L.A. fast food workers hit the streets for higher pay; Lawmakers reject Brown’s prison fix; Rizzo trial soon

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todaysnewsbanner2Fast food strike. A national protest by fast-food workers over low wages arrived in Los Angeles this morning as employees began walking off the job in a one-day strike.

In recent months the fast food industry has become a battleground over the issue of minimum wage, with workers striking to demand a so called “living wage” of up to $15 dollars an hour, plus benefits and the opportunity to unionize.

Organizers say a number of national chains will be targeted today, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell and KFC. A South L.A. Burger King was among the first to be hit with demonstrations, with workers and their supporters gathering before sunrise to hold up signs in front of the restaurant.

Sonia Roldan works at a McDonalds in Hollywood. She told KCRW that she’ll be demonstrating both for herself and to support older colleagues who are trying to survive on the California minimum wage of $8 an hour.

“These are hard-working people, single mothers,” Roldan said. “The vast majority of workers are women. Women in their late 30s, 40s, 50s.”

The California Restaurant Association has denounced the protests as a publicity stunt and called the workers’ demands unrealistic. L.A. Times

Prison overcrowding.
The leader of the state Senate says Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to deal with court-ordered reductions in California’s prison population is “neither sustainable nor fiscally responsible.” Instead, Senate President Darrell Steinberg has presented his own plan that calls for an extra $200 million in state funding for rehabilitation, drug and mental health treatment. Steinberg says the funding would help convince the federal courts to grant a three-year extension of an order demanding that California cut its inmate population by 9,600 prisoners by the end of this year. The governor and a bipartisan group of lawmakers are proposing to shift inmates to private jails and county lockups, at cost of more than $1 billion over the next three years. AP

Rim Fire. That the massive blaze in the Yosemite area is finally slowing down. The Rim Fire is now at 190,000 acres, or more than 300 square miles. It’s the sixth largest fire in California’s recorded history. The fire grew a few hundred acres overnight, but that was a relatively small increase compared to past days. Containment is at about 30 percent this morning, up from 20 percent yesterday. But temperatures are expected to climb again today and officials say complete containment is still weeks away. Meanwhile, fire commanders have a new tool at their disposal: a Predator drone from the California National Guard. Officials say the drone will give them early views of any flare-ups across the remote landscape. San Jose Mercury News

Bell scandal. Remember Robert Rizzo? He’s the former city manager of Bell accused of looting the city’s treasury by paying himself and others exorbitant salaries and setting up lucrative retirement packages. Rizzo is scheduled to go on trial next month. His lawyers lost a bid yesterday to move the trial out of L.A. County. They wanted the venue changed to somewhere outside the circulation area of the L.A. Times, which helped uncover the corruption and provided extensive coverage of the case. Judge Kathleen Kennedy rejected that bid. But she said she would reconsider moving the trial if the court has trouble finding unbiased jurors. L.A. Times

Gabriel Fernandez.
The grandparents of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy who was allegedly tortured and killed by his mother and her boyfriend are suing the county’s child welfare agency. The death of Gabriel Fernandez in May drew widespread attention and led to the firings of four employees of the Department of Children and County Services. Gabriel’s maternal grandparents say agency officials illegally removed the boy from their care. More than 60 complaints had been lodged against Gabriel’s mother with DCFS officials over the years, and an investigation was underway at the time of his death. L.A. Daily News