Lakers’ Anthony Davis expects to play against Blazers in crucial game Friday

LOS ANGELES — There was a moment when Anthony Davis took a last-second attempt at the shot clock buzzer, and tripped up over the Clippers’ scorers table as he backed into the sideline.

He spent a few tense seconds grabbing his right ankle, then retying his shoe. That one looked worse than it actually was, Davis said later.

What the crowd couldn’t see was his back, tensing up during the first timeout, then the second, as the Lakers’ deficit grew in Thursday’s game against the Clippers at Staples Center. And by the time he checked out around the 3-minute mark, Davis said, he felt tight enough that he couldn’t play on: “It got to the point where it was pretty tough.”

If Davis’ back was a tough obstacle, his absence was an insurmountable one for the short-handed Lakers, who were already skating on thin ice against the Clippers with him, but without him had to discard a good amount of their pre-game plans. Center Marc Gasol subbed in midway through the second quarter and was immediately pressured, as the Clippers forced two steals on their way to building a 20-plus-point lead.

But Davis said he doesn’t foresee the back spasms he suffered Thursday costing him a start on Friday night in Portland, where a critical tiebreaker with the Trail Blazers hangs in the balance. The Lakers already know they will be without LeBron James, Dennis Schröder and Talen Horton-Tucker for what Davis called “probably the biggest game” so far this season.

“I should be good to go tomorrow, based on how it’s feeling now,” said Davis, an eight-time All-Star. “But I’m gonna still wake up and test it out. But my plan is to still go tomorrow.”

Perhaps because of his stiffness, Davis’ game was not shaping up to be a good one: He was just 2 for 9 with four points in his 9-minute shift. That performance comes on the heels of perhaps Davis’ best game since his return from a nine-week injury absence – a 25-point effort against Denver, which included the game-clinching blocked shot.

For a Lakers team without its best playmakers against Portland, the question is even more pressing than usual: Which Davis will they get?

Coach Frank Vogel said he’s following the lead of the medical team in this case.

“We’re already trying to be responsible with his minutes,” he said. “Obviously, we’ll have to see how it feels tomorrow. It’s tough not having him in there, but obviously, you have to make the best decision for health.”

If the Lakers (37-29) – already one game behind fifth-place Dallas, which owns a tiebreaker over them – lose to the Blazers (37-29), it won’t bode well for their hopes to avoid the play-in tournament which begins on May 18, just two days after their final regular-season game. The seventh and eighth seeds must lose twice to be eliminated (playing each other, with the loser of that game facing the winner of the 9-10 game). As banged-up as the Lakers are, they don’t need more games tacked on to the regular season.

But Davis, who has spoken about avoiding the play-in games recently, acknowledged that the Lakers have a level of acceptance if it doesn’t swing their way.

“We don’t look at it as something bad,” he said. “To be honest, we need a lot of games, we need games to get back accustomed to each other, anyway. So, I mean, if it happens that way, it happens that way. Obviously, we don’t want to go that route. But if it happens, it happens.”

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12 indicted in alleged Southern California ‘green’ loan and mortgage fraud scheme

LOS ANGELES — A dozen people have been indicted in connection with an alleged mortgage fraud and “green” loan scheme that operated throughout Southern California and resulted in losses of about $15 million, the California Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

The 133-count grand jury indictment, handed up April 26, alleges that the crimes occurred in Los Angeles, Riverside and Ventura counties.

The indictment charges the defendants with a variety of counts, including conspiracy, mortgage fraud, grand theft, identity theft, forgery, filing a false or forged document and money laundering.

The defendants allegedly exploited the Yrgene Energy Fund and Renew Funding, companies that provide funding to licensed contractors for energy- efficient home improvements for homeowners, and used false identities to get mortgage loans from conventional banks and hard money lenders, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

“The allegations against these defendants charge a pattern of disregard for the law and willingness to go as far as stealing the identities of the deceased just to further their scheme,” California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement announcing the charges. “Our office will seek to hold these defendants accountable for their alleged actions.”

Those named in the indictment are: Tamara Dadyan, 39, Richard Ayvazyan, 42, Artur Ayvazyan, 41, Grigor Tatoian, 50, Andranik Petrosyan, 46, Arshak Bartoumian, 48, Artashes Martirosyan, 43, Lilit Malyan, 39, Lubia Carrillo, 41, Rosa Zarate, 49, Estephanie Reynoso, 31, and Vanessa Bell, 60.

Eleven of the defendants have pleaded not guilty, with Malyan due back in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom for arraignment May 18.

The case stemmed from a multi-year investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, with assistance from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Office of Inspector General.

The attorney general lauded the two agencies for “their work to put an end to an extensive, six-year fraud scheme that resulted in the theft of an estimated $15 million.”

“If you were a victim or have information please call 213-486-6979,” said a tweet from LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza.

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Motivated Keyla Romo leads Orangewood Academy girls basketball past rival Fairmont Prep

GARDEN GROVE — Orangewood Academy’s girls basketball team seized the victory it needed Wednesday, May 5 to stay in contention for the San Joaquin League title.

Keyla Romo made sure it counted for her grandmother, too.

On a night in which baskets were hard to come by, the guard sank a career-best four 3-pointers to help the No. 5 Spartans knock off visiting No. 2 Fairmont Prep 44-29 on the same day her grandmother died in Mexico after a fight with COVID-19.

Romo pounded her chest after one of her three first-half 3-pointers and drilled one more with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter en route to 14 points, which matched Hannah Stines for game-high honors.

“I was emotionally broke but then I realized that she wanted me to play hard and play for her,” Romo said of her grandmother Maria, who lived in Chihuahua, Mexico. “That’s what motivated me.”

Orangewood Academy (5-3, 3-1) avenged an earlier loss to Fairmont Prep (8-5, 4-1) in league and now moves on to play Sage Hill (10-2, 1-1) in back-to-back games May 12-13.

Romo said her grandmother was a fixture of her childhood and also a positive influence during the injury struggles as a sophomore and junior. She suffered a torn ACL just prior to her sophomore season and missed most of her junior season after having a second surgery due to scar tissue.

“She said I was her star,” Romo said of her grandmother.

Romo added a team-high four steals to help lead the Spartans’ defense. Orangewood Academy opened in a 2-3 defense before switching to a matchup zone.

“She played the game of her life,” Orangewood Academy coach Leslie Aragon said of Romo, an uncommitted 5-foot-10 senior. “All of those 3s. She came out with energy. She keys a lot of the stuff on defense. .. She was tough as nails. I’m so proud of her.”

Romo shared the spotlight with Stines, who scored 10 points in the second half and added 15 rebounds. The junior highlighted the fourth quarter by diving for a loose ball and then driving in heavy traffic on the ensuing possession for a left-handed layup to give the Spartans a 42-29 lead.

Amaya Lacy added 10 points and nine rebounds for Orangewood Academy. Aixchel Hernandez also helped the defense with two blocks and nine rebounds.

The Spartans made 1 of 13 shots from the floor in the second quarter to lead 19-13 at intermission.

Makaila Glynn led Fairmont Prep with 12 points and three steals. The Huskies made 1 of their first 17 3 pointers.

“We got the shots we wanted but just couldn’t hit tonight,” Fairmont Prep coach Sara Brown said.

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‘The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains’ coming to Los Angeles

“The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains,” featuring over 350 artifacts collected from the band’s more than 55-year career, is coming to the United States for the first time and taking up residency at the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28.

The traveling exhibition, which drew over 400,000 attendees to London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in 2017, serves as a retrospective of the various chapters of Pink Floyd’s career. It includes high-tech audio and visuals, objects like handwritten lyrics, original art pieces, instruments and surreal landscapes that evolve throughout the multi sensory experience.

Tickets are $30-$46 and are on sale now at

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)

  • “The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains” interactive experience will take over the Vogue Multicultural Museum in Los Angeles Aug. 3-Nov. 28. (Photo courtesy of The Pink Floyd Exhibition)



Guests will be fully immersed in the world of Pink Floyd. Starting in 1967 on the underground scene in London, guests are taken on a chronological journey through the history of the band’s albums.

It’s a collaboration between members of Pink Floyd and curator and graphic designer Aubrey “Po” Powell, who along with Storm Thorgerson at Hipgnosis, designed the cover art for the band’s 1973 release, “The Dark Side of the Moon.” The experience was developed by bandmember and exhibition consultant Nick Mason, as well as designers Stufish, entertainment architects and the band’s own longtime stage designers.

Some of the items on display will be original oil paintings by original vocalist-guitarist Syd Barrett and a replica of his mirrored Fender guitar; the Azimuth Co-ordinator used by keys player Richard Wright to swirl the band’s sound around venues; drummer Mason’s Hokusai Wave drum kit from 1975; a selection of guitarist David Gilmour’s equipment; and bassist Roger Waters’ Ovation bass guitar used from 1974-1978.

There will also be displays of iconic imagery associated with the band using various props and mannequins, as well as works from other artists and graphic designers the band partnered with throughout the years including Gerald Scarfe and Mark Fisher.

The spaces will be narrated by past and present band members, sharing their experiences through an audio guide system. It will all end within a performance zone where visitors can enjoy classic Pink Floyd songs and the recreation of the very last performance of Gilmour, Waters, Wright and Mason doing “Comfortably Numb” at Live 8 in 2005.

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Kids and the Covid-19 vaccine: A pediatrician answers safety questions

By Sandee LaMotte | CNN

The US Food and Drug Administration is expected to grant emergency use authorization next week to Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for teens and children ages 12 to 15.

According to CNN estimates, that would make another 5% of the population — nearly 17 million teens — eligible to be vaccinated.

Some 52% of parents said they are likely to get their children vaccinated against Covid-19 when a vaccine becomes available for their age group, according to a poll conducted during the first week of April.

That still leaves many parents unsure of what to do, vulnerable to misinformation campaigns on vaccine safety that have spread on social media.

What are the facts? We asked Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, to answer questions parents may have.

Maldonado is also chief of Stanford University School of Medicine’s division of pediatric infectious diseases and is currently leading vaccine trials in children younger than 12.

The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.

CNN: Some parents have had no issues getting vaccinated as adults but now find themselves fretting over giving the vaccine to their children. What message do you and the American Academy of Pediatrics have for these parents?

Yvonne Maldonado: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Food and Drug Administration and the vaccine companies have been very open and transparent with the American Academy of Pediatrics on all of the vaccine data because they know that we advocate for children and parents and families.

Not only are we pediatricians — we are vaccine experts, and we have reviewed the data ourselves on all the trials so far, and we will review the additional data.

We would not agree with recommendations — even if they came from the federal government — if we did not feel that they were safe and effective given our vast experience with vaccinating children to keep them healthy in this country.

CNN: Some parents are hearing on social media that the vaccine might have a long term impact on fertility. Since many kids reach puberty between the ages of 12 and 15, how can a parent be sure that the Covid-19 vaccine won’t affect their child’s development?

Maldonado: Oh my goodness, people have been saying this about every vaccine since I can remember! There’s a whole group of people who have been talking about what they call “primary ovarian insufficiency” and they’ve attributed that to other vaccines in the past. I’m not surprised if they are doing the same with the Covid-19 vaccine.

  • CNN note: Primary ovarian insufficiency occurs when a woman’s ovaries stop releasing eggs. It’s extremely rare — with one case in 1,000 women under age 30. A 2018 study of almost 200,000 adolescent girls and women found no connection between primary ovarian insufficiency and any of the vaccines recommended for teens, including HPV, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), meningococcal disease or inactivated flu vaccines.

Maldonado: There is no evidence at this point that this vaccine will affect development or fertility. It is a mRNA vaccine platform — it enters the cell and serves as a template for antibody development and almost immediately disintegrates into little pieces that are inert.

It’s made out of nucleic acids, which are basically the building blocks of all our cells, and these aren’t incorporated into anything. They just fall apart and are eliminated. Bottom line: I think that’s ridiculous.

CNN: What are expected side effects of the vaccine for children — will they be severe enough to cause a child to miss class and possibly endanger his or her grades?

Maldonado: Just like any other vaccine, children may feel a little tired, but I certainly don’t think it’s going to be a major reaction. More the type of things we are typically seeing — a sore arm, maybe some redness at the site of injection and maybe a low grade flu-like illness, if there is any reaction at all. These symptoms should be all gone within 48 hours, but I think it may be a good idea to at least be ready for that.

I have no reason to believe that a child’s schooling will be impacted. In fact, I think this will be a great opportunity for people who have events planned for the end of the school year. Getting their kids vaccinated as soon as possible means that they’re going to be protected that much faster.

CNN: What do we know about dosages for children — will they be less than what is given to adults? As one parent put it — some of these 12-year-olds weigh as little as 60 to 70 pounds — so will they give the same dosage that is given to a much larger adult?

Maldonado: Specifics on dosage levels will be available after the meetings next week. For now I can say that dosages were well studied in a few thousand children of all ages and weights between 12- and 15-years old. So they will have looked at dosage very, very carefully to make sure that it is safe and effective.

But obviously, what we need to think about is whether or not the dosage will be different in children under 12, and that’s what we’re studying right now. There may be differences in responses in the smaller children, primarily because little kids are more likely to mount a higher fever in general than adults and older kids.

It may be that we need a lower dosage for younger children because obviously their immune system responses are much more robust. But those studies are still going on right now for kids under 12 so we don’t know yet.

We know from Pfizer’s top line data on the 12- to 15-year olds that the immune responses were more robust than the adults. And that’s actually a good thing.

CNN: This stronger immune response that children have — could it impact a child in any serious way, such as setting them up for long-term reactions to the virus that don’t go away?

Maldonado: Again, the vaccine is not a live virus vaccine. It’s not derived from animals, humans or even other viruses. It is made from synthetic nucleic acids.

The immune response to the vaccine has been tracked exceedingly carefully to be sure it doesn’t trigger the inflammatory pathway that is similar to the one that we see with long-term effects, and we haven’t seen that happen in any of the tens of millions of doses that have been given to adults or teens.

Not only have we not seen that happen, but the laboratory basis for that inflammatory response has also not been documented to happen with the vaccine.

CNN: How will administration of the Covid-19 vaccine fit into the back-to-school vaccinations required for middle schoolers?

Maldonado: We are looking at this very carefully because we are facing a problem in that children haven’t caught up with their general vaccinations over the last year because of the pandemic shutdown.

There are national data suggesting the 11- to 12 year-old group is the one that is at the highest risk for being delayed in their other vaccinations. We are trying to figure out how to make it easier for pediatricians to give their general vaccines that they may be having to catch up with as well as the Covid vaccine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is working on coordinating with CDC on wording to address that issue and we hope to have that next week.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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California’s recall circus begins with challenger saying he’s the ‘beast’ to Newsom’s ‘beauty’ — alongside 1,000-pound live bear

By Maeve Reston | CNN

The Republican candidates challenging California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom have struggled to capture voters’ attention as the state gears up for an all-but-certain recall election this year. So businessman John Cox switched up the script Tuesday by introducing himself as “the beast” to Newsom’s “beauty” alongside a live Kodiak bear at a Sacramento campaign event.

The emergence of the 1,000-pound real-life bear, which sniffed the pavement and lumbered around behind Cox while he outlined his rationale for recalling Newsom at the start of a three-day bus tour, lent credence to the argument by the governor’s allies that the recall effort is quickly turning into a political circus that could ultimately draw more than a hundred potential candidates, just like the 2003 recall, when California voters ousted Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Gavin’s mismanagement of California is inexcusable,” Cox says in his new ad as the bear ambles alongside him. “We need big beastly changes in Sacramento. I’ll make ’em.”

Though the recall election has not been officially called and no date has been set, a colorful collection of characters is already lining up to get their names on the ballot, which will include one question asking voters if they want to recall Newsom and a second asking them to choose a replacement.

In addition to Cox, who lost to Newsom by more than 20 points in 2018, the Democratic governor is being challenged on the Republican side by former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Olympian and reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner, who released a three-minute campaign video Tuesday introducing herself as a “compassionate disrupter” who could help the state reclaim its “true identity, to bring back the gold to the Golden State.”

Others include former adult-film star Mary Carey, who ran in the 2003 recall election. LA billboard star Angelyne has topped her recall candidacy website with an image of herself lying on a golden key while wearing a fuchsia bikini, opera-length black gloves and a feather boa draped along her ankles.

Angelyne argues on her website that “by sheer virtue of Angelyne being governor, all citizens will rise to their higher self,” and her platform includes the creation of a “Bubble Bath Day,” the “Governor’s Annual Masquerade Ball” and an annual “UFO convention.”

State officials announced last month that recall proponents had gathered more than the 1.4 million valid signatures they needed to qualify the measure for the ballot, though the state is still carrying out a number of procedural steps that must take place before the lieutenant governor can officially call the special election.

In the next phase, state voters who signed the recall petitions have 30 business days to change their minds and withdraw their signatures by sending written notice to their county registrars of voters. In a recent survey by the Public Policy Institute of California, 53% of likely voters said they approved of how Newsom is handling his job. Only 4 in 10 likely voters said they would vote to remove him in a recall, while 56% said they would vote no and 5% are unsure.

“I understand why people would sign something — the stress, and the fear, the anxiety we all faced in the last year,” Newsom said when asked what he would say to Democrats who signed the recall petition in the midst of the pandemic. “My job is to earn that trust back. I think you’re seeing that reflected in the data and the support that we see out there each and every day.”

Challenging Newsom

Jenner and Cox are framing themselves as outsiders willing to shake up Sacramento while casting Newsom as an elite career politician.

Jenner, who plans to do her first national televised interview Wednesday night on Fox, threaded her new campaign video with allusions to her Olympic gold medal win in the 1976 decathlon.

“I came here with a dream 48 years ago to be the greatest athlete in the world. Now I enter a different kind of race, arguably my most important one yet, to save California,” she says in the new video, which she narrates. “I want to carry the torch for the parents who had to balance work and their child’s education, for business owners who were forced to shut down, for pastors who were not able to be with their congregation, for the family who lost their home in a fire, for an entire generation of students who lost a year of education.”

“I don’t care if you’re a Republican, Democrat, I’m running to be governor for all Californians,” she adds. “To reclaim our true identity, to bring back the gold to the Golden State.”

Cox, with the help of famed political ad maker Fred Davis — who devised the “demon sheep” ad that went viral for California US Senate candidate Carly Fiorina in her 2010 primary — is attempting to portray the Democratic governor as “a pretty boy” who has been out of his depth as he has managed the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To punctuate that point, Cox’s second campaign stop on Tuesday was at the French Laundry in Napa Valley, the restaurant where Newsom attended the November birthday dinner of a lobbyist when he was urging the state’s residents to avoid gatherings and not to socialize with people outside their own households.

Cox has argued that Newsom’s visit to the French Laundry made him a hypocrite who chose lobbyist friends over regular small businesses and he called the California governor “the ultimate insider.”

“He and the other career politicians have led this wonderful state down to the point where it’s unaffordable and unlivable for a lot of people. The rich are doing fine; the people who can go to the French Laundry are doing fine, no problems for them,” Cox said Tuesday. “But everybody else is having a tough time affording life in this wonderful state. So we’ve got to do something to fix it, and Gavin Newsom and the insiders — a pretty boy — are not going to be the ones. We need a beast who is going to go after the corruption, the waste.”

Responding to Cox’s “pretty boy” comment during a Tuesday news conference, Newsom said the Republican-backed recall is being fueled by “anti-science” supporters of former President Donald Trump who would roll back California’s progressive values. The governor, who is up for reelection in 2022, also questioned why fiscal conservatives would want to divert hundreds of millions of dollars from state coffers to pay for a recall election at the same time the state is trying to rebuild from the pandemic and prepare for another potentially brutal wildfire season.

“Now is not the time to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on a recall effort that is nothing more than a partisan power grab,” Newsom said at the Tuesday event with members of the California Professional Firefighters union and the International Association of Fire Fighters, who are backing him.

“I’m very proud of the state’s progress, proud that the economy is recovering. I’m proud of the fact that California is enjoying record reserves, not just historic surpluses,” Newsom said, pivoting to job growth as well as gains in the private sector when a reporter asked him to respond to his rival’s notion that he represents “beauty over brains.”

“This state is recovering. This state is back on its feet,” he said. “Our kids are increasingly back (to) in-person instruction. We have the lowest positivity in case rates in America. We’re extinguishing not just wildfires, but this disease. We’re getting it behind us.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

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Huntington Beach latest to create non-police team to handle mental health, homeless issues

Come summer, Huntington Beach is expected to launch a mobile crisis response team to handle a variety of mental health and behavior-related calls for service, rather than dispatching police when no crime, violence, or event involving a weapon is unfolding.

The two-person civilian team — an emergency medical technician and a clinically trained counselor — is touted as the first such city program of its kind in Orange County. The city’s HOPE (Helping People Out Everywhere) team will focus on mental health issues, reaching beyond the homeless population and serving all Huntington Beach residents.

“This could be someone living in a gated neighborhood, or a homeless individual who is suffering, and everything in between,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Julian Harvey said.

Huntington Beach is part of a growing trend of cities and others shifting non-criminal crisis intervention away from law enforcement.

In March, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced the formation of a Behavioral Health Bureau to provide deputies with additional training in behavioral and crisis intervention. Once trained, those deputies will work alongside county mental health clinicians and social workers. In January, Anaheim launched the unarmed Community Care Response Team of caseworkers to help homeless people living outdoors.

In Huntington Beach, the HOPE team will handle a variety of situations, including homelessness, drug and alcohol-related issues, non-violent disputes involving family members or neighbors, and calls about people in crisis as a result of mental illness.

The city will host a public town hall on 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 5, via the Huntington Beach Facebook and YouTube accounts. During the town hall, residents can learn more about the HOPE project and Be Well OC, which is overseeing the one-year pilot under a $1.5 million contract.

The program represents a new partnership between the city and Be Well, the public-private entity that earlier this year began providing comprehensive on-site crisis intervention and longer-term residential treatment for people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. With case management also built into the Huntington Beach program, people who interact with the HOPE team might end up at the Be Well campus in Orange.

Harvey stressed in a phone interview last week that the HOPE program does not represent any “de-funding” of the police department. Instead, it will supplement the efforts of homeless liaison officers and broaden help for citizens dealing with mental and behavioral health crises. For too long, Harvey said, police have been the default agency to handle such calls, and that the only available places to take many of those people were hospital emergency rooms.

“If it’s not a violent incident or involving weapons or clear criminality, there really is no reason for us to be there,” Harvey said.

The HOPE team could mean better outcomes for people in crisis. Harvey added the new team also would free up officers for traditional police work if they don’t have to spend hours taking someone to an emergency room and waiting for their disposition. It also might reduce tension that can arise between police and the people they are meant to serve, sometimes leading to deadly consequences.

“They see us in uniform, and it can be provocative,” he said, referencing what sometimes happens when police respond to social service-related calls.

“It changes the dynamic unnecessarily.”

New program, old model

City Manager Oliver Chi is credited with laying the groundwork for the program. In April, when the Huntington Beach City Council approved the program on a 7-0 vote, Chi told council members the HOPE team could put the city on the cutting edge of better serving its citizens.

“It’s not often that we get a chance to be part of a new effort that could radically change the context of how we respond to ongoing service demands in the community,” said Chi, who took over as top administrator in Huntington Beach nearly two years ago.

Slightly more than half of the program’s funding — $825,000 — comes from the American Rescue Plan Act that President Joe Biden signed into law in March, and the rest comes the Police Department Development Impact Fee Fund and the city’s Restricted Restitution Fund.

The model for the HOPE team is a mobile crisis response program in Eugene, Ore., known by the acronym CAHOOTS, for Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, that’s been credited with saving lives and money. For nearly 30 years, CAHOOTS has been staffed 24/7 by clinicians, not police, taking calls routed by 9-1-1 dispatch workers who’ve been trained to determine which calls should and shouldn’t go to police. The CAHOOTS intervention teams travel in specially equipped vans with their logo on the sides, a process that’s expected to be copied in Huntington Beach.

“It will be like the dispatcher saying, ‘We understand your situation and we’re sending HOPE out there,’” said Marshall Moncrief, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Mind OC who oversees the work of Be Well.

There’s no firm date yet for the start of the Huntington Beach pilot program.

Moncrief, who lives in Huntington Beach and once served as director of neuro-behavioral health at Hoag Presbyterian Hospital, became familiar with CAHOOTS because he frequently visited Eugene, Ore., where his daughter attended college. Be Well has hired two people to supervise the HOPE team, including an experienced EMT who previously was part of the CAHOOTS program. Their work will be hands on.

“They won’t be sitting in an office somewhere,” Moncrief said. “They’ll be on that van, out living this with their team.”

Beyond Surf City

Be Well’s plan is to start with limited hours and gradually ramp up. Decisions on how to develop the service will be based on data, and the program could expand beyond Huntington Beach into other communities in Orange County, Moncrief said.

The HOPE team also might assist police when they contact survivors about a loved one’s death. “They might go with them to provide emotional support to the family,” Moncrief said.

The team will provide basic first aid, and transport homeless people to get services at the Huntington Beach Navigation Center. They also will be ready to guide people seeking help with an addiction to appropriate resources.

Michael Wright, a former EMT who now runs the nonprofit Wound Walk OC, a five-year-old program in which Wright and other volunteers provide basic health care and information to homeless people staying in parks and other outdoor locations, believes the program might work. Wright, who lives in Santa Ana, brought his triage to Huntington Beach in March, and is glad to see the city embrace the idea of decriminalizing homelessness and switching to a crisis prevention model for mental health care.

“I am in LOVE with this idea,” Wright wrote in an email. “Wound Walk is grateful that the City of Huntington Beach is looking to bring the kind of trauma informed care we practice to more people, more consistently.”

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Replace gas tax with more efficient, fairer mileage fee

California policymakers have spent years debating how to pay for road and highway repairs. President Biden’s current infrastructure plan brings that debate to the national stage.

Like its peers, California relies on a gas tax and registration fees to pay for infrastructure. But policymakers should cut registration fees and replace the gas tax with a better way to fund infrastructure: a mileage-based fee.

As the recent Pacific Research Institute study “Nickel and Dimed” shows, California drivers pay the nation’s highest gas tax. Registration fees are above those in Texas, Oregon, and many other states. But even though they spend hundreds of dollars a year in government-imposed taxes and fees, Californians have little to show for it. The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave California roads a “D,” and the Reason Foundation’s Annual Highway Report ranked the state’s infrastructure an inexcusable forty-third out of fifty.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Gas tax and registration fee revenue doesn’t entirely go toward fixing roads and bridges. Some of it supports public transit; some subsidizes the California Highway Patrol; some goes to the Department of Motor Vehicles; and some trickles down to local governments, who use it to pay for social programs.

The gas tax and registration fees are also inefficient, unfair methods to generate infrastructure funding. Internal combustion engines are more economical than ever before, propelling vehicles farther while consuming less fuel. Traveling longer distances between fill-ups has environmental benefits, but it also means drivers pay less in gas taxes, even though they’re still adding just as much wear and tear to California’s infrastructure. Of course, electric vehicle owners pay no gas taxes at all, even though they use the same roads and bridges. California recently imposed a special fee on those vehicles, but the amount depends on its value, not how far the owner drives it.

With talk of rising infrastructure repair costs, it’s time for California policymakers to get things right. The state should cut its vehicle registration fee to the amount necessary to maintain ownership records, no more and no less. Most importantly, California should repeal its gas tax and replace it with a mileage-based fee. That way, people who drive more pay more, and those who drive less pay less. This is not a novel concept; the state tested it back in 2016.

But before rolling out a statewide, mileage-based fee, policymakers should make two critical enhancements. First, heavier vehicles should pay a higher fee. After all, a 5,000-pound SUV inflicts exponentially more wear and tear than a 3,000-pound sedan. Second, revenue from each driver’s fees should go back to fixing the infrastructure those drivers actually use. If 90 percent of a driver’s mileage is on the I-5, then 90 percent of their mileage fees should pay for maintaining the I-5. The easiest way to ensure that happens is with geotargeting – using GPS data to track which streets a vehicle uses and then earmarking fees for those streets only.

Of course, that raises understandable privacy concerns. But it’s worth noting that the necessary GPS data is no more invasive than the information many Californians willingly disclose to Facebook, Apple, and Google and that navigation apps already collect. Still, there’s an easy workaround: vehicle owners can opt-out of tracking and instead have their mileage fees allocated to fixing infrastructure within their zip code, and officials can allot a portion of that revenue to nearby highwaysl

California’s roads, highways, and bridges need costly repairs. Switching to a mileage-based fee could go a long way toward providing sufficient and stable funding to critical road improvements in communities across the state and the rest of the country.

Michael Thom is an associate professor at the University Southern California, an adjunct fellow in public finance at the Pacific Research Institute, and author of the PRI study, “Nickel and Dimed.”  Download the study at 

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Whicker: Lakers play with the effort the rest of season will demand

At last, they played as if they recognized the gravity of the situation.

And, at least, they stopped falling.

The Lakers, in fact, reached up and regained sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference standings on Monday night. If you’re wondering why that is so strut-worthy, you haven’t been around lately.

The purple-and-gold welcome mat that was defenseless against Sacramento and Toronto came to life and played like wounded underdogs Monday night, which is not their accustomed stance but fit quite well.

They beat the Denver Nuggets, who had won nine of 10, by a 93-89 score and distanced themselves, however temporarily, from the pre-playoff play-in tournament.

“It was just the heart, the togetherness,” said Wesley Matthews who, with Marc Gasol, escaped purgatory and served the Lakers well in the second half. “We put our feet in the ground, put them in the sand, whatever that saying is.

“Nobody is going to feel sorry for the Lakers. We have to build on what we did. You have to play with a sense of desperation. When you do that, the ball finds energy. That’s how we played tonight.”

Stripped of options without LeBron James and Dennis Schröder, the Lakers put Monday’s game into the mitts of Anthony Davis, who had missed 11 of 16 shots in Sunday’s eyesore loss to the Raptors. They placed him on the left side of the line and made Nikola Jokic and, later, JaVale McGee play honest defense, and Davis finally looked commanding, with 16 first-half points. He wound up with 25, but his biggest play was an improbable, Beamon-esque lunge that managed to deflect a 3-point shot by Facuno Campazzo at the end.

Frazzled for most of the game, Denver uncorked a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter and actually could have gotten to within one point on Michael Porter Jr.’s 3-pointer. It was disallowed because Campazzo was whistled, oddly, for an illegal pick on Davis.

Luck also visited the Lakers, for the first time in a while, when Jalen Horton-Tucker drove into the lane, ahead by two. He offered an off-balance reverse layup that was kept alive by Gasol, who was being blocked out by Jokic. Horton-Tucker then grabbed it and scored for a four-point lead with 15.1 seconds left, and rolled his eyes in gratitude.

“I’ve got to thank God for the way that worked out,” Horton-Tucker said.

Gasol played 17 minutes with 10 points and seven rebounds and a lovely, two-handed outlet pass that Matthews handled and converted like a wide receiver. Matthews hit all three of his shots, including a 3-pointer from Gasol’s pass. They’ve faded deep into the Lakers’ woodwork lately, but on Monday they played like veterans do in playoff situations. Gasol now terms himself “Mr. Wolf,” the fixer played by Harvey Keitel in “Pulp Fiction”, a guy who cleans everything up.

“It seems like we’ve played almost 1,000 different styles this year with guys being out,” Matthews said. “Basketball is like life. It’s unpredictable. You go on with it or it’ll go on without you. We have to get back to scrapping and clawing.”

On Sunday, James had said the biggest issue for the Lakers was “health.” He still is a proponent of the Messiah theory, that he and Davis will bring fresh, if scarred, legs into the playoffs and heal the Lakers with magic hands. decreed that the Lakers were 7-2 choices to win the NBA title. Those are the shortest odds in the West, and they were posted before it was learned that Schröder will be out for 10 to 14 days.

James’ cryptic estimate that “I’m never going to be 100 percent” was difficult to un-hear, considering that he was back on the court 20 games after his high ankle sprain. He was adequate but not royal against Sacramento and Toronto, and then he left halfway through the fourth quarter Sunday, not to play again until Thursday against the Clippers, if then.

James also made it clear he opposed the play-in tournament for teams that finish 7 through 10 in each conference, saying its inventor “should be fired.”

That’s not a nice thing to say about Commissioner Adam Silver, and it also contradicts the way James viewed the play-in from afar, before it threatened to include him.

In a nutshell, No. 7 plays No. 8 and the winner gets into the playoffs as the 7-seed. The loser plays the winner of a knockout game between No. 9 and No. 10. The survivor of that also gets into the playoffs as the 8-seed.

It’s not an exercise fit for a King. But if a team with James and Davis can’t win one of two games against the likes of Memphis, San Antonio and Golden State, maybe a few others should be fired.

Speaking of “others,” the accompanying Lakers have left the door yawning. The injuries were the cue for Kyle Kuzma to play All-Star basketball. He largely has not. Andre Drummond hasn’t had time to get fully assimilated. He will get that time if the Lakers avoid the play-in and gain valuable practice time.

The Messiah theory is also hard to accept for those who have watched the West lately. In Phoenix, Chris Paul looks more like an MVP with each victory, and Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton are responding accordingly. In Utah, things have been rockier with Donovan Mitchell hurt, but he will return for the playoffs, and so will Bojan Bogdanovic, who wasn’t around last season when the Jazz took a 3-1 series lead over Denver and then lost.

Then there’s Denver, which might have the toughest chin in the league. Jamal Murray went down with an ACL and the Nuggets won nine of their next 10, with Michael Porter Jr. averaging 25.4 points. If that continues, Jokic can start practicing his multi-lingual MVP speeches.

“We’ve had a lot of guys contribute,” said Michael Malone, the Denver coach, “but this is just an endorsement of Nikola Jokic’s MVP candidacy. He has put us on his back.”

Note to James and Davis, in case they’re tempted: That’s just an expression.

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Senior Living: Aging deteriorates the nervous system; this is how to fight the consequences

By Omid Omidvar, M.D., 

Contributing writer

As you age, your body naturally changes. You may start to see more gray hairs and wrinkles that weren’t there 10 years ago. There are also changes that aren’t visible that happen within your nervous system.

Omid Omidvar, M.D., neurologist. (Courtesy of MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center)

Your brain is your body’s “command center.” The rest of the nervous system relays messages back and forth from the brain to different parts of the body. It does this through the spinal cord, which contains nerves that branch out to every organ and body part.

As you age, you lose cells in your brain and spinal cord. This breakdown results in nerve cells sending out messages a lot slower than before, affecting your senses and inhibiting your movements. As nerve cells break down, toxins build up in the brain tissue, causing them to malfunction, which can lead to neurological issues. Common age-related neurological issues include:

Stability and balance problems

Your balance relies on signals from your brain to different organs, specifically your eyes, ears and legs.

Many older adults experience problems with balance and stability because of medications or infections that affect the inner ear and brain. Issues with stability and balance can result in falls, which can cause serious injury, such as broken bones, neck injuries, head injuries, fractured hips and more. 

Cognitive decline

Cognitive skills decrease as adults age because of medications, hormone imbalances, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, and head injuries.

As older adults’ cognitive skills decline, they can become more forgetful, and find it difficult to multitask and communicate.


Tremors are the involuntary and rhythmic shaking of any part of the body caused by dysfunction within the parts of the brain that control movement.

These tremors can pose a problem for everyday activities, such as eating or writing.

Sleep disorders

When you sleep, your brain clears out toxins in the central nervous system that build up during the day. At the same time, the body repairs any damaged cells.

As people age, their sleep patterns are not as stable, which can affect the brain’s ability to repair cells. Some older adults also suffer from sleep apnea – a disorder where a person’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops through the night, causing low-quality sleep, and further limiting your brain’s ability to repair cells. 

Habits to keep your nervous system healthy 

If you experience a neurological issue, it can hinder your quality of life. Practicing these habits can keep your nervous system healthy and lessen your risk for neurological issues:

  • Maintain an active lifestyle: Exercise improves how your existing cells work, which improves your brain function. It may be hard to run three miles but don’t underestimate the value of movement. Some low-impact exercises include walking and simple stretches. Stay active for at least 45 minutes, five days a week. If you cannot handle that, do as much as you can.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Cut down on fried foods, red meat and poultry, and add more fish, fruits and vegetables to your diet. Try to follow a Mediterranean diet.
  • Maintain a normal blood pressure: Older adults with high blood pressure are more likely to decline cognitively. Lower your blood pressure by cutting down on salt and increasing your intake of magnesium and potassium. Take any necessary medications.
  • Control your cholesterol: High cholesterol can contribute to neurological issues. Cutting down on animal fat and increasing your amount of plant-based fats, such as olive oil, can lower cholesterol levels.
  • Manage your medications: The simultaneous use of multiple medications can potentially create negative health issues. It’s important to review all prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements with your doctor to make sure you’re taking only what is needed.
  • Get adequate sleep: Make sure you create the right sleep environment. Your bedroom should be a dark, comfortable place free of noise and distractions. Avoid falling asleep with your television on because it can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you suffer from sleep apnea, get treatment as soon as possible to prevent any further sleep or neurological problems.
  • Maintain an active social life: An active social life can prevent cognitive decline. Try joining a social club or an older adult health center. If you can’t meet in-person, try phone/video calling friends and family.
  • Practice brain-stimulating activities: Mental exercises stimulate the brain’s metabolism. Puzzles, word searches and reading are all activities that keep the brain active.

Seeking Care for Yourself

MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center’s neurodiagnostic team can analyze and monitor a patient’s nervous system functions to diagnose and treat neurological diseases and conditions effectively. If you think you or a loved one suffers from any type of neurological issue, talk to your doctor for a referral to a neurologist. To find a primary care physician who can help, visit

Omid Omidvar, M.D., is a neurologist with MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center.

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