Here's your daily audio briefing (updated weekdays):30:42What's up with those "We Buy Ugly Houses" signs you see everywhere? Plus: A legendary drag club returns – The Weekend Edition
California Democrats attending the party convention in Los Angeles this weekend agonized over whether Sen. Dianne Feinstein should step down.
Why now: As a new poll shows nearly two-thirds of Californians believe Feinstein is no longer fit to serve.
Why it matters: Many are concerned that Feinstein's recent health problems and her apparent cognitive decline make her incapable of adequately representing her constituents.
Investigators Seeking To Expose Deputy Gangs Want Photos Of Tattoos. LA Sheriff's Deputies Union Says That's Unconstitutional(Frank Stoltze)
For 50 years, the L.A. Sheriff's Department has faced allegations that some of its deputies are members of internal gangs. Sheriff Robert Luna has ordered deputies to comply with an Inspector General's investigation that would require them to answer questions and reveal gang tattoos, even if they're not visible.
Why it matters: The previous sheriff, Alex Villanueva, asked deputies not to comply with subpoenas for gang-related investigations. Some say that the methods are compromising officers' constitutional rights, and the union filed a lawsuit against the department.
The backstory: Last week, Luna ordered his officers to submit interviews to Inspector General Max Huntsman in an ongoing investigation into alleged deputy gangs. Back in March, the Civilian Oversight Commission (COC) issued a report that said gangs have existed in the LASD for over 50 years. Then, in April, a special counsel appointed by the COC released a scathing report on deputy gangs inside the department, and recommended more than two dozen provisions to help root out the gangs.
What's next: The court will have to decide whether deputies' gang affiliations and tattoos compromise their ability to carry out official duties, or public perception of that. With deputies frequently testifying against the accused in court, questions about bias and conflict of interest are significant.
(The Garment Worker Center)
L.A. teenagers are learning about wage theft in the garment industry — and what they can do to stop it.
The backstory: A U.S. Labor Department study in March revealed that out of 50 contractors and manufacturers surveyed in Southern California, 80% violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. Half of those paid workers off the books and one contractor paid as little as $1.58 an hour.
Why it matters: Salma Rojas, a youth organizer for the Garment Worker Center, says these students grow up going to the factories and see the long hours their parents work in poor conditions and think that's normal. "The more they learn, the more they're able to empower themselves," she says.
(Patrick T. Fallon)
State officials said the power grid is more prepared than last year to help everyone keep the air conditioning running and lights on during summer heat. They said power outages this summer are unlikely because of dramatically improved hydropower conditions and an increase of battery storage for solar power.
Why it matters: The climate crisis is driving more extreme heat and wildfires that are stressing the power grid to the max. Last September, a record 10-day heat wave led to an all-time high in electricity demand. Planned, rolling blackouts were narrowly avoided thanks to the public’s response to a flex alert, as well as improved battery storage, among other things.
What’s next: Scientists expect temperatures this summer could reach some of their highest yet. Now is the time to start preparing for extreme heat and wildfires. We have more on how to prepare for wildfires and stay safe in extreme heat.
The Los Angeles Unified School District is expanding its free pre-K program. Every child who turns 4 on or after September 1 can enroll in transitional kindergarten, or TK, at the district’s elementary schools.
TK defined: Transitional kindergarten is a preschool program offered at many public schools, until recently, only to kids with birthdays in specific windows of time. Parents should expect to see hands-on learning activities and play in TK classrooms. LAUSD Executive Director of Early Childhood Education Dean Tagawa said one major focus is “oral language development.” For example, singing, rhyming and chanting that helps kids start to understand how sounds connect to language.
Why now: LAUSD is rolling out its universal transitional kindergarten program ahead of the state-wide mandate to do so by the 2025-26 school year. “Why wait two years to empower students with early literacy, early numeracy [and] earlier socialization?“ said Superintendent Alberto Carvalho at a press conference Friday. “Why wait two years when we can do it now?”
How to enroll: Find the closest LAUSD school, request an enrollment packet by phone or in person or fill one out online.
Foot traffic thinned out, food costs went through the roof and now the three women behind BurritoBreak in downtown L.A. are shutting it down.
Why it matters: It's hard for restaurants these days, period. But often restaurants start out as sidewalk vendors or food trucks — like BurritoBreak did — and it's even hitting those hard.
What's next: After grueling times working flat out at all hours, the owner says she's taking a break. In her Instagram, Claudia Barerra said she's "prioritizing self care," but has not ruled out returning to the food business at some point.
Forty years ago this week, the third hugely anticipated Star Wars movie, Return of the Jedi, hit the big screen. And National Public Radio spoiled it for some moviegoers.
What happened: It was 1983 and All Things Considered host Susan Stamberg asked a young boy to give us a sneak preview of the movie. And... well, he did.
The backlash: The plot details he shared really rankled NPR listeners. As Stamberg said in an on-air apology at the time: "We goofed so badly that we changed our program before rebroadcasting it to the West Coast."
The holiday weekend is upon us. Whether you have plans to travel or not, here are some great tips for planning your next quickie out-of-towner.
- For a quick trip, look for someplace pretty easy to reach with lots of things to do in a walkable, bikeable or public-transit-friendly area.
- If you can swing a vacation by car or train, that would be best.
- Try to stick to places that are one to three hours away.
- Go from Friday through Monday, especially if you can fit in some activity late Friday to make it feel like you kicked things off with some fun.
Today the Los Angeles basin will be cloudy clearing to sun and in the mid-60s.
Coasts: Temperatures in the mid-60s, with less chance of clouds clearing.
Mountains: More sun but much more chill in the air, with temperatures in the low to mid-50s.
Inland: Patchy drizzle this morning, with sun and temperatures making their way up to 70 this afternoon.
(Courtesy LA Metro)
Today in How To LA:
Today in How To LA: Renewed calls for more public safety efforts on LA public transit following violent incidents, how to protect your home from mold; plus foraging in the city as a person of color
Top Story: My colleague Jill Replogle dug into the data and found that crime on the L.A. Metro rail system increased 33% in March compared to last year. Crimes on buses also increased — by 19%. But Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that while there is “no tolerance for” any crime on the transit systems, the number of incidents is relatively small compared to the number of people who ride the bus and train every day. He noted there were 106 crimes against people in the month of March, such as assault and rape, and that there were 23 million individual rides that month.
More news you need to know:
- Did you know there are health risks when it comes to living with mold? That’s why you have to nip that mold problem in the bud right away. But don’t worry C.C. Clark has an updated guide on how to do that.
- Jasmyne Pope was hired to be a substitute music teacher for a couple of weeks at Dorsey High School in 2021. But, then she noticed a problem: there were no functioning instruments for students to play. Read Ryanne Mena’s story about how this teacher revived Dorsey’s dying music program.
- Wildfires have increased and grown more dangerous in recent years and it’s impacting our health. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to better track the effects and that a loophole allows regulators to not count “natural” fires toward clean air goals.