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Some Census Work May End Even Earlier Than Planned
The 2020 Census has been through a lot this year. The deadline to complete the questionnaire and finish in-person census work has already moved three times, largely on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Most recently, it was moved up from Oct. 31 to Sept. 30.
Now, that timeline might be changing again in some areas. A U.S. Census Bureau representative for the San Diego area told local leaders there recently that in-person census takers may stop visiting homes in the region September 18, two weeks before the end-of-September deadline.
A different census spokesperson told KPCC/LAist that early completion is possible in easier-to-count areas, but couldn’t say whether that would include any of L.A. County.
To census advocates, the possibility of ending the census even earlier than planned with an accurate count seems hard to believe.
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Video Of Dijon Kizzee Shooting Shows Struggle, But Not A Gun
A video of L.A. Sheriff's deputies fatally shooting Dijon Kizzee on Monday has surfaced.
The surveillance video from a nearby home shows Kizzee struggling with one deputy before that deputy and another deputy open fire. They continue shooting after Kizzee falls to the ground.
The video is inconclusive about the deputies’ crucial contention: that Kizzee was reaching for a gun that had fallen to the ground during the struggle. That’s because a wall partially blocks the camera’s view.
Kizzee, 29, was killed Monday after the deputies tried to stop him for a traffic violation he allegedly committed while riding a bicycle.
Meanwhile, one of the nation’s leading police abuse attorneys today announced he’s representing Kizzee's family.
Attorney Benjamin Crump has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, and is currently representing the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.
"Dijon Kizzee did not deserve to be executed like this in cold blood," Crump told an online news conference today. He also unveiled two other members of what he called a legal "dream team": Carl Douglas, who was part of the OJ Simpson defense team, and Dale Galipo, who has represented many victims of police shootings in L.A.
READ OUR PREVIOUS COVERAGE:
Mayor Garcetti Says Angelenos Are Doing A 'Great Job' Bringing Down COVID-19 Numbers
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti live-streamed his media briefing today — as he has since the start of stay home order. Garcetti delivered an overaching message that Los Angeles in a considerably better place now in the fight against COVID-19 than in early July, when hospitalizations and cases surged.
- L.A. County now ranks 19th out of 58 counties in California in cases per 100,000 residents. He said: "Considering our density and the poverty and other challenges that we faced long before this, with pre existing conditions and health vulnerabilities, this is good news."
- According to New York Times data, Garcetti said, the L.A. metro area ranks 37th in the nation in cases per capita. "We have fewer deaths per 100,000 residents than almost all of our peer cities nationally," he said.
- The city of L.A. had 100 fewer deaths in August than we did in July.
- Hospitalization numbers now are the lowest they've been since early April. "In just the last five weeks alone, we've cut our hospitalizations, by more than half," Garcetti added.
- The mayor said the city's goal is to have fewer than seven cases per 100,000 people, or a testing positivity rate between 5-8%.
- Right now, we have 13 cases per 100,000 residents and a seven-day average testing positivity rate of about 5%. That still puts us in the highest tier, according to the state's new reopening framework.
The mayor thanked residents for doing their part to bring these numbers back down and prevent another surge.
"I share these numbers with you because you often wonder, is what I'm doing making a difference?," Garcetti said. "And it is. You are doing a great job."
He noted, however, that we have to stay on track and not forget that the virus is still very much with us. He urged everyone not to have parties or BBQ's with family members this Labor Day weekend:
"Do not confuse though these few reopenings with going back to normal, that's not the case. Last time there were some reopenings I think some folks drew the wrong message — that the virus was behind us, that we could let down our guard, go back to normal. That's false, it's foolish, and as we learned, it can be fatal."
On September 14, L.A. County schools can open on-campus service for small "cohorts" of students who need extra learning support.
These include children with Individualized Education Plans, English as a second language students and those who need assessments or specialized in-school services. The cohorts will have 12 students or less.
The mayor said the county also announced that it will not offer waivers for elementary schools to get special permission to open.
Unrelated to COVID-19, Garcetti said that an L.A. firefighter named Frank Aguilar was "violently" kidnapped in Baja, Mexico. The mayor told those listening that the news on Aguilar broke right before tonight's update.
The mayor said is working on resolving the situation with the Mexican Consulate and the State Department.
He did not have further details about the kidnapping at this time.
7 Takeaways From Our Investigative Podcast 'California City'
I'm a reporter for KPCC and LAist, and I spent years investigating a decades-long, deceptive real estate sales pitch in the small Mojave Desert town of California City.
Now that my 8-episode podcast is finally out, I wanted to break down what I learned.
Here are my main takeaways:
- California City was founded by Nat Mendelsohn, a Czechoslovakian immigrant with a vision to build a city from scratch in the desert.
- Mendelsohn's sales tactics drew the attention of Ralph Nader and got the company in serious trouble with the Federal Trade Commission.
- After Mendelsohn's company went bankrupt, a former employee quietly continued selling vacant land in California City.
- In 2011, that company, Silver Saddle Ranch & Club, transitioned from selling vacant desert lots to selling shares of a confusing real estate investment called "landbanking."
- Silver Saddle targeted a very specific type of customer: Latino, Filipino and Chinese people, most of whom lived in California and often spoke English as a second language.
- The California Department of Business Oversight charged Silver Saddle with fraud and shut the company down in 2019.
- It's unlikely the people who invested with Silver Saddle will get their money back.
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LA County Hair Salons And Barbershops Can Reopen Indoors At Reduced Capacity
Los Angeles County's coronavirus task force gave one of its regular updates on the COVID-19 pandemic today. Watch above or read highlights below.
L.A. County leaders announced that hair salons and barbershops can reopen for indoor operation at 25% capacity as soon as today, pending the release of the new guidelines from the county.
Those businesses can open their doors again "provided they are in full compliance with the Health Officers' protocols," L.A. County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said at today's media briefing.
"If your hair salon or barbershop has been operating outdoors, please continue to do so and use your 25% occupancy for those services you're not able to provide outdoors," he said.
County Supervisor Hilda Solis warned that the updated health orders could change again, depending on how seriously county residents adhere to public health guidelines over the holiday weekend.
"... we can easily be knocked off that path of recovery if we see another surge in cases after the holiday weekend, which was what happened after Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. So please continue to do your part."
BY THE NUMBERS
County officials reported 1,457 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 243,935 cases countywide. In total, 10,674 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 2,387 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).
L.A. County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis also reported 51 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. The total number of deaths countywide now stands at 5,878 people.
So far, 92% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Davis said.
Davis also provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information confirmed for 5,535 of the victims. According to the latest available information:
- 51% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
- 10% African American [9% of county residents]
- 24% White [26.1% of county residents]
- 15% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
- Less than 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
- 1% identified with another race or ethnicity
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE IMPACT ON HOMELESS RESIDENTS
Dr. Davis took a few minutes to break down how the pandemic is affecting homeless people in L.A. County.
So far, officials have confirmed 1,589 cases among people experiencing homelessness and 160 cases among people who work at shelters. In total, 41 people experiencing homelessness and two people working at shelters have died from the virus, Davis said.
Despite a couple spikes in August, the rate of infections, hospitalizations and deaths among the county’s homeless population have not become the “grave concerns” health officials initially projected, Davis explained.
“They were unable to just stay at home as we advise everyone to do in March. They often live in encampments or in shelters that make it difficult to maintain physical distance, and they're at higher risk of poor health outcomes due to underlying health conditions… due in part to the partners that we've worked with or that have worked together to prevent and control outbreaks among this group of residents, these fears — up to this point — have not come to fruition.”
Davis presented case and death data by ethnicity, which showed the highest rate of cases and deaths among Hispanic and/or Latino residents experiencing homelessness. A breakdown by gender showed that homeless men have a mortality rate nearly double that of women.
Davis noted that sometimes it can be difficult to confirm the housing status of COVID-19 victims, but said officials are working to “slow down the data… to more accurately understand if a death that we do see was actually a person who was experiencing homelessness.”
MORE ON CORONAVIRUS AND OUR NEW REALITY:
- Is It Safe Out There?
- What's Open And What Are The Rules?
- A Step-By-Step Guide To Getting The Most Money Possible From Your Unemployment Benefits In California
- Need Some Mental Health Support? Start Here
Gov. Newsom: California's Coronavirus Positivity Rate Down To 5.1%
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus, along with other issues. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference video above.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
There were 4,255 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, with a seven-day average of 4,708 new cases per day. That's with about 110,000 tests conducted per day over the past week, Newsom said.
The 14-day COVID-19 positivity rate in California is down to 5.1%, while the 7-day positivity rate is at 4.4%.
Hospitalizations and ICU admissions for COVID-19 are each down 23% over the past two weeks.
Newsom stressed the importance of avoiding mixing over Labor Day weekend to prevent those numbers from ticking back up. He also noted that the "twindemic" of COVID-19 meeting flu season is on the way, as well as an expected second wave of the coronavirus.
The governor said that he's open to, if necessary, opening a special Legislative session this fall to help move forward legislation whose passage was impacted for procedural and other reasons by COVID-19.
EVICTION PROTECTIONS FOR RENTERS
Newsom opened by talking about new rental protections in California, saying that renters are struggling due to COVID-19. He noted that there has been a 50-66% drop in income for renters, with job losses leading to missed rent. Up to 5.4 million renters are at risk, according to Newsom — and that population is disproportionately Black and Latino.
If renters fill out a hardship declaration showing that they were affected by COVID-19, there will be no evictions for not paying reuntil until Feb. 1 of next year. There are provisions in the bill for partial rent payment — at least 25% of rent for the next five months for those who are able to.
Newsom said they want to be sensitive to the owners of small units, as well as homeowners. The state is expanding the Homeowner Bill of Rights for those renting between one to four units, as well as borrower rights.
A new website at HousingIsKey.com provides guidance and resources for landlords, tenants, and homeowners. It includes details on the new eviction framework, and protections, as well as toolkits, legal aid resources, and FAQs. Housing Secretary Lourdes Castro Ramírez spoke about the issues facing renters right now.
California's protections aren't affected by the CDC's new protections, Newsom said, as California's go farther and expire later — the CDC's expire at the end of the year and have income requirements.
He added that local ordinances aren't impact by either the federal or state guidelines, so if local guidelines go further, those still apply.
THEME PARK REOPENING GUIDELINES STILL TO COME
Newsom noted that theme parks were "bracketed" aside from the current four-tier guidelines as there was more work on the details in that area to be done, and that remains the case.
Newsom updated where the battle against wildfires in the state currently stands. Firefighters are battling more than 900 fires across the state, with 1.5 million acres burned so far.
There have been eight fatalities and more than 3,100 structures destroyed, and Newsom said there was no question that many more structures will be added to that number. There are currently more than 14,200 firefighters deployed, with almost 1,900 fire engines in the field.
Newsom noted that many of these fires, largely in Northern California, were caused by lightning. Significant progress has been made against the large LNU, CZU, and SCU fires. The August Fire is at 20% containment, while the Sheep Fire is more than 70% contained.
One fire that remains a concern is the SQF fire, burning near some of the state's sequoia trees — it's burned 42,000 acres and is only at 1% containment.
Newsom also provided updates on the state's plans to deal with homelessness in the longer term, beyond the short-term response to COVID-19. He said that the pace of working to solve the homelessness problem in California has been impacted by COVID-19, and noted that it took us decades to get to where the problem currently stands.
Los Angeles Declares 'Fiscal Emergency' To Furlough Thousands Of City Workers
The L.A. City Council on Wednesday declared a fiscal emergency, paving the way to approve buyouts for city employees and a furlough program for nearly 16,000 workers.
The council also voted on an amendment to negotiate a delay for raises called for in the current contract with the police department, but the effort failed.
Bonin & Harris-Dawson amendment to delay LAPD raises until fiscal situation improves FAILS:— Libby Denkmann (@libdenk) September 2, 2020
The city needs to bridge a huge budget shortfall that’s only growing as COVID-19 continues to shrink tax revenues.
The Mayor first proposed furloughing workers in his belt-tightening budget in April. The council, hoping to ward off furloughs, delayed those cuts in favor of a buyout program -- in other words, paying people to leave the city payroll. But the buyouts fell short of the city’s goal, and attracted just 1,277 employees, fewer than half the number needed to forestall furloughs.
That left the council between a rock and a hard place: on Wednesday, members voted to declare a fiscal emergency to allow them to proceed with cuts.
The resolution paints a dire picture: “[I]mmediate and comprehensive action to reduce current spending must be taken to ensure...that the essential services of the City are not jeopardized and public health and safety are preserved.”
The furloughs amount to a 10% pay cut for about 16,000 employees who will lose one day of work per pay period, exempting some groups including sanitation workers, firefighters, sworn police, librarians and the Department of Building and Safety.
“There will be service cuts this year,” said City Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn during Wednesday’s meeting.
The cuts are slated to begin Oct. 11 and go through June 20, 2021, which is expected to save $104.2 million.
But public employee unions representing city workers are preparing to fight the cuts.
“Furloughs are illegal under our labor contracts and in the middle of a pandemic that has already caused millions to become unemployed — furloughs are simply not a responsible solution,” SEIU Local 721 President Bob Schoonover said in a statement. The union is working with the city to identify other savings, he added.
Critics argue the situation is the result of poor fiscal management by the city, which last summer approved a new contract with the police department’s union, including pay raises and a new bonus program.
“You started digging this hole a year ago when you quietly rubber stamped those raises for LAPD,” said Rob Quan, the founder of the government reform group Unrig L.A. during Wednesday’s public comment period.
A city employee who did not state her name pleaded with the council to find other ways to balance the budget.
“You’re not saving enough to make a dent,” she said during public comment. “I really suggest the council reconsider furloughing the employees who are going to keep the city afloat.”
Councilmember Mike Bonin presented an amendment requiring the city to open talks with LAPD’s union to delay police officer raises “until the City’s fiscal situation has improved.” The amendment failed in a 9-3 vote.
This story will be updated.
Deadly Heat Returning To Southern California
I’m sorry to say that the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying is just about done for and everyone should brace themselves for what's to come.
Starting this Friday, Southern California will heat up until temperatures across the region reach the triple digits this weekend.
"This is an exceptionally dangerous event, especially considering the holiday weekend and the ongoing pandemic," wrote National Weather Service meteorologists in an area forecast discussion released Tuesday.
"Temperatures this high, and this widespread, are rarely ever seen in this area. All daytime outdoor activities should limited or canceled. Those without air conditioning should make preparations now to stay cool. Extreme stress on our power infrastructure may lead to power outages."
Woodland Hills could reach 115 degrees and Burbank 110. Even Downtown L.A. could experience temperatures in the low 100s, while beach towns could heat up to around 90 degrees, according to the NWS.
Just as concerning are the high nighttime temperatures which are expected to remain in the upper 70s and low 80s in some places, giving people little opportunity to cool down.
All of this extreme heat is a major public health threat.
While people living in places like the San Fernando Valley often have air conditioning to help them cope with heatwaves, there are plenty in L.A. who either don't need it often enough to justify the cost, or can't afford it, putting them in a potentially deadly situation this weekend.
A recent study from USC found that low income communities in South L.A. were particularly vulnerable to heatwaves. As is our large homeless population.
Those who need help could seek out cooling centers set up by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
If you're worried about energy costs, there are a number of financial assistance programs available for low-income households.
The heat also brings with it an increased risk of wildfires.
The good news is that winds shouldn't be too strong and the threat of thunderstorms is much lower than a few weeks ago.
California's firefighting resources are no longer maxed out, but firefighters are recovering from grueling schedules and high heat.
So try don't start any fires this Labor Day weekend.
Our firefighters and the rest of us really need a break.
Charter Schools Will Continue Lawsuit Despite The Legislature Partially Restoring Their Funding
Four California charter school networks are moving forward with a lawsuit that claims the state’s education budget is unconstitutional — even though the legislature passed a bill late Monday night that partially addresses the issue their lawsuit raises.
Back in June, California lawmakers were worried the pandemic might send schools’ enrollments, and therefore funding, into a tailspin. So the legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom struck a budget deal freezing K-12 funding at last year’s levels.
This prompted the lawsuit; the plaintiffs are charter schools with growing enrollments, who stood to see higher funding.
This week, the legislature voted to pass Senate Bill 820, which restored some funding to these growing schools — but not all of it.
SB 820 “still doesn’t do what the constitution says [lawmakers] are supposed to do,” said Jerry Simmons, a partner at the law firm Young, Minney & Corr, “which is to fund every child’s education. That is every child’s constitutional right.”
To understand why the plaintiffs are still unsatisfied, read our full story on both SB 820 and the lawsuit.
Legislative Democrats called SB 820 a fair compromise.
Assemblyman Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) said the bill balances the needs of these growing schools with the state’s limited resources; already, the state is balancing its budget by asking K-12 schools statewide to endure more than $11 billion in late payments.
He also noted many of the charter schools that are affected also had access to extraordinary funding sources: charter schools across California claimed more than $240.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to one analysis.
- During COVID-19, The State Promised Not To Cut Funding For Shrinking Schools. But What About Growing Schools?
Morning Briefing: LA Sheriff's Dept. Adds To List Of Black People Killed By Law Enforcement
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As protests continue to rage around the country in response to the ongoing killing of Black people at the hands of law enforcement officers, another such death in L.A. has incited demonstrations in the South L.A. neighborhood of Westmont.
According to the L.A. County Sheriff's Dept., 29-year-old Dijon Kizzee was stopped by two sheriff’s deputies while riding his bike, for an alleged traffic violation. The LASD says – and cell phone video corroborates – that Kizzee ran from the interaction.
The deputies claim that when they caught up with him, Kizzee punched one of the deputies, who then noticed a gun wrapped in a jacket that Kizzee had dropped. They said he "made a motion toward the firearm" and that’s when they opened fire.
Protesters have been at the scene since Monday night.
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
Coming Up Today, September 2
Charlotta Bass published an influential Black newspaper, ran for Congress, helped found the Progressive Party, and spent most of her life fighting for social justice. LAist contributor Hadley Meares has her story.
The past few days have been a much needed respite from hot and smoky conditions, but fire weather is coming back – and potentially even worse than the most recent occurrence. KPCC science reporter Jacob Margolis will have more on the conditions that are shaping up.
With a month to go before the census ends, there are now reports that the Trump Administration will try to end the count in some regions earlier, by Sept. 18. Meanwhile, California is loosening up funds to reach hard-to-reach tracts by the deadline. Caroline Champlin reports.
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The Past 24 Hours In LA
Another Deadly Sheriff’s Shooting: The killing of a Black man by two L.A. Sheriff's deputies in the South L.A. neighborhood of Westmont has sparked protests and raised questions about the decision to open fire.
California Kids: A preliminary injunction has been issued that bars all UC campuses from administering ACT or SAT tests, under a test-optional policy. The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District is laying off dozens of staff members in its early education and child care programs. Some Southern California colleges are housing thousands of students in campus dorms, even as they hold classes online.
Money Matters: Los Angeles will spend $10 million on a legal defense fund for renters facing eviction due to COVID-19, and a bill to stem the tide of evictions was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The state legislature passed a bill that exempts many freelancers, including writers and musicians, from AB 5's controversial requirement that they be treated as employees.
Public Transit: What would regional transportation look like if L.A. County’s buses and trains were free to everyone? L.A. Metro is now exploring that idea — and moving fast. The agency's CEO hopes to launch fare-free service by the start of 2021.
Also, This: A guy with a jetpack flew over LAX on Sunday evening.
Photo Of The Day
Dijon Kizzee's aunt, Sheila Jackson, listens to speakers at a Tuesday protest of her nephew's death at the hands of L.A. County Sheriff's deputies.
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This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.