Saturday, August 8, 2020
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COVID-19 EDD Assistance Information


Many Californians have suffered a loss of work and are struggling to stay afloat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the state is going through a hard time, but there are resources to help. If you need assistance in navigating what is available, please contact Assemblymember Miguel Santiago’s [53rd District] office at, 213-620-4646 and the staff can talk you through the options most appropriate for you.

Unemployment Assistance

As part of the Federal CARES Act, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initiative serves to support unemployed Californians.

You may qualify if you are:

A business owner;

An independent contractor;

An individual with limited work history; or

Out of business or seeing services reduced as a direct result of the pandemic

Visit the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance page on the EDD website for more information.

If you have become unemployed or partially unemployed, you may file an Unemployment Insurance (UI) claim. Visit the EDD website to apply.

Independent contractors can use PUA. However, you may also apply for unemployment insurance if you were previously misclassified by your employer.

Details: or call 833-544-2374.

Let Your Voice Be Heard


During this unprecedented time, public comment during board meetings has transitioned from in-person to call-in, which has substantially increased public access and input. Frequently, the opinions voiced during public comment are disproportionately on one side of an issue. Now more than ever, you are encouraged to participate in these opportunities for public comment. Please take the time to call into these public hearings to share your views with the elected officials who are setting policies that affect us all. 

To address the Board call: 844-767-5651 Participant Code: 9676434

Time: 9:30 a.m. Tuesdays 


The Tipping Point!


By Robert Lee Johnson

The general assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1669 addressed the killing of slaves by their masters this way:

WHEREAS the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistress or overseer cannot be inflicted upon negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them by other than violent means suppressed, be it enacted and declared by this Grand Assembly, if any slave resist his master (or other by his master’s order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accounted a felony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquitted from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that prepensed  malice  (which alone makes felony) should induce any man to destroy his own estate. 

The murder of Black people by those in authority is older than the country itself, so we are no longer surprised over the” snuff video” that documented the police murder of Mr. George Floyd. 

America is once again confronted with its historic legacy of violent racism and discrimination against the Black community, this time in living rooms and on personal devices across America in “undeniable” living color! 

The nation watched the torture and slow death of Mr. Floyd as he called out to anyone willing to listen that he could not breathe! A chilling refrain from the recent past that reminded us all of another video of a senseless murder of a Black man named Eric Gardner, at the hands of American law enforcement. As the representative of the “State” pressed his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck as Mr. Floyd called out for his recently deceased mother, several bystanders screamed at the officer to take his knee off of Mr. Floyd’s neck because he was killing him. 

The officer ignored them as he ground his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck with his hand in his pocket and a quizzical look on his face, prompting a bystander to ask if he was enjoying himself? He crushed Mr. Floyd’s throat with his knee for 8 1/2 minutes, two of those minutes after Mr. Floyd was dead. It was all documented on video for all to see and yet it took massive demonstrations and civil unrest across the nation to get an indictment of Mr. George Floyd’s killers. Why? 

A few days before Mr. Floyd was murdered at the hands of his local police force. Breanna Taylor, a front line essential personnel EMT working to fight the deadly coronavirus in her community was shot several times by the local police as she slept in her bed in her own home in the middle of the night at the hands of  local police conducting a “no knock raid “where they did not identify themselves. They arrested her boyfriend for defending his home from unannounced intruders who shot and killed his girlfriend. And of course, America was not “shocked” by news of this murder as it became just another outrage in the Black community that seems to pop up every few weeks or so. 

These types of murders of Black civilians by the police have become the norm and almost expected as, part of the “Black experience” in America. After all, they had to be guilty of something? Right! But, then there’s that video of “Minneapolis’s finest” digging his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck as he laid handcuffed and helpless in the gutter pleading for his Life. 

So now the time has come for an answer to an age old question that was first asked in earnest during Reconstruction, “Do Black Lives Matter!” For most of American history the answer has been a resounding No! Equal protection under the law for Black people in the United States is a cruel joke.

… They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order… And so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect… Chief Justice Roger Taney’s majority opinion in the Dred Scott Decision, United States Supreme Court. March 6th 1857.

During the era of Reconstruction, which lasted from 1865 to 1877, one side argued for equal rights and equal protection under the law for the newly freed Black population. The other side argued that the “Negro” was an inferior species unfit to participate in a white man’s democracy and for a return to white supremacy in the South under the leadership of the remaining planter class and their former Confederate allies (the Redeemers). 

By 1877, white supremacy was the order of the day in both the North and the South. The Black community had seen their short day in the sun at the beginning of Reconstruction only to have the Republican Party and the nation, turn their backs on the newly freed Black citizens leaving them at the mercy of the conservative Southern Democrats who were fresh out of mercy and thirsty for revenge. 

What followed was nearly 100 years of racist “Jim Crow” segregation that allowed for disenfranchisement, police abuse, brutality, rape and murder in order to suppress and contain the Black community in the same vein as the old Slave Patrols. The lynchings, beatings, extrajudicial executions and the wholesale destruction of Black towns and communities were the order of the day. As long as the Black community was separate and contained from the white community especially in the North, the majority population did not care what happened in the Black community as long as it did not affect them. 

Ida B Wells, Sojourner Truth, Monroe Trotter, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois the NAACP and many others demanded that a federal law to outlaw lynching be enacted to stop this gruesome ritual that has spread across the South and into the North. We have all seen the postcards depicting the smiling white faces, of the young and old, male and female pointing at the horribly mutilated Black bodies hanging from the tree or a telephone pole as white onlookers gawk and cut off pieces of the body for souvenirs. (Go to Many of you are aware of the Bloody summer of 1919/1920 that took place right after the end of World War I and the 1918 flu epidemic and the urgent plea by the Black community to outlaw lynching. I can tell you that as late as July 31, 2020 the United States Senate is still trying to pass a bill to make lynching a federal crime. At the moment Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is blocking the legislation in the Senate and four Republican Congressman voted against the bill in the House. 

As my Grandfather used to say, “As much as some things have changed some things stay the same.” 

Maybe that’s why it took so long to indict the white vigilantes that hunted down and shot Ahmaud Arbery whose only crime was jogging through “their” neighborhood in Georgia. They were so proud of what they were doing that they decided to document their hunt on video. Otherwise we would have never known what happened to him. I wonder what a video of the Travonn Martin incident would have looked like. A hunt? We have to ask ourselves, how far have we come in 100 years?

In March of 1770 in the city of Boston, Massachusetts a Black man was shot down by local law enforcement during a protest. That man’s name was Crispus Attucks and he was leading a multiracial protest against British forces in colonial America that evening. He was a Stevedore and a Seamen, He was also a runaway slave. Four white men were also killed that evening, James Caldwell, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, and Samuel Maverick but Crispus Attucks would always be remembered as the first to die in what would eventually become the rebellion that birthed a new nation, based on the proposition that all men are created equal.

The response to the videotaped torture slaying of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis in May of 2020 seems to have been a tipping point that has led to multiracial protests against racism, discrimination, police brutality and murder across the country and around the world. There are calls to reform the policing of Black communities across the United States. The truth is that you cannot reform an institution that is functioning as intended! 

Remember, it was not just white vigilantes that attacked freedom riders and civil rights protesters. It was the police! It was Eugene “Bull” Connor and his clones across the country that brutalized and murdered civil rights workers, in order to suppress and contain the Black community. It was the local police that enforced segregation in the North and the South. These institutions were created by slave owning white supremacists to serve their needs, not ours. 

Therefore, for any real change to take place the institutions would have to be replaced and rebuilt in order to serve all the people justly. The difference in the demonstrations protesting Mr. Floyd’s murder is that we are all truly outraged, not only Black people, or Brown people or Native Americans or Asians but we see many white faces sometimes predominately in the crowds of protesters just like in Crispus Attucks’s protest and we all know what that led to!

“Until the killing of Black men, Black mother’s sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a White mother’s son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”  Ella Josephine Baker

Protests”: In Portland, Getting Out of Jail Requires Relinquishing Constitutional Rights


A dozen protesters facing federal charges are barred from going to “public gatherings” as a condition of release from jail — a tactic one expert described as “sort of hilariously unconstitutional.”

Federal authorities are using a new tactic in their battle against protesters in Portland, Oregon: arrest them on offenses as minor as “failing to obey” an order to get off a sidewalk on federal property — and then tell them they can’t protest anymore as a condition for release from jail.

Read more from ProPublica:

Governor Newsom Takes Action to Strengthen State Unemployment Insurance Delivery System


SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced, July 30, a series of actions to better serve workers that have experienced job loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the formation of an Employment Development Department or EDD strike team, and a renewed focus on processing unpaid claims.

The strike team – which will be headed by Government Operations Agency Secretary Yolanda Richardson and Jennifer Pahlka, who co-founded the United States Digital Response, the United States Digital Service, and founded the Code for America – will create a blueprint for improvements at EDD, including a reimagining of their technology systems.

EDD will begin addressing the backlog of unpaid claims by streamlining communications with consumers.

Gov. Newsom announced today that he will:

Deploy a strike team to modernize information technology programs and transform the customer experience. 

The strike team will identify steps to transform the unemployment insurance customer experience for the digital age. Within 45 days, the strike team will deliver a roadmap that outlines short-, mid- and long-term recommendations and solutions to transform the customer experience of applying for and receiving UI benefits.

Focus on immediately processing claims.  

Prioritizing the oldest claims first, EDD is actively processing all claims in the “Pending Resolution” category and anticipates eliminating the backlog of actionable claims by the end of September. To assist with addressing the almost 1 million claims that may be eligible for payment with additional information, EDD will initiate immediate and weekly reminders to claimants to certify their claim. Going forward, EDD will work with the Legislature and advocates to create more user-friendly notifications and enhance the UI Online customer service experience.

EDD will also streamline the call center experience including an updated Interactive Voice Response or IVR automation with the goal of routing a caller to a call center representative who has specialized training with that specific issue.

Enhancing partnership with the Legislature to improve communication with claimants.  

Building on bi-weekly meetings with legislators and staff, EDD hopes to leverage the Legislature’s unique ability to connect with their constituents to assist with improving communication with claimants. EDD will collaborate with legislators and staff to amplify EDD messaging regarding certification requirements – claimants need to certify every two weeks – this message needs to be more broadly shared on a regular basis, as well as work in partnership to adjust FAQs and responses to the common questions constituents have raised. Input from legislative offices has been integral for the department in identifying areas of focus and we look forward to working with the Legislature to improve the Department in the months to come.

Today’s announcement builds on recent actions to strengthen the system, including:  

Standing up several federal pandemic-related programs, including Pandemic Additional Compensation; Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation; and Federal-State Extended Duration (FED-ED), and modernizing Work Share.

Creating and staffing a technical assistance call center in April available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in both English and Spanish; 

Redirecting more than 600 staff from other units and 700 staff from other departments to assist the UI Branch full time; 

Creating an online chat bot to provide claimants information and resource on frequently asked questions. It has received 3.6 million inquiries since it was launched in April; 

Launching a text messaging alert system regarding claim status. Around 7 million texts have been sent to nearly 3 million claimants since its launch;  

Hiring of 5,300 new temporary employees; EDD worked with CalHR to expedite the hiring process. Over 4,700 employees have been approved for hire so far, and are in various stages of onboarding, training and deployment; 

Enhancing the federal Work Sharing Program, which helps businesses avert layoffs by reducing staff hours and allowing staff to receive both part-time earnings and a prorated percentage of UI benefits, thereby keeping their jobs and allowing the business to remain open. Details: www.Sec-Su-letter-and-EDD-letter.pdf

Gov. Newsom Releases Final Water Resilience Portfolio


SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom July 28, released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio. The portfolio is the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges. 

The portfolio outlines 142 state actions to build a climate-resilient water system which tie directly to Administration efforts to carry out recent laws regarding safe and affordable drinking water, groundwater sustainability and water-use efficiency. They also prioritize securing voluntary agreements in key watersheds to improve flows and conditions for fish, address air quality and habitat challenges around the Salton Sea and protect the long-term functionality of the State Water Project and other conveyance infrastructure.

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and California Department of Food and Agriculture solicited extensive public input to prepare the portfolio in response to an April 2019 Executive Order (N-10-19).

The agencies released a draft version of the portfolio for public feedback in January 2020. Input from more than 200 separate individuals and organizations helped shape revisions, including the addition of 14 new actions. The revisions give greater emphasis to tribal interests and leadership, upper watershed health and cross-border water issues.

The portfolio recognizes the role of healthy soils in building resilience, including efforts that promote using working lands to sequester carbon, store water and prevent pollution.

Given the drastic downturn in the state’s budget, the final version acknowledges that the pace of progress on the actions in the portfolio will depend upon the resources available. The portfolio is a comprehensive, aspirational document, but there are several priorities the state will focus on.

These priorities include:

  1. Implementing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act of 2019
  2. Supporting local communities to successfully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014
  3. Achieving voluntary agreements to increase flows and improve conditions for native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds
  4. Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system to protect long-term functionality of the State Water Project
  5. Updating regulations to expand water recycling
  6. Accelerating permitting of new smart water storage
  7. Expanding seasonal floodplains for fish and flood benefits
  8. Improving conditions at the Salton Sea
  9. Removing dams from the Klamath River
  10. Better leveraging of information and data to improve water management

State agencies intend to track and share progress on portfolio implementation with an annual report and stakeholder gathering.

COVID Update: $15 Million Allocated to Childcare for Essential Workers and Low-Income Families


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health or Public Health has confirmed 91 new deaths and 4,825 new cases of COVID-19. The high number of new deaths are from a backlog of reports received from over the weekend. The high number of new cases are, in part, due to a backlog of over 2,000 results received from Thursday through Sunday.

There are 2,045 confirmed cases hospitalized and 28% of these people are confirmed cases in the ICU. There are a total of 2,599 confirmed and suspect cases that are hospitalized and 17% of these people are on ventilators. The data on hospitalizations is missing information from three hospitals not included in today’s update.

Public Health has announced, July 29, that the Board of Supervisors allocated $15 million in CARES Act funding for childcare vouchers to serve essential workers and low-income families in the county. In partnership with the Los Angeles County Early Childhood Education COVID-19 Response Team, Public Health will support the funding distribution.

The Office for the Advancement of Early Care and Education will contract with the Child Care Alliance, a network of LA County Resource and Referral /Alternative Payment agencies, to distribute vouchers. To expedite the process, the funding will be infused into the existing voucher system. Families seeking early care and education services may access vouchers by calling 888-92-CHILD (888-922-4453). Eligibility for these vouchers is set by the state.

Public Health reported one additional case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C.  This brings the total cases of MIS-C in LA County to 16 children. Ten of these cases are among girls. The majority of cases, 73% were Latino/Latinx. No children with MIS-C in LA County have died.

MIS-C is a condition that has been affecting children under 21 years old across the country who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or had COVID-19. Different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs and there can be lifelong health impacts.

The Governor has allowed local health officers the discretion to grant waivers to school districts and private schools that would permit schools to reopen for in-classroom instruction for students in grades TK through grade 6. Superintendents must submit school district waiver requests to re-open for approval by the local health officer. The decision to grant a waiver will be based on ensuring that schools are able to open in full adherence with the L.A. County school re-opening protocols, along with reviewing epidemiological data for each school district. The process requires consultation with the California Department of Public Health prior to accepting or rejecting waiver applications. The application process will be available online and is planned to be launched by the end of the week.

To date, Public Health has identified 183,383 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and a total of 4,516 deaths. Public Health anticipates continuing to receive a backlog of lab reports in the coming days due to problems with the state electronic lab reporting system.

Justice for Andres Guardado Now!

An undated photo of Andres Guardado.

By Najee Ali

Najee Ali is the founder and president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Southern California and Project Islamic Hope. Ali is a community activist who has been engaged in the fight for social justice in Southern California for more than 30 years.

Andres Guardado was an 18 -year old Los Angeles man shot several times in the back and killed by Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Miguel Vega in Gardena on June 18, 2020. Guardado was working outside as an unlicensed plain clothes security guard at an auto-body shop.

Deputies were reportedly out on patrol when they saw Guardado talking to someone in a car blocking a driveway, so they stopped their vehicle. Deputies allegedly saw him with a gun outside the body shop. Guardado ran from two deputies into an alley, where he died after being shot seven times in the back by deputy Vega. Vega’s partner never fired his weapon. Both deputies at the scene stated that Guardado reached for a handgun on the ground near him as he was being detained.

The only problem with that explanation is that according to one of the witnesses and the Store-owner Andrew Heney who stated to local media outlets that Guardado “got down on his knees and surrendered with his hands behind his head but was still shot seven times in the back.” The gun deputies said Guardado allegedly had not fired according to investigators.

Heney also reported that several cameras at the scene of his store, including a digital recorder that stored surveillance footage, were taken and destroyed by police. I never believe in jumping to conclusions. If a suspect has a gun law, enforcement should get the benefit of the doubt in a foot pursuit. But in the shooting of Guardado, I believe he was unjustly murdered by Vega, a deputy with a history of brutality allegations against, which has yet to be resolved, including tampering with evidence, making false statements to investigators (an action for which he was given a four day suspension) and prior complaints for use of unreasonable force. Based on the eyewitness accounts, along with Vega’s track record of being a rogue deputy, he does not belong in law enforcement. He belongs in jail for murder.

I am a long-time civil rights activist with over three decades of community work with a focus on police reform. I visited the scene of the Guardado shooting the very next day to pay my respects to the family. I also called a press conference calling for an independent investigation into the shooting. I know all too well what happens when you let law enforcement investigate their own. They always clear each other. The cover up into the killing of Guardado by the leadership in the Sheriff’s Department was already in motion and would not stop unless the community rose to end it.

The press conference was well attended by the media but more importantly the Guardado family was there as well. I had a chance to meet and speak with his parents. They told me exactly who their son was. He was a hard working young man with two jobs who just completed High School and was currently enrolled at Los Angeles Trade Technical College studying to be an engineer or mechanic, he was fun loving and always had a smile on his face His sister, Jennifer Guardado, spoke at the news conference and stated: “Even if this is the last day I breathe, I’m not holding this back because I feel it in my soul that my brother was murdered, and this was covered up.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva immediately spoke out against conducting an independent investigation at a news conference he held two days after the shooting and then placed an “emergency hold on the autopsy report preventing the release of details pending the conclusion of the investigation conducted by the Homicide division of the LASD. The cover up of Guardado, killing had now reached all the way to the top of the department.

To his credit Chief Medical Examiner-Coroner Dr. Jonathan Lucas released the autopsy report despite a “security hold” put in place by Villanueva, and in statement said “I have given careful consideration to the major variables in this case — supporting the administration of justice, as well as the public’s right to know… I do not believe that these are mutually exclusive ideals. Both are important, particularly amid the ongoing national discussion about race, policing and civil rights. I believe that the government can do its part by being timelier and more transparent in sharing information that the public demands and has a right to see.”

I agree with everything Dr. Lucas stated. Villanueva pledged transparency but he is the ringleader of the Guardado cover up. He should resign immediately. If he does not, hopefully Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, a former LAPD officer and dedicated public servant our community trusts will consider running for Sheriff against Villanueva,who has shown himself unfit to lead. Our protests for justice for Guardado will not stop until Vega is arrested for his murder.

Remember when the internet was supposed to be transparent and democratic? There’s still hope


Once upon a time, the internet was seen as a wondrous fount of knowledge and information, empowering users and spreading democracy. This utopian view resonated widely with early adopters in the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War, but it resonated much more broadly around the world in 2011, during the Arab Spring. There were always dark shadows noted by observers, as in Gene Rochlin’s 1997 book, “Trapped in the Net,” but collectively we’ve been blindsided and bewildered by how different the online experience has become — how much of a marketplace for rumor, fear, conspiracy theories and polarized worldviews, all watched over by purportedly neutral platform manipulations bringing us exactly what we’re told we want.
Read more,

COVID-19 Vaccine Generates Immune Response, Well Tolerated


SEATTLE — An investigational vaccine designed to protect against COVID-19 was generally well tolerated and prompted neutralizing activity in healthy adults, according to interim results published July 14, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The lead author of the study, detailed in “A SARS-CoV-2 mRNA Vaccine — Preliminary Report,” is Lisa A. Jackson, MD, MPH, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle.

The ongoing phase 1 trial is supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID, part of the National Institutes of Health. The experimental vaccine is being co-developed by researchers at NIAID and Moderna Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Manufactured by Moderna, mRNA-1273 is designed to induce neutralizing activity to block the virus from binding to and entering human cells.

The first study vaccination was administered on March 16 at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute. The interim report details the findings from the first 45 participants ages 18 to 55 years enrolled at the study sites in Seattle and Emory University in Atlanta through 57 days after their first vaccination. Three groups of 15 volunteers received 2 intramuscular injections, 28 days apart, of either 25, 100, or 250 micrograms of the investigational vaccine.

In April, the trial was expanded to enroll adults older than 55 years; it now has 120 participants. However, the newly published results cover the 18- to 55-year age group only.

Regarding safety, no serious adverse events were reported. More than half of the participants reported symptoms including fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches, or pain at the injection site. Symptoms were more common following the second vaccination and in those who received the highest vaccine dose. Data on side effects and immune responses at various vaccine dosages informed the doses used or planned for use in the phase 2 and 3 clinical trials of the investigational vaccine.

The interim analysis reports on the levels of vaccine-induced neutralizing activity — through days 43 to 57 — after the second injection. Two doses of vaccine prompted high levels of neutralizing activity that were above the average values seen in convalescent serum obtained from people with confirmed cases of COVID-19 disease.

A phase 2 clinical trial of mRNA-1273, sponsored by Moderna, began enrollment in late May. Plans are underway to launch a phase 3 efficacy trial in July 2020.

The COVID-19 Prevention Trials Network has a volunteer screening registry of people nationwide who are interested in participating in a range of vaccines and other preventive treatments at various research facilities in Seattle and around the country:

Kaiser Permanente Washington’s vaccine research group has a registry of Seattle-area people who want to be considered to participate in possible trials of investigational vaccines for COVID-19 at Kaiser Permanente Washington in Seattle:

Additional information about the phase 1 trial design is available at using the identifier NCT04283461. This trial was supported in part by NIAID grants UM1AI148373 (Kaiser Permanente Washington), UM1AI148576 (Emory University), and UM1AI148684 (Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium). The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, or CEPI, provided funding for the manufacture of mRNA-1273 phase 1 material.

Read more about Kaiser Permanente’s research on vaccines.