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Down To The Wire For Eviction Bill In Sacramento

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A woman wearing a mask walks past a wall bearing a graffiti asking for rent forgiveness on La Brea Avenue amid the Covid-19 pandemic on May 1, 2020, in Los Angeles. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

A bill to stop a feared wave of evictions is making its way through the California legislature today, the final day of the legislative session. The bill passed the state Senate early this afternoon, and the Assembly should vote on it later in the evening. It needs a two-thirds majority to take effect immediately. Gov. Gavin Newsom has promised to sign AB 3088 if it passes.

The bill is a compromise measure and has attracted criticism from tenant groups and tepid support from the landlord lobby. But that may be enough. Some key details:

  • This bill would protect tenants from eviction if they’re behind on rent from March through August, and if they sign paperwork declaring they've lost income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Going forward, they’ll need to pay at least 25% of their rent through January 2021.
  • Starting later this week, landlords will be able to evict tenants for reasons not related to rent.
  • Even if it passes, supporters say this is a temporary measure they’ll need to revisit early next year.

And if it doesn’t pass the Assembly? A report out today says 40,000 households here in L.A. County already facing eviction proceedings.

MORE ON EVICTIONS AND HOUSING:

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USDA Extends Waiver That Makes Free Grab-And-Go Meals Available To More Kids

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A variety of foods are packed into plastic bags and then handed to parents and students that drive by the Grab and Go Meal Distribution Center. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it will extend policies to ensure more hungry kids have access to free meals during the school campus closures, through December 31, "or until available funding runs out."

Here's why: after campuses closed in March to slow the spread of COVID-19, schools and districts around Southern California switched up their food operations and handed out millions of free meals.

They were able to do so because of temporary waivers from the USDA, which heads up school nutrition programs.

Those waivers gave a lot of schools and districts flexibility to distribute free meals to any kid who asked for one, even if they didn't qualify for free lunch through school nutrition programs, which are based on need. These meals were provided grab-and-go.

Those waivers were set to expire as the new school year approached.

And school nutrition advocates had worried that if they weren't extended, fewer hungry kids would be able to get meals – and there’d be more confusion at distribution sites.

We spoke with local districts and schools about these concerns earlier this month.

Now the USDA has officially agreed to extend those waivers through the end of 2020.

California School Nutrition Association Public Policy and Legislation Chair Kristin Hilleman, who also heads up food and nutrition for Capistrano Unified, called the announcement "much needed good news."

Advocates were hoping the flexibilities would continue through the end of the school year in 2021, but in a statement the USDA pointed the blame at Congress, saying there's not enough funding to do that.

MORE ON ACCESS TO FREE FOOD DURING CORONAVIRUS CLOSURES:

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Original Tommy's Just Got Slapped With A Big, Sloppy Fine For Underpaying Its Workers

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A cheeseburger from the Original Tommy's at Beverly and Rampart. (L.A. Foodie/Flickr Creative Commons)

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You may know Original Tommy’s for its gooey, gut-busting chili burgers, but 96 workers know it as the company that spent years underpaying them. Now, the Southern California-based fast food chain will shell out nearly $400,000 in back wages and fines.

Tommy's parent companies — Tomdan Enterprises Inc. and Koulax Enterprises Inc. (doing business as Original Tommy’s World-Famous Hamburgers) — recently agreed to a settlement with Los Angeles County's Department of Consumer and Business Affairs in which they'll pay $397,775 for violating the county's Minimum Wage Ordinance. (The ordinance only covers work performed in unincorporated areas of L.A. County.)

Here's the breakdown of the settlement:

  • $147,775 — back wages paid directly to affected employees
  • $147,000 — fines paid directly to affected employees
  • $103,000 — fines paid to Los Angeles County

The violations date back to July 2016, according to the DCBA.

Tom Koulax opened the original Tommy's stand in 1946 at Beverly and Rampart Boulevards, where it still stands. The chain now has 34 locations — 31 in Southern California and three in Nevada.

The Original Tommy's at Beverly and Rampart, at night. (Mr. Littlehand/Flickr Creative Commons)

The DCBA announced it has also reached a $79,002 settlement with Southern California Pizza Company, a Pizza Hut franchisee based in the city of Orange.

Here's the breakdown of that settlement:

  • $19,002 — back wages and fines paid directly to affected employees
  • $60,000 — fines paid to Los Angeles County

Investigators cited the company for violations at six Pizza Hut locations in unincorporated areas of L.A. County. According to the DCBA, most of the affected employees worked at the company's location in Los Nietos, an unincorporated area between Pico Rivera and Whittier.

In unincorporated areas of L.A. County, the current minimum wage for workers who perform more than two hours of work is $14.25/hour for businesses with 25 or fewer employees and $15/hour for businesses with 26 or more employees.


[Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the correct figures for the breakdown of the Pizza Hut settlement.]

Queering the Census: What's At Stake for LGBTQ+ Communities With a Month Left To Go

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Staff from The Source LGBT+Center in Visalia doing outreach in February. (Courtesy of The Source LGBT+ Center)

Nonprofits that serve the LGBTQ+ community are among the many that rely on census data to petition for funding, expand their services to vulnerable populations, and educate policymakers about the populations they serve.

U.S. Census data also determines federal funding for schools, hospitals, and a wide range of social programs that serve county residents in general.

With a month left to go in the decennial count after the Trump administration moved up the census deadline to Sept. 30, LGBTQ+ organizations members are working hard to get the word out about participation and what's at stake.

READ THE FULL STORY:

LA County Health Officer Advises Residents To Skip Labor Day Traditions Amid 'Widespread' COVID-19 Transmissions

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Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force delivered its daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Read highlights below or watch the full video above.

Los Angeles County officials reported 1,022 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 241,768 cases countywide. In total, 10,492 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 2,368 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

Los Angeles County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis also reported 16 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 5,784 people.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Davis said, adding that that also means 7% of the victims did not.

A HOLIDAY WARNING

As Labor Day weekend approaches, Dr. Davis said it's imperative county residents learn from the past several months and "forego our traditional holiday traditions."

"We know for sure that our holiday gatherings, parties and cookouts can result in increases in transmissions, hospitalizations and deaths. The ability for us to reopen more fully relies on everyone doing their part, being smart of their choices, and reducing their risk to exposure to COVID-19 every day."

Davis advised residents to not gather with people outside their household and consider outdoor activities like hiking or a beach trip — preferably earlier in the day before it's too hot.

"If you're outside of your home and around others, please wear a face covering," he said. "Always use your own utensils, cups, food and drinks, and do not share with others. Avoid crowds and be flexible and willing to change plans or move to a different location if you find yourself in a crowded area."

WHERE L.A. COUNTY STANDS IN STATE'S NEW TIERED SYSTEM

Dr. Davis also outlined the state’s new tiered system and explained how it will help guide the county’s efforts to reopen safely.

L.A. County, like the majority of counties in California, is in Tier One, meaning COVID-19 is widespread.

L.A. County's test positivity rate is within Tier Two parameters, but because the new case rate remains in Tier One, the county must be considered still in Tier One. (Courtesy Los Angeles County)

One key threshold the county needs to meet before it could move to Tier Two: getting the seven-day average of new cases per day down to seven cases per 100,000 residents. We’re currently at 13 per 100,000 residents, Davis said.

“Our path forward for recovery depends on us being able to reduce community transmission significantly, so children and teachers can get back to their classrooms and more people can get back to their jobs with as much safety as possible.”

Davis pointed to some key progress the county is making, including that test positivity rates have fallen to 5% — the lowest level since late May.

"This is good news, but we're still seeing way too many cases, indicative of widespread [transmission]," he said.

Hospitalization rates have also seen "a significant decline," Davis said, from about 2,200 per day in mid-July to 1,100 in late August.

(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

IMPACT ON LATINO RESIDENTS

Dr. Davis also presented data showing the "disproportionate impact" COVID-19 is having on the county's Latino residents. This was especially evident in the month of July, when case rates reached a record high, represented in yellow in the chart below.

(Courtesy Los Angeles County)

"Latino or Latinx residents, sadly, have also been more likely to die of COVID-19 than other racial racial or ethnic groups," Davis said.

Death and hospitalization rates have steadily fallen through August, he added.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR REOPENING?

State guidelines now allow for malls to reopen at limited capacity and let barbershops and salons resume indoor operations, but L.A. County has yet to approve that or establish its own protocols.

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said leaders will discuss that with Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer tomorrow and may have an announcement to make "hopefully by early afternoon."

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS AND OUR NEW REALITY:

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Now Teachers, Co-Workers Or The Boss Can Ask A Judge To Seize Guns

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(Maxim Potkin for Unsplash)

Starting tomorrow, a wider range of Californians will be able to seek a special kind of restraining order: one that would temporarily take away guns from people found to be a danger to themselves or others.

A so-called red flag law has been on the books since 2016. It’s designed to prevent mass shootings. The law allows police and immediate family members to ask a judge to take away someone’s guns for as little as three weeks, or as long as five years.

Now the definition of who can seek a court order is expanding, to include teachers, other school staff, employers and co-workers.

School staff will have to work through an administrator to file a request with a court, and co-workers will have to work with their human resources department.

State Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) authored the expansion of the law. Citing the danger of a resumption of school and workplace shootings as things reopen during the pandemic, he said, "[i]t makes sense to give the people we see every day the power to intervene and prevent tragedies."

From 2016 through 2019, judges issued more than 1,700 orders to temporarily take away people’s guns, according to Ting's office.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have a version of red flag gun laws on the books, the assemblyman's office said.

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Morning Briefing: The Chicano Moratorium’s 50th Anniversary

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Classic cars highlighted a caravan that traveled the route of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic protests. (Josie Huang/LAist)

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Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, a 1970 march in which 30,000 protesters in East L.A. voiced their opposition to the Vietnam War and agitated for the rights of Mexican Americans. The infamous march ended with Sheriff’s deputies becoming violent and tear-gassing the crowd. Three people died, including Los Angeles Times columnist Ruben Salazar, who was struck by a tear gas canister fired by a deputy into a bar where the journalist had sought refuge.

Cynthia Baragas, a Brown Beret, was 17 when she attended the protest.

“Sheriffs moved in on us, on our rally,” Baragas told KPCC’s Josie Huang. “All of us in the back, they started pushing us, you know, and they started clubbing after a while, and throwing tear gas, everybody ran … I couldn’t find my husband. He got beat up. It was really bad.”

In honor of the event’s anniversary, a march and car caravan traced the original route down Whittier Blvd. Days before, our own Erick Galindo and Chava Sanchez visited the area as well, searching for answers – and meaning.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, August 31

A new law takes effect Tuesday, adding educators, employers and co-workers to the list of people who can file a Gun Violence Restraining Order. Under California’s current red flag gun law, only law enforcement and immediate family members can do so. Emily Elena Dugdale has the story.

Watch a horror film on a Hollywood rooftop or a doc about four transgender activists, take a forest bath under the light of the full moon, attend Cineconline, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Shots Fired?: LAPD swarmed an apartment building in Woodland Hills after gunshots were reported near a pro-Trump rally on Ventura Blvd. late Sunday morning.

The Chicano Movement: Events throughout the city on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, in which 30,000 protesters marched through East Los Angeles against the Vietnam War and civil rights violations of Mexican Americans.


Photo Of The Day

The NBA holds a moment of silence to remember former Portland Trail Blazer Clifford Robinson, former University of Arizona basketball coach Lute Olson, and actor Chadwick Boseman.

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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