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Amid Anger Over Handling Of Protests, Santa Monica Police Chief Stepping Down

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An officer confronts a protester in Santa Monica on May 31. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

The Santa Monica Police Chief is resigning amid anger over how she handled protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing in Minnesota.

In a statement, Santa Monica City Manager Lane Dilg praised Chief Cynthia Renaud’s reform efforts.

But the statement — issued Friday — said, "recognizing that recent events both here in Santa Monica and around the nation have strained community-police relations, Chief Renaud has made the decision to step aside," effective Oct. 25.

The chief came under intense criticism for the way her department handled protests over Floyd's killing.

Activists say officers fired rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful protesters. They gathered more than 60,000 signatures calling for Renaud’s resignation.

But criticism came from business owners in downtown Santa Monica too. They complained that officers left their shops to looters, while they concentrated their forces on protesters on Ocean Boulevard during the height of the protests.

There have been calls for other police leaders to step down this year, including LAPD Chief Michel Moore and L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Renaud is the first to go.

Ironically, later this month, Renaud assumes the presidency of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, where she says she’ll focus on rebuilding trust in law enforcement.

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Spending In LAUSD Races Shatters Record — And There Are Still Two Weeks Til Election Day

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Outside political groups have spent more than $14.9 million trying to sway the outcomes of this year’s Los Angeles Unified school board races.

That total sets a new “independent expenditure” record for any LAUSD campaign — and there are still two weeks left until voters decide the two competitive races.

The old record was set just three years ago: in 2017, pro-charter school groups pulled out all the stops in hopes of unseating an incumbent and turning a wide-open race in their favor.

This year, the same storyline is repeating itself: The California Charter Schools Association and deep-pocketed pro-charter donors have combined to spend nearly $12 million this cycle.

Teachers unions are a traditional power in LAUSD politics, but their financial arsenal has been no match for that of the charter groups. United Teachers Los Angeles has spent $2.6 million trying to influence the outcomes of the two races.

As we explained in our field guide to the race, most of the spending in LAUSD races comes from independent expenditure groups. The candidates themselves have no say over this outside spending; their campaigns have their own fundraising efforts — but they can’t raise the sums these outside groups can.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS YEAR’S RACES:

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Baldwin Park Ballot Box Damaged By Fire, Officials Investigating As Arson

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An official 2020 election ballot drop box in Boyle Heights. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

A fire damaged a vote drop box outside the Baldwin Park Library on Sunday night, according to Los Angeles County officials. The incident is now being investigated as arson.

Ballots were last picked up from the drop box on Saturday morning at 10:10 a.m.

The L.A. County Registrar's office is reviewing the material collected after the fire, to determine whose ballots could have been damaged, and notify those voters.

The office also requested an investigation by local law enforcement. Officials have reported the incident to both the FBI and the attorney general, and are looking to obtain all available footage to determine how the fire started.

"Tampering with vote by mail drop boxes and ballots is serious criminal offense and we will vigorously seek the prosecution of individuals who engage in such behavior," L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said in a statement.

Some officials suspect the fire was a direct attempt to suppress votes.

"The arson of an official ballot drop box by the Baldwin Park Library in the First District has all the signs of an attempt to disenfranchise voters and call into question the security of our elections," L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement. "Tampering, or attempts to tamper, with our democracy will not be tolerated."

The frequency of ballot pickups at all other boxes in the area is now being increased, and the location of the damaged drop box has been closed.

Voters who dropped their ballot at that that location, and want to confirm it was received (or find out how to vote if it wasn't), can call the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk at 562-503-2445, or email vbmdropoff@rrcc.lacounty.gov.

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Beloved Retro Diner Swingers Will Reopen

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(Swingers diner at night. November 5, 2011. Chris Yarzab/Flickr Creative Commons)

Amid all the restaurant closures, a bit of good news: Swinger's Diner, which closed back in April during the early days of the pandemic, will reopen — possibly as soon as November 1.

The retro diner's savior and new owner is Stephanie Wilson who has worked there since 2011, most recently as its general manager, according to Eater LA.

Eater LA reports, "When news of the closure first got out, Wilson sprung into action, collecting enough funds from regulars (including some unnamed, high-profile types) and her own friends and family to purchase the business."

Located on Bverly Boulevard, Swingers was previously run by Committed, Inc., a restaurant group owned by Sean MacPherson, a Malibu-bred hospitality impresario who was involved with several successful Los Angeles bars — Jones, Swingers, El Carmen, Bar Lubitsch and the Good Luck Bar — before decamping to New York.

The neon sign for Swingers. January 13, 2010. (donielle/Flickr Creative Commons)

With its red vinyl booths, blaring music, menu of amped up American diner fare and late hours, Swingers was a popular spot in the Fairfax District. But it's hardly the only vintage or vintage-themed diner around.

Southern California was once littered with old-school diners. As Virginia Yapp writes, "Back then, they weren't old-school. They just were. Built at the height of car culture, designed with Space Age flourishes to symbolize the progress of a new era."

READ MORE

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WATCH: California Gov. Newsom Explains California's COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

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

CALIFORNIA'S VACCINE PLAN

Newsom opened by discussing California's COVID-19 vaccination plan.

In the first phases of a vaccine, there will likely be a highly limited supply, Newsom said — he noted that there have been stretch goals coming out of Washington D.C. for vaccines as soon as November and December.

A high-end estimate for planning purposes for vaccinations nationwide before the end of the calendar year is 45 million, Newsom said. You have to receive two shots over 21 days, so those doses actually can only be applied to half that many people.

Newsom said the state would expect a maximum of between 1 million and 2 million Californians could get vaccinated, and there are roughly that many people in the state's health care delivery system alone. A working assumption: that California gets 12% of those vaccination doses, according to Newsom.

Mass availability of a vaccine is expected sometime in 2021, but it remains unclear if that will be in the first, second, or third quarter, according to Newsom — he noted that the 1st quarter is the pessimistic estimate, while 3rd quarter is the pessimistic one. Also, while vaccines will help to manage the pandemic, it won't end it overnight, Newsom said.

Newsom also noted that even an initial vaccine may not make you fully immune, and people may need another vaccine.

PRIORITIZING VACCINATIONS: HEALTH CARE WORKERS, AT-RISK GROUPS

Health care workers and first responders will be prioritized in the first phases of a vaccine. The state's next priority will be high-risk groups for early vaccinations, including:

  • 65+ and long-term care
  • Essential workers
  • Those with disabilities
  • Racial ethnic minority groups
  • Rural populations
  • Incarcerated/detained

However, those groups are unlikely to receive vaccinations before the end of the calendar year, Newsom said.

CHALLENGES FOR VACCINE DISTRIBUTION

The state is working to prepare for the unknown in different areas, including supplies and distribution. That includes preparing needles/syringes, alcohol pads, bandages, masks, and PPE for distribution.

Storage requirements are also a challenge, Newsom said. Some of the vaccines require ultra cold storage of below -70 degrees celsius, requiring dry ice. Other vaccines require cold storage below -20 degrees celsius, also requiring dry ice.

Data management is also an area of concern, according to Newsom. The state's California Immunization Registry is the system currently in place to handle the related data. Distribution could be expanded to places like pharmacies and blood banks as examples, Newsom said.

Another area of preparation: community education and engagement. He emphasized the importance of trust in any vaccine.

MORE VACCINATION PLANNING

California is formally launching a scientific safety review workgroup Monday to independently review any future FDA-approved vaccines. It includes experts from universities, including UCLA. The group will be closely monitoring vaccine trials, with areas of expertise including epidemiology, health equity, biostatistics, pediatric infections diseases, and health care financing.

No vaccinations will be distributed in California before that independent review, Newsom said.

According to Newsom, California is 1 of 5 jurisdictions doing advance planning for vaccine distributions with the CDC and Department of Defense. The federal government has provided $29 million in funding based on the state submitting its plan.

The state put in place a vaccine steering committee in April, with a logistics tasforce working on the vaccine plan for several months. The state's plan has three guiding principles, according to Newsom: safety, equity, and transparency.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COUNTIES REMAIN A CONCERN

There are currently 10 counties in the most restrictive COVID-19 tier, 27 in the red tier, 13 in orange, and 8 in yellow. Those numbers will be updated Tuesday. Newsom said that the state remains "very, very concerned" about some Southern California counties in particular, and Dr. Ghaly will be announcing interventions for the area on Tuesday similar to some of what the state previously did in Central California.

THEME PARK GUIDELINES UPDATE COMING TUESDAY

Newsom said that California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly will be announcing an update on guidelines for both sports and theme parks, with the theme park guidelines being broken into multiple parts. Team sports guidelines, along with others, are expected late this week or early next week, Newsom said.

EXPANDING TESTING

Next Monday, Oct. 26, Newsom said that he plans to announce new details on the state's testing expansion. The state is looking to double its daily testing as its medium-to-long-term goal, Newsom said.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

The seven-day average of COVID-19 case numbers is below 3,000, with 2,966 as the latest number. There were 3,474 new cases Sunday.

Meanwhile, both hospitalizations and ICU admissions are up this week. COVID-19 hospitalizations are down over the past two weeks, but that decline is slowing — they're down just 4%. And over the past week, hospitalizations are up 0.7%.

COVID-19 ICU admissions are also down over the past two weeks, but just a 3% decrease in that period — and an increase of 5.4% over the last week.

The state's 14-day positivity rate is at 2.5%, while the seven-day average is 2.4%. The seven-day average of daily tests is 121,581 tests.

CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

So far, more than 4.1 million acres have been burned in this year's wildfires. There are 12 major fires and fire complexes the state is still dealing with. High winds are expected to come as early as Tuesday in Northern California, with concerns about fire danger over the next eight days. Temperatures won't be as high as they have been when other fires broke out, but humidity is expected to be low. There have been 31 deaths in this wildfire season thanks to fires, with 9,282 structures confirmed destroyed.

Both August and September were the hottest August and September in recorded history, Newsom noted. He said that climate change is here, and that it is real, and that while it isn't the only reason for wildfires, it helps make fires more ferocious.

MORE UPDATES

The state currently isn't planning on travel restrictions from states with more serious COVID-19 numbers.

Gov. Newsom reiterated his criticism of what he described as "blatant abuse" by the Republican Party, putting out unofficial ballot drop boxes and refusing to remove them after ordered to by the secretary of state.

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Today Is The Deadline For Online Voter Registration

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In person voting is already available at the L.A. County Registrar's Office. Oct. 19 is the last day to register online to vote. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Today is the last chance for Californians to register to vote online and still receive a ballot in the mail in time for the election.

Here's the website: registertovote.ca.gov

The midnight online deadline doesn't mean it's your last chance to register at all. There are in-person registration options through 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.

But the Oct. 19 online cutoff point is necessary to give county election officials time to verify voters' eligibility and still ship out their ballot.

Since the 2016 general election, California has added nearly three million new voters and the voter registration rate is at its highest level since 1952, the Secretary of State's office reported last week. More than 84% of eligible voters are registered -- or 21.2 million Californians.

Even so, millions more are eligible to vote who have not registered.

READ MORE HERE

Renting Rooms To The Unhoused In The South Bay

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A "For Rent" sign is seen on a building (Robyn Beck / AFP)

City officials in the South Bay are working to help homeless people rent rooms from homeowners, in an attempt to assist both groups keep roofs over their heads.

Many seniors in the area living on fixed incomes are finding it difficult to keep up their mortgage payments. Meanwhile, the South Bay’s homeless population is growing, and may continue to get larger as the pandemic wears on.

To those ends, the South Bay Cities Council of Governments is working with Silvernest, an online platform, to help all homeowners – but especially seniors – keep up their mortgage payment by renting out rooms. They are targeting potential tenants who are employed, but can’t afford a place on their own.

Homeless Services coordinator Grace Farwell said Silvernest will be offered free to homeowners for six months. They and renters can create profiles on the Silvernest website to seek out a housemate.

“Do they allow pets? What about smoking, you know, it’s almost like online dating, but it’s online, house matching,” Farwell said.

The online platform also provides insurance, standard rental agreements and free optional background checks on renters. If successful, the program could be duplicated elsewhere in L.A. County.

The LA Dodgers Are Once Again Heading To The World Series

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Dodgers pitcher Julio Urías celebrates after closing out the team's 4-3 victory against the Atlanta Braves in Game Seven of the National League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on Oct. 18, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Life in 2020 has been a soul-crushing mix of chaotic, mundane, aggravating, and depressing news. But there's one beacon of the Los Angeles we used to know and love: the Dodgers are once again headed to the World Series.

Down three games to one against the Atlanta Braves in a best-of-seven National League Championship Series, the Dodgers clawed back to win three straight and take the pennant — and a trip to the Fall Classic, where they'll face the Tampa Bay Rays.

It'll be the Dodgers' third World Series appearance in four years, and long-suffering fans are praying to the baseball gods that this — after 32 agonizing seasons — is finally the year they bring the trophy home to L.A.

Sunday night's Game 7 was a nailbiter. The Braves struck first with a pair of runs in the first and second innings. The Dodgers answered with a pair of their own in the third, then Atlanta drove in another in the fourth to pull ahead 3-2.

Then came the sixth inning and pinch hitter Kiké Hernández, who continued his postseason heroics with a shot to left-center field to tie the game.

View this post on Instagram

KIKÉ, DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS.

A post shared by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on

The Dodgers' defense shined too, especially this home-run-robbing catch by Mookie Betts.

An inning later, Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger steppped up to the plate and absolutely crushed one to right field, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Los Angeles Dodgers (@dodgers) on

That would be all they needed as the Dodgers bullpen shut the Braves down over the final five innings, including the last three pitched by Julio Urías.

Game 1 of the 2020 World Series will be played Tuesday, Oct. 20 in Arlington, Texas.

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Iconic Mid-Century Kaufmann House For Sale In Palm Springs

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The Kaufmann Desert House (Sotheby's)

The iconic Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs is for sale. Designed by Richard Neutra in the 1940s, the architectural landmark is listed for $25 million.

Ron Radziner of the firm Marmol Radziner was commissioned by the current owners for the 1998 interior restoration and outdoor landscape design. The home had been doubled in size, he said, which buried much of the original aesthetic. He and his team spent 10 months researching the initial design plans to recreate what they could.

“Although there weren’t too many drawings, there [was] a lot of correspondence between Neutra and the client, Edgar Kaufmann,” Radziner said. “Lots of specification information. And then the other terrific resource was the photographer Julius Shulman.”

The architects slowly peeled back additions to the home to restore its original beauty.

Radziner says the outdoor area and pool added during the restoration were designed to compliment the desert mountain landscape and not draw attention away from the original architecture.

LAUSD Will Host Free Flu Shot Clinics For Students

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L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner receives a flu shot at a pop-up clinic on the San Fernando Middle School campus on Fri., Oct. 16, 2020. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC/LAist)

Have you got your flu shot yet? You might be able to get one through your school — if you’re a student or parent in the L.A. Unified School District.

This week, LAUSD campuses will host free flu shot clinics on campuses in East L.A. and Chatsworth … and they’ll pop up in Gardena and Palms next week. Appointments for the shots — which you can click here to schedule — are going fast.

It’s the first time LAUSD has given away flu shots for students. Superintendent Austin Beutner says the need is obvious:

“We are heading to the point where we might have these twin pandemics of seasonal flu on top of COVID-19.”

LAUSD says they have answers to both threats: these flu shot clinics — plus the district’s program to test all students and staff for COVID-19 periodically.

At Friday’s flu shot clinic, student Moises Gomez also got a coronavirus test.

“I really do suggest everyone comes and takes the COVID-19 test,” Gomez says, “so we can return to classes as soon as possible because there are a lot of people that are struggling online.”

READ MORE ABOUT LAUSD'S COVID-19 TESTS:

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Morning Briefing: Women March Against Trump

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Marchers hold signs at a special edition of the Women's March. Oct. 17, 2020. (Josie Huang/LAist)

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

Good morning, L.A.

With the Presidential election a little more than two weeks away (YUP!), protesters marched through downtown L.A. to voice their dissatisfaction with the Trump administration, and their hope that he’ll be voted out of office.

The event was a special edition of the annual Women’s March, and local activists joined other groups across the nation. My colleague Josie Huang, who covered the protest, reported that women towards the front of the group were dressed as handmaids from the TV adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. The costumes were likely a nod to Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has been a member of a religious group, People of Praise, that uses the moniker “handmaid” to describe some women in its ranks.

Josie spoke with Isabella Santana of La Puente, who convinced her siblings to march in honor of her 13th birthday.

"I want to see women being able to have their own choices," Santana said. "I want to have systemic racism be abolished."

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, October 19

Southern California’s largest landlord group will urge a federal judge to immediately halt L.A.’s COVID-19 eviction ban and rent freeze. Aaron Schrank is following the story.

Today is the deadline to register online to vote. Chris Nichols of Capitol Public Radio has the details.

Julia Paskin reports on two opposite ends of the SoCal housing spectrum: On one, the iconic mid-century Kaufmann Desert House in Palm Springs is for sale for $25 million. On the other, city officials in the South Bay are facilitating the renting of rooms by seniors on fixed incomes to those without homes.

Attend drive-in screenings of One Night in Miami, a new Stevie Nicks concert film and Spanish cult favorites, explore the health benefits of tea and the majesty of mezcal, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Election 2020: Hundreds of protesters took to the streets on Saturday to condemn the Trump administration, and the president’s pick of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Final Goodbyes: The founder of the influential L.A. record label, Slash, died at the age of 74; the label was home to such seminal L.A. bands as The Germs, X, The Blasters and Los Lobos.


Photo Of The Day

Marchers hold signs at a special edition of the Women's March.

(Josie Huang/LAist)

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