LAPD Serves Search Warrants in City Hall Racism Investigation, Report Says

The Los Angeles Police Department has served search warrants in its investigation into the leaked conversation that led to the City Hall racism scandal to determine if the conversation was recorded illegally, the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday, Nov 29.

The Times, citing sources who spoke anonymously, reported that the warrants were for several social-media accounts, including the Reddit account on which the audio was originally posted.

No specific targets were identified.

More warrants were expected to be served, the sources told the Times. The warrants seek communications over the last few weeks.

Police Chief Michel Moore said last month that the Major Crimes Division launched the investigation at the request of “individuals that were present at that meeting,” which included former Council President Nury Martinez, the former president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Ron Herrera, and Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo. A spokesperson for de León has said he did not request an investigation.

It remains unknown who recorded the year-old, racism-filled conversation that took place at the offices of the L.A. County Federation of Labor, and who leaked it — triggering a series of events that led Martinez to step down as City Council president and then quit the council altogether, and de León and Cedillo to face relentless calls for them to resign as well.

In California all parties participating in a conversation are supposed to give their approvals for any recording. Violators could face civil and criminal penalties.

In the recorded conversation, Martinez belittled Councilman Mike Bonin, who is white and has a Black son, and criticized the child for his behavior at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade — saying Bonin’s son was misbehaving on a float, which might have tipped over if she and the other women on the float didn’t step in to “parent this kid.”

“They’re raising him like a little White kid,” Martinez said. “I was like, ‘This kid needs a beatdown. Let me take him around the corner and then I’ll bring him back.”‘

Martinez also called the child “ese changuito,” Spanish for “that little monkey.”

De León also criticized Bonin, saying “Mike Bonin won’t (expletive) ever say peep about Latinos. He’ll never say a (expletive) word about us.”

De León also compared Bonin’s handling of his son at the MLK Parade to “when Nury brings her little yard bag or the Louis Vuitton bag.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Daily News

LA City Councilman Says ‘Kids are Afraid to Walk to School’ Due to Needles, Human Waste, Psychotic Behavior

Los Angeles city council member told Dr. Phil on Friday that kids have to “step over needles, human waste,” and deal with people exhibiting “psychotic behavior” on their way to school due to the homeless crisis in California.

Dr. Phil explained how a recent piece of local legislation to address the dangerous homeless tent cities has caused outrage among activists.

“At a recent Los Angeles city council meeting, members voted to prohibit homeless people from setting up tents within 500 feet of schools and daycare centers,” Dr. Phil summarized. “Protesters at one point shut down the meeting, angered by new restrictions that will expand the number of locations where sleeping and camping are prohibited.”

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a Democrat, defended the vote.

“No child in America should be afraid to walk to school, and what we have found in Los Angeles [is] kids are afraid to walk to school,” he warned. “They tell their parents they have to step over needles, human waste, and deal with individuals unfortunately suffering from psychotic behavior – right next to their playground area.”

Buscaino went out of his way to say this is not about bigotry against homeless people, but recognizing the need to protect certain vulnerable public spaces in society.

“So, I’m saying again, it’s not a crime to be homeless, but these are sensitive spaces we have to protect, the most sensitive spaces among us. Playgrounds, beaches, libraries, parks – and have some accountability for those who are in these spaces,” he said.

Dr. Phil also spoke to TikTok star Franky Bernstein, who has made multiple videos chronicling his encounters with homeless crime in Venice, California. 

Bernstein’s TikTok videos ranged from him describing an encounter with a “homeless guy with a shotgun,” noting that “it took the cops 30 minutes to show up, which is insane,” to his confrontation with a “homeless man with a club” trying to break into his neighbor’s house, after which the homeless man allegedly attempted to break into another home “three doors down.”

Dr. Phil praised Bernstein for not just recording the problem, but for using his own time to take part in actually solving it.

Bernstein said, “I’ve dealt with my own fair share of addiction and mental health problems, just like I’m sure everybody in this room has, or a family member, so I totally get it.”

He said that the homeless crisis is more a matter of will for the American public than a matter of money, claiming, “One of the main problems as a civilian is that most people don’t do anything.”

He added, “We could have all the money in the world to solve this problem, but if we don’t have enough people showing up to volunteer, it’s not really going to work.”

Elsewhere in the episode, Dr. Phil dropped some alarming stats about homelessness in California, such as the claim that the state has “more than half of all unsheltered homeless people in the United States, and the highest number of homeless encampments.” 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Elton John Concert Attack: LA Couple Beaten at Dodger Stadium

Police have arrested one person in connection with the brutal beating of a Los Angeles couple in their 60s by a group of people following an Elton John concert at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angles Police Department did not release any further details about the arrest but continues its investigation after video went viral on social media showing the battery incident that happened in the Dodger Stadium parking lot Thursday.

The couple’s daughter, Nicole, spoke with FOX 11 about the incident. 

“They were so excited to go have a random little date night, so they went to the Elton John concert,” Nicole said. “They had a really nice night and they wanted to beat the crowd so they left 10-15 minutes before the concert ended.”

Nicole said her parents were about to leave the stadium when they heard a loud thud.  

“They were in their car exiting Dodger Stadium and traffic got crazy out there. People were walking around all the cars, so they were in line to exit. A group of people walked around their car and they both heard this loud bang and someone had hit my dad’s mirror on his Tahoe,” said Nicole.

Nicole said her dad got out of the car to figure out what happened. 

“He looked and he was thinking his mirror was hanging off, and he looked at the people and said, ‘Who hit my mirror,’ and this group of about six people turned around,” Nicole said., “A female was like ‘I did,’ and she was intoxicated and witnesses claim that she swung [at] my dad first and he went to block. The last thing he remembers is these three or four guys just started hitting him all at the same time.”

Nicole said her mom was in the car, but got out to help once she realized what was happening.

“Her instinct was to get out and help him, and as my mom’s trying to pull men off of him, she was grabbed by the back of the head by a female in that group. Before she knew it, the gentleman in the black shirt, black backwards hat (as seen in the video), basically football tackles my mom and my mom just remembers flying and that’s it,” Nicole said. “Witnesses said that my mom hit her head so hard on the concrete that they heard her skull hit and everyone was certain she had cracked her head. My mom blacked out and when she came to, she was looking around and no one was helping them and she looked and my dad was lifeless on the floor, blacked out as well.”

Nicole said one man helped her parents and that man also recorded the video, but had a run in with the attackers. 

“The attackers witnessed him recording and went after him as well, so they broke his phone, and punched him is what I’m told,” said Nicole.

Nicole said her parents were not receiving help quickly enough, so her mom ended up driving them both to the hospital, and that’s where they made a police report with the LAPD. She said her parents suffered brain injuries and broken bones. Her mother was released from the hospital that night, but her father remained hospitalized until Saturday. 

“I didn’t know what to do. I had to really gather my thoughts, and instantly it was anger, just anger. My parents are much older than these people in the video and I can’t comprehend how people could throw away their lives and risk their livelihoods with just a careless act,” she said.

Nicole said the case got more traction after the video went viral on social media.

“As social media blew up, we were contacted today [by police] so we did give our part of the story so hopefully justice can be served and the legal system doesn’t fail us but already we’re being told LAPD is saying this started from a fender bender so from the get go, the story’s already wrong,” said Nicole. 

Click here to read the full article at FoxNewsLA

L.A. Urges Return to Mask-Wearing Amid Winter Covid Spike

Los Angeles is urging that residents wear masks again in all indoor public settings amid a Covid-19 spike that’s expected to intensify in the winter months.

The county announced Thursday that it is once again “strongly recommending” people resume masking, although it is not requiring it in most indoor venues. However, masks are still mandated at health care and congregate-care facilities, for those infected in the last ten days, and in establishments that have imposed their own restrictions, county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said according to ABC7 News.

Los Angeles and many other progressive cities finally lifted their masks mandates a few months ago amid a decrease in Covid-19 contraction nationwide. Children enrolled in public pre-school and daycare in New York City, who were not vulnerable to the disease and not likely to spread it, were among the last groups to be freed of masks.

Last January, Los Angeles forced students to wear high-grade, non-cloth masks indoors and outdoors in K-12 public schools and be tested as a condition of returning to class.

On Thursday, the local seven-day average of daily new Covid-19 infections in Los Angeles increased to 100 per 100,000 citizens, up from 86 per 100,000 a week ago. The rate the previous week was 65 per 100,000 citizens, the outlet noted.

“Now it is strongly recommended that all individuals wear a high-quality mask that fits well in the following settings: in public indoor spaces; when using public transit, including buses, ride-shares, taxis and medical transport; correctional and detention facilities; and homeless and emergency shelters,” Davis said.

Davis warned that the number of reported cases is probably an undercount as many people test for the virus at home and don’t report a positive diagnosis to health officials. The number of Covid-positive patients being hospitalized is also growing in the county but reportedly only about 40 percent of them have been admitted because of Covid-related complications.

The county health officer told residents to be careful ahead of the holidays and when attending large gatherings.

While there is some evidence to suggest that wearing a well-fitting N95 mask might help curb transmission around the margins, research showsthat cheap cotton surgical masks, the kind the most commonly worn throughout the pandemic, are ineffective at preventing transmission.

Click here to read the full article at the National Review

Karen Bass Moves Ahead of Rick Caruso in L.A. Mayor’s Race

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass overtook businessman Rick Caruso in the seesaw battle to be mayor of Los Angeles, with Friday’s tally putting the veteran lawmaker 4,384 votes ahead of the real estate developer in a contest that will not be settled until next week at the earliest.

The new totals from county election officials put Bass ahead by a fraction, 50.38% to 49.62%, for the first time since Caruso took a slim advantage in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Bass has now bested Caruso in the last two updates from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office.

Going into Friday, Caruso held a tiny lead of one-half percentage point, or 2,695 votes. The fourth lead change in less than 72 hours tended to affirm pre-election predictions that a winner might not be known for a week or more after last Tuesday’s election day. The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office promises another updated count Saturday.

With only about 30,000 votes added to the mayoral tote board Friday, Caruso’s supporters cautioned against reading too much into the new totals. But Bass partisans sounded buoyant that despite the modest overall numbers, their candidate had taken 60% of the votes revealed since Thursday.

Independent analysts suggest that a minimum of 300,000 ballots remain to be counted, the vast majority of them mail-ins. Bass pulled from behind in the vote count in the June primary on the strength of mail-in votes, and the new totals this week — with the congresswoman gaining three-fifths of the total 82,510 new votes over two days — suggested a possible repeat of that pattern.

“Give me one more [vote batch] like these last two and it will officially be a trend,” said Paul Mitchell, an expert in voting patterns who has been closely tracking the L.A. election. “It becomes increasingly hard for Caruso to claw back, and makes it hard to come up with any intellectually credible justification of why these ballots should start changing course.”

The new frontrunner’s campaign manager, Jenny Dellwood, said the Bass team “continues to feel great about the numbers, and Karen is optimistic and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.”

In the race for L.A. county supervisor in the 3rd District, West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath also pushed into a narrow lead with the new vote totals Friday. Her 670-vote advantage over State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), if it holds, would keep the five-member board all female.

“I’m so grateful to the voters of District 3 for their confidence and support,” Horvath said in a statement. “We are confident that when every vote is counted and certified, we will win this race and bring much needed change to L.A. County.”

In another high-profile county race, Sheriff Alex Villanueva continued to lag far behind challenger Robert Luna, leaving his chance of winning a second term in considerable doubt. The latest batch of ballots had Luna up more than 235,000 votes.

The two would-be mayors have presented a study in contrasts since voting concluded Tuesday: Bass hunkering down with her family and staff members and Caruso spending at least some of his day presenting himself to Angelenos as a kind of mayor-in-waiting.

On Wednesday, the 63-year-old mall developer folded into a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s Deli west of downtown. On Friday, he dropped in on a Veterans Day parade, greeting the crowd with his golden retriever Hudson and sharing a brief greeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was riding in the parade and has one month left in office.

Bass, who would be the first female mayor in L.A.’s nearly 250-year history, hasn’t been seen by the press since her election night speech and has been relatively silent compared with her opponent. The veteran House member “has been catching up on her personal life and spending time with family,” said spokesperson Sarah Leonard Sheahan. “Today she held a luncheon for her staff to express her appreciation.”

On Friday, hours before the latest tally was released, Caruso stood on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, waving to veterans taking part in parade and posing for photos with fans who approached the mayoral candidate.

“This is exactly what we were expecting,” Caruso said. “We’re gonna go up and down as these ballots get counted. … We’re going to be on a roller coaster for a while. But I’m very optimistic.”

Caruso’s interview with reporters was interrupted when Garcetti passed by, wearing his Navy Reserve uniform and sitting atop the back of a convertible that rolled down Laurel Canyon.

“Look who it is!” Caruso said, walking over to shake the mayor’s hand.

The two had earlier exchanged texts and, after shaking hands on the parade route, agreed to soon connect on the phone. Garcetti said he had also been in touch with Bass and that his staff and city department heads had begun to work with both camps to smooth the way for a transition that will be completed with the swearing in of a new mayor on Dec. 12.

Meanwhile in other races, city attorney candidate Hydee Feldstein Soto continued to lead attorney Faisal Gill. Feldstein Soto has 57.7% of the vote, to Gill’s 42.2%, according to Friday’s results.

In the City Council race for a Glassell Park to Hollywood seat, labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez maintained his edge over Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who is vying for a third term. Soto-Martinez leads 53.3% to O’Farrell’s 46.7%.

On the Westside, Traci Park maintained a 9-percentage-point lead over attorney Erin Darling in the race to succeed City Councilmember Mike Bonin.

In the race to replace Councilmember Paul Koretz for a Fairfax to Bel-Air seat, political aide Katy Young Yaroslavsky continued to lead attorney Sam Yebri, 57% to 42.9%.

Attorney Tim McOsker also maintained a significant lead over neighborhood council member Danielle Sandoval, with McOsker at 65.4% and Sandoval at 34.6%.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Culver City Teen Voting Measure Likely to Fall Short

Even if initiative fails, proponents call effort a success by engaging youths in democracy.

Photo courtesy of Keith Ivey, Flickr.

A youth-driven push for a ballot measure to lower the voting age will probably fall short in Culver City after months of advocacy on both sides.

The ballot initiative, known as Measure VY, would allow Culver City residents as young as 16 to vote in city and school board elections. No other municipality in the country put such a proposition before voters this election cycle.

As of Thursday evening, the latest numbers from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk show 4,918 votes against the measure compared with 4,264 votes for it, a difference of about 54% to 46%.

Because the county has yet to finish tabulating ballots, Measure VY is not necessarily dead.

But Ada Meighan-Thiel, 17, said she recognizes it’s not looking good for the ballot measure. She and a dedicated grass-roots crew of her fellow Culver City High School students spent months advocating for it. But she hasn’t given up hope.

“We’re waiting for some more votes. … Whether those votes will be a bit more progressive than the ones who’ve already been counted is hard to say,” she said Wednesday. “Hopefully the margin will be a bit slimmer by the time we look next.”

City Clerk Jeremy Bocchino said Thursday that because the county coordinates all ballot counting, Culver City does not have any special insight into outstanding ballots.

“There’s no telling how many more ballots will be coming in,” Bocchino said, noting that vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by election day are counted if they are received with seven days. “Your guess is as good as mine as far as how many ballots are still out there and what the turnout may be. We have more than 28,000 registered to vote and we don’t know how many actually turned out to vote.”

Even if Measure VY ultimately fails, Meighan-Thiel said the excitement and awareness young Culver City residents built around lowering the voting age — a movement often referred to as “Vote 16” — made the effort a success.

“We still started a conversation about teen enfranchisement, and I think that’s really valuable regardless of outcome,” she said. “We recognize that political participation isn’t just about voting. It’s about being active in your community, and we did just that on the campaign trail.”

Andrew Wilkes is chief policy and advocacy officer for Generation Citizen, a nonpartisan national civics education organization that provided support to Measure VY proponents. He echoed Meighan-Thiel’s sentiments.

“If it goes the way the trend line holds, reaching 46% is a landmark accomplishment. I think it also represents the need and the desire for young people to participate in our democracy,” he said.

“The movement continues to grow in interest and strength. … This lays the groundwork for the baton to be passed to rising high school students.”

Across the U.S., a small number of communities have put ballot measures to lower the voting age before voters over the last decade. Six municipalities in Maryland now allow people as young as 16 to vote in some elections. In California, Berkeley and Oakland approved the practice in 2016 and 2020, respectively, but Alameda County has yet to implement the change.

Vote 16 proponents argue that if 16- and 17-year-olds can work and pay taxes, they should have a say in politics. They point to research showing that 16-year-olds have adult levels of cognitive capacity.

Opponents worry that people that age are too naive and impressionable to make informed political decisions. They also fret that allowing younger teens — who often lean left — to vote could disproportionately benefit more progressive candidates and causes.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Chinese company is found guilty of bribing ex-LA Councilman Jose Huizar

Owned by fugitive billionaire Huang Wei, the company showered Huizar with dirty cash, prosecutors said

A Chinese real estate company was convicted on Thursday, Nov. 10, of federal charges of bribing former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar with cash and gambling trips in exchange for his support in getting approval for a towering downtown L.A. skyscraper.

Shen Zhen New World I, owned by fugitive developer Wei Huang who fled to China, faces millions of dollars in fines in its  sentencing at Los Angeles federal court on Jan. 23, 2023. Jose Huizar faces trial next February on federal bribery and fraud charges.

A Los Angeles federal jury on Thursday found Shen Zhen New World I guilty of eight counts including honest services wire fraud, interstate and foreign travel in aid of bribery, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Federal prosecutors have convicted nine defendants as a result of “Operation Casino Loyale,” a broad corruption investigation into Los Angeles City Hall by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A thick trial memo written by federal prosecutors recently unveiled dramatic new fireworks, alleging that Huizar was so entangled with Huang that he traveled with the billionaire Huang to Las Vegas 19 times.

Billionaire Huang planned to build a 77-story tower on the site of the L.A. Grand Hotel downtown, and federal prosecutors said the company bribed the ex-councilman to smooth the way. Prosecutors said Huang allegedly gave Huizar $1.5 million, including $250,000 in casino chips and a loan which Huizar never paid back.

An earlier conviction in June involved real estate developer Dae Yong Lee and one of his companies, found guilty of federal criminal charges for allegedly providing $500,000 in cash to Huizar and his special assistant in exchange for their help in resolving a labor organization’s appeal involving a downtown Los Angeles development project.

Devastating testimony in recent days by Huizar’s estranged wife, Richelle Rios, detailed her suspicion that her husband was involved in an extra-marital affair, and in August 2013 she learned that Huizar was being sued by a former aide alleging sexual harassment. The woman sought between $600,000 and $1 million to settle with her ex-boss, Rios said.

Because Huizar was about to run for his third and final four-year term on the Los Angeles City Council — and news of the lawsuit could potentially torpedo his campaign — Huizar and his associates were worried, Richelle Rios testified.

Rios, who did not face charges, said she was called to a meeting with her husband, and then-Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan who is also accused of wrongdoing, and billionaire Huang — known in Huizar’s circle as “Chairman Huang.”

The topic of the meeting: How Huang could “help in resolving the lawsuit,” Rios testified.

“They wanted to know if I was going to stay in the marriage and would I stand with (Huizar),” Rios, 53, told the jury.

She said she felt “humiliated, angry and devastated” about the situation, but agreed. Huizar was able to privately resolve the suit and was re-elected.

Around that time, Huizar began traveling with Huang to Las Vegas and elsewhere on private jets for weekend gambling trips, Rios said.

After one such trip, Rios testified, she found “a stack of cash” in hundreds at their home. She attempted to speak to her husband about it, but the conversation quickly turned “unpleasant,” she told jurors. Another time, she said, she found a wad of hundred-dollar bills about an inch thick hidden in a traveler’s belt in a pocket in one of Huizar’s suits.

Opening statements began Thursday, Oct. 27 in the federal trial against Huang’s company and ended on Nov. 10 with his company found guilty.

The government’s trial memorandum, filed with the U.S. District Court on Oct. 17, outlined the evidence federal prosecutors  presented. The case included voluminous records, and the new details alleged that the relationship between the powerful council member and the powerful billionaire was significantly closer than previously reported.

A federal prosecutor told the jury that the China-based hotel company owned by Huang provided Huizar with over $1 million in bribes, trips on private jets and “casino chips and prostitutes” in exchange for his official support of a downtown L.A. skyscraper project.

Huang wanted to build the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast at West 3rd and Figueroa streets, where the Huang-owned Grand Hotel still stands.

The defense said that L.A. city officials “universally loved” Huang’s proposed project, so “there was no reason to bribe anyone” to approve it.

Shen Zhen New World I was charged by the Department of Justice with interstate and foreign travel in support of bribery, devising and participating in a scheme to defraud the city of Los Angeles and to deny its citizens of Huizar’s honest services.

The trial offered a glimpse into the alleged criminal relationship between the billionaire real estate developer and the high-rolling former councilman, whose District 14 included much of downtown and is now represented by Councilman Kevin de Leon who, himself, is caught in a more recent City Hall scandal.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, who served on the L.A. City Ethics Commission, said earlier during the trial that  federal prosecutors were trying to present evidence showing that Huizar had a relationship with the billionaire real estate developer that stretched well beyond what has previously been reported.

“I think what (federal prosecutors) are really trying to show is closeness and coziness and the possibility of favors and favoritism and preferential access,” Levinson said.

Representatives for Huizar and Shen Zhen New World I didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment during the trial.

Huang, who also maintains a residence in the upscale San Gabriel Valley suburb of San Marino, did not appear in court before he vanished, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, who added that charges against Huang will remain pending.

“It will be a criminal trial, and it’s just (that) the defendant is a corporate entity,” Mrozek said in late October. “You can’t put a corporate entity in prison, but you can — if it’s convicted — obtain another sanction against it like probation, court supervision, fine and restitution.”

On the opening day of the trial, federal prosecutors said that Huang allegedly provided Huizar and his special assistant George Esparza with a “lineup of prostitutes for their choosing” during the trips, adding that “It would become a recurring theme of their trips together.”

Prosecutors alleged that Huang’s company provided Huizar with casino gambling chips cash, flights on private jets, lavish meals and trips to Las Vegas. In exchange, prosecutors alleged, Huang expected Huizar to hurry the city approval process for his L.A. Grand Hotel commercial and residential project.

“The stream of bribes turned into a flood” as Huang lavished Huizar with gifts, including a 10-day trip to Australia, visits to golf resorts, luxury suites, cash and private gambling in Las Vegas hotels, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Castañeda alleged.

According to the prosecutor’s troubling memo released before the trial began, Huizar used his own family members to allegedly launder bribes that prosecutors claim Huizar got from Huang.

“Huizar consistently concealed the benefits he received, and his relationship with Mr. Wei Huang tends to demonstrate that Huizar understood that the money he received was for a corrupt purpose,” the federal prosecutors’ memo said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Daily News

‘GTA’ Police Chase Suspect Steals Pickup Truck on Live TV in LA County

A police chase suspect went on a dangerous 2-county crime spree, including breaking into multiple vehicles, backing into a cop car and breaking into someone’s house – all to avoid getting in handcuffs.

The suspect, 32-year-old Johnny Anchondo, who was initially wanted by police in Fullerton led officers on a chase before being cornered into an apartment complex parking lot in the northern part of Anaheim. Despite being cornered in the parking lot, Anchondo refused to surrender as he backed into one of the cop cars and then drove off in a white van.

The dangerous pursuit later became a 2-county chase as the suspect drove through parts of Fullerton, Anaheim and Santa Ana before ditching the white van in Whittier. Viewers commenting on FOX 11’s live streams as the crime spree unraveled compared the police chase to a popular video game series Grand Theft Auto.

After leading police on a brief foot chase, Anchondo went inside a nearby home, was confronted by the people inside, including two dogs, and got inside a white pickup truck that was parked in the drive to once again drive off in a possibly stolen vehicle. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department went on to take over the later parts of the lengthy chase.

FOX 11’s Gina Silva spoke with the carjacking victim. He said he had purchased the pickup truck three weeks before the incident, saying he got the vehicle to aid his family’s landscaping business.

“It was just hard work,” said Andres Benitez, the man whose truck got stolen. “This was my goal since two years ago.”

According to Benitez, the suspect broke into the house trying to evade police. With his mother home, Benitez brandished a knife to escort the suspect out of the home. As the suspect was led out of the house, the suspect snatched Benitez’s car key and ran off with the key and the vehicle.

The dogs who were involved in the tense struggle are OK, Benitez told FOX 11. While devastated after getting his pickup truck stolen, he playfully told FOX’s Gina Silva he was “disappointed” that the family’s pit bull didn’t try to stop the suspect.

Anchondo was eventually cornered by law enforcement at a gas station in San Gabriel Valley. After a brief and tense standoff, he was eventually placed in custody around 6 p.m. Anchondo was being held on a parole violation. 

GoFundMe page has been launched for Benitez after he got his work truck stolen. Those looking to help can click here for more information.

Click here to read the full story at Fox News

Mayoral Contest Tightens

Bass holds slim edge, and negative ads put Caruso within striking distance, poll shows.

The race for mayor of Los Angeles was tightening rapidly as it entered its final week, with Rick Caruso cutting deeply into Rep. Karen Bass’ lead, putting him within striking distance in the contest to run the nation’s second-largest city.

Bass continues to hold an edge, 45% to 41% among likely voters, with 13% saying they remain undecided, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by The Times. But Bass’ advantageis within the poll’s margin of error and strikingly smaller than the 15-point margin she held a month ago.

Support for Bass, a longtime elected official, has not significantly declined — she maintains strong backing among key groups of voters, including women, liberals and registered Democrats.

But Caruso, a billionaire businessman and developer, has steadily gained ground as previously undecided voters have made up their minds. His push has been powered by tens of millions of dollars spent on attack ads that appear to have succeeded in raising doubts about Bass in many voters’ minds.

He has maintained big advantages among the relatively few conservative and Republican voters in Los Angeles while also opening up sizable leads among Latinos, moderates and people living in the San Fernando Valley.

Bass leads across the rest of the city, relying on the electorate’s polarized view of Caruso, the backing of the state’s Democratic establishment and the liberal tilt of the city’s electorate. She leads among both white and Black likely voters, the poll found.

The survey comes on the heels of several other public and private polls that have shown significant tightening in the contest.

“This race could go either way,” said Tommy Newman, senior director at United Way of Greater Los Angeles, who is working with a coalition to pass a housing tax measure on the November ballot and is a close watcher of local politics.

“Nobody has this in the bag. There has been tremendous movement with Latino voters. The question is, will that correlate into votes?” Newman said. “[Caruso] is probably running the most robust field campaign we have ever seen in a mayor’s race. In a tight race, that’s when field campaigns matter.”

The tightening of the race has come during a period when the mayoral campaign has been somewhat overshadowed by the scandal that began with a leaked audio recording of three City Council members and a labor leader making racist remarks during a discussion last year about drawing new city council district boundaries.

The resulting furor has focused attention on racial and ethnic tensions in the city. The poll found that 69% of registered voters said relations among various racial and ethnic groups were just fair or poor, while just 23% said they were excellent or good.

The survey doesn’t, however, show a clear impact from the scandal on the mayoral race.

Bass and Caruso called for everyone involved in making racist comments to resign. They also each used the moment to make points they’d been pushing throughout the campaign.

For Caruso the scandal reflected a continuation of what he sees as the corruption that’s run rampant at City Hall and spoke to the need for an outsider to clean up city government. Bass said the scandal offered a moment for the city to come together and talk about its divisions while finding avenues to bridge them.

The poll found that voters who put a high priority on building coalitions among racial and ethnic groups favor Bass.

What clearly has had an effect is Caruso’s money.

With both campaigns now turning to get-out-the-vote efforts, Caruso has spent about $13 million mustering about 300 to 400 door knockers who have fanned out across the city to remind voters about the election. The field operation is designed to spur turnout among people — especially Latino voters — who have shown an interest in Caruso but won’t necessarily cast a ballot unless pushed.

That effort has been aided by the onslaught of advertising. Since the primary, Caruso is slated to spend $26 million on TV, radio and digital ads in the general election through Tuesday. That’s eight times the $3.3 million Bass is scheduled to spend, according to data from media tracking firm AdImpact.

Bass will also be boosted by a number of independent supporters on the airwaves, including unions representing carpenters and electrical workers and a pro-Bass political action committee funded by labor and Hollywood money. Those groups, which can’t legally coordinate with the Bass campaign, plan to spend several million on ads supporting the congresswoman.

A good deal of Caruso’s advertising is in Spanish. Together with the canvassing aimed at Latino voters, that pitch appears to be paying off. In the last Berkeley IGS poll just over a month ago, Bass led among Latino likely voters by 6 points, 35% to 29%; she now trails by 17 percentage points in that group, 48% to 31%. Many of Caruso’s Latino supporters, however, don’t routinely vote in every election, making turnout a challenge for him.

“You got to give Caruso a lot of credit. He’s making big inroads into this segment, but they’re not regular voters,” said Mark DiCamillo, who directed the poll and has been surveying California voters for decades.

“He’s making inroads where he didn’t have those inroads in June” in the primary, DiCamillo said. “The whole question is, will it be enough? It’s definitely going to be close.”

Bass’ biggest advantage remains her overwhelming support among liberals — the voters who define the shape of Los Angeles’ electorate.

In recent elections, liberal voters powered Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who campaigned with Bass last week, to victory in Los Angeles during the Democratic primary in 2020 and propelled progressive candidates to the fore in this year’s primary.

If their sway holds, Bass will likely win.

Bass leads by 40 percentage points among likely voters who identify as somewhat liberal (64% to 22%) and about 60 percentage points among those who are strongly liberal (74% to 12%).

Those liberal voters are the bulwark that could block further growth of Caruso’s support in the San Fernando Valley, where he now leads by 9 points (45% to 36%). Bass remains ahead in every other part of the city by nearly 20-point margins. The one exception is the South L.A. and Harbor region, where Bass leads 48% to 43%.

“It’s problematic for Caruso,” said Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro, political science professor at USC. Bass “has her base of support. We’ll see if the structural advantage for Bass holds.”

In the last several weeks, the campaign has featured a volley of attacks on issues including each candidate’s ties to USC. Caruso has lambasted Bass for taking a $95,000 scholarship to attend a graduate program, while Bass has attacked him for his involvement in the response to a sexual misconduct scandal.

But Caruso’s ads have been far more frequent. Their effect can be seen in the rise in the share of voters who have an unfavorable view of Bass and in an erosion of her standing among registered Democrats.

About half the electorate still has a favorable view of Bass, but the share of likely voters who see her unfavorably is up 10 points since September to 35%.

Among Latino voters, one-third now have an unfavorable view of Bass, compared with one-sixth in September.

Bass continues to have a more favorable image than Caruso, however. In the current survey, 43% view him favorably and 42% unfavorably, compared with 38% to 40% last month.

Caruso has gained some support among Democrats, who make up the majority of Los Angeles voters. In September, just 19% of Democratic likely voters backed him. Now, 28% do. That’s still much less support than Bass, who is backed by 56% of Democrats, with 14% undecided, but it represents a significant inroad by the businessman, who was a Republican much of his life and only changed his party registration to Democrat in January.

About 20% of voters surveyed had already voted. Caruso had a slight lead among them — 49% to 46%. He also leads heavily among voters who said they planned to cast ballots in person on election day. Bass was doing much better with voters who plan to mail or drop off their ballots, leading 50% to 33% among them, the poll found.

Beyond the negative ads, the central policy arguments of the race have been over homelessness and public safety. These two issues along with the economy and education are what voters say the next mayor must prioritize.

Addressing climate change and coalition building between people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds are seen as less important by most voters, although they are top priorities for Bass’ backers.

Even though Caruso is trailing, voters believe he would do a better job addressing crime, the economy and homelessness. They believe Bass would do a better job tackling education, climate change and coalition building.

The Berkeley IGS poll was conducted Oct. 25-31 among 1,437 Los Angeles registered voters, of whom 1,131 were deemed likely to vote in the November election. The sample was weighted to match census and voter registration benchmarks.

Click here to read the full article at the LA

California Union Alleges That Fast-Food Effort to Block New Labor Law is ‘Willfully Misleading Voters’

California’s largest union on Thursday lodged a complaint with state officials alleging that a fast-food industry coalition violated state election rules in its campaign to block a landmark labor law from going into effect.

The complaint by Service Employees International Union California, which was filed both with California’s secretary of state and its attorney general’s office Thursday, focuses on a referendum filed in September seeking to repeal AB 257, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Labor Day. The union sponsored the legislation, known as the Fast Recovery Act, to boost protections for fast-food workers. 

The union alleges that in a sprint to qualify the referendum for the November 2024 ballot, business trade groups, fast-food corporations and franchisees are backing a vigorous and costly voter signature-gathering process that is “willfully misleading voters.” Hired petition circulators for the referendum, according to the complaint, have approached voters and asked them to sign the petition under the false pretense that the effort seeks to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers.

Instead, the referendum effort would allow voters to decide whether to overturn the Fast Recovery Act, which creates a first-of-its-kind council of workers, company representatives and state officials with the authority to raise the minimum wage for franchise restaurant workers as high as $22 next year.

The council has a mandate to set minimum industry standards on wages, working hours and other conditions for fast-food workers statewide. It’s a model that could transform the way workers negotiate standards with their employers not just in California but across the U.S.

Throughout the legislative process, fast-food corporations and franchisees argued it unfairly singled out their industry, and would burden operations with higher labor costs and cause food prices to skyrocket.

Save Local Restaurants, the coalition pushing to overturn the law, said in a statement that it “has been vigilant in maintaining compliance with California’s election laws” and added that it finds the complaint “frivolous.”

“This is another brazen attempt by the SEIU to force a law on Californians that they do not want and that they cannot afford,” said the coalition, which is spearheaded by the International Franchise Assn. and the National Restaurant Assn. 

The coalition said, in line with past critiques, that the new law would raise food prices and ultimately “cost thousands of jobs, and force the closure of local businesses.”

The coalition said it has collected “nearly a million” signatures thus far: “We are on track to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures above what is legally required due to the voters’ overwhelming opposition to this misguided law.”

It’s standard practice to collect more than the minimum number of signatures because some signatures may be deemed invalid.

The complaint alleges several instances of petition signature gatherers misrepresenting the issue. One contracted circulator in Los Angeles repeatedly said the petition “was for the minimum wage to go up,” while another in Stockton, Calif., asked for a signature on a “petition that will raise the minimum wage for fast food workers to 22 bucks an hour,” according to the complaint.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times