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Rain runoff may have undermined Oroville Dam's concrete spillway, report says
Rainwater erosion alongside the Oroville Dam’s main spillway appears to have contributed to the heavy damage that prompted a crisis, forcing more than 100,000 to be evacuated from their homes, a report reviewed by The Times showed. A summary of the incident, prepared by state water officials four days after the crater in the concrete chute appeared, said water from heavy rains hit the hillsides where the massive concrete spillway runs. Flowing water during heavy rains was “diverted ... effectively eroding and undermining the spillway, causing a section to collapse,” said the incident summary. The report offers the first indication from officials of what might have caused the catastrophic failure of the spillway. It’s unclear whether the rainwater was a primary reason for the spillway damage or one of many. The spillway follows the slope of a dirt- and tree-covered hill that helps secure the towering dam, which is America’s tallest. The spillway fracture began as a 200-foot-wide hole that was 35 feet deep, but over the last week it has gotten significantly worse. Photographs of the initial damage show soil washed away beneath the sidewall of the concrete spillway and along its outer edge. [Article]
by PAIGE St. JOHN and JOSEPH SERNA, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
Will the crisis at Oroville Dam become a catalyst for change?
Jeffrey Mount, a leading expert on California water policy, remembers the last time a crisis at the Oroville Dam seemed likely to prompt reform. It was 1997 and the lake risked overflowing, while levees further downstream failed and several people died. “If this doesn’t galvanize action, I don’t know what will,” Mount said he thought at the time. But spring came, the waters receded and no changes came to pass. Now another threat looms in Oroville, where deteriorating spillways forced widespread evacuations, and more heavy rain is around the corner. State officials have remained focused on quick fixes at the dam needed to prevent catastrophic flooding, but some are already thinking about how the crisis could spur long-term shifts in policy. It’s a conversation that’s gaining momentum in think tanks and government offices from Sacramento to Washington, and it touches on climate change, infrastructure spending and statewide water policy. Wade Crowfoot, a former advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown who now leads the Water Foundation, a nonprofit research organization in Sacramento, compared the situation to the state’s years-long drought. “This is a wake-up call,” he said. “The drought reminded us we need to use water more wisely. Oroville reminds us that we need to upgrade our infrastructure and our management to move water more wisely.” [Article]
by CHRIS MEGERIAN, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
'Day without immigrants': Some say they can't afford to walk out, but thousands do
On Thursday, thousands of immigrants skipped work and school to participate in “a day without immigrants,” a protest highlighting the contributions immigrants make to restaurants, businesses and the nation’s overall economy.  In Los Angeles, where immigrants are part of everyday life, the message resonated, but participation was lukewarm compared with places like Detroit, Washington, D.C., and some Texas cities. Many immigrant organizations said they had not been informed about the protest and were busy handling the needs of families threatened by President Trump’s immigration crackdown plans. Many immigrants said they simply couldn’t afford to miss a day of work. After closing their restaurant for the day, Monica May watches while her partner Kristen Trattner hangs a sign above their Nickel Diner in Downtown Los Angeles in solidarity with a national "Day Without Immigrants." (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)   Patricia Ortiz from the Esperanza Immigrant Rights Project said her organization kept its doors open because its services were essential to the community.   “The people who come today are coming because they have pressing needs and might be deported,” she said. “I’m sure they would love to participate and they agree with the ideology, but it’s hard to do when you’re worried about basic needs and issues.”  [Article]
by RUBEN VIVES, MELISSA ETEHAD and ESMERALD BERMUDEZ, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
"A Day Without Immigrants" at These L.A. Restaurants
"As the products of hard-working Oaxacan immigrants, we will stand in solidarity with the entirety of the immigrant population of the U.S. We truly believe that all immigrants are the backbone of American history and will remain essential to the continuous growth and prosperity of our nation. Our father and mother came to this country to pursue the American Dream, and that dream should continue to live on in our community. To those who feel silenced we say: Don't be afraid, be strong." That was the message posted to Twitter by the owners of legendary Koreatown Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza, to announce their participation in Thursday's "A Day Without Immigrants," a nationwide political action encouraging immigrants in the United States to refrain from working and shopping, in order to show how crucial they are to the nation's economy. [Article]
by KATHERINE SPIERS, LA Weekly. 2017-02-17
 
Why I'm breaking up with the Blue Line after 19 years. (It's not me, it's definitely you)
Dear Blue Line: It may be time for us to break up. Yes, I know this could be hard. We’ve been seeing each other for some 19 years, almost every day. You’ve reliably delivered me from Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles each morning and taken me home each evening. I’ve come to count on you.  But lately, well, you’ve changed. Almost every day now you make me and my fellow riders wait. The train comes to a stop and we wait — two minutes here, four minutes there. The delays add up, and soon we’re late for work by 10 or 15 minutes. For a train line that carries 78,000 riders every day, this is no small deal. This is not how it used to be. I feel like I don’t know you anymore. [Article]
by SCOTT WILSON / OPINION, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
LA’s west San Fernando Valley is no ‘Shangri-La’ as gang crime stirs concern
The perception that life west of the 405 Freeway is relatively free of crime is one that hasn’t gotten past Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield. He and other community leaders in the West Valley aren’t buying what he’s heard from some people. “They kind of think we live in Shangri-La of the West Valley, and we don’t have these kinds of problems,” Blumenfied said. “Well, we have these problems, it’s not acceptable, and we have to deal with them and we have to get the resources to deal with them.” Among those problems is gangs. [Article]
by GREGORY J. WILCOX, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-02-17
 
Last call at California bars could be 4 a.m. under proposed law
Closing time might get a little later at your favorite drinking spot thanks to a state senator who has proposed legislation to allow cities to decide how late alcohol can be served. The Let Our Communities Adjust Late Night Act, which was proposed Tuesday, would allow municipalities to set their own last-call times. Currently, last call is at 2 a.m. across the state. Under the bill by state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), urban centers with active bar scenes could move last call back as late as 4 a.m., while less nightlife-heavy areas could keep things the way they are. [Article]
by JESSICA ROY, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
Bipartisan bills could give new kicks to Route 66
The route has been dubbed the “Main Street of America.” Cultivated by a car culture synonymous with western wanderlust. Immortalized by a 1940s rhythm and blues hit as a place where you can “get your kicks.” Now, Route 66, the road from Chicago to Los Angeles built in 1926 before the advance of the interstate highway, may become the first road to be established by Congress as a National Historic Trail. Under two bipartisan bills recently introduced by Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, and two Illinois Republicans, Reps. Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood, the status of the Mother Road, as coined by John Steinbeck, would be permanently etched in the history books and would receive a steady funding stream for preservation, rehabilitation and promotion. [Article]
by STEVE SCAUZILLO , Riverside Press-Enterprise. 2017-02-17
 
L.A. County supervisors call for action on missed payments from child protection agency
Los Angeles County supervisors this week called for an inquiry into the “root cause” behind hundreds of missed payments from the county’s child protection agency to foster care parents, group home managers and others depending on public assistance. The missed payments, first reported by The Times last month, left many in dire straits. A group home manager said she had to borrow thousands of dollars from friends to make payroll. One young adult transitioning from the foster care system said he had to wait in food lines to eat. Another said she was ousted from her home for failing to make rent. The problem stems from glitches in a new digital case file management system implemented by the Department of Children and Family Services, county officials said.  A motion passed at the board meeting Tuesday and co-written by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn said people depending on DCFS are still missing payments, even though the problem began months ago.  [Article]
by ADAM ELMAHREK, Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-17
 
Judge: Former LA Sheriff Baca can't use Alzheimer's as defense
Federal prosecutors successfully blocked former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca from bringing in evidence or arguments about his early-onset Alzheimer's Disease as part of his defense at the upcoming corruption trial, scheduled to begin next week.  Baca’s attorneys tapped a psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. James Spar, to show the jury that the 74-year-old’s mind may have been clouded by the disease when he allegedly made false statements to federal investigators. [Article]
by ANNIE GILBERTSON, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-02-17
 
Take Two | Supervisor Sheila Kuehl says LA County should think about pot like it does alcohol
Los Angeles County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl thinks that marijuana should be treated like alcohol. That's an important thing to know, because she's the one leading the charge on how L.A. County is going to regulate cannabis. Even though pot's legal in California, the state, cities and counties are still deciding how they should treat the drug. L.A. County is in a unique position, given that it's the most populous county in the United States. That makes it the largest county with legal weed. [Article]
by MAYA SUGARMAN, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-02-17
 
County Sales Tax Hike To Help Homeless People On Ballot
Los Angeles County voters — including Long Beach residents — will vote March 7 to decide whether to raise the sales tax by ¼¢ for the next 10 years to help pay for services to the homeless population. Called Measure H, the sales tax hike was put on the ballot by the Los Angeles County Supervisors. The election was timed to concur with the Los Angeles City Council elections. However, the tax hike is the only item on the ballot in Long Beach. [Article]
by HARRY SALTSGAVER, LA Observed. 2017-02-17
 
LA County businesses experience ‘A Day Without Immigrants’
In downtown Los Angeles’ busy garment district, Kabeer Roowala kept the steel shutters over the entrance of his perfume business pulled down Thursday. It was a small gesture to send a big message: Immigrants matter. All of them. Legal or not. No matter where they come from. “I’m an American first, and I’m very proud of this country, even in turbulent times,” Roowala, who was born in India, said from the back of his Perfumes Los Angeles shop. “What I want people to understand is this country is built on our backs. You cannot have an America without the immigrant component to it.” [Article]
by SUSAN ABRAM, Los Angeles Daily News. 2017-02-17
 
Art and Activism: The Laguna Canyon Project
The “Laguna Canyon Project,” a multi-phased art project in Laguna Beach, California (1980-2010), inspired residents to take charge of their own destiny and to avert a large-scale ecological disturbance. With the project’s several phases as backdrop and stimulus, artists and activists lobbied local and countywide forces to prevent construction of a 3,200 unit housing community in Laguna Canyon — a wide swath of undeveloped land east of the city’s downtown. Along with an army of supporters, they achieved their goal in 1989. Today, this canyon is designated as undeveloped land into perpetuity. [Article]
by LIZ GOLDNER, KCET - SoCal Public TV. 2017-02-17
 
Audio: DACA recipients wait for Trump moves on young immigrants' program
The future of a program that gives temporary protection from deportation and work permits to young immigrants living in the country illegally is up in the air. On Thursday, President Donald Trump repeated he won’t end the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, but without revealing details of possible restrictions to the program. "We’re going to show great heart. DACA is a very, very difficult subject for me," Trump said at a White House press conference. [Article]
by LESLIE BERESTEIN ROJAS, KPCC Southern CA Public Radio. 2017-02-17
 
Supervisors Delay Airport Contract Amid Accusations They Violated Bidding Rules | Voice of OC
Orange County supervisors this week held off on awarding a major contract at John Wayne Airport, after being accused of violating federal rules requiring them to choose the firm that ranked the highest in the county’s bidding process. In a pair of letters to federal authorities, Orlando-based Signature Flight Support noted that the county’s evaluation panel selected it as the top-ranked firm for the lucrative contract to service corporate jets and other general aviation aircraft. [Article]
by NICK GERDA, Voice of OC. 2017-02-17
 
Supervisors Approve Funding for New Mental Health Crisis Facility
Orange County has long had a severe shortage of hospital beds for people experiencing a mental health crisis, particularly children. Because of that, many patients have to wait more than a day at an unequipped hospital before they can see a psychiatrist, which experts say often worsens the situation. But progress is expected to come in December, when county officials plan to open a new crisis stabilization facility in Garden Grove to serve up to 22 patients at a time, including youth aged 13 and up. [Article]
by NICK GERDA, Voice of OC. 2017-02-17
 
Memo suggested mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups
The White House distanced itself Friday from a Department of Homeland Security draft proposal to use the National Guard to round up unauthorized immigrants, but lawmakers said the document offers insight into the Trump administration’s internal efforts to enact its promised crackdown on illegal immigration. Administration officials said the proposal, which called for mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states, was rejected, and would not be part of plans to carry out President Donald Trump’s aggressive immigration policy. [Article]
by GARANCE BURKE, Associated Press, Orange County Register. 2017-02-17
 
Skeptics don't buy San Onofre quake reassurance
Scientists are deliberately downplaying the risks that earthquakes and tsunamis pose to San Onofre at the behest of Southern California Edison, some activists charged this week. The criticisms came as Neal Driscoll, professor of geosciences at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, unveiled the latest research on the deformations lurking near the shuttered nuclear plant, where millions of pounds of radioactive waste are expected to languish for decades. [Article]
by TERI SFORZA, Orange County Register. 2017-02-17
 
The bipartisan solution to climate change
In the four years that I’ve worked daily to promote solutions to climate change, I’ve experienced more ups and downs than I could possibly count. I’m not going to lie — election day was definitely a low point. How do we build toward prudent, workable policy solutions when the new president is also climate denier-in-chief? But as I have searched for answers in the days since the election, I’ve come to a new and more hopeful realization. This is a case where a wall may actually be ready to come down. [Article]
by DENNIS ARP / OPINION, Orange County Register. 2017-02-17
 
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