California Labor Secretary Abruptly Exits Post in Gavin Newsom’s Cabinet

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s top adviser on California labor issues abruptly left her post this week under uncertain circumstances. Natalie Palugyai, who Newsom appointed as secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency in July 2021, is no longer with the department, the governor’s office and the agency confirmed Wednesday. In the interim, Undersecretary Stewart Knox is serving as Acting Labor Secretary.

The governor’s office and labor agency did not provide a reason for her departure or any other details. Palugyai could not immediately be reached for comment. Confirmation of Palugyai’s departure did not follow the typical process used by the governor’s press office, which routinely releases announcements about new appointments and departures on its website. The state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency still had a page up on its website listing Palugyai as secretary until early Wednesday afternoon, when a reporter from this news organization inquired about her exit and the page was taken down.

“We thank Natalie Palugyai for her work in the administration and wish her well in her next chapter,” Erin Mellon, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, wrote in an email. Palugyai, who was earning a salary of more than $227,000, was the first Latina to serve in the role. Prior to joining the agency, she held positions at the U.S. Department of Labor, FEMA and Johns Hopkins University. The state’s labor secretary is a cabinet position in the governor’s administration. The secretary oversees state departments and boards that enforce labor laws, combat wage theft, provide state disability and unemployment insurance benefits and fund workforce training and apprenticeship programs. They then provide insight and advise the governor on those issues.

Click here to read the full article in the Sacramento Bee

LA City Council Adopts Styrofoam Ban Starting in April of 2023

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday, Dec. 6, to ban the sale and distribution of Styrofoam products by businesses, starting in April 2023 for businesses with more than 26 employees and extending the policy to smaller businesses in April 2024.

Additionally, the council adopted an ordinance to apply the city’s regulation on single-use paper and plastic bags ban to more shops and a third ordinance to implement a “zero waste” policy at city facilities and events.

This week’s vote was just the latest in a series of actions the council has taken over the past decade to reduce Angelenos’ reliance on the use of plastic, including a decision in 2013 to ban grocery stores from providing single-use plastic bags and another decision last year that restricted restaurants from providing plastic straws, utensils and other dining accessories unless a customer requested them.

“This world is drowning in plastic,” Council President Paul Krekorian said during a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s vote. In fact, he said, there is so much micro-plastic in the environment that “in any given week, every one of us ingests enough plastic from food and water to make a credit card.”

He added that less than 10% of all plastic ever manufactured has been recycled.

“This myth that somehow we can recycle our way out of this problem has to be identified for the lie that it is,” said Krekorian.

The ordinance the council adopted Tuesday prohibits the sale and distribution of expanded polystyrene products, commonly referred to as Styrofoam.

Styrofoam products aren’t biodegradable or economically recyclable, and their main component, styrene, has been classified as a possible human carcinogen, according to the ordinance. Chemicals can also leach into food stored in Styrofoam containers, and such products could end up in open spaces, rivers and oceans.

Emily Parker, a coastal and marine scientist with Heal the Bay, said single-use plastics “wreak havoc” on our bodies and ecosystems and that Styrofoam represented the “most egregious of all forms of plastic.”

“Plastic has its place, but using a material that was designed to last forever in something that is used only once — often for just moments — does not make any sense,” she said.

But not everyone in the city supported the ordinance.

Victor Reyes, legislative affairs manager with the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, told the council before its vote that rather than pass the ordinance, the city should defer to a state bill passed earlier this year that aims for a major reduction of plastics use — though Senate Bill 54 does not ban polystyrene outright.

“This new law should be given time to work before local government adopts separate packaging requirements,” Reyes said. “A statewide uniform set of rules can help drive system efficiency and ensure materials are available that are best suited and cost-effective for specific uses and customers.”

Reyes said VICA supports policies that “expand recycling programs, reduce waste and create new markets for recovered materials,” but that it believes these objectives are better achieved under the state law.

The council nevertheless voted 12-0 to adopt the ordinance, which does not apply to health and residential care facilities.

In addition to the Styrofoam ban, the council on Tuesday voted for an ordinance to promote the use of reusable bags.

In 2013, the council passed an ordinance banning single-use paper and plastic bags at grocery stores, pharmacies and specified retailers.

This week, elected officials expanded that policy to include more shops, including retail stores like Macy’s, hardware stores, big-box stores and farmers markets. Under the newly adopted ordinance, shops can’t provide single-use plastic bags but must offer or provide reusable bags or single-use recyclable paper bags. Customers will be charged 10 cents per single-use paper bag with limited exceptions.

Additionally, the council voted to prohibit single-use plastic foodware at city facilities and at events on city property and to require any vendor contracting with the city to donate surplus edible food to a food rescue organization and recycle food scraps to cut down on waste.

“Today, Los Angeles is once again taking the lead in defense of our environment,” said Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who chairs the council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and River Committee.

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

Meet the Beijing-Aligned Group That Branded a Republican’s Tough-on-China Rhetoric ‘Racist’

The Chinese-American nonprofit that branded a Republican congresswoman’s tough-on-China campaign ads “racist” has extensive ties to Chinese Communist Party influence groups and Beijing-backed companies through its members, staff, and former leaders, a Washington Free Beacon investigation found.

In late October, with the 2022 midterms just two weeks away, the Committee of 100—a nonprofit that works to “advance U.S.-China relations”—issued a statement condemning China-related campaign ads from California Republican Michelle Steel. Those ads, which the committee said included “racist attacks” that encouraged “anti-Asian hate and violence,” criticized Democrat challenger Jay Chen’s past support for the Confucius Classroom program, a CCP-run initiative that provides American K-12 schools with Beijing-backed teachers and curriculum materials.

The committee’s decision to wade into the race—a rare one, given that the nonprofit usually avoids electoral politics in favor of commenting on academic research, legislative developments, and federal appointments—sparked attention from mainstream media outlets and liberal groups. Within days of its release, NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee used the statement to declare that the Asian-American community had turned on Steel, with the Times and NPR innocuously describing the Committee of 100 as “a New York-based nonprofit led by prominent Chinese Americans” and a group that “represents Chinese Americans.” Those descriptions, however, ignore the fact that many of the nonprofit’s members, staff, and former leaders have extensive ties to CCP-controlled groups and Chinese state-backed companies—ties that have led some China experts to assert that the committee is a crucial target for the CCP’s foreign influence efforts.

Committee member Ronnie Chan, for example, serves on the governing board of the China-United States Exchange Foundation, a CCP-funded Chinese foreign agent whose founder, billionaire Chinese national Tung Chee-hwa, is the vice chairman of a CCP advisory body. Fellow member Yu Meng, meanwhile, for three years worked as a top officer at the Chinese government-controlled State Administration of Foreign Exchange, a job that China’s Thousand Talents Program—which the FBI says engages in “non-traditional espionage against the United States”—reportedly recruited him to take. Meng in 2015 told CCP propaganda rag People’s Daily that he was inspired to take the job due to his commitment to “the motherland.” Former committee chairman Dominic Ng also served on the board of the Asia Society, which worked to spread Confucius Institutes—the CCP-run higher education equivalent of Confucius Classrooms that a former top Chinese official called “an important part of China’s overseas propaganda set-up”—across the United States.

Committee of 100 members and staff have also partnered with Chinese state-backed companies and propaganda outlets. Senior communications director Charles Zinkowski, for example, previously managed U.S. media relations for Huawei, a CCP tech company that has helped the Chinese government surveil Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang concentration camps. The United States on Wednesday banned the approval of new Huawei tech over the company’s “unacceptable risk” to national security. Committee member Guoqing Chen, meanwhile, cofounded majority state-owned Hainan Airlines, while fellow member Chi Wang serves as president of the U.S.-China Policy Foundation, which has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in funding from Huawei, CCP-run newspaper China Daily, and China’s largest state-owned banks.

Those affiliations may explain why Chinese president Xi Jinping praised the Committee of 100 as a “friendly group” in 2015. They may also explain why the CCP’s “United Front” system—which aims to advance Beijing’s interests by influencing foreign individuals—has used the committee to pressure members to “toe the Party line,” according to a 2019 Hoover Institution report. Some of the committee’s former leaders, meanwhile, are reportedly part of that system. Former committee director George Koo is an “overseas director” of the China Overseas Friendship Association, a CCP-led foreign influence group, according to the Hoover report. Former Committee of 100 chair and current member H. Roger Wang is an honorary chairman of the association’s local branch in Nanjing, Newsweek reported in 2020.

The Committee of 100, which did not return a request for comment, has denied allegations that it is linked to the CCP. But the nonprofit’s support for controversial CCP initiatives is well documented. In 2018, then-committee chair Wang toldChina Daily that the committee should “get actively involved” in Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, a CCP tool used to subjugate foreign nations through direct infrastructure investment. The committee also vocally opposed a Trump-era effort to prosecute Chinese spies but has refrained from condemning Beijing for its Uyghur genocide, Mark Simon, a former senior executive at the pro-democracy Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, wrote in a 2019 column.

“The Committee of 100 is a pro-Beijing group, concerned almost exclusively with the interests aligned with those of the Chinese Communist Party,” Simon wrote. “In all their discussions about the US-China relationship try to find any significant objection to the actions of the CCP. You won’t.”

The committee’s attacks on Steel ultimately did not sink the Republican. Steel in November defeated Chen by 5 points in California’s 45th Congressional District, which is home to nearly 150,000 Asian-American voters and which President Joe Biden carried by 6 points just two years ago. Steel’s success in a district with a large Asian-American presence, a veteran Republican operative told the Free Beacon, shows that the Republican Party’s push to combat China will remain at the center of the party’s electoral message for cycles to come. And if Democrats turn to groups such as the Committee of 100 to brand that message “racist,” it will only bolster Republicans, the operative argued.

Click here to read the entire article at the Washington Free Beacon

California Eyes Penalties for Oil Companies’ Big Profits

California could become the first state to fine big oil companies for making too much money, a reaction to the industry’s supersized profits following a summer of record-high gas prices in the nation’s most populous state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state Legislature introduced the proposal Monday as lawmakers returned to the state Capitol in Sacramento for the start of a special legislative session focused solely on the oil industry.

But the proposal was missing key details, including how much profit is too much for oil companies and what fine they would have to pay for exceeding it. Newsom’s office said those details would be sorted out later after negotiations with lawmakers. Any money from the fines would be returned to the public.

Gas prices are always higher in California because of taxes, fees and environmental regulations that other states don’t have. But in October, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in California was more than $2.60 higher than the national average — the biggest gap ever.

Newsom said there was no good way to justify that.

California could become the first state to fine big oil companies for making too much money, a reaction to the industry’s supersized profits following a summer of record-high gas prices in the nation’s most populous state.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Democratic allies in the state Legislature introduced the proposal Monday as lawmakers returned to the state Capitol in Sacramento for the start of a special legislative session focused solely on the oil industry.

But the proposal was missing key details, including how much profit is too much for oil companies and what fine they would have to pay for exceeding it. Newsom’s office said those details would be sorted out later after negotiations with lawmakers. Any money from the fines would be returned to the public.

Gas prices are always higher in California because of taxes, fees and environmental regulations that other states don’t have. But in October, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in California was more than $2.60 higher than the national average — the biggest gap ever.

Newsom said there was no good way to justify that.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

New House Democratic Leader Defends Calling Trump ‘Illegitimate’ President

Newly elected House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries defended past remarks calling Donald Trump’s 2016 election “illegitimate” against Republican criticism, noting that he voted to certify his presidency.

“I will never hesitate in criticizing the former president,” Jeffries said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “I think I’m in good company there across the world.”

Jeffries said Republicans “are going to have to work out their issues” with Trump after his comment Saturday on his Truth Social social-media site that his loss in 2020 should be overturned and that “rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution” should be terminated. Jeffries called it “a strange statement.”

“Suspending the Constitution is an extraordinary step, but we’re used to extraordinary statements being made by the former president,” Jeffries said of Trump, who is running for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.

For their part, Republicans have criticized Jeffries after Democrats selected him to succeed Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing tweets in which he said that Russian interference made the 2016 presidential election “illegitimate” and questioned whether Trump was a “fake president.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Jeffries an “election denier,” a term typically used to describe Trump and allies who refuse to accept his loss in 2020.

Jeffries said that he voted to certify Trump’s 2016 win, attended his inauguration and worked with his administration on issues like a treaty with Mexico and criminal justice reform.

“That track record speaks for itself,” he said.

The White House harshly criticized Trump’s latest claim of election fraud, calling the US constitution a “sacrosanct document.”

“Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation, and should be universally condemned,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. “You cannot only love America when you win.”

Former Trump adviser John Bolton, who has since become one of his harshest critics, said on Twitter that “all real conservatives” should oppose his 2024 campaign, citing that statement.

“No American conservative can agree with Donald Trump’s call to suspend the Constitution because of the results of the 2020 election,” he wrote.

Republican Representative David Joyce, who chairs the moderate Republican Governance Group, said on “This Week” that he wasn’t going to respond to Trump’s latest statement, even if it was a call for suspending the US constitution.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Column: At the DWP, The Pay is Good, the Benefits are Better and the Deals Keep Getting Sweeter

More than once over the years, when people have complained about how hard it is to survive in a low-wage economy with such crippling healthcare costs, I’ve recommended they apply for work at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

I was reminded a few days ago, as terms of the new DWP contract were revealed, that this is still solid advice. And there’s more good news: the utility, never far removed from scandal, is hiring.

In a story by Dakota Smith, The Times reported that Mayor Eric Garcetti was backing a handsome pay hike for water and power employees after an 11-0 vote by the Los Angeles City Council.

The highlights:

Roughly 10,000 employees of the all-powerful campaign-donation factory known as Local 18 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers will get raises ranging from 10% to 24% over four years.

All workers will get 3% stocking stuffers as a cash bonus.

On top of those increases, 800 utility workers will get an additional package of raises over the four years ranging from 20% to 41%. In one scenario, some workers’ salaries could rise as much as 74%.

And once again, despite years of promises from Garcetti and others to demand employee healthcare contributions, going to the doctor or hospital will continue to be virtually free for the vast majority of workers.

A Garcetti spokesman said the mayor believes “this contract will put the city in a strong position to maintain and attract a skilled workforce to deliver our most critical city services.”

But this is the same mayor who said in 2013, after defeating IBEW-backed candidate Wendy Greuel, that DWP employees needed to start contributing to their healthcare costs. The mayor then held up a contract deal and did win significant concessions, but he wimped out on demanding healthcare contributions.

The same thing happened in the 2017 contract, when handsome raises were awarded, but the healthcare freebie remained in place. So during the Garcetti reign as mayor, that’s strike one in 2013, strike two in 2017, and now strike three.

“It’s outrageous,” Jamie Court, of Consumer Watchdog, said of the new contract.

“The worst part of this deal,” said former L.A. city official Rick Cole, who is returning to work for newly elected controller Kenneth Mejia, is that other city unions “will want to use it as their benchmark, and the city’s about to hit recession revenue shrink.”

To be fair, healthcare ought to be free or at least more affordable for everyone. But that’s a story for another time.

And I should say that not everyone thinks this new DWP contract is out of line. One reason is the contention that compensation is higher at other utilities, some of which have enticed and poached DWP employees by dangling better offers. That’s what Garcetti was getting at in saying this contract will “maintain and attract a skilled workforce.”

A DWP spokesperson, quoting his bosses, said that of the 150 electrical line workers trained in the last five years, 70 left because “our salaries were not competitive.” The DWP says hundreds of vacancies exist because of hiring difficulties, and that’s driving up overtime costs to maintain operations.

Meanwhile, ratepayer advocate Fred Pickel told me he supports the new contract, based in part on his research into pay packages offered by competing utilities. Pickel said the DWP is top of the heap when it comes to healthcare coverage, but when you factor in pay, pensions and other benefits, the DWP’s standing falls.

In charts Pickel provided, the DWP “falls around the median” in average total compensation at $169,000, well below the high of $230,000 and above the low of $118,000.

In base salary alone, DWP custodians make $60,000, painters make $90,000, steam plant mechanics make $107,000, water utility superintendents make $166,000 and electrical services managers make $228,000.

But all these numbers, which aren’t bad to begin with, will rise with the new contract. And healthcare will still be virtually free, for those who choose Kaiser, or close to it for those who choose other plans.

Given the rising personnel and retiree costs, which will come as the DWP confronts green energy costs that will be in the tens of billions of dollars, you’d think there would have been a robust public vetting of this new contract, which will cost between $55 million and $111.8 million a year.

Skeptics should have had a chance to grill DWP officials and demand specific examples of poaching. They should have been able to ask whether a utility that had a comically egregious overbilling fiasco not long ago and watched a recent corrupt GM get hauled off to prison could be trusted to have competently negotiated the new contract.

Another fair question: How long might it be before ratepayers — who are saddled with both their own healthcare costs as well as those of DWP employees — pay more to turn on their lights and faucets.

But as Smith reported, the City Council — limping along in the wake of the recent racism scandal — opted not to have a public hearing on the new pay package, just like it opted out in 2017. And outgoing Councilmember Paul Koretz, who heads the personnel committee that could have challenged the deal, declined to comment.

“This isn’t about keeping employees for the city,” Court said. “It’s about payback for one of the most connected unions in the city and it’s a going-away gift from politicians who have nothing to lose.”

The IBEW political wing donated in the recent election cycle to Councilmember Curren Price and incoming Councilmembers Traci Park and Tim McOsker. It also pumped more than $1.4 million into a political action committee to support Mayor-elect Karen Bass.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

GOP’s Duarte Takes California Central Valley US House seat

Republican John Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray on Friday in a new California U.S. House district in the Central Valley farm belt that produced the closest congressional contest in the state this year.

With virtually all of the ballots counted, Duarte has just over 50% of the vote. Gray conceded in a statement, saying, “I accept the results and have called to congratulate my opponent.”

“This was one of the closest races in the country. More than 130,000 ballots were cast, and the outcome will be decided by just a few hundred votes,” Gray said.

Duarte said in a statement, ”“I promised our Valley families that I would be their bipartisan champion in Washington, D.C. by fighting for food on our tables, gas in our tanks, and water on our farms. That is exactly what I am going to go there to do.”

Earlier, Republicans regained control of the House. With Duarte’s victory, Republicans will hold 221 seats next year, Democrats 213, with one Colorado race undecided and going to a recount.

The 13th District has a prominent Democratic tilt and a large Latino population, similar to other districts in the sprawling farm belt region. But the most likely voters tend to be white, older, more affluent homeowners, while working-class voters, including many Latinos, are less consistent in getting to the polls.

That provided an opening for the GOP, despite the 14-point Democratic registration advantage.

Duarte, a businessman and major grape and almond farmer, was the top finisher in the June primary. His priorities included obtaining adequate water supplies for farmers in the drought-wracked state — a perennial issue in the Central Valley — along with addressing inflation and crime.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

California Panel Sizes Up Reparations for Black Citizens

In the two years since nationwide social justice protests followed the murder of George Floyd, California has undertaken the nation’s most sweeping effort yet to explore some concrete restitution to Black citizens to address the enduring economic effects of slavery and racism.

A nine-member Reparations Task Force has spent months traveling across California to learn about the generational effects of racist policies and actions. The group, formed by legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, is scheduled to release a report to lawmakers in Sacramento next year outlining recommendations for state-level reparations.

“We are looking at reparations on a scale that is the largest since Reconstruction,” said Jovan Scott Lewis, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who is a member of the task force.

While the creation of the task force is a bold first step, much remains unclear about whether lawmakers will ultimately throw their political weight behind reparations proposals that will require vast financial resources from the state.

“That is why we must put forward a robust plan, with plenty of options,” Dr. Lewis said.

The effort parallels others on a local level, in California and elsewhere, to address the nation’s stark racial disparities and a persistent wealth gap. The median wealth of Black households in the United States is $24,100, compared with $188,200 for white households, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Board Survey of Consumer Finances.

In a preliminary report this year, the task force outlined how enslaved Black people were forced to California during the Gold Rush era and how, in the 1950s and 1960s, racially restrictive covenants and redlining segregated Black Californians in many of the state’s largest cities.

Californians eligible for reparations, the task force decided in March, would be descendants of enslaved African Americans or of a “free Black person living in the United States prior to the end of the 19th century.” Nearly 6.5 percent of California residents, roughly 2.5 million, identify as Black or African American. The panel is now considering how reparations should be distributed — some favor tuition and housing grants while others want direct cash payments.

The task force has identified five areas — housing discrimination, mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of Black businesses and health care — in discussions for compensation. For example, from 1933 to 1977, when it comes to housing discrimination, the task force estimates compensation of around $569 billion, with $223,200 per person.

Final figures will be released in the report next year; it would then be up to the Legislature to act upon the recommendations and determine how to fund them.

The state and local efforts have faced opposition over the potentially steep cost to taxpayers and, in one case, derided as an ill-conceived campaign to impose an “era of social justice.”

A two-day public meeting of the state task force this fall, in a makeshift hearing room tucked inside a Los Angeles museum, included a mix of comments from local residents on how they had been personally affected and how the disparities should be addressed, along with testimony from experts who have studied reparations.

While even broad-scale reparations would be unlikely to eliminate the racial wealth gap, they could narrow it significantly, and proponents hope California’s effort will influence other states and federal legislators to follow suit.

“Calling these local projects reparations is to some degree creating a detour from the central task of compelling the federal government to do its job,” said William A. Darity Jr., a professor at Duke University and a leading scholar on reparations. Even so, Dr. Darity, who is advising the California task force, said “there is an increasing recognition” that the lasting effects of slavery must be addressed.

Every year for almost three decades, Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan introduced legislation that would have created a commission to explore reparations, but the measure consistently stalled in Congress. After Mr. Conyers retired in 2017, Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas began championing the measure, which passed a House committee for the first time last year, but stalled on the floor.

Underscoring the political hurdles, opinions on reparations are sharply divided by race. Last year, an online survey by the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that 86 percent of African Americans supported compensating the descendants of slaves, compared with 28 percent of white people. Other polls have also shown wide splits.

Still, several efforts have gotten off the ground recently.

In 2021, officials in Evanston, Ill., a Chicago suburb, approved $10 million in reparations in the form of housing grants. Three months later, officials in Asheville, N.C., committed $2.1 million to reparations. And over the summer, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to transfer ownership of Bruce’s Beach — a parcel in Manhattan Beach that was seized with scant compensation from a Black couple in 1924 — to the couple’s great-grandsons and great-great-grandsons.

“We want to see the land and economic wealth stolen from Black families all across this country returned,” said Kavon Ward, an activist who advocated on behalf of the Bruces’ descendants and has since started a group, Where Is My Land, that seeks to help Black Americans secure restitution.“We are in a moment that we cannot let pass.”

A so-called blight law from 1945, the task force’s interim report explains, paved the way for officials to use eminent domain to destroy Black communities, including shuttering more than 800 businesses and displacing 4,700 households in San Francisco’s Western Addition beginning in the 1950s.

After work on Interstate 210 began later that decade, the report goes on, the freeway was eventually built in the path of a Black business district in Pasadena, where city officials offered residents $75,000 — less than the minimum cost to buy a new home in the city — for their old homes.

And there is Russell City, an unincorporated parcel of Alameda County near the San Francisco Bay shoreline where many Black families fleeing racial terror in the Deep South built lives during the Great Migration. Testimony to the task force by Russell City residents recounts the community’s rise and ultimate bulldozing.

Click here to read the full article at the NY Times

Parent Says 10-Month-Old Barely Survived Ingesting Fentanyl at Popular SF Park

“It’s horrible. It makes me just reconsider staying in San Francisco and if we should move,” said parent Alexis St. George.

The San Francisco Police Department is investigating a medical emergency that sent a 10-month-old to the emergency room. The child’s parent says the baby ingested fentanyl.

San Francisco firefighters and paramedics were sent to a popular park in the Marina District.

San Francisco resident Michael Halpern witnessed the medical response.

“My office is right there. We saw paramedics and people and the stretchers going on. Then the mommies over there with the babies and the nannies and people in distress,” said Halpern.

The parent of the child posted on social media that their 10-month-old barely survived after ingesting fentanyl while playing at Moscone Park. On Wednesday, parents were on edge.

“It worries me that he is going to pick up something like that. Get it on his hands and then put it in his mouth. At this age you shouldn’t worry about your kid consuming something like fentanyl,” said parent Kirsten Chalfant.

In a new post, the parent said the nanny reacted quickly. After noticing the baby’s mouth turned blue and he began to have trouble breathing. According to the parent the baby was given Narcan an opioid overdose reversal drug.

The San Francisco Police Department confirmed they are investigating the cause of the medical emergency. The fire department said they couldn’t confirm the claim of the baby ingesting fentanyl at the park and added:

“We responded to Moscone Park for a pediatric patient in cardiac arrest. San Francisco Fire and Paramedics arrived on scene in 2 minutes, provided life-saving measures and revived the patient.”

San Francisco Supervisor Catherine Stefani represents the Marina District.

“I’m a mother myself and I would say just to be very cautious and to look around and to know that we are doing everything in District 2. We are responding with police presence and have rec and parks respond in the way they can,” said Supervisor Stefani.

Luz Pena: “What is your office going to do? What are you doing about this?”

Supervisor Stefani: “What I have been doing is making sure that we are not just engaging in harm reduction but that people have paths to recovery. The whole purpose of harm reduction is to make sure that the addict doesn’t get sick from a dirty needle. But if our focus on harm reduction is actually potentially harming others we need to reevaluate that.”

Supervisor Stefani said the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department will close the park after hours, and police patrol will increase but for some parents, this incident may be their tipping point.

“It’s horrible. It makes me just reconsider staying in San Francisco and if we should move,” said parent Alexis St. George.

SFPD Statement:

“On 11/29/22 at approximately 10:16 p.m., San Francisco Police officers from Northern Station responded to a local hospital for a report of male infant that had undergone a medical emergency. Officers met with the witness who was with the child at Moscone Recreational Park at approximately 2:30 p.m., when the medical emergency occurred. The San Francisco Fire Department responded to the scene and transported the child to the hospital for a life-threatening emergency. The cause of the medical emergency is still under investigation.

Click here to read the full article at ABC 7 News

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