- Reporters Desk
Update on Efforts to Keep Boeing in Long Beach
LONG BEACH — On April 10, Boeing told its employees that by the end of next year, it will transfer 1,000 engineering jobs from the Puget Sound to Southern California.
The news of the follows an April 7 announcement that Boeing will likely shut down its C-17 Globemaster, which is assembled in Long Beach, by the summer of 2015, earlier than previously expected. The C-17 Globemaster plant is the last of its kind in California.
The engineering jobs will be centered in Long Beach and Seal Beach and will include the operation team, which deals with Boeing airplane issues anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The move has been described as designating Southern California as the customer support center.
Boeing’s Southern California Engineering Design Center support will be responsible for the 737, 747, 767 and 777 passenger jets, as well as commercial product support for the KC-46 Tanker and P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Boeing already assigned responsibilities for supporting several legacy aircraft to engineers based in Southern California. Boeing is dedicating its Puget Sound area facilities to the promotion of new aircraft — the 787 Dreamliner, the 737 MAX and the 777X.
The Southern California Engineering Design Center employs about 1,800 people at the in Long Beach and Seal Beach sites.
The move, rumored for months, is the latest in a series of engineering transfers out of Seattle that totals more than 4,300 Boeing jobs.
CSUDH Celebrates Hagan
CARSON — Willie J. Hagan will be formally installed as the 10th president of California State University, Dominguez Hills during an investiture ceremony, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. May 2, on the North Lawn of campus.
Hagan was first appointment interim president of CSU Dominguez Hills in June 2012. White announced Hagan’s permanent appointment in May 2013.
Prior to coming to CSU Dominguez Hills, Hagan was interim president of CSU Fullerton, where he had been employed since 1996 in various administrative roles, including vice president of administration and finance and chief financial officer, and interim vice president for university advancement. Before joining CSU Fullerton, Hagan served as associate vice president for administration at the University of Connecticut, and as a lobbyist for the University of Connecticut and the Connecticut Board of Governors for Higher Education. Hagan earned a doctorate in psychology from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree of fine arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Garcetti Announces No DWP Hikes, Early 405 Opening
LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in his April 10 State of the City address that there will be no DWP hikes, that there will be an early 405 opening, and that there will business tax cuts.
“In my first month in office, I began my administration with a fair but tough new DWP employee contract that reformed pensions and froze salaries,” Garcetti said. “And, I hired the very best to lead the department: Marcie Edwards, who came up through the DWP ranks and broke seven glass ceilings to become general manager. I directed her to take a hard look at DWP’s rates and bring reform. Look, we can’t ask you to pay more for your water and power when the DWP screws up your bill.
“So I will not allow the DWP to raise rates this year. The department must earn back your trust.”
He acknowledged the challenges in the city for businesses.
“Unfortunately, our city is still home to the highest and most complicated business tax of any of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County,” he said. “It’s a tax that taxes you even when you lose money — this chases new businesses away and pushes existing businesses to leave.
“We must phase out the business tax entirely. Next week, I will introduce legislation as part of this year’s budget that will be our first down-payment toward this goal. Our plan will cut the top business tax rate over 3 years — the top rate that nearly half of businesses pay.
His third priority was to focus on quality of life in neighborhoods.
“That’s the point of my ‘Great Streets” initiative,” he said. “Here’s how it works: We’ll saturate your street with services. We’ll make your street accessible to pedestrians, wheelchairs, strollers and bicycles–not just cars.
“We’ll create an environment where new neighborhood businesses can flourish. We’ll pave the streets and make them green streets — clean and lush with plant life, local art, and people-focused plazas…. On Gaffey Street in San Pedro, were going to join forces with its burgeoning creative community.”
In addition to declaring his goal of bringing rail to LAX, he announced that improvement work on the 405 Interstate is ahead of schedule.
“I’m proud to announce that the new lane on the 405 freeway will open not in October, but next month. And we did it through good management, and it didn’t cost us a dollar extra.”
Fugitive Mother is in Custody
LOS ANGELES — On April 10, a Slovakian native who became a fugitive after taking her children overseas in violation of court custody orders was returned to the United States to face prosecution, announced Bill Lewis, the assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office and Chief Charlie Beck of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Maria Pfeifer, age 32, a former resident of Los Angeles, is suspected of taking her children out of the United States in violation of court ordered custody terms in Los Angeles.
According to LAPD detectives, Pfeifer took the children to the Czech Republic and Slovakia in June 2012 and did not return the following month, as scheduled, in July 2012. Pfeifer’s failure to return the children violated the parental rights of the children’s respective fathers, according to detectives. FBI assistance was requested when investigators determined that Pfeifer intended to remain overseas with the children.
In August 2013, LAPD detectives obtained an arrest warrant and Pfeifer was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney with two felony counts of Child Detention with Right to Custody, a violation of California Penal Code 278.5. In September 2013, Pfeifer was further charged in a federal criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution, a violation of Title 18; United States Code; Section 1073. The court later granted the victims’ fathers full custody of their children while Pfeifer was a fugitive.
Pfeifer is known to have spent time in her native Slovakia, Germany and France, and investigators concentrated their focus in those areas, among others, where leads were generated. Earlier this year, a tip was received on a social website operated by one of the victim fathers, which led investigators to a location in France where Pfeifer had been residing with the children.
Agents with the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office collaborated with the FBI’s legal attaché stationed in Paris, France, and French law enforcement authorities to recover the victim children.
In December 2013, Pfeifer was arrested at the FBI’s request by French law enforcement officers without incident in Divonne-les-Bains, France. Shortly thereafter, the children were reunited with their fathers and returned to the United States.
At her required court appearance in France, Pfeifer was granted bail and had remained overseas since her arrest. Pfeifer was returned to the United States escorted by FBI Agents and was turned over to detectives with the Los Angeles Police Department upon arriving to Los Angeles International Airport.
The federal complaint charging UFAP is expected to be dismissed and Pfeifer will be prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Bipartisan effort launched to combat demand-side of child-sex trafficking
LOS ANGELES – On April 11, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Don Knabe, joined by a bipartisan panel of lawmakers that included Sen. Ted Lieu formally announced legislation and an increased public awareness campaign to push for harsher penalties for people who buy, sell and exploit young girls for sex.
That, included Lieu’s Senate Bill 1388 to strengthen penalties for buyers and sellers of minors for sex.
Joining Knabe and Lieu in calling on lawmakers to develop a plan to increase penalties on those convicted of promoting or participating in the sexual trafficking of minors at the front steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration were Sen. Bob Huff, R-San Diego, and Daphne Phung, founder of California Against Slavery.
The event followed the unanimous vote earlier that week by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to support a package of bills that includes: longer jail time for sex buyers; adding human trafficking to a list of gang-related activities; allowing wiretapping to be used in sex-trafficking cases; and streamlining a victim’s testimony against her exploiter.
Knabe also announced the launch of a new public awareness campaign that will appear on Metro buses and trains, and on billboards provided by Clear Channel Outdoor.
Controller Finds $10 Million ‘Languishing’ in Fund
LOS ANGELES – On April 11, Controller Ron Galperin released an audit that found that money collected from property developers to pay for public art projects “is languishing in the City’s Arts Development Fee Trust Fund.”
He urged the Department of Cultural Affairs to uphold the public trust by investing the money in the art for which it was intended.
The city collects a “1% for Art” fee from commercial developers to pay for public art installations near their real estate projects. These projects are called “Developer Paid-In.” (“Developer-Led” projects allow developers to pay for the art themselves. And in the case of “Public Works Improvement Arts Projects,” the city pays for the art component.)
The audit found that, since 2006, 428 different private development projects contributed arts fees to the Development Fee Trust Fund totaling more than $7.7 million. But 2007 guidelines from the City Attorney’s Office mandated that art projects be placed within a “one-block geographical radius” of the related construction projects, which severely restricted the Department of Cultural Affairs’ ability to use the funds. Just 32 new public art projects were created with the money.
Prior to completing the audit, the city controller consulted with City Attorney Mike Feuer. Together, they are working collaboratively with stakeholders and lawmakers to update and improve the guidelines about where public art can be located.
Los Angeles’ 1% for Art ordinances have been catalysts for more than 1,000 murals, sculptures, monuments, and other artistic creations. Yet since 2008, the audit found, the Development Fee Trust Fund has collected an average of $1.3 million annually from property developers, but spent just $654,000 on the arts.
Galperin’s audit is being released just three days after his office released a report on the City’s 974 special funds, which accounted for 89 percent of the city’s $8.9 billion in cash assets as of December 31, 2013. The Arts Development Fee Trust Fund is one such special fund.
Both the 1% for Arts audit and the report on special funds can be found on the Controller’s website at http://controller.lacity.org/index.htm
Humboldt Bus Accident Harbor Area Victims
ORLAND, Calif. — At 5:41 p.m., April 10, students were being shuttled by a charter bus going to Humboldt State University’s Spring Preview event.
The bus was traveling along Interstate 5 near Orland, about 100 miles north of Sacramento, when a FedEx truck collided with the bus. Investigators say the truck driver might have been trying to avoid a passenger car that was also involved in the crash.A Nissan Altima was struck by the truck before it crashed into the bus, according to the CHP. Public safety dispatcher Joline Wise said no one in the Altima was injured.
The accident resulted in 10 deaths and more than 30 injuries, California Highway Patrol officials said. Nine victims were pronounced dead at the scene, Carpenter said. One other victim, who suffered severe burns, died after being airlifted to UC Davis Medical Center. Five students were killed in the collision, as were the three chaperones and the drivers of the bus and the big rig, according to CHP Lt. Bruce Carpenter.
Forty-eight people were on the bus — 44 students, three chaperones and one driver, the CHP said.
Both vehicles exploded in flames, sending plumes of thick black smoke high into the air.
The vehicles were charred. The drivers of the bus and truck were killed, along with eight other people inside the bus, police said.
Seventeen-year-old Angelica Flores-Cruz of California Academy of Mathematics and Science and 18-year-old Sineva Samantha Hosea of Polytechnic High School were involved in the deadly charter bus accident. Officials said both students sustained non-life-threatening injuries, Long Beach Unified School District officials said.
At a news conference April 11, Los Angeles Unified School District officials released the following list of 16 schools attended by the 19 Los Angeles-area students who were on the bus: Banning High School, Carson High School, Wilson High School, Belmont, Chatsworth, Chavez, City of Angels, Diego Rivera, Dorsey, Fremont, Grant, Jefferson, Manual Arts, Middle College, Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools and San Fernando High School.
The officials stressed that they could not confirm whether any of LAUSD students were among the victims.
Sebelius Resigns as Health Secretary
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 10, Kathleen Sebelius resigned as the secretary of Health and Human Services.
President Barack Obama tapped budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, to replace her.
Sebelius faced harsh criticism for the Affordable Care Act rollout – one in which the Barack Obama administration reportedly came close to scrapping Health and Human Services’ website, Healthcare.gov. She appeared blindsided by the problems that were evident upon the site’s launch Oct. 1, and she accepted responsibility for her department’s failures.
Sebelius recently announced that total enrollment now exceeds 7.5 million, a half million people beyond the administration’s goal for 2014. And that number continues to rise, as enrollments that were started before the March 31 cutoff date are completed. The website’s initial dysfunction was corrected this past fall.
The resignation also sets in motion a succession process that includes Senate confirmation hearings for Burwell. Burwell has been budget director only since April 2013 and went through Senate confirmation to take that post.
Burwell is a graduate of Harvard University and Oxford, where she was a Rhodes scholar.
If confirmed, Burwell will have her work cut out for her at Health and Human Services. While Healthcare.gov is now functioning, more or less, the site will go through extensive upgrades and retooling in preparation for the next open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. In addition, Insurers will soon be setting rates for next year, as they see who has enrolled for 2014.
This past year, the Senate confirmed her on a vote of 96 to 0 as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
CIA’s ‘Harsh Interrogations’ Exceeded Legal Authority
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On April 10, McClatchy news service reported that classified Senate report found that the CIA’s legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation techniques was based on faulty legal reasoning.
The Central Intelligence Agency also issued erroneous claims about how many people it subjected to techniques such as simulated drowning, or “water boarding,” citing conclusions from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report obtained by McClatchy.
The report also concluded that the CIA used interrogation methods that were not approved by its own headquarters or the Justice Department, impeded White House oversight and actively evaded oversight both by Congress and its own inspector general.
The CIA also provided false information to the Justice Department, which used that information to conclude that the methods would not break the law because those applying them did not specifically intend to inflict severe pain or suffering, the report added.
Human rights activists called for the immediate declassification of the entire document.
A version of the report was finished in 2012, but it was revised before the Senate committee voted in favor of declassifying parts of it, including its findings and conclusions, on April 3.
McClatchy posted this link to what it said were the list of findings in the Intelligence committee report: http://tinyurl.com/SenateIntelligence