• The 2014 Long Beach QFilm Festival

    Feature and short film submissions now are being accepted through June 8 via www.withoutabox.com.

    The 2014 Long Beach QFilm Festival will take place Sept. 12 at the Art Theatre.

    Films may be submitted either via DVD or online screener but must be received no later than June 8.

    The festival is a major fundraiser for the critical community services provided by the non-profit Center Long Beach.

    The full festival line up of films as well as passes and tickets for purchase will be available in August through www.qfilmslongbeach.com.

    For 21 years, the Long Beach QFilm Festival has annually presented narrative features, documentaries and short films that embody the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.

    Festival events feature numerous parties and opportunities for attendees to meet and mingle with filmmakers, actors, critics and other industry professionals. Jury awards are given annually to worthy films in several categories.

    Details: (562) 889-2826; cbennett@centerlb.org

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  • Long Beach Bridge Mobile App Debuts

    LONG BEACH – On Feb. 21, the Port of Long Beach introduced the LB Bridge mobile app, a new way for residents and commuters stay up to date on the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project

    The mobile app offers all the latest news, information, photos and videos of the project, live cameras and traffic information to help Long Beach area motorists navigate lane closures and detours associated with the bridge and nearby construction projects.

    To install the app, search “LB Bridge” in the App Store, Google Play or Windows Phone or click here. Watch a quick video demonstration of the app on YouTube.

    The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone users, and includes weekly and breaking audio traffic alerts in English and Spanish for hands-free use. Users of the app will receive breaking traffic alerts on or near the bridge for up-to-the-minute conditions. The app includes a Google map in sync with lane closures and detours to help motorists get around.

    The new bridge, once completed, will feature improved on- and off-ramps serving Terminal Island as well as smoother connections on the east side, including the 710 Freeway, Pico Avenue and ramps serving the mainland area of the Port of Long Beach. Ocean Boulevard is a major commuter link between Long Beach and the South Bay communities, as well as a primary route for trucks entering and leaving the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. (more…)

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  • Murders in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — On Feb. 22, Long Beach Police Department officers found 20-year-old Christopher Franklin dead in the 3400 block of Andy Street.

    Officers responded to a call regarding a shooting. When they arrived at the scene they found Franklin on the sidewalk with a gunshot to his upper body. The Long Beach Fire Department paramedics determined he was dead.

    The incident may be gang-related. No suspects are available.

    On the prior day, officers responded to the shooting of 24-year-old Christopher Lane of Long Beach near 59th Street and Linden Avenue. The shooting took place at about 2 p.m. Lane also was struck by gunfire in the upper torso. The LBFD took Lane to the local hospital, where he died shortly thereafter. The incident also may be gang-related.

    Anyone with information is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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  • LA Council Confirms LADWP General Manager

    LOS ANGELES — On Feb. 21, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously confirmed Anaheim City Manager Marcie Edwards as the new general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    Edwards is the first woman in that role.

    Edwards ran Anaheim Public Utilities for 13 years prior to her appointment as city manager in 2013. She previously worked for the LADWP for 24 years in several positions.

    Edwards began working at the LADWP in August 1976 at the age of 19 as a clerk typist. She later became a steam plant assistant, a plant equipment operator, a steam plant operator, a load dispatcher and a senior load dispatcher. She even became an LADWP superintendent of load dispatching, energy control center manager and a manager of bulk power operations and maintenance, as well as a bulk power business unit director.

    From 1998 to 2000, she served as assistant general manager for the marketing and customer service business units.

    She left the LADWP in December 2000 to serve as general manager of Anaheim’s municipal water and electric utility.

    As past governor on the California Independent System Operator Board, Edward served as interim CEO of that agency in 2004. Edwards has a bachelor’s degree in organizational management and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of La Verne. (more…)

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  • Former Long Beach Hospital Owner Charged with Fraud

    SANTA ANA – Michael D. Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, was charged Feb. 21, in a long-running health care fraud scheme that involved tens of millions of dollars in illegal kickbacks in exchange for referrals of thousands of patients who received spinal surgeries.

    The referrals to the hospital led to more than $500 million in bills being fraudulently submitted during the last five years of the scheme, much of which was paid by the California worker’s compensation system.

    Drobot, 69, of Corona Del Mar, was charged in a criminal information with orchestrating a wide-ranging conspiracy and with paying illegal kickbacks.

    In a plea agreement, Drobot agreed to plead guilty to the two counts which could send him to federal prison for as long as 10 years.

    From 1997 to 2013, Drobot, who owned Pacific Hospital until late this past year, ran a scheme in which he billed workers’ compensation insurers hundreds of millions of dollars for spinal surgeries performed on patients who had been referred by dozens of doctors, chiropractors and others who were paid illegal kickbacks. For referrals for spinal surgeries, Drobot typically paid a kickback of $15,000 per lumbar fusion surgery and $10,000 per cervical fusion surgery. Some of the patients lived as much as hundreds of miles away from Pacific Hospital and closer to other qualified medical facilities. The patients were not informed that the medical professionals had been offered kickbacks to induce them to refer the surgeries to Pacific Hospital. (more…)

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  • Hahn Announces Re-Election Bid

    SAN PEDRO — On Feb. 20, Rep. Janice Hahn announced her re-election campaign to continue representing California’s 44th Congressional District.

    220px-Janice_Hahn,_official_portrait,_112th_CongressIn doing so, Hahn secured numerous endorsements from several labor groups, Democratic grassroots activists, as well as elected officials.

    “Whether I have an opponent or not, I plan on running like I’m behind—because I strongly believe that voters deserve an aggressive and robust campaign that connects with and touches them on a personal level,” Hahn said.

    Hahn released the following list of early endorsements:

    • · National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 24
    • · Teamsters Joint Council 42
    • · United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 770
    • · Operating Engineers Local 12
    • · United Association (UA) Plumbers Local 78
    • · Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1277
    • · International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13
    • · UNITE HERE Local 11
    • · International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 11
    • · International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental & Reinforcing Ironworkers Local 416
    • · Sailors’ Union of the Pacific
    • · San Pedro Democratic Club
    • · YES WE CAN Democratic Club
    • · John Vigna, President California Young Democrats*
    • · Floyd Glen-Lambert, Immediate Past President of Democrats for Israel- Los Angeles*
    • · National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC)
    • · California School Employees Association (CSEA)
    • · Rep. Diane Watson (ret.)
    • · State Assembly member Isadore Hall
    • · Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg (ret.)
    • · Los Angeles City Council member Gil Cedillo
    • · Los Angeles City Council member Jose Huizar
    • · Los Angeles City Council member Joe Buscaino
    • · LAUSD Board member Bennett Keyser
    • · Compton Mayor Aja Brown
    • · Compton Unified School District Vice President Satra Zurita
    • · Compton City Council member Yvonne Arcenaux
    • · Compton City Council member Issac Galvan
    • · Compton Unified School District Board member Satra Zurita
    • · Carson Mayor Jim Dear
    • · Carson Mayor Pro Tempore Elito M. Santarina
    • · Carson City Council member Lula Davis-Holmes
    • · Carson City Council member Albert Robles
    • · Carson City Treasurer Karen Avilla
    • · Long Beach City Council member Al Austin
    • · Long Beach City Council member Steve Neal
    • · Lynwood Mayor Aide Castro
    • · Lynwood Mayor Pro Tem Ramon Rodriguez (ret.)
    • · Lynwood City Council member Sal Alatorre
    • · Lynwood City Council member Maria Teresa Santillan-Beas
    • · Lynwood City Council member Jose Solache
    • · South Gate Mayor Gil Hurtado
    • · South Gate Vice Mayor Henry Gonzalez
    • · South Gate City Council member Maria Davila
    • · South Gate City Council member Bill DeWitt
    • · South Gate City Council member Jorge Morales
    • · South Gate City Clerk Carmen Avalos

    View the RLn Los Angeles 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Nonprofit CEO Answers Call for Long Beach District 3 Race

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor – February 20, 2014

    Jim Lews Long BeachFor former Long Beach Rescue Mission leader, Jim Lewis, running for Long Beach District 3 is not a career move, it’s a calling.

    “A Proverb says, ‘Seek the welfare of the city . . . for in its welfare you will find your welfare,” Jim Lewis said. “For those who are passionate about community, and want to see it flourish, their service and calling are inseparable.”

    Lewis, who works as a development officer at Mission Aviation Fellowship and as a nonprofit and corporate consultant, said he was motivated to run for city council after completing his master’s degree in Global Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary, about two years ago.

    But this is not Lewis’ first attempt. In 2000, Lewis ran for a state assembly seat for the Coachella Valley. He also had announced his run for a part-time city council position in Palm Desert but did not end up filing his candidacy because he was entering into a capital building campaign in a rescue mission in Palm Desert, where he was the CEO.

    “It was a combination of these campaigns and my subsequent organizational service that led me to recognize my desire for a graduate program in Global Leadership,” Lewis, 59, said. “I wanted to be a better leader and to build into those who served with me…. Then, I ran on principle, not with any expectation of winning. I am much more invested in Long Beach than I was when I ran previously.”

    The candidate has lived in Long Beach since 2006, when he took over as president and chief executive officer of the mission.  He’s lived in District 3 for about 7 years.

    “I have a passion for community and a desire to serve,” is his campaign slogan to reporters.

    While Lewis considers himself pro-business and fiscally conservative, he has a special concern toward social and community issues. While many may consider this a dichotomy, Lewis affirms that his conservatism shapes his service.

    “It provides the model for what I see as reciprocal and interdependent services that are required to see successful outcomes in social service,” he said.

    He’s been involved with the Long Beach Homeless Coalition, Leadership Long Beach, Long Beach Prayer Breakfast, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee and the Long Beach Gang Reduction, Intervention, Prevention Taskforce. That said, in his role as president and CEO, Lewis believes he’s used his views of what helps, rather than what enables individuals, setting policies and parameters for programs, fundraising and communicating with the public and donors.

    So far, Lewis has garnered the endorsement of Long Beach First Lady Nancy Foster, a mental health advocate, Jean M. Benson, a council member and mayor in Palm Desert, Signal Hill Councilman Larry Forester, Councilman, former Long Beach Vice Mayor Val Lerch. He’s even garnered the endorsement of educator and former running mate Lionel Gatley.

    According to his campaign disclosure statement for 2013, Lewis raised about $5,249 in campaign in monetary and non-monetary contributions, of which he had spent about $3,781 by the end of that year.

    “I have raised the most funds of 4 candidates from people who live and/or work in Long Beach, and 45 percent more than the fifth candidate,” he wrote in an email. “That is indicative of my personal investment and relationships in this City. People know that I am committed to Long Beach.”

    His campaign priorities include fiscal responsibility, infrastructure, community, public safety, jobs and economic development, and education.

    Lewis supports limiting compensation and benefits to something that is more congruent to the private sector. Where possible, Lewis supports project labor agreement that insure that a certain percentage of workers are drawn from Long Beach for local development projects. However, too many projects have restrictive funding and he would like to see more training in basic trades.

    Unlike other candidates, Lewis believes in providing equitable incentives for businesses to locate in the city, such as limited tax incentives. He said he wants to search for other incentives of economic growth and jobs. He also wants to streamline the permit process and make code enforcement more equitable, such as variances in zoning.

    Public Safety If elected, Lewis wants to restore funding to fire and police that has been lost through budget cuts within the past several years. He particularly hopes restore the gang unit within the police department.

    Other issues he is concerned about are related to equitable allocation of development funds and activity throughout the City. A lot of former Redevelopment Agency funds bought blighted properties in North Long Beach, but there were few redevelopment projects that got started. So, there are numerous empty lots that – without a corridor business plan – may wind up back being liquor stores and undesirable businesses that are currently allowable in the zoning.

    He sees inequities in the demographic of those seeking services in the city. For example, in homeless services, the percentage of Hispanics and blacks receiving service is inversely proportional to the overall demographic.

    “While Hispanics make up 45 percent of the population, only 14 percent are receiving services,” Lewis said. “And, while blacks make up 15 percent of the population, over 45 percent receive services. I would like to study this issue and examine what we might do to rectify such imbalance.”

    Another issue of concern is the lack of safety vehicle access in the congested Belmont Shore and Naples area.

    “My concern is for the parking on the narrow streets and alleys,” he said. “When I drive through these areas, I can’t imagine a fire truck getting through safely and quickly. Should we investigate alternative equipment that could navigate these streets more easily?”

    Other issues include traffic planning for the future development on Pacific Coast Highway and Second Street. He also wants to tackle above ground utility congestion through clean up and undergrounding.

    Infrastructure  Not unlike the other candidates running for District 3, Lewis sees the upgrade of the Naples seawalls and the adjustment of the breakwater as important considerations. However, unlike other candidates, he does not want to alter the configuration of the breakwater. Because not only does it not belong to the city, the Army Corps of Engineers only will examine recapturing the ecosystem and not the wave action. Although the Department of Defense has the last word on any change of the breakwater, he believes the current ecosystem would be disrupted. He believes the water quality issues in the ocean have more to do with the river run-offs, rather than the lack of currents.

    “Our No.1 priority should be to protect property in the peninsula and Belmont Shore,” he said. “We do not want a return to flooding up to 2nd Street as was common before the breakwater (people were known to row boats up the streets.) Property values would plummet, reducing property tax revenue, and the cost for flood insurance would more than quadruple.”

    Instead, he would like to start a discussion on the alternatives for expanding the use of the breakwater for energy and environmental uses, by utilizing the breakwater’s position to install wave and wind generators for electricity production.

    Consensus Lewis sees himself as a consensus builder. He believes he could bring civility back to the council. He is critical of about members who post negative blogs after something did not go their way in the council.

    “Unless it is a flagrant issue of breakdown in protocol, the council should speak with one voice,” he said. “The voters will make a difference in the culture of the next City Council and in Long Beach.  We need a Council with a common mission: to make appropriate policy, trustworthy appointments, building consensus, and an “In what way can we?” attitude.”

    He believes his business experience and acumen, balanced with a personal involvement and understanding of the city’s diverse cultural and social issues, make him the right man for the job.

    “I believe I am the best candidate to represent Long Beach and the Third District and Long Beach,” he said. “My skill of listening and objectively analyzing issues and the intended and unintended consequences of our decisions is a key component of a leader.”

    View the RLn Long Beach 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Rosenberg Hits the Ground Running for District 3

    By Zamna Avila, Assistant Editor – February 7, 2014

    Jack RosenbergAt 67, Long Beach Council District 3 candidate Rosenberg boast 35 years in commercial real estate. He is one of a handful of candidates with similar views vying for the seat that termed-out Councilman Gary DeLong will be leaving this summer.

    “My forté, for lack of a better word, is business,” he said. “I’m a fiscal conservative. The council needs somebody similar to Gary. Gary headed up the budget committee. When I win, I anticipate that I will head up the budget committee because of my background and my understanding of finance.”

    If financial matters are his strength, he says he lacks knowledge when it comes to issues like medical marijuana.

    “I don’t know very much about it,” he said. “It’s an issue that got away from the city. It is similar to electronic cigarettes…. I would have to say I don’t get it.”

    Nevertheless, Rosenberg is betting that his business background and focus on the local economy and infrastructure is going to get him through the April 8 primaries.

    District Goals District 3 is bordered by the trendy Belmont Shore and Naples’ man-made waterways to the south, Cal State Long Beach to the northeast and has riches in wetlands and waterways throughout the district. Rosenberg’s hopes that the Port of Long Beach tears down the breakwater so that Long Beach can make fuller use of its beaches again. But he’s not holding his breath for it.

    “If they lower the breakwater it will cause the water quality to improve because the Harbor will then flush much better,” Rosenberg said. “I’d be very surprised if they said they are going to take down the breakwater completely and return Long Beach to the surf city it was in the 20s and the 30s.”

    The Army Corps of Engineers are currently reviewing options for the breakwater, which include: tearing it down completely, tearing down in part, or leaving it as it is.  He believes the Army Corps of Engineers will advocate on behalf of the second option.

    Rosenberg believes that the Port of Long Beach is too developed and the breakwater too important to tear down either in part or in whole within the port area. But that’s just his personal opinion on the issues, that’s not his take as a candidate, he said.

    He is, however, strongly supportive of rebuilding Naples’ seawalls, the concrete canal through which water from the San Gabriel river flows. The deterioration of the walls, caused by the water, may result in the fall of some of the seawalls in the event of an earthquake. The Coastal Commission has already approved city studies for repairs, but there are still some additional steps the city must take before moving to make the repairs.

    City Goals The father of two adults is an admirer of both DeLong and Mayor Bob Foster.

    “I just that thought it was the right time,” Rosenberg said. “Gary and [Mayor] Bob Foster have done a tremendous job getting through some very difficult economic times and now that the economy is getting better, it’s time to really move the city.”

    Rosenberg praises Foster’s handling of pension negotiations with the public employee unions — particularly the police and firefighter unions which made up about half of the public employee costs — these past few years.

    “For every pension that’s there, that means we can’t hire new policemen, we can’t hire new firemen,” said Rosenberg, comparing the city budget to a household budget. “All the union contracts are going to be under a microscope in the foreseeable future. And they should be. I’m not saying that they are going to be cut. Don’t get me wrong. But you still got this pie…. If the pie is not getting bigger, you have to figure out a way to operate within the pie. Everything will be looked at. It has to be.”

    Rosenberg, who has worked on the Community Development Advisory Commission and the Long Beach Golf commission, sees this election cycle as an opportunity to build a consensus with five new council members and a new mayor.

    “There [are] just a lot of changes, and with the changes it breeds opportunity to make things different. And I want to be part of it,” he said.

    Because each council district has distinct issues, all too often, each council member votes differently, Rosenberg said.

    “We are a little too parochial in representing our district,” he said. “There needs to be more of a connection… My plan is to try to bring everybody together and moving in the same direction.

    “All too often the council doesn’t. They are worried about their district. And, they should worry about their district, but they can’t lose sight of the greater good, and that is the city.”

    He wants to sit with all the other members of the council and get everybody on the same page.

    “That is, for lack of a better word, salesmanship,” Rosenberg said.

    As Rosenberg sees it, unemployment is among the bigger issues in the city. According to the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network, Long Beach unemployment rate was 9.7 percent, down from 12.7 percent in 2011.

    “Everybody wants to see stability in jobs come to the entire area, not just the third district,” Rosenberg said.

    Rosenberg is looking to lead the council to entice new companies from diverse industries to Long Beach while retaining the ones that it has by making it easier to operate in Long Beach.

    “Anybody who says they want to recruit a certain type of business is being naïve,” Rosenberg said. “If as a commercial real estate agent, if I said, ‘I’m only going to work with technology companies,’ I’d go broke.”

    For Rosenberg, recruiting and retaining businesses does not mean he believes in incentives.

    “If I give you an incentive to come in and I give you less taxes for 5 years, that costs the city money,” he said. “If you are paying $5 in taxes and I tell you, ‘For 5 years you only have to pay $3,’ well, that $2 has to be made up some place else in that pie.”

    Hiring incentives also are not the answer to fighting unemployment in the city, he said. Instead, more should be done to retrain people for jobs that are demanded.

    “Our big problem is that we don’t have the jobs out there,” Rosenberg said. “The companies that do need employees … need trained employees.”

    He recognizes that growth and development move slowly, especially in less affluent communities. Bringing new business to more affluent communities can also foster employment for people living in other neighborhoods in Long Beach. It’s that fiscal stance of the city and his ability to bring people together that believes makes him the best candidate for the job.

    “It’s all based on experience. I am the most qualified candidate to fill the job in the third district. I have the greater understanding than any of the other candidates.”

    View the RLn Long Beach 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Latina Candidate Aims for LB District 3

    By Zamna Avila, Assistant Editor – January 24, 2014

    Martha Flores GibsonMartha Flores-Gibson is aiming to represent Long Beach Council District 3, which is up for grabs at the April 8 Primary Nominating Elections.

    Flores-Gibson is vying Jack Rosenberg, Jim Lewis, Stephen Bello and Susan Price will vie to represent the council district that termed-out Councilman Gary DeLong.

    Her priorities include:

    • Public safety, infrastructure and quality of life services such libraries and parks, an an aquatics hall for the Belmont Plaza Pool replacement.

    • Addressing poverty, education, mental health, social services and jobs

    • District specific projects such as the 2nd Street and Pacific Coast Highway project, Naples Seawalls, and Beaches and waterways water quality.

    Martha Flores-Gibson has lived live in Long Beach for 53 of her 59 years.

    Flores-Gibson is a retired counselor and social worker of the Long Beach Unified School District, where she worked for 24 years.

    “I’m invested in the community,” she said. “I have what it takes. I’ve worked in all levels of government. I can work with nonprofits together with the private sector and come to the table with solutions.”

    Flores-Gibson is an immigrant from El Salvador, her mother brought her to the United States when she was six years old. They first moved, with her step-father, to Wichita, Kan. Within six months she learned English. She later earned a bachelor and master degree in social work, as well as a doctorate degree in education.

    “My mother said, ‘You work hard and you are going to get ahead,” she said. “So my siblings — my two brothers and my sister and I — we worked hard. We worked hard on our grades, we worked at our workplace and we are all very successful individuals.”

    Though much of her life has been dedicated to education, she is not a newcomer to politics.

    Republican legislators in Sacramento persuaded Flores-Gibson to run against incumbent Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal in the 2010 and 2012 election for California State Assembly District 70.

    In 2010, Lowenthal won 56.6 percent to 43.4 percent.

    “I didn’t run against Bonnie Lowenthal,” she said. “I ran against the dynasty of Long Beach … Mind you, I had never ran before. I was handicapped by raising the funds.”

    In 2012, Flores-Gibson  was again defeated, with Lowenthal garnering 65.8 percent of the vote versus her 34.2 percent votes.

    This time around she is looking forward to being elected and adding to the work of her predecessor. Rather than just changing what she believes need to be changed, she would like to continue the work of Councilman Gary DeLong and enhance his work, she said.

    “Gary DeLong, along with the mayor and the city council put together proposals in a difficult time was able to now have surplus,” she said. “We don’t want to misspend funds. We want to use those funds in a conservative manner. However, the services that are critical needed must go on.”

    Home to beautiful ocean views, shopping centers, parks, a popular university, a veteran’s hospital and an upper middle class community District 3 brings much revenue to the city’s budget. Flores-Gibson wants to add to long-term business growth.

    “Our district is vital to all of Long Beach as well as Long Beach is vital to the 3rd District,” she said. “So, there is an exchange that happens and we need a healthy exchange.”

    Though this may not be the time to do so yet, she would like to start an economical development committee, comprised of community members and expert consultants. The committee could bring businesses to District 3 that are eyesores to the community, such as the Seaport Village, near Second Street and Pacific Coast Highway, she said.

    In the process, she hopes to bring cutting-edge businesses, such as engineering jobs.

    “How about bringing some of the technology that is in Northern California, the Silicon Valley, here, in these parts?” asked Flores-Gibson, rhetorically. “Then, you can come up with what is the next step of bringing stellar businesses to augment the businesses that are already here.”

    One way to do so is to do away with regulations and taxes that strangle businesses, she said.

    “I want them to have a gap where they are not struggling,” she said. “I rather have the revenue become a part of what makes them strong.”

    But that also takes changing the culture mindset toward business, not just bureaucracy, she said.

    “It’s a culture of saying to the outer cities, to the state of California and to the United States of America … that we in Long Beach and in the 3rd District are open to business.”

    Nevertheless, Flores-Gibson, a registered Republican, understands that spending also is part of the equation when it comes to any community to prosper, especially when it comes to services such public safety and education.

    “I believe it is really ethical to make sure that if it’s a life and death situation that we have the fire engines and the police officers to handle a crisis in the district,” said Flores-Gibson, whose district lost Fire Engine 8, due to a miscalculation in funds coming in from the state, this past year. “You can’t take away after-school program activities. When you take education and afterschool programs for the students, then it doesn’t provide them the gateway to opportunities. Those two services go hand-in-hand.”

    Public safety and education are important to the economics of the city, especially now, with the realignment of non-violent criminals, she said. Beyond drawing funds from the court and pulling from other department, investing in public safety will in turn lead to less crime and more revenue for the city. Because, it is all related, she said.

    “If you have gang violence and you have poverty, which one third of Long Beach is [in] poverty, you are not going to get the businesses or the corporations that want to come and invest in this community,” she said.

    Lowering crime rates is not limited to prevention and enforcement, training, rehabilitation, affordable housing and jobs must also be part of the equation. However, these efforts must be part of a private-public partnership, she said.

    “You can’t say, ‘This is all your responsibility,’” Flores-Gibson said. “You can’t say that. This is all about partnerships.”

    Another issue Flores-Gibson will have to deal with, if elected, is the continual saga that is the medical marijuana issue.

    While she sympathizes with patients and believes they shouldn’t be denied treatment, she also questions whether it is an issue that should be dealt with at the city level.

    “Shouldn’t it be in the hands of the public sector and private industry and the free enterprise?” she questioned. “Should it be in the hands of the city council or should it be in the hands of the businesses, which it is a business, no matter how you slice it and who it is for?”

    So far, Flores-Gibson has garnered the endorsements of the California Women’s Leadership Association, a statewide group that believes in free market principles, and GROW Elect, a political action committee that recruits endorses and funds Latino Republican candidates for public office, among others.

    Campaign contributions for her candidacy are still are being tallied.

    “I believe I am the full package of understanding, mediation and I’m an advocate for our most vulnerable constituents, [who] are children, youth, vets and seniors,” she said. “I will work harder than anyone on that ballot and the voters can count on me to do just that …. Winning this seat means I’m committed not only to the 3rd District but to all of Long Beach”

    View the RLn Long Beach 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Doug Haubert Seeks Re-election, Innovation

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor – December 13, 2013

    Doug Haubert City ProsecutorThe man tasked with overseeing the prosecution of all adult misdemeanors in Long Beach is looking to keep his job.

    “We have accomplished a lot in these three-and-a-half years, but there is more to do,” City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said. “That is why I’m seeking a second term.”

    Unlike the city attorney’s office which handles civil cases and represents the city, Doug Haubert’s office is in charge of prosecuting a range of criminal misdemeanors from battery, theft and vandalism to drug possession, cruelty to animals and code enforcement. Domestic violence cases are some of the most challenging his office handles, because they are emotionally charged.

    If re-elected, Haubert also may play a part in drafting a new ordinance on medical marijuana.

    “When the dust settles, California will have some type of regulatory device that allows cities in a controlled environment, permit dispensaries,” he said. “And, I believe that is the way Long Beach will go, and when that happens I will enforce the law at that point.”

    Haubert believes that the programs he has helped put together in his time in office have made a difference in the city. In his first term, his office has created a gang prevention strategy that includes an aggressive gang suppression program but also includes intervention programs “because we know that gang suppression by itself will never solve our problems,” he said.

    The strategy consists of three parts.

    The first part is suppression. The city targets active gang members and leaders, many of which are served an injunction, a court-issued restraining order prohibiting gang members from participating in certain activities. He said violent crime in the city has dropped 15 percent below 2012, so far in 2013.

    “The FBI’s Gang Threat Assessment says that 48 percent of all violent crime is gang related, so we have increased our gang prosecution effort,” Haubert wrote in an email. “We have increased prosecution of gang members 760 percent in just 4 years. We are seeing the fruits of that effort by enjoying our lowest year of violent crime ever.”

    The second part is intervention. Together with the Long Beach Unified School District, the prosecutor’s office created the Parent Accountability and Chronic Truancy, or PACT, Program. The program notifies parents when their children miss school. If the children miss 10 percent or more in the school year without any excuse, parents can be prosecuted. Parents aren’t prosecuted right away. Instead, parental meetings and interventions take place to make sure children attend school. So, charges against parents are rare, he said.

    “Attendance dramatically improves once we meet with the parents,” Haubert said. “So, the goal is not to prosecute any parents…..  In our first year, those who were referred to us by LBUSD had missed an average of 20 percent of their classes at time of referral.  After our program, that average dropped to 6 percent. ”

    The city prosecutor’s office also participates in a program for fifth-grade students at Edison Elementary, a school in an at risk neighborhood. The program, called Project Legal Enrichment and Decision-Making, or LEAD, is a 20-week law-related class that aims to reduce the likelihood of the children joining gangs by helping them recognize the social and legal consequences of criminal behavior. The lessons consist of instruction on the criminal justice system and an analytical approach to solving student-acted hypotheticals involving drug use, gang involvement, theft, hate crimes, driving under the influence, truancy, graffiti, and other issues. Prosecutors are some of the outside speakers, who are invited to present their perspective on the day’s lesson and their role within the criminal justice system. The program culminates in a mock trial put on by the students.

    The third approach is rehabilitation. The city prosecutor’s office actively looks for people who want to leave a gang to help them out. The office, in partnership with the Long Beach Alliance of Ministers, Centro CHA and other community organizations, has created Operation Opt Out, where people who had been served on a gang injunction, who no longer are involved with gangs can be removed from the injunction.

    “By creating this pathway off the injunction, in some family situations, we’ve created hope for turning around their life and we’ve given them an incentive to leave the gang,” he said.

    All of these programs came at a time when the city prosecutor’s office has had to do more with less, Haubert said. In the past five years the office has lost a third of its prosecutors. Five years ago, the office had 21 prosecutors, now it has 14 prosecutors handling about 14,000 case per year — or, about 1,000 cases per prosecutor.

    “We do it because we believe that in the long run, the intervention efforts and the rehabilitation efforts will reduce crime,” he said. “One thing I didn’t expect was to have to deal with shrinking resources every single year.”

    The prosecutor has overcome those challenge by expanding the community service worker program, a diversion program where low-level, first-time offenders are diverted out of the court system and are allowed to do community service. Community service includes cleaning out trash, alley clean-up, tree planting, graffiti abatement. Upon completion of community service, no case gets filed in court.

    “That program has saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars, both in not having pursue the case, not having to spend the resources to take the cases to court, but also in helping the city clean up workers get far more completed,” he said. “This saves taxpayers probably a quarter of a million to a half a million dollars each year.”

    Haubert also started a volunteer prosecutor program, where lawyers volunteer in the office for four months on a full-time basis. Volunteer prosecutors are trained in trial work, evidence code and presenting cases to a judge during that time.

    “That program has essentially given us more workers on a volunteer basis to help supplement what’s been cut by the city’s budget crisis,” he said.  “What I’m known for is innovation…. Most people are surprised at what I’ve been able to accomplish with reduced resources.”

    If re-elected, Haubert wants more to look at instituting more diversion programs.

    “We need more programs where people can get substance abuse help, job training, counseling, instead of being sentenced to jail for crimes that could be prevented,” he said. “We are not talking about hardened criminals, who really do need to be locked up for as long as possible. I’m talking about those who can learn from their mistakes and become better people.”

    Another area Haubert says he wants to work on is the roots of homelessness in Long Beach, such as mental illness and/or drug and alcohol addiction.

    “Simply arresting them gets them off the street temporarily but they end up right back on the street the next day,” he said.

    To do all of this he must first be re-elected. So far, he’s been endorsed by District Attorney Jackie Lacey, former District Attorney Steve Cooley, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, the Long Beach Police Officers Association, among other leaders.

    He believes he is the best candidate for the job because he has the most experience, not just as a city prosecutor but in different areas of law.

    “I’ve worked in the public sector and in the private sector,” Haubert said.  “And, I have a wide background in a number of legal areas…. Though this particular job involves criminal prosecution, the fact that I have a lot experience with land use, zoning, planning, police and other areas of municipal law, has made me a better prosecutor.”

    View the RLn Long Beach 2014 Election Blog Here.

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