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California Politics

Padilla sworn in as first Latino elected to U.S. Senate from Calif.

“The work we do in this moment will shape the course of our country for generations to come. I’m ready to continue working…”

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Senator Alex Padilla being sworn in on January 3, 2023 by Vice-President Kamala Harris (Photo Credit: Office of Senator Padilla)

WASHINGTON – Alex Padilla was sworn in for his first full term as U.S. Senator from California. He is also the first Latino elected to the U. S. Senate from the state. Padilla was sworn in by U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris, whose seat he had been appointed to by Governor Gavin Newsom to fill out her Senate term after she was elected Vice-President in 2020.

After his swearing-in on Tuesday, the Senator released a statement:

“I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to serve the people of California in the United States Senate. The promise of the American Dream is alive today as the first-generation son of a housekeeper and a short-order cook is sworn in to represent the largest state in the Union. For working families, for small business owners, for underserved communities, and for Californians of every race and creed from the most diverse state in the nation — I will continue fighting to keep that Dream alive.

“We have our work cut out for us over the next six years. To defend the Dream for millions of Americans, we must work to bolster our democracy in the face of escalating threats, so that all Americans can access their fundamental right to vote. We must restore fairness and humanity to our outdated immigration laws, to rebuild an immigration system that better reflects our values as a nation of immigrants. And for the sake of our very future, we must continue to boldly confront the climate crisis head-on.

“The work we do in this moment will shape the course of our country for generations to come. I’m ready to continue working on behalf of families across California and our nation and for all those who strive for their shot at the American Dream.”

The son of immigrants, Padilla grew up in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles and studied mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was called to politics in response to the passage of California’s anti-immigrant Proposition 187.

Padilla was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 1999 and the California State Senate in 2006. As California’s Secretary of State, he oversaw a historic expansion of voting rights and voter participation.

Padilla lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife, Angela, and their three sons, Roman, Alex, and Diego.

California Politics

Field of candidates to replace Feinstein in U.S. Senate grows

In an interview with Nicholas Wu, Politico’s Congressional Reporter, Lee said she officially announce “when it’s appropriate”

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California U. S. Representative Barbara Lee, (Upper Center) with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) (Upper Right ) & other Democrats during balloting for selection of the Speaker of the House. (Photo Credit: Rep. Barbara Lee, (D-CA)/Facebook)

WASHINGTON – A day after Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter announced her bid to replace California’s octogenarian senior U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, sources close to California U. S. Representative Barbara Lee told Politico that Lee is likely to also mount a challenge for the seat.

On Wednesday Lee informed her colleagues in a closed-door Congressional Black Caucus meeting that she intends to run to two sources familiar with the situation Politico reported Thursday.

Asked later Wednesday about her plans, Lee said in a brief interview with Nicholas Wu, Politico’s Congressional Reporter and Politics reporter, she’d officially announce “when it’s appropriate.”

“Right now, in respect to [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein and the floods and what I’m doing, I’m doing my work. And we’ll let them know when I intend to go to the next step. But now’s the time not to talk about that,” she said.

Porter’s announcement and Lee’s potential run comes on the heels of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank-Hollywood) who had appeared on Los Angeles Fox 11 and told The Issue Is host Elex Michaelson that should Feinstein retire in 2024 he will seriously consider replacing her in a campaign.

Politico also noted that while she lacks the fundraising might of Porter and Schiff, Lee is a revered figure in the Oakland-anchored district she has represented for decades. Her deep Bay Area roots could be an asset given that both Porter and Schiff represent southern California districts.

Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, is widely expected to retire instead of running for reelection in 2024. In recent years she has faced questions about her mental acuity an fitness for remaining in her Senate seat and over the past year has has stepped back from some official duties.

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Porter announces bid for Feinstein’s Senate seat

Porter’s announcement comes on the heels of Rep. Adam Schiff, who told Fox LA last week he will seriously consider a run to replace Feinstein

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Rep. Katie Porter and children (Photo Credit: Porter for Senate Campaign)

IRVINE, Calif. – Rep. Katie Porter, the Democratic former University of California Irvine professor known for her use of a whiteboard in congressional hearings, has announced she is running for the U.S. Senate currently held by trailblazing Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

The venerable San Francisco politician, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, is widely expected to retire instead of running for reelection in 2024. In recent years the octogenarian lawmaker has faced questions about her mental acuity an fitness for remaining in her Senate seat and over the past year has has stepped back from some official duties.

Porter, the Orange County Register noted recently won reelection to California’s 47th Congressional District, a coastal area that includes Irvine, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and part of Huntington Beach.

She had faced a tough challenge from former Republican state Assemblymember Scott Baugh in the midterm this past November.

In her campaign video announcing her run Porter said:

“The threat from so-called leaders like Mitch McConnell has too often made the United States Senate the place where rights get revoked, special interests get rewarded, and our democracy gets rigged.”

Porter’s no-nonsense demeanor in House hearings coupled with a recent Getty Image taken of her on the House floor-fight during the 4 day long balloting over Kevin McCarthy’s accession to Speaker of the House reading a book titled; “The subtle art of not giving a F*ck” has won her support among some political pundits and others.

Porter’s announcement comes on the heels of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank-Hollywood) who had appeared on Los Angeles Fox 11 last week and told The Issue Is host Elex Michaelson that should Feinstein retire in 2024 he will seriously consider replacing her in a campaign.

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Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award to San Diego’s Mayor Gloria

The award is presented to a mayor who has exhibited an outstanding commitment to bringing diverse communities together

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria (Photo Credit: Office of the Mayor of San Diego/Facebook)

WASHINGTON — On January 18th Mayor Todd Gloria of San Diego will be presented with the Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award at the 37th Tribute to Mayors Signature Event. 

The Tribute to Mayors is an annual event put on by the Latino Leaders Network, which was founded by former Clinton administration Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, Mickey Ibarra, as a unique platform for prominent Latino leaders to share their personal stories of overcoming obstacles to achieve success. 

The Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award is presented to a mayor from a city with a significant Latino population who has exhibited an outstanding commitment to bringing diverse communities together.

Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa served as the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013. Before becoming mayor, he was a member of the California State Assembly (1994–2000), where he served as the Democratic Majority Leader (1996–98), and the Speaker of the California State Assembly (1998–2000).

Gloria began his career at San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency. He then went on to serve as District Director for United States Congresswoman Susan A. Davis. In 2008, Gloria was elected to the San Diego City Council. In 2016, he ran and was elected to the California State Assembly to represent the 78th Assembly District.

While serving in the Assembly Gloria went on to become the Assistant Majority Whip and eventually Majority Whip. Then in 2020 he was elected Mayor of San Diego, making history across a spectrum of significant firsts as in addition to being the first openly gay person to lead the city, Gloria, “the son of a hotel maid and a gardener”  became the first person of color to occupy the Mayor’s chair. He is a third-generation San Diegan of Filipino, Native American, Puerto Rican, and Dutch descent.

In a coronavirus pandemic affected zoom-style virtual inauguration ceremony, presided over by the President pro Tempore of the California State Senate Toni Gayle Atkins, Gloria was sworn in as the 37th mayor of the City of San Diego on Thursday, December 10, 2020 before the San Diego City Council.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria gives his inauguration address during a virtual ceremony.
(Courtesy of the Office of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria)

“Getting an award in Mayor Villaraigosa’s name is really meaningful to me,” Gloria told the Blade. “I was the nerdy kid who would watch C-SPAN and read the newspaper when I was young. I was very aware of Mayor Villaraigosa and his service leading his city that is just a few hundred miles north from where I grew up here in San Diego. There is a saying that if you haven’t seen it you can’t be it. The fact that I had this charismatic and energetic leader of a city not too far away meant that I could identify with him. He and others like him created that opportunity for me to see what I was interested in trying to become in terms of a public servant, and so it feels in someway poetic to receive this award.”

Receiving an award that celebrates diversity and inclusion is particularly poignant for the Mayor, as he feels that while San Diego has an incredibly diverse population, inclusion in its political sphere is only just starting to turn a corner for the better. 

“I hold a sanction to being the first person of color elected mayor of my city,” said Gloria. “I was elected in 2020 I think that’s somewhat remarkable when you consider that San Diego is a very diverse city we are a border city we literally lie on the US Mexican border. We are on the pacific rim, and yet no one has broken this barrier until I was given the opportunity to do so just two years ago.”

Much as he was inspired by LA’s Mayor Villaraigosa in his youth, Gloria hopes that that he can serve as an inspiration to the next generation of diverse leaders. 

“People like myself who are given this opportunity have to stay strong. you have to remember you are not there on your own behalf. You are there on behalf of a whole community. Some may look up to me the way I looked up to Mayor Villaraigosa if I am able to show people what a person of color can do leading the 8th largest city in the country. It is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. My friend and mentor, Vice President Harris, always says that you may be the first to do some thing, but you should not be the last. That is my goal.”

“I love San Diego,” said Gloria. “I was born and raised here. I am a third generation San Diegan. I love this town, and I was taught that it was my responsibility to leave it better than I found it, and so I’ve chosen to spend my entire career serving this community in the county of San Diego, as congressional aide as a council member, as a state legislator, and, now, as a mayor.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria with Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass at the second inauguration of California Governor Gavin Newsom on January 6, 2023.
(Photo Credit: Office of the Mayor of San Diego/Facebook)

The lesson of leaving something behind better than you found it comes from the teachings of Gloria’s parents he tells the Blade.

“My parents were blue-collar folks,” recalled the Mayor. “When I was growing up, my mom was a hotel maid and my dad was a landscaper. These two hard-working, modest people didn’t have generational wealth or the financial ease to help us. They just had good humble values that they tried to instill in me and my brother.”

Gloria recounted a story from his childhood where his parents’ moral compass inadvertently lead him to his political career. 

“Growing up, we often didn’t have a car. We had to borrow other people’s cars. Obviously, we didn’t have enough money, and I can remember vividly having to wash those cars and fill them with gas and having to get the buckets and sponges and soap and water. That all has expense attached to it, and so I said, ‘If we are borrowing cars because we don’t have money, then why are we spending money on washing them and filling the tanks up with gas?’ The answer that my parents gave us was, ‘This is what we have to do. We are borrowing these cars and we can’t return them dirty or with an empty tank.’ This left an impression on me. I don’t think my parents intended it this way, but it really was this admonition to get into public service.’

“Some people have to wake up every day and punch a time clock. I just have to wake up and make the city a better place. I think that’s a wonderful mission and I feel grateful for this opportunity. That is why I do this work.”

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Rep. Adam Schiff says he’s seriously considering 2024 Senate run

“Look, I am getting a lot of encouragement to run for the Senate from people in California and colleagues here in Congress,” Schiff said

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Rep. Adam Schiff (center) joined Speaker Nancy Pelosi's congressional delegation in Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (right) last May. (Official U.S. House of Representatives photo by Eric Connolly)

LOS ANGELES – While appearing on Los Angeles Fox 11, Rep. Adam Schiff, who represents Burbank and portions of Hollywood and West Hollywood in the U.S. House, told The Issue Is host Elex Michaelson that should incumbent California U. S. Senator Diane Feinstein, who is 89, retire in 2024 he will seriously consider replacing her in a campaign run for her seat.

“Look, I am getting a lot of encouragement to run for the Senate from people in California and colleagues here in Congress,” Schiff told Michaelson.

“If Senator Feinstein retires, then I will give it very serious consideration. It’s a great responsibility, and in terms of continuing the work I’ve been doing to protect our democracy and fight for an economy that works for everyone, that would also give me a chance to try to meet those objectives for all Californians.

“But, you know, at this point, I think we’re waiting to see what Senator Feinstein has to say about her plans, but, yes, it is something I’m giving serious consideration to,” he added.

While discussing other issues and topics, Schiff spoke about the recent efforts to ban the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from government-issued mobiles as well as a potential national ban on the app due to security concerns over protecting the personal data of Americans.

“I don’t think members of the government ought to use [TikTok] on their phones,” Schiff said. “I don’t use it on my phone. I wouldn’t recommend others. So I would like to see the federal government not use TikTok. I have to think that there’s a better way to deal with the risks posed by TikTok than banning it altogether in the United States, but we are going to have to find a way both to make sure that American’s private data isn’t stolen, and we have to be on guard for Chinese government’s ability through the algorithms of TikTok to propagandize Americans – they can control that content, they can control what people see. Conversely, they can control what people don’t see. If they don’t want people to see demonstrations in China, which there are a great many because of their COVID policies, they can make sure that Americans don’t get to see that, and neither does the rest of the world. So we need to address those very real problems, but I wouldn’t begin with saying that the solution is banning it in the entire country.”

Watch the entire interview from Fox 11:

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Newsom again trolls right-wing extremists

During his first gubernatorial inauguration Newsom used the occasion to also send a message, one directed at Trump

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

By Matthew S. Bajko | SACRAMENTO – Ever since California Governor Gavin Newsom easily defeated a right-wing backed recall against him last year, he has been on a roll trolling his conservative detractors and transphobic Republican counterparts in other states.

Now comes word that the Democratic leader will use his 2023 inauguration to further present himself as a counterpoint to the extremism and illiberal democratic ideas that have risen across the country in recent years and been embraced by many GOP leaders.

He has chosen Friday, January 6, as the date for when he will be sworn into his second and final four-year term leading the fifth-largest economy in the world. It will coincide with the second anniversary of when supporters of former President Donald Trump broke into the U.S. Capitol Building in a failed attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election that swept Trump out of the White House.

“Friday January 6. Mark it down. It’s not only Governor Newsom’s Inauguration Day, but it’s also the two year anniversary of the far-right’s insurrection and failed attempt to topple American democracy,” noted Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign in an invite emailed to his supporters December 15.

The plans for the gubernatorial ceremony sound like a near mirror image of what occurred in Washington, D.C. two years ago when Trump held a rally on the National Mall where he repeated his lies about the 2020 election being stolen from him. His backers then marched to the building that houses Congress, which was certifying the election results that Wednesday, attacked law enforcement officers and desecrated the symbol of the country’s democracy.

According to the invite from Newsom’s campaign, it is “starting the day with the governor leading a march of Californians from every corner of the state through downtown Sacramento. It ends at the Capitol, where the governor will be sworn in.”

It will not be the first time that Newsom has used the bully pulpit that comes with his elected office to highlight issues of democracy and freedoms for citizens. He ran advertisements in Texas and Florida critical of those state’s Republican governors, Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, respectively, who have both enacted anti-LGBTQ policies and laws. Both men were easily reelected in November.

Facing an easy path to reelection this year, Newsom used his campaign funds to put up billboards in seven different states that have restricted abortion access following the U.S. Supreme Court’s rescinding a federal right to abortion earlier this year. The outdoor advertisements promoting California’s abortion services went up in Texas, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Oklahoma.

And in his signing message for a bill this year that makes the Golden State a place of refuge for transgender youth and their parents fleeing persecution in their home states, Newsom called out those states that have passed laws “to demonize the transgender community, especially transgender youth and their parents.” In contrast, California believes “in equality and acceptance,” wrote Newsom in his letter to members of the state’s Senate.

State governments, such as those of Alabama, Idaho, and Texas have adopted laws that call for prosecuting parents who allow their trans children to have gender-affirming care. Families in the Lone Star State have already found themselves being investigated by state agencies and facing the possibility of being prosecuted and seeing their trans children placed in foster care.

In Alabama, parents and physicians face being imprisoned for up to 10 years for either allowing their trans kids or providing their trans patients gender-affirming care. Both laws have been put on hold by judges as LGBTQ advocates challenge them in state and federal courts.

Newsom has long led on LGBTQ issues, such as when he was mayor of San Francisco and bucked state law by ordering city officials to marry same-sex couples in February of 2004. It supercharged the fight for marriage equality and led to successful state and federal court challenges that won the right for people of the same sex to wed in California.

During his first gubernatorial inauguration Newsom used the occasion to also send a message, one directed at Trump. In his speech, Newsom said his administration would “offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House.”

Those interested in attending Newsom’s second inauguration and marching with him that day can RSVP online here.

********************************

Matthew S. Bajko is the Assistant Editor of The Bay Area Reporter

The preceding article was previously published by the Bay Area Reporter and is republished by permission.

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California Politics

Mr. Mayor now Rep. Garcia’s last day in Long Beach City Hall

Today marks Mayor Garcia’s final day in office before handing it over to Long Beach City Councilman Rex Richardson

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Screenshot/Twitter

LONG BEACH – This past weekend Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by moving boxes and the last curios and objects left to pack as he departs City Hall to head to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. as a newly sworn in member of Congress.

Garcia noted in his tweet: “packed up city hall and moving some boxes home. almost there”

Today marks Mayor Garcia’s final day in office before handing it over to Long Beach City Councilman Rex Richardson, who will be sworn in Tuesday as the city’s next mayor.

As he began his final day he tweeted: “Y’all! It’s my last day as mayor and I’m so happy and excited. I’m just beaming with a sense of pride for our city and hopeful for the future. Thank you all and it’s going to be a great last day!”

In a later tweet the outgoing mayor noted: “Spent my morning hosting a thank you reception for @LongBeachCity employees. So grateful to our team of 6,000 dedicated workers. I will miss working with them but look forward to our partnerships in Congress.”

Garcia will represent California’s new 42nd Congressional District, which includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, Lakewood, Bellflower, Downey, Bell Gardens, Bell, Maywood and Huntington Park. He’s also been elected to serve as House Freshman Class President.

Representative Mark Takano who was the only LGBTQ+ Member of Congress, found himself joined by Garcia who in turn himself is the first openly gay immigrant elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Bass sworn in as LA mayor, marking a triumph for women of color

“I call on the people of our city to not just dream of the L.A. we want, but to participate in making the dream come true”

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Karen Bass takes the oath of office from Vice-President Kamala Harris (Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

LOS ANGELES – Thousands gathered in downtown L.A. today at the Microsoft Theatre to witness the historic inauguration of Mayor-elect Karen Bass. Many danced in the aisles to the upbeat music pouring into the theatre through the loudspeakers.

Bass was sworn in by the Vice-President of the United States Kamala Harris, the first Black and first woman American ever elected to hold that office.

The celebratory energy carried through to the governor and members of the legislature sitting on stage in front of a backdrop of LA’s city hall, some of them swaying and clapping along to the music as well. The ceremony had been moved inside due to the threat of rain and inclement weather.

Microsoft Theatre inaugural stage (Photo Credit: Simha Haddad)

Bass, 69, no stranger to pioneering women’s and African American rights, is now Los Angeles’ 43rd mayor and the first woman and second African American to be elected to this position after the legendary Mayor Tom Bradley, in the City’s two hundred and forty-one year history. She won the election against billionaire businessman and developer Rick Caruso in a neck-and-neck race.

“Making history with each of you today is a monumental moment in my life and for Los Angeles,” said the new mayor in her inauguration speech and then in a nod to the L.A. County government added:

“And let’s not forget our all-female County Board of Supervisors! We are all going to make so much history together in a state that has enshrined in our constitution a woman’s right to decide what happens to her body!”

Mayor Karen Bass delivering her inauguration speech (Photo Credit: Simha Haddad)

The daughter of a working-class father and stay-at-home mother, Bass earned her high school degree from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. She then went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills. She then graduated from the USC Kerk School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Program with a master’s in social work.  

Bass started her career not working in politics, but as a nurse and Physician’s Assistant. She went on to found the Community Coalition with the goal of helping South L.A. fight substance abuse and other issues that menace underserved neighborhoods, such as inadequate income and high crime rates.

She then went on to make history as the first Black Speaker in the California State Assembly. Her work there with managing state funds also earned her a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

Bass was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. She represented California’s 33rd congressional district during her first term, though redistricting moved her to the 37th district in 2012. As a member of Congress representing Los Angeles and Culver City, Bass was praised by the Los Angeles Times for creating “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.” 

Her campaign for the office of Mayor of L.A. was largely focused on ending the homeless crisis — a promise the new Mayor addressed today. 

“Tragically, our city has earned the shameful crown as being home to some of the most crowded neighborhoods in the nation—Pico Union, South L.A., East L.A., the East Valley. We know our mission – we must build housing in every neighborhood.”

As of tomorrow, Mayor Bass will declare a state of emergency on homelessness. 

Today’s inauguration ceremony commenced with the National Anthem, sung by US Navy Musician 3rd Class, Alexander Charles. Invocation speeches were then given by Rev. Norman Johnson, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Dr. Sadegh Namazikah, and Rev Rene Molina.

Rev. Johnson led a prayer in gratitude for this historic event. He then praised Bass for her integrity and her championing of multi-racial democracy, stating, “her journey has been long, but she has stayed true to the values taught to her by her parents.” 

Mayor Karen Bass delivering her inauguration speech (Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

“My mother always taught me that it is so easy to be kind,” said Bass in her speech, “and that having compassion and empathy is so much more powerful than self centeredness and self-promotion.”

“My father taught me to be a critical thinker and to understand the historical context of national and international events — my daily conversations with him led me to make a lifetime commitment to do whatever I can to change the world,” she added.

Rabbi Brous blessed L.A.’s new mayor for her ability to change the narrative of City politics and “whose own story is a redemption story.” Dr. Namazikhah called for vision and wisdom to guide the new mayor to make decisions that lead to peace in Los Angeles. Rev. Molina delivered a prayer alternating between Spanish and English in which he prayed for the safeguarding of Mayor Bass’ emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual states. 

Upbeat and soulful performances were scattered throughout the inauguration, including surprise performances by singer, songwriter, and actress Chloe Bailey and Grammy Award winning musical artist Stevie Wonder.

Amanda Gorman and Sophie Szew read their poems about change and female empowerment. Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, had also delivered a poem at the presidential inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

The Hamilton High School Chamber Choir from her alma mater gave a performance that earned them a standing ovation. 

Mayor Karen Bass with 25 time Grammy Award winning musicial artist Stevie Wonder.
(Photo Credit: Bass for Mayor Campaign)

Director of UCLA Labor Center, Kent Wong, gave a speech in which he called Bass “my friend and my sister,” stressing his support of her faith in nonviolent organization, which helps “ordinary people do extraordinary things.”

California State Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, the first woman to serve in that role, then took the podium praising the Bass for continuing to make history. 

Bass also took a moment to thank outgoing Mayor, Eric Garcetti for his work.

“Mayor Garcetti – thank you for your 21 years of service to our city. When we light the Olympic Torch in 2028, when we take public transit to the airport, when we go to bed in apartments safer from earthquakes, and when we breathe in cleaner air, Angelenos will be benefiting from your legacy.”

Garcetti and California Governor Gavin Newsom were among the numerous other dignitaries present on the stage for the ceremony today.

Finally, the new Mayor called upon the people of Los Angeles to join her in the fight to mend our city. 

“I call on the people of our city to not just dream of the L.A. we want, but to participate in making the dream come true. Please join me in this effort. A city where people are housed and tents are gone. A City where people are comfortable walking and shopping in all neighborhoods at all hours. A City where murals replace graffiti; A City where we lock arms with each other until we get the job done. That’s the reality we can build, Los Angeles. Let’s build it together. Thank you Los Angeles for the honor and the opportunity. Thank you.”

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The 42nd Mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti says thanks & farewell

Garcetti was challenged in his eight years in office by various issues including what he saw as his greatest nemesis- the homelessness crisis

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Mayor Garcetti says farewell to Los Angeles (Screenshot/YouTube)

LOS ANGELES – As Karen Bass took the oath of office from Vice-President Kamala Harris to become the 43rd Mayor of LA, the outgoing 42nd Mayor, Eric Garcetti bid his beloved Los Angeles farewell.

Mayor Karen Bass was sworn in during a ceremony at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Outgoing Mayor Garcetti, California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Vice President and other dignitaries were on-hand for the ceremony.

Bass is the first woman and second Black candidate to be elected mayor of the city. She officially takes over from Mayor Garcetti at 12:01 a.m. Monday, December 12, 2022.

In a statement and video touting his administration’s accomplishments released on Sunday, Garcetti said goodbye to Los Angeles as its Mayor.

“Three thousand four hundred forty-eight days ago, I began a journey that is now coming to an end. Every single day since then, I’ve had the unbelievable honor of getting up and going to work as your mayor. My gratitude for that is without end,” he said. Garcetti, who was term limited and is awaiting Senate confirmation as President Biden’s choice to be U.S. Ambassador to India added; “I’ve often said that the day I don’t wake up with a ‘pinch-me’ feeling is the day I should leave City Hall. That day never came, but it’s time for my next adventure nonetheless.”

Garcetti Administration Final Video:

Garcetti has been challenged in his eight years in office by various issues including what the mayor often saw as his greatest nemesis, the homelessness crisis which was then exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The homeless crisis in California and in the greater Los Angeles region in particular has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic which saw thousands losing their jobs and some being evicted although moratoriums implemented by state and local officials have greatly reduced the evictions numbers.

The Los Angeles City Council in July 2021 passed an ordinance Garcetti signed that bans encampments on sidewalks and driveways, freeway overpasses and on-ramps, and near libraries, parks, schools and homeless shelters.

It specifically bans homeless encampments from within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries. Under the ordinance people who don’t move would be fined, not arrested, and only after they are given two-weeks notice and offered shelter. 

Also plaguing his administration was a series of sexual harassment scandals, including one involving a top aide that caused two U.S. senators to place his nomination for U.S. ambassador to India on hold last Spring. Both of Iowa’s Republican U.S. Senators, Joni Ernst and Sen. Chuck Grassley, are demanding details about how Garcetti handled allegations of sexual harassment by his staff.

During a hearing on his nomination by President Joe Biden late last year, the mayor told the senators he never witnessed a former top advisor, his former Deputy Chief of Staff Rick Jacobs, harass one of his police bodyguards, an allegation that’s at the center of a lawsuit filed against his administration.

A lawsuit filed in July 2020 against Jacobs by LAPD Officer Matthew Garza, a member of Garcetti’s security detail, alleges that Jacobs sexually harassed him.

Garza sued the city saying that Jacobs made crude sexual comments, massaged his shoulders and hugged him between 2014 and 2019. Garza alleged that the harassment happened in front of the mayor, but that Garcetti did nothing to stop it, KTLA reported.

Some of the allegations against Jacobs were publicly disclosed earlier this month in New York Magazine. Naomi Seligman, Garcetti’s director of communications, told journalist Alissa Walker that after returning from an event, Jacobs who was her boss charged into the office, “He crushes me against his body, pulling me in with all his strength,” she said. “I’m like a rag doll. He’s pulling me into him and kisses me on the lips for some long, uncomfortable period of time. He kisses me on the lips. I’m trying to push back, but he has my arms pinned down against the sides of my body so I have no leverage to push back.”

Mayor Garcetti held frequent press conferences and briefings during his 2013-2022 tenure as mayor. (Photo Credit: Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles)

In a wide ranging interview in March of 2020 with journalist and former Los Angeles Blade news editor Karen Ocamb, Mayor Garcetti responded to questions regarding his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his relationship with the LGBTQ+ community.

The LGBTQ community is not invisible to Garcetti, who has been a strong ally for decades. He is keenly aware that his emergency order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is an inconvenience – but one that will save lives, not overwhelm hospitals and not crash the unprepared system of healthcare.

“I know this is an anxious time for a lot of people, but Angelenos should stay focused on preparation and protection — not panic,” Garcetti said issuing his directive ordering temporary restrictions on restaurants, bars, gyms, and other gathering spots in the City of Los Angeles. “We will continue doing everything we can to help guide people through this situation, and working closely with our local, state, and federal partners to keep our communities safe, aware, and informed.”

“Unlike past emergencies where we’ve had heroic first responders, each one of us is a first responder,” Garcetti told the Los Angeles Blade in a March 16 phone interview. “It’s a different mindset to think that it’s not just a firefighter or a police officer who might save my life — it’s now literally me. We’ve got so many people, we know them even today, while most people are abiding by our mandate, we all have friends who are saying, ‘I’m young, I’m healthy, even if I get it, it’s not going to be too much’ —  and they’re not practicing safe practices,” meaning the precautions recommended by the CDC to vigorously wash hands and follow “social distance.”

“That isn’t just a threat to them, that’s a threat to people they know, people they love, people they interact with. We all have seniors who we know and love and in our family we have people who are fighting diseases and are immunocompromised,” says Garcetti. “In the LGBTQ community, we have practice with that. But now is a moment when in these two weeks, we’ll either push the curve out and flatten it or it will spike and the severity of deaths, the damage to our economy, the length of this crisis is literally in our hands and those hands shouldn’t be touching other people.”

In 2019, under the mayor, LA became the largest municipality to formally include LGBTQ businesses in their contracts. Nationally, LGBTQ businesses contribute $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy, generate, on average, $2,475,642 in revenue, and create more than 33,000 jobs, according to the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

In January of this year, Garcetti nominated Out lesbian Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley to be the first woman to lead the Los Angeles Fire Department replacing outgoing LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas. The Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to confirm Kristin Crowley on March 1.

In June during the Los Angeles Mayor’s Pride Garden Party held at The Getty House, the official residence of the mayor Saturday afternoon, Garcetti spoke to the Los Angeles Blade reflecting on Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Garcetti noted that “here in LA we defend those rights” after taking aim at the actions of the high court Friday in the ruling on the Mississippi case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health clinic. “Make no mistake, we have to be active,” Garcetti added.

In the latest crisis of governance this past Fall over a leaked audio tape in published articles and audio by the Los Angeles Times of racist comments regarding openly gay LA city councilman Mike Bonin’s black son and other city and county officials by three city council members and a prominent labor leader- Garcetti responded in a statement saying:

“Bigotry, violence, and division too often live in unseen and unheard places, but have severe consequences on the lives of our fellow Angelenos when they are not confronted and left to infect our public and private lives. Stepping down from the council would be the right response by these members in a moment that demands accountability and healing at a time of great pain and deep disappointment.”

Last month for the Thanksgiving holiday 2022, in the early morning hours of Thanksgiving Day, 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.

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California Politics

Karen Bass to be sworn in today as 43rd mayor of Los Angeles

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: It’s time for change and it’s time for urgency,” Mayor-Elect Karen Bass

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Karen Bass with campaign staff, supporters, & former California Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez last June during a campaign event at the Black Cat, an LGBTQ+ historic site located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of the City (Photo by LeRoy Hamilton)

LOS ANGELES – In a historic inaugural Sunday Karen Bass will be sworn in as the forty-third mayor of the city of Los Angeles. She is the first woman and the second Black Angeleno to lead the city.

The inaugural ceremony was initially scheduled to take place on the steps of LA’s iconic City Hall, but rain in today’s forecast led to shifting the event indoors at the Microsoft Theater in downtown. Doors open at 11 a.m., with early arrival encouraged and masks are required for attendees. The program is set to begin at 1 p.m.

Bass will be sworn in by the Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris, a former California U.S. senator and the first woman and woman of color to serve in that role. Harris will not being making a speech however.

Scheduled to address the attendees are California State Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins, the first woman to serve in that role, Kent Wong, director of the UCLA Labor Center, and poets Amanda Gorman and Sophie Szew. Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate, also delivered a poem at the presidential inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021.

Bass takes office in a period of crisis for the city that is still recovering from the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic coupled with a city council embroiled in a scandal over the racist and homophobic audio recording released and published by the Los Angeles Times in October. The city is also facing a deadly Fentanyl and Opioid crisis that has taken the lives of dozens of residents including children.

As recently as Friday night, the crisis of governance escalated as embattled Councilmember Kevin de León and an activist at a holiday toy giveaway and Christmas tree lighting event in Lincoln Heights led to a physical altercation, a portion of which was caught on video. Activists are demanding that de León resign from his city council seat over his role in the leaked audio recording. That altercation is now under investigation by Los Angeles Police Department.

The extraordinary crippling crisis over homelessness in the city has become the mayor-elect’s number one priority saying in her victory speech last month that a state of emergency will be ordered on her first day in office. Bass laid out a planned goal that includes housing 17,000 people experiencing homelessness in her first year.

“The people of Los Angeles have sent a clear message: It’s time for change and it’s time for urgency,” Bass said.

She also stressed that she would “not accept corruption or cronyism,” nor would she tolerate “the sleight of hand or shuffling problems around.”

“I will not accept the notion that this is the way it’s always been done,” Bass said. “If you tell me that this is the way it’s always been done and that means that we’re supposed to continue to do it this way — and we know it’s not working … that will not be acceptable.”

Bass, 69, grew up in the midst of the civil rights movement along with her three brothers in the Venice and Fairfax neighborhoods of the city.

Bass has been working to dismantle systemic racism, as well as other forms of social, racial and economic injustice, for decades. She is a community activist who was raised on civil rights activism in LA’s Jewish Venice-Fairfax district, volunteered for Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign in middle school, graduated from Hamilton High School in West LA in 1971, studied philosophy at San Diego University but switched her attention to healthcare, graduating from USC’s Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program. She subsequently received her BA in health sciences from Cal State/Dominguez Hills and her Masters in Social Work from USC.

Bass focused that training on fighting the crack epidemic in South LA, where she founded the Community Coalition to fight for substance abuse prevention programs and better foster care and relative caregivers, like grandmothers.

Bass has been a longtime ally of the LGBTQ+ community. She also fought the AIDS epidemic — all experience directly applicable to dealing with the ongoing Opioid crisis, as well as COVID-19.

“I went through the AIDS crisis from its very beginning. I watched all of Santa Monica Boulevard get wiped out near Vermont (Ave.). That whole area there. I watched everybody die within a matter of two years,” Bass told the Los Angeles Blade. “But I think that this [COVID-19 crisis] is really hard because you don’t have to have any physical contact….People are building the plane while it’s flying.”

Torie Osborn, the executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in 1989, met Bass at a meeting of progressive grassroots activists in a South LA church basement.

“This woman I didn’t know came up, introduced herself as Karen Bass from South LA, an anti-police violence activist and a physician assistant,” Osborn says. The two talked all day with Bass noting that the gay community’s experience of AIDS deaths was similar to what the Black community was experiencing during the crack epidemic.

“I had never heard anything like this before. She knew gay men. She clearly was an ally,” Osborn says.

In 2004, Bass was the only Black woman in the California Legislature when she was elected to the Assembly. Four years later, she became the first Black woman to lead the chamber as Speaker, a post she handed over to openly gay John A. Pérez. Bass who went on to serve as the 68th Speaker of the California State Assembly.

Bass was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus in 2019 and 2020.

Additional reporting from archival reports by Karen Ocamb and Christopher Kane

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California Politics

LAPD investigating physical fight between Kevin de León & activist

Police were dispatched after reports of the fight breaking out around 6:30 p.m. in the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard were received Friday

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Kevin de León (L- wearing 'Santa Hat') nose to nose with a male activist (Photo Credit: Screenshot from RootsAction/Twitter)

LOS ANGELES – Words exchanged between Los Angeles Councilman Kevin de León and an activist at a holiday toy giveaway and Christmas tree lighting event in Lincoln Heights on Friday night led to a physical altercation, a portion of which was caught on video.

That altercation is now under investigation by Los Angeles Police Department an LAPD spokesperson confirmed. Police were dispatched after reports of the fight breaking out around 6:30 p.m. in the 3500 block of Valley Boulevard were received Friday.

Video from local progressive activist groups RootsAction & J-Town Action と Solidarity on Twitter show de León aggressively manhandling a male who had gotten close to him knocking the man towards the ground and slamming him against a tabletop. The man was later identified as Jason Reedy.

The longer version, also posted to Twitter, shows the events leading up to the physical fight between the two men.

De León’s Communications Director Pete Brown issued the following statement regarding Friday’s altercation:

A group of so-called ‘activists’ – who have been harassing my staff and me for more than a year – cornered and physically assaulted me, a staff member, and a volunteer during a holiday event on Friday evening.

Jason Reedy and his accomplices started by shouting obscenities and disrupting a community toy giveaway and tree lighting ceremony already underway. I decided to try to exit the event to draw the disrupters away from the attending families and children and leave without further incident. Still, we discovered Reedy and others had blocked all available exits.

Once we were able to push open a door and try to get out, Reedy launched a pelvic thrust, followed by a headbutt to my forehead. My response, in defense of myself, was to push him off of me. In the ensuing struggle, Reedy struck me in the face with a closed fist, violently elbowed a female staff member, and injured a volunteer in front of horrified parents and children.

The escalating political rhetoric is beyond unacceptable, now turning verbal threats into physical acts of violence. It’s a dangerous pattern that must end before more serious harm or loss of life occurs. Leaders must collectively step up to curb rising hostilities towards staff and elected officials. In no way is violence a form of free speech and acts like these have no place in politics or democracy.

While both men are accusing each other of assault, an attorney representing Reedy, issued a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Friday that called De León “a disgrace.”

“Video footage clearly shows him and his supporters initiating this assault while Mr. Reedy stands prone,” attorney Shakeer Rahman said. “Not only has Kevin de León lost all political legitimacy, his claims that he was the one attacked here simply underscores how he’s lost touch with reality.”

Upon learning of the violent altercation, L.A. Council President Paul Krekorian issued a statement condemning the ensuing violence, but Krekorian placed blame on the protestors.

“This kind of crime is intolerable in a free society, and the incident will be vigorously investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department.

“No matter what disputes we may have with elected officials or our fellow citizens, violence like this is completely unacceptable,” Krekorian said. “In a free society political disagreements are unavoidable, and passionate discussion is necessary, but violence discredits the cause that employs it.

“This city has endured horrendous division and toxicity in recent months. We need to reject hatred in all of its forms, and we need to reject the atmosphere of intimidation, bullying and threats that have become all too commonplace in this city and across the country. Whatever position each of us takes on the controversies of the day, we need to reject violent words and especially violent acts, and we need to start treating each other with the same respect we want others to show us even when we disagree.”

Hours earlier on Friday, de León returned to L.A. City Council chambers. His presence did not go unnoticed for long as minutes after he took his seat on the horseshoe shaped dais, the room descended into chaos, with about a dozen protesters screaming at De León and who have called for his resignation from the council, to leave and supporters of the embattled council member chanting “Kevin, Kevin, Kevin.”

City Council President Krekorian called for a 10-minute recess and then got up to speak with de León who, after about 10 minutes, left the room.  The recess ended up lasting 45 minutes as LAPD officers and staff regained control of the room.

Protestors are angered that de León and fellow councilman Gil Cedillo have defied widespread calls for their resignations after the Los Angeles Times published a leaked 2021 audio tape of them and former councilmember Nury Martinez with a former labor leader were heard making racist and homophobic comments.

Protesters have attended council meetings regularly since the scandal broke.

In October Councilmember de León told Univision’s León Krauze that he intends to remain in office telling Krauze; “No, I will not resign because there is a lot of work ahead. I feel very bad, I feel very sorry for the damage, for the wounds that exist today in our communities.”

De León’s statement followed widespread calls for his resignation, including Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti, LA mayor-elect Karen Bass, President Joe Biden and councilmember Mike Bonin, who along with his minor son, was a target of the racist and homophobic comments on the audio recording released.

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