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Meet The Candidates For LAUSD’s West Valley Seat

Marilyn Koziatek (l) and Scott Schmerelson (r) (Campaign photos)

Voters in the West San Fernando Valley: Still trying to figure out who’s got your vote in the race for the Los Angeles Unified school board?

Scott Schmerelson is the incumbent, trying to hold onto his seat in District 3 — which covers most of the West Valley, plus Sherman Oaks and Valley Village. Schmerelson has the support of LAUSD’s teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles.

Marilyn Koziatek is trying to unseat Schmerelson. She works in a front-office role at Granada Hills Charter High School and has the backing of the California Charter Schools Association.

Today, we published in-depth Q&As with both Koziatek and Schmerelson. Check out what they had to say about several key issues, including:

Want to make sure you live in LAUSD Board District 3? Check your address here or glance at this map:

We’ve also updated our Voter Game Plan to include summaries of both candidates’ answers.

Tomorrow, we’ll publish our interviews with both candidates in LAUSD Board District 7, which runs from South L.A. to San Pedro — and again, we’ll also update our Voter Game Plan.


Fake Ballot Drop Boxes Have Popped Up In Southern California And Election Officials Aren't Pleased

Official 2020 election ballot drop boxes are clearly and distinctly labeled, like this one in Boyle Heights. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Orange County District Attorney is investigating unofficial ballot drop boxes set up at churches, political party offices and retail locations. The boxes, which also popped up in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, are labeled to resemble sanctioned ballot containers, and some public officials have shared their locations, encouraging supporters to use them to cast their votes.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla sent a memo on Sunday to all county registrars statewide clarifying that fake drop boxes are illegal.

In short, providing unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes is prohibited by state law,” Padilla said. The guidance adds that a violation of the state’s election code carries a penalty of up to four years in prison.

Official ballot drop boxes are overseen by county elections officials and include security measures such as tamper-evident seals. While “ballot collection” or “ballot harvesting” is legal in California, it requires a person to sign over their ballot to an individual, who pledges to turn it in to election officials within 72 hours.

California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas shared a statement Monday from the state Republican Party downplaying the drop box controversy. It reads, in part:

Democrats are now upset because organizations, individuals and groups are offering an opportunity for their friends, family, and patrons to drop off their ballot with someone they know and trust. The Democrat anger is overblown when state law allows organizations, volunteers or campaign workers to collect completed ballots and drop them off at polling places or election offices.

Barajas’ emailed statement also cites part of AB 306, the law that allows ballot collection by third parties, which says ballots cannot be disqualified solely because the person turning them in doesn’t identify themselves or sign the voter’s return envelope.


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Dodgers Play Game 1 of NLCS Tonight. Where To Watch And What To Dream About Eating

Parking lots 2 and 3 will be open for drive-in viewing of the National League Championship Series. (Chava Sanchez / LAist)

The Dodgers are set to face off against the Atlanta Braves at 5 p.m. today in Game One of the National League Championship Series.

The best-of-seven series is being played at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, one of the bubble sites for the playoffs. The game will be broadcast on Fox and also will be streamed on MLB.TV. Listen on ESPN Radio, Dodgers Radio AM570 or in Spanish via KTNQ 1020.

If you want an IRL experience, you can still watch the game at Dodger Stadium (well, more like just outside of it.) The team is hosting drive-in viewing parties where you can view the action on 60-foot screens in parking lots 2 and 3.

It will cost you $75 per car, and follow these rules:

  • watch from inside your vehicle
  • leave only for the bathrooms or an emergency
  • masks are required outside of vehicles.
  • Tickets must be bought in advance. No on-site ticket sales!

And if you're missing the voice of legendary Dodger announcer Vin Scully (who is new to social media), he's taking your questions:

The 16-inch Going Yard hot dog was on the menu at Dodger Stadium for the 2019 season. (Levy/The Dodgers)

And if you're nostalgic for ballpark food, you can walk down memory lane with these stories:

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Newsom: Envoy Going To Disney World To See WTH They're Doing; Updated Halloween Rules Soon


Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus. You can read the highlights below or watch the full press conferencde above.


Newsom said that state officials will be visiting with theme park representatives this week as they continue to work on guidelines.

The state is also sending out teams to places like Disney World to examine how they are working to safely reopen.

"We'll be visiting with some of the larger theme parks, continuing those conversations back and forth," Newsom said. "We continue in good faith to try to work to get where I know everybody wants to go, and that's to get people back to work, and also create more entertainment options. But we need to do so in a safe way."

He called the trips “insight visits” meant to bring about a “deeper collaboration.” He also mentioned smaller theme parks wanting to differentiate themselves from the larger theme parks.

Newsom said the state will be drawing distinctions between different types.


Halloween COVID-19 guidelines and updated guidelines on mixing are expected Tuesday, set to be delivered by California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

"As we approach so many traditional days and activities, we expect people asking the question, 'How do we in a lower-risk way come together with people maybe that we haven't seen in a long time?'" Ghaly said. "And the purpose of the small gatherings guidance that is now posted on the California Department of Public Health website is really to not say it's a good idea, or appropriate to gather with three families. But really to say, more than three households, you really are increasing your risk."

Ghaly noted that this guidance comes ahead of upcoming days such as Election Day, Thanksgiving, and other winter holidays. Newsom added that, with temperatures coming down, people are expected to be gathering indoors more — so more guidance will be provided.


Newsom said that, despite living in Northern California, his household is still full of Lakers fans. When asked about a safe way to celebrate a Lakers victory, Newsom said that it's possible if people are wearing masks and physically distancing — but added that this wasn't happening in photos of fans celebrating Sunday night. Newsom also talked about celebrating who he called one of the greatest basketball players of all time: LeBron James.


Newsom talked about how the state is working with local governments to fight transmission of COVID-19. This includes identifying cases with rapid testing, using contact tracing, and providing isolation and quarantine support.

The state is currently averaging more than 125,000 daily COVID-19 tests, with 169,000 on Saturday. At this point, 90% of test results are returned within 24-48 hours, Newsom said.

"We're not ashamed of testing people," Newsom said, "but we must make that meaningful. Testing for testing's sake is not in and of itself significant, save the patient that can learn about their own health and health risk."

There have been 10,892 contact tracers trained in California so far, with more than 1,800 bilingual staff in a variety of languages.

Across the state, 95% of local health departments are contacting all new cases the same day as test results are returned, while 97% of local health departments are contacting all contacts exposed the same day, according to Ghaly.

State funding to counties is tied to the equity metric meant to assure testing in diverse, hard-hit areas, Ghaly noted.

Newsom noted that resources to support isolation include job-protected paid sick leave, the Housing for Harvest program for agriculture and farm workers, Project Roomkey for high-risk and COVID-19-positive homeless, as well as $150 million in federal funds and $83 million of philanthropic funds for counties.


There were 3,449 new cases reported Sunday, with a 3,321-case seven-day average. The positivity rate is 2.6% over the past two weeks, and the seven-day rate is the same.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are down 8% over the past two weeks, with a 13% decrease in COVID-19-positive ICU admissions.

There are currently 16 counties still in the most restrictive purple tier of the state's reopening guidelines, 24 in the red tier, 11 in the orange tier, and 7 in the lowest yellow tier. Multiple counties will move into new tiers on Tuesday, though Newsom noted that some counties are "teetering" on the edge of tiers.


California is continuing to battle wildfires, with temperatures rising across the state this week and high winds expected in Northern California in particular on Wednesday through Friday — as high as 60 mph.

There have been 4.1 million acres burned this fire season, with 14 major fires/fire complexes still being dealt with. The state has more than 12,000 firefighters currently deployed. There have been 31 deaths, with 9,282 structures destroyed.


Newsom opened his press conference by congratulating the latest California Nobel laureates, including multiple graduates of the University of California system.

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'Don't California My Texas': How Expats Are Turning The Lone Star State Purple

Dr. Myiesha Taylor, left, with her daughters Hana Taylor Schlitz, 12, and Haley Taylor Schlitz, 18. Photo courtesy of William Schlitz

While the prospect of Texas as a swing state may shock those who associate the state with George W. Bush, it shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention to its politics over the past decade. While Barack Obama lost Texas by 16 points in his 2012 re-election bid, in 2016 Hillary Clinton closed that gap to single-digits. Two years later, Democrat Beto O’Rourke lost to incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz by less than three points.

The improving performance of Texas Democrats tracks well with the exodus of Californians into Sun Belt states over the past two decades. Since 2008, more than 700,000 Californians have moved to Texas, at first propelled by the Great Recession and later by their home state’s increasingly untenable cost of living.


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WATCH: SCOTUS Confirmation Hearing For Amy Coney Barrett

The Supreme Court of the United States, pictured Aug. 3, 2017. (Liam James Doyle/NPR)

Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump's nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the U.S. Supreme Court, is before the Senate Judiciary Committee today for her confirmation hearing.

Watch live above.

Meet The New Student Member of the LAUSD Board

Kamarie Brown was sworn in at the LAUSD board's Oct. 6 meeting. (Screenshot of LAUSD meeting)

After beating out 64 other students who applied, Crenshaw High senior Kamarie Brown was sworn in Oct. 6 as the newest student member of LAUSD's Board of Education.

The district says she's the first African American woman to serve in the position. Brown, who says calculus is her favorite subject, plans to focus on the Student Bill of Rights and equity among schools during her one-year term.

She said equity became an important issue to her when she was about to start high school, and she almost ended up going to a school in North Hollywood, some 15 miles away from her neighborhood.

“The question always lingered,” Brown said. “Why do I have to travel far out to go to a good school?”

That question got her involved in an effort to improve the situation at Crenshaw High, trying to secure things like more up-to-date textbooks and a permanent nurse on-site.

As the student member of the board, Brown will be able to participate in discussions, suggest resolutions, and even cast votes — although, according to board rules, her vote will not be counted when determining if a motion passes.


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Morning Briefing: Addressing COVID-19 In Hard-Hit Communities

Closed storefronts in Los Angeles's fashion district. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

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

Good morning, L.A.

Researchers at UCLA and 10 other California institutions are seeking to address the coronavirus in populations that have been hit hardest by it; specifically, the Black, Latina/o and Indigenous populations.

The effort will involve relying on networks and individuals within those communities and others, as well as virtual focus groups and research to understand barriers to care. Additionally, investigators hope to gain an understanding of how best to reach Californians with a vaccination, once one becomes available.

Dr. Arleen Brown, a professor of medicine at UCLA, told my colleague Monica Bushman that she and her team will work “to try to understand what people know about COVID-19, what some of the misconceptions about the disease and its spread are, and also misconceptions about the vaccine development process.”

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, October 12

Sit in on discussions about art, music, theater and monuments; hear Wilco's Jeff Tweedy talking about his new book; eat dishes created from heritage pigs; and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

Crenshaw High senior Kamarie Brown, 17, is the newest member of the LAUSD school board. Carla Javier has the story.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

California Kids: Mobile wi-fi units will soon be dispatched to densely populated communities in Orange County, where many students don’t have internet access and struggle to keep up with remote learning.

Coronavirus Updates: A coalition of 11 academic institutions across California will address COVID-19 in Black, Latina/o and Indigenous populations, seeking a community-engaged approach to coronavirus education.

Photo Of The Day

LeBron James walks onto the court prior to the start of game six of the 2020 NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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