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'Conception' Dive Boat Captain Faces Manslaughter Charges Over Fire That Left 34 Dead

The 75-foot Conception, based in Santa Barbara Harbor, burns after catching fire early Sept. 2, 2019, anchored off Santa Cruz Island. (Santa Barbara County Fire Department via Getty Images)

The captain of the Conception dive boat faces manslaughter charges for the deadly fire off the Santa Barbara coast that killed 34 people aboard last year.

The federal indictment charges Jerry Boylan, 67, with 34 counts of seaman's manslaughter. Boylan's "misconduct, negligence, and inattention to his duties" caused the deaths of 33 passengers and one crew member in September 2019, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Five members of the crew, including Boylan, managed to escape the fire that broke out while everyone was sleeping below deck and the boat was anchored in Platt's Harbor near Santa Cruz Island.

The indictment cites three safety violations:

  • failing to have a night watch or roving patrol
  • failing to conduct sufficient fire drills
  • failing to conduct sufficient crew training

If convicted, each charge carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Elliot Page, Oscar-Nominated Star Of 'Juno,' Describes Themself As Transgender, Non-Binary

Elliot Page attends Netflix's 'Umbrella Academy' screening last May in Los Angeles (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)

The Oscar-nominated star of “Juno” announced that he’s transgender.

In addition to playing a pregnant teen in director Jason Reitman’s 2007 hit, the actor's credits include “X-Men,” “Inception” and the Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy.”

He made the announcement in a deeply personal Instagram post:

“I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life."

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @elliotpage

At the same time, Page talked about the threats and physical attacks that trans people face, including murder. He said transphobic politicians have “blood on their hands.”

Page said that while he was “profoundly happy right now...I am also scared. I’m scared of the invasiveness, the hate, 'the jokes,' and of the violence…”

While several other news outlets reported the story using another first name for Page’s earlier credits, LGBTQ advocates say it’s not appropriate to use a trans person’s previous name, particularly without their consent.

Nick Adams, the director of transgender media at the advocacy organization GLAAD, said in a statement:

“Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people. Elliot will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are.”

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Future California Might Have Universal Preschool, But It Will Take Billions (For Starters)

An assistant teacher helps a student wash their hands at Young Horizons, a Long Beach child care center on Monday, May 4, 2020. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambitions to expand California’s early care and learning programs are outlined and explained in a strategic plan that was released today.

The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care imagines a future California that would include:

  • Universal preschool for all 4-year-olds
  • Universal preschool for all 3-year-olds from low-income families and children with disabilities.
  • A revised state paid family leave program allowing new parents to take more time off to care for newborns and receive a larger percent of their wages.
  • Elimination of preschool suspensions and expulsions.
  • Different pay scales from the state to providers who care for children from low-income families.
  • More money to renovate, expand and build new child care facilities.

But before the state can reach these goals and others described in the 107-page document, it’ll have to stabilize the child care providers that have remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It will also need to find a solution for the thousands of slots that have been lost to permanent closures.

“Every child in California deserves a shot at opportunity,” Gov. Newsom said in a press release, adding:

“By investing in the development and learning needs of our kids, with a focus on equity, we are investing in the future of our state. The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care translates our aspirations into an actionable roadmap – one that centers on the success of our youngest Californians, their families and the communities and caregivers that lift them up.”

California’s legislature set aside $5 million for the plan’s creation and it was originally due out in October, but the release was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The main authors include staff from the educational research non-profit WestEd, Stanford University, policy think tank RAND, Child Trends and American Institutes for Research.

The master plan builds on decades of work to improve services for kids, their families and the early childhood workforce. Last year, the Assembly Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education compiled 108 pages of recommendations after a lengthy public process including more than 70 meetings.

The unanswered question remains how to pay for this reimagined system. The master plan estimates it’ll take an additional $2 billion to $12 billion to accomplish its goals.

As child care and early learning is funded now, quality programs cost more than any one source provides and not all families have access.

“The added investments may come from federal, state, or local dollars,” the plan reads, but it’s still unclear how or when those investments will appear.

The state is looking to the incoming federal administration for support.

“Embracing the Master Plan’s recommendations will position California to capitalize on federal initiatives likely to be advanced by President-elect Joe Biden, whose campaign prominently featured a detailed early learning and care plan,” reads the introduction.

We’re reaching out to parents, child care providers and other stakeholders to see what they think of the plan.

You can read it below and when you’re done, send thoughts and questions to to help guide our future reporting.


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LA County Offers $30K Grants To Struggling Restaurants

Dollar bills and coins. (Bob Ghost/Unsplash)

Los Angeles today announced details of its Keep L.A. County Dining grant program, which will give $30,000 to qualifying brick-and-mortar restaurant owners to spend on employee payroll and other operational expenses.

The devil, however, is in the details, and many restaurants won't qualify for the funds.

The county program is only open to brick-and-mortar restaurants with 25 or fewer employees and no more than five locations. The businesses can't be corporate-owned franchises and they can't be located in the cities of L.A. or Pasadena. They also can't have already received assistance from other L.A. County CARES Act programs.

The application process opens on Thursday, Dec. 3, at midnight and lasts until Sunday, Dec. 6 at 11:59 p.m. -- or whenever 2,500 applications are submitted.

It's a safe bet the program will hit its application cap well before the deadline.

Next week, Long Beach officials will discuss a similar program -- a $5 million fund to help restaurants, bars and breweries that are struggling to stay afloat.


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A Lack Of Contact Tracing Has Left Us Struggling To Regulate Restaurants

Empty patio tables separated by plastic dividers are adorned with American flags at Mel's Diner in West Hollywood on November 30, 2020. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

Public health researchers believe restaurants are among the most common places to get infected with COVID-19 but contact tracing has been so lackluster that few health departments have been able to link disease clusters to in-person dining.

Still, there is some evidence that eating and drinking establishments can be potent sites for spreading the virus.

A 10-state study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that dining at a restaurant was the only activity that differed significantly between those who tested positive for COVID-19 and those who tested negative.

A University of Vermont study concluded that restaurant restrictions appear effective at slowing the spread of the virus.

And a recent Stanford University-led study that used mobile phone data from different cities to create a simulation of viral spread suggests that only 10% of public places account for more than 80% of coronavirus infections that occurr in public places. The study concludes that restaurants operating at full capacity spread four times as many additional COVID-19 infections as the next-worst location, indoor gyms.

Still, none of these studies can definitively prove that restaurant dining causes infections, researchers say. That would require robust contact tracing.

A man carries a takeout food order as he walks past temporary outdoor restaurant seating in Burbank on November 23, 2020. (ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

"It takes in-depth, resource-heavy disease investigations to determine where people were exposed to the coronavirus, and those contact-tracing efforts have never gotten off the ground in most of the country," Anna Almendrala writes.

As winter looms and people increasingly gather indoors, Southern California officials have imposed tighter restrictions on restaurants — and they have faced plenty of pushback from an industry already devastated by the pandemic.

Last week, L.A. County ordered restaurants to temporarily halt outdoor dining (although the city of Pasadena has allowed it to continue -- for now). Members of both the L.A. County Board of Supervisors and the L.A. City Council put forward motions urging the county's Department of Public Health to rescind the outdoor dining ban.

The county motion failed, but the city council motion passed with overwhelming support.

"The failure to achieve comprehensive contact tracing means that decisions about whether to close restaurants, or how many customers to allow at a time, have relied heavily on the local political climate," Almendrala explains. "Because the data from contact tracing is sketchy, it's not always easy to correlate a community's restaurant restrictions with case rates."


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Netflix's New 6-Story-High Mosaic Gets A Live Online Reveal

"SPECTRUM," as seen from the street. Courtesy Kilroy Realty

You can watch the virtual reveal of a new mosaic at Netflix headquarters online here starting at 10 a.m., with the program repeating on a loop until 4 p.m. No word yet on if you will get the Netflix "Are You Still Watching?" alert if you watch all day long.

The six story-high steel sequin mosaic was created by L.A. artist Maggie West. It will be visible as you pass by Netflix's Hollywood headquarters on Vine St. — or get called to the campus for your big Hollywood breakthrough.

The online program includes video interviews, as well as a live chat with the team behind the mosaic.


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Morning Briefing: Sheriff’s Deputies Clam Up In Court

Sequarier McCoy, aunt of Dijon Kizzee, speaks on the community gathering to protest the killing of him at the hands of sheriff deputies. (Brian Feinzimer for LAist)

Good morning, L.A.

On the first day of a rare coroner’s inquest, four L.A. County Sheriff’s department employees invoked their Fifth Amendment right in the death of 18-year-old Andres Guardado at the hands of a sheriff’s deputy – including the officer who fired the fatal rounds.

Guardado was reportedly working as a security guard at a Gardena auto body shop when he was shot in the back five times by Deputy Miguel Vega. The circumstances surrounding the shooting remain unclear; at least two different scenarios have been described so far, by a witness and Vega’s attorney.

However, as my colleague Frank Stoltze reports, the case has become exceptional in several ways. In July, the L.A. County Coroner’s office took the unusual step of releasing Guardado’s autopsy while it was still on a security hold requested by the Sheriff’s department. Then, Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas made the decision to pursue the inquest that began yesterday; it’s only the 13th such investigation since 1931.

Retired appellate justice Candace Cooper, who is hearing the inquest, said yesterday that she’s unsure whether the Fifth Amendment can apply here. Her verdict – on all fronts – remains to be seen.

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

Jessica P. Ogilvie

Coming Up Today, December 1

Guiliana Mayo looks at how L.A.’s small businesses are creatively shifting their business models and products to meet the new COVID economy. She talks with a gin distiller who now mass produces hand sanitizer, a pornographer who pivoted from directing to performing in front of the camera, and more.

California leaders will unveil a much-anticipated Master Plan For Early Learning and Care that will shape programs in the state for years to come. Mariana Dale has the story.

Mike Roe examines a new mural that will be unveiled outside Netflix headquarters.

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The Past 24 Hours In LA

Race In L.A.: As part of our Racism 101 project, our panelists are answering your questions. In the latest installment, we explore: “At what point does appreciation for another culture cross over into appropriation?”

City Hall Scandal: Former L.A. Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan will face federal charges related to the wide-ranging corruption case against former city councilman José Huizar.

Money Matters: The daily count of passengers at LAX has been averaging about a third of what it was last Thanksgiving, even on some of what are usually the busiest days of the year. Viewers are streaming 60% more content at home than they were a year ago.

Coronavirus Updates: The latest coronavirus numbers and data in California show that there’s likely to be a post-Thanksgiving spike in cases, which may mean implementing what Gov. Gavin Newsom described as dramatic, drastic action.

California Kids: University of California hopefuls just got an early gift: a few extra days to turn in their applications for the fall 2021 semester. A San Gabriel Valley school district is sending a biweekly care package of books, supplies and a little surprise to kindergarten students during this year of virtual classes.

Election 2020: In one of the last U.S. House of Representative seats still unsettled after the Nov. 3 election, Republican Mike Garcia has won the race for the 25th Congressional District against challenger Christy Smith.

And Now … Tortoises: A struggling population of tortoises native to the Mojave Desert has led UCLA scientists to rethink how to save threatened species.

Here’s What To Do: Enjoy drag queen hijinks, honor World AIDS Day, cozy up to a holiday-themed concert, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.

Photo of the Day

Leah Diaz, 5, opens a kindergarten care package sent by the Rowland Unified School District.

(Courtesy Chanel Martinez )

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