• 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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  • Lieu cleans up on endorsements for Waxman’s Seat

    By RLn Staff – February 7, 2014

    Ted Lieu Congressman WaxmanWhen Henry Waxman announced his imminent retirement from congress after 40 years of service, an army of challengers rushed to file papers. But I appears Ted Lieu was in front of the line after assembling a long of endorsements in a matter of days with the latest coming from Congresswoman Karen Bass. With a list that totals to more than 30, Bass joins two other congressmembers, Reps. Maxine Waters and Alan Lowenthal.

    Bass, in a released statement, noted his support in her elevation to speaker of the California Assembly when she was an assemblywoman.

    “[He] was on my leadership team during the deep fiscal crisis in California. We made the tough choices to get the state back on track, and that’s exactly what Ted will do for our country. Ted’s leadership, experience and bipartisan approach to solving some of the state’s largest problems is what we need more of in Washington.”

    Lieu also picked up an endorsement from Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi.

    He’s a veteran, a champion for the environment and has a long record of fighting for our community,” said Muratsuchi, a former deputy attorney general and school board member.

    Lieu’s district comprises more than 80 percent of the voters in CD 33, making his move to replace Waxman well timed. Lieu is a long-time resident of the district, an Air Force veteran and has served time on the Torrance City Council, State Assembly and the California State Senate.

    The 33rd Congressional District stretches from the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Malibu along the Los Angeles County coast.

    Other endorsements include: Muratsuchi joins an impressive list, including: Congressmembers Alan Lowenthaland Maxine Waters; State Controller John Chiang; State Board of Equalization Member Jerome Horton; Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mike Bonin, Paul Koretz and Bill Rosendahl (Ret.); state Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg; Senators Kevin de Leon, Ricardo Lara and Holly Mitchell; Assemblymembers Isadore Hall and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas; El Camino Community College District Trustee Cliff Numark; Hermosa Beach Mayor Michael DiVirgilio; Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem Peter Tucker; Palos Verdes Estates City Councilmember George Bird, Jr.; Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor pro Tem Jim Knight; Rolling Hills Estates Mayor Judy Mitchell; Redondo Beach City Councilmember Bill Brand; Torrance City Councilmembers Kurt Weideman andHope Witkowsky (Ret.); West Basin Municipal Water District Board Member Carol Kwan; Water Replenishment District Board Member Robert Katherman; Torrance School Boardmember Terry Ragins; El Segundo School Boardmember Dr. Bill Watkins; and Palos Verdes Peninsula School District Boardmember Barbara Luck

    View the RLn Los Angeles 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Former LAPD Chief Endorses McDonnell

    By RLn Staff – February 13, 2014

    BrattonFormer Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton announced his support for Jim McDonnell in his campaign to be elected Sheriff for Los Angeles County.

    McDonnell, who has served as chief of the Long Beach Police Department since 2010 and served as the second in command in the Los Angeles Police Department, announced his candidacy in mid-January.

    Bratton’s support comes on the heels of the announcement by the executive director and members of the Los Angeles Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence of their unanimous endorsement, as private citizens, of McDonnell. McDonnell served on the commission, which was created in the fall of 2011 by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. After a yearlong process, the commission issued a 200-page report in September 2012, with more than 60 recommendations for reform of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and its Custody division.

    In addition to Bratton, McDonnell is supported by many other top law enforcement leaders who have served the people of Los Angeles County, including District Attorney Jackie Lacey, former District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Gil Garcetti, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp, former U.S. Attorney and DEA head Robert Bonner, Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert and former U.S. Attorney and County Counsel and Police Commission President Andrea Ordin, among others. Within the past several days, McDonnell was also endorsed by the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association, California Police Chiefs Association and the California Peace Officers Association.

    “In examining the many issues and challenges facing the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department today, I believe Jim McDonnell’s uniquely varied skills, recognized and respected leadership and decades of experience with both the LAPD and the Long Beach Police Department will lend themselves to facilitating meaningful change,” Bratton said in a released statement. “I’ve known Jim McDonnell for over 30 years. When I began my service as Chief of the LAPD in 2007, I already had great respect for his insights on policing strategies and was aware of his tremendous capabilities.”

    View the RLn Los Angeles 2014 Election Blog Here.

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  • Tanaka’s Gamble

    With Baca Out of the Race, the Former Undersheriff is No Longer Shielded from Men’s Central Jail Violence Report.

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor – February 20, 2014

    Paul Tanaka runs for sheriff.When Paul Tanaka, the former undersheriff of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department sat down for an interview with Random Lengths News, the question I wanted to ask was, ‘Why are you running?’”

    Not because I needed him to talk immediately about the reforms he would enact, but because Tanaka was the second most-named person responsible in the 2012 Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence report at the Men’s Central Jail.

    Tanaka began answering that question without the context of the commission report, focusing instead on where he and Sheriff Lee Baca parted ways and became arch rivals before Baca’s retirement last month.

    “Lee Baca [and I] had our differences,” Tanaka explained. “They were largely philosophical in leadership and management. A chasm started to grow, especially in the last year-and-a-half or so. I saw the department going in a direction that I felt it was getting further and further away from the mission of what we cops do for a living…. We fight crime and take the bad guys off the street. They keep the community safer. Whether it is in San Pedro, Compton, Gardena or Antelope Valley,” he said. (more…)

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  • Fluff and Fold Should Refer to Your Laundry Not to Your Paper

    Knowing the difference between PR and reporting in the digital era

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Today we get inundated with messages–email, text, video and infomercial solicitations. A seemingly endless supply of bloggers, social media hucksters, hired public relations gurus, and political mouthpieces sending out a steady rain of unfiltered or highly filtered messages to sway you this way or that. Much of this “digital rain” comes from the users, like on Facebook or Yelp, who provide unpaid content. Facebook, especially, has become such an obsessive/compulsive adopter of content that many users are either turning off their accounts or abstaining from their use of this medium. Last month a Princeton University team of researchers released a study that projects that Facebook will lose 80 percent of its peak users base in the next three years. (more…)

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  • The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council Election

    Applications are being accepted for the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council elections and can be downloaded or completed on line here.

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  • Ponte Vista Hearing

    The next hearing for Ponte Vista has been scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Feb. 26 with the Planning and Land Committee of the Los Angeles City Council.

    This hearing is the second hearing before the committee and the last stop before developers of the 700-unit plan head to the full city council.

    Details: (310) 241-0699; info@pontevista.com
    Venue: Los Angeles City Hall
    Location: 200 N. Spring Street, in the Board of Public Works Hearing Room 350.

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  • Wilmington Environmental Group Establishes First Community Network to Monitor Local Oil Refinery Air Pollution

    The Coalition For A Safe Environment will make a presentation and lead a tour of their office online computer monitoring system and to the affected Wilmington “fence-line” neighborhoods, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 26, before visiting the home of the Peleti family, the first family to install an AirBase air quality monitor system at their home.

    The Wilmington environmental justice community advocacy organization has launched the area’s first community-based environmental reporting and air quality monitoring that is giving residents of some of California’s most environmentally impacted communities effective, hands-on ways to report, monitor and fight pollution and toxic contamination in their neighborhoods.   Fence-line residents – those just over the fence from large oil refineries – often report breathing difficulty from asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis and COPD symptoms along with other health effects from refinery emissions and additional mental distress when there are major accidents.

    Community members will be able to use mobile devices and go on-line on the internet to report environmental or public health dangers or public safety violations such as releases of hazardous waste, illegal dumping, bad air, chemical spills, toxic odors and other incidents.  They can monitor follow up to their complaints and sign up to be alerted to contamination or pollution in their communities.

    The pilot project is funded by a $10,000 grant from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control and a $20,000 grant from California Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Coalition For A Safe Environment is the project sponsor in putting th (more…)

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  • Animal Care Services Open House

    The City of Long Beach Animal Care Services Bureau invites the community to its 2014 Open House from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Feb.

    Residents and guests will be provided with a report card on the past year as well as an overview of new programs and technologies available to residents in 2014.  Refreshments, tours and comments from residents will be included.  Information on animal adoption, licensing, spay and neuter programs and other animal care information will be available.

    Details: (562) 570-PETS; www.longbeach.gov/acs
    Venue: Animal Care Services
    Location:  7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach

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