OC sheriff agrees not to penalize deputies who refuse to testify under Fifth Amendment

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes has agreed not to take disciplinary action against deputies who refuse to testify for fear of self-incrimination, otherwise known as pleading the Fifth Amendment.

The agreement settles a federal lawsuit brought against the department by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. The suit was filed after the Sheriff’s Department made threats against now retired Deputies Seth Tunstall, William Grover and Ben Garcia, who invoked their Fifth Amendment rights on Oct. 8, 2015, while being questioned about killer Scott Dekraai during a hearing into the use of jailhouse informants.

Dekraai fatally shot eight people at a Seal Beach beauty salon in 2011 after fighting with his wife over child custody issues.

Tunstall, Grover and Garcia, who managed a jailhouse informant used against Dekraai, were labeled untruthful by a judge during their earlier testimony and refused to testify any further. The judge in the Dekraai case accused the deputies of intentionally misleading the court about how the informant operation worked and the existence of documentation.

Union officials argued law enforcement officers have the same constitutional rights as civilians and are similarly entitled to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

“Department members will not be subject to questioning, a personnel investigation or discipline,” said a memo from the union, issued after the settlement.

Alexa Pratt, a spokesperson for the union, added: “Deputies have the same rights as private citizens. Although rare, on occasion our deputies may be advised to invoke their Fifth Amendment right for a variety of legal reasons, including protecting innocent deputies from false allegations.”

Jaimee Blashaw, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department, said the agency would never violate the deputies’ right to invoke the Fifth.

“The department’s expectation is for employees to present honest and effective testimony, as it remains an important aspect of the criminal justice process,” Blashaw said. “The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has never disciplined any employee for the lawful exercise of their Fifth Amendment rights. We strive to protect the constitutional rights of everyone — department members and the public alike.”

But Paul Wilson, whose wife, Christy, was killed by Dekraai, said deputies who refuse to testify are not doing their jobs and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

“You take the Fifth for one reason — because you’re guilty and you don’t want to give further incrimination,” Wilson said. “For Don Barnes to allow his deputies to take the Fifth shows a lack of leadership.”

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Angels’ Anthony Rendon still two weeks from return to lineup

ANAHEIM — Anthony Rendon’s frustrating season isn’t getting any better.

The third baseman was expected to miss just a day or two with a hamstring strain suffered on July 5, and then after he was placed on the injured list he was expected back right after the break.

On Friday, before the Angels played their first game after the break, Manager Joe Maddon said Rendon has not made as much progress as they hoped, and he’ll be about two more weeks.

“Just that rehab process isn’t going as great as we want it,” Rendon said on Friday. “So we’re gonna take a little more time just to kind of figure it out and how we’re going to take it from here on out for the last two and a half months. We didn’t want to rush it back to come back playing where I know I’m not 100 percent or 90 percent, and then it might lead to losing the last two months of the year. So we’re trying to play it smart.”

This is the third time Rendon has been on the injured list this season, and all three times he’s been out longer than initially expected. He suffered a groin strain on April 10 and ended up missing 11 games. He missed nine games after fouling a ball off his left knee on May 3.

Besides all of that, Rendon has hit .240 with six home runs and a .712 OPS.

“It’s definitely frustrating, to say the least,” Rendon said.

Maddon acknowledged that Rendon has been out longer than the initial reports each time, but he had no explanation.

“I can’t deny that,” Maddon said. “The hammy thing we thought was just going to be a couple days, and we’re here right now. I don’t have a solid answer for you. Whenever I tell you stuff, that’s exactly what I’m hearing from the training room and the players.

“This is a little bit longer than we anticipated, but at the end of the day, you want to make sure that the player is well before he comes back. I don’t want anybody going out there and being less than 100 percent.”

TROUT, UPTON UPDATES

Mike Trout, who is out with a strained calf, is still improving, but Maddon isn’t sure when he will start his rehab assignment or return to the lineup.

“The report from the doctor is that he’s getting close to 100 percent,” Maddon said. “Once that occurs, you have to see him go through baseball activities, like running the bases hard, moving quickly and hard, and then of course playing some games. I’m saying he’s close, but I don’t know the exact date.”

Maddon estimated that Trout would be back before Rendon, so sometime before the end of July.

Upton, who is out with a strained back, went through a “really good” batting practice session on Thursday, Maddon said.

“I hate putting a finish line on it,” Maddon said. “It seems like it’s not going to be far away, but it has been, so let’s wait and see.”

EATON ARRIVES

Adam Eaton, who signed with the Angels on Wednesday, was the starting right fielder on Friday. Maddon said that he expects the veteran to “play a lot. Against a tough lefty, I’ll give someone else a shot to keep everybody else solvent, but I’ll get him out there are often as possible.”

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Eaton hit .201 with a .642 OPS with the Chicago White Sox, who designated him for assignment. Maddon said he believes the 33-year-old still has productive days left.

“Very good defensive player and he’s a very good arm,” Maddon said. “I know his offense was down a little bit in Chicago, but we researched that and we feel pretty good about being able to help him. He adds a lot of energy. He’s been a world champion recently (with the 2019 Nationals). I like all that. I’ve been a fan for a long time. I love the way he plays the game a lot.”

The Angels optioned utility man Jose Rojas on Thursday to make room for Eaton.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Alex Cobb, 6-3, 4.23 ERA) vs. Mariners (LHP Yusei Kikuchi, 6-4, 3.48), Saturday, 6:07 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM

California has a real segregation problem

Deeply blue California’s top political figures, from the governor downward, portray the state as a model of multicultural integration.

In fact, however, as a new study from UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute reveals, most California metropolitan areas have high levels of racial segregation in housing and it has become more pronounced over the last two decades.

Oddly, too, California’s segregation tends to be highest in areas most likely to lean to the left politically.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan area, the study found, is the nation’s sixth most segregated region of 200,000 residents or more. Other California areas with high levels of segregation include San Francisco-Oakland (25th), San Diego (38th), San Jose (45th) and Sacramento (82nd).

Of the 11 California regions on the report’s “high segregation” list, only two, Bakersfield (37th) and Fresno (72nd), hew to the right politically. The San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles area, which also is somewhat conservative politically, is one of only two regions in the nation deemed to be highly integrated, the other being Colorado Springs, which is a Republican bastion.

Okay, so California is not the exemplar of integration it often pretends to be. But isn’t the state trying to make its housing patterns more inclusive?

Officially, yes. State housing guidelines and recent legislation seek more integration of multi-family housing into what have been exclusively single-family neighborhoods as determined by local zoning laws. A mixture of housing types, it’s argued, would create more neighborhood diversity.

Those efforts, however, have faced stiff opposition in suburban communities where single-family homes predominate, with the fiercest resistance in suburbs dominated by Democratic voters, such as Marin County.

The outcome of California’s housing war remains in doubt. However, as California pursues — at least on paper — more integration in housing, it seems to be encouraging more segregation in political representation through a concept called “community of interest” or COI.

When California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by a statewide ballot measure, first tackled the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts in 2011, it assumed that one of its jobs was to identify COIs and make them a dominant factor in redistricting.

The commission is just beginning to do its work again, using still-to-be-released data from the 2020 census, and is putting even more emphasis on COIs, although how to define them remains uncertain.

The current commission is staging “COI input meetings” around the state and seeking participation but admits in its latest invitation that “there are no clear rules on how to define a community of interest.”

It’s assumed that under federal law, redistricting plans must not inhibit the ability of ethnic and racial groups to elect representatives. To insulate the new maps from legal challenge, the commission will use data on concentrations of potential voters (over the age of 18 and citizens) to create “majority-minority” districts that, in effect, preordain the election of legislators and congressional members from the designated communities.

Although California’s overall population has seen only scant growth over the last decade, whites have continued to decline proportionately while Latino and Asian populations have increased. Thus, as the state’s leading redistricting expert, Paul Mitchell, has written, “it’s more likely than ever that the data will tell (the commission) there are more majority-minority districts that need to be drawn than ever in light of heightened segregation within our cities and counties.”

So on one hand, California officialdom says it wants to lessen segregation in housing, but on the other hand it wants to reinforce racial and ethnic segregation in legislative and congressional districts. That’s California in a nutshell.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to Commentary.

Philip Anschutz completes sale of minority stake in Lakers to Mark Walter and Todd Boehly

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Philip Anschutz sold his 27% minority interest in the Los Angeles Lakers to Los Angeles Dodgers co-owners Mark Walter and Todd Boehly in a deal that closed Friday.

The transaction was approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors, according to AEG.

“We remain strongly invested in the franchise’s long-term success,” Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG, said in a statement. “We are confident that with Jeanie (Buss) as the team’s controlling owner, the Lakers will continue to be the gold standard in the NBA. Mark Walter and Todd Boehly are great additions to the ownership group, and we look forward to partnering with them for many years to come.”

Anschutz-owned AEG and the Lakers recently announced a 20-year extension to the team’s lease at Staples Center. It includes both sides investing in upgrades and improvements to the downtown Los Angeles arena, which the Lakers will continue to call home through 2041.

Boehly will join the Lakers’ board of directors, representing the interests of both Walter and himself.

Walter is co-founder and CEO of Guggenheim Partners, a privately held global financial services company, and is chairman of the Dodgers.

“The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most successful and admired franchises in sports history,” Walter said. “I have watched the organization grow under Jeanie’s leadership and couldn’t be more excited to partner with her and the entire management team.”

Boehly is co-founder, chairman and CEO of Eldridge, a holding company that invests in businesses involving sports and gaming, media, and real estate. He is part-owner of the Dodgers.

Real estate commissions near record $100 billion amid sales boom

By Noah Buhayar | Bloomberg

The hot U.S. housing market is poised to deliver a banner year for real estate agents.

Commission revenue — the cut that brokers collect for helping buy and sell homes — is on track to surge 16% in 2021, surpassing $100 billion for the first time, according to a new analysis by Knock, a property-technology company that lends customers money to buy a new home while helping them sell their old one.

The increase comes despite a slight dip in the rate that agents are charging customers. In 2021, the average commission rate is expected to be 4.94% — 20 basis points lower than two decades ago, according to Knock.

Real estate agents have remained the dominant way to buy and sell homes in the U.S., even as companies promising to streamline the process with technology have proliferated. As home prices soar across the U.S., that’s led to a surge in revenue for the real estate brokers, who typically take a cut of every transaction.

While the increase in fees is boon for agents, it puts a spotlight on a revenue model that has drawn scrutiny. Earlier this month, the U.S. Justice Department pulled out of an antitrust settlement reached during the Trump administration with the National Association of Realtors, saying it intends to proceed with a probe of the organization.