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DEBATE: District 2 LA County Supervisor Candidates Wesson And Mitchell Face Off

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It's a rare open seat on L.A. County's five-member governing board with a lot at stake. The Board of Supervisors collectively oversees a $30 billion annual budget that pays for everything from mental health treatment to homeless services, public health to the Sheriff’s Department.

Needless to say, this is an incredibly powerful seat. Former L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson and state Senator Holly Mitchell are vying for the job. These two political heavyweights faced off in a live debate moderated by KPCC/LAist’s senior politics reporter, Libby Denkmann.

GET UP TO SPEED ON THIS RACE:

At our Voter Game Plan you can find:

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Sheriff’s Officials Defend Shooting Of Patient Inside Hospital By Deputy

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Sheriff Alex Villanueva. (L.A. County Sheriff's Department)

A day after hospital workers held a rally to protest a Los Angeles County Sheriff deputy's shooting of a man experiencing a psychiatric crisis inside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, sheriff's officials defended the deputy. The incident took place at the Torrance hospital on Oct. 6.

Sheriff's officials today said that two deputies were providing security to a colleague who had been injured on the job when they heard loud banging down the hallway from their fourth-floor room around 11:15 p.m.

One deputy investigated and found a man trying to smash a window with a six-and-a-half pound steel medical device, said Lt. Derrick Alfred. The deputy cleared the room of two other patients and three staff members and, when she heard over a loudspeaker that help was on the way, she returned to join the other deputies and closed the door, according to Alfred.

Not long after, the man — described only as a 34-year-old Latino — was smashing the window on the door to the deputies’ room. When the door flung open, the deputy confronted the patient.

“She repeatedly told the male patient to put the object down,” Alfred said. “The male patient, who was still holding the metal device over this head, lunged forward — or toward the deputy.” The deputy fired nine times — seven of the bullets struck the man, leaving him critically injured, he said.

Dozens of doctors and nurses held a rally Tuesday to express outrage at the shooting, saying the deputy should have waited for specially trained staff.

There wasn’t time, said Sheriff Alex Villanueva. “Their behavioral response team, great idea when they’re there.” Hospital administrators have not said how close the team was when the shooting occurred.

Villanueva was unclear why the deputy didn’t use her Taser.

The Board of Supervisors asked the inspector general to investigate the incident and called for a review of security procedures at public hospitals.

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LA Takes Step Toward Pilot Program To Take Police Out Of Some Mental Health Calls

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City Council President Nury Martinez. (Screenshot from Channel 35)

The L.A. City Council today unanimously agreed to move forward with setting up a pilot program that would take police out of some mental health crisis calls.

The council voted to direct staff to prepare requests for proposals from nonprofits that would run the program. It would involve sending out unarmed civilians who are trained to handle people going through a substance abuse or mental health crisis.

"Today is an opportunity for us as a city to make a giant first step in putting in place professional unarmed response," said Councilman Herb Wesson, who this past June helped introduce a motion that directed the LAPD, L.A. County Department of Mental Health and others to "develop an unarmed model of crisis response that would divert non-violent calls for service away from LAPD."

Council President Nury Martinez said the city has failed people who need help:

"I just think that for way too long we’ve really relied on law enforcement to solve our social issues — to deal with mental health, to deal with homelessness — when clearly they’re not trained to do that."

The LAPD does have a special unit that pairs cops with social workers to handle mental health calls — but they can only deal with some of those calls.

In recent years, LAPD cops have shot at dozens of people perceived to have mental health issues.

The council is looking to model L.A.’s response after the nationally renowned Cahoots program in Eugene, Oregon, which sends out teams made up of a medic and a crisis worker.

If you need help for yourself or someone you know here are some resources:

If You Need Immediate Help
If you or someone you know is in crisis and need immediate help, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go here for online chat.
For more help:

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LA County Board of Supervisors Condemns Azerbaijan's Military Attack On Armenians, Following Weeks Of LA Protests

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People hold signs as they stand with members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) as they hold a protest outside the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles on September 30, 2020. (Valerie Macon/AFP)

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted today to condemn Azerbaijan's military operation against the Armenian community in Nagorno-Karabakh, and to denounce Turkey's interference in the conflict.

The resolution introduced by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn support a similar statement from the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hahn said the attack was both undemocratic and unaccceptable:

"Azerbaijan military forces launched a deadly and unprovoked attack against the republic of Artsakh...the reckless invasion is a direct threat to the Armenians that have lived in Artsakh for centuries, but also to regional stability and to fundamental united states interest, including democracy."

A woman wearing the flag of Armenia as a face mask stands with the Armenian Youth Federation as they hold a protest outside the Azerbaijani Consulate General(Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out on September 27, over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which belongs to Azerbaijan under international law, although most of the population is made of up ethnic Armenians. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tacitly supported military action by Azerbaijan.

The board's resolution comes after several weeks of protests from the local Armenian community. Los Angeles County is home to the largest Armenian immigrant population in the U.S.

On Oct. 11, tens of thousands rallied around the Turkish consulate in Beverly Hills, chanting "Artsahk wants peace! Shame on Turkey!".

L.A. Times reporter Lila Seidman told KPCC's Take Two, that when she was driving to cover the protest, which began at Pan Pacific Park in mid-city, she passed cars with Armenian flags waving as far east as Silver Lake. "It dawned on me that this was going to be a big protest," she said, adding that when she arrived, it was clear the protest was multi-generations, with grandparents, children and groups of friends in their teens.

"I would say the energy was almost triumphant," Seidman explained. "The feeling of solidarity and mutual support was palpable. But then at times that was broken by heavier emotion -- Armenians see this as an existential threat to their people, so there is an underlying solemnity and seriousness in the words that people are saying and the signs that you see."

Children hold signs as they stand with members of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) during a protest outside the Azerbaijani Consulate General in Los Angeles on September 30, 2020 to protest what they call Azerbaijan's "aggression against Armenia and Artsakh" (Nagorno-Karabakh). (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images)

LAPD's Wilshire Station tweeted that the crowd numbered 100,000 on Oct 11. Peaceful marching continued in midcity the following day.

Liana Aghajanian, an Armenian-American journalist who writes about issues of diaspora identity, explained the significance of the local protests to Take Two's host, A. Martinez:

"Armenians really view this escalation of the conflict as a matter of life and death...and in terms of global population, we [Armenians] only number about 10 million, and we're largely spread out across the world because of the Armenian Genocide, and so even one life lost is too many, whether that's on the frontline or civilians, and certainly both have happened over the last two weeks. This coupled with the fact that the U.S. government and other governments around the world have had a quite luke warm response or lack of response as well as the lack of mainstream media coverage is really what's fueling people to come out on the streets."

Aghajanian added that local Armenians are feeling frustrated, angry and anxious, worried that another generation is going to have to experience yet another war and the trauma that war will inevitably create.

"I think for some people it feels like such a far-away conflict," she said. "But for Armenians, because we're such a small community, it's closer than ever. For example, my social news feeds are full of obituatires and tributes to people that have died. And so the degrees of separation between what's going on thousands of miles away and someone physically being in Los Angeles is very, very small."

MORE ABOUT LA PROTESTS FOR ARMENIANS:

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Free And Low-Cost Internet Coming To Four Public Housing Communities

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Imperial Courts public housing community. (Courtesy: Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles)

Some 3,600 households in four Los Angeles public housing communities will get access to free wi-fi for six months under a new deal between the internet provider Starry, Microsoft and the city of Los Angeles. After the free six months is up, continuing service would cost $15 per month.

The Imperial Courts subsidized housing community in Watts is the first to be connected, with installations happening later this month. Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs and Pueblo del Rio will follow. The goal is that students will have free or low-cost internet to finish out the school year.

To qualify for the free service and $15 monthly subscription, there is no credit check, or eligibility requirement to prove a low income (like participation in SNAP food stamps, or reduced price or free school lunches). Anybody with an address at one of the four public housing communities can get the service.

READ THE FULL STORY:

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live

WATCH: Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing For Amy Coney Barrett, Day 3

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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.

Morning Briefing: The California GOP’s Unauthorized Ballot Boxes

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Twitter user Rebecca Albarran posted this photo on Monday of an unofficial ballot drop box outside St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Simi Valley. Screengrab from Twitter

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

Good morning, L.A.

There’s disturbing news aplenty in this election cycle, but now there’s a local spin: The California Republican Party has admitted to setting up unauthorized, unofficial and seemingly fake ballot boxes throughout Southern California.

My colleague Libby Denkmann reports that the boxes have been placed in front of churches, political party offices and retail locations. But Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced in no uncertain terms that the collection boxes are illegal: "In short, providing unauthorized, non-official vote-by-mail ballot drop boxes is prohibited by state law," he said in a memo earlier this week.

Along with Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Padilla sent a cease-and-desist letter to the California GOP and its L.A., O.C. and Fresno chapters.

That move came after the state GOP openly copped to setting up the boxes, and state GOP spokesman Hector Barajas accused Democrats of trying to “suppress the vote.”

Tuesday afternoon on NPR’s All Things Considered, Barajas said the state GOP “may actually be expanding the programWe are ready to go to court over this because we're going to make sure that we protect the options for individuals to be able to turn in their ballots.”

We’ll keep following this story as it progresses. Meanwhile, keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 14

We'll stream day three of Amy Coney Barrett’s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings live.

The census bureau is listing a 99.9% completion rate, including in its L.A. County Area Census Offices (which don't break it down by tract, which would show a different picture). But that's heavily obscuring the way those cases are closed, reports Caroline Champlin. There are lots of shortcuts taken, and the federal announcement smacks heavily of spin.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors collectively oversees a $30 billion annual budget that pays for everything from mental health treatment to homeless services, public health to the Sheriff’s Department. The 2nd District covers most of South L.A., from Inglewood to Carson to Culver City, home to about two million people. Libby Denkmann will moderate a debate tonight between former L.A. City Council president Herb Wesson and State Senator Holly Mitchell, the candidates vying for the job.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Opening And Closing: We tagged along as three-year-old Francis Dacono and his family returned to the playground for the first time in more than six months. L.A. Comic Con will push its event to September 2021. Get a preview — and a history lesson — at the virtual groundbreaking of a new park in Westminster that will commemorate a major moment in civil rights.

L.A. Fire Updates: After a close call with the Bobcat Fire, Mt. Wilson Observatory is raising money for ongoing fire security needs, refurbishing of the Monastery, and more. The newest L.A. Fire Department rookie is a firefighting robot that saw some action on a major downtown fire even before being introduced to the public.

More Money, More Beds: Prop. 15 aims to raise $11.5 billion for schools and local governments by raising taxes on long-held commercial properties — including businesses such as South Coast Plaza. L.A. officials must create 5,300 new beds for people experiencing homelessness and living near freeways.

On The National Stage: Here’s what happened on the second day of Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. The Trump administration can end counting for the 2020 census, per the U.S. Supreme Court, though the legal battle may not be over.

LAUSD Board: We continue our interviews with LAUSD Board candidates. Today’s are with Tanya Ortiz Franklin and Patricia Castellanos.

Coronavirus Updates: Another L.A. County child was diagnosed with a rare, potentially deadly syndrome believed to be related to the coronavirus, bringing the total number of children diagnosed locally to 41. Strict coronavirus protocols at factories and shops where some of the worst outbreaks have occurred has reduced the racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 deaths and illness, and public health officials want to expand the effort by creating workplace safety councils.

L.A.’s Best Breakfast Burritos: They’re pure comfort and deliciousness, and here’s where to get the best of the best in L.A.


Photo Of The Day

Francis Dacono, who's very much into being a dinosaur right now, explores the playground at El Cariso Park in Sylmar for the first time in more than six months.

(Mariana Dale/LAist)

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


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