December 22, 2022
City News Service
Rex Richardson was sworn in today as Long Beach's first Black mayor, pledging “to address our housing crisis, our economic and racial inequities and our changing climate.''
“We only achieve these goals if we continue to work together toward our shared vision for our region's future,'' Richardson said in his inaugural address at the Terrace Theater.
The 39-year-old Richardson defeated fellow City Council member Suzie Price in the race to succeed Robert Garcia, who was elected to the House of Representatives after serving two terms as mayor.
“This historic mayorship represents not only how far we've come toward building a more inclusive city, but also the potential that we have to remedy deep and systemic disparities in opportunities across our city,'' Richardson said.
New Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass attended the ceremony. Richardson addressed her during his speech, pledging to work together with her on the homelessness crisis. Richardson said he would call on the city manager Wednesday to bring a declaration of a state of emergency on homelessness to the City Council.
Bass declared a state of emergency on homelessness in Los Angeles last week, in her first official act as mayor.
“I accept your call to lock arms with you and confront our cities' shared challenges,'' Richardson said to Bass. “Imagine a moment when two mayors from the two largest cities in the region are aligned on values and working together to get our unhoused neighbors off the street, and chart an equitable recovery for the future of our region. We will turn this vision into reality, with Mayor Karen Bass as our neighbor.''
A former student body president at Cal State Dominguez Hills and union organizer, Richardson became the youngest person to serve on the Long Beach City Council when he was elected in 2014. Richardson lives in North Long Beach with his wife and two daughters.
Richardson was one of nine city officials sworn in at the ceremony, along with Doug Haubert, the city prosecutor who was sworn in by Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna, five council members, the city attorney and city auditor.
December 15, 2022
By Lauren Victoria Burke
NNPA Newswire Correspondent
In her first act in office, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will declare a state of emergency against homelessness in an announcement at Los Angeles’ Emergency Operations Center.
The new Mayor asserts that the move “will allow her to take aggressive executive actions to confront the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. The declaration will recognize the severity of Los Angeles' crisis and break new ground to maximize the ability to urgently move people inside.”
On November 16, 2021, during an interview on Black Press USA’s daily morning show Let It Be Known, Bass spoke on homelessness saying it was “a humanitarian crisis,” and added that there were “40,000 people in the city unhoused, many living in tents all around the city.”
Clearly Mayor Bass is moving quickly to make homelessness a top priority during her first weeks in power.
On Dec. 11, Bass, 69, was sworn-in as Los Angeles’ 43rd Mayor at a historic ceremony by Vice President Kamala Harris. Her predecessor, Mayor Eric Garcetti, looked on at City Hall with thousands of others taking in the history of the moment. Karen Bass earned more votes than any candidate in the history of Los Angeles.’ Her election was also the most expensive ever, as Bass defeated Rick Caruso, who spent $100 million on his campaign.
Bass served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 to 2022 for California's 33rd congressional district and was Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She was also a member of the California State Assembly from 2004 to 2010 and spent her final years there as Speaker of the California House.
Bass acknowledged California’s first female Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis in the audience and Los Angeles’ all-female County Board of Supervisors.
“I believe that times of inflection require reflection – I believe, it’s time for Angelenos to remind ourselves where we come from and who we are. My father fled Jim Crow Texas during the great African American migration after World War 2. He worked for the postal service as a letter carrier. It was a union job, and his paycheck supported my brothers and me and allowed my mother to choose to be a homemaker. When I think about the dreams of working people today, I reflect on the fact that my mother and father were able to buy a home in Los Angeles for their family of six with one paycheck,” Bass said in her inaugural speech.
She then commented on the high cost of housing in Los Angeles.
“Tragically, our city has earned the shameful crown as being home to some of the most crowded neighborhoods in the nation—Pico Union, South L.A., East L.A., the East Valley. We know our mission – we must build housing in every neighborhood,” Mayor Bass said.
The new Mayor then focused on homelessness — a huge problem in Los Angeles and across the U.S.
“I will start my first day as mayor at our city’s Emergency Operations Center, where my first act as mayor will be to declare a state of emergency on homelessness. My emergency declaration will recognize the severity of our crisis and break new ground to maximize our ability to urgently move people inside and do so for good. It will create the structure necessary for us to have a true, unified and citywide strategy to set us on the path to solve homelessness,” Bass announced.
“If we are going to bring Angelenos inside and move our city in a new direction, we must have a single strategy to unite our city and county and engage the state, the federal government, the private sector and every other stakeholder. And so I call on our City Council, and our City Attorney and City Controller, to continue the work we started during the transition on a unified and urgent strategy to solve homelessness. I call on the County of Los Angeles, with its authority over health, including mental health and substance abuse, to lock arms with me -- and we have already started these discussions,” the new Mayor told the crowd.
In a city of many challenges, Bass’ four-year term will no doubt be eventful. But her long political resume and experience as a community activist and establishment actor in local, state and federal government will no doubt be beneficial as she navigates policy over the next four years in office.
December 15, 2022
By Dr. Valerie Wardlaw
DJ Stephen' tWitch' Boss, the former DJ, choreographer, and co-executive producer with The Ellen DeGeneres Show, was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Tuesday. He was 40 years old. Boss was husband to fellow dancer Allison Holker and father of three. According to his social media post, Boss celebrated his ninth wedding anniversary with Holker a few days ago.
His wife, Allison Holker, shared a statement about his death, saying:
"It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to share my husband Stephen has left us," she said. Stephen lit up every room he stepped into. He valued family, friends, and community above all else, and leading with love and light was everything to him. He was the backbone of our family, the best husband and father, and an inspiration to his fans. To say he left a legacy would be an understatement, and his positive impact will continue to be felt. I am certain there won't be a day that goes by that we won't honor his memory. We ask for privacy during this difficult time for me and especially for our three children. Stephen, we love you, we will miss you, and I will always save the last dance for you," her statement read.
TMZ was the first news outlet to report that Boss died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In their report, TMZ stated that "his wife went to an LAPD station to report that Boss had left home without his car, which worried her. Shortly after, police were called to an LA hotel and claimed they found him there, deceased."
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police department confirmed that Boss was found dead in a room at the Oak Tree Motel in Los Angeles, a 15-minute walk from his home, on Tuesday at approximately 11:15 AM. The motel staff said a maid discovered his body after performing a welfare check when he failed to check out of his room,
Ellen DeGeneres speaking of her heartbreak, said, "I'm heartbroken. tWitch was pure love and light. He was my family, and I loved him with all my heart. I will miss him. Please send love and support to Allison and his beautiful children-Weslie, Maddox and Zaia."
In 2014, comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres invited Boss to her show as a guest DJ, a role that became permanent until the show ended this past spring. Boss hyped the studio crowd with a pre-show dance session, eventually co-hosting with DeGeneres and becoming a co-executive producer. Boss also served as her sidekick on Ellen's Game of Games spinoff show.
In 2008, Boss competed on the dance show, So, You Think You Can Dance, where he was a runner-up, returning as an All-Star and judge in 2022. Boss showcased his love of the dance in his social media feed, and one of his final posts was a video of himself and his wife dancing in front of their Christmas tree two days before his death.
An LAPD spokesman confirmed to DailyMail.com that the incident is being handled by the LA County Coroner's office as there were no signs of foul play.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255.
December 15, 2022
City News Service
Two months after becoming entangled in a racism scandal that shook public trust in Los Angeles government, disgraced City Councilman Kevin de Leon has refused calls to resign and is attempting to rehabilitate his reputation as he faces a politically uncertain future.
De Leon, a former state legislator, is one of two council members who have resisted calls from President Joe Biden to step down, while continuing to collect annual salaries of nearly $229,000 _ among the most lucrative paydays for city council members in the nation.
The other is Councilman Gil Cedillo, who vanished from public view soon after the scandal over a leaked recording of racist insults emerged in October and has not attempted to return to City Hall meetings.
Cedillo lost a reelection bid earlier this year and his term expires Monday at 12:01 a.m.
Stripped of his ability to participate in council committees, facing widespread pressure to resign and after an extended absence from council meetings, de Leon has been maneuvering in public and private to emerge from political purgatory, despite being reviled by colleagues who say they cannot work with him.
His situation deteriorated Friday, when he scuffled with an activist who heckled him at a holiday toy giveaway that was partially captured on video and posted on Twitter. The confrontation left children at the event in tears.
Council President Paul Krekorian, who has called on de Leon to step down, said in a statement that the councilman, one of his staff members and a volunteer were attacked and he called it intolerable. The Los Angeles Times reported that activists said de Leon was the aggressor.
``This city has endured horrendous division and toxicity in recent months,`` Krekorian said. ``We need to reject hatred in all of its forms and we need to reject the atmosphere of intimidation, bullying and threats.''
De Leon appeared Friday at his first council meeting since mid-October, setting off a chaotic protest between competing factions in the audience. About a dozen protesters bellowed at de Leon to leave the ornate chamber, while his supporters chanted ``Kevin, Kevin.''
Some council members walked out and police ejected two people, fearing they might fight.
``Leave, Kevin!,'' one protester shouted at de Leon. ``This is why these meetings need to be shut down.''
The scandal triggered the resignation in October of then-City Council President Nury Martinez and a powerful labor leader, Ron Herrera, along with calls from Biden and other elected officials for de Leon and others to resign.
The uproar was triggered by a leaked recording of crude, racist comments from a year-old meeting involving Martinez, Herrera, de Leon and Cedillo _ all Latino Democrats _ in which they plotted to expand their political power at the expense of Black voters during a realignment of district boundaries.
The once-a-decade redrawing of district lines can pit one group against another to gain political advantage in future elections.
The California Legislative Black Caucus has said the recording ``reveals an appalling effort to decentralize Black voices during the critical redistricting process.'' A long line of speakers at Council meetings that followed said it echoed the Jim Crow era and was a stark example of ``anti-Blackness.''
De Leon has apologized repeatedly but said he will not resign. He argues that he wants to continue working on homelessness, fallout from the pandemic and the threat of evictions for renters in his district, which includes downtown Los Angeles and the heavily Latino Boyle Heights neighborhood.
There is no legal avenue for his colleagues to remove him _ the council can only suspend a member when criminal charges are pending.
Krekorian, the council president, has said ``the only way we can begin to heal as a city is for Mr. de Leon to take responsibility for his actions, accept the consequences and step down.''
While de Leon has largely stayed away from City Hall, he has continued to quietly conduct business, including attending holiday events and meeting officials on pending homeless projects and illegal dumping problems.
With his appearance at the council meeting Friday, it's clear he is trying to gradually step back into the public sphere. Meanwhile, organizers behind an effort to recall him from office have been cleared to collect petition signatures needed to qualify the proposal for the ballot.
Council members also have received a spate of letters from people identifying as de Leon's constituents, defending him and urging the council to let him resume his duties. They also asked the council to refrain from any additional punishment, which is being considered and could include restricting de Leon's office funds.
Continuing fallout from the racism scandal is one challenge that will confront the city's new mayor, Democrat Karen Bass, when she takes office on Monday. Meanwhile, three other current or former Council members have been indicted or pleaded guilty to corruption charges.