Supreme Court Deals Blow to U.S. Climate Agenda with EPA Decision

California Gov. Newsom defiantly vows to double down on California’s climate change policies

The Supreme Court on Thursday curtailed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to set standards on climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions for existing power plants.

The court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA says that government doesn’t have the power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

While many in the U.S. are celebrating the decision curtailing unelected bureaucrats from making energy policy, California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a defiant press statement:

“The Supreme Court sided with the fossil fuel industry, kneecapping the federal government’s basic ability to tackle climate change. Today’s ruling makes it even more imperative that California and other states succeed in our efforts to combat the climate crisis. While the court has once again turned back the clock, California refuses to go backward – we’re just getting started. California will remain the tentpole for this movement with record investments and aggressive policies to reduce pollution, to protect people from extreme weather, and to leave our children and grandchildren a world that’s better off than we found it.”

Gov. Newsom, who is making moves for a possible Presidential bid in 2024, doubled down on California’s government-led “forward-thinking climate policies,” claiming full credit.

“Under Governor Newsom’s leadership, California is taking bold action to further advance California’s progress toward an oil-free future and bolster the state’s clean energy economy.”

Nearly every poll taken on American voters’ concerns and priorities shows climate change at the bottom of the list next to abortion. Yet Democrat politicians continue to push their agenda.

The Supreme Court decision summary explains the issue which stems from Obama administration era EPA rules:

“In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) promulgated the Clean Power Plan rule, which addressed carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and natural-gas-fired power plants. For authority, the Agency cited Section 111 of the Clean Air Act, which, although known as the New Source Performance Standards program, also authorizes regulation of certain pollutants from existing sources under Section 111(d). 42 U. S. C. §7411(d). Prior to the Clean Power Plan, EPA had used Section 111(d) only a handful of times since its enactment in 1970.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Jury Convicts Developer Lee in LA City Hall Bribery Trial

Dae Yong Lee was the first defendant to go on trial in the City Hall corruption scandal surrounding former Councilman José Huizar and his associates.

A Los Angeles real estate developer was found guilty on Monday, June 27, of paying a $500,000 bribe to a city councilman to “grease the wheels” for a proposed downtown condominium project.

Dae Yong Lee, also known as David Lee, was the first defendant to go on trial in the City Hall corruption scandal surrounding former Councilman José Huizar and his associates.

Lee and his 940 Hill company — named for the address of the proposed downtown retail and residential project — were convicted of bribery, honest services fraud and obstruction. The fraud and obstruction charges carry a total penalty of up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The verdict came just hours after the federal criminal jury began deliberating in downtown Los Angeles. Sentencing was set for Sept. 19.

Evidence showed Lee used Huizar associate Justin Kim to transfer bags of cash on behalf of his company, 940 Hill LLC, to the councilman’s aide, George Esparza. Within days of payment, Huizar smoothed out a bureaucratic tangle that had halted the proposed mixed-use development from moving forward, according to testimony.

At the time, Huizar was head of a powerful city planning committee that reviewed the city’s biggest development projects.

As chairman of the panel, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cassie Palmer told the jury during her opening statement, “Huizar’s vote mattered, and the defendant knew his vote mattered. They needed José Huizar on their side.”

Defense attorney Ariel Neuman argued that his client had been conned by Kim, who told the developer the cash was needed to pay legitimate fees.

“He made the mistake of trusting the wrong person,” Neuman said of Lee. “He was taken advantage of by a liar and a thief. David Lee did not knowingly or intentionally bribe anyone. He thought he was paying a consulting fee.”

Kim admitted to facilitating the payment from Lee and pleaded guilty to a federal bribery offense. Lee and 940 Hill were also convicted of falsifying accounting and tax records to cover up the bribe — the basis for the obstruction charge.

Both Kim and Esparza took the stand at Lee’s trial for the prosecution.

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News

Scofflaw School Districts Resisted Sharing Pay Details With State Controller

They are some of the largest and most prestigious public school districts in the county — and, indeed, in the entire state of California.

But just try to figure out how much their workers actually make.

Six of Orange County’s K-12 districts (there are 28) have not sent detailed pay data to the state controller’s office for its easy-access, apples-to-apples publicpay.ca.gov database, as they were asked to do back in … drum roll please … 2014.

The holdouts were the esteemed Irvine Unified, Saddleback Valley Unified, Orange Unified, La Habra City, Westminster and Lowell Joint school districts. Two more — Anaheim Elementary and Huntington Beach City — were also missing from the 2020 database.

We asked why.

Irvine Unified “continues to provide the public information about district salaries through the Orange County Department of Education, Transparent California and on IUSD’s website,” said spokeswoman Annie Brown.

Good luck trying to decipher anything meaningful out of the mind-numbing salary schedules listed on the official sites! And kudos to Transparent California — a private organization that arduously maintains a public pay database via a gazillion public records requests — but then, why not give the controller’s office what it asked for eight years ago, so all school districts could be easily compared side-by-side on an official, public site?

“In the interest of further transparency, (Irvine Unified) is also in the process of working on the technology to provide data to the State Controller’s voluntary system, which has specific reporting and formatting requirements that do not always align with individual school district systems,” Brown said.

Eight years, hopefully, has been enough to accomplish that. A bill is pending in the Legislature would make K-12 reporting to the controller’s centralized database mandatory.

Saddleback Valley’s Robert Craven, assistant superintendent of business services, said his district has been working to complete its data file for the controller and it should be uploaded by the time this story publishes (though it will take the controller’s office time to compile and publish the data for all the districts).

Huntington Beach City School District’s spokeswoman said it has provided data to the controller every year except last year, due to staff transitions in the administrative department. This year’s report has been successfully submitted.

Anaheim Elementary said that it has submitted data each year, but a glitch apparently kept it out of the controller’s most recent update. It’s working to fix that.

The other districts didn’t respond to requests for explanation, but, shortly after the controller asked for this data back in 2014, a teacher’s union rep told us that the request was insulting, intrusive and sends the message that teachers are overpaid.

“I don’t see anything to gain by people knowing if a teacher is on the top of the salary scale or a beginning teacher,” the union rep said. “If that person is a good teacher, what difference does it make? We don’t go to the dentist and say, ‘Can I see how much you make? Can I see your W2 before you open your mouth?’ “

We’ll note here that it’s administrators, not teachers, who seem to require the closest supervision.

Sobering factoid: O.C. districts have been far better at reporting pay data than have others across California. In O.C., only 28 % failed to submit the data last year. Statewide, it was an outrageous 74%.

Sunlight

The controller’s reporting allows us Public Citizen types to see how much each worker really, truly costs — by including not only the (often-modest) base pay public workers get, which you see in those nebulous salary schedules districts post — but everything else as well.

Overtime. Incentive pay. Deferred compensation. Vacation time cash-outs. How much each employee’s health and retirement benefits cost. Whether public agencies pick up the worker’s share of pension contributions as well as their own. And which pension formula applies to each and every worker.

Why is it important that Regular Citizens have easy access to uniform information?

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Runoff in the Cards for Bass, Caruso

Days before Los Angeles’ first open mayoral primary in nearly a decade, Rep. Karen Bass and Rick Caruso, the billionaire developer, appear headed toward a November runoff, with Bass building a small edge as the campaign moves toward a close.

Bass (D-Los Angeles) is benefiting from strong support among women, who make up a majority of the voters likely to cast ballots, and white liberals, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Bass has support of 38% of likely voters in the poll, which was conducted May 24-31. Caruso, who has bombarded Los Angeles’ airwaves with millions of dollars of advertising, has 32%.

With 15% of likely voters saying they were still undecided, either of the two could still come out on top in the primary, but it’s unlikely either candidate would exceed 50% of the vote to win outright and avoid a November runoff.

The near certainty of Bass and Caruso advancing to the runoff comes after a frantic few weeks of campaigning across the city which has included increasingly personal and partisan attacks being slung from each camp. Caruso supporters have attacked Bass’ attendance record in Congress, while Bass backers have talked nonstop about the businessman previously being registered as a Republican and his previous ties to politicians who oppose abortion.

Since Caruso announced his candidacy in February, Times polling has found the contest to be largely a two-person race, with Caruso and Bass appealing to contrasting bases of support.

Concern about rising crime has provided the driving force for Caruso’s campaign, which early on drew strong support from more conservative Angelenos, especially white voters. Over time, however, he has also won over a growing number of Latino and Black male voters, the poll found.

Bass’ support was slower to consolidate. Since the last Berkeley IGS poll in April, however, previously undecided voters have made up their minds and some other candidates have dropped out of the race.

As that happened, Bass gained ground with the biggest segments of the city’s electorate — her fellow Democrats, liberals and women. She has also maintained a strong lead among Black women.

“It still looks fairly close, though maybe Bass has solidified her position a little bit,” said Eric Schickler, a Berkeley political science professor who is the IGS co-director.

“Caruso is doing a lot better with Republican, more conservative voters and voters more concerned about crime. Bass is doing better with the more traditional Democratic constituency.”

White voters who identify as liberals make up nearly a third of the likely electorate for the primary, the poll found. In April, Bass was ahead of Caruso 40% to 15% with them, and 34% were undecided. Now just 13% of them remain undecided, and her lead with that group has swelled to 66%-8%.

The race features a large gender gap which works to Bass’ advantage. She leads Caruso by 19 points among women, who make up slightly more than half of likely voters, the poll found. He leads by 8 points among men.

But the poll also found some areas in which Caruso has made striking gains. Bass, one of two Black members of the Los Angeles delegation in Congress, had been expected to run away with Black voters. But Caruso has been able to cut into her support by gaining ground among Black men.

Black women favor Bass by a significant margin, but Caruso appears to be at least even and perhaps ahead among Black men. The poll can’t say for sure because margins of error get larger with small subgroups of voters.

Similarly, Caruso has a lead among Latino men, while Bass appears to lead among Latina voters.

A third candidate — Councilman Kevin de León — who previously served in the state Senate and challenged Sen. Dianne Feinstein for her seat in 2018, had hoped to do well among Latino voters. His district is predominantly Latino, and his campaign has been grounded in his personal story of growing up poor.

But De León’s campaign has not gained traction. He’s raised and spent far less money, and the poll found him in third place with 6%, which is where he was in April.

The fact that he’s drawing support from just 1 in 5 Latino likely voters will be a disappointment for De León, said USC professor Manuel Pastor.

“Caruso has spent a lot of money on television, and that’s a major way that Latinos get their political information, and he also spent a lot of money on Spanish-language TV,” Pastor said.

“It’s not surprising to me that Caruso is doing well here,” Pastor said. “What we might be seeing is that being a businessperson, which can lead to some suspicion on the part of progressives, doesn’t cause as much suspicion it seems with Latino voters.”

Rounding out the field, activist Gina Viola has 2% support, as does Alex Gruenenfelder Smith, a 20-year-old Echo Park Neighborhood Council member. Both are running grass-roots campaigns aimed at the city’s progressive voters.

Two other candidates, City Atty. Mike Feuer and Councilman Joe Buscaino, dropped out of the race last month, with Feuer backing Bass and Buscaino endorsing Caruso.

This is the third poll of the mayoral race that The Times conducted in partnership with the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies in advance of the primary on Tuesday. The poll was conducted online in English and Spanish, among 1,204 registered voters in the city of Los Angeles. Based on prior voting history and stated interest in the June election, the poll identified 816 voters as likely to cast ballots.

The margin of sampling error for the likely voter sample is approximately 3.5% in either direction. A full description of the poll methodology is available on the IGS website.

Among the broader universe of registered voters, the race is within the margin of error between Bass at 25% and Caruso at 23% with 35% of voters undecided.

Looking ahead at a head-to-head November runoff, Bass leads Caruso 37%-33% among all registered voters with 30% undecided.

The November election always draws a significantly larger turnout than the June primary, and in heavily Democratic Los Angeles, that bigger vote probably works to Bass’ advantage, many political experts say. But with the race starting off close and many voters undecided, Caruso’s ability to spend huge sums on the campaign makes the outcome unpredictable.

Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc. and a California politics expert, noted Caruso’s relative popularity with Latinos may help him in November when more people are voting.

“Are those additional voters automatically in the Karen Bass camp like they would be if she was running against Larry Elder?” Mitchell asked. “It’s not as cut and dry, I think, as people might think. There might be pockets of that additional voter pool that comes in the general that are actually good for Caruso.”

Caruso already has poured nearly $40 million of his own wealth into the race — much of that spent on advertising. On the other side, Bass and the independent expenditure committee supporting her have spent just over $5 million.

His money has meant Caruso’s visage has been ubiquitous on the airwaves, the radio and on mailers in voters’ mailboxes. His message has been rooted in three issues: crime, homelessness and public corruption.

“This race is all about a thematic candidate like Caruso saying he’s had enough, we need change and is a can-do business guy, versus yet another friendly Democratic politician who is afraid to rock the boat,” said Republican strategist Mike Murphy, who lives in Los Angeles, is friends with Caruso and has worked with him in the past.

“There will be more casual voters, and that’s an opening in the general election, and the city is mad enough about City Hall corruption and homelessness,” Murphy said.

In the general election, crime probably will continue to play a key role in the race. Caruso has drawn strong support from voters who say they feel less safe now — just under half of the likely voters.

The share of likely voters who feel less safe, 48%, is up from what it was in the recent past, but safety has not become as universal a concern as homelessness. Just over half the likely voters said they feel about as safe as they did four years ago (43%) or feel safer (9%).

Three-quarters of Caruso voters say they feel less safe now, compared to one-third of Bass voters.

A key difference between Bass and Caruso is how large they think the LAPD should be.

The congresswoman wants the department to expand back to its authorized level of about 9,700 officers. Caruso wants the department to hire more and have 11,000 sworn officers.

Of people who said they’d be voting for Bass in the primary, 43% said they wanted the department to grow at least some. Nearly all, 95%, of Caruso supporters voiced that preference.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

The Highest-Paid Lifeguard in L.A. Makes Over $500,000

What are you doing this summer? Is it lifeguarding? If not, you should change all your plans so you can lifeguard, which is a surprisingly lucrative industry in Los Angeles. The highest-paid lifeguards in Los Angeles earned $510,283 last year, according to Substack Open the Books.

Top-earning lifeguard Daniel Douglas was the top paid and earned $510,283—a healthy increase from his 2020 salary of $442,712. His title a a “lifeguard captain” has him earning more than your average lifeguard—and yes,  L.A. lifeguards get benefits and OT.

The second highest paid, lifeguard chief Fernando Boiteux, made $463,517—an increase from $393,137 in 2020.

The auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found:

Click here to read the full article in Los Angeles Magazine

California Needs Budget Reform to Make Most of Surpluses

The wisest thing to do with an exceptional increase in the state’s tax revenues is to save it for the time when there is an exceptional decrease in those revenues. There is even Biblical precedent for this common sense approach: Joseph got to be Pharaoh’s chief minister by storing up seven years’ grain surpluses to cover the seven years’ famine that followed.

The complex system of California’s state finance, however, impedes applying this wisdom. In 1979, California voters adopted the Gann Limit — named for Paul Gann, the co-author of the previous year’s limits on property tax Proposition 13. The purpose was well intentioned, to rein in the natural tendency of all governments to grow. Expenditures in California were set at their 1978 levels, adjusted only for population growth and the growth of personal income. When state tax revenue grew faster, the difference had to go back to the people. In 1990, another initiative refined the Gann Limit, requiring the excess to go 50% to California’s public schools and 50% to taxpayers. Alternatively, the surplus could be spent on capital projects, defined as having a useful life of more than 10 years.

What was not permitted was to send the extra money into a state rainy-day fund. That would count as an expenditure, and limiting expenditures was the whole purpose of the Gann Limit. However, some expenditures are profligate, and some are wise. California voters expressed support for fiscal prudence in a different initiative approved by in 2014, requiring 1.5% of the state’s general fund, and a varying percentage of the state’s volatile capital gains revenue, to go every year into a reserve for fiscal crises.

Regrettably, that initiative did not adjust the Gann Limit. So, Californians’ desire to curb profligate spending now impedes our instinct for prudent saving anticipating hard times. Hard times are coming. The remarkable growth of the stock market values, coupled with renewed formation of new companies with the attendant reward of initial investors, has inflated California’s capital gains revenues over the last year.

The easing of the pandemic has also contributed to that effect, but that surge has now run its course. Further, the stock market is signaling a serious downturn. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index reached its historic peak at 4,463 in March. That was almost a doubling of its value from 2020. Since March, however, that index has dropped almost 9% in less than two months. No economist is predicting a rise; discussion, rather, has focused on whether the Federal Reserve can bring down inflation without inducing a recession.

A “soft landing” is what is being pursued — but that means a “landing” nonetheless and with it an evaporation of much capital gains tax revenue for California.

In California’s most recent state budget, more than 12% of the entire general fund account came from capital gains taxes (24.5 out of 193.8 billion dollars). California could lose almost all of that in a market downturn. In the collapse of the housing bubble in 2009, California took in only $3 billion in capital gains taxes. A return to that level would necessitate a massive cut in California’s state expenditure, including for Medi-Cal and low-income housing assistance, whose needs would grow as unemployment rose in a downturn.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Is Caruso trying to Win It All in June?

Mayoral candidate is spending loads, and rivals are exiting. But 50% + 1 is unlikely.

Could the winner of Los Angeles’ mayoral race be decided in the June primary?

The murmurings began shortly after Rick Caruso, a billionaire first-time candidate, began lobbing unprecedented sums of his own money into his campaign.

Speculation grew louder in recent weeks, as Caruso’s spending approached $30 million and several rivals dropped out of the race.

Was Caruso attempting to use unmatched resources to avoid a longer election battle? And could a candidate win outright with more than 50% of the vote while so many others remain on the ballot?

The short answer, based on interviews with local election experts and an analysis of polling data: It is possible, but highly unlikely.

Still, the prospect has some progressives issuing urgent warnings to their followers via social media.

Comedian Adam Conover, in a May 13 message that has been retweeted 10,000 times and screenshot into countless Instagram posts, said Angelenos should be “A LOT more worried” about Caruso’s candidacy — and his chances of securing a majority of the vote in the first round.

“I think that Caruso is gunning to win this way, and I think he has a chance of making it happen,” Conover told his more than 200,000 followers in a follow-up tweet.

Speaking to a reporter on a sun-dappled upstairs patio at the Grove this week, Caruso gave little credence to the rumors.

“The truth is I’m attempting to win and I’m focused on that,” Caruso said, saying he didn’t give the purported 50+1 strategy “a lot of thought.”

Asked whether his mammoth campaign spending is part of a concerted one-and-done primary bid, Caruso said the money was being used to get a message out — a message he characterized as “obviously being well- accepted by the voters.”

Fernando Guerra, director of Loyola Marymount University’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles, had serious doubts about a June victory. With several other candidates still in the race, “I don’t think the numbers are there,” he said.

“But if anybody has the resources to try that play, it would be Rick Caruso,” he said. “So why not try it?”

Politicians at City Hall have a long track record of winning outright in the first round when they are seeking reelection. That was the case in 2017, when Mayor Eric Garcetti won reelection for his second and final term with 81% of the vote in the primary. His predecessor, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, did the same eight years earlier.

A first-round triumph during a race for an open mayoral seat would be a different story.

Over the last century, no new mayor has won outright during a primary election. And even with several wild-card factors in this race, experts and political consultants say it’s not likely that we see such an outcome in June.

The battle to occupy the top seat at City Hall has looked like a two-person race between Caruso and Rep. Karen Bass for months. Councilmember Kevin de León, a prominent local politician who has trailed Caruso and Bass as a distant third in recent polling, recently went on TV with an ad narrated by actor Danny Trejo.

De León and his supporters have long posited that Latino voters, who make up a substantial portion of the city’s electorate, will ultimately swing toward De León at the last minute.

poll of Latino voters from NALEO Educational Fund conducted about a month ago found the largest share of voters were undecided, with leading support roughly split between De León and Caruso and at 17% and 15%, respectively.

“The vast majority of Latinos will be voting on election day,” De León said in an interview. “That’s why we’re working around the clock every day to earn every single vote.”

Other names on the ballot include activist Gina Viola, who’s commanded a small but dedicated following running to the left of Bass, former Metro board member Mel Wilson and former public relations executive Craig Greiwe.

Beyond the mammoth sum of money Caruso has already put into the race, other factors have fueled speculation about the developer taking a shoot-the-moon in June approach.

Two well-known elected officials, Councilmember Joe Buscaino and City Atty. Mike Feuer, dropped out of the race. Buscaino, the first to drop out, endorsed Caruso.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers and has endorsed Caruso, has put about $4 million into a political action committee aggressively attacking Bass in TV ads. (Election rules stipulate that the outside PAC cannot coordinate with the Caruso campaign.)

John Shallman, a veteran L.A. political consultant who helped lead Feuer’s campaign, thinks Caruso is trying to win in a single round, to avoid the scrutiny that would come during a five-month runoff campaign. But he doubted the effort would succeed.

“He’s a business guy with a lot of baggage, so he wants to strike now and buy this election while it’s relatively cheap and before people have time to vet him,” he said.

Shallman said the prospect of a first-round victory by Caruso was among the factors behind Feuer’s decision to drop out and endorse Bass last week.

“Normally you wait for the losing candidates to endorse you after the primary, because you’re thinking of the general,” said Raphael Sonenshein, a local government expert who runs Cal State L.A.’s Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs. “But if your hope is to really just knock it out in the primary, this is a good strategy: Spend a ton of money, lock up endorsements, hit really hard. … It doesn’t mean it’s to the exclusion of trying to win in November.”

Still, getting more than 50% of the vote in a race where nine candidates are still running — and 12 names remain on the ballot — would be an extremely difficult feat. Polling results released by Bass and her supporters only reinforce that idea.

political action committee promoting Bass provided The Times with results that put Caruso at 37% and Bass at 35% among likely voters. A separate set of survey numbers provided by Bass’ campaign showed her with 34% support among likely voters and Caruso at 32%.

Both polls put Caruso and Bass within the margin of error of each other. By that token, Bass could theoretically also make a play for an unlikely June victory, but her financial resources are far more limited.

Avoiding a second-round, head-to-head matchup with Bass could have advantages for Caruso. When the survey from the pro-Bass PAC narrowed the choice for voters to just Bass and Caruso, Bass took a nearly 10-point lead, drawing support from 48% of likely voters, compared with Caruso’s 39%.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

With California hit by New Coronavirus Wave, Time to Start Wearing Masks? Limit Gatherings?

As California contends with another resurgence of the coronavirus, what should residents consider doing to protect themselves from infection?

Unlike in earlier waves of the pandemic that were marked by defined limitations on what people could do and how businesses could operate, officials have not demonstrated an appetite for renewed restrictions, unless hospitalizations dramatically worsen.

But it’s still important for residents to take action to reduce their infection risk, experts say — both to avoid potentially serious health consequences and reduce the chance of contracting long COVID, in which symptoms of illness, including fatigue and brain fog, can persist for months or years.

Here are what some experts had to say:

When should I wear a mask?

California lifted its statewide public indoor masking orders months ago. However, officials have consistently urged residents to use face coverings in public interior settings — including retail stores, restaurants, theaters and family entertainment centers.

The California Department of Public Health “also strongly recommends masks on all public transportation and in transit hubs, including bus and train stations, ferry terminals and airports,” according to a statement sent in response to an inquiry from The Times. “These crowded settings should be considered high risk and may often not have adequate ventilation.”

Los Angeles County has gone a step further and still requires face coverings on public transit, including ride-sharing vehicles, and in indoor transportation hubs.

“With all of the unknowns around these new variants, it is sensible to take the simple step of putting back on the mask when you’re indoors,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Glendale Third-Grade Teacher Showed Gay Pride Videos. A Year Later, Furious Debate Erupts

A Glendale third-grade teacher who nearly a year ago showed videos celebrating gay pride to her students has been involuntarily transferred from her classroom for safety reasons after receiving threats — alocal chapter in the nation’s furious debate over what should be taught in schools about gender identity.

The conflict in the Glendale Unified School District, a suburban L.A. County school system of about 25,000 students, centers on four short videos the teacher prepared to show her class. Three of the videos explain gay pride with songs and animation. One features a song called, “Love Is Love,” with the message that parents and families come in many configurations and what matters most is the love between a guardian and a child. In another, “Queer Kids Stuff,” a cheerful young narrator celebrates pride.

The video that has spurred the most objection — and one that some parents said crossed the line of age appropriateness — is “Talking to Kids about Pride Month.” It shows an enthusiastic roundtable discussion with young children led by Canadian TV personality Jessi Cruickshank.

In the nearly three-minute video, Cruickshank uses the terms “sexual diversity” and “coming out of the closet” and notes that, as a youth, her admiration for actress Jodie Foster made her question her own sexuality, especially after seeing Foster naked in a film, which she said she watched several times. The children joyfully explain the possible advantages of having two parents of the same gender or becoming a “gay icon.”

While it’s not clear which videos were shown in class, parents, teachers, students, activists and community members have packed recent school board meetings — at times shouting or jeering — to express profoundly held views on whether, when and how gender identity lessons are appropriate. At one point a school board member, who supports such lessons, walked out during the public comments.

Some speakers expressed measured concern specifically over the Cruickshank video. Others said parents have a right to remove their child from these lessons or that such discussions should take place only within the family, not at school.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

DA Gascón Won’t Bargain Because of Recall Support, Prosecutors Union Says

‘His authoritarian approach demeans the oath he took and the office he holds. It’s bullying, not leadership,’ claims the union leadership

A union representing about 700 prosecutors has filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Employee Relations Commission alleging District Attorney George Gascón is refusing to engage in collective bargaining because its members overwhelmingly support efforts to recall him.

An unfair labor practice charge filed April 27 by the Association of Deputy District Attorneys claims the Gascon administration “has simply ignored the ADDA’s request for mid-term bargaining and has failed to provide the bargaining related material requested by the Union.”

“It is of note that there has been absolutely no response from the Gascón administration, not a phone call, not a letter, not an email; neither has the Gascón administration taken issue with the legitimacy of the union’s request for mid-term bargaining; nor has the administration voiced any objections to the material requested by the union,” the filing stated.

The ADDA contends Gascón, in violation of city law and city ordinances, is retaliating against the union because 98% of its members voted in February to endorse efforts to recall him.

Organizers of the recall effort have collected 400,000 of the needed 566,000 signatures required by July 6 to put the measure on the ballot  Additionally, more than 30 Los Angeles County cities have take votes of “no confidence” in Gascón.

The union is requesting that the Employee Relations Commission order Gascón’s administration to participate in bargaining and provide materials needed for those negotiations.

According to the ADDA, bargaining is necessary to resolve:

  • Increasing the number of Grade IV deputy district attorneys.
  • Compensatory time.
  • Special pay adjustment for selected Grade IV deputy district attorneys.
  • Issues involving environmental protocols and metal detectors.

“George Gascón broke the law within the first five minutes of his administration,” ADDA Vice President Eric Siddall said Wednesday, May 4. “His contempt for the judiciary and the rule of law continues to this day. Now he is engaged in anti-labor activity. His authoritarian approach demeans the oath he took and the office he holds. It’s bullying, not leadership … plain and simple.”

The District Attorney’s Office referred questions about the filing to the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office, which responded that it “does not generally comment on ongoing labor negotiations.”

The ADDA has been at odds with Gascón since his election in late 2020 amid promises of sweeping social justice reforms, which prompted several lawsuits. The union sued Gascón in December 2020 to block some of his directives it considers illegal.

Specifically, the suit focuses on the elimination of some sentencing enhancements, including the “three strikes” law — enacted by California voters in 1994 to add prison time to the terms of previously convicted felons.

“While an elected district attorney has wide discretion in determining what charges to pursue in an individual case, that discretion does not authorize him or her to violate the law or to direct attorneys representing the district attorney’s office to violate the law,” ADDA President Michele Hanisee said in a statement.

More than a half-dozen prosecutors have filed lawsuits alleging they were retaliated against and demoted for refusing to carry out Gascón’s  policies.

In December 2021, former Head Deputy Richard Doyle received an $800,000 settlement from Los Angeles County after claiming retribution from Gascón’ for refusing to drop charges against three anti-police protesters accused of attempting to wreck a train in Compton.

In the latest lawsuit, filed April 25 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Deputy District Attorneys Peter Cagney, Richard Todd Hicks, Mindy Paige and Karen Thorp allege Gascón retaliated against them for refusing to carry out his resentencing directives.

“Each plaintiff either opposed or disclosed to their supervisors that laws were being violated if they followed Gascon’s hastily conceived new resentencing guidelines, and that prison inmates that posed a serious and dangerous risk to society would be or were released from prison,” the suit says.

“Gascon’s policies effectively required prosecutors to unlawfully hide the truth from the courts by mischaracterizing many violent offenses and hiding the inmate’s propensity for violence, and danger to the community if given an early release from prison, from the courts and resentencing judges.”

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