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Author: L.A. Daily News

Our older adults need a hand, not the back of a hand

I ate dinner last night. There will be food on my table again this evening. My housing is secure. I have access to quality healthcare.

These and numerous other basic human needs seem fundamental, even inalienable. But for a vast and rapidly expanding segment of older Angelenos – a demographic into which I fall – they increasingly are growing beyond reach. The poverty rate among Los Angeles seniors is rising, fueled by the continuing impact of COVID-19, surging inflation, and housing unaffordability across the region, among other factors.

By some measures, including a study from the U.C. Berkeley Labor Center, older-adult poverty in the Los Angeles area stands at nearly one in three seniors – the highest level in the state. Without aggressive intervention, this figure could mushroom further, because the “graying” population is forecast to double in size during the next 20 years.

Confronted by hard choices on all sides – Rent or groceries? The utility bill or prescription medication? – limited incomes and scant savings drive these seniors little by little closer to the margins. The number of people 62 and over experiencing homelessness is rising faster than any other age group. Researchers say that 76 percent of Baby Boomers have less than $100,000 set aside for their golden years.

These factors constrain basic medical care and contribute to poor health outcomes, including chronic disease and mortality. Among older adults, poverty is linked to increased risk of disability, physical and cognitive decline, depression, alcohol and substance abuse, and homelessness.

Los Angeles routinely ranks among the highest cost of living cities in the nation.  Consequently, those obstacles to quality of life and dignity for seniors do not just affect those with incomes that fall below Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guidelines. The same challenges exist among the “hidden poor,” the one-quarter of all seniors locally who live above the FPL but below the Elder Economic Security Standard. That index pegs as two times more likely the number of seniors who self-report being in poor or marginally fair health, depressed, or unable to get timely healthcare, compared to their wealthier counterparts.

At a time when we face a burgeoning list of pressing societal issues, caring for older adults – ensuring there are resources for them to age in place with dignity – needs to be placed among the most urgent. There are no magic bullets, no single prescription for addressing this compounding problem. Instead, it’s going to require an increasingly bold, aggressive slate of solutions: expanding and better coordinating federal, state and local public safety net of services; funding from corporate and private foundation sources that can substantially leverage programs; and innovative programs from nonprofit providers.

An example of such forward-thinking responses is the efforts of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF), which serves Latino seniors and families in Boyle Heights and Eastside Los Angeles. Many of their senior clients are eligible for benefits, but either do not know how to apply or have difficulty applying for and enrolling in these benefit programs, often due to language or other barriers.

This, in part, is why the institution I am proud to lead, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, recently awarded grants of $1 million to five community nonprofits – MAOF, as well as the L.A. LGBT Center, ONEgeneration, Partners in Care Foundation and St. Vincent Meal on Wheels – for assistance to low-income older adults through access to food, healthcare, housing, and supportive care to live independently and age with dignity.Specifically, the MAOF grant will help 1,200 older adults to enroll in services at meal sites, food pantries, and multipurpose centers to access essential food, health, and economic benefits. Another case in point is funding expansion of ONEgeneration’s suite of “wrap-around” older adult services. It will enable the Van Nuys-based organization to increase its assistance to seniors experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness, its adult day care for low-income seniors, and its new food bank and mobile food pantry that feeds over 8,000 people each month.

Notably, these grants all reflect a commitment to equity, with funds targeted to support diverse and impacted communities across metropolitan Los Angeles. Older adult poverty doesn’t differentiate by geography, ethnicity or identity group. Neither should efforts responding to this urgent need.

The challenge is great, and caring for our elders is incumbent upon us all. That downtrodden and impoverished older person – increasingly boxed into the corner where poverty lurks – deserves our respect and a helping hand. With an aging population, we need renewed commitment to building a society that supports our elders. Turning our backs is not an option, so do not look away.

Marvin I. Schotland is president and chief executive officer of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, which manages charitable assets of $1.5 billion and in 2021 awarded $123 million in grants.

Long Beach, San Bernardino residents report most calls from scammers about fake SCE bills

More than 4,200 Southern California Edison customers received fake billing calls in the first seven months of 2022, and Long Beach and San Bernardino residents reported the highest numbers.

Some 170 Long Beach residents have contacted the company through July about receiving calls from scammers pretending to be SCE  employees. In San Bernardino, 128 customers reported fraudulent calls.

Of those reports, 15 Long Beach residents unwittingly paid nearly $12,000 to scammers. In San Bernardino, nearly $5,600 was paid.

The callers are highly skilled in mimicking employees, using several techniques to appear authentic and to catch customers off guard, Ron Gales, a spokesperson for SCE, said.

The most common tactic involves identifying themselves as SCE employees and telling customers or small businesses that they’re overdue on an account balance, and threatening that a technician is en route to cut their electricity if they do not pay. The caller ID will even show up as “Southern California Edison” on customers’ phones.

“We will never call to threaten a disconnect,” Gales said. “Customers or businesses will always receive at least one notice in the mail before disconnecting.”

The scams have gotten so authentic, some use the same on-hold music as SCE after informing victims they’re being transferred to a manager.

“They’re hoping to catch you when you’re busy or caught up in the commotion of the day and more willing to comply,” Gales said.

Customers most likely to fall prey include seniors and non-English speakers.

Scammers will usually demand that customers provide funds either through a cash-based app like Zelle or by sending prepaid gift cards. Typically the scammers will demand payments between $300 and $800, but in one case this year, a customer in San Fernando was conned out of $18,000, the SCE says.

“In these instances, the scam callers will repeatedly tell customers that their payment didn’t go through, and they continue to try and try until they finally catch on and it’s too late,” Gales said.

Once the money has been sent through those methods, Gales said it becomes nearly impossible to trace or recover the funds.

SCE employed a moratorium at the start of the coronavirus pandemic on disconnections for late payments, but the moratorium ended in July, stoking fear among officials that small businesses may be particularly vulnerable to threats of having their power cut off, hurting their business and income.

But even with disconnections on hold, customers across SCE’s coverage area reported being scammed out of more than $279,198 in the first seven months of the year.

More than half that amount was sent through mobile cash apps.

SCE regularly sends out flyers, notices and letters to customers on how to distinguish between a real employee and spam caller.

“We don’t have a disconnections department, we never accept prepaid gift cards or bitcoin as payment and we will never ask for credit card, social security numbers or (a) driver’s license over the phone,” Gales said.

Customers who have been the victims of fraudulent bill scams should contact SCE’s customer support line at 800-990-7788, or by emailing [email protected]

Southern California cities with the highest number of scam calls reported include:

  • Long Beach: 170 calls, $11,758.44 lost
  • San Bernardino, 128 calls, $5,588.30 lost
  • Santa Ana, 124 calls, $11,084.33 lost
  • Irvine, 86 calls, $1,006.88 lost
  • Fontana, 82 calls, $7,702.67 lost
  • Apple Valley, 72 calls, $4,112.98 lost
  • Whittier, 72 calls, $2,248.00 lost
  • Victorville, 69 calls, $5,697.41 lost
  • Los Angeles, 65 calls, $6,365.48 lost
  • Huntington Beach, 64 calls, $17,828.84 lost

COVID hospitalizations drop below 1,000 in LA County

COVID-related hospitalizations fell below the 1,000 mark in Los Angeles County on Thursday, Aug. 18, reflecting continued drops in infection numbers, although the public health director warned that transmission of the infectious BA.5 variant of the virus remains high, necessitating personal precautions.

“We’re cognizant that the case rate is still high, well above 200 weekly cases per 100,000 people, indicating that there’s still a lot of virus circulating,” Barbara Ferrer told reporters during an online briefing. “The work that we do together to minimize spread and exposure makes a difference, particularly for those at elevated risk of poor outcomes should they become infected.”

She noted that the BA.5 variant of the virus now represents about 88% of all specially sequenced COVID-19 cases in the county, so it remains the dominant strain of the illness. She said officials are closely watching the development of new strains around the world, but so far, there do not appear to be any new variants locally threatening to spark a new surge.

“At the moment … there are no sub-variants or sub-lineages that are poised to circulate more widely in L.A. County than BA.5,” Ferrer said. “This is good news, as our recent history has linked a proliferation of new strains with increased transmissibility. As we discussed before, it is likely that all of the currently circulating sub-variants have an ability to cause repeat re-infections for those who have already had COVID.”

She also again warned that the more the virus spreads, the more the risk grows of another viral mutation developing.

According to state figures, there were 996 COVID-positive patients in county hospitals as of Thursday, down from 1,009 on Wednesday. Of those patients, 109 were being treated in intensive care, down from 123 a day earlier.

County officials have said that roughly 43% of the COVID-positive patients were actually admitted for virus-related illness, while the others were admitted for other reasons, with some only learning they were infected when they were tested at the hospital.

The county reported another 3,379 new COVID infections on Thursday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 3,371,673. The number of new COVID infections reported each day by the county is believed to be an undercount of actual virus activity, since many people use at-home tests, the results of which are not always reported to the county.

Ferrer said the county reported an average of 3,500 new cases per day over the past week, down from 3,800 a week ago.

Another 16 virus-related fatalities were also reported, giving the county an overall death toll of 32,991. Over the past seven days, the county averaged 13 deaths per day, down slightly from 14 per day the previous week.

The average daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 10.3% as of Thursday, roughly the same rate as the past week.

The county Department of Public Health urged residents Tuesday to get tested for COVID often, most notably if they have been exposed or have symptoms, before and after gatherings and when they travel. Health officials reminded residents that if they test positive, they must isolate. If they test negative but still have symptoms, they should remain at home and test again within 24 to 48 hours.

Teachers union considers boycotting LAUSD’s voluntary learning day for students

The union representing Los Angeles Unified teachers is weighing whether to ask its members to boycott an extra day of work planned for October, in a dispute over whether district officials had the right to tack on four days of voluntary paid teaching aimed at helping children who fell behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

The so-called “Student Acceleration Days”, scheduled for four Wednesdays during the school year, are voluntary for both students and teachers, and are intended to help students who struggled academically during the pandemic to catch up.

Teachers aren’t required to work these days, and those who do will receive extra pay.

Despite the days being optional, United Teachers Los Angeles filed an unfair practice charge with the state’s Public Employment Relations Board this month, alleging the district was wrong to unilaterally alter the school calendar without first making a good-faith attempt to negotiate with the union.

The district said in a statement last week that the days are “purely optional” and would allow teachers “the opportunity to work with small groups of students who may need additional instruction” while receiving extra compensation. It further stated that it has and will continue to meet with the union.

Still, UTLA maintains that the extra days should have been negotiated since it impacts employees’ work volume and schedules. Adding the extra days means the school year will end four days later in June, the union has said.

On Friday, Aug. 12, the union sent a memo to its members, which the Los Angeles Daily News has reviewed, announcing it will poll its members next week about potentially boycotting the first of the four “acceleration” days, scheduled for Oct. 19.

Rather than encourage employees to work it, UTLA officials are considering calling a downtown rally for that day to promote the union’s “Beyond Recovery” platform, which lays out issues it wants to address in its current contract negotiations with the district.

The memo said UTLA’s bargaining team will continue to try and resolve the dispute with the district over the four extra days.

“However, if the district and (Superintendent Alberto) Carvalho proceed in unfairly implementing their new schedule, the UTLA Officers, Board of Directors, Bargaining Team, and Chapter Leaders who met at the Leadership Conference recommend that C-Basis employees unionwide boycott volunteering for October 19 and instead hold a rally downtown in support of the Beyond Recovery platform,” the union stated in the memo.

About 80% of UTLA members are classified as “C-Basis” employees, meaning they have the option of working on Oct. 19. If the union proceeds with the boycott, the other 20% of UTLA members who must work that day would be encouraged to pass out leaflets and engage in outreach with parents before and after school, according to the memo.

UTLA represents about 34,000 teachers, counselors, librarians, nurses and other certificated employees.

Meanwhile, until decisions are firmed up regarding the boycott, the union is asking its members not to sign up to work the optional day in October.

“It is critical that you protect your right to boycott by NOT signing up to volunteer for October 19,” the memo stated.

The district, which did not respond to a request for comment about the potential boycott, has described the “acceleration” days, which will be structured differently from a regular school day, as opportunities for students to receive support to catch up and meet grade-level standards, earn a C or better in their courses, or to get ahead.

It’s unclear what would happen if few teachers volunteer to work these days.

Students who don’t attend the extra days may be dropped off on campus by their parents for daycare during the regular school hours.

UTLA has questioned whether the four days will do much to help students. Instead, the union has said that money being set aside for these four days would be better spent on reducing class sizes; hiring more counselors, psychiatric social workers and psychologists; and investing in teacher development.

In April, the district estimated that it would cost $122 million to fund the four “Student Acceleration Days,” along with three optional professional development days that were offered last week.

Representatives for the union and district will next meet to resume negotiations on Thursday, Aug. 25.

 

Man gets 5 life terms for killing 5 in the San Fernando Valley in 2014

An ex-convict from Sylmar who carried out a shooting rampage in 2014 that left five people dead in the San Fernando Valley, including three on the same day, was sentenced Thursday, Aug. 18, to five consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole.

Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus said from his downtown Los Angeles courtroom that Alexander Hernandez “should never be released. …

“To call him evil seems inadequate,” the judge said, saying the defendant “went out to hunt people” and that the cruelty he exhibited “defies explanation.”

Hernandez, 42, was convicted May 25 of first-degree murder for the 2014 slayings of Sergio Sanchez on March 14; Gilardo Morales on Aug. 21; and Gloria Tovar, Michael Planells and Mariana Franco on Aug. 24. There were also 11 counts of attempted murder that year and other offenses.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office dropped its bid for the death penalty for Hernandez in March 2021, just under four years after the prosecution announced it would seek capital punishment. Shortly after being sworn into office, District Attorney George Gascón issued a series of directives, including one that “a sentence of death is never an appropriate resolution in any case.”

Elizabeth King, whose daughter was shot and seriously wounded, said of the defendant, “If I had my way, he would get the death penalty multiple times.”

King’s daughter, Nicole De La Mora, who was struck while on her way to work, called Hernandez “a murderer” and a “predator who took the lives of special people.”

Morales’ niece, Nancy Payares, told the judge her uncle was “more than family to us” and was “the kind of man to help anyone.”

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee told jurors in her final argument that society will probably never know why the crimes occurred. She told City News Service after the verdict that the attacks were “absolutely unprovoked.”

Most of the victims were driving — including home from prom or work, to church and en route to a fishing trip with their children on Father’s Day.

Hernandez was often in his Chevrolet Suburban, a prosecutor has said.

The SUV was identifiable by a hood that didn’t close properly, stickers of “a white skull” and “666” on the back of the vehicle, custom six-spoked rims and other unique details, according to the prosecution.

Other shootings that were subsequently linked to the defendant included a May 14, 2014, drive-by attack that seriously injured a Chatsworth teenager who had just dropped his girlfriend at home following their high school prom and was waiting for a traffic light to change when a vehicle pulled alongside and a man shot him, according to the deputy district attorney.

Hernandez has remained jailed without bail since he was arrested after barricading himself for about an hour inside his Sylmar residence on Aug. 24, 2014.

He had prior convictions dating back to 2004 for possession for sale of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance while armed, and possession of a firearm by a felon.

 

 

5 utility workers injured in underground vault explosion near Hollywood Hills

Five utility workers were injured in an explosion in an underground Department of Water and Power electrical vault near 3744 North Barham Boulevard Thursday afternoon, officials said.

Los Angeles Fire Department responded to the location just before 2 p.m. for a reported electrocution, LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.

When responders arrived, five employees had varying degrees of burns and smoke inhalation injuries, but none of the injuries were life-threatening, Stewart said. All patients were alert, conscious, talking, and were in fair condition. There was no active fire hazard and the power was confirmed to be off.

The men were transported to a local hospital.

The explosion caused a power outage in the area, as crews worked to repair the damage. There was no estimated time of restoration. About 17 customers were affected, DWP said.

Horse racing notes: Spendarella to run in Saturday’s Del Mar Oaks

DEL MAR LEADERS

Through Thursday

JOCKEYS / WINS

Juan Hernandez / 30

Umberto Rispoli / 15

Joe Bravo / 12

Ramon Vazquez / 12

Hector Berrios / 8

TRAINERS / WINS

Bob Baffert / 11

Philip D’Amato / 10

Peter Miller / 10

Doug O’Neill / 10

George Papaprodromou / 9

WEEKEND STAKES (DEL MAR)

Friday

• $100,000 CTT and TOC Stakes, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1-3/8 miles (turf)

Saturday

• $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Oaks, 3-year-old fillies, 1-1/8 miles (turf)

Sunday

• $150,000 Solana Beach Stakes, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up bred in California, 1 mile (turf)

DOWN THE STRETCH

• Del Mar’s “Ship and Win” program, in its 12th year, is off to a strong start through the first half of the track’s summer meet. Ship and Win horses have won 17 races from 143 starts – 68 on dirt and 75 on the turf. The Ship and Win program offers out-of-state owners and trainers a bonus for just showing up and running at Del Mar ($5,000 for dirt runners and $4,000 for turf horses) and they can earn an additional bonus with a percentage of the purse money they win in their initial start (50% for dirt horses and 40% to turf types).

• Santa Anita will again offer its “Ship and Win” program during its fall meet that begins Friday, Sept. 30. Track management offers a $5,000 bonus for any eligible horse making his or her first start and a 35% bonus, excluding stakes races, on any purse money earned. “Ship and Win has proven to be a very effective catalyst in attracting new equine talent and we’re very hopeful that many horsemen will opt to stay in Southern California following Del Mar and to participate in this lucrative program here at our autumn meet,” Santa Anita racing secretary Chris Merz said in a statement.

• Spendarella, a winner of three of her four career starts, has been shipped to Del Mar by trainer Graham Motion to run in Saturday’s $300,000 Grade I Del Mar Oaks for 3-year-old fillies on the turf. Spendarella, who arrived at Del Mar earlier this week, broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park, won the Grade III Herecomesthebride turf mile at the South Florida track and then captured the Grade II Appalachian at Keeneland before a third-place finish in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot in her most recent start. The race has drawn a full field of 14, half of whom have won a graded stakes in the U.S. or a group stakes in Europe.

— Art Wilson

Finger-pointing erupts among backers of George Gascón recall

A Florida-based company that was paid millions of dollars to collect signatures for the campaign to recall Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón this week blamed organizers for their failure to qualify an election, insisting “they have no one to blame but themselves for this disaster.”

David Leibowitz, a spokesman for Let The Voters Decide, claimed the recall committee failed to heed the advice of petition circulation experts, ultimately tanking the recall effort.

“This could not have been handled more like amateur hour,” Leibowitz said. “These consultants made poor decisions and ignored solid advice at every turn. You name it, they did it, from collecting signatures on the cheap to failing to pay their bills, to expensive direct mail that failed, to having zero clue how to verify signatures for submission. They have no one to blame but themselves for this disaster.”

Let The Voters Decide, which is suing the recall campaign over nearly $500,000 in unpaid bills for signature gathering, also alleges consultants for the recall committee paid themselves more than $400,000 in the first half of 2022 for the “chaotic event.”

“When the history of this campaign is written, it will be a failure nearly as shocking as George Gascón’s massive failure to enforce the law and protect the good people of Los Angeles,” Leibowitz said. “This should never have happened.”

Herculean task

Experts, however, cited the herculean task of collecting 566,857 valid signatures to qualify the recall election for the ballot. Though organizers turned in petitions containing 717,000 signatures, county elections officials this week said they fell 47,000 short of the  number required. Signatures from unregistered voters were the main culprit.

By comparison, the successful recall campaign that ousted progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin in June needed just 51,325 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The sheer size of Los Angeles County, which has a population larger than that of 40 states, makes the logistics of a successful recall effort difficult, said veteran Los Angeles political consultant Matt Klink, who turned down a request to spearhead an earlier, aborted Gascón recall campaign because it was a partisan, grassroots effort.

“It’s easy until you have to do it,” Klink said. “As unpopular as Mr.Gascón is, the bar is still high and it should be difficult.”

Finding signature collectors skilled at persuading voters to endorse ballot measures — even when they involve polarizing figures like Gascón — is challenging and costly.

Millions spent on petitions

Campaign finance records show the Gascón recall committee spent about $4.8 million — of which $4.3 million went to Let The Voters Decide — to circulate the recall petitions. That equates to $9.22 for each valid signature. In 2021, the average cost per required signature on referendums nationwide was $14.74, according to Ballotpedia.

“People have other things on their minds, so you have to make it (the initiative) rise to the top,” Klink said. “Most voters may believe it’s not that important, so you have to have people go in and make it important.”

That the campaign flopped is not that surprising, he said, “because most recall efforts fail, either to get enough signatures (for a referendum) or lose at the ballot box. You are under intense pressure in a recall. They were probably rushed and didn’t properly check everything.”

The Los Angeles County registrar-recorder/county clerk reported that the disqualified signatures on the Gascón petitions included 88,464 from unregistered voters, 43,593 duplicates and 32,187 from individuals who provided a different address than that listed on voter registration records.

Organizers of the recall effort launched their campaign in late January after the county approved their petition, giving them about 160 work days to meet the signature requirement.

“No one ever has collected this many signatures over such a short period of time on a per capita basis,” said Tim Lineberger, a spokesman for the Recall District Attorney George Gascón campaign. “It’s unprecedented.”

Lineberger believes Los Angeles County voters grasped the importance and urgency of removing Gascón from office, but said qualifying the recall for the ballot was still a heavy lift.

“The message resonates significantly, but getting people to fill out petitions perfectly as required and return them is challenging,” he said.

Several challenges

Aaron Green, a political consultant who wasn’t involved in the campaign but has managed successful ballot measures in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, said the Gascón recall effort likely faced several hurdles.

“The recall campaign ran into challenges on several fronts, including a tight labor market for paid signature gatherers (and) an overall sense of political exasperation amongst voters who were being asked to sign yet another petition in front of their grocery store,” he said in an email.

The lawsuit filed by Let the Voters Decide alleges the recall committee “lowered the price they were willing to pay signature collectors during a time” when the market demanded an increase, according to City News Service. The committee’s “failed strategic decisions” caused the signature collecting to fall behind schedule, Let the Voters Decide alleged.

Lineberger described the lawsuit as frivolous but declined to elaborate. He is satisfied with the financial support the Gascón recall effort has received and how the campaign money has been spent.

“The outpouring of support from both sides of the political aisle is yet another indication of how badly people want Gascón gone,” he said. “His dangerous policies and social experiments are putting everyone at risk. It’s not a partisan issue.”

Bipartisan donations

Despite being described as a movement by “fringe conservatives,” financial records for the recall effort showed Democrats contributed roughly $1.3 million in the attempt to topple Gascón. Republicans still make up the majority of the contributions, however, according to to an analysis by the Southern California News Group, which looked at each donor’s history of political contributions to determine their likely political allegiance.

Of the $7.6 million reviewed, $4.1 million came from individuals or companies who typically donated to conservative candidates, the data showed. The nearly $1.3 million contributed by Democrats includes well-known fundraisers, companies and left-leaning committees.

Political committees tied to law enforcement agencies contributed about $1.1 million of the total haul, while the remaining $1 million came from sources who had either donated evenly to Republicans and Democrats, or who did not have clear political affiliations.

Two Republican megadonors and real estate moguls, Geoffrey Palmer of Beverly Hills and Gerald Marcil of Palos Verdes Estates, covered about a third of the campaign’s funding on their own. As the two highest contributors, Palmer and Marcil donated $1.6 million and $1 million, respectively.

The third highest contributor, Douglas Emmett Properties, is a real estate investment company run by Chief Executive Officer Jordan Kaplan, who has donated to various Democratic parties across the country in the last two years.

Douglas Emmett not only contributed $500,000 directly to the Gascón recall effort, but the company waived $211,000 as the campaign’s landlord, according to the campaign filings. Other prominent Democrat donations included $150,000 from Hudson Pacific Services, led by Victor Coleman, who previously made sizable donations to the DNC and Gov. Gavin Newsom; and $100,000 from prominent Democrat fundraiser Ron Burkle.

Kaplan and Douglas Emmett Management did not respond to requests for comment.

Political action committees tied to the Professional Peace Officers Association, Association of L.A. Deputy Sheriffs and the Los Angeles Police Protective League gave $500,000, $300,000 and $200,000, respectively.

The bipartisan support for recalling Gascón has less to do with party politics and more to do with how his performance is perceived, Green said.

“Historically, with incumbent district attorneys, voters first ask themselves if they think the district attorney is doing a good job and keeping their families safe, and party affiliation comes second,” he added. “It’s clear that there is a constituency of Democratic voters who don’t like the job District Attorney Gascón is doing.”

Elise Moore, a spokesperson for Gascón, said Californians don’t like recall elections, adding that the campaign to oust the district attorney was likely harmed by an endorsement from controversial Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

“But at the end of the day, the district attorney’s biggest and most important supporters stood by him and that means a lot to voters,” Moore said.

The fight may not be over yet. Officials with the recall effort are considering a possible legal challenge to the petition signature results, according to the committee’s spokesman.

“We are concerned about any voters who are registered and having their signatures not counted,” Lineberger said.

Del Mar horse racing consensus picks for Friday, August 19

The consensus box of Del Mar picks comes from handicappers Bob Mieszerski, Art Wilson, Terry Turrell and Eddie Wilson. Here are the picks for thoroughbred races on Friday, August 19, 2022.

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Trainer Andy Mathis finding success at competitive Del Mar meet

DEL MAR — According to trainer Andy Mathis, Del Mar is not the race track to visit if you’re looking for an easy score.

There are no cupcakes at the track where the turf meets the surf. Very few five- and six-horse fields. Mathis says Del Mar is the most competitive track he’s trained at since taking out his license in 2001.

“Del Mar is such a hard place to win because you have full fields, some horses just don’t like it down here. Some do. Some longshot comes to Del Mar that’s doing good and they beat you and it’s just very tough. A lot of wild cards,” Mathis said while taking a break from what has been an exceptional summer meet for the Northern California-based trainer.

“It’s just a hard place to win. When you think you’re live, something happens. Del Mar’s always that place where horses win that you’re not expecting. Normally, the rest of the year, you look at a race and you think there’s two other horses in here that we gotta beat. If we can beat them, hopefully we’re gonna win the race. Del Mar, you get these odd-ball horses that jump up on you and you can’t narrow it down.”

Despite Del Mar’s competitiveness, the 43-year-old Mathis has managed to do quite well at the seaside oval for the past few years. This year, he’s won with seven of his 24 starters for a nifty 29% success rate. In 2018, he won six races at Del Mar. He won four in 2019 and 2021, skipping the 2020 meet because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Del Mar doesn’t seem like it would be a fun place during a pandemic,” Mathis said. “That to me is the fun part about going to the races at Del Mar. Everybody’s into it, big crowds, the beach, the partying. The whole atmosphere. It’s just a fun place to run. A lot of excitement.”

And fun and excitement are what Mathis has been experiencing so far during this 31-day meet.

“I thought I had a decent lineup (of horses), but I never anticipated winning six races early in the meet,” Mathis said before Offshore Affair gave him his seventh victory in Thursday’s second race. “That was really beyond any expectations that I would have had.”

Mathis developed a love for horse racing after attending the races at the Sonoma County Fair early on with his parents. He started going to the track more regularly after getting his driver’s license in high school.

“I’d take off after lunch and miss my late class and skip school and go to the races,” he said. “When I was in college I used to go over to Bay Meadows quite a bit. Betting the horses, watching the races, I just got more interested that way.”

It wasn’t long before Mathis realized training horses was what he wanted to pursue as a profession.

“It just seemed a much better way to make a living than being stuck in an office all day,” he said.

Mathis, who has a 10-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter, says his children have helped reshape his life.

“Since I had kids I think I’ve been more dedicated to just setting an example for them, hard work, and just showing them that if you keep working hard at something you can have success,” he said. “Just trying to be a good father puts things in perspective for me. I can run six horses, all six run up the track, and you come home and your kids think you’re the best, the greatest guy in the world.

“I love racing, everything about the races, but there’s more important things in life. I’ve just been a better person since I had kids. I spend part of the year coaching Little League. That’s probably my most favorite thing to do, and training horses is second.”

Mathis started with a one-horse stable, a cheap claimer named Recklesswarrant, and now has a 45-horse barn. He currently has about half of his stock at Del Mar and, no matter how he finishes, he’ll consider this a successful meet.

“Most likely I’m not going to win six more races,” he said. “If we could scratch out a couple more wins, it would be fantastic. I think we have chances. It’s a long meet and you can be hot and then get cold or be cold and then get hot. It can be a roller coaster.”

So far it’s been a heck of a ride for Mathis.

Follow Art Wilson on Twitter @Sham73


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