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Boys' soccer: Friday's Southern Section quarterfinal scores and semifinal pairings

Written By kolimtiga on Sabtu, 28 Februari 2015 | 12.56



Quarterfinals, Friday

Servite 3, Paramount 0

Loyola 3, Santa Margarita 1

El Toro 2, Los Alamitos 0

Edison 1, Corona 0

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

#1 Servite at #4 Loyola

Edison at #3 El Toro


Quarterfinals, Friday

La Quinta 3, Millikan 2

Sunny Hills 2, California 1

Santa Ana 1, Long Beach Cabrillo 0 (OT)

Long Beach Jordan 4, Rancho Verde 2

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

#4 Sunny Hills at La Quinta

#3 Santa Ana at Long Beach Jordan


Quarterfinals, Friday

Cathedral 5, Littlerock 0

Alta Loma 0, Redlands East Valley 0 (Alta Loma advances on penalties, 3-1)

Chaffey 2, Santa Maria 1

Claremont 1, Pasadena 0

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

#1 Cathedral at #4 Alta Loma

#2 Claremont at #3 Chaffey


Quarterfinals, Friday

Hart 3, Great Oak 0

Chaparral 5, El Segundo 2

Godinez 0, Norwalk 0 (Godinez advances on penalties, 10-9)

Bellflower 3, Lawndale 0

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Chaparral at #1 Hart

#3 Godinez at Bellflower


Quarterfinals, Friday

Arroyo 0, San Gorgonio 0 (Arroyo advances on penalties, 4-2)

Garden Grove Santiago 2, Garey 0

Chino 0, Arroyo Valley 0 (Chino advances on penalties, 6-5)

Rialto 2, La Puente 1 (OT)

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Arroyo at #4 Garden Grove Santiago

Chino at Rialto


Quarterfinals, Friday

South Pasadena 4, Rancho Mirage 2

Sage Hill 2, Moreno Valley 2 (Sage Hill advances on penalties, 4-3)

La Canada 2, #3 Vista del Lago 0

Monrovia 3, Rowland 0

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

Sage Hill at #1 South Pasadena

#2 Monrovia at La Canada


Quarterfinals, Friday

Dunn 4, Buckley 3

Laguna Blanca 4, Webb 2

West Shores 5, Santa Rosa Academy 2

Quarterfinal, Monday, 3 p.m.

University Prep vs. New Community Jewish at Whitsett Sports Field (North Hollywood)

Semifinals, Tuesday, 3 p.m.

University Prep/New Community Jewish winner at Dunn

Laguna Blanca at #2 West Shores

NOTES: Championships, Mar. 6-7 at at Downey, Warren, and Corona.

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Boys' basketball: Friday's Southern Section playoff scores and updated pairings



Championship semifinal, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Bishop Montgomery vs. #12 Orange Lutheran at Hope International U. (Fullerton)

Championship semifinal, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#6 Etiwanda at #2 Mater Dei

Consolation semifinal, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#8 Redondo at #5 Damien

Consolation semifinal, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#7 Long Beach Poly at #14 St. John Bosco

NOTES: Consolation final, March 6 at TBA. Championship, March 7 at Honda Center (Anaheim).


Quarterfinals, Friday

Great Oak 81, Eastvale Roosevelt 70

Los Alamitos 69, Santa Margarita 65

Tustin 64, Millikan 60

Village Christian 56, Calabasas 45

Semifinals, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#5 Los Alamitos at #1 Great Oak

#3 Tustin at #2 Village Christian

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Friday

Loyola 93, Walnut 78

Edison 68, Placentia Valencia 53

Peninsula 68, Westlake 60

Foothill 59, Godinez 49 (OT)

Semifinals, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#1 Loyola at #4 Edison

#2 Foothill at #11 Peninsula


NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Friday

Tesoro 67, Thousand Oaks 62

Anaheim Canyon 60, Ayala 51

Lawndale 67, Mira Costa 59

Elsinore 53, Glendora 30

Semifinals, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#8 Tesoro at #5 Anaheim Canyon

#4 Lawndale at #7 Elsinore


NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Friday

La Mirada 77, Savanna 47

Compton 59, Righetti 52

Redlands East Valley 56, Colony 43

Santa Barbara 62, Hart 51

Semifinals, Tuesday, 7 p.m.

#1 La Mirada at #4 Compton

#2 Santa Barbara at #6 Redlands East Valley


NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Semifinals, Friday

Sonora 76, Diamond Ranch 56

Gahr 84, Bonita 73


Semifinals, Friday

Beverly Hills 54, Esperanza 49

Corona del Mar 57, Tahquitz 50


Semifinals, Friday

Crespi 63, Oaks Christian 52

Mission Prep 77, Chaminade 75


Semifinals, Friday

Maranatha 67, Cerritos Valley Christian 55

Campbell Hall 69, Buckley 51


Semifinals, Friday

Windward 70, Santa Maria St. Joseph 48

Viewpoint 66, Brentwood 63


Semifinals, Friday

St. Bernard 67, Bell-Jeff 52

Rancho Christian 68, Capistrano Valley Christian 66


Semifinal, Friday

Hesperia Christian 56, Rio Hondo Prep 54

Semifinal, Monday, 6 p.m.

#1 Orangewood Academy at #4 Joshua Springs

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Girls' basketball: Friday's Southern Section Open Division scores and updated pairings




Championship semifinals, Friday

Mater Dei 59, Alemany 37

Chaminade 77, Long Beach Poly 66

Consolation semifinals, Friday

Gardena Serra 68, Riverside North 57

Oaks Christian 58, Cajon 46

Championship, March 6/7 at TBA

#1 Mater Dei vs. #3 Chaminade

Consolation final, March 6, 7 p.m.

#12 Gardena Serra at #14 Oaks Christian

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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LAFD failed to inspect hundreds of hazardous sites, state says

The Los Angeles Fire Department has failed to properly inspect hundreds of hazardous sites scattered across the city, exposing the public to increased risks from potential spills and mishandling of toxic substances, according to a state report released Friday.

The 24-page California Environmental Protection Agency study found breakdowns in numerous aspects of the LAFD's oversight and monitoring of chemical factories, laboratories and other storage facilities that deal with dangerous substances.

"Their program has fallen apart," said Jim Bohon, head of the state unit that conducted the review. "They are failing in environmental management in a very gross way."

The findings highlight a weak spot in a larger patchwork of state and local agencies charged with keeping the groundwater, bays and soils free of dangerous contaminants, especially those in areas near urban dwellers.

City fire inspectors were cited for 19 deficiencies, including failing for years to visit facilities required to be inspected regularly. In other cases, the Fire Department failed to ensure companies handling hazardous supplies and waste conducted tests to detect leaks in buried storage tanks such as those found at gas stations, the report said.

"Fire guys like to put out fires and rescue people," Bohon said. "They aren't liking as much to go out and make sure people are [checking] their underground tank properly."

Bohon said he did not have a complete count of hazardous sites in the city. But the state study found at least several hundred had not been inspected as required, he said.

The new report also noted that a number of problems haven't been resolved since at least 2011, when a previous review criticized the same LAFD inspection program.

If a plan to correct the problems isn't in place in 30 days, the state said it could take the unusual step of stripping the LAFD of its inspection duties and assigning them elsewhere.

L.A. city fire Chief Ralph M. Terrazas promised to initiate immediate reforms.

"I am disappointed that we lost focus," Terrazas said. He expressed confidence in "the positive steps we are taking to correct these mistakes."

According to department officials, those steps include strengthening leadership of the inspection program, increasing staff and assessing how to use technology to improve monitoring.

The state report presents another major challenge for the chief, who was appointed last year by Mayor Eric Garcetti with a mandate to reform an agency buffeted by controversies over its hiring practices, 911 performance and overall administration.

Last year, a consultant hired by the city's top budget analyst found a "cultural aversion to change" and a lack of accountability among LAFD command staff. Among the shortcomings cited were failures to adopt new technology, control costs and speed up emergency responses.

Reacting to the latest state report Friday, mayoral spokesman Yusef Robb said "this is exactly why we launched an aggressive agenda of reform at the Fire Department.

"We are confident in the chief we brought in to fix this."

The broader state oversight of hazardous sites was the subject of a 2013 Times series. Those reports documented deep flaws in the monitoring of hazardous waste and materials across California, including a controversial Exide Technologies battery plant in neighboring Vernon, beyond the LAFD's jurisdiction.


Times staff writer Paul Pringle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Council proposal to declutter L.A. should be rejected

Written By kolimtiga on Jumat, 27 Februari 2015 | 12.56

It goes without saying that being homeless means not having a closet or an attic or a basement to store your belongings. Those worn and filthy shopping carts, boxes, and plastic bags that homeless people are dragging around on the streets of Los Angeles are their possessions, the net worth of their lives.

But when those belongings clutter sidewalks, they can be a physical or public health hazard and a breeding ground for vermin. They can be unsightly and annoying to others, and they can be bad for businesses and for economic development.

One of the jobs of the city is to balance the rights of the homeless against Los Angeles' other needs. To that end, the City Council is considering a new ordinance that addresses the "storage of personal property" in public spaces. Under the new measure, which seeks to "maintain public areas in clean, sanitary, and accessible condition," sanitation workers would be able to tag items on the streets with a written warning stating that the owner has 24 hours to remove them. If the items are still there a day later, sanitation workers can take them — even if the owner is standing there — leaving a written notice identifying what was taken and where it will be stored. The owner will then be given 90 days to claim the belongings before the city disposes of them.

The council should reject this proposal.

Not because there's no problem. Anyone who lives or works downtown has seen the mountains of belongings that have turned some homeless people into mobile hoarders.

But this measure is vague and unfocused and won't really solve anything. It doesn't define what sorts of property need to be removed from the streets, or how many items constitute a nuisance. It sets no limits: It doesn't say, for instance, that only hazardous property or property that is blocking public access may be taken.

Besides, the city already is allowed to seize, without notice, bulky items such as sofas, mattresses, and refrigerators, as well as property that is believed to be dangerous to public health or safety.

Another problem is that the ordinance makes no distinction between attended property and unattended property. Do we really want to see sanitation workers in a tug-of-war with homeless people hanging on to their bags and carts for dear life?

City officials acknowledge that this ordinance will not solve homelessness; it's just one tool for dealing with the effects of it, they say. But seizing the possessions of homeless people — many of whom are mentally ill or addicted — does nothing to help the people who are truly in need. In any case, handing out the equivalent of a coat check ticket is not likely even to declutter the city. Most people will retrieve their belongings and be back on the streets quickly. Or they'll move their tagged items two blocks away or to another neighborhood nearby. The city would do better to install more permanent storage bins for homeless people and to put more outreach workers on the streets.

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Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Special belt to be created for Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao victor

It is the most anticipated fight in the history of boxing, so it only makes sense the victor will receive a special belt, possibly containing emeralds or platinum. 

Undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao will square off in the ring May 2, finally. While the two prepare for the bout, a special welterweight champion belt will be created, said World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman.

"For this special recognition, I would like to have emeralds or platinum, but everything will be defined during the next weeks," Sulaiman said in a statement posted to the WBC website. "This is because of the magnitude of the event, which will be broadcast via TV networks globally."

No additional details were given about what will surely be an epic piece of hardware.

Mayweather enters the fight with a record of 47-0, 26 wins coming by knockout, while Pacquiao has a record of 57-5-2 (38 knockouts).

Sulaiman acknowledged the fight would once again bring boxing into the mainstream.

"It came in a good moment, and it will be an emotive event," Sulaiman said. "Both are obviously putting their legacy at stake, to prove who's the best, satisfying an enormous created expectance. They are also competing to be considered one of the best 10 fighters in the entire boxing history."

Still, the WBC president said it was disappointing that a fight so many want to see will be practically impossible to attend for the average person.

"It is a big shame that tickets are staying with wealthy people," Sulaiman said. "However, boxing fans will have the opportunity to watch the fight via TV. Economic interests are involved with resulting high prices."

Follow Ryan Parker on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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High-density development on voters' radar in L.A.'s Council District 6

Jim Stein stands before a wooded lot across from Birmingham High School and describes a 187-unit apartment complex that a builder hopes to put there.

It would rise six stories and add 1,000 car trips through the area each day. And there would be just one way in and out — onto busy Victory Boulevard.

As a hawk idling overhead takes a steep dive into brush, the 60-year Lake Balboa resident shakes his head. "From this to a six-story apartment building?" Stein says. "I don't think so."

To Stein and other residents, the planned Balboa Park Terrace exemplifies their concern that developers are eyeing empty lots in the central San Fernando Valley for new, high-density housing developments, threatening the character of their single-family residential neighborhoods. And they especially want to know who is giving money to the two candidates vying March 3 to represent them on the Los Angeles City Council.

District 6 incumbent Nury Martinez is backed by an array of development and real estate interests that voters like Stein find troubling. Of the more than $480,000 that Martinez and independent groups supporting her run have raised so far, campaign finance records show that $91,400 has come from real estate and construction interests.

Martinez's biggest source of support, $141,700, is from unions.

Challenger Cindy Montanez, by contrast, has raised a total of $58,200. Her biggest support groups are lawyers, who gave $10,070; financial services, $7,100; and retirees, $6,279. She received $5,900 from contributors connected to real estate and construction.

Stein, who is supporting Montanez, joined three other Lake Balboa residents last week to protest Martinez's appearance at a $700-a-plate fundraiser at an Encino law firm, co-hosted by Brad Rosenheim, a consultant hired by the Moss Group, the Balboa Park developer.

The project is on hold while Moss attempts to work out differences with Lake Balboa residents.

Longtime Valley developer David Spiegel, meanwhile, has given $20,700 to the Martinez reelection effort. His company, Spiegel Development, is seeking approval to build a single-family home and 25 townhouse-style units on lots zoned for single-family residences in Panorama City. That development, too, has drawn objections from local residents.

Both projects require zoning changes that would have to be approved by the Council. And members generally follow the wishes of the colleague in whose district the change would occur.

"Anybody who is conscious of how things appear to the public would be ashamed to be anywhere near that,'' Lake Balboa music teacher Bill Haller said of last week's Martinez fundraiser. "But she doesn't seem too concerned. She thinks we're an electorate that is not interested in what's going on."

Roy Behr, Martinez's campaign consultant, called the protests over the apartment project a "fake issue created by the Montanez campaign." Moss withdrew its application after Martinez wrote a Jan. 22 letter saying she would not support it without neighborhood backing, he said. Behr did not mention that a working group, made up of local residents and Moss officials, has been convened to try to work out differences.

"Moss contributed to Nury despite the fact that she is opposed to their project, clearly demonstrating that Nury is an independent vote," Behr said. "In addition, Moss contributed to Cindy Montanez in 2013, so she has no standing to make accusations about their contribution." City records show that Moss gave Montanez $1,200 and Martinez $500 in the 2013 special election that Martinez won in a come-from-behind vote. For their matchup next week, Moss contributed $700 to Martinez only.

Behr said Martinez turned down another project on Louise Street in Lake Balboa after hearing from neighbors. He accused Montanez of running a campaign "devoid of real issues." Lake Balboa resident Carol Newman, meanwhile, said Martinez's stance on the Balboa Park Terrace complex earned her admiration.

"That letter was stronger than anything I've expected for someone on the City Council to write,'' said Newman, a real estate lawyer who hopes that a compromise on the project can be reached.

Haller, the music teacher, said the temporary halt to the apartment project doesn't allay his concerns.

"This will be the typical 'we'll wait until after the election and if Nury Martinez is elected, here's your brand new building folks,''' he said. "And we get the traffic problems, the congestion and the pollution."



Follow @csaillant2 for more news from L.A. City Hall

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Mayor Eric Garcetti's silence on L.A. issues helps no one

Averse to controversy and hesitant to take sides, Mayor Eric Garcetti has often avoided staking out positions on divisive issues over his 19-month tenure. But finally, he has taken an unambiguous stand, telling Angelenos that … his favorite movie is "Airplane!"

OK, fine, good to know. But on too many other significant decisions facing local lawmakers and voters, Garcetti is still mum.

Garcetti has declined, for instance, to take a position on Charter Amendments 1 and 2, the measures on next week's ballot that would move local election dates from March and May of odd-numbered years to June and November of even-numbered years to coincide with gubernatorial and presidential elections. The idea is to boost L.A.'s dismal voter participation by merging local elections with state and national contests that tend to have higher turnout.

But when asked if he supported the ballot measures, Garcetti told the Daily News that he would not take a position. Why? "Because I can see both sides of the issue," the mayor said. What kind of cop-out is that? Voters have to make a choice about this complicated question — one that Garcetti himself agreed should be put to them — so why shouldn't he tell them where he stands on it?

Garcetti also said that he didn't want to take a public stand on a ballot measure from which he could benefit personally. (City officials elected in 2015 and 2017 would serve a one-time 51/2 -year term to adjust to the new election schedule.) But if he stands to gain from it, all the more reason to explain why it is in voters' interests to pass it — or why it is not. Staying out of the fray helps no one.

Taken in isolation, Garcetti's silence on the charter amendments wouldn't be that big of a deal. But he has repeatedly punted, rather than confronted, controversial issues. When the City Council overruled the recommendation of Garcetti's Recreation and Parks Commission and his general manager to give the multimillion-dollar Greek Theatre contract to a new operator, the mayor was silent, not even bothering to defend the department head who works for him. Garcetti also had no comment when the council, charged with getting a second opinion on the impact of raising the city's minimum wage, attempted to hire the same U.C. Berkeley economists who had given the first opinion. And while past mayors have worked to elect school board members and shape education policy in the L.A. Unified School District, Garcetti has largely avoided the discussion.

L.A. needs a mayor with opinions. Garcetti should be at the forefront of the city's controversies. He should tell voters what he supports and opposes because his positions and his reasoning are indicative of his priorities and his leadership. It's time to speak up, Mr. Mayor, and tell the people what you think.

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Boys' basketball: Wednesday's City playoff result and updated pairings

Written By kolimtiga on Kamis, 26 Februari 2015 | 12.56




Quarterfinal, Wednesday

Douglass 78, Dymally 33

Semifinals, Friday, 7 p.m.

#4 Vaughn at #1 Douglass

#3 Central City Value at #2 Middle College

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 4, 7 p.m. at Roybal.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Girls' basketball: Wednesday's Southern Section playoff scores and updated pairings




Championship semifinals, Friday, 7 p.m.

#4 Alemany at #1 Mater Dei

#2 Long Beach Poly at #3 Chaminade

Consolation semifinals, Friday. 7 p.m.

#16 Riverside North at #12 Gardena Serra

#15 Cajon at #14 Oaks Christian

NOTES: Consolation final, March 6 at TBA. Championship, March 6/7 at TBA.


Second round, Wednesday

Windward 81, Fountain Valley 38

Chino Hills 47, Great Oak 46

Lynwood 40, Arcadia 33

Valencia 75, Upland 48

Millikan 76, Warren 63

Crescenta Valley 51, San Clemente 36

Los Alamitos 44, Culver City 30

Etiwanda 60, King 38

Quarterfinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#8 Chino Hills at #1 Windward

#4 Valencia at #5 Lynwood

#3 Millikan at #11 Crescenta Valley

#2 Etiwanda at #7 Los Alamitos

NOTES: Semifinals, Tuesday. Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Second round, Wednesday

Burbank Burroughs 45, Westminster 25

Peninsula 59, Paloma Valley 35

Newbury Park 58, Murrieta Valley 50

West Torrance 71, Placentia Valencia 36

Foothill 73, Burbank 28

Valley View 72, El Rancho 45

Alta Loma 50, Edison 47

Troy 70, Yucaipa 43

Quarterfinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#9 Peninsula at #1 Burbank Burroughs

#12 Newbury Park at #4 West Torrance

#6 Valley View at #3 Foothill

#10 Alta Loma at #2 Troy

NOTES: Semifinals, Tuesday. Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Second round, Wednesday

Redondo 56, Ayala 42

Tesoro 50, Arroyo Grande 42

Summit 76, Thousand Oaks 59

Santa Barbara 60, Chino 52

Eisenhower 50, Walnut 47

Norco 58, Woodbridge 38

Canyon Country Canyon 65, Oak Hills 60

Mira Costa 63, West Covina 35

Quarterfinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#9 Tesoro at #1 Redondo

#4 Santa Barbara at #5 Summit

#6 Norco at #3 Eisenhower

#10 Canyon Country Canyon at #2 Mira Costa

NOTES: Semifinals, Tuesday. Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Second round, Wednesday

Lakeside 68, Arroyo 38

Colony 46, Cerritos 44

Buena 53, Grand Terrace 27

Rio Mesa 54, Victor Valley 39

South Torrance 86, Mayfair 46

Patriot 41, Murrieta Mesa 31

San Jacinto 55, Agoura 53

Hart 65, Tustin 44

Quarterfinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Lakeside at #9 Colony

#4 Rio Mesa at #5 Buena

#3 South Torrance at #6 Patriot

#2 Hart at #7 San Jacinto

NOTES: Semifinals, Tuesday. Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

North Torrance 66, Esperanza 26

Corona del Mar 57, Sonora 47

South Hills 50, Antelope Valley 47

El Dorado 71, Northwood 37

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#5 Corona del Mar at #1 North Torrance

#6 South Hills at #2 El Dorado

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Orange Lutheran 40, El Segundo 29

Lompoc 58, Brentwood 54

Santa Margarita 54, Lompoc Cabrillo 42

South Pasadena 66, Lakewood St. Joseph 38

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#4 Lompoc at #1 Orange Lutheran

#2 South Pasadena at #3 Santa Margarita

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

JSerra 70, Estancia 37

Rosary 57, St. Monica 51

Bishop Montgomery 69, Twentynine Palms 40

Harvard-Westlake 73, Duarte 51

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 JSerra at #4 Rosary

#3 Bishop Montgomery at #2 Harvard-Westlake

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Fairmont Prep 78, Maranatha 55

Marlborough 60, Marymount 44

St. Paul 64, Notre Dame Academy 52

Quarterfinal, Thursday, 7 p.m.

#11 Canoga Park AGBU at #3 Cantwell-Sacred Heart

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Fairmont Prep at #5 Marlborough

#3 Cantwell-Sacred Heart/#11 Canoga Park AGBU winner at #2 St. Paul

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Orangewood Academy 64, Buckley 35

Aquinas 52. Mission Prep 42

Flintridge Prep 65, Burbank Providence 43

Ribet Academy 58, Santa Maria St. Joseph 41

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Orangewood Academy at #5 Aquinas

#3 Flintridge Prep at #2 Ribet Academy

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Bloomington Christian 56, Pilibos 28

Avalon 59, CSDR 56

Thacher 44, Woodcrest Christian 42

Bishop Diego 54, Pacifica Christian 46

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Bloomington Christian at #5 Avalon

#2 Bishop Diego at #14 Thacher

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.


Quarterfinals, Wednesday

Price 60, Pilgrim 18

Hemet Cornerstone Christian 65, Crossroads Christian 27

Rio Hondo Prep 51, Hesperia Christian 37

California Lutheran 26, St. Monica Academy 23

Semifinals, Saturday, 7 p.m.

#1 Price at #4 Hemet Cornerstone Christian

#2 California Lutheran at #3 Rio Hondo Prep

NOTES: Championship, Mar. 6 or 7.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Kamala Harris the 'prohibitive favorite' for Senate, which has drawbacks

With Antonio Villaraigosa no longer a threat to her campaign for U.S. Senate, some Democratic leaders see state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris as Barbara Boxer's inevitable successor.

"I think she is a prohibitive favorite," said Eric Bauman, the party's Los Angeles County chairman.

But uncertainties abound as Harris trudges toward the June 2016 primary and, should she finish first or second, the runoff that November. Potential rivals have more than a year to declare their candidacies.

A significant faction of the state Democratic Party is still yearning for another Latino to get in the race, now that Villaraigosa has declined to run.

Several members of Congress, all of whom have more federal policy experience than Harris, are exploring whether to join the race. And as the first major candidate, Harris will face a prolonged period of scrutiny of her record by the media and political adversaries.

Bill Carrick, a longtime campaign advisor to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said it was unlikely that Harris would glide into the Senate without vigorous opposition.

"I think it's very hard to get a free pass in American politics," he said. "Politics abhors a vacuum."

Both Boxer and Feinstein faced fiercely contested Democratic primaries before winning their Senate seats in 1992. The election next year will be California's first since then with an open Senate seat.

On Tuesday, Villaraigosa, a former Los Angeles mayor, became the latest in a string of big-name Democrats to decline to run for Boxer's seat since the four-term senator announced last month she would not seek reelection.

For Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney, early positioning as a presumed front-runner is not entirely an asset, even if it allows her to get a jump on the tedious but crucial task of fundraising.

"She has as much of a lock on this as Hillary Clinton had on the Democratic nomination for president in 2007 and 2008," said Antonio Gonzalez, president of the William C. Velasquez Institute, a Latino think tank.

Gonzalez said efforts by Harris supporters to clear the field for her "won't be successful."

In Napa Valley on Wednesday, Villaraigosa spoke at a private lunch of the California Legislative Latino Caucus, which commissioned a poll last month to gauge voter interest in a Latino candidate for Senate.

Asked whether he hoped another Latino would enter the race, Villaraigosa said, "There's a lot of talent in this state.

"It's always good to have a debate of ideas," he added.

Some Latino lawmakers were openly unenthused by the prospect of Harris facing minimal opposition.

"I'm hoping that more people enter the fray," said state Sen. Ben Hueso (D-San Diego).

Harris was raising campaign money Wednesday in Washington, where she was also attending a meeting of the National Assn. of Attorneys General.

Several of her would-be rivals have substantial sums of federal election money already in the bank, including Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), who started the year with more than $2.1 million.

Schiff said Wednesday that Villaraigosa's exit "means that there is a profound opportunity for a strong Southern California candidate."

"I think there's a real hunger to have a representative from the south, and so that's wide open," he said in an interview at the Capitol. "I'm certainly giving it a lot of thought."

House members face the tough choice of whether to abandon relatively safe seats for what would be an uphill statewide race. Schiff was just installed as the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), who in two decades has climbed to the upper ranks of the party's House leadership, said Wednesday that he still had "a lot of work and a lot of listening to do" before he decided whether to run for Senate.

Another uncertainty for Harris is the potential emergence of a rich candidate who could fund a campaign. Also unknown is whether any individuals or interest groups will take advantage of the unlimited independent spending allowed in a Senate race.

"It's the outside spending, I think, that's going to make a critical difference this time around," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a USC public policy professor and veteran analyst of California politics.

How deftly Harris will respond to politically sensitive issues also remains unclear.

In an interview last week, for example, she declined to say whether, if she were a senator, she would attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming address to a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) without consulting the White House, drawing a rebuke from President Obama and leading some Democrats to vow to boycott the speech.

A senior Harris advisor, Brian Brokaw, said Harris' position now was that she would not boycott the speech.

Brokaw did not respond to repeated inquiries about whether Harris agreed with Obama's national security advisor, Susan Rice, that Netanyahu's decision to give the speech was "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between Israel and the United States.

Twitter: @finneganLAT

Twitter: @mcgreevy99

Times staff writer Michael A. Memoli in Washington contributed to this report.

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Movement builds to correct major flaw in Prop. 47

All of us must have been snoring when Proposition 47 passed. If anyone was awake and noticed a huge flaw, nothing was said. Nary a peep.

That's too often the problem with ballot initiatives. They're products of focus groups and polling to see what sells. They're not filtered through the checks and balances of the legislative process, which can detect glitches and head off unintended consequences.

Starting in 2016, however, the Legislature will be allowed to tinker with initiatives if sponsors agree.

Prop. 47 was the measure that reduced many drug and property crimes from possible felonies to mere misdemeanors. It passed in a landslide last November.

Here's the big flaw: It is resulting in far fewer DNA samples being taken from suspects. And that is making it much harder — sometimes impossible — to solve old violent crimes such as murder and rape.

That's because state law allows cops to collect DNA only from felony suspects. Now that so many crimes have been reduced to misdemeanors, there are several thousand fewer DNA samples being taken each month.

Also, there's a legal question — pending in the courts — whether 255,000 samples already in the state database can be used to solve past crimes.

"DNA is the greatest tool ever given to law enforcement to find the guilty and exonerate the innocent," says Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert.

Before being elected D.A. last year, Schubert worked for two decades solving crimes with DNA. She'd match the DNA of an arrestee — often the suspect in a drug or property crime — with the DNA found at the scene of a murder, rape or other violent crime.

"We know statistically that there is a high correlation between drug and theft crimes with violent crimes," she says. The D.A. cites studies showing that the DNA of suspects in low-level crimes frequently matches DNA found in past violent crimes.

Schubert is the one who sounded the alarm on this flaw in Prop. 47.

She's an interesting story in herself. Schubert, 51, is openly lesbian and a Republican in a county where Democrats enjoy a nearly 13 percentage-point registration advantage. She upset a Democratic establishment favorite endorsed by Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris and Gov. Jerry Brown, who rarely embraces any candidate.

Schubert last week persuaded a local freshman assemblyman — Democrat Jim Cooper of Elk Grove — to introduce corrective legislation. AB 390 would allow DNA collections from everyone convicted of crimes that were lowered to misdemeanors under Prop. 47. Unlike before 47, however, suspects wouldn't be forced to submit samples merely upon arrest.

Why not collect it from arrestees too? "I don't think it would pass," says Cooper, a former sheriff's deputy. "Fundamentally, people don't want to see Prop. 47 changed."

San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon was a leading advocate of Prop. 47. The D.A. recently acknowledged to the Sacramento Bee that he realized the initiative would reduce DNA collections, but this was "not a primary area of concern."

In other words, it was deemed more important to substantially reduce penalties for drug and property crimes than to catch and lock up murderers and rapists.

Gascon doesn't have a position on the new DNA bill. if legislators decide that more DNA should be collected, Gascon said, "that is a topic worthy of significant debate."

The Legislature and governor can correct this problem on their own without placing another measure on the ballot. All the lawmakers need to do is tweak the DNA law, not Prop. 47.

But Prop. 47 would need to be amended by voters to correct two other glaring flaws that were well-known before the election but basically ignored.

One I've written about. Because the initiative reduced from a possible felony to always a misdemeanor the theft of property valued at under $950, it meant that stealing most any gun was punishable by essentially a wrist slap. Same with possessing or selling a stolen firearm.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) has introduced a bill, AB 150, to restore the old penalties for gun theft: Stealing one of any value would be a felony. Possessing a stolen weapon could be a felony or a misdemeanor.

A third flaw involves so-called date rape drugs. When Prop. 47 reduced the penalty for narcotics possession from a possible felony to a misdemeanor, it included these insidious drugs. Only suspects previously convicted of a serious crime can now be charged with a felony.

"Let's be honest," says freshman Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a former highway patrolman, "if you have a date-rape drug in your pocket, your intention is not to get high."

Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy O'Malley: "These are really predator drugs. There's no reason for people to possess them other than for the purpose of committing sexual crime."

There seems to be bipartisan support to correct this. Lackey and Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) are teamed on legislation, AB 46, to allow prosecutors to charge possessors of a date-rape drug with either a felony or a misdemeanor.

Both the firearms and date-rape bills would need to go on the statewide ballot.

"When an initiative such as Prop. 47 is placed before voters, the potential for unintended consequences arises," Galgiani told reporters.

The Legislature and governor — who took no stand on 47 — now should do their jobs by beginning to reverse those unfortunate consequences. Everyone is finally awake.


Twitter: @LATimesSkelton

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Sea turtle arrives at SeaWorld San Diego after flight on Coast Guard aircraft

Written By kolimtiga on Rabu, 25 Februari 2015 | 12.56

Solstice, an endangered olive ridley sea turtle, arrived at SeaWorld San Diego on Tuesday after a trip on a Coast Guard aircraft from Oregon to Coronado.

The sea turtle was found near death Dec. 21 off the coast of Washington and taken to the Oregon Coast Aquarium for emergency care for her injuries and initial rehabilitation.

At SeaWorld, she will receive additional rehabilitation before being released in late summer or early fall when the ocean water is warmer.

Solstice was brought to North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado aboard a Coast Guard C-130, stationed in Sacramento, which was on a training flight from Newport, Ore. She was then taken by truck to SeaWorld.

When she was discovered on the Long Beach Peninsula in southwest Washington, she was comatose, dehydrated and 15 degrees below her normal body temperature.

Five other turtles were found dead in recent months along the coast of Washington and Oregon, victims of unusually cold currents, according to specialists at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

As a female of reproductive years, the return of Solstice to the ocean is important to the survival of the species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Twitter: @LATSandiego

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Boys' basketball: Oaks Christian wins a thriller over Notre Dame, 51-49

With Sherman Oaks Notre Dame fans coming out en masse dressed in neon, the Knights' home-court advantage on Tuesday night in a Southern Section Division 4AA quarterfinal game against Oaks Christian was a tough one.

But Oaks Christian (17-10) received 24 points from Austen Moye and breathed a sigh of relief when a shot by Chibueze Jacobs at the buzzer went in and out to enable the Lions to escape with a 51-49 victory. They will play Crespi in Friday's semifinals.

Notre Dame rallied behind Gabe Rishwain, who had eight points in the fourth quarter. Jacobs also was outstanding, finishing with 21 points.

But the Knights (14-15) had too many turnovers, the most costly an errant pass on an out of bounds play with 9.3 seconds left when the Knights were trying to set up a final possession. They did get the ball back with under eight seconds left after Moye made one of two free throws. Jacobs drove the length of the court and seemed to score until the unlucky bounce.

The other 4AA semifinal will match Chaminade and San Luis Obispo Mission Prep. It took a 44-point performance by Columbia-bound Quinton Adlesh to lift Mission Prep to a 91-80 win over Harvard-Westlake, ending the 30-year coaching career of the Wolverines' Greg Hilliard. Alex Copeland finished with 26 points for Harvard-Westlake.

Chaminade defeated Morningside, 77-66. Michael Oguine scored 28 points.

Crespi held off St. Francis, 45-40. Brandon Williams had 15 points. Crespi will host Oaks Christian on Friday. Chaminade will be at Mission Prep.


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Federal judge rejects challenge to L.A. council's 2012 redistricting

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a three-year-old legal challenge to the boundaries drawn for Los Angeles' 15 City Council districts, saying she found no evidence that race was the predominant factor in creating the new maps.

U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall said lawyers for the city provided "undisputed evidence" that the boundaries approved by the council achieved "traditional non-racial redistricting" goals, such as keeping distinct communities and neighborhood councils in the same district.

The ruling delivered a major victory to council President Herb Wesson, who presided over the once-a-decade redistricting process and is now seeking a third term in Tuesday's election. The decision also dealt a blow to a group of Koreatown residents who argued that the map-making process diluted the neighborhood's voting power and unlawfully divided it into multiple districts.

Foes of the 2012 redistricting vote maintained that Wesson's district, which stretches from Koreatown to the Crenshaw corridor, was drawn primarily based on race, with council members explicitly working to increase the percentage of African American voters within its borders. Opponents said a district in South Los Angeles, now represented by Councilman Curren Price, was also racially gerrymandered.

In her decision, Marshall described both districts as geographically compact and racially diverse, unlike those that have been struck down in other federal court cases. The demographics, she said, "do not support plaintiffs' claim that the city … engaged in the 'unlawful segregation of races of citizens into different voting districts,'" she wrote.

Wesson praised the city's lawyers for providing "excellent" representation.

"It's now time to move on with the city's business," he said in a statement.

The council's redistricting process produced grievances that continue to reverberate today. In South Los Angeles, Councilman Bernard C. Parks has accused Wesson and his colleagues of stripping his district of economic assets, such as USC. Meanwhile, candidates running to replace Councilman Tom LaBonge in Tuesday's election say their district is too sprawling, stretching from Silver Lake to Sherman Oaks and southwest to Hancock Park.

Koreatown activist Grace Yoo, who testified against the boundaries in 2012 and is now running to unseat Wesson, said she was "extremely disappointed" with the judge's decision. She said Wesson himself made statements that bolstered the plaintiffs' case.

In 2012, months after the redistricting vote, Wesson was recorded telling a group of ministers that the maps were drawn in a way that ensured that "a minimum of two of the council people will be black for the next 30 years."

"We have Wesson talking about how these [lines] were drawn for racial purposes on video," she said.

In her ruling, Marshall said that the evidence showed only that "some individuals" -- Wesson and one of his appointees on the city's redistricting commission -- "may have been motivated by racial considerations." To prevail, the plaintiffs needed evidence to show that race was "the predominant or only motivating factor," she wrote.

The council district boundaries have been in place since July 2012. Voters went to the polls in 2013 to elect new representatives in roughly half of those districts. Tuesday's election will see contests for another seven council seats.

Follow @DavidZahniser for what's happening at Los Angeles City Hall

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Up next for Clippers: Wednesday at Houston

Clippers tonight


When: 5 p.m. PST.

Where: Toyota Center.

On the air: TV: ESPN, Prime Ticket; Radio: 980, 1330.

Records: Clippers 37-20; Rockets 38-18.

Record vs. Rockets: 2-0.

Update: The Clippers have held James Harden to an average of 12.5 points in their two victories over Houston, well below Harden's NBA-leading average of 27.3. Harden made only eight of 24 shots in the two games. The Rockets are still without center Dwight Howard, who remains sidelined by swelling in his knee. Houston point guard Patrick Beverley missed the Rockets' victory over Minnesota on Monday because of flu symptoms.

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Snoozing can lead to losing; Ducks are living proof

Written By kolimtiga on Selasa, 24 Februari 2015 | 12.56

After a good start carried them to the top of the Pacific Division, the Ducks understandably slipped into cruise control in early February.

"It's a tough time of year whether you're at the bottom or the top. When you're at the top it's almost tougher," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "You get a little complacent and lose a game here or there and you don't think it's that big a deal, and all of a sudden it's two or three and you decide you've got to wake up."

They believe they're awake now. "I hope so," Getzlaf said Monday before they faced the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center. "I thought we looked good the last couple days. I think our game's rounded a little bit better and the excitement around the room seems a little bit higher than it was."

The Ducks are following a familiar pattern with a third straight strong regular-season performance. The trick is avoiding a third straight early playoff exit.

"You take the last two years and how the playoffs went to Game 7s — Game 7s that we haven't exactly come out ready to play — and it's tough," winger Kyle Palmieri said of losses to Detroit and the Kings. "Ninety percent of this group was there and went through it. It's one of those things you never want to experience again."

Home games this week against Detroit, Ottawa and the Kings should provide a measure of where they stand. They'll also play Sunday at Dallas before Monday's NHL trade deadline.

A shaky defense has forced them to rethink the idea that center Ryan Kesler, acquired last summer, was the final piece for a Stanley Cup run. Defenseman Eric Brewer, acquired from Tampa Bay on Nov. 28, has looked painfully slow — and he's not alone in that. General Manager Bob Murray needs a second-pair defenseman and might have to trade a roster player for one. He isn't looking for a rental player and has rejected requests for top prospect Shea Theodore. The Ducks have salary cap space but don't spend to the limit.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he has been most bothered by the high number of goals against, a lack of consistency, and a tendency to unravel after allowing a goal. "But I think they're very correctable and there's a lot of time to correct them," he said.

Only if they're fully awake.

Gold medal anniversary

Tuesday is the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Olympic hockey team's gold medal-clinching victory over Finland at Lake Placid, a feat no U.S. men's team has matched. Mike Eruzione, captain of the 1980 team, would welcome company in the U.S. Olympic history books.

"We're not the '72 Dolphins. We want to see gold medals," he said.

The college kids-vs.-Goliath theme that made the 1980 triumph over the Soviets and Finns so stunning was removed from the equation when NHL players began representing their homelands at the 1998 Nagano Games. However, the NHL, the NHL Players' Assn. and the International Olympic Committee haven't yet reached agreement on sending NHL players to the 2018 Games at Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Eruzione favors reverting to sending college kids. "I would like to see it, but I still root for the pros as well. Every time our country competes at the international level, whether it's the world championships, the world juniors or the Olympic Games, I hope they win," he said. "We go into a tournament now as one of the favorites, and that's great to see. The sport has grown so much. . . .

"Whether we send college kids or pro players, I still want to see our teams be competitive and win because it's a great message to the world about how far we've come in hockey."

Outdoors and outstanding

Levi's Stadium lacked the charm of Dodger Stadium, where the Kings and Ducks played outdoors last year, but what the NHL lost in ambience last Saturday it gained in revenue: The crowd of 70,205 at the Kings' 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks was the third-largest for an NHL outdoor game.

Commissioner Gary Bettman, who initially opposed staging outdoor games in California, is willing to return here. But he hedged when asked if it will happen soon.

"The 'soon' part I don't know the answer to because the outdoor games remain in such demand," he said. "Do I envision us coming back at some point for more outdoor games? The answer is absolutely. It's been great and we couldn't ask for a better time, whether it was last year at Dodger Stadium or here at Levi's.

"The combination of seeing this many NHL/hockey fans in California shows you exactly what the game has accomplished, what these three franchises have accomplished in a relatively brief period of time, if you compare their history to, say, the Original Six."

A game at the Rose Bowl would be spectacular, but waiting a few years is fine. Too many outdoor games would spoil the novelty.

Slap shots

The teetering Bruins lost center David Krejci for four to six weeks because of a torn knee ligament. . . . Jaromir Jagr, unhappy with reduced ice time since General Manager Lou Lamoriello became New Jersey's interim coach, reportedly is open to being traded. . . . Left wing Curtis Glencross, unable to negotiate a contract with Calgary, gave the Flames a list of acceptable trade destinations. It's believed his list includes the Kings and Ducks but he's not among the Kings' targets. Any move they make would likely be on defense. . . . Defenseman Jeff Petry, prized as a right-handed shooter, missed Edmonton's last two games because of a rib injury but that won't hurt his trade value as a rental player.


Twitter: @helenenothelen

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San Francisco residents relying less on private automobiles

San Franciscan Rian Adams has broken her reliance on the automobile. Parking in the city's congested urban core where she lives and works is too much hassle, and her two-mile commute typically takes five minutes on BART.

Around town, the 34-year-old says, "I don't drive anywhere."

Nor do a lot of others in the City by the Bay.

In stark contrast to car-dependent Los Angeles, studies show that most trips in the burgeoning tech metropolis are now made by modes of transportation other than the private automobile.

Travel surveys by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency over the last two years have shown that 54% and 52% of all trips, respectively, involved public transit, walking, bicycles and various car-share or ride-share operations such as Uber and Lyft.

Researchers found that 25% of the trips, whether commuting to work, going to dinner, shopping or other outings, were on transit, while nearly as many — 23% — were on foot. Use of a bicycle, taxi, car-share or ride-share accounted for 4%. In 2012, trips were split 50-50 between personal vehicles and the other modes.

Some earlier and admittedly less accurate studies done a few years ago found that more than 60% of trips involved private vehicles.

Driving solo still was the leading means of getting around in San Francisco last year, representing 27% of all trips. Carpooling accounted for about one in five private vehicles trips — double the national average.

"We are encouraged," said Tom Maguire, director of the transportation agency's Sustainable Streets program. "The goal is to make walking, cycling, transit and ride-sharing so attractive that people will choose to get around that way."

Transportation experts say the city's compact development pattern is especially conducive to leaving the car behind — and contrasts sharply with the urban sprawl and high rates of solo driving prevalent in Los Angeles.

At 47 square miles, San Francisco is relatively small and densely populated. There are more than 17,000 residents per square mile — twice that of Los Angeles.

Moreover, the city has numerous walkable neighborhoods, a dominant commercial and residential core, and a far stronger tradition of transit use across socioeconomic classes.

And, of course, it has some of the worst rush-hour congestion in the nation along with scarce, high-priced parking in the central business district.

Whitney Miller, who lives in Oakland and usually takes BART to her job at a landscape architecture firm in San Francisco, says Bay Area residents gravitate to public transit partly because they are "a little bit more self-conscious" about their greenhouse gas footprint.

But mostly she suspects the city's "unbearable" traffic and parking are pushing people to seek other ways to get around.

"I drive sometimes, but driving home is really awful," says Miller, whose 11-mile commute home can take an hour by car. "There's nowhere to park when you do drive here."

Alan E. Pisarski, a transportation expert and author of a series of books on American commuting, said gentrification and urban core population growth that rivals or exceeds the suburbs also are affecting transportation preferences in San Francisco.

When those factors occur, "all the transportation options begin to fall into place," Pisarski said.

Like San Francisco, the Los Angeles area is moving rapidly to expand transportation options, with tens of billions of dollars of new investment in rail lines, carpool lanes, ride-sharing programs and bicycle routes. But Pisarski and other transportation experts say the nation's second-largest city faces major challenges not shared by its counterpart to the north.

Los Angeles has an entrenched car culture and the city alone is spread out over nearly 10 times the area of San Francisco. Its population density of 8,100 people per square mile is less than half that of the Bay Area city.

Countywide, the land area is an enormous 4,752 square miles, and the density drops to about 2,100 people per square mile. Across this vast region are many large job centers, making downtown Los Angeles less significant as a destination.

Though not strictly comparable to the San Francisco survey, which involves a random sample of residents and asks different questions, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey has found that 77% of commuters in L.A. drive to work alone or in carpools, 11.4% take public transit and 11.6% use other ways to get around.

In the larger county region, 83% of commuters drive to work alone or in carpools and just 7.3% use public transit.

Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Assn. of Governments, a regional planning organization, said local transportation agencies have been investing heavily in light-rail lines, subways and transit buses, as well as cycling and walkable community programs.

"As these systems mature and land use changes, I think the transit share will increase," Ikhrata said. "Will we get to 50% like San Francisco any time soon? No. Are we heading in the right direction? Yes."

Maguire said the most recent survey results for San Francisco show that the region's transportation agency is meeting its goal of having less than half of all trips made by private vehicle.

That's likely to suit Grant Bruce, who opened the Nano Cafe in San Francisco's Mission District five months ago. He chose the location because it was near a transit stop. His commute from the Twin Peaks neighborhood in the geographic center of the city takes about 15 minutes.

A resident of San Francisco for more than two decades, Bruce has always relied on public transit. He doesn't even have a driver's license.

"The driving thing leads to the parking thing," he says. "I don't need it."



Follow @LADeadline16 for transportation news

Have an idea, gripe or question? Times staff writers Laura J. Nelson and Dan Weikel write California Commute and are looking for leads. Please send them along.

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County Fire Department audit finds cheating in hiring, promotions

The Los Angeles County Fire Department found itself Monday engulfed in a growing scandal after auditors uncovered evidence that the type of cheating that undermined the agency's hiring process extended to promotional exams and other testing requirements, including for skills in emergency medical treatment.

The review by the county Auditor-Controller Department audit was launched in response to a Los Angeles Times investigation last year that found that an unusually high number of family members of firefighters were recruited by the department and that insiders had access to the interview questions and answers for job candidates.

Auditors largely confirmed The Times' findings and turned up evidence of more widespread cheating, especially in the improper sharing of test materials by employees, among them a battalion chief and 10 captains.

"Dissemination of examination content between fire personnel is not uncommon," auditors said in their report to the county Board of Supervisors.

The official who oversaw the audit said Monday that his office would give Fire Chief Daryl Osby detailed information about how EMT tests and exams for positions such as captain and dispatcher were compromised.

Robert Campbell, the acting assistant auditor-controller, said the information would be contained in a confidential report and it would be the Fire Department's responsibility to deal with employees who broke the rules.

"We're not the ultimate decision-makers in any disciplinary action," Campbell said of the audit office.

Osby, who had requested the audit, said in an email late Monday that the department "will be addressing each and every substantiated allegation" outlined in the report. He said he would be "resolute in taking the appropriate administrative action against" employees who violated department policies.

Because the audit was confined to issues raised by The Times' investigation, auditors said they did not conduct a comprehensive inquiry into other potential test violations. Investigators for the auditor's officeonly stumbled upon the other breaches while searching emails related to hiring.

They said they did not know "the entire population of examinations that were compromised," and the problem could be worse.

Meanwhile, fire officials told The Times last year that the department used a computer program to randomly select candidates to test for firefighter jobs, which are highly coveted for their six-figure salaries and generous benefits. Auditors, however, determined that the system might not have been random at all, with investigators being told that candidates instead were handpicked by managers. The audit said the managers could not provide documentation for the process used in many of the selections.

"These findings raise questions about the integrity of the selection process," auditors wrote in their report.

Osby sent an email to the Board of Supervisors over the weekend outlining steps the department had taken to reform recruitment procedures, including developing a new exam.

That was not enough for Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Citing the audit's finding that department employees improperly disseminated materials for additional tests, she said, "I find the fire chief's response to us inadequate."

"I think we need to dig further into how broadly this permeated the Fire Department and other examinations," said Kuehl, who is based on the Westside.

She said she was worried about the "talented individuals we are not bringing into the Fire Department because of this kind of cronyism or nepotism," including women and minorities.

Two other supervisors expressed similar concerns. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents South Los Angeles, said he would ask for a follow-up report on the demographics of the job candidates to see if women and minorities had been shut out.

"Absent presentation of demographic data, that's a reasonable conclusion to draw," he said.

He said of the audit's findings: "It's quite problematic, and I think corrective action is warranted, and I think the public has a right to expect it and, indeed, will see it."

The Times reported in its investigation, which was published in October, that just 1.4% of county firefighters were women. At the same time, at least 183 sons of current or former firefighters have served on the force since the start of 2012, according to an analysis of payroll, pension, birth, marriage and other records.

All told, sons represent nearly 7% of the county's 2,750 firefighters.When brothers, nephews and other relatives are included, at least 370 firefighters — 13% of the department ranks —- are related to someone now or previously on the force, The Times found.

Since 2007, the audit said, 15% of the 701 firefighters hired had family connections to the department, figures that mirrored The Times' numbers. Nearly 95% of all applicants for the jobs are rejected.

Supervisor Hilda Solis, who represents the eastern portion of the county, said in a statement that she was "very troubled" by the audit's conclusions.

"The hiring process was compromised, which erodes public trust and prevents the department from identifying the best candidates," she said. "The opportunity to work as a firefighter must be open to all, including women and members of minority groups, who must compete in an environment free of favoritism or nepotism."

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, from the San Fernando Valley area, said in a statement: "There is no excuse for impropriety in administering any of these tests and those responsible must be held accountable."

The audit cited a striking failure of memory among employees who were interviewed about sharing test materials. In one case, the report said, a captain who emailed job interview questions to another captain stepped out of the session with investigators to "confer privately with his union representative, after which he repeatedly stated that he did not recall the circumstances under which he came to be in possession of" the material.

Dave Gillotte, president of Local 1014 of the International Assn. of Fire Fighters, did not respond to requests for comment.

In November, the supervisors voted to set up a "strike team" to oversee the firefighter hiring. That came after then-Supervisor Gloria Molina, who was about to be termed-out for the seat now held by Solis, said hiring should be taken entirely out of the hands of the Fire Department and turned over to the county's personnel agency.

The proposal did not get support from the other board members. Molina said Monday that given the extent of the problem, the board would have "no choice" but to revisit the proposal, or that Osby "should himself turn over the hiring responsibility to the larger human resources office."

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Lakers' Nick Young and Robert Sacre have MRI tests

The Lakers announced Monday that Nick Young and Robert Sacre had MRI tests that didn't disclose any serious injuries.

Young had swelling in his left knee that began to bother him after the Lakers' overtime victory over Boston on Sunday night.

Sacre tried to practice Monday, but Coach Byron Scott said the center felt a sharp pain in his left foot and had to stop.

The Lakers don't play until Wednesday at Utah, giving Young and Sacre another day to rest. Still, the Lakers said each will be listed as questionable against the Jazz.

Scott said that trainer Gary Vitti "didn't seem too overly concerned about" the injuries.

Wesley Johnson comes back strong

Rarely does Wesley Johnson show much emotion, so it was difficult to decipher how the Lakers' reserve small forward felt about not playing against Brooklyn on Friday night.

It turns out the low-key Johnson wasn't happy with Scott's decision.

"I wanted to play so it did bother me the whole time," Johnson said. "I felt like when we played Brooklyn, I felt like I could contribute some, really to just help us win. … But I think it did affect me just not playing."

When Johnson got his chance to play again, Sunday against Boston, he had one of his best games of the season.

Johnson scored a season-high 22 points, missing only two of his 11 shots, and made two of his three three-point shots. He had five rebounds, two assists and played 33 minutes, including all of the fourth quarter and all five minutes in overtime.

"I definitely wanted to show Byron, but I definitely just wanted to play," Johnson said. "I just wanted to go out there and be a part of the team."

Johnson, considered a player with plenty of talent and athleticism, has been inconsistent all season.

Scott smiled and joked that maybe he has found a way to motivate Johnson.

"Maybe I'll have to sit him down against Utah and then maybe he'll come back the next game and play well," Scott said.

After the Jazz, the Lakers play host to Milwaukee on Friday night.

Johnson knows what's at stake.

He's in his fifth season in the NBA and is in the final year of his contract.

"I can control what I can control," Johnson said. "I just go out there and just play. At the end of the season, then we talk about it. But right now, I just control how I play and trying to be consistent."

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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Winter storm brings flash flood warnings to Ventura, Orange counties

Written By kolimtiga on Senin, 23 Februari 2015 | 12.56

A cold front sweeping through Southern California on Sunday night is expected to bring mostly light to moderate rainfall, but those living in burn areas and at higher elevations could see treacherous weather conditions.

In the Camarillo Springs burn area in Ventura County, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning until at least 9:15 p.m. Sunday, predicting "imminent" floods and possible debris flows. Residents are advised to remain at home.

Farther south in the Santa Ana Mountains, the Silverado Canyon is under a flash flood watch extending through early Monday morning, with debris flows expected on account of heavy rains.

The Colby fire burn area in Glendora and Altadena isn't expected to see flooding or debris flows, but out of caution, Glendora city officials elevated the emergency alert level and advised residents not to put their garbage cans in the street in the event that heavy rains topple them.

Mountains across Southern California -- with the exception of the Santa Monica Mountains -- are expected to see snow at elevations above 6,000 feet, according to the weather service. 

Los Angeles and Ventura counties could see up to 7 inches of snow at high elevations by Monday morning, while Riverside and San Bernardino could see up to a foot of snow.

Drivers at lower elevations aren't immune to hazard. Those passing through the San Gabriel Mountains, especially on Highway 2, could see icy conditions and low visibility.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno. 

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Oscars 2015: Statement jewelry on the red carpet

The Oscars is when jewelers open up the vaults and bring out the best bling, on loan of course, for Hollywood's biggest stars to parade down the red carpet. And this year was no exception.

Not only were there statement necklaces (Margot Robbie's Van Cleef & Arpels' "Zip Antique Colombine" with diamonds and sapphires, and Cate Blanchett's outfit-making turquoise Tiffany & Co. bib), there were also statement earrings, bracelets, even a statement lapel pin, a 19th century clover diamond Fred Leighton brooch worn by Common.

Click through the gallery to see the night's most unforgettable baubles.

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Oscars 2015: 'Birdman' is best picture; Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne win top acting honors

"Birdman" soared at the 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, winning best film as well as directing honors for Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

The dark comedy, starring Michael Keaton as a washed-up movie superhero who seeks redemption on the Broadway stage, won four Oscars, including original screenplay and cinematography.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015

Heading into Sunday's ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, "Birdman" was pitted against "Boyhood," Richard Linklater's unique coming-of-age story shot over a 12-year period. But "Boyhood" managed to win only one Academy Award: Patricia Arquette for supporting actress as a beleaguered single mom. 

Arquette's win was expected as were the other three acting honors. 

Julianne Moore won lead actress for playing a professor with early Alzheimer's in "Still Alice," while Eddie Redmayne won lead actor for portraying theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking and his struggle with ALS in "The Theory of Everything."

OSCARS 2015: Complete list | Ballot | Cheat Sheet | Top nominees | Presenters | Timeline

J.K. Simmons won supporting actor for his ruthless music teacher in "Whiplash."

The quartet had not only been critical darlings this awards season but had nabbed nearly every top honor in their categories, including the Golden Globe, the Screen Actors Guild Award and the BAFTA.

The star-studded ceremony at times turned political, with equal pay, women's rights, and the struggle for justice -- especially for minorities and immigrants -- taking center stage.

INTERACTIVE: How to win an Oscar

Iñárritu called for better treatment of Mexican immigrants in America as well as a better government for Mexicans. Singer-songwriters John Legend and rapper Common earned Oscars for original song for "Glory" from the movie "Selma," the historical drama about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s crusade for voting equality. And Legend took the moment to eloquently question how much has really changed in the past half century.

"Selma is now," Legend said, "because the struggle for justice is right now." He went on to say that voting rights are being compromised in some parts of the country and called America "the most incarcerated country in the world," adding that more black men are under the control of the correctional system than were enslaved in 1850.

Arquette used her acceptance speech to call for equality and wage parity for women.

VIDEO: Q&As with the contenders

But there was plenty of entertainment, with Lady Gaga performing a rousing medley from "The Sound of Music," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. She was hugged at the finish by the film's star, Julie Andrews, who gave the original score Oscar to Alexandre Desplat for "The Grand Budapest Hotel."

The win meant that Wes Anderson's whimsical comedy about an eccentric hotel concierge also won four Oscars. Besides score, "Budapest" won Oscars for production and costume design as well as makeup and hairstyling.

Meanwhile, "Whiplash," a drama about a young drummer and his ruthless teacher, won three -- for editing, sound mixing and for Simmons.

INTERACTIVE: Oscars 2015 bingo

"I am grateful every day for the most remarkable person I know, my wife," Simmons said, commenting on her "love, kindness, wisdom, sacrifice." He then goaded his two kids -- as well as kids everywhere -- to call, not text, their parents.

Graham Moore got a rousing standing ovation from the star-studded audience as he accepted his trophy for adapted screenplay for "The Imitation Game," about the struggles of gay Enigma code breaker Alan Turing, who eventually committed suicide.

After thanking friends, family and co-workers, Moore said that at 16 he tried to kill himself because "I felt weird and different, and I felt like I didn't belong." He said his trophy sends a message to all of those who feel like they're weird and don't belong. "Yes, you do," he said, welling with emotion. "Stay weird, stay different, and then when it's your turn, and you're standing on the stage, pass along the same message."

PHOTOS: Oscars 2015 top nominees | Presenters | Nominee reactions | Awkward moments

In other honors, Disney claimed two Oscars -- one for animated feature for "Big Hero 6" and the other for animated short for "Feast." "Interstellar" took honors for visual effects. "American Sniper" won for sound editing. The best foreign language film went to Poland's "Ida," which has been an awards season favorite. And "The Phone Call" won for live action short film. "Citizenfour" won for documentary. "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" won for documentary short subject.

Host Neil Patrick Harris kicked off the awards with a valentine to the movies -- but with a bite.

"Tonight we honor Hollywood's best and whitest, er, brightest," he quipped as he opened the show, referring to controversy over the lack of diversity in the nominees. He then moved into a lavish musical number celebrating the films with dazzling special effects that placed him in such films as "Star Wars" and "Risky Business."

Twitter: @mymackie; @renelynch

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Lakers end seven-game losing streak by beating Celtics in overtime

The Lakers ended their seven-game losing streak with an emotional, overtime victory over the rival Boston Celtics.

Despite blowing a nine-point lead with a minute and a half left in the fourth quarter, the Lakers pulled away in the extra session on a twelve to five run.

Jeremy Lin led all scorers with 25 points off the bench on 10-of-15 shooting, along with six assists.

Reserve Jae Crowder was Boston's high-scorer with 22 points in 30 minutes.

The Lakers seemed to have the game in hand, but Nick Young missed a free throw with 8.2 seconds left.

Avery Bradley hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime after the Lakers chose not to foul when ahead by three points.

Carlos Boozer, who started for the Lakers after Coach Byron Scott chose not to play him at all Friday in a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, was the only Lakers starter in double figures with 12 points.  Boozer replaced rookie Tarik Black, who went scoreless in almost four minutes.

Wesley Johnson, who also didn't play against Brooklyn, scored 22 points on nine-of-11 shooting.  Young added 19 points and Jordan Hill 10 as the team's bench scored 84 of the Lakers' 118 points.

Isaiah Thomas, traded to the Celtics on Thursday by the Phoenix Suns, made his debut with Boston, scoring 21 points before getting a quick ejection after arguing a call in the fourth quarter.

Bradley scored 20 points, Brandon Bass 15, Evan Turner 12 (on five-of-19 shooting) and Marcus Smart 11.  Young did a solid job defensively guarding Turner in overtime, stopping the 6-foot-7 forward when isolated in the post.

Ronnie Price fouled out after an important 18 minutes, ending with just three points but four rebounds, four steals and five assists. 

Smart also left the game before overtime, collecting his sixth foul after 31 minutes. He finished with 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.

The Lakers shot 51.2% from the field and 38.9% from behind the arc (7-18) but missed 13 of 38 (65.8%) of their free throws.

Boston shot 42.9% and 24.2%, respectively, while converting 19 of 27 (70.4%)  from the free-throw line.

Rookie Jordan Clarkson played only 17 1/2 minutes, scoring nine points, while Lin was the driving force for the Lakers in the win.

With the victory, the Lakers climb to 14-41.  They'll visit the Utah Jazz (20-34) on Wednesday night.  The Celtics (22-32) play again on Monday in Phoenix against the Suns (29-27).

Lakers 103, Celtics 103 (end of fourth quarter)

Avery Bradley took advantage of a Nick Young missed free throw, hitting a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime.

The Lakers held a nine-point advantage, 103-94, with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Celtics point guard Marcus Smart and Lakers reserve guard Ronnie Price both fouled out in regulation while Celtics reserve guard Isaiah Thomas was ejected after arguing a call.

Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin and Thomas lead all scorers with 21 points apiece.

Celtics 78, Lakers 73 (end of third quarter)

The Lakers and Celtics battled closely through the third quarter, but Boston went on a late run to finish ahead by five points.

Isaiah Thomas leads all scorers with 18 points in 21 minutes, along with five rebounds but just one assist.

The Lakers got 13 points from Wesley Johnson on five-of-six shooting, 12 points from Jeremy Lin and 10 from Jordan Hill -- all off the bench.  Jordan Clarkson's nine points was the most for the team's starters.

Brandon Bass has 13 points while Avery Bradley has 12 for  Boston, which is shooting 44.1% from the field with 10 turnovers.

The Lakers are shooting 48.2% with 16 miscues.

Celtics 58, Lakers 56 (halftime)

Jeremy Lin helped the Lakers overtake the Celtics, overcoming a nine-point deficit to climb ahead by six points.

By the end of the first half, Boston was back on top with a two-point lead.

Lin scored 12 points on four-of-five shooting in 12 minutes off the bench. The Lakers are shooting 52.6% from the field and 42.9% (3 of 7) from behind the arc . Of the Lakers' 20 field goals, only eight have been assisted.

The Celtics are shooting 48.9% and 23.5% (4-7), respectively. Thirteen of Boston's 22 baskets have been assisted.

Newly acquired Celtics reserve guard Isaiah Thomas leads all scorers with 15 points in 15 minutes. Brandon Bass has 11 and Avery Bradley 10 for Boston.

No other Laker hit double figures, although reserve Wesley Johnson has seven.

Celtics 32, Lakers 26 (end of first quarter)

The Boston Celtics led the Lakers through most of the first quarter, pulling ahead by as many as nine points.

The Lakers closed the gap to six by the end of the quarter, led by Jordan Hill with six points off the bench.

Coach Byron Scott moved veteran forward Carlos Boozer into the starting lineup for Tarik Black.  Boozer scored two points in seven minutes.

The Celtics were led by newcomer Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley with eight points each.  Boston shot 56.5% from the field with three turnovers.

The Lakers made 50% of their shots from the field and had five turnovers. 


The Lakers (13-44) host the Boston Celtics (20-32) on Sunday night at Staples Center.

Boston recently traded with the Phoenix Suns for point guard Isaiah Thomas, who should make his Celtics' debut against the Lakers.

The Lakers will play without Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back), who are all done for the season.

Jared Sullinger (foot) is also out for the year while Kelly Olynyk is sidelined with an ankle injury.

For an in-depth breakdown, check out out Preview: Lakers vs. Boston Celtics.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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Clippers beat Kings for fourth straight win without Blake Griffin

Written By kolimtiga on Minggu, 22 Februari 2015 | 12.56

The Clippers won their fourth consecutive game, beating the Sacramento Kings, 126-99, on Saturday at Staples Center.

They led by as many as 37 points in their fifth consecutive game without Blake Griffin, who is sidelined after having surgery Feb. 9 to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.

The Clippers outscored the Kings, 42-18, in the second quarter and, 31-18, in the third quarter.

Five Clippers finished in double figures, including two reserves.

Austin Rivers, who missed Thursday's game because of a sore left ankle, had a career-high 28 points on 11-for-19 shooting off the bench. He made five of his nine three-point shots.

Jamal Crawford added 23 points off the bench on 10-for-18 shooting. 

J.J. Redick had 24 points, making four of his six three-point attempts. DeAndre Jordan, who has been stellar in the month of Februrary by averaging 17 points on 70% shooting and 16.6 rebounds, finished with 11 points and 15 boards.

Jordan, who had shot 54 free throws in the team's last two games before Saturday, only went to the free-throw line twice, making one of the shots, against the Kings.

The Clippers outshot the Kings from the field, 48.4% to 34.1%, and from beyond the three-point line, 40% to 25%.

The Kings, who were playing without starting point guard Darren Collison and backup big man Reggie Evans, were led by DeMarcus Cousins, who had 21 points and four rebounds.

The Clippers (37-19) are in fifth place in the Western Conference, while the Kings (19-35) are in 13th place.

The Clippers host the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday before leaving for a four-game trip, extending from Feb. 25-March 2.

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NBA roundup: Rockets send Raptors to first road loss in a month

Corey Brewer had a season-high 26 points, James Harden scored 16 of his 20 in Houston's big third quarter, and the Rockets cruised past the visiting Toronto Raptors, 98-76, Saturday night.

The loss ended Toronto's four-game win streak against playoff-bound teams — the Clippers, San Antonio, Washington and Atlanta.

A night after handling the Eastern Conference-leading Hawks, 105-80, the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors had a chance to extend their road winning streak to a franchise-record six games. Instead they were done in by 23 turnovers to lose away from home for the first time since Jan. 21.

New Orleans 105, at Miami 91: Eric Gordon scored 16 of his 24 points in the third quarter and the Pelicans ended a four-game slide despite losing All-Star forward Anthony Davis, who appeared to re-aggravate a right-shoulder injury. Goran Dragic had 12 points in his first game with the Heat, which learned before the game that All-Star center Chris Bosh would miss the rest of the season because of blood clots on one of his lungs. Davis left in the opening minutes while clutching his shoulder in apparent agony.

at Chicago 112, Phoenix 107: Pau Gasol had 22 points and 14 rebounds and the Bulls beat the revamped Suns for their fifth win in six games. P.J. Tucker scored 20 for Phoenix and Brandon Knight had 13 in his Suns debut, but they lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Oklahoma City 110, at Charlotte 103: Russell Westbrook had 33 points and 10 assists as the Thunder, playing without Kevin Durant (sore right foot), won its fifth in a row. Enes Kanter had 10 points and 13 rebounds in his Thunder debut.

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UCLA's upset plans get fouled up at No. 7 Arizona, 57-47

There was a collision above the paint, and Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell went down. UCLA guard Isaac Hamilton raised his hand and stared at the referee, as if to plead.

Hamilton's hand dropped. The foul was on UCLA's Kevon Looney, his fifth. Looney chuckled and jogged to the bench.

There, he joined Tony Parker and Thomas Welsh, who also fouled out. If the Bruins were to complete an unlikely comeback, in likely their most important game of the season, they'd have to do it without any big men for the game's final 3 minutes 22 seconds.

The task ultimately was taller than the remaining players. No. 7 Arizona outrebounded won, 57-47.

It was an unusual end to an unusual game Saturday. Both teams, for stretches, appeared to take over. Then each would disappear. Arizona went scoreless for the game's first six minutes and almost the first seven minutes of the second half. UCLA had its own five-minute drought and its own 17-0 run.

"Obviously, we're not into moral victories," UCLA Coach Steve Alford said. "But I really liked how our guys fought tonight."

The loss leaves UCLA scrambling for an NCAA tournament bid. UCLA (16-12, 8-7 in the Pac-12 Conference) is tied for fourth in the conference standings. A chance at a 20-win regular season is also gone.

"We know we don't have any control over any of that," Bryce Alford said. "We don't get to decide if we're in or not."

After UCLA's 7-0 run to start the first half, Arizona (24-3, 12-2) took a 14-point lead at the half, and its bench players, who had 24 first-half points, outscored UCLA's entire team. By halftime, Looney and Norman Powell had two fouls. Parker had three, and would foul out after playing just 16 minutes.

Then UCLA started the second half with a Looney three-point basket, then another Looney basket. The second half, at least, would be competitive. Then UCLA made another shot and another and more and suddenly, they had, shockingly, regained the lead with a 17-0 run.

But UCLA's foul trouble lingered. Parker fouled out with 9 1/2 minutes remaining. His replacement, Welsh, fouled out less than five minutes later. Arizona's Gabe York made a three-pointer, then Stanley Johnson finished through traffic, and Arizona led by six points. Looney's departure left no doubt.

Arizona's leading scorers were bench players York, who had 13 points, and Dusan Ristic, who scored all 12 points in the first half. He averages just nine minutes and 3.5 points per game this season.

Bryce Alford scored 22 points to lead UCLA. Parker finished with two points and one rebound.

Afterward, Steve Alford was resigned but encouraged.

"I thought we did a lot of good things," he said.

His team limited transition. McConnell was the only Arizona starter in double figures. UCLA's defense, it seems, is starting to click.

"It's late in the game, late in the season, guys are really focusing and understanding how to play with going on runs and getting runs put on you," Powell said.

Saturday's game, the team indicated, was evidence of that. Now, they hope it's not too late.

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L.A. County fire officials shared test questions used in hiring, audit finds

An audit probing allegations of cheating in the Los Angeles County Fire Department's hiring process found that high-ranking officials improperly shared job interview questions and answers that were supposed to be confidential.

The audit was launched in response to a Times investigation last year which found that an unusually high number of family members of firefighters were hired by the department and that insiders had access to the interview questions and answers.


FOR THE RECORD: A previous headline on this article referred to "L.A. fire officials." 


The county review determined that 17 sworn department officials, including one battalion chief and 10 captains, had obtained the testing materials and sent them to others, including to non-county email accounts.

In at least one case, a candidate who received copies of interview questions and answers was the son of a fire captain who sent emails to his father requesting clarification on certain questions, the investigation found. That son was hired.

When interviewed by county investigators, the department employees involved "generally asserted that they did not remember why they circulated examination content or know how it might have been used," auditors wrote.

The audit presents a disturbing picture of how the county's Fire Department managed its hiring process, which is meant to select the best candidates using an exacting regimen of testing and interviews.

Copies of written and oral exams were left in "an unsecured box of paperwork that was left unattended in an empty work station" in the Fire Department's exam section. Department staff inadvertently mailed the internal rating standards to some candidates. And the agency was often unable to provide documents showing how it selected candidates for the written exams, as well as background checks and medical examinations.

"As a result, we could not determine if the selections were random or evaluate the integrity or the objectivity of the process," the auditors wrote.

Fire Chief Daryl Osby could not be reached Saturday for comment on the findings.

In a written response to the auditors, he promised to "communicate to all departmental personnel that disseminating examination content is prohibited and any violation may be subject to discipline." He said he would work with county attorneys and human resources officials to develop improved safeguards. The department will also implement a policy on nepotism, he wrote.

The report did not name the employees who disseminated the exam information. But auditors said they will present the chief with a separate, confidential report that identifies people responsible for the breaches so that the chief "may take appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action."

The Times' investigation, published in October, found that at least 183 sons of current or former firefighters have served in the department since the start of 2012, according to an analysis of payroll, pension, birth, marriage and other records. The known number of sons accounts for nearly 7% of the county's 2,750 firefighters.

When brothers, nephews and other relatives are included, at least 370 firefighters — 13% of the department ranks — are related to someone now or previously on the force.

The county audit said that 15% of the 701 firefighter candidates hired between 2007 and 2014 had family ties to the department.

County auditors cited The Times' investigation, saying the newspaper presented the department with records that showed test questions and answers were being improperly circulated among department employees.

Those records included an email string and an eight-page list that included oral test questions and answers. The tests are used to determine whether and when applicants win a spot in the fire academy, and are supposed to be kept under lock and key.

Two firefighters who lacked authorization to have the eight-page list provided it to the newspaper. One of the firefighters said he hunted down the questions and answers because a co-worker wanted them for a relative.

Auditors conducted a forensic search of 52 million emails in search of instances of test materials being circulated and confirmed that tests administered between 2007 and 2011 were compromised.

They found that "numerous sworn fire personnel, particularly at the rank of fire captain, were disseminating questions and answers" from the tests. They also found "evidence that some candidates may have had access to test preparation assistance (e.g., mock interviews, test preparation guides, etc.) that was not available to the general public."

There is heated competition for county Fire Department jobs, which offer six-figure salaries and generous benefits. Nearly 95% of applicants are turned away.

The dissemination of testing materials to candidates "compromised the integrity of the examination process and provided these candidates with an unfair advantage," the auditors concluded.

It was unclear whether any of the employees cited in the audit have been disciplined.

In one case, a candidate who was later hired sent exam questions to the personal email of a fire captain, who 11 months later forwarded the questions to another captain. Investigators did not find any evidence that either of the captains had relatives in the department.

The candidate "could not explain why he sent the email" to the captain. The captain told investigators he had asked for practice questions "but denied knowing that he received actual oral interview questions." He said he "did not remember why he disseminated the examination questions or know how they were used."

The second captain said he was using the questions to improve a "study guide" for interested candidates, investigators wrote. "However, it does not appear that this study material was available to the general public," said the auditors, who also said the two captains' answers "raise questions about the completeness of their statements."

Even before the audit, some county officials had expressed concerns about the hiring process.

In the wake of The Times' investigation, the county Board of Supervisors voted in November to set up a "strike team" of monitors to oversee the department's hiring process and ensure its integrity.



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Brown denies parole for ex-Mexican Mafia killer Rene 'Boxer' Enriquez

Written By kolimtiga on Sabtu, 21 Februari 2015 | 12.56

Gov. Jerry Brown rejected parole late Friday for a former Mexican Mafia killer who left the prison gang and has spent more than a decade cooperating with authorities and speaking at law enforcement conferences.

Brown acknowledged the "valuable information" Rene "Boxer" Enriquez has provided authorities, but said in a statement that the "positive steps" were ultimately "outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole."

"When considered as a whole, I find the evidence shows that he currently poses an unreasonable danger to society if released from prison," Brown wrote.

Enriquez, 52, is serving life in prison for two murders committed in 1989. He ordered the slaying of one woman, a dealer whom he suspected was stealing from him. He personally killed a fellow Mexican Mafia member who had fallen out of favor with the gang. His criminal history also includes jailhouse attacks on other inmates, drug sales and a sexual assault.

Enriquez defected from the prison gang in 2002 and has since provided intelligence and other help to law enforcement, acting as an expert witness in dozens of criminal trials and speaking at a number of conferences and training sessions. Officials with at least 11 federal and state law enforcement agencies wrote letters attesting to his contributions, which the parole board considered in reviewing his case.

His cozy relationship with law enforcement sparked public debate last month after he was escorted by the Los Angeles Police Department to a downtown Los Angeles event to give a talk to a private group of business leaders, with extensive security detail provided at taxpayer expense. After The Times and other media reported on the event, the private group offered to reimburse the city for the expense. 

The state parole board concluded that Enriquez was no longer a threat to society and found him suitable for release in September after a hearing that reviewed Enriquez's life and a lengthy criminal history that began at age 11. He committed burglaries and gang-raped a woman as a juvenile, and engaged in armed robberies as an adult before becoming a member of the powerful prison gang in the 1980s.

Within weeks of being released on parole in 1989, he ordered the death of Cynthia Gavaldon and gave a fatal overdose of heroin to David Gallegos, also shooting him five times in the head to make sure he was dead. While awaiting trial for the murders, he and another inmate stabbed a man 26 times with a jail-crafted shank in the name of the Mexican Mafia.

Enriquez told the parole board he was "truly, truly remorseful" for his crimes and that he was making amends by cooperating with law enforcement. With his knowledge of the Mexican Mafia, he said he had a "really good career" lined up if he were to be released. In addition to his law enforcement work, Enriquez has collaborated on two books on the gang and helped teach a class at UC Irvine.

"I cannot undo the past. But I can contribute to the future," Enriquez told the board. "I can contribute to dissuading other individuals from participating in this."

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office opposed Enriquez's release, accusing him of using his knowledge of the prison gang to "buy his ticket out of prison, to support his family, to make money." Deputy Dist. Atty. Joseph Shidler questioned what Enriquez would do if his services are no longer needed by law enforcement.

"What happens if that dries up? What is the inmate going to do?" Shidler asked the board.

None of Enriquez's victims or their families were present at the parole board hearing. Gavaldon's children, who were 6 and 8 at the time of their mother's death, said they only learned of Enriquez's potential release after a Times reporter contacted them this month.

The now-adult children, who asked not to be identified for their safety, said they were appalled to find out their mother's killer may be freed.

"He stole a piece of our lives from us," Gavaldon's daughter told The Times.

Enriquez told the board that if released, he would enter the federal government's witness protection program because he is on the Mexican Mafia's hit list for his cooperation with law enforcement. He would not appear in the state's public sex offender listing because of witness protection, he said, but would be under stringent monitoring by the U.S. Marshals Service.

For more Southern California news, follow @vicjkim and @katemather.

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