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The false promise of UBI proposals

The newest thing in government programs is the “universal basic income,” described by advocates as unconditional cash payments to fight poverty and help lower-income residents thrive.

A problem that immediately becomes apparent is the one identified by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. You eventually run out of other people’s money.

To extend “eventually” as long as possible, proponents have so far tried only limited pilot programs. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a $24 million UBI program in his new budget. It will provide 2,000 families who live at or below the federal poverty line with $1,000 a month for one year, no strings attached. Garcetti said this will give families “the space to not only dream of a better life, but to actualize it.”

Actually, the population of Los Angeles is roughly 4 million, and in 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 18% of Los Angeles residents had incomes below the poverty line. More than a year into the pandemic, it’s probably worse now.

So who gets the free cash?

This remains unclear. “The selection criteria for participant households is still being developed,” LAist reported, citing the mayor’s office, “but will likely include supporting a child under the age of 18 and a demonstrated medical or financial hardship connected to COVID-19.”

That doesn’t narrow it down very much.

Certainly, having more money is helpful, but that doesn’t make the program sustainable. Not at the scale needed to help nearly one-in-five Los Angeles residents who live at or below the federal poverty line.

In addition to the math problem, it’s not the city government’s job to decide who has more than they need and who needs more than they have, and then use the city budget to even things out.

Some universal basic income programs have relied on donated funds. Garcetti accepted donations to his nonprofit, The Mayor’s Fund, to pay for his “Angeleno Card” program, which handed out prepaid debit cards to more than 100,000 city residents. He “behested” a $5 million donation from the Consulate General of the State of Qatar to help pay for the program, but even that was only enough to meet about 25% of the demand when more than 400,000 people applied for the cards.

Private donations also funded Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs’ much-publicized UBI program, which provided 125 people with $500 per month beginning in February 2019. Tubbs lost his bid for re-election in November and is now working with Garcetti on L.A.’s UBI plan. However, no matter how hard they work, the math never will.

The same problem is evident in a UBI bill now pending in Sacramento. Assembly Bill 65 would provide a universal basic income of $1,000 per month to any resident who is at least 18 years of age, who has lived in the state for the last 3 consecutive years and who has income that does not exceed 200% of the median per capita income for his or her current county of residence, per the Census Bureau. In L.A. County, 200% of the median per capita income for 2019 is $68,312, and qualifying residents who earn up to that amount would collect $12,000 a year in free money, paid for by “an appropriation from the Legislature.”

To be clear, that doesn’t mean legislators will pay for it. It means taxpayers will.

California shouldn’t scrap ‘safeguards’ in End of Life Options Act

Assisted suicide is already legal in California through the so-called End of Life Option Act, narrowly passed by the California Legislature and signed by then-Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015. The bill received opposition from both Democrat and Republican Assembly members and state senators but was passed, many feel inappropriately, during a Special Legislative Session focused on Medi-Cal funding.

Despite the bill’s narrow passage, now just a few years into the new law, proponents of this law want to eliminate the very “safeguards” they used as arguments for its passage. The new bill, Senate Bill 380 by Sen. Susan Eggman will get rid of the scheduled 2025 review process that doctors, patient advocates, and legislators allowed for an examination of California’s experience with this controversial law. This new bill will also eliminate the 15-day safety period to receive the deadly prescription drugs.

During the 2015 debate regarding assisted suicide legalization and the End of Life Options Act, former state Sen. Bill Monning (and bill author) noted in publication Healthline that, “the joint and co-authors on this bill…endeavored to build in protections in this [measure] that are stronger than any of the states where this has been practiced.” Monning’s statement was far from the truth because the narrowness and limited data required by his bill about how assisted suicide was to be implemented along with how and where patients are really protected, is a big part of many of these problems today.

The Death with Dignity Center, proponents of the End of Life Option Act, contradict this new effort to eliminate “safeguards” with this note on their current website FAQs, “Death with dignity statues contain a number of safeguards, protecting patients from abuse and coercion…the patient must make two oral requests, at least 15 days apart.”

But in this new bill, these proponents want to eliminate the very “safeguard” they hold up.

This rush to erode assisted suicide “safeguards” included in the 2015 End of Life Option Act is not only unwise public policy, but there is simply no data or science to support removing these “safeguards” so soon.

Annual reports on the End of Life Option Act law required by the state of California do not contain any data whatsoever regarding complications, reasons for requesting the lethal drugs and, for the limited data provided, much is listed “unknown.” Over the past year we have become all too familiar with how important medical and scientific data are in making informed public policy decisions; especially decisions involving life and death.

The latest California annual report on the End of Life Option Act law released in July 2020, reported that 10% of those requesting the lethal drugs had an “Unknown” insurance coverage, and it was “unknown” whether 7% ever received information about hospice or palliative care options.

In a March 2021 New York Times interview of Dr. Diane E. Wright, longtime Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care at Mount Sinai Hospital noted, “All the heartfelt adherence to restrictions that are announced when you first get the public to vote in favor of this go up in smoke once the practice is validated.”

The annual reports on the End of Life Options Action do not in fact, provide sufficient data to determine whether these restrictions or as proponents called them “safeguards” are being followed. And now with SB 380’s “safeguard” elimination, these “safeguards” they touted were simply a ruse to get the original law passed.

Given the controversial history of the End of Life Options Act law as well as a broken patient healthcare infrastructure pushed to the limit by the pandemic of the last year, it is neither wise nor appropriate to remove these so-called “safeguards”. The bill is set to be reevaluated in 2025 under the current law.

Further, any effort to expand this assisted suicide policy and the End of Life Options Act also comes in the midst of the debate on a systemic healthcare disparity and inequity within ethnic, minority, and disability communities on access to palliative, hospice and other types of care for serious and terminal diseases.

This is simply is not the time to eliminate what little patient protections that proponents themselves included in the End of Life Option Act – the lack of safeguards will do more harm to patients than good.

Matt Valliere is the executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, a national non-partisan organization defending the rights of people with disabilities, seniors, and people facing serious illness. Matt is an experienced caregiver to people with life-threatening disabilities.

Court-packing is a bad idea whose time should never come

Packing the Supreme Court has quickly moved to the political front burner. But the only urgency seems to be creating a court majority that would rubber stamp whatever Democrats want to do with federal power, which was rejected when FDR tried it, despite a more than three-quarter Democrat majority.

Adding justices is a possibility, since the U.S. Constitution does not specify the number of Justices. The current total derives from the Judiciary Reform Act of 1869, so all it would take is a change in that law. But if you believe that the limits the Constitution was designed to place on federal over-reaching are important, it us beyond unwise. It is foolhardy.

Court packing could hardly contrast more sharply with one of the most cited authorities on the intended constitutional role of the courts, Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist 78: “The judiciary…can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither force nor will but merely judgment.” Consequently, “The judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because the least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.”

Federalist 78 argues that courts are empowered only to do what seems diametrically opposed to court packers’ goals: “The courts of justice are to be considered as the bulwarks of a limited Constitution against legislative encroachments.”

That means, “The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution…Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through…courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.”

The main purpose of the court was “to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature…to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority.” That protective function requires that, “Where the will of the legislature, declared in its statues, stands in opposition to that of the people, declared in the Constitution, the judges ought to be governed by the latter rather than the former.”

The purpose of making the courts a Democratic Party adjunct would eliminate their role as a crucial balance wheel in the separation of powers. Federalist 78 warned in no uncertain terms how serious it would be. “Liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other departments,” it argues.

Of course, Anti-Federalists, who feared that the Constitution’s checks would be undermined by expansive court interpretations, enabling a federal government with unwarranted and undelegated powers, leading to the adoption of the Bill of Rights, said it even more strongly.

As Anti-Federalist writer Brutus put it, rather than relying on constitutional grounds for rulings, the court would create them “by their own decisions,” through manipulating the meanings of vague clauses. It would adopt “very liberal” principles of interpretation, extremely perilous for a nation founded on the consent of the governed. It could easily invent “creative” rulings which would be backed with “the force of law.”

The current court packing proposal stands sharply at odds with our founders. It violates the most famous of the Federalist Papers on the courts, Federalist 78. It would also justify an “I told you so” from Anti-Federalists. That is, both sides of the constitutional ratification debates rejected the purposes Democrats court packers have in mind.

If the vision that formed our country is to be consulted at all, court packing that would undermine the Supreme Court’s central role is a bad idea whose time should never come.

Gary M. Galles is a professor of economics at Pepperdine University.

Clippers find plenty in reserve to beat Grizzlies

  • Clippers center Ivica Zubac battles for the ball against the Grizzlies’ Xavier Tillman during the second half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Grayson Allen #3 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots over Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers reaches for the tip off against Xavier Tillman #2 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Fans look on in the first half of a NBA basketball game between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers shoots against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers shoots against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Desmond Bane #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers reacts after a foul against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers fights for the ball against Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers passes against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers shoots over Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots over Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Grayson Allen #3 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against Marcus Morris Sr. #8 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies shoots over Nicolas Batum #33 of the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Staples center usher holds a sign asking fans to wear their mask in the first half of a NBA basketball game between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Desmond Bane #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives to the basket against the LA Clippers in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers shoots against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers is fouled against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Jaren Jackson Jr. #13 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers controls the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Dillon Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Dillon Brooks #24 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Taylor Jenkins of the Memphis Grizzlies reacts towards referee Kevin Cutler #34 in the first half of a NBA basketball game against the LA Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers is fouled against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ivica Zubac #40 of the LA Clippers fights for the ball against Xavier Tillman #2 of the Memphis Grizzlies n the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers passes behind Xavier Tillman #2 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers passes behind Xavier Tillman #2 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers passes against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers drives to the basket against Desmond Bane #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head Coach Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers reacts against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers slam dunks against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Terance Mann #14 of the LA Clippers reads after slam dunking against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • LA Clippers mascot, Chuck the Mascot in the first half of a NBA basketball game between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Luke Kennard #5 of the LA Clippers passes against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies rejects Amir Coffey #7 of the LA Clippers in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • The Clippers’ Luke Kennard handles the ball as Memphis Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen defends during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. Kennard scored a season-high 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting, tying a career-high with six 3-pointers on just seven attempts in a 117-105 win. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

  • Fans look on in the first half of a NBA basketball game between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • A usher sits along empty seats holding a sign that asks fans to keep their masks on in the second half of a NBA basketball game at the Staples Center between the LA Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies in Los Angeles on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — Who’s gonna slow their roll?

Not Memphis, not on Wednesday.

With the Clippers’ stars joining the live stadium audience as spectators, the Clippers’ supporting cast came through again, those oft-used role players displaying a deep reserve of desire as they rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit to beat the Grizzles going away, 117-105, in front of an announced crowd of 1,782 fans at Staples Center.

The Clippers improved to 42-19 overall, and 11-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets this season. They won their third game in a row and their 16th in 19 outings – and they did it despite having darn near as many players unavailable as they had available to play.

“I tell ya, our guys, they stuck together,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said after his 22nd different starting lineup of the season secured the victory. “That’s winning basketball. … It just comes down to heart. We don’t want to make excuses.”

They won without six integral pieces: All-Star Paul George (rest), Reggie Jackson (rest) and Rajon Rondo (right wrist inflammation) all were ruled out Wednesday. All-Star Kawhi Leonard (foot soreness), Pat Beverley (hand fracture) and Serge Ibaka (back tightness) are expected to miss additional games.

And despite the fact that Memphis, meanwhile, got a lift from the season debut of 2019 All-Rookie selection Jaren Jackson Jr., who gave the Grizzlies a spark off the bench Wednesday with 15 points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes.

Early on, it seemed as though the Clippers – who debuted diminutive point guard Yogi Ferrell and continued to work in veteran big man DeMarcus Cousins, both 10-day-contract holders – might not be able to keep pace with the young, athletic Grizzlies.

L.A. fell behind in a hurry, trailing 38-20 with 1:21 left in the first quarter. The Clippers allowed 39 first-quarter points – both the most they’d given up in an opening quarter all season and the most a Grizzlies team has scored in the first quarter since Jan. 4, 2020, when they put up 40 points in the first quarter in a win … in L.A. against the Clippers.

The Clippers never mounted a challenge that afternoon, falling 140-114.

This Clippers team, though, kept scrapping, as it has so many times this season.

In a physical game, the Clippers battled, holding Memphis to 43 second-half points and forcing their way to the free-throw line to chip away at the margin.

L.A. tied the score at 75-all on three free throws by Amir Coffey with 3:38 left in the third quarter. They took a 77-75 lead on Terance Mann’s free throws.

In all, the home team went 12 for 17 at the free-throw line in the third quarter alone, a tally that equaled or surpassed the Clippers’ fourth-quarter total in 24 games this season – a proliferation of freebies that helped turn the tide.

Overall, the Clippers shot a season-high 36 free throws, making 27 of them.

Luke Kennard didn’t score in the first quarter, but he turned it on after that, pouring in a season-high 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting, tying a career-high with six 3-pointers on just seven attempts in 39 minutes.

Marcus Morris Sr. added 25 points, eclipsing 15 points for the sixth consecutive game.

And in his and the Clippers’ 61st game this season, Ivica Zubac battled in the post and contributed 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes.

Terance Mann started and helped push the pace with 19 points and seven assists.

Cousins finished with six points, a team-high 10 rebounds and a lip laceration as a result of a Jackson Jr. elbow in the first half. Ferrell finished with eight points and seven assists in 20 minutes.

Ja Morant led the Grizzlies (29-28) with 22 points.

More to come on this story.

Chatsworth baseball off to hot start under new coach Marcus Alvarado


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Being a new coach under normal circumstances is hard at any level. Marcus Alvarado started his reign as the baseball coach at Chatsworth High amid a worldwide pandemic.

It wasn’t an ideal situation.

Alvarado was hired in June 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and for the next five months the closest he got to his players was via Zoom. The first official team activity wasn’t until November when LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner permitted schools to hold outdoor conditioning.

That lasted for roughly three weeks. Beutner shut everything down again before December arrived. In March, he permitted outdoor competition to begin, and that’s when Alvarado was really able to establish the culture he wants the prestigious program to have while he’s at the helm.

“There are expectations every day when the players come to the field,” Alvarado said. “I don’t talk about winning as much as I talk about respecting the game.”

For Alvarado, in the infancy of his debut season, it’s important that players have eye contact with coaches when they are speaking, that they hustle from one station to another during practice, and they respect each teammate. Those are key elements to the culture he’s installing.

Despite a short amount of time to practice as a team, from March 3 to late April, the Chancellors are off to a 5-0 start with West Valley League play starting next week – back-to-back games with Granada Hills Charter (8-2) on Tuesday and Thursday.

Due to LAUSD restrictions, Chatsworth can only compete against schools in its district. The team’s five wins are against Palisades (twice), Roosevelt, Narbonne and Marshall.

“The kids are buying in,” Alvarado said. “I tell them to not take any reps for granted. They should always be working, that’s the approach.”

The team’s top performer has been Nate Flores, a senior transfer from San Fernando High. Flores pitches and plays third base. Senior Billy Rusen has been good so far, too. He pitches and plays first base.

The program has had four coaches since 1990. Tom Meusborn (1990-2013; 2015-2017), Curtis Scott (2014), David Kaczor (2018-2020) and now Alvarado, who came from Kennedy High. Chatsworth and El Camino Real each have nine City Section championships, making the race to 10 worth a close watch. The Chancellors’ last City title came in 2009.

Alvarado knows there’s a lot of work to do. But a 5-0 start certainly isn’t a bad thing.

“It’s nice to be 5-0, sure. But I want to finish the season on a four-game winning streak,” he said, alluding to the consecutive victories in the playoffs it takes to win a City championship in the Open Division.

Chatsworth’s West Valley League foe, Birmingham Charter, is the City Section’s reigning three-time Open Division champion.

A classic returns: Getty Villa reopens to public

  • First arriving guests Crista and Ron Laughton, celebrating his birthday, view museum items on opening day. The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. For the first time the important exhibition Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, which was slated to open just days after the Getty Villa was forced to close in March 2020, is now open to visitors. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • A wreath and sign at the entrance to the museum honors victims lost during the past year. The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21. For the first time the important exhibition Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, which was slated to open just days after the Getty Villa was forced to close in March 2020, is now open to visitors. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Timothy Potts, Maria Hummer-Tuttle and Robert Tuttle Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum at the entrance on opening day. The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21. For the first time the important exhibition Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, which was slated to open just days after the Getty Villa was forced to close in March 2020, is now open to visitors. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21. For the first time the important exhibition Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, which was slated to open just days after the Getty Villa was forced to close in March 2020, is now open to visitors. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Getty Villa Museum in Pacific Palisades reopened on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. (Photo by Dean Musgrove, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, which was closed since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, reopened its museum and gardens today with a new Mesopotamian art exhibit.

The Getty Center in Brentwood remains closed to the public, but is expected to reopen next month. The Getty Library will reopen sometime afterward.

The villa’s Mesopotamian art exhibit, titled “Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins,” was slated to open a few days after the venue was forced to close due to the pandemic. It will run through Aug. 16, and includes 5,000-year-old writing, architecture and art. Artifacts include a silver cult vase of the Sumerian king Enmetena and a glazed brick lion from the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.

“The Getty Villa is one of the most unique experiences of any art museum, and we are delighted to be able to welcome visitors once again after more than a year’s closure,” said Timothy Potts, the director of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

“Never have we had a more enticing combination of displays for them to enjoy,” he said. “As well as our collections of ancient Greek and Roman art, we are now able to present the most important exhibition of Mesopotamian art ever seen on the West Coast, on loan from the incomparable collections of the Musee du Louvre in Paris.”

He called it “a journey back to the origins of civilization that is not to be missed.”

Visitors are required to follow COVID-19 safety measures, such as following one-way routes in the galleries and gardens that facilitate social distancing. Certain galleries will be closed because they are too small to accommodate social distancing guidelines.

As always, visitors are required to make a free reservation online in advance of visiting the museum, and to avoid overcrowding, a limited number of reservations will be available each day.

The museum will also:

  • Require face coverings;
  • Check visitors’ temperatures upon arrival;
  • Not allow visitors or staff displaying COVID-19 symptoms to enter;
  • Require staff to wash hands regularly and urge visitors to do the same; and
  • Only have pre-packaged meals for sale at the cafe.

“I’m confident we have procedures in place to ensure the safety of our visitors and staff at the Villa,” said Bob Combs, director of security and visitor services.

Clippers center Ivica Zubac’s ‘Iron Man thing’

LOS ANGELES — Let’s test your Clippers trivia: Ivica Zubac leads the NBA in ___.

Give up?

It’s a relatively important category.

Games played!

The Clippers’ fifth-year center has played in every game this season, lacing them up for the 61st time Wednesday night against Memphis – a game in which L.A. otherwise was without six key contributors: Paul George (rest), Reggie Jackson (rest), Rajon Rondo (right wrist inflammation), Kawhi Leonard (foot soreness), Pat Beverley (hand fracture) and Serge Ibaka (back tightness).

Entering play Wednesday, no other player in the NBA had appeared in more than 59 games, and so Zubac, for the time being, occupied the top of the list, albeit largely by virtue of the fact that the Clippers are one of the few teams that hasn’t had any games postponed in this stop-and-go NBA season being played during a pandemic.

For the first 40 games this season, Zubac came off the bench and averaged 19.6 minutes per game. Since Ibaka was sidelined with his back issue, though, the 24-year-old Croatian regained his starting spot and is averaging 27.6 minutes per contest in the 20 games since.

Even in this compressed schedule, the more minutes the merrier, insisted Zubac, who started 70 of 72 regular-season games last season and averaged 18.4 minutes, about two fewer than he did in 25 starts to begin his Clippers’ tenure the prior year.

Before that, Zubac played sparingly in his first two and a half NBA seasons with the Lakers, averaging 13.5 minutes in 114 appearances.

“I didn’t play much in my first two or three years in the league, so I got my rest early in my career,” Zubac said after logging 22 minutes in the Clippers’ blowout victory over Minnesota on Sunday.

“I take a lot of pride in being ready every night, trying to go out there and help the team. As a player who didn’t play much early, I really appreciate every minute on the court, so I try to even sometimes when I’m not feeling well when I’m hurt, I try to tough it out, try to give my best every night.

“But I’m young and we got an old team,” Zubac added. “So we understand, coaching staff, everyone understands it’s been a very, very hard season, a lot of games in a short span of time, so we understand some guys sometimes they need their rest and it’s just something we got to make sure everyone’s healthy for the playoffs.”

Coach Tyronn Lue said he appreciates his young center’s consistent eagerness to play.

“He has the Iron Man thing going, he wants to play, he wants to compete,” Lue said. “I always mess with him, like ‘Zu, you gonna play tonight?’

“And he says” – here Lue employed his best Zubac impression to illustrate his point – “’the only time I don’t play, Coach, if you don’t play me.’

“He’s always wanting to play, he’s always gonna compete, and he’s young, you know, so he wants to continue to keep getting better and you love that about Zu, you know he’s gonna be on the floor every single night.”

ZUBAC FROM DEEP?

There’s another part of his game the center has been discussing with his coach, it turns out.

The most dependable player on the NBA’s most reliable 3-point shooting team (the Clippers started play Wednesday shooting 41.9% for the season from behind the arc) wants to get in on that fun, never mind that he’s 0 for 3 from deep this season and 0 for 9 in his career.

“We got a team that everyone can shoot it,” Zubac said, clarifying that he includes himself. “I know PG said I can’t, but I really can.”

So Lue has heard.

And heard it enough, perhaps, to let the big man let it fly soon.

“Zu’s been trying to convince me all year that he can shoot the 3,” the first-year Clippers coach said before tipoff against the Grizzlies. “So I might give him a chance tonight, let’s see what he can do tonight. Let’s see if he can make one, he’s been promoting it all year. So, why not try it tonight?”

Baseball roundup: West Ranch, Hart cruise to victory in league play


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High school baseball scores from Wednesday, April 21.

FOOTHILL

West Ranch 17, Valencia 3: Logan Mandel had five RBIs for the Wildcats. West Ranch is 10-0.

Hart 21, Canyon 0: Junior catcher Matt Quintanar had five hit for the Indians (7-2).

Saugus 3, Golden Valley 0

MARMONTE

Thousand Oaks 6, Agoura 5 (9 innings): Roc Riggio hit a walk-off single to score Michael Welikala. Lancers remain unbeaten at 11-0.

Westlake 3, Newbury Park 2: Dominic Bayless pitched a complete game to help the Warriors move to 10-2. Scott Radinsky and Nate Rosen each had two hits.

Calabasas 4, Oaks Christian 3: Jordan Kingston struck out five batters in five innings. Evan Caplan earned the save for the Coyotes (4-7, 2-2). Oaks Christian dropped to 3-4 overall, 1-1 in league play.

MISSION 

Harvard-Westlake 7, Loyola 0: Freshman Thomas Bridges threw six shutout innings for the Wolverines (10-4, 3-1). Jacob Galloway had two hits with two RBIs.

Crespi 3, Notre Dame 2: Tyler Grenn struck out eight batters to anchor the Celts (7-4, 1-1). Khadim Diaw had two hits for the Knights (9-5, 3-2), who will look to win this week’s three-game series on Friday at home.

Alemany 9, St. Francis 1: The Warriors (7-8, 3-2) took a 2-0 lead in this week’s three-game series thanks to Adrian Chaidez’ stellar pitching performance, striking out five in 4 2/3 innings. Danny Hernandez and Kyle Arenal each had two RBIs.

SOFTBALL

El Camino Real 7, Alemany 1: Abigail Miller hit a grand slam for ECR.

Out-of-state fans can attend concerts in California now, state officials say

California health officials gave out-of-state music fans a shot of good news on Wednesday, April 21, announcing that if they are fully vaccinated they now are welcome to attend shows in California.

A new revision to state guidelines known as the Blueprint for a Safer Economy “permits fully vaccinated people from out of state to participate in activities restricted to in-state visitors,” an unidentified spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health said in an email. “This includes concert venues.”

(The revision also allows out-of-staters to attend California theme parks, the department also confirmed on Wednesday.)

For now, the number of people who can attend a concert in California remains limited by how serious the COVID-19 pandemic remains within its borders. Depending on the size of a venue, which color-coded tier it falls within, and the vaccination status of attendees, attendance ranges from 10-50% of its usual capacity.

Music venues must also still follow the coronavirus safety guidelines for each color-coded COVID tier, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance.

On June 15, the state plans to drop the rules and regulations in the color-coded tiers, and allow most business to return to pre-pandemic operations as longs as basic health and safety measures remain in place.

Based on statements from health officials on Wednesday, that appears to open the turnstiles to full capacity concerts in California again. Even so, earlier this month some local concert and venue officials said they do not plan to do so immediately.

Asked whether any of the current caps on attendance will remain after June 15, the California Department of Public Health spokesperson said they would not.

“When California fully reopens the economy, all stay-at-home orders will be lifted and the Blueprint for a Safer Economy will end,” according to the email reply from state health officials. “However, common-sense health measures such as masking will remain across the state. Testing or vaccination verification requirements will remain in relevant settings.”

The email said if or when new guidelines for concerts are adopted the state will announce them to the public but did not elaborate on whether or not concerts were settings that required testing or proof of vaccination.

The official’s email also referred reporters to a document on the department’s website about its plans for life in California after the Blueprint for a Safer Economy is retired on June 15.

In it, the department states that all activities currently listed in the Blueprint — including indoor and outdoor seated concerts and live performances — “may return to usual operations … with limited public health restrictions, such as masking, testing, and testing or vaccination verification requirements for large-scale higher-risk events.”

Neither the emailed response from the state nor the document specifically addressed general admission music festivals. The document, though, noted that conventions will be capped at 5,000 people until Oct. 1 unless all are tested or have proof of vaccination.

Coronavirus: L.A. County reported 439 new cases and 35 new deaths as of April 21

Los Angeles public health officials reported 439 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 1,229,998 as of Wednesday, April 21.

Officials reported 35 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, for a total 23,702 deaths since tracking began.

There were 19 more hospitalizations reported since Tuesday, raising the official count of hospitalizations to 484.

The California Department of Public Health’s vaccines dashboard said more than 6,656,034 vaccines doses have been distributed in Los Angeles County as of Tuesday.

 

Data posted each day is preliminary and subject to change, officials emphasize. More information may become available as individual case investigations are completed.


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