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The most important stories for you to know today
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    The Sunday Edition: Korean American Leaders Push To Consolidate Koreatown Voting Power
  • Health
    Updated Sep. 26, 2021 2:20 PM
    Published Sep. 26, 2021 2:20 PM

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    Stock- Coronavirus Health Hospitals
    (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

    It's been one-and-a-half years of grim milestones, and this weekend is no different. L.A. County's Department of Public Health announced Sunday that the region topped 26,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

    Health officials reported 1,774 new cases on Sunday and 14 new deaths.

    Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are declining, but they are not where officials would hope.

    "As we mark the saddest of milestones ... [we] remain singularly focused on ending this pandemic," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's director of public health, on Saturday.

    According to the department, 92% of residents ages 65 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, as have 78% of residents ages 16 and over and 77% of residents ages 12 and over.

    Pfizer has plans to roll out its vaccine booster shot for those who qualify. Check our third-dose guide to find out if and when you are eligible.

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  • Education
    Updated Sep. 26, 2021 7:37 AM
    Published Sep. 23, 2021 12:04 PM

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    A woman in a khaki shirt holds a picture book up to an eager young child.
    Deane Dana Friendship Park's parent and me class is open to kids under 5, their parents and caregivers.
    (Mariana Dale/ LAist)
    A New L.A. Class Teaches Parents and Young Kids to Say Hi, Hola & Ni Hao To Nature

    On a recent Friday, adults and kids from infancy to preschool paraded up a sidewalk overlooking the Los Angeles Harbor.

    The song “Vamos al Zoológico” played from a portable speaker.

    Monica Curiel stomped like an elephant, hopped like a kangaroo and danced like a monkey with her 7-month-old daughter Rosario strapped to her chest.

    “Oh my gosh! She loves it!” Curiel laughed.

    Curiel came all the way from Ontario for the multilingual parent and me class at Deane Dana Friendship Park in San Pedro. It’s been hard to find opportunities for her daughter to play with others during the pandemic.

    “Since we are home so much, I notice when she's noticing other people, and she's really happy right now exploring a new space,” Curiel said.

    The class including some Spanish is an added bonus. Curiel’s family is Mexican and her husband is white.

    “It's a huge value for her to stay connected to her roots,” Curiel said. “Being bilingual, for me, has been a lot of open doors.”

    Two women holding small children walk down the sidewalk.
    Marisela Lopez, left, introduced her daughter to a few new animal friends during the class. "I think it's just really important to really connect with nature and our local wildlife," Lopez said. "Living in such an urban landscape like Los Angeles, it's easy to forget all of the the animal and wildlife around us."
    (Mariana Dale/ LAist)

    The parent and me class has been around since the park’s nature center opened more than 20 years ago, said superintendent Marlene Yang.

    The addition of Spanish, Mandarin and sign language is new. So is Yang, who started as the park’s superintendent in March 2020.

    A woman with a thick glove on her left hand holds up an American Kestrel.
    Yang introduces one of the nature center's "animal ambassadors, an American Kestrel who was once wounded by a BB gun pellet.
    (Mariana Dale/ LAist)

    As a Latina, she said she didn’t always feel welcomed in outdoor spaces and only started to explore them as an adult.

    “Everywhere that I went, I saw that there wasn't people that reflected, that looked like me,” Yang said.

    She remembered a family trip to Yosemite cut short when her parents saw the line of cars, white trucks and park rangers in khaki and green uniforms at the park’s entrance.

    “When we got there, we turned around, because it looked like a border crossing,” Yang said. “I didn't know it at the time, but those are some of the things that our families live in fear of.”

    I want to provide a place where people feel safe interacting with nature, where they appreciate it, can learn about it, but they don't have to fear it.
    — Marlene Yang, Deane Dana Friendship Park superintendent

    It’s not just that communities of color can feel unwelcome in the outdoors, it’s often that they don’t have easy access to nature in the first place.

    About half of L.A. County residents live farther than a 10-minute walk from a park, according to a 2016 county analysis. African Americans and Latinos were more likely to live where there was less park space than Asian or white residents.

    The pandemic’s shelter-in-place orders also cut off access to nature for some of Los Angeles’s Black and Latino families.

    Kathryn Derose, a professor of public health at University of Massachusetts Amherst and policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, has studied how Los Angeles families use public parks.

    According to a 2015 study she co-authored, Angelenos are more likely to use parks when they feel safe and offer more supervised activities.

    “We want to make parks places that people feel secure, that they can go and enjoy nature and be active outdoors,” Derose said.

    A woman in khaki shows a 4-year-old girl how to waddle like a penguin.
    Yang shows 4-year-old Dhara Menta and her uncle Murthy Muthuswamy how to waddle like a penguin.
    (Mariana Dale/ LAist)

    This fall is the first time the parent and me class has been offered since the start of the pandemic.

    “I want to provide a welcoming place,” Yang said. “I want to provide a place where people feel safe interacting with nature, where they appreciate it, can learn about it, but they don't have to fear it.”

    Per L.A. County coronavirus safety guidelines, anyone over age 2 must wear a mask. The class takes place in a socially distanced classroom and outdoors. Yang draws on her background in early childhood development to create a curriculum that engages kids — and their parents — in story time, crafts, movement and song. There are also visits with the nature center’s “animal ambassadors” which include a desert tortoise, opossum and American Kestrel.

    With a little behind-the-scenes help from her husband’s Taiwanese family, she’s incorporating Mandarin words and phrases into the activities in addition to Spanish and sign language.

    “I want people to feel connected,” Yang said. “If it means singing and dancing like a monkey… I think that that's, you know, a first step.”

    The Parent and Me Multilingual Nature Class meets Fridays at 10 a.m. at the Deane Dana Friendship Park Nature Center. Register for the $10 class online here.

    What questions do you have about early childhood education and development? What do you want to know about kids ages 0-5 and those who care for them in Southern California?
    Decades of research indicates early childhood education significantly boosts children’s readiness to learn. Mariana Dale wants families, caregivers and educators to have the information they need to help children 0-5 grow and thrive by identifying what’s working and what’s not in California’s early childhood system.

  • Climate and Environment
    Updated Sep. 23, 2021 12:04 PM
    Published Sep. 23, 2021 12:04 PM

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    Water flows down a dam spillway into the San Gabriel River
    The San Gabriel Dam provides flood protection and hydroelectric power to the San Gabriel Valley.
    (Daryl Barker)

    This summer, Governor Gavin Newsom asked Californians to cut water usage by 15% because of the drought, but people only reduced their consumption by 1.8% in July compared to last year.

    Southern Californians did an especially poor job on this. L.A., Orange and San Diego counties cut use by only 0.1%.

  • Arts and Entertainment
    Updated Sep. 23, 2021 7:00 AM
    Published Sep. 23, 2021 7:00 AM

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    an old TV sits on a street. the image on it is of a woman in a blonde wig and sunglasses singing
    St. Vincent headlines the Hollywood Bowl with Spoon and Mereba opening.
    (A still from St. Vincent's 'Daddy's Home' video. )

    Take a Haunted Hayride. Attend an orchid show. Check out a Dino Fest and a spider pavilion. Learn about the foods of Cameroon. Watch really fit people compete in a triathlon. See great outdoor concerts from Madame Gandhi, Ozomatli, St. Vincent and Stevie Wonder.

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  • News
    Updated Sep. 23, 2021 7:00 AM
    Published Sep. 23, 2021 7:00 AM

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    Holding phone
    (Priscilla Du Preez)

    If you've been barraged by calls from numbers you don't recognize, you may already know this: a new report from the California Public Interest Research Group finds that most phone service providers aren't doing enough to stop illegal robocalls.

    Phone service providers have until Tuesday, Sept. 28 to comply with a federal law requiring them to implement technology to block such calls altogether, but just 17% of the 3,000 providers nationwide are completely up to date with that rule.

  • News
    Updated Sep. 23, 2021 6:00 AM
    Published Sep. 23, 2021 6:00 AM

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    A hand draws a dark wavy line that weaves through a handful of icons representing people. The line creates a chasm between the people. One side of the line is yellow, the other is blue.
    Redistricting sounds technical but it’s also, “the most consequential process that impacts citizens’ representation in government and determines whose voices are heard by elected officials.”
    (Illustration by Alborz Kamalizad / LAist / Photograph by Fabian Centeno / Unsplash)

    Good morning, L.A. It’s Sept. 23.

    Our LAist fall member drive ends tomorrow, and we still need to hear from 571 readers to unlock our member challenge. It's going to be really close and we can't afford to leave this $10,000 challenge unlocked. Please donate today to keep LAist around; we rely on your reader support to stay in business.

    Now, back to the news...

    OK, pop quiz: in which Congressional district do you live? What’s your state Assembly district? Or city councilmember’s or county supervisor’s district?

    I know mine (definitely did not Google any of them and you can’t prove I did), but if you don’t know off the top of your head, don’t sweat it because they might be changing soon.

    That’s right, L.A.: It’s redistricting time!

    And look, I know that’s probably the most boring “It’s ____ time!” statement I could write, but the process of redrawing electoral maps can have huge consequences for our local, state and national democracies.

    As José Del Río III, a local redistricting advocate who spoke with our newsroom’s radio show AirTalk explains:

    Redistricting is really the foundational issue from which all issues stem from — whether it be climate change, ethics reforms, housing reforms, something on a national scale. Redistricting is the first issue you need to tackle because you need individuals in elected office that represent your ideals.

    That’s why we published an explainer to answer all your redistricting questions, like:

    • Who draws the new district maps?
    • How do they decide where to draw the lines?
    • How can I give feedback on the maps?
    About The Morning Brief
    • The Morning Brief newsletter is sent mornings Monday through Friday. Subscribe to get it delivered to your inbox.

    So brush up on your redistricting knowledge and dazzle your loved ones, colleagues and complete strangers with all your democratic process savvy.

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

    What Else You Need To Know Today

    Before You Go... Yes, The Tire Company Has Restaurant Recommendations

    PHO 79
    The beef pho at Pho 79, a Garden Grove restaurant that received a 2019 James Beard America's Classics Award.
    (Leo Duran/LAist)

    The historically Eurocentric and Los Angeles-phobic Michelin Guide, which has made attempts in recent years to broaden its culinary perspective, just announced a bunch of new California restaurants in its Bib Gourmand category. And Southern California did well.

    Of the 45 new Bib Gourmand restaurants revealed on Wednesday, 16 of them are located in Los Angeles or Orange counties.

    They include spots that specialize in barbecue, Brazilian fare, Peruvian cuisine, fancy sandwiches, tacos, ramen, dumplings and, of course, Italian food. While we think Michelin's list still lacks enough representation of Mexican and Central American restaurants, it's a tasty spread.

    Read more about our local list-makers here.

    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.

  • Criminal Justice
    Updated Sep. 22, 2021 4:45 PM
    Published Sep. 22, 2021 3:26 PM

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    Close-up view of L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva's face
    Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
    (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

    L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Wednesday largely dismissed a RAND Corporation report on deputy subgroups or “gangs” within his department, saying the survey of more than 1,600 of his deputies overstated any problem.

    “It is a problem of perception, but not reality,” Villanueva told a news conference at the Hall of Justice. “That’s the hard cold fact about this issue.”

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  • Education
    Updated Sep. 22, 2021 3:55 PM
    Published Sep. 22, 2021 3:05 PM

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    A teacher in a gray shirt dances next to a 4-year-old student in a pink shirt.
    Teacher Jose Rodriguez dances out a goodbye song with Annandale Elementary School's first expanded transitional kindergarten student.
    (Mariana Dale / LAist)

    LAUSD and its teachers union have agreed on a "continuity of learning plan" for students and teachers who are sent home to quarantine because of COVID.

    The deal — which still requires school board and full-union approval — involves a 5% salary raise and a virtual live-streaming agreement.

    This agreement means that L.A. Unified School District teachers, for the first time since the pandemic began, will be required by their contract to provide simultaneous instruction. That involves streaming the same lesson to students quarantining at home that they're also delivering to students in the classroom.

    The deal keeps in place LAUSD's weekly COVID testing for all students and staff through at least the end of the first semester.

    As for students and teachers in close contact with the infected, vaccinated individuals won't have to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms within two weeks of an exposure. For unvaccinated students and staff, they can return to school after eight days if they test negative or ten day if they choose not to get a test.

    What questions do you have about K-12 education in Southern California?
    Kyle Stokes reports on the public education system — and the societal forces, parental choices and political decisions that determine which students get access to a “good” school (and how we define a “good school”).

  • Criminal Justice
    Updated Sep. 22, 2021 2:37 PM
    Published Sep. 22, 2021 2:14 PM

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    Britta Steinbrenner
    Sheriff's Capt. Britta Steinbrenner.
    (Courtesy Steinbrenner for Sheriff)

    L.A. Sheriff’s Capt. Britta Steinbrenner announced Tuesday she’s seeking to oust Sheriff Alex Villanueva from office and become the first female head of the department.

    “It’s still a good old boys club,” Steinbrenner said of the nation’s largest sheriff’s agency. “That has to stop.”

  • News
    Updated Sep. 22, 2021 2:27 PM
    Published Sep. 22, 2021 1:45 PM

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    A man tunes to a local radio station while driving on a wooded road.
    A man tunes to a local radio station while driving.
    (David Tran )

    When disaster strikes, phone lines and signal towers can go down. But that’s where the Mile High Radio Club steps in.

    “When it hits the fan or there's no other means of communication, we all know that ham radio continues to work,” says club president Bill Tell. “Our operations are often completely off the grid. When there’s no power, for example, we can set up remotely in various locations.”