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California expands broadband infrastructure & internet access across state

The initial project locations based on unserved/underserved areas that don’t reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second

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

SACRAMENTO – Advancing California’s commitment to bridge the digital divide, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state has identified 18 projects to begin work on an open-access middle-mile network that will provide missing infrastructure paths to bring broadband to all communities.

As part of the historic $6 billion broadband investment advanced in partnership with legislative leaders earlier this year, the initial project locations are based on known unserved and underserved areas across the state. The projects will connect to the core of the global internet and interconnect to last-mile infrastructure, which is the final leg that provides internet service to a customer.

“California is committed to taking on the challenges laid bare by the pandemic, including the digital divide holding back too many communities across the state,” said Newsom. “These projects are the first step to delivering on our historic investment that will ensure all Californians have access to high-quality broadband internet, while also creating new jobs to support our nation-leading economic recovery.”

The initial 18 projects represent a range of geographic locations and technical approaches. Projects are being initiated in the following tribal communities, counties and cities: Alpine County; Amador County; Calaveras County; Central Coast; Coachella Valley; Colusa Area; Inyo County; Kern County; Kern/San Luis Obispo Area; Lake County Area; Los Angeles and South Los Angeles; Oakland; Orange County; Plumas Area; Riverside/San Diego Area; San Bernardino County; Siskiyou Area; and West Fresno.

Evaluation of project areas included consideration of public comments, prioritization of unserved or underserved areas of the state, and inclusion of tribal communities, cities and counties. An unserved or underserved area has households that do not reliably have download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload of at least 3 Mbps.

“Core to our success will be the deep partnerships we’ve built with a diverse set of community organizations and last mile providers. Through many years of engagement with metropolitan planning organizations, CPUC-supported broadband consortia, Tribal organizations, community-based broadband advocacy groups, and organizations like the Rural County Representatives of California, the NAACP, and the California Emerging Technology Fund, we are now ready to take this historic step towards broadband equity for California,” said Louis Fox, Founder and Chair of GoldenStateNet, the state’s third-party administrator.

State partners implementing the middle-mile initiative include the California Department of Technology, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and Caltrans. GoldenStateNet was selected as the Third-Party Administrator (TPA) to manage the development, acquisition, construction, maintenance and operation of the statewide open-access middle-mile broadband network. As the TPA, GoldenStateNet will partner with key stakeholder groups across the state to investigate the best technical, financial and operational models to meet the needs of the project sites.  

A map and additional information on the initial projects can be found here.

“A reliable broadband connection makes the difference between having access to full-service health care, education and employment or sometimes going without,” said State Chief Information Officer Amy Tong. “Through a historic partnership between our Governor, the Legislature, state agencies and a third-party administrator, we are taking immediate action to improve connectivity for Californians in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.”

“These initial routes have been identified to accelerate projects in areas of the state that are unserved because of the lack of open middle mile infrastructure to serve them. We are accelerating the selection of a diverse set of routes — those that are ready to build and those that are not ready to build.  This allows the state to partner with locals on these diverse projects and learn by doing, as we concurrently work to finalize all the needed routes in the State. There are many more communities like those in Phase I that will be included in the final map,” said Martha Guzman Aceves, Commissioner at the CPUC.

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Black & Trans people more often searched during police stops in California

Officers used force against people perceived as Black at 2.6 times the rate of individuals perceived as White

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Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies making an arrest. (Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles)

SACRAMENTO – Newly data released in the fifth annual California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board report last Friday, revealed that traffic and pedestrian stops by law enforcement agencies dropped significantly in 2020 compared to the year before.

However, the data collection effort found that Black or transgender people were still more likely to be searched than white or cisgender people by California police officers.

California Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board report: People perceived as Black were searched at 2.4 times the rate of people perceived as White

The Advisory Board collected, examined, and collated data from 18 law enforcement agencies, including the 15 largest agencies in the state on approximately 2.9 million vehicle and pedestrian stops. 

The state’s largest law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, provided data for the report. But CHP’s data was not included in the section of the report analyzing stops based on gender identity due to a reporting error.

The data includes how law enforcement officers perceive an individual’s race or gender, even if it’s different than how the person identifies, because the officer’s perception is what drives bias. This was especially noted in data regarding those people perceived to be transgender women which were 2.5 times more likely to be searched than women who appear to be cisgender.

“This fifth annual report from the Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board provides important analysis of police stops, use of force, and the differential experiences with law enforcement of California’s diverse communities,” said Steven Raphael, Co-Chair of the Board and Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

“The data collection effort has been building towards and will soon achieve universal reporting of stops, uses of force, and civilian complaints from all law enforcement agencies in the state, setting a new national standard for transparency. The analysis in this year’s report breaks new ground on the experiences with law enforcement of those with mental and physical disabilities, the experiences of members of the LGBTQ+ community, in addition to the detailed analysis of stop outcomes by race, ethnicity, and gender contained in past reports,” Raphael pointed out.

“The data in this and future reports is critical to fostering dialogue between California residents and law enforcement and will also inform policy devoted to ensuring fair and bias-free policing practices. I am grateful for the tireless work of the DOJ legal and research staff as well as for the efforts and dedication of fellow board members and members of the public who participate in our meetings throughout the year,” he added.

All law enforcement agencies in California are required to commence reporting the data in 2023. The board’s work informs agencies, the state’s police office training board and state lawmakers as they change policies and seek to decrease racial disparities and bias in policing.

Los Angeles Blade file photo via LAPD

“The data in this report will be used by our profession to evaluate our practices as we continue to strive for police services that are aligned with our communities’ expectations of service,” said Chief David Swing, Co-Chair of the Board and Past-President of the California Police Chiefs Association.

“Our goal is that information in this report will result in collaborative conversations that strengthen partnerships and relationships with the communities we serve. Thank you to my colleagues on the Board and the staff of the Department of Justice for your contributions and commitment to enhancing policing in California.”

In a review of the data disclosed by the Advisory Board included:

  • Number of Stops: In 2020, 18 law enforcement agencies, including the 15 largest agencies in California, collected data on approximately 2.9 million vehicle and pedestrian stops. This represents a 26.5% reduction in comparison to the number of stops reported in 2019, most likely as a result of COVID-19.
  • Search Rates: People who were perceived as Black were searched at 2.4 times the rate of people perceived as White. Overall, officers searched 18,777 more people perceived as Black than those perceived as White. In addition, transgender women were searched at 2.5 times the rate of individuals perceived to be cisgender women.
  • Result of Stop: At the conclusion of a stop, officers must report the outcome, e.g., no action taken, warning or citation given, or arrest. For individuals perceived as Black, officers reported “no action taken” 2.3 times as often as they did for individuals perceived as White, indicating that a higher rate of those stopped who were perceived as Black were not actually engaged in unlawful activity.
  • Use of Force Rates: Officers used force against people perceived as Black at 2.6 times the rate of individuals perceived as White. In addition, officers used force against individuals perceived to have a mental health disability at 5.2 times the rate of individuals perceived not to have a disability.
  • Traffic Violation Stops: A higher proportion of traffic violation stops of people perceived as Hispanic or Black were for non-moving or equipment violations as compared to individuals who were perceived as White. For instance, the proportion of such stops initiated for window obstruction violations was nearly 2.5 times higher for people perceived as Hispanic and 1.9 times higher for people perceived as Black as compared to people perceived as White.
  • Population Comparison: Using data from the 2019 American Community Survey, people who were perceived as Black were overrepresented in the stop data by 10 percentage points and people perceived as White or Asian were underrepresented by three and nine percentage points, respectively, as compared to weighted residential population estimates.

Of all the recorded stops in 2020, 40% of people were believed to be Hispanic, 16.5% Black, 31.7% white, 5.2% Asian, and 4.7% Middle Eastern or South Asian. Black people make up just 6.5% of the state’s population. Officers stopped 445,000 more white people than Black people, but took action against 9,431 more Black people, according to the report.

Overall, Black people were most likely to be searched, detained, handcuffed and ordered to exit their vehicles. Officers were more likely to use force against Black and Hispanic people, the data showed. People perceived as Asian had a lower chance of having force used against them than white people.

“California is leading the charge in collecting and analyzing police stop data,” said California Attorney General Rob Bonta. “To date, the state has provided the public with an in-depth look into nearly 9 million police stops. This information is critical and these annual reports continue to provide a blueprint for strengthening policing that is grounded in the data and the facts. I’m grateful to the RIPA Board and all the staff at the California Department of Justice for making this latest report possible. As a legislator, I was proud to co-author the bill that led to this effort and, now as Attorney General, I am committed to carrying that work forward.”

The 18 law enforcement agencies that reported 2020 RIPA data, which include three early reporting agencies, were the Bakersfield Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Davis Police Department, Fresno Police Department, Long Beach Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Unified School District Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Sacramento Police Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, San Diego Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, and San Jose Police Department.

For more on the RIPA data, members of the public are encouraged to review the online RIPA data dashboards available on OpenJustice. The dashboards provide a unique look at the data and will be updated with the new data to help increase public access to information on the millions of stops and searches conducted across California in 2020.

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History-making Trans ‘Jeopardy!’ contestant robbed at gunpoint

Schneider has racked up 25 wins and has earned $918,000 for her efforts, which is also the most money a woman has ever won on the show 

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“Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider (LA Blade file screenshot)

OAKLAND – “Jeopardy!” champion Amy Schneider, who became the first trans contestant to qualify for the Tournament of Champions in November, was robbed at gunpoint over the New Year’s weekend in her home city of Oakland. 

Schneider, the show’s highest-earning woman, took to Twitter on Monday to tell her over 55,000 followers that she was OK after being robbed. 

“Hi all! So, first off: I’m fine. But I got robbed yesterday, lost my ID, credit cards, and phone,” she said. “I then couldn’t really sleep last night, and have been dragging myself around all day trying to replace everything.”

According to the Associated Press, Oakland police said they are investigating the armed robbery that occurred on Sunday afternoon. No arrests have been made. 

The robbery took place just days after Schneider won her 21st consecutive game, surpassing Julia Collins as the most winning woman in the show’s history. 

To date, Schneider has racked up 25 wins and has earned $918,000 for her efforts, which is also the most money a woman has ever won on the show. 

In an email statement to NBC News, a “Jeopardy!” spokesperson said, “We were deeply saddened to hear about this incident, and we reached out to Amy privately to offer our help in any capacity.”

Schneider, an engineering manager from Oakland, has been an inspiration to many during her historic run on the show. 

“Seeing trans people anywhere in society that you haven’t seen them before is so valuable for the kids right now that are seeing it,” she told ABC affiliate KGO-TV in November, adding: “I’m so grateful that I am giving some nerdy little trans kid somewhere the realization that this is something they could do, too.”

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Newsom declared a state of emergency in 20 California counties

The Office of Emergency Services is warning that while there is currently a break in the severe weather, more storms are expected next week

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Union Station courtesy of LA Metro

SACRAMENTO – California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in 20 California counties including Los Angeles as winter storms continued to pound the state with record snow and rainfall that has knocked out power, shut down major roads and freeways, and caused debris flows, among other hazards.

The emergency proclamation supports response and recovery efforts, including expanding access to state resources for counties under the California Disaster Assistance Act to support their recovery and response efforts, directing the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to request immediate assistance through the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program in order to obtain federal assistance for highway repairs or reconstruction, and easing access to unemployment benefits for those unemployed as a result of the storms.

Governor Newsom yesterday released a statement on emergency response efforts now underway across the state and provided an update on the state’s actions to mitigate the impact of weather conditions. Caltrans also issued a press release urging drivers to avoid non-essential travel to the Sierra due to record snowfall.

The text of today’s proclamation can be found here.

Across Los Angeles County crews continue clean-up operations. KTLA reported that travelers passing through Los Angeles Union Station Thursday were ankles-deep in water as a section of the historic station flooded amid heavy rains. The flooding in the pedestrian passageway began about 6 a.m., a Los Angeles Metro spokesman told KTLA.

By 1 p.m., L.A. Metro said the water had been cleared.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services is warning that while there is currently a break in the severe weather, more storms are expected next week.

On Thursday morning, the National Weather Service’s Los Angeles office released precipitation totals for L.A. and Orange counties, revealing how much rain and snow the area has received since Wednesday.

KTLA reported:

The highest rainfall total to date in the Los Angeles area is the approximately 7 inches recorded at Cogswell Dam in the San Gabriel Mountains, which is located in the Bobcat Fire burn scar.

But many other areas of the counties received several inches of rain.

More than 5 inches of precipitation as recorded in the Topanga (5.38), Woodland Hills (5.27) and Brentwood (5.10) areas over the two-day period, weather service data showed. Those were three of the top six rainfall amounts thus far.

In Ventura County — also handled by NWS’s L.A. office — 5 inches of rain has been recorded at Circle X Ranch. That area is nestled in the western part of the Santa Monica Mountains, within the mountain’s Recreation Area. The Santa Susana Mountain’s Rocky Peak is also approaching the 5-inch mark.

Other impressive rainfall amounts were recorded throughout L.A. County, including 4.33 inches in Bel-Air, 3.96 inches in Agoura Hills, 3.82 inches in Newhall, 3.73 inches in Hawthorne, 3.71 inches in Culver City, 3.60 inches in downtown Los Angeles and 3.51 inches in Alhambra.

A number of areas in Ventura County also received at least three inches of rain over two days, among them Saticoy (3.92 inches), Oxnard (3.80 inches), Westlake Villa (3.37), Fillmore (3.13) and Camarillo (3.02 inches).

As far as snowfall totals in L.A and Ventura counties, Mountain High — at an elevation of 7,000 feet — had by far the highest two-day amount: 12 to 18 inches, according to the weather service.

Mount Baldy had the second-most snow with 8 inches. The measurement was recorded at a slightly lower elevation of 6,500 feet,

Mount Wilson and Mount Pinos (along the Ventura County border) tied for third, recording 6 inches apiece.

Snowfall totals can be found here.

Weather related rescues included 22 rescued as downpours flood Leo Carrillo State Park campsites in Malibu.

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