Author: lafocus

T.D. Jakes and Tyler Perry Announce Significant Investments in Atlanta

Tyler Perry is expanding his empire with the addition of 37.5 acres to the existing 330 acres of Fort McPherson property that his studios now occupy. However, the property is not an extension of his studio. Instead, he intends to use the land to create an entertainment hub that would be open to the public and include a retail stores, restaurants and a theater district. 

“Today is a good day,” said Perry. “I’m grateful for the opportunity this gives Tyler Perry Studios to extend our footprint in Atlanta and create more opportunities for the people of Southwest Atlanta with restaurants, entertainment venues and other business opportunities. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my friend T.D. Jakes on his separate but adjacent project and I also want to thank Governor Kemp and Mayor Bottoms for their continued efforts to make Atlanta a better place.”

In a separate deal, the Local Redevelopment Authority Board of Fort McPherson approved the sale of approximately 94.5 acres of remaining land on the historic army base to T.D. Jakes Real Estate Ventures, LLC. 

The unanimous vote, which comes after nearly two months of negotiations, clears the way for the Dallas-based real estate firm to redevelop the property for mixed-income housing and retail. The development is part of Jakes’ long-term vision to cultivate quality affordable housing for the underserved in a model that will be duplicated across the country.

“In my travels across all of America, I see too many Black and Brown working-class people still falling victim to the continued gentrification of our neighborhoods. I’m extremely excited about the accessible ownership options that will exist for future residents of this multigenerational community. This project will bring solutions to the quality-of-life problems and elevate the lives of the Atlantans that will live, work and play there,” Jakes said.

“We share in the City of Atlanta’s belief that the redevelopment of this fertile neighborhood is critical to the future growth of Atlanta,” Jakes continued. “My vision is to develop an oasis within our cities for working families, walking them toward economic viability through financial literacy programs, live-work spaces, mixed income housing and multigenerational options that are so imperative to the betterment of our society.”

“This agreement marks another monumental chapter in the history of Fort Mac,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. “Thank you to Tyler Perry and Bishop T.D. Jakes for their vision and investment in the Southwest Atlanta community. The positive impact will be felt for generations to come.”

Governor Kemp characterized the deals as a real shot in the arm.

Said Kemp, “Significant job creation such as this will create more opportunities for hardworking Georgians and surrounding small businesses, which are the real backbone of our state’s economy.” 

California to Pay 100 Percent of Low-Income Tenants Back Rent Going Back to April 2020


Those who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to the point where they have not been able to keep up with their rent and have worried about what will happen when the ban on evictions in no longer in force, are in luck.

Governor Gavin Newsom has announced that anybody that’s been impacted by this pandemic and have not been able to pay their rent, can have 100 percent of their rent paid by the state of California going back to April of 2020.

With the move, Newsom would be killing two birds with one stone—making landlords whole while forgiving unpaid rents for those who would have otherwise been evicted.

In a tweet, Newsom dubbed it as “rent forgiveness on a scale never seen before in the United States”.

The program—which is still being fine-tuned by legislators— would be available to residents who earn no more than 80 percent of the median income in their area and who can prove hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 900,000 households in California are behind on rent, with an average of $4,600 in rental arrears according to an analysis by PolicyLink and the USC Equity Research Institute.

California has put a pricetag of $5.2 billion on the program, with most of the funds coming from the federal government. Analysts say it’s more than enough to cover the cost, with Newsom also stating that the payment of utility bills could also be on the table.

In the meantime, the state’s eviction ban is set to retire at the end of the month. Housing advocates want it extended. Those representing landlords disagree, pointing to the state’s economic recovery and the fact that many of them have not been paid any rent for more than a year.

“The moratorium has now been in place for almost a year and a half. Throughout that time, small property owners, folks who have saved their whole lives to buy a rental unit, elderly persons who use rental income to pay for their current care … have faced a lot of significant challenges,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “It is incumbent that we find a way to phase out the eviction moratorium, but based on what I’m hearing, now is not the time.”

Newsom is expected to extend the deadline. The L.A. County Board of Supervisors already voted to extend a moratorium on evictions through September 30. The local moratorium applies where it does not overlap with state protections for residential tenants. It also covers commercial evictions, no-fault evictions and prohibits ousting tenants for unauthorized occupants, pets and other nuisances.

Asm. Akilah Weber’s First Bill Pushes California to Be Prepared for Next Pandemic

Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

As more Californians get vaccinated and new COVID-19 cases are on the decline, there’s an argument to be made that the state has rounded the corner from the worst stages of the global crisis.

As of June 6, 53.1% of Californians had been vaccinated and there were 757 new COVID-19 cases, down from the 40,423 new cases on Jan. 7.

However, the worst numbers remain stark. Some 63,544 Californians have died of the disease since the beginning of the pandemic.

Assemblymember Akilah Weber (D-San Diego), who was sworn in to represent the 79th District in April, has co-authored her first bill in the lower house of the state Legislature. It aims to ensure that California is more pandemic-ready than it was when the COVID-19 crisis began in 2020.

Weber won a special election earlier this year to replace her mom and former Black Caucus chair, Dr. Shirley Weber, in the Assembly after Gov. Newsom appointed the elder Weber late last year as California’s 33rd Secretary of State.

Assembly Bill (AB) 1207 would establish the Pathways Through Pandemics Task Force in the California Health and Human Services Agency as a vehicle to prepare the state for the eventuality of a pandemic.

“The bill would require the task force to convene various entities to engage in discussions on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, develop and recommend best practices for an equitable response to future pandemics, and determine the impact of state laws on coordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as specified,” the bill reads.

Weber, who is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist, stressed the importance of this bill for California’s future.

“We must learn from the mistakes of our past in order to improve the possibilities for our future,” Weber stated. “This is what establishing a Pandemic Taskforce through the passage of AB 1207 will do. The COVID-19 pandemic touched the lives of every Californian and impacted every business within our great State.”

Weber went on to discuss the way the pandemic has pulled the curtain back on some of the vital systems on which all Californians rely.

“[COVID-19] changed the way we learn, the way we interact with each other and the way we live our lives. It also exposed some deep gaps in our society with regards to equity, access and our level of preparedness for a public health crisis,” Weber stated.

Weber specified who she believes suffered from these “deep gaps” during the pandemic in a Facebook post.

“California’s response to the pandemic highlighted existing inequities for people of color and low-income neighborhoods,” Weber wrote.

The bill passed on the assembly floor with 78 votes in favor and zero votes against.

Weber, who unpacked the bill before her colleagues on the Assembly floor June 3, tweeted that AB 1207 is her first authored bill. She also thanked her partner on the bill Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-North Hollywood).

“Today I presented my first authored bill, AB 1207 on the Asm floor. [AB 1207] creates a taskforce that will research and develop strategies for future pandemics. Thank you [Assemblymember Luz Rivas] for partnering with me on this bill. Together we are ensuring California prioritizes health for all,” Weber tweeted.

Rivas expressed her support for the bill in response to this tweet.

“Congrats! You’re the right author that will bring public health expertise to this issue. Onward,” Rivas tweeted.

Weber also received praise from Mayor Catherine Blakespear of Encinitas.

“Great start to your illustrious career in SAC and good choice of a partner in [Rivas],” Blakespear tweeted.

Weber spoke about the inevitability of another public health crisis and asserted that AB 1207 would help Californians be prepared for it.

“The next pandemic is not a matter of ‘if’ but rather a matter of ‘when,'” Weber warned. “AB 1207 makes a modest investment to ensure California has a roadmap for the future public health crises so that we can address the deficiencies we saw in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic and allow us to be better prepared for the future.”

According to the text of the bill, AB 1207 would require the established task force to report their conclusions about pandemic readiness to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2024.

In a Facebook post, Weber again stated why she believes this bill is necessary.

“Together, we are ensuring we do everything we can to invest in sustainable plans that value the life and health of all Californians during a pandemic,” Weber wrote. “Now, on to the Senate!”

California Pushes Back on Judge’s Decision to Outlaw State’s Ban on Assault Weapons

Bo Tefu | California Black Media

California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced last week that the state has appealed a federal court’s decision that declared California’s ban on assault weapons unconstitutional.

Several state officials, including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, also shared their disagreement with the court’s ruling during a press conference held at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. The state partnered with a number of gun control advocate groups for the event, including the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Giffords Law Center.

“We can agree that the decision was disappointing,” said Bonta.

“In many ways, the opinion was disturbing and troubling, and a big concern but we cannot be, and we are not, deterred by this,” he said.

Federal Judge Roger Thomas Benitez presided over the decision in Miller v. Bonta. The case was heard at the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.

Bonta said his office has appealed the decision, requesting that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit leave the current laws in effect for 30 days.

California’s gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation under the Roberti–Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 (AWCA) which bans the use of specific models of firearms classified as assault weapons. In the pending court case Miller v. Bonta, James Miller, a lawyer who serves as a board member of the San Diego County Gun Owners, advocated for the use of the AR-15 rifle. However, the semiautomatic rifle with certain features is an illegal assault weapon according to California gun laws. Miller argued that AR-15 rifles can be used for self-defense under the second amendment. Miller, who also serves on the Cajon Valley School Board, initially challenged former Attorney General Xavier Becerra on California’s criminalization of AR-15 rifles in April this year. The ongoing case, which Attorney General Bonta inherited, sparked heated debates about gun laws in the wake of increasing gun violence and mass shootings.

Breed recalled her personal experience with gun violence growing up in the Bay Area.

“We’re here at San Francisco General Hospital. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been here, after a friend that I grew up with was shot,” she said.

Breed was joined by Mattie Scott who lost her son to gun violence. The mayor grew up with Scott’s son who was killed in 1996 at a graduation party in San Francisco.

“We don’t want to see another person, another child lost to gun violence in this city in this state in this country,” said Mayor Breed.

“We’ve had a law on the books in the state for over 30 years, and a judge decides that our law is no longer constitutional. That law has saved countless numbers of lives,” she said.

According to Statista Research Department, California had a total of 22 mass shootings between 1982 and 2021. In the court decision, Judge Benitez compared the effectiveness of an AR-15 rifle to a Swiss Army Knife. Based on the federal court’s ruling, the semiautomatic machine gun is, “Good for both home and battle,” said Judge Benitez.

“Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” the federal judge said in favor of Miller.

Bonta disagreed with the federal judge’s reasoning to justify the court’s decision.

“Equating assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, and false claims that COVID-19 vaccines have killed more people than mass shootings was shocking,”

Although the murder of Scott’s son remains unsolved, she is an avid activist for social justice related to gun violence.

“The judge who issued this decision is wrong,” said Scott.

“It is insulting to read his decision when he called the kind of weapon that killed my son, akin to a pocketknife,” she said.

“Pocket knives don’t tear families apart. They don’t shoot up schools, churches, movie theaters, and street corners,” she said in reference to the recent mass shootings across the country.

Contrary Benitez’s belief that AR-15 rifles can be compared to pocket knives, trauma surgeon Dr. Andre Campbell said that the semiautomatic rifle is a lethal assault weapon designed for the battlefield.

“An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction. It is used in the battlefield to kill the enemy, it’s a gun that is used in warfare and should not be available or used in the streets of the United States,” said Campbell.

Campbell has treated many bullet wounds on the frontlines of trauma care for over two decades and has witnessed the devastation a single bullet can cause to the human body.

“It is as if a bomb went off in the tissues of patients,” said Campbell describing the impact of an AR-15 bullet in patients he’s treated over the years.

The executive director of the Giffords Law Center Robyn Thomas said that the federal judge’s decision to give civilians access to military-grade weapons sets California’s gun laws back by 32 years.

“The decision is not based on the correct interpretation of the law,” said Thomas.

“The comprehensive gun regulation which we have pioneered here in the state is protecting the lives of Californians. It is making us safer,” she said.

In its budget for 2021-22, the state has allocated $200 million for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program. The investment was set up to prevent gun violence in high-risk communities statewide.

“Folks that wax on about public safety, and they sit back passively and say nothing about this outrageous decision. Shame on them. What frauds,” said Newsom.

The governor urged lawmakers to evaluate the absurdity of the court’s decision to justify the personal use of a rifle that is, “nothing more than a weapon of war,” he said.

The governor said that gun control has always been a bipartisan issue that helped California lawmakers enact, “progressive and aggressive,” gun safety laws that regulated the people’s right to bear arms for over three decades.

California’s ban on assault weapons remains in effect for 30 days as the attorney general appeals the court’s decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

NAACP Student Members Can Apply for $15,000 Scholarships Until June 18

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

The NAACP and SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based oral care company specializing in teeth-straightening technology, have partnered to offer scholarships to African American and other students of color.

They must maintain a 3.0 grade point average or above.

The $15,000 awards will be granted to young people studying Science, technology, engineering or math and must be used for tuition and fees. Payments will be annualized at around $3,500 each year.

Winners must also be high school seniors or undergraduates and members of the NAACP, the country’s oldest civil rights organization, which was founded in 1909 and has over 20000 branches across the country.

“The SmileDirectClub Scholarship will help empower students in the Black community studying STEM with financial support so they can pursue their education with less of an economic burden,” said Yumeka Rushing, Chief Strategy Officer, NAACP.

“This partnership is one of the ways the NAACP is working to secure educational equality of rights to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and wellbeing of everyone,” Rushing added.

Students interested in the scholarship can apply on the NAACP site. The deadline is June 18. The winners, who the NAACP’s N-SPIRE committee – a group that “focuses on the creation, development and awarding of scholarship programs” –will be announced August 9.

“Through the SmileDirectClub Scholarship with the NAACP, we’re investing in the next generation of innovators and supporting the growth of diversity in STEM, a field that affects almost all aspect of our everyday lives,” said Cheryl DeSantis, Chief People & Diversity Officer, SmileDirectClub.

Cal Unemployment System Backlogged With More Than 200,000 Claims

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media

California may be reopening beginning June 15, but for many unemployed workers, the economic struggle caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is nowhere near ending.

Many Californians are still waiting for the state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to clear their backlog of claims, with the department’s data page showing over 221,000 claims are pending past 21 days as of June 12.

On May 28, Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) hosted a press conference featuring constituents from his district who are seeking immediate help from EDD. Three constituents spoke about their struggles while trying to get their unemployment benefits. They experienced extremely long wait times while calling EDD and faced difficulties trying to verify their identity or correct claim amounts with the department.

The difficulties with EDD that the speakers expressed in their stories mirrored complaints the department’s service and call centers have been reporting since the pandemic began last year.

Roneisha Williams, a Gipson constituent, is waiting on an appeal after receiving an incorrect benefit amount. She described her experience communicating with EDD representatives over the phone as “confusing.”

She said that she received conflicting information from the EDD and representatives asked her for a different set of documents each time she called.

“When you call and speak with someone regarding the solution, you’re not given the same information. You can call one representative and they’ll tell you to submit a documentation. You submit that documentation. You call to confirm that it has been received. The other representative will tell you that not only you weren’t supposed to submit that documentation, but really you need to go to this step, and we need to see this documentation.”

Williams also spoke about her difficulties going through the identity verification process with the third-party company

EDD launched the verification process in October 2020 as part of an effort to crack down on fraud. The department also suspended 1.4 million accounts last December and made some claimants verify their identities. Since then, unemployed Californians directed to have faced delays and technical issues. Willams also expressed concern for less technologically-savvy claimants who may have to use

“Having to contact a third party to qualify for your unemployment benefits is very stressful, especially when they do not have any human contact customer service available. With the verification, everything is done through your phone. So that in itself is very isolating. I know how to work technology but what about the constituents that aren’t familiar with it. What about the constituents that don’t have a high-powered or accurate camera on their phone to send a copy of their ID?” Williams said.

Roger Lozoya, a pipeline welder who also lives in Gipson’s district, lost his job five months ago, and has had no income since. He said his identity was stolen and used to receive EDD benefits. So, when he tried to get benefits, the EDD told him that he owed them money.

Lozoya said, “I’m a welder, and I’m blessed to have a career that I worked hard to get. I pay a lot of taxes and I pay into EDD. The only thing they constantly do to me is call me a liar — that I’m stealing from them. They told me I owe them $69,000. How do I owe $69,000? At the time they were saying that I was claiming it, I was working.”

In the months without income, Lozoya said that he has sold his possessions, including his work truck and tools, to support his family.

During the press conference, Gipson called on the EDD to take measures to get through the claims backlog. He also urged the EDD to extend working hours and keep phone lines open during evenings and weekends.

Gipson also mentioned the state audits of EDD, and suggested that implementing the recommendations of the State Auditor would likely help address the backlog.

“We absolutely have to do everything we can to make sure that the people who need this help the most, get the help that they’re seeking to put food on the table, clothes their children’s back and also a roof over the head,” said Gipson.

In response to a California Black Media request for comment, EDD Media Services said, “We understand how challenging this pandemic has been for millions of people. Since April 2020, EDD call centers are — and have been open 12 hours a day, seven days a week — which includes evenings and weekends, among many other efforts to continually work to improve the customer experience. EDD offers useful self-help information including a 24-hour self-help line 1-866-333-4606, AskEDD and an online chatbot answering frequently asked questions, a YouTube channel with helpful videos, and many articles on at The call center can be reached 8:00 am to 8:00 pm seven days a week at 1-800-300-5616.“

EDD also shared the actions that the department has taken to improve the customer experience, including, “improving the online help text to clearly explain what is required by the bi-weekly certification questions to help claimants avoid delays, deploying document upload, including a mobile-friendly version, to help claimants save time over mail, launching a new feature that allows a caller to hold their place “in line” when contacting the call center until the Department calls the claimant back, [and] continuing to monitor customer areas of confusion and trending issues and addressing them with improved public information.”

As California Opens Up, Black Pastors, Community Orgs Urge More Testing

Covid-19 cases are plunging as California prepares to slowly reopen this week.

However, returning workers will face a different environment. Some workplaces such as restaurants and amusement parks will require proof of testing and vaccination. Testing — or some other proof of vaccine status — are already required to enter health facilities or to fly. According to Disney Parks’ blog, the organization recommends attendees be vaccinated or provide a negative test if they want to visit the park. Guests are also required to wear face masks. Kelsey Lynch, public relations manager, Disneyland Resort, said the amusement park will accept visitors from outside California after June 15. The California Department of Health’s website contains a link to a page where you can find the nearest testing site by entering your ZIP Code. The website also provides a list of all the testing centers in the state. According to the health department, it takes about two days to get the results of a COVID-19 test. Testing is still free at some locations.

Several community groups are also partnering with the state to keep testing free and accessible in vulnerable communities. The California African American Community Empowerment Council (AACEC) is partnering with the Tabernacle Community Development Corporation to provide testing at Black churches. Dr. Gerald Agee Sr., pastor of Friendship Christian Center, Oakland, and statewide director of the African American COVID testing program, is working with the California Department of Health to organize free testing sites at African American churches around the state. 

According to Agee, people can get tested at churches in San Bernardino, Alameda, Riverside, San Francisco, Solano, Sacramento and San Diego counties. Agee said, through their statewide church partnership, African Americans are still testing positive for COVID-19 at a rate of about of 4.5 %, which is higher than the state’s 1.5 % rate. Agee explains that he has experienced the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic firsthand as many of his church members have contracted the disease.

“We won’t be satisfied until we’re testing at the same rate as the state,” he said. According to Agee, the key to driving down the Black community’s COVID-19 numbers is testing and vaccination. 

Many business leaders welcome the idea that the state is taking a sensible approach to reopening. According to Sabrina Lockhart, executive director of the California Parks and Attractions Association, the new guidelines outline how families can enjoy themselves at attractions. 

“The latest state guidelines give amusement parks a path to get more people back to work and provide visitors more options for safe family fun this summer,” she said. “As the state reopens, amusement parks will update their own safe and responsible plans for operation based on state and local guidelines.” 

Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced the Employer Vaccination Toolkit, which aims to make it easier for employers to make the vaccine available to their employees.

“Anyone who wants to, should be able to get vaccinated,” said Newsom. “Getting more people vaccinated will bring us closer to ending this pandemic. That’s why we’re working with employers to make it easier to access COVID-19 vaccines – so no one misses their shot at protecting themselves and their communities.” 

Newsom has also unveiled a $100 billion stimulus package to help California recover from the coronavirus-related economic downturn. The state also recently launched the “Vax for the Win” program, an effort that offers a series of financial incentives for people who get vaccinated. Prizes include cash awards and grocery cards. 

“Getting every eligible Californian vaccinated is how we bring our state roaring back from this pandemic,” said Newsom.

HUD Moves to Restore Obama Fair Housing Mandate


With HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge’s reinstatement of a 2015 rule making it mandatory that communities accepting federal funds take steps to ensure against residential segregation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has taken the first step in reinstating the Obama era rule to address the persistent inequities in house for people of color.  

“More than 50 years since the Fair Housing Act’s passage, inequities in our communities remain that block families from moving into neighborhoods with greater opportunities,” said Fudge.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters was among those applauding the move.

“I am pleased that Secretary Fudge has begun to reverse the previous administration’s actions that gutted the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule,” said Waters. “Under President Obama, HUD instituted the AFFH Rule to fully enforce provisions of the Fair Housing Act and strengthen local jurisdictions’ fair housing planning requirements. Instead of continuing the efforts to hold localities accountable to remedy racial residential segregation and ensure equitable investment in every community, the Trump Administration weakened protections by altering the definition of AFFH to focus on housing production, not fairness, absent accountability mechanisms. 

“In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, these changes left communities all the more vulnerable to heightened housing discrimination,” she continued. “Since the Trump Administration began its attack on civil rights in this country, I have been sounding the alarm on the importance of preserving the 2015 AFFH and 2013 Disparate Impact regulations. In December 2020, I called on then President-Elect Biden to take immediate action to undo the damage done by the previous administration.

The 2015 rule required local governments to analyze patterns of segregation and poverty and submit plans to address those patterns in order to receive funding through HUD grant programs, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships programs. 

In January, Biden directed HUD to reverse the actions taken by Trump administration to undermine fair housing tenets.

During his visit to Tulsa earlier this month, Biden addressed his plans to stimulate Black wealth in part by curtailing housing discrimination with vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.

Said Biden, “My administration has launched an aggressive effort to combat racial discrimination in housing. That includes everything from redlining to the cruel fact that a home owned by a Black family is too often appraised at a lower value than a similar home owned by a White family.”

What California’s Reopening Means for You

Well, California has reopened, sparking celebrations statewide with the revelry including some state residents actually burning their masks. But before you do away with those masks, consider that despite the state’s June 15 reopening, they will still come in handy.

In fact, California’s reopening begs the question: just what will change? Here are some answers.

On masks:

•You will still need to wear them on public transit (planes, trains, buses, subways, Ubers and Lyfts); in airports; K-12 schools; hospitals and perhaps even at your workplace.

•Employers can still mandate masks; and some have gone as far to require proof of vaccination. • •Employers are also required to provide respirators such as N95 masks for unvaccinated workers who want them when they are working indoors or in vehicles with more than one person.

•Retail establishments—including restaurants and grocers—can also require masks even if the state of California doesn’t.

•Check with your local gym on their requirements as some as letting those who are fully vaccinated go maskless.

•Unvaccinated people are still required to wear a mask indoors. Businesses do not have to enforce the rules, they are, however, required to post them.

Physical Distancing:

•Gyms, churches, restaurants, bars and stores can all go to full capacity with no mask restrictions.  

•Physical distancing mandates will no longer be required, but not likely to ease the minds of those who have become accustomed to the sanctity of their surroundings, so tread lightly.

Vaccine Passports

Those who can prove they’ve been vaccinated will have a great many more options as it relates to major events—sporting events and concerts. At many of these events, attendees will have to prove they’ve been vaccinated or show a negative test prior to entry. Some are designating sections for those who cannot show proof of having been vaccinated.

Finally, Governor Newsom has indicated that an electronic system that will allow businesses to check vaccination status is in the works. 

Audubon Middle School Sets the Stage for the “Coolest School In America” Thanks to Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine

Chez Hadley

Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, music producer and entrepreneur Jimmy Iovine and artist, producer, and entrepreneur Andre “Dr. Dre” Young announced a joint effort to launch a new high school in South Los Angeles building on USC Iovine and Young Academy’s groundbreaking approach combining design, business, and technology with hands-on, real-world learning to help develop young leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

The school, known as Regional High School #1 until the official naming process is completed, will be co-located on the Audubon Middle School campus and serve up to 124 students when it opens in fall 2022, with the ninth and 10th grades; adding the 11th and 12th grades the following year as the school’s capacity expands over time to accommodate 250 students.

“This new partnership with Jimmy, Dr. Dre and the USC Iovine and Young Academy will help open the doors of opportunity for students, in particular Black and Latino children, from communities which have been historically underserved,” Beutner said. “Much like the work of the Academy, this effort will help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators.”

“I think it’s going to be something extremely different,” Dre said. “I’m still trying to learn myself and understand the politics and the hurdles that we have to get over to help. All we’re here to do is help the kids.” He added, “We’re here strictly for the kids and trying to give them a future and something promising that maybe wasn’t available before then, so that is our intent.”

“We want to give the next generation of students access to a proven, revolutionary learning experience that will not only prepare them for the jobs of today, but equip them to reimagine and shape the jobs, technologies and creative enterprises of the future,” Iovine said. “We’ve already succeeded in higher ed, now we’re bringing it to high school.”

In establishing what they hope to be “the coolest school in America”, the two hope to get students excited about attending school. They will be exposed to new career paths and opportunities as well as increased access to top college programs through a first-class college preparatory curriculum, and enhanced learning programs that focus on critical thinking and analysis.

“Generations of students will benefit from the extraordinary career opportunities this dynamic partnership will offer Los Angeles Unified students,” Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna III said. “These innovative academic programs are exactly what our students need to stay motivated and inspired to continue their educational journeys to college and beyond. Thank you for investing in our future.”

If all goes as planned, Iovine and Young may be looking to expand the high school program nationwide. 

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