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California Insider

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California, as the wealthiest and most populated state in the nation, carries many leading roles in policy making, economic growth, cultural influences and technology development. California Insider, hosted by Siyamak Khorrami with The Epoch Times Southern California, showcases leaders and professionals across the state with inside information about trending topics and critical issues. Our mission is to inform California residents through the experiences and knowledge of our guests.

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United States

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California, as the wealthiest and most populated state in the nation, carries many leading roles in policy making, economic growth, cultural influences and technology development. California Insider, hosted by Siyamak Khorrami with The Epoch Times Southern California, showcases leaders and professionals across the state with inside information about trending topics and critical issues. Our mission is to inform California residents through the experiences and knowledge of our guests.

Language:

English


Episodes
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California Just Passed PAGA Reform. Here Is the Impact | Brian Mass | William Gould | Tom Manzo

7/5/2024
California’s largest business and labor groups have recently come together to strike a deal on one of the most controversial laws in California: the Private Attorney General Act, also known as PAGA. “Attorneys fighting with companies, companies fighting back. A lot of people realized how much money they could make from it. And it became this billion-dollar industry.” When the law was passed in 2004, it was meant to deter employers from violating serious labor laws: “Wage theft, minimum wage violations, government is not doing very much about this, you can file a claim with a government and it can sit there for three years or more without it being attended to.” In today’s episode, we'll look into how the PAGA law works, its growing controversy, and the recent agreement between the California Legislature, business, and labor groups to reform it. We also discuss what this new reform means for California workers and employers. *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:25:35

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Former California Inmate Explains the Impact of Rehabilitation | Brian James

6/30/2024
“I served 29 years and two months. I went in at the age of 16; I was arrested and ultimately convicted of second-degree murder. I’m someone who they call ’the worst of the worst,' who’s taking complete advantage of the opportunities that are in there. I was dead in the water up until about 37 years old. I was going to die in prison. I had accepted it, and I knew I was. Then they opened the door. I just got a glimmer of hope, me and a bunch of guys that we ran with it.” Siyamak sits down with Brian James, a former inmate who served 29 years in the California state prison system. He‘ll tell us how some prison reform policies have opened opportunities for inmates to rehabilitate. He’ll also share with us his transformation process that ultimately led to his recent release. “For 20 years, I was a character. I had a name; I had a gang. I introduced myself that way. When my cell door opened, I put on my act. When it closed, I went back to Brian James. My first probably 10-12 years in prison, all the issues that plagued my life that led to my incarceration, nothing had changed. For better or worse, I took part in taking that man’s life. And our stories are forever intertwined.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:25:35

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Oakland Non-Profit Hires Homeless to Clean the City | Ken Houston

6/24/2024
“We only hire justice-impacted and unhoused individuals. We work directly behind Oakland Public Works. If you can go there and start with the small things instead of trying to do these huge wins, you'll be able to cure and heal the city.” Siyamak sits down with Ken Houston, the 3rd Generation Oaklander and the director of the Beautification Council. “All these lives would not be out here making living wages. Dignity, respect, and responsibility with a living wage—that’s what makes change.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:56:44

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Los Angeles May Fix Homelessness After Settlement | Paul Webster

6/23/2024
“We want to be the personal trainer of the city and the county, we want to be the person that they love to hate, because we are encouraging them. We are challenging them. We are motivating them to do something that they haven’t been able to do for themselves. But they know that when they get it done, it'll be better off. It really sends a signal that there’s need for fundamental change in Los Angeles if they can’t meet these commitments and meet these metrics and milestones.” Siyamak sits down with Paul Webster, with La Alliance for human rights. Paul and his team have taken legal action against the city and county of Los Angeles to address the homelessness crisis in LA. We'll also dive into his efforts and the outcome of his lawsuit. *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:46:29

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Court Strikes Down California’s Lot-Splitting Law SB9 | Jim Righeimer | Mark Miller | Dennis Robinson

6/16/2024
“We’re just allowed to double the amount of houses. There aren’t left turn lanes big enough, there aren’t sewer pipes big enough to handle the sewage, and you don’t add any parking.” Siyamak sits down with Jim Righeimer, developer and former mayor of Costa Mesa in Orange County. He‘ll share his concerns with some of California’s recent housing laws, such as SB9, which aims to increase housing density and affordability. We also talked with Mark Miller, Senior Attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation and housing expert, who shared his perspective on why giving homeowners the right to build can address the state’s affordability crisis, and Dennis Robinson, who has been involved in building ADUs and multiple projects under SB9. He’ll give us his hands-on experience on what the new law looks like in practice and the demand he sees for ADUs and SB9 projects. “A lot of people think it’s kind of as easy as an ADU. When I get real with them and break down all their costs, how long it’s going to take, a lot of them will steer away from SB9. You’re gonna have to do all sorts of surveys, you’re gonna have different steps with, like the utility bills, you have to do new meters, your city impacts or fee or are going to be higher, doesn’t make financial sense.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:40:06

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Why Latino Success Matters in California : New Study Reveals | Soledad Ursua | Gloria Romero | Marshall Toplansky

6/14/2024
“Unfortunately, Latinos do worse than their Latino counterparts in other states. It’s largely due to a failing public educational system, and also due to increased regulation, mostly environmental.” Siyamak sits down with Soledad Ursua, a lead author of ‘El Futuro es Latino’, conducted with Chapman University, which looks at how Latinos are doing in California compared to other states when it comes to education, income, and homeownership. We also sat down with Gloria Romero, a former state senator, and Marshall Toplansky, a clinical assistant professor at Chapman University. In this research, he looked at the Latino workforce in California. “They are the largest number of truckers, laborers, construction industries that are crucial to the growth of California in the future. We’re going to need to rely on Latinos for the next generation of economic prosperity for the state and they’re really not being accommodated with current state policy.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:36:37

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Los Angeles Jail Turns Into the World’s Largest Homeless Shelter | Nathan Hochman

6/13/2024
“There were 17 gangs in Los Angeles that were engaged in follow-home robberies. So you could rape an unconscious woman, and the law considers that a non-violent, non-serious offense. You can engage in human trafficking of someone 18 or older, a non-violent, non-serious offense, which has made LA County US capital of human trafficking. It changes the way you live your life in LA County.” Siyamak sits down with Nathan Hochman, former federal prosecutor and defense attorney. He will discuss what has contributed to the increasing violence of crime in LA County over the past 10 years and the role of the District Attorney’s office in combating crime and homelessness. “Right now, there are 13,000 in the LA County jails, and about 40% of that population is homeless. 70% of them are suffering from a serious mental illness, a substance abuse disorder, addiction, or both. 50% of the people who are going to be released will be back in jail or prison within two years.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:42:24

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How California Makes It Illegal to Fight Crime: Sheriff Chad Bianco

6/13/2024
“We are hearing that the crime statistics are up a little bit. That’s what the public has been led to believe. I’m in my 31st year right now. Crime is very much higher than what it was in the past. We’re in a weird spot. It’s scary how we’ve been misled and how we’ve been lied to about these bills that they want passed.” Siyamak sits down with Chad Bianco. He'll share what he sees as a sheriff of Riverside County, and how state policies are impacting the crime rate in California, and how we can turn things around. “You have a teenager that you know, is a prostitute that’s on the street selling herself. It is against the law for law enforcement to ask if she’s okay, to find out what she’s doing there. They have made it a crime for me to do anything about it. I can’t talk to a juvenile anymore. I can’t rescue these these serious, innocent victims from the human trafficking element, because our state has made it legal.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:49:42

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California Cities Facing Cartel Style Illegal Growers in Neighborhoods | David Welch | Jake Fisher

6/12/2024
“We’ve seen people take over homes and warehouses to cultivate marijuana. People probably wouldn’t know the difference; it looks like a residential house. This is a very, very high level of sophisticated organized networks. It’s dangerous in the sense that it’s really a threat. These operations are worth a lot of money. They will do what’s necessary to protect their assets.” Siyamak sits down with David Welch, who serves as the Special Counsel for Narcotic Enforcement to combat illegal cannabis grows in cities across LA County, and also El Monte Police Chief Jake Fisher, who will tell us how illegal grows operate and how they impact communities through increased crime, pollution, and safety hazards. “The County of Los Angeles is overwhelmed. We’ve seen situations where we have people that are undocumented who seem like they’re forced to work in these homes. We’ve seen a lot of involvement of foreign nationals, individuals that are tied to transnational criminal organizations. The victims are not only the people that are being trafficked but also sometimes the people that own the property and are being lied to and used to facilitate this illegal activity.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:44:05

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Los Angeles Store Owner Stopped Shoplifters Despite 81% Increase in Shoplifting | Fraser Ross

6/9/2024
“We were just getting fed up. Our security bill was $150,000 last year. We never had that. The police aren’t going to come. So I blast someone on my Instagram, and they freak out. Very wealthy people start shoplifting. They realize, ‘Well, if everyone else can do it, and I’m paying taxes and they’re not getting arrested, so I’ll do it, there’s no consequences. Just shove it in your bag.' It’s horrible that we have to do this, but it has curtailed the shoplifting tremendously.” Siyamak sits down with Fraser Ross, owner of Kitson, a specialty retail store in Los Angeles. Shoplifting is on the rise in LA. Mr. Ross will share how he holds thieves accountable by socially shaming them. We also talked to Dr Ashley Massimino, who’s a clinical and forensic psychologist, to understand the reasons behind the rise in shoplifting. “The backdrop of LA is going down fast. The uniqueness is going down fast. Every day I hear stores closing. If this doesn’t stop, there won’t be small specialty stores, which is the backbone of the American economy, 85% are small businesses. There’s just no reason to open the store in California.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:27:49

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Why is California’s Affordable Housing Mandate Becoming Controversial? | James Ardaiz

5/30/2024
“I don’t think the Affordable Housing Act is about affordable housing at all. What it really is, is just an aspect of socialism. Carmel is very densely populated. It’s one square mile. There’s really no spot to put them other than taking away from existing infrastructure.” Siyamak sits down with James Ardaiz, a retired California appellate judge and resident of Carmel-by-the-sea. He’ll discuss the challenges a small beach town like Carmel-by-the-sea faces when trying to meet the state’s housing mandate. “And now you’re starting to see their reaction to it as communities are suing the state over the legislation and are attempting to band together to oppose it. It’s really kind of an odd grassroots conglomeration when you think about it. But there are just a lot of folks that are saying, ‘You’re just interfering in our lives to accomplish a social goal that we don’t share.’” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the California Insider.

Duration:00:55:40

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Santa Monica Vice Mayor Explains How Cancel Culture Is Impacting the City | Lana Negrete

5/25/2024
“We have a huge opioid crisis on our hands, we have a huge mental health crisis. But we’re so focused on ideology versus practicality and common sense, and who’s in what political group and who’s saying it, that we haven’t solved the problem. Organizations have spent tens of thousands of dollars to spread toxic, negative information about candidates running to help serve our city instead of focusing on the issues at hand, and that is what scares me because people are so misinformed.” Siyamak sits down with Lana Negrete, the vice mayor of Santa Monica. She shares her insights on some of the city’s most pressing issues, such as homelessness, crime, and quality of life, and how special groups and politics are impacting the city’s ability to unite and improve as a whole. “If we continue to go down this path of letting small groups and organizations lead campaigns with misinformation and negative tactics, we will be so distracted by that and we will step farther and farther away from the real issues that we need to be focused on in Santa Monica.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:51:58

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Former Supervisor’s Honest Take on Fixing San Francisco | Tony Hall

5/24/2024
“San Francisco was a working little town with an enormous cash flow that was right for the boys to move in and take it over. It was a tourist town, within a business town, within a high real estate town, unlike any other city in America. It never had a negative cash flow. This is why the boys came in and took it over.” Siyamak sits down with former San Francisco supervisor Tony Hall, who shares an insider view on why the city is struggling and what it will take to fix it and return San Francisco to its glory. “They got themselves elected to office. And they proceeded to monetize city services. Anything that can be farmed out to another agency and money made on it. Outside special interests became a huge force in San Francisco, starting in the ‘70s. Now, as they got control, they set up a political machine.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Epoch Times.

Duration:00:58:10

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California Owes $55 Billion on Unemployment Benefits | Will Swaim

5/24/2024
“In the COVID era people ended up on unemployment and the federal government send out about $100 billion to California and a huge amount of it, about $55 billion, was lost to criminal gang. Fraudster show up from all over the world. We’re talking about international crime, gangs, people in California prisons and jails.” Siyamak sits down with William Swain, the president of the California Policy Center. We'll discuss how California now has about $55 billion in unemployment benefit liabilities, of which a significant amount was due to EDD fraud during the pandemic, the biggest fraud of its kind in any state. Now, California businesses are liable to cover these costs. “They’re not just going to eat that out of their profit these businesses, they’re going to raise their prices. You wouldn’t know a whole lot about this because the business community itself is really hesitant to raise objection or afraid that if they do the regulator’s will descend on them and find something wrong with their business.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:45:52

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Why Californians Are Losing Their Home Insurance | Rex Frazier

5/16/2024
“Too many people are going to the FAIR Plan. Nobody should want to be in the FAIR Plan; it’s meant to be a temporary market of last resort. It’s an unvirtuous cycle. Under the law, any deficiency that the FAIR Plan has, and the amount of money it has to pay claims, it just turns around to the admitted insurance companies. That has huge cascading impacts on the entire insurance industry.” Siyamak sits down with Rex Frazier, president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California and former deputy Insurance Commissioner of California. Some Californians are losing their insurance coverage, and key insurance companies are avoiding writing more insurance in California. Rex is here to tell us what’s happening behind the scenes, why we are here, and if there is a way out. “California has by far the most complicated rate formula in the US. We have these extreme problems because of the rules that we put in place in the early 1990s. We haven’t updated them. Every other state has updated them. The tough part now is that we’re just waiting on the regulations to change.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:57:23

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Top Advisor to Los Angeles District Attorney Charged With 11 Felonies | Full Story | Alex Villanueva

5/14/2024
“She destroyed hundreds of deputies’ careers; they used to call her the ‘badge collector.’ The effect of that was catastrophic to the organization. People started leaving in droves. No one wanted to be a deputy sheriff, and they started shrinking.” Siyamak sits down with Alex Villanueva, former sheriff of Los Angeles County. There has been an unprecedented indictment in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office by the Attorney General of California. Alex is here to tell us what’s behind this and how it will impact Los Angeles. “They’re in panic mode now. What’s going to happen is, in two or three years, you’re gonna see a bunch of cases of corruption and dirty cops. What Diana Teran did is just the tip of the iceberg.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:42:23

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LA Doctor Explains Why Homelessness Is Growing in the City | Houman Hemmati

5/4/2024
“We’re talking about homeless housing located on some of the most expensive land on Earth, occupying what used to be a much-needed parking garage, at a cost of $2 million per unit. The value of that land was around $120 to $150 million. If they’re building 120 units on there, that’s a million dollars per unit of just land value, taxpayer land value. The council is justifying it by saying it’s very needed.” Siaymak sits down with Dr. Herman Hemmati, an activist and resident of Los Angeles, who over the years has been observing how LA is dealing with the homeless in the county in different cities, including the city of Santa Monica. “I’ve seen people who’ve owned buildings and wanted to develop them for medical purposes, who’ve given up and said, you know what, I’m turning it into homeless housing, I’m going to make more money quicker, because the city will just write me unlimited checks. And that’s what’s happening. *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of California Insider.

Duration:00:36:44

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LA Residents Take up Homelessness Clean up by Themselves

4/29/2024
“What we should understand about Los Angeles is that everybody complains about homelessness. Online, on Twitter, on Nextdoor... Everyone has something to say. But very few people have taken it upon themselves to try to push things along and find solutions where the city or the county falls short.” Siyamak sits down with Beige Luciano-Adams, the Epoch Times reporter in Los Angeles. She'll tell us what LA residents are organizing to clean up trash and deal with the encampments in the city. We also sit down with Keith Johnson, April Silverman, and Cameron Flanagan, who have been instrumental in cleaning up homeless encampments in their communities. “These people are also becoming citizen journalists. They’re doing Public Records Act requests, they’re digging into the records, they’re looking at the numbers. They’re doing a better job than a lot of media.”

Duration:00:26:40

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Former Sheriff Explains Why Californians Are Mobilizing to Change Prop 47 | John McGinness

4/22/2024
“You can literally walk into a retail store every single day of the year and steal $949 worth of merchandise and you will never do a minute in jail. No compounding consequence. The voters I believed were duped because the summary and title said it was the Safe Neighborhoods and Safe Schools Act. So that’s all you see in this Prop 47.” Siyamak sits down with John McGinness, former sheriff of Sacramento County and a radio host. There is currently a movement to change Prop 47, and it is about to get enough signatures to be on the ballot this November. “Under California law, ironically, rape of the unconscious is not a violent crime. Assault on a peace officer with anything other than a fully automatic weapon is not a violent crime. Domestic violence, with the word ‘violence’ right in the crime title, is not a violent crime. So we really truly need some truth and justice in the state of California.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Epoch Times.

Duration:00:55:41

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What’s Happening on the San Diego Border? First-Hand Account | Cory Gautereaux

4/20/2024
“I constantly see these white buses coming down full of illegal immigrants who are claiming asylum. Not through the port of entry—they’re coming through the fence, cutting the fence, around the fence, over the fence. I have found documents giving them exact instructions. This is a very regimented, professional operation. Who’s doing it?” Siyamak sits down with Cory Gautereaux, a resident at the border in San Diego. Over the last year, we’ve been covering the situation at the border around the San Diego area. There have been a lot of border crossings, and Cory has been documenting what’s happening around the border. He’s here to tell us his story. “I went out there one day, and there were 200 people standing there. They had tents, and there were fires going out. I was blown away. He talked to a Venezuelan gentleman who explained to me that in Venezuela, on their own media and radio, they’re talking about how easy it is to come to the United States right now. This isn’t a political issue for me. This is a case of ’something’s not right.” *Views expressed in this video/article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Epoch Times.

Duration:00:49:00