L.A. Voters to Decide Whether Hotels Must Rent Vacant Rooms to Homeless People

A controversial measure that would require hotels in Los Angeles to rent vacant rooms to homeless people will go before voters in 2024, the City Council decided Friday.

The council rejected an option that would have skipped the public vote and enacted the ordinance directly, instead voting 12 to 0 to send the measure to the ballot. The initiative is backed by the hospitality worker union Unite Here Local 11, which had gathered enough signatures to place it before voters.

Friday’s council vote sets the stage for a protracted public battle over the measure, with L.A. voters having the ultimate say in 19 months. The hotel industry will probably mount vigorous opposition to the ballot measure. A number of progressive community and housing groups have backed it alongside Unite Here.

The proposal comes as city officials are gradually closing one of the signature programs set up to address homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic: Project Roomkey, which turned multistory hotels into makeshift shelters. A number of the Project Roomkey sites have already closed.

Hotel owners and operators made up a large contingent of the packed council chamber, with many arguing that the proposal would unfairly burden hotels and hurt their ability to do business.

A handful of hotel workers spoke in support of the measure, while some others opposed it.

Under the proposal, hotels would be required to regularly report the number of vacant rooms they have to the city’s housing department. A program run through the department would then make referrals and pay “fair market rate” for the lodging using prepaid vouchers. Hotels would be prohibited from discriminating against homeless Angelenos “for their participation in this program, or the fact or perception, that they are unhoused.”

That proposed voucher program has no designated source of funding and would be contingent on funding being secured by July 1, 2023, according to a report from the city attorney’s office.

Unite Here Local 11 spokesperson Maria Hernandez said the voucher program would set up a system for utilizing various funding streams.

“Just like with Project Roomkey, there are federal, state and local sources of funding for emergency housing, and this initiative creates a new option for using those funds to get people into housing immediately,” Hernandez said. “There are also nonprofits, churches and other private sources that are interested in buying vouchers to house those in need.”

The measure would also have significant land-use implications for new hotel development.

During his public comment, Northeast Los Angeles Hotel Owners Assn. President Ray Patel asked all the hotel owners in the room to stand up, saying their operations would be dramatically affected if the proposal was directly approved. Patel, who owns Welcome Inn in Eagle Rock, urged the city to instead use Project Roomkey’s voluntary participation as a model.

“Hotels would gladly volunteer their hotels to participate in programs as long as there’s a wraparound service, which includes mental health service, social service, 24-hour security and somebody’s there to hold their hand and help them get into permanent housing,” Patel said.

Several speakers also raised concerns about the lack of details regarding how the sweeping proposal would work.

“We have no economic data about what it will cost the city,” Stuart Waldman, president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn., said, noting the lack of funding source and the fact that rates had not yet been set for hotel rooms.

“Hotels did not cause the homeless problem. Hotels are not the solution for the homeless problem,” Waldman said to loud applause in the council chamber.

Richard Earle, a representative of independent hospitality insurance brokerage Petra Risk Solutions, was one of several speakers who said the program would reduce hotels’ ability to procure and maintain insurance.

“Insurance carriers will legitimately pull coverage,” Earle said. “The business is underwritten with risks that involve guests and business travelers, not residents who bring a whole set of separate implications.”

But Carly Kirchen, an organizer with Unite Here Local 11, argued that hotel operators and associations were being unfairly prejudiced against homeless Angelenos.

“The hotel operators would have you believe that every person experiencing homelessness is so sick that they are a danger to the people around them. But this myth argument misrepresents who is actually experiencing homelessness,” Kirchen said, noting that hotel workers are among those most affected by the housing crisis, with thousands of their members facing eviction.

“Even as a union member with a good-paying job, I was recently homeless due to the housing crisis in our city,” said Bambian Taft, who identified herself as a hotel minibar attendant and former housekeeper. Taft said she had recently paid out of pocket to stay at hotels with her daughters when there was “no work for me at the hotel.”

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

After public outcry, San Clemente rejects anti-abortion ‘sanctuary for life’ resolution

After Public Outcry, San Clemente Rejects Anti-Abortion ‘Sanctuary for Life’ Resolution

Between the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of constitutional protections for abortions and the addition of Proposition 1 on the upcoming ballot in California, a San Clemente councilman said he saw the opportunity for his city to take a stand to “protect the sanctity of life.”

The San Clemente City Council was set to consider a resolution later this month that declares the city a “sanctuary for life where the dignity of every human being will be defended and promoted from life inside the womb through all stages of development in life up and until a natural death.”

But instead, City Council members ultimately hastily called a meeting on Saturday, Aug. 6 in the city’s community center, drawing a crowd of hundreds. Protestors stood on the lawn and an overflow room was made available to those who didn’t fit into the main area. About 50 speakers addressed the council — many calling the proposed resolution abuse of power, overreach, political grandstanding, and far outside the purvey of a city council.

After a nearly three-hour meeting — where Mayor Gene James pounded his gavel several times to restore order — the council ultimately voted 3-1 to remove the resolution from the Aug. 16 City Council agenda. Knoblock was the lone vote against pulling the item, and Councilwoman Laura Ferguson was not present.

“We’ve heard the community from all sides,” said Councilwoman Kathy Ward. “Let’s pull this from the agenda and get back to the business of San Clemente. There’s no need to let this go any further. I didn’t talk about the issues (pro-life, pro-choice) because I don’t believe they belong here. Let’s get back to the business we should be doing.”

If it had remained on the agenda and were passed, the resolution could have led to a follow-up city ordinance that would enforce a ban on abortion procedures within the city limits, said Councilman Steve Knoblock, who authored the resolution. Such an ordinance would run counter to state law. But Knoblock said he wanted San Clemente’s resolution to send a message “recognizing the full humanity of the pre-born life and human life and to protect and defend that.”

“We know since Roe vs. Wade, 62 million deaths occurred,” he said. “That’s a stack of babies 4,000 times higher than the Empire State building. The purpose of government is to protect life.”

A draft of Knoblock’s resolution said the City Council “considers life to begin at conception” and “stands against the establishment of Planned Parenthood health centers or any other clinics where abortions are performed.”

Such a resolution, however, would simply reflect an opinion by a majority on the city council. It’s unclear if the city can ban a provider of a legal health service. The closest Planned Parenthood clinic to San Clemente is in Mission Viejo, a few miles up the 5 freeway.

The resolution — scheduled for discussion by a council comprised of two women and three men — didn’t have language on enforcement. But it could have signaled official city support for a later ban on abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is at stake or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, San Clemente Mayor Pro Tem Chris Duncan said the resolution caused concern within the community. He said this topic has drawn more email responses from residents than any other that he’s handled during his two years on the council. Most of that communication has been against the proposed resolution.

“I don’t think the majority of residents in San Clemente … want government taking away their long-held rights to control their body,” said Duncan, a Democrat running to represent the 74th Assembly District. “We saw that with the vote in Kansas the other day.”

National abortion fight gets local

The back-and-forth in San Clemente is part of a larger national conversation that’s grown louder since June, when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and left the issue of abortion to individual states. Since then, at least 13 states have moved to ban or restrict the procedure, with more expected to do so by the end of this year. Many other states, including California, have passed laws to expand access to abortion and back a woman’s right to choose.

Earlier this week, voters in Kansas — a state that preferred Donald Trump over Joe Biden in the 2020 election by about 15 points — overwhelmingly chose to uphold abortion rights protections in the state constitution.

“This vote makes clear what we know: The majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions,” President Joe Biden said on Wednesday, Aug. 3, a day after the vote in Kansas.

Knoblock said he hasn’t paid attention to what other groups or states are doing about abortion but, as a public servant, he believes he should bring the discussion forward. He added that he’s particularly concerned about Proposition 1, which if approved by state voters in November, would prohibit anyone in California from denying or interfering with a person’s reproductive health care, including any decision a person might make about abortion and contraception.

‘All it takes is one city’ 

Should San Clemente have declared itself a “sanctuary for life,” it wouldn’t be the first to do so. In fact, several dozen cities, working with Right to Life of East Texas, have passed ordinances that outlaw abortion procedures within city limits. Still others have passed resolutions.

Texas is among the states banning abortion. The state also has passed rules that allow citizens to sue clinics or anyone else who “aids or abets” a legal abortion outside of Texas.

According to Mark Lee Dickson, the director of Right to Life of East Texas and founder of the Sanctuary Cities for the Unborn Initiative, 50 cities — mostly in Texas — have passed ordinances banning abortion.

“Cities should do everything in their power to protect residents of their communities — both the born and the unborn,” Dickson said in an email.

“In the same breath, cities must also be smart about the laws they enact to protect their residents,” he said, advocating for an enforceable ordinance over a resolution.

“Gov. Newsom has been very clear that he wants California to be a sanctuary for abortion access,” Dickson added.

“This leaves the people of California who believe in protecting innocent human life having to make a decision: Will San Clemente be a ‘sanctuary for abortion,’ or will the good people of San Clemente do everything in their power to fight against it? All it takes is one city who is willing to go first. All it takes is one city which fears God more than they fear Gov. Newsom.”

San Clemente’s draft resolution did, in fact, invoke religion.

“We believe that life is God-ordained and God is the author and finisher of every life,” the resolution said. “No matter if at the beginning or at the end. We stand in agreement that, as a City Council, we will protect and sustain life at every stage. As we ask God to bless America, we first have to honor and respect God. We feel that we do both by protecting life and passing this resolution.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Wrangling over renewables: Counties Push Back on Newsom Administration Usurping Local Control

Kings County Supervisor Joe Neves guided his pickup to a stop next to a long line of chain-link fencing. On one side of a gravel road stood row after row of glinting solar panels. The automated mirrors pivot and turn, following the sun in its daily path across the Central Valley sky.

Neves, a big man with a wispy Santa Claus beard, was showing off the county’s newest mega solar power project, still under construction on 1,600 acres. A state-of-the-art facility, it includes powerful batteries to store and deliver power after the sun sets.

This solar plant in King County is one of the scores of new renewable energy puzzle pieces across the state considered vital to California’s transition to cleaner electricity and its pursuit of climate change solutions. 

Rural California counties like Kings — with lots of land, sunshine and wind — are the focal point for many of these projects. Now they are at the epicenter of a statewide controversy, too. 

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom pressured lawmakers to approve an energy plan that aimed to expedite and streamline construction of new clean energy facilities. Included is a controversial clause that lets developers bypass local permitting and instead turn to the California Energy Commission for fast-track approval.

The new strategy is an end run around local authorities who sometimes balk at allowing wind and solar facilities in their own backyards.

But if Newsom sees small, rural counties as impediments, Kings County begs to differ. Neves and other local officials have been busily opening up their county to solar projects for more than a dozen years. 

Far from scoffing at the idea of renewable energy, some Kings County farmers have embraced solar generation as a profitable problem solver – they get paid for the use of their barren land and can transfer the water to higher-value crops.

Whatever the intent of the new law, Kings County doesn’t think it’s the problem: Most projects in the county’s 40,000-acre solar zone receive approval in less than six months — in some cases in six weeks, county officials say.

“We are not unsophisticated, we know what we are doing,” Neves said. “We planned for this. We can see the future.”

Across the state, local officials were miffed at state officials for being excluded from the discussion as the law was being crafted behind closed doors in late June, then piqued again after it passed the Legislature and was signed by Newsom, meaning they no longer had the final say-so for projects in their counties.

“Local governments are viewed as an impediment, another layer you have to go through to get your project across the finish line. But we permit these facilities all the time. It’s one of the core functions we perform as local government,” said John Kennedy, a lobbyist for Rural County Representatives of California, which advocates for 39 small counties.

“To have that authority taken out of our hands and given to the Energy Commission — that much farther from the people, that much removed from local sensitivity — to have that authority clawed back is really painful,” he said. “We’re in the crosshairs, but we don’t think we are the right target here.”

While a few projects have been stalled by local officials, some energy developers said Newsom’s initiative is a solution in search of a problem.

“What is this proposal solving for?” said Alex Jackson, director of California state affairs for American Clean Power, an association of renewable energy companies.

“In general we work really well with local government. We have invested a lot in those relationships. We prefer to work with them rather than strong-arm them. Overall we don’t see this as unlocking the path to accelerating clean energy.”  

In his signing statement attached to the new bill, Newsom said the unprecedented pace of climate change means California must move faster to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The state must begin producing 50% more clean power in the next decade in order to meet its goals.

The new law, Newsom wrote, will “support and expedite the State’s transition to clean energy projects and help maintain energy reliability in the face of climate change.” The fast-track option through the Energy Commission promises developers a decision within 270 days and bypasses local approval. 

The new strategy, Newsom wrote, will help keep the lights on when demand peaks from extreme heat and drought, which are putting “unprecedented stress” on the state’s power grid. “Action is needed now,” he said.

Kings County: A prime place for generating energy 

Kings County, population 152,486 and home to Hanford and Kettleman City,  is well-situated to host renewable energy projects: It’s at the nexus of major north-south and east-west transmission lines and its power plants can readily dispatch electricity to the grid.

Solar projects already built on Kings County’s fallowed farmland are helping power Disneyland, and the newest development, called Slate Solar and Storage, will supply about 900 megawatts of electricity when it’s finished. Some will go to two Bay Area powerhouses: The BART transportation network and Stanford University. 

Occupying former watermelon, cotton and corn fields fallowed by drought,  developers are building solar farms in Kings County as fast as the world’s crippled supply chain will allow. To expedite the process, local planning officials created solar energy zones that have already been fully vetted and undergone comprehensive environmental analysis. 

The county has more than 21,000 acres of solar development, and the land, mostly private property, is leased or sold outright to companies.

Faced with rapidly rising energy costs, school districts and towns are investing in their own small-scale solar projects, Neves said, as have farmers looking for cheap ways to pump water and run equipment. 

“A humongous task” 

Whether funneled through the Energy Commission’s new process or approved by local authorities, new renewable energy development will have to come fast. 

Although California is well ahead of its interim goals for clean power – about 34% of its generation last year – getting to carbon-free by 2045 will be a challenge of the highest order.

With worsening climate models, electrification of transportation and buildings, the drought-driven crash in hydroelectric power, and the scheduled closure of fossil-fuel power plants, the sobering reality in California is this: At current rates the state will produce 40 gigawatts of clean power annually over the next decade, while preliminary projections show it needs 60 gigawatts a year — at a minimum. 

The need, given how rapidly demand is growing, is likely to increase.

“It’s a humongous task,” said Siva Gunda, vice chair of the California Energy Commission. “We’ve had 100 years to build the grid the way it is today and we’re redoing it in the next 20 years. At least we have a plan. We are digging ourselves out of a hole.”

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Average Pay for Manhattan Beach Firefighters is $328,000 Per Year

Compensation and benefits for public safety personnel is a fraught topic

Negotiations between the Manhattan Beach Firefighters Association and the Manhattan Beach City Council have been stalled since May, when an impasse was announced. As reported in a local publication serving Manhattan Beach and nearby cities, firefighters and their supporters packed a July 19 city council meeting to urge the council to alter its stance in labor negotiations.

In the article, “Firefighters from Manhattan Beach and their supporters storm City Hall,” some of the firefighter union’s positions were noted. One of them was for the firefighters to receive “the same cost of living salary increases the other city unions received over the last 3.5 years, a period during with MBFA has not received an increase.”

In that regard, it would be useful to report what full time firefighters with the Manhattan Beach Fire Department earned in 2021, using data downloaded from the State Controller’s website.

A few things should be called out in the above chart. First – the employee compensation data the City of Manhattan Beach reported to the State Controller did not include any allocation of the payment the city makes towards the unfunded pension liability. This means the numbers you see in the “pension” column are for the so-called “normal cost” and therefore no argument can be made that they are inflated. One could make the argument that since no allocation whatsoever is made to active duty firefighter compensation to account for the city’s substantial unfunded pension debt, the average per firefighter pension costs reported here are understated. But that’s material for another story.

Next, the context in which Manhattan Beach firefighters claim they have not received cost of living increases commensurate with what other city unions received over the last 3.5 years might reasonably include how much firefighters earn in other cities. Here, using 2020 data, is average compensation for full time firefighters in the 25 largest city departments in California. The yellow highlighted top four all include payments on the unfunded pension liability in their reported data and therefore probably overstate the total compensation. As can be seen, however, even taking that into account, only one city, Santa Clara, reports total compensation in excess of Manhattan Beach. None of the other cities are even close. This data is one year old, but it is a safe bet that Berkeley, for example, did not increase its total firefighter compensation by 28 percent ($71,000) in one year [(328/257)-1].

Finally, what stands out with respect to Manhattan Beach firefighter compensation is the large amount of overtime they’re earning, $94,000. None of the major cities have anything close to that in overtime expense. Why is this?

In a letter the City Council released on July 19, the city attempted to explain this, writing:

The Firefighters’ Association has repeatedly stated they receive overtime for hours worked beyond their normal hours. This is not true. Just because a firefighter receives overtime does not mean they are working time over their regularly scheduled hours. For example, a firefighter can be on vacation for two shifts but work another shift in the same week and receive overtime. Similarly, two firefighters can work each other’s vacation shifts and receive overtime without working any additional hours. This is because vacation, holiday leave, and injury pay count as “hours worked” to qualify for overtime.

One of the City’s proposals to reduce overtime addresses the current system in which every shift taken as leave is automatically backfilled with overtime by allowing shift trades (two firefighters working for each other). This proposal allows employees to take the same amount of time off while reducing the payment of time and a half overtime when firefighters are not working any additional hours. This, in effect, limits the number of shifts that will be backfilled on an overtime basis. The City is also proposing to remove the ability to convert unused sick leave into vacation, which creates further backfill of overtime. The Association has not agreed to these simple provisions because it will reduce the amount of overtime pay they receive.

In plain English, what the city council is saying is that Manhattan Beach firefighters game the rules to collect overtime even though they aren’t working extra hours. It is reasonable for the city council to attempt to rewrite the rules so this will stop.

Compensation and benefits for public safety personnel is a fraught topic, and hyperbole does nothing to foster constructive outcomes. How much should a firefighter make? It’s fine to throw out statistics that prove the average life span of a retired California firefighter is actually somewhat greater than that of the public at large, or that statistically, a cashier behind a liquor store counter is more likely to die on the job than a firefighter. But that fails to take into account the fact that a horrific conflagration, such as the World Trade Center bombing, could alter those statistics overnight, and firefighters go to work with that knowledge every day. Liquor store clerks, as we have learned, provide essential services, but they’re not the ones who come running to help when our house is burning down, or a family member is having a medical emergency.

Using statistics also can overlook the fact that the value of life has never been so precious. A century ago, disease, war, and accidents claimed lives with such frequency that death was a normal part of life. Today, especially in a city as wealthy as Manhattan Beach, death is never routine. Citizens therefore have never had higher expectations of their fire departments than they have today, and better service is going to cost more. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to argue with a firefighter who is a member of the community and believes they deserve a raise. But in Manhattan Beach, with respect, they don’t.

Firefighters that collect a pay and benefits package in excess of $300,000 per year are not underpaid. Maybe they can’t afford a home in Manhattan Beach. But that’s because nobody can afford a home in Manhattan Beach. Maybe it’s gotten harder to recruit firefighters. But that’s because it’s gotten harder to recruit anyone to take jobs in recent years.

Firefighters in Manhattan Beach should ask themselves: Is my job harder than one in San Diego, where the average firefighter pay and benefits package is less than half what it is in Manhattan Beach? Clearly it’s not. Work through a Saturday night in downtown San Diego, and compare that to working the night shift on a weekend in Manhattan Beach. There are over 30,000 full time firefighters in California. To pay all of them what firefighters make in Manhattan Beach, instead of what firefighters make in San Diego, would cost taxpayers $4.5 billion per year.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Newsom Asks Hollywood to Stop Filming in Conservative States

SACRAMENTO >> Widening his attack on Republican states for their positions on guns, civil rights and abortion, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Wednesday called on Hollywood to “walk the walk” on liberal values by bringing back their film and television productions from states such as Georgia and Oklahoma.

Newsom issued the challenge through an ad in Variety that asked the state’s left-leaning creative community to “take stock of your values — and those of your employees — when doing business in those states.”

The Democratic governor on Wednesday simultaneously endorsed a legislative proposal that would provide a $1.65 billion, five-year extension of California’s film and television production tax credit program.

It marked the second time in recent weeks that Newsom has used California legislation as a cudgel to rip Republican leaders elsewhere. Last month, he signed a bill allowing residents to sue makers of illegal guns and took the opportunity to rebuke Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas for previously enabling its residents to sue abortion providers.

Newsom’s statements on Wednesday underscored the pressure that intensifying culture wars have placed on U.S. corporations, particularly in states where the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade has severely constrained reproductive rights for women.

Some of the country’s biggest businesses, including the Walt Disney Co., Netflix and Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, have announced programs to help employees who need abortion access but cannot obtain it in their home states. Hundreds of entertainment figures also have denounced policies in Republican-led states that have weakened safeguards for LGBTQ people. Last week, some 400 television creators and showrunners publicly demanded that production companies protect pregnant employees in states where abortion is outlawed.

But entertainment companies have not yet announced major plans to cancel expansions or relocate offices. “Tulsa King,” Taylor Sheridan’s upcoming crime drama starring Sylvester Stallone, has been filming this summer for Paramount+ in Oklahoma.

In Georgia on Monday, Gov. Brian Kemp announced that film and television productions generated $4.4 billion in the state this fiscal year, a new record. “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was filmed in the state, the governor noted, as was the fourth season of “Stranger Things.”

“I was happy to name Gavin Newsom Oklahoma’s Economic Developer of the Year Award in 2021 and I’m glad to see he’s making a run for two years in a row,” Gov. Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma joked in a statement on Wednesday. Stitt took a similar jab at the California governor last year in reference to the state’s pandemic shutdowns, which Stitt said drove business to his state.

The Motion Picture Association, the trade group representing major film studios and Netflix, declined to comment on Wednesday.

Newsom has been in the thick of that power struggle for months, trolling DeSantis on Twitter and inviting Disney to rethink its Florida investments. The Variety ad was the latest in a series of initiatives by Newsom to take his defense of “California values” onto a national stage.

A $105,000 spot that ran in Florida last month — attacking DeSantis and inviting Florida businesses to come to California — was the opening salvo in a national effort by Newsom that has included newspaper ads in Texas attacking Abbott on abortion restrictions and a highly publicized trip to Washington, D.C., to discuss, among other things, gun legislation.

In widening his attacks to include Oklahoma and Georgia, Newsom targeted not only two of California’s most aggressive rivals for film, television and other content production but two of the nation’s most conservative states on social issues.

Oklahoma, which aggressively ramped up film production incentives during the pandemic, has banned nearly all abortions since the Roe v. Wade reversal. And Georgia, which has one of the nation’s most generous packages of film production incentives, has granted fetuses full legal recognition. This week, a Georgia tax agency found that pregnant women could take a $3,000 personal tax exemption for any fetus with a detectable heartbeat.

Newsom noted that California’s abortion rights are among the most secure in the nation. The state has also enacted some of the nation’s toughest laws on gun safety and civil liberties for LGBTQ people.

Click here to read the full article in the New York Times

Bill Allowing Safe Injection Sites in Los Angeles Heads to Governor’s Desk

A bold plan to provide places for people to use illegal drugs making its way through the California legislature. The bill would allow supervised injection sites.

Los Angeles is one of the three cities being considered for the pilot program and the bill is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.

The idea, according to proponents, is to provide a place where people could use drugs safely.

Senate Bill 57 allows certain areas to create injection sites. The California department of public health says there were more than 5,500 overdose deaths in 2020.

The bill, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, passed the state Senate by a 21-11 vote Monday.

“An absolute explosion in overdose deaths in California and other parts of the country, it’s a national problem,” Weiner said.

Under the proposal, three areas: L.A. County including the city of L.A., San Francisco and Oakland could create pilot programs where people use drugs they bring with them.

Proponents said it would reduce overdoses because there would be people there to help in case if an emergency.

“Allow them to go inside so the public won’t see them into a setting that is safer and healthier and cleaner, where if they do overdose the overdose it can be immediately reversed so they don’t die,” Weiner said.

Weiner said people could then be offered treatment.

“The intention is done with heart, but the unintended consequences are much greater,” Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh said.

Opponents said drug users don’t have to accept any treatment.

“So the incentive is for them to go to these safe zones for the injections, but there’s no requirement of them to seek treatment,” Ochoa Bogh said. “It’s there to be offered as a referral as a resource but it’s not required of them.”

Deaths attributed to accidental drug overdoses in L.A. County increased by 52% during the first 10 months of the pandemic compared to the same time period in 2019, according to a July 2021 report by the county.

Some worry this would allow cities to operate drug dens. They worry it would normalize substance abuse.

“I’m not sure that many taxpayers would be an agreement to use their tax dollars to facilitate drug use,” Ochoa Bogh said.

The bill is expected to be on Governor Newsom’s desk by the end of this week. After that, he has 12 days to sign it or veto it.

Newsom said in 2018 he was “very, very open” to the idea of a pilot program to allow legal drug injection sites, splitting with his predecessor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar bill that same year.

Click here to read the full article at ABC7.com

California Taxpayers Will Subsidize New A’s Ballpark

As the 2021-22 state budget was being finalized in June of last year, a $279.5 million appropriation was quietly inserted into the massive spending plan before it was sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Funds appropriated in this item shall be for the Port of Oakland for improvements that facilitate enhanced freight and passenger access and to promote the efficient and safe movement of goods and people,” the budget declared.

Seemingly, the Legislature was responding to numerous pleas from the shipping industry for upgrades to maintain the port’s viability in the face of intense competition for international trade.

However, when the port commission recently approved a list of specific projects the money would finance, its long-suspected true purpose became clear. The money would not be spent to improve cargo-handling, but rather to subsidize development of a new stadium for the Oakland A’s baseball team on a disused container site known as Howard Terminal near Jack London Square.

The money would pay for facilities to make it easier for baseball fans to access the new stadium. They apparently would be the “passengers” the appropriation cited.

The commission acted shortly after the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission officially removed Howard Terminal’s designation as a cargo site.

For years, A’s owners, citing inadequacies of the Oakland Coliseum, have yearned for a new stadium while threatening to move the team if its demands were not met. At one point, the team tried to move to San Jose, but that city was part of the San Francisco Giants’ designated territory and the Giants refused to relinquish it.

Oakland officialdom, having lost the Raiders football team to Las Vegas and the Warriors basketball team to San Francisco, is desperate to keep the A’s in Oakland and a number of potential stadium sites have been explored.

Finally, the city and A’s owner John Fisher, a scion of the family that owns clothier Gap, settled on the 55-acre Howard Terminal site, not only for a new baseball stadium but a $12 billion residential and commercial complex.

The decision didn’t sit well with the shipping industry, which saw it as an intrusion on cargo-handling operations.

As Fisher was negotiating with city officials over the project last year, state Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat who represents Oakland and chairs the Senate Budget Committee, slipped the $279.5 million appropriation into the budget bill and it eventually was approved by the full Legislature and Newsom.

It’s just a tiny fraction of a 2021-22 state budget that approached $300 billion but would have been enough to build affordable housing for more than 500 low- and moderate-income families.

Moreover, it represents two common but unseemly practices in the state Capitol.

The first is using the state budget, which is largely drafted in secret with little opportunity for the media and the public to peruse its details, as a vehicle to deliver goodies to those with political pull.

After the budget and its attendant “trailer bills” are enacted each year, we learn — too late — exactly who has received special attention, either in the form of money or some beneficial change of law.

The second is the slavish attention that California politicians devote to the welfare of professional sports teams and their wealthy owners. Every major sports arena project in recent years has received some sort of help from the Capitol, mostly exemptions from the environmental red tape that other big projects must navigate.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Vin Scully, Iconic Former Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcaster, Dies at Age 94

Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, whose dulcet tones provided the soundtrack of summer while entertaining and informing Dodgers fans in Brooklyn and Los Angeles for 67 years, died Tuesday night, the team said. He was 94.

“We have lost an icon,” Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten said in a statement. “Vin Scully was one of the greatest voices in all of sports. He was a giant of a man, not only as a broadcaster, but as a humanitarian. He loved people. He loved life. He loved baseball and the Dodgers. And he loved his family. His voice will always be heard and etched in all of our minds forever. I know he was looking forward to joining the love of his life, Sandi. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time. Vin will be truly missed.”

Scully died at his home in the Hidden Hills section of Los Angeles, according to the team, which spoke to family members. No cause of death was provided.

“Today we mourn the loss of a legend in our game,” Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. “Vin was an extraordinary man whose gift for broadcasting brought joy to generations of Dodger fans. In addition, his voice played a memorable role in some of the greatest moments in the history of our sport. I am proud that Vin was synonymous with Baseball because he embodied the very best of our National Pastime. As great as he was as a broadcaster, he was equally great as a person.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest condolences to Vin’s family, friends, Dodger fans and his admirers everywhere.”

As the longest-tenured broadcaster with a single team in pro sports history, Scully saw it all and called it all. He began in the 1950s era of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson, on to the 1960s with Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, into the 1970s with Steve Garvey and Don Sutton, and through the 1980s with Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela. In the 1990s, it was Mike Piazza and Hideo Nomo, followed by Clayton Kershaw, Manny Ramirez and Yasiel Puig in the 21st century.

“He was the best there ever was,” Kershaw said after the Dodgers’ game Tuesday night in San Francisco. “Just when you think about the Dodgers, there’s a lot of history here and a lot of people that have come through. It’s just a storied franchise all the way around. But it almost starts with Vin, honestly.

“Just such a special man. I’m grateful and thankful I got to know him as well as I did.”

Tweeted Puig: “You gave me my Wild Horse name. You gave me love. You hugged me like a father. I will never forget you, my heart is broken.”

The Dodgers changed players, managers, executives, owners — and even coasts — but Scully and his soothing, insightful style remained a constant for the fans.

He opened broadcasts with the familiar greeting, “Hi, everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you wherever you may be.”

Ever gracious both in person and on the air, Scully considered himself merely a conduit between the game and the fans.

After the Dodgers’ 9-5 win in San Francisco at Oracle Park — where in October 2016 Scully broadcast the final game of his career — a tribute to him was shown on the videoboard.

Fans of both teams stopped and applauded Scully before exiting.

“There’s not a better storyteller, and I think everyone considers him family,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He was in our living rooms for many generations. He lived a fantastic life, a legacy that will live on forever.”

Although he was paid by the Dodgers, Scully was unafraid to criticize a bad play or a manager’s decision or praise an opponent while spinning stories against a backdrop of routine plays and noteworthy achievements. He always said he wanted to see things with his eyes, not his heart.

“He had a voice & a way of storytelling that made you think he was only talking to you,” former Lakers great Magic Johnson, a part owner of the Dodgers, tweeted. “Vin was the nicest & sweetest man outside of the booth & was beloved by all of our Dodgers family.”

Jaime Jarrin, the Spanish voice of the Dodgers and a Hall of Fame broadcaster as well, mourned the loss of his counterpart, writing on Twitter: “We’ve lost the greatest chronicler of baseball and any sport. I’ve lost the architect of my professional life, a beloved friend: Vin Scully. I’m experiencing how difficult it is to put my thoughts together now and all I can say is rest in peace, we’ll see each other again soon.”

Vincent Edward Scully was born Nov. 29, 1927, in the Bronx. He was the son of a silk salesman who died of pneumonia when Scully was 7. His mother moved the family to Brooklyn, where the red-haired, blue-eyed Scully grew up playing stickball in the streets.

As a child, Scully would grab a pillow, put it under the family’s four-legged radio and lay his head directly under the speaker to hear whatever college football game was on the air. With a snack of saltine crackers and a glass of milk nearby, the boy was transfixed by the crowd’s roar that raised goosebumps. He thought he would like to call the action himself.

Scully, who played outfield for two years on the Fordham baseball team and briefly served in the U.S. Navy, began his career by working baseball, football and basketball games for the university’s radio station.

At age 22, he was hired by a CBS radio affiliate in Washington. He soon joined Hall of Famer Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ radio and television booths. In 1953, at age 25, Scully became the youngest person to broadcast a World Series game, an achievement that still stands.

Scully moved West with the Dodgers in 1958. Scully called three perfect games — Don Larsen’s in the 1956 World Series, Koufax’s in 1965 and Dennis Martinez’s in 1991 — and 20 no-hitters.

He also was on the air when Drysdale set his scoreless innings streak of 58⅔ innings in 1968 and again when Hershiser broke the record with 59 consecutive scoreless innings 20 years later.

When Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run to break Babe Ruth’s record in 1974, it was against the Dodgers and, of course, Scully called it.

“A Black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking a record of an all-time baseball idol,” Scully told listeners. “What a marvelous moment for baseball.”

Scully credited the birth of the transistor radio as “the greatest single break” of his career. Fans had trouble recognizing the lesser players during the Dodgers’ first four years in the vast Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“They were 70 or so odd rows away from the action,” he said in 2016. “They brought the radio to find out about all the other players and to see what they were trying to see down on the field.”

That habit carried over when the team moved to Dodger Stadium in 1962. Fans held radios to their ears, and those not present listened from home or the car, allowing Scully to connect generations of families with his words.

He often said it was best to describe a big play quickly and then be quiet so fans could listen to the pandemonium. After Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, Scully went silent for 38 seconds before talking again. He was similarly silent for a time after Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Scully was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that year and had the stadium’s press box named for him in 2001. The street leading to Dodger Stadium’s main gate was named in his honor in 2016.

That same year, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama.

“God has been so good to me to allow me to do what I’m doing,” Scully, a devout Catholic who attended Mass on Sundays before heading to the ballpark, said before retiring. “A childhood dream that came to pass and then giving me 67 years to enjoy every minute of it. That’s a pretty large Thanksgiving Day for me.”

In addition to being the voice of the Dodgers, Scully called play-by-play for NFL games and PGA Tour events as well as calling 25 World Series and 12 All-Star Games. He was NBC’s lead baseball announcer from 1983 to 1989.

Scully also received the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, which recognizes accomplishments and contributions of historical significance, in 2014. He became just the second non-player to receive the award, joining Rachel Robinson.

While being one of the most widely heard broadcasters in the nation, Scully was an intensely private man. Once the baseball season ended, he would disappear. He rarely did personal appearances or sports talk shows and preferred spending time with his family.

In 1972, his first wife, Joan, died of an accidental overdose of medicine. He was left with three young children. Two years later, he met the woman who would become his second wife, Sandra, a secretary for the Los Angeles Rams. She had two young children from a previous marriage, and they combined their families into what Scully once called “my own Brady Bunch.”

He said he realized time was the most precious thing in the world and that he wanted to use his time to spend with his loved ones. In the early 1960s, Scully quit smoking with the help of his family. In the shirt pocket where he kept a pack of cigarettes, Scully stuck a family photo. Whenever he felt like he needed a smoke, he pulled out the photo to remind him why he quit. Eight months later, Scully never smoked again.

After retiring in 2016, Scully made just a handful of appearances at Dodger Stadium and his sweet voice was heard narrating an occasional video played during games. Mostly, he was content to stay close to home.

“I just want to be remembered as a good man, an honest man, and one who lived up to his own beliefs,” he said in 2016.

Click here to read the full article at ESPN.com

He Shot My Arm Off!

Armed robber flees in panic when Norco liquor store owner blasts shotgun: ‘He shot my arm off!’

Dramatic surveillance video captured the moment a Norco liquor store owner used his shotgun to shoot a would-be robber who was armed with a rifle.

Footage shows the armed suspect burst into the business and the owner immediately shoot a single blast from his firearm.

Cameras outside captured the suspect frantically screaming, “He shot my arm off! He shot my arm off!”

Multiple suspects then quickly take off in a dark-colored SUV and almost leave a person behind, the footage shows.

Authorities say the incident happened at Norco Market & Liquor in the 800 block of Sixth Street around 2:47 a.m. Sunday. Four suspects armed with long guns were involved in the attempted robbery and were wearing facial coverings, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Four suspects were later found at a hospital, including one who was suffering from a gunshot wound consistent with a shotgun blast, authorities say. The three other suspects were found inside the suspect vehicle, which authorities say was reported stolen.

The suspects were identified as 22-year-old Inglewood resident Justin Johnson, 27-year-old Los Angeles resident Jamar Williams and 24-year-old Las Vegas resident Davon Broadus.

The wounded suspect’s name has not been released. The 23-year-old remains hospitalized in critical, but stable condition.

Several stolen firearms were allegedly found in the BMW SUV the suspects used.

Workers and customers are praising the business owner, Craig, for his quick action.

“What if he wouldn’t have been as quick as it was. It could’ve been him,” customer Julie Fensel told Eyewitness News.

Craig, 80, is recovering from a heart attack after the shocking incident.

“The sheriff’s warned us that this had been going on in the area recently and to just be on your toes, you know, so he was on his toes. Thank God,” employee Marnie Tapia said.

Employees say the owner saw what was happening in the monitors: the suspects’ SUV back in and the armed men step out.

“He just prepared himself. He’s always prepared as far as weapons go,” Tapia said about the owner.

Click here to read the full article at KABC

The Manchin, Schumer ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ is a Fraud

Let’s look at just how the Manchin, Schumer mini version of Build Back Better is supposed to fight inflation

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is rushing to push through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

I don’t blame him. The more scrutiny the mini-Build Back Better proposal gets, the worse it looks.  

Let’s start with the obvious: despite its Ministry of Disinformation title, the legislation will not reduce inflation. Analysis from the Penn Wharton Budget Model concludes “the impact on inflation is statistically indistinguishable from zero.”    

This is the same PWBM that Schumer touted when opposing the GOP tax bill a while back and that Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., describes as “well respected by both sides of the aisle.” 

In addition, promises that the bill will reduce our fiscal deficit rely on optimistic assumptions about what a beefed-up the IRS will sniff out in the way of tax fraud and $313 billion in proceeds from a tax on corporations that is so injurious to our manufacturers that even Democrats will likely decide to pare it back.

As to making what President Joe Biden calls an historic investment in combatting climate change, it seems unlikely that expanding tax credits for buying even more EVs and subsidizing more renewables will solve the gritty problems of raw materials shortages and other issues sure to be complicated by the “made in America” provisions of the bill.

So, chances are that while it checks a number of satisfying boxes for Democrats running scared ahead of the midterms, this bill will not reduce inflation, will not bring down our deficit and will not have much impact on the climate.

Moreover, it will raise taxes on Americans making less than $400,000, belying a critical promise made by President Joe Biden and repeated just recently by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who is promoting this damaging bill. 

Otherwise, it’s a terrific piece of legislation that just magically appeared full-blown at 700-plus pages out of a darkened basement, rather like our befuddled and wildly unpopular president. 

Let’s review. How is this bill supposed to fight inflation? First, by allowing the government to negotiate certain drug prices, which supposedly will save $288 billion over 10 years.

Fully 40% of that ($122 billion) comes from revoking a rule put in place by the Trump administration that was never going to be implemented anyway. Such are the games played in this legislation. 

There is no doubt that the government could effectively set prices on a variety of drugs, since it controls roughly 36% of total healthcare spending. But drug companies, hit by those price limits, are almost sure to raise prices on other products, new drugs or even on those same products marketed to private customers. They will not simply absorb the lower profits delivered by the feds, nor should they. 

Plus, the rising cost of prescription drug prices is not driving inflation. In fact, in May, while the Consumer Price Index rose 8.6%, prices paid for prescription drugs rose less than 2%. 

So, capping a commodity that is not actually contributing much to inflation cannot be expected to bring it down. 

Second, the bill will purportedly fight inflation by bringing down the deficit. Of course, since Democrats deny that their reckless $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan blew up our already bloated budget deficit and delivered inflation, this is a tricky argument. 

Apparently, some deficits are worse than others.

In any event, the deficit impact depends partly on whether giving the IRS an additional $80 billion will yield substantial incremental revenues. 

In an earlier iteration of Build Back Better, the Biden administration estimated such an investment in tax snoops would yield $316 billion over 10 years; the nonpartisan CBO cut that down to $200 billion. Now Democrats estimate the windfall at $124 billion, a further downgrade that does little to build our confidence.

The other source of increased revenue comes from tax hikes that, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, would raise an additional $16.7 billion on American taxpayers earning less than $200,000 in 2023. The proposal would raise another $14.1 billion from taxpayers earning between $200,000 and $500,000.

Moreover, over the 10-year window covered by the bill, the average tax rate paid by every single income category would increase.

That’s because the 15% minimum tax on “book” corporate profits – profits reduced by the immediate expensing of depreciation for tax purposes – will stifle business spending that increases productivity and that leads to wage increases. And, because corporations don’t eat those tax hikes – they pass them along via lower wages and reduced investment. CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER

The National Association of Manufacturers says the tax next year will reduce income for workers by $17.1 billion – and that’s just one year. They conclude it will also cost 218,108 workers their jobs.

The bill, though, will give hefty taxpayer handouts to some favored industries. The Wall Street Journal notes that “companies will get tax credits for spending on wind, solar, critical minerals, biofuels, hydrogen, carbon capture, nuclear, “sustainable” aviation fuel, lithium-ion batteries, electric-vehicle charging stations and more.” 

We’ve seen how successful the federal government can be when picking winners and losers. Remember Solyndra?

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews.com