finished the report I got a call a few hours later from the homicide hotline saying the body they found matched my sister’s.

They don’t know exactly how she died which has been unsettling for my mother, father, my little brother and I. In hopes she would be found alive she was not.

She recently started living her life authentically as she came out to friends and family about being a trans woman. She was the most forgiving person who strongly advocated for LGBTQ rights. She had so much love for family and friends and she saw the good in everyone. Despite some people treating her with disrespect because she finally started being who she truly was she never disrespected anyone- she was too pure and kind to ever treat anyone with disrespect.

She was 27 but only six months ago, she started living authentically just for it to be over too soon. After being afraid for 27 years, she only got to live freely without fear for only six months which breaks our hearts. My father and I are the only ones who work and after this tragedy I had to call off a few weeks of work since I don’t have the strength to go. So as of right now, we are making less money and my father works at a car wash and during this season where it rains he does not get any hours in. Any money that is donated will go to the funeral and memorial expenses. Thank you so much.

In an emailed statement to the Blade Monday, Joe Hollendoner, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center said:

We at the Los Angeles LGBT Center are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Day Rodas, our colleague and friend, and express our deepest condolences to her family and loved ones. Day was a vital member of the Center, working within our Community Health Program, and she worked devotedly during her tenure to keep LGBTQ+ people educated, informed, and safe. 

We are so proud of the work that Day did for the Center and our community. Shortly after joining our team, Day announced that she identified as a transgender woman. Her colleagues and family alike have expressed that Day seemed like she was beginning a new chapter—one where she could finally be her authentic self. To have her life cut short in this moment—and under such troubling circumstances—makes her loss all the more heartbreaking. 

We cannot honor the life of Day Rodas without naming that violence against transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—is at an all-time high. Her passing comes shortly after Transgender Day of Remembrance, where we mourned at least 38 people in our community who we lost to acts of violence. We are witnessing a rise in anti-trans political rhetoric and cultural phobias that contribute to hate crimes against transgender people, many of which go unsolved.

In the moments following Day’s passing last week, she was repeatedly misgendered by authorities and the local news media. We categorically condemn such carelessness, and we will do everything in our power to make sure these forces recognize our colleague as she deserves.

The LASD also stated:

There is no suspect or suspect vehicle information. 
 
The investigation is ongoing and currently, there is no additional information.
 
Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

If you prefer to provide information anonymously, you may call “Crime Stoppers” by dialing (800) 222-TIPS (8477), use your smartphone by downloading the “P3 Tips” Mobile APP on Google play or the Apple App Store or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

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Los Angeles

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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Los Angeles County

Robert Luna sworn in as the 34th Sheriff of LA County

Although Luna is being sworn in on Saturday, he officially replaces outgoing Sheriff Villanueva at noon on Monday

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Incoming LA County Sheriff Robert Luna and outgoing Sheriff Alex Villanueva (Photo Credit: Twitter/Alex Villanueva)

LOS ANGELES – In a simple ceremony Saturday, former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna was sworn in as the 34th Sheriff of Los Angeles County since the Sheriff’s Department was formed in April, 1850. Luna, 56, replaces outgoing Sheriff Alex Villanueva, whom he defeated in the November election.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff serves a four-year term. There are no term limits for the position. Luna served as chief of the Long Beach Police Department for seven years, having first been appointed to the position in 2014.

Villanueva leaves office in the wake of a single term marred by upheaval, fighting with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the discord he sowed amidst allegations of corruption.

The Los Angeles Times reported six days ago that Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that Sheriff Alex Villanueva may have broken state law when he solicited campaign donations from deputies.

Luna has publicly stated that he will focus his efforts on modernizing the department and addressing multiple issues, which have plagued the largest sheriff’s department in the nation which is currently staffed by over 10,000 sworn deputies, vowing to bring new leadership and accountability.

Although Luna is being sworn in on Saturday at the Hall of Administration in downtown LA, he officially replaces outgoing Sheriff Villanueva at noon on Monday.

Luna and Villanueva met earlier this week, and Villanueva tweeted a photo of the “peaceful transfer of power,” adding, “I truly wish him the best in leading the greatest law enforcement agency on the planet.”

The outgoing sheriff also tweeted: “Its been an honor to serve as your Sheriff. I am incredibly proud of what we accomplished over the last four years.”

KTLA reported the new sheriff’s leadership team has come into focus in the past few days, with 28-year veteran April Tardy announced as the new interim undersheriff — the first woman to hold the position — and Deputy Jason Skeen, another 28-year veteran, serving as interim chief of staff.

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San Francisco

Padilla, local leaders celebrate passage of Respect for Marriage Act

“There’s no better place than San Francisco to celebrate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act & affirm lives of millions of LGBTQ people”

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Senator Padilla officiated a vows renewal ceremony of Cyn Wang and Tessa Chavez, a local lesbian couple, at San Francisco City Hall Dec. 2, 2022 (Photo Credit: Office of Sen. Alex Padilla)

SAN FRANCISCO —  U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Friday hosted a press conference with San Francisco Mayor London Breed, State Senator Scott Wiener, Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, and local leaders following the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.

Senator Padilla also officiated a vows renewal ceremony of Cyn Wang and Tessa Chavez, a local lesbian couple, at San Francisco City Hall to mark the historic occasion.

The Respect for Marriage Act requires the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed and guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 61-36.

“There is no better place than San Francisco to celebrate the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act and unequivocally affirm the lives of millions of LGBTQ people and interracial couples across our country,” said Senator Padilla. “We celebrate the progress that we have made today, but recognize the work still left undone to fully protect the rights of LGBTQ Americans. I’ll continue working to build on our efforts until we ensure that every American is treated equally under the law, free from discrimination.”

“I was proud to introduce the Respect for Marriage Act over the summer, and I’m even more pleased that the bill passed the Senate this week with strong bipartisan support,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein. “The Respect for Marriage Act will guarantee legal protections for millions of marriages in the United States. Simply put, Americans should be free to marry the person they love, regardless of sexual orientation or race, without fear of discrimination or fear that their marriages will be invalidated. This was a historic vote and one that every proponent of equality can be proud of.”

“The Respect for Marriage Act is an important step forward in the continued fight for LGBTQ and racial equality in America,” said State Senator Scott Wiener. “Today, we celebrate this victory for our civil rights, and tomorrow we recommit to fight even harder against the right-wing Supreme Court’s efforts to legalize discrimination in this country.”

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on Friday hosted a press conference with San Francisco Mayor London Breed, State Senator Scott Wiener, Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang, and local leaders following the Senate passage of the Respect for Marriage Act.
(Photo Credit: Office of Sen. Alex Padilla)

“San Francisco’s history is inseparable from the history of the LGBTQ community and the movement for marriage equality locally, at the state level, and nationally,” said Mayor Breed. “As we celebrate the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act, we honor those who have endured discrimination and hate, and the many who lost their lives in the quest for equality. We recommit ourselves to protect the fundamental rights of all people regardless of who they are or whom they love. Thank you to Congressional leaders, especially Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, and Speaker Pelosi for their leadership to pass this historical legislation.”

“Equality California applauds this historic vote and the critical leadership of Senators Baldwin, Feinstein and Padilla, in getting this bill across the finish line,” said Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang. “While this is an important step in affirming the dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, it will not end all discrimination against LGBTQ+ people or erase the hateful rhetoric of anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and extremists. Equality California will continue to fight for full, lived equality for all LGBTQ+ people until the work is done.”

“The Respect for Marriage Act removes an ugly, discriminatory stain on our federal law books – the 1996 so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” – and replaces DOMA with a rule requiring government at all levels to treat all married couples equally nationwide,” said Jenny Pizer, Chief Legal Officer, Lambda Legal. “We hope we never need it.  But if the U.S. Supreme Court were, outrageously, to erase the constitutional protection for the freedom to marry, this law will substantially reduce the harms. Yet, even if the Respect for Marriage Act were to become necessary, it would not be sufficient. We still urgently need the Equality Act to become law, to protect LGBTQ people from the widespread discrimination that persists in the commercial marketplace and in public services with harsh, unacceptable consequences.”

“It is a historic moment for the advancement and preservation of basic civil rights for all Americans, but by no means is our work done,” said Kris Perry, Prop 8 Plaintiff & Nonprofit Director. “Our family and thousands of families like ours can breathe easier tonight knowing our fundamental rights are protected.”

“After the Supreme Court overturned a woman’s right to choice, we feared same-sex marriages were next,” said Cyn Wang and Tessa Chavez. “The Respect for Marriage Act gives our family clarity and a sense of relief that our marriage, and those of all married couples regardless of sexual orientation or race, will be protected in this country.”

The Respect for Marriage Act now goes to the House of Representatives for passage and then to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Senator Padilla is committed to pursuing equality for the LGBTQ community, including in employment, housing, and credit lending.

Earlier this year, Padilla introduced the LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act, legislation that would protect the 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned businesses in the nation from lending discrimination to ensure equal access to economic opportunities. Padilla also joined Senate Democrats in introducing a resolution recognizing June as LGBTQ Pride Month to highlight the work of the LGBTQ community in fighting to achieve full equality, including for marriage.

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