Women’s Groups, Ex-Staffers Want Public Review of State Capitol Misconduct Investigations

A coalition of former California legislative employees and women’s advocates Thursday called for changes and a public review of the state Capitol’s Workplace Conduct Unit, an independent investigative group created in the wake of the #MeToo movement to handle complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation in offices of the Legislature.

During a Capitol news conference, several women said they were disappointed with the way the investigative unit has in recent years handled allegations of misconduct by supervisors and colleagues in the statehouse. They complained that the process is too lengthy and often opaque and that their concerns weren’t handled in a way to spark meaningful change or hold alleged perpetrators accountable.

The group called on the Legislature to commit to holding a public hearing before the end of session in August, to determine what has and hasn’t worked so far with the unit. They also unveiled a pledge for elected officials and candidates to sign “to support the safety of California staffers and volunteers in politics and government.”

“Survivors and the public deserve an open forum for people to share with the public and the Legislature the pain and trauma caused by the WCU, so we can all move forward toward a more equitable future together,” said Ruth Ferguson, a co-founder of the group Stop Sexual Harassment in Politics. Ferguson wrote a recent op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle alleging misconduct in her former legislative office and accusing the Workplace Conduct Unit of failing to properly handle her complaint.

Julia Johnson, executive director of the Workplace Conduct Unit, said in a statement that the investigative group is taking feedback seriously and agreed that “timeliness in investigations is important.” Johnson pointed to the hiring of additional investigators and other personnel to quicken the process, and said that the unit reviews allegations “without guidance on how to conduct such investigations by either house of the California Legislature.”

“I encourage participants in our process who have concerns to share them with us so that we can continue to improve our processes,” she said.

In a May 13 letter to legislative staffers and members, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said they would have discussions with the Legislative Women’s Caucus “to develop an evaluation of the WCU and gather recommendations for improvements from members and staff.” They said the goal was to “get those improvements in place by the end of this legislative session.”

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

US House Races in California Could Shape Future of Congress

U.S. House battles took shape in heavily Democratic California that could tip the balance of power in Congress, while former Trump administration Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was in a tight match to claim the Republican nomination for a new House seat in Montana.

In Mississippi, two Republican congressmen were forced into runoffs to keep their seats. Rep. Steven Palazzo had been dogged by ethics questions over his campaign spending, while Rep. Michael Guest faced a challenger who criticized his vote on a proposal to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Primary elections across seven states Tuesday set up November contests in dozens of races, as Democrats look to protect the party’s fragile majority in the House.

In a diverse district anchored in California’s Orange County, Republican U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel, a South Korean immigrant, will face Democrat Jay Chen. The district, which includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese American community, is widely considered a toss-up.

In other districts in the nation’s most populous state, two Republican House members were trying to surmount challenges tied to former President Donald Trump: One voted to support Trump’s impeachment after the U.S. Capitol insurrection, while the other fought against it.

A look at results in key U.S. House races Tuesday:


In 2020, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia won a narrow victory in a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles. The former Navy fighter pilot was endorsed by Trump that year, then joined House Republicans who rejected electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania and opposed Trump’s impeachment after the Capitol insurrection. That record will be a focus for Democrat Christy Smith, who earned a chance for a rematch with Garcia, after losing two years ago.

In a Democratic-tilting district in the state’s Central Valley farm belt, Republican Rep. David Valadao is highlighting an independent streak while contending with GOP fallout for his vote to impeach Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. Early returns showed him holding an edge over Republican Chris Mathys, who made Valadao’s vote a centerpiece in his campaign to oust him. The winner will face Democrat Rudy Salas, a state legislator.

California uses a top-two election format in which only the two leading vote-getters advance to the November general election, regardless of party.

In the Central Valley, Republican Connie Conway won a special election to complete the term of former Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned to head Trump’s media company.


A pair of GOP congressmen in Mississippi are headed to June 28 runoffs.

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, first elected in 2010, will face Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell after failing to win the GOP nomination outright on Tuesday, earning less than 50% of the vote.

A 2021 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo, a military veteran who serves on the Appropriations and Homeland Security committees, abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and personal errands. His then-spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the probe was based on politically motivated “false allegations.”

In another Mississippi district, U.S. Rep. Michael Guest will face former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy in a district that cuts through parts of central Mississippi.

Cassidy criticized Guest for being in the minority of Republicans who voted to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a group that would have been separate from the congressional committee now conducting the investigation. Cassidy also says on his website that President Joe Biden should be impeached.


Montana gained a second congressional district this year thanks to its growing population, and Zinke, an Interior Department secretary under Trump, is one of five Republicans on the primary ballot for the open seat.

Zinke’s rivals have been drawing attention to his troubled tenure at the agency, which was marked by multiple ethics investigations. One investigation determined Zinke lied to an agency ethics official about his continued involvement in a commercial real estate deal in his hometown. He’s faced a smear campaign over his military service from the extreme right wing of his party and questions about his residency following revelations that his wife declared a house in California as her primary residence.

Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and former Montana congressman, was in a tight race Wednesday against former state Sen. Al “Doc” Olszewski, an orthopedic surgeon and hard-line conservative who has tried to paint Zinke as a “liberal insider.” The results of the race were being delayed because of ballot printing errors that forced officials in one county to count votes by hand.

The winner will face Olympic rower and attorney Monica Tranel, a Democrat, in the general election.


A Republican state senator has captured the slot to take on Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne this fall in a newly drawn district that appears more favorable for the GOP.

Axne is the only Democrat in Iowa’s House delegation.

State Sen. Zach Nunn easily outdistanced rivals Nicole Hasso, a financial services worker, and Gary Leffler, who works in the construction industry, to claim the GOP spot. Nunn, an Air Force pilot who has served in the Legislature since 2014 and has worked to cut taxes, was the best known among the GOP contenders.

In previous elections, Axne was elevated by her strong support in the Des Moines area, even as she struggled in rural counties that typically lean Republican. The new district includes several counties in southern Iowa known to turn out strongly for Republicans, increasing the pressure on Axne to drive up her numbers in Democrat-friendly Des Moines and its suburbs.


In what could be New Jersey’s most closely watched contest in the fall, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski and Republican Tom Kean Jr. won their primaries, setting up a rematch of their closely contested 2020 race.

Malinowski, a State Department official in the Obama administration, is seeking a third term as his party faces headwinds heading into the general election. His district added more Republican-leaning towns during redistricting, making his reelection bid potentially more difficult.

Another complicating factor is an ethics investigation he’s facing over stock transactions in medical and tech companies that had a stake in the pandemic response. A report from the Office of Congressional Ethics said the board found “substantial reason to believe” he failed to properly disclose or report his stock transactions.

Malinowski said his failure to initially disclose the transactions was “a mistake that I own 100%.” He said he didn’t direct or even ask questions about trades made by his brokerage firm.

Kean, a former state Senate minority leader and the son of the former two-term Republican governor, said in a tweet that he was humbled by his victory and looks forward to seizing the seat in November.

Click here to read the full article in the AP News

Low Voter Turnout Across California Reported on Primary Day

No one seems to care that the balance of the state is in their hands’

Voter turnout for the 2022 California primaries remained low Tuesday with many polling places and buildings with vote drop-offs reporting fewer people coming in than previous elections.

Earlier this week, consulting firms projected that California was likely going to see less than 30% turnout from voters largely due to a lack of exciting races in most places, disappointment from the results and actions from several previous elections, high voter apathy, along with other reasons. While the amount of ballots in on Monday was reported to only be 15%, the amount barely ticked up on Tuesday with the consulting firm Political Data Intelligence (PDI) announced mid-Tuesday that it only moved up to 16%.

While low numbers of people coming in have been universal, some areas are seeing higher numbers than other places. In San Francisco, the recall election of DA Chesa Boudin has brought out many voters either in support of Boudin’s policies or those dead-set against them.

“Over half the people who voted here or dropped off a ballot so far mentioned the race unprompted,” said John, a poll worker in San Francisco, to the Globe. “That’s the election everyone knows about. Pelosi and Newsom, and everyone, they’re an afterthought for most people it seems. A few going into the booths are also only coming out seconds later. It’s obvious they are only voting on the Boudin recall. It’s been like that all day.”

In the North County area above the Bay Area and Sacramento, it was even quieter for the first half of Tuesday.

“Due to the population differences, there’s not as many polling places up here, or vote drop off spots as you would see in LA or San Diego,” explained another election volunteer who wished to remain anonymous. “But even with fewer options, we’ve still just seen a trickle. There’s some local stuff and Congressman and Assemblyman up, as well as Governor, but it’s not like the Newsom recall last year where we had parking problems for the first election here since the Obama-McCain one. There’s no real motivation.”

Low voter turnout

Down South in Los Angeles, a high-profile election, the Mayoral Primary, is also boosting voter figures, but not as much as previously thought.

“I’ve been a volunteer at these places for years,” explained Deborah, a Los Angeles polling center worker, to the Globe on Tuesday. “Even for a primary, we have seen fewer people than normal, and I’m taking into account all those people that vote early or by-mail. Usually we see a large number of people come in just before closing because of them being at work or forgetting until the last minute, but based on the handful of people that came in today so far, I seriously doubt we’ll see lines like we’ve seen in the past. And if the Mayoral election has more people coming than what it would have, it’s really disappointing. I mean, a new mayor may be chosen today if Bass or Caruso get above 50% of the vote from a pool of voters in LA that is, I don’t know, 25%? 30%? That’s not good.”

Next door in Pasadena, with local spots such as City Council positions up for grabs, turnout is also low, with many voters seemingly unconcerned with many of the elections.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Confusion, Contradictions Swirl in Lead-Up to California Primary

California’s primary election is here at last — and with it a jumble of contradictions and confusing communication.

First up: Erratic emails. Californians searching for information on how to cast their ballots (which you can find in CalMatters’ Voter Guide) may have been baffled by a series of Monday emails from the secretary of state’s office, which oversees statewide elections.

  • At 11:13 a.m., the office sent an email alerting voters in certain counties that they could begin casting their ballots in person on May 28 — a date that passed about a week and a half ago.
  • Then, at 2:03 p.m., the office sent another email with the subject line: “Please disregard previous email — Election Day is Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7th — Early in-person voting options available now!!”
  • The secretary of state’s office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Whether the email’s double exclamation point will motivate voters to head to the polls remains to be seen — but what is clear is that California is on track to potentially break its low-turnout record, despite more ways than ever to vote.

  • Kimela Ezechukwu, a Los Angeles County Democrat, told the Los Angeles Times that she hasn’t voted yet because she’s lost trust in elected officials.
  • Ezechukwu: “They’re all the same. They say what they need to say to get you to vote.”
  • Voter trust in the Los Angeles Police Department has also dropped steeply, with just 38% of the city’s registered voters saying they approve of the department’s overall performance, down from 77% in 2009, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times. Nevertheless, 47% of voters said the next mayor should increase the size of the police force.
  • Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental StudiesThe findings highlight the “ambivalence and complication in how the public thinks about policing.”

Californians’ complex — and at times contradictory — opinions on criminal justice, public safety and homelessness will also be on display in two high-profile, high-dollar races on today’s ballot:

  • The race for Los Angeles mayor, into which billionaire Rick Caruso has dumped an unprecedented $37.5 million of his own money — resulting in an almost comical level of airwave domination. To wit: Although Caruso didn’t participate in a May 20 mayoral forum on homelessness, his campaign “paid to run banner advertising, which appeared over the top of the streaming video of the debate on The Times’ website,” a Los Angeles Times article ruefully read. “That meant that, as the debating candidates discussed priorities for the unhoused, Caruso’s smiling face loomed above them, with the messages ‘Caruso Can Clean up L.A.’ and ‘Vote for Rick.’”
  • The recall of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, reflecting a rapid and sharp shift in voter concerns from “criminal justice reform, over-incarceration, police conduct” to “this feeling that things are just not going well,” Jason McDaniel, a San Francisco State associate professor of political science, told the Washington Post.

The coronavirus bottom line: As of Thursday, California had 8,989,279 confirmed cases (+0.4% from previous day) and 90,815 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

Click here to read the full article in CALMatters

Safeway Employee Fatally Shot in South Bay — Gunman Remains at Large

A Safeway employee in San Jose was shot and killed early Sunday, police said, and authorities were searching for the gunman.

The incident unfolded at about 3:35 a.m. inside the Safeway grocery store on the 1500 block of Hamilton Avenue in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood, said San Jose police Officer Steve Aponte.

According to a preliminary investigation, authorities said the fatal shooting appeared to have followed an altercation between the Safeway male employee and another man.

The gunman had not been identified as of Sunday and remained at large. A motive for fatal shooting was under investigation.

The victim died from his gunshot wounds at the grocery store. His identity will be released by the Santa Clara County Coroner’s Office after his family has been notified.

Phone calls to the San Jose Safeway store went unanswered Sunday evening.

Wendy Gutshall, a spokesperson for Safeway, told The Chronicle in a statement Monday that the company was “mourning the tragic loss of one of our associates” and working with San Jose police for the investigation.

“Our hearts are heavy, and our thoughts are with his family. We are sending our deepest and heartfelt condolences to them,” Gutshall said.

Click here to read the full article in the San Francisco Chronicle

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

Gas Hit $8.05 a gallon at Station in L.A.

At a site known for extreme pricing, more stopped for sodas or snapshots than fuel.

Marvis Joy thought it was bad enough that the gas he was pumping into his Jeep Wrangler cost $7.85 for a gallon of regular. But he was taken aback when he heard how much that same gallon cost at that same downtown Los Angeles Chevron station just two days earlier.

A dizzying $8.05.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Joy said Thursday morning, noting that you’d never see such an outrage in his hometown of St. Louis.

“People get upset with prices in St. Louis when they get over $4,” he said. And he left the gas station with a message: “These prices need to go down, that’s all I’m saying.”

The gas station at Alameda Street and East Cesar Chavez Avenue is infamous for its sky-high prices. But it’s also a sign of the times, of gas prices that have been steadily rising yet again.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in California Thursday was $6.213, according to the American Automobile Assn. The price in Los Angeles County was $6.221. Compare that to June 2021, when the average price in California was $4.204, and in L.A. County, $4.07.

Rural California is being hit even harder than Los Angeles. As of Thursday, Mono County’s average was $7.054, almost a full dollar more than the state average.

Nationwide, a gallon of regular cost on average $4.715 Thursday, up from $3.041 a year earlier.

There are many reasons why California has higher average gas prices, from more stringent clean energy regulations to inflation and other factors. Russia’s war against Ukraine has caused the international market to terminate relationships with Russian oil companies, shrinking the global supply.

Douglas Shupe, Southern California representative for AAA, said the state of gas prices throughout the rest of the summer is unpredictable and entirely dependent on the war.

He said he understands people’s surprise when they saw the Chevron station earlier this week. He got out of his car to take a picture of the $8.05 sign.

Though the prices at the station dropped back down to $7.85 per gallon by Wednesday morning, the climb above $8 was alarming to many L.A. residents. Chevron workers there declined to comment.

Most people who drove into the gas station midday Wednesday merely stopped for a soda, some cigarettes or a bag of chips, then made their way back onto the road. Only a handful of customers seemed unfazed enough by the rising prices to stop and fill up at the pump.

One of them, Los Angeles resident and L.A. Metro employee Suresh Narola, said he filled up his Chevy there out of necessity, not desire.

“This is the most expensive place in the city. I only fill up my tank here when it’s an emergency,” he said. “I work right around here, so sometimes it’s convenient.”

With a quick search, AAA’s Shupe said, he found multiple gas stations in the L.A. area well below the county average. He urges other customers to do the same.

“Our message to our customers is to not go to these gas stations with incredibly high prices out of habit, and to try to shop around,” he said.

He said the $8.05 price is not terribly surprising for that specific gas station; people in the area say it is notorious for its prices, even prior to the pandemic.

Many customers at the station Wednesday were visiting Los Angeles. There was the government worker from the Bay Area who wasn’t worried about prices because his employer was picking up the tab; one woman from Lebanon said she endured far higher prices in her home country; one Canadian man on vacation pointed out that the price of cheap gas is a factor in the growing issue of climate change.

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

Reparations Task Force To Release First Report on Harms Made Against Black Californians

500 page report will documents wrongs made against African Americans from the pre-Civil War era to the present day

The California Reparations Task Force announced on Tuesday that a report will be released in the coming days that documents California’s history of harm against African Americans in the past, as well as helping prepare legislators in the coming years for a decision about what reparations, if any, slave descendent African Americans are to receive from the state.

According to Task Force Chair Kamilah Moore, while the report will acknowledge California’s status as a free state pre-Civil War, it will also cover how around 1,5000 enslaved African Americans lived in California until 1852. The 500 page report will also cover how the Ku Klux Klan was prevalent in California for many years, how many black families had been forced out of neighborhoods due to major civic projects, and how many areas of cities were segregated between races well until the 20th Century.

In addition, the report covers how these events are connected to recent statistics showing racial disparity. One figure found that despite just 6% of California identifying as African-American, 28% of all prison inmates are black, with 30% of all homeless people being black and 9% living below the poverty line being black as well.

While no plan of reparations was suggested, with that part due sometime next year, the task force is to recommend compensating those forced out of their homes due to urban renewal projects, as well as set up a state Office of African American or American Freedmen Affairs to help document and file possible claims. Other non-monetary suggestions, such as expansion of voter registration and more avenues to hold police accountable for racial incidents, will also be part of the report.

“I hope that this report is used not only as an educational tool, but an organizing tool for people not only in California but across the U.S. to educate their communities,” said Moore on Tuesday the day before the official report release. “The report also highlights contributions of the African American community and how they made the United States what it is despite ongoing oppression and degradation.”

The first draft report by the Task Force

The Task force, which has had a largely mixed reception since being signed into law in 2020, has largely split many Californians. Even reparations supporters have been split on how to proceed, with a narrow vote in March only accepting African Americans with direct slave lineage to get any possible reparations instead of all African Americans as many other supporters wanted and still insist on. Since then, reaction to the task force has only cooled further.

“The report is moving away from fairness it seems, which is what they had initially started all of this all with,” explained legal adviser Richard Weaver to the Globe on Tuesday. “The report comes out Wednesday, but right now a lot of what they are saying is just not affecting those descendants. The 1,500 who were enslaved in California in the 1850’s after California became a free state. Yeah, perfectly sound argument for reparations there, should not have happened. But they’re getting into the nitty gritty here with incidents and policies that, while unfortunate and should not have happened, happened past that descendants window the task force set up.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California’s Next Assembly Speaker. Maybe.

Et tu, Rivas?

Late Friday, just as legislators — and everyone else in the state — were preparing to check out for the long holiday weekend, an earthquake rocked the California political world: Assemblymember Robert Rivas, a Salinas Democrat, announced that he had “secured enough votes” to become the next speaker of the California Assembly.

That immediately raised some questions: Is that actually really true? When would this hypothetical leadership change occur? How does the current speaker, Anthony Rendon, feel about all of this?

Rivas made the declaration via a press release which, unhelpfully, neglected to answer any of these questions. And though reporters have been peppering Rivas, Rendon and their respective offices with requests for elucidation, all parties involved have kept emphatically mum. 

In a series of tweets on Monday, Rivas restated that he had the necessary support, that it was “time to unite the caucus and determine a thoughtful, reasonable transition period” and that he wanted to ensure the “transition is a respectful one.” The audience for that thread could be the entire Democratic caucus. But then again, it could also have been a message meant specifically for Rendon: It’s over.

But then again, maybe not. Within minutes, Rivas deleted the tweets. Meanwhile, Rendon seemed to be enjoying his weekend.

Here’s what we do know:

  • Rendon is termed out of the Legislature in 2024, creating a definitive expiration date on his position at the top.
  • This probably isn’t the first time a member has taken a crack at unseating the leader. Last year, Rendon unceremoniously stripped Cupertino Democrat Evan Low of a coveted committee leadership role in what was rumored to be retaliation for an attempt at Rendon’s job.
  • Low is a Rivas ally and could be well positioned with his friend in the top spot.
  • There was trouble within the Democratic ranks last week when a handful of moderate Democrats attempted to force a vote on a bipartisan gas tax suspension proposal — a direct challenge to Rendon’s control of the chamber.
  • If there is to be a change of leadership, first there has to be a majority vote from the Assembly’s 58 Democrats, followed by a vote of all 78 Assembly members (two seats are vacant). Such a vote could happen as soon as today. Sources who asked not to be named said that 34 Democrats had signed cards pledging their support to Rivas, who would need 41 votes to become speaker.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • Rivas stated in his news release that he had “begun discussions on a transition” with Rendon, but is this a hostile takeover? 
  • If Rivas really does have the support of 34 Democrats, is that backing firm enough to last until the caucus votes — especially if Rendon is lobbying against it?
  • And when would that potential vote take place? What about the actual change of leadership? What would it mean to have a changing of the guard just two weeks out from the constitutional deadline to pass a budget?
  • Palace intrigue aside, would a Rivas-led Assembly make a difference from a policy perspective? Rivas, first elected in 2018, noted that he would be the first speaker of the “modern era to represent a rural district.” He does have more agricultural connections than South Gate’s Rendon. But ideologically, he votes with the bulk of other Democrats and he touts support from the Assembly’s progressive caucus. Key interest group give the two similar ratings.

For Rivas, it’s a high-risk gamble, as Low can attest. 

Not to brag but…

…okay, maybe to brag just a little: On Friday, CalMatters won first place for “general excellence” in the 2021 California Journalism Awards. That’s along with five other first-place awards and 17 awards. That includes specific call-outs for our investigative, enterprise, land use, education and election reporting. 

So that’s pretty neat.

Thanks very much to you, dear reader, for helping us do what we do — by sharing our work, contributing financially, subscribing to this newsletter or just generally staying informed about California through our reporting. 

Here’s to a generally excellent 2022.

Click here to read the full the full article in CalMatters