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Morning Brief: 'Politically Motivated’ LASD Investigations, Super Bowl Parking, And Space Junk

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva at the graduation ceremony for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Academy class 433 at East Los Angeles College, Friday, January 4, 2019. (Kyle Grillot for LAist)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Feb. 3.

Over the years, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has had a bristly relationship with some of his fellow elected officials; he’s repeatedly butted heads with the County’s Board of Supervisors, for instance, and has refused to implement a county-mandated mask requirement for his employees.

Now, the county’s top attorney has requested that California’s Attorney General take over two investigations that Villanueva is currently conducting. In a letter, County Counsel Rod Castro-Silva called the investigations politically motivated, and said they’re intended to discourage oversight of the Sheriff’s Department and retaliate against criticism.

“The only way to put an end to the Sheriff's abuse of power is to have the California Department of Justice supervise these investigations … determine whether they have merit, and end them if they do not,” Castro-Silva wrote.

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Castro-Silva was referring specifically to a two-year old investigation into Inspector General Max Huntsman, whose job entails oversight of Villanueva, and accusations made by Villanueva in 2020 that former county CEO Sachi Hamai engaged in a conflict of interest while in her position.

The county’s top law enforcement official has denied any wrongdoing, and took to Facebook Live to defend himself earlier this week.

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“People say, ‘Oh, they have secret police and they target their critics.’ We don’t,” he said, adding, “California is one-party state, one-party rule, where everyone is playing with the same loyalty to one-party establishment. It begs a lot of questions here.”

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

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • County public health officials re-upped their plea for people to follow masking requirements at the Super Bowl. 
  • A new plan for Long Beach's parks seeks to reduce the gap in park space between lower-income communities of color and wealthier areas. 
  • The Los Angeles and Long Beach port communities are targeted as clean-air priorities under California’s environmental justice law.
  • Record rainfall to record dryness is climate change in action, and it has water managers worried.
  • If you’re heading to the Super Bowl, get ready to shell out some extra cash for parking on top of the thousands of bucks you’ve already had to throw down for game day tickets. 
  • Black History Month, which started this week, celebrates the rich cultural heritage, triumphs and adversities that are an indelible part of our country's history.

Before You Go ... Space Junk Is Hurtling Towards The Moon

A rocket lifts off as the sun rises. Tall towers surround the rocket, which has fire and smoke coming from its tail.
A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket lifted off in Florida in Feb. 2015, on its way to send the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite into space. But seven years later, part of the rocket left behind in space is hurtling straight toward the moon.
(NASA via
Getty Images)

A piece of space junk from a Falcon 9 rocket that launched from Florida in 2015 is hurtling toward the moon, and is set to crash into the lunar surface on March 4. The rocket was produced and sent to space by SpaceX, Elon Musks’ space exploration company. The Falcon 9 has been hurtling through space for seven years, in what experts call a “chaotic” orbit.

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