Each week, there is an overflow of news that happens in every corner of the nation which is of interest to people living across the African Diaspora. But quite often these stories are not known beyond a small geographic area. Telling these stories is the goal of Year in Review. We offer an informative snapshot of those news stories each week for the world to read. This special edition is a compliation of various news organizations news reported by state in 2021. ABA is compiled/written by Carol Ozemhoya.

Lancaster receives award for economic enhancement

Restaurant Rescue Package program cited

by OW Staff

The City of Lancaster won a Bronze Rank for its Restaurant Rescue Package, a project in the category of Resiliency, Recovery and Mitigation of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).

“We are grateful to receive this award for a program that was critical to the City’s economic survival during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The Restaurant Rescue Program was truly a total-city effort involving city staff, local businesses, and all of our residents who participated to keep our local businesses thriving.”

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognizes the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. Twenty-five award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from four countries.

The Restaurant Rescue Package was a multi-pronged approach to assisting our local restaurants, wineries, and breweries that were impacted by the restrictions put in place by the State and County.

Since on-site dining was prohibited and eateries were restricted to takeout and delivery options only, the “Take Out & Chill” portion of the program encouraged residents to purchase from local businesses.

The city provided thousands of “Take Out & Chill” cards worth $20 each to healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers, and residents to be used at the businesses that enrolled in our program. Businesses who enrolled in the program were provided a grant to help offset any costs associated with the anticipated ramp-up in customers, including bringing back some laid-off employees. A two-month bill credit was applied to the businesses that are customers of the city’s utility company.

Additionally, the city covered the cost of first year memberships to the California Restaurant Association, the group that spearheaded the legal battle to keep businesses open. Lastly, the city sponsored the first-ever “Taste the AV” event, which was held through the month of January and encouraged participation through the completion of a food passport and the ability to win various prizes.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and exemplify the leadership that our profession strives for every day,” said Tom Kucharski, 2021 IEDC board chair and president/CEO of Invest Buffalo Niagara. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life.”

The IEDC is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. There are more than 5,000 members.

Canyon Country Community Center to celebrate its grand opening

Playground facility included

by OW Staff

The City of Santa Clarita invites the entire community to the grand opening celebration of the new Canyon Country Community Center. This much-anticipated facility is complete and ready to welcome residents for activities, programs, learning opportunities, events and more.

The celebration will place on Saturday, Oct. 30, from 10 a.m. to noon at the new Community Center located at the intersection of Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Road. The event will kick off with a short program featuring the City Council, followed by the official ribbon cutting ceremony. Then guests will have the chance to explore the entire nine-acre site, including the centerpiece, the 25,000-square-foot Community Center building.

As residents explore the site, they can take part in arts and crafts activities, enjoy performances on the events stage, grab a snack from one of the food trucks and learn more about the classes and programs the new Center will offer.

Guests will be among the first to explore the many public art pieces. Greeting guests at the corner where the massive billboards once stood is the 25-foot-tall art piece, aptly named “Communitree.”

The piece represents the City’s beloved oak trees, with steel and acrylic plexiglass leaves that have a kinetic effect allowing them to flutter in the breeze, recreating the movement of leaves blowing in the wind. There is also a mural made out of ceramic tiles, a bike rack that is a piece of art and several poems written by community members stamped in the meandering walking paths.

The grounds surrounding the facility offer a playground with inclusive play elements, a half basketball court, a Mercado which can be used for events and a terrace which is a beautiful backdrop for weddings. Inside the Center there is a full gymnasium, classrooms, a dance room and the Grand Room. The Grand Room will be a place for community gatherings which can accommodate smaller groups for meetings and groups of up to 350 people for galas and fundraisers.

From the brick columns and rich woods, to the paneled ceilings and natural light, the new Community Center was designed for both beauty and functionality. The Grand Room also offers a demonstration teaching kitchen with enough room for people to hone their culinary skills, while other participants can watch the process through an audio-visual system that broadcasts the cooking class.

Tuesday recall election to determine if Gavin Newsom stays or goes

Supporters urge no vote

by Our Weekly LA

The federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 is under fire, as many African-Americans are being cheated out of their right to vote in Republican-led states. Voting is a basic, American right for which many Black ancestors fought and died.

Supporters of Gov. Gavin Newsom say it is especially important to raise everyone’s voting voices regarding the Tuesday, Sept. 14 election, as conservative Republicans who seek the governor’s recall want to take California in a different direction. Don’t sit out this special election and let others determine California’s future.

Even though Newsom has been a pioneer on same-sex marriage, gun safety, marijuana, the death penalty, universal health care, access to preschool, technology, criminal justice reform, and the minimum wage, and his policies were ultimately, embraced and replicated across the nation, he faces opposition members who want to turn California into a red state.

According to California Black Media, the state currently has the largest economy in the country and a budget surplus of $75.7 billion under Newsom’s leadership.

The governor issued the first statewide stay-at-home order in the nation, and his policies kept most public school students at home last year. Newsom has required all health care workers to get fully vaccinated by the end of the month.

“We still have work to do but this is a momentous occasion to be able to announce at a statewide level—a state of 40 million people, a state that has a population of 21 state populations combined—that we have broken now 80 percent of all eligible Californians having received at least one dose,” Newsom said during an appearance in Oakland. “That’s top 10 in the United States.

“… We continue to be mindful of our responsibility to do more and do better, particularly for diverse communities,” he said, noting that the Latino and Black communities still have generally lower vaccination rates across the state.

Newsom noted that the state is working “ to deal with the misinformation and the intentional disinformation” circulating about the vaccines, particularly on social media.

According to the governor, the state’s average rate of people testing positive for the virus has fallen to 4.6 percent, down from 7.1 percent a few weeks ago. He said by comparison, the positivity rate in Florida is 18.7 percent, and in Texas it’s 16 percent.

The governor has said his policies are driven by science, but they have helped land him in an unexpectedly competitive recall election.

California has not elected a Republican governor since Arnold Schwarzenegger won in a 2003 recall election.

Vanessa Bryant can compel depositions from county officials

Request neither ‘confusing, harassing’

by City News Service

A Los Angeles federal judge has granted Vanessa Bryant’s motion to compel depositions of Sheriff Alex Villanueva and Fire Chief Daryl Osby in her lawsuit against the county over photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash scene allegedly taken and circulated by sheriff’s deputies.

In a ruling obtained by City News Service, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles F. Eick sided with Bryant, saying her purpose in seeking the depositions “is neither abusive nor harassing.’’

Bryant sued Los Angeles County last year, alleging that she and her family suffered severe emotional distress after discovering that sheriff’s deputies snapped and shared gruesome photos of the helicopter crash scene where her Laker legend husband died, along with their daughter and seven other people.

In his order, Eick wrote that the defendants in the lawsuit identified Villanueva and Osby as “likely to have discoverable information’’ whom the defendants may use to  support their arguments in the case.

The judge wrote that it appears that both Villanueva and Osby have “unique first-hand, non-repetitive knowledge’’ relevant to the issues in the case and such knowledge is not entirely obtainable from other sources.

To minimize the effect the timing of the depositions might have on the performance of the sheriff and fire chief’s official duties, the judge ordered the depositions be limited to four hours each.

Representatives for Villanueva and Osby could not be reached for immediate comment. A message left with Bryant’s attorney was not immediately answered.

The county is the lead defendant in Bryant’s lawsuit, which alleges an invasion of privacy that caused her great emotional distress. Villanueva and Osby are not named defendants in the case, but the sheriff’s and fire departments are.

The lawsuit contends that deputies took and shared photos of the human remains at the Calabasas helicopter crash site on Jan. 26, 2020.

“Faced with a scene of unimaginable loss, no fewer than eight sheriff’s deputies at the crash site pulled out their personal cell phones and snapped photos of the dead children, parents and coaches,’’ the suit states.

Attorneys representing the county have asked a judge to order Bryant to undergo a psychiatric exam to determine whether her distress was caused by the leaked photos or the unexpected loss of her husband of nearly 20 years and their 13-year-old daughter.

The county alleges Bryant and other plaintiffs in the case “cannot be suffering distress from accident site photos that they have never seen and that were never publicly disseminated.’’ 

Southland drought poses danger to both health and local economy

Expect larger wildfires this year

by Merdies Hayes

The Antelope Valley might evoke images of a hot, dry vista—an oasis within the Mojave Desert baked by the sun—but the landscape actually supports a vast array of plants and animals, along with about one million people who call the sunny region home.

All of these plants, animals and people need water to survive. That resource is getting more precious year in and year out. People in the Southwest, in general, are particularly dependent on surface water supplies like Lake Mead, which are vulnerable to evaporation.

Even a small increase in temperature (which drives evaporation) or a decrease in precipitation in the already arid area can seriously threaten natural systems and society.

LA County in ‘extreme drought’

By all accounts, Southern California is headed for an even more disastrous drought than the one we emerged from five years ago. Droughts significantly contribute to increased wildfires, crop damage, rising utility bills and even pest outbreaks. This week, most of Los Angeles and Ventura counties—along with parts of Riverside and San Bernardino counties—have reached conditions that are considered “extreme droughts.”

A new report from the U.S. Drought Monitor has revealed dramatic declines in reservoir and aquifer levels, enforcement of water use restrictions and wildlife and agricultural implications. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts no improvement to the conditions for the rest of 2021 and likely well into 2022.

The NOAA report also revealed that most of the United States has experienced a warming trend over the last 30 years. The South and Southwest were “considerably warmer” and normal temperatures were warmer across the West and along the East Coast. Satellite mapping has shown the dry Western region (Southern California, Nevada and Arizona) as “in the bullseye” for a significant decrease in precipitation for the foreseeable future.

“The data is clearly showing the U.S. Climate is changing,” said Mike Palecki, project manager for NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information “1991-to-2020 Climate Normals” study. Pelecki explained that the growing season has been extended for most states and, with the shift in climate zones, he described the changes as “not good.”

In addition, while several regions now get an earlier spring, temperatures can still get cold, which can subsequently kill early blooming plants and damage crops. This scenario can potentially cause billions of dollars in agricultural damage well into the summer months.

“What we’ve found is that most days in a year are warmer than they should be [in reference to ‘normal’]”, he said.

The Palmdale Water District (PWD) has not forgotten lessons learned during the previous drought. They had to set limits on delivery then, and last month asked customers for a 15-percent conservation schedule to help better supply the increasingly dry region with water. It’s the initial phase of its Water Shortage Contingency Plan to ensure there continues to be enough supply for nearly 117,000 people who depend daily on PWD to provide water.

“It is important that each and every one of us do our part to cut back at least 15 percent of our daily water use,” said PWD Board Director Vincent Dino. “We’ve had two consecutive dry winters, and we need to protect the water supply. We’re encouraging our customers to use less water outdoors and be aware of how long we run the tap.”

Palmdale is voted most ‘Business Friendly City’

Population greater than 60,000

by OW Staff

The City of Palmdale was named the Most Business Friendly City with a population greater than 60,000 at the 26th annual Eddy Awards hosted by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Nov. 10.

“Thanks go out to our City Council for their leadership and support,” said Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy who accepted the award on behalf of the City. “Over the past two years, Council and staff have worked diligently to transform Palmdale into a truly business friendly city. I introduced and Council supported a campaign based around a business-friendly concept called, ‘Find a Way to Yes,’ and the results have been tremendous. The word is out: do business in the City of Palmdale and we will find a way to ‘Yes.’” 

“It was truly an honor to stand on that stage with City staff and partners to receive this prestigious award,” said Palmdale Councilmember Austin Bishop, District 1. “It’s especially gratifying when you look at the amazing cities who were up for consideration. I congratulate each one for all that they’re doing to help businesses thrive in their communities.”

“This was a great night for Palmdale,” said Councilmember Juan Carrillo, District 4. “Like all cities, Palmdale has had to deal with a lot of impediments due to the challenges of COVID-19, but our staff was creative and resourceful and truly found ways to bring in new projects to the community, support projects that were in the middle of construction when the pandemic hit, and most importantly support our local businesses.”

“We’re also very proud of our strong partnership with the County of Los Angeles,” said Councilmember Richard Loa, District 2. “A special thank you to Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who joined us on stage, and her staff for their continued support to help establish the EIFD and on other unique projects that we hope to announce at the beginning of next year.”

Murphy also thanked the various business partners and the collaborative efforts with the City of Lancaster. “Many of the ideas that were developed during the pandemic were in collaboration with the elected officials and teams of both the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster.”

Palmdale needs public input in redrawing of city districts

Unique chance to draw maps

by OW Staff

The Palmdale City Council took public comment and heard an update on the process of reviewing and redrawing the boundaries for its four Council districts.

Palmdale is in the midst of a redistricting process—done each 10 years—using the latest population data from the 2020 Census.

“You want each council member to represent—more less—the same amount of residents,” Consultant Kristin Parks of National Demographics Corporation said.

Four community workshops—one in each district—have already been held to gather input, in addition to the efforts of the demography consultant hired by the city, National Demographics Corporation. Following the most recent hearing, two more will be held before any new maps are approved.

Information gathering included input on identifying communities of interest and areas bound by common social or economic features that should be considered as the district boundaries are drawn.

“We do need to pay attention to race and ethnicities in regards to the Voting Rights Act,” Parks said, to avoid diluting the voting power of protective classes. These considerations, however, cannot be the sole factor in determining the district lines.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit www.DrawPalmdale.org to create their own district maps using the tools provided there. There are electronic options and means to print paper maps, for those who prefer that format. Paper maps may be submitted to the City Clerk’s office.

Palmdale’s Neighborhood Houses are offering opportunities for community members to contribute their thoughts and maps, as well.

“The sooner that you can participate, the better,” Parks said.

Maps and other input may be sent to redistrict2021@cityofpalmdale.org

Several people speaking up during the Wednesday meeting said they had difficulties with the software to create maps online. Those issues should be addressed with new options available on the website, City Clerk Shanae Smith said.

The maps and other public input will be considered by the city’s 11-member Advisory Redistricting Commission to create maps that fairly represent the city’s population and meet all state and federal requirements.

Man charged in deaths of five family members

Father kills four children, grandmother

by City News Service

A Lancaster man was charged this week with murdering his four children–who were between 1 and 11 years old–and their 51-year-old grandmother.

Germarcus Lamar David, 29, was scheduled for arraignment earlier this week in a Lancaster courtroom on five counts of murder and three counts of assault on a child causing death in connection with Sunday’s attack in the 3500 block of Garnet Lane at the family’s home in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the victims as Ericka England, 51; Namyiah David, an 11-year-old girl; Noah David, 1; Kaden David, 2; and Germarcus David Jr., 7.

Each of the victims was shot in the upper body, according to Deputy Tony Moore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.

The shooting was reported at 10:27 p.m. Nov. 28. The children’s father was arrested soon after walking into the sheriff’s Lancaster station late that day.

“No family should endure this type of tragedy, especially when the alleged perpetrator was responsible for their protection,” District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement announcing the charges. “Our office has reached out to the family to ensure they have all the services and support they need during this difficult time.”

The shooting remains under investigation, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Anyone with information on the case was asked to call homicide detectives at (323) 890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477).

Santa Clarita man receives sentence in insurance fraud

More than $230 million in bogus claims

by City News Service

A Santa Clarita man who worked as a top fraud investigator for Anthem Blue Cross was sentenced this week to a year and a half behind bars for his role in a scheme in which more than $20 million in bogus claims were submitted to Anthem and other insurance companies.

Gary Jizmejian, 48, is a former senior investigator at the Anthem Special Investigations Unit, the anti-fraud unit within Anthem that is responsible for investigating health care fraud committed against the company. In September, he pleaded guilty to one federal count of using a cell phone to aid in a commercial bribery scheme.

Along with the prison term, Jizmejian was ordered to pay a $75,000 fine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Jizmejian admitted accepting quarterly payments ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 in exchange for providing co-defendants with confidential Anthem information that helped them submit phony bills to the insurer.

The defendant “purposely and deceptively hid years of bribe payments from his employer, who entrusted him to assist them in ferreting out criminal health care frauds, not become entangled in one himself,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum, adding that Jizmejian was “driven to commit this crime because he was greedy and he saw an opportunity to fill his pocket.”

Others charged include the owner-operator of two San Fernando Valley clinics, Roshanak “Roxanne” Khadem, 53, of Sherman Oaks. Khadem owned and operated R&R Med Spa, located in Valley Village until early 2016, and its successor company, Nu-Me Aesthetic and Anti-Aging Center, which operated in Woodland Hills, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The indictment contends that Khadem–the alleged ringleader of the scheme–and her accomplices induced patients to visit the clinics to receive “free” cosmetic procedures, including facials, laser hair removal and Botox injections which were not covered by insurance.

The defendants obtained insurance information from the patients and fraudulently billed insurers for the unnecessary medical services or for services that were never provided, the indictment alleges.

During the course of the alleged conspiracy, Khadem and associates submitted at least $20 million in claims to the insurance companies, which paid about $8 million on those claims, according to the indictment.

COVID testing firm denies any ties with Chinese government

Sheriff alleges sharing of patient DNA

by City News Service

A Temple City-based COVID-19 testing firm that contracts with Los Angeles County vehemently denied allegations this week by Sheriff Alex Villanueva that the company shares patient DNA data with the Chinese government, a concern that prompted the sheriff to announce his department will no longer use the county’s chosen testing provider.

“Fulgent is an American company, and its founder, board of directors and leadership team is made up of United States citizens,” Fulgent Genetics Chief Commercial Officer Brandon Perthuis said in a statement Tuesday. “Fulgent Genetics operates privately and independently in the People’s Republic of China and does not share personal data of any kind with the Chinese Government.”

Villanueva sent a letter to the county Board of Supervisors on Monday saying he took part in an FBI briefing on Friday in which federal authorities warned of “serious risks associated with allowing Fulgent to conduct COVID-19 testing of county employees.” The sheriff said he was “shocked” to learn of Fulgent’s ties with China and was “deeply concerned” about the county’s failure to discover such ties before contracting with the company to conduct testing of employees.

“Entering into a no-bid contract with Fulgent Genetics and allowing them to have DNA data obtained from mandatory COVID-19 testing, for unknown purposes, has shattered all confidence my personnel have in this entire process under the county mandate,” Villanueva wrote in the letter. “Many personnel have long suspected this information was being used in an unnecessary manner to due a rushed mandate that we now know will have long-term unintended consequences that will not be fully known for some time.”

Villanueva has been a vocal opponent of the county’s employee vaccine mandate, and has said he will not enforce it in his department. He has said he is not opposed to the vaccine, only to the mandate.

In his statement Tuesday, Perthuis insisted the company “does not collect or use DNA data in connection with COVID-19 testing, and we are required to maintain the privacy and security of health information in accordance with HIPAA and other applicable privacy laws.”

A number of federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, contract with Fulgent, which is certified with the Food and Drug Administration, accredited by the College of American Pathologists and licensed by the California Department of Public Health.

Palmdale remembers former member of city council

Antonio V. Sosa

By OW Staff

City of Palmdale officials were deeply saddened to learn that former City Councilmember Antonio V. Sosa passed away on Oct. 22. 

Sosa was elected to the Palmdale City Council from 1976 to 1984 and held the Mayor Pro Tem position for part of his tenure. Before coming to Palmdale, he served with the Merchant Marine for four years, visiting various Pacific islands, Hawaii and Shanghai, China. Sosa then joined the U.S. Army where he stayed for 22 years.

Sosa’s last assignment was at the Nike-Hercules missile site on Mt. Gleason, when he became a Palmdale resident. He retired from the Army in 1972 with the rank of Warrant Officer.

Sosa then went to work for the Pacific Telephone Company as telecommunications manager. While residing in Palmdale, he was a member of the VFW, Knights of Columbus, and several Catholic organizations. He married Margaret “Margo” Sosa on April 27, 1951. had four children.

According to a Facebook post by daughter Margo Sosa James, “Antonio was devoted to his church, his family, and his nation; all of which he served whole-heartedly throughout his life. His country, his community, his family, and his faith were ever in his heart.”

Sierra Nevada snowpack could be gone in 25 years

Reduced spring, summer melt-off

By OW Staff

Scientists and water managers say that at some point California’s snowpack could simply disappear. This would leave the state without the crucial spring and summer melt-off that fills rivers and streams, nourishes plants and animals, and provides a huge chunk of the water supply. It would also be devastating for the ski industry.

This snowless future, according to a new study led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, could arrive in California’s Sierra Nevada in as soon as 25 years. The study is among many to detail the decline in snow, but it is unique in synthesizing decades of research to nail down exactly when the snow might be gone. And it offers a timeline that is alarmingly short.

“Warming just doesn’t allow for snow to persist,” said Alan Rhoades, a hydroclimate research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Lab and one of the lead authors of the paper. “Our one major goal was to identify how much time we have to roll out adaptation strategies.”

Experts say that preparing for a Sierra with less snow won’t be easy, or cheap, but they agree it must be done. In recent decades, the snow season has shrunk by a month. Snow levels have reportedly moved upward by 1,200 feet.

The new study, published last month in the journal Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, projects that by the late 2040s, half of the area historically covered by snow in the Sierra will likely have “low or no” snow for five straight years, given current warming trends. By the late 2050s, it could be 10 straight years that the same area sees low or no snow.

The paper defines “low snow” as when snowpack — technically, the snow-water equivalent, or how much water the snow releases when it melts — falls within the lower 30th percentile of its historical peak. “No snow” is defined as when the snowpack falls to or below the 10th percentile.

The study’s findings are based on a review of hundreds of scientific papers on snowpack, 18 of which contain quantitative projections. The authors looked not only at the Sierra Nevada but at the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest and parts of the Rockies.

In all of these mountain ranges, the study finds that at least half of the historically snow-covered spots will see low or no snow for five straight years by the 2060s, at the current rate of warming.

Backlash against placement of alleged sexual predator

Elected officials reject idea

By City News Service

Elected officials are speaking out against a judge’s decision to allow a sexually violent predator to reside in the Antelope Valley.

Lawtis Rhoden, 72, was either convicted or pleaded guilty to multiple child rapes and other sexual assaults in Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties and Nashville, Tenn., beginning in 1969.

He was committed to California’s Department of State Hospitals after spending nearly 20 years in state prison. The Orange County Superior Court found him suitable for supervised release in 2019, setting off a long process in which officials worked to find a location for him to reside amid predictable opposition from residents and politicians.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Megan Wagner ruled Friday that Rhoden will be placed in the Antelope Valley under supervised release.

“With this ruling, Judge Wagner has made a decision that blatantly dismissed the concerns voiced by the community. I am frustrated and feel the concerns of my constituents fell on deaf ears,’’ Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said on Dec. 3.

“It’s no secret—the Antelope Valley is being targeted for placements of sexually violent predators due to its rural nature. The current geography meets the legal requirements. But, children and families are the ones who will bear the true burden of the court’s decisions,’’ Barger continued.

“This community deserves to feel safe and secure in their homes and in their neighborhoods. I am still hopeful that this decision will be reversed through the efforts of our county’s district attorney, who plans to file an appeal of this decision.’’

State Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita) said Lancaster has 426 registered sex offenders, or one for every 373 residents, which he called unfair for its residents.

“[The] ruling is appalling and a slap in the face to the hard-working families living in the Antelope Valley who shared their concerns with the court. This is the second sexually violent predator to be foisted upon the families in my district in the last few months — a dangerous trend that completely disregards the concerns and safety of the community,’’ Wilk said.

New library drop-off locations at parks

Two new sites provide convenience

by OW Staff

The Palmdale City Library is providing its customers with two new drop-off locations to return borrowed materials to provide more convenience and ease of use.

Two new secure drop receptacles are now available at Domenic Massari Park (north parking lot), 37716 55th St. East; and Marie Kerr Park, 39700 30th St. West.

“We are very happy to do whatever we can to remove barriers to our community members using their Library,” said Library Director Robert Shupe. “These two new book drops represent just one more way that we are able to do this.”

The Palmdale City Library is open seven days a week. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. details: (661) 267-5600.

Recent upsurge in right-wing revolt

America on rewind

by Gregg Reese

Modern American Conservatism has no clear-cut beginning—although it surely gained momentum with the advent of the Cold War. Some may trace its lineage back to the 1930s, when the Republicans opposed President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and the rise of unionized labor.

In any event, southern Democrats too, had a short-lived infatuation with the right as they formed the “Dixiecrats” to counter President Harry S. Truman’s desegregation of the military and other civil rights advances on up to the 1948 Democratic National Convention. They in turn were absorbed into the Republican Party, who shrouded their conservatism under a mantle of moderation (to be sure, extremism continued with the likes of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, (R-Wis.), and the John Birch Society).

Prime examples of this thinly veiled approach to appease right-wing sentiments include the “Southern Strategy” of President Richard Nixon, and the (latently racist) euphemisms of his brilliant political consultant, Lee Atwater.

Rage against “the other.” Intolerance is as American as apple pie “The White power movement is, in many ways, an incredibly diverse array of activists…its supporters represent a cross-section of American life: rich and poor and middle class; religious leaders and felons; men and women and children; people in cities and suburbs and rural areas.” —History professor Kathleen Bellew in the New York Times, Oct. 2, 2020.

What then, are we to make of these recent upticks of radical rabble rousing? As with any social phenomenon, there are as many theories as there are voices able to articulate opinions.

The University of Chicago’s Kathleen Bellew offered up the intriguing notion that our current upheaval is a byproduct of our 50-years-long intrigue in the Vietnam War. In a series of scholarly articles, and especially her 2018 tome “Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America,” she suggests the roots of today’s “Alt-Right” were spawned by the bitterness and sense of betrayal of veterans who were ostracized in the wake of an unpopular war. Indeed, among the insurgents storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 were scores of veterans wearing military regalia, and apparently displaying martial expertise. This does not account for the totality of those in attendance, of course, nor those not actually taking part, though none-the-less sympathetic to the message conveyed.

“They see the White race as under attack — from immigration, from the rise of the nonwhite population, and from the acceptance of multiculturalism by much of the nation,” Bellew continued in her OpEd.

A sure sign of cultural or societal impact is the embrace of academia.

Specialized concerns for examining intolerance have been established at New York State’s Bard (Center for the Study of Hate) College, Gonzaga (Institute for Hate Studies) University in Washington state, and closer to home at the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Just north of New York City, The Bard Center for the Study of Hate is headed by Kenneth S. Stern. An attorney who focused on antisemitism, he has segued into litigation involving the American Indian Movement, issues of homelessness, and “hate studies” internationally for the United Nations. Instead of pinpointing a recent beginning for these ongoing reverberations, he argues that the truth lies within the timeless concept of tribalism, where humanity is “biologically predisposed” to exhibit hostility towards those who are significantly different.

To make this point, he utilizes interconnected disciplines including brain science, biological evolution, neuroscience, and plain old psychology. In this, he may have a point — ranging from global examples like the Middle East conflicts to regional conflicts within individual countries. We can witness regional examples of this in the west coast prison gang culture where Mexican Americans from Southern California (“Sureños”) face off against their rivals from the north (“Nuestra Familia”), along with the Crips and Bloods of the African-American subculture.

Following this train of thought, former President Donald Trump is merely the conduit to facilitate a preexisting condition into the tangible manifestations of violence and mayhem that grace our daily newscasts. He is merely choosing the expedient, easy path of exploiting dissatisfaction to marshal his followers regardless of the 

Board approves Barger motion to expand mental health services

The Community Schools Initiative program

by OW Staff

In an effort to expand mental health and wellbeing services in local schools, the Board of Supervisors has approved a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger, coauthored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, to explore expanding the Community School Initiative.

“As students return to school full time, the weight of the last year and a half still weighs on them mentally and emotionally,” Barger said. “This is a critical time to expand onsite mental health services to ensure youth can thrive both in the classroom and in daily life.”

Currently, the program is implemented at 15 school sites, plus an additional 10 regional teams comprised of 45 total members are deployed countywide. The motion seeks to sustain the initiative and identify communities and school districts with a high need for mental health services where the county can expand the program.

“The Community Schools Initiative (CSI) has proven effective and, with the detrimental impacts on student mental health brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more important to continue and expand it to school campuses across Los Angeles County,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis. “This initiative brings a range of County resources, including mental health and social services, directly into our schools – providing a hub to address the many inequities our youth should not have to face. It’s due time to commit to and expand the CSI model further and this motion does just that.”

Initially passed in January 2019, the initiative fostered collaboration between the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Los Angeles County Office of Education to provide access to mental health services. The initiative was then expanded in April 2019 to implement prevention-focused mental health services.

“Expansion of the LACOE Community Schools Initiative highlights our deep commitment to our students and a strong statement to our youth, their families and educators that their mental health and wellbeing are a top priority in LA County,” said Dr. Jonathan Sherin, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Department of Mental Health. “The Department of Mental Health has long-standing partnerships with numerous school districts which have been accelerated in recent years, and most robustly since the pandemic hit; we must build out schools as trusted community platforms that facilitate access to resources supporting mental health and wellbeing. Our commitment to school districts across the county is unwavering.”

Lancaster man in court over firearms charges

Allegedly made unlawful buy

by OW Staff

A Lancaster man made a recent  federal court appearance in Las Vegas for allegedly making false statements in connection with the unlawful purchase of multiple firearms and selling the firearms without a license.

Kenneth Earl Smith Jr., 28, allegedly engaged in dealing firearms without a firearms business license from about May 13 last year to about Aug. 17, 2021, according to the indictment.

During the purchase of 19 firearms from licensed dealers in Las Vegas, Smith allegedly made false statements on ATF transaction records.

Prosecutors contend he represented that he was the buyer of the firearms, when in fact he was acquiring the firearms on behalf of other persons. Smith likewise represented that he was a Nevada resident, when in fact he was a California resident, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas.

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