Could GOP slip to No. 3 in Orange County?

Families don’t get much more staunchly Democratic than the one that raised Arianna Barrios. So it was no surprise that in 2008, when she made an unsuccessful bid for a board seat with Orange Unified School District, she was registered as a Democrat.

Then Barrios married a staunch Republican, which challenged her worldview. And she opened her own public relations, which sparked frustration with regulations that pushed her “a little more to the right.”

But the Orange native said she also didn’t agree with a trend where she saw both major political parties gravitating toward the “furthest fringe element” to win elections.

“I’m a fiscal conservative but a social liberal. I just felt very left behind.”

Barrios decided to leave the Democratic Party and join the growing number of residents locally, statewide and across the country who are registered to vote as “no party preference.”

Such voters already account for the second biggest registration bloc in California. In mid-2018, the number of no party preference registrations pulled ahead of Republicans statewide. Now, less than two weeks after Democrats overtook Republicans in Orange County, observers are already speculating about whether — or when — the rise of independents will make GOP the No. 3 political brand in formerly conservative Orange County.

Technical challenges could delay such a change, at least for a bit. Independent voters who want to participate in the presidential primaries currently face some hurdles. Also, there’s widespread confusion among people who believe they’re signing up to be politically independent when they register for the far-right American Independent party.

Pending legislation and a lawsuit aim to tackle both issues.

But since this enigmatic no party voting bloc can easily swing elections — particularly in places like Orange County, where fewer than 2,000 registered voters separate the two big parties — independents are finding themselves targeted by the very parties they’ve spurned. And those efforts have been paying off this year in Orange County, where voting data shows that in recent months more than 10,000 local independents moved back to the main parties.

Growing stronger

The percent of independent voters in California steadily rose from 1999 to 2009, records show, growing from 12.9% to 20% of the electorate. The no party preference bloc grew by an average of 0.71 percentage points each year, picking off Democrats, members of third parties and, most significantly, Republicans.

But that growth slowed for several years, before 2015, when the no party preference bloc started to gain again, expanding by about 1.2 percentage points a year. By February of this year, no party preference registrations accounted for 28.3% of California’s electorate.

The registration numbers in Orange County generally have tracked the state trend. Irvine, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans, has the biggest slice of independents, at 34.7%, while deep red Villa Park has the smallest, at 21.7%.

The registration data reflects a likely anomaly that took place in the second half of last year, when no party preference surged at an unprecedented rate. Paul Mitchell, who tracks voter behavior for consulting firm Political Data Inc., pins that on the Department of Motor Vehicles’ automatic registration process, which initially required people to click a secondary online page to select a party. The issue was fixed Jan. 1 and the numbers have settled into more typical ranges. Now it’s up to voters who unwittingly registered as independents during that window to update their registration status.

Since April, the ranks of independent voters have fallen by a full percentage point in Orange County — something that might reflect the early (March 3) date for California’s 2020 presidential primary.

Mitchell said similar trends hit statewide each election cycle, as voters key in to party-oriented political messaging and register with a party so they can make sure to have a say in which candidates make it to the November general election.

Who are independents?

Registration data shows Barrios, who flipped to no party preference after being registered as a Democrat, took the political road less traveled. The biggest share of the NPP voting bloc — particularly in Orange County in recent years — is former Republicans.

President Donald Trump is the “toxic factor” driving the recent exodus from the Republican Party, according to veteran Newport Beach pollster Adam Probolsky with Probolsky Research.

“People are moving away from the party based upon the fact that he’s the leader and the party doesn’t reject him,” Probolsky said.

Conventional wisdom says independent voters behave at the polls much like their neighbors. Voters who aren’t registered with a major party tend to vote red in red communities and blue in blue ones. Since Orange County only recently flipped from red to blue (and neither party holds an outright majority) conventional wisdom suggests a good portion of the county’s 27.3% of voters who now are registered as NPP will support Democrats in 2020.

Despite their desire to steer clear of the two major parties, surveys show most people who are registered as no party preference, or who view themselves as independent, actually lean pretty strongly right or left in the ballot box, said Carole Uhlaner, political science professor at UC Irvine. In some cases, partisan lean is even more pronounced among NPP voters than it is among the average Democrat or Republican.

Randall Avila, executive director of the Republican Party of Orange County, said he’s knocked on doors of independent voters who said they left the GOP because they didn’t feel the party was standing behind Trump enough.

And then there are people like Barrios, who feels both parties have strayed too far from the center.

She’s among a growing group that would like to see a strong third party emerge in California — or at least for independent candidates to have a shot at state seats. But she thinks it’ll be years before those options are viable.

In the meantime, Barrios — who’s on the Rancho Santiago Community College District board and running for a city council seat in Orange — said she votes for candidates on both sides of the aisle.

“I love having that freedom,” she said.

Hurdles for independent voters

Freedom, of course, almost never comes free. And for Californians registered outside the two major political parties, freedom from party allegiance can mean headaches come election time.

Independent voters get to participate in the November general election and cast ballots for most partisan and nonpartisan seats in the primary. But each political party gets to decide by Oct. 21 whether to let independents vote for their presidential candidates in the next year’s primary.

In recent years, Democrats, American Independents and Libertarians have let NPP voters request partisan ballots to vote for their presidential candidates in the primary. The California Republican Party has not.

Cynthia Bryant, executive director of the California GOP, said the primary is the official process for choosing the California delegates to the Republican National Convention, and “we believe Republican voters should make that decision.”

By eschewing “party purity” and opening their primaries, Dan Howle, executive director of the nonpartisan advocacy group Independent Voter Project, said Democrats can build a database of voters who, while registered as no party preference, actually vote for liberals and liberal ideas. Those voters then can be targeted for advertising by the Democratic party in future elections. Also, those left-leaning no party preference voters can be urged to turn out and vote in presidential primaries, ballots that include lots of other offices and issues. Since California lets the top two candidates in the primary advance to the general election regardless of party, a left-leaning turnout in March could result in more down-ballot November races featuring only Democrats.

As the 2020 primary draws closer, county registrars must send postcards to independent voters who are registered to vote by mail. (In Orange County, that’s nearly 70% of independents.) Voters can select which eligible party’s crossover ballot they wish to receive, then mail the postcard back to the county so they receive the appropriate mail-in ballot.

Independents who miss those postcards can contact their registrar to request partisan mail-in ballots. And, if they don’t do so by mail, independent voters can request crossover ballots at their polling places on election day.

But data shows most independents won’t do that. Many later admit they didn’t know they could request partisan ballots.In the 2016 primary, just 18.5% of California’s independents and 19.6% of Orange County’s independents requested crossover ballots.

That means eight out of 10 independents — hundreds of thousands of people in Orange County and a few million statewide — didn’t weigh in on which presidential candidates made it to the November election.

Legislative fixes

The Independent Voter Project floated a bill that would’ve given NPP voters primary ballots that list all presidential candidates, from all parties, with the caveat that the state political parties would not be forced to consider NPP votes when choosing their candidate. But Howle said the bill’s sponsor dropped it at the last minute. Now, his organization is suing Secretary of State Alex Padilla, arguing the primary is not truly “open” because California’s 5.6 million independent voters may not have a voice in presidential candidates.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who is running for Secretary of State in 2020, recently introduced a bill that would require election officials to send all voters in California three notices leading up to a primary. The notices would tell the voters what party they are registered in, what type of ballot they can cast in a presidential primary, and how to change registration if they’re so inclined. The bill is in the Appropriations Committee’s suspense file, reserved for pricey legislation, since it would cost an estimated $25 million per primary election to implement.

State Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana, authored a bill aimed at stopping California’s independent voters from mistakenly registering as American Independents.

Senate Bill 696 would prohibit the name of a political party from including the terms “independent,” “decline to state,” “no party preference” or any variation of those words. If the bill passes, the American Independent party would have to change its name on future ballots.

“If a voter wants true freedom from party affiliation, the state must ensure they are not misled,” Umberg said.

That bill also is in the Appropriation Committee’s suspense file due to the one-time cost of about $400,000 to update state voting records. But the bill has strong support and, if passed, could take effect before the March 3 primary.

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What have state Senators and Assemblymembers from Orange County done so far this year?

The dozen legislators representing Orange County in Sacramento have had a busy year, introducing 216 bills, 36 resolutions and one amendment that touch on everything from climate change to international adoption to roadkill.

So far, 13 of those bills and 13 resolutions have been signed into law.

As the legislature gets ready to reconvene Monday, Aug. 12, after summer recess, a few dozen more locally sponsored bills are still alive. The Senate and Assembly have until Sept. 13 to make a final decision on all outstanding bills, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has until Oct. 13 to sign or veto anything that comes to his desk.

At an average of 21 bills or resolutions each, the county’s representatives are more productive than the state average of 16 laws per representative. But their success rate is lower than what it could be, given that Orange County reps account for 10 percent of the state legislature but only 7.8 percent of the bills that have been signed into law.

One reason is politics. Orange County is represented by seven Republicans and five Democrats, and since Democrats hold a supermajority, overall, Republican leaders can’t get GOP-favored legislation into law. But Stephanie Hu, spokeswomen for Senator Ling Ling Chang, a Republican, argues that also means any GOP bills that do get through are strong.

“We’re in the superminority,” Hu said. “Bad bills won’t get passed.”

While data is interesting, legislative output is a poor measure of performance in Sacramento, cautions Chris Micheli, a longtime lobbyist who now runs a government relations firm. Some legislators can back several noncontroversial bills that do little for constituents, Micheli said, while others might fight to pass a single bill that has sweeping consequences.

With that in mind here’s a look at what Orange County’s state legislators have been up to this session. (Not sure who your representatives are? Check here: legislature.ca.gov/your_legislator.html)

Assemblyman Phillip Chen, AD-55

Chen, R-Brea, in his second term representing northeast OC, has had more bills signed into law this session than any other local representative.

Three of his 21 bills introduced are pending, and these five were approved:

AB 622: Clarifies that subpoenas can be served in residential buildings that have guards in the lobby.

AB 716: Lets people filing for fictitious business names verify their identity online.

AB 1213: Extends until 2024 a program that lets certified legal document assistants file court documents.

AB 1289: Says alarm companies won’t be fined for failing to renew permits unless they’re legally responsible.

AB 1429: Lets most businesses file hazardous materials plans once every three years instead of annually.

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, AD-65

Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, in her third term representing north central OC, has introduced 24 bills, many focused on the housing crisis.

None of her proposed legislation has been signed into law, though components of two bills were incorporated into the state budget. That includes a bill that would have set aside $450 million for rental assistance and subsidies to help house homeless people, and another that would have required the state to use Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa to house up to 200 homeless people with mental illness through 2025.

Four Quirk-Silva bills related to housing are still alive in the Assembly. Generally, they would lower income thresholds to get a temporary break on property taxes, and boost support for emergency shelters.

“As North Orange County continues to struggle with a growing housing and homelessness crisis, I find it imperative that I draft legislation that would address these evolving concerns,” Quirk-Silva said.

Assemblyman Steven Choi, AD-68

Choi, R-Irvine, in his second term representing central east OC, has introduced 16 bills. None have been signed, though two are still alive.

One is AB 349, which would require the state to consider requiring new garages to have at least two exits. This was written after recent reports of people dying in wildfires because they couldn’t open garage doors due to power outages.

Choi’s second pending bill — and one he considers his signature bill this cycle — would require families who adopt internationally to file for readoption in California. This means a home visit would be required and the state would issue a birth certificate. The goal of AB 677 is to catch potential child traffickers and make sure adopted children can’t be deported.

Assemblyman Tom Daly, AD-69

Daly, D-Anaheim, in his fourth term representing central OC, introduced 18 bills. Three have been signed into law.

AB 188: Fixes a loophole that could have caused homeowners to be underpaid by insurance companies if their homes are destroyed in a fire.

AB 205: Expands the state’s definition of beer to include drinks fermented with honey, fruit juice and other ingredients.

AB 252: Indefinitely extends a rule that says California consents to federal jurisdiction over how responsibilities are divided when it comes to certain transportation projects on state highways.

Daly also passed a resolution that officially designates May 4 as Star Wars Day in California.

Assemblyman Tyler Diep, AD-72

Diep, R-Westminster, in his first term representing north coastal OC, authored 14 bills. None have passed so far. But Diep pointed out he’s also co-authored legislation with colleagues.

“More can be accomplished on behalf of Californians when the main focus is not taking credit but getting the work done,” he said.

Diep is hopeful that his signature legislation will still get passed. AB 956, which was sponsored by Sheriff Don Barnes, would allow public safety agencies to test technology that could would create more precise locations of people calling 911 from cell phones.

Assemblyman Bill Brough, AD-73

Brough, R-Dana Point, in his third term representing south OC, authored 16 bills. None have been approved, but two are active.

One, AB 230, would ensures veteran subcontractors are getting correct compensation for their work. The other, AB 551, would update state standards to require drug testing, along with alcohol testing, after most fatal car crashes.

Brough’s signature bill this session was AB 427, which would have exempted military retirement pay from the state income tax for California veterans. But it died in the Assembly Appropriations committee.

Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, AD-74

Petrie-Norris, D-Laguna Beach, in her first term representing central coastal OC, introduced 22 bills and recently got her first one signed into law.

AB 608: Exempts people who are leasing space on fairgrounds or other publicly owned lands from paying property taxes if the property is valued at less than $50,000. The bill came about after Petrie-Norris learned it costs counties more to process those cases than they take in, while burdening small businesses.

Petrie-Norris still has 14 bills pending. That includes her signature bill, AB 65, which would prioritize funding for projects that use green or natural infrastructure (such as managed wetlands) to protect coastal communities from impacts of climate change.

State Senator Ling Ling Chang, SD-29

Chang, R-Diamond Bar, in her first term representing northeast OC, has authored 13 bills this cycle. Two have been signed into law:

SB 366: Requires the California State University and requests the University of California to give students strategies to prevent cyberbullying during orientation.

SB 180: Requires sellers of gene therapy kits, commonly known as “DIY CRISPR kits,” to include warnings that they’re not intended for self-administration.

Chang is also optimistic that she’ll pass her signature bill, SB 35, which would create a statewide task force to gather data and combat human trafficking in California.

State Senator Bob Archuleta, SD-32

Archuleta, D-Pico Rivera, in his first term representing north central OC and LA County, has authored 14 bills this session. None have been approved.

Several of Archuleta’s bills appear to be active, including one that would help active duty military get supplemental Medi-Cal coverage for children with special needs.

One of the most interesting has been dubbed the “roadkill bill,” since it would let people collect and consume certain wildlife killed by cars.

Archuleta did pass a resolution this session naming May as National Military Appreciation Month.

State Senator Thomas Umberg, SD-34

Umberg, D-Santa Ana, in his first term representing north coastal OC, has introduced 22 bills this session. Two have been signed into law.

SB 505: Makes minor changes to the filing requirements for presidential candidates seeking to compete in California’s primary election. (This isn’t the one that makes them release their tax returns, but it would call for politicians to have a website and submit other documentation to show they’re a “recognized candidate.”)

SB 544: Prohibits staff of the State Bar or members of the examining committee from considering, with few exceptions, a person’s mental health records when reviewing whether an applicant is “of good moral character.”

Umberg is still hoping to pass his signature bill of this cycle, SB 450, which tackles the housing and homelessness problem by easing the conversion of run down motels to supportive or transitional housing.

State Senator Pat Bates, SD-36

Bates, R-Laguna Niguel, in her second term representing south OC, authored 15 bills this session. None have yet been approved.

Key bills still pending include SB 589, which aims to stop deceptive marketing in sober living homes. Bates also hopes to pass SB 465, which provides continued funding for local governments to deal with emergency planning around the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. And she’s pushing for SB 541, which mandates lockdown drills in schools at least once a year.

State Senator John Moorlach, SD-37

Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, in his first full term representing central OC, introduced 19 bills this session. None have been approved.

He still has six active bills. They deal with simplifying the process for residents to overturn city ordinances, modernizing the way local governments report finances, streamlining elections for homeowners associations, letting judges leave the bench early if they defer their pensions, giving authorities more tools to deal with suspected financial abuse of elders, and tracking greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires.

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Carlos Vela scores a goal, two assists to lead LAFC past N.Y. Red Bulls

LOS ANGELES >> On Sunday, after a shaky end to the first half, Los Angeles Football Club rebounded in the second to beat the Red Bulls 4-2 at Banc of California Stadium.

In the first half of Sunday’s match, the scoring came in quick succession for both LAFC and the Red Bulls. After withstanding attacking sequences from the Red Bulls attack early in the first half, LAFC (17-4-3) struck twice in two minutes for the early lead.

In the 22nd minute, forward Carlos Vela sent a free kick into veteran defender Jordan Harvey, who scored on a header despite being between two Red Bulls defenders.

It was Harvey’s first goal of the season.

Moments later, midfielders Eduard Atuesta and Latif Blessing’s combined with defender Steven Beitashour to open up the Red Bulls (11-4-10) defense for LAFC’s second goal in as many minutes. Blessing finished the build up for his 4th goal of the season and second in as many matches.

LAFC’s 2-0 lead evaporated as quickly as it formed.

In the 42nd minute, Cristian Casseres Jr. dispossessed Blessing at the top of the box and delivered a quick 20-yard strike that trimmed the lead to 2-1.

Then, in the last minutes of the first half, after Red Bulls winger Daniel Royer forced a big save from goalkeeper Tyler Miller, Royer combined with forward Brian White in forcing Miller into an own goal, tying the game at two.

LAFC righted the ship quickly in the second half. In the 58th minute, another crisp series of passes between Eddie Segura, Atuesta, and Harvey in the box led right back Rece Buckmaster to foul Atuesta inside the box. Vela stepped up to the spot and promptly collected his 23rd goal of the season, putting LAFC ahead 3-2.

LAFC finished its scoring on the night in the 71st minute, when another Vela free kick found Eddie Segura, who netted his first goal for LAFC.

From that point to the end of the match, though the team never stopped attacking, defense become the focus for LAFC. After scoring twice and shutting the Red Bulls out in the second half, LAFC’s goal differential in 2019 is a season-high 40 goals.

With the three-point night, Vela has tied Sebastian Giovinco, who had a combined 38 goals and assists in 2015 with Toronto, for the most points in an MLS season.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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A$AP Rocky returns to stage – discusses Swedish jail – at the Real Street Festival in Anaheim

Rapper A$AP Rocky, who was jailed earlier this summer in Sweden, made his post-release return to the stage Sunday as the final act of Real 92.3 radio’s inaugural Real Street Festival in Anaheim.

His performance had been uncertain for most of the summer following his arrest for assault and the Swedish authorities’ refusal to let him leave the country before a trial.

But after two days of hip-hop stars and up-and-comers on the two stages outside Honda Center, the lights went dark at 10:40 p.m., revealing A$AP Rocky, rapping in silhouette behind a scrim  to the roaring cheers of the crowd to packed the festival grounds.


A$AP Rocky headlines day two of the the Real Street music festival at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday, August 11, 2019. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)

When the curtain dropped two songs later Rocky appeared wearing a head-covering mask that made him look something like a crash-test dummy, a costume repeated on the 30 or so dancing on stage with him.

Fifteen minutes in he hadn’t said anything about his legal issues in Sweden though he had brought Tyler the Creator to perform with him, further whipping the crowd into frenzied excitement.

Then he addressed his situation.

“Rocky is home!” Tyler shouted at the end of the song.

“Y’all know how happy I am to be here right now,” Rocky then said. “While I was away — hold the mosh pits a minute, this is a sentimental moment — what I experienced was crazy. I’m so happy to be here right now.

“That was a scary humbling experience  but I’m here right now,” he said. “God is good. Hip-hop never looked so strong, we’re a big strong community.”

“This my first performance since I been out,” Rocky said after a second song with Tyler. “When I was locked up we used to play the radio and I heard my brother A$AP Ferg’s song all the way in Sweden. I want to hear that song.”

“I’m happy my brother’s home now,” Ferg said at the song’s end, before launching into a second song together.

After a trio of songs with a third guest, the rapper Drizzle, A$AP Rocky, who had grinned happily throughout his set, thanked the crowd once more for its support during his recent travails.

“I just want to say one more time I’m so … happy to be here,” he said. “I know y’all was praying for me. I’m gonna  need you to keep praying for me.

“God’s will I won’t be found guilty — I find out on Wednesday.”

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Here’s the list of winners for the Teen Choice 2019 Awards in Hermosa Beach

After tabulating results from more than 55 million teenagers who voted via Twitter and FOX.com, here are the list of winners for the Teen Choice 2019 awards, held Sunday in Hermosa Beach:

  • Top honor: A first-ever Icon award was given to Taylor Swift. The Jonas Brothers accepted the Decade award.

Related: Star-studded Teen Choice Awards storm the sand in Hermosa Beach

 


Robert Downey Jr. accepts the choice action movie actor award for “Avengers: Endgame” at the Teen Choice Awards on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, in Hermosa Beach, Calif. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

In the movie categories, here are the winners:

  • Choice Action Movie: “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Choice Action Movie Actor: Robert Downey Jr. – “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Choice Action Movie Actress: Scarlett Johansson – “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie: “Aladdin”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie Actor: Will Smith – “Aladdin”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie Actress: Naomi Scott – “Aladdin”
  • Choice Drama Movie: “After”
  • Choice Drama Movie Actor: Hero Fiennes Tiffin – “After”
  • Choice Drama Movie Actress: Josephine Langford – “After”
  • Choice Comedy Movie: “Crazy Rich Asians”
  • Choice Comedy Movie Actor: Noah Centineo – “The Perfect Date”
  • Choice Comedy Movie Actress: Laura Marano – “The Perfect Date”
  • Choice Movie Villain: Josh Brolin – “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Choice Summer Movie: “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
  • Choice Summer Movie Actor: Tom Holland – “Spider-Man: Far From Home”
  • Choice Summer Movie Actress: Zendaya – “Spider-Man: Far From Home”

Related: Photos — Scenes from the Teen Choice Awards in Hermosa Beach


TEEN CHOICE 2018: Presenters Ken Jeong and The Masked Singer cast onstage at TEEN CHOICE 2019 airing Sunday, August 11 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX from Hermosa Beach, CA. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

In the television category, here are the winners:

  • Choice Drama TV Show: “Riverdale”
  • Choice Drama TV Actor: Cole Sprouse – “Riverdale”
  • Choice Drama TV Actress: Lili Reinhart – “Riverdale”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Show: “Shadowhunters”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actor: Jared Padalecki – “Supernatural”
  • Choice Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Actress: Katherine McNamara – “Shadowhunters”
  • Choice Action TV Show: “MacGyver”
  • Choice Action TV Actor: Stephen Amell – “Arrow”
  • Choice Action TV Actress: Gabrielle Union – “L.A.’s Finest”
  • Choice Comedy TV Show: “The Big Bang Theory”
  • Choice Comedy TV Actor: Jaime Camil – “Jane the Virgin”
  • Choice Comedy TV Actress: Nina Dobrev – “Fam”
  • Choice TV Villain: Cameron Monaghan – “Gotham”
  • Choice Reality TV Show: “America’s Got Talent”
  • Choice Throwback TV Show: “Friends”
  • Choice Summer TV Show: “Stranger Things”
  • Choice Summer TV Actor: Noah Schnapp – “Stranger Things”
  • Choice Summer TV Actress: Millie Bobby Brown – “Stranger Things”

 


TEEN CHOICE 2018: Monsta X perform onstage at TEEN CHOICE 2019 airing Sunday, August 11 (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX from Hermosa Beach, CA. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. CR: Frank Micelotta/FOX

In the music category, here are the winners:

  • Choice Male Artist: Shawn Mendes
  • Choice Female Artist: Billie Eilish
  • Choice Music Group: Why Don’t We
  • Choice Country Artist: Dan + Shay
  • Choice Latin Artist: CNCO
  • Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Artist: Cardi B
  • Choice Rock Artist: Panic! At The Disco
  • Choice Song/Female Artist: Lauren Jauregui – “Expectations”
  • Choice Song/Male Artist: Louis Tomlinson – “Two of Us”
  • Choice Song/Group: BLACKPINK – “DDU-DU DDU-DU”
  • Choice Pop Song: Ariana Grande – “thank u, next”
  • Choice Country Song: Dan + Shay – “Speechless”
  • Choice Electronic/Dance Song: Ellie Goulding, Diplo, & Red Velvet – “Close to Me (Red Velvet Remix)”
  • Choice Latin Song: CNCO – “Pretend”
  • Choice R&B/Hip-Hop Song: Lil Nas X (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus) – “Old Town Road [Remix]”
  • Choice Rock Song: Panic! At The Disco – “Hey Look Ma, I Made It”
  • Choice Breakout Artist: Billie Eilish
  • Choice International Artist: BTS
  • Choice Collaboration: BTS (feat. Halsey) – “Boy With Luv”
  • Choice Summer Song: “Señorita” – Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello
  • Choice Summer Female Artist: Halsey
  • Choice Summer Male Artist: Shawn Mendes
  • Choice Summer Group: Jonas Brothers
  • Choice Summer Tour: BTS – “BTS World Tour Love Yourself: Speak Yourself Tour”
  • Choice Song From A Movie: “A Whole New World” (End Title) (from “Aladdin”) – ZAYN & Zhavia Ward

In the digital category, here are the winners:

  • Choice Female Web Star: Emma Chamberlain
  • Choice Male Web Star: David Dobrik
  • Choice Comedy Web Star: The Dolan Twins
  • Choice Social Star: Noah Centineo
  • Choice Fashion/Beauty Web Star: Hannah Meloche
  • Choice Gamer: PewDiePie
  • Choice YouTuber: Sam and Colby
  • Choice Fandom: #BTSARMY
  • Choice Music Web Star: Annie LeBlanc

Related: Photos — Stars hit the “blue carpet” during Teen Choice Awards show arrivals

Also:

  • Choice Ship: Lili Reinhart & Cole Sprouse – “Riverdale”
  • Choice Comedian: Ethan & Grayson Dolan
  • Choice Male Athlete: Stephen Curry
  • Choice Female Athlete: Serena Williams
  • Teen Choice Take Note Award – Presented by Crayola: Kayva Kopparapu, Sebastian and Brandon Martinez, Marsai Martin, Leon “Kida” Burns (Kida the Great), Celai West, Braxton Moral, Mari Copeny, Logan Guleff

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Titan profiles: Back from ACL injury, Barrios sets sights on women’s soccer title


Alba Barrios, a redshirt senior for the Titan women’s soccer team, is a business administration major with a concentration in finance. She is aiming for a career as a certified financial planner. Photo courtesy of Cal State Fullerton

In a game at UC Irvine in October 2017, Cal State Fullerton soccer player Alba Barrios leaped for a header, was knocked off-balance by someone underfoot and landed awkwardly on her right leg. When she limped off the pitch, she assumed the worst.

“As soon as I heard the loud popping sound, I knew,” said Barrios, whose team lost the game, 1-0. “My brother Carlos had torn his ACL playing soccer. At first it was super-painful. I was crying, but it was more that I was scared.”

Barrios, who had been coming back from a quadriceps injury to the same leg, was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn meniscus. Her brother’s experience provided insight into what she would deal with in the months ahead. Three weeks later as she underwent surgery, Barrios told herself, “The recovery starts now.”

After undergoing a year of rehabilitation and taking the 2018 season off, the redshirt senior is back for her final year with the Titans.

“I want to help my team win a Big West Conference championship,” said Barrios, who is a center-defensive midfielder and expected to be a starter. “I have been on the team when we have won conference championships in the past. But coming into my last year, being a fifth-year, being a captain, I just feel a different responsibility. I have to lead from the forefront. I’m ready to do it. I’ve waited since 2017 to play.”

Barrios, 22, has been with 13th-year head coach Demian Brown for nearly half of his tenure at Fullerton. He applauds her drive and determination in overcoming her injuries.

“Alba has done a fantastic job. It was a heart-breaking injury at the time. She handled it well, and she has done an awesome job with her rehab. It was important not to have her rush back,” Brown said of Barrios, who received medical clearance to resume playing last November.

“She has done some amazing things over the years. As a freshman, she scored the game-winning goal against Long Beach State in the Big West tournament final. She really has been an anchor for our midfield group and has been an emotional and vocal leader,” Brown added.

Barrios ‘handles the dirty work’

Atlanta Primus, a senior forward from England, has played alongside Barrios for three seasons. She calls her teammate an indispensable member of the squad. “Defensively, Alba plays a big role. She covers a lot of ground, brings stability and does a lot of the dirty work that gets overlooked. Without her, our team wouldn’t be as strong in the back.”

“Leadership comes naturally to her, but she wouldn’t say that herself,” said Primus, who also is a team captain. “Alba leads by example on and off the field, that’s why everyone respects her. She has shown no fear coming back from her knee injury, which has been inspiring for our younger players.”

The Titans reached the Big West tournament final twice in Barrios’ first three years, winning the crown both times. But while she was sitting out last season, the team fell to 4-12-3 overall and 1-5-2 in conference. “Last year wasn’t a good season – we didn’t play critically well in certain moments. Most games were decided by one goal. But it was a really good experience for us.

“I don’t think we are far from turning it around. We have lots of talent and a strong nucleus this season. It’s just about making little tweaks,” said Barrios. “We really focused this spring on capitalizing on our big moments. It’s those one or two moments that decide a game.”

Barrios, who started playing the sport as a 4-year-old, comes from a soccer family. Her parents, Carlos and Evelyn, who work in construction and as a housekeeper respectively, immigrated from Guatemala in 1992. Carlos, who became a U.S. citizen four years ago, is still playing soccer at age 51. Her older brother Carlos lettered at Santiago Canyon College in Orange. Her other three siblings, Evelyn, Jennifer and Rick, all played youth soccer. Barrios is the middle child.

Born in Santa Ana, she began playing in Sunday co-ed leagues and moved on to AYSO and AYSO Select. She then had stints with the Strikers, Slammers FC, and the L.A. Galaxy club teams. Jeff Schofield was her coach on the Galaxy. “I had known him since I was 7. He was a really good coach and later guided me toward Cal State Fullerton,” she said.

At Estancia High School in Costa Mesa where she played for Jessica Perry, Barrios was a first-team All-Orange Coast League all four years. As a senior, Barrios was the 2015 Newport-Mesa Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year and named the Orange Coast League MVP. She also earned first-team All-CIF Southern Section honors as a junior and a senior.

Many reasons for choosing Fullerton

She said choosing Fullerton was an easy decision. “I’m very close with my family, and I wanted to give them a chance to see me play. I wanted to attend the university’s business school. The soccer program and the coaching staff are excellent, and the soccer stadium is one of the best in the country. It quickly felt like home after I arrived,” she said.

Barrios appeared in 20 games as a freshman, starting five games and scoring twice. She notched a goal in a 4-2 win at Idaho State. Her game-winner against Irvine clinched the Titans’ third straight NCAA tournament berth. She started in 12 games as a sophomore and 11 as a junior.

“Every year I have progressed as an athlete and a soccer player,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of injuries that played a bigger role than I would have liked. In my junior year, I was out five to six weeks with my right quad injury. But that’s part of the game.”

Barrios did her post-surgery recovery at the Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation center on campus. I had the most amazing experience,” she said. [Physical therapist] Nathan Longcrier, was monumental in my recovery and the best person I could have had.”

“Demian said to take the full year to recover. The longer you wait, the better your graft will do and the stronger the new ACL will be. I thought, ‘I’m not going to play until 2019.’ It seemed like a long time for me. Emotionally, that was one of the hardest things. But now I can play. I can be normal,” she said.

Her brother Carlos said he was concerned at times during the weeks after her surgery. “Alba has always been pretty independent. But she was kind of second-guessing herself the first couple of months. ‘She wondered, ‘What If I don’t come back as the same player?’

“But she worked hard and stayed determined. There were some setbacks and struggles, but she pushed through. She is in great shape physically and mentally. This should be a great year for her,” said Carlos, who is the head coach of the boys’ soccer team at Canyon High School in Anaheim. He is also an assistant coach for the men’s team at Golden West College in Huntington Beach and directs boys’ teams for the Placentia/Yorba Pateadores Club.

Carlos said his sister is a complete player. “Alba never gives up. She is 110 percent committed to what she is doing. She plays hear heart out every single game and is three to four steps ahead of everyone else, which helps her gain speed.”

She rejoined Estancia High as a coach

Barrios not only plays soccer, she also coaches. After graduating from Estancia High, she became an assistant coach at her alma mater for then-rookie head coach Josh Juarez.

“When I got the job in 2015, I wanted to find someone who could link with the girls and the school. I offered the job to Alba, and she accepted. Being a real hard worker and playing for a Div. 1 school, she was someone the girls could look up to right away.”

“Alba has grown as a coach every year. I think sitting out at Fullerton last year made her even a better coach because she was busy taking in how the coaches worked on the sidelines. She can now run a group or one-on-one sessions for us. She gives our team valuable feedback at halftime and after the game. She could choose a career path in coaching, if that is something that interests her,” said Juarez.

Barrios has had to hone her time management skills during her college years. Besides her academics and athletics at Fullerton and her Estancia coaching gig, she is a student assistant at the university’s Mihaylo College of Business and Economics’ Financial Planning Program. She also works for Event Staff at sporting events on campus.

On a typical day last spring, she would get up at 6 a.m. for morning practice with the Titan team, attend classes, drive to Costa Mesa in the afternoon to coach the Estancia team and return to Fullerton for a night class. “Coaching at Estancia has been the best experience,” said Barrios. “I love the program, and I want to give back to it any way I can.”

Barrios, who likes going to the beach during her limited down time, will graduate this spring with a business administration degree with a concentration in finance and envisions a career as a certified financial planner. “Originally, I was going to be a finance major. I liked numbers. But I wasn’t passionate about it. I wanted to choose a career with a really good work-life balance and a flexible schedule.

An urge to help people with finances

“I want to work with people and clients and help them realize their financial goals and answer their questions such as ‘How can I save for a mortgage or my child’s college?’ My parents never went to high school and didn’t have that financial literacy. I want to gain this knowledge and help them save for retirement,” said Barrios.

She served an internship with Modern Woodmen of American, a member-owned financial services organization that contributes more than $10 million yearly to community needs across the country. Along with a financial-services mentor, Alba provided free financial advice to low-income families in connection with the Habitat for Humanity program.

As if her schedule wasn’t busy enough, Barrios was recently invited to play with the Guatemalan national team. Barrios, who has dual citizenship, joined the national team for workouts during a family vacation to Guatemala in 2015.

“I got a call-up in July,” she said. “With school and my coaching job, it would be difficult to go back and forth to Guatemala now. However, it is something I might consider down the road.”

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OC Fair 2019: Things to do today, Aug. 11, the last day of the fair

Headed out for the last day of the 2019 OC Fair today? Here are some things to know.

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight

Admission: $14 adults; $7 ages 60 and older, $7 ages 6 to 12; free 5 and younger

Deals: 

  • From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. general admission is $7 and it takes half the number of tickets for a carnival ride.
  • Free admission for veterans and active-duty military with ID.
  • Free admission for active-duty and professional staff of law enforcement and first responder departments.
  • $35 unlimited ride wristbands available; buy them by 1 p.m. and last rides are by 4 p.m.
  • Ride the $4 round-trip OC Fair Express bus service and get $4 admission; find locations throughout Orange County at ocfairexpress.com. Parking is free. Buses run 11 a.m. to midnight.
  • Park for free at the Experian parking structure, 475 Anton Blvd.; free shuttles run from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Things to do:

  • Watch a real working dog shepherd miniature harlequin sheep in the Livestock arena at 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m.
  • Rat Soup will play a free show in The Hangar at 2:30 p.m.
  • See exhibits on oxen teams, horses, urban chickens and more animals in the Livestock area.
  • Playing at the Hangar: The Paladins and Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys at 7 p.m. (requires a ticket)
  • Playing at the Pacific Amphitheatre: America, Poco and Firefall at 6:30 p.m. (requires a ticket)
  • Action Sports Arena: Orange Crush Demolition Derby at 7 p.m. (requires a ticket)

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Is it time to rethink our approach to serious mental illness?

In a column on Wednesday, I asked readers to share their experiences with warning signs that someone could become a mass shooter, and their thoughts about why this hideous phenomenon seems to have started in the 1980s.

We may have uncovered the answer.

“You struck a nerve,” one reader wrote. “I am 92, and have lived through a time when the mentally ill were routinely committed to what I recall as sanitariums where they could be kept in custody. These sanitariums were in lovely parklike but protected settings away from the normal world of the day. My mother in her later years suffered from senile dementia and although not a danger to anyone else, was a danger to herself. This establishment was in Ventura County as I recall, and I visited her weekly. There was a cost per month which I was able to meet. She always seemed well cared for and I was kept up to date. Eventually, the psychiatrists were able to treat her with new drugs then coming on the market in the 1970s to help. The end came to the sanitariums with the new political attitude that containing these people was denying them their freedom, and both the Republican and Democratic parties embraced the change for their own reasons to save the costs. Those costs they sought to save are now being paid for on the streets of California cities as I write.”

This reader’s memory of the sequence of events is accurate. At one time, people who were a danger to themselves or others could be confined against their will in a psychiatric hospital. With the development of drugs to treat mental illnesses, public opinion began to turn away from the idea of involuntary confinement, particularly for people who could live independently with the help of treatment provided at a community mental health facility.

In 1955, the number of patients confined in public mental health hospitals was 558,000, the highest it has ever been. Around that time, the Food and Drug Administration gave its approval to Thorazine for the treatment of psychotic episodes. Previously, the only available treatments were electroshock therapy and lobotomies.

That year, Congress passed the Mental Health Study Act, setting up a commission that reported in 1961 that community health centers should be set up to treat patients with less severe mental illness.

In 1962, author Ken Kesey’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was published. It was a fictional story about abuses in a mental hospital, based on the author’s experiences working in one.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act to provide federal funding to build community-based facilities. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation that created Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans that’s called Medi-Cal in California.

But Medicaid did not pay for care in mental hospitals. As a result, states transferred low-income mental health patients into conventional hospitals or nursing homes so the cost would be covered. These facilities were ill-equipped to handle patients with severe mental illnesses.

Funding considerations converged with public pressure for deinstitutionalization. In 1967, California Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which limited involuntary commitment and further drove the movement away from psychiatric hospitals and toward community-based treatment. Other states followed California’s lead. These changes appeared to save money in state budgets. However, more and more mentally ill people fell into the criminal justice system.

Even if fully funded, community-based care on a voluntary, outpatient basis will not be adequate for some people with serious mental illnesses. People who are a danger to themselves or others require more.

One reader wrote, “I was a psychiatric nurse in New York City in the 1970s. I administered the medications to young men; heavy psychotropic medications that the patients didn’t like, but they had no choice. They were forced to take them and the combination of medication and hospital confinement prevented these young men from harming themselves or others.”

In 1975, the film version of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was released.

That movie probably sealed the fate of state-funded psychiatric hospitals. The laws, the courts and public opinion saw to it that even patients with severe mental illnesses could not be committed involuntarily, and the number of psychiatric hospital beds declined to the point that there often was no place to put them anyway.

Homelessness and mass shootings reached crisis-level proportions in the 1980s and haven’t gotten any better since. Coincidence? Or unintended consequence?

It’s a tragic fact that we haven’t given up the use of involuntary commitment of people who are a danger to themselves or others, but now we wait until there are victims and we do it through the criminal justice system. Many people with severe mental illness are treated inside our county jails and state prisons. And they’re released, as anyone else would be after they’ve served their sentence.

A number of readers shared frightening stories about people they’ve encountered who appear to have the potential to become a mass shooter, and the equally frightening fact that nothing that can be done about it until it’s too late.

The “estranged son of my best friend” has made “multiple deadly threats against his mother, his father and me,” wrote one reader. “This fellow’s father has, on numerous occasions, referred his son to the appropriate authorities, and cannot obtain any long-lasting help from any of them.”

Some mass shootings happen in the workplace. One reader wrote of fearing that an employee who was fired for physically assaulting a co-worker “would return with a weapon,” but was told by an investigator that it would open the company to litigation if an effort was made to find out if the individual owned guns. “Laws also prevent me from alerting a new employer about mental health concerns,” the reader wrote.

“I have a fellow employee who has threatened to kill me seven times, who takes opioids at work,” wrote another reader. “I feel that if I report him for these issues I will lose my job. There is no credible way to ‘tip’ authorities, so I come to work every day wondering if I’ll be going home.”

It would be useful to look at the policies in other countries as they relate to involuntary confinement for serious mental illnesses. There’s no shortage of commentary about the laws regarding gun ownership, but comparative studies of mental health care might be more relevant in explaining varying rates of gun violence.

It may be that two of the most intractable and troubling problems in our society, homelessness and mass shootings, can be successfully addressed with cautious changes to the law and full funding of new, carefully managed, state-of-the-art psychiatric hospitals in every state.

Let’s try that.

Susan Shelley is an editorial writer and columnist for the Southern California News Group. Susan@SusanShelley.com. Twitter: @Susan_Shelley.

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Some skeptical as Trump prepares to visit mass-shooting sites

By JILL COLVIN

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is bringing a message aimed at national unity and healing to the sites of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. But the words he offers for a divided America will be complicated by his own incendiary, anti-immigrant rhetoric that mirrors language linked to one of the shooters.

It is a highly unusual predicament for an American president to at once try to console a community and a nation at the same time he is being criticized as contributing to a combustible climate that can spawn violence.

White House officials said Trump’s visits Wednesday to Texas and Ohio, where 31 people were killed and dozens were wounded, would be similar to those he’s paid to grieving communities including Parkland, Florida, and Las Vegas, with the Republican president and the first lady saluting first responders and spending time with mourning families and survivors.

  • Mourners bring flowers to a makeshift memorial Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, for the slain and injured in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Mourners embrace after bringing flowers to a makeshift memorial Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, for the slain and injured in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning, in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

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  • Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley speaks to members of the media Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, outside Ned Peppers bar in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning in Dayton. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Protesters against an upcoming visit from President Donald Trump holds signs outside city hall Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday in the Oregon District stunned the city in Dayton, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • People crowd around a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Mariana Cordero, right, embraces Gilbert Reza at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • A Dayton Police detective performs a grid search beside a makeshift memorial for the slain and injured in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Dayton. Facing pressure to take action after the latest mass shooting in the U.S., Ohio’s Republican governor urged the GOP-led state Legislature Tuesday to pass laws requiring background checks for nearly all gun sales and allowing courts to restrict firearms access for people perceived as threats. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • Mourners bring flowers to a makeshift memorial for the slain in the Oregon District after a mass shooting that occurred early Sunday morning, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in Dayton. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

  • A woman leans over to write a message on a cross at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • President Donald Trump speaks about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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“What he wants to do is go to these communities and grieve with them, pray with them, offer condolences,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said Tuesday. He said Trump also wants “to have a conversation” about ways to head off future deadly episodes.

“We can do something impactful to prevent this from ever happening again, if we come together,” the spokesman said.

That’s a tough assignment for a president who thrives on division and whose aides say he views discord and unease about cultural, economic and demographic changes as key to his reelection.

At the same time, prominent Democrats have been casting blame on Trump more often than calling for national unity in the aftermath of the shootings, a measure of the profound polarization in the country.

Trump, who often seems most comfortable on rally stages with deeply partisan crowds, has not excelled at projecting empathy, mixing what can sound like perfunctory expressions of grief with awkward offhand remarks. While he has offered hugs to tornado victims and spent time at the bedsides of shooting victims, he has yet to project the kind of emotion and vulnerability of his recent predecessors.

Barack Obama grew visibly shaken as he addressed the nation in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre and teared up while delivering a 2016 speech on new gun control efforts. George W. Bush helped bring the country together following the Sept. 11 attacks, notably standing atop the smoking rubble of the World Trade Center, his arm draped over the shoulder of a firefighter, as he shouted through a bullhorn. Bill Clinton helped reassure the nation after the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City and the mass school shooting at Columbine High School.

Trump, too, has been able to summon soothing words. But then he often quickly lapses into divisive tweets and statements — just recently painting immigrants as “invaders,” suggesting four Democratic congresswoman of color should “go back” to their home countries even though they’re U.S. citizens and deriding majority-black Baltimore as a rat-infested hell-hole.

In the Texas border city of El Paso, some residents and local Democratic lawmakers said Trump was not welcome and urged him to stay away.

“This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso,” tweeted Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who served the area for three terms as a congressman. “We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.”

Trump, on the eve of his El Paso trip, snapped back on Twitter that O’Rourke “should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

In Dayton, Mayor Nan Whaley said she would be meeting with Trump on Wednesday, but she told reporters she was disappointed with his scripted remarks Monday responding to the shootings. His speech included a denunciation of “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” and a declaration that “hate has no place in America.” But he made no mention of new efforts to limit sales of certain guns or the anti-immigration rhetoric found in an online screed posted just before the El Paso attack.

The hateful manifesto’s author — police believe it was the shooter but investigation continues — insisted the opinions “predate Trump and his campaign for president.” But the words echoed some of the views Trump has expressed on immigration, including claiming that Democrats “intend to use open borders, free HealthCare for illegals, citizenship and more to enact a political coup by importing and then legalizing millions of new voters.”

Dayton Mayor Whaley said simply, “Everyone has it in their power to be a force to bring people together, and everybody has it in their power to be a force to bring people apart — that’s up to the president of the United States.”

Democrats vying to challenge Trump in the 2020 election have been nearly unanimous in excoriating him for rhetoric they warned has nurtured the racist attitudes of the El Paso shooter as they sought to project leadership during a fraught moment for a bruised nation.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic primary, is slated to speak on white nationalism on Wednesday in Iowa and, according to excerpts from his campaign, will declare Trump “lacks the moral authority to lead” because he has “aligned himself with the darkest forces in our nation” and “in both clear language and in code … has fanned the flames of white supremacy.”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was delivering a speech on gun violence and white nationalism Wednesday at the Charleston, South Carolina, church where nine black parishioners were killed in 2015. Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, released a detailed plan for gun control and deterrence.

Gidley and other White House officials denounced suggestions that Trump’s rhetoric was in any way responsible for the shooting. They called it “dangerous,” ”pathetic,” ”disgusting.”

“It’s not the politician’s fault when somebody acts out their evil intention,” he said, pointing to other shooters who have expressed political preferences for Democratic politicians including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

“It is shameful that Democrats are unable to prevent themselves from politicizing a moment of national grief,” added Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Trump, quoting one of the hosts of his favorite “Fox & Friends” show, tweeted: “Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of control. Mass shootings were happening before the president even thought about running for Pres.”

Warren spokeswoman Kristen Orthman said leaders have an obligation to speak out.

“Let’s be clear,” she said in a statement. “There is a direct line between the president’s rhetoric and the stated motivations of the El Paso shooter.”

Recent Pew Research Center polling found 85% of U.S. adults believe the tone and nature of political debate in the country has become more negative, with a majority saying Trump has changed things for the worse. And more than three quarters, 78%, say that elected officials who use heated or aggressive language to talk about certain people or groups make violence against those people more likely.

Associated Press writers Elana Schor, Deb Riechmann and Darlene Superville and AP polling editor Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

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El Paso, with deep Mexican American past, rallies amid pain after mass shooting

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS and JOHN L. MONE

EL PASO, Texas — The massacre that killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso struck a city that has long been the cradle of Mexican American culture and immigration and suffered through bloody episodes of racial violence in the past.

The white gunman apparently wrote an anti-Hispanic rant before opening fire with an AK-47-style rifle on Walmart shoppers — many of them Latino — rattling a city that has helped shape Mexican American life across the U.S. for generations.

Many Mexican Americans in Los Angeles, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and beyond can trace their families’ roots to El Paso, sometimes called the “Ellis Island” of the border. The city served as a port of entry where immigrants from the interior of Mexico had to come to gain entry into the United States before World War II.

  • People show up in masses Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in Saturday’s attack in El Paso, Texas. (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

  • Maylin Reyes hangs a Mexican flag at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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  • People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • A woman leaves flowers at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Mariana Cordero, right, embraces Gilbert Reza at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • A woman leans over to write a message on a cross at a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • People crowd around a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • People visit a makeshift memorial at the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Karina Cardoso and Linda Nevarez hold their cellphone flashlights up during a vigil Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019, at Ponder Park in honor to the victims of a mass shooting occurred in Walmart on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

  • Three Walmart workers, Melisa Gonzalez, Jesus Romero and Raven Ramos, who helped people to escape during the mass shooting on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, get emotional during during a vigil at Ponder Park in honor of the shooting victims in El Paso, Texas on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2019. (Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

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Mexican Revolutionary leader Pancho Villa visited the city. Country artist Marty Robbins famously sang in 1959 about falling “in love with a Mexican girl” here. It is the birthplace of civil rights lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta, journalist Ruben Salazar and poet Pat Mora. The city is also a geographic center of sorts for Mexican Americans, sitting about the same distance to Los Angeles as it is to Houston.

“El Paso has a deeper history than what you see on the news,” said Sergio Troncoso, an El Paso-born novelist who now lives in New York City. “That manifesto shows that white nationalists continue to reduce El Paso to immigration and a place of foreigners. It’s so much more than that.”

In the last year, El Paso has garnered attention because of the rapid rise of migrants from Central America coming to seek asylum. The city also has been a testing ground for immigration enforcement, with the government spending millions of dollars on agents, barriers and border security technology and equipment.

President Donald Trump, who is visiting the city Wednesday, has cited El Paso’s crime rate as proof for why his border wall is needed, despite FBI statistics that show the city routinely has a violent crime rate below the national average. Crime statistics also show the city to be safer than other municipalities the same size in population.

Why the alleged shooter chose El Paso as his target remains a mystery. But the online rant investigators have attributed to him speaks of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and theories of non-white immigrants replacing whites.

Anthony Medrano, an El Paso resident, said he wished the shooter would have paused and thought just a moment before hurting people shopping in the predominantly Mexican American city of 700,000.

“We would have shown him what a great place this is — where you can walk out at night and not get mugged,” Medrano said.

The El Paso area was settled in the late 1500s after the arrival of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate during an expedition through current-day New Mexico to establish a colony as part of New Spain.

It became an important northern hub of the Spanish empire and later a key spot in the American Southwest as the railroads expanded into what was disputed territory during the U.S. Civil War.

A century ago, El Paso was also the site of notorious racial violence — a history that resonated with residents after last weekend’s massacre.

In 1916, white mobs and drunken U.S. soldiers attacked innocent Mexican Americans in the city after Villa’s soldiers in Mexico killed 19 white engineers and staff from an American mining company. El Paso white police also are believed to have sought revenge and set fire to Mexican American inmates in the El Paso jail, killing 27.

U.S. officials at a border bridge in El Paso in the early 1900s routinely deloused and sprayed the clothes of Mexicans crossing into the U.S. with Zyklon B — a poisonous pesticide invented in Germany in the 1920s.

“There were many cases of racial violence in El Paso targeting Mexican Americans,” said Monica Muñoz Martinez, the author of “The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas” and an American studies professor at Brown University. “The memories of those acts live on.”

After World War II, however, returning Mexican American veterans helped elect in 1957 Raymond L. Telles, Jr. — the first Mexican American mayor of a major U.S. city. He sought to include Mexican Americans in key positions like police chief and outlined a blueprint for civil rights leaders to follow in other cities with sizable Latino populations.

The city is credited with shaping modern Mexican American political activism and with giving birth to the “pachuco” — a word that describes a Mexican American youth subculture associated with zoot suits and gang life. (The city’s nickname is “El Chuco.”)

Daniel Chacon, a novelist who was raised in Fresno, California, but whose father was from El Paso, said the climate since the Telles years gave birth to a booming Mexican American literacy and artist scene.

“It became a bedrock of (American) Southwest culture. It’s an American city,” said Chacon, who now chairs the Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. “The only invasion that has happened here in the last 100 years at the one at Walmart this Saturday.”

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