Issue No. 42 – January 15, 2021

The Thorn West is a state and local news roundup compiled by members of DSA-LA. Our goal is to provide a weekly update on the latest developments in state and local politics, and to track the issues that are most important to our membership.

Coronavirus and Relief

  • Following CDC COVID-19 vaccine guidelines, Governor Newsom has simplified the access tier system in California and announced that the vaccine will now be made available to everyone over 65. However, Los Angeles County still does not have enough doses for its healthcare workers and will not be able to make the vaccine available to seniors until February — unless you live in Long Beach, which has its own separate health department that isn’t facing these shortages.
  • LA County will discontinue the use of Curative’s COVID-19 tests, after a report issued by the FDA last week warned that the test is associated with a high rate of false negatives.

State and City Governance

  • Governor Newsom released his budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year last Friday. It reflects the fact that revenues for 2020 were 20% higher than were expected in June, largely due to the resiliency of the stock market. “Folks at the top are doing pretty damn well,” said Newsom. Read a more in-depth breakdown here.
  • Los Angeles City Council is back in session (and now using the gallery view so online viewers can see every councilmember at once). Committee assignments have also been released. On Twitter, Councilmember Nithya Raman has broken down the committee process’s role in how motions become laws.
  • From the LA Podcast blog: transcripts of conversations used as evidence in the corruption case against former Councilmember Mitchell Englander were released this week, and they remove any lingering doubt that current Councilmember John Lee, the former Englander aide who was elected to fill his former boss’s seat this March, was complicit in that corruption.


  • A coalition of Los Angeles city employee unions have negotiated a deal that would prevent any layoffs or furloughs for at least six months. The results of the elections in Georgia, giving Democrats functional control over the US Senate, make it more likely that the federal government will step in to make up the budget shortfalls in municipalities.
  • An in-depth article in Capital and Main surveys worker complaints made to Cal/OSHA about inadequate workplace protection from COVID-19. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted this week that worksite infection rates have more than quadrupled as general infection rates have soared.
  • Workers in film production have been deemed essential workers— but the industry is wisely not pursuing priority for its employees in the vaccination pipeline.

Police Violence and Community Resistance

  • The LMU Law School has officially released their study Fifty Years of ‘Deputy Gangs’ in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Among other things, the study notes a correlation: deputies at sheriff’s stations with active gangs are more likely to use their guns. The Sheriff Department’s official response so far has been to disparage the report. The full report is here. (An amazing nationwide database of all civilian deaths caused by police has been posted here.)
  • Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy appears to be one of the many law enforcement officers from around the country who participated in the riots at the Capitol building last week.
  • A $25 million cut to the Los Angeles School Police Department was approved this summer by the LAUSD Board of Education. The discussion as to how to implement those cuts has again been delayed, at the request of activist groups who still don’t feel that they have enough voice in the process. It had previously been delayed until this week’s meeting of the board for the same reason, and has not yet been rescheduled.