• Central SPNC Board Members Abandon Ship When Mutiny Fails

    • 05/04/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    The Central Neighborhood Council in Disarray Following Resignations

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The April 18 Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council Stakeholder Meeting looked more like a mutiny than the democratic workings of a local board. Stakeholders called for Mona Sutton to step down as board president, but not from the board.

    Board member Joanne Rallo announced her resignation, effective after the meeting, following in the footsteps of board members James Dimon and John Stammreich, who had resigned after the March stakeholder meeting. The resignations underscore ongoing tensions on the board that had burst into public view during the March Stakeholder Meeting.

    In June of 2016, there was a near complete takeover of the board by Saving San Pedro emerged at the height of the anti-homeless fervor of 2015. Ever since Saving San Pedro wound up in the position of governing, as opposed to activism, they have struggled.

    Some of the struggles stem from lack of experience on a governing body that uses Robert’s Rules of Order. Other struggles stem from community advocates unaccustomed to having their every decision checked by an overseeing authority, such as the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

    This past year, Barton Hill residents rallied against the attempted placement of a navigation center designed to serve and store the belongings of homeless people. Photos by Terelle Jerricks.

    Then there is the emergence of parts of San Pedro that have not traditionally been heard but are now finding their voices, like the primarily working-class Latino residents of Barton Hill, they successfully organized and rallied against the attempted placement of a Navigation Center designed to serve and store the belongings of homeless people. Another emerging group is an LGBT voting block comprised of Mona Sutton, Leslie Jones, Aidan Garcia-Sheffield and Allyson Vought.

    These interest groups have inserted a level of identity politics not seen in recent memory at the neighborhood council level.

    Some of Donald Galaz’s posters were torn down during his write-in candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council.

    Resignations and sniping on social media over the past couple of months have taken place amidst calls for Sutton to step down as board president. This follows a March stakeholder meeting in which she called for the resignation of board Vice President Donald Galaz. Sutton called for Galaz’s resignation because of a Facebook post that he published regarding the tearing down of his posters during his write-in candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council. In that post, Galaz wrote:

    [Mine are] not the only posters/signs being torn down and thrown away … running has brought out people’s true colors. Don’t look now but the person you may be sitting next to smiling in a neighborhood council meeting or at the beach clean up could be easing a Cutco knife in your back while asking for a neighborhood purpose grant…

    Galaz mentioned no names, but Sutton’s outburst identified her as the object of the post. It also opened a Pandora’s box that no one has been able to close.

    Tension on the board can be traced to a few separate points of conflict.

    One is the friction between the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment or DONE, and the council. This was on display when DONE forced the council to postpone and reschedule its April 11 meeting because it fell on the Seder of Passover, a Jewish holiday.

    Another was when DONE stepped in and told the board they couldn’t remove Sutton as president following the March stakeholder meeting, after the board voted 8 to 3 to place that motion on the April agenda.

    Another source of tension arose because the March stakeholder meeting outburst was not fully captured word-for-word in the council’s minutes.

    Linda Alexander, who has operated as the board’s informal parliamentarian and institutional memory since leaving the board in 2015, said this was not unusual.

    “Every word said at these meetings is never written down,” Alexander said. “You don’t write every word except if it’s a written motion that’s come before the board. Because otherwise you’d have ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ throughout the meeting minutes.”

    Others countered that in the interest of transparency, a full transcript should be included with the minutes.

    Barton Hill community stakeholder member Maria Couch agreed that it was in the interest of transparency that a near full transcription should be included with the minutes, minus the “oohs” and “ahs.”

    The April council meeting began with general public comment that was actually used as an opportunity to blast the council president by a couple of board members, each of whom had filled out a few time cards to ensure that they had enough time relieve all of their grievances.

    Board member Mike Collins was one of the first to speak during public comment and challenged Sutton to step down.

    Collins cited Aiden Garcia-Sheffield’s ascension to the board as an example of the divisiveness Sutton had sown into the board. Collins noted that he liked Garcia-Sheffield and voted for him to join the board and even voted in favor of Garcia-Sheffield’s proposal to establish an LGBT committee.

    Collins alleged that Sutton would speak negatively about board members Donald Galaz and Danielle Sandoval in private conversations with him and accused her of referring to Rancho San Pedro residents as “those people,” suggesting racial or classist animus towards the Latino residents of Rancho San Pedro public housing. Collins said he particularly objected to Sutton’s advocacy of Garcia-Sheffield at the expense of two Barton Hill community residents. He explained that he voted for Garcia-Sheffield anyway because he spoke before the board and initially liked him.

    Collins said he soured on Garcia-Sheffield after at least two incidents in which Garcia-Sheffield questioned the nonprofit status of Clean San Pedro when a funding request arose.

    Collins charged that leadership has been lacking on the board under Sutton and what did exist was provided by the recently resigned board member John Stammreich.

    Rallo directly talked about how she was not happy with the neighborhood council and how things changed from six to eight months ago. She also was unhappy with Sutton’s leadership.

    The council bylaws give each commenter two minutes. They can’t extend that time by filling out multiple time cards. Sutton, who chaired the meeting, did not cut them off.

    The board addressed and voted on a funding request for Music by the Sea, which went on hiatus in 2016. After voting in favor of the request, the board heard a report from the Port of Los Angeles police, voted on a few funding measures, and discussed the council’s audio/visual needs. At this point, one by one, several members left the meeting. Some thought it was just a couple of board members leaving for a restroom break. But a majority left and never returned, resulting in a loss of quorum. The meeting ended rather ignominiously. The departed members included board members Galaz, Sandoval, Collins, Terry Bonich, Rallo and Jose Guerrero. Sutton made no response to either the board or the public about resigning her position. Although there are now four vacancies on the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, they have yet to call for the vacancies to be filled as prescribed in the bylaws.

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  • Tacos Jalisco’s Mole is Finger-Licking Good

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Restaurant Reviewer

    Cinco de Mayo is coming up and I was thinking of celebrating the anniversary the way people do in Mexico — by ignoring it entirely. Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger deal here than there. The date commemorates a battle Mexico won in a war that it lost, and though a great deal of heroism was shown, it really didn’t change anything.

    The battle became a symbol of resistance to foreign domination in the Chicano  movement of the 1960s — also linking the histories of Mexico and America — but it remained little noticed by most outside the Mexican-American community. As late as 1988, most Americans had never heard of it. But a brilliant marketing campaign by the  beer companies changed that, using the same strategy that transformed St. Patrick’s Day, a minor religious holiday in Ireland, into a celebration of the country’s expatriate community.

    Just about every bar and restaurant tries to get in on the action, but where is a hungry historian to go to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in appropriate style? I decided that since the battle back in 1862 was fought in the Mexican state of Puebla, I should dine on the culinary specialties of that state. Unfortunately, there isn’t a Puebla-style restaurant anywhere in the Harbor Area, but one item from that cuisine is widely available: mole poblano.

    Partisans of the states of Oaxaca and Puebla argue about the origin of this sauce, which is made from ground chiles and spices and finished with chocolate, but scholarly consensus is with Puebla. (There are quaint legends about the sauce being invented by nuns or monks, either deliberately or accidentally, but these may be discounted because storytellers are every bit as creative in these matters as beer companies.) But what can be stated with certainty is that mole poblano was the first item from that cuisine to become so popular that it is served in mainstream Mexican restaurants everywhere.

    For instance, a friend and I went to Tacos Jalisco on Gaffey Street in San Pedro to try their mole poblano, despite the fact that the state of Jalisco is hundreds of miles and a couple of mountain ranges away from Puebla. Like most local  Mexican restaurants, they serve items from far beyond their native region. I was there for the mole so knew what I was having, and my companion ordered the camarones al mojo de ajo because he likes anything involving shrimp and garlic. Not until it arrived did I realize it was the flip side of my dish in just about every way. Mole is a product of many indigenous ingredients and involves a long, slow cook, while mojo de ajo is a quick sauté item native to the Canary Islands that was imported into Mexican cuisine unchanged.

    His shrimp in a mildly spicy garlic sauce came with beans, rice, salad and a dollop of unexpectedly spicy guacamole. While I prefer my guac cool rather than peppery, it was pretty good. The chicken in mole poblano sauce was a much larger portion: two legs and a thigh drenched in rich sauce accompanied by rice and beans. The meat was falling-apart tender and had little or no spice — it was a canvas for that velvety, dark, rich sauce.

    How to describe it? The best I can think of was an offhand comment by a friend of mine from India, who remarked how similar it is to some South Indian curries. I understood immediately what he meant — though they share almost no common ingredients, both are thick sauces that involve a deliberate decision to grind together many spices so that no single flavor dominates. In the case of mole poblano, the chocolate that is added late in the process is a distinctive element, but it’s chocolate in a way you don’t usually taste it. There is little or no sweetness; instead, it rounds the rough edges from the heat of the chilies and strong spices without muting them completely. Although this recipe is from the Spanish period, it has a resemblance to the bitter, spicy chocolate drink that was enjoyed as a hot beverage by the Aztecs and Mayans.

    That sauce goes very well with a medium-dark beer, which is served here, or with a homemade jamaica hibiscus drink or horchata, which they don’t. The jamaica here is the sugary commercial fountain drink version and is best avoided. The management might consider changing that, because the natural flavors of hibiscus are far better with food and better for you, too.

    Tacos Jalisco isn’t fancy and neither are the prices — a big lunch for two with soft drinks ran $23. Whether you’re going to celebrate the culture of Puebla, or if you just want to have a good traditional meal and don’t really care where it was invented, it’s worth a stop.

    Tacos Jalisco is at 1202 S. Gaffey St. in San Pedro. It is open daily, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. There is street parking only. Its menu includes some vegetarian items. Wheelchair access is available. There is no online menu.

    Details: (310) 832-0453

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    When reviewing a play, I’m generally completely uninterested in knowing anything about the playwright’s life. It doesn’t really matter whether William Shakespeare or Christopher Marlowe or the Earl of Oxford wrote Hamlet, because the play’s the thing. But after seeing Good Boys and True, I was curious about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Wikipedia tells me he was in his mid 30s when he wrote Good Boys and True (2008), and that since then he’s written for TV series such as Glee, Supergirl, and Riverdale.

    While none of this is pertinent to evaluating Good Boys and True, if you know those series, you’ll recognize the tone of this tale of fallout from a student-made sex tape circulating at a storied prep school. Aguirre-Sacasa writes young, which leaves his take on a serious subject falling somewhere between a PSA and an ABC After-school Special, but with language better suited to HBO.

    It’s 1989,the good-looking senior Brandon Hardy (Wes Mathison) has it all. He’s a legacy student at prestigious St. Joseph’s and captain of the football team. He’s got his parents’ complete backing (financial and otherwise) and has already been accepted to Dartmouth. The world is his oyster, until a sex tape begins making the rounds, first at St. Joe’s, then at other area schools. Although it’s impossible conclusively to identify the boy, Brandon’s coach, Russell (Thomas Trudgeon), thinks he knows who it is and contacts Brandon’s mother (April Sigman Marx) to see whether she and her well-connected husband—Russell’s best friend at St. Joe’s back in the day—will help make it go away. But Brandon insists that it isn’t him, so the Hardys let things run their course.

    [SPOILER ALERT for the rest of the review.]

    The most sophisticated aspect of Good Boys and True is a Nature vs. Nurture argument. Aguirre-Sacasa introduces numerous possible contributing factors to why a boy who seems so well outfitted for success would not only abuse a young girl the way he does, but then sow the seeds of his own demise. Is it the culture of St. Joe’s, where this kind of thing has been tolerated for generations? Is it Brandon’s parents, who were complicit with such behavior in their time? Is it Brandon’s repressed homoerotic leanings, which go against his image of the person he’s supposed to be? Is it the gap between the haves and the have-nots? Was Brandon simply born empathy-blind? To his credit, Aguirre-Sacasa doesn’t feel the need to shove an answer down our throats.

    Unfortunately, his dialog raises these questions awkwardly. “I would have covered this up,” Brandon’s mother says. “I would have protected you! I would have done anything!” All of the characters talk like characters rather than people, which makes it difficult for the actors not to come off stiffly. The cast’s best moments are during their most emotional scenes, where the actors are able to work their way into a little looseness. The most fraught exchange between Brandon and his mother certainly paves the way for Mathison’s and Marx’s best moments. The most consistently good performance is Kayla Manuel as the girl on the tape. Like everyone else, she is hamstrung by Aguirre-Sacasa’s wonkiness, but you can’t miss her ability to inject pathos into her half-drawn character. I hope one day to see her in a play that let’s her be all she can be.

    Hugh O’Gorman’s direction makes the overall production feel more workshop-level than performance-ready (although his minimalist approach—perfectly reasonable for this material—probably exaggerates that feeling). Also, populating all of the many scene changes with alternative hits from the ’80s (The Cure, Depeche Mode, Yaz) may be a bit much—this isn’t really a period piece, after all—particularly when he begins recycling them (especially Tangerine Dream’s Risky Business piece, which is a bit too on-the-nose, methinks).

    Good Boys and True seems to have been written for a target demographic that extends three years on either side of 20, so it may be appropriate that it’s playing on a college campus mostly to undergrads seeing it for course credit. Unfortunately, it comes nowhere near to clearing the high bar that Cal Rep has set with many of their previous productions.


    (Photo credit: Kip I. Polakoff)


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  • Unions to Reclaim May Day in Solidarity with Immigrant Workers

    • 04/27/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Peter Olney and Rand Wilson

     The buzz about reclaiming, updating and branding May 1 as a Day Without Immigrants is growing in ways that are true to May Day’s historic origins the recent movement recalls the 19th century struggle for the eight-hour workday and the giant mobilizations in 2006 that responded to proposed draconian anti-immigrant federal legislation called the Sensenbrenner Immigration Bill. Spanish radio is already churning with calls for strikes, rallies and demonstrations.

    If we don’t march with these Latin[o] workers, we will lose the confidence and trust of [a] whole generation of Latinos,” American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Regional Director David Stickler said .

    Sickler’s argument won the day,  and Los Angeles labor turned out for the march. That action and many others solidified the labor/Latino nexus. In one generation, California went from “Reagan-land” to solid Blue Democratic.

    Read more at Stansburyforum.com

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  • Rep. Ted Lieu: Resist and Take Back the House

    • 04/27/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Rep. Ted Lieu’s April 24 town hall meeting at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center was everything Democratic district town halls should be.

    “We are not living in normal times,” said the second term representative for the 33rd Congressional District. “So this won’t be a normal town hall meeting.”

    Lieu didn’t even have a chance to speak before a raucous group of Donald Trump supporters, including Latinos for Trump and right-wing gadfly and exhibitionist Arthur Schaper tried drowning out Lieu with shouts of “You Lie!” and “Liar!”

    Through quick-witted retorts, Lieu gave out better than what he got from the Trump-supporting hecklers.

    “Dude, I make up the rules. You got it?” he said to one heckler.

    The boos of the Trump-supporting dissenters were drowned out by standing ovations from the largely Democratic audience.

    Like all other Democratic congressional representatives, Lieu spent his spring break away from Washington, D.C., listening to his constituents and revving up Democratic supporters to fight the Trump and Republican agenda.

    Some were more successful than others, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein fell in the camp of the least successful. The quarter century congressional veteran found herself getting booed from San Francisco to Los Angeles, staking positions that seemed to the right on questions of whether she supported a single-payer health care system. Though the attacks came from Bernie Sanders supporters in areas where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 10 percentage points or more, adopting the language of conservatives opposing the government takeover of health care didn’t earn her any new fans.

    Rep. Nanette Barragan, who had already hosted a couple of town hall meetings before coming to San Pedro on April 20, showed flashes of the tenacity she displayed during her race for the Congressional District 44 seat. She did much better by repeatedly highlighting the importance of the progressive, grassroots resistance against Trumpcare, the Republican proposed alternative to Obamacare.

    But unlike Lieu’s town hall, there was no pro-Trump contingent serving as reminder of just what was at stake in 2018 congressional elections. The message was clear and decisive. To beat Trump, Democrats must first take back the House of Representatives.

    Constituents asked about issues related to environmental justice; Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric being turned into action; Trump’s saber rattling at North Korea, and dropping bombs in Syria and Afghanistan.

    Lieu recalled issuing a public statement after 2016 general election lauding the peaceful transfer of power and his call of giving then President-elect Donald Trump a chance to govern. He said he concluded he was wrong before the month of January ended.

    Lieu, who has political action committee known as known as the Leadership, Integrity, Engagement, Unity PAC, which also paid for the Redondo Beach Town Hall meeting, is being used to help finance campaigns other than his own.

    Citing the grassroots movement that emerged following the Women’s March after Trump’s inauguration in defeating Trumpcare, Lieu called for the same ground swell of support to help retain Democratic incumbents such as Sacramento Reps. Doris Matsui, Pete Aguilar, Raul Ruiz and Scott Peters.

    Then he asked the motivated crowd to help him flip 14 incumbent Republican districts for the 2018 Congressional elections, including several incumbents in California such as Reps. Steve Knight, Mimi Walters, Dana Rohrbacher and Daryl Issa.

    He called Trump’s missile strikes on a Syrian air base “unconstitutional” and said the Russian investigation “could lead to high crimes and misdemeanors,” the criteria for impeachment.

    “If this continuing resolution has any funding for the stupid border wall idea of Donald Trump, if it has even a penny of funding, I’m not only a no, I’m a hell no!” he exclaimed.

    For Democrats dismayed by the Trump administration and their own impotence, town halls like this one are needed to gear up for the fight to take back Congress.

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  • The Jazz Giants of LA Perform at the Grand Annex

    • 04/27/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • News
    • Comments are off

    It isn’t only the recent success of the Oscar-winning film, La La Land, that has brought a new flock of listeners to jazz. Los Angeles has been in the midst of a rich renaissance of this robust and evolving music.

    This resurgence has occurred in two ways: First, young, local jazz artists like Kamasi Washington and Gregory Porter are drawing new fans by seamlessly blending the sounds of jazz progeny like hip hop, rhythm and blues and integrating global rhythms from their transnational brethren. These exciting mixtures re-imagine familiar musical tastes of new fans and awaken new aural senses.

    The other way is through jazz venues at which the giants hold court, like the April 28 Jazz Giants Sessions at the Grand Annex. The event, presented by thin Man Entertainment, will bring together the towering musical talents of drummer Al Williams, bassist Henry “The Skipper” Franklin and pianist Gary Matsumoto.  In this space, they play the music we love and they improvise to the point of sonic gratification.

    This special performance, featuring three Los Angeles jazz giants will be among the best shows one can experience. As the song, In the Footsteps of Giants, forecasts, the outcome of  this show holds no risk.

    Al Williams, drummer, entrepreneur and promoter of jazz, has a well-earned reputation as a musical mover and shaker. His Rainbow Promotions, now run by his daughter, Kimberly Benoit, has produced the Long Beach Jazz Festival for almost 30 years. Williams was also the proprietor of two Long Beach jazz clubs, The Jazz Safari and Birdland West. As a percussionist playing be-bop, blues, funk, straight ahead and Latin, Williams commands attention. His beats are powerful and his rhythms artistic. Using sticks, brushes or just his hands he consistently offers surprise and nuanced phrases on his gear. Williams has played or recorded with Hampton Hawes, Eddie Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Witherspoon and Sarah Vaughn.

    Henry Franklin is an extraordinary bass player. In presence and conspicuously distinct sound, he takes center stage. He has performed with many headline artists, including Al Jarreau, Stevie Wonder, Count Basie, Freddie Hubbard and Milt Jackson. He also was part of the legendary Hugh Masekela’s band in the late 1960s. Franklin eventually formed his own record company, Skipper Productions, releasing at least 24 of his own albums and 28 others. He has toured in more than 60 countries including Japan, China and Armenia.

    Gary Matsumoto has developed a reputation for being a first-rate pianist, composer, arranger, and educator in Southern California. Born and raised here, Matsumoto has been a regular on the Los Angeles jazz scene for more than a decade and has played in venues across the United States and internationally. Playing and recording credits include George Benson, Jane Monheit, Azar Lawrence and Bobby Rodriguez.

    Don’t miss this special show and see for yourself how these luminaries live up to their title.

    Details: http://thejazzgiants.brownpapertickets.com

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  • The Art of Disruption in a Time of Division

    • 04/27/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    From Town Halls to Neighborhood Council meetings

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    It was some 25 years ago when I stepped into the bar at Ante’s Restaurant looking for Tony Perkov only to find my nemesis Rod Decker, a former Los Angeles Police Department officer. Back then, he was a vocal racist with whom I had exchanged more than a word or two regarding his casual use of racial epithets. That night television screens across the United States displayed the police beating of Rodney King.

    Walking into Ante’s, I was taken by surprise.  Decker, sitting at the bar with his back to the door, could see me walking-by in the mirror behind the bar. Before I could say anything, he turned around and said, “No lo contendre, pardner,” in an affectation of Spanglish. “That was a completely unrighteous bust.”

    This ended a months-long conflict that started at this very same bar with me standing up one night after one of his racist rants. I threw my hat on the bar and told him in no uncertain terms, with a helping of Anglo-Saxon swearing, that I wasn’t going to put up with his shit anymore!  There was dead silence as everyone looked into their drinks and pondered my words.

    The moral to this story is that words do hold power and they often divide us, but in the end, actions — our own or others’ — speak louder in defining us and occasionally bringing opposites together.

    The past year in the political fervor ramping up to the November presidential elections, two of San Pedro’s neighborhood councils elected majorities supported by the Saving San Pedro Facebook activist group opposing the homeless with very disparaging postings. One of the first actions they took after gaining power was to institute the obligatory Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of every meeting.

    I objected on various grounds — not the least of which being the “under God” portion, which was not part of the original pledge, and which now can be argued separates rather than unites Americans, making us not so “indivisible.”

    Subsequently, both Coastal and Central San Pedro Neighborhood Councils have become so divided that they are dysfunctional and have not addressed the homeless crisis at all.  Rather, they have spent an inordinate amount of time battling amongst themselves over petty issues, such as Neighborhood Purpose Grants, and battling the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment over meeting dates and places and Brown Act violations. Basically, the inability to run a meeting or collaborate with others on their own councils stands in their way. This sounds a lot like Congress, doesn’t it?

    At one point, the former president of Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council, after he was forced to resign, posted on Facebook that city funding of neighborhood councils was a waste of taxpayer monies and the city should use the revenue for fixing sidewalks.

    Clearly, this is the vision of many people who gain political position for the first time and are shocked to realize that governing is not the same thing as having an uprising. This is akin to what is happening to Trump and his supporters.  This is also the problem of people who are constantly opposing whatever it is they are against and never offering a positive solution to the issues at hand.

    This brings me back to the issue of Los Angeles City Hall, the homeless crisis and the Democratic leadership of the city.

    The liberal leadership of the city, the state and even those in Congress have all become united against everything President Donald Trump has campaigned on: the immigration ban, the wall and deportation orders; rolling back EPA regulations; and the reform of the national health care law. But what you haven’t heard from them are alternative solutions.

    At City Hall in Los Angeles, they have proposed and passed a $1.2 billion bond to address housing for the homeless while at the very same time amending Los Angeles Municipal Code 56.11 to shorten the legal notice time from 72 to 24 hours on homeless encampment sweeps. Has this actually solved anything or just exacerbated an already bad situation? The homeless population hasn’t declined even though the city and the county continue to throw money at the issue.

    It’s a fine act of resistance to oppose Trump’s threats against sanctuary cities and file lawsuits against his blanket executive orders on Muslims. I actually applaud these actions.

    Yet, the more Trump pushes his agenda, the more he drives centrist Democrats into taking measures to resist.  However, most of the liberal electeds are calling upon activists to do their bidding for them, while at home, they defend an uncertain status quo.  A significant uprising against all things Trump in Los Angeles just might also take down city hall’s power structure as the city’s 35 communities have grown tired of being treated as disempowered vassals of a city, while their needs go unmet.

    There is no glue that keeps this city or perhaps even this nation “indivisible” as we the people take some great liberties in being divisive! There is nothing in our Constitution or charter that says we must be united, except in name only. We’ve even fought a Civil War and had many civil uprisings to prove this point. The riot 25 years ago in LA is still referred to in South Central as an “uprising.”

    Yet, it is a very good thing that Mayor Eric Garcetti comes out with this announcement on Trump’s threats to our city:

    Today’s ruling by Judge Orrick [blocking Trump’s order] is good news, and reminds us that people’s rights transcend political stunts. The Constitution protects cities’ right to create humane, sensible policies that keep our neighborhoods safe and our communities together. It is time for the federal government to stop attacking cities and scapegoating immigrants, and begin focusing on the hard work of comprehensive immigration reform. I will keep working to defend the rights of all our residents — including immigrants — and fighting to protect our own federal tax dollars, which Angelenos want to invest in keeping their families safe and our city strong.

    It would be consistent with this statement if the mayor felt the same way about protecting our rights against the abuses of city government. However, it would be quite another thing to see Garcetti leading a march on the federal building with the other liberal council members showing solidarity with the grassroots resistance and then proposing the visionary reforms that were first enunciated in 1944 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his Second Bill of Rights:

    We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men.  People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.   Among these are:

    • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
    • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
    • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
    • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
    • The right of every family to a decent home;
    • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
    • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
    • The right to a good education.

    America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens. For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

    If and when the Democratic leadership decides to stand up for its historic core values both here in Los Angeles and in our legislatures, that is when our nation has a chance to become united again and the Democratic Party can find its soul.

    Until then, they will look more like Republicans arguing over healthcare reform than a party prepared to govern for the economic security of the people.

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  • Jazz Salon

    • 04/27/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off


    April 28
    Jazz Salon Night
    Thin Man Entertainment and SPIFFest is presenting a very special night featuring Al Williams, Henry Franklin and Gary Matsumoto.
    Time: 7 p.m. April 28
    Cost: $15 to $25
    Details: http://thejazzgiants.brownpapertickets.com
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 29
    The Original Medallions
    Come out for a night of music with doo-wop legends The Original Medallions singing their hits Magic Mountain and The Letter.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $30 to $40
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Doo-Wop-Legends
    Venue: Marina Seafood Restaurant, 1050 Nagoya Way, San Pedro

    April 29
    Mike Gurrola Trio
    The Mike Gurrola Trio is creative and clear. You always know where they are in the forms of the song.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 30
    Richard Sherman Trio
    Pianist Richard Sherman and Grammy Award-winning vocalist Bili Redd have been playing music together for more than seven years. In addition to local nightclubs in the South Bay, they have also performed in eight benefit concerts.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 30
    Cost: $25
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 4
    Dave Widow and Friends

    Guitarist, singer and songwriter Dave Widow will deliver an evening of rockin’ funky hits with singing bassman Joe Puerta, former Ambrosia drummer Burleigh Drummond and former Three Dog Night keyboardist Dave Morgan..
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. May 4
    Cost: Free
    Venue: 6th at Mesa streets, San Pedro

    May 6
    Anne Walsh Quartet
    The Anne Walsh Quartet delivers an eclectic soundscape of contemporary and Brazilian jazz influences.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 6
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 6
    Rumbankete reigns supreme in the greater Los Angeles area salsa scene. This 14-piece line-up is putting contemporary Cuban dance music (timba) on the map.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 6
    Cost: $20 to $120
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    May 7
    The History of Surf Music
    Paul Johnson from the Belairs (Mr.Moto) will be presenting a storytelling about surf music from the South Bay, including Palos Verdes. He and The Halibuts will also perform.
    Time: 4 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $1
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 7
    Jane Monheit
    Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s Centennial with Jane Monheit at the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Concert.
    Time: 6 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $35 to $65
    Details: http://sjomusic.org
    Venue: Carpenter Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    May 12
    Los Angeles Harbor College
    The Los Angeles Harbor College Music Department will present a concert of music by Anita Chang and Rodney Oakes for piano, sackbut, trombones and video. Together, they will perform new works by Oakes, including the premiere of his The Children of Aleppo.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 233-4429
    Venue:  Los Angeles Harbor College, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington


    April 29
    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    A collection of hilariously complex characters brings light to the shallowness of ambition, regret and the cultural decay of American life.
    Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, April 29 to May 27
    Cost: $24.00
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org/show/vanya-sonia-masha-spike
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim Street Long Beach

    April 29
    Stupid Fucking Bird
    An evening (sort of) based on Anton Chekhov’s stupid fucking play, The Seagull, set in our 21st century America. A young theater artist tries to create a new form of theater, and to revolt against his mother, her generation, and their old ideas of art.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $25
    Details: www.thegaragetheatre.org
    Venue: The Garage Theatre, 251 E. 7th St., Long Beach

    April 30
    Romeo and Juliet
    Elysium Conservatory Theatre opens in their new home with a fantastical reawakening of the greatest love story ever told, William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Artistic Director Aaron Ganz has chosen to dive into the very essence of love — weaving stunning choreography, poetry and music into a theatrical adventure that pushes the very boundaries of possibility.
    Time: 8 p.m. through April 30
    Cost: $25
    Details: (424) 535-7333; info@fearlessartists.org
    Venue: Elysium Conservatory Theatre, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    May 6
    Seaward Ho!
    Long Beach Playhouse presents Treasure Island, the beloved classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. For many of us, most of what we know about pirates, buried treasure and adventure came from Stevenson’s novel.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 6
    Cost: $14 to $24
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    May 7
    Uncanny Valley
    Drawing on current research in artificial intelligence and robotics, Uncanny Valley charts the relationship between Claire, a neuroscientist, and Julian, a non-biological human. As Julian is “born” a few body parts at a time over the course of the play, Claire teaches him how to be as human as possible. Uncanny Valley explores the painful divide between creator and creation, and how we are redefining what it means to be human in the 21st century.
    Time: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 7
    Cost: $25 to $35
    Details: http://ictlongbeach.org/
    Venue: International City Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    May 13
    As One
    As One is a story about identity, authenticity and compassion. Two voices — Hannah before and Hannah after — share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. The opera is based and inspired in part by the life experiences of acclaimed filmmaker Kimberly Reed.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 13, and 2:30 p.m. May 20 and 21
    Cost: $49 to $150
    Details: www.longbeachopera.org
    Venue: The Beverly O’Neill Theater, 300 E Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    April 30
    Ann Weber, Sculpture
    TransVagrant and Gallery 478 present Ann Weber, Sculpture. Ann Weber’s organic sculpture is abstract, formally elegant, and composed of inelegant salvaged cardboard. Weber’s technique is disarmingly direct.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through April 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 600-4873;  www.transvagrant.com
    Venue: Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th. St., San Pedro

    April 30
    Spätzle Machine
    Stop by Tim Maxeiner‘s studio during the biannual Angels Gate Open Studio Day to experience the Spätzle Machine and take a look at more of his recent work.
    Time: 12 to 4 p.m. April 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 South Gaffey Street, San Pedro

    May 14
    The exhibition Threesome features multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 15
    A New View
    A New View features painter Susan Soffer Cohn, watercolor artist Parrish Nelson Hirasaki and jewelry artist Nancy Comaford.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 pm Monday to Saturday, and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.
    Details: http://artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 20
    Artist/Mother is a multi-media exhibition that presents the works of Calida Rawles, Mother Naturalist, Julia Barbee, Camilla Løhren Chmiel and Megan Schvaneveldt. These artists are confronted with the challenge: “What do my identities of both artist and mother mean for my practice?”
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. through May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429 0973; www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    May 20
    Painting with the Masters: Emerging Artists
    Parkhurst Galleries invites you to its Painting with the Masters art exhibit, featuring emerging artists.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.parkhurstgalleries.com
    Venue: Park Hurst Galleries, Inc, 439 W. 6th Street San Pedro

    May 21
    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero, in the exhibition titled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works — including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway — address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    May 22
    Knockdown Dash
    Two new exhibitions address distinct issues concerning housing and development in Southern California through a variety of mediums and visual strategies. In Knockdown Dash by Nicole Capps, James McCarthy and Broken Ground by John Hulsey and collaborators, the artists draw on their personal experiences to explore structural concerns.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    Details: http://angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro


    April 29
    Tea by the Sea
    Come have a cup of tea and enjoy the ocean view while surrounded by the beautiful Point Fermin Lighthouse gardens.
    Time: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 241-0684
    Venue: Point Fermin Lighthouse, 807 W. Paseo del Mar, San Pedro

    April 29
    San Pedro Animal Fair
    At this inaugural animal fair, there will be goody bags, free food, a craft table for children, lots of speakers and free rabies vaccines for the first hundred qualified participants. For the remaining participants, low-cost vaccines will be offered as well as low-cost spay and neuter sign-up for the following day. Last but not least pet adoptions. If you are looking for a new fur baby, come out and see the adoptable dogs. Centinella Pet is also requesting donations of towels and blankets for the animal shelter.
    Time: 12 p.m. April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/SanPedro-PetFair
    Venue: Point Fermin Park, 807 W. Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro

    April 29
    IWW Joe Hill Memorial
    Joe Hill was convicted of murder in Utah in 1914 and was sentenced of death by firing squad. Many believed Hill was being railroaded for his association with the Industrial Workers of the World — otherwise known as the Wobblies. Join in the celebration honoring Hill and his life’s work in San Pedro. Speakers include local labor historian Art Almeida and Matt Hart of the Los Angeles General Membership Branch of the IWW. Musical guests include the Moon Bandits.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: (323) 374-3499; www.iww.org/branches/US/CA/lagmb
    Venue: 5th Street at Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro

    KJLH Women’s Health Expo
    Ladies, this is a day of health information, free testing, fellowship and even healthy food. A live broadcast kicks off your day first thing in the morning with panel discussions from medical and health professionals from a variety of disciplines.
    Time: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://kjlhradio.com/kjlh-womens-health-expo
    Venue: Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren at Skylight Books
    Warren will be reading from and discussing her new book This Fight Is Our Fight. Every ticket includes a pre-signed copy of the book; the program does not include a book signing.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $35
    Details: www.alextheatre.org
    Alex Theatre, 216 N Brand Blvd, Glendale

    May 5
    Food for Soul: Cooking is a Call to Act
    Featuring Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana, Mario Batali, Roy Choi, Dominique Crenn and Chef Mary Sue Milliken. Hosted by Jonathan Gold. The panel discussion will be followed by an exclusive screening of Theater of Life. This film explores the story behind the Refettorio Ambrosiano, a soup kitchen conceived by chef Massimo Bottura for the Milan 2015 World’s Fair to turn food waste into meals for those in need. Donations will go to Food Forward, a Los Angeles nonprofit that rescues local produce that would otherwise go to waste.
    Time: 7 p.m. May 5
    Cost: $5
    Details: (213) 623-3233
    Venue: The Theatre at Ace Hotel DTLA,  929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

    May 7
    Beauty of Nature film series – Tortoise in Peril
    Small actions have a large impact on species from the deserts to Antarctica. There will be a Q-and-A with filmmaker Tim Branning. Live tortoises will be exhibited.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $10
    Details: pvplc.org
    Venue: John Olguin Auditorium, 3720 Stephen M White Drive, San Pedro

    Impressions Workshop
    Enjoy a naturalist-guided coastal hike and family friendly activities along Discovery Trail to Terranea Resort for a children’s art workshop. All ages are welcome.
    Time:  9 to 11 a.m. May 7
    Details: www.pvplc.org
    Cost:  $25
    Venue: Terranea Resort, 31300 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes (Meet in front of the statue at Pelican Cove Parking)

    May 8
    Ships & Giggles
    Join in every second Monday of the month for our all new stand-up comedy series Ships & Giggles featuring up-and-coming local comedians performing in the Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge.
    Time: 8 to 10 p.m. May 8
    Cost: $15
    Details: http://bit.ly/QMComedy
    Venue: The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    May 12
    Movie Under the Guns
    Battleship IOWA invites you to a free screening of Zootopia. The movie will be shown on board the fantail of Battleship IOWA, as you sit under the stars, overlooking the beautiful LA Waterfront. Seating is first come first served.
    Time: 7:30 to 10 p.m. May 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (877) 446-9261
    Venue: Battleship USS Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 87, San Pedro

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  • UNCANNY VALLEY @ International City Theatre

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a staple of speculative fiction since the time of Alan Turing (b. 1912, d. 1954); and the closer we creep to realizing the possibility, the more timely it seems. But the downside for today’s writers taking on the topic is two-fold: 1) there’s an ever-larger body of work on the subject to which an audience will compare any new work; and 2) increased knowledge of computers and neuroscience means there’s more for contemporary writers to know so that their work doesn’t enter the world already seeming dated.

    Unfortunately, Thomas Gibbons’s Uncanny Valley suffers on both these counts—which means that even if you don’t know enough about the state of the sciences to spot where he’s engaging in heavy-handed exposition or convoluting the concepts in play, you probably can’t help thinking about where you’ve seen the same basic ideas handled far more interestingly.

    Roughly three-fourths of the way through the 21st century, Claire (Susan Denaker) is a pioneering neuroscientist whose life’s work has been dedicated to advancing us closer to genuine AI. Her final project before retiring is Julian (Jacob Sidney), an android built to house the memories and personality of a dying tycoon who has not had his fill of life. We meet Claire and her creation early in the latter’s tutelage, when Julian is little more than a head to be filled with an encyclopedic knowledge base (he’s really strong on the Thirty Years’ War) and a growing sense of what it is to be human. Throughout Act 1 Julian acquires additional body parts and humanity, the latter mostly by way of Claire doing a sort of Henry Higgins thing.

    I don’t know why a c. 2170 robot starts out sounding more robotic than c. 2010 Siri. I don’t know why a neuroscientist would pronounce synapse “SIGH-naps.” I don’t know why every time Claire calls her husband he answers so quickly he must have been not only holding his phone but staring at it. Probably I could have gotten past such cosmetic flaws if Gibbons’s script didn’t have bone-deep blemishes. But the playwright can’t keep straight whether the tycoon’s personality is downloaded directly or is a product of data input, and there’s an offstage subplot concerning Claire’s daughter that serves no purpose beyond giving Claire a reason to emote, and Gibbons is always off the mark when he aims at pith or erudition. (“Evolved?” asks pre-tycoon Julian. “But I don’t have the selfish gene”—meaningless if you don’t know Richard Dawkins, a real groaner if you do.)

    The single scene that comprises Act 2, when tycoon-infused Julian visits Claire, is where Gibbons best gets into ethics issues, the most interesting of which is a ship of Theseus thing about whether new Julian has legal rights to the business empire old-man Julian left behind. But even here, the explorations never run deep. To make matters worse, neither Denaker nor Sidney deliver the dialog with much nuance, simply yelling the majority of their lines even when script doesn’t call for it.

    In choosing to compose a work of fiction based on a rich subject, authors often make the mistake of not carrying their own weight, instead seeming to rely on the strength of their subject to do the heavy lifting. Uncanny Valley is exactly that. AI is a compelling, topical subject, full of dramatic possibility around the myriad issues (moral, ethical, sociological, psychological, technological) that intersect at the point where the non-biological entity in front of us is returning our sentient gaze. But if you’ve seen Blade Runner or A.I. or Ex Machina—or even a passable populist take like Bicentennial Man—it’s unlikely you’ll see much of anything in Uncanny Valley.


    (Photo credit: Steven Georges)

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  • Rights of Special Ed Students at Stake

    • 04/21/2017
    • Lyn Jensen
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    The rights of thousands of children with special needs in the Los Angeles Unified School District are at stake in a lawsuit that’s bounced between the U.S. District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for four years. LAUSD is the defendant in the class action suit filed in 2013 by several parents with special needs children.

    At issue is whether the LAUSD is complying with a 1975 federal law and a 1995 consent decree.

    “The LAUSD has routinely been violating the rights of the special needs children,” charges attorney Eric Jacobson via e-mail. Jacobson represents the parents who, on behalf of their children, allege the LAUSD has engaged in a district-wide pattern of improper activities in violation of the 1975 federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by forcing students with special needs into general education schools.

    Often referred to as IDEA, the law says each student with special needs must be assessed as to the “least restrictive” placement on an individual basis. The parents argue that for their children, a special education center is the least restrictive environment.

    The parties are primarily at odds over the interpretation of a portion of the consent decree that was renegotiated and modified in 2003.

    The court filing alleges that, “The District has been engaged in a district-wide pattern of improper activities to comply with Renegotiated Outcome 7 which violate IDEA” and the modified consent decree.

    The court could hold the district in contempt for violating the modified consent decree but so far, technicalities and appeals have resulted in no clear outcome.

    The LAUSD has been closing special education schools and mainstreaming thousands of special needs students into general education for several years. The lawsuit alleges this is in violation of not only IDEA but also the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree. Chanda Smith was a special needs student in the LAUSD during the 1990s and the plaintiff in a federal case that resulted in a consent decree named after her.

    Now, the issue is whether the LAUSD violates IDEA and the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree by placing students in general education without changing their individual assessments and without proper parental permission.

    Jacobson was involved in mediation that led to the Modified Consent Decree in 2003. The LAUSD has still not met the requirements to get out from under it.

    Jacobson said around 2002 the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the Chanda Smith lawsuit, began arguing children with disabilities must be mainstreamed into the general student population. Some parents represented by Jacobson and another lawyer, Steve Masada, went to mediation with the district to settle the dispute in 2003.

    “Starting in 2012 or so the ACLU and the LAUSD joined forces [to mainstream disabled students into general education],” Jacobson said. “What’s at stake is the right of the parents of the disabled to guide their education for their children.”

    Joy Efron is a LAUSD educator who disagrees with the district closing special education centers.

    “The ACLU and some other civil rights groups consider special schools for children with disabilities as segregated,” Efron stated in an email. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

    She said for many years LAUSD housed some classes for non-disabled students at schools such as Frances Blend, for years the only school for the blind in the district. A few years ago the district moved the non-disabled students out — then argued special schools for the disabled were “segregated.”

    “LAUSD has special schools for gifted kids, pregnant minors, performing arts [and] at-risk youth,” Efron explained. “Only those schools for disabled kids are [labeled] segregated.”

    “Special schools are mandated by the federal government as part of a continuum of options [in the student assessments which IDEA mandates]. They are also mandated by the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree,” Efron argued.

    She speaks as a former principal (now retired) at Frances Blend. It was closed in 2013 and the students placed in what LAUSD called an “integrated learning community” at Van Ness Elementary.

    Efron said that around 2012, the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree “morphed into a move to close all special education classes.” She added that since the LAUSD began closing special education schools in 2013, blind students now receive only about 45 minutes of education in Braille per month.

    In response, some parents, including Mina Lee and April Munoz, representing special needs children, filed a Motion to Intervene in federal court in 2013. The lawsuit charges the LAUSD moved “solely to meet the quota requirements” to comply with the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree.

    “Every child with a visual impairment is being assigned to schools regardless of special needs,” Jacobson argued. “Kids are being forced to attend schools that do not have bathroom facilities that they can use. Blind children are being moved to schools that are dangerous.”

    In 2014, Judge Ronald Lew denied the motion to intervene on grounds of timeliness and failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The decision was appealed. In February 2016, the appeals court overruled Lew’s decision and ordered intervention.

    The case has since gone back and forth between Lew’s court and the court of appeals at least twice. In June 2016, the LAUSD petitioned the appeals court for a rehearing.

    Subsequently, some parents pleaded with the LAUSD board at a June 14 meeting to withdraw the request. The majority — Steve Zimmer, Monica Garcia, Monica Ratliff and Ref Rodriguez — voted against withdrawal. The appeals court turned the LAUSD down.

    In August 2016, Lew granted motion to intervene but only to the parents actually named, not the entire class, and denied an injunction on another technicality. The parents appealed again. Both sides filed appeals briefs early in 2017.

    Jacobson said in a phone interview that the appeals court decision could come at any time. If the appeal is successful, the case will likely be sent back to Lew again.

    He said that if the appeal is not successful, the parents must go back to the independent monitor charged with enforcing the modified consent decree who, he maintains, is representing “only parents who believe in full inclusion.”

    The LAUSD declined to comment. Littler Mendelson, the law firm representing the district in this case, also declined to comment.

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