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Judge Extends Block On Transfer Of Coronavirus Patients To Costa Mesa

The Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, June 6, 2019 Jill Replogle/LAist

A federal judge today extended a temporary restraining order preventing the transfer of coronavirus patients to Costa Mesa for at least another week.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton came three days after she granted an emergency restraining order at the request of city officials.

“While we have nothing but compassion for those who are suffering from this virus, the health and welfare of our community is our top priority," Mayor Katrina Foley said in a statement issued after the ruling. "Bringing those infected into this densely populated area is simply the wrong approach.”

City officials said they needed more time to get what they called "critical information" from federal officials.

The federal plan is to use Fairview Development Center, which is a state care facility slated for closure. [It's also been named by Gov. Gavin Newsom as a location to house homeless people.]

Foley said the facility is located in a residential area and is also close to business, parks, and colleges. And that's concerning, she said, given questions about how easily the virus spreads.

Among answers Costa Mesa officials said today they are still seeking:

  • What the lead agencies involved in the transfer and oversight would be.
  • How media requests would be handled and how emergencies will be communicated.
  • What conditions at the facility and how repairs will be handled "given the aging and obsolete infrastructure."

Prior to today's extension:

  • Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said no one consulted them. She said they were blindsided to learn about a plan to transfer coronavirus patients to their town.
  • Foley said their first notice came in an after-hours call Thursday to the emergency services manager. That call informed the city that patients would start arriving Sunday.
  • That's when they sought, and were granted, the temporary restraining order.

"We don't have any answers," Foley told us on Sunday. "Okay, we've heard a whole lot of speculation. So the number keeps changing the level of illness changes. And nobody seems to be able to nail down what exactly is the plan."


This post originally published at 8:23 a.m. It was updated with the outcome of the hearing.

Kobe Bryant Muralist: 'He Deserves To Be Painted'

Art Gozukuchikyan painted a Kobe Bryant mural outside of Vem Exotic Rentals on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Within an hour of Kobe Bryant's death last month, artist Art Gozukuchikyan decided:

"I should paint him. He deserves to be painted."

And he had the perfect space, the exterior of a specialty car rental business in Studio City he'd already been commissioned to paint.

Within 24 hours, Gozukuchikyan, who goes by "Artoon," had finished a tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant. His murals (there's another in Mid-City) are among dozens of public memorials that have appeared across Southern California in the month since the Jan. 26 crash.


Stars And Athletes Pay Tribute At Moving Kobe Bryant Public Memorial

Kobe Bryant's wife Vanessa Bryant speaks at the public memori service at Staples Center in downtown L.A. on Feb. 24, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The public memorial of Kobe Bryant has concluded. The service brought a packed house and poignant remarks from A-list celebrities across sports and media, including fellow Lakers Magic Johnson and Shaquille O'Neal.

Beyoncé was the first to sing following a few words of welcome and remembrance.

"I want you to sing it so loud that he’ll hear your love," Beyoncé said.

Alicia Keys later played a favorite piece of Kobe and his widow, Vanessa Bryant -- Moonlight Sonata -- and Jimmy Kimmel choked up talking about the emotion of seeing Kobe's face everywhere.

Michael Jordan fought through tears to talk about his longtime friend, saying he wanted to be "the best big brother I could be." He also joked that he hadn't wanted to speak at the memorial because of the crying memes that would ensue.

Michael Jordan speaks during The Celebration of Life for Kobe & Gianna Bryant at Staples Center on Feb. 24, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

When Vanessa Bryant spoke, it was to share the heartbreaking words of a mother who would never see her daughter get married, and a wife who had lost her soul mate.

Later, Christina Aguilera sang "Ave Maria." After the service, a hushed crowd shuffled out under the gentle crooning of Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable."

The performers played not just for Bryant, but for his daughter Gianna and their seven friends who died last month when a helicopter crashed in the hills above Calabasas.

Separately today, Vanessa Bryant filed a lawsuit against the operator of the helicopter, specifically claiming the pilot was negligent in failing to abort the flight in unsafe conditions — there was heavy fog and low visibility the morning of the crash.

Click "Read More" below for our full coverage.

Vanessa Bryant Sues Helicopter Company Over Crash That Killed Kobe

Kobe Bryant poses with his family at halftime after both his Lakers jerseys are retired at Staples Center on Dec. 18, 2017. (Harry How/Getty Images)

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of the late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, has filed a lawsuit against the company that owns the helicopter that went down in Calabasas last month, killing her husband, her daughter Gianna, and seven other people.

The wrongful death suit names pilot Ara Zobayan, who was among those killed, claiming that he was negligent for failing to abort the flight when conditions became too cloudy, the Associated Press reports.

The suit comes on the same day as a public memorial at Staples Center, where Kobe played before retiring.

After Protests, University of California Agrees To $2,500 Stipend For Grad Students in Santa Cruz

UC San Diego students demand pay increases for grad students who work as teaching assistants. (Credit: UAW Local 2865)

On Monday, after weeks of high profile protests by UC Santa Cruz graduate students, the University of California agreed to give all graduate students on that campus a one-time stipend of $2,500.

Grad students had been protesting that the high cost of living in their area has made it impossible to carry out their work as teaching assistants and pay their bills.

“This morning’s response proves that when committed hard-working student employees work together, we can win tangible economic relief,” said Kavitha Iyengar, President of UAW Local 2865 in an emailed statement.

United Auto Workers Local 2865 represents 19,000 graduate student teaching assistants across all UC campuses. The union’s contract doesn’t expire until 2022 but union leaders had been trying to get UC to agree to negotiate pay increases before then.

Actions that included protests by students willing to be arrested were carried out by UCSC union leaders without the permission of the statewide local. That is likely to make the impact of UC’s offer limited to only the students on that campus.

“And while we are glad to hear this news, it is not enough,” Iyengar said.

The stipend isn’t part of the union’s contract and not legally enforceable, she said, and it only benefits Santa Cruz students.

Statewide union leaders said they will continue to push UC to negotiate pay increases that aren’t limited to one campus and one year.

“The one-time stipend granted by UC is a gesture of good faith and will placate Santa Cruz strikers,” said union leader Noah Teller, a grad student at UC Riverside, “but does not give a substantive benefit to all members of the union.”

Harvey Weinstein Convicted In Sexual Assault Trial

Harvey Weinstein leaves a Manhattan courthouse during his rape trial, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in New York. (John Minchillo/AP)

Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has been convicted by a New York jury, bringing to an end the most prominent case sparked by the #MeToo movement.

Weinstein faced two counts of predatory sexual assault, two counts of rape (in the first and third degrees), and one count of criminal sexual assault in the third degree.

Weinstein, 67, was once one of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. He has been named by scores of women who say he sexually assaulted them over the past 40 years.

Weinstein's defense in the month-long trial was that all of the sexual encounters were consensual. His lawyer, Donna Ruttono, also said they were transactional: "Every single one of these women reaches out and asks for things and he does anything he can," she told the jury.


If I Have A Vote-By-Mail Ballot, Can I Choose To Vote In Person Instead?

L.A. County began mailing out 2020 primary election vote-by-mail ballots Feb. 3. They must be postmarked on or before election day, March 3. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)

The primary election is officially underway in California.

Some voting centers opened on Feb. 22, and many more will open Feb. 29 all the way through Election Day, March 3. Our Voter Game Plan team is answering your questions about all the changes in the way we're voting this year.

Here's one question we've been getting: "If I received a vote-by-mail ballot, can I still choose to vote in person instead?"

You definitely can. And if you live in L.A. or Orange counties, you don't even have to turn in your vote-by-mail ballot when you go to the voting center (although you can, if you want).

That’s because these counties now use an electronic pollbook to check in voters, and this system can see if you've already submitted a vote-by-mail ballot. So all you have to do is walk into a voting center, check in, and cast your vote. Adoption of the electronic pollbook is part of the Voter's Choice Act that several counties are implementing starting this election cycle.

So theoretically, if you tried to submit a vote-by-mail ballot and vote in person, whichever vote was processed first would count, and the other would be invalidated.

If you have a vote-by-mail ballot and decide instead to vote in person, and you live in a non-Voter's Choice Act county — such as Ventura, Riverside or San Bernardino counties — you should try to bring your vote-by-mail ballot to turn in so that you can avoid any potential issues.

But if you forget to bring it, that’s okay. You can still cast a provisional ballot that will count once election workers can verify you haven't already voted.

Check out our extensive FAQ, along with guides to a bunch of local races, at our Voter Game Plan page. And if you have more questions, ask us below.

It’s Monday, Feb. 24 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)

It's a day of mourning in Los Angeles today, as thousands pay their respects on the occasion of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's public memorial.

We'll have ongoing coverage of the event and the response from the public, with reporters placed inside the Staples Center and at various locations where people have gathered to pay their respects.

Here's what else we're...

Covering Today:

  • There were a few technical stumbles with the county's new voting system, but in-person voting officially began on Saturday and will continue through primary election day on March 3. Our engagement editor Brianna Lee will be answering voter questions today, and you can always check out our Voter Game Plan to help you get set to vote.
  • A controversial immigration policy known as "public charge" goes into effect today. Critics worry it could scare away low-income immigrants from getting health care. Reporter Alyssa Jeong Perry looks at how Southern California community clinics are preparing.
  • Pop culture and entertainment writer Mike Roe also takes you inside a new exhibition at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes that looks at the history and current state of L.A.'s Afro-Latinx community.
  • And when you're ready, contributor Christine N. Ziemba is here to help you plan your week.

In Case You Missed It:

  • Southern California residents are getting mailers from the Republican National Committee that look an awful lot like official Census 2020 forms — except they aren't.
  • Recent projections show that Latinos will account for 21.5% of all voters casting a ballot this March. As a group, their growing political power is stronger than ever in California.
  • In another effort to boost falling transit ridership, L.A. leaders are considering a program that would allow bus and (eventually) rail riders to cut to the front of TSA security lines.
  • Mike Hughes was a 64-year-old daredevil who drew attention for telling people he believed the Earth is flat and that he would build a rocket to prove it. He was killed Saturday when his self-made rocket crashed after launching in the Mojave Desert.

Help Us Cover Your Community:

  • Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything >>
  • Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know >>

The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft.