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Top L.A. County sheriff's official resigns over emails mocking Muslims and others
A top Los Angeles County sheriff's official has resigned amid mounting criticism over emails he sent mocking Muslims, blacks, Latinos, women and others from his work account during his previous job with the Burbank Police Department, the Sheriff's Department announced Sunday. After previously saying that he had no immediate plans to discipline his chief of staff, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a statement that he had accepted Tom Angel's resignation and intended to turn the controversy into a “learning opportunity” for his department employees. “This incident is one that I find deeply troubling,” McDonnell said. “Despite the Sheriff’s Department’s many recent efforts to fortify public trust and enhance internal and external accountability and transparency, this incident reminds us that we and other law enforcement agencies still have work to do.” [Article]
by ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN and CINDY CHANG, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Why most of the freight engines that Metrolink is leasing to improve safety are sitting idle
After last year's fatal collision with a utility truck near Oxnard, the Metrolink commuter railroad faced a serious safety issue. The cab car at the front of the ill-fated train did not meet design standards — a flaw that might have caused the derailment, which killed the engineer and injured 28 passengers. As a hedge against a similar incident, Metrolink officials decided to place locomotives at both ends of trains until the railroad could solve problems with its new Hyundai Rotem cab cars — passenger coaches with an engineer's position. In October, Metrolink officials signed an $18-million-a-year lease with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. for 40 freight engines. They hoped to put the locomotives into operation within weeks of their delivery. [Article]
by DAN WEIKEL, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
The plan: A rooftop solar project that can power 5,000 homes -- and 500 L.A. jobs
A Los Angeles developer announced plans Friday to build the nation's largest rooftop solar array that supplies electricity directly into a city's power grid. The project by developer PermaCity includes a 16.4-megawatt solar system -- enough to power 5,000 L.A. homes -- that the company will install on 2 million square feet of space on Westmont Drive buildings. The power from the system, which is expected to be completed by year's end, will feed directly into the Department of Water and Power's grid through what is known as a feed-in tariff, or FiT, program. The project is expected to create 500 local jobs. In addition, the project is expected to provide up to $400,000 in annual energy savings. PermaCity announced the project during the Los Angeles Business Council's Sustainability Summit at the Getty Center. [Article]
by IVAN PENN, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Editorial Garcetti's proposed spending on the homeless is reasonable. But his funding plan is wishful thinking
It’s one thing for elected officials to declare war, essentially, on homelessness in Los Angeles, as they did at the beginning of the year, unveiling sweeping strategies to combat this intractable problem. It’s another thing to find the money to put those plans into effect. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget, the first since the city’s Comprehensive Homeless Strategy was approved, sets aside $138 million for services and housing for homeless people. That’s four times what the city budget allocated last year for homelessness services. And it would be a welcome infusion of funding in a county of 44,000 homeless people, 26,000 of them in the city of LA. But as the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee began reviewing the mayor’s budget for the city this past week , they should keep this in mind: half of the proposed funding to fight homelessness depends on money from sources that have yet to materialize. [Article]
by EDITORIAL, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
On his Santa Monica mountaintop, a billionaire envisions lofty thoughts on politics and culture
Nicolas Berggruen scuffs along a dirt road overgrown with foxtails, high in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Los Angeles basin falls at his feet. The skyscrapers of downtown, the gantry cranes at the port and the peaks of Catalina are diminished by a vast panorama stretching from Saddleback Mountain in the east to the blue of Santa Monica Bay below, from Mt. Baldy in the haze and a slice of the San Fernando Valley at his back. "Watch out for rattlesnakes," he says, stopping on the brow of a small knoll. Upon this stretch of undeveloped dirt, one-time landfill for the city, Berggruen is hoping to build the headquarters for a think tank that bears his name. He purchased these 450 acres, just west of the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, last year and hopes to break ground before the decade is over. The Berggruen Institute could be the last large project built in the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, a cloistered campus that would occupy half the remaining, private open space between Topanga State Park and the San Diego Freeway. [Article]
by THOMAS CURWEN, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Great Read Why a historic highway that united California's two halves may never reopen to cars
Harrison Scott discovered the Ridge Route in 1955. Then 18, he was out freewheeling in a brand new Ford he'd bought with a loan from his parents. The sinuous route, an engineering marvel that tamed the San Gabriel Mountains through the highway corridor that is now known as the Grapevine, was already a relic. Opened in 1915, and credited by historians with uniting the economies of Northern and Southern California, the notoriously slow and dangerous roadway had been superseded in 1933 by Highway 99, itself to be replaced in 1970 by the 5 Freeway. Scott liked the abandoned motorway, but did not return to the route until exploring it again in 1991, this time on a road trip with his son. Spurred by the boy's interest, and retired from a long career with Pacific Telephone, Scott became an amateur historian and began collecting photos and stories of the highway. He learned it had once been dotted with gas stations, diners, nightclubs and hotels that hosted gangsters and Hollywood stars. Clark Gable, Jean Harlow and Bugsy Siegel visited places such as Kelly's Halfway Inn — set dead center in the 12-hour automobile journey between Bakersfield and Los Angeles — and Sandberg's Summit Hotel, which had a sign by the front door that said, "No Dogs or Truck Drivers Allowed." The inns were long gone, but the roadway was intact. Scott began what has been a quixotic campaign to secure historic preservation status for the highway, and perhaps bring tourists back. [Article]
by CHARLES FLEMING, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
A parallel Chinese-language Internet helps immigrants navigate life in America
When Grace Hui moved to Los Angeles from China in 2014 and Googled the Chinese characters for "Los Angeles immigrant," the first result was Chineseinla.com. The Chino Hills-based website, a disorganized Yelp-meets-Craigslist hybrid, was a throwback, and Hui, 29, thought some of the posts were phishing scams. But with more than 680,000 listings, more than 350,000 registered users, 2 million monthly visits and sister sites in 15 cities, Chineseinla.com has become a teeming virtual portal to Chinese life in America. It's one of the only ways that Hui could connect to a country she couldn't understand. "American Internet is useless to me," said Hui, who used Chineseinla.com to look for a job. "My English isn't good enough to get the information I need." In the San Gabriel Valley and in Chinese enclaves across the nation, a new wave of Chinese immigrants — many of them affluent students with poor English skills and a smartphone habit — are tapping into a parallel system of Chinese-language apps and websites geared toward helping them navigate life in America. [Article]
by FRANK SHYONG, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
The government wants your fingerprint to unlock your phone. Should that be allowed?
As the world watched the FBI spar with Apple this winter in an attempt to hack into a San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, federal officials were quietly waging a different encryption battle in a Los Angeles courtroom. There, authorities obtained a search warrant compelling the girlfriend of an alleged Armenian gang member to press her finger against an iPhone that had been seized from a Glendale home. The phone contained Apple's fingerprint identification system for unlocking, and prosecutors wanted access to the data inside it. It marked a rare time that prosecutors have demanded a person provide a fingerprint to open a computer, but experts expect such cases to become more common as cracking digital security becomes a larger part of law enforcement work. The Glendale case and others like it are forcing courts to address a basic question: How far can the government go to obtain biometric markers such as fingerprints and hair? [Article]
by MATT HAMILTON and RICHARD WINTON, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Raised in the U.S. without legal status, he attains the American dream — in Mexico
Six years ago Bernardino Hernandez boarded a plane to Mexico City with not much — his high school yearbook, a printer and his college copy of "Thomas More's Magician," a novel about creating a utopian community in 16th century Mexico. He had recently graduated from UC Davis, but he felt limited by his lack of legal status in the United States. Hernandez was 21 years old and unsure whether he'd ever reach his potential in a country that he'd called home since he was a toddler but that now wouldn't allow him to work legally. Before he departed, his disapproving father gave him $1,000 in cash but warned him, "I won't pay for a coyote to bring you back." No need. Though he gave up on his American dream in the U.S., he is now living it in Mexico. Outside Supreme Court, many Californians share their immigrant stories [Article]
by CINDY CARCAMO, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Valley leaders defend proposed Metro transit projects after others call for more
Defenders of the San Fernando Valley’s current stake in a proposed transit tax that could lay billions in bus and rail lines across the region reaffirmed it would get its fair share. Business leaders and elected officials who helped choose more than $3 billion in projects that could appear on a $120-billion sales tax measure this fall have responded to a letter this month by some Valley leaders demanding more. The Metro measure is now under public review. “The current draft of the Expenditure Plan is a fantastic deal for the Valley,” said Coby King, immediate past chair for the Valley Industry & Commerce Association, which contributed to a current list of projects, in an email. “All of our projects are included and will be the front of the line, and Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan provides a strategy for fully funding all of them.” [Article]
by DANA BARTHOLOMEW, Los Angeles Daily News. 2016-05-02
 
Market-driven solution to relieve drought
Drought-weary Californians breathed a sigh of relief because another “March Miracle” series of storms soaked much of the northern half of the state. Sadly for the people of the Golden State, their relief is mostly misplaced. The state reported that the statewide snowpack is only 87 percent of normal and El Niño was mostly a disappointment. Farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley will receive only 5 percent of their allocation from the Central Valley Project this year. It looks like we are heading into the fifth year of a historic drought. [Article]
by ARTHUR B. LAFFER / EDITORIAL, Orange County Register. 2016-05-02
 
It's a mess along O.C.'s part of PCH, traffic study says
Traffic congestion and safety conflicts among vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians continue to plague traveling conditions along Orange County's portion of Pacific Coast Highway, according to a newly published transportation study. The nearly $400,000 report, released last month and conducted by the Orange County Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation, examined the iconic but aging 37-mile highway from Seal Beach to San Clemente. The study's goal was to provide cities with strategies to make traveling the state highway safer and more efficient. It began in 2013 at the behest of local municipalities. Improvements to traffic flow and safety were cited as universal needs. But as OCTA Chairwoman Lori Donchak said in a statement, "Each city has its own priorities and its own needs. Our job now is to brief each city on the study's finding so we can figure out what improving PCH will look like for them." [Article]
by HANNAH FRY, Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
New CEO rescues another pension system
It’s election season, so we’re hearing plenty about lousy leadership and dysfunctional government, generally along with a promise the next candidate will do better. In reality, true government reform is rare. Yet hope occasionally is rewarded. For proof that success is possible, we need look no further than David Wescoe, a lawyer by training who recently completed his first year as chief executive of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association. If the name sounds familiar, Wescoe in the late 2000s rehabilitated the operations and reputation of San Diego’s municipal pension system, after the city had earned its “Enron-by-the-sea” slur by lying to bondholders, diverting contributions and spending the system to near-insolvency. Five city pension officials were indicted. Amazingly, Wescoe has surpassed himself at the county’s system. [Article]
by Dan McSwain / COLUMNIST, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2016-05-02
 
Beyond the border wall’s two sides, a complex issue
Saturday brought Perla Martinez three minutes of joy, a temporary pause in a long, painful separation. “It’s really emotional,” said Martinez, a Denver resident, wiping away tears while standing on the U.S. side of the fence separating San Diego and Tijuana. From about 12:20 to 12:23 p.m., she had stood in an open gate at the border to embrace her parents, Mexican citizens Maria Granadoz and Salvador Martinez Hernandez. She also introduced them to a 3 1/2-year-old granddaughter. “It’s been 16 years since we were all together,” Martinez said of her family. “This is the first time my parents have seen Samantha.” [Article]
by PETER ROWE, San Diego Union-Tribune. 2016-05-02
 
A Borderless World
There are nearly 250 million migrants across the world right now. Some will be escaping war or oppression, others will be seeking out freedom or economic prosperity, but whatever the reason, the kind of life they're looking for lies across a border that's policed and restricted. What if it didn't have to be that way? This hour, we explore a world without borders. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Center for Investigative Reporting. 2016-05-02
 
Genentech unveils large solar installation in Oceanside
Genentech’s Oceanside facility April 29 unveiled what the company billed as San Diego County’s largest non-utility solar installation. Workers spent more than 20,000 installation hours on the project and installed more than 17,000 solar panels, according to the company. The system is expected to produce the equivalent amount of solar power over its lifetime to power nearly 12,000 average California homes for one year, the company said. Genentech partnered with vendor SolarCity to complete the system. When operational, it is expected to provide 22 percent of the site’s annual total energy requirements, the company said. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, Coastsider. 2016-05-02
 
LOCAL GOVERNMENT REPORT: HOT HEARINGS THIS WEEK ON EAST COUNTY ISSUES
May 1, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) – San Diego Supervisors, Lakeside’s Community Planning Group and the Lemon Grove Council all meet this week, with hot agenda items that include legalizing catering at wineries and breweries, building a Lakeside Equestrian Center, and putting SANDAG’s transit tax measure on the ballot. Below are details on these issues and more, plus links to full agendas. [Article]
by STAFF REPORT, East County Magazine. 2016-05-02
 
San Diego County is divided over proposed half-cent tax for transportation projects
A battle is raging over one of the most fundamental aspects of San Diego County's future: how folks get around. Will commuters overwhelmingly continue to drive their cars to work, as they've done for decades? Or will lawmakers fashion a public transportation system — consisting largely of bus, trolley and train lines — that's efficient and sexy enough to appeal to millennials and perhaps their parents? In the latest clash, green groups have joined Republicans to oppose a countywide, half-cent sales tax that would provide millions of dollars for public transit and bike lanes but also lock in money for specific highway projects. With billions in transportation spending hanging in the balance, environmentalists have doubled down on their envisioned moratorium against expanding freeways. They're betting that public support will dramatically shift in favor of mass transit in coming years. "Sprawl development isn't going to work anymore," said Nicole Capretz, executive director of the San Diego nonprofit Climate Action Campaign. [Article]
by JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH , Los Angeles Times. 2016-05-02
 
Sheriff: Cop killer too dangerous for face-to-face visits
One of Riverside County’s deadliest inmates, who is representing himself in an upcoming murder trial, is too dangerous to be allowed to meet face-to-face with anyone – including his own court-appointed investigator – according to a recent court argument from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Ernesto Salgado Martinez, 40, a member of the Southside Indio gang, is a convicted cop killer who is awaiting trial for the 1995 killing of a shopkeeper in Blythe. While spending more than half of his life behind bars, Martinez has attacked prison guards and twice escaped from Arizona police custody. In 2013, he allegedly stabbed his cellmate 50 times with a shiv. A year after that, he threatened a Riverside corrections officer who turned off the phone in his isolated cell. [Article]
by BRETT KELMAN, Desert Sun. 2016-05-02
 
A Few Miles From San Bernardino, a Muslim Prom Queen Reigns
FONTANA, Calif. — In the days after the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., when pictures of the hijab-wearing suspect filled television screens and newspapers, Zarifeh Shalabi’s mother and aunts stayed at home. With their home just a few miles from the scene of the attack that left 14 dead, they worried about an anti-Muslim backlash. When they went shopping, Zarifeh, 17, said, other mothers pulled their children away when they saw the women wearing head scarves. “We were more afraid that someone was going to hurt us,” Zarifeh said. But this month, Zarifeh received the ultimate symbol of teenage acceptance: She was crowned prom queen after her non-Muslim friends campaigned for her by wearing hijabs in solidarity. “We saw it as a chance to do something good, to represent something good,” said a friend, Sarahi Sanchez, who like Zarifeh is one of a few dozen peer mentors at Summit High School. “This was a way to prove we don’t have problems with bullying or racism.” Zarifeh said her win “proved that not all Muslims are something to worry about.” “They don’t see me as a threat,” she said, “they see me as their friend.” [Article]
by JENNIFER MEDINA, New York Times. 2016-05-02
 
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