• Town Hall It Was Not

    • 03/22/2018
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Demolition of Ports O’ Call Village comes at the same time POLA reveals plans

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Six months ago, the Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka, agreed with my suggestion to hold a public meeting updating the harbor community on the various waterfront plans and projects. I even offered to help him plan it.  The date was postponed at least six times and was finally held March 20 at the Warner Grand Theater, the site of the last presentation on the Ports O’Call development.

    People have been waiting a long time for this “update” with considerable misgivings and misinformation abounding. A curious crowd of 800 people showed up. This time there were some 50 demonstrators marching outside, calling into question the eviction and intended demolition of the popular Ports O’Call restaurant. The port’s public relations team was noticeably on edge, having expected an overwhelming positive response. That is not what this very well-crafted PR presentation received.

    Just one week before, at the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development committee, chairman Tim McOsker called the meeting to order with the admonishment that this was neither the forum nor the venue to debate the issue of Ports O’Call evictions or development even though two presenters on the agenda were the port’s  Director of Waterfront and Commercial Real Estate, Mike Galvin and Alan Johnson of Jerico Development. Both gave only limited oral reports on what was presented in previous meetings and one week later in full widescreen formats.

    There was no discussion of the salient points of this development, silence on the growing criticism and only one remark from Mr. Johnson, who has stayed mute on this for months, on why the entire waterfront is being demolished.

    “It’s in the [2009] EIR,”  he said, which according to some is a patently wrong reading of the document.

    Only later when Elise Swanson, the director of the Chamber of Commerce addressed the issue of the 150 displaced workers (and by my estimation it’s probably double that number when you add up Acapulco, the Asian Village, the 20 village shops and Ports O’Call Restaurant) I questioned why the businesses were not offered relocation fees to move into the downtown business district. Her response resembled someone expressing aghast that they should be given something “for free.”  A curious remark, in as much as the San Pedro Market Place team is receiving five years of free rent on an unheard of 65-year lease. No one raises an eyebrow about such largess.

    While McOsker, who is also now CEO of AltaSea, may be right that chamber’s Economic/Development committee doesn’t have purview to decide much, it does retain its standing as an unofficial arbiter and influencer on all things related to development in San Pedro. As such, it has often been the place where projects and proposals go before the general public even gets a hint of what’s in store and where developers and government officials go even before coming before the neighborhood councils — governing bodies that actually have standing in the City of Los Angeles. These meetings are only open to chamber members or invited guests. These meetings have become a platform from which a few in the business arena are able to manufacture a kind of consent based upon very limited perspectives.

    On Jan. 11, two months before either of these meetings took place, the public spoke out against the demolition of Ports O’Call, the eviction of the small shop owners, the lack of transparency and the dislocation of workers (a kind euphemism for losing their jobs due to development). At that time, Mr. Galvin said that the retention of any tenant was at the sole discretion of the developers — a statement that he later retracted at the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting in February.  What was not revealed at this meeting was that Ports O’Call Restaurant had been in negotiations since at least December 2017 (and possibly as far back as October 2017) over their continued operation and inclusion in the development. But nothing was said publicly, nor would it be revealed until an eviction notice was served on Jayme Wilson at Ports O’ Call Restaurant at the very same time that he received a Letter Of Intent from the Ratkovich group, the senior partners of the San Pedro Market Place.

    Now, I’m not a big believer in magic, but this appeared to be a poor imitation of a sleight-of-hand trick by the port to not include this tenant or any tenant that they deem unacceptable to remain on the waterfront — regardless of community support. This became even more obvious when it was later revealed that some seven current tenants have been just as magically chosen to remain while others have not. This does not resemble the original promise made by both the port and developers at the first public meeting a few years ago when the Ports O’Call development was proposed “in stages” and promises were made that businesses would remain open and then moved when work was to begin.  Oddly something changed last summer. But at this point, neither the port nor the developers will admit to exactly what changed.

    What is even more concerning to me is how those who owe a certain fealty to POLA either by patronage, lease holdings or charitable donations are quietly manipulating the discourse on this very significant development and silencing any form of dissent or public debate.  POLA, with its new “waterfront partners” can exert the same kind of influence with commercial real estate development that it has had for the past century with international trade and cargo infrastructure development. Everywhere except at neighborhood councils or unaffiliated groups.

    What is called for here is a new Citizen Advisory Panel on Port Development, made up of neighborhood councils and not the chambers of commerce nor others loyal to the port in any form. It needs to be independent of Council District 15 and the Los Angeles City Council. This has been needed ever since the port canceled the previous Port/Community Advisory Committee (PCAC) unilaterally.

    Regardless of what some Chicken Littles in the area are exclaiming about the consequences of stalling the San Pedro Waterfront development at this point — in particular the Ports O’Call Restaurant bungled deal — the real success of economic development lies in the hands of both AltaSea and the newly announced SpaceX deal proposed for the Southwest Marine Shipyard site across the main channel.

    Where the San Pedro Market Place may only create some 700 mostly service jobs when fully built out — this according to Eric Johnson of Jerico development — the other two projects are bound to bring in three times that number of much higher paid positions. And that’s the real promise of the future of waterfront development — the creation of high-tech, green jobs that create a second industry based in the San Pedro Bay.

    Now that’s a public discussion that’s worth having.

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  • Curtain Call: Cambodian Rock Band Adds a New Verse to the Old Khmer Song

    By Gregory Moore, Curtain Call Columnist

    Music is the soul of Cambodia,” says Duch after briefly reviewing the country’s vibrant early ‘70s rock scene. “[…] But that’s not what you think of when you think of Cambodia, is it? […] You think of everything that came after, once the shit hit the fan.”

    He’s talking about the Khmer Rouge, of course, and the genocide that enveloped the entire nation from 1975 to 1979. It’s a tragedy with reverberations still so loud that every narrative work related to Cambodia seems somehow about the Khmer Rouge.

    Cambodia Rock Band squarely fits that bill. But what makes the journey worth taking are the musical side roads that connect the well trodden Cambodia-coming-to-terms-with-its-past plot tropes with the country’s all-but-forgotten rock ‘n’ roll soul.

    Phnom Penh, 2008. Despite Cambodian ancestry, Neary (Brooke Ishibashi) is for all intents and purposes an American. But two years ago she arrived in-country for the first time as part of an effort to bring the first successful indictment of a Khmer Rouge leader and overseer of S-21, a notorious prison camp from which there were just seven survivors. But she may have discovered an eighth, and that development could prove crucial to landing a conviction. Just as this news is about to break, Neary’s father, Chum (Joe Ngo), pays her a visit and for the first time opens up about his youth in Cambodia, both as a musician and a prisoner of the evil regime.

    The less closely you examine the plot of Cambodian Rock Band, the better. Too much of the action is motivated by playwright Lauren Yee taking shortcuts to where she wants to go (rather than dictated by the play’s internal logic), and you see too many of the bends in the road from miles away. (Chum’s arrival runs into both problems.) There’s also one character that exists almost solely for the sake of exposition—something there’s generally too much of in the script.

    “[H]ow come you don’t start with brother number 2, 3, or 4 instead of brother number 562?” Chum asks Neary in questioning the prosecution of the S-21 overseer.  “[…] He helped brother number one — Pol Pot — kill two million of his own people,” she rejoins, as if Chum might not know who brother number one was.

    No character has much of an arc. Chum is the exception because we get to see him both as the middle-aged man with a past he’d like to forget and (in the 1970s flashbacks) the youth who made the fateful decision that will haunt him for the rest of his life. Ngo is effective playing the two eras against the other, giving each version of Chum the deportment apt to his life experience at that moment in time.

    Duch (Daisuke Tsuji), though, doesn’t need an arc to be compelling. In what may be the play’s only surprise twist, our highly charming narrator/master of ceremonies is revealed to be a dark figure. This is Yee’s strongest conceit, and Tsuji is perfect for the role, making us like Duch even though we kinda shouldn’t.

    The only character rivaling Duch is the music. Cambodian Rock Band wouldn’t be much without a Cambodian rock band. In the context of 1975, that is Chum’s band, The Cyclos (whose repertoire consists of material by real-life 21st-century band Dengue Fever, ably rendered by the actors, all of whom do double duty as musicians). But most of the music comes at us not straight out of the action but off an emotional carom, communicating the spirit of the story and the people living it. This is another strong conceit, and Yee applies it so smoothly that you don’t realize how easily this could have been a big mess. Plus, when the music’s over once the Khmer Rouge takes control, the silence is that much more crushing for all the sound that’s come before.

    For the most part, director Chay Yew serves the script well enough, but a few sections feel like they need more work. Chief among these are the scenes with young Chum at S-21. If two characters conversing in a prison camp are explicit about how imperative it is that no-one hear them, they shouldn’t spend those entire scenes yelling their lines. Why not talk excitedly in hushed tones? Suspension of disbelief is one thing, but when what should be the quietest dialog in the entire play is the loudest, something is amiss.

    As with every single South Coast Repertory production, the technical elements here are first-rate. We get just enough neon to give a sense of modern Phnom Penh, and video projections of Khmer Rouge victims are employed with perfect restraint. On the aural front, while a rock band could easily be loud enough to neuter the unamplified dialog that comes between songs, Mikhail Fiksel’s sound design makes it all balance out.

    Cambodian Rock Band imbues the much-visited tragedy at its center with a novel spirit of humanity. Despite its shortcomings, as a result of its music, humor, and heart, you’re likely to come away satisfied.


    Time: Runs thru March 25, Tues.-Sun., 7:45 p.m; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m. (no evening show March 25).

    Cost: $23 to $83

    Details: (714) 708-5555

    Venue: South Coast Rep., Julianne Argyos Stage, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa

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  • Long Beach’s Road to Sanctuary Status

    • 03/22/2018
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Long Beach took another step toward on March 13 the Long Beach City Council created a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation and passed a resolution that builds upon state laws banning local law enforcement from coordinating with federal immigration officers by expanding that to all city departments. It’s a sanctuary city.

    Officially titled the Long Beach Values Act of 2018, the non-binding resolution puts the city’s support behind state legislation like Senate Bill 54, which legalized and standardized statewide policies of non-cooperation between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities.

    Long Beach council members passed the measure, which had been in the works for a year, exactly one week after United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit against California, claiming it’s sanctuary stance is interfering with the federal government’s immigration policies.

    At its essence, the Long Beach Values Act prohibits all city agencies from sharing personal information with United States Immigration Control and Enforcement (ICE).

    But a majority of the large crowd residents who filed council chambers exhorted their representatives to imbue the resolution with even stronger protections through amendments that would eliminate a variety of so-called carve-outs — exceptions under which undocumented immigrants could still be deported.

    The carve-outs in SB 54 are mostly violent felonies, including rape, hate crimes, torture and gang-related offenses. But many in attendance argued that other crimes in the bill, — such as vandalism, money laundering and felony driving under the influence — don’t belong there.

    “Some of the carve outs and some of the crimes, I don’t see them reaching that level of having to be deported,’ said Councilmember Roberto Uranga. “For example…a DUI, embezzlement, forgery. I see those as perhaps white-collar type crimes and there are some people in jails now who I wish I could deport, who are white. You know, go back to Europe. Switzerland. Wherever.”

    The council voted to provide $250,000 as potential seed money for a legal defense fund, mandating that a police department policy be distributed to the public and the department require all city department heads to sign a letter pledging to adhere to the resolution.

    The fund would seek non-profits and philanthropic donations to reach the amount needed to fully represent the number of undocumented persons likely in Long Beach. To qualify for assistance a person would have to live in the city, have an income below 200 percent of the federal poverty level and be facing a number of immigration-related legal issues.

    A separate motion for the funding mechanism of the legal aid fund was requested by Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price, who supported the protections of the act, but cited the city’s charter in stating that it was likely illegal for the city to use taxpayer dollars to defend non-city employees in individual suits. A separate report on the feasibility and funding opportunities for the legal defense fund is expected to come back before the council in the coming months.

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  • Shrouded in Doubt

    • 03/22/2018
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Community Concerns Remain, Despite Port’s Greatest Hits Waterfront Development Show

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On March 20, more than three months after an initial presentation at the San Pedro Yacht Club ended unexpectedly amidst sharp questioning from local residents, developer Wayne Ratkovich finally made his long-delayed Warner Grand Theater presentation to the general public of the final plans for redeveloping the Ports O’ Call Village site.

    Prior to the meeting, more than 50 community members marched boisterously in support of keeping the iconic Ports O’Call Restaurant open. More than 1,000 people have signed a petition in support.

    “It brought tears to my eyes, seeing all the employees and community supporters marching in support of our restaurant,”  owner Jayme Wilson told Random Lengths News.

    “This is our third presentation to you in this historic theater,” Ratkovich said, but he and his teams’ half-hour presentation took up just one quarter of the port’s two-hour presentation, which was overloaded with a plethora of promotional feel-good videos, presided over by Port of LA Executive Director Gene Seroka. There was a video for almost every facet of waterfront development and associated community engagement, including longtime youth-serving community favorites like the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the Los Angeles Maritime Institute. The public was understandably supportive of the overall thrust of the evenings’ presentations, but the devil was hardly hidden in the details, and the actual fate of some key community concerns—Ports O’ Call Restaurant and the Red Car line—remained shrouded in doubt.

    “ [During his introductory remarks] Seroka boasted about all the community meetings and input,” community activist June Smith noted. “That referred to the days of PCAC [the Port Community Advisory Committee], which pushed the promenade. But he made it sound as though the whole design had lots of community input…NOT.”

    Wilson and Smith served as community co-chairs of PCAC, but it was disbanded by the port before any specific planning to redevelop Ports O’ Call began.

    Organizers of the public meeting used a combination of tactics to effectively destroy the pretense of a real community partnership. Those included repeatedly delaying the meeting until all eviction notices had been served, loading up the agenda with roughly a dozen other presentations that could have been made 12 months earlier or later, and denying community residents any opportunity to raise questions and articulate objections. Even neighborhood council representatives were excluded from the program.

    “It is another case of city government and the port being disinterested in what the residents of San Pedro want to see on their waterfront,” long-time neighborhood council activist Peter Warren told Random Lengths afterwards. He argued that the event was a propaganda show, not a true town meeting.

    “If the port leadership wanted to hear comment, they would have invited one more harbor commissioner to the meeting, making it an official meeting of the board and requiring public comment under state law for public meetings,” Warren said. But comments were only heard second-hand, at best.

    “Your comments and suggestions have been overwhelmingly positive,” Ratkovich told the crowd. “Only a few have been critical.”

    Perhaps that’s been true in privately curated settings, as it was at the last public presentation more than two years ago. But plans for the redevelopment have changed radically since then.

    It was telling that Ratkovich’s presentation scored its biggest applause when he announced that he was in negotiations with Jayme Wilson to keep Ports O’Call Restaurant as part of the new project, and when he indicated an intention to bring back the Red Car line—if the project’s success could support it. Retaining those two elements had long been taken for granted by the community. Both remain questionable, at best.

    “The fact of the matter is that the Port of L.A. has stated that they will not allow him [Jayme Wilson] to come back. They do not want him to come back, and so that was not brought up,” said Jesse Marquez, a leading advocate for the smaller tenants being evicted.

    “We learned early in the process that Pedro would not be Pedro without a wide diversity of opinion,” Ratkovich acknowledged. Left unsaid was how hard community members had worked—in multiple public meeting processes from 1999 to 2009—to create a plan framework acceptable to all, which the current plans now violate. As Marquez pointed out, that kind of process continued in Wilmington.

    “Right now, we have a developer, architect, coming [and] showing here’s what we think the vision is, without any San Pedro resident participation in what that would be, in contrast to the Wilmington Waterfront project,” Marquez said. “We have discussions with architects, and some of the designers as to what kind of themes do we want for our Wilmington Waterfront Park, and then what were some of the detailed design elements in the Wilmington Waterfront Park. And so we got to participate, and we got to make recommendations as to what we wanted in it. And that’s a vast difference from the San Pedro community not having any voice whatsoever in what the design elements are.”

    “There doesn’t seem to be an overarching theme,” Smith added. “What collectively will the Market be featuring?” In contrast, the Crafted presentation did convey a coherent shared sensibility and spirit.

    “The development concept and its steel shed architecture lack imagination, soul and most importantly a significant ‘draw’ to capture any enduring interest,” homeowner activist Janet Gunter said.

    “The name is disastrous,” Smith said.

    And Ratkovich’s explanation revealed deeper problems. “The name change was simply essential for us to succeed in financing the development,” he said, noting that “the decline [in] conditions… compelled us to give the development of a new name.”

    But the Port helped engineer that decline. It took over the village in 2001, and has neglected it ever since, despite repeated pleas from tenants. And choosing a name based on generic financing concerns has resulted in a generically-named project with some genuinely great ideas, but a lack of historically informed coherence and relationship to the community.

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  • Carson Block, founder of Muddy Waters Research.

    Investigative Report Triggers Federal Probe, But Is It Really Journalism?

    • 03/15/2018
    • Sara Corcoran
    • Feature
    • Comments are off

    When bombshell bribery and corruption allegations surfaced this past December against OSI Systems, a 5,000-employee port-and-aviation scanning company based in Hawthorne, they arrived with all the earmarks of modern investigative reporting: anonymous sources identified as former employees with detailed knowledge, links to public documents supporting the allegations, even a well-made 13-minute documentary illustrating why one expert felt the company was “rotten to the core.”

    Shortly thereafter the company’s stock plummeted, losing some 25 percent of its value in a single day. By February the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice had taken notice and the company’s quarterly filings included a disclosure to investors. The stock-watching site, SeekingAlpha, reported “… that the SEC … launched an investigation into the company’s compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. OSI says the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California has also said it would request information.”

    This is real news, especially in Southern California where OSI Systems has a subsidiary firm called Rapiscan. Rapiscan a well known firm that provides security for, among lots of other places, the Port of Los Angeles. It was the kind of reporting that’s hard to come by in this era of newsroom cutbacks and Trump-obsessed around-the-clock analysis. It is also worth noting that despite extensive coverage in the stock-watchdog mediascape, the story has still received little attention from mainstream business reporters.

    There’s just one issue. The original reporting did not come from journalists.

    Instead, it came from a “short seller” firm, which means the reporters presumably had a very direct financial interest in negative reporting driving the stock value down. Short sellers make money by, in effect, borrowing shares in a company and selling them. They make money if they “repay” the shares at a lower cost than that initial loan, so clearly they have a direct financial interest in negative news about the targeted company. A New York Times story described the practice in the wild west world of activist investing. 

    The documentary that lead to the SEC filing charges against OSI Systems came from Muddy Waters Research (the name comes not from the father of Chicago blues but from the Chinese proverb about muddy water making it easier to catch fish), which is one of the better known American short-sellers. Carson Block, its founder, is a frequent cable news guest who rose to prominence, in large part, with a series of short sales involving shady practices by a few Chinese companies. In fact, one of the other ways that short-sellers resemble journalists is that China has begun censoring their reporting, issuing its first Hong Kong ban last December, according to the South China Morning Post.

    Muddy Waters Research is not shy about denouncing Wall Street. On their website, the research firm says it “… peels back the layers, often built up by seemingly respected but sycophantic law firms, auditors, and venal managements.”

    The SeekingAlpha stock-watcher website was among those that took notice of OSI’s non-denial denial response to Muddy Waters allegations made in the short documentary.

    “… Not surprisingly, when Block’s revelations became public on December 6, 2017, OSI responded by calling the allegations ‘misleading’ and said the contracts in Albania and Mexico ‘were the result of public tenders’… the press release also stated how effective the contracts have performed. However, they did not categorically deny the charges,” SeekingAlpha.com reported.

    The scandal has played out over months with OSI share prices rising and falling with every report and federal investigations looming. A good second quarter earnings report helped, revelation of federal investigations hurt and a disputed Mexican contract renewal helped, but terms are not entirely clear. The story goes on, but the core reporting remains that original Muddy Waters investigation.

    Motley Fool Stock Advisor, another stock watching website following the saga reported that the Muddy Waters documentary “… launched serious accusations against the company, which the U.S. government is now taking seriously. If OSI System’s did indeed use bribes to win those contracts, it could have “an enormous impact on OSIS’s profits… because of that risk, investors should avoid this stock until it’s cleared of all wrongdoing, because there could be significantly more downside ahead if it’s not.”

    At a time when President Donald Trump is promising fewer regulators and investigative news reporting is on the wane, it’s reasonable to question whether this longstanding practice might become the norm rather than the exception.

    The Law360 news website, a division of the very credible LexisNexis firm, covered the OSI/Rapiscan federal investigation revelation and referred to the Muddy Waters report as “a tip” to law enforcement.

    Maybe what we’re seeing, at least in this case, is that activist reporting is evolving beyond the sort of socially conscious reporting we’ve come to expect is being injected into the Wall Street environment. Reporting with direct financial gain is certainly not the unbiased journalism of lore, but what about reporters and outlets with their own goals, albeit non-financial? Is a clearly disclosed financial interest all that far removed from other conflicts of interest?

    That remains to be seen, but I did notice a sign that “activist reporting” is starting to be treated as quasi-journalism: China has banned short seller reports.

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  • Los Angeles Prostitute Known as ‘Pretty Hoe’ Charged with Sex Trafficking

    • 03/15/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LOS ANGELES— South Los Angeles women, widely known as “The Most Hated Hoe in LA” has been charged with sex trafficking.
    Melanie Denae Williams, 22, used her social media platforms to recruit young girls into prostitution. Her website features countless pictures and videos of “run-ins with the law.”
    The victim, who has not yet been identified, told police Williams forced her to sell sex, taking all proceeds then threw bleach on her and beat her with a broomstick.
    Williams also made the victim tattoo “Melanie” on her wrist and face to show that she was her property.
    The indictment specifically targets one count of sex trafficking an adult by force, fraud or coercion. Court papers say Williams was sentenced to three months in jail back in December of last year for prostitution. Williams is being held in the Los Angeles County Jail without bail and if convicted, will face up to 55 years in prison.










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  • Los Angeles Harbor International Film Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary

    • 03/15/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Culture
    • Comments are off

    The Los Angeles Harbor International Film Festival (LAHIFF) is celebrating its 15th anniversary this week, from March 15-18 at the Warner Grand Theatre. LAHIFF showcases film and video that pay tribute to the golden age of Hollywood while encouraging youth reading through the festivals Read a Book, See the Film program. More recently the festival has begun to feature documentary films focused on the labor movement.

    This year continues in that vein, with films on subjects as varied as cultural tradition, social justice, nostalgic film – including a children’s book and documentaries.

    LAHIFF offers stimulating and entertaining programming that inspires the audience and respects the integrity of the silver screen. The four day event will showcase three films, two full length documentaries and documentary shorts.

    Key components are the free education outreach program, Read the Book, See the Movie promoting literacy and a more thoughtful way to view a film, March 15, Hollywood Nostalgia Tribute, March 17 and DocSunday, March 18.

    LAHIFF opens with Read the Book, See the Movie, in the festivals Education Outreach Program features the novel, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne and Disney’s 35mm film 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. Thousands of books have been distributed to students and community members through this program since 2004. After reading the book, students attend the Culmination Program at Warner Grand Theatre where they will enjoy refreshments then watch the film version of the book, followed by a discussion. A total of 900 books have been distributed to students throughout the harbor area and Palos Verdes.


    15: A Quinceanera Story, debuted on HBO, will feature four half hour documentaries which reveal unique stores of the right of passage of 15 year old Latina girls.

    New Filmmakers LA (NFMLA) On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project, 90 minutes of 26 short one to five minute films with conversation and Q&A after the screening with filmmakers.

    1962’s Bye Bye Birdie preceded by Put On A Happy Face Red Carpet Gala.

    The picture takes place during the prelude to the Vietnam war with the story being inspired by Elvis Presley’s draft call into the United States Army. Prior to the film there will be a short performance by the San Pedro High School Jazz Ensemble.

    DocSunday, presenting sponsor Andeavor ~ POLA premieres Social Justice Theme, The Armor of Light. Documentary concerns issues about gun violence and resolution.

    Finding Kukan, the award winning feature documentary investigates story of Chinese, Hawaii-born Li Ling-Ai, un-credited female producer of Kukan, 1941 Academy Award ® winner about World War II China that has been lost for decades. Lung will attend the screening then participate in a Q&A with members of the film crew.

    See film trailers for Finding Kukan and 15: A Quinceanera Story below.

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  • Port of Long Beach Shipments Jump Ahead During Lunar New Year

    • 03/15/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LOS ANGELES–After a record breaking January at the Port of Long Beach, the increased cargo volumes continue historic highs for February.

    In February alone, 661,790 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) moved through the Port, at a 32.8 percent increase compared to February of last year. This marks the first time Long Beach terminals have handled more than 600,000 cargo containers in the month.

    Imports climbed 37 percent in February, to 342,247 TEUs. The Port handled 130,916 outbound containers, up 9.3 percent. Thriving import markets drove up numbers of empty containers needed overseas, rising by 46.5 percent to 188,628 TEUs.

    Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said a month like February is now the new normal  and he expected a lull in March as East Asian nations celebrate the Lunar New Year, and then rebound in April.

    “It’s clear new vessel alliances and the increasingly interconnected global economy have shifted cargo patterns,” said Board of Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum. “The Port of LongBeach is investing $4 billion on infrastructure and leveraging technology to ensure our partners are productive and successful.”

    Board of Harbor Commission President, Lou Anne Bynum noted new vessel alliances and the increasingly interconnected global economy have shifted cargo patterns. Port of Long Beach is investing $4 billion on infrastructure and leveraging technology to ensure their partners are productive and successful.

    The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in innovative goods movement, safety and environmental stewardship.

    Detailed cargo numbers are at www.polb.com/stats.

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  • Say it Loud, Say it Clear, Trumpism Not Welcome Here

    I found the juxtaposition of hundreds of rowdy anti-Trump protesters and a drum circle against the backdrop of hyper-manicured Beverly Hills Park oddly apropos in the wake of President Donald Trump’s March 13 fundraiser in Los Angeles. Unlike the smoky air rising from some corners of the event, their message was clear: Trump is not welcomed here.

    With all the chanting, you would be forgiven for wondering if the messaging memo was prepared by Vitruvius – not the famous Roman who gave us perfect proportion theory, but The Lego Movie character voiced by Morgan Freeman who defended his prophecy that the villain would be defeated by saying, “… all this is true because it rhymes.”

    “Build the wall, we’ll tear it down, Donald Trump is a stupid orange clown” may not be the stuff of sound policy and risks color-shaming at the expense of constructive dialogue, but it seemed crowd-pleasing when delivered through a bullhorn by one of the alphas of the L.A. resistance. This particular member of the L.A. resistance asked to be called “Jim,” for the music icon Jim Morrison. Jim was one of many who covered their face with a bandanna to mask his identity. Another one of Jim’s protest slogans: Education, not deportation!

    It is highly unlikely that President Trump caught so much as a glimpse of that surprisingly well-crafted super-sized effigy of himself grasping a Klan mask while en route to the mega-fundraiser. Yet, setting the couplet caucus aside for a moment, the president would do well to listen to these voices that are the most critical of him, for it is from them he could learn the most. Politically, it seems clear and expected that Angelenos would largely reject Trumpism, but what further steps do they plan to take? It remains to be seen if the resistance as illustrated at Beverly Hills Park can select the next Democratic presidential nominee with our neighbors in more conservative Arizona and Nevada.

    But snarky animated movie references aside, I spoke to another demonstrator, Mr. Fujimora, who told me that both his parents were interned in the Japanese internment camps during World War II. For him, his presence – really, his resistance – was profoundly personal.

    “I am against Donald Trump’s immigration policy. He’s telegraphed a lot of what he plans to do and it isn’t good.”   

    Demonstrator, Adnan Alvarzez of Teamsters Local 396, spoke to the same point.

    “Trump has proven himself to be a “racist” “who has put our democracy at great risk.”

    Then there’s Rick, who tells me he’s a recovering alcoholic who used to work in special education and that his mum was a former global activist. He offered a surprisingly convincing argument that Donald Trump is a “dry drunk”― an “untreated  alcoholic”― even though (according to him) he’s never had a single drink.

    “It’s important for me to be a part of this because we have to have a voice,” says Rick. “We have to stand up for our democracy and country. If we don’t we lose our voice and country. Donald Trump has no restraint of pen and tongue and this is straight from the big book (AA recovery manual).”

    Taking my own advice, it seemed fair to seek out the opinions of those whose voices would be in the minority.

    A good, if obvious, place to start was with the debonair-looking man dressed in a long red coat, top hat, and white gloves, who assured me that “Donald Trump is going to be reelected  in 2020 because he’s done great things for our economy.”

    Another pro-Trump voice came from Alicia Lopez, visiting the protests from the city of Orange. She felt that “Americans need to give Donald Trump a chance to implement his agenda. He’s only had a year and half. Many of these protesters don’t give him any credit for the good things he has done.”

    If there was a slight urge to succumb to temptation by noting their arguments lacked rhyme or, reason, it was better to let it go. After all, you don’t find political debate at a sanctioned park protest of a Beverly Hills fundraiser. At best, it’s a snapshot and a caricature at worst.

    Even so, it seemed the resistance remains focused on stuff my friends and I debate: protecting DACA recipients, rejecting racism, guarding California’s right to self-govern, its affinity for marijuana. Those intramural debates seemed a bit out of place among some of the more fringe elements at the park, especially amid the antifa and anti-Israel voices. When I spoke to some of the people who claimed to represent these elements, it was hard to see past the hidden faces cloaked by bandannas.

    Hey, I understand you may want to avoid whatever detection program “The Man” has in place, but it illustrates that anti, like white supremacists, are hardly mainstream. Maybe it’s just me, but hidden faces matched with violent rhetoric is just not a great look.

    Such musing were suddenly shattered. Jim ― bandanna wearing demonstrator from earlier ― assertively “offers” the megaphone to all of the cool people in the crowd, yet he’s pointing directly at me. What does he know? Why me? I didn’t even have a vape in my hand or a cloud of smoke following me.

    I begged off, telling him I couldn’t take the megaphone because I was covering the event. Given time, he might have argued that anyone ready to share their views with thousands of readers should be prepared to defend them in the here and now… but megaphone and rhyme games are not the stuff of “given time.” Maybe I should have wondered aloud and amplified, “Will the next election will be about how many of the resistance turn out, or how many non-activist “swing voters” we convince.

    Because there at Beverly Hills Park, it seemed there was plenty of the former that could hurt us with the later in the old voting booth, and that’s the truth.

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  • Volunteer with Los Angeles Maritime Institute (LAMI)

    What are you doing with your free time? What if we told you we have an opportunity to have a ton of fun while giving back to your community? Sound good to you? Help re-build the Swift of Ipswich…

    The ship is now in the Maritime Institute’s yard near at the south end of Ports O’ Call Village,

    where the remaining work will be done in the institute’s Building G workshop on site.

    The tall ships serve the youth of LA and beyond, teaching them life lessons while encouraging ocean conservation.

    Your job? Help students sail the boats and perform science experiments. We’ll teach you all you need to know; use that knowledge to inspire, connect with, and help students shape better lives for themselves.

    Details: (310) 833-6055, volunteercoordinator@lamitopsail.org

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