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For LaTisha Nixon, latest death is more than deja vu Featured

WEST HOLLYWOOD — LaTisha Nixon’s trip to Los Angeles was supposed to be a commemoration of what would have been her son Gemmel Moore’s 28th birthday. Instead, it turned into her worst nightmare all over again.

Moore was found dead at the home of Ed Buck, a prominent Democratic Party donor, in July 2017. An autopsy concluded that Moore’s death was caused by an overdose of methamphetamine. Due to a lack of evidence, the county district attorney’s office did not press charges against Buck for Moore’s death.

Eighteen months following Moore’s overdose, paramedics responded to another 911 call from Buck’s apartment regarding an unconscious man who was not breathing. Timothy Dean was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Jan. 7. The cause of death has not been released.

Friends, co-workers and neighbors were shocked and saddened to hear about Dean’s death.

Ottavio Taddei, Dean’s roommate for the past three years, said Dean stayed away from narcotics and was very neat with “everything in a specific spot and nicely folded.”

“I’ve never seen him doing drugs or taking drugs,” Taddei said. “He doesn’t even smoke weed or cigarettes. … If he drank something, it was at the end of the day, after work. Not someone who had a problem.”

At a candlelight vigil in front of Buck’s apartment Jan. 11, Dean’s longtime friend Mark Chambers felt compelled to speak up for his friend.

“I’ve known Tim for 30 years,” Chambers said. “He’s not an angel and he’s not a devil. He is in between, just like everybody else.”

In the past, Dean performed in adult films. An online database of adult films credits Dean with more than a dozen roles.

“I knew he did it, but when we were coming up, a lot of people did it. It was like, OK, so what?” Chambers said. “Just because he did porn doesn’t equal a drug addict.”

According to Dean’s friends, he had turned his life completely around.  He was a fashion consultant at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills, had joined a church and was baptized. He had even gone back to school and earned his associates degree from Santa Monica College. 

Dean also played in the Lambda Basketball League and last summer traveled with Chambers and others to Paris to compete in the Gay Games.

Buck’s attorney, Seymour Amster, says his client had nothing to do with Dean’s death. 

According to Amster, Buck and Dean been friends for 25 years. Dean had “ingested some type of substance” before arriving at Buck’s apartment Jan. 7 and Buck had tried to perform CPR after Dean fell unconscious.

“This is not a situation where Mr. Buck had caused the death,” the attorney said. “This is a situation where Mr. Buck has had longtime friends who, unfortunately, do not handle their life well then succumb when they are in the apartment of Mr. Buck.”

Dean’s death has put a spotlight on the issues of wealth and privilege — specifically white privilege — that some say exists even within the liberal gay community of West Hollywood. 

Following the vigil in from of Buck’s apartment, West Hollywood resident and queer artist Lex Ryan posted on Instagram:

“White people — and especially those white queer folx who live in West Hollywood and party in West Hollywood — let this be a wake up. West Hollywood is not safe for everyone. It is not the progressive, inclusive place we like to believe it is. It is a place where two black men can die of overdoses in a wealthy white man’s apartment — a man known to pay black men so that he can inject them with meth — while the white man walks free. This is West Hollywood. This is where we celebrate Pride. Pride in what? Pride that only white lgbtq folx are safe? This is unacceptable. We can do better. We need to do better.”

For Latisha Nixon, the death of Timothy Dean conjures up painful similarities to her son’s death.

Moore and Dean died in the apartment of Ed Buck and he had been present at the time of their deaths. Both men were black and gay. Buck, 64, is white, gay, wealthy and politically connected. 

According to the personal testimony of several escorts who say they have had experiences with Buck, he intentionally seeks out gay black men who are financially vulnerable and pays them to do drugs with him, specifically methamphetamine.

Dean’s death is also the realization of the dire prediction Nixon made in front of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station on the first anniversary of her son’s death, one day after prosecutors declined to file charges against Buck.

“The media always refers to my son as a homeless black gay prostitute,” Nixon said at the time. “He wasn’t homeless. He wasn’t a prostitute. 

“They call Ed Buck a ‘wealthy white Democratic donor.’ He’s a predator. He preys on vulnerable black men. If they don’t stop him, he’ll do it again and the blood will be on their hands.”

LAUSD to resume talks with teachers’ union Featured

LOS ANGELES — Negotiations between the union representing striking teachers and the Los Angeles Unified School District were expected to resume Jan. 17 at City Hall.

“The Mayor’s Office will facilitate these negotiations,” said a statement released by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office Jan. 16.

United Teachers Los Angeles, the union representing the teachers, “will be ready to bargain and our team will work long and hard toward an agreement that benefits our students, members and communities,” Arlene Inouye, the union’s bargaining chair, said.

Leaders from the union and district met with Garcetti and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond Jan. 16 and “great progress” was made, Thurmond said.

“I am certain that together we will get [through] this and we will get our kids back to school,” Thurmond said.

The last negotiating session was held Jan. 11.

The first teachers strike to hit the district in 30 years went into its fourth day with thousands of educators picketing for increased pay, smaller class sizes and the hiring of more support staff, such as nurses, counselors and librarians.

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl said he did not expect any deal to be reached in the immediate future, and suggested talks were likely to go at least into the weekend.

“After 21 months of negotiations, I think it would be an unrealistic expectation to say that this will be over after today, because there are hard issues to work through, and they haven’t been moving on class size,” Caputo-Pearl said during a morning rally and news conference at Arleta High School.

“And class size is important. They haven’t been moving on some other key things.”

Caputo-Pearl also said another large UTLA rally was being planned at Grand Park next to City Hall Jan. 18. Thousand of UTLA members rallied at the park Jan. 14, the first day of the strike, before marching through downtown to LAUSD headquarters.

LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said earlier this week the district has offered the union as much as it can given its financial constraints.

“It’s just math,” he told reporters. “This is just math. It’s not a values conversation. The experts have all said we do not have the ability to spend more than we’re spending.”

However, a pair of LAUSD Board of Education members issued statements Jan. 16 expressing frustration with the continuing work stoppage. One of them criticized Beutner for failing to broker a resolution and accused him of spreading misinformation.

“I can no longer allow Mr. Beutner to speak for me or to suggest that the massive public relations, and often misinformation, campaign that he is waging represents my views about the current teachers strike,” board member Scott Schmerelson said. “We need to end the strike and get back to our teachers teaching and our kids learning.

“Instead of repeating the doom, gloom and heading for bankruptcy predictions that we have heard for decades, I believe that it is Mr. Beutner’s job to honestly identify sources of funding buried in our existing budget, and the revenue growth predicted for next year, that could be creatively sourced and invested in the students,” he added.

Fellow board member George McKenna, who represents most of South Los Angeles, noted that he and Schmerelson last year proposed that the district ask voters to approve a parcel tax to generate local revenue for schools, but the board rejected the idea.

“We all agree that the state must allocate more money for public education,” McKenna said. “That should have been a legislative priority with a full-court press a year ago, not last week. If we expect teachers to do everything in their power to avoid a strike, then we have an obligation to do everything in our power to do the same.”

The union has been calling for the hiring of more teachers and support staff, such as nurses, counselors and librarians, along with reduced class sizes.

The district’s most recent offer to the union was made Jan. 11, with the package including, among other things, the hiring of 1,200 teachers, capping middle and high school English/math classes at 39 students, capping grades four through six at 35 students and maintaining all other existing class sizes, adding a full-time nurse at every elementary school and another academic counselor at high schools.

The increased staffing, however, would only be for one year, with the district saying the money to pay for the extra employees would come out of a one-time reserve.

“This represents the best we can do, recognizing that it is our obligation to provide as much resources as possible to support out students in each and every one of our schools,” Beutner said Jan. 11.

UTLA rejected the offer, saying it did not go far enough to bolster school staffing, reduce class sizes and prevent them from increasing in the future. The union also blasted the district’s staff-increase proposal for being only a one-year offer, and contended the district’s salary increase proposal is contingent on benefit cuts to future union members.

The LAUSD has offered teachers a 6 percent raise spread over the first two years of a three-year contract while UTLA wants a 6.5 percent raise that would take effect all at once and a year sooner.

The district claims the union’s contract demands would bankrupt the LAUSD, but the union disputes that contention, pointing to what it calls an estimated $1.8 billion reserve fund and insisting the district has not faced a financial deficit in five years. The district contends that reserve fund is already being spent, in part on the salary increase for teachers.

The second-largest school district in the nation, the LAUSD covers 710 square miles and serves more than 694,000 students at 1,322 schools, although 216 schools are independent charter schools, most of which are staffed with non-union teachers unaffected by the strike. The district says about 500,000 students are impacted by the walkout.

The district hired 400 substitutes, and 2,000 administrators with teaching credentials have been reassigned during the strike. The district has set up an information hotline for parents at (213) 443-1300.

According to the LAUSD, at least 132,411 of strike-affected students went to class Jan. 16, although figures from a dozen other campuses were still being tallied. That figure is a 22 percent drop from Jan. 15’s revised attendance figure of 171,480.

On Jan. 14, the first day of the strike, 156,774 students went to class.

District officials said the absentee rate means a gross revenue loss of about $69 million in state funding, which is based on daily attendance. The loss is partially offset by millions of dollars in salaries that aren’t being paid to the striking teachers. Beutner estimated earlier this week that the district suffered a net loss of roughly $15 million on the first day of the strike.

The district sent a letter to parents this week, noting that state law does not excuse absences in case of a strike and students are expected to attend class,” but saying school principals “will work with students and families on attendance.”

“At the moment, schools will not be notifying parents of absences, but will continue to monitor student attendance and provide support to students on an individual basis,” the district’s letter said. “Student absences during the strike will not impact graduation.”

UTLA has accused the district of failing to issue a “clear, definitive statement” on how the district is handling absences, effectively “exploiting parents’ fears and knowingly spreading confusion to try to gain leverage.”

Underlying the strike is the issue of charter schools. Union officials have accused Beutner and some members of the school board of favoring a vast expansion of privately operated charter schools, which are governed by the state and generally staffed by non-union teachers.

Top Celebrities call for an end to gun violence in U.S. Featured

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Ricky Gervais doesn’t care if he’s ever asked back to host the Golden Awards Featured

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Benfica Striker Ola John has his mind on the clash with the Catalans Featured

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2012 Formula 1 season was one of the most exciting and eventful in history Featured

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Oscar Pistorius has never baulked at a hard challenge Featured

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Portuguese exports rose by 13.7 percent in August from a year ago Featured

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In Filing, News Corp. Says Publishing Business Showed $2.1 Billion Loss Featured

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U.S. economy grew faster in third quarter of 2012 Featured

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After losing to Obama, what should Mitt Romney do next? Featured

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EU’s new banking union will break the link between banks and public debt Featured

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Former LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King dies

LOS ANGELES — All flags at Los Angeles Unified School District properties were flown at half-staff until Feb. 6 in honor of former Superintendent Michelle King, who died of cancer Feb. 2 at the age of 57.

“Dr. King was a Los Angeles Unified student who found her passion in education and dedicated her life to making sure others received a great education,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement released Feb. 4. “We at Los Angeles Unified, and all in our community, are grateful for her leadership and commitment. And on behalf of the many, many students, teachers, and administrators whose lives she helped make better, thank you.”

King, who began her education career as a teacher’s aide, ascended to the top spot at the LAUSD in January 2016, becoming the first African-American woman to lead the nation’s second-largest school district. She went on medical leave in September of the following year, then announced in January 2018 that she was battling cancer and would not be returning to her job.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti praised King’s contribution to local education.

“Dr. Michelle King’s life and career encapsulated what it means to be an Angeleno: excellence, kindness, integrity, service above self,” Garcetti tweeted. “She devoted her entire professional life to students in Los Angeles, and led our school district with all of the passion, skill and determination that it takes to be a powerful fighter for young people and their dreams. Michelle’s extraordinary achievements — record graduation rates, putting higher education within reach for all families, and creating new opportunities for our kids to be on pathways to careers — should inspire each one of us to be part of the mission to make L.A.’s schools the best in America. Amy and I are deeply saddened by her passing, and send our love and prayers to Michelle’s daughters, her parents and brother, and the entire LAUSD family.”

United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents more than 35,000 teachers and health and human services professionals who work in the LAUSD and at charter schools, issued a statement calling King’s death “a terrible loss — for her family, for her community, and for the Los Angeles Unified School District.”

“King made education her life’s work, and she was devoted to upholding a public school system that serves all students,” the UTLA statement said. “As the first African-American woman to be LAUSD superintendent, she blazed a trail for our future. Our condolences to her family and to those whose lives she touched during her long career.”

The LAUSD Board of Education issued a joint statement over the weekend thanking King “for 33 years as an exemplary educator, inspirational role model and steadfast leader.”

King, who held a doctorate from the USC Rossier School of Education, got her undergraduate degree in biology from UCLA and a master’s degree in administration from Pepperdine University. The mother of three daughters was educated in LAUSD schools, attending Century Park and Windsor Hills elementary schools, Palms Junior High and Palisades High School.

West Hollywood joins Clean Power Alliance

WEST HOLLYWOOD — City residents will soon enjoy the advantages of clean, renewable power at competitive rates.

Starting in February, Clean Power Alliance will be the new electricity provider for the community. As part of the city’s commitment to protecting the environment and building resiliency, the West Hollywood City Council selected 100 percent Green Power, which provides 100 percent renewable energy, as the default option for the community. 

Customers will have the choice to opt-in at a different renewable energy percentage or may opt out of the program and stay with Southern California Edison if they wish.

“Responsibility for the environment is a core value of the city of West Hollywood,” said City Councilwoman Lindsey P. Horvath, who represents West Hollywood on the Clean Power Alliance Board of Directors. “Our city has consistently worked to develop and implement policies that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, save energy and promote sustainability.

“I’m thrilled that the city is taking a huge step forward in providing our community members with cleaner energy on their terms. Our new energy provider, Clean Power Alliance, will provide West Hollywood customers with options for greener, renewable electricity at a lower cost than Southern California Edison. I’m particularly proud that West Hollywood has opted-in at a default of 100 percent renewable energy, which is the greenest plan available. Importantly, this shift will allow West Hollywood’s residents and businesses to have more control over how our energy is generated, which is good for the environment and for our community.”

Clean Power Alliance is a public agency made up of 31 local governments across Los Angeles and Ventura counties, including West Hollywood, working together to bring clean, renewable power choices to communities across Southern California.

The city joined the Clean Power Alliance in September 2017 in anticipation of delivering services in 2019. Clean Power Alliance purchases clean power and Southern California Edison will deliver it — nothing else changes about the delivery of electricity.

Edison will continue to deliver power to homes and businesses, send one bill, and will continue to be responsible for resolving any issues with electricity service.

The state has established goals for communities across the state to move toward 100 percent clean energy. Clean Power Alliance will more quickly move West Hollywood toward meeting this goal.

Residents will be automatically enrolled in Clean Power Alliance’s 100 percent Green Power rate option, which provides 100 percent renewable content and gives customers the opportunity to support sustainability.

If customers decide 100 percent Green Power is not the right fit for them, they will be able to select one of Clean Power Alliance’s other two rate options: Lean Power, which provides 36 percent renewable content at the lowest possible cost, and Clean Power, which provides 50 percent renewable content and the opportunity to support building a cleaner future. No matter the rate option, Clean Power Alliance offers the shared benefits of local management and control, stable, competitive rates, and higher renewable content.

Customers will still have access to special rates or programs provided by Edison and will be charged the same rates they would have paid to Edison.

Clean Power Alliance will also develop new and unique programs exclusively for local customers. Clean Power Alliance’s 100 percent Green Power rate option is also subsidized for low-income customers.

Community members currently receiving Edison services received their first notice from Clean Power Alliance in December, which contained additional details, including instructions on how to choose a different rate option and customer support contact information. Customers in West Hollywood will receive a total of four notices by mail before and after the switch to Clean Power Alliance. Clean Power Alliance service for residential customers will begin this month and service for non-residential customers is scheduled to begin in May.

Information: Robyn Eason at (323) 848-6514.

Pink receives star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

HOLLYWOOD — Grammy-winning pop singer Pink became the latest honoree on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, five days before the Grammys, where she is nominated for best pop vocal album for “Beautiful Trauma.”

“I feel like a lot of people probably only ever thought that I’d make it to the walk of shame, but here I am,” the singer joked during the ceremony in front of the Hollywood & Highland complex on Hollywood Boulevard.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singer-turned-actress Kerri Kenney-Silver were among those joining Pink at the ceremony. Pink wrote and performed, “Today’s the Day,” which has been the theme song for “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” since 2015. Pink received a Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding promotional announcement for the song.

“I thought I could have a hit record, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that I could have two decades of this insane fun with a family of people that I love traveling the world with, and experiences I have with each of you guys,” Pink told the cheering crowd.

Since her debut in 2000, Pink has released seven studio albums, one greatest hits album, sold more than 50 million albums, 75 million singles and 2.4-million DVDs and has had 15 singles in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including four at No. 1.

Pink has received 20 Grammy nominations, winning three Grammys, three Billboard Music Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards, including the 2017 Michael Jackson Vanguard Award, two MTV Europe Awards, two People’s Choice Awards and was selected Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2013.

Born Alecia Moore in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on Sept. 8, 1979, Pink got her start in the music business as a member of the girl group Choice, who signed with LaFace Records in 1995.

Shortly after signing, LaFace saw unique potential in Pink and offered her a solo recording contract. Drawing from her rhythm and blues musical influences, Pink released her first solo studio album “Can’t Take Me Home” in 2000. The record was certified double-platinum in the United States and featured two Billboard Hot 100 top 10 songs, “There You Go” and “Most Girls.”

Pink’s second album, “Missundaztood,” released in 2001, reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200. It featured three Top 10 singles, “Get The Party Started,” “Don’t Let Me Get Me” and “Just Like A Pill.”

Pink received her first Grammy in 2002 for best pop collaboration with vocals for “Lady Marmalade,” recorded for the soundtrack for the film “Moulin Rouge.”

Pink’s other Grammys were won in 2004 for best female rock vocal performance for “Trouble” and in 2011 for best pop collaboration with vocals for a cover of the John Lennon song “Imagine,” recorded for Herbie Hancock’s 2010 album “The Imagine Project.”

Pink’s latest studio album, “Beautiful Trauma” was released Oct. 13, 2017, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s 200 chart and marked a career-high for first-week sales. The album’s first single, “What About Us” is also certified platinum and reached No. 1 on the adult pop songs chart. Pink received a best pop solo performance Grammy nomination in 2017 for “What About Us.”

Pink will begin the 2019 portion of her 2018-19 “Beautiful Trauma” world tour March 1 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. It includes stops at Honda Center April 13, Staples Center April 15 and The Forum April 19.

Pink’s stage name is derived from the character Mr. Pink, played by Steve Buscemi, in the 1992 film, “Reservoir Dogs.”

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