In This Episode
- President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Puerto Rico on Monday, weeks after Hurricane Fiona tore through the island. The trip – and the pledges of support – was markedly different from when then-President Trump arrived after Hurricane Maria five years ago.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who is up for re-election in November, is embroiled in another controversy – this time, over a probe targeting a prominent local official, an outspoken critic of the sheriff.
- And in headlines: UK Prime Minister Liz Truss dropped a plan to slash the tax rate for the wealthy, Native American activist and actor Sacheen Littlefeather has died, and Kim Kardashian settled with the SEC over an alleged cryptocurrency “pump and dump” scheme.
- KnockLA: “A Tradition of Violence/The History of Deputy Gangs in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department” – https://knock-la.com/tradition-of-violence-lasd-gang-history/
- Vote Save America: Every Last Vote – https://votesaveamerica.com/every-last-vote/
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Josie Duffy Rice: It’s Tuesday, October 4th. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.
Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson. And this is What A Day where we’re thanking Herschel Walker for supporting at least one woman’s right to choose.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, he may support a total abortion ban nationally, but at least he was on the right side of this issue when it affected him directly.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, and only when it affected him directly.
Josie Duffy Rice: Isn’t that a weird coincidence?
Tre’vell Anderson: You know how these things work, Josie.
Josie Duffy Rice: I sure do. I sure do. [music break] On today’s show, a new report outlines a pattern of systemic abuse in U.S. women’s soccer. Plus, the United Kingdom backtracked on a controversial tax cut for the wealthy.
Tre’vell Anderson: But first, President and First Lady Biden both visited Ponce, Puerto Rico on Monday. It’s been about two weeks since Hurricane Fiona made landfall on the island. So they were there to survey the damage and get an update on recovery efforts. As a reminder, Hurricane Fiona knocked out the power for the entire U.S. territory of more than 1 million people, about two thirds of which didn’t have clean water in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Today, more than 100,000 people are still without power. And while the official number of deaths due to the storm currently stands at 25, experts fear the toll could be far higher since some of Puerto Rico’s most devastated regions remain inaccessible due to washed away roads, mudslides and ongoing power outages. On the ground there, President Biden also announced more than $60 million dollars in funding through the bipartisan infrastructure law, which will be used to shore up levees, strengthen flood walls, and create a new flood warning system to help Puerto Ricans prepare for future threats.
Josie Duffy Rice: That would be great, because what Puerto Rico has had to go through over the past few years is truly unreasonable. But I can’t help but remember the last time there was major damage to Puerto Rico that prompted a president’s visit.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes.
Josie Duffy Rice: Do you still have nightmares about this?
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Yes.
Josie Duffy Rice: Because I do.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, yes. You’re obviously talking about in 2017 when after Hurricane Maria, then President Trump made a visit in which he, among other things, threw paper towels into crowds like they were footballs, like he was auditioning for the NFL.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: And it’s interesting that you bring this up, because Biden made a direct reference to that time exactly five years ago yesterday before he boarded Air Force One. Monday morning, he told reporters, quote, “I’m heading to Puerto Rico because they haven’t been taken very good care of”. Remember that Hurricane Maria killed nearly 3000 people and left behind $80 billion dollars in damage? Some of that damage was still lingering before Fiona. And there are fears that Fiona may have undone much of that prior effort to rebuild. Here is Biden at a press conference in Puerto Rico yesterday:
[clip of President Joe Biden] Puerto Rico is a strong place and Puerto Ricans are strong people. But even so, you have had to bear so much more than need be and you haven’t gotten the help in a timely way.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, that is true. President Biden, thank you. Every time he talks, I get a little stressed out. [laughter] We’ve been on the hurricane beat for a few weeks because a few of them have hit the U.S. plus, of course, Puerto Rico plus other countries. So talk to us a little bit about that.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yes, I’m basically a meteorologist by now. Most recently, Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida and caused significant flooding and other issues in South and North Carolina. So we can just say that FEMA is keeping very busy lately. But President Biden emphasized that recovery efforts in Florida will not overshadow the work being done and that needs to be done in Puerto Rico. So he’s committing to, you know, basically walking and chewing gum at the same time as it relates to this. Which is important considering that Puerto Rico often gets the short end of the stick. Though they are a U.S. territory, their citizens cannot directly vote in our elections. And that sometimes means that they don’t get the attention and support that they need. But Biden has said that won’t be happening this time. We’ll obviously keep an eye on it, but it’s good to be hearing this, at least from President Biden right now. Meanwhile, he is set for a trip to Florida to survey areas impacted by Hurricane Ian on Wednesday. There is no word yet on if he will meet with Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.
Josie Duffy Rice: Now on to another story about one of the worst sheriffs in America, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is once again being accused of mismanagement, misconduct and misbehavior. These recent allegations come as Villanueva faces an increasingly uphill battle for reelection.
Tre’vell Anderson: All right. We’re back at this name again. He pops up, I feel like, every few months for us. So I want to hear about the reelection fight, Josie. But before we get into the latest stuff, remind us about what Villanueva has been accused of doing thus far.
Josie Duffy Rice: I can’t tell you everything because we don’t have all the time in the world. And this would take like weeks. But it’s important to note he’s only been in office for one term. He was elected in 2018 and he ran as like a kind of progressive. We’ve talked about this on the show before. Um. He was like, I’m going to reform the sheriff’s department. Spoiler alert. That is not what he’s done as sheriff. You may remember that we talked to reporter Cerise Castle in June about Villanueva’s tenure and his tacit endorsement of deputy gangs, which are actual gangs within the sheriff’s department. A casual fact that I never am over as many times as I say it. According to Cerise, deputies can only join certain gangs once they’ve killed a civilian. That is the price of admission.
Tre’vell Anderson: Which is horrible. And we–
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s not great.
Tre’vell Anderson: –wouldn’t have known about without Cerise’s reporting. Um.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s true.
Tre’vell Anderson: But that’s like absurd.
Josie Duffy Rice: It’s crazy. It really is. And this is the biggest county in America. This is a huge, huge sheriff’s department. And there’s really just so much more. Under Villanueva, deputies took pictures of Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s dead bodies and shared them with people at bars and parties. He’s personally targeted journalists that he doesn’t like, opening investigations into them in an effort to intimidate the press. He’s been accused of directly obstructing the investigation of a deputy accused of kneeling on an inmate’s head. He’s retaliated against whistleblowers. He’s kind of a tyrant, Tre’vell like he really operates with complete impunity. It’s kind of shocking.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. He’s been getting a lot of criticism since he kind of got into office. You mentioned some of these recent accusations. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on now?
Josie Duffy Rice: So a few weeks ago, armed deputies showed up to the home of L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl with a search warrant. They searched her house. They also search her office, the home of sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission member Patti Giggans’ office, as well as the headquarters of Giggans’ nonprofit called Peace Over Violence. And they also search the L.A. Metro headquarters. They claimed that they were there as part of a bribery investigation. Okay. So Tre’vell the short story is this, are you ready?
Tre’vell Anderson: Mm hmm.
Josie Duffy Rice: L.A. Metro contracted with Peace Over Violence, which is Giggans’ nonprofit, to run a sexual harassment hotline for people riding public transportation. Patti Giggans, like I mentioned, is also part of the Oversight Commission of the sheriff’s department. Kuehl appointed her to that commission, and Kuehl is also on the board of L.A. Metro. Now, if that’s all too confusing to follow, you don’t have to. The bottom line is this, the sheriff’s office already searched both metro and peace over violence last year, and they were already told by the county D.A. that there was nothing untoward here. And what’s more, federal authorities also have not like supported their efforts and allegations. Plus, it’s a weird choice anyway, right? Normally, these kinds of investigations about like public misconduct would be carried out by the public integrity unit of the DA’s office, not by the sheriff’s office.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. And so he’s trying to make a point, obviously.
Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. It’s not a coincidence. I’m willing to bet that both Giggans and Kuehl have been outspoken critics of the sheriff. That may have something to do with the reason that a swarm of sheriff’s deputies appeared at Kuehl’s door at 7 a.m.. Kuehl herself called the investigation, quote, “pure harassment”. You know, it doesn’t look good.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. I’m not one to take up for, you know, elected officials. But–
Josie Duffy Rice: Right.
Tre’vell Anderson: Sheila Kuehl is one of those people in, like the L.A. area who has consistently been, you know, progressive and, like–
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: –Attempting to hold, you know, other people in power accountable. So this is definitely interesting here. Where is the investigation now?
Josie Duffy Rice: Well, recently, California Attorney General Rob Bonta took control of the investigation from the sheriff’s office and basically said that removing Villanueva from the case was in the quote, “public interest”. And that’s a really big move. Normally, the attorney general would not question the sheriff’s judgment like that, but Villanueva kind of forced his hand because of his proclivity for using his power to investigate public officials that have the nerve to criticize him. Like you said, it’s like investigations of public officials. That’s a good thing. We always want to make sure that, like the people that we elect are doing the right thing, but we don’t want investigations just because someone’s feelings are hurt, because another public official had the nerve to criticize them. And that’s what Villanueva has a history of doing.
Tre’vell Anderson: Right. It’s petty behavior that–
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: Should not have any place in any of this. Now, Josie, you said Villanueva is facing reelection in November. Who is he running against?
Josie Duffy Rice: So his challenger is the former Long Beach police chief, Robert Luna. Now, please note, Luna is not like a progressive hero or anything. He’s like a through and through cop, [laughter] but he does seem like an improvement on Villanueva. And the two participated in a debate a few weeks ago where things got like pretty heated. Luna spoke out against Villanueva’s so-called investigation of Kuehl and Giggans saying, quote, “The sheriff had no business investigating this from the very beginning. You cannot investigate your political opponents or enemies”. Thought we all knew that. But it turns out some of us that are sheriffs in the country’s biggest county did not know that. Villanueva basically spent the whole debate calling Luna a puppet over and over again. During the debate, the moderator asked Villanueva to explain a recent comment he had made, saying that Black people are, quote, “prone to criminality”.
Tre’vell Anderson: Yikes.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. Villanueva dodged the question. So yesterday, the L.A. Times reported that Luna leads the polls by ten points right now, about 36% of likely voters say they support Luna. About 26% say they support Villanueva. And that’s a significant lead for Luna. But it still does leave a lot of undecided voters. Right. That’s just like 60% of likely voters in total. So that’s 40% of people who still have to make up their mind. And this is a reminder to everyone listening to make sure you know about the sheriff’s elections that may be happening in your county this Election Day. That goes for district attorney too. And please note that the county prosecutor or local prosecutor where you live might not be called a district attorney, might be called the state’s attorney, prosecuting attorney, some other name, but you should know who’s running. You should know who you want to support. It is crucial to show up informed and ready to vote in these elections. These are extremely powerful positions and they deserve our attention. Anyway, that is the latest for now. We will be back after some ads.
Josie Duffy Rice: Let’s get to some headlines.
Josie Duffy Rice: An investigative report released by the U.S. Soccer Federation yesterday found that players in the National Women’s Soccer League are often subjected to systemic emotional abuse and sexual harassment. The report comes from an independent probe led by former U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates. It began last year amid widespread accusations of abuse. And the 172 page document is based on interviews with over 200 players, all of whom reported being degraded, manipulated and even sexually coerced by their coaches. The report also found that some team executives retaliated against players who tried to speak up and failed to act on complaints of misconduct. U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone announced the creation of a, quote, unquote, “participant safety task force in light of these findings” and said that athletes will be part of its initiative to better protect players moving forward.
Tre’vell Anderson: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, broke his silence yesterday about the death of Mahsa Amini. As we talked about on the show, Amini died last month while in custody of Iran’s so-called morality police, which sparked widespread protests. Khamenei was speaking at a graduation ceremony for military cadets in Tehran. He said he was, quote unquote, “deeply heartbroken by Amini’s death”, but went on to blame the U.S. and Israel for the civil unrest throughout Iran. Though he didn’t give any evidence to back up these claims.
Josie Duffy Rice: Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actress who made history in 1973 by declining actor Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf, passed away on Sunday night. She was 75. Brando boycotted the ceremony that year to protest the treatment of Native Americans and their depiction in film. And Littlefeather gave a short speech to drive that point home. But the audience reacted by booing and mocking her before she was escorted off the stage. Littlefeather said she was blacklisted by Hollywood for years as a result, where, as she put it, she was red listed. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially apologized to Littlefeather in August, and she accepted it in person in Los Angeles just a few weeks ago.
Tre’vell Anderson: I’m glad that she got her apology.
Josie Duffy Rice: Me too.
Tre’vell Anderson: I hate that it took all of these years.
Josie Duffy Rice: Mm hmm.
Tre’vell Anderson: And that it even happened in the first place. But I’m glad she had that moment before she died.
Josie Duffy Rice: Yes.
Tre’vell Anderson: British Prime Minister Liz Truss is changing course on her economic plan after it sent the value of the British pound plunging last week. Yesterday her government said it would scrap a key part of her new economic agenda that would have given major tax cuts to the wealthy. As a result, the pound rebounded or to use a finance term, it trickled back up. But the policy reversal isn’t a great look for the Conservative Party’s authority, just weeks after Truss’s government came to power.
Josie Duffy Rice: And what we can only assume is the last step of President Biden’s pandemic recovery plan, free samples are back at some Trader Joe’s. Huge news. Sightings of everyone’s favorite little coffee cups first appeared on social media this Saturday for the first time since early 2020. But the sample program isn’t being relaunched nationwide, so you will have to see for yourself if your local TJ’s is participating and if they’re still subtly shaming you for requesting seconds.
Tre’vell Anderson: Back to the samples. I’m not much of a Trader Joe’s shopper myself, but I might have to check them out.
Josie Duffy Rice: We’re going to change that next time I see you. Don’t worry. I have a plan. [laughter]
Tre’vell Anderson: Kim Kardashian’s next guest on her criminal justice podcast could be herself because she was just charged in relation to a cryptocurrency pump and dump scheme. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that Kim violated federal law earlier this year by promoting a crypto asset on her Instagram without disclosing that she’d been paid $250,000 to do so. Kim’s post read quote, “Are you guys into crypto? This is not financial advice, but sharing what my friends just told me about the Ethereum Max token”. Side note, you can be my friend for a lot less than $250,000. We can discuss it. It’s negotiable. No problem.
Josie Duffy Rice: Negotiable, yeah.
Tre’vell Anderson: Kim agreed to pay a nearly $1.3 million dollar fine to settle the charges, and she also agreed not to promote any more cryptocurrencies for the next three years. So stop asking. Our thoughts on this story can obviously be summed up in this iconic quote from Kim’s SNL appearance:
[clip of Kim Kardashian] Eew. This is so cringe. Guilty.
Josie Duffy Rice: [laughter] Oh man, soon to be Supreme Court Justice Kim Kardashian.
Tre’vell Anderson: Oh, my Lord. Don’t put it out there.
Josie Duffy Rice: Weirder things have happened. [laugh] And those are the headlines. [music break] That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, enjoy a little coffee at Trader Joe’s and tell your friends to listen.
Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading and not just financial advice from Kim Kardashian’s friends like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Tre’vell Anderson.
Josie Duffy Rice: I am Josie Duffy Rice.
[spoken together] And spread the word about Ethereum Max Token.
Josie Duffy Rice: I don’t even know what those words mean. To be totally honest with you.
Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely not. Listen, cryptocurrency is above my pay grade, okay.
Josie Duffy Rice: Like, what’s the adjective? What’s the noun like? Is token like, what’s happening? [laughter] I don’t understand. [music break]
Tre’vell Anderson: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.