California’s water tunnel to cost $20 billion. State officials say the benefits are worth it

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration said Thursday it will now cost more than $20 billion to build a giant tunnel aimed at catching more water when it rains and storing it to better prepare for longer droughts caused by climate change.

State regulators have been trying to build some version of a water tunnel system for decades. The latest form championed by the Democratic governor is a single giant tunnel, down from two tunnels proposed by his predecessor, Jerry Brown. Newsom’s administration says the state can capture more water from the Sacramento River during major storms and send it south for storage.

The last cost estimate, which came in 2020, put the price tag for a single tunnel project at $16 billion. The new analysis says the tunnel will cost $20.1 billion, an increase they attribute almost entirely to inflation, which soared after the pandemic.

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The project would be paid for by 29 local public water agencies, who get their money from customers.

The analysis, conducted by the Berkeley Research Group but paid for by the state, said the tunnel would yield $38 billion in benefits, mostly because of an increased water supply that would be better protected from natural disasters like earthquakes.

“The benefits clearly justify the costs,” said David Sunding, emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley who led the analysis.

Despite that rosy outlook, the tunnel remains one of the most controversial projects in recent memory. Environmental groups say its construction would have devastating impacts on the already vanishing ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast that is home to endangered species of salmon and other fish.

The analysis released Thursday notes the environmental impacts include lost agricultural land, reduced water quality in the Delta, and impacts on air quality, transportation and noise.

“Instead of foisting the costs of this boondoggle project onto Californians, the state should invest in sustainable water solutions that promise to restore the Delta ecosystem, not destroy it,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parilla, executive director of the environmental advocacy group Restore the Delta.

State officials note the project now includes $200 million for grants to fund local projects in areas impacted by construction.

Beyond environmental concerns, the project has become a political landmine throughout the Central Valley’s farming communities, where it is seen as yet another attempt by Southern California to steal their water. While most of California’s population lives in the southern part of the state, most of the state’s water comes from the north. In the state Legislature, lawmakers have blocked any effor t to benefit or speed up the tunnel’s construction.

“This new analysis acknowledges what we’ve known all along: the Delta Tunnel is meant to benefit Beverly Hills and leave Delta communities out to dry,” said U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, a Democrat whose district includes the Central Valley communities like Stockton, Lodi and Galt. “I’m sick and tired of politicians in Sacramento ignoring our Valley voices and I will do everything in my power to stop them from stealing our water.”

Click here to read the full article in AP News

L.A.’s accidental homelessness ‘czar’? U.S. District Judge David O. Carter

It’s an idea that always beguiles but never delivers.

Why can’t L.A. have a homelessness “czar,” a single person with the power to corral and direct the hodgepodge of agencies, as well as bridge the political divides that stymie government’s best intentions?

Mayor Karen Bass has her deputy for homelessness and housing. The county has its Homeless Initiative with its own executive director. Members of the Board of Supervisors and City Council each act as mini-czars, implementing diverse homelessness strategies in their districts. An independent housing authority decides who gets rental subsidies. The joint-powers Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has its chief executive officer who reports to both the city and county.

Now a judge has slammed his gavel over all of them. He’s no young upstart but an 80-year-old who projects by word and deed his conviction that homelessness is a moral outrage. Leveraging the powers of federal court, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has elevated himself, metaphorically speaking, to that position above governmental boundaries that no political leader or bureaucrat can reach.

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While overseeing two cases that challenge city, county and U.S. government practices on homelessness, Carter has summoned the mayor, several supervisors, council members and city and county department heads into his courtroom. He’s grilled officials in Washington on speakerphone. And, in moments rich in symbolism, he’s shown more deference in court to Skid Row residents he cultivates as confidants than to the lawyers and public officials appearing before him.

His rulings and, in some instances, merely his bluster have extracted commitments from city and county leaders to produce thousands more shelter beds, provide more treatment for mental health and substance abuse, and is pushing them to hash out an agreement on who pays — in other words to cooperate.

Carter has shaken up a homeless policy long marked by bureaucratic infighting, budgetary battles and competing strategies. But not everyone thinks Carter’s decisions are the best path, and some have chafed over his power to demand change from the perch of his bench.

In his most recent move, motivated by a deep-seated feeling that millions of dollars in homelessness funds aren’t trickling down to homeless people, Carter ordered the city to pay $2.2 million, or more if necessary, for an independent audit of its spending.

And up next, Carter has set an Aug. 6 date for a trial over veterans’ demands that the Department of Veterans Affairs swiftly provide housing for all homeless veterans with serious mental illness or traumatic brain injuries who live in Los Angeles County.

Alternately solicitous and overbearing to the parties before him, flagrantly sloppy with proper names and syntax, but somehow always crystal clear, Carter rebuffed the government’s petition for a dismissal in December backing his ruling with a string of passionate soliloquies.

“We’re the homeless veteran capital of the world right now,” he lectured a phalanx of government lawyers. “So I don’t want to hear excuses about we can’t afford it. It’s the opposite. We can’t afford what’s happening right now, folks. That’s what we can’t afford.”

Carter, a Marine veteran who survived life-threatening injuries in Vietnam, chided the lawyers for a lack of urgency.

“Unless you move, you’re going to lose a whole generation of Vietnam veterans,” he said. “If we stall this out, there’s a whole generation of people in their 70s and 80s who will just pass away without this issue being decided.”

He added a barbed compliment for the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, who came to L.A. to attend a housing dedication on the VA campus but didn’t accept Carter’s invitation to come to court:

“I thank him for coming out,” Carter said. “But if he came out to dedicate 53 units, maybe he ought to be out here involved in the settlement discussion … when we’re talking about 4,000 units. I’m looking for that leadership coming from … the secretary or from this administration.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Jailed students, a canceled commencement, angry parents: USC’s Carol Folt takes on critics

When USC trustees selected Carol Folt as their next president, they gave her one of the most challenging mandates in American higher education: Restore trust in a university diminished by scandals.

She replaced key administrators, brokered a $1-billion settlement with alumnae victimized by a sexually abusive gynecologist, hired a new football coach and authorized the removal of the name of an antisemitic, eugenics-supporting former USC president from an iconic campus building. To dozens of Japanese American ex-students unjustly incarcerated during World War II, then later denied reentry to the university, Folt awarded honorary degrees.

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“We are bringing some closure and perhaps healing,” Folt told descendants of those former students at a 2022 gala for Asian American alumni, distilling two key themes of her five-year tenure.

But a cascade of decisions that Folt made this spring around USC’s commencement and Israel-Hamas war-related protests have inflamed tensions and opened fresh wounds, presenting the most significant test of her tenure as university presidents around the country wrestle with similar dilemmas.

Citing unspecified safety threats, Folt rescinded pro-Palestinian valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s speaking slot in USC’s main commencement ceremony. Days later, amid a swell of outrage, Folt “released” director Jon M. Chu and other celebrities from receiving honorary degrees at the ceremony. 

After students set up a tent encampment in support of Palestinians and demanded that USC divest from financial ties with Israel, Folt and her team called in the LAPD, and 93 were arrested. Last week, Folt canceled the “main stage” commencement ceremony altogether, depriving students and their families of a treasured ritual.

For nearly two weeks, Folt made no public remarks, and her silence fed a growing sense that the university’s top executive was missing in action, according to interviews with faculty, students and alumni.

In balancing campus safety and the right to protest with concerns about antisemitism and anti-Muslim hatred, Folt was bound to take criticism from all directions. 

But many saw the damage at USC as self-inflicted.

Tabassum was not known to be a campus activist, and canceling her speech in the name of safety was seen by some as shutting down a Muslim student’s voice at the very time the world needed to hear it. “Let Asna speak” became a rallying cry at USC and beyond.

“This is an epic failure in leadership,” said Annette Ricchiazzi, a USC alumna whose daughter graduates this month. Ricchiazzi, a former USC administrator who now works as a consultant for nonprofits, predicted that the events of April would end up as a case study taught to crisis communications or business classes. “I don’t think she’s a great decision-maker,” she said of Folt.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

RFK Jr. says he’ll be on California’s ballot

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said Tuesday that he has qualified for California’s presidential election ballot, giving his candidacy a long-shot chance at collecting 54 electoral votes this fall.

If his spot on the ballot is certified by the California secretary of state, which could happen in August, Kennedy would represent the American Independent Party. The secretary of state’s office confirmed to The Times that Kennedy’s candidacy had been submitted by the party.

The party has a controversial history dating to 1968, when it nominated Alabama Gov. George Wallace as its candidate for president. He ran opposing desegregation and other federal civil rights laws in championing states’ rights. Kennedy’s father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, a Democrat from New York, was assassinated in Los Angeles the night he won that year’s California presidential primary.

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Kennedy says he has qualified for the ballot in California, Hawaii, Michigan and Utah. He has been investing heavily and, though running as an independent, is seeking alternative paths to the ballot since he opted out of running in the Democratic primary late last year. He recently selected California tech lawyer, entrepreneur and political newcomer Nicole Shanahan as his running mate.

In a video statement released Tuesday, Kennedy said the American Independent Party was “so impressed by this outpouring of democratic energy and vigor. … So they approached my campaign and offered us their spot on the California ballot. I see this story as a symbol of America’s homecoming.”

Kennedy added that he saw Wallace as a “bigot” who “was antithetical to everything my father believed in.”

In recent years, the AIP has been a source of confusion for voters seeking to avoid registering as either Republican or Democrat.

In California, voters may register as having no party preference, but The Times reported in 2016 that tens of thousands registered for AIP, many of them in error. Nearly 3 in 4 people did not realize they had joined the party, according to a survey of registered AIP voters conducted for The Times.

The AIP now exists only in California. Wallace won 46 electoral votes nationally as its standard bearer in 1968, one of the most successful third-party runs in modern history.

AIP today is not segregationist. In recent years, officials told The Times it “is a conservative, constitutionalist party.” It has opposed abortion.

The 2024 March California primary voter guide said AIP members “are all refugees from the Republican or Democrat parties. We believe the Constitution is the contract America has with itself. Its willful distortion led to the violation of our 10th Amendment guaranteed right to limited government — which inevitably requires oppressive taxation. Its faithful application will lift that burden.”

In a statement Tuesday, AIP state Chairman Victor Moroni said, “We all deserve to find inspiration at the ballot box. Our party is pleased to provide the opportunity for all 22 million voters in California to vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for President. Voters crave a real leader who will unite America.”

The move could have an impact on the presidential race in California, but not enough to change the expected outcome.

March poll from the UC Berkeley Institute of Government Studies and The Times found President Biden leading former President Trump by 18 percentage points statewide in a head-to-head matchup. That dropped to 12 points when independent and candidates from minor parties were included.

In battleground states, Kennedy’s ability to qualify for the ballot could prove pivotal. In Michigan, like in California, Kennedy latched onto a smaller party — the Natural Law Party — that long held a ballot line. His success in these efforts appears to have led Trump to ratchet up his attacks on the Los Angeles resident. The former president said on social media over the weekend that Kennedy is “far more LIBERAL than anyone running as a Democrat.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Corruption at the Capitol? Gov. Newsom Exempts Billionaire Buddy from Fast Food $20 Minimum Wage Law

Give a donation, Get an exemption: This is what corruption in plain sight looks like

Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

California Governor Gavin Newsom exempted a billionaire buddy from California’s new $20 minimum wage law. Billionaire Greg Flynn owns more than two dozen Panera Bread locations in California, as well as Applebee’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s.

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How did the billionaire boys club governor do this? He had it written right into AB 1228 by Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Los Angeles):

Fast food restaurant” shall not include an establishment that on September 15, 2023, operates a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread, as defined under Part 136 of Subchapter B of Chapter I of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, so long as it continues to operate such a bakery. This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item, and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item. (emphasis the Globe)

Here is the actual section AB 1228:

Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday:

Billionaire Greg Flynn, who made his fortune running one of the world’s largest restaurant franchise operations, is getting a new boost from sourdough loaves and brioche buns.

That’s because a California law that’s about to raise the state minimum wage at fast-food spots to $20 an hour from $16 offers an unusual exemption for chains that bake bread and sell it as a standalone item.

Governor Gavin Newsom pushed for that break, according to people familiar with the matter. Among the main beneficiaries is Flynn, a longtime Newsom donor whose California holdings include two dozen Panera Bread locations.

Give a donation, get an exemption? This is what corruption in plain sight looks like.

Bloomberg News reported that Flynn attended the same high school as Newsom, and has been involved in various business dealings with Gov. Newsom.

Flynn has also contributed at least $164,800 to Newsom’s political campaigns, the New York Post reported.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

‘You have a crisis out there’: Gavin Newsom scolds counties over delays in mental health law

One of the counties that is operating a CARE Court, Riverside, is taking more time to adopt the conservatorship law. Newsom singled it out at his press conference. 

“Riverside County (is) doing great work on CARE Court, but decided not to move forward with the implementation of conservatorship,” Newsom said. 

Riverside County officials said they’re not ready to carry out changes to the conservatorship law, which carries “significant responsibilities.” The county’s behavioral health department, hospitals and law enforcement need time to expand treatment facilities, increase housing capacity, develop new protocols and train staff, Dr. Matthew Chang, behavioral health director of Riverside University Health System, said to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. 

“Setting an implementation date in 2026 would signal our commitment to getting it right for our community,” Chang said during board remarks.

Mayors back Newsom’s timeline

Several California mayors, by contrast, are urging counties to move faster. Mayors often bear the brunt of residents’ complaints about homelessness, but they tend to have little influence over social services and mental health spending. 

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who supported a majority of Newsom’s mental health reforms, urged his county’s board of supervisors to implement the conservatorship expansion immediately.

“While the law allows for counties to delay implementation until 2026, our county is experiencing an unacceptable behavioral health crisis – one all of us see clearly every day in our communities. Putting implementation off will cost people their lives,” Gloria and other San Diego County mayors wrote in a letter to the board this month.

Nora Vargas, chair of the board of supervisors, initially proposed delaying implementation to 2025 after hospital and behavioral health leaders argued more people would cycle in and out of the emergency room without proper support. 

“San Diego County will implement (the conservatorship law) in a way that is methodical and equitable because these are real people and real families seeking care,” Vargas said in a statement to CalMatters. 

Tim McClain, a spokesperson for San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, said the county is moving as quickly as possible despite receiving no support from the state. 

The law “comes with no new resources for hospitals, substance use disorder treatment providers, or county run public conservator offices. It doesn’t establish clinical assessment criteria that will incline clinicians to extend holds. And it doesn’t do anything to create the operational tools that will actually get people with substance use disorder from (emergency departments) into ongoing addiction treatment,” McClain said in a statement to CalMatters.

Demand on mental health system

Among the concerns raised by counties is a dramatic influx in the number of people needing treatment.

In Kern and Santa Barbara counties, behavioral health officials have said they expect the number of people who would qualify for involuntary treatment to increase tenfold, The Bakersfield Californian and Santa Barbara Independent have reported. 

Behavioral health officials in Stanislaus County told their board of supervisors that because the expanded definition of “gravely disabled” will now include people with drug use disorders, the number of conservatees will likely go up. They say they need additional staff and coordination to handle a larger population. There are also very few treatment settings for people with severe substance use disorders in the county, health officials said. 

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors agreed to push back implementation, but supervisors said they would like to enact the law sometime before 2026.

In neighboring San Joaquin County, supervisors this week also voted to delay the law’s implementation.

“We need the state to provide us with guidance on how we can best apply this law to help the vulnerable and protect people’s civil rights while ensuring their treatment,” Supervisor Robert Rickman said in a press release.

If any year is looked back on as pivotal in California’s fight to curb mental illness, homelessness and drug-related deaths, 2023 could be the one. Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed major — and at times controversial — reforms of the state’s mental and behavioral health systems through the Legislature, but a mere two months after signing the laws, Newsom accused counties of moving too slowly to adopt them.

Newsom on Friday at a press conference took local governments to task, publicly pressuring them to take action on the state’s new conservatorship law.

“The state has done its job. It’s time for the counties to do their job,” Newsom said.

In October, lawmakers significantly loosened long-standing rules limiting who can be placed in involuntary treatment. The change to the state’s conservatorship rules allows people who can’t take care of their own medical needs or personal safety to be deemed “gravely disabled” and placed in treatment facilities without consent. This includes people struggling with addiction. 

But the vast majority of counties have opted to delay implementing the conservatorship expansion, putting them at odds with the governor’s timeline. They play a critical role in the law because they administer the state’s social services and mental health programs. 

County leaders say they need more guidance and resources. They argue they lack the staff and funding to move this new policy forward. The law goes into effect in 2024, but allows counties to defer implementation until 2026.

Fifty-six counties out of the state’s 58 are requesting permission to delay implementing the law, Tony Vartan, Stanislaus County’s Behavioral Health Director, told his Board of Supervisors this week. 

Only San Luis Obispo and San Francisco counties plan on beginning implementation next month, Vartan said.

Newsom said during Friday’s press call that the “lack of urgency” at the local level was disappointing.

“You have a crisis out there. There’s a crisis on the streets and people are talking about delaying the conservatorship efforts till 2026. We can’t afford to wait,” he said.

Michelle Doty Cabrera, executive director of the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California, said in a statement behavioral health departments are “already stretched” thin and need time to coordinate such a complex change. In the past two years, they’ve been hit by increased demand for services, widespread provider shortages, and a series of new state mandates.

“County boards of supervisors across California have heard clearly from hospitals, law enforcement officials, and county behavioral health professionals that infrastructure capacity, staffing and training must be in place to make the law successful,” Cabrera said.

California counties singled out

The change comes on the heels of another major Newsom mental health initiative. CARE Court, which passed last year and began rolling out in October, allows people with untreated mental illness to be placed in court-mandated treatment programs and housing

So far, eight counties are operating a CARE court. Now, most of those early adopters have chosen to delay the conservatorship expansion.

One of the counties that is operating a CARE Court, Riverside, is taking more time to adopt the conservatorship law. Newsom singled it out at his press conference. 

“Riverside County (is) doing great work on CARE Court, but decided not to move forward with the implementation of conservatorship,” Newsom said. 

Riverside County officials said they’re not ready to carry out changes to the conservatorship law, which carries “significant responsibilities.” The county’s behavioral health department, hospitals and law enforcement need time to expand treatment facilities, increase housing capacity, develop new protocols and train staff, Dr. Matthew Chang, behavioral health director of Riverside University Health System, said to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. 

“Setting an implementation date in 2026 would signal our commitment to getting it right for our community,” Chang said during board remarks.

Mayors back Newsom’s timeline

Several California mayors, by contrast, are urging counties to move faster. Mayors often bear the brunt of residents’ complaints about homelessness, but they tend to have little influence over social services and mental health spending. 

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, who supported a majority of Newsom’s mental health reforms, urged his county’s board of supervisors to implement the conservatorship expansion immediately.

“While the law allows for counties to delay implementation until 2026, our county is experiencing an unacceptable behavioral health crisis – one all of us see clearly every day in our communities. Putting implementation off will cost people their lives,” Gloria and other San Diego County mayors wrote in a letter to the board this month.

Nora Vargas, chair of the board of supervisors, initially proposed delaying implementation to 2025 after hospital and behavioral health leaders argued more people would cycle in and out of the emergency room without proper support. 

“San Diego County will implement (the conservatorship law) in a way that is methodical and equitable because these are real people and real families seeking care,” Vargas said in a statement to CalMatters. 

Tim McClain, a spokesperson for San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, said the county is moving as quickly as possible despite receiving no support from the state. 

The law “comes with no new resources for hospitals, substance use disorder treatment providers, or county run public conservator offices. It doesn’t establish clinical assessment criteria that will incline clinicians to extend holds. And it doesn’t do anything to create the operational tools that will actually get people with substance use disorder from (emergency departments) into ongoing addiction treatment,” McClain said in a statement to CalMatters.

Demand on mental health system

Among the concerns raised by counties is a dramatic influx in the number of people needing treatment.

In Kern and Santa Barbara counties, behavioral health officials have said they expect the number of people who would qualify for involuntary treatment to increase tenfold, The Bakersfield Californian and Santa Barbara Independent have reported. 

Behavioral health officials in Stanislaus County told their board of supervisors that because the expanded definition of “gravely disabled” will now include people with drug use disorders, the number of conservatees will likely go up. They say they need additional staff and coordination to handle a larger population. There are also very few treatment settings for people with severe substance use disorders in the county, health officials said. 

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors agreed to push back implementation, but supervisors said they would like to enact the law sometime before 2026.

In neighboring San Joaquin County, supervisors this week also voted to delay the law’s implementation.

“We need the state to provide us with guidance on how we can best apply this law to help the vulnerable and protect people’s civil rights while ensuring their treatment,” Supervisor Robert Rickman said in a press release.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

Day 2 of President Biden’s LA fundraising sweep rolls on Saturday

Biden attended a shiva at the residence of Lyn and Norman Lear in honor of the pioneering TV producer’s death last week at the age of 101.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden rolled into Day Two of their their Los Angeles-area fundraising blitz on Saturday, Dec. 9, criss-crossing the city for myriad meetings, many of them at private homes in posh neighborhoods.

While most of the president’s stops were thought to be linked to efforts to fuel his campaign coffers, one was a solemn experience: Biden attended a shiva at the residence of Lyn and Norman Lear in honor of the pioneering TV producer’s death last week at the age of 101.

“You know, (Lear’s) cast of characters painted a fuller picture of America, of our hopes and our hardships, our fears, our resilience, and changed the way we look at ourselves,” Biden said Friday at an evening gala. “In explaining his approach to getting the laugh — to get us to laugh and think, Norman Lear said, and I quote, “You stand a better chance if you can get them caring first” — “if you can get them caring first.”

Biden added: “Folks, at our best, we’re a nation that cares.  We care about each other; we care about the nation.  And in — and in three years, we’re going to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Norman brought an original — bought an original copy of that.  And he shared it with schools and museums.”

The president gave a 15-minute speech at an event hosted by investors Jose Feliciano and Kwanza Jones, where he touted items he regards as his administration’s accomplishments, from efforts to combat climate change to funding programs to undo the effects of pollution in poor and minority communities to jump-starting high speed rail.

As he hailed the rate at which Latinos were starting small businesses, a small child in the front rows piped up.

This weekend’s meetings are aimed at helping Biden reach a fundraising target of roughly $67 million for the fourth quarter of the year, according to a source close to the president’s campaign who spoke to the Associated Press but insisted on anonymity to discuss internal numbers.

The first lady also campaigned individually or her husband, appearing at a fundraising event Saturday at NeueHouse Hollywood hosted by Matthew Crowley and Martha Leon De La Barra. She was introduced by actress Connie Britton and spoke for 11 minutes to an audience of about 100 guests, according to a pool report.

“I wish that this election were about simple policy differences. I wish it were about differences of character or merit. But fundamentally, what this election will be about is democracy,” she said.

“We are the party defending it, not the one tearing it at its seams. We are the party that holds sacred the peaceful transfer of power, not the one that assaulted the Capitol on January 6. You and I — we are the party protecting the right of this nation’s people to live freely, not the one praising the oppressive thumb of dictators.”

After the speech, she participated in a discussion moderated by actress Elizabeth Banks.

On Friday, the first lady appeared at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to tour research laboratories as part of the White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research. She toured the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center and Smidt Heart Institute.

The couple was scheduled to attend at least six different meetings around the L.A. area between the two of them, swooping into events drawing a throng of musicians, movie stars and moguls. 

Meanwhile, police continued to investigate numerous acts of vandalism by some of the more than 1,000 protesters who demonstrated not far from the president’s appearance at a celebrity-studded fundraiser Friday in Holmby Hills.

“At one point an unlawful assembly and dispersal order was issued due to the protesters’ actions including throwing objects at officers and passing vehicles,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.

The protesters gathered Friday afternoon to condemn U.S. funding of Israeli military strikes in Gaza with one holding a sign, “No votes for mass murderer.”

At one point, the crowd blocked entry to the president’s fundraiser as cars attempted to enter. Some demonstrators slammed on cars, shouted “Free Palestine,” at drivers, and refused to let up their street blockage.

After about an hour and a half and some tense back and forth between officers and protesters, the demonstrators began marching toward Wilshire Boulevard. Completely blocking traffic on the southbound side of Wilshire, the protesters marched for several blocks. Some people in cars traveling the opposite way shouted their support for the movement; others displayed their opposition with thumbs down and middle fingers.

The demonstration was put on by the Palestinian Youth Movement, an organization comprising Palestinians and Arabs living in the U.S. and Canada, according to its website. Other activist groups, including Code Pink and the Los Angeles chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, also planned to participate in the demonstration.

“We are making sure that Biden hears the voices of Palestinian youth,” said Justice Crudup, a 29-year-old from LA, who works with the Orange County Justice Initiative. “We are seeing so many young voters who will turn 18 next year and who will see what’s transpiring this year…a lot of young people are going to be holding the power.”

Chief Moore said the protest ended without arrests.

“The crowd slowly dispersed and no arrests were made, no use of force, and no officers were injured,” he said.

Someone spray-painted “Free Gaza” on the wall of an apartment building on Wilshire Boulevard across from Sinai Temple. Some of the building’s residents inside threw objects at the crowd. Other Westwood businesses were tagged, Fox11 reported.

“The LAPD is aware of the acts of vandalism that occurred in the Westwood area last night by protestors who marched from an earlier demonstration. The graffiti is being removed today and crime reports have been taken,” the LAPD announced Saturday.

“The LAPD is actively investigating these crimes. While the LAPD fully supports 1st Amendment rights for peaceful demonstrations, we will not tolerate violence or vandalism of any kind.”

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, condemned the vandalism.

“The anti-Semitic acts and vandalism in Westwood are despicable. There is no ‘context’ in which anti-Semitism is acceptable. It is vile, repugnant and abhorrent,” Lieu wrote on X. “I urge law enforcement to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.”

Meanwhile, inside the gala, Biden touted his record to the gathering of high-profile supporters and took a few swings at the GOP front-runner, former President Donald Trump.

“You’re the reason,” Biden told the crowd — co-hosted by such folks as former L.A. mayoral candidate and entrepreneur Rick Caruso and former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco — “that Donald Trump is a former president, or he hates when I say it, a defeated president.”

Rhetoric swapped between the two political foes has grown increasingly bitter in the past few days, with Trump declaring Biden as “the destroyer of American democracy” this week. At Friday’s event, Biden declared: “The greatest threat Trump poses is to our democracy, because if we lost that, we lose everything.”

Earlier in the week, Trump declared Biden “the destroyer of American democracy.” The former president said Tuesday in Iowa: “(Biden has) been weaponizing government against his political opponents like a Third World political tyrant.”

Polls have shown Trump holds an overwhelming lead in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Other polls have shown he has a slight lead over Biden in a potential 2024 general election race.

“I’m the only thing standing between you and Lenny Kravitz,” Biden joked before yielding the stage for a performance by the veteran rocker.

Also attending the gala were filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner, television producer Shonda Rhimes, Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass andand Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank.

Former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi reportedly co-hosted the event along with former L.A. mayoral candidate and entrepreneur developer Rick Caruso.

According to Deadline, tickets ranged from $1,000 to $500,000. Those who contributed $25,000 or more had access to a photo line.

Republican Party officials condemned Biden’s fundraising swing.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

But Not Schiff or Porter – Both Harvard Law (Thank You Michelle Steel): 74 Members of Congress Demand Harvard President Gay Resign in Letter to Governing Board Members

More than 70 members of Congress demanded Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation in a letter addressed to University governing board members Friday evening.

The letter, which was led by Rep. Elise M. Stefanik ’06 and largely signed by Republicans, calls for the resignation of Gay, MIT President Sally A. Kornbluth and University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill. The letter comes three days after Gay’s testimony during a House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing about antisemitism on college campuses prompted a wave of backlash.

“Given this moment of crisis, we demand that your boards immediately remove each of these presidents from their positions and that you provide an actionable plan to ensure that Jewish and Israeli students, teachers, and faculty are safe on your campuses,” the letter stated.

“Anything less than these steps will be seen as your endorsement of what Presidents Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth said to Congress and an act of complicity in their antisemitic posture,” the letter added.

Gay faced fierce criticism for not unequivocally stating that calls for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard’s policies on bullying and harassment. Gay attempted to clarify her remarks in a statement released on Wednesday and then apologized for the impact her testimony had during an interview with The Crimson on Thursday.

“These desperate attempts to try and save their jobs by condemning genocide are too little too late,” the letter stated. “It should not take public backlash nor 24 hours of reflection to realize that calling for genocide is unacceptable.”

A University spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Click here to read the full article in the Harvard Crimson

California has 11 of largest shortages in US, study Says Ventura County #1 in Nation

California is collapsing—here is another matrix for evidence.

“Here’s the 11 biggest homebuilding deficits in the state, ranked by their shortfall’s share of local housing supply …

Ventura County: Home construction has run 12.5% short of local needs (a gap that ranks No. 1 in the US). The deficit translates to the underproduction of 36,161 residential units.

Inland Empire: 10.7% short (No. 3 nationally) – or 160,841 units.

Madera: 8.8% short (No. 5) – or 4,251 units.

Salinas: 8.3% short (No. 7) – or 9,868 units.

Merced: 7.9% short (No. 9) – or 7,053 units.

Stockton: 7.9% short (No. 9) – or 19,957 units.

Visalia: 7.6% short (No. 11) – or 11,410 units.

Los Angeles-Orange County: 7.1% short (No. 14) – or 332,275 units.

Vallejo: 7.1% short (No. 14) – or 11,577 units.

Yuba City: 5.9% short (No. 23) – or 3,698 units.

Modesto: 5.8% short (No. 24) – or 10,547 units.

Now these areas are being targeted by Sacramento to become slums like most of New York City.  Affordable housing is a buzz word for crime, drugs and slums.  That is the vision of California by the National Socialist Democrat Party.

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California has 11 of largest housing shortages in US, study says

Ventura County is 12.5% short of its needs, ranking No. 1 in state and US

By JONATHAN LANSNER, Orange County Register  10/19/23    https://www.sbsun.com/2023/10/19/california-has-11-of-largest-housing-shortages-in-us-study-says/?utm_email=95C3E5E4E4E5A580647814C571&lctg=95C3E5E4E4E5A580647814C571&active=no&utm_source=listrak&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Story+Button&utm_campaign=scng-sbs-breakingnews&utm_content=alert

Buzz: California is home to 11 of 25 US metropolitan areas with the largest housing shortages.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet reviewed a study of housing underproduction by Up For Growth that looked at construction from 2012 through 2021 for 193 US metropolitan areas – including 23 from California.

Topline

The Golden State’s high housing costs are often tied to construction failing to keep pace with population and economic growth.

Here’s the 11 biggest homebuilding deficits in the state, ranked by their shortfall’s share of local housing supply …

Ventura County: Home construction has run 12.5% short of local needs (a gap that ranks No. 1 in the US). The deficit translates to the underproduction of 36,161 residential units.

Inland Empire: 10.7% short (No. 3 nationally) – or 160,841 units.

Madera: 8.8% short (No. 5) – or 4,251 units.

Salinas: 8.3% short (No. 7) – or 9,868 units.

Merced: 7.9% short (No. 9) – or 7,053 units.

Stockton: 7.9% short (No. 9) – or 19,957 units.

Visalia: 7.6% short (No. 11) – or 11,410 units.

Los Angeles-Orange County: 7.1% short (No. 14) – or 332,275 units.

Vallejo: 7.1% short (No. 14) – or 11,577 units.

Yuba City: 5.9% short (No. 23) – or 3,698 units.

Modesto: 5.8% short (No. 24) – or 10,547 units.

Details

Looking at the big picture, let’s compare California’s 23 markets with the 170 other metros with under production …

California metros are 873,730 units short, by this study’s tally. That’s a deficit equal to 6.5% of all homes statewide.

Other US metros are 2.55 million units short, or 3.3% of their combined supply.

So California’s underproduction, by this math, is essentially twice as deep as elsewhere.

Caveat

Note that housing shortage estimates vary widely. That’s because the math includes a host of assumptions – from measuring demand (people or jobs) to housing density (people per home) to the starting point (good times or bad).

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The logic of Up For Growth, industry-supported researchers, says the nation overall is 3.9 million housing units short.

That deficit falls in the mid-range of projections from other groups. Those estimates project the shortfall from just under 2 million to over 6 million.

Bottom line

Forget the debate about the size of the housing shortfall.

Instead, ponder the fallout across the Golden State through a prism of key housing cost metrics as reported by this study.

Rent growth between 2012 and 2021 in the 23 California metros saw the median increase 4.9% in a year vs. 3.4% in the 170 metros elsewhere.

Rent is considered a financial burden for 53% of Californians vs. 46% nationally.

Or think about median home prices, which are up at a 10% annual pace in a year for these California metros vs. 5.6% nationally.

Postscript

Here are the other California metros in the study, ranked by shortfall …

Fresno: 5.6% short (No. 28 of 193) – or 18,770 units.

San Jose: 5.3% short (No. 34) – or 36,404 units.

Sacramento: 5.1% short (No. 37) – or 46,604 units.

San Diego: 5% short (No. 40) – or 60,989 units.

Bakersfield: 4.8% short (No. 42) – or 14,320 units.

Napa: 4.7% short (No. 46) – or 2,485 units.

Santa Rosa: 3.8% short (No. 69) – or 7,417 units.

San Francisco-Oakland: 3.6% short (No. 75) – or 66,793 units.

Santa Maria-Santa Barbara: 3.6% short (No. 75) – or 5,697 units.

Santa Cruz: 3.5% short (No. 79) – or 3,579 units.

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles: 1.9% short (No. 128) – or 2,144 units.

El Centro: 1.6% short (No. 136) – or 890 units.

New walkout At Five Hotels in Santa Monica After Talks Stall

Hotel workers at five Santa Monica properties walked off the job early Monday after negotiations stalled last week.

Unite Here Local 11 — which represents thousands of cooks, housekeepers, dishwashers, servers, bellmen and front desk agents in Los Angeles and Orange counties — has been urging hotels to agree to sweeping wage increases given how deeply the housing crisis affects workers.

The union last month urged convention organizers and visitors to “stay away from strike-ready hotels” that haven’t signed new contracts with more than 15,000 workers at some 60 properties.

Unite Here Local 11’s key demand for months had been a $5 immediate hourly wage increase and a $3 boost each subsequent year of the three-year contract, for a total raise of $11. Southern California hotel workers have been on strike on and off since July 2.

At the bargaining session Sept. 21, the union made a new economic proposal lowering that $11 total raise to $10.50, union spokesperson Maria Hernandez said. But the union said talks failed when, after a more than three-hour caucus, the hotel company representatives returned without any counterproposal.

Keith Grossman, an attorney representing a group of Southern California hotel owners and operators, said in an emailed statement Monday that the union’s proposal “only took the parties further apart.”

“Unfortunately, Local 11 made no real movement,” Grossman said. “The union’s offer, its new work stoppages, and its continued call for a boycott, which continues to damage Los Angeles and hurts employees, communicates that the union is not prepared to bargain in good faith. We believe it’s time for the union to engage in real negotiations.”

The bargaining session was the first to be held in nine weeks, he said.

Grossman did not respond to questions about specific issues that cropped up in bargaining.

Grossman has repeatedly criticized the union for failing to reach out and resume talks. The union has said it is firm on its wage proposal and that the hotel bargaining group’s wage offers have fallen far short.

Peter Hillan, spokesperson for the Hotel Assn. of Los Angeles, said the proposal, from the perspective of hotel owners, was a step back because the union moved up the start date of hotel contributions to a health and welfare fund by one month, increasing the overall cost of the contract. “That’s a takeaway from where we were earlier,” Hillan said.

German Martinez, who, the union alleged in a labor complaint, was among workers tackled at a picket line in August at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, said in a union news release Monday morning that “it was disrespectful to see our employer not even address or apologize to us, and instead come back with no offer.”

Martinez has been a dishwasher at the Fairmont Miramar for 34 years. “We will do what we have to do until we get the fair contract we deserve,” he said.

Although workers authorized a strike earlier this summer, they aren’t walking off the job at all properties at once. Instead, they are engaged in rolling work stoppages in which workers at a cluster of hotels walk out for a few days at a time.

Unite Here Local 11 officials have described it as a “strategic decision” to “keep the hotels on their toes and guessing.” The approach also helps the workers’ finances.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

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