- Reporters Desk
Arrest, Charges Filed in 2013 Shooting Case
LONG BEACH — Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple charges in a 2013 shooting case against 23-year-old Raymond Rene Rodriguez of Long Beach. Rodriguez was arrested May 18 on an outstanding warrant.
Through the course of their investigation, detectives learned of Rodriguez’s connection to a March 2013 shooting. Detectives believe the incident took place March 22, 2013, on a Long Beach Transit bus with a dispute between Rodriquez, a minor companion and another man. All three people exited the bus and a physical fight ensued between the three. During the altercation, a fourth man came to assist in fighting with Rodriguez and the minor companion. Rodriguez pulled out a firearm and fired two rounds at the second man. The victim sustained a gunshot wound to the lower body and transported himself to a local hospital.
A second victim was also injured. During the gunfight, a round entered a family’s vehicle which was parked at the gas station, striking a 10-year-old boy who was seated in the back seat. Once the father realized his son had been wounded, he rushed the family to the nearby police station to summon help. Long Beach Police officers then transported the child in critical condition to the hospital. On May 21, detectives presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who filed charges of attempted murder, gang allegations and weapon violations against Rodriguez, a documented Long Beach gang member.
Rodriguez is being held at the Long Beach City Jail on $2.21 million bail. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call (562) 570-7370 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.
City College Executive to Join Long Beach Harbor Commission
LONG BEACH — On May 20, the Long Beach City Council approved the appointment of longtime Long Beach City College executive Lou Anne Bynum to the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, the body that governs the Port of Long Beach.
Bynum, who is expected to attend her first meeting as a Commissioner May 27, was appointed by Mayor Bob Foster to fill the seat left vacant by the Nov. 19, 2013, departure of Thomas Fields. The unexpired term will end June 2015. Bynum is the Executive Vice President of College Advancement and Economic Development for Long Beach City College, where she has previously served as vice president and administrative dean. In addition to her duties at the college, she is also very active in leadership roles in civic and community affairs. Among other roles, she serves as a board member for the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network, Downtown Long Beach Associates, St. Mary Medical Center Hospital Advisory Board, Memorial Medical Center Community Trustees and the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles County BizFed Institute. In the past she has served as chair of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, vice chair of the Long Beach Economic Development Commission and president of the Southern California International Business Association.
Bynum is set to become the 66th Long Beach Harbor Commissioner since the current commission structure was formed in 1925. She will be the sixth woman to serve on the Board. When Bynum joins the board, it will be the first time that the five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners will have three women – a majority – serving at the same time. The other women commissioners are Susan E. Anderson Wise and Lori Ann Farrell. Bynum earned a bachelor’s degree in history from California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s in applied linguistics/TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) from UCLA. Harbor Commissioners can be appointed to a maximum of two six-year terms and are compensated $100 per board meeting. Generally, there are two board meetings each month.
The Harbor Commission directs the 450-person staff of the City of Long Beach Harbor Department in development and promotion of the Port of Long Beach, which is one of the world’s premier seaports and a primary gateway for trans-Pacific trade.
Heal the Bay Beach Report Card Gives Long Beach 86 Percent for Water Quality
LONG BEACH — On May 23, Long Beach received 86 percent “A” and “B” grades for water quality, a 10 percent improvement over the previous year and a 16 percent improvement within the 5-year average from Heal the Bay 2014 Annual Beach Report Card.
Thirteen of the 15 beaches sampled received “A” or “B” grades during the state-mandated testing period from April through October. Long Beach also received 100 percent “A” and “B” grades during the winter dry months, which is 45 percent higher than the 10-year average in Long Beach. The Colorado Lagoon and the other beaches in Alamitos Bay all received “A” grades during the state-mandated testing period known as AB 411, after the Assembly Bill that mandates water quality testing, as well as during the winter period (November through March).
The Colorado Lagoon recently benefited from an $8.5 million restoration, and ever since has consistently shown A-rated water quality. Seven years ago, the 2007 Annual Report Card gave Long Beach just 12 percent “A” and “B” grades. That year, all testing sites at Colorado Lagoon received “F” grades. Last year, the Heal the Bay Annual Beach Report Card gave 10 of the 13 beaches sampled “A” or “B” grades. Long Beach and 15 upriver cities have installed about 12,000 trash-capturing devices in regional storm drains that flow to the Los Angeles River and then the Long Beach coastline. This prevents more than 800 tons of trash annually from entering the storm drains and ending up on the City’s beaches.
The Los Angeles County Termino Avenue Storm Drain Project features oil and grease absorbent sponges; retractable catch basin screens to keep trash from entering the storm drain system; and a low-flow diversion system, which routes dry weather urban runoff away from the storm drain system or waterways, and redirect it into the sanitary sewer system, where the contaminated runoff is treated and filters before being discharged into the ocean. Improvements at Colorado Lagoon included removing contaminated sediment; cleaning an underground culvert to improve water circulation with Alamitos Bay; installing bioswales to naturally filter out stormwater contaminants; and installing trash traps and a low-flow diversion system to divert some of the most heavily contaminated stormwater into the sewage system. A $4.9 million grant from the State Water Resources Control Board Clean Beaches Initiative Grant Program is being used to construct three Low Flow Diversion Systems and two Vortex Separation System devices, both of which divert pollution such as motor oil, dog waste and lawn fertilizer away from waterways. This project is expected to break ground later this year.
More Than 60 People Cited in Pride Undercover Operation
LONG BEACH — More than 60 people were cited, May 17 and 18, during an undercover operation at the Pride Festival in Long Beach. A minor decoy operation targeted the sales of alcohol to minors inside the venue.
Minors under the age of 21, under the supervision of ABC, attempted to purchase alcohol from the alcohol distribution points. More than half of the distribution points sold alcohol to the minors. Outside the event, in the parking lots and city streets, detectives looked for people drinking in public, adults supplying alcohol to minors, minors in possession of alcohol and any other alcohol related crimes. In total, over 60 were cited for alcohol related crimes.
Due to the problems related to alcohol, all sales of alcohol were shut down one hour early.
CSUDH Names J. Kim McNutt Dean of College of Extended and International Education
CARSON – On May 19, California State University, Dominguez Hills selected J. Kim McNutt as dean of its College of Extended and International Education, effective July 1.
McNutt comes to CSU Dominguez Hills from Our Lady of the Lake University in Texas, where he served as assistant vice president of continuing learning for the university’s Weekend College units in San Antonio and Houston. McNutt led the expansion of academic programs, as well as expanded offerings at two other offsite campus locations. In addition, he spearheaded the growth of online programs at the school to provide greater access to higher quality degrees for students who were place-bound. McNutt has 20 years of experience in academic leadership positions. Prior to Our Lady of the Lake University, he was dean of extended education at California Maritime Academy, director of online programs at Arizona State University, director of distance education at Southern Methodist University, and instructional TV manager at New Mexico State University.
A first-generation college graduate, McNutt earned a master’s degree in communications from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor’s in journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University. The College of Extended and International Education at California State University, Dominguez Hills provides self-supported and state-supported instructional programs that serve to provide increased access to the educational resources of the university.
The college offers professional and academic degree and certificated programs, international education, and life-long learning opportunities via off-campus, distance, on-line, multi-campus and regional location formats to meet the needs of a broad base of constituencies in the community.
Mother Accused of Killing Three Daughters
LOS ANGELES — Officials say that the mother of three slain girls was found next to their bodies in 1000 block of West 223rd Street in the unincorporated area near Torrance, sheriff’s officials say.
The girls, ages of 2 months, 2 years old and 3 years old, were found stabbed, but other injuries may have been inflicted. Carol Coronado, 30, may have used a knife in the attack. Neighbors said that her husband was working on his car across the street, when Coronado’s mother discovered her daughter and the three children in pool of blood on a bed. Coronado had a knife and was trying to cut her wrists, neighbors told reporters. Coronado also seemed to have self-inflicted wounds, officials said.
Detectives are investigating whether Coronado, who served in the military when she was younger, suffered from postpartum depression.
LA City Council Approves $8.1 Billion Budget
LOS ANGELES — On May 21, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the $8.1 billion balanced city budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015. The Process
- The Mayor made his city budget proposal on April 14.
- Over the past three weeks, the five-member Budget and Finance Committee conducted hours of budget hearings. The Committee heard from City Department leaders, took public comment and made substantial improvements to the budget.
- On May 21, the full City Council discussed, debated and voted to adopt the Budget and Finance Committee’s report, as amended by the full City Council. A full budget resolution will come before the Council next week, and then the budget will go to the mayor to sign.
- Total Budget for FY 2014-2015: $8.1 billion, a 10% increase from last year’s budget.
oThe primary revenue increases are from Property Tax, Utility Users’ Tax, Business Tax, Sales Tax, Documentary Transfer Tax, Power Revenue Transfer, Transient Occupancy Tax and Parking Fines. oRevenue from the Business Tax is projected to total $459.5 million.
- The City Council eliminated the initial $242 million deficit and balanced the budget.
- The budget puts Los Angeles on track to completely eliminate the structural deficit by FY 2018-2019.
Saving for a Rainy Day
- City reserves are the largest they’ve been in more than a decade. The Reserve Fund is at $284.11 million, 5.52% of the city’s General Fund.
- The Budget Stabilization Fund is at $62.4 million.
- The City Council’s responsible budgeting will protect the city from future economic fluctuations.
Why This Budget Matters to Angelenos Although the city hasn’t reached the finish line, the City Council maintained, restored and added vital services and preserved essential programs in this year’s budget. Here are just a few things that the budget will allow the city to do:
- Repair Streets
oThe budget funds 2,400 miles of LA street repairs. oThe budget funds filling 350,000 potholes. oThe budget adds $5 million to clean up streets full of blight and bulky items.
- Fix Sidewalks: The budget provides $20 million to fix LA sidewalks, $10 million more than last year.
- Ensure Public Safety
oThe budget adds $22 million over last year’s budget to rebuild the Fire Department after years of cuts, including:
- $6.5 million to create hire 200 new firefighters.
- $3.65 million for critical fire safety equipment.
- $3.5 million to keep 11 more ambulances on the street.
- $1.2 million to coordinate fire and police dispatch systems.
oThe budget maintains police hiring levels and puts at least $15 million toward paying the overtime bank. oThe budget provides funding for 8 additional prosecutors at the City Attorney’s office.
- Beautify Neighborhoods
oThe budget adds $2.1 million to maintain medians and enhance neighborhoods. oThe budget restores $1 million for graffiti abatement.
- Maintain Parks: The budget restores $1.9 million for park programs in South Los Angeles and more maintenance for parks citywide.
- Support the Elderly
oThe budget increases funding for senior meals and caregiver programs. oThe budget provides funding for a multipurpose center at the Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy, providing 38,000 senior meals and 31,000 for homebound seniors.
- Keep Animals Alive
oThe budget increases funding for medical and food supplies to reduce animal euthanizations at city animal shelters.
- Support Communities
oThe budget restores funding to support community events and non-profit organizations citywide. oThe budget adds funding for the Congress of Neighborhoods and Neighborhood Council Budget Day.
- Improve Voter Access and City Efficiency
oThe budget adds funding for new language services in the 2015 city elections: Armenian, Russian and Farsi. oThe budget creates an Innovation Fund to promote city efficiency and creativity.
State Senate Passes Bill Prohibiting Cooperation in Fed Mass Spying
SACRAMENTO — On May 19, the California Senate passed bipartisan legislation that would ban the state from supporting or assisting the federal government in unconstitutional spying and data dragnets on Californian citizens and their information.
To collect electronic and metadata information, the National Security Agency sometimes relies upon services provided by the state. In order to prevent taxpayers’ money from going towards violating their own rights, Senate Bill 828 would ban the state from giving any material support, participation or assistance to any federal agency to collect electronic or metadata of any person, unless there has been a warrant issued that specifically describes the person, place and thing to be searched or seized. Recent media articles also state the NSA’s surveillance program on Americans extends to not just phone records, but also all types of electronic data, including emails, text messages and information stored on Americans’ smart phones. SB 828 will be heard in an Assembly policy committee in June.
Twin Ports to Get Better Funding
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 20, the House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Act of 2014 by a 413-4 vote.
The bill would give millions of dollars to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to improve cargo flow through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
“This legislation includes provisions that I have long fought for that are critical to strengthening our ports,” said Rep. Janice Hahn in a statement. “As a representative of the nation’s busiest port complex and the co-founder of the PORTS Caucus, I have made it a priority from my first day in Congress to increase funding for our nation’s ports by fully utilizing the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure the money that’s collected at our ports goes back to our ports.”
If passed, it also seeks to shorten government-mandated study reviews to three years, cap spending on those studies and cut $18 billion on unfunded and non-built projects. It establishes minimum funding authorization levels for future fiscal years. All ports in the United States contribute to that fund, but the Harbor area ports usually do not get much of that money back for dredging and maintenance projects. The Port of Los Angeles contributes more than $260 million, while the Port of Long Beach contributes more than $200 million annually toward the fund.
“The Water Resources Reform Development Act makes an important advancement toward a more equitable allocation of harbor maintenance dollars,” POLA Interim Executive Director Gary Lee Moore said. “The customers of the Port of Los Angeles are the single largest contributor to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, so we’re pleased to see the bill expand uses to fund port maintenance projects.
Hahn Hosts Congressional Hearing on Pipeline Safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On May 20, in response to the recent residential oil spill in Wilmington, Calif., Rep. Janice Hahn hosted a congressional hearing with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials to examine pipeline safety and current loopholes in pipeline regulations.
A recent oil leak spurred the hearing in a residential Wilmington neighborhood. Hahn requested the hearing after an underground Phillips 66 crude oil pipe leaked about 70 barrels of oil onto Neptune Avenue in Wilmington in March. Hahn said that Phillips 66 officials told her the leak was caused by an old, corroded pipe the company had bought from another company about 15 years ago. Company officials said they believed the line was “idle” and empty. Pipelines can only be classified two ways — active or abandoned. If they’re abandoned, they must be filled with concrete slurry and capped for safety. If they’re active, they must be regularly inspected for cracks or other problems. In this case, the pipeline was never inspected after it was purchased by Phillips 66.
The cleanup resulted in loud noise, roadblocks and bad odors. Phillips 66 officials invited residents to make legal claims. Hahn also introduced legislation that would ensure that a company purchasing a pipeline does its due diligence and checks the status of the pipelines they purchase within 180 days of the sale. The bill also requires that for a pipeline to be designated abandoned, either the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration or a state authority will need to be present at the time of inspection. During the hearing, Hahn and her colleagues listened to testimony from Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration administrator Cynthia Quarterman and industry representatives from American Gas Association, the Association of Oil Pipelines and the Pipeline Safety Trust.
The panel highlighted best practices and ways the industry and Congress can help improve pipeline safety regulations and reduce the risk of hazardous public infrastructure devastating residential neighborhoods such as Wilmington and Glendale in California.
Drought Bill Passes Senate
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 22, the U.S. Senate passed the Emergency Drought Relief Act. But critics are unhappy with the latest version. Sen. Dianne Feinstein fast-tracked the latest version of the bill by unanimous consent, meaning that rather than holding a vote, the Senate considered the bill passed unless a senator objects.
Feinstein reworked the bill to get Republican votes by eliminating $300 million in spending. The measure authorizes immediate actions to help California. The bill allows reservoir storage to continue until the governor formally declares the drought to be over. I also circumvents historic water agreements and legal rulings to allow greater water exports from the Sacramento Delta to growers in the Central Valley, forcing agencies to pump the Delta at the maximum allowable levels under existing environmental laws. Environmentalist group, Pacific Advocates, believes that it puts tribal, fishing and northern California water rights interests in a lower priority because it moves Westlands and other westside irrigators up. The Bay Delta is pumped at lower levels to help protect the habitat of the delta smelt, a fish.
The Westlands Water District is the largest agricultural water district in the country. It spent $600,000 this past year on lobbying efforts. Sen. Barbara Boxer cosponsored Feinstein’s drought bill and heads the Environment and Public Works Committee. The House of Representatives passed its own version of drought legislation in February That bill was cosponsored by the entire California GOP delegation. The House bill rewrites water contracts and sets aside more environmental protections, rolling back environmental protections to increase pumping of the Bay Delta and send more water to farmers in the Central Valley.
If a conference committee alters Feinstein’s drought bill, it would have to come back to the Senate for a vote.