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As soon as he is inaugurated, Trump will move to clamp down on immigration
Aides are clearing the way for President-elect Donald Trump to take the first steps toward transforming the immigration system as soon as he takes office Friday, fulfilling a major campaign pledge while deepening the fears of immigration advocates about what’s to come. Gone will be the temporary protections of the final Obama years for people in the country illegally. In their place, say immigration advocates and people familiar with his plans, expect to see images on the evening news of workplace raids as Trump sends a message that he is wasting no time on his promised crackdown. In addition to the high-profile raids, those people said in interviews, Trump will also widen the range of people singled out for deportation, focusing on those with criminal convictions, and he could move immediately to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. He may also limit who can come into the country as a security measure, making good on a sweeping vow to stop immigrants “from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism.” [Article]
by BRIAN BENNETT, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
Metro officials want to increase the budget for this downtown subway project -- again
Three years ago, when transportation officials began an ambitious project to connect a tangle of light-rail lines beneath downtown Los Angeles, they said construction would cost $1.36 billion. Since then, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has twice sought more funding for the Downtown Regional Connector, including a request this week for an additional $199 million.  If approved, the increase will raise the cost of the project to $1.75 billion, 28% higher than originally budgeted. Officials blamed the latest increase on delays arising from the complex task of locating and moving long-buried utility lines, many of which were not listed in government records. The regional connector has become “about 6% construction project, with the remainder being a utilities project,” Metro director Jacqueline Dupont-Walker said Thursday at a committee meeting. Officials also acknowledged that they hadn’t budgeted enough for other project costs, including land acquisition, consultants and legal fees. Chief Executive Phil Washington described the increase as “right-sizing” and said Metro now has a better grasp of what risks lie ahead and how much they may cost. “We feel good about it,” Washington said. “We won’t be coming back again.”  [Article]
by LAURA J. NELSON, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
It's time to talk 100% renewable energy, California Senate leader says
Two years ago, California Senate leader Kevin de León pushed through a law requiring the state to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030. On Thursday, he said there was a mistake in the legislation, SB 350 — it didn't go far enough. "We probably should have shot for the stars," De León (D-Los Angeles) told The Times. California is moving faster than expected toward a clean energy future, he said, and officials should start thinking about policies requiring all electricity to come from renewable sources such as solar and wind. [Article]
by CHRIS MAGERIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
City devastated by OxyContin use sues Purdue Pharma, claims drugmaker put profits over citizens' welfare
A Washington city devastated by black-market OxyContin filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against the painkiller’s manufacturer Thursday, alleging that the company turned a blind eye to criminal trafficking of its pills to “reap large and obscene profits” and demanding it foot the bill for widespread opioid addiction in the community. The suit by Everett, a city of 100,000 north of Seattle, was prompted by a Times investigation last year. The newspaper revealed that drugmaker Purdue Pharma had extensive evidence pointing to illegal trafficking across the nation but in many cases did not share it with law enforcement or cut off the flow of pills. One Los Angeles ring monitored by Purdue and highlighted by The Times’ investigation supplied OxyContin to gang members and other criminals who were trafficking the drug to Everett. At the height of the problem, in 2010, OxyContin was a factor in more than half the crimes in Snohomish County, and it ignited a heroin epidemic that still grips the region, officials said. In a complaint in state Superior Court, city lawyers accused Purdue of gross negligence, creating a public nuisance and other misconduct and said the company should pay costs of handling the opioid crisis — a figure that the mayor said could run to tens of millions of dollars — as well as punitive damages.   [Article]
by HARRIET RYAN, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
5 feet in Big Bear? 'The drought is going to get crushed,' forecaster says of new winter storms
SoCal skiers may see heavy snow pound their favorite resorts the next several days, as another winter storm system — again arriving in three overlapping chapters — rolls through the region. "Although we are not in an El Niño pattern, these weather systems affecting California are behaving much like El Niño, where you get these taps into the atmospheric rivers that enhance rainfall,” explained meteorologist Jim Cantore. “It looks a lot like what we should have seen last winter, but we didn't. In a Wednesday email, the Weather Channel expert said there are three systems arriving now through early next week that have a chance to produce more than 4 inches of rain in Southern California. [Article]
by CHRIS ERSKINE, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
Review: ‘They Call Us Monsters,’ but Do We Deserve Life Sentences?
“They Call Us Monsters,” directed by Ben Lear (Norman Lear’s son), might seem like a straightforward advocacy documentary. It concerns juveniles in California, accused of violent crimes, who are facing trial as adults with the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison. But the movie benefits from an added layer: A screenwriting teacher who gets to know three teenagers awaiting trial. The teacher, Gabriel Cowan (also a producer of the film), leads a workshop at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in the Sylmar neighborhood of Los Angeles. Together, he and the three inmates — Juan Gamez, Jarad Nava and Antonio Hernandez (Mr. Hernandez is released partway through the movie) — write a screenplay for a short film Mr. Cowan plans to make, inspired by the teenagers’ lives. We see excerpts from the result. The process of transforming real details into fiction seems to make the young men especially introspective. A scene in which Juan calls a girl he had a crush on, while a listening staff member roots for him, provides the film’s most oddly affecting moment. “They Call Us Monsters” doesn’t shy from the consequences of the violence the prisoners were accused of (we meet a paralyzed victim of a shooting), even as it suggests that the system — from a state senator who warns of “mini-Charlie Mansons” to lawyers resigned to stiff sentences — proceeds almost mechanically. [Article]
by BEN KENIGSBERG, New York Times. 2017-01-20
Dockworker jobs at Port of LA, Long Beach up for grabs in rare raffle
For the past few days, customers have been streaming nonstop into Patrick Meehan’s usually quiet postal store in San Pedro for a job opportunity not seen in a generation. Nearly everyone who walks through the door wants a shot at one of the most well-paid, blue-collar jobs in California — and they need the post cards he sells to get in the lottery. “Everywhere was sold out of these cards,” Meehan said, as the phone rang with yet another customer looking for post cards needed to apply for a union job on the docks. [Article]
by RACHEL URANGA, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-01-20
America’s Great Working-Class Colleges
The heyday of the colleges that serve America’s working class can often feel very long ago. It harks back to the mid-20th century, when City College of New York cost only a few hundred dollars a year and was known as the “Harvard of the proletariat.” Out West, California built an entire university system that was both accessible and excellent. More recently, these universities have seemed to struggle, with unprepared students, squeezed budgets and high dropout rates. To some New Yorkers, “City College” is now mostly a byword for nostalgia. It should not be. Yes, the universities that educate students from modest backgrounds face big challenges, particularly state budget cuts. But many of them are performing much better than their new stereotype suggests. They remain deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond — many more, in fact, than elite colleges that receive far more attention. Where does this optimistic conclusion come from? The most comprehensive study of college graduates yet conducted, based on millions of anonymous tax filings and financial-aid records. Published Wednesday, the study tracked students from nearly every college in the country (including those who failed to graduate), measuring their earnings years after they left campus. The paper is the latest in a burst of economic research made possible by the availability of huge data sets and powerful computers. [Article]
by DAVID LEONHARDT / OPINION, New York Times. 2017-01-20
Developers join the campaign for a quarter-cent sales tax to fund homeless services
The campaign for a measure to levy a quarter-cent countywide sales tax for homeless services has gathered more than $1 million in early contributions, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from large development, real estate and construction firms, county records show. If successful, Measure H on the March 7 ballot would generate about $350 million annually to be used for homelessness prevention and housing. It would also provide services for thousands of units of homeless housing that will be financed by Proposition HHH, the $1.2-billion bond measure approved by Los Angeles city residents in November.   Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas donated $250,000 from his personal campaign fund, the Mark Ridley-Thomas Committee for a Better L.A. NextGen CA, the liberal political action organization founded by billionaire Tom Steyer, matched that amount. NextGen has donated extensively to local affordable housing measures across California and to statewide propositions to end the death penalty and raise the cigarette tax. "Nearly one in five people in Los Angeles County live below the poverty line, and more families continue to experience homelessness," Steyer said. "Measure H is a comprehensive plan that will give thousands of people access to the programs they need to build a better life."  [Article]
by DOUG SMITH, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
L.A. County names new interim coroner as troubled agency seeks permanent chief
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Thursday appointed a longtime deputy in the coroner’s office to the role of acting chief medical examiner-coroner. Dr. Christopher Rogers becomes the second interim leader to helm the troubled agency as it grapples with a staffing shortage, case backlog and an anticipated lapse in its professional accreditation.  The department’s previous coroner, Dr. Mark Fajardo, abruptly resigned in March, citing a lack of funding and resources to properly lead one of the nation’s busiest and most high-profile morgues. At the time, about 180 bodies were stacked up at the morgue because of processing delays. The department handles more than 8,500 cases a year. [Article]
by MATT HAMILTON, Los Angeles Times. 2017-01-20
LA County names new acting coroner to oversee strapped department
Nearly a year since the head of the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner abruptly resigned because of funding cuts and staff shortages, the Board of Supervisors announced Thursday they have chosen an acting director to temporarily oversee what is known as the busiest morgue in the nation. Dr. Christopher Rogers, who has been serving as the chief of forensic medicine, will step in the leading role while a full nationwide search continues, according to a county statement. Rogers will replace Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran, the former chief medical-examiner who stepped in on an interim basis last year after his successor, Dr. Mark Fajardo, resigned. Fajardo told reporters he left because the backlog of bodies was “nuts.” [Article]
by SUSAN ABRAM, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-01-20
O.C. Sheriff's Department sought permission to destroy jailhouse snitch records
Five days after a judge reopened an investigation into Orange County’s use of jailhouse informants, the sheriff’s department received permission from county supervisors to shred potentially incriminating records, documents show. It is unclear if any informant records were destroyed as a result of the unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors on Dec. 16, 2014. It’s also unclear if supervisors knew specifically what they were voting on; informant information was only a small part of an 83-page request that covered “the retention and disposition” of sheriff’s records. [Article]
by TONY SAAVEDRA and KELLY PUENTE, Orange County Register. 2017-01-20
Audio: New video raises questions about fatal Fontana police shooting
The grainy video runs for nearly nine minutes. It shows James Hall, 47, just inside the automatic sliding doors of a brightly lit Chevron gas station minimart in Fontana about 4 a.m. He starts to move toward the doors then stops and backs up. Moments later, a Fontana police officer appears at the door. This is the beginning of a video that is prompting new questions about the 2015 fatal police shooting of Hall, who was legally blind and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia. The questions come amid growing pressure on police departments to make more use of mental health professionals when responding to calls involving people who are mentally ill. [Article]
by FRANK STOLTZE, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-01-20
With Obamacare on the rocks, LA ‘mega-clinics’ could be in higher demand
Noah Lopez’s gums are swollen. His jaw aches. It’s hard for him to chew. But come early Friday morning, he’ll find some relief when he walks inside a downtown Los Angeles building after spending the night at a nearby park. He will be among the first of nearly 1,000 people who will receive free dental care and other medical treatment. “It’s terrible to live with this pain,” the 42-year-old Long Beach man said Thursday. “I’ve taken it for two years. I called everywhere to help me. I’m glad I’m going to get it here.” Lopez will be among many of the uninsured and underinsured from Southern California who will line up at The Reef on Broadway Street for dentures or an aching tooth or two to be filled or pulled, a new pair of bifocals or speciality care they otherwise can’t get, all at no cost. [Article]
by SUSAN ABRAM, Whittier Daily News. 2017-01-20
California's largest public employee union approves contract
Workers in California's largest public-employee union have approved a tentative contract after months of negotiations. Spokesman Mike Roth confirmed Thursday that members of the Service Employees International Union Local 1000 had ratified the agreement reached in December. The Legislature must approve the contract before it can take effect. The Sacramento Bee previously reported that the 42-month contract includes a one-time bonus of $2,500 and cumulative raises of 11.5 percent. [Article]
by ASSOCIATED PRESS, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-01-20
Wild California in a Trump Administration
The following commentary is one in a series from KCET and Link TV writers and contributors reflecting on how the incoming president will shape, change, and redefine the future of California. Expect a full-scale assault on public lands, and the laws that protect wild places and wildlife, from the Trump administration and new Congress - and expect it soon. The Endangered Species Act, the Wilderness Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, and our sacred notion of what it means to be wild, natural and free will be more vulnerable than they have been for decades past. Science must trump politics and we don't have time to pretend otherwise. That much is clear from Trump's cabinet selections — from Ryan Zinke for Interior to Sonny Perdue for Agriculture and Scott Pruitt for EPA. It's bad news for people, for wildlife and for the planet. And we'll feel it deeply in California. Nearly half of California is public land, and that legacy is deeply ingrained in our heritage. For Californians, there's no place like home: it gets in your blood and your bones; it is the sounds and the smells of the landscape, it is the earth in your shoes. You look down at the soles of your feet and you feel it. That's home. Knowing where you stand with your eyes closed, knowing where you've been by the wear and tear in the treads of your trusted kicks. The unique character of the land and the landscape, the waterways and our wildlife, are rooted in our economy, our identity, our history, and our future. [Article]
by JENNIFER MOLIDOR / OPINION, KCET - SoCal Public TV. 2017-01-20
Greener Pastures Await a San Diego That Embraces Cannabis Farming
In the weeks and months ahead, county and local officials will be taking steps to implement medical and recreational marijuana regulations, including cannabis farming. The local farmers I’ve talked to think the time is ripe. In the last 16 months, the state has enacted two laws that create a legal path forward for commercial cannabis farming – the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, and the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. The state is scheduled to issue its first licenses in January 2018. While that’s hopeful, farmers still need zoning approval from the county – or any local jurisdiction – before they can apply for a state license. In effect, the supervisors are holding the keys an economic muscle car. The question is: Can we convince them to turn the key? [Article]
by ANTHONY WAGNER, Voice of San Diego. 2017-01-20
Supervisors authorize asphalt concrete repaving contract
The most recent road repaving contract authorized by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors includes asphalt concrete overlay resurfacing of road segments in Alpine, Boulevard, Jacumba, and possibly Pine Valley.  The authorization for the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting to take the necessary actions to advertise a construction contract for bid and to award that contract was approved on a 4-0 Board of Supervisors vote January 11 with Greg Cox addressing California Coastal Commission matters. [Article]
by JOE NAIMAN, Ramona Sentinel. 2017-01-20
County reports six more flu-related deaths
County health officials on Thursday reported that six more people have died of influenza-related causes, bringing the death toll this flu season to 14, compared with three this time last year. A previously healthy 45-year-old woman was among the most recent flu-related deaths, officials said. The other recent fatalities involved older people who had underlying medical conditions, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. “Influenza can be deadly, especially for those with underlying chronic conditions,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer. “It is not too late to get vaccinated. The vaccine is a good match against the circulating flu strains and can provide good protection against the illness.” Nearly 1,800 influenza cases in the region have been confirmed by laboratory testing, nearly triple the number at this time last year, according to county health data. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots annually for everyone at least 6 months old. Vaccination is considered more important for people with weakened immune systems, as well as those who are pregnant, elderly, or live with or care for others at high risk. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-01-20
Proposed complex for homeless vets could become regional model
developer’s plan to transform an aging Motel 6 east of Mission Valley into 84 apartments for homeless veterans could become a local model for building low-income housing quickly and relatively inexpensively. San Diego officials say the city will need an array of innovative new strategies to solve its homelessness problem, and renovating old motels into subsidized housing could be one. "We do think there's an opportunity to replicate this in other places throughout the city," said Ted Miyahara, a finance official for the San Diego Housing Commission. "I think this has caught the attention of other developers and they are looking at it as a model." The proposed project, which is scheduled for approval by the San Diego Planning Commission on Thursday, will cost less and be completed more quickly than building a project from the ground up. "The benefit to acquiring older motels is that the structure of the building is there," Miyahara said. "They are essentially leaving the skin of the building on and gutting the interior. You can have units online at a faster pace." If the Planning Commission approves the project this week and the Housing Commission board OK’s the financing on Feb. 10, Miyahara said homeless veterans could start moving in roughly one year later. [Article]
by DAVID GARRICK, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2017-01-20
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