Morning Brief: Voting In LA County, A New Farmer’s Market, And Palm Trees
Good morning, L.A. It’s May 31.
Election Day is right around the corner, my friends. My colleague Brianna Lee will bring you some information about elections throughout this week.
Take it over, Brianna.
Chances are your ballot has some offices you’ve never even heard of. What even is a controller? Or an insurance commissioner? Sure, you could skip voting in those races – but here are a few reasons why it’s worth taking an extra few minutes to look into them a little more.
- These down ballot races are where you have the most ability to exercise your power as an individual voter, especially because many other voters may just be leaving those fields blank. Take Superior Court judges. Their rulings don’t just have direct power over individuals’ lives – their rulings can establish legal precedents that affect all of us. But in the 2020 primaries, about 25% of those who cast their ballots in L.A. County didn’t vote for these seats at all.
- When there’s little information or attention paid to a given race, that’s when special interest groups and candidates with money have the most power to sway the narrative and usher whoever they want into an elected seat.
- Those little-known offices with a narrow scope are often the stepping stones to much bigger offices. Former Gov. Jerry Brown began his political career in the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. Just five years after being elected a trustee, he was elected governor of California.
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Our Voter Game Plan has made it a priority to help voters understand the significance of these down ballot races, and to give you as much context as you need to evaluate the candidates.
Here are a few highlights from our guides:
- The city controller is the people’s advocate for keeping City Hall’s spending in check. One former controller once uncovered 7,000 untested DNA rape kits sitting in an LADP lab freezer, some more than a decade old. The scathing report that resulted made national headlines and spurred intense pressure on city leaders to correct the problem.
- The general lack of information around L.A. County Superior Court judges has meant that candidates sometimes turn to creative or questionable tactics to catch voters’ eyes (including one 2020 candidate who legally changed his first name to “Judge,” despite not being a sitting judge). Luckily, we have some tips from a former president of the California Judges Association on what to look for in a candidate.
- The L.A. County Assessor is a pretty straightforward, rules-bound role that requires more managerial skill than political savvy. But their power can be abused, as evidenced by federal criminal charges over a previous assessor’s alleged pay-to-play scheme that are still playing out in court.
As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below the fold.
Corrections: In Friday's newsletter, we shared incorrect information about how to get a replacement ballot. If you make a mistake on your vote-by-mail ballot, you can request a replacement vote-by-mail ballot online through May 31 or you can go to a voting center, where you can cast a ballot in person instead.
In our May 25th edition of Morning Brief, we noted that some people received their ballots months ago. Voting ballots were actually mailed out the first week of May. We regret the error. But honestly what day are we on now?
What Else You Need To Know Today
- Even though Southern California cities are already recycling more water than any other area in the state, like my colleague Erin Stone reported, the area still needs to invest more in recycling water. One of the solutions: expanding the Groundwater Replenishment System.
- A new California bill passed out of the Assembly on Thursday night that just might make marketing firearms to children and those not legally allowed to possess one a civil liability. It has now reached the Senate.
- As the U.S. Department of Education prepares to lift the Pell Grant ban for incarcerated students, California leaders are working to increase the number of degree choices for those getting an education in prison.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, and will isolate until at least June 2.
- Good news for California families with babies: the state’s Women, Infants and Children program will now offer 13 different types and sizes of baby formula to aid the supply chain crisis after a huge recall with Abbott Nutrition.
- Some low-income tenants are praising an L.A. city council vote to obtain an apartment building in Chinatown. This comes after tenants in the building experienced rent hikes as much as 300% after a 30-year agreement expired a few years ago.
- There’s a new (much-needed) farmer’s market in town. And it’s adjacent to the Chinatown Gold Line station. The new L.A. River Farmer’s Market is now open and will run every Thursday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Go check it out!
Before You Go ... Can You Tell The Different Palm Trees Apart?
Did you know that almost all of the palm trees in L.A. came from elsewhere? So how did they become a famous symbol in this city? LAist’s Zoie Matthew took a deep dive into how these plants got here and how to tell them apart.