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Kingdom Day Parade

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Mayor Eric Garcetti with other Kingdom Day Parade celebrants. All photos by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors.

Thousands of people lined the streets of South Los Angeles to celebrate the life and legacy of the legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the 33rd Annual Kingdom Day parade.

Billed as the oldest and largest parade of its kind, it included more than 150 floats, bands, equestrian units and other groups that traveled three miles on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and Crenshaw Boulevard before culminating in community festivities at Leimert Park.

This year’s theme, When They Go Low, We Go High, is a famous quote from former First Lady Michelle Obama during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer for California Senator Kamala Harris, who served as the parade’s grand marshal. Oscar winner Natalie Portman walked alongside her, wearing a black shirt that read “Time’s Up,” a rallying cry for the movement against sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry.

This year marks Dr. King’s  89th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his death. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said at the parade that he strives to see Dr. King’s dream fulfilled, and is working to address  poverty and homelessness; fight for jobs and voting rights; and assert that healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

“We’re going to end homelessness in the city and county of Los Angeles, because that’s Dr. King’s dream, to push for every person to have dignity and work,” the Supervisor said.

California Election 2018:
Gubernatorial Candidates
Town Hall Meeting

Six candidates vying to become the next Governor of California faced off for the first time during a town hall meeting at the University of Southern California (USC). During the 90-minute discussion, themed Empowering California: A Local Perspective, candidates Travis Allen, John Chiang, John Cox, Delaine Eastin, Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa answered questions about homelessness, immigration, education, criminal justice, how they would work with the Trump administration, and other topics.

The Empowerment Congress, Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC hosted the event at USC’s Bovard Auditorium, which drew an audience of almost 1,500 people. Many also listened to the live stream on KABC7 and the live broadcast on 89.3 KPCC.

Los Angeles, CA – JAN 13: 26th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit | Empowering California: A Local Perspective | Gubernatorial Town Hall (Pool Photo by Leroy Hamilton)

Opening the discussion, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said, “With a plethora of local challenges across the state, ranging from affordable housing crises to threats to a range of civil liberties, it is critical that we elect an individual to lead the state of California who understands the opportunities, challenges, responsibilities and privileges associated with representing the most populous and diverse state in the nation.”

“Governor Jerry Brown released a record $132-billion proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, and it is our collective responsibility to seek out the individual who can best balance that budget, answer the tough questions, and demonstrate resilience in the face of crisis,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “That’s because, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, ‘Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

Robert Shrum, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC, said, “There is no better way to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday than a spirited, honest and respectful face-to-face town hall involving the candidates for governor, one of whom will lead this state into the future.”

“The core of our democracy is civic engagement,” Empowerment Congress coordinator Cassandra Chase said. “The gubernatorial town hall provided an opportunity for community members to ask questions of the candidates on issues that are important to them. Our community is constantly engaged and takes the lead on visioning the California we deserve.”

ABC7 Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown served as moderator. KPCC senior political reporter Mary Plummer also sat on the panel, focusing on concerns raised by voters.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas founded the Empowerment Congress 26 years ago, when he was a member of the Los Angeles City Council. It is widely considered a national model of civic engagement, built on the core principles of participatory democracy, reciprocal accountability and intentional civility. It holds an annual summit during the national observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to address issues of importance within local communities.

The mission of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC is to motivate students to become active in the world of politics, and to encourage public officials to participate in the daily life at USC.

Los Angeles, CA – JAN 13: 26th Annual Empowerment Congress Summit | Empowering California: A Local Perspective | Gubernatorial Town Hall (Pool Photo by Aurelia Ventura)

Falcons Take Flight

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas awarded scrolls to the Southern California Falcons Youth Football and Cheer Organization, winners of the 2017 Pacific Coast Conference Youth Football Championship.

“This morning we acknowledge a shining example of success by those who take the time to work with our young people,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said.

“The Falcons are about more than just a winning football organization – they develop character,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas added. “I am honored to present them with this County scroll in recognition of their continued commitment to develop the leaders of tomorrow.”

Keith Johnson had founded the Falcons with the simple goal of providing children in the community a safe place to play football. Its mission soon evolved, however, to empowering underprivileged and underserved youth to excel in life by providing them with services to better their education, health, physical fitness, and cultural appreciation.

The Falcons also mentor the children on personal and social responsibility by using the motto:  It’s time to teach new school kids old school values.

“In 2007 and 2008, we were just a young football program that had a dream to do something special,” Johnson said after receiving the scroll. “But what was really needed was a place where kids could learn, where they could understand who they are and what they could become.”

“We are not doing this alone. When Mark Ridley-Thomas was still running for Supervisor, he came to our park. Before he left, he simply said this, ‘I don’t know whether I’ll win or not, but I do know this: I will always support you because you’re doing real work with real people,’” Johnson said. “The Supervisor’s support has allowed us to catapult to the place where we’re mentoring not only our own children but we’re also mentoring other organizations to do the work that we do.”

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas with Falcons coaches, players and parents. All photos by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors


FAQs on Cannabis Legalization

Legalized Cannabis is Here

What L.A. County Residents Need to Know in 2018

With retail cannabis sales set to begin in California on Jan. 1, 2018, Los Angeles County residents should be aware of what is — and is not — permitted in their communities.

Although some local cities, including Los Angeles, have opted to permit commercial cannabis operations, many other areas have not, including unincorporated parts of L.A. County. In addition to meeting all local permitting requirements, cannabis businesses must also obtain licenses from the state of California.

Under the new state laws, sales of adult-use cannabis to people under the age of 21 are never permitted, and cannabis can only be purchased legally from licensed retail outlets. It will remain illegal to smoke cannabis in public or to drive under the influence.

Earlier this month, LA County’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) released a set of proposed cannabis policies for unincorporated areas of the county. The policies seek to “prioritize the protection of public safety and health as well as the quality of life in our communities,” and are tentatively scheduled for consideration by the LA County Board of Supervisors in January.

Supervisors already have adopted a health and sanitation ordinance for cannabis businesses. The ordinance, approved on Dec. 19, 2017, establishes clear health and safety standards for those preparing and selling cannabis products. The ordinance also requires businesses to abide by operational standards to avoid adversely affecting neighbors. The LA County Department of Public Health is working with cities that will permit commercial cannabis operations to implement the new ordinance countywide.

OCM is also developing a universal emblem program for cannabis retailers that will include a campaign to educate consumers. Once the program begins in the months ahead, the distinctive emblem, similar to a restaurant grade, will let consumers know at a glance whether a cannabis business is licensed.

For more information, including proposed cannabis regulations for the unincorporated areas, frequently asked questions, resources for parents and teens, and rules for personal cannabis cultivation, please visit: http://cannabis.lacounty.gov/



Los Angeles County Office of Cannabis Management

Phone: (213-974-4530)

Email: cannabis@lacounty.gov

Web: cannabis.lacounty.gov

Giving the Gift of Help

Once homeless herself, Shaunte Davis is now helping others get their lives back on track. Thanks to Measure H, she and her fellow “housing navigators” at St. Margaret’s Center in Inglewood help take individuals and families off the streets and into housing. 8