When George Gascón was a young boy in Cuba growing up under Fidel Castro’s regime, he witnessed a litany of injustices that influenced his view of authority. On one occasion, he recalled, the police swept into his neighborhood unannounced and arrested a man who lived across the street. “I remember this man being taken out in handcuffs, and he never came back,” Gascón recounted in a recent interview with Jewish Insider. “We learned several months later that he was executed.”

“I grew up in a system where the police were everywhere,” Gascón added, an experience that imbued in him a strong and early sense of skepticism toward law enforcement. He carried that distrust with him into his teenage years after his family fled to Los Angeles in the late 1960s. “I did not have a lot of respect for police,” he said bluntly. The feeling was mutual. “I bought a lowrider, and that was probably the biggest mistake of my life,” Gascón told JI, referring to a type of car with a lowered body. “I had weeks that I would get stopped three or four times.”

Still, those who are familiar with Gascón’s trajectory know that he long ago overcame his aversion to law enforcement by joining its ranks. The former Los Angeles cop worked his way through the system to become police chief in Mesa, Ariz., and then San Francisco, where he most recently served as district attorney, earning plaudits for his innovative prosecutorial reforms. Now that he is running for Los Angeles County district attorney, Gascón, 66, is hoping he can bring what he regards as sorely needed change to a city — and a legal system — that once treated him with suspicion.

“I believe that L.A. is this incredible place that is so vibrant in almost every walk of life,” Gascón told JI. “Except for public safety.”

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Colorado senators work as lawmakers try to wrap up the 2020 session in the State Capitol, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The need for studious, thoughtful and persistent representatives in the legislature hasn’t been this keen for generations.

And your vote for who will guide Colorado through the pandemic crisis, and back out, matters greatly.

Colorado lawmakers must decide not only how to keep public education, roads and public safety intact, but legislators must also look beyond the day when our lives are guided by where and when to wear a mask.

Next year, besides the priority of salvaging businesses, schools, roads and other dire services, lawmakers must push toward addressing serious issues surrounding incarceration, policing, health care, global warming and transportation. This next general assembly, more than ever, must be ready on Day One.

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Two of the three open seats for the Carson City Board of Supervisors were filled after the primary election, but the remaining seat has a tight three-way primary race with a Carson City School District trustee facing off against a retired diesel mechanic who thinks the board needs a new perspective.

Because of a rule that a candidate who receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary claims the nonpartisan seat, Lori Bagwell was elected mayor with 50.3 percent of the vote at the end of the primary count, and Lisa Schuette was elected Ward 4 supervisor with 65.4 percent.

The names that would be on November ballots for the Ward 2 seat, which covers Southwest Carson City, were unclear for days after the primary while votes were being tallied. In the end, there were just 490 votes between first and second place; Maurice "Mo" White earned 34.7 percent of the vote and Stacie Wilke-McCulloch took 30.9 percent, just 281 votes above Ronni Hannaman, director of the Carson City Chamber of Commerce.

All candidates for the board are at-large, meaning that the entire city votes for each seat, though candidates must reside in their respective wards. Each term lasts four years and comes with a salary of about $25,000.

The five-person Board of Supervisors, which operates much like a city council with the mayor as the chair, will have to prioritize projects and programs while responding to the continuing and long-lasting effects of the pandemic on the local economy.

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Earlier today, “Tiger King” star Carole Baskin made an appearance in a video posted on the University’s social media, in which she urged students to refrain from large gatherings and observe public health protocols.

In an email to The Daily Princetonian, Baskin said the University paid a fee for her cameo, “whatever [the standard fee] was at the time.” Though she said she does not recall the exact fee, she speculated it was “probably” $299.00, a figure that corresponds to her publicly listed Cameo fee.

The 2020 documentary series “Tiger King” catapulted Baskin, a big-cat rights activist and the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, to international fame. Some animal-rights activists, including Baskin herself, have criticized the series, however, for missing an opportunity to highlight the cruelty animals face in confinement, choosing instead to focus on a sensational feud between Baskin and zookeeper Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, better known as Joe Exotic.

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When the Dallas City Council votes this afternoon on the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year, it will consider giving the police department an additional $8 million over what the department spent this year. The Council will also vote on nearly $30 million of infrastructure improvements, expanded mental health services, housing, and employment programs that the city manager has said were prioritized after protesters spent months marching through the streets after the killing of George Floyd.

For many activists, this budget doesn’t go far enough. They want millions taken from the police department and spread out to other services in the city to help lift up neighborhoods where jobs are lacking, streets are crumbling, and amenities don’t match what’s available in the more affluent corners of Dallas. To them, the disparity in money allocated to the police budget — which, at a proposed $509 million after cutting overtime by $7 million, is about a third of the entire general fund spend — and most other services is so significant that it requires reallocation.

Many on Council, however, believe this budget is a compromise between the conflicting priorities of activists and other constituents who they say list public safety as their top concern during a second straight year of violent crime increases.

“There will hopefully be a point in time when there isn’t as much need in the normal residents’ eyes for law enforcement, but right now that’s just not the case when you knock on the average resident’s door,” says Councilman Adam Bazaldua, who represents South Dallas and Fair Park. “I do believe this is somewhat of a middle ground.”

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Note: Councilmember Juarez did not appear via video and spoke only during votes in Tuesday’s session

The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of a 2020 budget rebalancing package that marked the immediate start of funding reductions for the police department with cuts of the salaries of 100 officers and the elimination of the Navigation Team that clears homeless encampments.

Going into the meeting, the council appeared likely to instead pass what it considered a compromise with the mayor’s office that scaled back the already modest reductions in the initial measure that council members had called a “down payment” on the way to deeper cuts to police funding. The move came as large-scale demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality dominated conversation in the city. Protest leaders have called for an at least 50% cut to the Seattle Police Department budget, which totaled $409 million in 2020. Seven of the nine council members indicated support for such a reduction.

While council members Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda, Andrew Lewis, Dan Strauss, Lisa Herbold, and Tammy Morales as well as Council President Lorena González voted to override the mayor’s veto, council members Debora Juarez and Alex Pedersen voted to sustain it.

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Amid protests over racial injustice spurred by the killing of George Floyd by police in May, the concept of community policing is getting a new look as lawmakers, reform advocates and some law enforcement consider whether it could help promote systemic changes in policing.

In a June column for USA Today, former Vice President and Democratic nominee Joe Biden discussed his proposal for a $300 million investment in community policing initiatives aimed at “getting cops out of their cruisers and building relationships with the people and the communities they are there to serve and protect.”

That same month, President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for legislation that would enhance existing federal grant programs to help police agencies grow community engagement.

For about 60 years, law enforcement agencies have turned to the community policing philosophy to serve a variety of purposes, including crime reduction and changes to how police interact with the residents they serve. Despite funding from the federal government and support among many police departments, community policing has become a broad, amorphous concept that encompasses a myriad of tactics that departments use to engage civilians. The outcomes of these strategies will differ depending on a particular department’s implementation, as well as the specific needs of the residents, researchers told the PBS NewsHour.

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By Michele Karlsberg–

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health (PM Press), edited by Adrian Shanker, is considered to be the first book of the new decade that is a must have. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed conversations of health equity back at the forefront of our lives. The emergence of a new virus that quickly swept the world and has taken more than 189,000 American lives as of this writing has caused many of us to think about the importance of accessing healthcare when we need it.

The release of the critically-acclaimed new anthology is therefore timely. This book includes essays by 26 queer activists from around the world. Contributing authors write about barriers to affirming health care for LGBT people of all ages. From informed consent for intersex children, to social service navigation for the LGBT community, to caregiving concerns for LGBT older adults, the book is comprehensive and relevant for these scary times we are living through.

As Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said, “Now, more than ever, we need Bodies and Barriers to shine a spotlight on how and why good health care for LGBTQ people and our families is such a challenge. Bodies and Barriers provides a roadmap for all who are ready to fight for health equity—in the doctor’s office, in the halls of government, or in the streets.”

The following is a clip from the Introduction by Adrian Shanker followed by the afterword to Bodies and Barriers by Kate Kendell.

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