• Map Connects LA’s LGBTQ Youth with Vital Resources

    LOS ANGELES — On June 28, Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin released a map detailing free and local resources to help LGBTQ homeless youth throughout greater Los Angeles.

    The map lists 143 organizations in Los Angeles County. These organizations offerings include resources for free housing, health resources, youth programs, education programs, scholarships, legal services and nutrition. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning persons who may be in danger of experiencing homelessness can find support through partner organizations, such as the LA LGBT Youth Advocates Coalition and the Los Angeles chapter of PFLAG, an all volunteer organization run by parents, family members, LGBTQ persons and their friends.

    The map is available for all of the estimated 53,000 people in L.A. County experiencing homelessness, but is geared for LGBTQ homeless youth. While LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness have similar needs to their non-LGBTQ peers, they also have needs specific to their identities.

    Details: www.lacontroller.org/lgbtqresourcemap

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  • Redefining Public Safety

    This symposium will begin the journey of redefinition by looking at how other communities police the police and create realistic and effective alternatives to incarceration. Relationships of trust have been broken between the police and the people, not only nationally, but also, here at home. Many in Long Beach, especially our communities of color, undocumented, LGBTQIA+, view the Long Beach Police Department as a threat to their safety. People across California have come to the conclusion, that we cannot solve our problems by simply locking people up. We have overwhelmingly voted to change our system of incarceration. Now we need to create effective alternatives.

    Come learn about how other communities are creating accountability structures and building working relationships with police departments with the public asking for alternatives to incarceration. Let’s co-create this movement together. A movement of second chances and productive futures for all of our community members. Please join us for this event as we learn from one another how we can Redefine Public Safety and this crucial journey toward meaningful and life preserving change.


    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 21
    Details: https://tinyurl.com/Redefining-Public-Safety
    Venue: Dignity Health – St. Mary Medical Center, 1050 Linden Ave., Long Beach

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  • Blood Donations

    An emergency blood shortage is prompting the American Red Cross to issue an urgent call for eligible donors of all blood types – especially type O – to give now and help save lives.

    The following times times, dates and venues are welcoming donors in the month of July.
    Time: 8 to 3 p.m. July 21, 22 and 29,

    12 to 7:30 p.m. July 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 30 and 31

    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 19 and 26

    8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 20 and 27

    9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 28

    Details:1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767); RedCrossBlood.org
    Venue: American Red Cross Greater Long Beach Chapter, 3150 E. 29th St., in Long Beach.

    Time: 12 to 6 p.m. July 18
    Venue: 201 S. Pico Ave., Long Beach.

    Time:8 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 22
    Venue:Christ Lutheran Church, 6500 Stearns Ave., Long Beach.

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  • Little Italy, Big Problem for a Small Town

    • 07/12/2018
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Symbolic of lack of collaboration with community

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    When I heard the news that Councilman Joe Buscaino had gotten a large portion of downtown San Pedro designated as “Little Italy” it was like — “Say what?”  This came out of nowhere. There was no collaboration with any neighborhood council or group. There was no discussion with the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce. So this designation is supposed to do what exactly?  Merchants in the newly named district, most of whom aren’t Italian, are tilting their heads in wonder as this newly minted district coexists with the branding of the Waterfront Arts District, the San Pedro Historic Waterfront District and the demised Beacon Street Redevelopment District. Meanwhile, the San Pedro Business Improvement District has been spending more time and money searching for yet another brand.

    If some people are confused about what to call this area or are concerned about “branding” it once again, Buscaino has just unintentionally complicated the issue. The reason for Little Italicizing it is unclear. Was this for ethnic pride, or was he simply courting the declining ethnic vote?   Now I’m not even sure of the historical accuracy of the designation, as most of the old Italian families lived south of the central business district in the historic preservation zone called Vinegar Hill, the area where most of little Italian winemakers crushed their grapes — even during prohibition — where the old homes still have wine cellars.

    I absolutely love Italian food and most of the remaining restaurants serving the various forms of it are in this area, but so are a bunch of other ethnic cuisines. In fact, between 9th and 6th streets on Pacific Avenue, in the heart of this area, I can count five Mexican restaurants and that’s probably just 10 percent of those restaurants we counted up for our Cinco de Mayo list. That doesn’t even count the taco trucks or the roving tamale vendors.  Anyone up for calling this area Little Mexico?

    The point really is that someone has convinced our erstwhile policeman that this worked in San Diego. So, while he’s on track to making San Pedro Great Again, like demolishing all of Ports O’ Call, he should just move ahead without talking with anyone. This is part of the backward flip on diversity that’s being shucked to us with the San Pedro Public Market. Diversity in this case is about bringing fewer people of color to the waterfront.  This is often hidden in the doublespeak associated with the current development promotions.

    I don’t know what world Buscaino is living in, but right here, in this part of Los Angeles, we have one of the most truly diverse populations in the most diverse city in America. The most recent time I counted there were something like 19 different nationalities represented in our community, and it’s probably grown since I checked. I personally celebrate this.  And this Little Italy thing does as much to divide our community, as he thinks it does to celebrate his national origins.  Good for you, Joe. How about making my street Little Scotland?

    For as much as this is an insignificant issue compared to, let’s say, the homeless crisis, the eviction of Ports O’ Call Restaurant or fixing the landslide on Paseo del Mar,  it is emblematic of Buscaino’s track record: a selfie photo op for his Facebook fans — more smoke than fire, more illusion than substance. This is nothing more or less than a PR move with nothing behind it to improve either the business district or the lives of the people who live and work here.

    It is exemplary of the way that this councilman has worked since he was first elected. He doesn’t listen to those outside his own circle; he looks at most problems as an us-versus-them dynamic and he always wears rose-colored glasses for some promise of future prosperity.  He doesn’t even know how to process criticism, which is part of the job description for being an elected politician.

    You’ll notice that Buscaino’s turn-about on the homeless issue came only after Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the “Bridge Home” initiative in his state of the city address earlier this year. Suddenly, Joe wants to show his compassion for the desperately poor neighbors after chasing them all around his district for five years from one encampment to the next, burdening them with tickets they can’t afford to pay and jail when they don’t. This, my friends, is not problem solving. It’s just kicking the can down the sidewalk hoping someone else will pick it up.

    So now let’s get down to the real issue — where do we set up the emergency shelters that Garcetti has called for?  There is a loosely formed group comprised of neighborhood council members, San Pedro Chamber of Commerce chairman Tim McOsker and a few others working separately who have engaged the council office in the search for locations.  This once again was not the council office reaching out to the leaders of the community first and seeking advice for solutions from people long engaged in the issue but the council office getting onboard with a political agenda from city hall and then waiting for the community to react.

    The problem not the cure

    All of this is like his pronouncement two years ago at the San Pedro chamber’s annual luncheon about  a proposed 15-story high rise development in the heart of the San Pedro business district on its shortest and narrowest street. This came not long after, we all learned that the developer was a known real estate fraudster from Solano County who was later convicted.   Like I’ve said before, Joe is long on hype, short on action and now he’s little on Italy.

    Whether you agree with this new designation or not, the way this designation came about is a symptom of Buscaino’s leadership, not the cure for our problems.

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  • Ports O’Call Restaurant Grasps at Last Straws to Stay

    • 07/12/2018
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    On July 9,  an engaged couple who had booked an August wedding at Ports O’ Call restaurant pleaded with the court and port attorney’s for more time. After court marshals escorted the couple out, federal bankruptcy court Judge, Robert Kwan denied the restaurant’s request to stay at its present location, but requested that both sides come up with an orderly exit plan.

    Kwan extended the existing temporary restraining order to 12:01 a.m. of July 11.

    The attorney for the restaurant, David Haberbush, said an appeal would have to be filed quickly due to the expiring restraining order keeping the restaurant open four months beyond the eviction notice.

    The restaurant sought to stay put until January 2019, arguing that it was the only hope to raise money necessary to pay off its debts owed in salaries and deposits for special event bookings.

    According to the port’s testimony, plans for the San Pedro Public Market is 14 months behind schedule. The San Pedro Public Market is the venue set to replace Ports O’ Call Village.

    The Ports O’ Call Restaurant is the only current tenant on the Los Angeles Waterfront to have a letter of intent to return and be part of the new development that won’t be open until at least 2021.

    Talks are ongoing with five other possible transition sites in the meantime, Wilson said, but no deals have been struck.

    His attorney described the additional six months being requested as a “bridge” to resolve both the bankruptcy and transition issues the landmark restaurant now faces.

    Port witnesses testified that the restaurant’s deck sitting out over the water is needed to build new seating in the public market, the first piece of construction that is planned. However, the Port did not reveal to the court that the site next to the existing Fish Market has contaminated soils from a previous tenant Chevron Oil. This may have been a consideration in the change of the phasing of the project which was announced last year and came as a surprise to the Ports O’ Call management.

    Other adjacent buildings under the lease that had been granted to Ports O’ Call Restaurant stand in the way of the planned promenade on the redeveloped site.

    The port faces “significant” losses should the project be further delayed, said port Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate Director Michael Galvin, especially if it causes the developer to opt out under the lease agreement deadline provisions.

    At this point the development team of Ratkovich/Jerico have not announced any nationally known tenants or whether they have funding to actually construct the new project.  Some community members are concerned that the San Pedro Public Market will not get built even if the port is successful in evicting Ports O’ Call Restaurant.

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  • Port Truckers’ Struggle for Justice Enters New Phase

    • 07/12/2018
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    After five years of strikes and a series of small victories at individual firms, there are signs of a major shift in the struggle for justice by port truck drivers, along with allied warehouse workers.

    The root of the injustice is the “big lie” that they’re “independent owner-operators,” said Jose Portillo, a driver for Intermodal Bridge Transport. His testimony in a May 31 hearing before the Long Beach City Council Tidelands and Harbor Committee was emblematic of how once-marginalized voices are finally getting the attention and respect they deserve.

    “Year after year they’ve been violating laws, like misclassifying us, saying that we’re supposedly independent contractors,” Portillo said. “The truth is, that’s not true. Companies tell us what to do, where to go and none of the drivers have the opportunity to negotiate with the customers of the trucking companies. That’s not an independent contractor. That’s an employee.”

    That conforms with an April 30 decision by the California Supreme Court in the Dynamex case, affirming use of the “ABC test,” that is utilized in other jurisdictions in a variety of contexts [such as the Internal Revenue Service] to distinguish employees from independent contractors. Being free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work is the heart of the first, “A” requirement. All three of must be met in order for someone to not be employee.

    “While port truckers have won many individual battles for wage theft and related claims rooted in misclassification, massive violations continue due to companies who continue to flagrantly violate the law,” said Fred Potter, Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division. But that could be about to change as a result of actions at both the state and local levels. The Long Beach hearings are part of a search for local strategies, while the City of Los Angeles has already initiated a set of lawsuits against three Cal Cartage companies (taken over by NFI Industries this past October).

    New State Bill Would Hold Retailers Accountable

    The most promising new approach comes from Senate Bill 1204, drafted by Bell Gardens state Sen. Ricardo Lara. The bill would make large retailers jointly responsible for labor law and related violations by the logistics companies they contract with.

    “California has tried for more than a decade to address misclassification and exploitation of port truckers, but these vulnerable drivers still lack the appropriate protections,” Lara told Random Lengths News. “By letting California hold retailers jointly liable when they employ companies that break the law, Senate Bill 1402 will clean up our port trucking industry once and for all.”

    The bill passed the Senate 22-12 on May 30, and is going through Assembly hearings, with a floor vote expected in mid-August, Lara’s staff said.

    The bill’s findings note that “California’s port drayage drivers are the last American sharecroppers, held in debt servitude and working dangerously long hours for little pay.”

    It points out that more than $45 million has been awarded to more than 400 drivers by the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, but “Drivers have seen little of those awards while misclassification remains endemic, as companies that commit violations go out of business and are replaced by others that repeat the pattern.”

    Holding retailers accountable would drastically improve compliance, according to Teamsters spokeswoman Barbara Maynard.

    “We anticipate that this will be a game changer in the industry … coupled with the California Supreme Court decision on the Dynamex case, which clarified rules around using independent contractors,” Maynard told Random Lengths News.

    One employment law firm report called it the “Contractor Apocalypse,” saying the standard will make it much more difficult for businesses to [mis]classify workers as independent contractors.

    Lara’s involvement started about two years ago, when he met with a group of drivers and a couple of warehouse workers.

    “The senator began looking at what he could do and that was a complex question because trucking is tricky,” Maynard said. “There’s federal preemption [which struck down the truckers’ employee protection in the original Clean Trucks Program] and there’s local laws, there’s state laws, there’s federal laws, and there’s all kinds of things that make it complicated….. He came up with a piece of legislation is really very elegant and simple…. What Sen. Lara’s bill does is publish a list of those companies that have been found guilty of violating the law for misclassification.”

    Retailers that go ahead and use companies on the list then become jointly liable for their violations.

    “We think that it’s a creative approach to the problems in this industry that have been here for decades,” said a Lara staffer, on background.

    “We’re really excited about this legislation,” said Jessica Durrum, a spokeswoman with the Our People Our Port Coalition, which includes labor, environmental, faith-based and immigration advocates who work closely with port truckers and warehouse workers.

    “We’ve seen the lengths to which companies will go to avoid accountability — creating shell companies, ignoring labor commission decisions that become final judgments; they continued to avoid and flout the law,” Durrum said, “So, as many enforcement mechanisms that we have, the better.”

    A Handful of Companies Embrace Responsibility, Employee Model

    Years of struggle by misclassified port workers are starting to pay off. A handful of companies have abandoned the independent owner-operator model and are now valuable allies, since they, too, are hurt by companies that gain a competitive advantage by continuing to break the law. Toll, EcoFlow and Shippers Transport Express all submitted letters of support for SB 1204.

    “We provide fair wages, medical and we make pension contributions for our drivers. But we do so at great competitive disadvantage,” Eco Flow President and CEO Bill Allen wrote. “We fight for survival.”

    Allen noted that it is 25 to 30 percent more expensive to use employee drivers. There are a variety of reasons for that. Companies using the independent owner-operator model do not pay for workman’s compensation policies, unemployment insurance fund taxes, medical benefits, pensions, profit sharing or employer payroll taxes or other statutory employment-related programs.

    “There is simply insufficient profit margin available to sustain wages and benefits at current levels in an employee context unless everyone plays by the same rules,” Allen said.

    “Given our companies’ experience and ability to come into compliance with labor laws, we do not see any reason why every other port trucking company cannot do the same,” wrote Kevin Baddeley, general manager of Shippers Transport Express, which made more than 250,000 drayage moves in 2016. This is second only to the California Cartage companies, now owned by MFI industries, which made over 300,000 drayage moves that year, and now faces lawsuits brought by Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer on Jan.8.

    Toll Global Logistics operates across 1,200 locations in more than 50 countries, with over 40,000 employees worldwide. “Around the globe Toll recognizes our most valuable asset is our employees and we take the same approach here in the United States,” Tolls Americas President Geoff Terrill wrote. “Our success in delivering excellent service to our customers not only depends on how we treat our people but how we impact the communities we work in and the planet we inhabit. Therefore, we are committed to creating sustainable value in the movement of goods through highly ethical and socially responsible standards for managing our business.”

    Unfortunately, such enlightened attitudes are the exception, not the rule, despite the legal consequences — at least, as far as they have been applied to date.

    Lara’s bill, making retail cargo owners responsible for how they move their goods, would substantially add to those consequences. After minor adjustments were made—giving more time for retailers to get out of contracts and providing for monthly updates—the trucking association verbally dropped its opposition to the bill.

    Los Angeles Still Has a Role to Play

    But no single approach, however well-conceived, should be counted on to fix a situation that’s been in place for decades, which is why city-level measures in Los Angeles and Long Beach are important as well, Durrum pointed out.

    Following a sub-committee field hearing in San Pedro this past Nov. 28, 2017, the Los Angeles City Council called on the city attorney to investigate what could be done — in turn stirring Long Beach to consider similar action, Durrum said. This process is still under way. One quick result was the Jan. 8 lawsuits against three Cal Cartage companies — CMI Transportation, K & R Transportation and Cal Cartage Transportation Express.

    “These port trucking companies take advantage of hundreds of hard-working drivers, requiring them to pay onerous expenses just to do their jobs, while leaving them without basic benefits and protections — all to boost the companies’ profits,” Los Angeles City Attorney Michael Feuer said when announcing the suits. “It’s wrong and we’re fighting to stop it.”

    But despite these lawsuits, and numerous previous findings of violations of state and federal laws, the Harbor Commission still approved a one-year Free Trade Zone Operating Agreement with Cal Cartage on April 5. Councilman Joe Buscaino took a leading role in reversing it and the city council voted unanimously to veto the agreement on May 8.

    “Time and again I have told the LA Harbor Commission that NFI/Cal Cartage is breaking the law by misclassifying me as an independent contractor yet they continue to give sweetheart deals to the company,” said Gustavo Villa, a misclassified Cal Cartage driver. “I am so grateful that Councilman Buscaino stepped in to block this sweetheart deal for a company that has shown no regard for the laws of the land.”

    It was a step in the right direction, but it begs the question: why did the city council have to intervene in the first place? The Harbor Commission still seems to accept criminal behavior as the norm.

    Long Beach Moves Forward, Too

    In Long Beach, the city council approved a three-pronged approach on Feb. 20. It added port driver issues to its state and federal legislative agendas, requested the city attorney to “explore options to support regulatory enforcement efforts” by the state, and requested hearings to look for solutions by the Harbor and Tidelands Committee and the Long Beach Harbor Commission. The committee hosted two hearings in May, but a third, originally planned for mid-June has yet to be scheduled. But the overall tone of those meetings reflects a fundamental shift in understanding, which is the result of years of seemingly thankless struggle by port drivers.

    For example, in the May 31 meeting, Portillo was one of four presenters, along with Durram, who provided an overview of the port truckers’ struggle. Patrick Henning, the director of the California Employment Development Department, spoke to how misclassification weakened the state’s unemployment and disability insurance system. Jonathan Rosenthal, the CEO of Saybrook Management & Chairman of TTSI Transportation, explained why regulation was needed from a systems view of business, based on 30 years of experience in different aspects of the logistics sector.

    “Capital has no conscience and so it needs a regulatory framework,” Rosenthal said. “Capital moves towards return and it moves away from risk.”

    In 2016, Saybook determined that the independent owner-operator model was too risky.

    “We said, ‘Look, we don’t think that’s right model, we think that that’s too unpredictable, the regulatory environment that’s developing is too unpredictable,” he recalled saying. “It’s cheaper to cheat, no question about it…. It’s your job to give us regulatory certainty.”

    That will ensure broad compliance by all companies, not just the more far-sighted ones.

    The fact that all these different points of view converged on the same bottom line — the need to recognize port truckers as employees and make that recognition universal — epitomized the shift in consciousness that’s necessary in order for justice to finally be achieved. There’s still a great deal of hard work to be done, translating that awareness into laws, regulations, and most importantly, day-to-day practice on the ground. But the growing universality of that awareness signals a true turning point in the struggle.

    That’s a hopeful sign for port truckers, but it’s not their only concern, Durrum pointed out. Port drivers are largely an immigrant workforce, with many — like Portillo — from Central America and many of those here in America under Temporary Protected Status.

    “Many, many drivers will be affected by this program which is being phased out as we speak,” Durrum said.

    So there’s ongoing organizing to combat the threat.

    It’s one of the oldest stories in the labor movement. The ILWU’s founding president, Harry Bridges, was an Australian immigrant, who the government spent decades trying to deport — unsuccessfully. Once again, workers can look back at their history to gain strength for their next struggle, even as the current struggle is yet to be won.

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  • Hahn Succeeds In Having Project Labor Agreement for Rancho South Campus Projects

    • 07/12/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    DOWNEY-Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has insisted that a Project Labor Agreement or PLA be included in plans to develop the south-side of the Rancho Los Amigos Campus in Downey.  Hahn has long advocated for PLAs as a means of investing in good jobs and guaranteeing fair treatment of workers.

    Supervisor Hahn said not only do Project Labor Agreements help keep projects on schedule and on budget; they are a tool that helps us to protect workers and create a pipeline of good paying jobs.

    At the recent Board of Supervisors meeting Hahn directed that the County include the projects proposed for the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus Development in upcoming project labor agreement negotiations with the Los Angeles and Orange County Building and Construction Trades Council. These four projects include the Sheriff’s Crime Lab, the new Probation Department Headquarters, the new Internal Services Department Headquarters, and other infrastructure projects.

    LA/OC Building Trades Executive Secretary Ron Miller said they are very proud to partner with Supervisor Hahn on the Rancho Los Amigos South Campus Project to put local people to work including veterans and the disadvantaged workforce that live in the County.

    Alex LaFarga of LiUNA, who testified at the meeting said let’s not just think about building projects. Let’s think about building careers.  That is what these PLAs do — they provide us with opportunities to build careers.

    Supervisor Hahn’s motion passed unanimously.

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  • Service and Connection

    • 07/12/2018
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Harbor Harley Davidson Club gives more than 300 backpacks with school supplies to Barton Hill Elementary students

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The San Pedro Harbor Area Pirates, a Barton Hill Harley Davidson club, reminded me of what marriage and fatherhood can do to mature a man.

    The club’s president, Chris Valencia, sent me a press release about their July 14 backpack giveaway at Barton Hill Elementary School. The club had just hosted a softball tournament featuring motorcycle clubs from as far away as Indio and San Diego. As a result, they were able to purchase three times as many backpacks and school supplies as they did the first year the club started giving the school supplies to the students of Barton Hill Elementary.

    Club President Valencia, 45, Vice President Frank Valencia, 40, and Secretary Antonio Medina, 36, are a brotherhood bound by shared love of Harleys and commitment to lifting up their Barton Hill neighborhood.

    The club has given away free backpacks filled with school supplies each of the three years since the club formed. The first year they gave away 100 backpacks. This year will be the first time they give away more than 300.

    The club also has been giving away Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with everything except whole turkeys — and that was only because they didn’t have refrigeration space to store the holiday fowl.

    When asked why they do it, Chris replied, “Honestly, we are blessed with having good jobs and just wanted to give back.”

    Chris is a longshore mechanic,  Frank is a crane operator and Medina works in construction.

    Their style looks a lot like that of the Legends Car Club — until recently known for classic car picnic fundraisers at Point Fermin Park‚ except their interest is Harleys.  All of them are connected in one way or another to the lowrider and classic car culture we see cruising down Pacific Avenue.

    When they founded the San Pedro Harbor Area Pirates Harley Davidson Club, they were looking to connect to this town’s motorcycle history going back to Eddie Ryan’s 1930s bike shop.

    Referencing a subculture that began more than 80 years ago, Valencia and Medina see themselves as the heirs of that culture. But they only have a couple of pictures and a little research to go off of.

    “We just tried to blend the two things we like to do,” Antonio said. “We all grew up hard. We didn’t have anything growing up. All three of us being alumnus of Barton Hill look at it like, ‘We didn’t have anything, so why not help the kids?’”

    The San Pedro Harbor Area Pirates has 24 members now. The youngest is 23 years old and the oldest is in his early to mid-40s.

    Chris and Antonio are keenly aware of some of the negative stereotypes of bikers as delinquents and work hard at pushing back on that perception.

    “When you see a pack of bikes it’s usually involving some fundraiser or ride-along to give back,” Chris and Frank said. “Harleys are like lowrider cars on two wheels. It has family history as far as if you look at the Harleys themselves in the old movies based on them. It’s based on family. They helped each other grow. Just from where they came from to where they are at now. We didn’t have anything growing up.”

    Raising money for causes has always been a part of the fabric of lowrider and bike cultures, from putting on car washes to assist families with funeral expenses.

    Frank revealed that he owned a couple of high performance street bikes but gave them up because of the implicit danger their speed incurs.

    “Any bike can be deadly but those bikes are too damn fast,” Frank said. “I get an adrenaline rush off  them so I took it down to a Harley.”

    Referencing Harley David- son’s motorcycle origin story and its founding families, Frank expressed a sense of kinship with William Harley and the Davidson brothers, Walter and Arthur.

    “It has family history as far as the Harleys themselves,” Frank explained. “It’s based on family that helps each other grow. Just from where they came from to where they are at now.”

    Most of my cousins knew what it was to grow up in the projects and they knew how it was to have that new pair of shoes or  a nice pair of jeans or a new shirt for the first day of school. We wanted to give back and take just a little bit of the burden off of the parents. We live in that area, so we see the struggle.

    They believe their work also addresses bullying. Getting children some of the latest fashions, as opposed to sneakers associated with discount stores and swap meet knock-offs, goes a long way in helping them blend in.

    All three men are married with children and are mentors to young adults in the community. The youngest guys in the club worked their asses off to get a Harley.

    “We’ve been wearing these patches since day one,” Chris explained, referring to the patches on their custom-made club vests. “What we do, they want to be a part of that. We tell them that there some things [that] go behind these patches: Number 1, respect; Number 2, give back.”

    Their fundraisers are literally family affairs where children, wives, sisters, mothers and aunts are involved.

    During the weeks leading up to Father’s Day the club hosted a Baseball for Backpacks tournament where they sold pastries.

    “Our wives did the bake sales and the whole nine [yards]. His mom and my mom were on the grill the whole time,” Frank said.

    “Our ladies are the backbone of our club,” Chris said. “They don’t get the recognition they deserve but they are the ones who pulled it off. They are the ones coordinating the shirts for the girls, organizing the events.”

    The band of club brothers know they are modeling altruistic behavior and characteristics for the area’s youth.  Frequently folks from the neighborhood ask to pose for pictures with them and their Harleys when they’re out and about the neighborhood.

    The men’s attachment to San Pedro’s Harley Davidson heritage isn’t just a matter of them loving the Harley Davidson motorcycle.  It’s that there’s tangible evidence of its existence in the earliest days of San Pedro’s motor vehicle culture — namely, San Pedro’s Eddie Ryan Harley Davidson dealership. It was the first of its kind in all of Southern California.

    Every year, Ryan staged a large group photo of Harley Davidson riders lined up in front of the shop on 4th and Beacon streets for a photo shoot. Pictures from those photo shoots have been sold at auctions or hang in legendary motorcycle shops. As the story goes, Ryan was a time trials racer, a hill climber and a regular gypsy tour rider. Gypsy tours are when riders from across the country converge upon a single destination like Sturgis, South Dakota, Daytona Beach, Florida or Walkers Cafe at Paseo del Mar, in San Pedro on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

    Rumor had it (rumor because all I’ve been able to find so far are online anecdotes from people who knew the descendants of these figures) was that Ryan was an Excelsior-Henderson motorcycle man before he had a falling out with the company and started getting into Harleys in the mid-1920s. So from then on until 1962 it was a Harley shop. A regular at Ryan’s shop, bought, moved and operated Ryan’s shop as Motorcycles Only, in the city of Gardena. And that was the extent of the history of the Harley Davidson dealership in San Pedro.

    While the Valencia brothers and Medina talked about their desire to give back to the community and sharing their love for riding their Harleys, I was reminded of a 2006 story I wrote,  Pedro’s Motorcycle Diaries.  It was my first foray in documenting the Los Angeles Harbor Area’s motorcycle subculture. Century Motorcycle’s Cindy Rutherford was one of the primary sources for that story.

    At the time, Rutherford said bikers would compete against each other in hill climbs and scrambles — sometimes for pink slips. What I neglected to mention in that story was that her father, Bill Cottom, opened Century Motorcycles with his collecting of pink slips from such competition. The racing spots back then included Rusty Nails, which was north of Greenhills Memorial Park and the Palos Verdes Reservoir before it was filled with water.

    According to Cottom’s obituary, his passion for motorcycles was lit when, as a 12-year-old living on a Kansas farm, he rode his cousin’s Reading Standard motorcycle.

    At the age of 17, with the money he earned working at a general store and as an underage professional boxer — he won the light heavyweight championship in Kansas — Cottom bought his first Harley-Davidson.

    During the early years of the Depression, Cottom worked as a sparring partner in Chicago and raced motorcycles for cash on wooden board race tracks. Cottom came to San Pedro in 1935 to help his brothers run their Century Sign business.

    He opened Century Motorcycles at Pacific and 17th Street that year, specializing in vintage and British-made motorcycles such as Vincents, BSAs and Triumphs. The shop soon became a prominent hangout for bikers from throughout the Los Angeles area and beyond.

    Rutherford explained that her father, along with Dave Thomas and Chuck Caughlin founded a local chapter of the Centurions Motorcycle club in the 1960s to counteract the outlaw image of bikers. She said their membership ranged from eight to 80 years old and 90 percent were married. The club rules were so rigid that if a member received a ticket, he’d receive an additional penalty from the club captain.

    Club rules included:

    • Being a good citizen and obeying all traffic laws
    • Maintaining your motorcycle in safe running condition
    • Using a legal muffler and encourage other riders to the do the same
    • Wearing Snell Foundations of Safety approved helmets

    Just as the Centurions cut an attractive figure on the bikes through their unity and the fact that they looked like they were having fun, the San Pedro Harbor Area Pirates cut a similar figure with custom made Harley Davidson vests and custom sewn patches on them.

    “We’ve been wearing these patches since day one,” Chris explained. “What we do, they want to be a part of it. We tell them that there are some things that go with these patches: respect is Number 1, giving back is Number 2.

    Chris said he hoped to include 15th Street Elementary School in the years to come in the philanthropic efforts. They are already adding luster to their hometown’s motorcycles culture as The San Pedro Harbor Area Pirates intend to continue to lift up their community by serving as role models as they slowly expand their reach to more schools. They write their own chapter in Pedro’s Motorcycle Diaries.

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  • Bitcoin Maven Sentenced to One Year in Federal Prison

    • 07/12/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
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    LOS ANGELES,—The so-called “Bitcoin Maven,” who admitted to operating an unlicensed bitcoin-for-cash exchange business and laundering bitcoin that was represented to be proceeds of narcotics activity, was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $20,000.

    The so-called “Bitcoin Maven,” Theresa Lynn Tetley, 50, of Southern California, a former stockbroker and real estate investor, was sentenced by United States District Judge Manuel L. Real for conducting an illegal business and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions involving bitcoins. Tetley was also ordered to forfeit 40 Bitcoin, $292,264.00 in cash, and 25 assorted gold bars that were the proceeds of her illegal activity.

    Tetley pleaded guilty to one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of money laundering.

    The government’s case against Tetley is the first of this kind charged in the Central District of California.  According to court documents, Tetley offered bitcoin-for-cash exchange services without registering as a money services business with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and without implementing anti money-laundering mechanisms such as customer due diligence and reporting certain transactions required for these types of businesses.  Tetley advertised on localbitcoins.com and exchanged, in total, between $6 and $9.5 million for customers across the country, charging rates higher than institutions that were registered with FinCEN.

    As a result of operating this unregistered business, Tetley facilitated laundering for one individual who is suspected of receiving bitcoin from unlawful activity, such as sales of drugs on the dark web.  In the course of her business, Tetley also conducted an exchange of bitcoin-for-cash for an undercover agent who represented that his bitcoin were the proceeds of narcotics trafficking.

    According to sentencing documents, the government argued that “[i]n light of the growth of the dark web and the use of digital currency, unlicensed exchangers provide an avenue of laundering for those who use digital currency for illicit purposes.”  The government asserted that Tetley’s business “fueled a black-market financial system” that “purposely and deliberately existed outside of the regulated bank industry.”

    The investigation into Tetley was conducted by the Drug Enforcement Administration and IRS Criminal Investigation.

    The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Puneet V. Kakkar of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section.

     

     

     

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  • Unchecked Assaults on Intelligence Fortel a State of Tyranny

    By Sara Corcoran, Washington D.C. Columnist Special to RLn

    General Michael C. Hayden begins his book, The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies, surveying the flattened streets of Sarajevo. When Hayden was head of Intelligence for the American Forces in Europe, he was tasked with providing intelligence to the United Nations forces based in Bosnia. As he paces the streets, Hayden laments that there was a time when Sarajevo was occupied with thriving commerce and religious tolerance only to be replaced with ruins and artillery. So, his warning about the perils of unchecked ethnic nationalism and its consequences are timely and significant.

    The foundation of his message is also clear. The prospect of having a stable, thriving society is difficult to sustain when the institutions that support civil societies are threatened by external stressors, such as fervent nationalism and authoritarianism. The result is likely going to be the downfall and degradation, and eventual annihilation of that society.

    So, does Hayden think the United States is on a self-destructive path that will ultimately lead to unrest billowing out into the streets of America? Even though he doesn’t envision a complete meltdown of American society, he makes it very clear that that the institutions and processes that have kept America free and stable for the past 230 years aren’t guaranteed.

    According to him, institutions need to be nurtured by guardians of democracy and their respective thought processes. Our decision makers, and their decisions need to be based on data, facts and truths, not on “post truth” where real truth is anathema. Hayden warns that in an environment where personal feelings and opinions guide critical thinking, the outcomes will be flawed and fatal. The institutions these “enlightened thinkers” represent need to be protected from assault by enemies of the state, both foreign and domestic.

    Hayden discusses the tension that exists between all three branches of government as healthy and supervisory by design. According to Hayden, if the Executive Branch were to overreach, the Congress and the courts would step in to block the overreach and restore balance. For example, US courts quickly moved to block President Trump’s “Muslim Travel Ban,” forcing the President to revise and tailor its terms.

    It is common for an administration that develops its outlook and policies on inductive reasoning, often based on observations and generalizations, to come into conflict with its inherently pessimistic, deductive counterparties, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the Director of National Intelligence. However, any effective President must find an equilibrium between paradigms and not view opposing perspectives as a threat to the sanctity of any given administration.

    Past administrations have experienced tensions from within. Clinton and Louis Freeh at the FBI is one example. Bush pushing to get Attorney General Ashcroft’s signature to an enhanced interrogation order at his hospital bed and Obama relying on executive orders in the face of congressional opposition to legislative proposals are a couple more examples.

    While this friction is common for any administration, stoking a civil war within one’s own Executive Branch is unprecedented and alarming. Departing from this trend, President Trump has declared war on the law enforcement and intelligence agencies which report to him, demanding loyalty pledges.

    Trump’s public vilification of his Attorney General and former FBI Director risks establishing a treacherous pattern. Hayden sees the President pushing his executive mandate beyond conventional limits and Congress failing to draw a line to stop him. Even more unique is the fact that Hayden sees Trump enlisting the help of Congress to intensify the effect of undermining the portions of the executive branch that do not bend to the President’s will.

    Hayden believes that the Department of Justice, the FBI, CIA and DNI are the “steady states.” Though they are part of the Executive Branch, many of the rank and file will serve multiple administrations irrespective of their political affiliation or Commander in Chief. Hayden also includes the press and academics as related entities intended to buttress the truth and fact telling. To Hayden, the careerists in these institutions are what separates the US from dictatorships, theocracies, and autocratic forms of government.

    The General points out that most civil servants consider an allegiance to truth and the US Constitution as more important than loyalty to a cult of personality. The American process of a normal and peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next is seen as a sign of a stable governance which we have enjoyed for some 230 years. Irrespective of party affiliation, Americans pledge allegiance to our constants, the flag and the constitution on a regular basis. However, under the Trump Administration, the pillars of the steady state are convulsing and being depleted.
    From the candidate continuum, through his first 100 days and onto his first year, Hayden reflects upon a Trump administration that operates in a chaotic vacuum focusing on emotional messages, grievance, and tribalism. He finds the Muslim travel ban irrational, the attacks on the judiciary unfounded and Trump’s thirst for public shaming and Twitter simply treacherous.

    It is no surprise that this presidency is plagued by leaks because this is the rejoinder of the steady state. Trump has a tendency to live in what Michael Gross, a former Bush speechwriter, calls the “eternal now.” Trump has his own vision of the world, an a priori view of how things work, and is preternaturally confident. As “context and boundaries” are the currency of the IC (Intelligence Community) and its “steady cousins,” the interaction between an impulsive, emotional, and vision focused individual is certain to clash with the cautious daily briefer.

    This tension has been exacerbated by differing characterizations of the most successful disinformation campaign in history involving the 2016 US elections. While Trump continues to identify the Russian Piece de Resistance as a hoax, Hayden pauses to acknowledge its success. Hayden points out that most intelligence agencies have always aimed to influence foreign governments and people. Let’s be honest – If the National Security Agency had to steal private communications between the leaders of Putin’s political party who supported a particular narrative or US policy objective, they would likely have weaponized the communications as well. However, the success of a US initiative’s multiplier effect would be limited by Russia’s ability to control social media, internet traffic, and search algorithms. In the US case, these are all unregulated spokes of the operation, open to manipulation, so their impacts can be deadly and impossible to measure.

    While there is high confidence in the IC about the parties who funded, organized, and implemented the Magnum Opus–Russia– Donald Trump is still unable or unwilling to publicly accept this fact as truth. The failure of Trump to acknowledge the theft, weaponization, and distribution of the Clinton Campaign emails will be a fracture that will eternally irk both the intelligence and law enforcement communities, as well as large segments of the US electorate.

    One could argue that the Special Counsel investigation was prompted to defend the fact finders (against the Trump assault on the institutions that he controls). The Special Counsel is tasked with determining if the President’s campaign was cognizant of the Russian operation and aided and abetted its goals. Or, was the The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation in search of a naive candidate, who would unwittingly embrace WikiLeaks, support Russia’s agenda (lifting sanctions, attacking the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ignoring hacking, failing to take protective countermeasures) and Trump fit the bill?. Hayden calls this the ‘useful idiot’ scenario and finds this the most likely explanation for Trump’s behavior, although he does not address the possibility that Trump could be a willing collaborator, doing Russia’s biding. In either scenario, and the Mueller investigation will hopefully give us the answer, Trump’s actions are becoming increasingly dangerous.

    Moving forward, how the American public defines its relationship with the steady or deep state is one of the greatest challenges we face as a society. As we anxiously await a fact-based Special Counsel’s report, Trump’s continued moves to excoriate the people, institutions, and the press go unchecked. If the Special Counsel’s office issues a criminal indictment against members of the President’s family or names him as a co-conspirator, I fear that our streets could become like Sarajevo’s, where our allegiance to tribal and political factions supersede those of constitution and country.

    For if the cultish cries of one man are able to destroy the focal allegiances our framers and founders so eloquently crafted, we will surrender our beacons of freedom in exchange for the misery of tyranny, wondering why our spooks didn’t respond more forcefully when assaulted.

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