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September 2019 - Week 3


Public Safety 101

LAPD & LA County Sheriff -- How are they doing?

We'll explore how listeners feel about their local law enforcement agencies. How safe do they feel? How good is the local quality of life in their home town and what can be done to make things better?

We'll continue this discussion tonight ..



On each murrayTALK episode, Bill will express his Opinion of some of the top issues of the week. There'll be no shortage of topics ..

We promise stimulating and thought-provoking presentations, and we'll see a way for the audience to contribute .. perhaps via Facebook and Twitter if we can figure out how to do it.

For now we'll use the OPEN MIKE discussion forum and the panelists who call the show.

Stay tuned for more on this !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Child Abuse - Jeffrey Epstein

She Says She Was Epstein's ‘Victim-1.' Now She's Suing His Estate.

The woman said her life was permanently scarred by the sexual abuse that started when she was 14.

by Ed Shanahan

A woman who said she was “Victim-1” in the federal indictment against the financier Jeffrey Epstein sued the executors of his estate on Wednesday, saying he had abused her for three years starting when she was about 14 and struggling financially.

In the lawsuit, the woman, who called herself Jane Doe, offered a graphic account of the abuse she said she had endured at the hands of Mr. Epstein, the dire financial straits that made her vulnerable to his initial advances and dependent on him after the abuse began, and details of how two of his female employees had enabled his behavior.

Mr. Epstein's abuse, the woman said in the suit, left her “forever scarred.”

Mr. Epstein, 66, killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August after being indicted in New York on federal sex trafficking charges. Prosecutors had accused him of recruiting dozens of teenage girls over many years to engage in sex acts at his homes in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Fla., paying them hundreds of dollars in cash.

Mr. Epstein's will, valued at more than $577 million, was filed in the Virgin Islands, where he owned a private island. The executors of his estate, Darren K. Indyke and Richard D. Kahn, were named as the defendants in the suit filed on Wednesday.

A lawyer for Mr. Indyke, Marc Agnifilo, declined to comment. Mr. Kahn could not be reached for comment.

The criminal charges in New York were similar to those at the heart of a widely criticized 2008 deal between Mr. Epstein and federal prosecutors in Florida under which he pleaded guilty to solicitation of a minor for prostitution but was spared a lengthy prison sentence.

Among the many victims described in the New York indictment, prosecutors went into some detail about three, who were identified as Minor Victim-1, Minor Victim-2 and Minor Victim-3.

Minor Victim-1, the indictment said, had been recruited by Epstein to engage in sex acts around 2002, had been repeatedly sexually abused by him over a period of years and had been encouraged to recruit other girls to engage in sex acts for money.

She said she had a “difficult childhood,” was always worried about money and wanted to do what she could to help a sister with a serious medical condition.

She was about 14, she said, when an older teenage girl from her neighborhood told her “about an opportunity to earn money and offered to introduce her to a wealthy man.”

That man, the suit said, turned out to be Mr. Epstein.

The woman said that her family was going through an especially rough stretch at the time. Her mother and sister were sharing a bedroom and renting the family's second bedroom to boarders. She was staying with friends and looking for odd jobs, the suit said.

The lawsuit described the woman's initial trip, accompanied by the girl who recruited her, to Mr. Epstein's mansion on East 71st Street, which she recalled as resembling the castle in “‘Beauty and the Beast,' one of her favorite Disney movies at the time.”

“Minutes later, Epstein entered the room wearing only a robe,” the suit said. “He introduced himself as ‘Jeffrey,' and asked Doe her name. Epstein also asked Doe her age, and she responded truthfully. Epstein then removed his robe and laid face down on the massage table.”

That first massage quickly turned sexual, as was typical for Mr. Epstein, according to prosecutors. When it was over, the suit said, he “put on a robe and retrieved three hundred-dollar bills from his robe pocket, which he handed to Doe.”

The woman said in the suit that she returned to Mr. Epstein's home “countless times” until she was 17, with the visits becoming more frequent and the abuse becoming more severe.

The woman also said that she had been sexually assaulted by one of Mr. Epstein's employees. And she singled out two of his assistants, Sarah Kellen and Lesley Groff, as having enabled his abuse.

Ms. Kellen and Ms. Groff are under scrutiny for any role they might have played in recruiting girls for Mr. Epstein or managing the logistics of his encounters. Federal prosecutors in New York have said they are continuing their investigation into whether anyone else should be charged as a co-conspirator in the sex trafficking case.

“During scheduling phone calls,” the suit said, “Kellen and Groff often asked Doe to bring other girls with her to Epstein's home. At times, Kellen and Groff directed Doe to bring with her specific girls who Epstein had assaulted before, requesting them by name.”

Although the woman said that Mr. Epstein sometimes paid her directly after abusing her, the woman also said that Ms. Kellen or Ms. Groff would pay her whenever she brought other girls to Mr. Epstein.

In a statement, Michael Bachner, a lawyer for Ms. Groff, said of his client: “At no time during Lesley's employment with Epstein did she ever engage in any misconduct.”

Lawyers who have represented Ms. Kellen in other litigation did not respond to requests for comment.



from California


Why a one-size solution to L.A.'s homelessness crisis is destined to fail

by Kevin Murray, LA Times

Homelessness is the Rorschach test of humanitarian crises: We all see what we want to see. Some identify the core problem as the lack of affordable housing or inadequate rent control laws. Others fault the lack of quality treatment for people struggling with mental illness, addiction, rampant economic inequality or the plague of mass incarceration.

As someone who spends his days providing services to our homeless neighbors, I can tell you every one of those things plays a role. There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are people sleeping on sidewalks. And that means we need a wide range of approaches to solving the problem, aimed at addressing the needs of individuals. We simply can't force all homeless people into a relatively narrow set of solutions.

In recent years, the focus has been primarily on building more permanent supportive housing to get people off the streets and provide them with services that will keep them housed. That approach is absolutely essential, but it can't be the only one.

Lately, Sacramento Mayor Darryl Steinberg and others have talked about the need also for more temporary shelter beds. This is another step in the right direction. But we're still not thinking broadly enough.

We also need to expand transitional housing options, which provide indispensable, on-site mental health services, job training and life-skills education to help formerly homeless people be better neighbors when they move into permanent supportive housing. We need to fund alternative, and often less costly, types of housing, including shared homes, rooms rented from friends or family, and single-room-occupancy dwellings.

And our planning needs to acknowledge an uncomfortable fact: A large swath of the unsheltered population is resistant to services. There are many Angelenos living on the streets who simply refuse to accept the help.

Today, those who can't be convinced by outreach workers to seek services can't be forced to accept help unless they are considered an immediate danger to themselves or others. That's true even for those struggling with mental illness or addiction. It is perfectly permissible to refuse assistance and stay on the streets.

That adds up to an untenable system. As this paper recently reported, L.A. County is on track to seeing 1,000 homeless people die this year. We need to rethink how we balance individual rights with the dangers of living on the streets.

One thing this will require is being honest about the risky approach of the recent Mitchell settlement. That legal agreement between homeless advocates and the city allows people living on the sidewalks in the skid row area to keep most of their belongings with them. This has caused pest infestation and the spread of disease as well as blocked public right-of-ways.

No one wants to take away anyone's right to protect personal property, but do we really think that allowing someone to keep an unlimited array of possessions on the sidewalk solves anything? The real problem is that people are left to live on the sidewalks, not whether or not they can keep unlimited stuff with them. We need to be devoting all of our best efforts to ending homelessness entirely.

And as we evaluate how to do that, we have to confront another uncomfortable truth: In the interest of preserving the civil rights of those who are homeless, we're often allowing them to spiral further downward. In the interest of not criminalizing homelessness, we tend to avoid taking more affirmative steps and enforcing basic societal norms, ultimately leaving many to live in filth and subject themselves to further victimization.

A recent measure in San Francisco expanded that city's conservatorship law to allow public agencies to more easily exert guardianship over people who are suffering from severe mental illness or are addicted to drugs or alcohol. It's a highly controversial step. Yet, if we're serious about helping service-resistant individuals who can't necessarily help themselves, such a measure should be seriously considered.

And we shouldn't stop there. We have to look at increased law enforcement for drug dealers and criminal gangs who prey on the homeless. We have to invest in mental health residential treatment facilities. We have to lead a broader effort to reunite homeless people with their family members and friends. In every context, it's clear that one of the prescriptions for success is a caring support network.

There are those who say that there's no such thing as a service-resistant individual — just people we have yet to reach. But the consequence of this approach is that the longer it takes to reach a person, the greater the likelihood the person will spiral downward and die on the streets. This is not an intellectual exercise in civil liberties. This is life and death.

I've also listened repeatedly to the argument that we can't consider compelling resistant women and men to accept treatment and services until we have enough spots to house all of them. But the methods we have been using have completely failed to get us ahead of a growing crisis. We need to consider acting on a few uncomfortable ideas, in the name of truly addressing the deepest crisis facing the city, county and state today.

Kevin Murray is president and CEO of the Weingart Center Assn. Previously, he served in both houses of the state Legislature.


from Los Angeles

In LA's homelessness crisis, the Skid Row is everywhere

by LZ Granderson, CNN

EDITOR'S NOTE: LZ Granderson is a journalist and political analyst. He was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago and the Hechinger Institute at Columbia University. He is the sports and culture columnist for the Los Angeles Times and co-host of ESPN LA 710's "Mornings With Keyshawn, LZ and Travis." Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @lzgranderson. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Many are angry and wondering why government officials have been unable to solve the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.

LA spent nearly $620 million in tax dollars last year to address the issue, and yet the number of homeless people increased by 16%, reaching nearly 60,000 people. As a Los Angeles resident, I am among those who wonder what the mayor's office is doing. When I lived downtown it was virtually impossible to walk a full block in any direction without seeing a homeless person. In Silver Lake where I live now, there are tent cities. On my drive to work I see people living underneath the highway overpasses. It's no longer Skid Row here. The skid is everywhere.

But you know what else is everywhere? Churches -- and therein lies the rub.

Earlier this spring, results from the 2018 General Social Survey revealed something that many found rather shocking. For the first time in the survey's nearly 50-year history, the No. 1 religion Americans identified as being was none, edging Catholic and Evangelical.

Now, I'm sure some religious conservatives would read this and ask, "well, who did the survey?" The answer is Ryan Burge, a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University and a Baptist pastor. Next would likely be the finger pointing as to why Americans are losing religion -- the rise of secularism, acceptance of abortion, the gays, and so on. Homelessness has gotten worse in LA County despite huge investment. Some other cities see a decrease. To that I would simply point my finger at the other national story that has unfolded within the week.

It was about an interview conducted by journalist Lisa Guerrero with famed Christian televangelist -- and prosperity gospel adherent -- Kenneth Copeland. When asked about what he paid for his private plane, Copeland replied "that's none of your business." He also said the private plane he purchased from producer Tyler Perry was "so cheap for me I couldn't help but buy it."

I'm not against buying the finer things in life, but I'm uncomfortable with Copeland positioning himself as some sort of helpless victim as he acquires those things. Especially since we all know he's doing it tax free.

There's not a city I've lived in that didn't have people you learn to unsee. Sometimes I give directly to someone who asks. Sometimes I buy a meal. But most times I force myself not to care enough to stop because to stop is to admit there's something I can do. After four decades, a homeless man is returning to college to finish his degree -- and his tuition will be paid.

Instead, I ask myself, "where are my tax dollars going and what are our politicians doing with it?" I pay taxes so that the people I voted for can handle it. Then I'm reminded that homelessness, like most socioeconomic issues, is complicated. There isn't a single answer because there isn't a single reason why someone is living on the streets.

They're not all drug addicts. They're not all lazy. They all didn't choose to be without a home. Brokenness comes in many forms -- like mental illness, a disenfranchised veteran, a transgender woman fleeing a violent environment. These are not random hypotheses, these are the stories I have been told when I do stop and ask them about themselves in an effort to try to help. For example, in Chicago, there was a homeless man I would occasionally buy food for because medical bills forced him out of his home. And yeah, some are drug addicts... but that doesn't mean they are not worthy of compassion. Worthy of being treated like a human being.

All of which brings me back to the decline of religious identity. While it is fair to wonder what our elected officials are doing with our tax dollars to solve the issue, I do wonder what our religious figures are doing with their tax-exempt status regarding the issue. There are several mega churches within Los Angeles County alone with weekly attendance well over 5,000, which begs the question: How is it possible that 60,000 are living in the streets, while so many self-identified Christian Evangelicals are worshipping in buildings large enough to house that many parishioners?

When you watch the video of a man like Copeland justifying his lavish lifestyle juxtaposed against the story of rampant homelessness, it becomes a bit easier to understand why so many Americans have decided not to be a part of organized religion.

Perhaps instead of looking outward for reasons why people's hearts have moved away from the church, maybe the church should spend time looking inward. This week, the issue of homelessness is about what's going on in Los Angeles, but isn't it a problem all around the country?

There also isn't a major urban hub without a church resting on prime real estate, collecting thousands in non-taxed donations and tithes each week. The government needs to be a better steward of our taxes. I can stop to help more as well. But I would argue that the self-proclaimed body of Christ has leaders who could use a serious tune-up as well.



Homelessness is reaching an emergency level in Los Angeles

by Mark Ridley-Thomas, LA County Supervisor

Los Angeles is enduring a crisis of homelessness. We are in the eye of an economic storm -- fighting the forces of high rents, stagnant wages, and a deficit of a half million units of affordable housing -- that is pushing thousands from housed to homeless. And its cost, the moral expense to us as a community and region, deserves a statewide declaration of a State of Emergency.

This year's count revealed that at any given point in time, there are more than 58,900 Angeleños experiencing homelessness; many are families sleeping in places not meant for human habitation. It is a frightening illustration of the challenges we face that many from afar may not easily comprehend -- for every 133 people our service providers house every day, 150 more people become newly homeless.

It is a race against time, because most unsettling of all, homelessness kills. Last year, 918 people died on the street while they were homeless, and this year we are tragically on track to see more than 1,000 people die in Los Angeles County -- an average of nearly three people are dying every day on our streets. For context, this is a rate nearly double the rate of homicide deaths in Los Angeles County. And, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, nationwide, those who do survive see their lifespans cut by an average of 20 years because they've lived among the elements.

Though we face a particularly acute crisis in Los Angeles, on the national level, in state after state similar trends persist as well. Despite an economy that is booming and unemployment at its lowest point in decades, cuts by the federal government to affordable housing programs and mental health facilities in the last few decades helped send many to the streets.

Nationally, in 2018, more than 552,830 -- or 17 out every 10,000 -- Americans were homeless on any given night. A recent study by Zillow found that the incidence of homelessness is growing faster in the least affordable rental housing markets, including New York, San Francisco and Washington, DC.

In LA's homelessness crisis, the Skid Row is everywhere. This is an enormously complicated challenge, with many deeply entrenched problems that demand creative and bold solutions at every level. When I led the call to action that is Measure H -- a 10-year sales tax that generates an additional $3.5 billion dollars exclusively dedicated to homelessness services -- it was to improve the lives of those facing hard times across the County.

I am forever thankful to the voters for this intervention of consequence, because it has paid tremendous dividends. Through Measure H we have been able to provide housing subsidies, put forth a housing innovation challenge, build shelter, and scale existing good practices that ensure formerly homeless persons are connected to services, such as those for mental health, medical needs and substance use.

He was a Yale graduate, Wall Street banker and entrepreneur. Today he's homeless in Los Angeles But in order to stop the flow, we have to go bolder, get upstream and fill the gaps in the system. We have to build more affordable housing so that we can house more people quickly and permanently, and we need to do it much faster to cope with the housing deficit. We need to consider waiving the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements for all homeless housing projects. This statute requires state and local agencies to analyze significant environmental impacts of their projects, but has been used too readily to stop projects for reasons that have nothing to do with environmental protection. We must identify federal, state and local properties for safe sleeping and interim shelter. We need to preserve existing rent controls that prevent rent increases beyond 3-5% per year, and do what is necessary to avoid evictions without just cause.

Frankly, with more than 130,000 people homeless on any given night throughout California, we have to think broadly and intervene at the state level fast, because whether or not people are housed is literally a matter of life or death. Measure H was only the first step, locally. Now, it is time for another -- a statewide declaration of a State of Emergency.

Practically, a State of Emergency is meant to alert officials to change their normal behavior and it orders agencies to implement emergency regulatory plans. This call would do that, but it would also do much more: it would provide recognition that time is of the essence, and that adequate housing is more than the four walls and a ceiling that protect us from the elements. As noted in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), it is an indelible right of dignity and adequate living.

I am grateful to Gov. Gavin Newsom for charging me and my co-chair, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg -- and the other members of the Statewide Task Force on Homelessness and Supportive Housing -- to develop substantive recommendations that combat this crisis. We recently had our first meeting, with the second scheduled for next week, to assuredly do our part to develop statewide strategies that will get people off the streets and housed, returning to them a measure of dignity and worth in the face of hard times. But without a doubt, declaring a state of emergency would help to expedite the implementation of these recommendations.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Ridley-Thomas is a Los Angeles County Supervisor, principal author of Measure H, Los Angeles County's Homeless Services and Prevention Act of 2017, and was recently appointed co-chair by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the Statewide Task Force on Homelessness and Supportive Housing. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the author.


Crime / Immigration

ICE arrests thrice-deported Mexican man wanted for homicide

by Melissa Leon, FOX

A thrice-deported Mexican man wanted for homicide in Anaheim, Calif., was arrested last week in Houston, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Monday.

Leopoldo Serrano Vargas was arrested Sept. 11 for illegally reentering the United States after having been deported, officials said. He also goes by the names Leonel Serrano Vargas and Ricardo Hernandez, and is thought to be between 44 and 46 years old.

He is wanted on an outstanding warrant for allegedly murdering Luis Garcia Bucio in October 2000, ICE said.

Deportation officers with ICE arrested a 3-time deported Mexican man who is wanted on an outstanding warrant for homicide in CA. This investigation was conducted by ERO Houston, @ AnaheimPD & Orange County CA District Attorney's office

Serrano Vargas illegally entered the country three times over the course of eight days in late 2006. Authorities deported him back to Mexico on Dec. 12, 14 and 18 that year, according to ICE.

He entered the country illegally a fourth time in 2006 and has remained here since then, officials said.

“For almost two decades, this criminal alien fugitive has gone to tremendous lengths to avoid detection by law enforcement authorities for his alleged crimes in California,” said Patrick Contreras, field office director for ICE Houston.

"Our ICE Fugitive Operations team tracked down and arrested Serrano Vargas, removing a potentially dangerous criminal alien from our community and ensuring that he will face prosecution for his alleged crimes," he stated.

Serrano Vargas will remain in ICE custody in Texas before facing criminal charges in California.



Analysis / Editorial

The racial politics of gun control

by Brandon Tensley, CNN

Washington -- When Americans talk about guns, what's arguably most interesting isn't what we say about the devices themselves. It's what we betray about whose voices -- and lives -- matter when it comes to our country's virulent gun culture.

Indeed, the heartbreaking permanence of the school shooting reality is undeniable when watching Sandy Hook Promise's wrenching new back-to-school PSA, which forces viewers to come to grips with present-day America for school children.

The heightened concern over mass shootings in schools is something Dave Chappelle satirizes in his controversial new Netflix stand-up special that highlights a harsh truth about America's relationship with gun control. One of its few moments of insight arrives during the comic's discussion of gun violence. In particular, he subtly gets at a key trend: how much the messaging on gun regulation, on the whole, has changed in recent decades.

"Shooting up schools is a white kid's game. I hated school, too. It never occurred to me -- kill everybody in school? It's f***ing crazy," Chappelle says. Decades ago, when Congress actually passed an assault weapons ban (that, notably, was allowed to expire in 2004), the broad concern was around guns in the hands of minorities -- black Americans, specifically. Our modern Congress finds itself paralyzed now that we're increasingly facing a different dimension of the issue: white people's guns and the consequences of their contested rights to have them.

Understanding this shift requires looking back at the social and political pieties that helped to spur America's contemporary gun-rights movement. Consider how fear of the Black Panthers motivated conservative politicians -- even the National Rifle Association -- to push for stricter gun control in the 1960s. The Panthers, frustrated by the country's repeated failure to protect its black citizens, advocated for black self-defense via gun ownership and "copwatching."

To no one's surprise, the backlash against this vision of protection was swift. In 1967, in response to the Panthers' activities, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Mulford Act, named after Republican Assemblyman Don Mulford and which repealed a California law that permitted people to carry loaded firearms in public.

Of the bill, Reagan said later that it'd "work no hardship on the honest citizen." (This citizen, we can assume, was white.)

Sandy Hook Promise's chilling back-to-school PSA hopes to prevent mass shootings. Crucially, while unthinkable today, the NRA's position on gun regulation until the late '70s -- when more and more (white) people began viewing guns as a means of protecting themselves and their status -- was noticeably divorced from Second Amendment arguments, as Adam Winkler, a professor at the UCLA School of Law, charts.

How distant all that seems now.

These days, despite a bit of a resurgence in black gun ownership, the face of the gun-rights advocate has changed -- rural white conservatives are now among the most vocal proponents.

Take, for instance, Missouri, where, in the past two decades, "an increasingly conservative and pro-gun legislature and citizenry had relaxed limitations governing practically every aspect of buying, owning, and carrying firearms in the state," writes Jonathan M. Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, in his new book, "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland."

Compare this to the rhetoric of the '90s, when, in signing what became the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (which contained the aforementioned Federal Assault Weapons Ban), former President Bill Clinton said, "Gangs and drugs have taken over our streets and undermined our schools."

It's the difference between vanquishing the specter of black criminality -- seen in gangs and the weapons associated with them -- and protecting the property of white conservatives.

Or put another way, the hypocrisy around gun ownership in America is a broadcast of something indisputably fundamental: the country's struggle to bolster a racial hierarchy.

There was a nod to this knotty history at the Democratic debate in September, when Cory Booker, New Jersey's junior senator and a presidential candidate, mentioned how even though gun violence had long afflicted areas of the state, it was often ignored until it crept into other, presumably whiter neighborhoods.

"We're never going to solve this crisis if we have to wait for it to personally affect us or our neighborhood or our community before we demand action," Booker said.

In Washington, it's still an open question as to whether lawmakers will make any headway on the issue, given the White House's waffling on proposals such as expanding background checks. Chappelle's solution, though?

"Every able-bodied African American must register for a legal firearm. That's the only way they'll change the law," he says. Chappelle may be (half-)kidding, but in his gag is also a history that reveals more about the politics of gun regulation in America than the words of most politicians.


from Dept of Justice

West Hollywood

West Hollywood Man Faces Federal Charges of Administering Methamphetamine to Victim Who Suffered Fatal Overdose

by Nicola T. Hanna United States Attorney Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A West Hollywood man is being taken in to federal custody this afternoon after being charged in United States District Court with providing methamphetamine to a man who died after receiving the drug intravenously.

Edward Buck, 65, is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court later this afternoon. Buck was named in a federal criminal complaint filed last night that charges him with one count of distribution of methamphetamine resulting in death.

The complaint alleges that Buck provided methamphetamine that directly resulted in the overdose death of 26-year-old Gemmel Moore, who died in Buck's apartment on July 27, 2017.

The criminal complaint further alleges that another man died in Buck's apartment from a drug overdose earlier this year, and that Buck provided narcotics to a series of other men, one of whom suffered two overdoses several weeks ago.

A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

If convicted of the drug distribution offense alleged in the complaint, Buck would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life without parole.

Buck also faces charges, including operating a drug house, that were filed earlier this week by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

The federal matter is being investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and is being conducted with the support of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Brittney M. Harris and Chelsea C. Norell of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section.


Thom Mrozek, Director of Media Relations


from web site - MAIN ARTICLES

Emergency Management and Response -- Information Sharing and Analysis Center Sept

Homeland Security

Prepare. Plan.
Stay Informed.
This INFOGRAM is distributed weekly to provide members of the Emergency Services Sector with information concerning the protection of their critical infrastructures.

Robots find safer ways to map, search subterranean environments

National Fire Academy admissions process goes online

Public Health System Training for Disaster Recovery

Webinar: Staffing 911 Centers in the Era of NG911

Cyber Threats

and more ..
DHS and FEMA - Preparedness Newsletter Sept

DHS and FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter
This Digest is provided by FEMA to highlight community preparedness and resilience resources, an important part of FEMA's mission to help people before, during, and after disasters. We're building a culture of preparedness tog ether..

Ready Tips

CERT & Communities

Children & Disasters

Financial Preparedness

Important Dates

and more ..


LAPPL Law Enforcement News - Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch:

Law Enforcement News - Fri, 9/20

Tennessee Officials: 1 Deputy Shot, Another Injured While Serving Arrest Warrant
A suspect was fatally shot and two deputies were injured as a law enforcement gang unit served an arrest warrant Wednesday in Memphis, Tennessee, authorities said. Shelby County sheriff's deputies were inside a home when gunfire erupted at about 3:30 p.m., sheriff's spokesman Anthony Buckner told reporters. One deputy wearing a bulletproof vest was shot five or six times in the leg and upper body and taken to a Memphis hospital in critical condition, authorities said. The deputy was sitting up and talking and seemed to be in good spirits, Shelby County Chief Deputy Scott Wright told reporters outside Regional One Hospital. "He's lucky to be alive," Wright said. The sheriff's office said later on Twitter that the wounded deputy was upgraded to non-critical condition. The other deputy was believed to have been bitten by a dog, Wright said. He was released from the hospital later Wednesday, the sheriff's office said on Twitter. The armed person who opened fire was shot dead, authorities said.
Associated Press

LAPD Seeks Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of 57-Year-Old Man In San Pedro
The Los Angeles Police Department asked for the public's help Wednesday solving a deadly shooting in San Pedro the night before. Eric Guillory, 57, was found suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest while lying in the courtyard of the Rancho San Pedro Housing Development after police were called to the scene Tuesday night, according to LAPD. Officers responded to the complex located at 275 W. First St. around 11:30 p.m. Paramedics also responded to the scene but Guillory died from his injures, police said. Authorities said people who live at the housing complex gave conflicting information about the suspect vehicle and did not give a description of the shooter. According to LAPD, detectives have no leads about a possible suspect. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Maffei or Officer Tiffin at 310-726-7882 or 310-726-7884. During non-business hours or on weekends, police can be reached at 877-527-3247.

San Pedro Resident Shoots, Kills Burglary Suspect Inside Home, LAPD Says
A resident shot and killed a burglary suspect Thursday morning inside a home in San Pedro, authorities said. The incident was reported about 7:45 a.m. at a house in the 2800 block of South Carolina Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The homeowner told police the suspect tried to enter his home through the front door. The suspect then went around the side of the home and entered through a window. The homeowner says when the man moved toward him, he fired at the suspect. The unidentified intruder was pronounced dead at the scene, an LAPD spokesperson said. Yellow police tape cordoned off the driveway of a two-story house at the scene, and police detectives were seen speaking with neighbors.

Vandalism At Northridge Temple Investigated As Possibly Anti-Semitic Hate Crime

Police were investigating a message scrawled on the property of a Jewish temple in Northridge as a possibly hate-motivated case of vandalism, authorities said Thursday, Sept. 19. The incident was reported Wednesday morning at Temple Ahavat Shalom, 18200 Rinaldi Pl., and may have happened the previous evening, Los Angeles police Officer Rosario Cervantes said. No one had been arrested in this case as of Thursday evening, LAPD Sgt. Ray Diaz said. Two detectives were sent to the temple Wednesday to investigate, and are looking into the matter as a possible hate crime. The Anti-Defamation League called the message left at the Northridge house of worship “blatantly anti-Semitic,” in a tweet posted Wednesday. It was not immediately clear if it is related to other instances of vandalism in the San Fernando Valley or elsewhere in Southern California, Diaz said.
Los Angeles Daily News

Authorities Believe They Could Be Coming Closer To Solving Killing Of Musician Kevin Harris

Ten years after aspiring musician Kevin Harris was murdered, his family is still desperately hoping for help from the public so they can prosecute their son's killer. It's a cold case they hope can be solved. Maybe someone feels guilty. Maybe someone wants revenge. Maybe somebody wants to make a death bed confession. Maybe somebody just wants to do the right thing. Whatever the reason, Kevin Harris Jr's family, the Inglewood police, and the FBI need help. Kevin was gunned down on 118th Place on September 20, 2009, as he sat in his car outside a home-based music studio. He was an aspiring rapper, a DJ, a songwriter. His mother told me today, ''Everybody loved Kevin...he didn't have an enemy in the world. " "Squeaky clean'' is how one FBI agent working the case put it. It's what makes the particular murder so frustrating and painful. Mom and Dad just want to know why? Why would someone do that to Kevin? So do investigators.
FOX 11

North Hollywood Man Arrested Accused Of Embezzling Thousands Of Dollars

A North Hollywood man was arrested on Sept. 12 on embezzlement charges while he was an employee at PennyMac Loan Services, a mortgage company out of Moorpark. Investigators with the Ventura County Sheriff's Office say 40-year-old Joe Rodriguez create a "very elaborate embezzlement scheme." The Sheriff's Office says Rodriguez altered the payroll earnings for several employees and stole the marked-up earnings, which totaled several thousand dollars each month, all while he worked int he Human Resources Division. Authorities say it wasn't until after Rodriguez was let go from the company for unrelated reasons that PennyMac management discovered the embezzlement. The scheme continued for over two years until the day Rodriguez was fired from the company, according to authorities.
FOX 11

Democratic Donor Ed Buck Paid At Least 10 Men To Use Drugs For His Own Pleasure, Prosecutors Say

In political circles, Ed Buck was best known as a wealthy donor who championed animal rights and LGBTQ causes, dumping more than half a million dollars into the coffers of Democratic candidates running for school boards, Senate seats and spots on the West Hollywood City Council. In West Hollywood's Plummer Park, less than a mile from Buck's home, homeless men in desperate circumstances had a much simpler frame of reference for the 65-year-old. They called him “Dr. Kevorkian.” A 22-page federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday painted a depraved picture of how Buck earned his grim sobriquet. Ten men told investigators that Buck had paid them to use drugs and dress up in skimpy underwear for his own sexual pleasure. Several of the men claimed they lost consciousness after Buck served them a drink, and some said they woke up to the sight of him injecting drugs into their arms against their will, according to the complaint.
Los Angeles Times

Defendants From San Fernando Valley And Orange County Accused Of Billing Taxpayers $7 Million In Bogus Medi-Cal Claims

Prosecutors have accused four people from the San Fernando Valley and a doctor from Seal Beach who worked at a clinic in Los Angeles of creating fake medical records and running a $7 million scheme to defraud Medi-Cal. Hilda Haroutunian, 60, of Sun Valley, owned and operated Los Angeles Community Clinic, 1830 W Olympic Blvd. She has been indicted along with four other people who worked at the business. Haroutunian and Dr. Keyvan Amirikhorheh, 59, of Seal Beach; Lorraine Watson, 56, of Valley Village; Noem Sarkisyan, 63, of North Hollywood, as well as Edmond Sarkisyan, 40 of North Hollywood, face allegations of conspiracy to commit health care fraud. Prosecutors accused them of creating fake patient names, charts and prescriptions. They then allegedly billed Medi-Cal's Family Planning Access Care and Treatment (PACT) program for office visits that never happened and services for patients who did not exists, officials said in the indictment.
Los Angeles Daily News

Public Safety News

‘Stop Vaping Now': L.A. County Officials Report More Cases Of Lung Illnesses Linked To E-Cigs
Los Angeles County officials on Thursday issued a stern warning against e-cigarettes as they announced more cases of pulmonary illnesses less than two weeks after reporting the first vaping-related death in the county. “STOP VAPING NOW!” the county's Department of Public Health said in a statement. Officials said as of Thursday, the agency has received a total of 16 reports of serious pulmonary injury associated with vaping. That's four more cases since Sept. 6. “Nationally, there continue to be reports of people showing up in emergency departments with similar symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fever, and may have vomiting and diarrhea,” the news release from the county said. The patient whose death was reported earlier this month was using a cannabis product, L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said. Davis described him as an older adult who had chronic underlying health conditions, but officials believe vaping was a “probable potential cause of death.”

Local Government News

City Council Report Will Seek Out Landlords Who Keep Homes Vacant
In an attempt to penalize landlords who keep units empty in the face of a growing housing crisis, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday ordered the preparation of a report on the number of vacant residences in the city. City Councilman Mike Bonin made a motion in June calling for the report, along with Councilmen Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Paul Koretz and David Ryu. The action is an attempt to find housing that could be used for low-income or supportive housing. "No bed in this city should be empty when people are being forced to sleep on pavement,'' Bonin said. "Empty home penalties encourage landlords to keep people housed, and they help raise needed funds to create more affordable housing. This is an important tool for addressing one of the root causes of homelessness in Los Angeles, and it is a step we desperately need to take.'' The city council voted 11-0 in favor of obtaining a report.

LA Gearing Up To Spend $336M To Build 2,998 Apartments For Homeless Residents
Los Angeles lawmakers are queuing up $335.8 million to help build nearly 3,000 affordable apartments across the city for homeless Angelenos—including contested plans for the first homeless housing in the northwest San Fernando Valley. The money will come from Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond that voters approved in 2016 to build 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing. The Los Angeles City Council's homelessness and poverty committee voted Wednesday evening to commit the money to developers of 38 affordable projects, with a combined 2,998 units. The vast majority will be permanent supportive housing, meaning they will come with on-site services. The “criticism and frustration” that it's taking a while to build Measure HHH housing is warranted, said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who chairs the committee. “Let's get these going,” he said.
Curbed LA


Law Enforcement News - Thurs, 9/19

Two Dead, Two Injured In Wilmington Shooting, LAPD Says
Two people were killed and two other people were injured in a shooting in the city of Wilmington Wednesday, Los Angeles police told NBCLA. The shooting occurred in the 800 block of Bayview Avenue around 3:10 p.m., according to the Los Angles Fire Department. Two people were dead and two people suffered non-life threatening injuries, the LAPD told NBCLA. The genders were not immediately available. Initially, police said one woman in her 20s died and two people, one man and one woman, were taken to a nearby hospital. There was no immediate description of the shooter or shooters available.

LAPD, SWAT Arrest Suspect Who Barricaded Himself Inside Mid-City Home
Officers negotiated with a suspect who was barricaded inside of a Mid City home Wednesday evening, eventually taking him into custody. The barricade began around 5:15 p.m. in the 2100 block of Orange Drive after Los Angeles police officers attempted to take Austin Navarro into custody. Navarro, who is accused in two separate shootings this month, refused to surrender to police and locked himself inside of the home. Views from SKY9 showed people being evacuated from the home. Around 9:15 p.m., SWAT officers shot tear gas into the home, forcing Navarro out.

Officers Fire Less-Lethal Rounds To Take Down Armed Suspect Suffering Mental Issues, LAPD Says

A police investigation is underway in the Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles after officers fire less-lethal rounds to subdue an individual Wednesday night. The Los Angeles Police Department says they got a call reporting a man having mental issues in the 4500 block of North Figueroa Street. Officers located the suspect who was carrying a knife at the time, according to LAPD. Officers took down the suspect with less-lethal rounds and got him into custody. He was taken to a local hospital for a medical evaluation. Police did not release the suspect's identity. No police officers were injured.
FOX 11

SUV Driver Sought In Hit-and-Run That Left 14-Year-Old Injured Near DTLA Fashion District
A 14-year-old girl was injured in a hit-and-run crash near the southern edge of the Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles last week, officials announced Wednesday. The incident occurred about 7:40 a.m. Sept. 12 when the victim was walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Stanford Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The girl was struck by a tan-colored SUV, possibly a Toyota Highlander. The driver left the scene without stopping or rendering aid, police said. The victim was injured in the hip during the crash. She was taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. The driver was described as a black man who is about 30 years old. A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the driver in this case. Anyone with information about the crash can call Detective Moses Castillo at 213-833-3713.

Chatsworth Man Accused Of Killing 2 Peacocks With Pickup Pleads Not Guilty To Felony Charges
A Chatsworth man accused of intentionally killing two peacocks by running them over with his pickup truck pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony animal cruelty charges. The two counts against Floyd Michael Belton include an allegation that the 61-year-old defendant used his Ford F-150 truck as a deadly and dangerous weapon on July 25, according to Deputy District Attorney Bradley Lieberman. Belton was arrested Aug. 13 by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies and released later that evening after an $80,000 bond was posted. He could face up to five years in county jail if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Los Angeles Daily News

Woman Charged With Murder In North Hills DUI Hit-and-Run That Left One Dead, 4 Seriously Injured
A woman was charged with murder in a DUI hit-and-run this summer in North Hills that left one dead and four seriously injured, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday. Maritza Lara, 27, of Van Nuys faces one felony count each of murder, hit-and-run driving resulting in death or serious injury to another person and driving under the influence of alcohol and a drug causing injury within 10 years of other DUI offense. Police said that on June 16, Lara ran a red light at Haskell Avenue and Parthenia Street and crashed into another vehicle. She then walked away from the two-vehicle crash, leaving the other driver dead and the four passengers in her vehicle seriously injured. Deputy District Attorney Casey Higgins said the charges include an allegation of causing great bodily injury to the four people in Lara's vehicle at the time of the crash.
FOX 11

Man Pleads Not Guilty In Fatal Trader Joe's Shooting

A man accused of engaging in a gunfight with Los Angeles police at a Trader Joe's store in Silver Lake, leading to the fatal shooting of the assistant manager, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder and more than 50 other charges. Gene Evin Atkins, 29, is accused of setting off a chain of events on July 21, 2018, that led to the death of Melyda Maricela Corado, who was fatally shot by a police officer in front of the store in the 2700 block of Hyperion Avenue. Atkins was ordered Sept. 3 to stand trial on 51 counts, including murder, attempted murder, attempted murder of a peace officer, assault on a peace officer with a semiautomatic firearm, kidnapping, fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle while driving recklessly, grand theft of an automobile, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, shooting at an occupied motor vehicle, false imprisonment of a hostage and mayhem.

Local Government News

LA Leaders Approve $62 Million For Several San Fernando Valley Projects To House Homeless People
Los Angeles leaders on Wednesday approved $62 million in funding for several supportive housing projects proposed for the San Fernando Valley, including the controversial Topanga Apartments projects in Chatsworth.  The funding moved forward despite newly elected Los Angeles Councilman John Lee's request to postpone the committee's vote. The City Council's Homelessness and Poverty Committee approved funding from Proposition HHH toward more than 580 low-income units aimed at helping the homeless population in the San Fernando Valley find shelter. The projects — which still need to be approved in a separate vote by the L.A. City Council — are part of 34 housing developments with nearly 2,000 units planned across the city and are poised to house scores of homeless families, veterans, youth and domestic violence victims. The money will fund the building of more than 580 low-income units designed to shelter homeless individuals in the Valley.
Los Angeles Daily News

Worried About Rising Rents, An L.A. Councilman Calls For ‘Anti-Displacement' Zones
Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson called this week for the rejection of a proposed 577-unit housing project, saying the city should go further by establishing “anti-displacement zones” around certain market-rate housing developments. In a letter sent Tuesday to the South Los Angeles Area Planning Commission, Wesson said the six-story, market-rate project known as District Square would result in higher rents for the area's low-income households, displacing “lifelong community residents.” District Square was originally supposed to be a two-story shopping center with a Target and a Ralphs supermarket when it was approved in 2010, he said. “We voted as a council for a development that would improve, not displace, the community,” Wesson said. “We have no need for a six-story development consisting of 577 luxury apartments that will be unaffordable to most of the neighborhood's current residents.”
Los Angeles Times


Law Enforcement News - Wed, 9/18

2 Teens Get 30 Years In Murder Of Maryland Officer
Two of three teenage co-defendants were sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison for their roles in the murder of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio. A county judge handed down prison terms of 30 years and suspended life sentences for Derrick Matthews, 17, and Eugene Genius IV, 19, both of East Baltimore. The third teenage co-defendant, Darrell Ward, 17, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 30. The three young men pleaded guilty in June to the felony murder of the 29-year-old officer. Her killer, Dawnta Harris, 17, was convicted at trial and sentenced to life in prison. Harris had stepped on the gas of a stolen Jeep and run over Caprio on a cul-de-sac in Perry Hall. Harris was alone in the Jeep.
The Baltimore Sun

New York Cop Shot, Gunman Killed In Shootout
An NYPD cop was shot in the hand in a struggle with a domestic violence suspect, who was later killed by an officer, on Staten Island Tuesday morning, Commissioner James O'Neill said. The female officer was one of four attempting to arrest the suspect after police received an 8:20 a.m. call from a woman reporting that she was the victim of a past domestic assault, O'Neill said. The woman had pointed the 39-year-old man out to officers when they responded. The suspect, who has a criminal history and previously served five years in prison for a shooting, became "combative" with the officers when they tried to place him under arrest near Prince Street and Mickardan Court in Clifton, the commissioner said. One officer deployed a Taser, hitting the man in the back, but the man then pulled out a gun.

Investigation Underway After Body Discovered In Van Nuys Neighborhood
An investigation is underway after someone discovered a body in a Van Nuys neighborhood Tuesday morning. The Fire Department received a call just before 6 a.m. reporting a person down, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson Nicholas Prange said. Firefighters and police officers were sent to the 7300 block of Ranchito Avenue where they located the unidentified individual. The person was pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles Police Department Officer Lizeth Lomeli said. No age or gender has been released. Details on what caused the death were also unclear.

Suspect Arrested On Suspicion Of Groping 4 Women At CSU
Northridge Police arrested a man on Thursday, Sept. 5 who admitted to groping at least four CSU Northridge students, officials said Monday. The suspect is not a CSUN student, campus police Capt. Scott Vanscoy said. He allegedly contacted his first victim at the Oviatt Library, which is near the center of campus between Lindley and Etiwanda, and asked her out on a date. When she declined, the suspect grabbed her crotch then ran off. She immediately reported the incident to police, who distributed a bulletin throughout campus. A second woman later contacted officers and said the suspect described in the bulletin had approached her inside Redwood Hall. He allegedly engaged her in conversation, then groped her buttocks and fled. Shortly after police received that report, a parking officer spotted the suspect in lot B4, VanScoy said. The suspect attempted to run away, but was taken into custody at about 11:15 a.m. on Sept. 5. He was identified as Mynor Tahaytzunum, 22, of Northridge.
Los Angeles Daily News

Man Who Scrawled Threatening Messages On Los Feliz Sikh Temple Gets 16 Months In Prison

A 29-year-old man who vandalized a Sikh temple in Los Feliz in 2017 will spend a little over a year in prison after admitting he defaced the religious building. Artyom Manukyan was sentenced to 16 months in prison Monday, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. The sentence is concurrent with a penalty Manukyan faces under a prior arson case. Manukyan scrawled two hateful screeds on the outside of the Hollywood Sikh Temple on Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz in late August 2017, according to the LAPD. Police were considering hate crime charges against Manukyan, saying the messages were designed as a threat to the Sikh community. He pleaded no contest to felony vandalism of religious property in August 2018.

Sylmar Man Pleads Not Guilty To Reporting False Threat At LA County Fair
A Sylmar man accused of making a bogus threat about a mass shooting at the Los Angeles County Fair pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of making a false report of an emergency. Erik Jonathan Villasenor, 22, could face up to a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Villasenor allegedly emailed authorities last Friday to falsely warn of an online threat of a shooting on Sunday. Pomona Police Chief Michael Olivieri told reporters that the email sent to the fair association warned that “someone was planning on doing a mass shooting Sunday at the fairgrounds.” Villasenor subsequently admitted that it was a hoax, and that he had concocted the idea “as an excuse to his parents not to go to the fair,” according to the police chief.
Los Angeles Daily News

Man Pleads Guilty In L.A. To Using False Passport In TOEFL Cheating Ring
A 33-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday in Los Angeles to his role in a scheme to help Chinese nationals obtain student visas by hiring people who used fake passports to take their English proficiency tests for them. Tuan Tran, who most recently lived in Taiwan, pleaded guilty in federal court to a single charge of use of a false passport, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Sentencing is set for Jan. 30. In his plea agreement, Tran admitting to having taken at least one Test of English as a Foreign Language exam using a counterfeit passport in the name of a Chinese national seeking to remain in the United States on a student visa. The fake passport bore Tran's photograph, he acknowledged. Tran also admitted he was paid $400 once the passing score on the exam was registered.

Democratic Donor Ed Buck Charged With Operating Drug House After 2 Men Found Dead In Home
Prominent Democratic donor and LGBTQ political activist Ed Buck was arrested Tuesday and charged with operating a drug house, with prosecutors calling him a violent sexual predator who preys on men struggling with addiction and homelessness. Buck was charged with one count each of battery causing serious injury, administering methamphetamine and maintaining a drug house, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Buck is accused of injecting a 37-year-old man, who overdosed but survived, with methamphetamine on Sept. 11. That latest incident comes after two men were found dead in his Laurel Avenue apartment in West Hollywood. In both cases, African American men — Gemmel Moore, 26, and Timothy Dean, 55 — had overdosed on methamphetamine inside. After the first death in 2017, authorities said there was insufficient evidence to file charges.
Los Angeles Times

Public Safety News

As Wildfires Worsen, U.S. Forest Service Seeks 1,500 Temporary Workers In California
With temperatures rising due to global climate change and millions of forest trees dying from heat and pest infestations every year, the potential for more wildfires is real. To combat this growing threat, the U.S. Forest Service on Monday, Sept. 16, began accepting applications for 1,500 temporary jobs to work in the 18 national forests across the state next spring and summer, said Brenda Kendrix, a USFS spokesperson for the Pacific Region in Vallejo. The need for temporary workers is well above last year's call for around 1,000 openings, Kendrix said, although many other factors besides fires are at play, she said. Nonetheless, last year 1.8 million acres of wild lands were scorched in California, more than any other state and far ahead of 2017's total of 1.3 million acres, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “That's the worst in recorded history” for the state, said California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spokesman Scott McLean. In 2018, the destruction surpassed 2008 when 1.6 million acres burned. More than 100 people died in the state's wildfires in 2018.
The Sun

Local Government News

‘Fed Up' With Homeless Camps, L.A. County Joins Case To Restore Its Right To Clear Them
The Board of Supervisors has decided to throw its political weight behind an effort to overturn a court decision that has allowed homeless people to bed down overnight on sidewalks across California and the West. On Tuesday, the supervisors voted to direct lawyers for Los Angeles County to draft an amicus brief, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a challenge to Martin vs. City of Boise. The case, decided by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last September, found that arresting or otherwise punishing homeless people for sleeping on the sidewalk when there are not enough shelter beds or housing was unconstitutional. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who authored the county's motion, said the ruling had “tied our hands” and made serving homeless people more difficult. “We are grappling with a problem of unprecedented scale,” she said of the nearly 60,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County, many of them living outdoors. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that we have access to every tool at our disposal to combat homelessness.”
Los Angeles Times

LA County Unveils New Voting Machines, Holds Mock Election Leading Up To March Primaries
After 10 years and $100 million, Los Angeles County is ready to unveil its brand new voting system in hopes of bringing more voters to the polls. The new systems were on display Monday at the county office in Norwalk as a preview to the mock election the county will hold later this month to give voters a chance to get familiar with the 31,000 iPad-like devices the county purchased. “It's designed so voters can, to a certain extent, customize their voting experience,” Dean C. Logan, Los Angeles County registrar, said. “The voter can increase the size of the font and the contrast on the screen.” Voters can also choose from 13 languages. And, for security reasons, the devices are not connected to the internet or to a network. The devices are programmed individually as voters move from question to question on the touchscreen device until they are done.

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