• Charges Filed On Carjacking Suspect

    LONG BEACH — On Feb. 11, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed one count of attempted felony carjacking on 30-year-old Long Beach resident Raymond Moreno, a convicted felon on the Post Release Community Supervision, PRCS, program.

    In 2011, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed Assembly Bill 109 and AB 117, legislation to enable California to close the revolving door of low-level inmates cycling in and out of state prisons.  The realignment included the PRCS program, a county-level supervision for current non-violent and non-serious offenders, upon release from prison.

    Under AB 109, Moreno was placed on PRCS in 2011, after being convicted on charges of an ex-felon carrying a firearm with a gang enhancement, which was considered to be non-violent or non-serious in nature.  On Jan. 2, Moreno was arrested in Long Beach, and later convicted on charges including violation of a gang injunction, ex-felon with possession of a loaded firearm, burglary tools, and drug paraphernalia.  Moreno was sentenced to 180 days in Jail and was released on Feb. 8, 2014, after serving 37 days.

    On Feb. 9, the day after Moreno was released, he approached an unsuspecting victim sitting in their vehicle at 15th Street and Chestnut Avenue in Long Beach.  Moreno attempted to take the vehicle by force, inciting intimidation and fear in the victim.  The victim retreated from Moreno, with his vehicle, and called police. Officers swiftly located Moreno at the 1600 block of Cedar Avenue and arrested him.  If Moreno is convicted, it will be his second strike as a violent offender. Moreno is being held at Los Angeles County Jail on $160,000 Bail. (more…)

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  • Port to Test New Clean-air System for Ships

    The Port of Long Beach will fund testing of a new air pollution-control technology for docked cargo ships, thanks to an agreement approved Feb. 12, by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.

    Under the pact, the Port would rely upon regional air quality authorities to oversee a demonstration project to thoroughly assess both the safety and the pollution-reducing effectiveness of a mobile, barge-mounted emissions control system to capture and treat ships’ smokestack emissions.

    California recently began requiring container, refrigerated-cargo and cruise ships to plug in to “shore power” while at berth in order to reduce air pollution by using clean, landside electricity. However, the shore power regulations only apply to about 100 of the port’s 300 vessel calls a month.

    The new system could provide an alternative to shore power, allowing ships to run their engines to produce the power they need for lighting, communications, pumps, refrigeration, etc. The “Alternative Maritime Emission Control System” or “AMECS,” diverts a docked ship’s emissions into an air-pollution filter-and-treatment device.

    A Rancho Dominguez-based company, Advanced Cleanup Technology Inc. or ACTI, developed the AMECS technology. Under the agreement, the South Coast Air Quality Management District will supervise the testing on behalf of the Port, with Harbor Department staff oversight.

    The Clean Air Action Plan approved by the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles set a goal to find alternative technology to reduce air pollution from ships at berth, for ships not covered by the state’s shore power regulation. (more…)

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  • Former LAPD Chief Endorses McDonnell

    LONG BEACH — On Feb. 13, former 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. (more…)

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  • LA County Workers Approve New Contract

    LOS ANGELES — On Feb. 12, more than 55,000 LA County workers represented by SEIU Local 721 just voted to approve a visionary new labor agreement with LA County management.

    Tens of thousands of LA County workers voted by a huge margin — more than 95 percent —to approve the contract. Voting started three weeks ago and ended at 5 p.m. Feb. 12.

    SEIU 721 members and county management reached the agreement in late January 2014 after marathon negotiations and a successful six-day strike waged by thousands of Children’s Social Workers and Dept. of Public Social Services workers, demanding that child safety be a top priority for County leadership. The contract covers LA County nurses and healthcare workers, social workers, eligibility workers, parks recreation workers, public works crews, janitors and others who dedicate their lives to public service.

    Here’s a brief summary of what SEIU 721 LA County members achieved in this contract. (more…)

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  • LB Commission Appoints New Environmental Planning Director

    LONG BEACH — On Feb. 13, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners announced the appointment of  Heather A. Tomley as the director of environmental planning. She will be charged with leading Green Port environmental initiatives.

    Tomley has been serving as the Long Beach Harbor Department’s acting director of environmental planning since July 2013. She will report to Managing Director of Environmental Affairs and Planning Rick Cameron. Tomley, originally joined the Harbor Department as an environmental planning associate in 2005, was promoted to environmental specialist and then senior environmental specialist in 2006 and assistant director in 2008. She is on leave and is scheduled to return March 17 to her new role.

    As director of environmental planning, she will lead the division most directly responsible for the port’s signature environmental programs: the Green Port Policy and the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan. The division coordinates programs to improve air, water and soil quality, preserve wildlife habitat and integrate sustainability into port practices.

    Tomley earned her bachelor of science in chemistry and a minor in psychology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and her master of science in environmental science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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  • Talking Union

    By Lionel Rolfe

    There’s a curious thing about talking union. It’s not cool. Unions ain’t cool. They’re so not cool you’ll notice almost nobody writes about them. They ain’t trendy. But they’re the coming thing.

    True, most of the great folk songs about workers organizing are from yesteryear. But ignoring something doesn’t mean it’s not there. There is no doubt more songs yet to be written.

    For many years, Harry Bernstein was the Los Angeles Times‘ labor reporter, and while his politics were distinctly middle-of-the-road, he knew his subject. During the glory years of the Times, he provided generally fair and knowledgeable coverage of labor, which was amazing considering that the newspaper had been known as the most anti-labor rag in the world.

    Bernstein was a good antidote to the newspaper’s history, and it also strongly suggested the owners really were trying to build up the old paper into something great and important.

    Now, Bernstein is gone, and the Times apparently has no one left who can or would be allowed to write intelligently about labor. Despite what you might think, Hollywood is not the only economic driver of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles area is one of the world’s greatest industrial areas, comparable to the Ruhr in Germany or the vast industrial areas of Shanghai. There’s a lot of organizing in the city these days. Some even dream of organizing Wal-Mart and McDonald. (more…)

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  • Saving the Donut: A Win for Long Beach Preservationism

    It’s big, it’s pink-frosted, and it’s definitely a Long Beach landmark. But in the Long Beach tradition of tearing down its landmarks, the giant donut that has proudly stood on its edge above The Daily Grind Espresso Bar on 7th Street near Pacific Coast Highway for decades is in danger of being eaten up by corporate stupidity and a lack of civic pride.

    That was the beginning of this article as I wrote it on February 6, a mere two days after a group of Retro Row merchants started their “Save the Giant Donut!” campaign in response to Dunkin’ Donuts’ plan to raze the Long Beach icon before opening a franchise on the spot.

    But for now, at least, the question is moot, as Frontier Real Estate Investment announced at a February 7 Planning Commission meeting that their Dunkin’ Donuts franchise at the site would incorporate the donut into the new store’s design.

    Why from the start they didn’t plan to take advantage of the obvious—they’re Dunkin’ Donuts, for fuck’s sake, and pink is actually the color of the word “donuts” it their logo!—all while helping to preserve and blend with the idiosyncratic Long Beach urban landscape, rather than becoming one more pressure trying to flatten Long Beach into just another generic Orange County/South Bay city, passes understanding. As reported by the Long Beach Press-Telegram, “Dunkin’ Donuts officials said they wanted to remove the sign because it conflicts with the company’s core business of beverages and breakfast food.”

    That’s nonsense, of course. The company is called “Dunkin’ Donuts,” after all, and they sell (you guessed it) donuts. But donut is not exactly the healthiest of food products, and they do sell other stuff, so clearly this was an issue of shaping public perception.

    Ironically, it’s public perception that may have saved the giant donut. As fate would have it, the 4th Street Business Improvement Association was convening in a timely fashion.

    “We happened to have our monthly meeting the day it came out in the press that Dunkin’ Donuts did not want the donut and the City was going to put it in a warehouse,” says Kerstin Kansteiner, president of the 4th Street Business Improvement Association and owner of Portfolio Coffeehouse. “And we felt like, ‘Gosh, we’ve seen that many times, [when] things are dismounted and they end up in a warehouse.’ And it’s a huge effort to remove them from there to someplace else, so [often] it’s forgotten, and then it’s gone.”

    The group began a “Save the Giant Donut” campaign, including a Facebook page that garnered over 1,000 “Like”s within its first 24 hours of existence. The plan was to bring the donut to Retro Row, a move that, for some, raised the question of whether ersatz preservationism is better than none. For her part, Kansteiner was sympathetic to reservations about moving the donut to Retro Row.

    “Our motivation was not, ‘Hey, let’s bring the donut over here’; it was, ‘Let’s fight for it to stay [where it is],'” she says. “When we created [the campaign], we didn’t realize there was still room for negotiation with Dunkin’ Donuts; we thought it had already been decided that it’s going to come down, and we were under the impression that no-one had offered or even thought about an alternate location. So this was really just a gesture. […] This was about keeping old and vintage [Long Beach iconography] that otherwise would be wholly forgotten and never restored.”

    Fortunately for all concerned, the City of Long Beach was already on the case.

    “Since [the donut] is one of those beloved, kitschy landmarks, we floated the idea to [Dunkin’ Donuts] to see if they would be amenable to keeping the donut sign,” says Amy Bodek, director of Long Beach Development Services. “[…] Initially they had said it did not meet their business model. Then, when they understood the feelings that the community has for the donut, they realized they should save the donut.”

    Bodek (along with her interviewer) gets the giggles here, but only because “save the donut” is a funny phrase, not because she doesn’t regard preservationism as serious business.

    “These sorts of roadside vernacular pieces of architecture are disappearing in Southern California,” Bodek says. “There’s a whole subculture of folks who really enjoy that kind of architecture, and so we felt if Dunkin’ [Donuts] was not willing to incorporate [the donut] for the betterment of their project, we should try to save it and have somebody else reuse it who could appreciate it more. But obviously this solution [i.e., incorporating the donut into the new design] is much better.”

    Bodek reports that the Planning Commission will not take final action on Frontier’s application until they are satisfied that the donut will be properly preserved.

    “We’re going come back in about a month, and we will show the Planning Commission how the sign is going to be retained on-site and incorporated into the design,” she says

    Bodek notes that, although the City’s ability to ensure that the donut remains “is not clear cut,” because the franchisee needs a Conditional Use Permit to allow for a drive-thru lane, the Planning Commission has some ability to dictate the conditions.

    “The Planning Commission has to grant approval to the drive-thru and as part of that approval,” she says, “and they made it clear they want the sign incorporated into the site.”

    Barring an 11th-hour reversal, the “save the donut” saga is not the standard “Long Beach loses another piece of its history” tale. Rather, it’s a story of how both history and progress can be served when residents, government, and business get on the same page.

    Note: Neither Dunkin’ Donuts nor Frontier Real Estate Investment responded to RLn’s requests for comment.

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  • Buscaino Advances $10 Million Sidewalk Plan

    Buscaino Advances $10 Million Sidewalk Plan

    LOS ANGELES — Councilman Joe Buscaino announced that he advanced a $10 million sidewalk repair plan, during a special Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee hearing Feb.6.

    The proposal ­ put forth in a joint report from the city administrative officer, and the Public Works bureaus of Street Services, Engineering and Contract Administration ­ would divide the money evenly among three repair priorities:

    The first third ($3.33 million) will be spent on locations where past claims and lawsuits have been filed in high pedestrian use areas, an additional third will be spent along iconic streets city­wide and the final third would be allocated equally among the 15 council districts for a 50/50 program. All construction would be performed by private contractors, with the Bureau of Engineering overseeing the program and the Bureau of Contract Administration inspecting the work to ensure it is up to city standards.

    The Bureau of Street Services estimates 4,600 miles ­ – 40 percent of sidewalks -­ are in disrepair and will require an estimated $1.5 billion to fix. Historically, most sidewalks were constructed by real estate developers as new housing tracts were built, and thereafter, state law mandated that repair was the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. Developers also planted street trees at the same time, and had long favored the Indian laurel fig (ficus) tree because of their hardiness and rapid growth rate. However, the ficus and other fast­-growing trees have very shallow root systems that often grow under sidewalks and cause them to buckle and uplift. (more…)

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  • Sheriff’s Deputies Indicted in Civil Rights Probe

    LOS ANGELES – Two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies, who were assigned to the Men’s Central Jail, indicted, Feb. 6, on federal civil rights charges that accuse them of illegally using force against an inmate and attempting to cover up the incident with false reports.

    A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against Joey Aguiar and Mariano Ramirez, who were assigned to the 3000 floor of the jail.

    Aguiar, 26, and Ramirez, 38, will be issued summonses directing them appear in federal

    According to the indictment, Aguiar and Ramirez illegally used force against the victim – who is identified in the indictment as “BP” – during an incident in the jail on Feb. 11, 2009. While the victim was handcuffed and secured with a “waist chain,” the deputies allegedly punched and kicked the victim before using pepper spray on him. The defendants also are accused of striking him with flashlight.

    Soon after the attack, the deputies allegedly wrote false reports designed to cover up the illegal use of force. Those bogus reports formed the basis of a referral to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for potential criminal prosecution of the victim.

    The indictment charges both defendants with conspiring to violate civil rights and with deprivation of rights under color of law that caused bodily injury. Each of these charges carry a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. (more…)

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  • LBPD Shuts Down Marijuana Dispensary

    The Long Beach Police Department Drug Investigations Section, in collaboration with the California Franchise Tax Board, shut down the Industry Green Collective and arrested 40-year-old Christopher Keane Woodward, Feb. 7, charging him with drug sales, possession of assault weapons, child endangerment and revenue tax violations.

    Long Beach banned marijuana dispensaries in February of 2012. On April 27, 2012, while enforcing this ban, detectives served a search warrant at Industry Green Collective, in the 2200 block of Lakewood Boulevard.  Detectives seized about 20 pounds of marijuana, a substantial amount of cash and evidence indicating significant gross profits in violation of state law.

    The investigation led detectives to Woodard’s home in the 2400 block of Hannum Drive, Corona. On April 30, 2012, a search warrant was served, seizing seven guns, including three assault rifles. The guns and ammunition were kept in an unsecured location, and easily accessible to minors in the home. The evidence collected launched a thorough financial investigation by the State of California Franchise Tax Board, which determined profits were made from the sales of marijuana.

    On February 6, 2014, the case was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  An arrest warrant was issued and Woodard was arrested at his home in Corona. Woodard is currently being held at the Long Beach Jail on $125,000 bail.

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