Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):
Dodgers Spanish-Language Broadcaster Jorge Jarrín Announces Retirement
Jorge Jarrín has called Dodgers games in Spanish alongside his legendary father, Jaime for several years. Today the younger Jarrín announced he is retiring.
The Dodgers made the announcement this afternoon on Twitter.
Thank you Jorge for your contributions to the Dodgers over the past nine seasons. Congratulations on retirement! pic.twitter.com/oh7Prm8QeD— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 4, 2021
Jarrín first started working for the Dodgers in 2004, managing radio broadcast sales and Hispanic initiatives. Eight years later he became a member of the Dodgers' broadcast team, pairing up with his Hall of Fame dad in 2015. That made them the first first-ever father-son broadcasting team on MLB Spanish-language radio.
In a statement released by the team, the Jorge Jarrín said he knew the time was right:
"I leave with a tremendous sense of gratitude for the Dodger organization," he said.
Today the Dodgers and I announced my retirement from the broadcast booth. I leave proud of what we have accomplished since I joined the Dodgers in 2004. The best was being teamed up with my dad in the broadcast booth. He goes on, but I’m happy to be just a fan now, and forever.— Jorge Jarrin (@JorgeJarrin1) February 5, 2021
He also reminded Angelenos that his dad will keep working.
Jaime Jarrín, who is 85, has been the Spanish voice of the Dodgers since 1959.
- Dodger broadcaster Jorge Jarrín announces retirement (MLB news release)
LA Council Member Wants City To Sue LAUSD To Reopen Campuses
A Los Angeles city council member wants to sue the L.A. Unified School District to force administrators to reopen in-person classes.
Councilmember Joe Buscaino said on Thursday that he’ll introduce a motion at next Tuesday’s city council meeting that would direct L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer to file a lawsuit against the district.
“How is it that my neighbor can take their kids to the parochial school in San Pedro and I can’t take my kids to a public school in San Pedro?” Buscaino said. “Something’s not right here.”
LAUSD and Feuer’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But LAUSD board member Kelly Gonez slapped back at Buscaino in a Twitter thread. She wrote:
"Our City and County leaders could have prioritized schools and children by keeping businesses closed, but instead chose to keep malls, gyms, and cardrooms open. Weren’t you also the one advocating to keep outdoor dining in the midst of the COVID surge?"
Mr. Buscaino, LA County does not and has never met the State’s standards for reopening our schools. https://t.co/fkOCMA2E5C— Kelly Gonez (@KellyGonez) February 5, 2021
Buscaino’s call to take LAUSD to court follows Wednesday’s news that the San Francisco City Council sued its own school district to reopen campuses, citing a new state law that requires districts to offer classroom instruction“ whenever possible” during the 2020-21 school year.
“I’m hopeful to take a page out of San Francisco’s playbook,” Buscaino said.
He points to statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Southern California Chapter 2 of the American Academy of Pediatrics calling on schools to reopen as soon as possible.
Buscaino hasn’t consulted with L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer yet, but at a recent city council meeting, Ferrer predicted that the falling coronavirus case rate could be low enough for schools to be eligible to open in a matter of weeks.
“For the first time in almost a year, it looks like things are headed in a better direction,” Beutner said in his weekly address on Monday. “But COVID isn’t going away any time soon and there’s a lot that has to happen to get schools reopened.”
For starters, the district is still bargaining with United Teachers Los Angeles over specialized small group classes and a general reopening safety plan. Vaccinations for teachers and worries about case rates that have kept the county in the purple tier have emerged as sticking points between the district and the union.
Buscaino says all that negotiating has taken too long.
“We just got to recognize and put our students first — get the adults out of the room. Our kids are suffering today,” he said.
While the San Francisco lawsuit may have served as inspiration, the COVID-19 situation in the Bay Area is different from the one in Los Angeles. As of this week, the adjusted case rate for COVID-19 in San Francisco County was 12.5 per 100,000 people, while the rate in Los Angeles was more than double that. Both counties are in the purple tier, but San Francisco is under the state’s threshold for reopening classes.
- Joining National Debate, San Francisco Enters Uncharted Territory In Battle Over Reopening Schools (EdSource)
City Of LA Underpays Women And People Of Color, Report Finds
L.A. is a "wonderful and diverse city, but it isn't an equitable one," according to City Controller Ron Galperin.
In a new report, “Diversity With Equity: Achieving Fairness at the City of Los Angeles,” he outlines employment trends for city workers.
The main finding: White men were paid more than men of color and white women. And women of color were paid less than everyone else, with Black women faring worst overall.
Here are some other main points:
- L.A. City workers earn an average of $53 per hour.
- Black and Latino city workers earn $9 an hour less than that.
- 73% of workers employed by the city are people of color, but most of the highest-paid employees are white men.
- 81% of the women who work for the city are women of color; they are at the bottom of the pay scale for every job description.
- The least diverse departments in L.A. city government are the Department of Building and Safety (44% white) and the Fire Department (46% white).
- The most diverse city departments are the Department of Transportation and L.A. World Airports – the workforce at both is 31% Black and Latino.
For the visually inclined, the report contains some illustrated statistics:
Galperin says diversity numbers for each city department should be posted on the city's website.
You can read the full report here.
Fixing California's Unemployment System: What Lawmakers Are Pushing For
After nearly a year of widespread benefit delays and billions of dollars in fraudulent payments, California’s unemployment department could soon undergo a series of reforms.
State lawmakers proposed a raft of legislative fixes for the Employment Development Department (EDD) today, including:
- The creation of a new office to advocate for claimants
- Allowing claimants to fix honest mistakes on certification forms before locking them out of the system
- A requirement that claims be cross-checked with incarceration records to avoid fraudulent payments to prisoners
- A requirement to provide services in languages other than English and Spanish
- An option for claimants to bypass Bank of America and instead receive benefits through direct deposit
Lawmakers said their offices have become de facto unemployment benefit help lines, as scores of jobless Californians have found it impossible to reach EDD about problems with their claims.
“Every day, my colleagues and I hear from thousands of desperate Californians who are in dire straits,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Laguna Beach). “And for months, this desperation has been met by a seemingly disinterested EDD bureaucracy.”
Berkeley unemployment recipient Laurel Carter said her benefits were cut off in December, when EDD suspended 1.4 million claims across the state. Like others caught up in the department’s anti-fraud efforts, she’s been unable to complete a third-party identity verification process through EDD’s subcontractor ID.me.
“I'm now six weeks in without any payment [or] any response from ID.me,” Carter said. “I've had to borrow money from my family and friends.”
At the same time many have struggled to restart their claims, the department has come under fire for delivering at least $11 billion in payments to fraudsters.
During a press call about the reform bills, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) said lawmakers will call for $55 million in new funding to help local and state law enforcement agencies prosecute unemployment benefit fraud.
LA Metro CEO Phillip Washington Is Stepping Down Later This Year
The leader of Los Angeles County’s public transit agency is preparing for departure.
L.A. Metro CEO Phillip Washington recently told the agency’s board of directors that he will not seek to renew his contract, which expires this May.
“I leave with great satisfaction knowing that working together we have improved mobility and increased access to opportunity for all residents of L.A. County, and weathered the most devastating health crisis of the past century,” Washington said in a statement. “We have quickened the sense and pace of public service and left L.A. County’s mobility space better than it was.”
Washington took the helm of L.A. Metro in May 2015 after managing Denver's transportation agency. He's overseen the influx of new tax funding through Measure M, an ambitious expansion plan for Metro’s rail system over the coming decade.
He established Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation as a team to bring ambitious ideas and public-private partnerships to the agency’s mission. That includes projects like microtransit and the aerial gondola to Dodger Stadium.
Washington has also pushed a more progressive agenda for Metro, including studying congestion pricing (charging motorists to drive at certain times or on certain roadways). And over the summer, he launched a task force to explore how the transit agency could eliminate rider fares as soon as the start of this year. A feasibility report is expected “in early 2021,” according to Metro’s website.
Bus and rail ridership had been falling steadily since before Washington’s tenure, but the crisis was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The stay-at-home orders last year also sent sales tax revenue plummeting. Those funds make up roughly half of the agency’s operating budget.
Washington joined other U.S. cities in seeking federal aid to keep trains and buses running, which the agency has received. But Metro officials estimated ridership could take two years to return to pre-pandemic levels. In the meantime, the agency slashed its bus and rail service, which has an outsized impact on low-income Angelenos who depend on public transit for essential travel as the pandemic rages on.
Washington has not shared where his next stop is. Following President Joe Biden’s election in November, Washington was tapped to lead the review committee for the federal Department of Transportation.
Metro’s board “will conduct a national search for the next CEO,” officials said on the agency’s website.
Facing Disciplinary Hearing, Trump Quits SAG-AFTRA Union: 'You Have Done Nothing For Me'
"I write to you today regarding the so-called Disciplinary Committee hearing aimed at revoking my union membership. Who cares!"
So begins former president Donald Trump's letter to SAG-AFTRA, resigning his membership. His letter was in response to the union investigating whether to discipline him for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, for which he also faces a second impeachment vote. (Note: The LAist/KPCC newsroom is unionized through SAG-AFTRA.)
After that opening salvo, Trump follows by bragging about his own IMDb listings relative to actress and SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris, best known for her role in the hit 1990s series "Beverly Hills 90210."
"While I’m not familiar with your work, I’m very proud of my work on movies such as Home Alone 2, Zoolander and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; and television shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and of course, one of the most successful shows in television history, The Apprentice — to name just a few!"
Trump also takes credit for helping the cable news business, including saying that he has created thousands of jobs for "MSDNC" and "Fake News CNN," among others.
He goes on to criticize the union itself, saying that it's done little for its members and nothing for Trump himself, "besides collecting dues and promising dangerous un-American policies and ideas." He cites the "massive unemployment rates" of union members, as well as "lawsuits from celebrated actors."
Finally, Trump says that he no longer wishes to be associated with the union, and is therefore resigning.
It’s a shift from Republican icon Ronald Reagan, who, before becoming president, served as president of SAG-AFTRA.
The possible penalties from SAG-AFTRA that Trump had been facing included reprimand, censure, fines, suspension from the rights and privileges of membership, or expulsion from the union.
SAG-AFTRA's response to the letter: "Thank you."
You can read Trump's full letter below.
READ TRUMP'S RESIGNATION LETTER
Child Care Workers Are Waiting Their Turn To Get Vaccines. Here's What We Know So Far
With the exception of the city of Long Beach, most L.A. area child care workers under 65 can’t be vaccinated yet.
Child care providers are included in the next group eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in L.A. County, Orange County and Pasadena, but with an uncertain supply of vaccines, it’s hard to say whether it will be days or weeks before they’re able to sign up for appointments.
“The biggest problem right now in Los Angeles County, whether we're talking about childcare providers or health care providers, or whatever, is there's not enough vaccines,” said Cristina Alvarado, executive director of Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles, whose 10 partner agencies deliver child care services throughout the county.
In the meantime, there are a few things child care providers can do to ensure they don’t miss the memo when they do become eligible.
Alvarado recommends providers create a profile on the CA ECE Workforce Registry and stay in contact with their local resource and referral agency.
Child care workers can also join the LA County ECE COVID-19 Response Team Community Calls. They’re typically on Friday mornings and information about those calls is usually posted here.
READ MORE ON SPECIFICS ABOUT L.A. COUNTY, ORANGE COUNTY, LONG BEACH AND PASADENA
SAG Award Nominations Set A New Standard For Diversity
A year ago, Academy Award voters selected just one non-white performer (Cynthia Erivo of "Harriet") among its 20 acting nominees. Let’s hope that Thursday’s Screen Actors Guild Award picks can help correct the course for this year’s Oscars.
Outside of the membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the voters for the SAG Awards reflect the opinions of the most authoritative bloc of working professionals. Actors also make up the largest voting group for the academy, so the SAG nominations often predict what the Oscars will do.
And this year, the SAG selections feature the most diverse array of movies ever nominated for the guild’s top prize: Best Ensemble.
SAG’s equivalent of the best picture Oscar includes four films anchored by non-white casts: “Minari,” “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” “One Night in Miami” and “Da 5 Bloods.” The other best ensemble pick went to “The Trial of the Chicago Seven,” which includes several prominent Black actors.
The SAG nominating committee also recognized the work of the late Chadwick Boseman in two separate acting categories, in addition to his ensemble work in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” and “Da 5 Bloods.” What’s more, SAG singled out the work of a comparatively significant — but still inadequate — number of non-white performers in both film and television.
Besides Boseman’s role in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” the nominations for outstanding performance by a lead male actor include:
- Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”)
- Anthony Hopkins (“The Father”)
- Gary Oldman (“Mank”)
- Steven Yeun (“Minari”)
SAG’s lead female actor picks are
- Amy Adams (“Hillbilly Elegy”)
- Viola Davis (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”)
- Vanessa Kirby (“Pieces of a Woman”)
- Frances McDormand “Nomadland”
- Carey Mulligan (“Promising Young Woman”)
The one notable slight in the best ensemble race was “Nomadland.” It was likely snubbed because most of its cast, besides Frances McDormand and David Straitharn, are non-professional actors.
How 'Mr. Mayor' Turned A '30 Rock' Spinoff Into LA Comedy
NBC's new sitcom Mr. Mayor stars Ted Danson, but it was supposed to star Alec Baldwin. And while Danson plays Los Angeles's mayor (in a fictionalized post-COVID-19 world), Baldwin was going to play his 30 Rock character Jack Donaghy becoming mayor of New York.
It might have been a more natural fit for the New York-based writers behind the show, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. But with The Good Place ending, they pivoted and managed to retool the show for the L.A.-based Danson — and along the way, they've started to find the right balance between mocking L.A. culture and embracing it.
While written in New York, the writers' room features talent from both coasts, and between storylines around Dodgers games and Brentwood town hall meetings, the show's started to feel more like one written by people who understand Los Angeles. We talked with actress Vella Lovell about the show's evolution, and how it's coming to lovingly represent the city.
READ THE FULL STORY:
We Asked 'What Does It Mean To Be Black In LA?' Here Are Some Answers We Heard
The theme of our Black History Month coverage this year is, “What does it mean to be Black in L.A.?”We'll publish reponses from community members and staff throughout the month. Add your voice to the conversation below.
So far, we've heard LAist audience members and a longtime colleague of ours describe L.A. as a "place of possibilities." We've heard about the resiliency and pride in ones's whole self developed despite the duality of code switching. We've also heard about the hope for a Black community's future despite the disappearance of Blacks in L.A. These stories have underscored hardships stemming from racism, but that hasn't been the prevailing theme.
Today, two LAist readers share feelings of overt, explicit bouts of discrimination, marginalization, isolation and racism.
"I moved to Los Angeles back in 2008 from the East Coast. The one thing I can say about my experience here is that there's a slow burn of anti-Blackness felt in every aspect of life here.
"I feel that African Americans (in particular, Black males) don't get the benefit of the doubt for being a human being. Between the remnants of the gang era, the overt and disgraceful levels of Black poverty and homelessness and the lack of a centralized middle-class Black population, there's an immediate assumption of inferiority and fear aimed at the Black population.
"There's a thin veneer of liberalism laden with the pretense of fairness and equality, but this is reserved for every group of non-whites except African-Americans. I'm speaking as a man with two master's degrees and a successful career as a screenwriter. But when I'm out and about around town, white women clutch their purses, white people lock their car doors and arm their car alarms repeatedly in my presence. There's an immediate tension in the air without any evidence that I'm a threat other than the color of my skin.
"L.A. has a long way to go in addressing these issues because (compared to the East Coast) few out here tend to be honest about their biases and prejudices. As a result, nothing can or will change."
— Brandon, Long Beach
"It is a constant state of feeling marginalized. The city is very segregated. There are many places in the city where you feel completely unwanted, from East L.A. to the Valley to the Westside to Beverly Hills and Bel Air. You are constantly being reminded that you are Black and different with a heavy emphasis on that idea of Blackness is equated with being dangerous or criminal. Being Black informs all that I do: driving, picking a place to live, going to school, getting a job. You feel as though you are an outsider or a minority among minorities. Your ethnicity is at the bottom of all ethnicities in Angelenos’ eyes."
— Jessica, Glassell Park
MORE ON BEING BLACK IN LA
- On Being Black In LA: Erasure Of The Black Community That Once Was
- On Being Black In LA: Being Bused Across Town Opened Up City As 'A Place Of Possibilities'
MORE FROM RACE IN LA
- Racism 101: Facilitating Deeper Conversations On Race
The first installment of our The 8 Percent project began exploring the inextricable ties between L.A. and its Black residents — how Black migration, community and culture have shaped and changed L.A. For Black History Month, we’re homing in on a more specific experience — yours. Tell us: What does it mean to you to be Black in L.A.?
Morning Brief: Another Attempt To House The Homeless Follows Years Of False Starts
Good morning, L.A.
Since well before the pandemic, L.A. has been struggling with an epic housing crisis — one that’s left many residents without a place to live. At last count, there were 66,433 people experiencing homelessness in the county.
Efforts to address the problem have been myriad, complicated and frequently bungled. But earlier this week, there was a sliver of good news: a community of tiny homes opened in North Hollywood, specifically to provide shelter to those in need.
The project, called the Chandler Street Tiny Home Village, has 40 units, each with two beds, heating and air-conditioning, a desk, and a front door that locks. Within the community, security is a top priority; video surveillance, a fence, and a guarded entry point have all been installed.
The project’s goal is to serve as temporary housing, augmented by case managers who assist with mental health, job training, and housing support.
"I believe in a housing-first model, where we would move everybody into a home and apartment, permanent housing," said Ken Craft, the founder and CEO of Hope of the Valley.
It’s a visible step forward — if only for a small number of people — in a city that has struggled mightily to find a solution to the growing crisis. In the past two years alone, city and county officials and local nonprofits have experimented with government-funded campsites, vacant hotel rooms, empty parking lots, shelters in ritzy neighborhoods, homeless sweeps, new legislation, emergency shelters, accessory dwelling units, RV parks, prevention efforts, and more.
Still, the cost of rent and housing keeps rising, and more people are ending up on the streets. That connection, between the cost of housing and homelessness, is already a well-known reality for local officials.
"If we want to get to the heart of the issue, we have to bring rents down,” Mayor Eric Garcetti told KPCC/LAist reporter Emily Elena Dugdale in 2019.
We also have to bring wages up. A recent estimate from the nonprofit research group Economic Roundtable suggests that about 600,000 L.A. County residents spend 90% percent or more of their income on housing.
And yet ... and yet. It’s still difficult to ascertain who is in charge of managing the crisis. An FBI investigation found that an L.A. city councilmember accepted bribes to allow developers not to offer affordable housing. And of course, the pandemic stands to make the situation far worse.
In other words, there’s a lot of work to be done — in North Hollywood, one tiny house at a time.
Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of today's Morning Brief mistakenly said "some L.A. city councilmembers" accepted bribes to allow developers not to offer affordable housing. In fact, only former councilman José Huizar is facing such charges. Also, the same item mistakenly said there are 66,433 people experiencing homelessness in the city. That is, in fact, the number for all of L.A. County. LAist regrets the errors.
What Else You Need To Know Today
- In the most recent edition of our Black in L.A. series, LAist contributor Velincia Ellis writes about watching her neighborhood and Black community change, and most devastatingly, disappear.
- California is getting new pilot vaccination sites at Cal State L.A. and the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum.
- L.A. City Council is moving forward with a possible "hero pay" ordinance that would give some employees in large grocery and drug stores a $5 per hour pay increase during the pandemic.
- A major Southern California pediatrician group is calling for schools here to reopen immediately.
- Interested in volunteering at a vaccination site? Here’s how.
- The logistics for this year’s pandemic-era Golden Globes remain unclear — and so is the logic behind some of the nominations.
Before You Go … Help Us Revisit The Very First 'Friends' Episode
Get together with a few hundred of your fellow TV fanatics to hash out the highs and lows of some all-time, quintessential TV series premiere episodes. LAist arts & entertainment editor Mike Roe and a group of nostalgia TV superfans will take a deep dive into these small-screen treasures and answer your questions live.
First up on Feb. 18 is Friends — a comfort-viewing classic. We'll unpack what holds up and what decidedly does not from its 1994 debut episode. Watch it before the event (several streaming sites now offer the series) then bring your hottest takes on the story, the casting, the messages, and the looks.
Help Us Cover Your Community
- Got something you’ve always wanted to know about Southern California and the people who call it home? Is there an issue you want us to cover? Ask us anything.
- Have a tip about news on which we should dig deeper? Let us know.
The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.