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Heavy Winds Cause Power Outages in Hollywood Hills

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HOLLYWOOD — Heavy winds triggered a series of power outages across Los Angeles for DWP customers Monday morning.

Thousands of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers were left without power Monday morning when heavy wind gusts triggered a series of 15 power outages.

In all, more than 6,800 Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customers were affected in across the San Fernando Valley including the Valley Village and Mission Hills areas, and in the Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, Mid- Wilshire and Pacific Palisades.

High Wind Warnings were in effect through noon in the Santa Clarita, Antelope and San Fernando valleys.

The California Highway Patrol issued a SigAlert at 1:56 a.m. for lanes 4 and 5 of the westbound Ronald Reagan (118) Freeway near Reseda Boulevard in Porter Ranch after tree branches fell into lanes and a car was rendered unmovable after hitting them.

There were 11 incidents reported to the LADWP in the L.A. Metro area involving 6,200 customers and another four outages in the San Fernando Valley affecting 660 customers, spokeswoman Deborah Hong said.

That includes customers in Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills, Mid- Wilshire, Pacific Palisades, Valley Village and Mission Hills, according to the DWP’s Twitter account.

Repair crews were out making repairs since early in the morning, Hong says.

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California

Low Income Buyers Don’t Have Credit Cards – and Some Stores Don’t Accept Cash

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by Jackie Botts for CalMatters

CALIFORNIA — One state lawmaker says cash-free stores are discriminating against low-income customers, who often don’t have bank accounts.

Last May, Burger Patch first opened its doors in midtown Sacramento with a sign that said, “No Cash Accepted.” The owners of the organic and vegan burger joint were worried that a cash register might invite theft.

But customers kept showing up with only cash. Sometimes the cashiers would accept it, working around the digital system; other times, they’d simply give the customer a free meal. About a month in, Burger Patch changed course, deciding to install a cash register after all.

“We want to be able to have everyone come and eat here no matter what,” said Zia Simmons, who has worked at the restaurant since it opened.

“We want to be able to have everyone come and eat here no matter what,” said Zia Simmons, who has worked at the restaurant since it opened. “We don’t want to ever have to be like, well if you don’t have a card, you can’t eat here.”

A small, but growing number of businesses are no longer accepting cash. Owners say that accepting only credit cards, debit cards or digital wallets like Apple Pay is more efficient and lowers the risk of being robbed. Electronic forms of payments are gaining popularity with consumers.

But the cash-free trend has raised concerns that such shops exclude customers who rely exclusively on cash. Sen. Jerry Hill, a Democrat from San Mateo, says this amounts to discrimination against people without credit cards or bank accounts, who tend to be low-income. 

“I don’t think it’s intentionally discrimination. But that’s in fact what they’re doing,” Hill said. Cashless stores “may be the thing of the future, (but) it’s not there yet.”

That’s why Hill introduced a bill last week to require that all brick-and-mortar businesses in California accept cash. 
If passed, California would become the third state, after Massachusetts and New Jersey, to ban cashless businesses before they become widespread. San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York City passed similar ordinances in the past year, and Washington, D.C., is currently considering a ban.

A customer pays with a credit card at Burger Patch, a vegan burger joint in Sacramento. Photo by Jackie Botts for CalMatters

California residents with limited resources are far more likely to use cash. While 7.4% of California households do not have banks, the rate among households earning less than $15,000 per year is 27.3%, according to a 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

People of color, immigrants and disabled people are also more likely to be excluded by a cashless economy. In California, 20.5% of black households and 14.5% of Hispanic households do not use banks, according to the survey data. The rate is 24.8% among households that speak only Spanish at home and 20.7% among adults with disabilities. Single mothers lack access to bank accounts at a rate more than twice that of single fathers.

“When retailers don’t accept cash, they’re effectively locking out workers in low-wage jobs, communities of color and our homeless neighbors,” Andrea Zinder, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, which has endorsed the bill, said in a statement. 

People between the ages of 25 and 44 pay with cash less often than people who are older or younger — about one-fifth of the time, compared with one-third, according to a 2019 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Under the proposed law, cashless transactions would be legal, but if a business turns away a customer who only has cash, it could face a civil penalty between $25 and $500. Online retailers would be excluded, as would car rental businesses.

No groups have filed opposition against the bill yet, but Hill expects that retailers may put up a fight. Around 10% of the nearly 100,000 businesses that use Square, a financial check-out service, are cashless, according to a recent national study from the company.

California Retailers Association has not yet taken a position on the bill, said President and CEO Rachel Michelin. An uptick in retail theft has spurred some smaller retailers to turn towards electronic payments to avoid keeping cash behind the counter. She said the bill might be “premature” given that she hasn’t observed a widespread trend in stores going cashless, other than in more techy areas like Silicon Valley.

Sen. Jerry Hill speaks in support of his bill SB 38, which would support volunteer firefighters if passed
Sen. Jerry Hill speaks in the capitol. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

Hill said the issue came on his radar when he walked into a restaurant in San Mateo last year.

“I saw there’s a sign there that said ‘we don’t accept cash.’ That kind of shocked me and surprised me,” Hill said. “That seemed almost like they were discriminating against those who did not have the ability to pay an electronic transaction, and for me that raised a flag.” 

The store was Sweetgreen, a build-your-own salad eatery with a sleek tech aesthetic, where a typical bowl costs upwards of $10. The chain phased out cash transactions in 2017 but reversed course last year.

“Going cashless… had the unintended consequence of excluding those who prefer to pay or can only pay with cash,” the company explained in a blog post last April. “To accomplish our mission, everyone in the community needs to have access to real food.”

Amazon’s cashier-less automated convenience store, called Amazon Go, also decided to phase in the ability to take cash after facing backlash.

To Hill, that’s evidence that companies can transition back “without great difficulty.” 

“I don’t know if (this bill) is as big of a deal for (retailers) as those who are now discriminated against because they cannot pay with cash,” Hill said.

Jackie Botts is a reporter at CalMatters. This article is part of The California Divide, a collaboration among newsrooms examining income inequity and economic survival in California.

This article is produced as part of WeHo Daily’s partnership with CalMatters, a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

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Equality California, Silver State Equality Endorse Mayor Pete Buttigieg

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Photo from peteforamerica.com

LOS ANGELES — Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, and its Nevada-based affiliate Silver State Equality has announced their endorsement of Mayor Pete Buttigieg for President of the United States.

“The decision was reached unanimously by the groups’ joint presidential endorsement committee following a lengthy process that included a detailed questionnaire, thorough evaluation of the candidates’ viability and policy positions, staff engagement and interviews with the candidates” they said.

For the first time, California’s primary will be held on Super Tuesday in March, and California voters will begin casting mail-in ballots on Monday, February 3, the same day as the Iowa Caucus.

The 2020 Nevada Caucus will be held on Saturday, February 22.

Equality California and Silver State Equality released the following statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur:

“In our twenty-one-year history, we have endorsed hundreds of openly LGBTQ candidates, but never for president of the United States. That changes today.

“From his comprehensive plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030 to his commitment to make our schools safe and supportive for LGBTQ students to his specific funding and policy priorities to protect and empower the transgender community — especially transgender women of color, who face an epidemic of violence and persecution — Mayor Pete Buttigieg has the boldest, most comprehensive agenda to achieve full, lived equality for all LGBTQ people of any presidential candidate in the nation’s history.

“This will be the most important election in our lifetimes — and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent every day of the last three years attacking LGBTQ people and the diverse communities to which we belong: immigrant communities, communities of color, the transgender community, women and religious minorities. Mayor Pete is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump, win back the White House and help lead the fight to create a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.

“While we did not endorse Mayor Pete simply because he’s gay, the historic nature of his candidacy has already had a transformational impact on the LGBTQ community. Electing the first openly LGBTQ president will send a message to millions of LGBTQ youth across the country that no dreams are too big and no leadership position is too high.

“The challenges we face are great. But with the power of hope and a bold, progressive vision for the future, there is nothing we cannot achieve. We’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

In particular, Equality California and Silver State Equality were impressed by Mayor Buttigieg’s comprehensive plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, his understanding that making schools safe and supportive requires bold investments in teacher training and mentorship programs for LGBTQ students, his specific policy and funding priorities to protect and empower the transgender community, his plan to transform the criminal legal system into one that truly promotes justice and instead of one that furthers racial injustice and his proposals for fixing our broken immigration system by protecting refugees and asylum seekers and providing millions of LGBTQ undocumented people, their friends and family with a pathway to citizenship.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg released the following statement in reaction to Equality California and Silver State Equality’s endorsement:

“I’m honored to receive the endorsements of Equality California and Silver State Equality, two organizations that have been unrelenting in their fight for LGBTQ+ people and our push for full equality. My campaign is based around a shared future of belonging for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. President Trump’s attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, especially our trans members, have shown us that the fight for equal rights did not end with marriage equality. I will be the President to continue that fight for equality for all Americans.”

Every top tier 2020 presidential candidate sought Equality California and Silver State Equality’s endorsement — a testament to the LGBTQ community’s role as a key voting bloc in California and Nevada, both important early states, and across the country. The Trump-Pence Administration is an existential threat to the LGBTQ community and the diverse communities to which LGBTQ people belong, and Equality California and Silver State Equality’s top priority in 2020 will be defeating Donald Trump and Mike Pence and putting a pro-equality president back in the White House. Both organizations have committed to supporting the Democratic nominee in the 2020 general election.

Although Equality California and Silver State Equality determined that Mayor Pete presented the boldest, most comprehensive plan for full, lived LGBTQ equality and is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump and win, the organizations were also impressed by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Tom Steyer, who both have extremely strong, compelling pro-equality policy agendas and participated in robust interviews with the joint presidential endorsement committee. Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Yang also submitted questionnaires outlining their strong support for LGBTQ civil rights and social justice.

Prior to dropping out of the race, Senator Kamala Harris participated in Equality California and Silver State Equality’s endorsement process, submitted an extremely strong, compelling questionnaire and participated in events with Equality California. After two decades of working with her, Equality California has immense respect and admiration for Senator Harris, and LGBTQ Californians are lucky to have her fighting for civil rights and social justice in the U.S. Senate.

2020 will be one of the most consequential election years for LGBTQ people in modern American history, and Equality California and Silver State Equality plan to run substantial get out the vote efforts in elections up and down the ballot. In 2018, Equality California ran a robust statewide get-out-the-vote campaign to educate and mobilize pro-equality voters in California’s primary and general elections, helping to win crucial swing districts and flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

For a full list of Equality California’s 2020 endorsements to date, visit eqca.org/elections.

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Bewildered by CA’s Changing Presidential Primary Rules? Start Here.

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If you’re confused about how to vote in California’s presidential primary, you’re in good company with Susan Sarandon.

At the beginning of January, the “Thelma and Louise” actress and Sanders enthusiast issued a public service announcement on Twitter: “California voters: make sure to switch from independent to democrat (sic) in order to vote for ⁦@BernieSanders.”

Just one problem: She’s wrong. Political independents (known in California election parlance as “no party preference” voters) do not need to switch parties to vote in the Democratic presidential primary — the just need to request a Democratic ballot first.Technically, Sarandon was retweeting the account @TimOnTheTractor — but Tim (presumably) doesn’t have an Academy Award.

He also doesn’t have 653,000 Twitter followers to misinform.

To be fair, the minutiae of California election law is really confusing! And Sarandon is hardly alone. Election day in California is March 3, but already social media has become a bipartisan chorus of wrongness about the what, how and why of the state’s presidential primary.

If you’re unsure about how to get the ballot you want, why things here are so complicated or what presidential primaries are all about, here are four things to know before you vote:

The presidential primary will not use the familiar “Top Two” ballot

California voters can be forgiven for assuming that political party registration doesn’t really matter.

In 2010 voters backed a measure to create the state’s nonpartisan “top two” election system, in which all primary voters fill out a ballot with every candidate on it — regardless of either the voter’s or the candidate’s political party. The top two winners then move on to the general election ballot — even if they’re both from the same party.

In races for state legislative and congressional seats, the top two method will still reign on the 2020 ballot.

But when you vote in the presidential primary, it’s back to the old partisan system: Democrats on the Democratic ballot, Republicans on the Republican ballot, and so on.

So while voting in California usually goes like this under the top two:

In the presidential primary, it looks a little more like this:

No Party Preference voters: Pay attention!

Registered Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians and other party members, rest assured. You are guaranteed a primary ballot with all of your party’s presidential contenders on it.

But voters who don’t belong to a political party — the fastest growing voting block in the state — will have to navigate a more daunting set of obstacles to cast a presidential primary vote.

Some parties have “members only” policies:

  • The Republican Party
  • The Green Party
  • The Peace and Freedom Party

If you want to vote in one of these three primaries, you’ll have to join that party. You can’t do it as a member of any other party, or even as a “no party preference” independent. No exceptions.

The following three parties do allow political independents to cast ballots in their presidential primaries:

  • The Democratic Party
  • The Libertarian Party
  • The American Independent Party (which is the party’s name and not to be confused with being a party-less political independent)

But — and this is an important caveat — these voters do have to specifically request the ballot they want.

For those who vote in person, this is a cinch. Just go into your polling place when it’s time to vote and ask. But independents who vote by mail need to let your county know which ballot they want ahead of time.

Maybe you received a postcard that looks like this:

If so, fill it out and mail it back. If you missed the deadline or lost the card, and you’re not going to vote in person, email or call your county registrar’s office and let them know which ballot you want. You can find the contact information here.

And if you’ve already received a ballot in the mail and were disappointed by the lack of presidential candidates, do not fill it out. You can always request a new ballot, but trying to vote twice is frowned upon (and also punishable as “voter fraud”) .

The California Secretary of State’s office has an all-in-one website where you can check your registration status, register or change your party affiliation online, and learn more about the presidential primary.

You can make registration changes online through February 18. After that, you’ll have to do it in person — which you can do up to and even on Election Day itself.

15 counties are doing things a little differently this time

If you live in one of the counties highlighted below, voting might look a little different this year.

In 2016, California passed the “Voter Choice Act,” a law aimed at modernizing the state’s election system, such that:

  • Every registered voter gets a ballot in the mail
  • Voters are no longer required to go to a specific polling place, but can vote at any number of voting centers or drop-off points
  • Voters can cast their ballots in person beginning 11 days before, and up to and including, Election Day

In 2018, five counties (Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo) rolled out the new system. This year, 10 more will join their ranks. That’s fifteen counties in all containing 49% of the state population.

This is key for “no party preference” voters living in these counties who may not get the ballot they want in the mail. See the previous section for details.

Delegate math can be complicated

In state legislative races, the electoral calculations are straightforward: The two candidates who earned the most votes, regardless of party, move on to the final voting round in November.

But the math is trickier in the presidential primary: citizen votes are used to select party convention delegates, who then select the party’s nominee for the White House.

Let’s focus on the Democratic contest, which is bound to be the most interesting one. Nationwide there will be 4,532 Democratic delegates, 495 come from California.

In the Golden State, presidential hopefuls can earn delegates three ways:

  • By winning a large share of the statewide vote.
  • By winning a large share of the vote in any one of the state’s 53 congressional districts.
  • By successfully schmoozing party leaders.

The 144 statewide delegates are awarded in proportion to a candidate’s performance across the state — up to a point. To take a recent polling average average from FiveThirtyEight as a hypothetical election result, if Joe Biden wins 23% of the California vote, he would win the support of at least 23% of those statewide delegates.

Why “at least”? Party rules require candidates to demonstrate a baseline level of electoral viability: they only earn delegates if they win at least 15% of the vote.

Only three candidates exceed that threshold in the polls: Biden with 23%, Sen. Bernie Sanders with 22% and Sen. Elizabeth Warren with 17%. By that math, Biden would get 36% of the delegates because he earned 36% of the primary vote split just among the candidates who exceeded the benchmark.

Another 272 delegates are awarded by congressional district. That gives candidates who have strong support in a particular region of the state an opportunity to earn delegates even if they don’t perform well overall.

But not all districts are created equal. The Democratic Party assigns between 4 and 7 delegates to each district depending on the number of Democratic voters who live and vote there. Thus, San Francisco gets 7, while the state’s rural, conservative northeastern district gets 4.

For these delegates, the proportional logic is the same but at a smaller scale: delegates are divvied up among candidates who earn more than 15% of the vote in each district.

The last 79 delegates are composed of the party elite — people like Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s sitting members of Congress, the top members of the state party. They automatically get a spot at the convention. They’re also “superdelegates,” meaning they can vote for whomever they want.

But superdelegates don’t have as much power as they used to, thanks to a post-2016 change in the party rules designed to wrest some control from the party establishment. When regular delegates first vote for the nominee at their convention in Milwaukee next July, super-delegates will have to sit out the vote. It’s only if a candidate doesn’t win a majority of delegate votes outright in the first round do the superdelegates then get to weigh in.

The last time that happened: 1952.

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