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What You Need To Know Today: The Rise of LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, Metro’s K Line, LA’s Best Vegan Food

Imperfect Paradise sheriff art
Illustration of Alex Villanueva
(Dan Carino
LAist )
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Thursday, October 6.  

Today in How To LA: What you should know about the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Metro’s K Line opens Friday; plus, the 411 on the new COVID-19 booster

Most people are pretty familiar with the Los Angeles Police Department. There was the assault on Rodney King in 1991 and the Rampart scandal in the late 90s. Fast forward to the unrest of 2020, and you’re probably aware of how officers handled protesters here after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis. And depending on what race you are, where you live and how long you’ve lived in L.A., you probably know the corrupt history of the third largest police department in the country. 

But what do you know about the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, an even bigger department that patrols a larger jurisdiction than the LAPD — 42 cities in the county and 141 unincorporated areas? This makes our sheriff’s department the LARGEST in the world. The department also runs the county’s vast jail system.

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So…you’re probably wondering why…Aaricka, girl. Why are you telling me all of this?

Well, friend, if you live in L.A. County, YOU are going to have to vote for WHO will fill in the top dog seat for sheriff on Nov. 8. Maybe sooner if you are a vote-by-mail kinda person.

The incumbent Sheriff Alex Villanueva is running against former Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna, and it has been pretty contentious so far. To understand what’s at stake in this race, How To LA podcast host Brian De Los Santos spoke with LAist’s Civics & Democracy correspondent Frank Stolze this week. You can listen here. Frank has covered policing in L.A. for a long time and he’s sharing all that he knows about the current sheriff in the new season of Imperfect Paradise: The Sheriff. Episodes 1 and 2 dropped this week.

You’ve no doubt seen and heard Sheriff Villanueva in the headlines, from deputy gangs to the corruption investigation of L.A. County supervisor Sheila Kuehl. (ICYMI that’s the sorta thing the district attorney’s office does.) Over the course of the five-episode season of Imperfect Paradise: The Sheriff, Frank examines Villanueva’s unlikely rise to power, running as a Democrat who promised reform in a corrupt department to having some run-ins with corruption himself.

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It turns out, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department has been plagued by the same problems as the LAPD. Read the rest of the takeaways here.

As always, stay happy and healthy, folks. There’s more news below — just keep reading.

The News You Need After You Stop Hitting Snooze

*At LAist we will always bring you the news freely, but occasionally we do include links to other publications that may be behind a paywall. Thank you for understanding!

  • After half a century’s worth of planning, the time has come! The first leg of the K Line, will open this Friday, connecting communities from Crenshaw to Baldwin Hills to Inglewood. The LAX connection is still a few years away. 
  • An LAPD report found that the death of an officer during a training last Spring was accidental. The report stated it “did not uncover any evidence”on the officer’s mother’s claims that he died during a training exercise and was beaten. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Construction of Santa Ana’s new streetcar is worrying residents who believe it will lead to gentrification and rent increases. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Californians have, unfortunately, grown accustomed to regular wildfires in most parts of the state. But did you know that all except two of the biggest wildfires in the state’s history have occurred within the last 20 years? Here’s what you should know.
  • Are you waiting for student debt relief in California? LAist has a step-by-step guide that breaks down all the things you need to know, including what type of forgiveness you’re eligible for.
  • Is it possible to test positive after getting the COVID booster? Experts weigh in on a peculiar ‘positive’ case that sparked debate and what to look out for when getting boosted.
  • Nearly a year after the on-set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, the parties settled a civil suit. As part of the settlement, filming on Rust is set to resume next year with Halyna’s widower as executive producer. Alec Baldwin still faces potential criminal charges.
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Wait! One More Thing...Does LA Have The Best Vegan Mexican Food In The Country?

two tacos on blue corn tortillas next to a pile of plant-based meat topped with chopped onions and cilantro
Vegan tacos from pop-up Alchemy Organica.
(Andrea Aliseda for LAist)

Okay…pause. I just read something in the story I’m sharing with you all today that made me stop in my tracks.

“Flowers that double as carne asada” 

Is it just me or did that pique your interest too? Well, allow me to take you into the world of L.A.’s best vegan Mexican restaurants, panaderías and pop-ups. Now, why are we talking about vegan Mexican food? Well, Wallet Hub just named L.A. as one of the top places for vegan food and we KNOW that no one does Mexican food like us.

I am a proud, tried and true carnivore, but I don’t mind being a little vegan-ish from time to time. With that said, I might hit up Doomie’s Home Cookin’ to try gluten-free soy-based protein on a tostada de maiz. Or maybe I’ll try a jackfruit carnitas taco from Sugar Taco. You should try out some of these places as well. Interested? Check out our Vegan Mexican food guide here.

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