• Carson Residents Mobilize Against Fracking

    By Shirley Hawkins, Random Lengths Contributor

    Carson residents, community activists and concerned citizens gathered at a city council meeting at Carson City Hall April 15, to voice their support for the city’s 45-day moratorium that bans hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, — a method of oil and gas drilling that has been linked to health hazards, including respiratory ailments and cancer.

    Carson is the first city in California to vote unanimously for moratorium against fracking, which injects a mix of water, chemicals and sand into the ground at high pressures to fracture rock formations and free trapped oil. That could lead to water and soil contamination. The method also generates vast amounts of toxic waste by trucking in heavy equipment and materials that contribute to air and water pollution. The moratorium is being imposed until May 2.

    The moratorium has placed a halt on the drilling plans of OXY USA Inc., a subsidiary of Occidental Corporation that is planning to drill 200 new wells in Carson’s Dominguez Oil Field over the next 10 years.

    “There are 600 abandoned wells in the Dominguez Oil Field, and their condition is unknown,” said resident Dianne Thomas, who attended the council meeting and has lived in Carson for 43 years.  “If OXY resorts to high pressure drilling, they could compromise the existing 600 wells and create a potential for an explosion—it’s a dangerous situation.” (more…)

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  • Fire Destroys San Pedro Elks Lodge

    Investigators are trying to determine the cause of a blaze that almost burned the San Pedro Elks Lodge #966, a 1748 W. Cumbre Drive.

    Investigators estimate that the fire started sometime before 3 a.m. April 15. It took 104 firefighters, from 27 Los Angeles Fire Department companies, to put out the fire at about 5 a.m., after about two hours.

    The Los Angeles Fire Department was summoned at about 2:50 a.m. Firefighters found the 33,744-square-foot, two-story building completely engulfed in flames. The roof, as well as other parts of the building, collapsed at about 3:30 a.m. The main auditorium, an area where the group gathered and did rituals was spared. No injuries were reported.

    Nearby homes also were spared thanks, in large part, to brush-clearing on the hillside and the defensive efforts of firefighters.

    Elks Lodge members were at the building on the night of April 14 for a meeting, which ended at 7:30 p.m., but authorities said no one was in the building when the fire began.

    Firefighters spent several hours at the scene gingerly extracting memorabilia and carefully salvaging belongings that had not been consumed by flames. A Bible that has been part of ceremonies for more than 100 years was saved. The Bible was signed by every exalted ruler since 1905. Other historic artifacts also were recovered. (more…)

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: April 14, 2014

    LB City Council Considers Police Lawsuits
    The Long Beach City Council will consider whether to settle two police-related lawsuits at its April 15 meeting at Long Beach City Hall.
    One suit has to do with a fire that took place on March 30, 2012 on the 1900 block of Caspian Avenue, when an officer laid a heat lamp in a laundry hamper, which caused a fire. The council will consider whether to pay $130,000 to the AMCO Insurance Co., which initially asking for $228,594.68.
    Another lawsuit is related to police overtime for which officers are asking for payment during the times they put their uniforms on and off. The settlement totals about $300,000.
    City Attorney Charles Parkin recommended settling with nine Long Beach Police Department officers asking to be paid for 25 hours of overtime and about $150,000 in legal fees.
    The nine officers were part of a larger class-action lawsuit filed in December 2006, seeking to be reimbursed for the unpaid time they took when changing into their uniforms and protective gear, attending classes, waiting in court, attending briefings and other routine tasks. At first, the officers did not take a settlement, but later they agreed to accept the same terms as the original settling group.
    In 2006, about 790 police officers sued the city. That class action was resolved by providing officers 25 hours of vacation time.

    Buscaino, Sharefest Launch ‘Humboldt Bus Crash Victims Assistance Fund’
    On April 10, a devastating crash involving a tour bus and FedEx truck took the lives of 10 people, including five Los Angeles-area school students on their way to an orientation program for admitted students at Humboldt State University.
    In an effort to support the students and families suffering from this crash, Sharefest is joining with Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino to launch the “Humboldt Bus Crash Victims Assistance Fund.” Money raised through this fund will assist victims and their families through any financial hardships as they heal physically and emotionally from the tragic accident.
    Support these families by donating to the fund at: www.Sharefestinc.org/buscrashfund
    You can also mail a check, made payable to Sharefest. Please include “Humboldt Bus Crash Victims Assistance Fund” in the memo line.
    Mail checks to:
    Sharefest Community Development
    3480 Torrance Blvd. #110
    Torrance, CA 90503

    Road Closures in Long Beach (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Brief Updates: April 14, 2014

    Update on Efforts to Keep Boeing in Long Beach
    LONG BEACH — On April 10, Boeing told its employees that by the end of next year, it will transfer 1,000 engineering jobs from the Puget Sound to Southern California.
    The news of the follows an April 7 announcement that Boeing will likely shut down its C-17 Globemaster, which is assembled in Long Beach, by the summer of 2015, earlier than previously expected. The C-17 Globemaster plant is the last of its kind in California.
    The engineering jobs will be centered in Long Beach and Seal Beach and will include the operation team, which deals with Boeing airplane issues anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The move has been described as designating Southern California as the customer support center.
    Boeing’s Southern California Engineering Design Center support will be responsible for the 737, 747, 767 and 777 passenger jets, as well as commercial product support for the KC-46 Tanker and P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Boeing already assigned responsibilities for supporting several legacy aircraft to engineers based in Southern California. Boeing is dedicating its Puget Sound area facilities to the promotion of new aircraft — the 787 Dreamliner, the 737 MAX and the 777X.
    The Southern California Engineering Design Center employs about 1,800 people at the in Long Beach and Seal Beach sites.
    The move, rumored for months, is the latest in a series of engineering transfers out of Seattle that totals more than 4,300 Boeing jobs.
    (more…)

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  • Garcia Gets on the Path to City Hall

    Vice Mayor Robert Garcia is tantalizingly close to becoming the first Latino and openly gay mayor, as well as the youngest in Long Beach history.

    García, 36, garnered 11,873 votes in the April 8 Long Beach primary election, among 10 candidates with 25.24 percent of the vote.

    Were the electorate not split between the high number of Democrats running for the office, he might have outright won the election without the need of a runoff.

    But Signal Hill political consultant Jeffrey Adler, of Adler Public Affairs, says the real story might be the election turnout.

    “I find it very interesting and very discouraging that in Afghanistan last weekend 58 percent of the electorate turned out to vote under threat of death by the Taliban,” said Adler, soon after the primary election. “Here, less than 15 percent turned out to select the mayor and the council that will set the course for the city in the next four to eight years, and no one’s life was being threatened.”

    Adler was referring to the initial numbers put out by the city clerk that showed that about 40,500 voters showed up to vote April 8, which is a little more than 14 percent of the registered voters. Those numbers have since changed. Actually, 49,870 people voted out of 285,029 registered voters, which is about 17.5 percent. Still, in a city with a population of more than 465,000 people, Long Beach seems to have a minority within a minority choosing the mayor.

    García will be facing off Republican entrepreneur Damon Dunn, who garnered 10,637 or 22.61 percent of the vote. The winner between Garcia and Dunn will be the one who will be able to get the most votes in a low turnout.

    Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, who came in third in the race for mayor, received about 9,227 votes or 19.62 of the vote. Her error may have come from her campaign strategy, Adler said.

    “Bonnie ran a campaign that wasn’t honed on a low-turnout Long Beach election,” he said. “She ran a campaign [more befitting of someone] running for the Assembly or Senate, than for mayor of Long Beach.”

    Then, there was the gaffe of a mailer put out by her campaign, which showed a photo of San Diego, instead of Long Beach, below a motto that read, “Getting things done in Long Beach.”

    The campaign was off target, Adler said. She played off her Democratic endorsement, some of whom may have hurt her campaign rather than helped, such as now suspended state Sen. Leeland Yee, Sen. Rod Wright and Sen. Ron Calderon.

    “She played into that and less into being local, local, local about Long Beach,” he said.

    Adler said that Dunn may have less of a chance winning because he is a Republican in a largely liberal city. Dunn has an uphill run. He has to look behind him because some Republicans may scrutinize him as a Republican in name only, while finding a way to win the votes of Democrats in a heavily Democratic city. While Dunn has stressed that he is a reformer, his campaign is a product of special interests, such as the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.  So, he is running hollow,” Adler noted.

    “All Robert has to do is coalesce the Democratic vote that Bonnie Lowenthal got, Gerrie Schipske got and Doug Otto got,” Adler said. “All he has to do is to stitch the Democratic blanket back together and he should win.”

    In a recent interview García discussed his decisions as a councilman, his plans and his vision for the city if he were to become the city of Long Beach’s next mayor.

    Zamná Ávila: Why did you decide to run for mayor?
    Robert García: Long Beach needs a mayor that’s going to be positive, who’s going to be forward thinking [and] who’s going to have a progressive vision for the city. I’m excited about having taken the city from a budget deficit to a budget surplus. And, crime is at a historic low but I think we can still grow. So, I’m going to be moving forward on ensuring that we are restoring the environment the right way, protecting it, making sure that we create and attract good jobs and ensuring that we partner with our educational institutions.
    I actually have no interest in going to Sacramento. Those who want to go to Sacramento, I think it’s great but, it’s not for me. I love being here at home too much. (more…)

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  • Get Involved: ANNOUNCEMENTS of the Week.

    April 11
    Last Chance to Enroll
    St. Mary’s Medical Center is offering assistance for those who want to sign up for Covered California, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 11.
    There’s still time to complete health insurance applications by the “new” April 15 deadline.  If you’ve had trouble with your application, certified enrollment counselors and certified insurance brokers will provide enrollment support and answer final questions through one-on-one assistance.
    Venue: St. Mary’s Medical Center
    Location: 1050 Linden Ave., Long Beach

    April 12
    Mexican Mobile Consulate
    The Mexican Mobile Consulate will be available at 11 a.m. April 12 at the McBride Teen Center in Long Beach.
    People interested can attend for free to obtain important documents such as passports and consular identification cards.
    The event is open to the general public.  All those attending for documents must make an appointment by calling 1-877 MEXITEL (639-4835). The following documents must be brought with you in order to process services: original birth certificate, an effective official identification with the name on the identification the same as it appears on the birth certificate, proof of address in Los Angeles County, and two passport photos with a white background. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Update: April 10, 2014

    10th Man Murdered in Long Beach in 2014
    LONG BEACH — Fifty-one-year-old Herbert Shephard died April 5, due to injuries he sustained after a shooting April 8, on the 2300 block of Eucalyptus Avenue in Long Beach.
    Shephard  was shot at shortly after 9 p.m. Long Beach Police Department officers arrived at the scene and found Shephard and an unidentified man with gunshot wounds to the lower torso. The other man seemed to have non-life threatening injuries. both men were taken to a local hospital.
    No suspect information is available and a motive for the shooting is unknown.
    This is the tenth murder in the city this year.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    400,000 People Protest Against Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger
    WASHINGTON, D.C. — About 400,000 people signed petitions urging Senate Judiciary Committee a proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger. The committee began its hearing on the issue April 9.
    The petitions, organized by public interest groups Common Cause, Consumers Union, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Free Press and Working Families, will be delivered to the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice, which are charged with reviewing the deal.
    If the merger is approved, Comcast will become the dominant cable company for two-thirds of the country and will control over half of the nation’s next-generation broadband customers. (more…)

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  • Long Beach Preliminary Election Results:

    Garcia, Dunn to Face Off for Long Beach

    Vice Mayor Robert Garcia is leading in his goal to be mayor of Long Beach.
    Garcia, who garnered 9,670 votes in the April Long Beach primary election came out on top among 10 candidates for mayor with 25.39 percent of the vote.

    “I love Long Beach and I feel like we’ve made really good progress over the last few years. I want to make sure that the city maintains financially responsible, but I also want to make sure that we grow in the right way,” said Garcia in a recent interview. “Long Beach needs a mayor that’s going to be positive, who’s going to be forward thinking [and] who’s going to have a progressive vision for the city.”

    Garcia will be facing off Damon Dunn, who garnered 8,478 or 22.26 percent of the vote, at the June 3 election.

    Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal came in third, garnering 7,453 or 19.57 percent of the votes; District 5 Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske finished fourth with 5,889 votes or 15.46 percent of the votes; lawyer Doug Otto, tallied 5,186 votes or 13.62 percent of votes; community activist tallied 840 votes at 2.21 percent; Steven Paul Mozena received 182 votes at .48 percent; Mineo Gonzalez got 150 votes at .39 percent; Eric Rock received 149 votes also at .39 percent; Richard Anthony Camp received only 90 votes at .24 percent.
    A 14.2 percent voter turnout yielded 40,589 ballots out of 285,029 registered voters.

    Other Offices
    A runoff race has been secured between City Attorney Charles Parkin and District 7 Councilman James Johnson.
    Parkin garnered 16,403 votes, which is about 45.11 percent of the vote. Johnson tallied 13,735 at 37.77 percent.  Matthew Pappas came in third with only 6,223 votes.

    City Prosecutor Doug Haubert defeated Rosemary Chavez 26,052 to 9,223.

    Unchallenged City Auditor Laura Doud also will serve another term.

    Lena Gonzalez, a Robert Garcia staff member, finished first with 874 votes or 45.5 percent of the vote for the District 1 seat. She will face Misi Tagaloa, who had 585 votes for 30.5 percent in the runoff election. Ricardo Linarez got 310 votes and Pilar Pinel got only 152 votes.
    Orange County District Attorney’s Office prosecutor, Suzie Price, brought in 4,550 votes at 54.9 percent of the vote winning the District 3 seat, Jack Rosenberg, who received 1,090 votes, Jim Lewis, who 957 votes, Stephen Bello who received 886, and Martha Flores Gibson who came in last with 818 votes.

    The most voter turnout came from District 5, where Stacy Mungo and Carl Kemp will face off. Mungo garnered 3,217 votes or 37.74 percent of the vote. Kemp gathered 2,679 votes or 31.43. Joseph Luyben got1,988 votes and Thomas Sutfin had 640 votes.
    Roberto Uranga received 50.25 percent of the vote with 2,355 votes for District 7. Joan Greenwood received 1,150 votes or 24.5 percent of the vote. However, there may be a runoff due once the provisional ballots are counted.
    Rex Richardson beat Ben Daugherty with 72.4 percent of the vote for District 9.

    Jeffrey Kellogg beat Marshall Blesofsky with 55.6 percent of the vote for the Long Beach Community College District Governing Board, Trustee Area 1.
    Sunny Zia beat Stella Ursua with 59.76 percent of the vote for the Long Beach Community College District Governing Board, Trustee Area 3.
    Virginia Baxter won against Gregory Slaughter, with 55.7 percent of the vote for the Long Beach Community College District Governing Board, Trustee Area 5.

    Longtime PTA member Megan Kerr got 3,209 votes or 51.32 percent of the vote for District of the Long Beach Unified School District Board and engineer Uduak-Joe Ntuk got 3,044 votes or 48.68 percent of the votes. The lead may change because of the close margin after the provisional ballots are counted.

    Incumbent John McGinnis won against history professor Juan Benitez with 2,183 votes or 52.9 percent of the vote for the LBUSD District 3.
    Diana Craighead, vice president of the school board, ran unopposed for District 5.

    The only ballot issue in the election, a sales tax on medical marijuana, passed with 74.03 percent of the vote. That tax would go into effect, if or when, the Long Beach City Council approves an ordinance that would allow medical marijuana collectives in Long Beach.

    Long Beach city would be able to impose a business license tax at an initial rate of 6 percent of for-profit dispensaries’ gross sales receipts for marijuana, which could be increased to up to 10 percent of gross marijuana sales.

    The measure also provides for a tax, at a rate of $15 per square foot, on business property improvements made to grow medical marijuana, which could be increased to  $50 per square foot on business improvements.

    Dispensaries that qualify as nonprofits would pay $10 per square foot of business improvements instead of a percentage of sales.

    View the RLn Long Beach 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • S’Wonderful Review

    By John Farrell

    There have never been enough George Gershwin musicals.

    In the past decades new ones have been nailed together from his great music with plots that sometimes are better forgotten.

    S’Wonderful, at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach under the auspices of Musical Theatre West, is the latest example in that line — some great songs (and some not-so-great). There is pure enjoyment if you love his songs, but, despite the fact that is advertised as a “new musical” (actually, it is five mini-musicals) there is not much more than a review.

    And, maybe if it was just a review it might have fared better. Devised by Ray Roderick, S’Wonderful features five lively and winning singers in front of a seven-piece jazz combo led by Musical Director Bret Simmons, with choreography by Charlie Williams.

    Those five performers include Rebecca Johnson, Damon Kirsche, Ashley Fox Linton, Jeff Skowron and Rebecca Spencer, who sing and dance their way with charm through some of the Gershwins’ greatest hits, such as, “Nice Work if You Can Get It,” “I’ve Got Rhythm” and “Embraceable You” and few lesser known, like “By Strauss” and “Boy What Love Has Done to Me.”

    The jazz is delicious, many songs are delightful, but the entire show would have been better without the intrusive and distracting plots. (more…)

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  • RL News Update

    Man Killed in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — A man was stabbed to death, at about 1:20 a.m. April 8, at the 2000 block of Locust Avenue in Long Beach
    Long Beach Police Department officers responded to a call of a person screaming within a residence who seemed to have been stabbed in the upper torso. The man, 27-year-old Akheem Johnson of Long Beach, was determined to be dead at the scene.
    The Department of Child and Family Services responded to assist the two young children who were asleep in the residence at the time of the incident.
    A motive is unknown; however the preliminary investigation indicated that an argument ensued and it escalated to a stabbing. Twenty-nine-year-old Bryant Keith Underwood. of Lake Elsinore, was booked for murder and is being held in Long Beach City Jail on $1 million bail.
    Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Coastal Commission to address Beach Plaza Hotel Replacement

    LONG BEACH — The California Coastal Commission will consider a project permit to replace the Beach Plaza Hotel in Long Beach, at its April 11 meeting, in Santa Barbara.
    UNITE HERE Local 11, which represents hospitality workers, is asking the commission to reject the permit. (more…)

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