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Supervisors okay streamlined environmental reviews in Ingelwood


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Board of Supervisors voted 3-0 today to support a state bill — stalled in committee — that would streamline environmental reviews for the Los Angeles Clippers’ planned Inglewood arena.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, whose district includes Inglewood, recommended that the board back Senate Bill 789, saying the arena would generate 30,000 construction and permanent jobs.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl abstained from the vote.
In his motion, Ridley-Thomas said the California Environmental Quality Act, designed to identify and reduce environmental impacts, was sometimes “used by project opponents as a tactical tool to delay projects.”
The NBA arena’s project manager told the Los Angeles Times that the developers would still write an environmental impact report and hold public hearings.
“Under this bill, we would remain obligated to work through the complete process and the bill would only fix the timeline for lawsuits that might be filed by our competitors,” Chris Meany told the newspaper.
SB 789, sponsored by Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, originally included exemptions for transportation projects for the 2028 Olympic Games, but was amended after the LA 2028 Committee said it didn’t need the help.
The bill was also drafted to give the city the ability to take non- residential properties through eminent domain in order to get the facility built, but after the bill failed on Friday to pass the Assembly Natural Resources Committee, it was amended.
The latest version of the bill available online strikes the clause on eminent domain.
The bill is supported by labor and trade unions and Inglewood city associations, but has gotten pushback from a long list of environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club California, Natural Resources Defense Council, Coalition for Clean Air, the Trust for Public Land and Earthjustice.
The Clippers lease at Staples Center runs through 2024.

Afternoon standoff in Bellflower prompts SWAT response


BELLFLOWER (CNS) – A man suspected of brandishing a firearm barricaded himself in a Bellflower home today, prompting evacuations and a SWAT team response.
The standoff began a little after noon in the 9300 Block of Ramona Street, according to Deputy Kelvin Moody of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
A SWAT team and crisis negotiators were sent to the location, and surrounding homes were evacuated, according to Moody, who said no one was believed to be with the suspect.

Police seek information on mysterious Whittier death


WHITTIER (CNS) – Whittier police identified a man wanted as a person of interest in the “suspicious” death of a woman whose body was found today at an apartment complex.
Officers sent to the 11700 block of Floral Avenue about 7:30 a.m. on a report of a “man down” found the body of a woman, said Whittier police Officer John Scoggins.
“At this time, the Whittier Police Investigations Bureau is handling the case as a suspicious death,” Scoggins said.
The woman’s name was withheld pending notification of her family, and the cause of her death was not immediately revealed. She was reportedly in her 50s.
Police are seeking 56-year-old Rafael Castillo as a “person of interest” in the investigation, Scoggins said.
Castillo is Hispanic, 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighs 220 pounds, and has brown hair and eyes. He is believed driving a 1998 Nissan Altima, license number 6XEW444.
Anyone with information on the case was urged to call police at (562) 567-9283, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Pasadena medical school appoints Mark A. Schuster as CEO


PASADENA (CNS) – The Board of Directors of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019, announced today it has appointed Dr. Mark A. Schuster, a health policy expert and professor of pediatrics, as the school’s founding dean and CEO.
Schuster has served as the William Berenberg Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and chief of general pediatrics and vice chair for health policy in the Department of Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, according to a statement.
As founding dean, Schuster will oversee day-to-day operations at the Kaiser medical school and the school’s direction. He will assume his position next month.
“I’m excited to be a part of the Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine’s vision to transform medical education by combining cutting-edge educational techniques with a focus on population health, data analytics, patient engagement and underserved populations,” Schuster said.
“Kaiser Permanente’s leadership in integrated health care, which emphasizes keeping patients healthy while providing the best in care when they are ill, will offer an unprecedented learning opportunity for our students.”
A physician, scientist and advocate for healthy families and communities, Schuster is recognized as an international leader in research on child, adolescent and family health, concentrating on topics such as quality of care, health disparities, family leave, obesity prevention and bullying, according to the statement.
He currently leads the Center of Excellence for Pediatric Quality Measurement, which is developing and implementing measures aimed at improving the care provided to children.
Before moving to Boston, Schuster served as professor of pediatrics and health services at UCLA Schools of Medicine and Public Health and director of health promotion and disease prevention at RAND, the Santa Monica think tank.
He has written two books, including “Everything You Never Wanted Your Kids to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid They’d Ask),” which he co-authored. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, and has served as president of the Academic Pediatric Association.
Schuster received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Yale, his medical degree from Harvard Medical School, his master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and his PhD from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He completed his pediatric residency at Boston Children’s Hospital and his fellowship at the UCLA Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program.
Schuster will reside in Pasadena with his husband, attorney Jeff Webb, two sons and a dog.

Los Angeles County set to push back against DACA cancellation

Image courtesy of NBC News/

While the Los Angeles City Council asks itself whether or not Los Angeles is a “sanctuary city,” Los Angeles County wrestles with its response to another Trump Administration policy.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will vote on Tuesday on whether to denounce President Donald Trump’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Submitted by Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis, the motion to denounce will also call on Gov. Jerry Brown to find a solution to the plight of DACA recipients, often called “Dreamers” by the media.
However, the motion has plenty of bite to match its bark. A travel restriction will be placed on County employees to the nine states (Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia) that demanded an end to DACA. The restriction would bar county employees from using tax money in these states, and last one year.
The Office of Immigration Affairs will also be instructed to ramp up outreach efforts, with the goal of renewing the status of DACA recipients before Oct. 5. Dreamers whose permits are set to expire before March 5 of next year have until then to renew their applications, and according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, 201,000 permits are set to expire before then. Only about 55,000 DACA recipients have their applications in, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
Such a move is necessary when thousands of Los Angeles County residents depend on DACA, Supervisors Solis and Hahn wrote in the motion.
“[Canceling DACA] is also a heartbreaking blow and cruel exercise of Presidential authority aimed at nearly 800,000 of the most vulnerable young people among us, including 214,000 who reside in California,” the motion reads.

State Bill aims to curtail environmental protections in Inglewood stadium project


When the Olympic Torch comes to Los Angeles in 2028, it will be carried from the Los Angeles Coliseum to a $2.6 billion Clippers’ stadium being built in Inglewood. The whole world will be looking to Inglewood, and lawmakers are already lining up to make this future a reality, without the red tape.
Senate Bill 789, unveiled earlier this month, would waive California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) restrictions on 2028 Olympics projects, and the deadline to file lawsuits against the Clippers’ stadium would be dramatically shortened. Introduced by State Sen. Steven Bradford (D – Gardena), the bill stalled on Friday. According to the Los Angeles Times, concerns from the Assembly Natural Resources Committee raised skepticism about giving developers more leeway than they needed.
Undeterred, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors will vote on Tuesday whether to support SB 789. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents both Gardena and Inglewood, wrote that SB 789 will make sure that state regulations don’t get in the way of creating jobs and breaking ground on the new stadium.
“While the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was originally designed to allow agencies to identify potential environmental impacts of proposed projects… in application CEQA has, at times, been improperly used by project opponents as a tactical tool to delay projects,” Ridley-Thomas wrote in a statement.
That gels with Bradford’s own comments in support of the bill. “What makes this bill different from all the other previous CEQA bills related is that it directly benefits a black and brown community,” Bradford said in the Los Angeles Times.
But while the County Supervisors float support for the bill, 2028’s biggest proponent is still weighing his options. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office said in a statement earlier this month that he did not request the bill, and in fact, didn’t think it was necessary.
In either case, the State Legislature has until Sept. 15 to pass the bill, before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

Woman killed in Lakewood murder-suicide identified


LAKEWOOD (CNS) – Authorities today identified a woman who investigators say was fatally shot by her boyfriend before he fatally shot himself at their home in Lakewood.
The bodies were found about 3:25 p.m. Sunday in the 5900 block of Pepperwood Avenue, said sheriff’s Deputy Grace Medrano.
The woman was identified Miranda Walton, 26, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter. The name of the man, who was also in his 20s, was withheld, pending family notification.
Deputies went to the location in response to a call reporting that a woman was screaming for police, said sheriff’s Sgt. Aura Sierra. Once inside they found the man and woman on the floor suffering from gunshot wounds, Sierra said. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
Deputies found no sign of a forced entry, and discovered a gun at the scene, Sierra said. There does not appear to be any outstanding suspects, Sierra added.
Anyone with information on the deaths was asked to call the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

Gardena stand-off ends with one suspect arrested, one at-large


GARDENA (CNS) – Sheriff’s SWAT deputies used a battering ram today to break down the door of a Gardena structure today and one of two men suspected of pointing a handgun at another man surrendered without incident, authorities said.
The suspect was taken into custody about 4:30 a.m., sheriff’s officials said.
Two men were involved in an altercation with another man about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, and one man pointing a gun at the other, said Sgt. A. Healey of the sheriff’s South Los Angeles Station.
The victim told deputies where the suspect was last seen, and he was located about 12:30 a.m. in the structure in the 15000 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, sheriff’s officials said.
Tear gas was lobbed into the structure a few hours before the battering ram was used, Healey said.
The primary suspect, the one believed to have pointed the handgun, remained at large, he said.
The 15000 block of Crenshaw Boulevard, closed during the barricade, was reopened to traffic before dawn, sheriff’s officials said.

Doggy Drug Dealer: Laguna man pleads to selling bad pet meds


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A Laguna Hills man who pocketed more than $2.5 million illegally selling flea powder and other pet medications online without prescriptions is expected to plead guilty today to federal charges.
Sean Lawrence Gerson, 49, who owns Vaccination Services in Lake Forest, is accused of illegally dispensing two drugs — Comfortis, an anti-flea medication, and Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic for dogs and cats commonly used to treat skin, respiratory and urinary tract infections, according to a three- count updated indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Prosecutors contend the drugs were OK to be dispensed in South Africa but not approved for dispensing in the United States.
Neither a veterinarian nor a pharmacist, Gerson sold drugs from websites sporting claims such as “Prescription from your local vet not required,” officials said.
Upon entry of Gerson’s guilty plea, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner is expected to schedule a sentencing date.
Although the charges carry a total possible prison sentence of up to 24 years, Gerson agreed to a sentence of no more than 30 months, followed by three years of supervised release, according to his plea deal. He also agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and forfeit $2.5 million in profits derived from the scheme, according to the document.
Gerson pleaded guilty in Texas in 2014 to state charges of delivery of a dangerous drug — clenbuterol, a respiratory drug that causes fat loss and muscle growth and is illegal in the United States except for use in horses with breathing problems.
After that conviction, Gerson agreed to work as a confidential informant for authorities but he was not allowed to sell animal prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Under the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, a prescription animal drug may be dispensed only by a veterinarian. Pesticides, including flea and tick products, must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Sanctuary city matter not settled at LA City Council

sanctuary city

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Two City Council members introduced a resolution today seeking to brand Los Angeles a “city of sanctuary” dedicated to “protecting the human rights of all our residents.”
The move by Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Gil Cedillo follows their receipt of a report on Thursday that civil rights attorney Peter Schey submitted to the Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights, and Equity Committee, which Cedillo chairs and which Wesson is a member of. The report included a series of recommendations for the city to undertake in response to recent immigration policies announced by President Donald Trump.
While there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, it generally applies to municipalities that limit cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. Embracing the term has become a way for cities to openly defy Trump, who has threatened to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities.
“It’s a declaratory statement of our values, of our vision, of our commitments,” Cedillo told City News Service.
At the committee meeting Thursday, Cedillo said he intended to submit a sanctuary city motion, but what was submitted at the City Council meeting was a resolution. A motion generally changes an existing law or creates a new one, while a resolution is generally a public declaration that does not change or create any laws. Cedillo said he submitted a resolution because declaring the city a sanctuary does not require any change in laws.
It’s not certain when the resolution would come up for a vote.
Although Los Angeles has long limited its cooperation with the feds on immigration, it has not taken on the official label of sanctuary city, and it is unclear how much support the resolution will have from Mayor Eric Garcetti. The mayor has resisted calling for Los Angeles to embrace the term because he says it is often used by those looking to harm cities that have friendly immigration policies.
“It is not a term that has meaning,” Garcetti said in an interview on radio station KNX Thursday. “I’m not going to buy into a frame that somebody else who’s attacking immigrants uses.”
Cedillo said he agreed with the mayor’s assessment but believed they could find common ground.
“We agree with the mayor. The mayor has been an extraordinary champion in this area, and has been absolutely responsive from the beginning, and I think we are in concert, and his points are well taken,” Cedillo said.
The Los Angeles Police Department has had a longstanding policy of not initiating contact with an individual based solely on his or her immigration status and does not give immigration agents access to its jails or inmates unless they have a federal warrant. Because of those policies, Los Angeles is often referred to as a sanctuary city, though it has never officially embraced the term as other cities have, including San Francisco and Santa Ana.
Schey, a civil rights attorney, argued in the report that Los Angeles has wide discretion in setting its own policies on immigration and that because none of its current laws are in violation of federal law, Trump’s “showboating about penalties against sanctuary cities has no basis in law and is primarily intended to dazzle his base and intimidate local officials.”
Schey also told the committee that embracing the term was an important symbolic move.
“People seem to have strong views on this name thing. My stance has always been that’s what’s important. Ultimately, yes, that sort of symbolic statement, `We are a city of sanctuary, we are a city of refuge,’ etc., I think it’s important. It sets a certain tone,” he said.
Cedillo said part of reason for introducing the resolution was in reaction to the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which has shielded immigrants who were brought to the country illegally when they were children from deportation.
“With the changed circumstance, with the announcement on Tuesday, it turned out that we had a scheduled immigration committee meeting, and it turned out that we had a report from our advocate, and it turned out we had a deeper understanding of what it is to be a city of sanctuary,” Cedillo said. “We are confident there will be no fiscal impact on the city, no adverse consequences on the city and we want to send that message to the (DACA recipients) who are here to continue to be engaged in the civic life of this city.”
The resolution cites the LAPD’s policy on immigrant enforcement, Trump’s DACA announcement, and the city’s history of adopting policies protecting all of its residents regardless of immigration status as some of the reasons for the resolution.
Schey’s report also recommended the city take steps to help immigrants in the country illegally and DACA recipients from being detained by federal officials by facilitating legal advice and representation for them. The report also recommended the city enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance, and decriminalize minor offenses likely to be committed by low-income residents.