• RL NEWS Briefs: Feb. 25, 2015

    LA City Attorney Closes Wilmington Marijuana Dispensaries
    LOS ANGELES – On Feb. 24, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office has ensured a temporary restraining order to stop the operation of 420 Collective, an illegal medical marijuana business in Wilmington.
    Feuer plans to extend his restrictions against six other Wilmington marijuana businesses clustered within a six block span of each other. His enforcement efforts have already resulted in the closure of 18 dispensaries within the Los Angeles Police Department’s Harbor Division.
    The operators of 420 Collective, a medical marijuana dispensary at 408 N. Avalon Blvd. in Wilmington, are charged in a civil lawsuit with violations of Proposition D, zoning code violations and unlawful business practices. The property owner faces similar charges.
    The maximum penalty for each violation is $2,500 daily. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ross Klein granted a temporary restraining order restricting the business from operating. A hearing date for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for March 19 in at the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Long Beach.
    The locations for the six other dispensaries are Weedland (646 N. Avalon Blvd.); Wilmington Organic Wellness (618 N. Avalon Blvd.); Wilmington Buds (712 N. Avalon Blvd.); LA Collective Herbal (728 N. Avalon; Avalon Center (814 N. Avalon Blvd.) and Avalon Medical Center (1019 N. Avalon Blvd.).
    Motorcycle Collision Results in Death
    LONG BEACH — A 19-year-old woman died in a motorcycle collision, Feb. 24, on the Interstate 710 overpass near Ocean Boulevard in Long Beach, officials said.
    Two motorcycle riders collided with the wall of the 710 overpass at about 6:30 p.m. Long Beach Police Department officers responded to the call and found a 2003 Suzuki GSXR 1000 and the riders.
    Investigators found that the motorcycle driver and passenger were traveling eastbound on Ocean Boulevard over the Gerald Desmond Bridge at a high speed. The driver took the northbound 710 Freeway overpass, where he was unable to maintain control of the motorcycle and collided with the wall on their right side. The collision ejected both riders off the motorcycle and over the wall of the overpass onto Ocean Boulevard.
    The driver came to rest on the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Ocean Boulevard. The passenger fell on the eastbound lanes of Ocean Boulevard and was immediately struck by a 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was traveling eastbound.
    The motorcycle came to rest on the overpass about 620 feet past where the riders were ejected.
    The driver of the motorcycle was a 20-year-old man from Anaheim. He was transported to a local hospital where he is in critical condition. The driver had a valid license to drive a motorcycle and current insurance.
    The woman, also was an Anaheim resident, was a passenger. She was pronounced deceased at the scene. Identities are being withheld at this time pending notification of next of kin.
    The driver of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was identified as a 68-year-old Long Beach resident. He did not sustain any injuries.
    Anyone who may have information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-5520 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Former Tax Preparer Pleads Guilty to Filing False Income Tax Returns
    LOS ANGELES – On Feb. 23, a former self-employed income tax preparer pleaded guilty to filing false federal income tax returns for clients that understated tax liabilities by thousands of dollars, IRS officials stated.
    Susan E. Amezcua, a former operator of Four Seasons Income Tax Services with offices in Long Beach and Bellflower, pleaded guilty to two-count charges of aiding and assisting in the preparation of false tax returns. The two counts to which Amezcua pleaded guilty relate to the 2008 and 2009 federal income tax returns filed on behalf of clients, which included false deductions and credits, reducing the taxpayers’ liability by $8,757 and $5,340, respectively.
    Amezcua prepared, or supervised the preparation of, federal income tax returns for clients of for the calendar years of 2009 and 2010 through Four Seasons Income Tax Services, which were usually filed electronically with the IRS. These actions resulted in an attempted loss to the government of more than $1 million.
    While preparing or supervising the preparation, Amezcua claimed fraudulent itemized deductions and credits, such as false employee, hobby and cell phone expenses. Consequently, the returns understated the amount of taxes that the defendant’s clients owed by several thousand dollars.
    She faces a statutory maximum sentence of six years in federal prison and a fine of $500,000 when she is sentenced July 20. She may further be ordered to pay restitution of about $523,000.

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  • Birmingham Goes Above, Beyond Rainbow

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    Judy Garland died in 1969.

    That’s a fact.

    But when you go see End of the Rainbow at International City Theatre in Long Beach, you can be pardoned if you don’t quite believe that fact.

    Gig Birmingham stars as Judy Garland in the play by Peter Quilter. You are unlikely to see a better Judy anywhere, anytime. (more…)

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  • Fall in Love with The Ghosts of Versailles

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call
    The Ghosts of Versailles is a big opera, with more than 100 people on stage and a variety of effects.

    The opera was commissioned from John Corigliano for the Metropolitan Opera’s 100th anniversary in 1983 but wasn’t finished until 1991. It has had a checkered career since then, being reworked and downsized. Now, as part of the Los Angeles Opera’s Beaumarchais Festival, it has been given its West Coast premier at the Los Angeles Music Center in a full-scale production March 1.

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  • Garcetti, Garcia Pledge Cooperation Between Ports, Supply Chain Stakeholders

    LOS ANGELES, LONG BEACH – On Feb. 23, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia thanked the International Longshore Workers Union and the Pacific Maritime Association for heeding their call to resolve the labor dispute.

    The mayors also announced plans for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to collaborate on a series of initiatives designed to meet the changing dynamics of seaborne trade and the impacts of those changes on cargo flow.

    The two ports recently submitted to the Federal Maritime Commission an updated cooperative working agreement that clarifies and expands on their existing pact. The proposed update, now in a public comment period which ends Feb. 25, will enable the ports to work together on strategies that will benefit both ports in the areas of supply chain logistics and gateway marketing, as well as environment, security and legislative advocacy.

    The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the largest ports in the nation. The two ports handle about 43 percent of the nation’s total import traffic and 27 percent of its total exports. More than 3 million direct, indirect and induced jobs are related to cargo movement at the port complex. More than $30 billion in national, state and local taxes are generated from port-related trade each year.

    In recent months, the harbor commissions of both ports have requested from the commission approval of an updated cooperative working agreement to work together on supply chain issues that include greater collaboration in the development of chassis supply and storage solutions, greater vessel call coordination, reduced truck turn-times, and solutions to help address congestion related to marine terminal operations.

    The ports have already been working with the three primary chassis pool providers as they finalize plans to open a “gray chassis pool” or “pool of pools” March 1. The pool will help ensure more efficient positioning of the truck-trailer chassis used to hall containers to and from the port.  The ports also plan to host a supply chain stakeholder summit once the labor contract is ratified, in order to look at solutions to the cargo flow challenges specific to San Pedro Bay.  Shortly, the ports will also reconvene to discuss a new generation of Clean Air Action Plan strategies following recent years of success in reducing air emissions from port-related goods movement in San Pedro Bay and across the region.


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  • The Two Figaros Get West Coast Premier



    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    If you have never heard of Saviero Mercadante you aren’t alone.

    Mercadante was a 19th century composer who was a success in the romantic era, writing operas that featured bel canto singing and no more than usually improbable plots. He was a success in the first half of that century but has pretty much been forgotten in the 21st century (in the 20th, too, for that matter).

    But he wrote one work that, at least for a few weeks this year, gave him a little bit of notice: The Two Figaros. (more…)

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  • Long Beach, LA See Overall Drop in Violent Crime

    Long Beach Property Crime 2009 to 2014. Graphic by Crystal Niebla, Editorial Intern

    Long Beach, LA See Overall Drop in Violent Crime

    Officials Worry About Rise in Assaults

    By Crystal Niebla, Editorial Intern

    Violent crimes rates in Harbor Area communities dropped, but aggravated assaults jumped 14 percent in Greater Los Angeles this past, officials stated.

    The Los Angeles Police Department reported that violent crime increased for the first time in more than a decade in the city as a whole. The increase in violent crime was led by a 24 percent increase in aggravated assaults between 2013 and 2014. The total violent crime rate in Los Angeles increased by 14.3 percent within between 2013 and 2014.  Overall, however, the violent crime rates have decreased by 40.5 percent within a nine-year time frame of 2005 to 2014. (more…)

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  • RLn THEATER Calendar: Feb. 23, 2015

    Feb. 27
    The End of the Rainbow
    The Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce presents the End of the Rainbow,at 8 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the International City Theatre in Long Beach.
    End of the Rainbow is an award-nominated play about the life and music of Judy Garland.
    Use code OUT15 when making purchase and receive a $10 discount.
    Details: (562) 436-4610www.internationalcitytheatre.org
    Venue: International City Theatre
    Location: 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach
    Feb. 27
    Beyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants
    The Found Theatre presents Beyond the Valley of the Flight Attendants at 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays from Feb. 27 to March 28 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays from March 1 to March 29. Tickets are $20 for “First Class,” $15 for “Penny Pincher.”
    Details: (562) 433-3363; info@foundtheatre.org
    Venue: The Found Theatre
    Location: 599 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach
    March 6
    Taking Sides
    The Little Fish Theatre presents Taking Sides, at 8 p.m. March 6 through April 4.
    The short play is about a U.S. officer investigating individuals and their ties with the Nazi party. On March 29, the play will show at 2 p.m.
    Individual tickets are $27 and $25 for seniors.
    Details: (310) 512-6030; www.littlefishtheatre.org
    Venue: Little Fish Theatre
    Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro

    March 7
    The Penis and Vagina Talk Shows
    The Long Beach Playhouse presents The Vagina Talk Show and The Penis Talk Show, 6 and 8:15 p.m. on March 7, in Long Beach.  Look at human sexuality that as three individuals recline onstage and let their genitalia do the talking as they answer questions from the audience and share personal stories.
    Tickets are $20 online.
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse
    Location: 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    March 7
    Cirque Mechanics
    The CSU Long Beach presents Cirque Mechanics, at 8 p.m. March 7, at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center.
    Encounter a circus unicycles that fly, wheel acrobats that hover, cyclists that whirl, pole climbers that soar and trapeze artists that float.
    Details: (562) 985-7000; www.carpenterarts.org
    Venue: Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing ArtsCenter
    Location: 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    March 14
    Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu
    CSU Long Beach presents Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, a performance that melds storytelling, music and dance with Hawaiian dance at 8 p.m. on March 14 at the Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing Arts Center in Long Beach.
    Experience a sensory-rich performance that shares Hawaiian heritage and expressions in Hawaiian dance.
    Details: (562) 985-7000; www.carpenterarts.org
    Venue: Richard and Karen Carpenter Performing ArtsCenter
    Location: 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

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  • RLn ARTS Calendar: Feb. 23, 2015

    Feb. 25
    Varnette Honeywood
    In honor of Black History Month, the University Library at California State University Dominguez Hills presents an exhibit featuring selected works from acclaimed African-American artist and illustrator Varnette P. Honeywood, Feb. 25 through the end of May, in the Library Picture Art Gallery.
    An opening reception will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25.
    The exhibit complements two other Black History Month exhibitions at the University Library: The Font of Black Culture in Los Angeles: The Alfred and Bernice Ligon Aquarian Collection and the annual African American Quilters of Los Angeles Quilt Exhibition.
    Details: (310) 243-2127; www.csudh.edu/visitus
    Venue: CSU Dominguez Hills
    Location: 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson
    Feb. 28
    Square Root of Nine
    The South Bay Quilters Guild presents the Square Root of Nine, at 7 p.m. Feb. 28 and March 1, at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center.
    View more than 150 quilts and garments on display.
    Admission is $8. Children younger than 10 years old enter free.
    Torrance Cultural Arts Center
    3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance
    March 2
    Arts, Media Capstone Exhibtions
    Experience Marymount California University student exhibits, March 2 through 13, at the Klaus Center for the Arts in San Pedro.
    The exhibition will feature arts and media senior student’s capstone works.
    Klaus Center for the Arts
    430 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    March 3
    Peru Before the Spanish Arrival
    The Torrance Cultural Services Division presents Artful Days: Peru Before the Spanish Arrival, from 12 to 1 p.m. March 3, at the George Nakano Theatre in Torrance.
    Long before the Incas, there were more than 3,000 indigenous groups living in Peru.
    Admission is free.
    (310) 818-2326
    George Nakano Theatre
    3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance
    Around Black
    Warschaw Gallery and TransVagrant present Around Black, recent paintings by HK Zamani, through April 11. HK Zamani’s recent paintings dispense with the all-too-familiar conventions defining current abstraction, where too much is almost never enough.
    (310) 600-4873
    Warschaw Gallery
    600 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro
    Luminous, Transparent, Realistic Watercolor Workshop
    Join The Center Long Beach for its Luminous Transparent & Realistic Watercolor class for LGBTQ Older Adults, from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through May 5. Create exciting, dramatic compositions. The workshop fee is $15.
    (562) 434-4455 ext.244; dabuyounes@centerlb.org
    The Center Long Beach
    2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

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  • A Question of Assets: How One Long Beach Lot Can Help Downtown

    Long Beach has long lacked a true downtown. For decades the phrase “downtown Long Beach” denoted little more than city hall, the county courthouse, and the first three blocks of Pine Avenue.

    But there has been growth in recent years. The Promenade now fits into the conversation, there have been a few hints of connecting the corridor between Pine and the East Village Arts District, and we’re starting to see life on Pine north of 3rd Street.

    One of the sparks occasionally igniting Pine Ave beyond 3rd Street is an undeveloped lot between 6th and 7th Streets. It’s a nothingness that may prove to be one of downtown’s greatest assets.

    While it may seem counterintuitive to consider an empty lot an asset, open space provides unique possibilities, such as have been so effectively realized with events such as the inaugural Long Beach Folk Revival Festival in 2013, when over 2,000 paying customers turned out for 11 hours of folkish musical fare); and Summer And Music‘s Bicycle Drive-In, which saw the lot transformed into an outdoor cinema for a screening of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, allowing for a magical moment of drizzle just as the big storm started as the film revved up to its climax.

    But those possibilities will evaporate into thin air if the lot becomes just another build site. And with the space up for sale, that is just what may happen.

    It would be far from the first time Long Beach has let a unique asset tumble into oblivion. In fact, the city is in the process of losing one as you read this. Hidden in the middle of the 8th District is 11.5 acres of semi-wilderness that was the Will J. Reid Boy Scout Camp. But in fall 2013 the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) sold the site to Integral Communities, a self-described “diversified real estate development compan[y].” Integral is poised to turn the 8th District’s only such woodland wonderland into the Riverwalk Residential Development Project, a transition that will include “removal of all remaining vegetation [and] trees.”

    Because the property was zoned as “Institutional” while the site was owned by the BSA—and still is—turning the site into a housing development requires the City to grant Integral Communities a zoning change for the project. While that has yet to be granted, Development Services spokesperson Jacqueline Medina declined to comment on whether anyone within the City of Long Beach has attempted to influence Integral Properties to retain any of the natural/scenic resources on the site, stating only that “the property is not protected in any way, and there is no prohibition against a private property owner from removing vegetation.”

    Turning the Pine Ave. lot into a business requires no such change, just a buyer who does not feel the open space is more valuable to downtown than a build site—or who doesn’t care.

    Long Beach resident Nima Nami, whose father purchased the lot in 1990, says he recognizes the value of the open space, and that ideally they would like to hold on to the property despite their need to generate income from it.

    “I think it’s unique anytime you have open space in any downtown area. Whether it’s downtown Long Beach, downtown L.A., downtown you name it, an open lot is very unique and very attractive where you can have outdoor events,” he says. “[…] My preference is to hold on to it and keep it, if I can. If I had a good tenant that’s the right fit for the neighborhood, whether it be a restaurant or whatever, that’s my preference.”

    Brian Ulaszewski—who has literally made Long Beach placemaking his business with his nonprofit urban design studio City Fabrick, which is spearheading the proposed Gumbiner Park and Terminal Island Freeway removal projects—sees Long Beach as “an ideal laboratory for creating innovative examples of how to repurpose, retrofit and develop a sustainable city.” And he points out that even if the lot is not the only patch of open space downtown, it has served the area well.

    “There is no shortage of vacant land in the downtown with the Acres of Books and asphalt parking lots blighting the core separating the East Village from Pine/Promenade from the waterfront from North Pine from Wilmore City,” he notes. “That being said, the vacant lot on Pine across from the Molina complex is a perfect space for placemaking. It’s a reasonable size for an event, well contained by surrounding buildings, and well positioned between dense residential, daytime jobs and local serving commercial activity.”

    Kraig Kojian, president of Downtown Long Beach Associates, hopes any development will be mindful of the inherent value of the open space.

    “A number of involved and concerned stakeholders have had conversations with that property owner,” Kojian says (a fact confirmed by Nami). “If they want to sell it, let’s find the right buyer to do something with it. […] I think [the lot] is a very unique asset, and I think there are ways of being to able activate it even commercially while still being able to maintain the openness of it.”

    Michelle Molina, whose Millworks and Party on Pine projects have played a major part in activating the lot in recent years with events such as the Folk Revival Fest and the Green Prix, agrees that the best permanent use of the space is one that preserves the adaptability allowed by the space.

    “The asset is a space that can be flexible,” she says. “It’s not a gallery, it’s not a park, it’s not a music venue—it’s all of those things. It’s moveable and flexible. I think you want to look for those things, because that’s what creates energy in a neighborhood. A neighborhood isn’t the buildings: it’s the space between. It’s how people move from place to place. So that space is a pretty critical piece. […] We’d like to see something more permanent there, and we’d be willing to help [the current owners] make that happen. ”

    In the meantime, all parties say they are hopeful that the lot can continue to be activated. A concept that Nami, Kojian, and Molina each bring up in discussing the possibilities is the “pop-up,” a concept that activates a space with a business or event that is pretty literally here today, gone tomorrow.

    Nami goes as far to label pop-ups “an ideal use” for the space. Moreover, Nami says he and his father are willing to continue to allow interested parties to put on events on the site at little or even no cost, as they have done on multiple occasions.

    That’s good news for North Pine, especially as it may be a while yet before anything permanent is in place. Although Nami says there has been a recent uptick in interest from potential buyers (“People are coming and sort of kicking the tires right now,” he says), various sources consulted by Random Lengths News opine that the $1.5 million asking price from the 11,250 sq. ft. lot is unlikely to find a taker in the near future.

    Everyone seems to agree that having usable space on the spot is of value to the community. So Long Beach should hope all concerned parties come together with that view of the big picture in mind. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone.

    (Image: Taylor Crawford performs at the lot during the 2013 Long Beach Folk Revival Festival.)

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  • Breaking news: ILWU, PMA Deadlock About to be Broken

    For the past week, the ILWU International has repeatedly said that the two sides are closer to a deal than the PMA’s lockout actions suggest. A possible resolution in the early evening of Feb. 20 bears out that view. Sources close to the negotiations, who asked for anonymity for lack of authorization to speak on the matter, revealed at the end of the day Friday that the impasse in the contract negotiations is within hours of coming to a successful conclusion.

    The issue that’s supposedly holding up negotiations was the union’s request to end the virtual life-time terms of the contract arbitrators–people that the PMA and the ILWU agree on to become referees in individual labor disputes between the union and the association. The union requested that the arbitrators change when the contract ends.

    McEllrath previously noted that the request was made in light of cases where the impartiality of arbitrators was questioned.

    “One of the remaining issues is the question of retaining arbitrators who have openly engaged in conduct that clearly compromises their impartiality, including the development of close and personal relationships that affect decision-making and the failure to disclose these particular relationships and conflicts of interest.
    The PMA in its announcement said the union simply wanted to fire arbitrators that disagreed with the union.

    Comparatively speaking, this issue seems to act as a mask for larger changes that are taking place in the goods movement industry.

    Before the Presidents Day holiday weekend, the Obama Administration sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to push the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association into agreement. When he arrived, Perez instituted a 48 hour media blackout following the long weekend. By Thursday night, it was announced that the two sides had 24 hours to come to a resolution or face going to Washington D.C.

    It now appears that a resolution of the nine month long negotiations are at an end.

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