Today’s Headlines: L.A. council members make racist remarks, mock colleagues in leaked audio

L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez talks in front of a microphone.
L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez, shown in 2019, made racist comments in a 2021 meeting, according to a recording reviewed by The Times.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón

Hello, it’s Monday, Oct. 10, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


L.A. council members make racist remarks, mock colleagues

Three Latino members of the Los Angeles City Council and a top county labor official held a conversation last fall that included racist remarks, derisive statements about their colleagues and council President Nury Martinez saying a white councilman handled his young Black son as though he were an “accessory,” according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The Times. Martinez referred to the councilman’s child as “ese changuito,” or that little monkey, soon after.


During the conversation with Councilmembers Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera, Martinez also described Councilmember Mike Bonin at one point as a “little bitch.” De León appeared to compare Bonin’s handling of his child to Martinez holding a Louis Vuitton handbag. He also referred to Bonin as the council’s “fourth Black member.”

Anxiety about voting keeps some young Californians from the polls

Young voters are often misperceived as too apathetic or too self-absorbed to care about elections. But rather than being dismissive of politics, some of the country’s least experienced voters say they feel unprepared to make such weighty choices.

This sense of paralysis is a key, but underappreciated, dynamic among this crucial voting bloc of 18- to 29-year-olds, whom politicians tend to court with cringeworthy social media stunts.

It’s a sentiment pollsters pick up time and again. Oftentimes young voters say they didn’t have enough information or campaigns didn’t contact them, said Wasay Rasool, a lead strategist for Avalanche Insights, an information technology company that conducts polls.


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Critics say Newsom’s Medicaid reforms leave patients behind

People who visit the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South Los Angeles don’t always have severe and life-threatening cases. But patients and doctors say it is nearly impossible to find a timely medical appointment or receive adequate care in the impoverished community. A staggering 72% of patients who receive care at the hospital rely on Medi-Cal.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is spearheading a massive experiment in Medi-Cal, pouring nearly $9 billion into a five-year initiative that targets the sickest and costliest patients and provides them with nonmedical benefits. The concept is to improve patient health by funneling money into social programs and keeping patients out of costly institutions.

The initiative, known as CalAIM, sounds like an antidote to some of the ills that plague MLK. Yet only a sliver of its patients will receive the new and expensive benefits.

Coronavirus subvariant BA.2.75.2 appears in L.A. County

The Omicron subvariant BA.2.75.2 — a newer coronavirus strain some scientists fear could be problematic — has arrived in Los Angeles County. BA.2.75.2 has been described by Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Biden’s chief medical advisor for the pandemic, as “one that looks suspicious — that it might start to evolve as a [troublesome] variant.”

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer is also watching it closely. Three specimens of BA.2.75.2 have been detected in L.A. County. The strain has been spreading elsewhere, including in parts of Asia and Europe, and Ferrer said what is potentially worrisome is that “it may both evade prior protections” of immunity, such as from past COVID-19 shots or infection, “and not respond to some of our currently available treatments.”

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

Thailand wants to become the new king of weed

Thailand is barreling toward a future in which it could surge past Amsterdam and parts of the United States as a global destination for both cannabis cultivation and consumption.

In June, the government legalized domestically produced pot — a first in Asia — igniting a green rush that’s seduced farmers, corporations and seemingly everyone in between. No business idea is too far-fetched. Care for a cannabis-infused bubble tea or a cannabis spa treatment? Looking for a vending machine offering the latest CBD spray? Thailand has you covered.

But from Bangkok to the tourism enclave of Phuket, there is also the unmistakable whiff of the world’s largest legal weed market: California. Restrictions on imported weed haven’t stopped dispensaries from touting strains smuggled from California.

A man smokes a joint.
Choco Gonzales, owner of the House of Chronic marijuana dispensary in Bangkok, smokes a joint.
(Lauren DeCicca / For The Times)

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Will new housing rules stop San Diego from building in high-fire-risk areas? The county Board of Supervisors recently adopted a long-awaited suite of policies that developers and conservation groups agree will make it nearly impossible to build in far-flung parts of the county. But it will limit opportunities for new home construction at a time when short supply coupled with real estate speculation have crushed first-time homebuyers and others.

San Diego State is criticized for giving conflicting accounts of how it handled a gang rape allegation. Since allegations of a gang rape became public months ago, San Diego State University officials have provided shifting and conflicting accounts about how they responded after a star football player and his teammates were first accused of assaulting a 17-year-old high school senior at an off-campus party.

California was repeatedly warned about spiking gas prices and fragile supply. But fixes never came. California officials have had repeated warnings over the last two decades. But California has struggled to find solutions as it tries to rapidly reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Motorists got a reminder of this in recent weeks as prices hit record levels in an increasingly fragile gasoline market.


Council candidates on L.A.’s Westside bash each other over their legal careers. Attorney Erin Darling charged that his opponent, lawyer Traci Park, had moved to “defend racism” in a case where she represented the city of Anaheim against a city employee who accused a supervisor of using the “n-word.”

How parking lots explain California’s housing crisis. The cost of constructing low-income housing in California is the highest in the nation, with some apartment buildings totaling more than $1 million per unit to build. One of the reasons? It’s expensive to set aside land for parking lots and build underground garages.

A Los Feliz couple encounter surprise in their driveway: a mountain lion believed to be P-22. P-22 surprised the world when he first appeared a decade ago in the park, which scientists had considered too urban and too small to support mountain lions. Scientists assumed that he would eventually leave the park, but he has remained.

Did you stop your home search because of rising mortgage rates? We want to hear from you. The Southern California housing market is in the midst of a sharp slowdown. Home sales are plunging and prices are starting to decline as well. The culprit? Mortgage rates have more than doubled in the last year, causing many prospective home buyers to call it quits. Tell us your story.

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Ian leaves scenes of recovery and despair on the Florida coast. On a coast where a few miles meant the difference between life and death, relief and ruin, the contrasting scenes of reality less than two weeks since the hurricane’s onslaught are jarring, and they point to the way disaster can mean so many different things to different people.

Russian strikes kill 13 in Ukraine; Putin labels Crimean bridge attack a ‘terrorist act.’ The blasts in the city, which remains under Ukrainian control but sits in a region Moscow has claimed as its own, blew out windows in adjacent buildings and left at least one high-rise apartment building partially collapsed. The multiple strikes came after an explosion caused the partial collapse of a bridge linking the Crimean peninsula with Russia.


Deadline founder Nikki Finke dies at 68 after a long illness. Finke was revered and feared in the industry for exposing secrets, first through her L.A. Weekly column, Deadline Hollywood, which she eventually built into a website. She founded Deadline Hollywood Daily in 2006 on a Friday and quickly began building her audience by live-blogging the 78th Academy Awards that Sunday.

With KTLA drama behind her, the countdown is on for Lynette Romero’s KNBC debut. KNBC will welcome her to “Today in L.A.” starting at 4 a.m. Pacific. Along with anchor Adrian Arambulo, meteorologist Belen De Leon and traffic anchor Robin Winston, Romero will co-anchor the broadcast on weekdays from 4 to 7 a.m.

For Round 2, Kanye West assures Tucker Carlson: ‘I will eventually be president.’ Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” aired more of its interview with the provocative rapper. Former President Obama, Elon Musk and West’s firm belief that he’ll be president one day were among the hot topics. The second half of West’s conversation began with him speaking about Obama, whom he said he met in 2008.


A fire tore through a Palms strip mall. Some restaurant owners are still reeling from the devastation. The deadly fire ravaged the strip mall last month, shuttering multiple businesses — one restaurant possibly permanently — and forcing relocation, pivots, a building-wide drop in business and losing what one estimates to be thousands of dollars each day in its wake. “I was making almost $3,000 a day,” said Jay Betts, owner of Bernie’s Soul Kitchen. “Now I’m making only maybe $600.”


L.A. invented jaywalking tickets to serve cars. It’s time to give streets back to walkers. In cities, giving primacy to cars has worked to the detriment of lower-income pedestrians and favored suburbanites over local residents. Like the removal of an old monument or the renaming of a building, the law signals new possibilities, writes University of Virginia associate professor Peter Norton.

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Matthew Stafford was sacked five times as offense-ravaged Rams lose to the Cowboys. Stafford and the Rams struggle to find the rhythm on offense in a 22-10 loss to the Cowboys that threatens to derail their season.

L.A. Chargers defeat the Browns after Cleveland misses a late field-goal attempt. Austin Ekeler scored two touchdowns as the Chargers escaped with a 30-28 win over the Cleveland Browns after Cade Knox missed a potential 54-yard game-winning field goal with 11 seconds left.

A TV dilemma resurfaces after the Tua Tagovailoa injury: When to show and when to tell. As he was on his back on the field, Tagovailoa’s rigid hands were spread wide and raised above his face, his fingers splayed in different directions. The cameras for Amazon Prime Video provided a close-up view. Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of “Thursday Night Football,” defended the decision to show six replays of the collision.


Travertine Hot Springs visitor Opie Ownes unwinding
Travertine Hot Springs, open for soaking, are found just south of Bridgeport along Highway 395, north of Mono Lake.
(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

You can’t beat geothermal heat. That’s what warms the many hot springs in California — and they make a disparate yet tempting bunch, from rustic roadside holes in the ground to luxurious Napa Valley retreats.

There are dozens, especially in Calistoga (Napa Valley wine country) and Desert Hot Springs (a Coachella Valley city that has not yet followed Palm Springs and environs into full-blown desert gentrification).

With the weather cooling down, here is a look at eight hot spring sites that Times writers tried in recent years.


Superman, played by actor Christopher Reeve, holds a green crystal at the Fortress of Solitude.
(Getty Images)

Actor Christopher Reeve died 18 years ago. The 52-year-old star of the “Superman” movies became even more famous as an advocate for people with disabilities after he was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 horseback riding accident.

A tall, dark-haired actor perfectly suited for the role of the “Man of Steel,” Reeve showed true fortitude as a quadriplegic who pledged he would one day walk again.

After his accident, Reeve became a powerful advocate for pushing the boundaries of medicine. His New Jersey-based Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
emerged under his star power and relentless fundraising as a leading source of research money.

For the record:

4:52 p.m. Oct. 11, 2022For the record: Our Monday edition of Today’s Headlines referred to the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation. The name of the organization is the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

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