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

Killings In L.A. Are On Pace To Top Last Year’s High

People are being killed in Los Angeles so far this year at a slightly faster pace than 2021, when homicides hit a 15-year high, according to the latest data from Los Angeles police.

While the newly released figures indicate the dramatic escalation in violence that the city experienced in 2020 and 2021 may be leveling off, they show violent deaths are still occurring far more frequently than a few years ago, experts said.

“We certainly see instances of street violence that we tie into gangs, with a lot of ready and easy access to handguns and rifles,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in an interview with The Times. “It’s resulting in this loss of life and this high frequency of shootings.”

Through April 30, there had been 122 homicides in L.A., six more than were recorded during the same time period in 2021, according to the data. Last year ended with 397 killings in the city, the largest annual total since 2006.

The bloodshed remains far below that of the early 1990s, when the city had more than 1,000 homicides per year. But it nonetheless marked another uptick, however slight, in the troubling surge of gun violence that erupted in 2020 and has become a top concern among residents as well as a key issue in the race for the city’s next mayor.

While up only marginally compared to 2021, this year’s homicide count represents about a 40% increase in killings over the same period in 2020, which included the final months before COVID-19 emerged in the U.S., protests over the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd erupted and the crime landscape radically changed in cities across the nation.

While the rest of the year could see a significant decrease in the rate of killings, the numbers so far likely scuttle any hope that the city would find a way to return to pre-pandemic levels of gun violence, experts said.

Jeff Asher, a New Orleans-based crime analyst whose firm AH Datalytics maintains an online database of homicide totals in 71 U.S. cities, said homicides nationally were down slightly less than 1% overall through March — which was similar to where L.A. stood at the time. 

While some cities have seen big increases in killings this year and others big drops, Asher said the data so far suggest the rapid increases in killings across the country in the latter half of 2020 and in 2021 have peaked.

“It’s plausible that things sort of leveled out at this new, elevated level of murders,” Asher said. “What we’re looking for: Is this a plateau, or are things going to come down? Or are they going to keep rising?” Asher said.

In L.A., the level of killing has fluctuated. A drop in homicides at the start of the year, which was cause for cautious optimism, was offset by a spike in killings in recent weeks. Homicides were down 25% through January, compared to 2021, but that decline had narrowed to 13% by the end of March. Then, there were 36 homicides in April, a month which saw only 21 killings last year, Moore said.

Moore said the violence was driven in part by a cluster of shootings in the city’s 77th Division, where disputes among gangs appeared to be escalating into gun violence. Of the 36 homicides in the city in April, 11 were in the 77th, Moore said.

Moore said killings were also occurring within the city’s large homeless population, with more than a fifth of all 2022 killings involving a homeless victim. Moore said he didn’t have information on how many suspects in this year’s killings were unhoused since many killings remain unsolved.

Moore said the “overarching effort” among police now is “to try to quell further acts of violence” by working with gang intervention workers and other community leaders to quell disputes and perceived insults that may spur gang shootings, as well as by adding investigative resources to identify and arrest suspects. 

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Sacramento Currently Spending $44 Million on Growing Homeless

The City of Sacramento is spending more than $44 million to provide eight homeless shelters and camping options, most not yet built or ready, and three Project Homekey motel conversions. According to city officials, “most of that comes from state and federal grants that are not certain year to year.”

This homeless spending comes on the heels of city residents learning that waste collection services are going up drastically: 4.0% increase for recycling, 4.50% increase for garbage, 20.50% increase lawn and garden, and 7.0% increase for street sweeping.

Senate Bill 1383, authored by then-Sen. Ricardo Lara and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2016,  requires organic waste (food waste) be recycled to reduce methane, “climate pollutants” and greenhouse gas emissions in landfills.

Sacramento County has more than 11,000 homeless living on the streets and in the parks, and all shelter beds and spaces are full on any given night.

The Mayor and City Council now calls Sacramento’s drug-addicted, mentally ill homeless vagrant population the “unhoused,” “people experiencing homelessness,” “guests,” and “our unhoused neighbors,” as if these really are our neighbors who were just one paycheck away from living on the streets. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Despite the uncertainty of ongoing funding, the City is planning on these various shelters into 2023. “We think for 2023 we have pulled together the funds to cover the shelter piece, from both the State Homeless Housing Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) grants and by redirecting some funds within the Department of Community Response budget.

While the city’s total siting plan involves 20 potential sites, City staff said they are currently focusing efforts on eight sites, “that have shown the most potential for development and activation. Some of these sites have been added to the plan in recent months.”

This is the status of the eight proposed and existing homeless sites:

  • Joshua’s House is a private hospice facility not yet built on a city-owned lot in North Sacramento. The developer recently applied for a permit and the site could be up and running late this year.
  • Miller Park Safe Ground is a 60-tent low barrier shelter has been opened since Feb. 8. It has already served approximately 140 people, 25 of whom have moved on into positive settings.
  • Auburn Boulevard Respite Center is sited at the former Science Center Museum. It is in use now as administrative space for Hope Cooperative and Department of Community Response outreach teams. It is ready to be used as a respite center for adverse weather conditions.
  • North 5th Street is an existing 104-bed shelter which, under the siting plan, has been expanded to 145 beds and will add another 18 in July for a total of 163.
  • Downtown Service Hub is an unnamed location that is the subject of ongoing negotiations to purchase the building and use it as a central hub for homeless and the service providers who work with them.
  • Colfax Yard is a vacant city-owned vacant lot not yet ready for official use being used now as an unsanctioned parking spot by homeless. The State Water Board ordered an environmental clean up  for longer-term, sanctioned safe parking. The homeless there now will need to vacate.
  • Roseville Road RT Station is currently used unofficially by homeless parking vehicles. The city is working on a three-way agreement among the City, RT and Cal Trans. When completed, that agreement will allow between 50 and 70 vehicles to safely park there.
  • The 102-acre Job Corp site was recently purchased as federal surplus land, not accessible yet. In the short term, the site requires new road access and other improvements before part of it could serve as a safe parking site.

Currently available shelter for homeless totals 164 spots according to this list – 104 actual beds, and 60 tents in a public park.

Sacramento has more than the 11,222 homeless people accounted for Sacramento in 2019-2020. Where are they sleeping? We don’t know how many are sleeping in their cars in designated parking lots, and other default parking locations.

Again not yet ready or opened are three Project Homekey motel conversions, La Mancha, Vista Nueva, and Central Sacramento, the City is working on with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency on, expected to provide more than 300 rooms to be used mostly as supportive and transitional housing.

Last month the Globe reported that Sacramento city manager Howard Chan warned the City Council that future funding for the city’s existing homeless shelters was uncertain, even as the City Council was pushing to open more large homeless sites to address Sacramento’s growing homelessness crisis.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Biden Approval Rating in State Gets Slight Boost

Roughly 6 in 10 California voters give President Biden poor marks on his handling of inflation, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, even as his overall job approval marginally improved in the last two months.

The survey, which was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, found that voters in the state had mixed reviews of the president, with displeasure over his economic performance cutting against a more positive assessment of his record on the international stage. Still, with 50% of respondents signaling approval, Biden notched higher ratings than his vice president, Kamala Harris, or the two congressional leaders from California, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The poll captures an electorate deeply pessimistic about the future. Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed say the country is on the wrong track, while just 26% think it is heading in the right direction. Republicans are nearly unanimously bleak, with 92% having a negative outlook on the nation’s trajectory. A substantial majority — 65% — of voters not affiliated with a political party agree, as do 51% of Democrats.

“They’re not at all pleased,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll, of Biden’s Democratic base. “Even though their ratings of Biden are positive, they don’t see the country moving in a positive direction. That’s kind of ominous.”

Despite the starkly negative assessment on the nation’s course, California voters are more evenly divided on their views of Biden. His 50% approval and 46% disapproval rating is slightly better than the 47%- 48% marks he received in February, when the last IGS poll was conducted.

Nevertheless, enthusiasm for Biden in the state is sharply down from this time last year, when more than 6 in 10 voters gave him positive reviews. While Biden has lost ground with voters across the board, his steepest declines are among the state’s younger voters, ages 18-39, as well as Asian Americans and Latinos, two key Democratic constituencies increasingly courted by the GOP.

“During his honeymoon period and … during the election itself, he really was able to capture the support of the ethnic populations in California. It’s one of the reasons he won so big” in the state, DiCamillo said. “Now he’s falling back to Earth.”

One bright spot for Biden is his handling the war between Ukraine and Russia, in which he finds himself on relatively solid ground with voters. Fifty-six percent of California voters approve of Biden’s management of relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a key partner for the United States in responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while 33% disapprove. His handling of American relations with Russia is also positive, albeit more narrowly, with 49% approving and 44% disapproving. Overall, a slim majority — 51% — approve of how Biden has dealt with the war in Ukraine, while 43% give him negative marks.

The positive reviews for his work abroad, however, are offset by California voters’ displeasure on economic matters back home.

The president is underwater, with 50% disapproval and 45% approval, when it comes to his overall stewardship of the economy. The ratings are even worse — 59% disapproval and 34% approval — when it comes to rising prices, which are increasing at the fastest rate in decades.

“Inflation is on voters’ minds,” DiCamillo said. “They’re seeing it every day.”

The consumer price index, released by the Labor Department on Tuesday, showed inflation rose 8.5% over the last year — the highest year-over-year jump since 1981. The biggest drivers of the surge were the skyrocketing costs of energy and food, which have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Views on inflation, as with most issues, vary drastically by party; just 5% of Republicans give Biden favorable marks, compared with 54% of Democrats and 27% of voters with no party preference.

But partisanship does not appear to be the sole factor driving some voters’ views. The state’s youngest voters, who generally tend to be more liberal, give Biden the lowest marks on inflation, while older Californians are more positive. Just 21% of voters ages 18-29 approve of Biden’s handling of the matter, compared with 49% approval from voters ages 65 and older.

Regionally, voters in California’s major urban areas, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, hold rosier views than those in more rural parts of the state, where assessments are more negative than positive. Notably, Biden’s popularity is evenly divided in Orange County, home to several battleground congressional districts that will have fiercely competitive races in the upcoming midterm elections.

Still, DiCamillo noted, Biden’s standing in Orange County, where his approval rating is 47% compared with 48% disapproval, is much stronger than in regions outside California with pivotal House races. Nationally, Biden’s popularity hovers around 42%, according to the website FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls.

“He’s probably not as serious a drag as he is in other parts of the country,” DiCamillo said.

Though Biden has seen minor improvements to his standing among California voters, Vice President Harris has not seen a similar uptick. Respondents continue to see her more negatively than positively, with 35% of voters approving her performance and 45% disapproving. Two months ago, her rating was 38% approval to 46% disapproval. The number of voters with no opinion of her performance has increased to 21% in April from 15% in February.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Black Lives Matters Purchased $6 Million House in SoCal With Non-Profit Donations

According to a new report on Monday, Black Lives Matters purchased a $6 million Southern California house from donations last year, adding to the three other houses in the LA area group leaders have bought since last year.

According to New York Magazine, the $6 million house had not originally been disclosed in the initial report of $3.2 million in houses  purchased in LA and Atlanta by BLM leaders. The 6,500 square foot, seven bedroom house was purchased with Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) funds in October 2020 by Dyane Pascall shortly after over $66 million came in from sponsors that September.

The house was immediately linked to BLM leadership by Pascall being the financial manager for the Janaya and Patrisse Consulting Firm. The firm itself is owned by BLM co-founder Patrisse Kahn-Cullors and her spouse Janaya Kahn. Initially hidden, group leaders had been attempting to say that the house, known internally as “Campus” would be used for either a safe house for BLM leaders when threatened or as a space for artists and influencers. However, when asked about the house last month by journalists, BLM officials tried  to downplay the cost and bury the story in the coming days. The report came out anyway on Monday despite their efforts.

BLM has been facing growing scrutiny in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests in June of 2020. Initially founded in 2013 in response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, BLM quickly grew in the mid to late 2010’s following numerous other police shooting deaths of African Americans, as well as other external factors such as the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and an increase in voter ID laws in numerous states. In 2020, BLM faced it’s biggest moment in helping orchestrate protests nationwide following the shooting death of George Floyd. Record donations poured in in 2020 and 2021 in response to the protests, as well as BLM’s role in defunding numerous law enforcement agencies until a rise in crime backlash caused many of those de-fundings to stop or are to be reversed soon.

As a result, with a record number of funds going to BLM and BLMGNF, Kahn-Cullors and others proceeded to buy several expensive homes, including the undisclosed $6 million property.

SoCal property latest house bought with BLM donations

Many non-profit experts noted to the Globe on Monday that few, if any, groups the size of BLM made those kinds of purchases in so little time.

“Usually, if a group buys a house, it isn’t a gigantic house like that,” said Mandala Jackson, a non-profit low-income housing coordinator and advisor, to the Globe on Monday. “Houses are usually bought for a singular headquarters or to give back to needy families or something along those lines. Sometimes just the property is bought or donated and a house goes up there, like Habitat for Humanity or Key Club.

“If they had bought one house in strategic locations to serve as a safe house or local headquarters or something, that might be more understandable. Like, one in LA, one in Oakland, one in Atlanta, and so on. But no, four in LA, including one costing $6 million.”

“That kind of money can go to a lot of other things. Legal defense for one, or helping black families avoid evictions or serving as a fund for families who lost the mother or father. But buying a house like that, only months after the protests? Jesus.”

“Some people are very much for BLM and others are against it, and others are mixed towards it for a variety of reasons I really don’t want to get into. But which sounds like the more charitable option? $6 million going to a mansion in LA or $6 million going into trusts or monthly payments for families who lost loved ones and need financial support to stay afloat?”

“Always look into non-profits. If a big percentage goes into administrative costs and they have expensive offices in some high rise you can bet your donation isn’t going to those who need it.”

Click here to read the full article at California Globe

Campaign to recall LA County DA George Gascón Gains Momentum With Over 200K Signatures

Organizers of the second effort to recall embattled Los Angeles County DA George Gascón said they have gained momentum after collecting more than 200,000 signatures– with plenty of time to still hit their goal to get on the November ballot.

Campaign officials said they also have raised more than $4 million — already four times the money raised compared to last year’s recall efforts, which fizzled in September after failing to secure less than half of the approximately 500,000 signatures needed from LA County voters.

 “We are continuing to deploy our resources, and we are definitely going in the right trajectory,” recall spokesperson Tim Lineberger told The Post. “There is just a lot more support this time around since people are more aware that what’s been happening in Los Angeles County, especially crime increasing, is tied to George Gascón’s policies.”

While last year’s campaign garnered just 200,000 votes by the October 2021 deadline, the campaign this year has already collected more votes with still three months left before the deadline.

To get on the ballot, a total of 566,857 signatures — 10 percent of total Los Angeles County registered voters — must be submitted to the LA County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office by July 6.

This time around, recall organizers deployed several tools to get the word out — from the “Recall DA George Gascón” app to an “accountability” feature on their website that shows a list of Gascón’s major donors.

The campaign also made sure to set up permanent signing locations throughout Los Angeles County, which voters can track via the app.

Gascón ousted incumbent Jackie Lacey from office in November 2020, promising sweeping criminal justice reform. In his first 100 days, Gascón ended the filing of death penalty charges, stopped the practice of prosecuting children as adults and did away with criminal enhancements that he said “exacerbate recidivism.”

Last month, however, Gascón backtracked some of his controversial policies, according to a series of memos obtained by The Post.

Since Gascón pivoted on some of his policies, prosecutors can once again seek special enhancements for felony charges that would add additional prison sentences depending on the circumstance, such as a murder committed for the benefit of a gang.

How California Taxpayers Weathered The Pandemic

While few Californians weathered the pandemic unscathed, taxpayers took a particularly heavy hit, getting stuck for the longterm cost of relief payments, bailouts and fraud while losing earnings during the “two weeks to flatten the curve” that turned into two years.

If we had known in early 2020 what we now know, it is doubtful we would have shut down the economy as tightly as we did, and we certainly would have taken greater caution about our response to school closures and educating our children. Only now are we starting to comprehend that damage to child development, socialization and learning.

Taxpayers also took a hit by having to pay taxes and fees for services not received. Local governments required restaurants to continue to pay various licensing fees even when they were forbidden to be open for business. Parks, libraries and other public venues were closed to the public while citizens continued to get the tax bill to support those same facilities. Efforts by taxpayers and businesses to seek temporary relief from government exactions were mostly met with open hostility, while members of public-sector unions continued to receive paychecks and, in some cases, got raises even when they weren’t going to work.

But by far the biggest hit on California taxpayers during the pandemic was the jaw-dropping levels of waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayer dollars. On Gov. Gavin Newsom’s watch, the Employment Development Department (EDD) failed to process a backlog of claims for hundreds of thousands of unemployed Californians while sending out as much as $30 billion in unemployment benefits for phony claims, including fraudulent claims paid to death row inmates.

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

Masks Still Required For LAUSD Students. Until When? It’s Hard To Say

Some parents plan to protest outside teachers union’s office Tuesday. Meanwhile, UTLA is polling members on district’s proposal to lift masking mandate and end COVID-19 testing in April, according to email.

Across Los Angeles County, students in a number of school districts now have the option of ditching their masks while inside the classroom.

But not so for Los Angeles Unified students.

Late Friday, L.A. Unified announced it would continue to require masking inside school buildings until further notice, hours before the state and county lifted their school masking mandates, thus leaving it up to districts to determine their own masking rules.

Parents who for months have demanded an end to school masking mandates on Monday, March 14, continued to voice frustration that masking is not yet optional in the nation’s second-largest school district and are planning to protest outside the United Teachers Los Angeles office in downtown L.A. on Tuesday morning.

The district has an agreement with UTLA that requires the parties to negotiate before L.A. Unified can lift its masking mandate.

The two sides met Friday, during which the district proposed changes to its health-and-safety protocols, but the union did not present a counterproposal, according to a memo that UTLA sent its members afterwards.

The district and UTLA are scheduled to meet again Wednesday to resume negotiations, according to the union.

In a subsequent email to its members over the weekend, UTLA stated that the district had proposed making indoor masking optional and ending mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing for students and staff at secondary schools on April 1 and for those at elementary schools on April 29.

The district also proposed conducting baseline testing after spring break, which is scheduled to take place the week of April 11, according to the union.

UTLA has begun surveying its members to see how they feel about the proposed changes, with polling to end Monday night, according to the email.

“The district is not lifting the indoor masking requirement at this point because we don’t have a bargaining agreement,” the email stated.

That the district even has to negotiate with the teachers union has some parents up in arms.

Angelita Rovero, whose two children attend Portola Charter Middle School in Tarzana, said UTLA is overreaching and should not have the right to negotiate students’ health. Rovero opted out of paying dues to the union when she taught in LAUSD, she said.

“The union represents the teachers. They should not be representing the students,” she said. “I’ve never been on board with the union having so much control. … I’m dumbfounded that the LAUSD (school) board is owned by UTLA.”

Meanwhile, a parent at West Hollywood Elementary said she would have no problem with continued masking if that would make teachers more comfortable coming to work.

“I’m fine with whatever makes our teachers feel safe and comfortable teaching our children. They’re the bosses in the classroom,” said parent Kory Keith-Aronovitch. Her daughter, a kindergartner, had no trouble adjusting to wearing a mask all day when the school year started, she said.

“Kids are adaptable and nonpolitical,” she said.

To be clear, though the state and county have lifted their school masking mandates, health officials from both levels of government continue to stress that wearing masks in educational settings remains “highly recommended.”

As for the district’s intention when it comes to its masking policy, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, who joined the district a month ago, signaled in a Twitter post on Saturday that he’s in favor of lifting the mandate.

“I strongly support amending Los Angeles Unified’s previously negotiated agreements to align with current health guidance” from the state and county, Carvalho tweeted.

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

Gascón Recall Bid Is A Factor In Race To Be Mayor

His name won’t be on the ballot in the June primary, but Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón still looms large over the L.A. mayoral race.

In a contest that has largely been dominated by discussion of homelessness and crime, the embattled district attorney has become a foil for two prominent candidates to voice their frustration with the direction of the city.

On Monday, real estate developer Rick Caruso joined City Councilman Joe Buscaino in backing the second attempt to recall the county’s top prosecutor in as many years.

Other prominent candidates, including Rep. Karen Bass and City Atty. Mike Feuer, have at times raised issues with Gascón’s tenure but do not endorse the recall effort against him.

USC law professor Jody David Armour said the Gascón recall campaign was playing a kind of proxy role in the race, with supporters aiming to show that they’re “a traditional, tough-on-crime, law-and-order candidate” by calling for Gascón’s ouster.

Many of Gascón’s critics have been quick to blame his policies for a dramatic increase in homicides and shootings in L.A. County that followed his election. The number of killings in the city jumped by 53% from 2019 to 2021, while homicides in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department increased by 77% in the same time frame, records show.

Criminologists, however, have been quick to note that Gascón’s policies were unlikely to have an immediate effect on violent crime when they are largely focused on reducing the prosecution of low-level misdemeanors. Homicides decreased over the span of Gascon’s eight years in San Francisco, making the link between his policies and street violence murky at best.

Gascón — a former LAPD commander and San Francisco district attorney — unseated incumbent Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey to lead the nation’s largest local prosecutors office in November 2020. His win was heralded as a victory for the growing “progressive prosecutor” movement, and he announced a slate of sweeping policy changes the day he took office.

Gascón veered from his all-or-nothing stance on certain criminal justice reform issues two weeks ago, saying prosecutors can now seek to try juveniles as adults and pursue life sentences against defendants in certain cases. The move came as he faced increased blowback over his handling of the case of Hannah Tubbs, a 26-year-old allowed to plead guilty in Juvenile Court to sexually assaulting a child because Tubbs was a teen at the time of the crime.

An attempt to recall Gascón in 2021 fizzled because of a lack of organization and weak fundraising.

But this attempt has already collected $1.8 million, according to a January financial disclosure report, more money than the same campaign collected in 2021. The group has yet to release an estimate of collected signatures, but needs to rally roughly 560,000 supporters by early July to qualify.

Caruso had hedged on the topic since jumping into the race in February, saying he wanted to see a change from Gascón before weighing in on the recall effort.

He officially endorsed the recall campaign Monday, plowing $50,000 into the effort to unseat a man he has known since the early 2000s when Gascón was a member of the LAPD command staff and Caruso served as the president of the Police Commission.

Although the recall campaign has insisted it has bipartisan support, Republican megadonors Geoff Palmer and Gerald Marcil still account for one-third of all the money raised thus far.

“As I’ve said, many times, I firmly believe that George Gascón needed to stand up, admit that many of his policies have put the city of Los Angeles in peril, crime is rising, change those policies, or he should step down, and if he doesn’t step down, he should be recalled,” Caruso said in a video released Monday.

Caruso initially supported Gascón’s run for office in 2020, co-hosting a high-profile fundraiser for him where John Legend performed. He shifted later in the race, donating $45,000 to a committee supporting Lacey in October 2020, according to campaign finance disclosures.

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