• Coyote Ugly: Don’t Kill the ‘Problem’ that We Created

    By Diana Lejins, Contributing Columnist

    Social media outlets roared with outrage, after an American dentist killed Cecil, an iconic lion in Zimbabwe.

    Walter Palmer paid $55,000 to guides, who lured Cecil out of his protective environment. This allowed the hunter to unlawfully trophy hunt and destroy this magnificent creature. On the whole, Americans understood the travesty of this egregious event.

    Ironically, thousands of miles away from Africa, in Long Beach, citizens have lured coyotes to their residential areas with food, water, unsupervised pets and the promise of more to come.  

    Now, because of a few isolated incidents, several groups of residents are up in arms and want to kill all of the coyotes. Extremely troublesome and alarming remarks have been made on Facebook and Nextdoor websites about people wanting to take matters into their own hands with crossbows, spear guns and electrical devices.

    To further put things into perspective, an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 5,700 letter carriers were victims of dog attacks in 2014 across the United States. According to Long Beach Animal Care Services, about 500 dog bites were reported in 2014 citywide.  Nationwide, 42 fatalities were reported in 2014.

    And, according to USA Today, outdoor cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds per year in the continental United States. Should people fearful of dog bites or those who are avian devotees have a right to demand that dogs and cats be “mitigated?”

    While there have been a few coyote snipes on pets (mostly unsupervised and outside), there have been zero attacks on humans and none on leashed pets in Long Beach. Experts in the field have explained that it is usually the scavenger coyotes, who are less canny and aggressive, that are trapped and killed. This leaves the more clever ones to propagate. Coyotes also provide invaluable services to the environment such as cleaning up “road kill,” preying on the over 1,500 species of harmful rodents (including gophers), and keeping other “pesky” wildlife and vermin in balance.

    District 5 Councilwoman Stacy Mungo originally catered to the trap-and-kill groups with a proposal to create a “mitigation committee” that would have led to trapping and euthanizing the coyotes. However, at the Aug. 11 Long Beach City Council meeting, she did a 180-degree turn and agendized a proposal allowing the city staff to follow-up with an organized, more humane management plan. Dozens of citizens lined up to speak to the issue, and about two-thirds were pro coyote. The council passed the item unanimously.

    Long Beach staff favors a more educational approach. The current plan includes educating the public about coexisting with coyotes, enforcing laws prohibiting feeding of wildlife and addressing public safety. This will be reviewed and adjusted to keep pace with any changing circumstances.

    Residents need to stop their “bad behaviors,” and adhere to measures recommended by California Department of Fish and Wildlife authorities. These include not making food and water available, keeping pets protected and out of harm’s way, and taking other measures that can be found on the Animal Care Services and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Department websites. It is important to note that hunting is illegal within Long Beach city limits.

    Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The greatness of a nation… can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    We must heed these prophetic words. Otherwise, what makes us any different than the likes of Walter Palmer?

    Diana Lejins is a journalist and photographer focusing on civil rights, animal welfare, environmental and disability issues.  

     

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  • Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder: RL NEWS Aug. 17, 2015

    Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 13, Alvin Ray Shaw Jr. was charged with charged with murder, driving under the influence of alcohol within 10 years of another DUI offense, driving with more than .08 percent blood alcohol and causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
    The 28-year-old’s blood concentration level was at least .15 percent.
    The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office stated Shaw, of Hawthorne, is suspected of driving 2012 Mercedes-Benz eastbound against traffic on the Gerald Desmond Bridge on Aug. 1. His actions are suspected of causing the death of one man and injuring another. Shaw collided with a 2014 Ford Fusion, driven by a 21-year-old San Pedro man, and a 2010 Nissan pickup truck driven by 30-year-old San Pedro resident Miguel Gonzalez. The Mercedes Benz and the Nissan truck caught on fire. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Shaw remains hospitalized. An arraignment is pending his release. He faces a maximum of 18 years to life in state prison.

    LB North Patrol Cracks Down on Street Gang

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 12, the Long Beach Police Department North Patrol Division Directed Enforcement Team served six search warrants at the residences of North Side Longo Gang members who were wanted on various felony charges.
    These search warrants resulted in three (3) felony arrests:
    Name, Age, City of Residency, Charges
    Steve Orozco, 23, Long Beach, Parole Violation
    Gaviel Mayorga, 33, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    Clark Cooper, 31, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    About $35,000 worth of stolen property, believed to be associated with cargo truck thefts that have occurred within and outside of the City, and $4,300 in cash, believed to be related to a north Long Beach burglary, were recovered related to the search warrants and arrests of Mayorga and Cooper. Detectives are still investigating these cases and the origin of these recovered items.
    If anyone has information regarding the crimes listed above or about the North Side Longo Street Criminal Gang they are urged to call (562) 570-7370 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org
     

    POLA Containers Decrease in July

    SAN PEDRO — July 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 2.5 percent compared to the same period this past year. The POLA handled a total of 699,127 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in July 2015. Current and historical data is available here.
    Imports decreased 3.5 percent, from 363,393 TEUs in July 2014 to 350,627 TEUs in July 2015. Exports declined 16.4 percent, from 163,294 TEUs in July 2014 to 136,402 TEUs in July 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 7.5 percent, from 526,688 TEUs in July 2014 to 487,029 TEUs in July 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 11.2 percent, overall July 2015 volumes (699,127 TEUs) decreased 2.5 percent.
    For the first seven months of 2015, overall volumes (4,602,648 TEUs) are down 3.5 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

     

    Long Beach Sets Cargo Record

    LONG BEACH — Cargo container volumes surged through the Port of Long Beach in July, with an 18.4 percent increase over the same month in 2014, making July a record month in the port’s 104-year history.
    Previously, POLA’s best year was 2007, just before the Great Recession of 2008. Now, after a slow start at the beginning of 2015, the gains in July mark the fourth time in the last five months that cargo totals have climbed significantly higher.
    The port’s terminals moved 690,244 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in July, an increase of 18.4 percent compared to July 2014. Imports jumped to 345,912 TEUs, a 16.2 percent increase from last July. Exports increased an impressive 15.9 percent to 143,875 TEUs despite the stronger U.S. dollar, which has made U.S. exports relatively expensive overseas.
    July makes the fourth time in five months that the port has seen import gains – July (18.4 percent), May (4.8 percent), April (7.3 percent), and March (42.1 percent) – an indication that the U.S. economy is growing, and the stronger dollar is giving retailers the confidence to order more products from overseas to stock their shelves for consumers. The National Retail Federation foresees at least 3 to 5 percent gains for the back-to-school and early holiday shopping seasons.
    Through the first seven months of 2015, Long Beach cargo numbers are edging higher, with total cargo up 2.8 percent compared to the same period last year, imports up 1.4 percent and exports down 10.9 percent.
    For all the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.
    For more details on the cargo numbers, please visit www.polb.com/stats.

    Center Long Beach Announces Free STI Testing, Treatment Program

    LONG BEACH — The Center Long Beach announced that starting Aug. 18, the organization will expand services to include comprehensive testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. This pilot project will start by offering the free service two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will include screenings for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis B and C.

    The STI testing program will enhance the current rapid HIV testing program that has been extremely successful, conducting more than 7,000 tests since 2010.

    The Center Long Beach will be collaborating with St. Mary’s Medical Center to provide a mobile testing clinic and medical staff during the pilot period that will last through the end of the year. During the pilot period, The Center staff will collect data and feedback from the community to develop a program that meets the needs of the LGBTQ community in Long Beach. Additionally, The Center Long Beach will be remodeling its health services space to accommodate additional STI testing services including an exam room, additional lab space and office space for new and current health services staff.

    Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Aug. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455; www.centerlb.org
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach
     

    MADE in Long Beach Seeks Crowdfunding for Food Market Expansion


    LONG BEACH — In celebration of seven successful months in business downtown on Pine Avenue, the 12,500 sq. ft. “MADE in Long Beach” retail destination is preparing to launch the second phase of their local business incubator: Market at MADE.

    Having established relationships with local farmers, food makers, bread bakers, beekeepers, and Long Beach Creamery to name a few, MADE will invest in an expansion to help native culinary businesses and brands thrive and mitigate the usual risk associated with small businesses who open storefronts. Among the requisite facilities and amenities are refrigeration units and display installations to provide for the marketing and distribution of local fare. Market at MADE will also create a location for meeting, mingling and experiencing the unique flavors of the city.
    Crowdfunding launched will run until Sept. 6, with a primary goal of raising $75,000.

    At every level of support, starting at $5, MADE will reward its contributors. There will also be opportunities for donors to “put their stamp” on the Market by personalizing seasonal menu items, events, and fixtures within the store. MADE will have limited opportunities for these high-profile opportunities and encourages First to Market contributors to get in early before those rewards sell out.
    Rewards for contributors come from some of the 100+ makers and merchants whose products are currently stocked at MADE, as well as partners such as Our Town Trolley and Renaissance Long Beach Hotel.

    Details: MadeLB.com

     

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  • Adventurous Sports with Less Risks

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  • Turf Removal Programs Collapses

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    With the severe drought acting as a wakeup call to conserve water, more and more people have been searching for solutions.

    The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, backed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power dug up a wellspring of incentives. Chief among them was the popular Turf Rebate program, which allows residents to get rebates for replacing their water-consuming turf with more drought-friendly plants. So popular was this program, that its allotted funding quickly dried up, parching the plans of many well-meaning future water savers. At least for the moment.

    Many people wonder whether or not the water district will ever reopen its rebate program to new applications. Bob Muir, a spokesman for the water district, said the agency may reopen it sometime in the future, but for now, they are just working on taking care of existing rebate requests that have not yet been fulfilled, with their remaining funds.

    “Right now we’re making a waiting list of those who have not yet received their rebates,”  Muir said. “We are trying to transfer those who did not qualify for the rebate (for example, those who did not finish their project within the 120-day period).”

    So now what? Well, we don’t exactly know. Obviously things have changed in terms of rebates. Before the water district’s rebate program collapsed, people would have been able to get a $3.75 rebate for every square foot of turf removed, by combining the district’s $2 rebate with LADWP’s $1.75 rebate. While the water district will no longer be offering its rebates to new applicants, LADWP will still be offering its rebate of $1.75 for up to 1,500 feet. They also offer a separate rebate for commercial, industrial, public agency and municipal customers of $1 for the first 10,000 square feet, and 50 cents for every foot thereafter, up to 43,560 square feet. Those wishing to apply for either of these rebates should go to the water district’s website atwww.socalwatersmart.com.

    “We see in many programs that about 30 percent of reserved projects are not completed,” said Muir, on the subject of unfinished projects. “We only see about 10 percent are left unfinished.”

    Muir said the district knew the money would run out, but not so soon.  

    “The board hoped we would have money all the way into the fall, like September or October,” said Muir. “Instead of six months, it lasted six weeks”.

    There have been an overwhelming number of people who have flocked to the program. However, the program’s collapse reminds us that we need more than surface solutions, which risk being underfunded by water authorities, and perhaps speaks to a far deeper disconnection between the interests of governments, water agencies and individual water users that continues to cloud our practical policy judgments.

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  • Signal Hill Mother, Boyfriend Charged in 2014 Death of 2-Year Old Son: RL NEWS Aug. 13, 2015

    Signal Hill Mother, Boyfriend Charged in 2014 Death of 2-Year Old Son

    SIGNAL HILL — The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau filed felony charges against 25-year-old Jessica Cereceres and her 23-year-old boyfriend Samuel Aguilar in connection to the death of Cerecere’s 2-year old son Josue Maldonado.

    The alleged incident took place on Aug. 10, 2014. A report was issued to Signal Hill police officers of the baby not breathing. Though several life-saving measures were attempted they were unsuccessful and Josue was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. A death investigation was preformed soon after by the Los Angeles County Sheriff. Aguilar was arrested in December on account of witness intimidation and dissuasion and was later charged with murder, felony child abuse and spousal assault.

    His bail has been set at $1.3 million. Cereceres cooperated with the investigators and appeared before the Long Beach Superior Court for a hearing, where she was convicted of felony child endangerment and arrested. She is being held at a $200,000 bail.

    Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call (323) 890-5500 or visit http://lacrimestoppers.org.

     

    Former SPHS Substitute Charged for Having Sex with Students

    Michelle Yeh

    Michelle Yeh

    SAN PEDRO — On Aug. 11, Michelle Yeh, a former San Pedro High School substitute teacher was charged on with was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16, two counts of oral copulation of a minor under 16, and two counts of lewd acts on a child 15 years of age. Both students were boys.

    Prosecutors say the 29-year-old Michelle Yeh pursued relationships with many students.

    She was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16, two counts of oral copulation of a minor under 16, and two counts of lewd acts on a child 15 years of age, according to a press release.

    Yeh was arraigned, on Aug. 12, at the Long Beach Superior Courthouse. Prosecutors asked for $250,000 bail. The woman faces up to nine years and eight months in state prison.

     

    Long Beach City Council Votes on Motion to Study Minimum Wage Increase

    LONG BEACH– On Aug. 11, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to initiate a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to examine the potential impacts of raising the minimum wage in Long Beach.

    Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal authored the motion, which requested that a study be made about the effects on the city and business, as well as exploring possible incentives for businesses to comply.

    More than 100 low-wage workers and community members spoke in support of raising the minimum wage at both a press event and a hearing at Long Beach City Hall.

    The Long Beach City Council took steps later that evening to kick-start the process of raising the minimum wage by commissioning the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to study the economic impacts. The city council also moved the issue of wage enforcement through the city manager, who will report back. The council is expected to review the study in the coming months. Mayor Robert Garcia expressed support for the proposed study earlier this month.

    “I commend the Council for its decision to move forward with this important study on the impacts of a minimum wage for Long Beach, as well as possible incentives for businesses and nonprofits,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring an objective and thorough examination of this issue that includes all voices and perspectives, and I want to encourage residents, workers, employers and everyone in the community to participate in that process.”

    The study is expected to take approximately three months to complete.

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  • Proposition 47 Reclassification Clinics: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS Aug. 13, 2015

    Aug. 15

    Proposition 47 Reclassification Clinics

    Get free help filling out the reclassification application. Thanks to new law called Proposition 47, you may be able to get non-violent felonies reclassified to misdemeanors. Qualifying felonies are:

    • Simple drug possessions
    • Shoplifting under $950
    • Petty theft under $950
    • Forgery or insufficient funds under $950
    • Receiving stolen property under $950

    Bring a Copy of Your Criminal Record, (Docket or Rap Sheet)
    To obtain your record: Visit any criminal court in every county where you have a conviction. Ask the clerk’s office for the complete print-out of your criminal docket. (Free in Long Beach, while you wait) or visit any local live scan office to RAP sheet; the cost is $35 to $60 (2 to 4 weeks).
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 15
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Centro C.H.A. Inc.,1900 Atlantic Ave., 2nd Floor, Long Beach
     

    Aug. 26

    West Division Forum

    Join Cmdr. Smith at the West Division Leadership Forum. A Long Beach Police Department, gangs detective will give an overview on gangs. Spanish translation will be available.
    Time: 6 p.m. Aug. 26
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570-3461; Jose.Vazquez@longbeach.gov
    Venue: Long Beach Police Department, West Division,1900 Atlantic Ave. 2nd floor
     

    Sept. 13

    Nutcracker Auditions

    The Peninsula School of Performing Arts will be hosting auditions for The Nutcracker to be performed at the Norris Theatre on Nov. 20, 21, 28 and 29.
    The performing arts school is looking for gingersnaps (children ages 5 to 7 years old) at 9 a.m., for mice soldiers and clowns (children 7 to 10 years old) at 10 a.m., party scene boys and girls, and angels (children 10 to 13 years old) at 11 a.m., and more advanced roles at 12 p.m.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sept. 13
    Details: pspsdance@gmail.com, www.pspadance.com.
    Venue: 2325 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes Estates

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  • Sanders Gets Huge Welcoming Support in LA

    Video by Adam Adame

    LOS ANGELES — More than 27,000 supporters eagerly attended presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ Wild West Tour, Aug. 10, at the Los Angles Memorial Sports Arena. The independent candidate, who caucuses with Democrats, gave his populist message calling for an end to big money in politics and yawning income inequality.

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  • Northbound Alameda Street Closure: RLn ANNOUNCMENTS Aug. 12, 2015

    Aug. 14

    Northbound Alameda Street Closure

    All northbound lanes on Alameda Street from O Street — just north of Pacific Coast Highway — to Sepulveda Boulevard will be closed to repair a damaged overhead bridge through Aug. 14. Take Pacific Coast Highway to State Route 103, turn left onto Sepulveda Blvd and right onto Alameda Street. Southbound lanes will not be affected.

    Aug. 18

    Long Beach City Council MeetingLong Beach City Hall

    The Long Beach City Council will consider declaring an ordinance related to expediting the permitting process and fees for small rooftop solar energy systems, during its 5 p.m. Aug. 18 meeting, at Long Beach City Hall.
    Time: 5 p.m. Aug. 18
    Details: http://longbeach.legistar.com/Calendar
    Venue: Long Beach City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Aug. 19

    PitchLabs

    In partnership with UNCODED, WE Labs will be hosting a Meet The Angels event with Pasadena Angels.
    If you’ve ever wanted to know how angel investing works or you’ve got some questions for living, breathing angel investors, then this is the event for you.

    Time: 6 p.m. Aug. 19
    Details: lincoln@welabs.us; RSVP REQUIRED
    Venue: WeLabs, 235 E. Broadway, Suite 800, Long Beach
     

    Aug. 21

    Cultural Grants Program

    The Department of Cultural Affairs is accepting proposals for its 2016-2017 Cultural Grants Program for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations (and for social service nonprofits partnering with arts organizations). The deadline for online submission is 11:59 p.m. Aug. 21. Hard copies should be postmarked by August 24.
    These cultural grants support public-benefit arts projects, arts education initiatives, or cultural programming to take place between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017.
    Guidelineshttp://dcaredesign.org/grants/

    Aug. 25

    Free PR Plan Developed For Your Business

    As a mid-term project, Cal State Long Beach students in an upper-grade public relations class named public relations campaigns, will be assigned to develop a comprehensive and customized public relations plan/proposal at no cost for owners of local small businesses. A customized public relations plan can be an essential part of a company’s overall marketing strategy — such a plan can accomplish many things, including raising awareness of, and generating demand for, the company’s products and/or services.
    If you are interested in having a free public relatiosn plan developed for your business please provide by Aug. 25 the following information:

    • Your name
    • Phone number
    • Company web site URL address (if you do not have a web site please provide a brief description of your business and, if and how you utilize social media; 1-3 sentences)

    Once again, the deadline for submitting this information is August 25th. Students will consider all submissions and they will select the businesses they want to develop PR plans for.  If your business is selected, you will be contacted in September to set up fact-gathering meeting(s) at your office with the student. Final plans will be presented and submitted to you in late October.
    Details: (562) 243-2615; lissette@estrellapr.com
     

    Aug. 27

    Emergency Preparedness

    You are invited to participate in a training program designed for Long Beach Community Partners and Neighborhood Organizations to learn how to develop emergency response plans.  This informative training will discuss:
     Personal preparedness, and the four steps to getting ready for a disaster.
     Organizing your community with the American Red Cross.
     Preparedness training with Long Beach Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) members.
    Time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 27
    Details: (562) 570-1010; http://goo.gl/forms/JsZUXkqxJV.
    Venue: Emergency Communication and Emergency Center, 2990 Redondo Ave., Long Beach
     

    Sept. 13

    Nutcracker Auditions

    Nutcracker

    Nutcracker

    The Peninsula School of Performing Arts will be hosting auditions for The Nutcracker to be performed at the Norris Theatre on Nov. 20, 21, 28 and 29.
    The performing arts school is looking for gingersnaps (children ages 5 to 7 years old) at 9 a.m., for mice soldiers and clowns (children 7 to 10 years old) at 10 a.m., party scene boys and girls, and angels (children 10 to 13 years old) at 11 a.m., and more advanced roles at 12 p.m.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sept. 13
    Details: pspsdance@gmail.com, www.pspadance.com.
    Venue: 2325 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes Estates

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  • Garcia Seeks Update to Long Beach Plan for LA River: RL NEWS Briefs, Aug. 11, 2015

    Garcia Seeks Update to Long Beach Plan for LA River

    LONG BEACH — Mayor Robert Garcia has asked the Long Beach City Council to direct the city manager to update the Long Beach “River Link” plan. The mayor’s proposal will be in the Aug. 18 agenda.

    For more than 50 years, the primary purpose of the Los Angeles River was flood control.

    The plan was created to outline the city’s efforts to restore and enhance the Los Angeles River in Long Beach, as well as plans to revitalize the entire length of the river in a collaborative effort with the LA River Revitalization Corp.

    The River Link was created in 2007, and more recent developments are not presently included in the plan – most prominently, to explore an integrated vision for the entire 51 miles of the Los Angeles River.

     

    New Board President Emphasizes Fiscal and Social Responsibility

    Lori Ann Farrell Harrison

    Lori Ann Guzmán

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 10, Newly elected Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzmán outlined priorities for her one-year leadership term.

    Guzmán seeks to set strategic goals to attract more cargo and to handle that business in an environmentally sustainable way. She also aims to broaden the Port of Long Beach’s social responsibility outreach and she said more people should be encouraged to lend their voices to the public dialogue on how the port is run.
    Guzmán called on the port to rededicate itself to the landmark Green Port Policy, and look at operating in the local community as a privilege and responsibility.
    She also stressed the importance of working with city leaders, including Mayor Robert Garcia and the Long BeachCity Council.
    Also, Guzmán announced she will resume using her given name – Lori Ann Guzmán. When appointed to the Harbor Commission in 2013, Guzmán was known as Lori Ann Farrell. She married Long Beach Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications Reggie Harrison, becoming Lori Ann Farrell Harrison.
    She shared that, following her recent marriage and family discussions, her role as a mentor and role model in the community can be strengthened even further by honoring her cultural heritage and the roots of her family.
    Guzmán was elected president by her fellow commissioners on July 27. Commissioners also selected Lou Anne Bynum as vice president and Tracy Egoscue as secretary, giving the board an all-female officer slate for the first time in its history.
    Guzmán, director of finance for the City of Huntington Beach, also thanked her colleagues there for their support in her new role.

    Garcetti Announces Completion of Los Angeles Reservoir Cover Project

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 10, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the release of 20,000 small plastic “shade balls” onto the surface of the Los Angeles Reservoir.

    The plastic balls protect water quality by preventing sunlight-triggered chemical reactions, deterring birds and other wildlife, and protecting water from rain and wind-blown dust. The shade balls will also prevent the annual loss to evaporation of about 300 million gallons of water.

    Dr. Brian White, a now-retired Los Angles Department of Water and Power biologist, was the mastermind behind the idea of using shade balls for water quality. The idea came to him when he learned about the application of “bird balls” in ponds along airfield runways. Holding enough water to supply the entire City of Los Angeles for up to three weeks, a total of about 3.3 billion gallons, the Los Angeles Reservoir is at the Van Norman Complex in Sylmar. The shade balls are in place at Upper Stone, Elysian and Ivanhoe reservoirs.

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is the first utility company to use this technology for water quality protection. This deployment marked the final phase of an effort that involves the deployment of 96 million shade balls to the 175-acre reservoir owned and managed by LADWP.  At 36 cents each, the balls require no construction, parts, labor or maintenance aside from occasional rotation. A second, $100 million ultraviolet treatment facility is due to break ground next — allowing LADWP to meet regulatory timelines, save more than $250 million in capital improvement costs and further reduce water losses.

     

    Garcetti Announces $50 Million Fund for Affordable Housing

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 10, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the expansion of the New Generation Fund, which will bring an additional $50 million to create, preserve and retrofit affordable housing in Los Angeles.

    The fund offers pre-development and acquisition funding through a public-private partnership between Los Angeles and a group of banks, financial institutions and community development financial institutions. The renewed fund will continue to invest in developments that address the City’s goal of integrating affordable housing with neighborhood amenities, public transportation, social services and energy conservation.

    In this latest round of funding, the city’s commitment of $10 million has been used to leverage the $50 million that will be made available on a revolving loan basis to affordable housing developers.

    Since its 2008 inception, the New Generation Fund has provided more than $69 million for the construction and preservation of 1,355 affordable apartments including the historic rehab of the Rosslyn Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, construction of the Metro in Hollywood, a transit-oriented development and the construction of Riverwalk at Reseda

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  • Two Men, One Kidney, and a Bond for Life

    It was during a routine physical sometime around 1960 that the then-teenage David Braunstein was alerted to the fact that something was not quite right with his kidneys. His urine contained a bit too much protein, doctors told him. But he was a young man without symptoms, and it wasn’t like he was given specific instructions about what he should and shouldn’t do in relation to the issue, so he didn’t give it much thought.

    But about a quarter-century later a routine checkup revealed high levels of creatinine in Braunstein’s blood, and his physician sent him to a nephrologist. Braunstein was instructed to change his diet, and thus began a lifetime vigil of monitoring his blood.

    Then came that day in September 2013, when during one of his bimonthly visits to the nephrologist, the gravity of his situation was made plain.

    “The doctor said, ‘Can you bring your wife in? […] You’re going to have to think about what you’re going to do when your kidneys go,'” Braunstein recalls. His kidney function was down to 20%, he and wife Terry were told. “[…] They immediately put me on the wait list [for a kidney transplant], because they said, ‘You’re going to need it.'”

    The Braunsteins were more pragmatic than fearful. They educated themselves about their options. They learned, for example, that location can be a major determiner of how long an individual must wait for an organ, with population-dense Los Angeles County having on of the longest wait time in the country.

    But with a median wait time of over four years and over 100,000 people on the list nationwide, the best option, by far, would be to obtain a live organ from living donor. And so Terry wrote an open letter explaining David’s plight and put it out to the community.

    Within 24 hours, Marco Schindelmann answered the call, despite the fact that he and David were acquainted little more than professionally, having worked together when Braunstein did some consulting work for the Arts Council of Long Beach, of which Schindelmann is president.

    “A voice inside my head said, ‘You gotta do this,'” Schindelmann says. “I just wanted to make sure I knew what I was saying yes to. I wanted to go in with my eyes open, because [after committing] I didn’t want to suddenly back out.”

    Schindelmann spent the next day reading up on kidney donation at the Mayo Clinic’s Website. He learned that generally kidney donors suffer no adverse long-term effects from the process (he already knew that only one kidney is necessary to live a normal life), and that the life expectancy of kidney donors was the same as that of non-donors.

    One lingering concern was the possibility of a rise in blood pressure that would need to be permanently treated with medication—a prospect Schindelmann very much wanted to avoid—because high blood pressure can damage kidney function. But after a doctor told him it was reasonable to expect to avoid this eventuality so long as he maintained his healthy lifestyle, Schindelmann was all in.

    But the pair was far from their mutually intended destination. First there was a battery of tests not only to determine whether Braunstein and Schindelmann were a physical match, but psychological tests to ensure that Schindelmann was in a proper state of mind to undertake such a mission. “How do you feel about an assault and battery being perpetrated on you that will permanently compromise your health,” Schindelmann recalls being asked by a doctor.

    “He said to Marco, ‘You must be crazy to want to do this,’ relates Braunstein, who was in the room at the time. “We were like, ‘Is this guy a plant? Is this part of their way of flushing out the people who aren’t really up to it?'”

    But Schindelmann appreciated such bluntness, another dose of which he received when he met with a friend of the Braunsteins who had donated a kidney to her husband.

    “David said [to the donor], ‘Can you believe that they said’ and he repeated the ‘assault and battery’ thing,” Schindelmann says. “And she said, ‘Oh, I wish they would have told me that, because it’s that and even worse.’ She went into gory details about how horrible she felt. She said the first day or two you want to die, and for the next week you don’t feel like yourself. […] And then she had complications. A month later she had tremendous abdominal pain and had to go to the emergency room. […] You could see Terry get her Jewish-mother look on her face, like, ‘Oh my God, we’re putting you through this!’ and sort of wringing her hands.”

    Braunstein admits he would have been unlikely to do what Schindelmann is doing were the tables turned, though he says that has a great deal to do with how ignorant he was about kidney donation prior his crisis.

    “I didn’t know anything about it, anything,” he says. “[…] “I never thought about the fact that you need only one kidney to live. I didn’t know that people who donate kidneys live as long as everybody else. […] My first reaction [to the prospect of being a donor] would have been, ‘Hell no!’ My body part? [Laughs] I mean, give me a break.”

    But not only was Schindelmann willing to donate a kidney directly to David: if they weren’t a match he was willing to donate his kidney into a pool so that David would be eligible for a live matching organ far sooner than if he were on the wait list without being part of the pool. And with his kidney function down to 11% by October 2014, he was running out of time.

    “Marco said, ‘Don’t worry about it: you’re getting a kidney even if we don’t match,'” Braunstein says. “He was just terrific about it. Everything he’s done was to put me at rest. In his mind it was done, and he was going to make sure it was as easy as possible. Marco is a special guy. He has that combination of compassion and bravery. It takes both to do something like this. Everyone feels for you, but to do something…. And he won’t even let me buy him dinner! He’s a tough guy to be generous with. […] If Marco hadn’t volunteered, and I was set on getting a live organ, I would probably be in India right now.”

    The transplant, originally scheduled for December, was delayed when doctors found that Braunstein needed bypass surgery to get his heart proper shape to receive a kidney. More waiting ensued when it was decided that the procedure would take place not at the Scripps Institute in San Diego, but closer to home at UCLA Medical Center, a switch that necessitated Braunstein and Schindelmann’s going through screening process all over again.

    But again the results proved favorable, with the pair deemed a match, a scenario Schindelmann found more aesthetically and emotionally pleasing than if he donated to the kidney pool.

    “Terry said, ‘You’re part of our family now,'” Schindelmann says. “This whole process feels more like a kidney adoption than a kidney transplant. I’ll feel comfortable with them incorporating me into their family because there will literally be a flesh-and-blood tie.”

    20150729_104728
    Nonetheless, Schindelmann says that a phenomenon he was warned about is the possibility of being treated as a hero leading up to and immediately after the surgery, then being more or less forgotten in the longer term. That is especially common if the transplant doesn’t take, a situation in which the entire process will have been for naught.

    But Schindelmann was not concerned about hero worship. Nor did he fear the slight possibility of dying on the operating table (a risk that comes with any such procedure). Nonetheless, he admitted to a level of low-grade fear concerning other slight possibilities, including cognitive impairment, and damage to his vocal cords than can result from intubation (Schindelmann is an opera singer/coach), and other losses of function.

    Nonetheless, Schindelmann and Braunstein went under the knife on July 29, and the result was a bit anticlimactic. Schindelmann had what he calls “a degree of discomfort” upon awakening, but far less than he was expecting. He was discharged from the hospital a day early—as was Braunstein—and once at home in La Habra never took any of the pain medication he was prescribed. He even attended an Arts Council board meeting on August 3, not even five days removed from surgery.

    On Braunstein’s end, the closest thing to drama has been what he labels as a shift in his spirituality, despite the fact that he’s not “spiritual” in the traditional sense.

    “Being ‘blessed’ was never a word I used,” he says, his new kidney celebrating its first week in its new home by functioning at what doctors say is an impressive level. “[…] You don’t control your life. You control nothing about your future. You can plan it, you do the best job you can, but life happens. The fact that I’m surrounded by people who care and are willing to extend themselves—like Marco and my family and my friends—gave the term ‘being blessed’ meaning for me. […] I’ve really come to understand differently what others can do for you, and how you have to appreciate that. The world moves on, and if you don’t have a support system and friends that can step up for you, it’s a different world.”

    And so it is for Marco Schindelmann and David Braunstein, each of whom has benefited from the process. The kidney donation itself may be the least of it. For all we know of the future, in the kidney may not take. But beyond mere blood and organs, we are mind and soul. By way of the generosity of one man and the gratitude of another are two among us forever changed, bonded by a reciprocal caring that no weakness of the flesh can touch.

    To register to be an organ donor, go here.

    (Photo credit: Samantha Smithstein)

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