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'The Public Has Lost Confidence.' LA Supes Criticize Registrar Over Voting Problems

An LA County voting machine (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

L.A. County’s elections chief appeared before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday to face scorching criticism over problems voters encountered during the March 3 primary election.

The catalog of issues included:

  • Lines over 3 hours long at some vote centers
  • Technical problems with check-in system and ballot marking devices
  • At least 17,000 ballots not sent to vote-by-mail voters
  • Several cities and precincts missing Measure FD
  • Poll workers working 12-18 hours with no break
  • Insufficient training for poll workers
  • Not all vote centers supplied with paper ballots
  • Problems with a county "hotline" meant to help staffing issues

I'm sorry to say I've lost confidence and I know the public has lost confidence,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said. “We have to figure out how to fix this and to restore confidence...before November.”

The Board passed a motion requiring L.A. County Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan to report back in 45 days with fixes for the November 2020 election.

The county will also explore sending every registered voter in L.A. County a vote-by-mail ballot, like other Voter’s Choice Act counties do, per an amendment put forward by Supervisor Hilda Solis. Secretary of State Alex Padilla called on Los Angeles to do just that last week.

The Supervisor’s motion additionally requires the county hire an independent consultant to review election day problems and the county’s action plan going forward. That consultant will "monitor and assist" Logan during the November election.

Repeating his election night apology to voters, Logan also defended the county’s new technology and vote center model.

"The implementation…and the capacity to deliver on that solid model was lacking," Logan said. "I don't think the answer is to give up on this, I think the answer is to get it right."

"For many voters, it was a good experience,” he added.

LA Korean BBQ Chain Hit With $2.1 Million Fine For Wage Theft  

Prime galbi at Genwa in Los Angeles. (T. Tseng via Flickr)

Los Angeles is famed for outstanding Korean BBQ, but workers' advocates say working conditions at many of these restaurants are poor.

Now the state has cracked down on one chain in a major way.

The California Labor Commissioner's Office has issued a $2.1 million fine to the couple that owns the Genwa restaurants after determining they had stolen wages from 325 of their workers.

The state's investigation found that staff at the Mid-Wilshire and Beverly Hills locations were forced to go off the clock for one hour up to three times a day during an 11-hour shift. Other violations, according to the state:

  • No rest or meal breaks as required by law
  • Failure to pay nearly half of the workers the required minimum hourly wage
  • Shorting more than half of the employees on overtime pay and not providing itemized wage statements
  • Forcing servers to attend quarterly meetings without pay, even on days off.

"Requiring restaurant workers to leave and return to work without proper split shift premiums is wage theft," Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower said in a statement. "This wage theft tactic and other labor law violations undermine workers and provide an unfair advantage over law-abiding restaurant employers."

Genwa's corporate officers Jay and Jin Kwon are ordered to pay $1.4 million for wage violations affecting servers, dishwashers and cooks, as well as another $634,000 in civil penalties.

The Kwons have appealed the citations, according to the state.

The state investigation started in August 2018 after workers reported they were missing hours to the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance and Bet Tzedek legal services.

A third Genwa location in downtown L.A. was not part of the citations.

Coachella And Stagecoach Rescheduled To 'Protect The Health Of Entire Community'

The Coachella Stage during Weekend 2 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. (Christopher Polk/Getty Im

Amid concerns about the coronavirus, the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals have both been rescheduled.

The order came from Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser, and his announcement was made this afternoon:

"This decision was not taken lightly or without consideration of many factors. No doubt it will impact many people, but my top priority is to protect the health of the entire community."

A public health emergency was declared in the county after the first locally-acquired coronavirus case was discovered. Six cases have been reported in Riverside County in total, including four in the Coachella Valley.

Goldenvoice, the company that puts on the two events, said Coachella will now take place on October 9, 10 and 11 and October 16, 17 and 18, 2020. Stagecoach will take place on October 23, 24 and 25, 2020. All tickets purchased for the April dates will be honored, and refunds will be issued for anyone who can't make the new dates.

"While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously," the statement read. "We urge everyone to follow the guidelines and protocols put forth by public health officials."

A star-studded line-up for this year's Coachella festival was announced in January, featuring headliners Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean.

  • General admission passes started at $429.
  • Both weekends were sold out (although it appears some passes were still available via pricey "travel packages."
  • The first weekend is scheduled to run Friday, April 10 through Sunday, April 12.
  • Weekend 2 is scheduled for Friday, April 17 through Sunday, April 19.

Stagecoach headliners include country stars Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church.


Workers At LAX Feel Underprepared To Deal With Coronavirus

Passengers arrive last week at LAX wearing face masks. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid growing fears about the spread and impact of coronavirus, some workers at Los Angeles International Airport are saying they don't have adequate training or equipment to protect themselves.

Airport employees today passed out protective equipment and information to other workers. They also announced a contagious disease training will be done next week.

Maria Romero works at the airport. She said she wants to see airport or health officials talking to staff about best practices to avoid spreading the virusL

"We want to know, like, do we continue to help people? We should help people, of course, but do we have a distance?"

Romero says she has noticed hand-sanitizing stations and some signs about coronavirus around the airport. But, she said no one has specifically briefed or trained her on how to handle COVID-19.

"I remember when we had the Ebola [outbreak], our union took us to a special training," she said.

The airport says it is doing frequent, deep cleaning, providing gloves to cleaning crews and updating staff on the airport's COVID-19 response, according to a statement released Friday. That's in addition to the signs and hand-sanitizing stations.

As of Friday, two screeners who check passengers arriving at LAX for signs of coronavirus have tested positive for the illness.


L.A. County Leaders Vote To Overhaul Jail System

Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail is located in downtown Los Angeles. Andrew Cullen for LAist Andrew Cullen/Andrew Cullen for LAist

On Tuesday, L.A. County leaders voted 5-0 to approve an ambitious plan to overhaul the criminal justice system. The reform plan is an effort to decrease vulnerable populations in the jails, especially people who are homeless, have substance abuse disorders or mental illness.

The plan is laid out in a report from the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group. More than two dozen community leaders and county government workers from different departments, including the sheriff’s department, health department and district attorney’s office, worked on it for almost a year.

Some of the 114 recommendations in the report include training 911 operators to do mental health screenings, expanding community-based treatment centers and building more supportive housing.


The Board also voted to establish a special team inside the county CEO's office to implement the recommendations. The CEO needs to report back to the board with an initial analysis of the recommendations within 90 days, including how to pay for them.

Dr. Bob Ross, president of The California Endowment and chair of the county's Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group, wants to ensure the plan offers a long-term return on investment.

“Every time you treat someone, from a dollar-to-dollar standpoint,” he said, “it really is a smarter, more cost-effective way to treat people in the community.”


'Americans, Nobody Ever Invaded You': Chinese Immigrants On Buying Guns Now

David Liu teaches gun safety to customers in his Arcadia gun shop. Josie Huang/LAist

Here's the nightmare scenario some Chinese immigrants are contemplating: A pandemic forces company shutdowns and leads to mass unemployment. Riots. The need to fend off intruders.

Tyler Chang, a computer programmer who lives in Diamond Bar, said he knows it's unlikely but it's important to prepare.

And an increasing number of people from China have been arming themselves at San Gabriel Valley gun shops.

David Liu, who owns a gun store in Arcadia told us:

"Americans, nobody ever invaded you. China's always in chaos. They're always in crisis. So people have a sense of danger more than Americans."



Coronavirus Q&A: I Have An Underlying Condition. How Much More Cautious Should I Be?

This illustration reveals the morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

We’re asking public health officials and experts to answer your questions about the coronavirus outbreak. Keep in mind that our understanding of the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, is still evolving, and that this information does not constitute professional medical advice. For questions regarding your own health, always consult a physician.

Audience member Joan Miller wanted “guidance for people with chronic illnesses and ‘underlying conditions.’ How much more cautious should we be?”

Here’s an explanation from Dr. Shruti Gohil with the University of California Irvine Medical Center, who’s helping lead the effort to prepare the hospital for COVID-19:

“So if you're a diabetic or asthmatic and/or have some other immunocompromising condition, you are at higher risk than someone without those conditions. But, say you're a very well-controlled diabetic or a very well-controlled asmathic and you've weathered viruses in the past and maybe even this season... there's a spectrum. It's really important that patients understand that each of us are on a spectrum of what your risk is.”

If you're on chemotherapy, for instance, or if you’re a transplant patient on special medication, then your risk is very high and you should take extra precautions, Miller said. If you have any questions about your situation, you should discuss with your doctor, she said.

Santa Anita Horse Fatalities Linked To Pre-Existing Injuries, Pressure To Race, Poor Knowledge Of Anatomy

The 2014 Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita Park on Nov. 1, 2014 in Arcadia. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

In the wake of the unusual media attention paid to horse deaths at Santa Anita Park in the 2018-2019 season, the California Horse Racing Board launched an investigation into the park’s practices. Today, the results of that investigation were released.

In a 77-page document, investigators found that while no laws appear to have been broken, 21 of the 23 horses that died at Santa Anita during racing or training had pre-existing injuries. All of the pre-existing injuries were associated with high exercise intensity.

Here are some other key takeaways:

  • 16 of the 23 horses who died during racing or training were in the care of trainers who had at least one other fatality in a one-year period
  • Many of the horsemen involved in the fatalities “did not display good working knowledge of [equine] anatomy”
  • Many trainers felt pressure to let their horses race, regardless of the animals’ health


Think Adults Are Screwing Up Climate Change? LA County Wants You

Students participate in a global walkout for Climate Change on March 15, 2019 (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP)

If you're between the ages of 15–22 and want to tell L.A. County how it should be responding to climate change — well, the Board of Supervisors is all ears.

On Tuesday, the board voted to establish a Youth Climate Commission, which will work within the Chief Sustainability Office to add young voices to the climate conversation.

It follows the 2019 adoption of the L.A. County Sustainability Plan.

“Oftentimes young people have the drive, the initiative and have the … inquisitive skills to make us think outside the box,” said Supervisor Hilda Solis, who introduced the motion along with Supervisor Sheila Kuehl.

Details are still being worked out, but it looks like at least 25 people from different parts of the county will make up the group. They'll have an opportunity to meet remotely once a month and in person one weekend per quarter. The county will consider their feedback when assessing its climate efforts.

To encourage people of diverse backgrounds to participate, a stipend has been mentioned as a possibility.

If you're interested in participating, an application process is likely in your future. Reach out to your L.A. County Supervisor's office for more information.

There should be more clarity by June 30, the deadline set by the motion.

Board of Supervisors To Vote On Jail Reform Plan

The Los Angeles County Twin Towers Correctional facility is located in downtown Los Angeles. Andrew Cullen for LAist Andrew Cullen/Andrew Cullen for LAist

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote today on a plan to develop alternatives to incarceration for thousands of mentally ill inmates in county jails.

The proposed plan is the product of nearly a year's worth of meetings of the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group. The group is made up of two dozen community leaders and county employees from the sheriff’s department, district attorney’s office and health department.

The Board of Supervisors commissioned the group to develop a “road map ... to scale alternatives to incarceration and diversion so care and services are provided first, and jail is a last resort.”

The group's massive list of recommendations (114 of them!) includes expanding community-based treatment and supportive housing, and training 911 operators on mental health screenings.

The Board of Supervisors will vote today on whether to adopt the final report and establish a special team inside the county CEO's office to implement the recommendations.


Quick Look: What Presidential Hopefuls Spent In California So Far


We're waiting on both a final vote count and a final spending total from California's fiercely contested presidential primary.

But we know this much: Presidential hopefuls spent at least $169 million to get out the vote here. And we're still waiting on totals from February and March when the campaigns were ramping up.


Rain, Rain Won't Go Away


If you haven't already left your house this morning you might want to grab an umbrella. That's because the bulk of this week's rain storm is expected to fall over L.A. today.

The National Weather Service says anywhere from one to one-and-a-half inches is expected in most areas — which is less than what was projected yesterday.

Meteorologist Joe Sirard also told us there's a decent chance of thunderstorms:

"Especially this afternoon/early this evening. One of the things to keep in mind with any lightning and thunder is that you need to protect yourselves and stay indoors, stay in your car, that sort of thing. If you hear thunder, that means the thunderstorm is close enough to where you can be struck by lightning."

He says debris flows are also possible near recent burn scar areas and localized flooding is possible — so be sure to drive carefully on the road.

Some strong southeast wind gusts are also possible. Showers could linger through the end of the week, with some brief dry periods.

And come Sunday, another storm is on the horizon.


LAUSD Board Approves Emergency Coronavirus Declaration

LA Schools Supt. Austin Beutner demonstrates proper hand-washing techniques for students. (Screenshot from LAUSD video)

The board of the L.A. Unified School District voted unanimously to approve a resolution authorizing Supt. Austin Beutner "to take any and all actions necessary" to keep the nation's second largest school system running during the coronavirus outbreak.

Those actions include entering into no-bid contracts for relocations of students and staff, supplying food, buying equipment for remote learning, and hiring nurses, among other emergency needs.



It’s Tuesday, Mar. 10 And Here Are The Stories We’re Following Today

(Chava Sanchez / LAist)

The hits just keep coming. Former L.A. City Councilmember Mitchell Englander has turned himself in to the FBI on charges that he tried to cover up some hard partying in Vegas, done on developers’ and lobbyists’ dimes.

According to a statement from the feds, Englander accepted, among other things, $34,000 worth of bottle service, $15,000 cash in envelopes (handed over in casino bathrooms), a $2,500 dinner and several hundred dollars towards escorts. Let the film adaptations begin.

Of course, that’s not all that’s happening here in the City of Angels. Here’s what else we’re...

Covering Today:

  • USC will conduct lectures and seminars online rather than in classrooms for three days this week, reports Adolfo Guzman-Lopez. School officials said they want to test whether the school could operate remotely in the event of a coronavirus-related campus shutdown.
  • A working group for the County Board of Supervisors is expected to submit a report on alternatives to jail today. Alyssa Jeong Perry explores what they’re looking into and why, as well as the roadmap for moving it forward.
  • Josie Huang will examine why an increasing number of Chinese immigrants are buying guns.
  • San Pedro High School teacher David Crowley's classroom will become home to the nation's first all-LGBTQ+ library, dubbed the Pride Library. Pablo Cabrera brings us the story.
  • We’re continuing to tally results from last week’s election.
  • Tonight’s events from our terrific listings include drag queen bingo, Outfest Fusion’s finale screening and party and more films from the Noir City Hollywood film festival.

In Case You Missed It:

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