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The Forest Service Moved These Orphaned Mountain Lion Kittens From LA To Arizona

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The two foster kittens, hanging out in their new home at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona (Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)

Two Southern California mountain lion kittens are in Arizona now after attempts failed to foster them in their local birthplace.

The orphaned kittens were found in the Simi Hills earlier this summer (during the mountain lion baby boom) while their mother was away from the den. She was later found dead.

The foster kittens cuddle at the L.A. Zoo (Photo Courtesy Los Angeles Zoo)

Biologists tried to foster the kittens with a surrogate female in the Santa Monica Mountains, but she later abandoned the orphaned kittens when she moved from her den. (Here's a video of them playing in that foster den; it's frankly, adorable and we cannot understand why she would leave them, but the heart wants what it wants).

Seth Riley with the National Parks Service says it's hard to know why the effort didn't work, but a stay at the LA Zoo just prior to the foster attempt might have had something to do with it.

"We do think it would probably [have been] better to have done it as quickly as possible, so that the potential foster kittens [didn't] interact with people for as long as these ones did," Riley told LAist/KPCC.

He says it's also possible that the adult female mountain lion made the decision to leave the orphaned kittens behind because she already had her own litter.

One of the kittens waits for his new home at the L.A. Zoo (Courtesy LA Zoo)

The two kittens are now at the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Obviously we can't ask them how they feel about it, but they look pretty happy in their new home.

(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)
(Courtesy Santa Monica Mountains Nat. Recreation Area Flickr page)

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WATCH: We Answered Your Voting Questions

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The next election is speeding toward us on a runaway train of rhetoric, doubt, and deterrents. So let's talk facts, instead.

Election Day is technically November 3, but early voting starts soon after October 5 when ballots begin shipping out to every active, registered voter in California.

And the actual process of voting is different this year. You'll be doing it possibly by mail, or at a new vote center, in the time of a historic pandemic, in the midst of a fury over racial inequity and police brutality, while the Golden State burns in the orange glow of climate change.

Let our senior politics reporter, Libby Denkmann, and our expert panelists be your guides to exercising your democratic rights. They’ll help you get prepared with all the what's, when's, where's, and why's of voting.

You can watch a replay of this event above.

Panelists:

  • Kim Alexander, president, California Voter Foundation
  • Justin Levitt, professor of Law at Loyola Marymount Law School, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice

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Cal State Long Beach Employees Worry Lax Safety Measures May Have Led To Student COVID Outbreak

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A COVID-19 outbreak among Cal State Long Beach students has university staff concerned about safety. (Long Beach State University Public Affairs)

As the COVID-19 outbreak at Cal State Long Beach grew this week, so too did concern from university employees who may have come into contact with students who have tested positive.

“It is kind of scary,” said a custodian who cleans the Cal State Long Beach dorms, where at least 14 of the 22 students who tested positive live. The custodian feared retaliation from administrators and asked to remain anonymous.

The custodian has seen students close to each other in groups after lunch, all without face coverings or with the covering worn only on their chin, instead over their mouths. The custodian plans to take a COVID test this week.

”I do have kids and stuff like that — I don't never want to take a virus back home to my family. So I just want to make sure that I'm safe as well,” the custodian said.

In an update on the outbreak released on Wednesday, the university said it was “profoundly disappointed in the conduct of the students who violated public health guidance and will pursue disciplinary action as appropriate.”

But the chair of the university’s chapter of the California State Employees Union, said the university could have more strictly enforced the health guidance.

“I think [it was] somewhat unrealistic to expect that students would completely stay away from each other," said Jennifer Moran, whose union represents about 1,100 employees on the campus.

”I think they needed greater supervision and enforcement with the safety protocols. There just really wasn't enough supervision, enough staff members tasked with, or managers tasked with, walking around and talking to students who may be sitting four at a table with no masks on," she said.

One solution, said the custodian who requested anonymity, would be to give students daily reminders about masks and distancing like the custodians receive every day in work meetings.

Employees on other campuses have also criticized Cal State’s approach to COVID-19 prevention as inconsistent. Their concerns grew after outbreaks at Cal State’s Chico and San Diego campuses a month ago.

University of California campuses require students moving into dorms to be tested for COVID. CSU does not have a similar requirement. Employees say the Cal State chancellor’s office should come up with one set of COVID-19 safety protocols for all 23 campuses in the university system. But the chancellor’s office said each campus must be free to set its own guidelines based on local conditions.

“A plan that is appropriate for Cal Maritime, which educates 900 students and utilizes a retired naval vessel as a training ship, should be different than the plan for Chico which has an enrollment of 17,000 in a college town versus Cal State Long Beach, with an enrollment of 38,000 on the border of Los Angeles and Orange counties,” chancellor’s office spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp said in an email.

Moran said her union has asked Cal State Long Beach to check the temperatures of everyone coming to campus but the university hasn’t agreed.

Jeff Cook, a Cal State Long Beach spokesman, said the university’s approach is sound. “Throughout the pandemic, we've benefited from thoughtful planning and have held the safety of our employees and students as our highest priority,” he said.

Cook said university administrators plan to talk to the employee union about the concerns.

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New Laws: Bills The Governor Signed, And Rejected, In 2020

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An exterior of the state capitol is shown on January 5, 2006 in Sacramento. (David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

The coronavirus pandemic has upended life for everyone. Legislators were no exception. This year, they:

But even with their reduced workload, lawmakers tackled numerous thorny issues, sending legislation to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk that could impact life in California for years to come — to allow more workers to take paid family leave, make it easier to get mental health care, and ban flavored tobacco, among others.

SEE WHAT MADE THE CUT:

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Federal Education Programs Rely Heavily On Funding Backed By Census Data

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A student writes in his notebook in an L.A. Unified School District classroom in San Pedro on Aug. 21, 2017. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC)

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Along with political power and representation, billions of dollars in federal funding for programs that pay for everything from highway planning to healh care and housing. In the coming weeks, we'll be taking a closer look at specific federal programs whose funding is directly is informed by the data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

MORE: Census Explained: Why The Census Matters In LA

A CLOSER LOOK AT CENSUS 2020'S IMPACT ON EDUCATION

This week, we'll examine programs and services for students -- from K-12 to college -- impacted by the census.

An undercount could cut critical resources which help make education affordable and accessible to students across the region and in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation. One local community college student says a Pell Grant helped make a college education "possible," an important next step in getting her life back on track.

READ: Pell Grants -- And Census 2020 -- Make College Accessible And Affordable For One Community College Student (And Millions Like Her)

School districts many have closed campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but they're still feeding hungry, low-income kids with assistance from meal programs subsidized by the government and funded based on census data.

READ: Schools Are Closed, But School Districts Are Still Feeding Students In Need -- With Help From The Census

What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

Why Police-Community Relations Are In A Bad Place

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Protesters move past police and take to the 101 Freeway on May 27. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Protests against police brutality, allegations of excessive force during those demonstrations, and the recent ambush of two Sheriff's deputies have combined to bring relations between law enforcement and some communities to a low point.

“People are chanting that they want to know where my kids go to school and where my parents go to church,” said Sheriff’s Capt. Duane Allen, Jr., a 32-year veteran and head of the South L.A. station. “I’ve never seen this before … it’s hostile.”

Pastor Michael Fisher of Greater Zion Church in Compton has worked for years to improve relations with the Sheriff’s Department. Videos of recent killings by law enforcement, along with reports of a deputy gang dominating the Compton station, have rattled Fisher.

"We were under the impression that things were in fact getting better," he said. Now, “it's as if the masks have come off, that this entire time, we were working with racists,” Fisher said, who’s quick to say he doesn't believe all deputies are racist. After all, two of his nieces work for the department.

READ OUR FULL STORY ON POLICE-COMMUNITY RELATIONS:

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Alpine Village Is Now An Official Landmark, Not Just A Landmark In Our Hearts

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The exterior of Alpine Village in the South Bay. (Marcello Vavalà/L.A. Conservancy)

Earlier this week, Tuesday to be precise, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to designate Alpine Village, a Bavarian-themed shopping and dining complex, a historical landmark.

The designation protects the property from major alterations and potential demolition but it does not include the interiors of the buildings, according to Rosalind Sagara with the L.A. Conservancy. The owner reportedly did not oppose the designation.

Located in unincorporated West Carson, what Hadley Meares described as a "picturesque, slightly run-down hamlet of European-style chalets next to the roaring Harbor Freeway," opened in 1969. It boasted the Alpine Inn Restaurant, a movie theater, a soccer field and a bunch of quaint, Alpine-themed specialty shops offering everything from pancakes and ski gear to blown glass andGerman sausages.

The kitschy, approximately 14-acre complex, hosted weekly swap meets, bingo nights and, for several years, a popular annual Oktoberfest celebration.

But over the years, Southern California residents lost interest. Many shops and eateries closed and it looked down-at-the-heels. In April, the restaurant that anchored Alpine Village announced it was going to close.

Last year, reports surfaced that a Long Beach-based real estate company wanted to purchase Alpine Village, tear down most of it and turn it into a storage center. The perceived threat of destruction made preservationists take notice and they launched a drive to name the complex as a historic landmark.

Sagara told us:

"Especially for German-Americans in Southern California but also a lot of other groups, many of which held annual festivals and events and over the years. It's also served as a meeting place for more than 30 social and cultural clubs."

READ MORE ABOUT ALPINE VILLAGE'S HISTORY

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LAUSD Releases Contract With Start-Up Lab Company Behind Its COVID-19 Testing Program

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SummerBio, a Silicon Valley start-up, is providing the bulk of the COVID-19 tests the L.A. Unified School District plans to use for its screening system for students and employees. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC/LAist)

The Los Angeles Unified School District made a big national splash this summer when it announced an ambitious plan to regularly test all students and staff for COVID-19.

But we’ve known relatively little about LAUSD’s contract with the start-up lab company that’s providing and processing the coronavirus test kits — at least, until now.

On Wednesday afternoon, the LAUSD officials publicly released full terms of its deal with SummerBio in response to requests from the L.A. Times, KPCC/LAist and others. District officials also released a memo shedding even more light on the deal. Here’s what we learned:

  • We now know what the deal is worth to SummerBio: $51.3 million to deliver 100,000 tests per week to LAUSD through June 2021.
  • We knew generally that LAUSD wouldn’t pay if SummerBio failed to process the tests in a timely fashion, but we now know exactly how efficient the lab must be: by 5 a.m., SummerBio must report the results of at least 80% of the previous day’s tests in order to get paid for that day’s work.
  • The contract gives LAUSD an option to double the capacity of the testing program to 200,000 tests per week. In an interview, Beutner indicated the district would exercise this option if campuses reopened. Should this happen, the potential costs to LAUSD would rise to about $80.9 million, according to the district memo.
  • LAUSD took bids from 22 companies — and the district says SummerBio was the cheapest by far. A group that included outside attorneys, consultants and researchers evaluated the bids. While LAUSD’s memo doesn’t specify what each company would’ve charged, it does say the next-lowest competitor would’ve charged $192.3 million — nearly four times as much as SummerBio.

LAUSD officials launched this program using special emergency powers the school board unanimously approved in March; powers that let Beutner make fast-track deals to help LAUSD respond to the coronavirus crisis.

I’ve been reporting a story about those emergency powers and learned details about the SummerBio contract in the course of that reporting. Stick with us — I’ll have that story out soon.

READ THE FINE PRINT:

GO DEEPER:

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LA's Homeless Services System Can Be Achingly Slow

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Halcyon Selfmade outside a motel in Hollywood, CA. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)

When a new "A Bridge Home" interim homeless shelter opened on Hollywood’s Schrader Boulevard, Halcyon Selfmade was one of the very first people to move inside. He’s white, trans, and spends most of his time in a wheelchair because of a genetic disease he was diagnosed with when he was 6 years old.

Hal and his partner were told that within 90 days, they could expect to be connected with a wheelchair-accessible housing unit that they could afford on their roughly $1,200-a-month income.

So they moved in.

Ninety days passed, and then 90 days passed again. But the housing didn’t materialize.

READ MORE OF HAL'S STORY:

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Morning Briefing: Funding For LA’s Mental Health Services

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Daniel Barreto via Unsplash

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Good morning, L.A.

As elected officials and activists alike call for redirecting public funds away from law enforcement and towards unarmed, trained service providers, one model that shows significant promise is peer support for people experiencing a mental health crisis.

At peer-run centers – which are, at the moment, few and far between in L.A. – folks who live with mental illness can show up and find resources, a sympathetic ear, or just a quiet place to decompress. My colleague Robert Garrova visited one such facility, the county-operated Peer Resource Center near Wilshire Blvd. and Vermont Ave., and discovered a welcoming and safe space.

"You don't have to have a diagnosis to come in, we don't ask for insurance," said Joey Arcangel, a program coordinator at a different center. Instead, visitors can talk with providers who know what they’re going through from firsthand experience.

The model is still new, but it’s quickly gaining momentum; a bill signed into law in California last week creates a certification process for peer service providers, and could allow for Medi-Cal funded pilot programs.

Keris Jän Myrick, the chief of peer and allied health professions for L.A. County's Department of Mental Health, said: "When I was going through crisis, I thought, Wow, that's what I need – I need someplace that's soothing.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 1

For one disabled man on the streets of Hollywood, L.A.’s homeless services system has failed. Matt Tinoco paints a portrait of how a piecemeal system doesn't work and ends up leaving those in great need to fend for themselves.

Data collected from the census informs funding for critical programs, and undercounting can mean that some communities get shortchanged. Dana Amihere has the story of two such programs: Pell grants, and the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Money Matters: The former city manager for Moreno Valley made more than half a million dollarsafter retiring. California child care providers who serve low-income families will stop receiving some state payments for families that are still sheltering in place. Fee increases for citizenship and other immigration benefits were blocked. L.A. will resume normal parking enforcement on October 15. (Sorry).

Coronavirus Updates: Over the next 10 days, L.A. County will allow some businesses to resume limited operations, including indoor malls, nail salons and outdoor gaming. A COVID-19 outbreak among Cal State Long Beach students has grown to 22 confirmed cases, most of them students who live in campus dorms.

L.A.’s Critical Services: Peer respite facilities provide short-term mental health crisis care and are mostly run by peers with lived experience of mental illness. A new law signed by Gov. Newsom increases the scope of services for nurse practitioners. Unaccompanied women are one of the most vulnerable homeless populations in Los Angeles County, and they will now be designated as a subpopulation of homeless residents.

Arrest Made: The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department announced the arrest of a man who allegedly shot two deputies in Compton last month.

Election 2020: As young people step up to the plate, L.A. County has recruited nearly all of the poll workers needed for the November election.

Census 2020: The city of L.A. is among groups seeking sanctions against the U.S. Census Bureau, alleging that the federal government is trying to end the 2020 count early. For now, the Census Bureau will continue counting residents.

Abandoned L.A.: A new book of photography portrays L.A.’s iconic, vintage – and sometimes, abandoned – locations.


Photo Of The Day

Mothers, wives and family members of detainees at the Adelanto Immigration Detention Center rally outside the Federal Building, denouncing the "horrific and scary" conditions for their loved ones inside the facility as they begin a 5-day hunger strike.

(Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP via 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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