• Not My Belt Buckle: Supervisor Hahn Responds

    • 07/24/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Letters
    • Comments are off

    I write in response to a June 22nd  Letter to the Editor [RLn vol. Xxxviii No.13] regarding the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to spend a reported $300,000 on new belt buckles for deputies’ uniforms.

    I have to agree that this did not strike me as a good use of taxpayer money. However, while the Board of Supervisors oversees the Sheriff’s Department’s $3 billion budget — the sheriff has discretion when it comes to spending their general funds on things like uniforms. The author claimed that my office did not respond to her dozen phone calls complaining about the issue. While I will admit that it took some time to find the answers she wanted, my office did respond to her inquiries.

    I take issue with the author’s characterization that the County of LA spends taxpayer money “willy-nilly.”  I take the responsibility of spending tax money very seriously. The Board of Supervisors follows a rigorous budget process, complete with a hearing open to the public and opportunities for residents to comment.  In fact, we just passed a Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget that is balanced,  is responsible and directs tax money to the most basic and vital government responsibilities — things like public infrastructure improvement, the homelessness crisis, healthcare for low income residents and services for foster children.

    I agree with the author that funding new uniforms for the Dana Middle School marching band is a worthy cause, although the money the Sheriff’s Department used for those belt buckles could not have been used for this purpose, as the author seemed to imply.   However, as far as I know, my office did not receive a formal request for funding from the school.  I encourage local organizations to come to my office with funding proposals. I have a great team that vets all proposals and identifies organizations and programs that we can help.

    Janice Hahn
    Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors member

    To Richard Foss

    I have really been enjoying Richard Foss’ reviews and articles.  He seems to really appreciate good food, and reading one of his reviews is like being there with him.  His commentary on dining etiquette and dining in general really make you think.

    John Mattson
    San Pedro

    Thanks for SCAQMD Protest Article

    Thanks James and Terelle  for your efforts. I think all local “elected” officials should be investigated by FPPC commission for public disclosure of possible campaign finance violations/not properly disclosing campaign donations, too — i.e., Los Angeles City Councilman Joe B., Carson Mayor Albert Robles, Assemblyman Mike Gipson & others. Follow the trail, follow the money, and see who is in whose pocket?

    Ricardo Pulido
    Carson, former Carson Commissioner

    A Note About Impeachment

    Let’s talk about impeachment.

    There’s more than enough evidence to begin an impeachment inquiry to remove Donald Trump from office.

    The three previous impeachment inquiries in the House (involving presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton) rested on less evidence than is already publicly known about Trump — and on issues far less serious than the Trump team’s possible collusion with a foreign adversary to win the election and Trump’s subsequent attempted cover-up.

    But impeachment is a political process. Republicans will support impeachment only if they think that they’ll lose their jobs by enabling Trump’s transgressions. And even if it does take Democrats until the 2018 elections to take back control of the House and pass an impeachment resolution, we have to start pushing now and be ready to go the moment we take back power.

    That’s why I was thrilled that last week MoveOn joined the call for Trump to be impeached. We need MoveOn to help build and sustain a massive amount of pressure on vulnerable Republicans to impeach Trump. It’s not going to be easy, but the very future of our democracy hangs in the balance.

    I hear some progressives say, “But Mike Pence is just as bad as Trump.”

    Yes, Pence is ultra-far right. As a progressive, I disagree with him on absolutely everything. But we know what to expect from Pence, and we can fight him on the issues. He’s not the irresponsible and unpredictable man who currently sits in the Oval Office. (And, anyway, getting to the bottom of Trump’s web of lies and cover-ups could very well take down multiple people in the White House, including Pence, or in the case of a Trump impeachment or resignation, leave a greatly diminished, compromised, lame-duck Pence in his stead.)

    And some Democrats in Congress say that we have to wait to pursue impeachment until Democrats take back the House in 2018.

    Rubbish. It’s absolutely the reverse.

    The path to winning in 2018 (and thereafter) begins with Democrats in Congress showing the American people that they have the courage and backbone necessary to take back our nation. It means calling for the impeachment of Trump and holding politically accountable every single person in his administration and in the House and Senate who have enabled his disgrace of a presidency.

    And it’s not clear if America can wait for the midterm elections, followed by what’s likely to be a long and drawn-out impeachment investigation, followed by a trial in the Senate. Just look at the damage Trump has done in just 151 days as president. We need to act now.

    Plus, I’m in the camp that the “right” time to impeach isn’t about when it’s feasible in Congress — but about when the person in the Oval Office has committed high crimes and misdemeanors and recklessly and repeatedly violated the Constitution.

    And here are the added benefits of starting right now: If MoveOn campaigns now for impeachment, there’s a real chance we can derail Trump’s disastrous agenda by eroding GOP congressional (and public) support.

    It’s go time on impeachment.

    MoveOn staff just briefed me on their plans for their impeachment campaign, and I’m impressed. Their plans include the following:

    • Exposing and shining a spotlight on the hypocrisy of Republicans who cover up for Trump and his team — with a particular focus on the 23 Republicans in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton last year. These lawmakers are vulnerable when they run again next year, so much so that Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida took care to point out to the media that he was “the first Republican to mention impeachment.”
    • Continuing to drive down Trump’s popularity. Already, Trump’s unpopularity is at a record high, not far from where Nixon’s was at the time of his own resignation. The fact is that when Trump is an albatross around the neck of Republican politicians, they will turn on him, making impeachment a political reality as well as a Constitutional necessity.
    • Urging Democrats to demand the truth — matching the passion I’m seeing in the grassroots base.

     Robert Reich

    My Ocean

    I live at the land’s end
    I see the horizon, I see the sun
    drop into the orange water
    I live at the ocean with its morning
    coldness and fog
    I am awakened by the sound of ships’ horns
    which signal new persons in town!

    At my ocean the sun shines through
    the fog to create light,
    I become optimistic
    Iia day I will
    remember all my life,
    a day that
    there will always be enough time

    The ocean is me, it is my soulmate
    I am salty air, the greenish algae
    I am the sand and the breakwater
    I am the ocean’s mystery, a story untold

    The ocean is my solitude, it is my sense
    to slow my brain
    my mind asks, “do the waves ever stop?”
    Do the waves become repetitious blurs?
    Never to be understood
    the ocean waves are white noise, at a
    California beach, never speaking, but knowing all

    The waves can tell of my dreams, my
    success, my failure, and urge me
    to cope
    John R. Gray
    San Pedro

    A Tortured Metaphor

    As summer heats up, ice cream will refresh us. But with corruption and corporate control in Washington hotter than ever, we’ll need more than ice cream to revive our democracy.
    If you think we tortured that metaphor, it’s nothing compared to how Big Money is torturing our democracy.

    Whether you care about affordable, accessible health care, the climate, private prisons, military spending or an economy that works for everyone (not just the rich guys), there’s one thing that connects all these fights: It’s Big Money vs. the rest of us.

    That’s why we’ve partnered with MoveOn to offer you a way to speak out against Big Money a thousand times over: a stamp to mark your dollar bills with the message, “Resist Big Money in Politics: Amend the Constitution.” MoveOn members have been sending that same message through phone calls, rallies and petitions for years. Now, you can join 65,000 STAMPeders (Ben’s the Head Stamper) who have been spreading that message by turning money into media.

    Look, we’re tired of being on defense: fighting against Trumpcare, fighting against the Muslim ban, fighting against a corporate giveaway called an “infrastructure plan” and a massive transfer of wealth to the 1 percent  in the form of a Draconian budget, fighting against climate-change denial and fighting against Trump’s reckless abuse of power over his team’s ties to Russia.

    We’d rather be fighting for a few things that we believe in. Medicare for All! Debt-free college for all! A game-changing investment in clean energy! Equality for all Americans!

    But we won’t win fights FOR any of these things until we deal with the elephant in the room: the destructive force of Big Money in politics. So let’s take matters in our own hands … literally.

    Money is the original viral marketing. As it moves from hand to hand, the average stamped bill gets seen by 875 people. So taking 15 seconds to stamp your bill is a lot of “bang for your buck!”

    Seriously, though, stamping is effective and fun. Your message gets through because putting it on money is disruptive. And with what we’re facing from Washington and corporate media, we’ll have to use every tool we have to get our message out.

    —Ben & Jerry

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  • Summer Guide Fun: iPalpiti Orchestra

    • 07/21/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off


    July 25
    iPalpiti Orchestra
    The iPalpiti Orchestra performs selections from the 20th iPalpiti Festival of International Laureates.iPalpiti (ee-PAHL-pit-ee, Italian for “heartbeats”) is unique in that it draws its members from top prize-winning laureates of international competitions.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. July 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

    July 27
    Sean Watkins
    American tunes feature a celebration of Paul Simon with a great lineup of musicians.
    Time: 8 p.m. July 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Sean-Watkins-Friends
    Venue: Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles

    July 28
    La Charanga Cubana
    Enjoy traditional Cuban dance music, then stuff your face with food from the market.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. July 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.farmersmarketla.com
    Venue: The Original Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles

    July 29
    Mothership Landing
    Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Parliament-Funkadelic’s groundbreaking release.
    Time: 8 p.m. July 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.grandperformances.org
    Venue: Grand Performances, 200 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

    July 30
    Hard Day’s Night
    You’ll swear The Beatles are in the South Bay.
    Time: 5 to 7 p.m. July 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/MB-Summer-Concerts
    Venue: Polliwog Park, 1601 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach

    July 30
    Rob Garland’s Eclectic Trio
    Rob Garland’s Eclectic Trio plays original high energy instrumental and vocal music with funk, blues, jazz, fusion and rock.
    Time: 4 p.m. July 30
    Cost: $10
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St. San Pedro

    Aug. 3
    Ibibio Sound Machine
    Experience African and electronic jams inspired by the golden era of West African funk, disco and post-punk.
    Time: 8 p.m. Aug. 3
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.skirball.org/programs/sunset-concerts/ibibio-sound-machine
    Venue: Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles


    July 28
    La Linea
    A multimedia story of everyday life on the Mexico-U.S. border with music by Panoptica.
    Time: 8 p.m. July 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.grandperformances.org
    Venue: Grand Performances, 300 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

    July 29
    Join the irrepressible comic strip heroine as she takes center stage in one of the world’s best-loved musicals. Annie’s escape from an orphanage and the clutches of the wicked Miss Hannigan leads to new life and home with billionaire Oliver Warbucks.
    7:30 p.m. July 29, and 2 p.m. July 29 and 30
    $39 to $60
    Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    July 29
    Dark Moon
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre roars into the summer with an epic re-imagining of The Ballad of Barbara Allen. Set in the Appalachian Mountains near Ol’ Baldy, Dark of the Moon is an immersive thriller that follows John the Witch Boy and Barbara, a human, as they fight for love among the terrifying worlds of witches and equally colorful residents of Buck Creek.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays July 29 through Aug. 27
    Cost: $10 to $25
    Details: www.fearlessartists.org/box-office-1
    Venue: Elysium Conservatory Theatre, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    July 30
    Peter & The Wolf
    The childhood classic told with live music.
    Time: 3 to 4:30 p.m. July 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.grandperformances.org
    Venue: Grand Performances, 300 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

    Aug. 5
    Guys and Dolls
    Set in Damon Runyon’s mythical New York City, Guys and Dolls is an oddball romantic comedy. Gambler Nathan Detroit tries to find the cash to set up the biggest craps game in town while the authorities breathe down his neck. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, nightclub performer Adelaide, laments that they’ve been engaged for 14 years.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through Aug. 5
    Cost: $14 to $24
    Details: lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Aug. 13
    Peter y La Loba
    Enjoy another telling of Peter and the Wolf, this time with Latin Grammy Award winners Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam.
    Time: 3 and 4:30 p.m. Aug. 13
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.grandperformances.org
    Venue: Grand Performances, 300 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

    July 24

    The Art of Eliseo Art Silva features 20 works which embrace sparring ideas to intentionally disrupt the expected and bring attention to new ideas and conversations. As an artist of over 100 public works on the East and West Coasts and in his own studio practice, this Philippines-born artist strives to disrupt his audience, forcing them to rethink and energize. RSVP requested.
    Time: 5 to 8 p.m. July 24
    Details: (310) 514-9139; linda@sbcglobal.net
    Venue: The Arcade, 479 W. 6th St., Suite 107, San Pedro

    July 30
    From The Desert to The Sea: The Desolation Center Experience
    Before the era of Burning Man, Lollapalooza and Coachella, Desolation Center drew punk and industrial music fans to the far reaches of the Mojave Desert for the first of five events, Mojave Exodus, in April of 1983. Cornelius Projects pays tribute to Desolation Center’s pioneering vision with an exhibition featuring painting, photography, sculpture, video and ephemera.
    Time: 12 to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through July 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 266-9216
    Venue: Cornelius Projects Gallery, 1417 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    Aug. 19
    Third Saturday Artwalk
    Explore San Pedro’s diverse art scene, featuring 30-plus open galleries, open studios, live music and eclectic dining.
    Free art walk tour starts at Siren’s coffee house.
    Time: 2 to 6 p.m. Aug. 19
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.SanPedroBID.com
    Venue: Siren’s, 356 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Aug. 19
    PVAC Faculty Exhibition
    Showcasing the talent of the community of artists who teach at The Studio School and Youth Studio at Palos Verdes Art Center / Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education, the Faculty Exhibition presents new works in diverse media, including painting, drawing, ceramics, glass, textiles and design.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 19
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://pvartcenter.org/exhibitions/pvac-faculty-exhibition
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    Aug. 25.
    Audrey Barrett: Available Light
    Gallery 478 and TransVagrant Projects are pleased to present Audrey Barrett: Available Light, an exhibition of photography and auction benefiting City of Hope Metastatic Breast Cancer Research.
    Audrey Barrett (1940-2017) was an extraordinary photographer and designer whose aesthetic encompassed a broad spectrum from surrealism in photography to Russian constructivism in design. This exhibition consists of black and white gelatin silver and platinum palladium prints from her archive including many of the artist’s proofs.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, through Aug. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 732-2150
    Venue: Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Sept. 3
    Cada Mente en Su Mundo
    The Museum of Latin American Art is proud to host a solo exhibition of new and recent works by Luis Tapia, a pioneering Chicano artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. For 45 years, Tapia has taken the art of polychrome wood sculpture to new levels of craftsmanship while utilizing it as a medium for social and political commentary.
    Time:  11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, through Sept. 3
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: molaa.org
    Venue: MOLAA, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach


    July 29
    Sinister Circus

    The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor proudly presents Sinister Circus, the first-ever haunted summer costume ball aboard the Queen Mary. Following a day of macabre fun at Midsummer Scream 2017, join us at a spook-tacular costume party aboard where you can dress up to become one of the ringmaster’s minions for Dark Harbor’s Sinister Circus.
    Time: 8 p.m. July 29
    Cost: $29 to $34
    Details: http://bit.ly/DHSinisterCircus
    Venue: Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    Aug. 12
    Iowa by the Sea Picnic
    All Iowans and people who love the great state of Iowa are invited to this year’s fun event. The picnic location provides excellent security, adequate space and a great view of the battleship.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 12
    Cost: $12 to $35
    Details: (877) 446-9261; www.pacificbattleship.com
    Venue: Battleship Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 87, San Pedro

    Aug. 13
    Cyclavia SanPedro/Wilmington
    CicLAvia ,which  produces temporary car-free days that transform streets into safe spaces for thousands of people to explore the city by foot, bike and other forms of non-motorized transport, will take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 13 in Wilmington and San Pedro.
    No parking will be allowed on the CicLAvia Route from 1 a.m.  to 6 p.m. Aug. 13. Parking restrictions will be enforced and vehicles will be towed beginning at 1 a.m.
    Details: www.ciclavia.org/ciclavia_sanpedro17

    Aug. 18
    Movie Under the Guns
    Battleship Iowa invites you to a free screening of Guardians of the Galaxy. The movie will be shown on board the fantail of Battleship Iowa as you sit under the stars, overlooking the beautiful Los Angeles Waterfront.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (877) 446-9261; www.pacificbattleship.com
    Venue: Battleship Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro
    Sept. 2
    Swing Pedro Fleet Week 2017
    Come dance, listen to great music and meet great people from San Pedro. This event is free to all Navy and military on active duty so make sure to mingle with our fine servicemen. Spaces fill up quickly so be sure to get your tickets early.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2
    Cost: $25
    Details: (310) 547-2348
    Venue: People’s Yoga, Health & Dance, 365 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    13th Annual Light at the Lighthouse Music Festival
    There will be four stages, including a main stage with some of the best headlining Christian rock bands like The Edge and a worship stage featuring talent from local churches.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 2
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.lightatthelighthouse.org
    Venue: Point Fermin, 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro

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  • Garcia Announces Commission Nominations

    • 07/21/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — On July 14, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced five nominations to commissions.

    Garcia appointed former vice mayors Frank Colonna and Bonnie Lowenthal to serve on the Long Beach Harbor Commission.

    Colonna is a long-time resident and local business owner. He served two terms as District 3 councilman and two years as vice mayor, during which he represented Long Beach at the national level as chairman of the Federal Legislative Committee and as chairman of the Central Cities Committee for the National League of Cities. He was also appointed chairman of the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority. Colonna earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach and a master’s degree from Cal State Northridge in environmental health. He is on the Economic Development Commission and served as its inaugural chair.

    Lowenthal served two terms as District 1 councilwoman and vice mayor. She was a state Assemblywoman. As an Assemblywoman, she worked closely with the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in her capacities as chairwoman of the Assembly Select Committee on Ports and chairwoman of the Assembly Transportation Committee. She was the only elected official appointed to serve on the National Freight Advisory Committee and helped led the development of the California Freight Plan. Lowenthal also served as a Metro Board member, where she successfully secured funding for the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project and supported the expanded use of PierPass. Prior to her time as an elected representative, Bonnie was a family counselor, mental health consultant, and educator.

    Josh LaFarga is being appointed to the Long Beach Planning Commission effective October 1, 2017 to fill the vacancy created by Donita Van Horik’s resignation.  LaFarga, serves as the director of Public and Government Affairs and as recording secretary and executive board member at LiUNA! Local 1309. He is also a member on the South Bay Workforce Investment Board and co-chairman of the Legislative Committee for FuturePorts, the largest nonprofit organization working to promote the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Earlier this year the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed LaFarga to the Building Rehabilitation Appeals Board.

    Garcia appointed Steve Goodling as the CVB Representative to the Economic Development Commission.   Goodling has been the president and CEO of the Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau for the past sixteen years. He has been involved in numerous economic development projects, including a $45 million re-design of the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center complex, the grand opening of the Pacific Ballroom at the Long Beach Arena and the terminal modernization of Long Beach Airport.

    Adam Carrillo is being appointed to the Board of Directors of Long Beach Transit.   Carrillo is the Economic Development manager for the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, where he works to support job creation efforts by attracting, expanding, and retaining business in the downtown core. Carrillo also is president of the Long Beach Commercial Real Estate Council, a Principal at Economic & Business Development Partners, and an advisory Board member at DRTV Inc.

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  • Nasty Woman Concert Delivers Great Pleasure

    • 07/21/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • Music
    • Comments are off

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Nasty women gathered all around for the inaugural Nasty Woman Concert Series kickoff July 8 at diPiazza’s Restaurant, Lounge and Nightclub in Long Beach.

    Named after Donald Trump’s description of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election cycle, this tour of nasty women is about bringing people together through music.

    For Nasty Woman co-founders Amy Crosby and Susan McKenna, this concert series is also about demonstrating consistent resistance to female-suppressive policies from the current presidential administration and political climate.

    The total proceeds from the concert will benefit the L-Project Los Angeles. The vision of L-Project Los Angeles is to create sustainable, vibrant and inclusive communities for lesbians and bisexual women of all ages, creeds and races living in greater Los Angeles.

    The five bands on the bill foreshadowed a lively night. Each of the female-fronted outfits —Abby & the Myth, Kelly Mantle, Shitting Glitter, No Small Children and Doll Parts — rocked hard. Female drag queen Wendy Ho was master of ceremonies. Between sets, she entertained with a forward and assured brand of comedy and song.

    Abby Posner put a face to the name of Abby & the Myth. She charmed the room with her bright voice and dexterous guitar picking. Banjo is also one of Posner’s skills and she showcased that on Rabbit Hole, a song about going down a rabbit hole of infatuation. Abby & the Myth has formulated a unique sound for itself with Posner’s guitar improvisation.

    To the audience’s delight, Wendy Ho sang a soulful and suggestive number about male genitalia put to a love song.

    Kelly Mantle, a talented singer, actor and musician, is the first openly gender-fluid person to be considered for an Oscar for both Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for the feature film Confessions Of A Womanizer.

    Mantle demonstrated wide musical versatility and sang a mixture of ballads, upbeat numbers and covers, including The Pointer Sisters, Fire and Blondies rap on Rapture. Mantle performed in a soft spoken manner with piercing lyrics, highlighted in the song Equality.

    “We’re all living under the same umbrella shielding us from the storms,” Mantle said. “It’s called equality.”

    Mantle led into a ballad, singing in part,

    I can be a boy or I can be a girl
    But I don’t need to live in a separate world
    I can be anyone I want to be
    Even if you crucify me

    Why force me to fight for equality?
    Cuz you’ll never be equal to me.
    Why do we have to fight for equality?
    Isn’t it ironic? So Napoleonic. Isn’t that the T.

    The Nasty Woman Concert Series had gathered a full house of fans. The show led off in presentation mellower than anticipated. But the abundance of great musicians changed that. The audience was seduced like someone who arouses a woman with good foreplay to build a rock hard — or hard rocking  — show.

    Amy Crosby, lead vocalist for Shitting Glitter and event co- founder, wore a hot-pink wig and followed by her bandmates and Posner, this time on electric guitar, showcased her hard rock and punk side. They energized the room with hard driving sound. This band is a mix of glamor, punk, rock and a little rockabilly. Crosby, with her high pitched notes and glamourous backup singer, brought the sass.

    Shitting Glitter has played countless shows throughout California and across the country. They have also written and recorded a large collection of original music, several used in soundtracks and compilations.

    “We have never felt more emboldened to move forward with tenacity and exhilaration,” said co-founders Crosby and McKenna as a mutual response in an email. “We feel that we have created unity out of words that were meant to divide.”

    Three Los Angeles elementary school teachers by day and rock stars by night followed. In an inspired turn this trio, No Small Children, opened with the solo trumpet call of Pete Seeger’s This Land is Your Land.

    All dressed in matching sexy red dresses and white sneakers, these glamor girls took rock to a remarkable level of variety. No Small Children is comprised of Lisa Pimentel on guitar and vocals, Joanie Pimentel with bass and vocals and Nicola Berlinsky on drums.

    They displayed a consummate range of sound. The band has a great stage presence and strong riffs came from both Pimentel sisters. Bassist Joanie Pimentel not only sings but yodels and has a vicious punk scream. Lisa Pimentel also plays an impressive trumpet.

    As surprising as it was great, No Small Children’s presentation activated this audience with their musicianship. In a too brief highlight, both Pimentel’s joined together playing snare drums, sticks tapping away in perfect unison.

    The group has captured the attention of a wide range of fans and national media. No Small Children was invited to perform at the Unity Ball in Washington, D.C. immediately following the Women’s March on Washington. They also had the opportunity to cover Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr., which was featured in the Ghostbusters movie remake.

    Closing the evening was Long Beach premier all female 90s grunge and alternative cover band, Doll Parts. The members met in a juvenile detention center. The only thing these girls had in common, besides a love of loud grunge music, was their view of an abandoned doll factory across the yard.

    All in black, they evoked a mysterious quality which translated to their music. They captured that grunge sound, grabbing aural attention as something independent of rock or punk. It’s a little darker and something deeper than might first be imagined.

    The lead singer and guitarist’s voice began subtly but she built to a raspy rebel yell powered by hard, fast driving chords. Their cover of Paula Abdul’s Straight Up, 80s synth and dance heavy, female’s query to her man on their status groove, transformed into a fierce demand replete with the powerful riffs to back it up.

    “This is just the beginning of our movement towards the kind of joy, community and strength we intend to maintain, and create, for all women … nasty and beyond!,” McKenna and Crosby said in their joint email. “ Look for us in our next concert in the series in Los Angeles, with eyes on San Francisco, New York and D.C.”

    Details: https://nastywomanconcerts.com

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  • CicLAvia Comes to the Harbor

    • 07/21/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Street closures in August are going to transform the Los Angeles Harbor Area towns of Wilmington and San Pedro into safe spaces for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and everything in between.

    CicLAvia produces temporary car-free days that transform streets into safe spaces for thousands of people to explore the city by foot, bike and other forms of non-motorized transport. This CicLAvia event is produced in partnership with the City of Los Angeles, Metro and CicLAvia Inc. (a non-profit).

    After 21 events, CicLAvia has become one of the largest open-streets event in the country.

    It is modeled after Bogota, Colombia’s aim to promote a bike friendly city dominated by automobiles. The city closed the streets and filled them with performances and different community-based activities happening on the sidewalks.

    As in the city of Bogota, CicLAvia aims to fill the sidewalks with community participants, from vendors to local nonprofits and community residents. In Bogota, there was music, turning the event into a full-blown festival.

    Here is the Harbor Area, cyclists and pedestrians are encouraged to travel in both directions while spending time at four different hubs spread throughout the route including Banning Manning and Waterfront Park in Wilmington, the Port of Los Angeles Building on 5th and Palos Verdes streets and 22nd Street and Pacific Avenue.

    These hubs will feature food trucks and kid zones and serve as stops for repairing bikes.. There will be media kick off event staged at the Port of Los Angeles hub.

    The CicLAvia route (see map), will be closed to car traffic from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 13. Also parking will not be allowed on the CicLAvia route from 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. These restrictions will be enforced and vehicles will be towed starting at 1 a.m. Additional street parking near the route may be restricted for residents and non-residents alike. Driveways on the route will be blocked and inaccessible beginning at 7 a.m. Check posted parking restrictions in your neighborhood.

    Vehicles will not be allowed on the route from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be, however, crossing points at several intersections for vehicles. Buses that usually run along the CicLAvia route will be detoured. To limit further traffic confusion, CicLAvia organizers are submitting the road closures to Google maps and Waze for those that normally spend their Sunday afternoons at Ports O’ Call Village.

    For those unlucky residents or workers scheduled to work that day who have to come out of pocket to pay for parking, they will be reimbursed for up to $20 per vehicle incurred from 8 p.m. on Aug. 12 through 6 p.m. on Aug. 13. Just mail a copy of your parking receipt and proof of residence or employment to CicLAvia, at 525 S Hewitt St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 for reimbursement.

    Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 13
    Details: ciclavia.org, metro.net

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  • Word Has It

    • 07/21/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    SpaceX coming to South West Marine, Marymount College moving out of San Pedro, Buscaino is courting Live Nation

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    This past June, SpaceX successfully launched one of its rockets once again from a barge out of San Pedro and landed it on a barge that is now berthed on Miner Street, near AltaSea.

    The partnership between the aerospace industry and the Port of Los Angeles has been lauded far and wide as a first step in spurring new tech development-driven employment in the Los Angeles Harbor Area.

    A source revealed to Random Lengths News that SpaceX is now in secret negotiations with POLA on leasing the former Southwest Marine industrial shipyard site on Terminal Island, just across the main channel from Ports O’ Call Village.  This is within eye shot of where the Los Angeles Waterfront Alliance has a lease option to build a $100 million project. While Jerico Development — the local Los Angeles Waterfront Alliance partners — Eric and Alan Johnson have confirmed that they signed the lease for the Ports O’ Call site in March 2016, there is still some question as to whether their lease is just an option or a commitment to build.

    Mike Galvin at the POLA explained that the lease agreement directs the port to prepare the site for the developer, and then there are certain things that the developers must do in return.

    As yet, Jerico has not released any new details about the development or announced that it has an anchor tenant or the capital funding to move forward with the project.

    POLA on the other hand, recently hosted a meeting with the tenants of the existing village and told them that they have until October of this year before they will be evicted, which will effectively close 15 small businesses and put as many as 200 employees out of work. This will happen even though the work to construct the new waterfront promenade will only take up 32 feet closest to the waterline and the original plan called for development to start at Berth 79, the current home of the San Pedro Fish Market.

    Saved from the wrecking ball for the time being will be the San Pedro Fish Market and Ports O’ Call Restaurant, which will remain open pending the construction of new facilities if and when the “new development” gets built.  Currently, the Los Angeles Waterfront Alliance developers are reported to have offered the San Pedro Fish Market, which serves more than 1 million meals a year, only 25 percent of its current foot print in the new development.  Ports O’ Call restaurant is reportedly not in the first phase of construction.

    Just down Miner Street from SpaceX, at Berth 53, the port has been showboating the Kaiser Point location to concert promoter, Live Nation, with the intention of getting them to produce one or more major concerts or festivals on the waterfront. This reportedly could attract as many as 25,000 people per event. This may happen as early as this fall but more likely would happen next year, if the logistics of Harbor Boulevard are worked out. This idea has Councilman Joe Buscaino’s fingerprints all over it as he has been pimping both the Warner Grand Theatre and the waterfront as “ideal locations” for his “LA Live on the Waterfront” promotional idea, which as of late seems to be going nowhere.

    The good news is that Molina Medical is moving to 222 W. 6th Street and bringing with it some 400 new workers to downtown, the bad news is that Marymount California University is reportedly discussing moving out of that very same location and has placed the Klaus Center building up the street on the market.

    The Klaus Center, you may recall, was donated to the college some years ago by Marylyn Ginsberg-Klaus to be used as a fine art facility to augment the downtown San Pedro Arts District.  Its sale will be yet another part of the failed promise of the revitalization effort of downtown San Pedro’s arts district under the leadership of Michael Brophy, the previous university president.

    Brophy left Marymount to become the new president of Benedictine University in Illinois  two years ago. After helping Marymount become a four-year university, he also steered the college into investing more than  $1 million in a distant piece of  property in Lake County, Calif. It has been reported but not verified that Brophy has been involved in purchasing this very same property from Marymount.

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  • Proposed Postal Service Reductions to Impact Residents, Businesses

    • 07/21/2017
    • Zamná Ávila
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    This past month, businesses in San Pedro received a notice from the U.S. Postal Service informing them of its intent to consolidate business mail services into the Torrance office.

    “In our continued effort to eliminate redundancies in our system and provide efficient timely service to our mailers, the Los Angeles District has made the decision to consolidate acceptance points for Business Mail,” stated a letter signed by Lily Pamanian, USPS Business Mail Entry manager. “As a result we are looking to reduce the number of locations where mail can be dropped.”

    The letter, dated June 1, sold the decision as service enhancement, citing a bigger and wider Business Mail Entry Unit — the area of a postal facility where bulk, presorted and permit imprint mail is presented for acceptance — with longer hours and a larger staff. The letter also solicited public input to be considered until July 1.

    Random Lengths News Publisher James  Preston Allen expressed dismay and disappointment.

    “When we learned that the San Pedro Business Mail Entry Unit was going to be consolidated, we were shocked that once again our post office is losing more services,” Allen said. “What’s next? Will you stop selling stamps at the windows as well?”

    Not so, said Teresita Lim Chua, Business Mail Entry supervisor for the post office.

    “As of this moment there is no decision made,” said Lim Chua on July 13. “Please understand, the post office is not going to close; the retail is not going to stop.”

    Allen said that cuts to the local postal office in recent years have included cutting the staff by half at the Beacon Street post office.

    He cited a PBS report explaining that these decisions resulted from a 2006 congressional mandate that requires the agency to pre-pay into a fund that covers health care costs for future retired employees. These prepayments, PBS stated, are largely responsible for the USPS financial losses over the past four years.

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  • Here’s a Concept: Quality Radio in Español

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    A few months ago, I stumbled upon a radio station playing Celia Cruz’s hit song, Carnaval. I lingered on the dial hoping to catch some more cumbia, merengue or salsa. (I grew up listening  to tropical rhythms.)

    Yet, instead of the next rhythm to get me moving and singing in my car, the station’s program hosts came on. They began recapping the Oscars from the night before. As you may recall, Faye Dunaway announced the wrong winner for Best Picture at the end of the night, awarding the trophy to La La Land when it actually was supposed to go to Moonlight.

    One of radio hosts jokingly referred to a black man in Moonlight as “carbon” (charcoal). He later said he didn’t care for Mexican award-winning actor Gael García Bernal’s speech on immigration because he’s kissed “vatos” (dudes), referring to some of the characters García Bernal has interpreted on screen.

    Whether he was referring to the director Barry Jenkins or Mahershala Ali, the Best Actor Oscar winner, it doesn’t matter. The very fact that the hosts would use racialized language to denigrate the film’s actors and directors was problematic. Strike two: propagating the homophobia that is already  deeply-rooted into Latino culture.

    I tried speaking to someone at Entravision, which owns that station, but none of my several calls were returned. In all fairness, La Suavecita 107.1 FM is not the only station that gets laughs at the expense of others. Hell, English-language programming is not that much better.

    Sadly, with about 15 Spanish-programming stations in Southern California, we don’t get much of a selection. Spanish programming varies from reggaetón to regional Mexican to Christian formats. Much of the music these stations play is followed by “entertainment” shows hosted by radio personalities. On any given day you can also encounter a psychic telling a husband his wife is cheating on him and putting the married couple on the air, reminiscent of a Jerry Springer Show. Many of these shows focus on celebrity gossip such as the custody battle of Argentine actor Julian Gil’s child, sprinkled with pre-recorded laughter to compensate for unfiltered jokes.


    Of course, these shows would never be able to survive if they did not have a following. In fact, the shows are often a reflection of a community. While Latino culture offers rich hues of food, art, fashion and music, it’s not without its shortcomings. Embedded in Latino culture are remnants of colonialism that foster discrimination.

    Recently, comedian George Lopez was heckled for making a joke saying that, “There are only two rules in the Latino family — don’t marry somebody black, and don’t park in front of our house.”

    He never finished his joke before he was called out as a racist by an audience member, who he cursed out. Whether or not Lopez was racist is not the point. What is the point is that sadly, there is some truth to his joke. Many Latinos can be quite discriminatory toward other groups and subgroups of people.

    Case in point, a few months ago I went to a soccer game between two Mexican teams and I cringed when I heard the crowd scream “puto!” in unison to the referee (which loosely translates to the word “faggot” to denote not just homosexuality, but cowardice). The term is seemingly acceptable to the general public; nobody even winces at the sound of its use. It’s acceptable language, even in some of the most liberal Latino homes.

    There just seems to be lack of choice when it comes to Spanish-only entertainment programming.

    Latinos are multifaceted. Some of us are born in the United States, others have gained citizenship through the naturalization process and some are, indeed, undocumented. We come in different colors, accents and preferences. We want to be entertained but we also long to be informed about nutrition, mental health, law, politics, the environment and a cornucopia of interests.

    Tuning Down A Segment

    Sure, the masses may be entertained by crude jokes and “edgy” music, but it’s a disservice that keeps some of us tuning the dial. Take for example my college buddy, Javier Delgado. These days he rarely listens to Spanish-language radio.

    “I’m not able to identify with the characters or the callers on the radio,” Delgado said. “The people who have on the radio are there because their spouses are cheating on them or are wanting to catch someone cheating on them.”

    He’s also offended by the repetitive jokes about people’s sexual orientation and non-Hispanic cultures, or the all-too-often jokes about the hated mother-in-law.

    “Twenty years ago, we were more ignorant, but it’s no longer the view of most of society,” Delgado said. “When we allow people in a minority group to be picked on, eventually, it will come back to us.”

    While English-language radio can also border on offensive, it seems to Delgado that the programming has come around with the times.

    It’s a pity because he does enjoy music in Spanish, especially the older music from artists such as Juan Gabriel, Mexico’s recently deceased Elton John.

    “It’s has to do with what we grew up with,” said Delgado, a third-generation Chicano. “The older music is about love, relationships and heartbreak. It’s like being transported back to a time when things were more innocent.”

    These days, many stations play music that reference narcotraficantes.

    “I’m sure that there is music out there that doesn’t glamorize drug lords and has changed with the times,” he said.

    U.S. natualized citizen, María Cortez, can’t help but listen to Spanish language radio. It is her primary language. The 75-year-old listens to La Ranchera on the 96.7 FM dial.

    “Because it’s Mexican and I am Mexican,” said Cortez. “It plays music from my times, the 60s. There’s news; there is a little bit of everything.”

    Nevertheless, there are times she feels compelled to change the radio station.

    “I change the station when they have Humberto Luna because he says a bunch of obscenities,” said Cortez in Spanish.

    She is referring to the radio personality’s salacious jokes that often objectify women.

    “He and Doña Kika are very unpleasant,” she said. “They talk about the intimacies of women and men.”

    These days, you hear a lot of soccer games and remedies that are often confusing to the listener, Cortez said. She would like to hear more advice on nutrition and health.

    La Diferencia

    A few shows within mostly English formats offer intelligent entertainment, such as KPFK 90.7’s  Canto Sin Fronteras, which means Song Without Borders. Canto Sin Fronteras offers a progressive forum dedicated to the diffusion of Latin-American folk, trova, nuevo canto, and world music with social-political themes. NPR’s Latino USA gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience through storytelling. The closest I’ve found in entertainment with less talk is Mega-96.3. Although it plays a variety of genres, it often stagnates on reggaeton and bachata.

    Very few stations offer both 24/7 Spanish format and quality radio.

    Radio Bilingüe is one radio organization that does offer intelligent programming sensitive to diverse communities that is both entertaining and informative.

    “That’s why Radio Bilingüe was founded 36 years ago,” said María Eraña, director of
    broadcasting operations. “A platform where the voices of the community could be heard was needed…. People have a voice. We are a platform to empower Latinos and other underserved communities.”

    Radio Bilingüe is a nonprofit radio network with Latino/a control and leadership. Unfortunately, Radio Bilingüe is based in the Central Valley and its airwaves don’t travel all the way down to Southern California. Here, most stations care about one thing.

    “Commercial radio is just looking at the bottom line, especially [at the expense] of people who are different or perceived to be different … [and the] FCC isn’t listening much,” Eraña explained. “They blend these types of cheap entertainment with trash talk and tickets to dances and giveaways. It’s an easy way to make money or [at least that’s what] they seem [to think].”

    Radio Bilingüe has tried to break into the Los Angeles market but has been unsuccessful because the full power FMs are very expensive and the available frequencies often are taken by religious groups.

    “So the status quo continues,” she said. “In LA it’s very hard to get into the market but people keep asking for [us].”

    Public radio stations often don’t recognize the need for better programming because of the amount of existing Spanish-language stations. Those that do include programming in Spanish cover the communities from an outsider’s perspective, Eraña said. Many of the corporations that provide that perspective are not owned by Latinos. They have Latino producers but not executives who make decisions.

    “There is room for much more,” Eraña said. “When we talk about issues, we talk about us.”

    In fact, Radio Bilingüe not only offers programming in Spanish and English, they also offer programming in Mixtec, recognizing the needs of indigenous followers in an effort to contribute to their sense of pride. Their programming incorporates materials on how to access education, health services, immigration issues and civic engagement. The music varies, showcasing rock en español, Mixteco, Tejano, traditional banda and salsa. They don’t play narco-corridos, which often glorify drug traffickers. It’s not that the station bans certain music, but they discourage using music that, for example, might condone violence against women.

    “Music should be creative quality,” she said. “We don’t play songs that demean people…. There is a lot of beautiful music.”

    This is where media has the power to catalyze change within its audience. Mass media, in general, offers a platform for voices to engage its public and generate understanding.

    In Latina/o culture, family is very important. It’s beyond me how someone would invite a guest, such as a radio show and its hosts who condone violence against various communities, into one’s home, instead of a guest who promotes intelligence and understanding, and who people benefit from the presence of his or her company. Elevating the conversation to enhance the status of its target audience is a goal for which every radio station should aim. And yet, it seems the only time that happens is with the topic of immigration.

    Wake up, step away from the herd and demand quality over the airwaves. We deserve true choices.

    “Send letters,” Eraña advised. “I don’t know if they will completely change their format but they might be a little more careful.”

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  • Opiate Crisis

    • 07/20/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    When an Addiction Epidemic Becomes a White-Collar Crime

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor and Charles Ornstein, Propublica

    Fourteen licensed Southern California medical professionals were indicted July 13 by a federal grand jury for prescribing controlled drugs, including oxycodone. They were among the hundreds caught in a nationwide sweep of those who allegedly prescribed and distributed opioids and other dangerous narcotics. Justice Department descriptions of these cases allege health care fraud and kickback schemes involving compounded drugs, home health services, physical therapy, acupuncture, Medicare Part D prescription drugs, diagnostic sleep studies and hospice care. They are also the face of the latest drug addiction crisis gripping the country.

    One of the 14 who were indicted, 57-year-old Laguna Beach resident Dr. Jeffrey Olsen surrendered to authorities on July 11 after he was indicted the previous week by a federal grand jury on 34 counts of illegally prescribing controlled drugs, including oxycodone. Olsen allegedly sold prescriptions to addicts and drug dealers in exchange for fixed cash fees without any medical basis for the prescriptions.

    During the investigation, Olsen also sold hundreds of prescriptions to addicts in other states, such as Oregon, without conducting in-person examination of these patients.

    In court filings, the Justice Department said Olsen allegedly told customers, via text message, that he would write prescriptions for whatever drug they wanted for fees that ran as high as $3,000.

    Olsen allegedly sold more than 1.2 million pills of narcotics, which were almost entirely at maximum strength, in addition to hundreds of thousands of pills of other controlled drugs such as the sedatives Xanax and Soma. The case against Olsen is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ben Barron and Bryant Yang in the Southern District of California.

    The July 13 indictment announcement was accompanied by a new report by the Inspector General of the Health and Human Services Department, providing additional details and context to illustrate the significance of the case.

    In Illinois, a different Medicare enrollee received 73 prescriptions for opioid drugs from 11 prescribers and filled them at 20 different pharmacies. He sometimes filled prescriptions at multiple pharmacies on the same day.

    The Office of the Inspector General’s report found that heavy painkiller use and abuse remains a serious problem in Medicare’s prescription drug program, known as Part D, which serves more than 43 million seniors and disabled people. The findings showed that of the one-third of Medicare beneficiaries in Part D (or roughly 14.4 million people) who filled at least one prescription for an opioid in 2016, some 3.6 million received the painkillers for at least six months.

    The report was consistent with data released during the week of July 4 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reflecting wide geographic differences in prescribing patterns.

    Alabama and Mississippi had the highest proportions of patients taking prescription painkillers — more than 45 percent each — while Hawaii and New York had the lowest — 22 percent or less.

    More than half a million beneficiaries received high doses of opioids for at least three months, meaning they took the equivalent of 12 tablets a day of 10-milligram Vicodin. The figure does not include patients who have cancer or those who are in hospice care, for whom such doses may be appropriate.

    Almost 70,000 beneficiaries received what the inspector general labeled as “extreme amounts” of the drugs — an average daily consumption for the year that was more than two-and-a-half times the level the CDC recommends avoiding. Such doses put patients at an increased risk of overdose death. Extreme prescribing could also indicate that a patient’s identity has been stolen, or that the patient is diverting medications for resale.

    Some 22,000 beneficiaries seem to be doctor shopping — obtaining large amounts of the drugs prescribed by four or more doctors and filled at four or more pharmacies. All states except for Missouri operate Prescription Drug Monitoring Program databases that allow doctors to check whether their patients have received drugs from other doctors before writing their own prescriptions.

    More than 400 doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants had questionable prescribing patterns for the beneficiaries most at risk (meaning those that took extreme doses of the drugs or showed signs of doctor shopping). One Missouri prescriber wrote an average of 31 opioid prescriptions each for 112 patients on Medicare. Four doctors in the same Texas practice ordered opioids for more than 56 beneficiaries who seemed to be doctor shopping.

    “The patterns of these 401 prescribers are far outside the norm and warrant further scrutiny,” Inspector General Daniel R. Levinson said.

    To be sure, many seniors suffer from an array of painful conditions, and some opioids are seen as more harmful and addictive than others. Tramadol, often used to treat chronic osteoarthritis pain, was the most frequently prescribed opioid and carries a lower risk of addiction than other opioids, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Moreover, the CDC report shows that painkiller use is ticking downward after years of explosive growth.

    Still, officials in the inspector general’s office said more can and should be done to combat the problems they observed, even if the numbers are beginning to subside.

    “What we’re saying here is this is still a lot of Medicare beneficiaries,” said Jodi Nudelman, regional inspector general for evaluation and inspections in the New York regional office, who supervised the report. “Regardless if you are turning a corner, you’re still at these really high levels.”

    The inspector general previously has called for Medicare to use its data to focus on doctors who are prescribing drugs in aberrant ways.

    The inspector general’s numbers differ somewhat from an April report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS. The report stated that 29.6 percent of Part D enrollees used opioids in 2016, down from 31.9 percent in 2011. The inspector general pegged the 2016 figure at 33 percent but did not offer any historical comparisons. It was unclear why the two agencies came up with different figures.

    In a statement, CMS stated that opioid abuse is a priority for the Donald Trump administration. “We are working with patients, physicians, health insurance plans, and states to improve how opioids are prescribed by health care providers and used by patients, how opioid use disorder is diagnosed and managed, and how alternative approaches to pain management could be promoted,” it stated.

    Officials have known for years that opioid prescribing has been a problem in Medicare. ProPublica first highlighted the problem in 2013 when it published data on the drugs prescribed by every physician in the Part D program. Following that report, CMS put in place what is called an Overutilization Monitoring System, which tracked beneficiaries at the highest risk for overdoses or drug abuse. It asked the private insurance companies that run the drug program under contract on its behalf to review the cases and provide a response.

    In a memo released in April, CMS stated its monitoring system has been a success. From 2011 to 2016, it said there was a 61 percent decrease in the number of beneficiaries who were labeled as “potential very high risk opioid over-utilizers.”

    People were flagged in this way if they were taking high doses of opioids for 90 consecutive days and received prescriptions from three or more doctors at three or more pharmacies. But the agency also said it would be implementing changes in January to better target those at highest risk of abuse.

    Separately, in 2014, CMS told health providers they would have to register with the Medicare program in order to prescribe medications. That way, the government could screen them and take action if their prescribing habits were deemed improper. Up to that point, doctors could prescribe drugs to Medicare patients, even if they weren’t registered Medicare providers. Delay after delay has pushed back the requirement until 2019.

    Dr. Cheryl Phillips, senior vice president for public policy and health services at LeadingAge, an association of nonprofit service providers for older adults, said managing pain in seniors is complex.

    Seniors are more likely to have conditions, such as orthopedic problems, cancer or degenerative joint disorders, which result in chronic pain. They sometimes don’t react well to nonprescription pain relievers, such as Tylenol, aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Health care providers like nursing homes are still evaluated, in part, on how well they manage pain, creating an incentive to turn to drugs.

    “We have to challenge the notion that being pain free is a goal,” Phillips said. “It’s not that I want to see people suffering, but being pain free is perhaps a myth that not only society has been seduced with but physicians have as well.”

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  • Carson, Tesoro Enter Agreement

    • 07/20/2017
    • Lyn Jensen
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    After recently declaring a fiscal emergency, the City of Carson announced July 6 its commitment to a 15-year “Community Benefits Agreement” — essentially, a peace treaty — with the oil company Tesoro.

    City officials believe the arrangement will provide Carson with a projected total of $45 million for what the city calls “community mitigation projects.”

    “The city and Tesoro have entered into separate agreements resolving all outstanding disputes,” a press release from the city stated. “The value of these other agreements to the city is $36 million.” The latter accounts for most of the money.

    As for the remaining $9 million, the agreement describes it as tied to milestones surrounding a Tesoro project to integrate the Carson and Wilmington refineries to form a Tesoro Los Angeles Refinery. The project’s environmental impact report, or EIR, was disputed by the city earlier this year.

    “The [Community Benefits Agreement] is designed to provide a stable source of funding over a 15-year period,” states a July 5 staff report to council.  “It is not uncommon for refineries to make … payments to their host communities.”

    The staff report cited El Segundo as an example.

    The agreement follows the council declaring a fiscal emergency at its June 20 meeting. At that time, staff suggested the council generate an additional $350,000 of revenue, including lifting the cap on the Utility Users Tax, reducing service levels and adding or increasing revenue sources.

    Carson has been experiencing financial difficulties since the Great Recession of 2008. In 2011 redevelopment agencies were dissolved statewide when the state transferred redevelopment funds to the public schools to close the state budget deficit (partly due to the Great Recession).

    According to city documents, that action cost Carson $30 million in redevelopment funds annually. Since 2011 the city has deferred street maintenance  and reduced its workforce by 20 percent, firing 60 employees.

    The fiscal emergency is not simply due to lack of redevelopment money. Revenue exceeded expenditures between the fiscal year 2010-11 and fiscal year 2012-13. Since then, the city’s expenditures have exceeded revenue and the city’s reserves are rapidly dwindling.

    In 2009, the council granted a franchise to Tesoro for three non-public utility pipelines. A dispute over the pipelines arose after Tesoro purchased the refinery in 2013. A fourth pipeline was discovered that had not been properly documented.

    “The parties hereby agree that, for the calendar years 2017 to 2031, Tesoro shall pay to Carson the full amount of electricity users tax [and] gas users tax,” the Community Benefits Agreement states, waiving the requirement that the council would need to declare a fiscal emergency to get such payments.

    The Community Benefits Agreement would also amend the oil pipeline franchises to increase the franchise fees, subject to an annual Consumer Price Index adjustment within the 15-year term.

    “The City and Tesoro have been involved since 2013 in discussions over a series of issues and disputes,” the July 5 staff report states. “The major disputes involve the environmental impacts of the integration of the Carson and Wilmington Refineries, the use of a 60-acre parcel for a trucking and container storage yard and the transfer of oil pipeline franchise agreements.”

    It further states South Coast Air Quality Management District prepared an EIR for the refinery integration project, but Carson, concerned over the lack of community benefits, threatened to sue, claiming the EIR was deficient. Tesoro disputed the claimed deficiencies in the EIR and has since agreed to mitigate the city’s concerns.

    The Carson City Council on July 5 voted unanimously to approve the community benefits agreement and transfer the pipeline franchises to Tesoro.

    A separate resolution, passed at the same meeting, resolved a years-long zoning and permit dispute over Shippers Transit Express on Sepulveda, concerning a lease on Tesoro property. It involves a retroactive payment of $900,000 to the city for development impact fees and $250,000 annually for the next two years. The agreement calls for closing the truck yard in 2018 and putting in four petroleum storage tanks.

    For Tesoro’s Los Angeles Refinery Integration and Compliance Project, the company plans to invest $460 million in facility improvements to upgrade its Wilmington and Carson refineries. The project aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in what the South Coast Air Quality Management District estimates is equivalent to removing 13,500 daily passenger vehicles from local roads.

    Construction is expected to begin later this year, with an anticipated completion date of March 2021.

    The project would connect the refineries by pipelines, according to a city document, to allow the closure of the older gasoline production facility in Wilmington, switching production to the newer and more efficient gasoline production facility in Carson.

    Carson states it will deposit the payments from Tesoro into the general fund to provide a series of existing and future community benefit programs, including a green streets program for compliance with the Dominguez Watershed Plan.

    The city sought a stable funding source for its stroke center, emergency response center, bike paths, street resurfacing, and an environmental capital improvement program to renovate street landscaping medians.

    As part of the Community Benefits Agreement, Tesoro also agreed not to build or operate a hydrofluoric acid alkylation unit at the integrated refinery.

    Concerns about hydrofluoric acid may be traced to an explosion at the Torrance refinery in 2015, when debris narrowly missed a tank. If the tank had ruptured and the acid it contained had been released, a toxic cloud could have killed as many as 330,000 area residents, including many in southern and western Carson.

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