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Editor's Letter

Same clap from same stale perennial candidates & former office holders

WeHo City Hall never closed- to protect health & safety of staff/community it shut to in-person transitions & activated virtual operations

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Photo Credit: City of West Hollywood

LOS ANGELES – I have tried to understand the recent criticisms aimed at the City Council and government of the City of West Hollywood.  I can’t help but see it as the same clap from the same stale slate of perennial candidates and former office holders who make their case the same tired way.  

No matter what era, the narrative of these forces is always the same, always omitting the obvious successes of the place we call home and love while trying hard to raise a false flag on what they call failure.

Much of the criticism is just hollow and some of it is just willfully uninformed.  Economics, for starters.

While the on-again-off-again shut downs and pandemic mitigation measures have had economic consequences for all of us, the measures have been necessary and not a situation unique to WeHo.

Mayor Meister, the City Council and managers of West Hollywood, whether its critics or its Chamber of Commerce agree or not, did the best it could to protect the intersections of resident’s rights, their health and well-being, commerce and local economy. And that includes the many thousands of people who risk travel here every day by public transportation to do jobs that might put them at risk of exposure to Covid-19, a still potentially deadly pathogen.

Dishonest economic critiques will not serve anyone well.

Quote:The city is digging into it’s reserves to stay afloat, which is a massive difference from where we were just a few years ago when we were considered one of the best run cities in America.”

Followed by:We’ve now been living with COVID since March 2020; you’d think by now that the city would have figured out a way to manage the pandemic and move forward with city business, yet City Hall has been closed to the public and Council meetings are being held virtually. It was hard enough before for the public to get face time with their Councilmembers or city staff, but now it’s literally impossible. City Hall is supposed to be closed till the end of this month but perhaps beyond; who knows when Council meetings will be held in person again? At this point it’s absurd when we could easily resume business with masks, vaccine requirements etc.”

Lot’s of charges are just silly season of politics motivated. The City is accused by one critic and perennial candidate of rejecting their commercial offer of masks.

The truth is that West Hollywood was rightfully mindful of the needs of the regions medical professionals and their protective wear needs in the early days of the pandemic. The mass sale of N95 masks would have jeopardized hospital workers and KN95 masks had already been deemed insufficient, potentially even disastrous.

Oddly, none of this recognizes the profound nature of life in a pandemic and nor does it recognize the change of generations that is occurring, manifesting itself in the election of Mayor Pro Tem Sepi Shyne and Councilmember John Erickson.

Many of the same arguments are being made by the right wing media, politicians and bloviators about any politician or government that has tried to navigate constituencies safely through Covid, aiming especially hard at President Joe Biden and wrongly blaming him for the Omicron induced Covid-19 resurgence.

But, how Covid has been handled IS a fair way to measure a politician or local government over the past two years of upheaval, so let’s set aside the political jockeying for some actual data and fact.

In March 2020 the City of West Hollywood declared a local emergency due to COVID-19. As public health directives and information related to COVID-19 evolved, the City of West Hollywood worked quickly to adapt and adjust its operations, its levels of service, and the delivery of key services to the community.

West Hollywood City Hall was never closed for operations. Rather, to protect health and safety of staff and community members, City Hall was shut to in-person transitions and the City activated virtual operations to conduct City business and emergency response plans safely and effectively.

After the State of California restrictions were lifted in Summer 2021 – and once it was deemed safe to do by decision-makers in the City of West Hollywood – the City reopened in-person services by appointment. In-person appointments were temporarily halted (but virtual services have continued) during the current steep Omicron case surge this month in January 2022; the City is scheduled to re-open City Hall to in-person services on January 31.

Approximately one year into the pandemic, the City published a COVID-19 Retrospective Report, which is more than 200 pages and which provides a comprehensive account of the cumulative actions taken by the City to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

The efforts outlined in the report represent the City’s commitment to sustaining community health, preventing housing displacement, providing health outreach and education, prioritizing the safety, welfare, and quality of life of community members, and fostering community and economic resiliency. Here’s a link to the City’s COVID-19 Retrospective Report:

https://weho.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=3594&meta_id=199851

The City of West Hollywood remains in a strong financial position. During the pandemic, the City took the unprecedented action of adopting a one-year budget, which had not been done since the City moved to a two-year budget process in fiscal year 1996-97. The one-year budget provided staff with the opportunity to further evaluate the impacts of the rapidly changing crisis without projecting too far into the future.

The City did conduct a drawdown from General Fund reserves and the City balanced this with an array of cost-saving measures that provided relief to the City’s financial capacity ensuring no staff layoffs and allowing the allocation of emergency reserves to provide emergency services to community members in need of support.

The City’s revenue growth has been strong and projected FY22 revenues are similar to revenues received in FY17 and FY18. The City anticipates that revenues will improve over the next two years as the local and regional economies recover from pandemic-induced economic constraints. Over the longer term, revenues are expected to rebound as travel resumes, retail businesses re-establish, and public health restrictions ease. Here’s a link to the City’s financial forecast, which is part of the FY22 Operating Budget:

https://city-west-hollywood-ca-budget-book.cleargov.com/fy22-budget/2022/funding-sources/financial-forecast

Throughout the past two years, the City prioritized creating a strong and supportive environment for residents and businesses. Early in the pandemic, the City approved a Residential Eviction Moratorium (in March 2020) and a Commercial Eviction Moratorium (in April 2020).

The adoption and implementation of the City’s eviction moratoriums helped to protect public health and prevent transmission of COVID-19, and they were essential to avoid unnecessary displacement, to protect the City’s affordable housing stock, and to prevent housed individuals from falling into homelessness, especially given state and county directives to remain at home as much as possible at that time.

The City’s emergency rental assistance program has, throughout the pandemic, provided financial assistance to West Hollywood renters who are unable to pay rent due to issues related to COVID-19 (illness, loss of employment, reduction on working hours, caring for a household member with COVID-19, etc.). 

Renters can apply for assistance to cover 25% of their rent for one month up to $1,000, which will be paid directly to the management company/landlord. A maximum of five grants are available to those who qualify. Since March 2020, the City’s Social Services partners have received 2,224 emergency rental assistance requests and have approved 1,930 grants totaling $1,598,838.

In addition to providing emergency rental assistance, in July 2020 the City started an emergency eviction defense program. To date, 201 clients have applied for eviction defense and 140 cases were resolved.

The City’s business programs have supported West Hollywood businesses in recovery, reinvention, growth, and hiring during the pandemic.

In recognition of the City’s commitment to supporting businesses, the City was awarded the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation’s 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award at the 26th annual Eddy Awards in November 2021.

The Most Business-Friendly City Award recognizes demonstrated outstanding contributions to economic development in the region in business, education, and government throughout LA County and this year’s award honors the community’s extraordinary resilience and collaborative efforts during the pandemic, in celebration of economic reinvention by creating more equity and inclusion.

Details: https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/10039/23

Finally, the City of West Hollywood continues to monitor the positivity rate of COVID-19 cases in the region, as reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. West Hollywood City Council meetings throughout 2020 and 2021 have been mostly conducted as virtual teleconference meetings in order to protect the health and safety of community members.

The City Council has established that when the COVID-19 positivity rate in LA County falls below an average of 1.5 percent, the City will consider options for in-person City Council meetings. When the positivity rate is above this threshold, meetings will take place via virtual teleconference.

The City’s viewership engagement in virtual teleconference City Council meetings is high: for City Council meetings held in October, November, and December, there are 3,259 combined City Council meetings views (YouTube 1,963; City website 1,118; and SmartTV streams 178). This does not count the community members who join City Council meetings via Zoom to view and participate in public comment.

Looking forward, the City of West Hollywood continues to balance its response to the COVID-19 pandemic – especially during current moments such as the steep Omicron surge – in delivering essential services, programs, and support to the West Hollywood community. I hope this information is helpful in providing a fuller picture of the work the City is doing each and every day to excel its deep commitment to residents, businesses, visitors, and the community at large.

Here are links to the City’s two latest ratings updates, which each represent the City’s extremely sound fiscal management policies:

In May 2020, Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings affirmed the City of West Hollywood’s highest-possible ratings:

https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/9304/

In July 2021, S&P Global Ratings assigned an upgraded AA- Long-Term Rating to the Successor Agency for the West Hollywood Community Development Commission:

https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/9856/23

Some recent awards:

The aforementioned LAEDC 2021 Most Business-Friendly City Award (which was featured in the Blade):

In 2019, the City was honored with the prestigious National Civic League All-America City Award, recognizing the work of communities in using inclusive civic engagement to address critical issues and create stronger connections among residents, businesses, and nonprofit and government leaders.

https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/8644/

This joined a variety of 2019 awards: https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/9012/

In 2020, the City’s sustainability leadership at the local, regional, and national level was recognized with three prestigious awards:

https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/9424/23

In 2021, the City’s funding study work for the future Northern Extension of the Metro Crenshaw/LAX Rail Line won an International Infrastructure ‘Finance Project of the Year’ award:

https://www.weho.org/Home/Components/News/News/10041/23

Most recently, the City was recognized by 3CMA and by PRSA-LA for its outreach and engagement efforts related to relief and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic:

https://www.weho.org/city-government/communications/awards-and-accomplishments

Enough said.

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Troy Masters is the owner & publisher of the Los Angeles Blade.

Masters has been involved in LGBTQ+ media since the late 1980’s and has founded five publications in addition to the Blade.

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Editor's Letter

Supporting the community, Transgender Awareness Week 2022

This week, let us rededicate ourselves to committing to supporting our trans siblings making sure their voices are heard & shared

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Underlying images of Trans activists Landon Richie and Rosalynn Montoya courtesy of Richie/Montoya

LOS ANGELES – Transgender Awareness Week, observed November 13 to November 19, is a one-week celebration leading up to the annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), November 20, which memorializes victims of transphobic violence.

It must, however, represent more than just a journalistic or even an activist/advocacy organization’s effort to support and sustain the trans, queer, gender non-binary or gender non-conforming global community. This week needs to be so much more than perfunctory acknowledgement of this misaligned and persecuted segment of humanity.

This week, this publication and others in queer and mainstream media must tell the stories outlining the very humanity of trans people and urge others to celebrate the diversity and the impact of the significant contributions that trans people make for the betterment of all globally.

Trans people are human- period, or “full stop.” Look at the incredible contributions that trans people make to enhance the lives of humanity on this planet that we all share. Just a short list of a few examples:

Dr. Rachel Levine, Admiral, U.S. Public Health Service and the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Levin has spent her entire career as a physician focused on the opioid crisis, adolescent medicine, eating disorders, and LGBTQ medicine.

Laverne Cox, actress, model, and LGBTQ+ equality rights activist. One of the most well-known trans actors and Black transgender celebrities, Cox has ‘kept it real’ as demonstrated by her words and public advocacy serving as a role model for youth.

Patricio Manuel, boxer and champion athlete. Manuel long struggled with his gender identity, rejecting the many ways society and his family forced him to live as a girl and in the end he overcame his gender dysphoria.

Elle Hearns, a transgender rights activist and the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Elle serves as a visible reminder of the power of advocacy at a grass-roots level.

Abel Liu, an accomplished student at the University of Virginia who is an Echols Scholar as well as a Truman Scholar. Abel is the first openly transgender and first Chinese-American student to be elected as Student Council president at a major institution of higher education.

Sarah McBride, Sarah was just reelected as Delaware’s Senator from the First State Senate District. She’s spent her life fighting for dignity, equality, and a level playing field for everyone as human beings.

These are just but a few limited choices of the literal tens of thousands of noteworthy Trans people whose lives and talents enrich this nation and globally making a difference every single day. Trans people are sheriffs, EMTs, firefighters, pilots, teachers, comedians; they are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, sons and daughters. Every single one a vital part of the whole.

Here on the staff of the Los Angeles Blade, journalist Dawn Ennis and LA Blade columnist and political analyst Brynn Tannehill lend their voices reporting and commenting on issues that impact all of us.

The bottom line is that without the contributions of transgender people, there would be a gap, a virtual emptiness in the rich diversity of humanity if you will. This week we need to celebrate, uplift, and yes, also mourn the lives of trans people lost to murder or suicide because of the promise that might have been.

We must fight against those who work to strip trans people of their dignity and their very right to exist. These last few years has seen a litany, a plethora of legislative efforts to erase trans rights from healthcare, sports, and even banning books that dare to mention trans people.

This week, let us rededicate ourselves to committing to supporting our trans siblings, making sure their voices are heard and shared. Trans rights ARE human rights.

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Troy Masters is publisher and Brody Levesque is editor of the Los Angeles Blade

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Editor's Letter

The Los Angeles Blade welcomes diversity reporter Simha Haddad

Haddad joins the Blade as a Diversity Reporter under the State of California Ethnic Media Outreach Grant for queer AAPI writers

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Courtesy of Simha Haddad

LOS ANGELES – The publisher, editor and staff of the Los Angeles Blade welcomes author and journalist, Simha Haddad, to the Blade as its new Diversity Reporter.

Haddad, an Out pansexual writer of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) heritage has deep roots in the LGBTQIA+ community. She currently writes for several blogs and publications and contributes to various podcasts, all centered around queer and feminist topics. She is also the author of a YA queer fiction novel called, Somewhere on This Rainbow.

Haddad joins the Blade staff as a Diversity Reporter under the State of California Ethnic Media Outreach Grant for queer AAPI writers. The grant supports public awareness of the efforts of the California state Stop the Hate Program administered by the Calif. Dept. of Social Services (CDSS), which provides support and services to victims and survivors of hate incidents and hate crimes and facilitates hate incidents or hate crime prevention measures.

Haddad’s reporting will include coverage of the following issues and areas:

  • LGBTQIA Arts and cultural work
  • LGBTQIA Youth development
  • LGBTQIA Senior safety programs,
  • Safety planning training; and cross-racial alliance work
  • Stories on outreach, activism, education and training
  • Coverage of restorative justice
  • Spotlights on local government and community non-profit Stop the Hate programming
  • History of the Asian community in Los Angeles and California
  • Politics
  • HIV/STD Prevention efforts, programs and activities

Haddad, under the guidance of the Blade’s editorial team, will research and write long-form articles on compelling stories centered around queer AAPI subjects. The goal of these articles is to culturally educate, increase exposure, and create empathy around queer AAPI struggles, including prejudice, disease, and hate crimes. 

Haddad will also be working closely with the Blade’s publisher to create diverse and inclusive events to continue to spread the message and accomplish the goal of the Stop the Hate Initiative. 

Once a week Haddad will be also produce a video roundup of each week’s top headlines to be shared on various social media pages and platforms. This roundup will include all news from the Blade and will help spread its outreach even further. 

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Author and journalist, Simha Haddad, links:

Website

Instagram

LinkedIn

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Troy Masters is the publisher of the Los Angeles Blade and Brody Levesque is editor.

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Editor's Letter

Hate on full display in Los Angeles. This is NOT acceptable period!

The ‘Goyim Defense League’ headed by Minadeo dropped vile banners over the busy 405 freeway in Los Angeles Saturday

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Hate group displays vile messaging over the 405 freeway Saturday, Oct 22, 2022 (Photo Credit: StopAntisemitism/Twitter)

LOS ANGELES – Yesterday a group of white neo-Nazi white supremacists led by the hate speech purveyor Jon Minadeo II, a person who was arrested for vile displays of antisemitism at the Auschwitz concentration camp museum memorial in Oświęcim, Poland just this past summer, has now brought his hate and racism to LA.

The ‘Goyim Defense League’ headed by Minadeo dropped vile banners over the busy 405 freeway in Los Angeles Saturday.

Minadeo and his band of hate mongers were acting in “support” of Rapper Kanye West, also known as Ye.

West has engaged in several hateful intolerant rants on podcasts and social media posts in which he has made comments about supposed Jewish people’s collective power and control.

In West’s recent appearance on the Drink Champs Podcast, he blamed “Jewish Zionists” for the reports that his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her then-boyfriend Pete Davidson had sexual intercourse next to a fireplace, claimed that “Jewish people have owned the black voice,” and described Disney as a Jewish platform.

In the same Drink Champs podcast, which was removed from Youtube, West also claimed that Jewish people “came into money through the lawyers” divorcing Christians because Catholics refused to do so.

This newspaper strongly condemns Minadeo’s actions along with members of his white supremacist group ‘Goyim Defense League.’ As is with transphobia, homophobia and xenophobia, racist hate has no place in a civil society and most assuredly cannot be tolerated. Angelenos and their elected officials must work harder to stop this incessant flow of absolute garbage that infects out Southern California home.

Like the most recent examples of West’s remarks coupled with the horrible racism and scandal on the City Council of Los Angeles, which this newspaper has also strongly condemned, this yet another reason this type of hate must be condemned, countered, and answered with messages of tolerance and acceptance celebrating the diversity among the human species- not attacking the differences.

The Los Angeles Times on Sunday published: More antisemitic hate seen in L.A. after Kanye West’s remarks– Fears that antisemitic remarks by Kanye West would spur additional bigotry came to fruition in Los Angeles on Saturday when a well-known hate group held a demonstration in support of the rapper on a 405 Freeway overpass.

Demonstrators gave Nazi salutes as they stood behind a large banner that read, “Kanye is right about the Jews,” according to images collected by antidiscrimination organizations and Jewish residents appalled by the group’s message.

The following thread documents this display of ignorance and depravity:

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Troy Masters is publisher and Brody Levesque is editor of the Los Angeles Blade

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Editor's Letter

The Washington Blade names its new White House correspondent

Kane, an experienced Capitol Hill reporter has freelanced for the Los Angeles Blade and the Washington Blade since 2018

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Chris Kane chats with Vice President Kamala Harris at a recent reception. (Courtesy of Chris Kane)

WASHINGTON – The Washington Blade this week announced it has hired a new White House reporter, following the resignation of longtime staffer Chris Johnson.

Christopher Kane, an experienced Capitol Hill reporter who has freelanced for the Los Angeles Blade and the Washington Blade since 2018, has been named the new White House correspondent for the D.C. Blade.

“We thank Chris Johnson for his nearly 15 years of service in the White House briefing room,” said Blade editor Kevin Naff. “And we’re thrilled to announce our new staff member, Chris Kane, who will ably fill those shoes and take our important coverage to the next level.”

In addition to covering the White House and attending the press briefings, the Blade reporter has served in the president’s pool rotation and as the Blade’s representative to the White House Correspondents’ Association. The Blade is the only LGBTQ media outlet in those roles.

“Our coverage of presidential administrations — friendly and otherwise — is a critical and unique tool in holding our elected officials accountable to their LGBTQ constituents,” Naff added.

Kane expressed enthusiasm for his new role.

“It is an honor and a privilege to represent the Washington Blade in this role covering the White House and Congress,” Kane said. “I look forward to serving our readers with hard-hitting, responsible, and impactful stories about what’s happening here in Washington and beyond.” 

Kane graduated from the University of North Carolina, Asheville, with a degree in communications. He has worked as a reporter for Modern Healthcare covering the Hill and issues of health equity and at Acuris covering the Justice Department and FTC. As a Blade freelancer for four years, Kane covered national elections and policy issues related to immigration, education, housing, and criminal justice.

He starts his new position on Nov. 7.  

Follow Chris Kane on Twitter: @chris_kane_

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Editor's Letter

Editorial: Nury Martinez, Kevin de León, & Gil Cedillo need to resign

This has damaged the very dignity of serving the public by cheapening it to a hypocritical and frankly jaded political ploy

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LOS ANGELES – Although Nury Martinez has resigned as the president of the Los Angeles City Council and councilmembers de León and Cedillo have expressed regret and apologized for the vulgar, crass, and frankly racist-tinged homophobic comments made last year, in the audio reported on Sunday by the Los Angeles Times, the reality is that all three of them need to resign and leave city government completely.

In this era of hyper-charged often hate filled political rhetoric, notably by many associated with former President Donald Trump and his followers, the last thing that a progressive city like Los Angeles needs is that type of backbiting-stabbing snark from alleged progressive leadership.

This is about more than just shared values- no, it is also about trust and commitment to constituents that crosses party and ideological lines. Attacking a child is simply unacceptable and inexcusable period but, when you couple that with implied homophobic slurring of that Black child’s parents, questioning their ability to be parents because their child is simply being a child?

Beyond the racist defining of that child, which in and of itself is inexcusable, how can these so called elected officials expect to engender the trust of their constituents going forward? There will always remain the looming “elephant-in-the-room” as to whether there are elements of insincerity that will always be present in everyone’s mind when dealing with these officials or taking any of their statements on face value in the future.

This has damaged the very dignity of serving the public by cheapening it to a hypocritical and frankly jaded political ploy in their naked self-interests and maintaining their political power and base.

On this day, Indigenous Peoples Day in California, it is especially shocking to be forced to call for this action. However, it is the opinion of this newspaper that to best serve the interests of the diversity of the communities of Angelenos who call this city home, especially the Black community and the LGBTQ+ community who are also parents, that these three politicos depart immediately.

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Editor's Letter

Emergency without Urgency, the Monkeypox outbreak fiasco

We need Monkeypox vaccine TODAY, not next week. We need our community clinics to be covered fully and IMMEDIATELY be reimbursed by Medi-Cal

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DHCS Director Michelle Baass (Photo Credit: State of California)

LOS ANGELES – One of the most significant legacies of the HIV and AIDS crisis is the establishment of robust LGBTQ+ community based health organizations that not only advocate for our community but which also provide care.

These clinics are indeed the legacy of generations of community members lost to AIDS and have become the healthcare backbone of our LGBTQ+ community. They play a substantial role in promoting successful HIV and STD prevention and during the vaccination efforts against Covid played a crucial role in ensuring our community was safer. 

Los Angeles is particularly blessed with a large number of them.  Between the LA LGBT Center, APLA, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, St. John’s Wellness and other AIDS healthcare service providers, there are literally dozens of clinics throughout the County. As the AIDS pandemic evolved, these clinics repurposed, maintaining their role in providing both basic and specialty healthcare for the LGBTQ community. They are comparable in quality to more mainstream community healthcare providers.

For a new scourge faced by our community, Monkeypox, one would think the expertise of these clinics would be immediately called upon and activated as an inoculation center for the vaccine. However, the fact they weren’t being engaged was evident early on. 

The LA County Department of Public Health, (LACDPH) rightly or wrongly, responded as soon as vaccine was made available to them by opening its own clinics to the community and putting shots into arms.  Demand was strong.

It seemed reasonable at first that their locations, though remote from the traditional centers of our community, should begin immediately but, it was hoped, with a plan to engage more partners.  That did not happen quickly enough for a variety of reasons and concerns immediately emerged.

On July 27, as publisher of this newspaper, alarmed by a then seemingly nascent health crisis on the precipice of exploding virally in the MSM community, I hosted a Town Hall bringing together the LA County Department of Public Health, representatives of the three largest networks of LGBTQ+ healthcare providers, a former Monkeypox patient, researchers and advocates. 

One of the objectives of that town hall was to highlight to our government’s healthcare leadership the importance of involving the world’s most robust networks of LGBTQ+ clinics in the dispensing of monkeypox vaccines.

Cases since that Town Hall have more than doubled in Los Angeles and also nationally.

And frustration has grown exponentially, largely due to the supply’s rapid depletion..

While many excellent strategies were deployed by LACDPH to engage other partners, precious little vaccines were ever provided to the community clinics represented at the Town Hall. The LA LGBT Center’s clinic received less than 2000 doses; AIDS Health Foundation received approximately 1000 doses and others like APLA also received similar scant inventory.

While the outrage can be answered in part by a lack of available vaccines, it’s an issue that can be squarely blamed on President Biden’s CDC and FDA-  it’s simply outrageous that the vaccine rollout has been so badly handled by the Federal government. But on a local level there are indications that even if federal distribution and supply chain issues got fixed, our community clinics would still be underutilized or perhaps unable to be utilized at all.

Michelle Baass, Director of the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to oversee the health of about 14 million Californians on Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, has decided that the LGBTQ+ Clinics do not qualify for reimbursement if they administer Monkeypox vaccine without pass-through funding from the federal government which potentially could take many months to even occur.

You heard that right.

The institutions we built, the conveniently located clinics we are familiar with are being defunded.

You might ask, “how is that defunding?”

Without Medi Cal reimbursement, the financial strain on our clinics is enormous- the Los Angeles LGBT Center has already warned they are experiencing significant financial stress as a and have turned to the community for donations so they can continue inoculations when vaccines become available again.

It’s not clear when that will be.

Aaron Fox at the LA LGBT Center put it best when he told the Blade’s Brody Levesque “Our community cannot wait for DHCS and CMS to continue talking. We must take action on this yesterday and we are in a Public Health crisis and government bureaucracy and inaction is unacceptable and will only result in increased suffering in our community.” 

Fox added that his perception of the government response is that while the Biden-Administration and California have declared a Public Health Emergency, in terms of immediate action taken thus far it is little more than saying, “oh look there’s a house on fire,” but neglecting to dial 911 and get the fire dept rolling.

It’s a sleight we do not deserve, particularly not from administrations like Gavin Newsom and Joe Biden whom we view as reliable allies.

On behalf of the Blade and our LGBTQ+ community,  I call on all involved parties to correct this situation immediately.

Major East Coast cities such as New York have had robust and successful vaccination efforts that have reached many times more arms than in Los Angeles. Why should a city the size of Boston or Washington DC have been prioritized over Los Angeles or California? 

We need a supply of Monkeypox vaccine TODAY, not next week. We need our community clinics to be covered fully and IMMEDIATELY be reimbursed by Medi-Cal.

Most of our community clinics are also still hyper-stressed financially because the State of California has failed to reimburse them for their work inoculating people against Covid.

Our community needs our allies to prove again why we can trust them:  it’s very disconcerting to be treated so shodily after 40 years of AIDS and 3 years of Covid. 

It’s also extremely disconcerting that after our leaders and this newspaper fought so hard to get California’s Department of Health to include LGBTQ+ data in healthcare collection around Covid-19 that it came to nothing when a new epidemic emerged.

Get it together, Michelle Baass, or leave.

Monkeypox must be treated as an emergency that DOES requires a great deal of urgency

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