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Weinstein affair likely the tip of a huge iceberg


The whole Harvey Weinstein thing – if true — can only be described as disgusting and sick.  

Sure, Weinstein had a good run. With his brother Bob, Harvey was a co-founder of both Miramax and the Weinstein Company. Films he was associated with earned 300 or so Academy Award nominations. That’s no small feat.  

But behind the scenes, as Ronan Farrow writes in this week’s edition of The New Yorker, that during the course of a nearly year-long investigation he was told by 13 women that. “between the 1990s and 2015, Weinstein sexually harassed or assaulted them.” 

Where there’s smoke there may be fire. On Friday, the Los Angeles Police Department announced it would open an investigation into a local case. Officials tweeted this on the @LAPDHQ account: #LAPD Robbery Homicide Div has interviewed a potential sexual assault victim involving Harvey Weinstein in 2013. Investigation ongoing. 

Almost as bad Weinstein’s alleged behavior is the atmosphere in Hollywood that allowed him to get a pass time and time again. Farrow wrote in his piece this week that at least 16 of Weinstein’s employees witnessed or had knowledge of Weinstein making unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. 

“They and others described a pattern of professional meetings that were little more than thin pretexts for sexual advances on young actresses and models,” Farrow wrote. 

Of course he did. Get this, Weinstein had a contract with his studio that essentially allowed him to be a predator. The agreement only required that he personally pay any damages resulting from lawsuits and personally pay the company $250,000 for any incidents that went to trial.  

How does that not enable a sick mind? 

Fortunately, there’s been a backlash. And, it’s been best exemplified in the whole #metoo movement started by actress Alyssa Milano. It generated nearly 2 million tweets, which included the hashtag, along with more than 13 million posts, comments and reactions on Facebook.  

If anything, it says that Weinstein is not some isolated jerk, but the tip of one hell of an iceberg.  

As loyal donors age, industry is out for young blood

By JoNel Aleccia 
Kaiser Health News 

When Corinne Standefer retires as a volunteer from the Lane Bloodworks in Eugene, Ore., this month, she will have donated 37 years of her life — and almost 19 gallons of blood. 

The 89-year-old gave her first pint decades ago to help a friend who had cancer. 

“When they called me and said ‘Could you donate again?’ I just started coming in,” she recalled. 

So, every eight or nine weeks, as often as it’s allowed, Standefer would roll up a sleeve and become one of the prized older donors who contribute the bulk of the U.S. blood supply. Overall, nearly 60 percent of blood donations come from people over 40 — and nearly 45 percent come from people older than 50, according to the AABB, an international nonprofit focused on transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. 

There’s a problem with that, though. Like Standefer, many regulars are aging out of the donor pool. Increasingly, blood industry experts say, there are too few young people lining up to replace them. 

“The older generations seemed to have internalized the message that we always have to have an adequate supply of blood on the shelves,” said Dr. James AuBuchon, president and chief executive of Bloodworks Northwest in Seattle. “The younger generations just seem less wired toward that message.” 

For people who grew up during World War II — and their children, the baby boomers — blood donation was a civic duty that became a lifelong habit. 

“It was a cultural thing to donate,” said Marie Forrestal, president of the Association of Donor Recruitment Professionals, or ADRP, a division of America’s Blood Centers. 

That cultural norm has changed, though, and for nearly a decade, blood banks have focused on recruiting teens and young adults, often through high school and college blood drives. 

“We’re trying to capture the people who are 16 and older,” Forrestal said. 

The tactic has been successful: Kids in the youngest age groups — 16-18 and 19-22 — now account for about 20 percent of all donations. 

But that’s not enough to compensate for lower turnout among people in their late 20s and 30s who can be harder to reach, more mobile and less inclined to donate than other generations. Fewer than 10 percent of blood donations come from people ages 23-29, with a little more than 12 percent from people in their 30s. 

Blood Donation Basics 

Volunteers donated more than 14.2 million units of blood in 2013, according to the latest available figures. More than 13.1 million units were used for transfusions that year. 

To give blood, volunteers must:

  • Be healthy, with a normal pulse and blood pressure, and a normal temperature. 
  • Meet minimum age requirements in your state, typically 16 years old. 
  • Weigh at least 110 pounds. 
  • Be free of infections that can be transmitted through transfusion, or risk factors for the infections. 
  • Not have donated in the past 56 days.  

Volunteers are deferred from giving blood for several reasons, including:

  • Not feeling well on the day of donation. 
  • Past use of needles to take drugs not prescribed by a medical professional. 
  • Being a man who’s had sex with another man in the past 12 months – or a woman who’s had sex with such a man in the past 12 months. 
  • Getting tattooed in the past 12 months, unless it was done under sterile conditions at a state-licensed facility. 
  • Having certain medical conditions or receiving certain medical treatments or medications. 
  • Living or traveling in certain areas of the world for designated periods of time. 

To read more on the need for donation, pls go to KHN.org. KHN’s coverage of end-of-life and serious illness issues is supported by The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and its coverage related to aging & improving care of older adults is supported by The John A. Hartford Foundation. 

Monrovia’s next election could wait until March 2020


For decades, Monrovia’s elections have stood alone, taking place in April every odd year and attracting low voter turnout. But according to City Manager Oliver Chi, that’s about to change. To bring Monrovia into compliance with a new state law, Monrovia will consolidate its municipal elections with a statewide election, either on Nov. 2018 or March 2020.

Chi explained in his weekly newsletter that Monrovia’s election turnout in April 2017 was 13.4 percent, far below the 46.62 percent turnout required by State Bill 415 to maintain stand-alone elections. That meant that city leaders had two options to replace the planned April 2019 election. Either was touted as a possibility, but according city staff prefered March.

“Many local government jurisdictions have aligned their municipal elections as stand-alone elections to avoid partisan conflict in community-based issues,” Chi said. “And when looking at the options available to the City, a March election would certainly be less partisan than a November election.”

However, the issue will be discussed in detail at Monrovia’s next City Council meeting on Nov. 7.

Dodgers win first World Series Game on Tuesday


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to take a two games to none lead in the World Series today at Dodger Stadium, sending left-hander Rich Hill to the mound against Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander.

The Dodgers won Game 1 Tuesday as Justin Turner hit a tie-breaking two-out, two-run home run in the sixth inning and Clayton Kershaw and two relievers limited the Astros to three hits in a 3-1 victory in before a capacity crowd at Dodger Stadium announced at 54,253.

Winners of the first game of the World Series have gone on to win the Series 70 of 112 times, 62.5 percent, including 12 of the last 14, with the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies and 2016 Cleveland Indians being the exceptions.

The Dodgers are the 65th home team to win Game 1. Of the previous 64 Game 1 winners, 43, 67.2 percent, have gone on to win the World Series, including 13 of the last 14, with the most recent exception being the 2016 Cleveland Indians.

In 19 of the 31 World Series since 1985, the Game 1 winner has also won Game 2.

Game 2 will include recognition of eight veterans of the Vietnam War as part of the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration which began on Memorial Day 2012 and will conclude on Veterans Day 2025.

The honorees include former Navy Capt. Charlie Plumb of Calabasas, who was a prisoner of war for six years and recipient of the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star and Purple Hearts, and former Army Sgt. Roy Gleason of Temecula, the most recent major leaguer to be awarded the Purple Heart.

Gleason played eight games with the Dodgers in 1963, doubling in his only major league at-bat.

The game ball will be delivered by 17-year-old Alanna Moore, a senior at CATCH Prep Charter High School in Leimert Park.

In Game 1, Chris Taylor hit Dallas Keuchel’s first pitch over the fence in left-center field for a homer leading off the bottom of the first inning in the hottest known World Series game.

Kershaw allowed three hits, including Alex Bregman’s solo homer in the fourth, struck out 11 and did not walk a batter in seven innings. Brandon Morrow pitched a perfect eighth inning. Kenley Jansen retired all three batters he faced in the ninth, striking out one, for the save.

Kershaw is the first pitcher in World Series history with 10 or more strikeouts, no walks and three or fewer hits allowed in a World Series game, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

“That was pretty impressive what he could do, throwing a ton of fastballs,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. “He landed his breaking ball a little bit better than we’ve seen in the past, but he’s tough. He showed it tonight, being in attack mode,  being in the strike zone early and got us pretty defensive from the get-go.”

Taylor’s  home run was the fourth leading off a Game 1 of the World Series. The most recent one was Alcides Escobar of the Kansas City Royals off Matt Harvey of the New York Mets in 2015.

Taylor was the 38th player to hit a home run in his first World Series at-bat, the first since teammate Chase Utley in 2008 when he played for the Philadelphia Phillies.

“CT hitting that home run, the first pitch of the game, it kind of almost settled us all in a little bit,” Kershaw said. “Just getting that early momentum is huge and the crowd kind of feed off that. It was definitely as good a start as we could have hoped for.”

Taylor extended the sixth when he walked on a 3-1 pitch with two outs and the bases empty.

Turner said that after his first two at-bats, when he struck out and popped out, he switched from a 34 1/2-ounce bat to his usual 33 1/2-ounce bat because “I got beat a couple of times.”

“Good thing I did because I didn’t get beat the third time,” Turner said after hitting his fourth home run of the postseason.

Turner said the heat helped make the home run possible.

“It was about 98 degrees,” Turner said. “So when it’s that hot here, the ball does travel a lot better. If it’s 10 degrees cooler, that’s probably a routine fly ball in left field.”

Turner has driven in 14 runs in the postseason, the most RBIs by a Dodger in a postseason, breaking the record previously set by Dusty Baker, who had 13 in 1977, when the postseason consisted of two rounds — the league championship series and World Series.

The temperature when Kershaw threw the game’s first pitch at 5:11 p.m.
was 103 degrees, the highest known temperature for a World Series game. Records
date back to 1975.

“It was hot warming up, but once the game started, the sun went down, it didn’t feel that hot,” Kershaw said. “I think not much of a breeze, but I don’t think it had much of an impact tonight.”

The previous hottest known World Series game was Game 1 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in Phoenix on Oct. 27, 2001, when the first-pitch temperature was 94 degrees and Major League Baseball ordered the roof at the then-Bank One Ballpark to be open, according to The Weather Channel, citing information from a blog by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist Alex Lamers.

The other World Series game with a temperature above 90 degrees was Game 6 of the 2001 World Series in Phoenix, when the high was 91.

Keuchel was charged with the loss, allowing three runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out three and walking one.

The crowd included retired Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully, Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and Basketball Hall of Fame member Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, according to Major League Baseball.

The crowd was the largest for a World Series game since Game 6 of the 2003 series at the since-demolished Yankee Stadium drew a crowd of 55,773 to see the Florida Marlins complete a six-game Series victory over the New York Yankees.

The game was the first World Series game at Dodger Stadium since Oct. 16, 1988, when Orel Hershiser, now a Dodger broadcaster, pitched a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the series, won by the Dodgers, four games to one.

The time of the game was two hours, 28 minutes, the shortest World Series game since Game 4 of the 1992 Series between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays, which took 2:21 to play.

This is the first World Series matchup since 1970 when both teams won at least 100 games in the regular season.

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color line in 1947, and their children Sharon and David. Gospel singer Keith Williams Jr. sang the national anthem.

LAUSD board member pleads not guilty to money laundering

Courtesy of LAUSD

Los Angeles Unified School Board member Ref Rodriguez pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three felony charges and 25 misdemeanor charges related to campaign donation reimbursements during his 2015 election, which prosecutors say was part of a money laundering scheme.

Rodriguez, who surrendered his passport as part of the terms of release, is due back in court Dec. 13 along with his cousin, Elizabeth Tinajero Melendrez, also charged in the alleged money laundering, according to LA School Report. If convicted, Rodriguez could spend up to four years and four months in jail.

Prosecutors allege that Rodriguez illegally reimbursed about $25,000 to 25 donors (mostly friends and family) in December 2014. Then, he signed a campaign finance form naming these donors as legitimate, which prosecutors say earned him a perjury charge.

Rodriguez has maintained his innocence.

“As the product of an immigrant family, nobody has more respect for the integrity of the American justice system than I do,” he said in a September statement. “I have cooperated with authorities and hope these issues will be resolved expeditiously and fairly.”

Dodgers to face Astros in sweltering World Series Game 1


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the World Series today at Dodger Stadium with a forecast that would make it the hottest known World Series game.

The temperature for the opening pitch at 5:09 p.m. is forecast by the National Weather Service to be 97 degrees. The unseasonably high temperature will be caused by a combination of Santa Ana winds and a strong upper-high pressure system, Andrew Rorke, a weather service meteorologist, told City News Service.

The hottest known World Series game is Game 1 of the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees in Phoenix on Oct. 27, 2001, when the first-pitch temperature was 94 degrees and Major League Baseball ordered the roof at the then-Bank One Ballpark to be open, according to The Weather Channel, citing information from a blog by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist Alex Lamers.

The Los Angeles Fire Department will assign additional personnel throughout the Dodger Stadium property because of both the heat and the potential for excessive celebration, the department’s Amy Bastman said.

“We are prepared for any additional need for emergency medical services,” she said, adding that the department will be poised to deploy additional personnel if needed.

The Los Angeles Police Department “will be fully staffed to respond to anything that arises” at the game, Officer Mike Lopez of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said.

“We hope for the best but prepare for the worst,” Lopez said.

Lopez also cautioned against driving while intoxicated and said fans going to the game should be aware of their surroundings and report anything that looks out of place.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, who will be the Dodgers starting pitcher, said he didn’t think the heat was “going to change anything.”

“They’re from Houston, I’m from Texas, it’s going to be hot for everybody,” Kershaw said. “We’re all used to it. It will be fine.”

The game will be the first World Series game at Dodger Stadium since Oct. 16, 1988, when Orel Hershiser, now a Dodger broadcaster, pitched a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the series, won by the Dodgers, four games to one.

“We’ve heard 1988 for so long in L.A., it feels good to say that we’re getting to go to the World Series in 2017,” said Kershaw, who has been with the Dodgers since 2008.

Both teams will announce their World Series rosters this morning. The Dodgers roster is expected to include shortstop Corey Seager who missed the National League Championship Series because of a back injury.

Seager hit .273 and drove in two runs in the three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in a National League Division Series.

Seager had the Dodgers second-highest batting average during the regular season, .295, was second in RBIs with 77, and tied for third in home runs with 22.

Dodger management is “sort of talking through” other changes to the roster, including “how we’re going to use the catchers,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Left-hander Dallas Keuchel will start for Houston. His 14-5 record was tied for fourth best in the American League.

Keuchel limited the New York Yankees to four hits over seven innings and did not allow a run in a 2-1 victory in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Oct. 13.

In his most recent appearance Wednesday he allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings in a 5-0 loss.

Keuchel had two stints on the 10-day disabled list this season because of a pinched nerve in his neck and neck discomfort, sidelining him from May 20-26 and June 8-July 27.

Heat wave to end Wednesday, but not before it gets hotter


Los Angeles County had a taste of fall earlier this month, but temperatures have been on the rise this week, culminating in projected 101° degree Fahrenheit heat, 26 degrees above normal in Downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Officials have released several red flag warnings, signifying high risk of wildfires and heat-related illnesses. Hot Santa Ana winds are also blowing throughout Southern California. Those warnings will be in force until 6 p.m. Wednesday in all of Los Angeles County, with the exception of Antelope Valley.

The National Weather Service said that those winds are the top danger, and could turn already-dry conditions in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties into a tinderbox.

“This event is especially concerning because of the multiple day nature of it, which we have not seen yet this season, and such events have a history or large fires,” the organization said in a statement.

Some areas within Los Angeles County will see even higher temperatures. The San Gabriel Valley is expected to see 106° degree heat on Tuesday.

Forecasters urged residents keep strenuous activity to the early morning hours or evening, drink lots of water, wear light, loose fitting clothing, and never leave people or pets in parked cars, even with a window cracked open.

Temperatures are expected to level off on Wednesday.


Food pantries step up as hungry students look for cheap food

According to a report from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness published in 2016, students surveyed who were first-generation college students were 11 percent more likely to face food insecurity.
By Keith Demolder
Hub Correspondent  

The ramen noodle diet used to be a choice for college students, but now it’s become one of the limited options for students who find themselves living in hunger. 

As the cost of an education continues to rise across the board, hungry college students are turning to cheap meals now more than ever. 

According to a report from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness released last October, 48 percent of 3,765 students in 12 states attending eight community colleges and 26 four-year colleges and universities reported being food insecure in the past 30 days. 

American food insecurity, defined as the lack of reliable access to sufficient quantities of affordable and nutritious food, has been increasing in prominence in the last 10 years due to multiple economic factors. 

On a national scale, food insecurity has been linked by some to “food deserts,” defined as an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food, especially vegetables.  

Economic Factors 

Contrary to this belief, USDA researcher Alisha Coleman-Jensen asserts that food insecurity stems from economic insecurity rather than a lack of available food. 

“Food insecurity is resulting primarily from economic restraints. Income and poverty are major factors,” Coleman-Jensen said. “So far, our research has not shown that food deserts are a major factor affecting food security. There may be some relationship there, but it’s not a major cause of food insecurity. The question is: Regardless of whether or not a store is right next to you, can you afford to purchase the food there?” 

Courtney Morra, Communication Manager for the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, affirms that the United States’ reliance on local food banks has risen dramatically in the past decade as Americans struggle to keep up the rising costs of living.  

“The majority of the people we serve are who we refer to as ‘the working poor.’ And by that, we mean households where at least one person is employed and they’re dealing with stagnant wages and the rising costs of living,” Morra said. “People who have maybe lived in their homes their whole lives all of a sudden can’t afford to pay rent because their wages are not keeping up with the rising costs.” 

Students struggle  

Along with the “working poor” in Los Angeles County and around the nation, a majority

According to a report from the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness published in 2016, of the 3,765 students surveyed, 48 percent or around 1,800 students reported being food insecure in the past month.

of food insecure college students find themselves struggling to pay for both rent and food when housing prices soar. 

Of the reported 1,807 food insecure students in the 2016 survey, 64 percent of those students reported experiencing some type of housing insecurity. Fifteen percent of food insecure students reported experiencing some form of homelessness – the most extreme form of housing insecurity – in the past 12 months, according to the national student campaign.  

The ever-growing need for food, has prompted food banks to sprout at college campuses all across the nation.  

As of 2009, just 10 campus food pantries existed.  

In 2017, there are more than 350. 

The biggest misconception about college hunger, collegiate food banks told The Hub, is that since students can afford tuition and rent that they should have enough money for food.  

In many cases, the opposite is true. 

Food pantries step up to fight hunger

At Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon 4,135 customers made use of the pantry from 2016-2017, a 722% increase from last year, and a 351% increase from the year 2014.  

“Although our college is one of the cheapest in the state per-unit, the cost is not as much as our parents paid. I also think about financial aid and what it covers. Most students use financial aid for books and for tuition, unfortunately scholarships don’t cover food or transportation and that’s a huge issue,” said Grecia Garcia Perez, a student service specialist at Chemeketa. 

At the University of Southern Mississippi, Tamara Hurst, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical social worker and a leader of The Eagle’s Nest, Southern Mississippi’s on-campus food pantry. 

Hurst believes that a cause of collegiate food insecurity can be explained by rising tuition rates and persistent lack of financial assistance available for college students. 

“We’re meant to be temporary assistance for these kids going through a hard time,” Hurst said. “Financial aid won’t cover enough and they’ve been reducing the availability and the amount of student loans over the years. People can’t work their way through college anymore with the cost of living, where minimum wage is, you’re never going to be able to save enough to put yourself through school.” 

At food pantries ranging from The Eagle’s Nest at Southern Mississippi University to the Food Security Project at Fresno State University, pantry leaders confirm that even with off-campus jobs, students from all walks of life still struggle to make ends meet. 

The Patriot Pantry at George Mason University currently serves 55 students and 125-200 pounds of food every week, with more than 120 students served since opening in 2015.  

Low-paying jobs hurt students 

Patriot Pantry representative Gary Hooker maintains that along with a stressful and time-consuming school schedule, low-paying jobs offered to college students are simply not enough to keep some students afloat.  

“We believe that the biggest factor in food insecurity among college students is that while trying to maintain classes, extracurricular activities, and a personal/social life, there’s not enough time to work a full-time job to make the money to keep you from being food insecure,” said Patriot Pantry representative Gary Hooker via email. “On top of that, there’s such large limitations in the workforce for college student, because employers want people who have experience. Working a part-time, entry-level job will not pay all your bills and keep adequate food in your home.” 

The solution to solving student hunger, while far off say pantry leaders, relies on reducing the stigma surrounding collegiate hunger by developing relationships and maintaining a positive environment inside pantries. 

Kristin Giffin, a representative from the sylmar-based Children’s Hunger Fund, stresses that helping those in need requires a community environment that emphasizes hope and acceptance. 

“When you’re impoverished, when you’re hungry and when you think you’re isolated in your situation, you continue to withdraw…Nobody wants to be the poster child for hunger,” Giffin said. “Creating the awareness and creating options for people to step into a community is huge. Creating an opportunity for a hungry student to come over and have dinner so that when he or she comes in, they don’t step into a community and say “Hi, I’m poor.” They instead say, “Hi, I’m happy to be here.’” 

Fires prey on frail residents living on their own

By Barbara Feder Ostrov
Kaiser Health News

They were asleep when the fire reached their home. Charles Rippey, 100, and his wife, Sara, 98, had been married 75 years. They died together, after a caregiver struggled to save them but couldn’t get them out in time. 

A 27-year-old woman had spina bifida and used a wheelchair. In the hours after the fires broke out, her relatives frantically sought information about her whereabouts. When a fire inspector visited her home, he found her body. 

Wildfires continue to spread through Northern California counties, already taking the lives of at least 31 people. Hundreds more are missing. Local officials and advocates fear that many among them are seniors or disabled people unable to flee, as many residents have, on a moment’s notice. 

Others have been saved only by luck and quick-thinking neighbors. 

In Mendocino County’s Redwood Valley community, retired firefighter RedHawk Palleson came across a disoriented elderly woman wandering in his neighborhood and an older couple in their bathrobes as flames chased them down the street, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. He drove them to safety in his truck. 

The deaths and close calls illustrate the particular vulnerability of frail people living on their own during a fast-moving disaster. “The fires have raised a lot of questions about how we respond and provide safety to vulnerable people in an imminent crisis,” said Marty Omoto, executive director of the California Disability Community Action Network. “We have to ask ourselves how we respond when there’s no warning.” 

Omoto said he is still trying to reach friends and colleagues living with disabilities in the region. “We’re operating on hope,” he said. 

In both Sonoma and Napa conties, where the wildfires have been the most severe, about 18 percent of residents are age 65 or older, higher than the statewide percentage of 13.6 percent, according to U.S. Census data. About 6 to 8 percent of those counties’ residents have disabilities. 

This week, people posted poignant queries on social media hoping to find loved ones still missing. “Has anyone seen the woman on the right?” Elizabeth Northrup wrote on Facebook, providing a picture of an older woman. “Her name is Norma Lou Peoples. She uses a red walker.” 

Nursing homes aren’t fail-safe, as was tragically illustrated by the eight deaths in a sweltering Florida nursing home left without air conditioning after Hurricane Irma. But they, along with assisted living facilities and homes for the disabled, do have disaster and evacuation plans. In-home caregivers rarely get training on how to help their clients in an emergency, Omoto said, and in a disaster they may have their own families to care for. And of course some frail people don’t receive in-home care. 

Marianne McBride, president and CEO of Sonoma County’s Council on Aging, said Wednesday that she and her staff were still trying to track down the agency’s social services clients, including up to 1,200 who regularly receive “meals on wheels.” 

It was a challenge. Over the weekend, cellphones either didn’t work or worked only sporadically as the fire destroyed 73 cellphone towers. Internet and electricity were down in some areas. But by Monday, the agency had reached 600 seniors, McBride said. 

McBride, whose brother lost his home in the fires, said seniors or disabled people should consider keeping their landlines rather than relying only on cellphones. She also said social service providers should keep paper copies of client locations as a backup when internet and electrical services fail. 

McBride also recommended that family members get acquainted with the neighbors of their elderly relatives and provide them with their contact information in case of emergency. Neighbors have to look out for each other, she said. 

“There’s not a service agency that can take care of all the aging individuals that we have in the community,” McBride said, choking back tears. “What the fires bring out is that the only way we’re going to successfully age is if we do so in community, and the community feels it has a responsibility to look out for neighbors and get them the resources they need.” 

As developmentally disabled people increasingly live independently, they too need support both during and after disasters. 

Vicki Smith, a deputy director at the California State Council on Developmental Disabilities, said the public agency in the past year has trained more than 1,100 developmentally disabled people in disaster preparedness with simplified materials, including how to assemble an inexpensive emergency backpack. She estimated that there are more than 10,000 developmentally disabled people living in Sonoma and Napa counties. 

Disaster experts say the general preparedness recommendations for everyone are even more important for people with limited mobility. For instance, keep the car gassed up and put a change of clothes and an emergency kit in the trunk. And sign up for your community’s alert system (although there were some complaints from Northern California residents that they never received these alerts). 

Nancy McPherson, state director for AARP California, urged people to learn ahead of time the routes to buildings likely to be used as shelters during an emergency, such as a local high school. 

McPherson said the AARP has partnered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the past, but this year’s severe hurricanes and fires have sparked a new effort to make emergency preparedness for seniors “more robust,” she said. 

Some communities have tried to develop registries of elderly and disabled people who might need rescue in emergencies, but such registries are difficult to keep current, McPherson said. 

“There’s been a lot of thinking about this, but plans get put on a shelf and we tend to forget that they are there,” McPherson said. 

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

Study says downtown L.A. needs more hotels


The Los Angeles Convention Center needs more nearby hotels to compete with similar facilities in other major cities, according to a report released last week by Councilman Jose Huizar. 

   The Downtown Los Angeles Hotel Market Study found a marked improvement in the number of hotel rooms added or planned within three-quarters of a mile to the LACC, but concluded the city still trails other major cities. 

   “This study shows the continued growth and improvement of downtown Los Angeles hotels, its positive effect on our economy and the importance to continue building more,” Huizar said. “While our collective efforts over the last four years has resulted in a substantial increase in our hotel room supply, Los Angeles still lags behind most major convention center cities. We must continue to support hotels surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center while making sure they are consistent with the planning and urban design for the area.” 

   The study found that over the last four years, the number of hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center doubled to 4,637. 

   The study also found that the Transient Occupancy Tax charged to hotel guests was the seventh-largest general fund revenue source in fiscal year 2014-2015 for the city, and in 2016-2017, the TOT had a higher rate of growth than property taxes. 

   The Convention and Tourism Development Department in 2013 set a goal of 8,000 hotel rooms open or under construction within walking distance of the convention center by 2020. With an additional 717 rooms under construction, the city will be 67 percent of the way to 8,000 when they are completed. 

   The study also noted that L.A. ranks 18th in hotel room supply within three-quarters of a mile to a convention center by comparable cities. San Francisco is first with 21,570 rooms. 
   The full report can be found here.