Last November, just two percent of California Republicans supported Rick Santorum. Now that number has jumped to 25 percent, within striking distance of Mitt Romney. As the race drags on, will the California GOP have a voice in the nomination process after all, even though this state's primary is not until June? Also, a special investigator says the Fullerton Police Department did not intend to deceive the public about Kelly Thomas, the mentally ill homeless man beaten to death by officers last July. We talk with investigator Michael Gennaco and with Kelly Thomas' father. On our rebroadcast of today's To the Point, gasoline prices make for a long, hot political summer.
FROM THIS EPISODE
It's conventional wisdom that California Republicans won't have a voice in selecting their nominee because the winner will be chosen before the state's primary, which isn't until June. But Newt Gingrich is the only presidential candidate on the Party's convention schedule this coming weekend. Meanwhile, the presidential preferences of the state's Republicans have undergone a dramatic change, not just in the past few months, but in the past few days. In November, Rick Santorum had the support of just one or two percent of likely Republican voters. Now he has 25 percent, hot on the trail of Mitt Romney who still leads with 31 percent. Much of that happened while the poll was being taken during the past two weeks.
Two Fullerton police officers face criminal charges in last July's beating death of Kelly Thomas, who was homeless and mentally ill. In the aftermath, police officials released a two-year old booking photo of Thomas, looking dirty and disheveled with long, shaggy hair. They also said he had a history of violence, and that two officers had suffered broken bones during the deadly altercation. Neither turned out to be true. Community leaders and local activists accused the police of trying to win sympathy for their accused colleagues, and the City Council hired watchdog attorney Michael Gennaco to conduct an independent investigation. We hear from him and from Thomas' father, Ron, who has been highly critical of the Fullerton police.
Republicans are blaming the President, and he's announcing new energy strategies, as the price of gasoline is up to more than $4 a gallon in parts of the country for the first time since 2008. The average increase is 30 cents since the start of the year. A top House Republican says, "Gas prices will be the number one issue by summertime." What are the real reasons for the increase? How long is it likely to last? We talk with Daniel Yergin, a leading authority on the topic, and others.
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Which Way, LA? The Question that Won't Go Away 23 years ago, the fires of the Rodney King riots were burning and the sirens wailing when KCRW first asked, WWLA? We've been through fires, floods, earthquakes and massive social, cultural and economic change. While this is the last program titled WWLA? the question still needs to be asked. We talk with a group of important and thoughtful people about what LA has become and about the challenges to be faced in the future…as we continue.
Then and Now: Is LA Still the Car Capital of the World? Urban planners got some bad news today. Ridership on public transit in Southern California is on the decline, despite the billions being spent in recent years to build light rail and subway lines. Why aren't more drivers leaving their cars at home, as traffic gets more congested than ever? Meantime, there's a shortage of money to repair aging roads, bridges and other parts of the infrastructure. We look at the impact on the state's economy.
Does California Have a Double Standard for the Public's Protection? Porter Ranch and Vernon are mirror images of each other. In one, schools have been closed and thousands of residents are being moved away by the polluter—just months after a natural gas leak was discovered. In the other, residents complained for years about health risks to school children from exposure to lead and arsenic from a battery recycling plant— until the federal government finally stepped in.
Is 'Warfare' a Thing of the Past at the LAPD? Video of police misconduct wasn’t as common 25 years ago as it is today. The spectacle of LAPD officers beating Rodney King was a wake-up call, but didn’t persuade a jury in Simi Valley. When the cops received not-guilty verdicts, the city exploded. We hear from veteran officers who say they’ve changed. What about their tactics? Have they gained the trust of marginalized communities and people of color?
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