INGLEWOOD – In an exclusive interview with The Los Angeles Blade Thursday, Eric Strong discussed his candidacy to be elected as the next Los Angeles County Sheriff and detailed reforms he would bring to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, (LASD) which has been beleaguered by scandal and corruption in recent years.
Should incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who took office in 2018, fail to capture 50 percent of the vote in the upcoming primary election on June 7, he will square off against Strong and seven other candidates on the ballot in November.
Dramatic reforms within the LASD are necessary to effectuate any real change, said Strong, who emphasized that the LASD’s many problems did not start with Villanueva’s tenure.
“There’s a lot on the inside that needs to be changed,” he said, “to make the biggest impact on the outside.”
As the county grapples with crises involving public safety, addiction and the unhoused, Villanueva has been accused of “running the LASD,” which is the largest in the nation, “like a prison yard.”
Racially motivated violence by LASD deputies was described in a 2020 article by The GuardianUK as “a reign of terror.” That same year, Max Huntsman, the LA County inspector general, accused Villanueva of fostering a “code of silence” and stonewalling investigations of a tattooed gang of deputies called the Banditos, who have assaulted non-member deputies within the department and perpetuated a culture of favoritism, racism, sexism and violence.
Villanueva sent a cease-and-desist letter earlier this year demanding that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors stop using the term “deputy gangs.” During a press conference last September, the sheriff said that he worked alongside a group called the Cavemen when working on patrol in East LA and, “There was no difference between what I did and what they did.”
In the 1980s and 90s, the Cavemen were known to sport tattoos that sometimes depicted house flies, each meant to represent a violent incident against a civilian. Villanueva’s undersheriff, Timothy Murakami, was also a member of the gang.
Gang activity within the LASD by deputies has been associated with allegations of rigged promotions, pay-to-play schemes and other types of favoritism. Villanueva has also been accused of covering up an incident where a deputy knelt on an inmate’s neck, and he has attacked his critics and political enemies, including by baselessly calling Huntsman a “Holocaust denier.”
Villanueva also sought to launch a criminal investigation into a Los Angeles Times reporter who had written an in-depth series of articles detailing some of the Sheriff’s questionable actions. He later walked that back in a public statement after protest by the Times and other LA Media outlets.
Strong said he is the only candidate who pledged not to build additional detention facilities in response to the County’s homelessness crisis; the only candidate who pledged not to take money from the police union; the only candidate who led investigations of deputy gangs while working in internal affairs at LASD, and the only candidate who did not switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat before entering the race.
Strong has over 30 years of experience in law enforcement, having served in the Compton Police Department before joining the LASD, where he is currently serving as a supervisory lieutenant. He has been commander of multiple bureaus, as well as on multiple executive level committees, including as executive chairman of the Shooting Analysis Committee. “I’ve spoken out many times” about misconduct and corruption at LASD, he said.
Strong added the other seven candidates in the sheriff’s race have baggage: some, like a former LASD deputy and the current LAX Police Chief Cecil Rhambo, have close ties to the current regime, having done nothing to reform the LASD when serving in leadership positions under conditions where promotions are awarded based on loyalty and favoritism.
Others have disciplinary records over their unjustified use of force, including shootings. Bob Luna was formerly chief of police for the City of Long Beach, during which time gay men were entrapped in sting operations. (Dismissing the charges of lewd conduct and indecent exposure, an LA County Superior Court judge said, “The arbitrary enforcement of the law as seen in this case undermines the credibility of our legal system, eroding public confidence in our ability to achieve just results.”)
Along with Rhambo, Strong is one of two candidates in the race who, if elected, would become the County’s first Black sheriff. Having grown up in LA County, Strong said he has “experienced law enforcement at its worst,” having been roughed up and having suffered the incarceration and deaths of family members at the hands of law enforcement.
A graduate of the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Strong has received awards for his handling of some of the department’s most infamous internal affairs investigations, including the Quiet Cannon Case in 2010 involving a deputy gang known as the 3000 Boys.
Strong lives in Inglewood with his wife Sidra, who is also a deputy in the LASD. They have three grown children, ages 24, 22 and 21.
Strong proposes major reforms to LASD
Deputy gangs have been allowed to persist at LASD for over 50 years, Strong said, because there has never been a message from the top that it needs to stop, let alone a sincere effort by a Sheriff or leadership at the department to investigate and disband them.
“My message is, this is going to stop,” he said. “Today.” Gang members’ abuse and harassment of non-members at LASD is not just an internal issue, Strong said. “How can we expect [officers involved in gang activity] to treat the community with respect, dignity and compassion when they can’t even do that on the inside to themselves?”
Another significant change he would implement is to change the conditions under which deputies are eligible for promotions to bring the LASD in line with the best practices utilized by other departments across the country, and then petition the Board of Supervisors to change the county charter so reforms cannot be undone by a future Sheriff.
This would mean adding educational requirements, leadership or managerial experience and a testing process administered by an entity outside the LASD, he emphasized.
“I want somebody from the outside to be part of the review process. If I say ‘this person is qualified to be commander or chief,’” other people should have input, “whether it’s a board of supervisors, an oversight committee, the Office of the Inspector General, community stakeholders, or even a panel of other law enforcement executives.”
Strong added he would review promotions and, where necessary, have individuals step back from their duties until they receive adequate training to bring them in line with what’s required to serve in the positions to which they may have been promoted in the absence of requisite merit and experience.
Current policies allow anyone who has served two years in their current position to be promoted in rank – an insufficiently high bar that, in many cases, was not met by the deputies promoted by Villanueva. The reason for Strong’s focus on this issue is twofold: the current system facilitates favoritism and gang culture, incentivizing LASD personnel to undermine each other and to never speak out against policies and practices of their superiors. And it also keeps deputies siloed off from exposure to new ideas, approaches and experience they would glean from training administered by other departments.
Racism, and racially motivated use of excessive force, are also issues that stem from the messaging and culture at LASD, Strong said. He said changing the mindset and culture will be a top priority – coupled with civilian oversight “in every individual station” to keep the Department accountable.
Strong related a story of how, when serving as a unit commander reviewing civilian complaints, there was a case involving a black man in South LA who, pulling into his driveway after returning home from work, was threatened and treated with hostility by LASD deputies. Their justification, which was supported by a lieutenant, was that there had been shootings on that street.
“I said, ‘what do you do when you get home from work and pull into your driveway?’” There was no apology by the officers, whose actions that day showed their lack of discernment, Strong said, which is reinforced by the higher-ups who have the same attitudes and biases.
“One of the most concrete things, other than changing the policies, are the mindset and culture.” Otherwise, “we’ll continue to have it,” Strong added.
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
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.”
“It was a pleasure to meet in my office today with Sheriff-Elect Luna and discuss our peaceful transfer of power. I truly wish him the best in leading the greatest law enforcement agency on the planet.” pic.twitter.com/YrFNiTAqT1— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) December 2, 2022
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.
LA Mayor Garcetti volunteers at Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving
For many of the celebrities joining Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving Day volunteers the day was about sharing the experience with family
LOS ANGELES – In the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub, celebrity supporters and 225 volunteers and staff to prepare and deliver 7,400 meals on Thanksgiving Day to seriously ill and housing insecure people throughout 4,700 square miles of L.A. County.
“Mayor Eric Garcetti epitomizes what it is to be part of a community and lift one another through compassion and service. As he rolled up his sleeves and helped plate meals, he brought attention that while this is a day most of us are surrounded by people we love, we need to remember that some people don’t have that,” Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub said. “He reminded us that no Angeleno should be alone and with a warm smile, a conversation and a meal, our volunteers can change the entire day for our clients, become angels in the City of Angels,” Ayoub added.
For many of the celebrities joining Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving Day volunteer pool, the day was about sharing the experience with family. Volunteers included Lisa Rinna and husband Harry Hamlin; “Weird Al” Yankovic with his wife Suzanne and daughter Nina.
Also volunteering was Out actor and singer Cheyenne Jackson and husband Jason Landau with their twins Willow and Ethan. Jackson said the couple brought the children because, “I want to teach my kids to be grateful and thankful for everything that we have, and when you have the capability to give to other people, do it.”
He also talked about the death of friend Leslie Jordan, a Project Angel Food supporter who died exactly one month earlier. “He was one of my best friends and it hit me really, really hard like so many people,” he said.
American Idol favorite Ava Maybee with her mother, and Melissa Rivers with son Cooper Endicott, continuing her mother Joan Rivers’ legacy of volunteering on Thanksgiving.
Avatar: The Way of Water star Trinity Bliss brought her parents just weeks before the December 16 release of the highly anticipated film. “I’m so honored to work alongside so many people to bring a warm, delicious, tasty meal to people in need.”
Of her much-anticipated film, Avatar: Way of Water, Trinity added, “Avatar was amazing, but I think Avatar: The Way of Water is going to be just so much more dramatic and be an experience people are going to need to experience in theaters.”
Lisa Rinna reflected on the fact that Project Angel Food is the primary source of food for most of its clients. “It’s so important because that is going to be their only meal of the day.” her husband Hamlin added, “to have the opportunity to give back is amazing.”
Other celebrities included Eileen Davidson (RHOBH, Days of Our Lives), Peter Porte (Days of Our Lives), Juan Pablo Di Pace (DWTS, Fuller House), Olympian Tai Babilonia, Tim Bagley (Gracie & Frankie, Will & Grace), Michael Hitchcock (The Resort, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), Lawrence Zarian (The Kelly Clarkson Show), Marc Malkin (Variety), James Wallington and Will Jardell (Amazing Race Season 32 winners), Romeo Escobar (Survivor 42 runner-up), and parenting author Donna Tetreault.
The 7,400 meals being delivered on Thanksgiving included 1,600 traditional turkey dinners to critically ill men, women, children and their caregivers, 5,600 Medically Tailored Meals and breakfasts regularly scheduled for Thursday delivery, and another 200 meals were provided to Project Angel Food community partner PATH for residents for two of PATH’s Interim Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing sites.
Volunteers provided contactless “drive-by” pick-up of the meals which were then delivered to Project Angel Food clients. Traditional Thanksgiving dinners consisted of roasted turkey, root vegetables, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. Vegetarian meals were also provided.
The meal was sponsored by the Stanley and Joyce Black Family foundation with Glamazon (Amazon’s affinity group for the LGBT+ community) sponsoring the volunteer event.
Project Angel Food CEO Richard Ayoub noted that Project Angel Food strives to end food insecurity and improve health outcomes of critically ill men, women and children in Los Angeles with Medically Tailored Meals, delivered with care and compassion.
Over 2,500 clients are fed daily. Project Angel Food delivers 1.3 million meals each year.
Culver City Police are investigating anti-Semitic hate incident
The publication was produced by a known hate group who has distributed similar hate materials in surrounding cities
CULVER CITY – Police investigators are looking into anti-Semitic hate incident that involved the distribution of anti-Semitic hate publication in one Culver City neighborhood on Sunday. Multiple neighbors reported copies of this publication.
The publication was produced by a known hate group who has distributed similar hate materials in surrounding cities.
“The Culver City Police Department condemns all forms of hate, and we stand in solidarity with our Jewish Community. We will utilize all resources available to us to fully investigate this matter and bring any criminal offenders that are identified to justice. We are working diligently with our community partners, neighboring agencies, and other law enforcement partners on this incident. Any criminal activity that is discovered as a result of this investigation will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for criminal filing consideration,” the department spokesperson said in a statement.
Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to contact the Culver City Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Sergeant Edward Baskaron at 310.253.6316, or the Watch Commander at 310.253.6202.
United Against Hate holds LGBTQ+ Zoom meeting town hall
The meeting was hosted by the LA District Attorney’s LGBTQ+ advisory board, LA County Human Relations Commission, & the US Attorney’s Office
LOS ANGELES – As part of United Against Hate Week, a free and open-to-the-public LGBTQ+ Town Hall was held on Wednesday, November 16th via zoom.
The meeting’s objective was to provide public education on how to recognize hate crimes, hate incidents, and acts of discrimination and to encourage the community to report and help prevent acts of hate against the LGBTQ+ community.
The meeting was hosted by members of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s LGBTQ+ advisory board, LA County Human Relations Commission, and the US Attorney’s Office Central District of California. Hosts included George Gascón, Los Angeles County District Attorney, Bamby Salcedo, President & CEO, [email protected] and Chair of LADA’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, and Matthew Barragan, Assistant United States Attorney, Civil Rights Section.
A poll sent out during the meeting confirmed that at least 84% of those attending the meeting had either personally been or knew someone who had been affected by a hate crime. This finding is congruent with the most recent FBI hate crime statistics, which indicate the highest number of hate crimes occurring in over twenty years. The overall number of hate crimes reported in California in 2021 was 1,763 – an increase of 32.6% from 2020. There was also a 30.2% increase in anti-gay male hate crimes, a 21% increase in anti-homosexual bias hate crimes, and an 18% increase in anti-lesbian bias hate crimes.
Unfortunately, many hate crimes go unreported, leaving the community even more susceptible to the crimes and misconduct of prejudiced individuals. The two main reasons for this gross underreporting are victims and witnesses preferring to handle the situation in another way and fearing that the police would not or could not respond in a way that would help the situation. All meeting hosts sought to rectify this by calling for all community members and allies to report any hate crimes, incidents, and acts of discrimination.
“This is really a process of bringing our community together,” said Gasćon in a closing statement. “Understand that while we are using this week to underline the issues surrounding hate crime and fear, this is an all-year effort.”
LA vs. Hate & United Against Hate Week launched
“United against Hate Week provides opportunities for every resident to get involved, show our strength, and take a real stand against hate”
LOS ANGELES – A panel of leaders from different cultural sectors of Los Angeles stood on the steps of Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration on Monday, November 14, to launch LA vs. Hate- United Against Hate Week.
Behind them, supporters stood with signs depicting the hands of two people of different races clasped together in unity under the words “TOGETHER,” and “JUNTOS.” Before the panel, a small crowd gathered in anticipation.
The rally was led by Robin Toma, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations, lead agency for LA vs Hate. Also present were Holly Mitchell, Chair, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District Two, Esther Lim, Justice Deputy, Office of Supervisor Hilda Solis, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, District 1, George Gascon, LA County District Attorney.
Also in attendance were Maria S. Salinas, President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce & UAHW Honorary Co-Chair, Debra Duardo, Superintendent, Los Angeles County Office of Education UAHW Honorary Co-Chair, Martin Estrada, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, Shawn Landres, Immediate Past President, Los Angeles Quality & Productivity Commission & UAHW Co-Chair, Dean Chalak Richards, Dean of Student Life, Diversity & Belonging, Pepperdine Caruso School of Law & UAHW Co-Chair and Hildy Sterns, South Bay Social Justice Work Group Founder.
Each took their turn expressing their dedication to the Stop the Hate Initiative, and detailing the steps they would take to realize the initiative’s mission.
“The release of the commission’s annual hate crime report will confirm what we have been experiencing,” said Mitchell, addressing the crowd, “which is a historic rise in hate crime across one of the most diverse counties in the country. A county with the largest Native American population of any county in the nation, a county with the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia, a county with the largest Iranian population outside of Iran, a county in which two hundred and twenty-four identified languages are spoken on a daily basis. We can and must, my fellow Angelinos, be proactive. United against Hate Week provides opportunities for every resident to get involved, show our strength, and take a real stand against hate.”
In a panel discussion major focus was on stopping hate in the workplace and in schools.
“The chamber is committed to supporting businesses to stay abreast of changing business practices to make strategic, employee-centered investments that promote business growth and advance employment opportunities,” said the Chamber’s Salinas.
Dean Richards proudly listed competing schools, such as Southwestern Law School, UCLA School of Law, USC School of Law, and Loyola, stating that these institutions have come together with the shared goal of coming against hate. She stated that through the initiative, students and their families alike are being taught how to recognize hate and utilize resources such as the law to help them stop hate crimes in their tracks.
Sterns spoke regarding the anti-hate coalition’s community-wide event last Sunday with activities to raise awareness and bring the community together. On Tuesday, Stearns invited everyone to watch a free screening of the new documentary, “Race to be Human,” which will be followed by a panel discussion.
Finally, on Friday, she added that she encouraged everyone to take part in a moment of silence at 9:31AM to think about how Angelenos can support others within the community. Lawn and window signs will also be distributed throughout Manhattan Beach with the slogan, “Manhattan Beach Stands United Against Hate.”
Estrada announced the start of The U.S. Department of Justice’s initiative called “United Against Hate.” The initiative will include local forums to connect community groups to federal, state, and local partners. The goal is to increase awareness about reporting hate crimes and incidents, and to create and strengthen alliances between law enforcement, government actors, and the community.
This past September, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced on September 15 during the White House United We Stand Summit, that over the next year, all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices (USAOs) will host a new nationwide initiative to combat unlawful acts of hate. The United Against Hate program is convening local forums that connect community groups to federal, state, and local law enforcement to increase community understanding and reporting of hate crimes; build trust between law enforcement and communities; and create and strengthen alliances between law enforcement and other government partners and community groups to combat unlawful acts of hate.
“The Justice Department remains committed to enforcing federal hate crime laws,” said Attorney General Garland. “That is why the Justice Department has launched its new United Against Hate program. This initiative brings together community groups, community leaders, and law enforcement at every level to build trust and strengthen coordination to combat unlawful acts of hate.”
On Wednesday, Estrada’s office will partner with the LA County District Attorney’s office in an LGBTQ+ portion of the United Against Hate Initiative.
The rally ended with the unveiling of a “Wishing Tree” art intervention inspired by county residents. All attendees were invited to contribute a wish to the art piece.
Iconic Hollywood Bowl appoints new Superintendent, Mark Ladd
Prior to joining the Hollywood Bowl staff, Mark was Operations Coordinator at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena
LOS ANGELES – Mark Ladd was appointed by the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation to serve as the Hollywood Bowl Superintendent. Mark will carry on the Hollywood Bowls 100 years of tradition in serving as a premiere destination for live music in Southern California.
With over 1,000,000 visitors and over 100 events annually, the Hollywood Bowl, managed on behalf of the County by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association (LA Phil), elevates the transformative power of live music.
“It is a great honor to receive this appointment,” shared Mark Ladd, Hollywood Bowl Superintendent. “I look forward to serving in a stewardship role and continuing the tradition of constant improvement at this historic facility.”
Since 1994, Mark has served in the dual role of Assistant Superintendent for the Hollywood Bowl, representing the County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, as well as handling the duties of Associate Director of Hollywood Bowl Operations, where he was recently promoted to Director, on behalf of the LA Phil. During his time at the Hollywood Bowl, the venue has hosted over 2,700 events.
“I am excited about the appointment of Mark Ladd as the Director Superintendent of the Hollywood Bowl,” stated Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “This beloved performance venue is an asset in the Fifth District that requires thoughtful stewardship. Mark offers a long history of committed service to the Bowl and its visitors. I look forward to working with him so that we can continue our coordinated community engagement strategies. I am pleased we share a common vision, and both prioritize soliciting community feedback to address sound, traffic, and long-term mitigation projects.”
When asked to recall his most memorable experiences at the Bowl, Mark notes that in addition to witnessing many outstanding events, serving a principal role in the construction of several buildings on the Bowl campus, most notably, the renovation and rehabilitation of the Bowl’s iconic performance shell/stage, which was completed in 2004. In addition, he served on the team that developed the Hollywood Bowl Design Guidelines.
“We are delighted that Mark Ladd has been promoted to serve as only the 3rd ever appointee to hold the position of Superintendent, Hollywood Bowl,” said Chad Smith, Chief Executive Officer, David C. Bohnett Chief Executive Officer Chair Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. “His incredible knowledge and passion for the iconic Hollywood Bowl will continue to serve audiences and artists alike as we move into the second century of this beloved Southern California venue’s tradition.”
Prior to joining the Hollywood Bowl staff, Mark was Operations Coordinator at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena. His experience also includes several New Year’s Day Rose Bowl Games, multiple Super Bowls, as well as the 1984 Olympics.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association
Under the leadership of Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil offers live performances, media initiatives and learning programs that inspire and strengthen communities in Los Angeles and beyond.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra is the foundation of the LA Phil’s offerings, which also include a multi-genre, multidisciplinary presenting program and such youth development programs as YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles).
Performances are offered on three historic stages—Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and The Ford—as well as through a variety of media platforms. In all its endeavors, the LA Phil seeks to enrich the lives of individuals and communities through musical, artistic and learning experiences that resonate in our world today.
The Hollywood Bowl
One of the largest natural amphitheaters in the world, with a seating capacity of nearly 18,000, the Hollywood Bowl has been the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since its official opening in 1922 and plays host to the finest artists from all genres of music, offering something for everyone.
It remains one of the best deals anywhere in Los Angeles; to this day, $1 buys a seat at the top of the Bowl for many classical and jazz performances. In June 2021, the Hollywood Bowl was awarded Amphitheater of the Decade at the 32nd Annual Pollstar Awards. It was also awarded the Outdoor Concert Venue of the Year award at the 31st Annual Pollstar Awards, an honor bestowed 14 previous times, as well as Top Amphitheater prize at the 2017 and 2018 Billboard Touring Awards. For millions of music lovers across Southern California, the Hollywood Bowl is synonymous with summer.
“The County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation is proud of its co-stewardship with the Los Angeles Philharmonic of the Hollywood Bowl, one of the most iconic and world-renowned outdoor performance venue and park,” shared County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation Director Norma Edith García-González. “I am excited about Mark Ladd’s leadership, a career professional with extensive and invaluable experience in operating the Hollywood Bowl. I am confident he will lead the next centennial of the Hollywood Bowl legacy with a commitment to providing a welcoming and enriching experience.
As a fifth-generation Californian, Mark has a life-long interest in the state’s native flora and fauna. He has spent several years researching and digitizing an extensive family photograph collection that spans to the pre-Civil war era. He served on the Board of Trustees of Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, where he resides with his wife Angie. They have two adult children.
LA County Public Health: Student & parent trainings on Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a high potency synthetic opioid that is colorless and odorless and can cause rapid respiratory depression resulting in death
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is hosting virtual Public Health Ambassador training sessions for students and parents to learn more about fentanyl, including the current overdose trends, risk factors associated with youth opioid use, how to recognize an opioid overdose, and how naloxone (Narcan) can reverse opioid overdose.
The trainings will also review effective communication strategies families can use to talk about opioids and fentanyl, and youth-specific resources for accessing ongoing support and treatment.
Participants who are first time Public Health Ambassador Program attendees will receive a $25 stipend and opportunity to earn an additional $25 for outreach.
Monday, November 14, 2022: 5:00-6:00pm (English)
Tuesday, November 15, 2022: 5:00-6:00pm (Spanish)
Parents can sign up for a Parent Training by visiting tinyurl.com/odpatraining or scanning the QR code below:
Wednesday, November 16, 2022: 4:30-5:30pm
Students can sign up for a Student Training by visiting tinyurl.com/obsatraining or scanning the QR code below:
Background Information on Fentanyl:
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued multiple health alerts related to adolescents overdose involving the purchase of counterfeit pills containing fentanyl, including one student found deceased on campus at Bernstein High School in Hollywood in September 2022. Since then, additional Los Angeles County youth have overdosed or died from consuming counterfeit pills.
Nationwide, there has been a growing trend of illicit drugs (particularly methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine) and counterfeit pills contaminated with fentanyl and other life-threatening substances. This has impacted both adults and youth. In 2021, fentanyl was identified in about 77% of adolescent overdose deaths nationally, and over 80% of drug overdose deaths among adolescents aged 15 – 19 in 2015 were unintentional. Fentanyl and methamphetamine-related overdose deaths have increased in Los Angeles County even prior to the pandemic and continue to rise at an alarming rate.
Fentanyl is a high potency synthetic opioid that is colorless and odorless and can cause rapid respiratory depression resulting in death. Awareness of the risk of fentanyl in counterfeit pills, stimulants, and other substances sold outside of pharmacies is essential for both the general public, including youth and adults, as well as healthcare providers.
From the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Public Affairs:
On October 19, 2022, at approximately 0730 hours, LA County Sheriff’s Narcotics Bureau Detectives and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents assigned to a task force at the Los Angeles International Airport seized approximately 12,000 suspected fentanyl pills.
The suspect attempted to go through TSA screening with several bags of candy and miscellaneous snacks with the intent of boarding a plane. However, it was discovered that inside the “Sweetarts”, “Skittles”, and “Whoppers” candy boxes were fentanyl pills and not candy. The suspect fled prior to being detained by law enforcement but has been identified and the investigation is on-going.
LA County Aquatics is hiring! Become an LA County Lake Lifeguard
After completing the online form, qualifying candidates will schedule an appointment to participate in a Lake Lifeguard Swim Exam
LOS ANGELES – LA County Aquatics is hiring! This December, we will be holding swim exams for those interested in becoming an LA County Lake Lifeguard. This is a perfect job for those with a background in swimming, or those interested in careers related to emergency medical services, paramedics, or aquatics in general.
Before applying for the swim exam, prospective candidates should take into consideration the following requirements. Candidates must:
- Swim 1000 meters in 18 minutes or less
- Be at least 16 years old by time of swim exam
- Have at least 20/30 vision in each eye without correction (see job bulletin)
- Have a valid California Class C Drivers License
After completing the online form, qualifying candidates will schedule an appointment to participate in a Lake Lifeguard Swim Exam at either of the following dates/locations:
Arcadia Park – Norman S. Johnson Aquatic Center
405 S. Santa Anita Ave. Arcadia, CA 91006
Saturday 12/3/2022 // 8:00 to 12:00pm
Castaic Aquatic Center
31350 Castaic Rd. Castaic, CA 91384
Sunday 12/11/2022 // 8:00am to 12:00pm
Upon completion of prerequisites and swim test, candidates must enroll and pass the Lake Lifeguard Academy ($16.51/hour).
After completing the Academy, Cadets will be eligible to become Lake Lifeguards ($22.52-$29.52/hour) or ($25.45 – $33.36/hour, with EMT certification)
For more information on LA County Aquatics, visit our Lifeguard Recruitment page.
And to apply for the position, APPLY HERE.
The L.A. Arboretum breaks ground on a new visitor plaza
The new plaza will be a gateway for visitors to enjoy the magnificent 127 acres plus updates & restores existing mid-20th century entrance
LOS ANGELES – Officials of Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation had shovels in hand Friday, November 4, to break ground for the construction of a new Visitor Plaza at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The $10 million project is designed to set new standards in visitor hospitality, horticultural beauty, and improved garden access.
“The Arboretum is a partnership venture between the Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation. The new Visitor Plaza will be a gateway for visitors from across L.A. County to enjoy the magnificent 127 acres,” Norma García-González, Director of L.A. County Parks and Recreation, said at the ceremony. “This bright new face for the Arboretum reflects the vastly increased community we serve and new-found appreciation for time spent in the natural world,” shared Richard Schulhof, Arboretum CEO.
It was a proud moment for former President and Honorary Arboretum Foundation trustee, Ken Hill, PhD, who was part of the community and fundraising effort to build the new entrance. “The best result from this endeavor was discovering thousands of friends of the Arboretum who love the gardens and are happy to support its improvement,” he said.
L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, a supporter of the new project, was at the groundbreaking. The new entrance will add an Arrival Plaza, Welcome Plaza and Ticketing Pavilion within the footprint and re-adaptation of the existing mid-20th century modern complex. The project, funded by the Arboretum’s first capital campaign in 40 years, is the Arboretum’s largest improvement to date.
The $10 million project updates and restores the existing mid-20th century modern entrance.
The Visitor Plaza is scheduled to be completed in 2023 during the Arboretum’s 75th Anniversary. More than 700,000 visitors a year enjoy the Arboretum, which is governed through a private-public partnership between the nonprofit Arboretum Foundation and the County Department of Parks and Recreation. Project design was completed by EPT Design, Dunbar Architecture and Hunt Design.
It’s park time at LA County Parks with fun Winter activities
Make LA County Parks your destination for winter fun! Join our Winter Programs: Sports, Recreation, Aquatics and much more!
LOS ANGELES – This winter, head over to your local LA County Park with your friends and family for some recreation and adventure! We’re excited to offer a variety of programming this holiday season ranging from youth sports activities to nature and wildlife exploration programs designed for the whole family. Make LA County Parks your destination for winter fun!
Join our Winter Programs: Sports, Recreation, Aquatics and much more!
RECREATION FOR ALL
Recreation For All is a FREE 35-week program that provides participants of all ages with access to caring and trained park staff who serve as mentors and lead an array of classes and activities. These classes range from cheer, dance, sports clinics, fitness, computer classes, parent and me, story time and so much more. A variety classes can be offered at the sites throughout the week. Find a class near you today!
Registration is free but required. Sign up HERE.
EVERY BODY PLAYS
Now through May 26, 2023 / Monday – Friday 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Every Body Plays Drop-In Afterschool Adventures program offers a safe space where youth ages 7-17 can come play, create friendships and partake in activities such as fitness, self-care, sports, arts, games, creative outlets like storytelling and ESTEAM (Environment, Science Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math). Every Body Plays is a positive space with a curriculum that is youth centered and designed for fun!
This program is FREE and no pre-registration is required. Find a participating park HERE.
FREE SNACK PROGRAM
Now through May 19, 2023 / Monday – Friday 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Children and youth ages 18 and under receive a “grab and go” nutritious snack that includes vegetables, fruits, seeds and healthy dairy products like milk, string cheese and yogurt, at 46 locations.
This program is FREE and no pre-registration required. Find a participating park HERE.
Dates and times vary
Tiny Tots is a wonderful program that provides kids ages 3-5 an opportunity to gain knowledge and early life experiences through organized activities, such as music and movement, fine and gross motor skill activities and art and culture. With Tiny Tots, kids will learn to care for others, play fair and create, all while appreciating diversity. Tiny Tots is available in for both 2 Day, 4 Day sessions or Parent & Me.
Registration is required. Sign up HERE.
Dates and times vary
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean we stop swimming! Children and adults alike are invited to come join our many aquatics programs at any of our six year-round pools (including the brand new Greater Whittier Regional Aquatic Center) for our Youth Learn to Swim Program or Adult Aqua Aerobics classes. Swim Lessons teach core swimming skills including water safety, floating and stroke technique while Aqua Aerobics participants get a great instructor-led workout without the impact on your body and joints.
Registration is required. Sign up HERE.
NATURE CENTER PROGRAMS
Activities and times vary depending on location. There are seven Nature Centers conveniently located throughout LA County!
You and your family are invited to a Nature Center near you for fun and educational exploration programs like Family Nature Walks, Guided Hikes and meet-and-greets with animal ambassadors. There’s no time like the present to learn about the fascinating flora and fauna all around us, while connecting with knowledgeable and caring Nature Center Staff!
Learn more HERE.
LA County Parks is Hiring and Recruiting! Apply and join our team today!
LA County Parks wants you to join our team! Our Youth @ Work program is excellent entry level position for youth ages 14-24
LA County Parks will also host festive holiday programming and seasonal celebrations for the whole family. Stay up-to-date on the latest events by following us on social media!
For more information, visit parks.lacounty.gov or call (626) 588-5364.
Sign Up for Blade eBlasts
Health orgs distribute Fentanyl test strips & Narcan in WeHo
DeSantis education purge begins after school board takeovers
Anti-LGBTQ+ far right activist questioned in NC power outage
Kane’s Cuisine: Tangy soy-glazed meatballs
K. M. Soehnlein’s Army of Lovers, a review
Biden outlines plan to renew fight against HIV/AIDS
Portrait of Matthew Shepard dedicated at National Cathedral
Anti-LGBTQ+ far right activist questioned in NC power outage
Charlie Kirk smears Out Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter
Rep. Raul Ruiz calls for ending IRS rule for same-sex couples
AIDS and HIV4 days ago
Biden outlines plan to renew fight against HIV/AIDS
District of Columbia4 days ago
Portrait of Matthew Shepard dedicated at National Cathedral
North Carolina15 hours ago
Anti-LGBTQ+ far right activist questioned in NC power outage
Politics4 days ago
Charlie Kirk smears Out Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter
Congress4 days ago
Rep. Raul Ruiz calls for ending IRS rule for same-sex couples
Sports5 days ago
World’s largest LGBTQ sporting event returning to Las Vegas
Noticias en Español5 days ago
Indocumentadas: la realidad de las personas trans en Honduras (parte I)
Asia5 days ago
Japanese court: Ban on same-sex marriage constitutional
Notables2 days ago
First openly gay GOP former member of U.S. House dies at 80
California5 days ago
Newsom to hold oil industry accountable for price gouging