Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
Could Mayor Garcetti Be Tapped For Biden's Cabinet?
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is getting buzzed about as a possible candidate for Secretary of Transportation in the Biden administration. Politico named him as a contender, noting though, that his mayoral term doesn't end until 2022. (Plenty of ambitous politicians, however, have resigned an elected post to take a bigger job.)
Garcetti served as co-chair of the Biden campaign and endorsed the candidate earlier this year, leading some to speculate that the mayor had an eye on Washington.
On Monday, Garcetti didn't give the impression that he would be taking his plans to the national stage ... at least not yet. He told KPCC's AirTalk he wants to see L.A. through the pandemic, and hopes to continue work with the Biden Administration from here:
"[Biden] is an extremely good human being, he is an extremely experienced individual and so however I can help him from here, however I can help him in general, I think all of us want to see him succeed."
He also told AirTalk's Larry Mantle that California is full of leaders whose experience with transportation and green technology would make them great candidates for Secretary of Transportation.
So, either Garcetti's being incredibly humble, or he doesn't want the job.
Or maybe there's a cloud hanging over his head because of allegations that Garcetti confidante and former aide Rick Jacobs sexually harassed men — including the mayor's LAPD-assigned driver — in Garcetti's presence. The mayor has denied witnessing any such behavior.
On Tuesday afternoon, L.A. Metro CEO Phil Washington was named to head Biden's agency review committee for the Department of Transportation.
What We Know So Far About State And Local Election Results
* These results will be continually updated as votes are counted. Last updated on Monday, Nov. 9 at 5:30 p.m.
Los Angeles County and state officials updated election returns on Monday 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 73% voter turnout — a figure that will rise in the coming days and exceeds the 2016 mark of 67% turnout. The county has recorded more than 4.1 million votes.
The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder plans to release an estimate of ballots remaining to be processed on Monday night, which could number in the hundreds of thousands.
Across the state, more than 2.9 million ballots have not yet been processed, according to a report from the Secretary of State on Monday.
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 1,287 votes out of more than 300,000 votes cast.
Monday’s update pushed Smith into the lead with additional ballots counted in Los Angeles County, which Smith has been winning by a small margin. Ventura County ballots, which have not been updated since Friday, could favor Garcia, who has collected 53% of votes in the county.
In two tight Congressional races that include parts of Orange County, Republicans are hanging on to tight leads. With today’s results in Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, Republican challenger Young Kim is outpacing incumbent Democrat Gil Cisneros by 3,550 votes in the 39th District.
In the 48th, Republican Michelle Steel maintains a 7,346 vote lead over Democratic incumbent Harley Rouda in the latest results.
Across Orange County, nearly 1.5 million ballots have been cast, representing a 85% voter turnout. In Riverside County, more than 564,000 ballots have been counted, although nearly 300,000 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.
RESULTS WE ARE FOLLOWING CLOSELY
- Lacey Concedes DA Race
- Measure J Likely To Pass: Would Redirect Funding To Alternatives To Incarceration
- LA County Board Of Supervisors District 2: Mitchell Wins
- LA City Council District 4: Nithya Raman Wins
- LA City Council District 10: Mark Ridley-Thomas v. Grace Yoo
- LAUSD District 3: Marilyn Koziatek v. Scott Schmerelson
- LAUSD District 7: Ortiz Franklin Wins, After Castellanos Concedes
- Prop 14: Stem Cell Research Funding
- Prop 15: The Property Tax 'Split Roll' Initiative
- Prop 16 Fails: California's Affirmative Action Ban Stands
- Prop 17 Passes: Parolees Will Be Able To Vote In California
- Prop 18 Fails: 17-year-olds Won't Vote In Primaries
- Prop 19: Property Tax Transfers And Inheritances
- Prop 20 Fails: Voters Reject Effort To Roll Back Criminal Justice Reforms
- Prop 21 Fails: Voters Turn Back Effort To Expand Rent Control
- Prop 22 Passes: App-Based Drivers Will Remain Contractors
- Prop 23 Fails: Voters Reject New Requirements For Dialysis Clinics
- Prop 24 Passes: Californians Approve Data Privacy Law
- Prop 25 Fails: California Voters Reject Initiative To Replace Cash Bail System
- Congressional District 25: Mike Garcia v. Christy Smith
- Congressional District 39: Gil Cisneros v. Young Kim
- Congressional District 48: Harley Rouda v. Michelle Steel
California Could Lose Billions If The Affordable Care Act Is Overturned
The Supreme Court on Tuesday will take up a make-or-break challenge to the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Texas and other conservative states have pursued the court case. California is leading a group of states defending the law.
Sacramento was an early and enthusiastic adopter of the ACA when it passed in 2010. If the law is overturned, the state will lose several billion dollars a year in federal health insurance subsidies.
UCLA health professor Steve Wallace said the state’s Medi-Cal expansion would also take a big hit.
“If [the ACA] is invalidated, the federal support for California’s [Medi-Cal] expansion would disappear,” he said.
Governor Gavin Newsom estimates that would cost California $20 billion a year. A shrunken Medi-Cal program would hurt the poorest Californians.
“The state could pay for expansion but it would have to pay for 100% versus like 10%,” Wallace said.
If the ACA is fully struck down without a replacement, pre-existing conditions protections go away, and so do the state insurance marketplaces.
The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates one-quarter of non-elderly adults in California have a preexisting condition that would make them declinable for health insurance.
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision next year.
Ridley-Thomas Claims Victory In LA City Council's 10th District
Mark Ridley-Thomas accepted congratulations Monday on his apparent victory over challenger Grace Yoo for the 10th District seat on the Los Angeles City Council.
Though Yoo has not conceded, Ridley-Thomas leads the attorney and community activist 61.27% to 38.73% in the runoff election.
Ridley-Thomas retweeted Mayor Eric Garcetti, who offered his congratulations to the current County Supervisor, as well as to Nithya Raman, who won the 4th District seat after incumbent David Ryu conceded late last week.
The victory marks a return for Ridley-Thomas to the L.A. City Council, where he served from 1991-97. He is termed out from his County Board of Supervisors seat, where he will be replaced by State Senator Holly Mitchell. She won a resounding victory over L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson.
Congratulations to new Councilmembers-elect @MRidleyThomas and @NithyaVRaman on your election to the L.A. City Council. I look forward to working with you to serve Angelenos across our city and continue to build a stronger city.— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) November 9, 2020
READ THE FULL STORY:
‘This Isn’t A Blip’: Coronavirus Cases Surge In LA County
COVID-19 is surging again in Los Angeles County.
Officials confirmed more than 1,400 additional infections Monday, following four straight days with more than 2,000 new cases — and the numbers are usually lower on Mondays due to weekend reporting delays.
While the increase isn't as steep as what we saw in July, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said the data is clear — and warns that the upswing is still happening at "an accelerated pace."
"This isn't a blip any longer, this isn't, 'Oh, we had one bad weekend, and we're now getting it back under control.' This is now a surge in our cases," Ferrer told reporters.
She said the increase is especially alarming heading into the colder winter months, which could put new pressure on local hospitals.
Ferrer blamed people getting together in small groups, including during Halloween.
“Many of these cases stem from people taking risks that are frankly not appropriate. It isn't that hard to play by the rules, especially since these rules are what keeps some people alive and allow our economy to improve,” she said.
Since the pandemic began, 323,625 people have tested positive in L.A. County and 7,177 have died.
Gov. Newsom: As Coronavirus Numbers Go Up, Counties Will Face Greater Restrictions
Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus, including the latest numbers amidst a spike in cases. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
California's case numbers are trending up — there were 7,212 new COVID-19 cases reported yesterday, with 5,889 new cases on average per day over the past week.
The positivity rate statewide is up to 3.7% over the past two weeks — on Oct. 19, the rate was at 2.5%. There was an average of 143,711 tests conducted per day over the past week, with nearly 194,000 conducted Sunday. The state's new lab which opened a little over a week ago is contributing to the state's increased testing, and will be able to handle 150,000 tests per day itself at peak capacity.
COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 28.6% over the past two weeks, with 3,001 currently hospitalized. That makes up 4% of the state's overall health care capacity. COVID-19 ICU admissions are up 27.3% in the past two weeks, taking up 11% of the available ICU beds. There are 20,390 ventilators available in the state.
COUNTIES MOVING BACK INTO MORE RESTRICTIVE TIERS
Newsom noted that the fall "twindemic" means more people coming into hospitals with flu-like symptoms as people start to move indoors, with temperatures going down. He described this as California's second wave of COVID-19, though it's being called the third wave in other parts of the country.
Gov. Newsom said to expect a number of counties becoming further restricted as of Tuesday, announced in the weekly Tuesday update from state Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, thanks to case rates ticking up. There are currently 10 counties in the most serious purple tier, 20 in red, 19 in orange, and 9 in the least restrictive yellow tier.
Ghaly said that there will potentially be no counties moving forward toward lower restrictions, while several counties are expected to move backwards into greater restrictions.
PFIZER'S 90% EFFECTIVE COVID-19 VACCINE
Newsom reacted to Pfizer's announcement that their vaccine, currently in trials, is 90% effective at preventing COVID-19. He said that this is great news, but that mass distribution continues to be a ways off — likely well into 2021.
Newsom cautioned about over-exuberance, citing an old friend of his who wanted to invite him to a Friday night dinner. The Pfizer news doesn't mean that it's time yet to not wear a mask, not socially distance, or to gather together outside of your household.
The governor reiterated details about California's COVID-19 vaccination plan, with health care workers and first responders being prioritized in the first phases of vaccines.
Newsom noted that Pfizer would only have a limited number of doses potentially available in December. You need two doses, and California is expected to only receive around 12% of the available vaccines — which won't be enough to cover the state's health care workers.
The next group of those prioritized will be those in high-risk groups. The state's scientific safety review workgroup will be closely monitoring vaccine trials. There is also a drafting guidelines workgroup that's working to determine guidelines for prioritization and allocation of vaccine supplies.
Gov. Newsom said that he would be working with both the current administration and the incoming administration to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.
SELECTING KAMALA HARRIS'S SENATE REPLACEMENT
Newsom said that no timeline has currently been established for selecting a replacement for California Sen. Kamala Harris as she takes office as vice president. Newsom said that the state will be working with Vice President-Elect Harris on her own needs during the transition.
Newsom said that his weekend wasn't occupied figuring out Harris's replacement — it was focused on the rising COVID-19 case numbers. He noted that there are some early indications about the case rise possibly being tied with Halloween.
The governor said that he had not spoken with President-Elect Joe Biden directly, but had spoken with Harris shortly before today's press conference.
SUPREME COURT HEALTH CARE BATTLE
The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in California v. Texas on Tuesday, a case looking at possibly striking down the Affordable Care Act. Newsom noted that the law protects 6.1 million Californians with pre-existing conditions, limits higher premiums due to age or gender, and keeps children on their parents' coverage until age 26.
There have been $20 billion in federal funding used to help 3.5 million Californians as part of the Medi-Cal expansion, $7 billion in federal premium assistance for 1.35 million Californians as part of Covered California, and there are a total of 1.5 million currently enrolled in the state's Covered California insurance marketplace, Newsom said. These benefits would be lost without the ACA.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee also spoke at the governor's press conference about the advantages of the ACA in California. The open enrollment period lasts until Jan. 31.
CALIFORNIA LAWSUITS AGAINST THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION
With the change in administration, Newsom noted that California is looking at how to address the more than 100 lawsuits that are currently pending against the federal government. Possibilities include dropping suits, addressing suits through executive orders, the administration walking away, and more.
Newsom said that the state plans to use more specific messaging around Thanksgiving to help avoid a greater rise in cases.
Scott Schmerelson Is The Apparent Winner Of LAUSD Board Race -- Despite Being Heavily Outspent
In the past two decades, no sitting Los Angeles school board member seeking re-election has ever found himself more badly outspent than Scott Schmerelson this year.
Charter school advocates targeted Schmerelson for defeat, outspending his teachers union supporters in the race by a nearly 6-to-1 margin, setting new records for spending in an LAUSD race.
Schmerelson appears to have won re-election anyway. Today, his opponent, Marilyn Koziatek, conceded the race for the LAUSD Board District 3 seat, which covers the west San Fernando Valley plus Studio City and Sherman Oaks.
The latest vote count showed her trailing Schmerelson by 7 percentage points -- or around 18,000 votes. More ballots remain to be counted, and Koziatek has whittled away at Schmerelson’s lead in the early vote counts, but probably not by margins she’d need to overtake him.
"This election had unprecedented voter turn-out," Koziatek wrote in a Facebook post, "and my volunteers and donors should share my pride in the more than 110,000 votes for me. While it wasn’t enough to win, it represents a terrific campaign that we should all be proud of."
Schmerelson’s apparent victory is a consolation prize for United Teachers Los Angeles. The teachers union needed to win both of Tuesday’s LAUSD races in order to secure a friendly majority on the school board, but the candidate UTLA had backed in the District 7 races conceded earlier this week.
But UTLA supporters will still have an ally on the board in Schmerelson, who shares the union’s concerns about the expansion of charter schools in Los Angeles.
Over the past year, the California Charter Schools Association spent more than $6.3 million trying to swing the race against Schmerelson — including more than $2.9 million on negative ads. Other than Schmerelson, only one other candidate in recent history has ever been hit by more negative advertising.
By comparison, UTLA was only able to muster just over $1.1 million to boost Schmerelson.
But in an interview on election night, Schmerelson said he felt the charter association’s negative ads had backfired.
Jenna Schwartz agreed. She's a Valley Village parent activist who helped raise money for Schmerelson and administers a Facebook group dominated by his supporters. She said:
A school board race should be about kids and teachers and schools. The fact that it’s become this partisan, divisive race is truly abhorrent. There’s no winners in that situation.
MORE ON THE RACE:
Morning Briefing: Biden Wins, LA Celebrates
Good morning, L.A.
ICYMI, former Vice President Joe Biden was elected to serve as the 46th President of the U.S. with Kamala Harris as his Vice President, the latter shattering the White House’s glass ceiling for women and, specifically, women of color.
When the race was called at around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Angelenos began celebrating. People took to the streets in droves with instruments, flags, cheers and tears, describing their reactions as “relief,” “hopeful,” and “inspiring and amazing.” In parts of downtown, West Hollywood, Silver Lake and across the city, revelers shut down the streets.
Groups who were the target of Trump’s ire are also cautiously optimistic that now, finally, change is coming. (Although the Trump campaign has, as predicted, embarked on legal challenges to the results.)
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
Coming Up Today, November 9
Celebrate Diwali (the Indian/Hindu festival of lights), watch a performance by New York-based artist Puppies Puppies, attend a virtual makers' market to start your holiday shopping early, and more. Christine N. Ziemba has this week’s best online and IRL events.
Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.
The Past 48 Hours In LA
Former Vice President Joe Biden was elected to serve as the country’s 46th President, and L.A. had a lot to say about it:
Angelenos of all stripes hit the streets to celebrate. Black women and Latinas celebrated Kamala Harris’ victory as the first woman of color – and woman, period – to hold the vice presidency. Scientists were cautiously optimistic that their work would cease to be discredited. Immigrant advocates hope for an even more productive relationship with a Biden administration than with the Obama White House. Angry Trump supporters gathered in Beverly Hills on Saturday to protest the race being called for Biden.
Final Goodbyes: L.A.'s own Alex Trebek, of Jeopardy! fame, has died. For some immigrants, his legacy will last a lifetime.
Photo of the Day
A man waves a Biden flag from his car in Echo Park as people took to the streets to celebrate Joe Biden and the Democratic Party's victory.