Migrants’ Trip to Sacramento Aboard Private Jet Appears to Have Been Arranged by State of Florida, Officials Say

More than a dozen migrants from South America who were recently flown on a chartered jet from New Mexico and dropped off in Sacramento were carrying documents indicating that their transportation was arranged by the state of Florida, the California attorney general’s office said Sunday.

The documents appear to show that the flight was arranged through the Florida Division of Emergency Management and that it was part of the state’s migrant transportation program, according to a spokesperson with the attorney general’s office who did not want to be identified.

The contractor for that Florida program is Vertol Systems Co., which coordinated similar flights that took dozens of Venezuelan asylum seekers from San Antonio to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts last year, the spokesperson said. Also last year, eight Venezuelan migrants were flown from Texas to Sacramento.

Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta could not be reached for comment Sunday. Officials declined to comment further because the incident remains under investigation.

The 16 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia were initially transported by bus from El Paso to New Mexico, where they boarded the flight to Sacramento, officials said. They were dropped off at the doorstep of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento on Friday.

Their arrival, for which no politician or organization has yet to publicly claim responsibility, adds fuel to a controversy over similar ploys by conservative politicians in Republican-led states.

They and their supporters have said the efforts are aimed at raising awareness of the influx of migrants over the southern border and bringing the issue to the doorsteps of authorities in states led by Democrats. Opponents describe the moves as cruel political stunts that use immigrants as pawns and leave them many miles from family, resources and even the courthouses where they are often expected to appear to plead their cases for asylum.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, said in a statement that he and Bonta, also a Democrat, met on Saturday with more than 12 of the migrants, who “were transported from Texas to New Mexico before being flown by private chartered jet to Sacramento and dumped on the doorstep of a local church without any advance warning.”

Newsom added that his office and the California Department of Justice are working together “to investigate the circumstances around who paid for the group’s travel and whether the individuals orchestrating this trip misled anyone with false promises or have violated any criminal laws, including kidnapping.”

Bonta confirmed that his office is “investigating the circumstances by which these individuals were brought to California” in a statement Saturday.

“We are also evaluating potential criminal or civil action against those who transported or arranged for the transport of these vulnerable immigrants,” he added. “While this is still under investigation, we can confirm these individuals were in possession of documentation purporting to be from the government of the State of Florida.”

The situation in Sacramento is playing out against a backdrop of intense national debate over how to handle the influx of migrants who enter the U.S. across the Mexican border each year. That debate has come to a head in response to similar efforts championed and supported by Republican governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas and Ron DeSantis of Florida that have displaced thousands of migrants and generated widespread controversy in recent years.

In September, Abbott bused about 100 migrants to Washington, D.C., where they were dropped off outside the Naval Observatory, the home of Vice President Kamala Harris. That same month, DeSantis — who is now a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination — sent a group of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy liberal haven off the coast of Massachusetts.

Neither governor’s office responded immediately to requests for comment on Sunday.

Newsom has made a habit of attacking DeSantis and Abbott over a host of issues that divide the nation, routinely blasting their stance on immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, gun control and abortion. He launched a political action committee this year aimed at supporting Democrats running in red states. In a video announcing the effort, Newsom said “authoritarian leaders” are a problem for the country as images of DeSantis and Abbott flash across the screen.

Jaime Soto, bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, said in a statement Saturday that the diocese is working with other groups to help the new arrivals.

“The urgency to respond was heard by Catholics and people of goodwill,” he said. “We are thankful to our partner organizations who took up the holy work of hospitality, dedicating their time and resources to ensure that every migrant did not feel alone and abandoned.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg called for an investigation into the latest incident in a Saturday statement.

“Human trafficking is not only despicable; it’s a felony. … Whoever is behind this must answer the following: Is there anything more cruel than using scared human beings to score cheap political points?” he said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Fresno Cashier’s Crusade To Stop Alleged Thief with Colliding Vehicle Gets Her Fired

A Fresno cashier who was tired of watching people steal took matters into her own hands by chasing after a shoplifter.

But she ended up getting fired.

Jessie Sotto, formerly an employee at the Dollar General store in the area west of Highway 99, told TMZ that she’s upset about losing her job because she thought she was a good cashier and had her former employer’s best interests at heart.

The cashier’s quest to catch the alleged thief was caught on video and ended up going viral, with footage showing Sotto using a vehicle to collide into a man on a bicycle.

“Like I’m sick and tired of people getting away with crime,” Sotto said in her interview with TMZ. “Why are honest people that work so hard — like me, a hard working mom — not manipulating the system (and) working hard.

“And you’ve got this person just stealing stuff.”

Sotto said she’d seen the man steal in the Dollar General store before and warned him to stop stealing and not come back.

But when he showed up again last month and took more items without paying, Sotto said she’d seen enough.

“My thought process was to go after him, tell him to stop, get the stuff back,” Sotto said. “I felt like I had the right to go after him.”

So Sotto got into her vehicle and chased after the man, who was riding a bike.

A residential doorbell camera captured on video of what happened next: Sotto’s vehicle colliding with the man and his bike to the sound of screeching brakes, and stolen items flying in several directions, some splattering onto the driveway.

Among the items that appeared to come out of a laundry basket being held by the man toward the front of the bike were: milk, cereal, shampoo, chips, a few bottles of Gatorade and soda, and a small bouquet flowers (the incident happened three days before Mother’s Day).

The man falls forward from the crash but manages to use his hands to brace himself.

“I saw it happening live from my work,” said the Fresno resident whose doorbell camera captured the incident, and asked to remain anonymous. “I was just in total shock watching it all play out.

“She cut him off and he went flying forward. Honestly, I thought it was hilarious at first. That’s why I posted it. How often do you see an employee chase after a person who stole stuff? She went above and beyond. And I knew she was an employee because she was still wearing her smock.

“But,” the Fresno resident added, “I later started realizing how severe this situation could’ve been and someone could’ve really gotten hurt.”

Sotto said she drove alongside the man for a bit prior to what the video shows, and twice asked him to return the items and stop stealing.

“He said ‘Stop messing with my life. You don’t know me. No, I’m not going to give the stuff back,’” Sotto recalled the alleged thief saying.

From Sotto’s perspective, she did not crash into the man with the vehicle but instead abruptly stopped her car in the bike’s pathway.

“I stomped on my brakes and I was in no movement whatsoever in my car when I pulled in front of him,” Sotto said “I guess he couldn’t see that I had stopped because he had a basket full in front of the handles.

“Then he just ran right into my car.”

Following the collision, the man and Sotto curse and yell at each other.

Their encounter never gets physical with any punches or pushes.

But when Sotto tosses the man’s bike to the side with one hand, the man responds by aggressively throwing an item into her car, which had a window open.

It also becomes clear in the video that the front wheel of the man’s bike becomes severely bent from the crash.

“It ain’t that f****** seriously,” the man says to Sotto. “Who cares! Everybody steals all the f****** time.

“You going to jail for that.”

All the while during their heated exchange, the man and Sotto each pick various items.

“And I’m pressing charges,” the man says.

Click here to read the full article from the Fresno Bee

Former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey Weighs U.S. Senate Bid

Former Los Angeles Dodgers icon Steve Garvey is considering running for the open U.S. Senate seat in California as a Republican, a move that would immediately upend the 2024 race, according to several GOP state party insiders and operatives who requested anonymity to discuss the former All-Star’s plans.

The 74-year-old has never held elected office but has been meeting with GOP donors and leaders around the state as he weighs a bid and is expected to make a decision within the next month or so.

Republican strategist Andy Gharakhani, who is advising Garvey, confirmed that the Palm Desert resident is weighing a campaign.

“He is being contacted by leaders up and down the state. They’re recruiting him to run from both sides, Republican and Democrat, and he’s seriously considering it,” said Gharakhani, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of New Majority, an influential business-minded donor group. “We should have a decision made here in the next few weeks.”

Garvey did not respond to requests for comment.

If Garvey runs, he will focus on quality-of-life issues such as the cost of living and public safety in California, Gharakhani said.

California has a rare open Senate seat because long-time Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, who is facing significant health issues, has announced that she will not seek another term in 2024. Twenty candidates had filed to run for her seat by the end of March, according to the Federal Election Commission.

The three most prominent Democrats, who have each raised at least seven figures, are Reps. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank, Katie Porter of Irvine and Barbara Lee of Oakland. Los Angeles attorney Eric Early, who ran unsuccessfully for California attorney general in 2022 and 2018, is the most prominent Republican who is officially running.

Given Democrats’ overwhelming voter-registration advantage in the state, any Republican running to succeed Feinstein faces an extremely tough challenge. No GOP candidate has won statewide office in California since 2006.

Garvey has reportedly told potential supporters that he is aware of his odds, but feels it is important for the party to have a prominent name at the top of the ballot, according to multiple people who have spoken with him.

Because of the state’s “jungle primary” system, Garvey’s entry into the race would be notable. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the March primary will advance to the general election in November 2024, regardless of party.

Normally, having multiple Republicans on the ballot would dilute the party’s chances of making the general-election ballot. But this calculus could be upended because of Garvey’s celebrity and name recognition in two of the state’s largest cities. The first baseman played for the Dodgers from 1969 to 1982 and for the San Diego Padres from 1983 to 1987. In addition to a 1981 World Series victory, Garvey was a 10-time National League All-Star and won four Gold Glove awards.

“Garvey was a sports legend a generation ago, but that’s who makes up the electorate,” said GOP strategist Rob Stutzman, a former advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who describes Garvey as “my childhood hero” but has no involvement in his effort. “And he was huge in two markets. He was a hero in Los Angeles as well as in San Diego for the Padres. He did a ton of advertising over the years. He’s a very well-known former athlete in California, and, assuming a strong and competent candidacy, I think he would absolutely have the opportunity to consolidate the Republican vote in the primary.”

A Garvey candidacy would excite long-suffering California Republicans, even though his odds of success would be low, Stutzman added.

“It’s very tough for any Republican to win statewide, and that’s probably more true in a U.S. Senate race,” Stutzman said. “However, he could possibly be a wild-card candidate that could really change the dynamic in a way we haven’t seen happen in well over a decade. It’s hard to predict victory, but it could certainly be a real boost for the party.”

Early, who lost to Schiff in a 2020 congressional contest, said he was not concerned.

“All I know about Steve Garvey is he was a ballplayer 40 years ago and he has more baggage than the Pacific Surf Liner,” Early said.

Among the controversies in Garvey’s past are fathering two children with different women shortly before he married a third.

Early also pointed to his strength in a recent poll by UC Berkeley co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. Among voters likely to take part in the primary, Early has support from 18%, nearly all Republicans. Porter is close behind with 17%, followed by Schiff with 14% and Lee at 9%.

“Our campaign is solely focused on beating the three extremists I’m running against,” he said, adding, “regardless of who gets in the race, we’re going to beat him and get in the top two.”

Garvey’s age could also be an issue — it’s unclear whether voters concerned about an octogenarian senator’s capabilities would want to replace her with a septuagenarian.

Garvey has flirted with running for office for decades. In 1981, he told Playboy magazine that he had been approached about running for the Senate because he could “make this society a better place to live in for all of us” and that he may one day consider running for the White House.

Seven years later, Garvey attended the Republican National Convention in New Orleans as he raised money for future President George H.W. Bush, and spoke about his political ambitions.

“Precedents have been set,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune, adding that he might ponder a statewide run in 1990 or 1992. “We’ve had an actor in the White House. Why not a first baseman?”

Garvey has spent much of recent years unsuccessfully trying to win a spot in the baseball Hall of Fame, commenting on the sport and promoting the game in Ireland. But he has recently shown a renewed interest in politics, including meeting with California political donors and leaders.

In mid-May, Garvey attended a California GOP donor appreciation event for supporters who had contributed at least $45,500 at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa in Rancho Mirage.

His potential candidacy was “openly discussed at the event,” said a prominent Republican who attended the event, which was hosted by the state’s GOP legislative leaders as well as the leader of the state party. “He attended the receptions, played golf, interacted with the attendees. He was very engaging.”

On Tuesday, Garvey headlined a fundraiser for Rep. Michelle Steel at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach where he autographed baseballs.

Garvey is also scheduled to headline the Orange County Republican Party’s signature Flag Day salute on June 14.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Tax on Short-Term Rentals Like Airbnb Could Fund California Affordable Housing

California lawmakers are considering a measure this session that would tax short-term rentals to fund affordable housing projects, a proposal that has revived dormant tensions at the state Capitol over the rise of companies like Airbnb and Vrbo and their responsibility for the state’s constrained housing supply.

Senate Bill 584 by state Sen. Monique Limón, a Santa Barbara Democrat, would impose a 15% tax on short-term rentals — the homes and rooms that owners rent out like hotels for 30 days or less at a time — starting in 2025. This statewide surcharge, an addition to the local transient occupancy taxes that most communities already require, could generate an estimated $150 million annually to build or rehabilitate low- and middle-income housing.

“One of the things that I get asked very often by my local cities and counties is: ‘Where is the money to build the housing?’” Limón told CalMatters. “I see this bill really saying everyone has a role to play.”

The Senate passed the measure today, with the bare minimum of 27 votes needed and sent it to the Assembly.

While legislators have made a few unsuccessful attempts to regulate vacation rentals over the past decade, these fights largely played out at the local level, where the effects of their surging popularity with travelers is more immediate.

But the prospect of a tax that rental platforms worry would put them at a disadvantage to hotels has sent them scrambling, with Airbnb rallying its hosts in recent weeks to oppose a bill it argues would “hurt the local tourism economy.”

“While the bill aims to boost housing affordability, it does so at the expense of regular Californians who are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of living,” the company wrote in an email alert last week urging hosts to reach out to lawmakers.

Limon’s proposal already faced higher hurdles as a tax measure, requiring a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Legislature. Now it must contend with a shaky economy, which has stoked apprehensions about increasing taxes among even some Democrats, including Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“It doesn’t mean that we don’t raise the difficult question of what is the solution,” Limón said.

An invitation to invest

Limón unveiled her bill in March as a way to create a steady stream of money to help local governments meet ambitious housing development targets set by the state.

The short-term rental tax would fund grants for public entities and nonprofit providers to create affordable housing projects — primarily through new construction, but also by fixing up existing buildings — that would be permanently set aside for low- and middle-income renters.

The measure, which is sponsored by the State Building and Construction Trades Council, an umbrella organization for construction worker unions, would also require certain wage and labor standards for projects.

Limón said she is not villainizing short-term rentals, but rather inviting them to be a part of fixing a statewide housing crunch they have exacerbated. If the industry has ideas, she said she’s open to alternatives to the 15% tax rate, which was suggested by a Senate committee where the bill passed earlier this month.

“This is a conversation about investment. And I think it’s unfortunate that those that are being asked to invest in solving a problem for the communities where they do work or business, see it as” a punishment, Limón said. “So if a 15% investment, you know, is not the number, then what is?”

Another vacation rental boom over the past few years, fueled by the coronavirus pandemic, has reignited debates across California about whether locals are being priced out of their communities, leading to a wave of new bans, permit caps and other restrictions.

Recent research has found a reallocation of long-term housing units into short-term rentals, leading to an upward pressure on prices. A 2020 study by a team from the National Bureau of Economic Research; California State University, Northridge; and the University of Southern California pegged the number at an annual increase of $9 in monthly rent and $1,800 in home prices in the median neighborhood. That is often driven by large-scale operators from outside of the communities; a 2017 analysis of short-term rentals in New Orleans found that nearly half of permitted units were registered to fewer than a fifth of operators.

But the industry disputes that vacation rentals comprise enough of California’s housing stock to have a significant effect on affordability.

2022 report by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank, noted that only about 1% of housing units in the state are short-term rentals — though it’s far higher in some popular tourist destinations — which it concluded “cannot be considered a meaningful driver of California’s housing shortage.” The report was backed by the Travel Technology Association, an industry group that includes short-term rental platforms among its members.

Falling behind the competition

Alongside opponents such as the California Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, Airbnb and Vrbo have raised concerns that Limon’s proposal would give hotels an unfair advantage over mom-and-pop vacation rental operators who rely on hosting for supplemental income. Local transient occupancy taxes, for stays at hotels and short-term rentals, can exceed 14% in some places.

“SB 584 would harm California’s travelers, its vacation rental community, and the network of small businesses that depend on them,” Alyssa Stinson, California government and corporate affairs manager for Vrbo’s parent company, Expedia Group, said in a statement. The state should “find sustainable, balanced solutions to address California’s housing needs without threatening its tourism economy.”

Airbnb declined to discuss its position on the bill. In its alert to hosts, the company claimed the tax would “make vacations more expensive” and burden “everyday Californians who rely on the income from home sharing to afford everyday costs or stay in their home.”

Dan Johnson, who rents out the first floor of his San Diego home as a suite for visitors, said he was “pissed off” when he found out about the tax proposal last week from the Airbnb email and he has reached out to more than half a dozen senators asking them to vote against it.

Johnson, 62, an environmental consultant who also develops infill housing on formerly contaminated sites, said he started hosting through Airbnb and Vrbo a year and a half ago as he and his wife prepare for retirement.

“As you move away from a steady paycheck, it’s nice to have a supplemental income,” he said. “It gets a little scary, right?”

Though he supports Limon’s goal of addressing housing affordability, Johnson said he believes that short-term rental owners are being picked on to solve a problem they didn’t create because they don’t have a powerful lobby at the Capitol.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Why Are California’s Progressive Politicians So Intent on Gutting Direct Democracy Rights?

When will progressives stop attacking the direct democracy rights?

A couple of months ago, this column exposed the threat that Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 1 posed to the power of recall. Among the powers of direct democracy, initiative, referendum and recall, the power to recall a statewide or local elected official provides voters with the ability to remove a sitting elected official in the middle of a term. Recalls are frequently deployed when an elected official has engaged in gross dereliction of duties such as the recent successful recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

Currently, voters can recall a state officer by majority vote and, in the same election, elect a successor with a plurality of the vote. But SCA 1 would leave an office vacant in the event of a successful recall until a replacement is elected in a special election. This deprives voters of knowing who will replace the politician they are recalling and there would be no one to perform the duties of that office. In addition, under SCA 1 the rules would be different for a gubernatorial recall. If a governor is removed from office in a recall election, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the unexpired term. In a one-party state, that deprives voters of a serious debate.

SCA 1 isn’t the only legislative attack on the right of direct democracy. Assembly Bill 421 would virtually destroy the right to referendum. Unlike the power of initiative, which is when citizens “initiate” the legislative process, the right to referendum is the power to subject a law enacted by the legislature to a “yea or nay” vote by voters. It is a power not used very often and normally deployed against laws that are extremely unpopular.

AB 421 would require that at least 5% of signature collection be done by volunteers which, for grassroots organizations like the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, would not present an insurmountable burden, but it would restrict the rights of other interests targeted by punitive legislation.

AB 421 also resurrects a horrible idea of changing the nature of a vote on a referendum. Currently, a referendum asks voters to step into the shoes of the Legislature to consider the proposed law. Voters vote “yes” on the measure to approve the proposal, and “no” to reject it. AB 421 would effectively turn a yes vote into a no vote and a no vote into a yes vote. When former Sen. Bob Hertzberg proposed the same idea, it failed to get out of the Legislature. But even Hertzberg knew that such a proposal would require a constitutional amendment. Here, proponents believe that they can accomplish the same objective with a statute. They are wrong.

AB 421 imposes other rules and requirements that are so burdensome and complicated that they defy description. Combined, all the provisions of AB 421 mean that  voters will never again see another referendum no matter how outrageous the legislative statute.

Since 1911, Californians have possessed powerful tools to control indolent or corrupt politicians. The rights of direct democracy — initiative, referendum, and recall — are enshrined in the California Constitution for reasons that are just as compelling now as they were more than a century ago.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

How California and Florida Both Use Schools to Fight the Culture Wars

Gov. Gavin Newsom is a self-appointed crusader against the social and educational policies of red states, particularly Florida, describing their governors as repressive authoritarians.

Just a few days ago, for instance, Newsom sent a letter to textbook publishers, demanding to know whether they are obeying Florida’s command to remove passages about race and other historical subjects from books. Implicitly, Newsom threatens publishers that catering to Florida risks being frozen out of California.

“California will not be complicit in Florida’s attempt to whitewash history through laws and backroom deals; parents have a right to know what’s happening in the dark to undermine our children’s education – and California deserves to know whether any of these companies designing textbooks for our state’s classrooms are the same ones kowtowing to Florida’s extremist agenda,” Newsom wrote.

Last month, Newsom paid a visit to the New College of Florida and sharply criticized Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ effort to curb the college’s progressive culture.

DeSantis appointed a conservative majority to the college’s board of trustees, replaced its president with an ally and abolished its office devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion programs as part of a larger effort to reshape public education in what DeSantis calls the “Free State of Florida.”

“I can’t believe what you’re dealing with. It’s just an unbelievable assault,” Newsom told New College students and faculty members. “It’s common with everything he’s doing, bullying and intimidating vulnerable communities. Weakness, Ron DeSantis, weakness masquerading as strength across the board.”

DeSantis wants to shield Florida’s students from influences he deems subversive and position himself as a cultural warrior on the right as he runs for president.

The flip side, however, is what’s happening in Newsomland – making the cultural hallmarks DeSantis wants to repress more or less mandatory in California’s schools and colleges.

While DeSantis abolishes the New College’s diversity, equity and inclusion office, the University of California requires faculty to write “diversity statements” that embrace those goals.

For years, UC faculty members have debated whether the requirement interferes with academic freedom, with critics likening it to the “loyalty oaths” once used to weed out those with left-of-center leanings. They were later invalidated by the state Supreme Court.

Afterwards, UC adopted a policy that “No political test shall ever be considered in the appointment and promotion of any faculty member or employee,” and critics say UC’s diversity statement requirement violates that policy.

This month, the Pacific Legal Foundation filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of psychologist John Haltigan, alleging that the mandatory statement violates his free speech rights and blocked him from a faculty position at UC Santa Cruz.

Meanwhile, California’s K-12 schools are now required to provide ethnic studies and its model curriculum is permeated with the social theory that Florida wants to ban – essentially that nonwhite Americans are subjected to continuing racism and repression by whites.

The model sees students learning to “critique empire building in history and its relationship to white supremacy, racism, and other forms of power and oppression.” 

Early model versions were more assertively leftist, but Jewish groups balked at their characterization of Zionism as repression and the wording was toned down before adoption in 2021.

The changes angered some members of the team that wrote the initial draft, and they have offered to consult with school systems that want to comply with the ethnic studies mandate. However, that’s sparked a backlash from The Deborah Project, a Jewish public interest law firm devoted to fighting antisemitism.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

San Diego Unified, Teachers Union Reach Tentative Agreement on New 3-Year Contract. Here’s What’s In It

The proposed contract would give teachers raises of more than 15 percent over two years and boost schools’ nurse and counselor staffing. A ratification vote by union membership will begin Thursday.

San Diego Unified School District and its teachers union have reached a tentative three-year contract agreement that would give teachers raises of more than 15 percent over two years and boost schools’ nurse and counselor staffing, the union announced late Friday, after months of negotiations.

Teachers would get 10 percent raises retroactive to July 1, 2022, with the retroactive wages paid in a lump sum later this year. A 5 percent raise would follow next year, and the 2024-2025 school year would bring a wage reopener, when possible new raises would be bargained.

The proposed contract would also double paid maternity leave to six weeks, allow more teachers to be paid for their work with schools’ after-school activities and have a specialized team again perform private-school assessments for students with disabilities — assessments that schools’ special-education teachers had been performing themselves in recent years, said Kyle Weinberg, the union president.

“We were able to have a very ambitious platform and achieve almost everything in that platform,” Weinberg said.

The contract would also require full-time nurses in every high school and full-time counselors at every elementary school with more than 500 students enrolled.

Nurse and counselor staffing had been a key bargaining goal of the union. Weinberg called the boost important to address the impact of trauma from the pandemic and students’ growing mental health needs.

Currently, dozens of San Diego Unified schools are still making do with a counselor or nurse on campus a few days a week, a recent San Diego Union-Tribune analysis of staffing data found.

Click here to read the full article in SD Union Tribune

Parents to Protest June 2 Pride Event at San Fernando Valley Elementary School

Conservative parents at Saticoy Elementary oppose teaching children about LGBTQ+ parents at an assembly

A group of parents at Saticoy Elementary School in North Hollywood are urging families to “keep your children home and innocent” on Friday, June 2, when the school is holding a pride-oriented assembly that will include discussion of LGBTQ+ parents.

The opposing parents plan to protest outside the school on June 2 at 8 a.m., according to posts on an Instagram page that expressed outrage that the school plans to teach children about LGBTQ+ identities during a book reading. Conversely, LGBTQ+ advocates are upset by the parents and support the school’s effort to educate students about different sexual identities.

According to a district spokesperson, the event at Saticoy Elementary will include a reading of The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman, which cites family types including multi-cultural families, multi-racial families, single parent families and — to the chagrin of protesting parents — families with LGBTQ+ parents.

The group called Saticoy Elementary Parents on its Instagram page says the school has a significant  population of Armenian and Hispanic families who “share conservative values” and “don’t feel this material is appropriate to teach to the children.”

“We respect everyone, but some things are appropriate for children (of) that age, and some things are not,” Saticoy Elementary School parent George Dzhabroyan told KTLA on Tuesday, May 23. “Hopefully the message gets across and people understand that parents should be the primary contact of what their children should be exposed to and shouldn’t be exposed to.”

Noah Reich, a San Fernando Valley-based LGBTQ advocate and co-founder of the non-profit organization Classroom of Compassion, thinks the reading is a good way to introduce young students to the topic of sexuality.

“I don’t think anyone is ever too young to learn about a world that reflects and welcomes them,” he said. “I don’t know if there is a more innocent way to begin a conversation about LGBTQ+ people not only being parts of our family but also being worthy to create families.”

He was echoed by Kevin Perez, president and co-founder of Somos Familia Valle, an LGBTQ+ support group in the East San Fernando Valley.

“Even in the San Fernando Valley, there are a lot of LGBTQ+ parents. That is certainly what we need to accept,” Perez said.

When asked what he would say to parents who object to an assembly focused on the book, he responded: “I would say, ‘have an open mind and an open heart.’ There are many different family units that exist and have always existed. This is nothing new.”

SEE: Target pulls some LGBTQ+ merchandise ahead of June Pride month after backlash from some shoppers

An LAUSD spokesperson said the district is committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning environment that reflects and embraces the diverse population it serves.

“As part of our engagement with school communities, our schools regularly discuss the diversity of the families that we serve and the importance of inclusion,” LAUSD said in a statement. “This remains an active discussion with our school communities and we remain committed to continuing to engage with families about this important topic.”

The conservative parent group at Saticoy Elementary was also active in opposing the school district’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. In October 2021 about a dozen staff and parents held an anti-vaccine protest outside the school.

“We said no to COVID-19 vaccines and it’s now over,” the group wrote this month in a May 17 Instagram story. “It was a hard fought battle and we won! Now it is time to say stop grooming our children.”

Reich, the Classroom of Compassion co-founder, said he was dismayed, but not surprised.

“This type of homophobia and fear tactics is nothing new that our community has faced,” he said. “Nevertheless, it’s an absolute shame that there are kids and students in our home city being subjected to this rhetoric.”

Reich and his fellow non-profit co-founder, David Maldonado, grew up attending LAUSD schools in the San Fernando Valley and at that time both felt unsafe being openly gay.

“As students and products of LAUSD, it wasn’t easy for us being queer in those environments,” he said. “We’ve seen the incredible progress that so many schools and spaces have made to make their campuses and classrooms more inclusive and more welcoming for students. In a time where the world can feel scarier and scarier, the classroom is so often a sanctuary for students, especially queer ones.”

Perez, the president and co-founder Somos Familia Valle said he was “shocked” to see the strong pushback from the Saticoy Elementary Parents group. His own group provides support groups and workshops at nearby high schools for queer and transgender students, including several LAUSD schools.

“It (the protest) is part of the anti-LGBTQ push in general,” he said.

The argument over whether Saticoy Elementary students should be taught about different sexual identities in school is part of a tense national debate.

In March 2022, Florida passed a ban on teaching sexual orientation and gender identity in Kindergarten through 3rd Grade. In April, the Florida Board of Education expanded this ban, also known as the “Don’t Say Gay Law”, to apply to all grade levels.

Similar laws are in the works, or have passed, in at least at least a dozen other states. Debates have also arisen over gender neutral bathrooms and the rights of transgender students to utilize the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

The ban on teaching about sexual orientation in classrooms is championed by Florida governor and potential presidential contender Ron DeSantis, who has made a conservative attitude towards LBGTQ rights a cornerstone of his platform. In November 2022, he convinced the Florida Board of Medicine to ban hormone treatment and surgeries for transgender minors.

The California state legislature, meanwhile, has continued to pass laws intended to uphold the rights of LGBTQ youth. Senate Bill 48, passed in 2012, requires all public schools to include LGBTQ+ history in their social studies curriculum. The California Healthy Youth Act, which was enacted in 2016, requires that schools teach about sexual orientations and gender identity.

And on Wednesday the state Senate approved SB 407, a bill that would direct the Department of Social Services to strengthen the foster care vetting process to ensure LGBTQ+ foster youth are not placed in hostile homes.

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

Hillary Clinton Backs Eleni Kounalakis for California Governor

After her friend and former boss lost the presidential race in 2016, Democrat Eleni Kounalakis remembers Hillary Clinton urging women to run for public office.

It was a pivotal moment that inspired Kounalakis to run for California lieutenant governor in 2018, a position that is now the basis for her recently launched campaign to become the state’s first female governor.

That effort will get a boost Thursday when Kounalakis is expected to announce an endorsement from Clinton, who says she wants to help her friend “break California’s glass ceiling.”

“Eleni has proven to be a fierce leader,” Clinton said in a statement lauding Kounalakis on education, the economy and abortion access. “That’s the California way, and in 2026, that will be the Eleni Kounalakis way.”

With Gov. Gavin Newsom termed out of office after 2026, the governor’s race is expected to draw a large field of contenders hoping to lead the nation’s largest state. Democrat Betty Yee, the former state controller, has said she plans to run. Democratic Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has said he is considering it.

But Kounalakis was the first to formally launch a gubernatorial campaign when she announced it last month. Now she is following up with high-profile endorsements that also include support from California’s former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, another barrier breaker. Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 1992 became the first women elected to represent California in the Senate.

“Endorsements like that show that she’s got the traditional party luminaries who are women on her side,” said Kim Nalder, a political science professor at California State University, Sacramento. “Those are important endorsements.”

Although Kounalakis is unknown to many voters, Nalder said, endorsements from well-known Democrats such as Clinton and Boxer will help her build credibility with the state’s overwhelmingly Democratic electorate.

“The fact that this is happening relatively early shows that she’s probably making moves to try to box out other potential candidates,” Nalder said.

The connections between Kounalakis and Clinton go back decades. Kounalakis’ father, Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, was a major donor to President Clinton who attended a state dinner and stayed overnight at the White House in 1997.

Kounalakis helped raise money for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then worked for her when Clinton was secretary of State and Kounalakis was ambassador to Hungary. In 2016, Kounalakis was a California co-chair of Clinton’s presidential campaign, helping raise money and advising on foreign policy.

“I could go all the way back to 1992 when Hillary Clinton first inspired me,” Kounalakis said Wednesday in an interview with The Times.

She recalled the flap that year when Clinton said she “could have stayed home and baked cookies” but instead pursued a legal career.

“Even though she had to apologize for the comment, for many years after, for a kid like me, I took it as permission to want to go out and do bigger things in the world,” Kounalakis said.

The inspiration she drew from Clinton developed over the years and became transformative after she lost the presidential race to Donald Trump.

“That catastrophic election impacted me as it did so many women,” Kounalakis said. “When Hillary stood up and said, ‘Women of America, go run for office,’ I was one of thousands of women, record numbers of women across the country, who stood up and ran.”

Click here to read the full article in LA Times

‘The Dodgers Have Become the Bud Light of Baseball’: CatholicVote Blasts Dodgers for Caving to Anti-Catholic Drag Queens

The Los Angeles Dodgers have indeed proven themselves to be the “Bud Light of Baseball” after backing down to the woke and reinviting the radical, anti-Christian gay and transgender group, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, to their Pride Night on June 16.

Now that the Dodgers have reversed its decision to disinvite the hate group from its gay pride night after acquiescing to Christians who were outraged that the group was set to get a community award at the game, Christians are again mounting efforts to denounce the team for reinviting the LGBTQ group to the game.

CatholicVote is vowing to resume its campaign to pressure the Dodgers to distance itself from the hate group after the team went groveling back to reinvite them to their June 16 game.

“After the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday reinvited an anti-Catholic hate group to be honored at the team’s June 16 LGBTQ+ Pride Night, CatholicVote President Brian Burch vowed to launch a “barrage” of advertising against the team across Los Angeles and in game broadcasts,” the group said in a Monday press release.

“This is a slap in the face of every Catholic,” Burch added. “We’re raising $1 million as fast as we can, and we will pummel this decision in advertising that the Dodgers can’t ignore.”

“Every advertiser, every season ticket holder, every charity, every fan must speak out against the Dodgers’ decision to promote anti-Catholic hate,” Burch said. “Why does ‘pride’ have to include honoring the most grotesque and scandalous anti-Catholic perverts?”

CatholicVote’s decision comes after the team proudly announced that it was awarding the Sisters with its community Hero Award during its forthcoming June 16 gay pride night event.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is known for dressing in drag queen-inspired nun outfits to mock Catholics, including at pro-abortion rallies, according to Fox News. Dressed as nuns, the group attends parades to push the radical gay agenda.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue blasted the team for “promoting bigotry, not fighting it” with its obscene award for the anti-Catholic group.

“These homosexual bigots are known for simulating sodomy while dressed as nuns,” Donohue said. “They like to feature a ‘Condom Savior Mass,’ one that describes how the ‘Latex Host is the flesh for the life of the world.’”

Donohue also noted that the group also calls itself “Sister Homo Fellatio” and “Sister Joyous Reserectum” and pointed out that “only last month, the group held an event mocking the Virgin Mary and Jesus on Easter Sunday.”

After pressure from Christians, the team announced it had heard their concerns and decided to disinvite the radical hate group from its gay pride night festivities.

“Given the strong feelings of people who have been offended by the sisters’ inclusion in our evening, and in an effort not to distract from the great benefits that we have seen over the years of Pride Night, we are deciding to remove them from this year’s group of honorees,” MLB said in a statement.

However, since the announcement disinviting the group from the June 16 game, the extreme gay lobby jumped into action to excoriate the team for the move. The campaign from the gay groups spurred the team to make yet another decision, this time to reinvite the Sisters to the gay pride night.

The team put out a defiant statement enshrined in rainbow colors.

Click here to read the full article in BreitbartCA