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Nithya Raman Wins LA City Council Seat, Unseating Incumbent David Ryu

Nithya Raman is seen as Marie Claire honors Hollywood's Change Makers on March 12, 2019 in Los Angeles. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

Nithya Raman, the progressive challenger for incumbent David Ryu's seat on L.A.'s City Council District 4, has won.

After four days of vote count updates, Ryu provided a statement at 5 p.m. on Friday, conceding the election:

"The voters of District Four have spoken, and I respect the outcome of this election. I am proud of the race we ran, and I will always be proud of the diverse coalition behind this campaign ... I congratulate my opponent on her victory. Having won on a wave of reform five years ago, I know how difficult it is to implement change in City Hall. I wish her success in continuing our shared goal of reform in local government and in serving our City."

As of Friday afternoon, Raman was leading Ryu by a little over 5,900 votes, and she has won about 52% of the votes cast in the district. Because the city moved its council races to coincide with the national election cycle, this contest saw an unprecedented turnout, with more than 120,000 votes counted so far.

The 4th District includes Laurel Canyon, Toluca Lake, Los Feliz, Larchmont, Hancock Park and parts of Silver Lake, Koreatown, Hollywood and Sherman Oaks. The race centered around homelessness and campaign ethics.

Council President Nury Martinez welcomed Raman to the council today.

"Congratulations to Councilwoman-Elect Nithya Raman on her victory in Council District 4," she said in a press release. "I know she will contribute to the diversity of perspectives on our City Council, and I look forward to working with her in strengthening our City.”

Raman is newcomer to politics, but managed to capture the progressive sector of Angelenos in her district. An urban planner and co-founder of the outreach organization SELAH Neighborhood Homeless Coalition, Raman was previously the executive director of Time's Up Entertainment. (Read Raman's full biography on her campaign website.)


For LA Parents, Child Care Can Mean Returning To Work 

With a "beep, beep" and a normal temperature from the thermometer, Mario is welcomed inside Para Los Niños to join his classmates. (Mariana Dale/LAist)

Child care is essential to reopening the economy.

We’ve heard it in the words of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, read it in local and national headlines and seen it on TV for months now.

And you can hear it for yourself firsthand standing outside of Para Los Niños’s early education program in Hollywood.

On a recent Monday, Correta Proudie waited to sign in her 3-and-a-half-year-old son Mario, who wore a cloth mask with a yellow cartoon minion on.

She stayed home with him when the program was closed for in-person services for about six months.

“Now I’m able to look for work during the pandemic,” Proudie said. “I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving him with any one all day long. So it’s made a tremendous difference in our lives.”

Proudie is lucky to have a spot to bring her son. The Los Angeles County Office of Education reports that just 28% of the early education classrooms it oversees are open and 5,168 kids are in virtual learning programs.



  • Share your experience with LAist here -- we might use it in a story.

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George Gascón Ousts LA District Attorney Jackie Lacey

LA DA-elect George Gascon. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

George Gascón, the former LAPD career cop-turned criminal justice reformer, will be the new district attorney in Los Angeles County.

Even with several hundred thousand votes left to be counted, two-term incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey conceded to Gascón today. Gascón currently holds a 53.7% to 46.3% lead.

Gascón, 66, served as San Francisco's police chief and district attorney before leaving the latter job last year to run against Lacey.

The new D.A. ran as a strong reformer, arguing that the justice system is deeply flawed, and that there's a need to address the system's racial disparities.

At a news conference today, Gascon quoted the late Congressman John Lewis in saying, "let's get into good trouble." He vowed to immediately implement a host of actions, including: ending the use of the death penalty; locking up fewer people with mental health problems; ending the prosecution of juveniles as adults, and reopening some cases involving shootings by law enforcement officers.

In conceding to Gascon, an emotional Lacey spoke of how proud she was to have served in the DA's office. Referring to the national protests against police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd killing, Lacey said her loss may have been "a result of our season of discontent, and a demand to see a tsunami of change."

A spokesman said Gascon will be sworn in Dec. 7.


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'Seduced' Follows Former NXIVM Cult Member As She Revisits Her Past

Catherine Oxenberg with daughter India. (Courtesy Starz)

The final part of Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult, a four-part documentary series on Starz, airs this Sunday. The leader of the alleged sex cult, Keith Raniere, was sentenced last week to 120 years in prison after being found guilty of crimes including sex trafficking and child pornography (he plans to appeal).

The director/co-writer of Seduced was herself targeted for recruitment to the group by one of her colleagues — before that colleague later apologized, telling her that they were in a cult and was being forced to recruit others.

Seduced has received less attention than HBO's recent nine-part The Vow (which is also getting a second season). But despite Seduced's shorter run, and starting later, the series features numerous details that weren't included in that other series.

One thing that sets the documentary apart is the participation of India Oxenberg, an L.A. native and daughter of Dynasty star Catherine Oxenberg. India ended up cooperating and providing the FBI with information on NXIVM, helping her to avoid prosecution herself.


What We Know So Far About State And Local Election Results

(Illustration by Chava Sanchez/LAist)

* These results will be continually updated as votes are counted. Last updated on Friday, Nov. 6 at 7:02 a.m.

Los Angeles County election officials updated election returns on Thursday afternoon, providing a clearer look at the voter turnout and several key races.

The results continue to show strong performances by progressive candidates and causes, including in the Los Angeles District Attorney race, a closely watched city council contest, and Measure J.

With the current results, L.A. County has notched 62% voter turnout — a figure that will rise in the coming days and will likely exceed 2016’s mark of 67% turnout. The county could record four million votes.

Based on figures provided by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder, there are still 791,200 ballots remaining to process in the county. That figure actually grew since yesterday because vote-by-mail ballots continue to arrive.

Across the state, more than 4.5 million ballots have not yet been processed, according to a report from the Secretary of State on Thursday.

Election results could still change in the coming days, particularly in three Southern California congressional races. In District 25 in Northern L.A. County and a small slice of Ventura County, Democrat Christy Smith leads Republican Mike Garcia by only 256 votes out of more than 275,000 votes cast.

In Orange County, nearly 1.4 million ballots have been cast, representing a 77% voter turnout. In Riverside County, more than 436,000 ballots have been counted, although another 422,000 still need to be processed.

Election experts were stunned by the levels of early voting in California and across the country, and hopes were high that 2020 will be an election with high turnout. However, the precise voter turnout in California may not be known until after Thanksgiving. By law, county election officials have 31 days to report results.

Vote-by-mail ballots will be accepted by county registrars until 17 days after the election, as long as they were postmarked no later than Nov. 3.

That means the last votes may not arrive until Nov. 20. Late-arriving votes will boost turnout numbers as the count continues.

Ballots counted in the coming days could also flip several races -- late-arriving votes can break decisively, making an election evening lead disappear.


In L.A.



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'One Does What One Must Do': A Son Recalls The Grit That Made His Mom A Successful Black Entrepreneur

Eulalia Bryson at work in her basement sewing shop, mid-1980s. (Courtesy of J.D. Bryson)

Over the summer, J.D. Bryson was reading about famous Black women entreprenuers in U.S. history when he realized something he hadn't thought of before. He writes:

But as I sat and pondered one of the stories, it dawned on me that there was a story right here, in the other room. I'm talking about my mother.

In his essay for Race in LA, Bryson tells the story of his mother Eulalia, a talented tailor who, decades ago, became fed up with discrimination and unfair compensation at her workplace and struck out on her own. From a workshop set up in the basement of her home, she built a booming clothing business that lasted more than three decades, and with it, supported her family.

For small entrepreneurs like his mother, Bryson writes, there are "no patents-pending or hotel conference room rallies, no corporate offices — but they are vital, nonetheless. Because sometimes, just keeping oneself and one's family fed, clothed, and housed is all the business."



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Court Document Reveals Allegations Against Former Long Beach City College President

Sunny Zia is a trustee in the Long Beach Community College District. (Long Beach Community College District)

A court document filed this week reveals for the first time specific allegations from a fraud investigation against a former Long Beach Community College District President and a sitting trustee.

The district's board fired district president Reagan Romali in March.

The district alleges that Romali used college staff for personal errands and that the trustee, Sunny Zia, asked for campaign donations from a contractor with the Port of Long Beach, where Zia works. The details were revealed in a petition filed by the board in Los Angeles Superior Court to compel Zia to recuse herself from closed-door board meetings to discuss the investigation.

According to the document filed on Monday, the college district’s lawyer asked Zia to recuse herself from four meetings this summer.

In an interview with LAist on Thursday, Zia said she refused to sit out the meetings because she’s done nothing wrong.

“It's very much a fishing expedition and a political witch hunt,” she said. “I didn't go along with political interests and that's what happens.”

Zia clashed with fellow trustees Vivian Malauulu, Douglas Otto, and Uduak-Joe Ntuk earlier this year when the five-member board voted to fire Romali. Zia said she did not ask the Port of Long Beach contractor for campaign donations.

Romali, now a vice president at LA Mission College, could not be reached for comment.

Nathan Hardy, a political, election, and government ethics lawyer at L.A. law firm Reed & Davidson, said state law requires trustees of government agencies to recuse themselves from discussions in which they have a financial interest. Additionally, he said, bodies like the Long Beach district have policies in place that require trustees to recuse themselves if there’s an appearance of conflict of interest.

Hardy said the filing’s argument about Zia’s financial interest isn’t as compelling as the argument that Zia must recuse herself because of an appearance of conflict.

“I think as a matter of policy, you don't want public officials involved in making decisions about investigations that pertain to them … on the financial [conflict] I think you could actually argue it both ways. But from a policy perspective, she should recuse herself,” Hardy said.

The issue of fiduciary responsibility by administrators of public agencies, he said, is key in this case and it’s in the public interest to find out if there was wrongdoing by college employees.

Trustees said in the filing that closed-door discussions could lead to action regarding unjust enrichment, breach of fiduciary duty, and use of public resources for personal purposes.

Long Beach Community College District runs Long Beach City College at two campuses. Its roughly $200 million general fund is taxpayer-funded. The college educates about 35,000 students.

Long Beach College spokeswoman Stacey Toda declined to comment. “Long Beach City College does not comment on pending legal matters,” she said in an email requesting a response from board president Vivian Malauulu.


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Morning Briefing: An All-Female County Board Of Supervisors

State Senator Holly Mitchell meeting with supporters at her election night watch party the evening of California's 2020 Primary Elections on March 3rd 2020. Shot by Annie Lesser for LAist/KPCC Annie Lesser for LAist/Annie Lesser for LAist/KPCC

Good morning, L.A.

Like the rest of the country, Angelenos are waiting with bated breath to learn who our next President will be. Locally, we’re also waiting to find out who will take two open City Council seats, become L.A. County’s next District Attorney, and represent three SoCal districts in Congress.

Among the races that have been called, though, is the L.A. County Board of Supervisors’ District 2 seat. The win was cinched yesterday by State Senator Holly J. Mitchell, who beat out City Councilman Herb Wesson. Mitchell’s election means that the powerful governing body – the five supervisors oversee a $36.7 billion budget for 88 cities and millions of residents – is, for the first time, all female.

“I'm honored to have earned the opportunity to represent the residents of the Second Supervisorial District,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter. “This was a community-driven campaign based on creating a more equitable, inclusive, and prosperous LA County. Now is the time to turn our vision into action.”

Keep reading for more details on local, state and national elections, as well as ongoing tallies – and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie

And The Count Goes On …

Here are the election tallies and results so far, as of early Friday morning:

In L.A.

Statewide Propositions

  • Prop 15 The property tax “Split Roll” initiative: UNDECIDED
  • Prop 16 To bring back affirmative action: FAILED
  • Prop 17 To allow parolees to vote: PASSED
  • Prop 18 To allow some 17-year-olds to vote FAILED
  • Prop 20 To toughen some criminal penalties: FAILED
  • Prop 21 To give cities more power to enact rent control: FAILED
  • Prop 22 To make app-based drivers contractors: PASSED
  • Prop 23 New requirements for dialysis clinics: FAILED
  • Prop 24 To strengthen online privacy protections: PASSED
  • Prop 25 To end cash bail: FAILED

U.S. Congress (all UNDECIDED)

President of the U.S.

Election Analysis And More

Election Analysis: Proponents of Measure J talk about the perfect storm that made it possible to reallocate funds from the L.A. County budget to incarceration alternatives. In a Facebook post, LAUSD Board 7 candidate Patricia Castellanos conceded the election to Tanya Ortiz Franklin, dashing some teachers’ hopes for a union majority.

Two Political Strategies: Activists took to the streets to decry President Trump’s claim that he won re-election, and to celebrate the likely defeat of incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey. For corporations financially threatened by progressive policies, getting a measure on the ballot is becoming a common strategy.

Coronavirus Updates: L.A. County health officials reported 2,065 confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday and 25 more deaths – the highest number of new cases since early July.

Take Your Mind Off Politics: Consider the challenges of living on Mars, attend an 818 film fest, explore ceramic sculptures in the Cali sun, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.

Photo of the Day

Refuse Fascim activists convened Wednesday at a protest in Pershing Square.

(Chava Sanchez/LAist)