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NCAA Tournament: UCLA Women Overwhelmed By No. 1 South Carolina

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Kamilla Cardoso had 10 points while reigning national champion South Carolina turned in its latest overwhelming defense-and-rebounding-first performance to beat UCLA 59-43 on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Aaliyah Boston had eight points, 14 rebounds and two blocks for the Gamecocks (35-0), the top overall tournament seed and the headliner in the Greenville 1 Region. It marked South Carolina’s 41st consecutive victory, securing the program’s sixth trip to the Elite Eight under Dawn Staley.

The Gamecocks will play for their fifth trip to the Final Four in Monday’s regional final against 2-seed Maryland.

It wasn’t an easy offensive operation for South Carolina, with UCLA sagging defensively to pack the paint in hopes of negating the Gamecocks’ size advantage behind Boston. But South Carolina dominated the glass from start to finish and used its length to turn every look into a difficult one for the fourth-seeded Bruins (27-10).

The Gamecocks entered the game ranked first in Division I in scoring defense, field-goal percentage defense and rebounding margin. They did nothing to change that, holding UCLA to 15-for-51 shooting (29.4%) – including 3 for 18 from 3-point range – while finishing with a 42-34 rebounding advantage that narrowed late after they led big.

Charisma Osborne scored 14 points to lead UCLA, which was in the Sweet 16 for the eighth time and first since 2019. The Bruins were trying to reach the regional finals for the first time since 2018 and only the third time in program history while pursuing their first Final Four appearance.

Once the game started, the Bruins tried desperately to close off the paint and dare the Gamecocks to shoot from outside.

But in a sign of what was to come, the Bruins kept missing shots that they needed to position themselves for a stunning upset. Worse, they failed to grab even a few of those misses to keep possessions alive early, with South Carolina going on to finish with a 15-8 edge on the offensive glass.

Meanwhile, the Gamecocks were able to just keep grinding and relying on their length. They led 25-15 at halftime before finally breaking this open by matching their game-long point total in the third quarter.

That included a couple of way-too-familiar sequences for UCLA coach Cori Close. Twice the Gamecocks managed to lob a pass inside to the 6-foot-7 Cardoso, who used her long arms to reach over 6-2 fronting defender Christeen Iwuala and snag the ball for easy under-the-rim finishes in traffic.

Or there was Brea Beal (10 points) using her right hand to tap out a loose rebound over Gabriela Jaquez before securing it, then dumping it immediately inside to Victaria Saxton inside for a soft hook as the lead steadily grew.

It was all the same often-demoralizing sequences that has overwhelmed teams all season, this time coming with the home-state Gamecocks as the main draw here in the new double-regional format.

They drew loud cheers from the crowd just for making their way into the locker-room tunnel during the Notre Dame-Maryland game with their game to follow. The roars returned as each player who lingered to wrap up pregame shootaround came off the court — several waving two arms high in acknowledgement — in a mostly full arena.

The cheers were louder, of course, as the Gamecocks spent the final minutes closing out a win to advance again.

Vietnam Vets Reflect On War As 50th Anniversary Is Marked

Every morning at 8 a.m., retired Navy Capt. Eric Jensen raises a large American flag on a tall pole secured with an anchor in front of his Laguna Beach home. When Old Glory unfurls, so does the Navy flag.

“I raise the flags in memory of my best friend, Robin Pearce, and all the other veterans that didn’t come home,” Jensen said. “Some gave some, some gave it all, but everybody did their part.”

The daily ritual is cathartic for Jensen, who said he spent 23 years internalizing his emotions after coming home from Vietnam, where he was a combat pilot with Attack Squadron 82 aboard the USS Coral Sea aircraft carrier.

It took him decades, he said, to learn “there is a life.” He now proudly puts his Navy service out there, and with therapy, he’s realized his time in the Vietnam War is “nothing to be ashamed of.”

The 80-year-old flew 113 combat missions over Laos and Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 after joining the Navy Reserves and then going into active duty for 11 years, he said. “When I came back to San Francisco, they said don’t wear your uniform if you go ashore. I came home to my country, and they didn’t give a (expletive) for me defending their freedom.”

“I self-isolated,” he added. “No one understood what happened with me. I carried the war’s expenses with me and had no place to dump it.”

Now, nearing the 50th anniversary on Wednesday, March 29, of the last American troops withdrawing from the Vietnam War, Jensen and other veterans look back across the decades and reflect on what the divisive war meant to them personally and to their country.

More than 3 million Americans served in Vietnam – 58,000 died and 150,000 were wounded – and today, more than 1,500 are still listed as missing.

Eric Jensen, 80, who served in the Vietnam War, raises a U.S.and Navy flag in front of his home everyday at 8 a.m. to honor his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, and others who died during the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach kept a log of his combat missions during the Vietnam War. He flew a solo, single-engine A7 Corsair II, completing 113 missions. “I wonder if I’m going to die tonight?” He would ask himself before taking off into darkness. “There’s only one way to find out,” he’d answer.( Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach is reflected in a document that announces his appointment as a captain in the Navy reserves. Jensen piloted 113 solo combat missions in Vietnam. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Eric Jensen, left, of Laguna Beach, met his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, when they were in junior high school. Jensen, now 80, raises a U.S. and Navy flag everyday at 8 a.m. in front of his house to honor Pearce and others, who died in the Vietnam War. Jensen flew 113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach keeps mementos in his “man cave.” of his time serving in the Vietnam War. He flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach points to himself on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in a photo taken with his squadron during the Vietnam War (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Eric Jensen, center, and his best friend, Robin Andrew Pearce, fourth from left, were selected for a pilot training program. Both served during the Vietnam War. Pearce later died in a plane crash. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen’s photo of an A7 Corsair II launching off an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War. Jensen, 80, a Laguna Beach resident, flew 113 combat missions in the same kind of plane. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during his 13 combat missions in the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach flew a one-man, single-engine A7 Corsair II during his 13 combat missions in the Vietnam War. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen, 80, of Laguna Beach, served during the Vietnam War, flying 113 combat missions in an A7 Corsair II — a one-man, single engine plane. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Ret. Navy Capt. Eric Jensen of Laguna Beach keeps mementos of the time he served in the Vietnam War. This includes a model A7 Corsair II — a one-man, single engine plane like the one he flew during his 113 combat missions. (Photo by Mindy Schauer, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Sgt. Wayne Yost at home in Dana Point, CA, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Copy shot of Sgt. Wayne Yost in Vietnam in 1968. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo Courtesy Wayne Yost)

Sgt. Wayne Yost at home in Dana Point, CA, on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Yost served with the U.S. Army’s 199th Light Infantry Brigade and was in Vietnam from 1967-1969. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Vietnam War veteran Frank Marcello at his home in Walnut, CA, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Marcello was in the 1st Air Calvary Division and injured during a long-range reconnaissance patrol. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Vietnam War veteran Frank Marcello at his home in Walnut, CA, on Thursday, March 23, 2023. Marcello was in the 1st Air Calvary Division and injured during a long-range reconnaissance patrol. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A lack of respect at home for many of those returning caused them to hide their pain by, as Jensen called it, “bunkering up.” Few discussed their service with family and friends. Instead, they tried to get on with life, many going quickly back to jobs they had before the war or to college without the benefits of the GI Bill that helped their predecessors. It would take decades for many to ask for help.

“For the vast majority of Vietnam veterans, I believe they made the transition back to civilian life in productive, fulfilling ways,” said Gregory Daddis,  a retired Army colonel who is now director of the Center for War and Society and the USS Midway Chair in Modern U.S. Military History at San Diego State University. “Still, I think many continue to wrestle with reconciling the past, asking whether their sacrifices in Southeast Asia were worth the costs in blood and treasure.”

Wayne Yost, an Army sergeant in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade, still can’t reconcile the sacrifices with the war he called a “waste, a war we should have never gotten involved with.

“It was such a waste of human, military and civilians there,” he said. “I carry that animosity even today, for wars such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, where lives and American treasure are sacrificed with no chance of a positive outcome.”

Daddis, who has studied the history of the Vietnam War, agreed and said there is much to learn from Vietnam.

“There are a number of perspectives we can gain,” he said. “That armed forces cannot solve all political problems abroad. That outsiders cannot always settle local issues over national identity and political communities. And that there are limits to what US military power can achieve overseas.

“Even after our incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m not sure we’ve thought deeply enough about these issues and what they mean for the future of how we employ military force abroad,” he added.

Remembering those lost in Vietnam is the memorial in Washington, D.C., now the most visited among the war monuments on the National Mall. Its shiny black granite lists the names of service members who died or are still missing.

It took Jensen three tries to get the strength to visit and look for his best friend’s name.

“The first two trips, I just couldn’t do it,” he said, adding that he was a commercial pilot for Western Airlines and had been on a layover in D.C. “It was so much emotion. Then, I thought, this is the last time this month I’ll be here. I found his name and had a long conversation with him. I went back to my room, wrote a really long letter, and told him how much I missed him and all that had happened since I last saw him.”

Yost, too, found a lot of meaning at the wall because the names of five of his friends are inscribed there, he said.

Yost spent most of his time in the jungles of Vietnam helping small units of South Vietnamese Army Special Forces seek out North Vietnamese fighters.

“We’d be flown into an area, call in support troops, the artillery, or a gunship, and then we were supposed to get out of there,” said Yost, a Dana Point resident who served from 1967 to 1969 and lived in villages with the South Vietnamese while on missions. “Whenever they were in trouble and needed special help,” about five to eight American soldiers would help out.

Yost, 76, who was in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive, the largest battle of the war, recalled a specific mission where he and his unit helped find North Vietnamese that still makes him laugh today about how it managed to work out.

They were in a rice field, hiding among the paddies and waiting for air support. Yost said he removed his helmet and put it on the tip of his rifle to draw enemy fire so the pilot could pin the enemy down quicker.

Instead, the North Vietnamese “launched a rocket-propelled grenade, and another soldier and I flew into the air,” he said of the impact of the blast. “Just as that happened, the pilot was able to attack the enemy position and illuminate them, and we were just laughing hysterically.”

But that laughter didn’t continue when Yost came back to the states, he said.

“I was a jokester and I came back sedate,” he said. “The experience of war, seeing people wounded and killed … I carry those memories.”

The negative response at home only made it worse.

“For 50 years, I suppressed all the different feelings raging in my brain and soul,” Yost said. “I never discussed anything with my family or my wife and kids. Six years ago, those feelings came out, and I was having nightmares and flashbacks, and I knew something was wrong.”

Yost joined a Vietnam veterans group at the South Orange County Veterans Center in Mission Viejo.

“We’re still in counseling six years later,” he said.

Yost said he also gets some solace from helping younger veterans who may have served in Iraq and Afghanistan navigate the services available through the Veterans Administration. As former commander of the Dana Point Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934, and now senior vice commander of 15 VFW posts in the region, he’s organized bi-monthly clinics, which have helped 6,300 veterans get benefits and have “never had a claim denied.”

“It’s been wonderful therapy,” he said. “Every time someone comes in and says ‘Thanks, guys, I just got my disability.’ It’s great knowing we were able to help, so they don’t feel alone and have someone to hold on to.”

Kolin Williams, who chairs the VETS program at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, said many of the programs that benefit more recent veterans come on the backs of the Vietnam veterans.

“The Veterans Administration was not able to handle what they brought back,” Williams said. “And, they were also the last folks to walk into a VA and ask for mental health adjustments. They hid it and went back to their families and went to work. Veteran centers now are a response to that.”

The thinking was, Williams said, “Let’s put these centers into communities and see if veterans respond.”

The evolution in public sentiment also made a huge difference in veterans seeking help, Williams said. After the Gulf War, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, “there was a ton of support for returning veterans,” he said, adding that at first, many of the Vietnam veterans resented that, wondering why they didn’t get a similar response.

“That resentment was misplaced,” Williams said. “Because by shining the light on these service members, it de-stigmatized the whole conversation about mental health. It was being encouraged, ‘Go get support.’ The Vietnam veterans noticed that and appreciated the services.”

In addition to getting help with post-traumatic stress, Vietnam veterans are registering for service disabilities because of exposure to Agent Orange, a chemical herbicide used between 1961 and 1971 to kill vegetation in Vietnam for tactical warfare. The exposure has led to cancers and heart conditions for tens of thousands of veterans.

Frank Marcello, a 1st Air Calvary Division sergeant, knows a thing or two about Agent Orange. During his service between 1966 and 1967, the Purple Heart decorated soldier, who was part of a reconnaissance unit, spent most of his time in the central highlands of Vietnam. He was always the point man, he said, leading his squad, and during his time served there, “never had a soldier die.”

“We’d hump for 10 to 15 miles and do ambushes,” he said of his squad of eight. “The chopper would pick us up, drop us off again, and pick us up. I did over 125 air assaults. We were always on the go. Landing zones were all over the place and were cleared with Agent Orange.”

Marcello, 79, of Walnut, is receiving 100% disability benefits because of his exposure and, like Jensen and Yost, has been diagnosed with PTSD. For 25 years, he said, he woke up with nightmares and cold and hot sweats.

“I’d be hollering and wake up my wife,” he said, adding that he went to the VA for help but “they didn’t have anything that worked.” So, like a good cavalry soldier, he gutted it out and dealt with it, he said.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in U.S. political history and later a master’s degree and an MBA. He credits God, along with his “cool and calm” demeanor, with helping him have the grit to make it through the last half-century.

Like the others, he didn’t speak of his service publicly and never mentioned it to college classmates or friends.

“In all the other wars, people were treated with respect, but we couldn’t speak about it because we were in Vietnam,” he said.

More recently though, Marcello said he has had a different experience. He was among a group of veterans invited to the Hoag Classic at the Newport Beach Country Club. Marcello attended wearing fatigues and his stack of medals, including the Purple Heart.

“I had 200 people coming up to me,” he said, choking up with emotion. “I had men shaking my hand, and women would hug me. At a Fourth of July parade in Catalina, I wore my medals and everyone, grandmothers, little kids and men and women, they all cheered for me. Now, no matter what, I go to parades and universities and people are wanting to talk to me.”

“I’m reliving what should have happened,” he said of this newer support he wished he and other veterans deserved.  “I wear the medals with pride for the guys who died.”

What You Need To Know About Growing Berries In Southern California

Roger Campbell, who gardens in Alhambra, sent an email requesting varieties of berries that grow well in our area. Berries are quite the rage. The reason for this is simple enough to divine: You get lots of fruit from plants whose growth is easily controlled. Unlike fruit trees that take up space and require regular pruning as well as ladders to harvest the crop, a berry plant is easy to manage and harvest. Many berry plants are also container friendly. There is even a special container called a strawberry pot with any number of side windows or pockets that allow you to nurture many different plants simultaneously. Finally, the nutritional value of berries is much documented and highly promoted.

But here’s the problem, based on what I have seen, gardeners often struggle to grow strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, so if you want berries with a minimum amount of work, I suggest blackberries, especially the Boysen and Ollalie varieties, due to their strong tolerance to heat. Thornless versions of these varieties are also available. They prefer half-day sun exposure and are most successfully grown up a 4-6 foot fence since, allowed to sprawl along the ground, they are more of a challenge to tend and harvest, especially varieties with thorns.

Blueberries are probably more regaled than any other berry, but growing them is not a simple matter. A number of years ago, reader Roger Lipps extolled the virtues of two highbush blueberry varieties, Misty and O’Neal. Lipps’ plants had grown to a height of 6-8 feet and his harvest was prodigious. 

Lipps attributed his success to two annual applications of soil acidifying sulphur, in April and October, and heavy mulching. He applied Tiger 90CR Organic Sulphur which he procured from Whittier Fertilizer in Pico Rivera. The application rate was 1-3 cups per bush, depending on size. 

“I just manually spread the granules around the drip lines,” he wrote. “Blueberry roots are shallow and without a 4-inch layer of mulch, growing them would require nearly constant irrigation.” 

Lipps wisely installed a drip system for his blueberries, reducing his water budget by 30-50% in the process. His water agency had restricted irrigation to two days a week, but he could abide by that schedule and still keep his blueberry bushes in good health. 

“Armstrong is where I purchased many of our blueberry plants,” he confided. “I love their lifetime guarantee.” (Note: Armstrong Garden Centers provide a lifetime warranty on all shrubs and trees.) 

Lipps added that “an important factor with regard to growing blueberries is controlling critters. Opossums, skunks and raccoons love moist soft mulch for digging” and so “you must fence your bushes off” and since “birds love blueberries, you must bird net the entire crop if you expect to harvest any.” A redeeming feature of blueberry growing is that the bushes have a lifespan of 50 years.

The challenge of growing raspberries is their sensitivity to our summer sun. They do best in the morning sun, growing on the east side of a large tree, and require regular watering. Bababerry and Oregon 1030 are the two most heat-tolerant varieties. It is generally recommended that raspberries be staked but some gardeners have enjoyed considerable success coaxing their plants into clumps of canes, free of stake constriction.

The most successful grower of strawberries I ever met was Richard Mueller of Granada Hills. Mueller grew the Sequoia strawberry variety exclusively and harvested berries throughout the year. He started with 20 plants and, two decades later, had 200 growing at any one time, giving away another 100 plants each year. When preparing a new area for planting, he would dig down eight inches, fill the excavated area with compost and horse manure, and install new plants after soaking them in a solution of Miracle-Gro fertilizer and water. Two months later, the plants would start to produce berries. Outside of watering as needed, his maintenance regime involved spraying Miracle-Gro on all of his plants twice a month. 

Sunday is the name of a company offering a whole line of organic fertilizers and pesticides, many of them newly formulated, as well as specialty plant species and gardening accessories. You can access these products by visiting Their Veggie + Plant Food Mix contains “soy protein, sustainably composted turkey litter, potash, and feather meal.” They also carry Monterey Garden Tomato Blossom Spray, a fertilizer that boosts flowering on tomato plants even as it depresses growth of tomato disease pathogens.

California poppy Eschscholzia californica (Photo by Joshua Siskin) California native of the week: The California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), our state flower, is blooming now and its appearance in the garden is always a pleasant event. I cannot imagine why anyone would not scatter California poppy seeds which will sprout as long as they are planted before the weather turns warm. Just broadcast them over the soil surface and they will germinate with rain or irrigation. After you have a crop, the seeds will find their way throughout your garden, in the course of time, without any effort on your part. To extend their flowering period, deadhead the flowers as you would deadhead pansies or roses for continuous bloom. Although their orange flowers, which appear to have no equal in the botanical world, are certainly enough to promote their planting, California poppy foliage is special too. It is delicately laced and blue-green in color most of the time, yet it may take on intriguing purplish-red undertones when flowers are spent and seeds are about to form. The only way you can discourage California poppies from performing gloriously is to enrich their soil. These plants need a well-drained soil but will flounder where organic amendments have been dug into the earth or where fertilizers are applied.

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LA Metro Makes Gold Line Foothill Extension Its No. 1 Priority For State Funds

With two out of three unfunded LA Metro rail projects given no money by the state transportation agency earlier this year, supporters of those projects have asked, what is Plan B?

LA Metro’s board on Thursday, March 23, declared the 3.2-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont and Montclair its number one priority for the next round of state funding grants, including its consideration for inclusion in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2023-2034 state budget. The foothill line was Metro’s second place priority in a recent round of state grants.

Crews install light-rail tracks on completed light-rail bridge over Bonita Avenue and Cataract Avenue intersection in San Dimas on March 10, 2023. (photo courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority).

Crews install relocated freight track at Fulton Road grade crossing in Pomona for the Gold Line (now L Line) extension from Azusa to Pomona on Feb. 10, 2022. The extension of the LA Metro light rail line is funded to Pomona. But not to Claremont and Montclair, as planned for decades. Metro on Thursday, Dec. 1, applied to the state for $798 million to complete the line. It was one of three rail projects in an application being sent to Sacramento for funding out of a state budget surplus. But on Jan. 31, 2023, they were denied the grant. On March 23, 2023, LA Metro made the project the No. 1 priority for receiving future state funding.(image courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

Map shows route of extension of the L Line currently under construction to Pomona, to be completed in 2025. The portion to Claremont and Montclair is unfunded. (courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority).

Now called the “L Line,” the extension from Azusa to Pomona is being built entirely with local taxpayer dollars. When completed in 2025, the light-rail line will include 23 out of 24 stations in Los Angeles County, missing only Claremont. A one-mile section to Montclair in San Bernardino County is fully funded.

Nine state lawmakers, acting as part of the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Caucus, wrote a Jan. 31 letter to Metro bluntly stating their unhappiness after the state’s light rail funding awards were announced. They wrote: “We were disappointed to see The California State Transportation Agency fund the Inglewood Transit Connector before the number two and three priorities LA Metro submitted for the transit dollars made available for Southern California in the 2022-23 budget.”

CalSTA went against those legislators, giving $407 million to an Inglewood people mover project that will carry football and basketball fans to SoFi stadium and to the Los Angeles Clippers stadium being built in Inglewood. CalSTA did, however, grant LA Metro its top priority — $600 million for the East San Fernando Valley light-rail project.

The misnamed West Santa Ana Branch line, Metro’s third priority this year, was also skipped over. It would be a 19.3-mile light-rail line from downtown L.A. into southeast L.A. County cities. It was moved up to number two on Metro’s priority list in Thursday’s board action.

Local congressional members also wrote to Metro, asking that it move the Gold Line extension to Montclair to its highest priority for state funds.

“The unfunded project is environmentally cleared, has undergone advanced engineering and pre-construction utility work and is shovel ready,” wrote Reps. Judy Chu, D-Pasadena and Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte. “The small portion of the system planned in San Bernardino County is equally ready and has already secured full funding.”

The Metro board heard from several mayors, as well as the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership and Citrus College, all urging a stronger push for state dollars to complete the Gold Line’s foothill line. With about $40 million saved from the Azusa-to-Pomona extension, the amount needed is about $758 million.

Claremont Mayor Ed Reece said the project can be completed in five years. But if funding is delayed again, costs may rise and completion may be delayed. The project has been plagued by rising costs since 2018.

“This project will create 5,500 jobs and a billion dollars in economic output. It will take tens of thousands of cars off the roads each day,” said Reece.

A report by Metro says the Gold Line foothill extension has been a part of its regional plan since the early 1990s. It was included in Metro’s 2009 and 2020 Long Range Transportation Plan. Completion to Montclair would reduce car trips by an estimated 15,000 daily, and 26.7 million vehicle miles annually, studies show.

La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn says the Gold Line extension would be the only light-rail project connecting Los Angeles, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley with the Inland Empire. The line to the IE is seen as cutting the car traffic commuting to and from jobs in L.A. County, jamming the 210 Freeway and creating toxic air emissions in the San Gabriel and eastern San Fernando valleys.

Montclair City Council member Bill Ruh told the Metro board his city has already built about 2,000 housing units around the future station. Mayor John Dutrey said the city is meeting its state-mandated housing goals but not being rewarded.

“Yesterday’s action was important, as Sacramento continues to support funding for transit in the upcoming budget cycles,” wrote Foothill Gold Line CEO Habib Balian in an emailed response on Friday, March 24.

Newsom has indicated that he plans to reduce the $4 billion that was set aside for transit projects in the state budget. But Metro is lobbying him to keep the transportation funding pot whole.

“We are all prepared to do whatever it takes to make the state see these projects are worthy,” said L.A.  County Supervisor and Metro board member Kathryn Barger, whose district includes large parts of the San Gabriel Valley.

California Ends Some Water Limits After Storms Ease Drought


DUNNIGAN, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom ended some of the state’s water restrictions on Friday because a winter of relentless rain and snow has replenished the state’s reservoirs and eased fears of a shortage after three years of severe drought.

He also announced local agencies that supply water to 27 million people and many farmers would get much more from state supplies than originally planned. But Newsom did not declare an end to the drought, warning much of the state is still suffering from its lingering effects.

“Are we out of a drought? Mostly — but not completely,” Newsom said Friday from a farm northwest of Sacramento that has flooded its fields to help replenish groundwater.

Newsom said he would stop asking people to voluntarily cut their water use by 15%, a request he first made nearly two years ago while standing at the edge of a nearly dry Lopez Lake in the state’s Central Coast region — a lake that today is so full from recent storms it is almost spilling over. Californians never met Newsom’s call for that level of conservation — as of January the cumulative savings were just 6.2%.

The governor also said he would ease rules requiring local water agencies to impose restrictions on customers. That order will impact people in different ways depending on where they live. For most people, it means they won’t be limited to watering their lawns on only certain days of the week or at certain times of the day. Other restrictions remain in place, including a ban on watering decorative grass for businesses.

Newsom could ease restrictions in part because state officials said California’s reservoirs are so full they will more than double the amount of drinking water cities will get this year compared to a previous allocation announced last month. Water districts that serve 27 million people will get at least 75% of the water they requested from state supplies. Last year, they only got 5% as California endured three of the driest years ever since modern recordkeeping began in 1896.

Three years of little rain or snow have depleted reservoirs to the point the state couldn’t generate electricity from hydroelectric power plants. It dried up wells in rural areas and state officials had to truck in water supplies for some communities. And it reduced the flow of the state’s major rivers and streams, killing off endangered species of fish and other species.

But since December, no less than 12 powerful storms have hit California, packing so much rain and snow that meteorologists call them “atmospheric rivers.” These storms have flooded homes, closed ski resorts and trapped people in mountain communities for days with no electricity, prompting emergency declarations from President Joe Biden.

Amid all that carnage, water has steadily poured into the state’s reservoirs. Of California’s 17 major reservoirs, 12 of them are either at or above their historical averages for this time of year.

And more water is coming. Statewide, the amount of snow piled up in the mountains is already 223% above the April 1 average — the date when the snowpack is typically at its peak. Most of that snow will melt in the coming months, flowing into reservoirs and posing more flooding threats downstream.

“This is a good news moment. Those storms have brought record amounts of water into our state in the form of rain and snow, and that means we are in much better condition with our water supply than we were in the fall,” said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.

Newsom did not declare an end to the drought on Friday, even though the U.S. Drought Monitor reported this week that much of the state — including the major population centers along the coast and farmland in the Central Valley — are not in drought.

Water shortage concerns remain for some areas of the state, including a sizeable chunk of Southern California that relies on water from the Colorado River — a basin that remains in drought. In the north part of the state, portions of the Klamath River basin on the California-Oregon line are still listed as in “severe drought.”

“I know that’s disappointing for some because it would be nice to have a governor say the drought is over,” Newsom said.

California doesn’t have enough room in its reservoirs to store all of the water from these storms. In fact, some reservoirs are having to release water to make room for new storms coming next week and snowmelt in the spring. That’s why the Newsom administration has given farmers permission to take water out of the rivers and flood some of their fields, with the water seeping back under ground to refill groundwater basins.

Newsom made his drought announcement at one of those projects, a farm in the community of Dunnigan, off of Interstate 5 about 37 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of Sacramento. State officials hope projects like these will replenish some of the groundwater that was pumped out during the drought.

Lakers’ LeBron James Rips Reports Of Target Date For His Return

When will LeBron James be back in uniform for the Lakers? It depends on the source.

The Lakers offered a positive but vague update Thursday, saying the 38-year-old has been cleared for on-court activity and “gradual basketball movement progression.” Specifically, the update said there is no timeline for his return from a right foot tendon injury, which has kept him out of action since Feb. 26.

That was followed in short order with multiple media reports with a target date: ESPN, The Athletic and TNT all reported that James hoped to play in the last week of the season, possibly the last three or four games.

That apparently set off James, who sent out a tweet: “There wasn’t an evaluation today and there hasn’t been any target date for my return. I’m just working around the clock, every day(3X a day) to give myself to best chance of coming back full strength whenever that is. God bless y’all sources. I speak for myself!”

That might not settle things, but the key takeaway – aside from James arguing with reputable news outlets – is that he’s getting closer to a return.

Having James back would be a huge boost to the Lakers (36-37), who were in 10th place in the West as of midday Thursday. When healthy, James has been the team’s leading scorer (29.5 ppg) and leading playmaker (6.9 apg) and one of the leading rebounders (8.4 rpg). James’ return would bring additional scoring and playmaking punch to a group that has gone 11-6 since the trade deadline and already boasts the seventh-best net rating (plus-3.6) in that span.

James has done spot shooting, and teammate Dennis Schröder mentioned last week that he was working out three times a day. But the update also was an upbeat advancement after coach Darvin Ham said Wednesday that James had been “not physically able” to participate in team shootarounds.

That hasn’t stopped him, however, from offering insights to the coaching staff and teammates, Ham said.

“Just talking through different matchups, different guys, giving guys opportunities,” he said. “He’s thrown me a couple of nice ATOs we’ve drawn up in the huddle. It’s been great. He’s just being engaged and really talking through the mentality, that time is of the essence. Only (nine) games left, and we really gotta push through and make this thing happen.”

James’ refuting of reports aligns with his efforts in recent seasons to make a return as soon as possible from injury. Multiple times during his Lakers tenure, James has been upgraded from “out” a day prior to a game all the way to “available” at tip-off. But in his 20th season, his ability to gut out an early return from an injury has been compromised: In the 2020-21 season, James struggled to come back from a high ankle sprain, playing two games after missing 20 straight, then missing six more games after laboring in both losses.

Assuming the reports are credible, the Lakers could face a crunch at the end of the season to get James back in rhythm before a potential play-in game or first-round series. The team’s last five games feature three road games at the Rockets, Jazz and Clippers, followed by two home games against the Suns and Jazz. Given that all three of the final games will be played in Arena, it could represent James’ best chance to ramp back up all within Southern California confines.

Until then, the Lakers’ have had perhaps more success than expected with James out, going 7-5 in the interim. One of the players who stepped into a starting role, Austin Reaves, said the team has been able to thrive off the high stakes of games.

“Since Bron’s been out, we’ve had to have multiple guys fill what he does because he does everything on the court,” Reaves said. “So I’ve tried to be more aggressive offensively both ways, getting teammates involved, and then also scoring and getting to the line. So it’s really just been going back and playing basketball the way that I love, the way that I’ve always played and having fun with it.”

It’s even more fun, of course, when the whole team is able to play.

Oklahoma City at Lakers When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Arena

TV/Radio: Spectrum SportsNet/ESPN LA 710

L.A. School Strike Symbolic Of California Union Growth

”Survey says” looks at various rankings and scorecards judging geographic locations while noting these grades are best seen as a mix of artful interpretation and data.

Buzz: The Los Angeles Unified School District strike comes as California government workers fuel nationwide growth in union members.

Source: My trusty spreadsheet looked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual study of union membership and analysis of that data by UnionStats.

Topline California’s job market is different than much of the nation, and union membership is a prime example.

California added 149,000 union members last year – 54% of organized labor’s overall 273,000 U.S. gain.

Last year, California governments rushed to refill jobs that were pruned during the pandemic era’s lockdowns. That hiring spree helped organized labor as 54% of California government workers are union members.

Consider that in 2022, state and local governments added 111,000 California union jobs. So 75% of union growth statewide in 2022 was government workers like those on LA’s school picket lines.

Or look at 2022 union growth this bigger-picture way: 40% of the nation’s new union members were California government workers.

Details California is easily the nation’s No. 1 union hotspot with 2.62 million members – 18.3% of the U.S. total. Next comes New York at 1.68 million, Illinois at 735,000, Pennsylvania at 715,000, and Ohio at 641,000.

And its leadership in new union workers for 2022 growth was followed by Texas, up 64,000, then Michigan at 49,000, Ohio at 45,000, and Alabama at 34,000.

But 18 states lost union members last year. New York had the biggest drop (50,000), then Oregon, off 37,000, Florida, off 34,000, Minnesota, off 34,000, and Indiana, off 33,000.

Taking into account California’s huge job market, union additions statewide in 2022 equaled 6% growth, No. 23 among the states, and triple the 2% growth nationally.

Bottom line Organized labor’s clout – as measured by the share of the overall workforce – is expanding in California but down nationwide.

Last year, 16.1% of California workers were organized labor members vs. 15.9% in 2021. The nation’s 10.1% union share of workers was down from 10.3% in 2021.

Note that only three states have larger segments of their workers in unions: Hawaii at 21.9%, then New York at 20.7%, and Washington state at 18%.

And where do unions have the least power? Only 1.7% of all South Carolina workers are unionized, then North Carolina at 2.8%, South Dakota at 3.1%, Virginia at 3.7%, and Utah at 3.9%.

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

Clippers’ Paul George Likely Out The Rest Of The Regular Season

A worst-case scenario became the best-possible news for Clippers’ Paul George, who was diagnosed with a sprained right knee Wednesday.

Less than 24 hours after appearing to hyperextend his right knee, an MRI revealed that the All-Star wing suffered a less dire injury. George will be evaluated in two to three weeks, according to the Clippers.

George landed awkwardly after his leg, his knee bending backward, after colliding with Oklahoma City Thunder guard Lu Dort while going for a rebound with 4:38 left in the 101-100 loss. George immediately fell to the floor, clutching his leg. He was eventually helped off the court by Clippers staffers without putting pressure on his leg.

The prognosis could put George back in the lineup between April 5-13 – given there isn’t any ligament damage – four days after the regular season ends. Anything more serious and it could spell the end of the season for George and deliver a blow to the Clippers’ title hopes.

The Clippers (38-35) are fifth in the Western Conference with nine games left, all against conference teams. They play the Thunder again Thursday.

The news of George’s injury cast a pall over the Clippers locker room after the game. The few remaining players, however, said the team needs to move forward and not dwell on the situation.

“We have to overcome it, you have to, especially for him,” Nicolas Batum said. “We got to stay focused on who we have on the court. You know, we got good guys, great players anyway, so we’ve been there before. One team who has been there before it’s us.”

Last season, the Clippers were without Kawhi Leonard, who missed the entire season after having surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament and they lost in the play-in portion of the playoffs.

This season, managing the health of George and Leonard has been foremost with the team. The two have been playing well lately. In 55 games, George had been averaging 23.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists while shooting 45.6% form the field and 37.5% from 3-point range. Leonard is averaging 23.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists, while shooting 51.2% from the field and 41.5% from behind the arc.

Possible Tornado Reported In Montebello; Several Buildings Damaged

A strong microburst — which some witnesses dubbed a possible tornado — heavily damaged several buildings in Montebello today, with video from the scene showing portions of rooftops being ripped off industrial structures and debris swirling in the air.

um tornado in south montebello @ABC7 @KTLA

— Daniel (@djavim) March 22, 2023

The National Weather Service on Tuesday night issued a brief tornado warning in southwestern Los Angeles County, but it was allowed to expire after about 15 minutes when weather conditions eased.

There was no such warning in place late Wednesday morning when the powerful winds hit Montebello, near the area of Washington Boulevard and Vail Avenue.

The National Weather Service’s Los Angeles office, based in Oxnard, confirmed early Wednesday afternoon that it will be sending a “survey team” to Montebello to assess the damage in response to “reports of possible tornado damage.”

The NWS earlier dispatched such a team to the Carpinteria area, which suffered damage Tuesday evening that could have been the result of a small tornado or landspout.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in Montebello. Cell phone video from the area showed portions of rooftops being ripped away in Montebello, and other debris swirling in an circular pattern in the air. Another video showed a funnel-like cloud forming above the area as rooftops are ripped away.

Additional video from the aftermath showed multiple vehicles in the parking lot of an affected building with heavy damage, including shattered windows and body damage from flying debris. Some vehicles appeared to have rear bumpers ripped away.

City News Service City News Service is a regional wire service covering Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. Its reporting and editing staff cover public safety, courts, local government and general assignment stories. Contact the City News Service newsroom at 310-481-0404 or

Angels React To Shohei Ohtani Vs. Mike Trout World Baseball Classic Duel

TEMPE, Ariz. — While the baseball world was focused on the matchup between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to end the World Baseball Classic, it was nothing like the feelings their Angels teammates were having back in Arizona.

“I was nervous as hell,” first baseman Jared Walsh said Wednesday morning. “I was sitting there and my heart was pounding. I love Sho. I love Mike. … That was a win-win, but also a lose-lose. You care about all those people involved.”

Infielder David Fletcher said the anticipation grew as the elements aligned for the matchup.

“When Shohei walked down to the bullpen and I realized Trout was up and they were up by one, I was like ‘Holy (expletive),” Fletcher said. “You can’t make that up. That was a pretty storybook ending.”

Manager Phil Nevin said his phone was flooded with texts asking him who he was rooting for.

“That never even crossed my mind,” Nevin said. “I love this game. There’s no other sport, no other arena that could build that type of drama. That’s why our game’s the greatest game there is… Two players on the same team. The last out. It’s one run. It’s the two best players in the world.”

The highly anticipated matchup ended with Ohtani striking out Trout on an 87 mph sweeper that had 19 inches of break.

“The last pitch he threw, there’s not a hitter alive that’s going to hit that pitch,” Nevin said.

Walsh and outfielder Jo Adell, speaking as hitters, said that’s an impossible pitch for a hitter to handle in March.

“I’m sure, knowing Mike, how hard working he is, he’s a little unsatisfied with that game,” Walsh said. “I have a feeling when it really matters during the year, he’s going to pick us up in a huge spot down the stretch.”

Therein lies the other narrative that surrounded all of the excitement of the performance of these two generational players in the World Baseball Classic.

The unavoidable backdrop to this moment was the reality that Ohtani has never even been close to playing in a pennant race for the Angels, let alone the postseason. Trout has not been in the playoffs since 2014.

This could be their final season in the same uniform, with Ohtani set to become a free agent.

The thoughts going through the minds of Angels fans were also going through Adell’s mind as he watched Ohtani, Trout and No. 2 starter Patrick Sandoval all starring in the high-intensity environment of the WBC.

“I think it fires all of us up,” Adell said. “Anyone who watched that and saw the competitiveness between those two, I think it’s good going into the year for them to have felt sort of a postseason atmosphere. … It’s pretty cool for them to have that experience and come back and bring some of that energy here.”

Ohtani and Sandoval will be back in Angels camp in Tempe for one last tuneup for the regular season.

Ohtani will pitch in a minor-league game Friday. Nevin said the plan all along was to make room for Ohtani to pitch one inning in the final if Japan needed him. It was his bullpen day in preparation for a start Friday, which sets him up to be on his normal five days’ rest before starting Opening Day the following Thursday in Oakland.

Sandoval will pitch Sunday in a minor-league game, which lines him up for the second game of the season, the following Saturday in Oakland.

Both pitchers were scheduled to throw in big-league exhibitions – Ohtani against the Padres and Sandoval at Dodger Stadium in the Freeway Series – but the assignments were changed to minor-league games to reduce the stress after pitching with the intensity of the WBC.

“They’ll have hitters and be facing a different uniform, but the intensity they’ve pitched at the last three weeks, we need to throttle that back,” Nevin said.

As for Trout, he would not have played Wednesday or Saturday – the final day in Arizona – and the Angels are off Thursday, so he’d have come back to Tempe only to play on Friday. The Angels are instead having him go back to Southern California. He will work out at Angel Stadium on Friday and Saturday and play in the Freeway Series on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

GOOD SHOWING Right-hander Austin Warren said he feels like this spring he’s thrown even better than he did when he had an impressive showing in the majors in 2021, before a 2022 season spoiled by a freak injury.

Warren broke his nose when a ball hit him while he walked across the field during batting practice in May. Warren didn’t throw for a month and a half while recovering from the injury. He also suffered headaches for two months after that, and didn’t get sufficient sleep when he had to sleep upright immediately following the broken nose.

That added up to a 5.63 ERA in 14 games and eventually losing his spot on the 40-man roster.

This spring, Warren has allowed two runs in eight innings, with nine strikeouts and no walks. He said he’s also benefited from a new sweeper that he’s added.

“I think it’s a good pitch to have in my arsenal,” he said. “I can throw it any time, any count. Just keep hitters on their toes and not know what’s coming.”

Warren, 27, is in the mix for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, but probably more likely to start the season in the minors. He nonetheless offers the Angels encouraging depth if he can repeat – or improve on – the 1.77 ERA he posted in 16 big-league games in 2021.

NOTES Catcher Max Stassi is away from the team dealing with a “family emergency,” Nevin said. …

Left-hander José Suarez is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game Thursday, which is an Angels off day. Right-hander Griffin Canning will start the exhibition against the Padres on Friday, while Ohtani pitches in a minor-league game. Left-handers Tucker Davidson, Tyler Anderson and Reid Detmers are scheduled to start the three Freeway Series games against the Dodgers. …

On Saturday, the Angels will use a collection of relievers for their final game in Arizona. Sam Bachman, one of the Angels’ top pitching prospects, is among the relievers on the list to work in that game. Bachman has pitched two scoreless innings so far in big-league exhibitions. He is going to be stretched out to start in the minors this season.