Author: lafocus

Jasmin Hall is First Black Woman to Chair a Major California Water Board

Tanu Henry | California Black Media

Two elections held in the last three months have placed San Bernardino County resident Jasmin Hall in a position where she wields the most influence among a handful of African Americans serving in California water industry leadership roles.

Late last year, Hall’s colleagues elected her the first African American president of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA).

Earlier this year, she was sworn in to serve in that role. Now, as the head of the board of one of the largest water agencies in California, Hall takes on helm of an organization that is an essential public utility for about 875,000 people living in Southern California. IEUA’s service area covers a region in the Inland Empire that includes Chino Hills, Upland, Ontario, Fontana and Montclair.

“It has been a wonderful experience to serve on the Board over the past seven years, and I am honored to be elected by my colleagues as the agency’s board President,” said Hall. “I have witnessed a lot of innovation and change throughout my time with the agency, and I look forward to building on IEUA’s legacy as a leader in the water industry by collaborating with my fellow directors, regional stakeholders, staff, and our community. IEUA is and will remain committed to ensuring a high-quality, reliable water supply for the region.”
Hall was first appointed to a four-year term on IEUA’s board in 2013. She was re-elected in November 2018 to serve as the representative for an area of that circles Rialto, Fontana and Bloomington in the Inland Empire.

The agency functions as a wastewater treatment facility and water supplier in addition to providing sewage services, recycling water and manufacturing renewable products like compost and energy.

Then last week, Hall won another election to a post that will allow her to impact issues relating to water that directly affect Black Californians. The California African American Water Education Foundation (CAAWEF) voted Jasmin Hall its new chair. In this role, Hall will lead the board of the statewide non-profit focused on educating African Americans across the state about water quality, cost, access and other critical issues.

As CAAWEF board chair, Hall replaces former Assemblymember Gwen Moore, a founding member of CAAWEF and the Sacramento-based organization’s first chair. Moore passed away last August.
“I look forward to leading this important organization during these challenging times,” Hall said. “Water is the lifeblood of our state and CAAWEF will work to ensure that the African American community is informed and engaged on local issues and state water policy”.

“Hall brings a breadth of experience and thorough understanding of the water industry in California and across the country. Her skills and knowledge will be invaluable assets as she steers our organization in a direction that leads to lasting and measurable change in water policy,” said Dale Hunter, executive director of CAAWEF.

In addition to Hunter and Hall, a number of prominent African Americans from both Northern and Southern California are either founding members, or they serve on the board of the organization, which was founded in 2019. They are: Gloria Gray, Chair, Board of Directors, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Rick Callender, CEO, Santa Clara Valley Water District and President, California/Hawaii, NAACP; Harold Williams, President, Board of Directors, West Basin Municipal Water District; Robert Luke, Managing Director, Strategic Global Marketing Group; Carolyn Veal Hunter, an attorney at Sloat, Higgins, Jensen; Emma Maxey, Retired Executive, Golden State Water Company; Steve Welch, General Manager, Contra Costa Water District and Bill Patterson, Board of Directors, East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Amanda Gorman Was Step Ahead of CDC on Rocking Double Masks

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media

Since President Biden’s inauguration, people have been raving about the “riveting” inaugural performance – and equally enchanting Super Bowl appearance — of former Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles Amanda Gorman. Beyond her gripping poetry and captivating sense of fashion, another Gorman style that has been catching media attention is her choice to wear two masks at once — a decorative cloth mask strapped over a plain surgical one.

Now, it seems, double masks have been popping up everywhere, quickly becoming the newest trend in fashion-aware COVID-19 protective wear. Several lawmakers and celebrities have been spotted wearing two masks at once in public.

Then, last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report that found that double masking can drastically reduce the spread of COVID-19 particles, both for the wearer and for those around them.

According to the CDC research, the effectiveness of cloth masks and surgical masks that fit more loosely than N95s can be improved by either wearing a cloth mask over a surgical mask, also known as double masking. To tighten the mask combo, knot the ear loops of a surgical mask where they attach to the edges of the face covering and tuck in and flatten any extra loose material close to the face.

For double masking specifically, the study tested combinations of common surgical and multi-layer cloth masks by stimulating coughing between pairs of dummies in a laboratory. When a cloth mask was worn on top of a disposable mask, 92.5 percent of cough droplets were blocked, versus 42 percent of droplets when just wearing a disposable mask.

The study also reiterated that universal mask-wearing is a highly effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, in addition to physical distancing, avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces and good hand hygiene. Universal mask-wearing has been one goal of the new Biden administration. Federal health authorities have mandated wearing masks in public settings, including planes, airports, buses and other forms of public transportation and transportation hubs, as of Feb. 1.

At a White House COVID-19 briefing, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “I want to be clear that these new scientific data released today do not change the specific recommendations about who should wear a mask or when they should wear one. But they do provide new information on why wearing a well-fitting mask is so important.”

According to the updated CDC guidelines, effective masks both fit snugly against the wearer’s face and have layers to block COVID-19 particles. The two ways to layer that the website recommends is either wearing a cloth mask with multiple layers of fabric or wearing a disposable surgical mask underneath a cloth mask. The website also points out that people should not layer two disposable masks on top of each other or combine any mask with a KN95 mask. The authentic KN95 mask itself should be enough coverage.

For a closer fit, the CDC suggests choosing masks with a nose wire that can be adjusted for a snug fit or to use a mask brace to improve the fit.

Before the new CDC announcement about mask wearing on Jan. 25, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told NBC News’ TODAY that it is likely that double masking provides more protection than wearing one mask.

“This is a physical covering to prevent droplets and the virus to get in. So, if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95,” said Dr. Fauci.

If options are scarce or two masks are not available, researchers have recommended wearing a cloth mask with a pocket that can be stuffed with filter material, like the kind found in vacuum bags. For a test to see if the mask is effective, try to blow out a candle while wearing it. If the mask is effective, the candle won’t go out.

Biden Backs Gov. Gavin Newsom Against Growing Recall Effort

President Joe Biden has announced his continued support of California Gov. Gavin Newsom and opposition to the growing recall effort against Newsom.

Biden’s endorsement comes as the group led by retired Yolo County Deputy Sheriff Orrin Heatlie gains steam and continues to close in on the 1.5 million signatures required to force a special recall election. Currently, the recall campaign claims it has collected 1.3 million signatures and has raised $2.5 million in donations. The verified number of signatures is 410,000 as of Jan. 6.

“In addition to sharing a commitment to a range of issues with @GavinNewsom from addressing the climate crisis to getting the pandemic under control, @POTUS clearly opposes any effort to recall @GavinNewsom,” tweeted White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

Journalists had asked Psaki about Biden’s thoughts on the recall campaign before a briefing.

Newsom’s approval rate dipped recently in response to his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Support dropped from 64% in September to 46% in late January, according to a poll from UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies.

Newsom will be up for reelection in 2022. The group leading the recall campaign has to turn in the required signatures by March 17.

Backlash After Two White Pastors Refer to VP Harris as a “Jezebel”

Pastor Steve Swofford and Tom Buck face intense criticism after calling Vice President Kamala Harris a “jezebel.”

On Jan. 3, Pastor Swofford delivered a sermon three days before the Capitol riots about President Biden calling him dysfunctional. He also lamented at the thought of Harris having to take power.

“What if something happens to him? Jezebel has to take over — Jezebel Harris; isn’t that her name?”

On Jan. 25, Pastor Tom Buck became the second Southern Baptist pastor in Texas to use the racist trope when speaking about Harris. He tweeted two statements reiterating the point.

“I can’t imagine any truly God-fearing Israelite who would’ve wanted their daughters to view Jezebel as an inspirational role model because she was a woman in power,” tweeted Buck, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Lindale, Tex. In the days leading up the inauguration, Buck had similarly quoted scriptures and delivered sermons criticizing Biden and his incoming administration.

Buck doubled down on his “Jezebel” comments.

“For those torn up over my tweet, I stand by it 100%,” he added. “My problem is her godless character. She not only is the most radical pro-abortion VP ever but also most radical LGBT advocate.”

One Southern Baptist minister, Dwight McKissic, condemned the remarks when he spoke to Baptist News.

“I find his comment regarding Madam Vice President Kamala Harris extremely un-Christlike, unjustifiable & inconsistent with how he’s treated other female public figures,” tweeted McKissic of Buck, who he said was a friend.

“To refer to the Madam Vice President in any context as ‘Jezebel’ is simply unwarranted & disrespectful & extremely harmful to the image of Southern Baptists when this label emanates from the heart & mouth of an SBC pastor,” McKissic contended. “Consequently, I choose not to engage in any further fellowship with Tom Buck.”

California Foundations Drop $100 Million in “Black Freedom Fund”

Antonio Ray Harvey | California Black Media
Last week, philanthropic organizations and other funders joined hands to launch the California Black Freedom Fund (CBFF), a new $100 million initiative that will provide resources to Black-led organizations in the state of California over the next five years.

Co-created with Black leaders and organizers, the first-of-its-kind fund will ensure that California’s growing ecosystem of local grassroots, Black-led organizing groups have sustained investments that equip them with the resources they need to push back against entrenched forces of systemic and institutionalized racism.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen Black communities across the country step up boldly as the conscience of our nation to challenge the status quo,” said Cathy Cha, president and chief executive officer of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, a Bay Area philanthropic organization that tackles a broad range of social issues. “The California Black Freedom Fund represents a great opportunity to build on that momentum and support Black-led organizations and a movement that can keep racial justice front and center and reimagine a better future for all of us.”

According to participating organizations, the fund intends to correct philanthropy’s history of underinvestment in Black-led organizations and “power-building” in African American communities. For example, across the United States, only about 1% of community foundation support was specifically designated for Black communities in recent years, according to the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

“To make racial justice and equity real in California, philanthropy needs to elevate its investments in Black organizers that are focused on advocacy, organizing and holding our institutions accountable — something that we call power-building,” said Lateefah Simon, who is the president of Akonadi Foundation, an Oakland-based organization that fights against the criminalization of Black youth. “The vision of the California Black Freedom Fund is to bring justice to our communities by making sure Black-led organizations are sufficiently supported and strong, and their leaders are galvanized.”

Simon says the fund’s focus on “power-building” prioritizes mobilizing Black Californians to become engaged in their communities and effect systemic change through “advocacy, direct action, voter organizing and mobilization.”

“It is commendable that the funders are focused on equity. It has a positive ring to it. It’s encouraging,” says Paul Cobb, publisher of the Post News Group, a Black-owned newspaper publishing house based in Oakland. “But it is important that they follow these high-minded words with meaningful action – backed with a strategic plan of action to even the playing field.”

Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, a statewide foundation headquartered in Los Angeles that is focused on improving the health of all Californians, says the initiative is a strong effort that addresses longstanding equity issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified.

“But we know it will take bold moves such as this in order to reimagine institutions that are more inclusive and racially equitable for all Californians,” Ross stated. “The pandemic and the racial divide in this country have exposed the anti-Black systems that are in place. These resources will make sure we build and sustain an ecosystem of Black-led organizations and networks that can move racial equity work forward while leading California towards healing and structural change.”

With an initial investment of $32.4 million, CBFF will raise additional dollars over the next five years through a mix of foundation, corporate and individual donor support to reach its $100 million goal.

Regina Wilson, executive director of California Black Media, says she applauds California’s largest foundations making a significant initial investment in community-based organizations, adding that she is hopeful multi-year funding will be expanded to include Black media.

“I’m optimistic funders will consider supporting Black newspapers and other African American-owned media outlets in the future because of the vital public service role they play in our state. The Black press watches and breaks down government policy, while keeping our community informed, connected and engaged,” Wilson said.

The funders currently participating in CBFF include Akonadi Foundation, Annenberg Foundation, Bishop Ranch, Blue Shield of California Foundation, The California Endowment, The California Wellness Foundation, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Crankstart, Emerson Collective, and Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

In addition, the roster of funders extends to Farella Braun + Martel LLP, Friedman Family Foundation, Hellman Foundation, JPMorgan Chase, Liberty Hill Foundation, Libra Foundation, Rob McKay, Rosenberg Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, Sierra Health Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Stuart Foundation, Tundra Glacier Fund and Weingart Foundation.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation will provide fiscal and administrative management of the fund.

“The (CBFF) sets forth a model that can be replicated across the nation, potentially bringing significant resources to movement-building networks and organizations that are fighting racial injustice on behalf of marginalized groups,” said Nicole Taylor, president and CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a philanthropic organization based in Mountain View. “Silicon Valley Community Foundation is proud to support the California Black Freedom Fund, as it aligns with our aspirations of advancing equity and opportunity for all members of our communities.”

Over the next five years, the CBFF says it will strategically increase the resources available to Black-led organizations throughout California, prioritizing the courageous and visionary grassroots advocates and organizers leading California as a whole toward systemic transformation.

In its first round of grantmaking, CBFF is investing over $6 million to support three established Black networks that have proven long-term working relationships with more than 50 Black-led organizations across the state.

The first of the three networks is the Black Census and Redistricting Hub, a network of over 30 Black-led and Black-serving organizations that focuses on maximizing participation in the census and redistricting process among hard-to-count Black communities.

Second is the Black Equity Collective, a community-public-private partnership dedicated to strengthening the long-term capacity and infrastructure of Black-led and Black-empowering social justice organizations in Southern California (Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire).

Third, is PICO California: Live Free/ Bring the HEAT. This organization centers its work on intervention to protect the basic health, safety, and well-being of all people by demanding a series of immediate and sweeping changes to the current policing system in the United States.

“Black-led organizations have been leading the work to advance racial justice and dismantle anti-Black racism,” said Miguel A. Santana, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Weingart Foundation. “We are proud to join our colleagues in investing at greater scale to support these movement leaders and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the work to eradicate systemic racism.”

CBFF’s next round of grantmaking is anticipated in late February 2021.

In addition to grantmaking, the fund will also provide capacity-building support through technical assistance in communications, narrative change, and policy; research and data; and convening and learning opportunities.

“Building a better future for everyone starts with centering those who have been politically, socially, and economically marginalized,” said Priscilla Chan, Co-founder and Co-CEO of the Redwood City-based Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Chan is Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s wife.

“We support the California Black Freedom Fund and its work to ensure that Black-led organizations and movements have the power, resources, and recognition to continue their missions and make racial equity a reality in California,” Chan emphasized.

To learn more about the California Black Freedom Fund visit

New Calif. Laws Slice Drug Costs, Force Insurers to Cover Substance Abuse Disorders

Quinci LeGardye | California Black Media

Two new California laws that took effect Jan. 1 aim to make access to quality health care more equitable and affordable.

SB 855, written by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September, expanded the California Mental Health Parity Law, requiring California health plans to provide full coverage for medically necessary treatment of all mental health and substance-use disorders defined by the American Psychiatric Association.

Under that law, “medically necessary treatment” is defined as a covered service that is consistent with generally accepted standards set by professional associations. SB 855 also prohibits an insurer from limiting benefits for chronic conditions to only cover short-term or acute treatment.

Prior to the new law’s implementation, insurers in California were only mandated to cover treatment for nine specified mental health disorders, and no substance-use disorders. There was also no standard definition from “medically necessary treatment,” which allowed for broad interpretation of what benefits were necessary. SB 855 ensures that there is parity in California health plans, meaning that coverage for mental health and substance-use disorders is comparable to physical health coverage.

The law goes into effect in the midst of a nationwide mental health crisis that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated. Like the physical effects of the virus, the psychological toll of it has been disproportionately impacting communities of color. An August survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that people of color – including African Americans — reported having experienced worse mental health outcomes than White respondents. Other groups experiencing worse mental health outcomes included younger adults, essential workers, low-wage workers and unpaid caregivers, all demographics among which Blacks account for significant numbers.

In addition to creating more parity in health care across the state, SB 855 provides standards for affordability in mental health care. Now, if medically necessary, and mental health or substance-use treatment is not available in-network, insurers are required to provide the necessary out-of-network services and any follow-up services at the in-network price.

“No one should have to suffer from mental illness or substance use disorder without support, resources and medical care. No one should have to forgo mental health care until they have deteriorated to the point where they’re in crisis and in the ER. And no one should have to go into debt to pay for substance use disorder or mental health treatment,” said Wiener in a January statement.

SB 852, written by Sen. Richard Pan, MD (D-Sacramento) requires the California Health and Human Services Agency (CHHSA) to enter partnerships or contracts to make affordable generic prescription drugs, including at least one form of insulin. The law requires that each drug is made available at a transparent price and without rebates, unless the rebate is federally required.

The details of SB 852 emphasize the importance of new generic drugs being affordable. It requires CHHSA to only enter into partnerships to produce a generic drug at a price that results in savings, improves patient access to affordable medications and targets shortages of generic drugs in the market. It also prioritizes generic drugs that have the greatest impact on lowering drug costs to patients, such as those for chronic and high-cost conditions, as well as drugs that can be delivered through mail order.

Drug prices have steadily risen throughout the past decade, slowly becoming more unaffordable. In a 2019 Consumer Reports survey of 1,015 adults, 30 % of respondents said the out-of-pocket cost for a drug they regularly took increased in the year prior, with 12 % saying the increase was over $100. Also, those who saw the cost increase dramatically were nearly twice as likely to forgo the prescription or cut back on other essentials to afford it.

Increasing prescription costs and access to critical medicine has been a concern for California legislators even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the issue. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s initial 2020-21 Annual Budget, proposed in January 2020 before the onset of the pandemic, included plans to establish a state-sponsored generic drug label. According to a September 2020 statement, the state has already begun to identify possible target medications.

“The cost of healthcare is way too high. Our bill will help inject competition back into the generic drug marketplace – taking pricing power away from big pharmaceutical companies and returning it to consumers,” said Gov. Newsom. “California is using our market power and our moral power to demand fairer prices for prescription drugs. I am proud to sign this legislation affirming our ground-breaking leadership in breaking down market barriers to affordable prescription drugs.”

“Prescription drugs don’t work if people cannot afford to take them. I thank the Governor for his leadership to assure Californians will be able to have access to a reliable supply of affordable generic medications. With the signing of SB 852, California leads the country again in pursuing innovative ideas to increase health care access and affordability, this time for prescription drugs,” said Sen. Pan.

Former Assistant Files Lawsuit Against Inglewood Mayor James Butts Alleging Harassment and Wrongful Termination

Dianne Lugo, Staff

Inglewood Mayor James Butts’ former executive assistant Melani McDade-Dickens has filed a 22-page lawsuit against Mayor Butts and the City of Inglewood after she says she endured years of harassment and abuse before she was stalked and fired after ending their nine-year relationship.

“There’s a virus raging on the ninth floor of the city hall in Inglewood and that virus has nothing to do with COVID. That virus is promoted by fear. That virus is promoted by intimidation and hopefully, this lawsuit will be the first step in finding a cure,” said Attorney Carl Douglas of Douglas Hick Law in a press conference announcing the lawsuit. McDade-Dickens is also represented by Maryann P. Gallagher.

McDade-Dickens previously filed a claim for damages in June of last year. It was rejected by the City of Inglewood on July 29 which allowed her to move forward with a lawsuit against the City and Butts.

“Here I am wanting to restore my name and my dignity,” she said at the conference.

The lawsuit outlines how McDade-Dickens met Butts in 2010 when he still worked as Chief of Los Angeles Airport Police and she volunteered on his mayoral campaign. She then joined him as an office manager before she worked through the ranks to become an adviser on his strategy committee. It was during the campaign that the two began forming a consensual romantic relationship and after securing his win, Butts invited McDade to join his administration as Executive Assistant.

As Mayor Butts became a “tyrant” and “monster”, says McDade-Dickens. The lawsuit decibels Butts as an aggressive man who not only demanded sex at the office but would punish her by shouting and harassing her if she did not engage. He would also encourage and intimidate others to shun her, adds the lawsuit.

McDade says she attempted to end their relationship on March 5, 2018. A move that she says enraged Butts and marked the start of his stalking.

“On more than a dozen occasions, Butts terrorized McDade’s family showing up at her home, unannounced, in the middle of the night, gaining entry into her home by using her garage door opener that he refuses to return when she broke up with him,” the lawsuit says.

It also says that McDade suspected Butts had added a tracking device to her car after he would appear “out of nowhere” on her personal time every other Friday when Inglewood City offices were closed.

An emotional McDade at the press conference says she nonetheless continued working at the office saying she loved her job.
“I showed up at work every single day, I didn’t miss an assignment, I was at every meeting that he eventually allowed me to be in,” McDade-Dickens said. “I still maintained all of my daily activities, I never slacked. I would close my door sometimes and cry and bite my tongue, but I compartmentalized my work and my relationship.”

The lawsuit names other city leadership including City Manager Artie Fields and Human Resources Director Jose Cortes who were both supposedly aware of the harassment and yet did nothing to stop it.

McDade says Butts, angry at her success without him, directed Cortes and Fields to exclude her from the executive meetings which she had been attending for years and to strip her of regular duties before ordering them to order an armed guard to escort her from the ninth floor offices and suspend her, a move that made headlines.

“After she dumped him, the mayor retaliated against her and set upon a course to ruin her reputation, and, using two puppets he employed, to destroy her career,” said Douglas at the press conference.

At the press conference, Douglas drew parallels between former President Donald Trump and Mayor Butts.

“Both men reward their friends and punish their enemies. Both men treat themselves like they were king or dictator. And both men need to be shown even an elected official is not about the law,” he said.

“The Mayor categorically denies any and all allegations of coercion or harassment,” said Mira Hashmall, an attorney for the city, in a statement. “This complaint, full of salacious fabrications, is a tactic designed to draw attention away from Ms. McDade’s wrongdoing by smearing others. It will not work.”

Tavis Smiley to Launch KBLA, New Progressive Talk Radio Venture

Quinci LeGardye for L.A Focus Newspaper

Prolific radio host and author Tavis Smiley is launching a new media venture in Los Angeles. Smiley has purchased KBLA 1580 AM radio station, located in Santa Monica, for a reported $7.15 million. The station will be re-launched with a liberal talk format under the name “KBLA Talk 1580.” The station’s website,, advertises the venture as “unapologetically Progressive.”

KBLA has a large reach, with a 50,000-watts day and night signal that reaches over the entire L.A. basin out to parts of Riverside County and Orange County. The station also has a storied
history in California radio. It was previously known as KDAY until its name change in 1991 and was the first radio station to play hip-hop in the Los Angeles area in the 1980s.

Information on the station’s lineup has yet to be released. On Dec. 7, KBLA Talk announced that it was scheduling open on-air auditions for its 9 pm. To 12 a.m. weekday host lineup. In the announcement, Lyle Gregory, a veteran LA talk radio producer who’s in charge of the talent search, gave a hint to the vibe of KBLA Talk’s future hosts.

“This historic moment is pleading with us to lift up a new generation of young, insightful voices to contribute to a vibrant and productive conversation. For too long now, talk radio in this city has been all day, all night, all white. We are building a conversational talk radio station that sounds like our city looks. We are confident that our search will result in a new talk radio team that is whip-smart, imaginative and sharp-witted in discussing the current events and issues that matter to all fellow citizens,” said Gregory.

Smiley has a long-storied career in television and radio. In the late 90s, Smiley was a commentator on The Tom Joyner Morning Show and he hosted the public affairs show BET Talk, later renamed BET Tonight, from 1996 to 2001. Smiley was previously the host of The Tavis Smiley Show, which aired on NPR from 2002 to 2004 before becoming a weekly show distributed through the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) from 2005-2018.

In 2017 Smiley was suspended indefinitely from PBS due to “multiple, credible allegations of conduct that is inconsistent with the values and standards of PBS,” according to PBS. Smiley filed a wrongful termination suit against the PBS, and the network countersued. In August 2020, Smiley was ordered to pay PBS $2.6 million for violating the network’s morals clause.

KBLA’s most recent owner was Multicultural Broadcasting, which currently airs a Spanish Christian talk and teaching radio format. The station’s sale also includes a noncompete clause that bars Multicultural Broadcasting from working with other broadcasters to develop urban format radio in the L.A. market for eight years.

The website proclaims the motto, “We’ve got a lot to talk about”. Time will tell who listens.

Los Angeles County Will See Return of Outdoor Dining on Friday


Outdoor dining is returning in Los Angeles County starting Friday after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted all regional stay-at-home orders across California.

With the rescinding of the order, outdoor dining across Southern California was immediately able to return but it was up to Los Angeles County to relax its own restrictions. County Supervisor Hilda Solis confirmed that by the end of the week the county would align with the state.

Other activities permitted by the state’s reopening plan will also be permitted in Los Angeles including outdoor recreational sites like aquariums, zoos, cardrooms, dance studios and miniature golf. Personal care services can also open indoors at 25% capacity explained L.A County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer.

“This is not the time for people to think we can get back to our normal business and our normal ways of interacting with each other,” warned Ferrer. “If we’re not careful, our metrics that are headed in the right direction will quickly change. So, please, do your part to allow us to move forward with careful reopenings.”

The caution comes as Los Angeles reported 8,200 new cases earlier this week and 98 deaths. 6,697 were hospitalized on January 24. Additionally, ICU capacity remained at under 1.5 percent.

“If at any point it starts looking like we’re creating again an overwhelming situation for our hospitals, and we don’t continue to see that we’re making progress and slowing the spread, I’ll be the first person to call us all back together to say we need to move forward differently,” Ferrer said.

National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman Signs With IMG Models


Just a week after Amanda Gorman made history and stole the show at the inauguration of President Joe Biden the 22-year old National Youth Poet Laureate has signed with one of the world’s biggest modeling agencies: IMG Models.

She’s joining Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen, Bella Hadid, Selena Gomez, Chrissy Teigen and Naomi Osaka as celebrities represented by the agency.

Previously, Gorman modeled in ads for Helmut Lang and has been spotted at the front row of Fashion Week in Milan’s 2019 Prada show. She has opened up about her love for fashion previously in an interview with Vogue shortly before the inauguration where she wore a bright yellow coat by Italian designer Miuccia Prada and a red Prada headband alongside jewelry gifted to her by Oprah Winfrey.

“(Fashion) has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me,” she told the magazine.

The signing is another addition to her growing list of accomplishments. Her forthcoming books, “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem” and “The Hill We Climb and Other Poems,” are already sitting on Amazon’s bestseller list.

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