• LA County Jail System to Implement Reforms

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 5, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Kappelhoff announced that the Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement with the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Sheriff to protect prisoners from serious suicide risks and excessive force in the Los Angeles County jails.

    The agreement was filed along with a complaint that alleges a pattern or practice of inadequate mental health care and excessive force at the jails in violation of prisoners’ federal constitutional rights. The Justice Department, together with the county and the sheriff, has requested that the district court enter the settlement as an order to bring court oversight to the reforms, to ensure that the reforms are implemented fully and transparently, and to strengthen public confidence in the jails.

    The settlement resolves claims stemming from the Justice Department’s long-standing civil investigation into mental health care at the jails, which found a pattern of constitutionally deficient mental health care for prisoners, including inadequate suicide prevention practices. In addition, the settlement agreement includes remedial measures to address a separate civil investigation into use of force by jails staff.

    The Justice Department’s investigations involved an in-depth review of thousands of pages of documents and other records, on-site visits and interviews with numerous jails staff members, prisoners and others. The Justice Department was assisted by subject matter experts in the fields of mental health care, suicide prevention and correctional practices.

    The county and the sheriff cooperated with the civil investigations and have begun to implement many of the negotiated reforms in the settlement agreement, which was negotiated by attorneys with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

    “The settlement agreement avoids protracted litigation and provides a blue print for durable reform that will foster continued collaboration among sheriff deputies, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders,” Decker said.

    Under the settlement the county and the sheriff have agreed to implement comprehensive reforms to ensure constitutional conditions in the jails and restore public trust. The settlement agreement will be court-enforceable once approved by the district court and will be overseen by an independent monitor and a team of mental health and corrections experts. The settlement agreement is designed to prevent and respond more effectively to suicides and self-inflicted injuries through measures that include:

    •       additional steps to recognize, assess and treat prisoners with mental illness, from intake to discharge;
    •       significant new training on crisis intervention and interacting with prisoners with mental illness for new and existing custody staff;
    •       improved documentation in prisoners’ medical and mental health records to ensure continuity of care;
    •       improved communication between custody and mental health staff and increased supervision of mentally ill and suicidal prisoners;
    •       steps to mitigate suicide risks within the jails;
    •       increased access to out-of-cell time for mentally ill prisoners; and
    •       improved investigation and critical self-analysis of suicides, suicide attempts and other critical events.

    With respect to use of force, the settlement agreement expands critical reforms agreed to by the county and the sheriff in Rosas v. McDonnell to cover all facilities within the jail system. These reforms include:

    •       enhanced leadership and executive staff engagement;
    •       significant revisions to use-of-force policies, which should significantly reduce the use of excessive force, with added protections for use of force against prisoners with mental illness;
    •       enhanced training for custody and mental health staff;
    •       enhanced data collection and analysis;
    •       enhanced accountability measures, including use-of-force reporting, use-of-force reviews and discipline; and
    •       enhanced grievance procedures.

    The Justice Department’s investigation was originally opened in 1996, under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Justice Department found constitutional deficiencies in mental health care, suicide prevention and the use of excessive force against prisoners with mental illness. In 2002, the Justice Department entered into a memorandum of agreement with the County and the Sheriff to address these concerns. Despite considerable progress over the years of monitoring the memorandum of agreement, the Justice Department concluded in 2014 that the jails were failing to provide adequate mental health care, including suicide prevention, and that conditions under which prisoners with mental illness were housed exacerbated the risk of suicide.

    In addition, in 2013, the Justice Department initiated a separate civil investigation into allegations of use of excessive force by jails staff under both the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. While the use-of-force investigation was ongoing, the County and the Sheriff settled the Rosas v. McDonnell class-action lawsuit, which alleged excessive force by jails deputies in three downtown facilities.  The settlement agreement incorporates all of the reforms in Rosas and extends them to all county jail facilities to cover prisoners throughout the jails system.

    The civil investigations were conducted by attorneys and staff from the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division’s Special Litigation Section.

    “I am pleased that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, the County, and the United States Department of Justice have entered into a joint agreement that will provide our jail system with the opportunity to move beyond past problems and build on the progress that has already been made in enhancing the treatment of those in our custody,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in a released statement. “I personally commit to the DOJ, our employees and our community that we will rise to meet these and future challenges.  While there undoubtedly will be setbacks, we will aim to do better every day and learn from, and be open about, our mistakes with the goal of continuous improvement.”

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  • Crash, accident, collision

    Collision on Gerald Desmond Bridge Yields Death: RL NEWS Aug. 4, 2015

    Collision on Gerald Desmond Bridge Yields Death

    LONG BEACH — Three vehicles collided because driver was moving against traffic, at about 7 a.m. Aug. 1, eastbound on the Gerald Desmond Bridge.

    Earlier that the morning, officers observed a vehicle driving erratically and crashing through barricades in the area of Special Olympic events. Officers attempted to follow the vehicle through the downtown Long Beach Bicycle Path after it struck numerous objects, but lost sight of the vehicle.

    Witnesses directed officers toward the Gerald Desmond Bridge regarding a multi-vehicle traffic collision. Upon arrival, officers found two vehicles on fire and immediately attempted to rescue the drivers. Despite life-saving efforts by several officers, one driver succumbed to his injuries and was determined dead at the scene. An officer sustained minor injuries to his arm during his attempt to pull the driver. The officer was transported to a local hospital where he was treated and released.

    Long Beach Fire Department personnel provided rescue and fire suppression services, as well as medical aid at the scene. Fire personnel transported the two remaining drivers in critical condition to local hospitals.
    The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2012 Mercedes Benz being driven by Alvin Ray Shaw, a 28-year-old resident of Hawthorne, entered the eastbound lanes of Ocean Boulevard at Golden Shore traveling westbound towards the Gerald Desmond Bridge against eastbound traffic.

    At the crest point of the Gerald Desmond Bridge, the Mercedes, still traveling westbound against eastbound traffic, collided with a 2014 Ford Fusion, driven by a 21-year-old resident of San Pedro, and a 2010 Nissan Pickup Truck. Both the Ford and Nissan vehicles were traveling eastbound in the eastbound lanes of the Gerald Desmond Bridge. The resulting collision caused the Mercedes Benz and the Nissan truck to catch fire. The Mercedes appears to be the same vehicle that was seen driving erratically and through barricades earlier.

    The deceased male driver of the 2010 Nissan truck is not being identified at this time. The Los Angeles County Coroner will make positive identification and notify next of kin.

    It is unknown, at this time, if alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in the collision.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7355 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Arrest Made in Connection with June Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 1, Long Beach Police arrested 26-year-old Jorge Luis Cruz, of Long Beach, in connection with a murder that took place earlier June 22.

    The murder happened about 8:45 a.m. near the 800 block of Cedar Avenue in Long Beach. Long Beach Police Department officers responded to the call regarding shooting. The shooting resulted in the death of 37-year-old Douglas Wilson of Long Beach.

    At about 5:50 p.m. Aug. 1, officers initiated an investigation involving a vehicle in the 1300 block of Ohio Avenue. A passenger, who officers recognized as a subject wanted in connection with the June homicide, fled from the vehicle. Officers established a containment perimeter to find the subject with the assistance of air support and K9 services. Around 8:15 p.m., Cruz was taken into custody.

    On Aug. 3, Cruz appeared in Long Beach Superior Court; however, his arraignment in connection with the murder of Douglas Wilson was postponed until August 18, 2015. He is being held in Los Angeles County Jail on $2 million bail.
    The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the murder is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Woman Who Has Fed Homeless for 12 Years is Honored

    District 6 Councilman Dee Andrews will honor Alice Robinson and friends for their service of feeding the hungry at the 12th anniversary of the Feeding in the Park, at 12 p.m. Aug. 5, 2015, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Long Beach.

    Friends of Alice Robinson is celebrating another anniversary for the Feeding in the Park program. For the past 12 years, Robinson has prepared and served more than 11,000 hot, home-cooked, full course meals to eager smiling faces at the park. Out of her own senior income and generous donors, she and her friends have prepared the meals on a monthly basis.

    Robinson is 77 years old and has been married to her husband, Bennie, for 56 years. She is originally from Tuscaloosa, Ala. However, she has lived in the 6th District of Long Beach since 1957.  Since her retirement in 1998 from Mary Kay Contributions, she started volunteering her time to improve the Long Beach Community. Robinson has two daughters, Rosie Cade and Vanessa Conner, who volunteer to help their mother feed the hungry as well.

    The “Friends” includes a number of retired seniors and community volunteers that assist Robinson in serving the hot meals each month. The number one request for food is spaghetti. They also serve meatloaf, beef stew, and corn. Menus have included such things as fried chicken, bar-b-cued chicken, ribs, corn bread, sausage, beans, rice, greens, salads, cakes, biscuits and gravy.

    For those in need of a hot meal, Friends of Alice Robinson serves a free meal every first Wednesday of the month at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.
    Details: (562) 570-6816

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  • Garcetti Nominates General Manager of Information Technology Agency: RL NEWS Brief July 31, 2015

    Garcetti Nominates General Manager of Information Technology Agency

    LOS ANGELES — On July 30, Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Interim General Manager Ted Ross to serve as the general manager of the Information Technology Agency and chief information officer for the City of Los Angeles. In this role, Ross will direct the city’s more than 460-person technology agency to harness the power of technology in order to achieve Garcetti’s goals of innovation, transparency, and efficiency across all aspects of city government.
    Ross, a native of Los Angeles, has worked for the City since 2004, most recently serving as assistant general manager for Information Technology Agency and in information technology leadership roles under City Controllers Laura Chick and Wendy Greuel and at the Los Angeles World Airports. Ross has had key roles in replacing the city’s Financial Management System, instituting the Mayor’s Open Data Portal, and has been a major contributor to the city’s recent technology awards, including:

    • First Place Digital City (Government Technology Magazine)
    • First Place Open Data City (Code for America & Sunlight Foundation)
    • Second Place Best of the Web (Government Technology Magazine)
    • StateScoop 50 Project Winner (Drupal Project for LACity.org and other city websites)

    The Information Technology Agency provides citywide systems, voice and data communications, a 24/7 data center, and the city’s public safety infrastructure, including police and fire radio communication systems on vehicles and helicopters.  This includes www.lacity.org, a new global navigation bar across all city websites, and the recently Emmy-nominated Channel 35 TV station.  The Information Technology Agency is a key player in the Mayor’s initiatives on cyber security, sustainability, open data, cloud computing, and developing an effective mobile workforce.
    Today, the Information Technology Agency is leading efforts to improve broadband internet across Los Angeles through the CityLinkLA initiative.
    Ross’s nomination is subject to confirmation by the Los Angeles City Council.

    Poll Shows Bernie Sanders Beating Republican Candidates

    A just released CNN poll found that Bernie Sanders out-polled all of the GOP’s major candidates, though he pretty much tied with Jeb Bush. Here’s how Sanders stacks up:
    Sanders: 48%
    Bush: 47%
    Sanders: 48%
    Walker: 42%
    Sanders: 59%
    Trump: 38%
    Polling shows he’s the only candidate from either side who has a net favorability rating.
    Donald Trump has 18 percent to Jeb Bush’s 15 percent. In the state polling, Trump is the leader in New Hampshire in the Marist poll, at 21 percent with Jeb Bush at only 14 percent. In Iowa, Trump is at 17 percent and Scott Walker is at 19 percent.

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  • LB Harbor Commission President Named: RL NEWS Briefs: July 30, 2015

    LB Harbor Commission President Named

    LONG BEACH — On July 27, The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners elected Lori Ann Farrell Harrison as its new board president.

    The five-member Harbor Commission, which oversees the Port of Long Beach, also selected Lou Anne Bynum as vice president and Tracy Egoscue as secretary. The commission selects from its own members the president and the other board officers for one-year terms each July.

    Farrell Harrison, a 5th District resident, is the director of finance for the City of Huntington Beach and was previously chief financial officer for Long Beach. She was appointed to the Harbor Commission in 2013 by then-Mayor Bob Foster. The commission president chairs board meetings and represents the port to the public.

    Farrell Harrison and Bynum succeed Doug Drummond and Rich Dines as president and vice president, respectively.

    Under the city charter, the mayor of Long Beach appoints city residents to the Harbor Commission for a six-year term. Commissioners oversee the port and direct the CEO, who in turn manages the more than 500-person staff of the Long Beach Harbor Department in the development and promotion of the Port of Long Beach.


    Former Police Chief Dies

    LONG BEACH — On July 29, the Long Beach Police Department announced the death of former Long Beach Police Chief Jerome E. Lance on Saturday, July 25. Lance was 72 years old when he succumbed to his battle with cancer.
    Lance began his career with the Long Beach Police Department in 1964. During his career, he worked various assignments throughout the Department at all ranks before being promoted to the position of chief of police on November 20, 1999.
    During his tenure as chief of police, he was faced with several challenges of a magnitude including, the aftermath of 9/11 and the loss of four officers.

    He was responsible for multiple facility projects which included the refurbishment of the public safety building, the construction of a new communications center, the relocation of the crime lab and property section, and the upgrading of the police academy.

    Additional accomplishments included increased security duties at the airport and harbor, the purchase of two new helicopters, and implementation of the first boat patrol unit in the history of the Long Beach Police Department.
    After Lance’s retirement from the LBPD in 2002, he served as interim chief of police for the Oceanside Police Department from March through December of 2005. He was head of the CSULB Center for Criminal Justice in 2003 and continued to teach and consult in the law enforcement community until 2014.
    Lance is survived by his wife Margaret “Bunny” Lance, his sister Patricia “Pat” Chapman (Oberg), his daughter Pamela Jane Crandall (Lance), her husband Brett and children Mackenzie and Brayden, and his son LBPD Sergeant Darren Jerome Lance, his wife Nancy and their daughter Sierra, along with many nieces and nephews.
    A memorial service will take place for Lance at 1 p.m. Aug. 9, at the Long Beach Police Officers Association Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his honor to either of the following:
    Long Beach Police Officers Widows and Orphans Trust Fund c/o
    2865 Temple Avenue
    Long Beach, California 90755

    Law Enforcement Cancer Support Foundation
    6475 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 354
    Long Beach, CA 90803

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  • Morad Family Sues LBPD: RL NEWS Briefs July 29, 2015

    Morad Family Sues LBPD
    LONG BEACH — On July 22, supporters joined Morad family members at a press conference in front of the Long Beach Police Department.

    The family announced that they are filing a $28 million dollar lawsuit  against the City of Long Beach for the death of 20-year-old Feras Morad. On May 27, Offficer Matthew Hernandez killed Morad. Morad, who was displaying erratic behavior after apparently consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms, was unarmed.

    Morad’s family filed $28 million civil rights lawsuit against the LBPD. Mother Amal Morad, father Amr Morad, sister Ghada Morad and cousin Kareem Morad spoke at the press conference.

    “My son needed care,” said Amr Morad, Feras’s father. “Instead, he got killed…. I only hope that there is a change so that the next young man gets the help he needs.”

    A native of Woodland Hills, Feras Morad attended El Camino Real Charter High School, then Moorpark College, choosing a longer commute in order to join that school’s accomplished debate team. A high school and college debate champion, he ranked nationally in both the Phi Rho Pi National Forensic Organization and the National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, and competed in many other leagues. He was a ranking member of ROTC while at El Camino Real.

    Feras chose to enroll at Cal State-Long Beach in order to save money in hopes of attending law school.


    Man Kills Step-Daughter, Himself

    LONG BEACH — Long Beach Police Department detectives are investigating what they are considering a murder-suicide, which took place about 4:45 p.m. July 27.

    Sixty-four-year-old Keenan Wynn killed his 41-year-old step-daughter Tecia Robinson.

    Police responded to a residence in the 2200 block of Eucalyptus Avenue and learned that a woman was in her home with her husband, Wynn, and her daughter, Robinson. Wynn attempted to shoot her and Robinson. The woman fled the home and called police. Robinson remained in the home. It wasn’t clear whether or not she was shot at the time.
    Officers tried phone calling Wynn but he did not answer. Believing Robinson may have been shot and in need of immediate medical attention, officers entered the residence and delivered her to Long Beach Fire Department paramedics who were staged nearby. Robinson was shot in the torso and declared dead on at the scene.
    Wynn, who was within the residence, shot himself in the torso and was also determined deceased at the scene by paramedics. A motive for the shooting is unclear and the investigation remains ongoing.
    Anyone with information regarding the incident should call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.


    Garcia Selects Long Beach City Clerk

    LONG BEACH — On July 28, Mayor Robert Garcia announced that the City Council has selected Maria de la Luz Garcia to serve as the city clerk for Long Beach, pending a formal vote at its Aug. 11 meeting.

    The appointment of de la Luz Garcia (no relation to the mayor), who is senior project coordinator in the Elections Division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, was selected from a pool of more than 30 candidates after extensive interviews.

    De la Luz Garcia replaces Larry Herrera-Cabrera, who retired April 30 after 12 years as Long Beach city clerk.
    De la Luz Garcia is a Long Beach resident.

    Charged with keeping records, including minutes and actions of the council and all boards, commissions and committees, the clerk is also responsible for overseeing elections, posting ordinances and is custodian of the city seal. The clerk can also perform civil marriages and register voters.

    De la Luz Garcia, who will supervise a staff of 15, was also previously director of voter engagement for the NALEO Educational Fund. She is a dean’s merit scholar and master in public administration candidate at the Price School of Public Policy at USC. In 2008, de la Luz Garcia won an Emmy as an associate producer for an elections public service announcement. She is fluent in English and Spanish, and serves on the board of CORO Southern California, a public affairs leadership development organization.

    City Clerk de la Luz Garcia is scheduled to start Aug. 31.


    LA City Council Approves High Capacity Gun Magazine Ban

    LOS ANGELES — On July 28, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a ban on high capacity gun magazines.

    The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to have gun magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. State law allow bans the sale manufacturing and importing of such magazines, but that didn’t include possession.

    The council will have to do a second vote on an amendment exempting retired police officers who have concealed weapons permits.

    “Everyday 89 Americans are killed by guns,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement. “As national and state leaders struggle with a way to move forward with much needed gun laws, I applaud our City leaders for taking decisive action today that will help us save lives and prevent crime. I wholeheartedly support a ban on the possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines and am eager to sign it into law.”

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  • Get Organized: ANNOUNCEMENTS July 28, 2015

    July 29
    Get Organized
    The San Pedro Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the launch of its Breakfast Seminar Series to help you start your day informed. The first program will be presented on organizing your desk, calendar, and office by Darryl Ashley of Confusion Solution.
    The Confusion Solution owner and professional organizer, has made it a goal to use the years of experience working in space planning and organizational management to help others live uncluttered and peaceful lives.
    Time: 8:30 a.m. July 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 729-9828, http://www.confusionsolution.com
    Venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 2800 Villa Cabrillo, San Pedro
    July 30
    Pitch Lab
    Everyone is welcome to Pitch Lab.
    This month’s event will feature expert and industry feedback from the following panelists:
    Bryan Sastokas
    Innovation & Technology Department Director, City of Long Beach
    Lisa Mae Brunson
    Wonder Women Tech
    Roger Howard
    Senior Developer, Consultant
    The following pitches are from:
    Luis Marquez | Replaylocker
    Scott Wayman | Kangarootime
    Deborah Casarez | Voca
    Time: 7 p.m. July 30
    Cost: $5
    Details: RSVP today, lincoln@welabs.us
    Venue: WE Labs, 235 E. Broadway, # 800, Long Beach
    July 30
    Regional Transit Feasibility Study
    Long Beach Transit is conducting a study on the feasibility of a Regional Transit Center that would be located on the eastern portion of transit’s service area and is holding community meetings to seek input and gain valuable feedback on location, amenities, design and more.
    Time: 6 p.m. July 30 and Aug. 27
    Details: (562) 599-8504; lbtregionaltransit.com
    Venue: El Dorado Library, 2900 N. Studebaker Road, Long Beach
    Aug. 1
    Map Your Neighborhood
    An emergency preparedness workshop, called Map Your Neighborhood, will:

    • Describe specific Harbor Area hazards such as the Palos Verdes
    • and San Andreas earthquake faults, tsunamis, hazmat, landslides, etc..
    • Teach the basics of personal and family preparedness.
    • Present the Map Your Neighborhood 9 Step Program.
    • Teach the community how to work together and be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours following a disaster.
    • Provide attendees with information and materials needed to organize a Map Your Neighborhood program in their neighborhood.

    Time: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 1
    Cost: Free
    Details:Attend Event
    Venue: Providence Little Co. of Mary Medical Center San Pedro, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Aug. 1
    Schemes, Scams and Rip-offs
    Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell is hosting a fraud prevention town hall meeting.
    A panel of experts will provide tools and resources to avoid becoming a victim of fraud and identity theft.
    Time: 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 1
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
    Aug. 3
    The Hot L Baltimore Auditions
    The Long Beach Playhouse is proud to announce open call auditions for a The Hot L Baltimore. The scene is the lobby of a rundown hotel so seedy that it has lost the “e” from it’s marquee.
    Audition requirements: bring headshot and resume. Cold read from script.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse,  5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Aug. 4
    Navy Days LA 2015 Volunteer Opportunities
    There are many opportunities for volunteers during Navy Days LA 2015 coming up Aug. 4 through 9.
    Give sailors a big San Pedro welcome as they sail past Ports O’ Call Restaurant, the official welcoming point. Volunteers to help direct people to the welcoming areas and to help out at the Visitor Center are also needed.
    The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce is looking for volunteers for ANY part of this time:
    2 to 5 p.m. Aug. 4 at Ports O’ Call
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 5 at Cruise Terminal for STEM Expo and Youth Ship Tours
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 5 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 6 at Cruise Terminal for STEM Expo and Youth Ship Tours
    6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at Visitor Center, Downtown Harbor and in downtown
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 7  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 7 at Downtown Harbor
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 8  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 8 at Downtown Harbor
    9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9  at cruise terminal for public and VIP tours
    11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 9 at Downtown Harbor
    Details: (310) 729-9828; www.SPCVB.com
    Aug. 14
    Northbound Alameda Street Closure
    All northbound lanes on Alameda Street from O Street – just north of Pacific Coast Highway – to Sepulveda Boulevard are closed to repair a damaged overhead bridge through Aug. 14. Take Pacific Coast Highway to State Route103, turn left onto Sepulveda Blvd and right onto Alameda Street. Southbound lanes will not be affected.

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  • Freedom2Roll

    SAN PEDRO — On July 25, In recognition of the significance of the World Games being held in Los Angeles on the anniversary of the signing of the Americans With Disabilities Act into law, Fiesta Harbor Tours and San Pedro Fish Market & Restaurant sponsored free harbor tours for disabled passengers and their families.

    Ms. Wheelchair California 2013, Cynthia Dejesus, Robert Corsini, the owner Videocratic Media Inc., and Joe Martinez, executive producer of Freedom2Roll participated in the event.

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  • How a Little Long Beach Theatre Company Got to World Premiere a Tom Stoppard Play

    Tom Stoppard has won more Tony Awards (four) than any playwright in history, and he got jobbed out of a fifth in 1995 when his Arcadia, the best play ever written, lost out to Terrence McNally’s comparatively mediocre Love! Valour! Compassion!

    No doubt a certain subjectivity plagues the previous paragraph, but there’s no spin in saying that Stoppard, who has also managed to pick up an Academy Award for co-writing Shakespeare in Love, is as big a deal as there is in the literary wing of the theatre world.

    So no-one would have guessed that the black box that is the Garage Theatre will host the world premiere staging of Darkside, Stoppard’s 2013 radio play incorporating music from Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

    That goes double for Eric Hamme, who obtained the rights and will direct the show. “‘Why the hell did you give these guys the play?'” he proposes as my first question for Stoppard. “That would be something I’d like to know.”

    Considering that Stoppard lives 100 miles from London and says he is in even NYC “only when absolutely necessary,” the man himself certainly had not heard of Hamme’s little Long Beach theatre, which has to get creative to cram in an audience of 50. Presumably, then, it’s got to be partly because no-one thought to ask. Darkside is a radio play, after all, which means it wasn’t conceived to unfold in physical space.

    Nonetheless, this isn’t uncharted territory for the Garage. The second-ever show the company staged was Artist Descending a Staircase—as it happens, also a radio play by Stoppard, the only other such show they’ve mounted in their 15-year existence. “Apparently we only do Tom Stoppard radio plays,” Hamme jokes.

    But the challenges of attempting such work—both radio plays and works by Stoppard—are formidable. While Darkside is intellectually straightforward for Stoppard, with its evocation of utilitarianism, Kantian and Nietzschean ethics, and thought experiments such as the Prisoner’s Dilemma, let your attention wander and you might find yourself lost before you know it. And that’s without even considering the metafictional question of what is really going on as philosophy student Emily McCoy wanders through a mysterious, mountainous milieu looking to answer that age-old question “What is the Good?” while The Dark Side of the Moon washes across the action, more a character in its own right than simply a score.

    “You could present it like a musical, in sense: when the songs play, treat them like you would in a musical and have people dancing and moving, [etc.],” Hamme says. “But I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to pull away from the songs. I want the music to be sort of the center of those scenes. But then what do you do, just turn on the lights and have, like, a listening party? That also isn’t very interesting. […] Stoppard in general is challenging. Fascinating and fun, but challenging. He works on so many different levels, and everything means something. It’s like every word he writes has this wealth of knowledge behind it. So diving into that and familiarizing myself with stuff that I don’t have any experience with, [such as] Nietzschean philosophy, that’s a challenge, because you could spend a lifetime studying that stuff, and I got two months.”

    Stoppard himself regards the Garage’s attempt as an uphill climb. “I guess every scene is difficult when not impossible,” he says, offering as an example a moment when the play, which has unfolded in Emily’s mind, “change[s] to ‘real world’ (sort of real).”

    Hamme learned of Darkside in spring 2014 while browsing the aisles at Fingerprints Music in downtown Long Beach. A lifelong Pink Floyd fan who regards Stoppard as “obviously one of the most fascinating and intelligent playwrights out there,” Hamme brought the play home and read/listened to it (it comes with a CD of the BBC’s production, which originally aired in August 2013). Instantly enamored of the work, Hamme began to imagine the possibilities of staging it.

    “I was like, ‘God, this would be great for our theater,'” he recalls. “It fits our aesthetic. But then there was that other part of me was like, ‘There’s no way they’re going to give us permission to do it.’ But I knew I wanted to try, at least. It never hurts to ask.”

    Thus began a series of e-mails to Stoppard’s literary agency. Although they were responsive, Hamme wasn’t holding his breath and set about applying for the rights to other shows that could possibly fill the space in the Garage’s season where he wanted to insert Darkside.

    “And then I got an e-mail one day from his agent,” Hamme chuckles, “that just said: ‘Tom is interested. What are your ideas?’ And I was like, ‘Holy shit.'”

    By this point Hamme had not looked at the script in six months, “and now I had to write Tom Stoppard and tell him my ideas about his show. So I re-read it twice, listened again to the radio broadcast, and started jotting down, and then I kept myself up ’til 5 in the morning writing this e-mail in my head over and over again. Then I got up the next day and wrote it. Of course it never came out the way I wanted it to. It was, like, this long description of how I wanted to present the show, and how I saw Pink Floyd in ’94 and my experience with that and that I wanted to take elements of that experience and put it into this, and blah blah blah blah blah. [Laughs] And then they got back to me right away and said, ‘That’s great, but we’re thinking, like, what dates are you looking at.'”

    Hamme became optimistic as e-mail exchanges over the next few weeks seemed to indicate that approval was pending, although he remembers feeling crestfallen when asked about the size of the Garage Theatre and ensuing discussion of whether the Garage is technically considered a “professional” or “amateur” theatre company. But then came the magic word: yes.

    There was a catch, however: Hamme had to obtain from Pink Floyd permission to use the music.

    Unlike with Stoppard’s team, Pink Floyd’s people were completely non-responsive to Hamme’s inquiry. After a half-dozen fruitless follow-ups, Hamme went back to Stoppard’s agent, hoping the latter might intercede. And that’s exactly what happened: “He wrote back and said: I talked to them, and it’s all good.”

    Hamme was still proverbially pinching himself when we sat down a month ago, but there was an unresolved downside to doing Darkside. Aside from the fact that the rights to perform the play cost about double the industry average, considering that the Garage needed to find an additional $1,500 worth of tech to bring Hamme’s vision to life, the logistics of living the dream were murky.

    But the community—of which the Garage Theatre is an active part—stepped up. A social-media campaign offering “executive producer” and “associate producer” credits for large donations was a success, and institutions like Cal Stage and Lighting and the Orange County School of the Arts provided equipment on loan.

    “It’s pretty ridiculous,” Hamme says of the results. “I’ve never seen so many lights in our theatre before.”

    The generosity that has enabled the Garage Theatre to mount Darkside is apropos the play itself. “So, what is the Good?” I asked Stoppard, meaning it as a bit of a joke, considering the broadness of the question. But he played along: “I think a competition of generosity would tend towards Good.”

    Certainly all has transpired for the good of the Garage, which may forever be distinguished as the unlikeliest place to world premiere a work by one of theatre history’s true giants. (The Garage Theatre is calling their Darkside staging only the U.S. premiere, consider that it was first broadcast on BBC Radio; but the playwright says that to his knowledge the Garage is the first theatre company in the world to stage it.)

    Stoppard has a laconic answer to Hamme’s question about why he gave a little place like the Garage Theatre such a chance: “Why not?” In fact, in a comment he passes along through me to the Garage he shows himself a bit grateful: “Thanks for giving Darkside a walk around your black box, an unexpected reprise which I appreciate.”

    It seems that sometimes there is enough good to go around.

    Tom Stoppard’s Darkside, featuring Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon and a hell of a lot of lights, opens Friday at the Garage Theatre (251 E. 7th St., Long Beach 90813) and runs July 31 through September 6. Seating is VERY limited, so you best buy your tix in advance. For tickets, showtimes, and more information: thegaragetheatre.org.

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  • CBP Seize Fake Hermès Belts in LA: RL NEWS Briefs of the Week July 27, 2015

    CBP Seize Fake Hermès Belts in LA
    LOS ANGELES On June 18, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and import specialists, assigned to the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport complex, seized 3,960 high-fashion belts bearing counterfeit Hermès listed trademark.

    If genuine, the seized belts had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3.23 million. This seizure is part of a new generation of counterfeit fashion goods offering much more convincing copies of actual products. The belts, had the Hermès trademark stamped on each the boxes, and on the back of each belt. The trademark was also engraved on the back of the belt buckle.

    The merchandise arrived from China. In an attempt to evade detection, the shipment was manifested as “Plastic Besoms”.

    About $1.22 billion worth of counterfeit goods originating overseas were seized by Customs and Border Protection in 2014. China, Hong Kong, Canada, India and United Arab Emirates were the top five countries of origination for counterfeit goods seized by Customs and Border Protection this past fiscal year.

    Morad Family Sues LBPD
    LONG BeACH Supporters joined Morad family members at a press conference in front of the Long Beach Police Department.

    The family announced that they are taking legal action against the LBPD for the death of 20-year-old Feras Morad. On May 27, Offficer Matthew Hernandez killed Morad. Morad, who was displaying erratic behavior after apparently consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms, was unarmed.

    Morad’s family filed $28 million civil rights lawsuit against the LBPD. Mother Amal Morad, father Amr Morad, sister Ghada Morad and cousin Kareem Morad spoke at the press conference.

    “My son needed care,” said Amr Morad, Feras’s father. “Instead, he got killed…. I only hope that there is a change so that the next young man gets the help he needs.”

    A native of Woodland Hills, Feras Morad attended El Camino Real Charter High School, then Moorpark College, choosing a longer commute in order to join that school’s accomplished debate team. A high school and college debate champion, he ranked nationally in both the Phi Rho Pi National Forensic Organization and the National Speech and Debate Championship Tournament, and competed in many other leagues. He was a ranking member of ROTC while at El Camino Real.

    Feras chose to enroll at Cal State-Long Beach in order to save money in hopes of attending law school.

    LB City Council Approves First Responder Fee
    LONG BEACH — On July 21, the Long Beach City Council approved, 8-1, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez opposed, a first responder fee measure.

    The measure allows residents to be charged $250 for using services from the Long Beach Fire Department. Fee is effective immediately.

    City representatives believe the measure would help offset a projected budget shortfall for the following fiscal year. The shortfall would amount to about $11 million. The department heads stated that almost 85 percent of its calls include medical service. Eleven million dollars out of $22 million are part of LBFD’s budget.

    Within the 30 days from the meeting, the city manager must advise the council in a fee waiver plan.

    About $1.8 million could be generated in its first year, officials said. The money could ultimately help revive programs cut from the budget in past years.

    LA is On Track to 100,000 Unit Housing Goal
    LOS ANGELES — On July 22, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a key milestone in his goal of producing 100,000 new housing units by 2021.

    Based on fiscal-year-end data from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, building permits have been issued for 25,929 new housing units since July 1, 2013, putting production at 26% of Garcetti’s goal two years into his eight-year timeline.
    Building permits are issued by building and safety departmetn after necessary approvals from the Department of City Planning and other agencies are obtained and construction is ready to begin.
    Housing production has been climbing steadily since a low of 3,573 units were permitted in fiscal year 2009-2010, in the midst of the recession. The pre-recession peak was 15,168 units in fiscal year 2005-2006.

    Programs Garcetti has put in place to facilitate housing production include LADBS’s Parallel Design Permitting Process, which saves up to six months by allowing design and plan check to be conducted simultaneously for projects with at least 40 units, and the Inspection Case Management program, which provides coordinated inspection services during construction for projects with a valuation of $10 million or more and can reduce construction time by an additional three to six months.
    Forthcoming initiatives include Build LA, a software system that will integrate and streamline the City’s development review processes across departments. Initial funding for this project has been secured and kickoff is expected in early 2016. The Department of City Planning is also moving forward with re:code LA, a comprehensive rewrite of the 1946 zoning code that will address the city’s contemporary housing needs.
    The mayor’s Sustainable City pLAn identifies additional strategies for the production and preservation of housing including expanding zoning capacity in key transit nodes and corridors; streamlining the building of transit-oriented and affordable housing; and preserving existing affordable housing. The Mayor is continuing to work with city departments, the Los Angeleles City Council, and stakeholders to develop these strategies.

    Hahn, Leiu Help Lead House Effort to Ensure Full LGBT Equality
    Washington, D.C. — Rep. Janice Hahn and Rep. Ted Leiu signed on as original co-sponsors of the Equality Act, legislation to ban discrimination against LGBT individuals in public accommodations, housing, employment, and other core areas of daily life.

    The legislation was introduced July 23. The Equality Act, which is sponsored by Rep. David N. Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The legislation would apply to public accommodations, federal funding, education, employment, housing, credit, and jury service.

    Despite the Supreme Court ruling in June that affirmed marriage equality, discrimination against LGBT individuals remains legal in most states. Today, only 19 states and the District of Columbia offer employment and housing protections for the LGBT community. And three other states have prohibitions on discrimination based solely on sexual orientation.

    Only 17 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination for public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Another four prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Just 14 states and the District of Columbia prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in education. And only one state, Wisconsin, prohibits it based on sexual orientation.

    House Passes Hahn Legislation to Aid Homeless Veterans
    Washington, D.C. — On July 23, the House of Representatives passed a measure that Rep. Janice Hahn introduced. The measure would extend federal aid to homeless veterans fleeing domestic violence.

    Homeless veterans seeking assistance have long relied on an outdated definition of “homeless veteran,” which excluded victims of domestic abuse fleeing their homes. Because of this, many of these victims have been unable to access the aid they need and could be forced to stay with their abuser, leaving themselves in harm’s way. The legislation will correct and expand the definition of homeless veterans to include those fleeing domestic violence and other life threatening situations, finally allowing them to qualify for assistance.

    Hahn first introduced the bill in 2012.  In the past two years, Hahn has been able to help veterans in these circumstances through one year fixes. The legislation, passed as part of a larger bill, HR 2256 the Veterans Information Modernization Act, which provides a permanent solution.


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  • Activists: State Fracking Regulations Fall Short

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    Fracking is the process of injecting a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals into fuel-bearing rock formations to fracture them in order to extract the fuel.

    Although fracking dates back to the 1940s, its use has skyrocketed since 2004. This has generated widespread alarm, and even bans based on its health and environmental impacts. But activists say that a new set of state regulations here in California falls far short of the mark.

    Fracking is primarily focused on extracting gas from shale formations in the Northeast, along with tight oil (also known as “shale oil”) in a handful of Western states, such as Texas, Utah, Wyoming and North Dakota. In California, fracking has been used more for oil extraction from already-existing wells—though with a now-faded promise of massive new tight oil reserves.

    The term is sometimes used more loosely to refer to a broader range of well treatments used to bring hard-to-get fuel to the surface, including the use of acids and other secret substances when not employed to specifically fracture the underlying rock formations.

    On June 29, the State of New York instituted a ban on fracking following a promise made by Gov. Mario Cuomo this past December. It was reinforced by the mid-May release of a final report encompassing seven years of research. New York’s action stood in stark contrast to the federal government, which continues to either ignore or downplay the dangers of fracking, and California, whose actions have been decidedly mixed.

    On July 1, the Los Angeles Times ran a story headlined, “State issues toughest-in-the-nation fracking rules,” but that characterization is misleading, at best. Environmentalists working on the issue were highly critical of the action’s shortcoming, which came about because of a 2012 law, referred to historically as “SB 4.” Beyond that, neither California nor the federal government appear to be enforcing existing environmental protection laws, as both have just recently been sued by environmentalists for allowing fracking without proper environmental impact studies.

    “These regulations went into effect on the first [of July]; the environmental impact report also came out on the first; and the health study—which looks at the health impacts—doesn’t even come out until the ninth,” Jackie Pomeroy, spokesperson for CA Frack Facts, told Random Lengths News the first week in July. “So the regulations that went into effect did not consider any of the environmental or health impacts that were studied under the law.”

    When the report did come out, however, it left more questions than answers. Among other things, it concluded that “Direct impacts of hydraulic fracturing appear small but have not been investigated.”

    Relatedly, it also stated that, “Operators have unrestricted use of many hazardous and uncharacterized chemicals in hydraulic fracturing.”

    And, it went on to say, “The California oil and gas industry uses a large number of hazardous chemicals during hydraulic fracturing and acid treatments. The use of these chemicals underlies all significant potential direct impacts of well stimulation in California.”

    The day after the report’s release, more than a dozen groups launched an online petition called “Stop Fracking in California,” and several days later the Los Angeles Times’ editorial board came out for a moratorium, saying: “Pushing forward in the dark isn’t smart. It has long been apparent that a moratorium on major new fracking is in order until more is known about its risks and benefits.”

    Typifying the inadequacies of California’s regulatory framework, environmentalists had also objected to the state’s June 24 approval of fracking by nine offshore wells in the Long Beach harbor.

    “The fact that the state just approved nine new offshore fracking jobs in the midst of California still suffering from the worst oil spill in the last 25 years, is just a new low,” said lawyer Kristen Monsell, from the Center for Biological Diversity. “Every offshore frack increases the risk of chemical pollution, and another devastating oil spill…Gov. Brown should recognize that halting offshore fracking is critical to protecting marine animals and coastal communities from this toxic practice.”

    Monsell was similarly disappointed with the new state fracking provisions.

    “Those regulations are weak and will do almost nothing to protect Californians from fracking pollution,” Monsell said. “The rule still allows oil companies to pollute the air, endanger drinking water and produce huge quantities of waste, tainted with chemicals that cause cancer.”

    In contrast, “New York just banned fracking and for good reason,” Monsell pointed out. “In announcing the ban, Commissioner Joe Martens said banning fracking is the ‘only reasonable alternative,’ given fracking’s ‘significant adverse impacts to land, air, water, natural resources and potential significant public health impacts that cannot be adequately mitigated.’ Fracking also adds more dirty fuel to the fire cooking our climate.”

    Pomeroy also weighed in on this last point: not only is fracking more carbon intensive, burning more carbon to get as much energy as other forms of fossil fuel produce, it also releases unaccounted for quantities of methane, which is “20 times more potent than just regular carbon” in contributing to global warming.

    “As New York pulls ahead in the race to save our planet, New York recognized that fracking is incompatible with public health, a technique so dangerous that it can’t be made safe,” Monsell added. “And, it certainly doesn’t belong in our oceans. It’s time for California to catch up, reach the same conclusion and ban fracking.”

    Regulators in both states were faced with significant uncertainty, in large part because so much about the chemicals involved is hidden behind claims of “trade secrets.” But the response in the two states could not have been more different, Pomeroy pointed out.

    “In New York they said, we don’t have enough research yet, to say whether this is safe or not,’” Pomeroy summarized. “In California, we’ve reversed this regulatory process, and said we’re just going to go ahead, until we find it’s not safe.”

    New York’s approach prioritizes public health. California’s prioritizes corporate profits.

    Probably the most salient underlying difference between the two states is the role of energy interests in state politics. Although oil company ownership was once heavily concentrated in New York, production activities were never a dominant part of its economy, and the recent explosion of natural gas fracking has given rise to scores of local anti-fracking ordinances throughout the state. An online list of New York municipal actions as of Dec. 30, 2014 included 85 bans, 95 moratoria and 87 movements for prohibitions (bans or moratoria). California, in contrast, has long been a major fossil fuel producer. Oil companies wield considerable power. It’s the only state without a significant tax on oil extraction.

    Technological advances and relatively high oil prices have helped fuel the fracking boom nationwide for almost a decade—at least until oil prices plunged this past year. But in California, there was an added incentive, in the form of a projected massive tight oil reserve, according to a 2011 report by INTEK Inc., published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This report projected that the Monterey [shale] Formation, which underlies much of California’s oil producing areas, contains an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of tight oil, 64 percent of the entire tight oil reserves in the lower 48 states. The economic impact of such a reserve would have been enormous. A subsequent economic analysis from USC projected as much as a $24.6 billion per year increase in tax revenue and 2.8 million additional jobs by 2020, based on assumptions that Monterey shale could increase total California oil production as much as seven-fold.

    This is precisely the sort of giant piggy-bank the oil industry so often presents itself as. Without doubt it had an impact on eroding public criticism of still poorly-understood technology. Then, in December 2013, the Post Carbon Institute and Physicians Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy issued a report, “Drilling California: A Reality Check On The Monterey Shale,” authored by J. David Hughes, a Canadian geoscientist, which brought everyone down to earth again, based on a detailed analysis of existing production and comparisons of geological properties in other formations, such as South Dakota’s Bakken formation.

    “This was the first empirical analysis that used real geological and oil production data to question the assumptions,” said Seth Shonkoff of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy, who edited and reviewed the report.

    “The Drilling California report was the first to cast doubt on the U.S. Department of Energy statements that California’s Monterey Formation constituted two-thirds of U.S. tight oil resources,” Hughes said in an interview with Random Lengths News. “The report debunked the pervasive hype, such as the USC economic report on the Monterey, that tight oil production would produce a windfall of California tax receipts and employment. The report and its subsequent confirmation by the U.S. Department of Energy dashed dreams of a hope for tight oil windfall, and allowed California to get on with more realistic planning for its economic and energy future.”

    That confirmation came about six months later, in May 2014. It lowered the earlier estimate by 96 percent.

    “Our report severely altered the public and policy conversations about the economics and geological basis of such a claim and helped to focus the conversations more on issues associated with existing oil and gas development in California,” Shonkoff added.

    And yet, the environmental protection side of things still seems to have been disabled. Even the dubious new protections often don’t apply, particularly to many wells in the Los Angeles basin, Pomeroy said.

    “They didn’t include things like well maintenance,” she explained. “What’s happening in LA, these companies are categorizing their stuff as well maintenance, just because they can.”

    It’s a meaningless distinction, she pointed out.

    “They’re classifying this stuff as well maintenance, even though it uses dozens of tanker trucks full of acid—more acid, in fact, then is used in actual instances of acidization that have been reported.” As a result, “All of that activity is totally exempt from having to comply with SB 4 regulations. There’s no neighbor notification, there’s no basic water testing required. So in LA that loophole in state regulation is having a really big impact.”

    These wells are sometimes as close as 20 feet from somebody’s front door.

    “There are places in LA, [where] you could throw an empty Starbucks cup and hit an oil well from someone’s window,” Pomeroy said. “It’s that close.”

    And that’s not just an isolated home.

    “It just multiplies the impact that has on people’s health, because the population is so dense,” she said. “I’m not making is up…There’s an oil site in LA, that’s surrounded on four sides by a Catholic convent, a low-income housing project, an elementary school and a school for mentally disabled adults. Talk about vulnerable populations having to put up with this stuff!”

    The state and federal failures to protect the public and the environment have lead the Center for Biological Diversity into legal actions on two fronts, that Monsell directed attention to.

    First, in November 2014, the CBD was a plaintiff in a state court suit filed by Earthjustice against the California state agency responsible for regulating oil and gas drilling, the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources. The suit concerned 214 Kern County drilling permits granted to Area Energy, of which at least 144 were projected to involve fracking. The complaint began by asserting that division “has consistently failed to live up to its obligations pursuant to California Environmental Quality Act, by permitting oil drilling projects in the South Belridge Oil Field without any kind of environmental review. This permitting is occurring as if CEQA never became law in 1970.”

    CEQA provides for different levels of scrutiny, following a preliminary investigation. Environmental impact reports (EIRs) are the best-known kind of process, called for when significant environmental impacts are foreseen, requiring a comprehensive consideration of possible mitigation measures. Federal law has analogous provisions under the National Environmental Policy Act, with a similar level of scrutiny via environmental impact statements (EISs).

    In February 2015, the Center for Biological Diversity got involved on a second front in federal court, filing a similar suit involving offshore fracking against the U.S. Department of the Interior and two of its bureaus. It alleged the same sort of failure to abide by National Environmental Policy Act, as well as related violations to three other federal laws, including the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act.

    “The bureaus have a pattern and practice of rubber-stamping permits to frack with no analysis of the environmental impacts, no determination of whether such activities are consistent with the plans governing oil development and production in the Pacific Region or California’s Coastal Management Program, and no public involvement,” the complaint alleged. “The bureaus’ actions—or lack thereof—violate a myriad of laws,” including those just cited.

    Specifically, the complaint went on to note, “the Bureau’s approval of such permits without conducting a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impacts of offshore fracking violates NEPA.” As a result, “These violations of law damage California’s unique and economically significant coastal environment, threaten the health and welfare of coastal communities, and deprive the public of information and participation to which it is legally entitled.”

    If taken seriously, California law ought to put an end to fracking entirely Monsell argued.

    “As I mentioned, we think that this whole process has been a sham, because they’re ignoring scientific information,” she said, “But as you may also know, CEQA requires the state actors to mitigate any significant environmental impacts, and as we’ve seen from the recent oil spill, there’s really no such thing as safe offshore oil and gas drilling, and transportation. The best way to mitigate these damages is to prevent them from occurring in the first place, by banning fracking, not allowing it in our oceans.”

    Pomeroy articulated a related perspective—that of considering the total costs involved in fossil fuel energy production.

    “We can’t survive on oil forever,” she observes, but the price of oil is “artificially cheap,” slowing down the transition to renewables, which represent the future. “If they had pay for the externalities of polluting the air, and causing asthma, and polluting the water, and making it so we can’t use aquifers, and impacting food, and all of those things… If you added up all those, the price of oil would be much higher than it is now, and renewables would be a much more viable alternative, much faster.”

    This leads her to suggest a market-based solution of sorts:

    “If I had to take an approach, it would be accurately force the cost of the stuff on society, and then let the market decide,” Pomeroy said. “I’m pretty sure once all these costs are taken into account it would be a totally different picture.”



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