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Can L.A.'s Black-Latino alliance survive?

For decades, L.A.'s Black and Latino political leaders formed vital alliances. But these partnership now face unprecedented challenges.
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Los Angeles Times
Today's Headlines
Click to view images Genaro Leal joins community members in calling for the resignation of Councilmembers Nury Martinez, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo during a City Council meeting last week. (Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it's Monday, Oct. 17, and here are the stories you shouldn't miss today:

TOP STORIES

L.A.'s Black-Latino alliance has always been fragile. Can it survive?

The city government has been thrown into crisis by the racist rhetoric of a secretly recorded conversation in which three Latino councilmembers plotted electoral strategy with a labor leader. Politics in Los Angeles has always been organized along racial lines. But those lines are not as stark as the crass and hateful language on the recording might lead many to conclude.

Instead, leaders have put together coalitions to win elections and move their legislative priorities. And in the last three decades, the center of those coalitions has often been an alliance between Latino and Black leaders, which has achieved major progressive goals.

But the foundations of that alliance are threatened as the Latino population in L.A. has grown rapidly for generations while the number of Black people has continuously decreased.

More politics

  • L.A. Latinos decry the racist tape and fear it will set back leadership gains and cast them under a cloud of suspicion. Some say it exposed the need to have a conversation about colorism.
  • As hundreds of protesters marched through downtown Los Angeles to City Hall on Saturday afternoon, they made sure everyone knew they were Oaxacan and proud.
  • Activists and elected officials have demanded the ouster of three Los Angeles City Council members, resulting in one resignation. Some have also begun discussing scrapping the maps of the council's 15 districts and drawing new ones.
  • The city of L.A., and its politicians, would benefit from dumping the corrupt system of drawing lines for council districts, writes Times columnist George Skelton.
  • In Orange County this year, 26 Latinas are running for city council, school board or supervisor offices. That's a huge increase from a decade ago.
  • California Republicans hope inflation gives them an edge with independents in tight congressional races as Democrats fight to keep control of the House.

Sign up for our California Politics newsletter to get the best of The Times' state politics reporting and the latest action in Sacramento.

Ports blame COVID-19 for a spike in harmful emissions

At the Port of Los Angeles, cancer-causing diesel particulate matter rose 56% last year compared with 2020. The emissions of nitrogen oxides, the precursor to smog, increased 54%, while lung-irritating sulfur oxides rose 145%. At the neighboring Port of Long Beach, diesel particulate increased 42%, nitrogen oxides grew 35% and sulfur oxides rose 38%. The reports also said greenhouse gas emissions were up at both ports.

The report has outraged neighborhood activists and clean-air advocates. For their part, the ports say the spike was an anomaly, and that they've taken steps to reduce the health effects of future logjams.

Last year, both ports witnessed a 16% rise in cargo movement as the COVID-19 pandemic stoked demand for e-commerce goods. The workforce was also hampered by COVID-19 infections and pandemic-related precautions that limited the number of crews moving cargo from ships to trucks and trains.

Stay up to date on variant developments, case counts and vaccine news with Coronavirus Today.

Corruption in Southern California cannabis licensing

As a California lawmaker called for a statewide task force to crack down on corruption in the legal cannabis market, new details are emerging in a bribery scandal that has ensnared local government officials from the Inland Empire to the San Gabriel Valley and southeast Los Angeles County.

Federal prosecutors have unveiled two plea agreements that detail pay-to-play schemes involving cannabis business licensing and corroborate allegations in a Times investigation last month that examined how the legalization of weed unleashed a wave of corruption across California.

In one of the agreements, former Baldwin Park City Councilmember Ricardo Pacheco admitted to soliciting bribes from weed businesses — including $150,000 from a consultant working for a local cannabis distributor. The consultant declined, but at the direction of the FBI delivered campaign contributions requested by Pacheco, the agreement said. The agreement doesn't name the distributor, but its description of the dates the firm was awarded the exclusive right to distribute cannabis matches only one company, Rukli Inc.

As the causes of U.S. inflation grow, so do the dangers

What keeps driving inflation so high? The answer, it seems, is nearly everything. Since March, the Federal Reserve has been aggressively raising interest rates to try to cool the price spikes. So far, there's little sign of progress. Thursday's report on consumer prices in September came in hotter than expected even as some previously big drivers of inflation fell for a third straight month.

Consumer prices, excluding volatile food and energy costs, skyrocketed 6.6% from a year ago. Overall inflation did decline a touch, mostly because of cheaper gas. But costlier food, medical care and housing pointed to a widening of price pressures across the economy.

High inflation has now spread well beyond physical goods to the nation's vast service sector. The broadening of inflation makes it harder to tame. Thursday's report underscored that the Fed may have to jack up its key short-term rate even higher than had been expected — and keep it there longer — to curb inflation.

A change in U.S. border policy leaves Venezuelans stuck in Mexico

U.S. and Mexican authorities recently said Mexico had agreed to accept some Venezuelans expelled from the United States under Title 42, a pandemic measure enacted during the Trump administration that allows U.S. authorities to turn away migrants without giving them an opportunity to file for asylum. Until now, U.S. officials have not had an easy way to expel Venezuelans arriving at the border.

Ironically, the Biden administration has been fighting in federal court to end the Title 42 program. But now that the administration has persuaded Mexico to accept Venezuelans, it is willing to use the controversial law to expel them.

Immigrant advocates in the United States assailed the administration's decision.

Check out "The Times" podcast for essential news and more.

These days, waking up to current events can be, well, daunting. If you're seeking a more balanced news diet, "The Times" podcast is for you. Gustavo Arellano, along with a diverse set of reporters from the award-winning L.A. Times newsroom, delivers the most interesting stories from the Los Angeles Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

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OUR MUST-READS FROM THE WEEKEND

A woman sits next to a bed
Linda Fett, 61, in her room provided by Supportive Services at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row. Fett is one of many seniors without retirement savings. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

California's seniors living in poverty struggle without retirement savings. A growing population of seniors living in poverty without any retirement savings or a pension is having to eke out an existence by working past retirement age or scraping to get by on state or federal assistance. Homelessness among older adults in the county has gone up by 20% since 2017.

He rescued her from a drug den as a baby. Twenty-two years later, he pins a deputy badge on her. Natalie Young's adoptive parents invited Escondido Police Sgt. Jeff Valdivia to fly out to pin on her deputy badge at her graduation ceremony. Valdivia was stunned by the news and said it was the first time in his 26-year career that he'd had the opportunity to see the long-term results of his work.

The official fast-food burger power rankings. The Times' Lucas Kwan Peterson ranked 23 chains from worst to best, but all the chains in the top 10 are pretty good. A great fast-food burger should taste good, of course, but it should also be convenient. It can have toppings — lots of toppings — but it shouldn't be overly busy. It should be compatible with eating inside a moving car, ideally with one hand only.

CALIFORNIA

A year after the alleged San Diego State gang rape, prosecutors are still mum about bringing charges. Victim advocates say the biggest obstacle is that investigators and members of the public still struggle to believe people who report they've been raped. But that's only part of the equation. Alcohol or drugs may have been involved, potentially affecting the victim's recall. Many suspects claim sexual encounters are consensual, and proving otherwise can be difficult.

A suspect was arrested in Stockton serial killings. Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested on suspicion of homicide in connection with six fatal shootings in Oakland and Stockton, which began last year and continued through last month, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference. Five of the killings occurred in Stockton, all this year. Brownlee was "out hunting" for more victims at the time of his arrest, police said.

A DUI suspect on a horse leads Whittier police on a chase. The pursuit ended with the suspect in custody and the horse getting lots of love from the cops. The horse was taken into the department's care after the incident. Turns out, almost all of the usual traffic rules apply when you're on city streets, even if your ride is a horse.

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NATION-WORLD

The Chinese Communist Party Congress affords another step for Xi Jinping's consolidation of power. The twice-a-decade party congress is a heavily managed and notoriously opaque affair. The decision on Xi's third term, and personnel changes at the upper echelons of leadership, all expected to be announced Oct. 23, the day after the event concludes, are traditionally determined ahead of time behind closed doors.

Ukraine is blamed for a rocket attack that struck the mayor's office in a separatist-controlled city. Separately, Ukrainian officials said Russian rockets struck a city across from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, injuring six people. The attacks on both sides came as Russia has lost ground in the nearly seven weeks since Ukraine's armed forces opened their southern counteroffensive.

Calls grow for Ethiopia's peace effort as fighting intensifies. African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat expressed "grave concern" in a statement over the fighting and called for an "immediate, unconditional cease-fire and the resumption of humanitarian services." AU-led peace talks were due to take place in South Africa earlier this month, but were postponed because of logistical and technical issues.

HOLLYWOOD AND THE ARTS

Burglars break into Megan Thee Stallion's Hollywood Hills home. The burglars were recorded on security video, a source said, and preliminary estimates indicate they made off with more than $300,000 in jewels, cash and other valuables.

Does anyone still want to be in the Kanye West business? The rapper, 45, who now goes by Ye, has teamed up with some of the biggest global firms in music, fashion and technology over his career. In the past, Ye's outbursts were often excused, in part, because of his struggle with bipolar disorder. But his recent actions have become more impossible to defend or overlook, and some brands like Adidas have begun to pull away.

How Broadway's edgy 'Oklahoma!' fared across America. The latest Broadway revival, now wrapping its yearlong national tour, generally leaves theatergoers in adoration, awe, anger or confusion. Some performances of the Tony-winning production have continued amid clamorous walkouts or loud booing; one ended with a patron running from their seat and vomiting at a volume clearly audible to the actors.

BUSINESS

Amazon workers in San Bernardino allege anti-union actions and retaliation. The group alleged the company threatened an employee and ultimately terminated him in retaliation for activities including signing a petition for a wage increase, soliciting co-worker signatures, distributing literature, wearing a sticker in support of the wage increase and participating in a walkout, according to a copy of the filing.

OPINION

We came together after the 1992 uprising. We can do it now. It is true that L.A.'s internal conflicts are rooted in events of the past, and much of the pain and anger from those conflicts remains. But we must guard against repeating the sins of our fathers. We need now to have uncomfortable yet deeply necessary conversations about racism in this city, writes former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

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SPORTS

Matthew Stafford and the Rams overcome a slow start to defeat the Panthers. The Rams struggled to find tempo on offense in the first half, but touchdowns by Ben Skowronek and Darrell Henderson in the second half fueled a 24-10 win.

The Dodgers disaster unfolds in a seventh-inning meltdown and a season-ending loss to Padres. They ended the frame trailing by two, a combination of bad execution, puzzling decision-making and relentless Padres hitting paving the way for a 5-3 loss in Game 4 of the National League Division Series that eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs.

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue says the starting point guard is all about the 'right fit.' Lue knows how to evaluate the position he once played. And he has not yet decided, he said, whether incumbent Reggie Jackson or John Wall will be the starting point guard when the Clippers' season begins Thursday.

ONLY IN L.A.

A woman stands above an optical illusion of a city street
Times reporter Julia Carmel at the Museum of Illusions. (Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times)

There's nothing as scary as being high and finding yourself in a place with absolutely terrible vibes. Perhaps you've experienced this at an overwhelming grocery store or a very crowded event. Or maybe you have a friend who stopped taking edibles after they went to Chipotle and felt like they were trapped in a fish bowl filled with steak and barbacoa.

The Times' Julia Carmel and Adam Tschorn humbly invite you to join them on a jaunt through the list of 13 spots. Among these include the Hollywood Wax Museum, the Old Los Angeles Zoo and the Natural History Museum Spider Pavilion.

They embarked on this adventure as a duo not just for creative reasons but safety reasons too; there was always one sober reporter behind the wheel while the other was behind the vape pen. And they recommend you take the same approach (or, better yet, call a rideshare so all parties can get stoned).

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Law enforcement officer looks at damaged cars next to a bridge collapse
A California Highway Patrol officer checks the damage to cars that fell when the upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed onto the lower deck after the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco on Oct. 17, 1989. (George Nikitin / Associated Press)

It has been 33 years since the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay area. Its shock waves killed more than 60 people, injured thousands, caused more than $5 billion in damage, broke freeways and bridges, and destroyed or weakened tens of thousands of buildings.

The earthquake rocked the area during Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics at Candlestick Park, which was postponed.

We appreciate that you took the time to read Today's Headlines! Comments or ideas? Feel free to drop us a note at headlines@latimes.com.

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