• Pirozzi Erases the Chiropractic Stigma

    • 01/17/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Feature
    • Comments are off

    By Joan Reis Nielsen, Contributing Writer

    Chiropractic care was established in 1895 as an alternative form of medicine to bring pain relief to patients with musculoskeletal disorders, especially concerning the spine.

    Since then, chiropractic practice has been on a rocky road to mainstream acceptance, even including a famous conspiracy to destroy it that culminated in 1987 — but more on that later.

    Meanwhile, let’s consider San Pedro’s modern chiropractor, Dr. Mary Ann Pirozzi. With a bachelor of science in human physiology and a minor in chemistry from California State University Long Beach, she went on to graduate from Cleveland Chiropractic College in Los Angeles, in 1996. Her career choice was not unusual or alternative. She was raised with parents who often brought members of her family to chiropractors for treatment. “They were just another type of doctor, like the dentist or the medical doctor that we saw regularly,” she said.

    Pirozzi had quite a unique experience early on in her career.

    “At 27 years old, I walked into the room to evaluate a new patient and I started performing the exam, asking him about his history,” she recalled. “Even though I introduced myself as Dr. Pirozzi, after a few minutes he looked at me and said ‘So when is the doctor coming in?’ I reiterated the fact that I was the doctor, and even though he was a little taken aback, he agreed to continue on with his treatment and left pleasantly surprised. He became a consistent patient after that.”

    Pirozzi even refrained from putting her first name on the sign outside her office because she wanted patients to come in and see her without prejudices or preconceptions about her capability.

    “I have always felt that women have to do things better and aim higher to gain respect in the professional arena,” she said. “Thankfully, I am always up to the challenge.”

    Pirozzi’s practice focuses on the entire family, ranging from 3 to 83 years old.

    “I do have a slightly higher percentage of female patients, but I think that may be because women know that I will be able to uniquely relate to what they are going through and understand specific issues they may be experiencing, and they gravitate towards that,” Pirozzi said.

    The chiropractic technique she uses is called “diversified” because it incorporates many different techniques. Most of the time it will incorporate an osseous adjustment, which is an actual realignment of the spine. But for elderly patients, or those who are not able to tolerate an osseous adjustment, she uses non-force techniques like activator and trigger point therapy, along with soft tissue and therapeutic exercise. Her office also offers acupuncture, reflexology, hot stone and lymphatic massage and cranial sacral therapy. She has a state of the art Erchonia cold laser in her office that helps with pain, inflammation and various other conditions. She is also a certified Kinesio-Taping practitioner.

    “In many cases, patients feel they just have to live with their pain, but I can actually help them correct the cause of the problem and feel better overall, even increasing their mental clarity and energy level,” Pirozzi said.

    People live with pain for many years without any options except for many medications as strong as opiates, injections or surgery.

    “So many patients come into my office and getting treatment from me is their first chiropractic experience,” she said. “I take that responsibility seriously and am always learning new techniques, acquiring new certifications and bringing in new technology to ensure they have a positive experience and improvement of their symptoms.

    “There is joy in seeing patients go back to playing with their grandkids again, getting them back to work so they can provide for their family or helping them with sports injuries, so that they all can get back to doing what they enjoy, pain-free.”

    Now back to that conspiracy.

    In the Wilk vs. American Medical Association case, the AMA was convicted of conspiring to destroy the chiropractic profession entirely. After a legal battle that began in 1976, the AMA lost the final trial on Sept. 25, 1987.

    At the time, trial Judge Susan Getzendanner issued her opinion that the AMA had violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act, and that it had engaged in an unlawful conspiracy in restraint of trade “to contain and eliminate the chiropractic profession.”

    “[The] AMA had entered into a long history of illegal behavior,” Getzendanner said.

    She then issued a permanent injunction against the AMA. The AMA brought appeal after appeal, even the Supreme Court refused to hear one and upheld the judge’s decision.

    “In July 2014, The Journal of the American Medical Association recommended chiropractic as the first means of defense in back pain treatment,” Pirozzi said. “I also believe that the current opiate epidemic opens the door for chiropractic, by offering pain management that is safe, effective and cost efficient. It provides patients with treatment that can get to the root of their pain, versus just masking it temporarily with prescription medications.”

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  • CSUDH Will Not Bamboozle Carson Again

    CSUDH Will Not Bamboozle Carson Again

    By Carson Mayor Albert Robles

    Periodically, I attend Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce morning business meetings — affectionately known as “Pancakes & Politics” — where prominent local, county and state officials address the business community. California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White was the speaker at the most recent meeting.

    During his speech, White lauded the “partnerships” the various Cal State campuses have with their host cities. But I became upset as he continued speaking because such a “partnership” does not currently exist between my own city and Cal State University at Dominguez Hills.

    Carson is tired of the broken promises of “partnership” and disrespect from the California State University system – both present and past. CSUDH disrespect to Carson  was best exemplified during construction of the stadium complex now known as The StubHub Center. The Cal State University ran roughshod over Carson, ignoring the concerns of city officials and failing to adequately address any impacts of this for-profit stadium on our community.

    Fact: Today Carson gets absolutely no revenue from the stadium — no parking fee, no ticket tax, no city host fee, nothing, zilch, nada, not so much as $1, from any event, not even the wildly profitable NFL Chargers games. In other words, Carson was bamboozled into bearing 100 percent of the inconvenience and burdens of the stadium complex, with zero percent of the financial rewards.

    This brings me to my point. The CSUDH campus is now embarking on a massive Master Plan development, which includes (1) about 2,000 market-rate residential units (i.e., not student housing or not faculty housing and, unlike all other housing developments in Southern California, no affordable housing component to reduce our homelessness), (2) almost 100,000 square feet of retail/commercial space (i.e., not science labs or classrooms) and (3) a private business park that will be over 30 acres (i.e., 100 percent for-profit focused on making money instead of academic pursuits).

    To reiterate, none of these elements will be undertaken for exclusively educational purposes. While Carson completely supports the university’s plans to expand its campus educational complex,  this proposed massive for-profit project obviously must be extensively reviewed for its impacts on the city.

    This past August, I wrote three letters to the university asking that it consult with Carson to determine which institution is best situated to undertake the environmental review for this massive development. Sadly, my letters were ignored by the chancellor. Next, we asked the city attorney’s office to reach out to the university’s lawyers. Those letters were also rejected.

    In short, the California State University system has expressed no interest in consulting with Carson – and very disrespectfully and selfishly started the environmental review process over our objections. When our efforts at fostering a “partnership” proved futile, we reached out to the the California Office of Planning and Research. This office has the legal authority to resolve which public agency should undertake the environmental review process when parties cannot agree among.

    What’s the big deal? Unless proper measures are taken now, this massive development will have a dramatic impact on Carson’s traffic, existing utilities, the aesthetics of our community and, in particular, the quality of life in the residential communities that surround it.

     

    This has forced us to go to court. And as a result of a settlement conference, lawyers for Office of Planning and Research offered to rescind the university’s position as lead agency for the vitally important environmental review process.

    We again invite the chancellor of the CSU system to meet with us in good faith to talk about who should perform the environmental review process. The CSU  system obviously desires to have that role so as to selfishly move its development forward as quickly as possible. As CSUDH tries to run roughshod over Carson again, failing to address the impacts of its massive development on our community, it expects us to let them proceed like last time, based merely on its “promise that as partners” they will look out for Carson’s best interests.

    Carson will not be bamboozled by CSUDH again.

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  • Cannabis Regulation Gets Cut

    By Matt Garland, Guest Columnist

    On Jan. 5, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a 2013 operating guideline for state-sanctioned marijuana businesses to avoid federal prosecution. The Cole memorandum, drafted by Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the Barack Obama administration,  was rescinded a few days after California became the latest state to license, tax and regulate commercial marijuana on Jan. 1.

    The timing of these two developments in marijuana policy are not independent of one another. As California goes, so goes the nation. Sessions’ action is a last ditch effort to revive the war on drugs amidst a growing awareness of its utter failure.

    The priorities outlined in both state and municipal marijuana regulations are an echo of the now defunct Cole memo. Issues of community safety, youth safeguards and dissolution of the illicit market have been highlighted as benchmarks of success in any regulatory framework.

    California, and importantly, Los Angeles city and county governments, have also given priority to social equity in marijuana regulations. Priority to the idea that the end of marijuana prohibition does not commence a transfer of the existing cottage industry to wealthy investors.

    The municipal regulatory frameworks that have been created, or are still in the process, have thus far failed to address these concerns. Any effort to create an adequate regulatory framework is doomed to failure under federal prohibitionist policy.

    Until there is success in reforming federal drug policy, local politicians and bureaucrats are engaged in a wait-and-see strategy: forced to negotiate with prohibitionist-minded communities, crafting restrictive regulations that will only exacerbate the problems of community safety and youth exposure that are of concern.

    The solution to this dilemma is to eliminate the illicit market. The pathway to that end is to meet market demand with regulated, licensed businesses that are allowed to operate in our neighborhoods and provide consumer access.

    The silver lining in Sessions’ recent action is the unprecedented bipartisan outcry. Support to end the war on drugs is at an all time high, with marijuana polling between 60 percent for adult use and 95 percent for medical use. It is time for our federal lawmakers to end the war on drugs. Prohibition has been a policy disaster. After 80 years, there is not a single drug free high school in the nation.

    Our local government leaders have created a framework for regulating marijuana that results in restricted access for consumers, thus leaving the illicit market an opportunity to serve demand and continue to operate without the community stewardship ethic we deserve.

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  • Health Care Battles Loom in 2018

    • 01/12/2018
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    The United States is the only advanced industrial nation that doesn’t provide healthcare for all, but under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the number of uninsured Americans younger than age 65 fell dramatically—by an estimated 17.8 million, from 2013 to 2016.

    Then came Donald Trump.

    While Republicans failed dramatically in their central effort to repeal Obamacare, their year-end tax cut threatened healthcare in two ways. First, it repealed the individual mandate, which the Congressional Budget Office projects will increase the number of the uninsured by 4 million in 2019 and 13 million in 2027. Second, it balloons future deficits by $1.4 trillion within 10 years, which Republicans will want to “balance” by cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Trump also used executive actions to further undermine Obamacare—raising rates and making enrollment more difficult.

    The year ahead promises more of the same.

    Random Lengths News reached out to some experts for insight and advice: Susan Hayes, senior researcher at the Commonwealth Fund, Judith Solomon, vice president of Health Policy at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California.

    Hayes is the lead author of the Commonwealth Fund’s What’s At Stake report, which chronicles the gains under Obamacare. What’s At Stake explains that:

    Between 2013 and 2016, the uninsured rate for adults ages 19 to 64 declined in all states and the District of Columbia, and fell by at least 5 percentage points in 47 states. Among children, uninsured rates declined by at least 2 percentage points in 33 states.

    But increased coverage was only part of the story, according to all three experts.

    “We increased the kind of coverage they had by having standards for essential health benefits, in both the small groups and the individual health insurance market, as well as eliminating annual and lifetime benefit caps, preventing people from being barred based on pre-existing conditions, not charging women more than men, and all those market reforms are still in place,” Solomon said.

    However, they’re under attack.

    “This historic reduction in uninsured rates was accompanied by widespread reductions in people saying they could not get care because of the cost … and in improvements in people at risk for poor health outcomes getting access to the care they need,” Hayes said.

    In California, the percentage of adults who didn’t see a doctor because of costs dropped from 16 percent to 11 percent.

    “This 5-percentage point reduction meant that an estimated 1.1 million fewer people in California skipped needed care because of costs in 2016 compared to 2013,” she said.

    The ACA marketplace played some role, but Medicaid expansion has been central to that success, she explained.

    “States that accepted federal funds to expand their Medicaid program under the ACA, as California did, saw the greatest gains in access,” she said.

    “California had the biggest reduction of our uninsured rate of all 50 states,” Wright noted. “We went from about 7 million uninsured to less than 3 million — with millions now in coverage under the Medicaid expansion and another over a million getting subsidies to better afford individual coverage in Covered California.”

    This past year, the Trump administration tried to cripple Obamacare enrollment by cutting the time available to sign up for coverage in half and slashing money spent on outreach by 90 percent, from $100 million to $10 million. But almost 9 million people still signed up — a decline of just 400,000.

    California was a leader in fighting back against this, by passing a law maintaining its existing 90-day annual open enrollment period for future years, and by expanding the money spent on outreach, enrollment and marketing. As a state-operated exchange, Covered California has its own revenue sources. It boosted spending by around 10 percent to $111 million.

    The Trump administration also cut off making cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, which help lower out-of-pocket healthcare costs for roughly 6 million low- and moderate-income earners. Far from saving money, an Urban Institute analysis found it would cost the federal government $7.2 billion in 2018, as a result.

    “The loss of the [cost-sharing reduction]s has made the premiums go up, the [loss of the individual] mandate will make the premiums go up, so anybody who is not eligible for a subsidy is going to have a hard time,” Solomon pointed out. “The subsidies go up with the prices, so the people who are eligible for subsidies can still buy something.”

    But it makes the whole system more costly, and leaves many people out.

    “Something to relieve those folks who are buying in the individual market and not eligible for subsidies could be helpful,” she said. “I just don’t see the will right now to focus on that.”

    The more complicated it gets, the more ways there are for people to lose.

    This year, the most imminent threat comes from additional executive actions. Solomon called attention to the first such example, announced on Jan. 4: new rules allowing small businesses and trade groups to form associations to buy health care that “don’t have to cover all of the benefits,” she listed above.

    “Their plan is to allow short-term plans that are not subject to the market reforms rules,” she said. “We’re beginning to see — via these executive orders and possibly continued efforts on the legislative side — moves to erode the comprehensiveness of coverage that we gained.”

    Legislative threats are less certain, but more ominous.

    “We are most concerned about another run at ACA repeal, or efforts to cut and cap Medicaid and/or Medicare, as proposed in the federal budget outline,” Wright said. “The ACA repeal proposals not just would have set us back the five years of progress but by 50 years by ending the key commitments of Medicaid.”

    “There’s still that looming threat,” Solomon agreed.

    “We are preparing for the mother of all Medicaid and Medicare battles in this new year,” Wright said. “The GOP Congressional leadership has been clear that they plan to pay for the tax giveaway to the wealthy and corporations by seeking cuts to Medicare and Medicaid — at a massive scale…. Their budget resolution outlined $1.5 trillion in cuts to Medicaid.”

    If the resistance to Trump’s agenda nationwide can block such drastic action, there’s a real chance California’s healthcare could improve.

    “Congressional action repealing the ACA, block-granting Medicaid, or anything like that would be catastrophic, costing California tens of billions of dollars a year,” Wright warned. “The previous proposals were the equivalent of all the money that California spends on higher education, prisons and parks—combined…. It would be very, very hard to backfill. The save and salvage operation would still leave millions uninsured, benefits slashed and provider payments cut…. California can use our progress as a platform to take additional steps to universal coverage…. We can continue to expand Medi-Cal to cover all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status. We can improve affordability assistance in Covered California, to get better sign-ups in a high-cost-of-living state. We can continue to take steps to address the cost of care, like we did last year with prescription drug price transparency to require justifications for price hikes.”

    With enough breathing room, other states could follow California’s example, Hayes said.

    “One of the biggest steps that could be taken to strengthen the gains already achieved would be for the 19 states that have not yet expanded Medicaid to decide to do so,” Hayes said. “We found that low-income adults fared better in terms of access in Medicaid expansion states than their counterparts in non-expansion states. For example, nine expansion states, including California, slashed their uninsured rate for low-income adults by more than 20 percentage points between 2013 and 2016…. The share of low-income adults going without health care because of costs declined by more than seven points, on average, in the states that expanded Medicaid, compared to three points in states that did not.”

    California did slightly better than average, with an eight point decline.

    “States can also follow California’s lead in outreach and enrollment efforts for both marketplace and Medicaid managed care plans to ensure their residents get the coverage they are entitled to under federal law,” Hayes said.

    While the number and variety of threats can be overwhelming, the bottom line for Californians is relatively simple.

    “If we can prevent wholesale ACA repeal or major Medicaid cuts and caps, California has the will and the wherewithal to hold consumers harmless from the administrative attacks of the Trump administration,” Wright explained.

     

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  • Two Perspectives, One Community

    • 01/12/2018
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Curbed LA, Ports O’ Call and the last remaining waterfront to be gentrified

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The hipster real estate blog Curbed LA recently announced that San Pedro had fulfilled its destiny by winning the 2017 Curbed Cup. According to the Curbed LA, the Curbed Cup is a celebration of neighborhood pride and that this Harbor Area neighborhood “knocked out Burbank to claim the title of Neighborhood of the Year.”

    I chuckled at the announcement. It is not as if these “contests” hold any real weight, like the Oscars or the Golden Globes or anything. At best, they’re just gimmicks to draw audiences into a phony competition. But a competition for what purpose? To find the town with the most passionate hometown pride? Passion and pride in all things Pedro is not something we are in short supply of, obviously.

    As much as our blue-blood San Pedro citizens like to complain about being the forgotten part of Los Angeles, we definitely are proud to be the biggest little town in the entire city.

    One local complainer responded to the Curbed Cup by writing, “Here, here! Congrats to one of the Southland’s scrappiest little hoods. May you continue to produce good bands, good beer and good property values.”

    The San Pedro Harbor Area remains one of the most affordable areas in the entire city even as rents have increased 30 to 50 percent in the past 10 years.

    Yet the premise of gentrification, which Curbed LA is actually promoting, is a long sought-after goal by those who own property here and the dreaded consequences of development to long time residents who  have and will be displaced. Basically, gentrification is making this last affordable seaside town unaffordable for many who call San Pedro home.

    The conflict over the development of Ports O’ Call Village is a prime example of the double-edged sword that is gentrification. On the one hand, we have the long promised completion of the Waterfront Promenade. It was started under Mayor Jim Hahn and heavily pushed by John Papadakis, former owner of the Greek eatery of the same name, as the cure-all for the neglect of the city  and the Port of Los Angeles.

    “San Pedro is still a very rough and tough, scarcely developed, locals-only waterfront,” Papadakis said. “[It is] a historic California seaside, void of commercial economic opportunity, the only one of its kind in the State… a seaside slum.”

    Well it’s not exactly the “only one of its kind.”  Take a look at the West Oakland neighborhood just beyond Jack London Square. But we get the point that the Port of Los Angeles’ 20-year delay in finishing the promenade has missed at least two development cycles that would have greatly benefited San Pedro’s economy. Yet, the “locals-only” allegation flies in the face of what can be seen on any given weekend with the out-of-town traffic coming into Ports O’ Call.

    There are a multitude of visitors to our waterfront. They have made the San Pedro Fish Market one of the biggest independent restaurants in the nation and the signature Ports O’ Call Restaurant a success for generations, serving tens of thousands. The port estimates that the Fish Market serves about 1.1 million visitors per year. But these “visitors” may just not be the demographic “diversity” that some people are looking to attract.

    So, in the effort to remake this historic, if not antiquated waterfront great again, the Port of Los Angeles has spent the past decade cooking up plans. First with a series of public presentations, then with the 2009 environmental impact report and then with a request for proposals, which resulted in the development team Jerico and Ratkovich being chosen and given an unheard of 75-year lease. That lease option was signed this past March and yet the Jerico-Ratkovich team have yet taken possession, or as of this date, publicly revealed the plans or announced the funding source for the proposed $100 million development.

    What has leaked out about the “new” plans has shocked many people who have followed this long drawn out process and who now accuse the POLA and the developers of betrayal of the public trust.

    What has changed since the first public presentations and the 2009 EIR hearings is that all of Ports O’ Call village is now scheduled to be demolished first, before anything new is built, displacing some 20 businesses (employing some 250 workers) that were promised a place in the new village. This would leave the golden promise of waterfront development vacant for up to two years or more. This could drive most of those Ports O’ Call businesses out of town or out of business, leaving the San Pedro Fish Market as the lone destination.

    Clearly, in light of the past and now seemingly forgotten promises made by both the developers (which were recorded) and the port, there will be more harm than benefit to the local economy. This is due to their incompetence, surreptitious negotiations or intentional malice towards certain businesses (possibly all three). At best, this approach of ignoring the past commitments to a “phased development plan” with relocation options is just sheer stupidity. At worst it might be considered criminal negligence.

    The smaller tenants at the village have sued over their evictions and lost in court, but are considering further legal actions while attempting to negotiate relocation fees. The fate of the historic Ports O’ Call Restaurant, contrary to certain other news reports and rumors, is still pending negotiations between the port, Jerico-Ratkovich and possibly Mayor Eric Garcetti.

    The restaurant is continuing to book events into the end of 2018 and does not plan on closing anytime soon.  However, it is doubtful that the community support for the signature restaurant will simply dry up and go away or that the owners of Ports O’ Call  Restaurant will fold up their tent and go away without a fight. At this point, the lawyers have advised everyone not to speak on the record about any of it and this has left the community and patrons angry and reliant upon rumors and silence from the port.

    Even the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, whose mission it is to promote business and increase job opportunities, has remained silent on the issue. The chamber has not been receiving any substantial reports from any of their board members, who are either representatives of the port or Jerico. As of Jan. 9,  Augie Bezmalinovich, the port’s community mouthpiece, said that it was “in litigation” and thusly, could not comment when asked directly about the status of Ports O’ Call restaurant. Yet, neither the port nor the developers or Ports O’ Call Restaurant as of this date have filed any legal action. He said this while he was sitting next to one of the Jerico Development partners in the recent Chamber Economic Development meeting.

    In the end, San Pedro may be proud of the Curbed Cup award, but what we’ve gotten is kicked-to-the-curb by LA on our great waterfront promenade redevelopment. This development they are working on may not retain its history or its vibrant independent locally owned businesses.

    Like I’ve said before, when gentrification comes to Pedro, people aren’t going to like it no matter how good it looks on paper.

    And of course, none of this addresses the growing population of homeless people, who from their vantage point, just above the bluff on Beacon Street, can see all of this earth being moved around. They are sensing some impending doom as Councilman Joe Buscaino has no comprehensive plan to either deal with this crisis or save the jobs of 250 workers who may just find themselves gentrified-out of their homes and living on the award-winning streets of Pedroville.

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  • Pot Desert by the Sea

    • 01/12/2018
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    LA passes ordinance regulating cannabis, but the black market may continue to thrive

    Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Although the Los Angeles City Council adopted three ordinances to regulate and zone cannabis businesses in Los Angeles, it’s hard to imagine the impact of legal pot becoming significant enough to shrink the black market.

    Existing medical marijuana dispensaries that are Proposition D-compliant will get first priority in licensing under Proposition M.

    Prop. D provides limited immunity to medical marijuana businesses that meet specified requirements by maintaining dispensary locations in Los Angeles to the number open before 2007 and raising taxes to $60 per $1,000 of gross receipts. Prop. M enacted the city council’s ordinance to regulate and tax marijuana in light of Prop. 64, which legalized recreational marijuana statewide after it was approved in November 2016.

    Yet, after a cursory look at where legal cannabis marketplaces can be located across the county, it becomes immediately clear that there will be expansive retail pot deserts since other cities in Los Angeles County continue to be more restrictive of legal cannabis.

    The retail cannabis locations allowed in Los Angeles under the new ordinances include:

    • Commercial Manufacturing in the Glencoe/Maxella Zone: a three-by-two-block area in the Venice, Del Rey, Palms communities; it is an area that’s set to be filled with mixed use residential housing rather than commercial manufacturing.
    • Central City West Specific Plan Zone in the northwest part of downtown Los Angeles amidst mixed-use residential neighborhood; or
    • Warner Center Specific Plan Zone in Woodland Hills, or
    • Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment District Specific Plan Zone: which include the Staples Center bordered by Olympic and Pico Boulevards and Cherry St and Figueroa, or
    • Playa Vista Specific Plan Zone: an area bordered by Jefferson and the Ballona Creek Channel; or
    • Paramount Pictures Specific Plan Zone: A campus revamp surrounding the last Hollywood studio. This includes the Lemon Grove, South Bronson, Windsor, Camerford, Waring , and Gregory lots under the Paramount Pictures Specific Plan; or
    • USC Specific Plan Zone: USC Specific Plan Zone within Subarea 3 under the USC Specific Plan; or
    • Jordan Downs Urban Village Specific Plan Zone: Commercial Manufacturing Zone under the Jordan Downs Urban Village Specific Plan; or
    • Cornfield-Arroyo Seco Specific Plan Zone, an area east of Griffith Park and the Los Angeles River.

    Aside from these designations, a retail shop can be located outside a 700-foot radius of schools, public parks, public libraries, alcoholism or drug abuse treatment facilities, daycare centers and permanent supportive housing. Retail shops must also be outside a 700-foot radius of any other retailer or microbusiness commercial cannabis activity with on-site retail sales, which is licensed by the state of California and licensed by the city to engage in the commercial cannabis activity defined in this section.

    These 10 planned zones form a green belt across the northern part of the city, with the exception of Jordan Downs Urban Village Plan, which is one of the southernmost  locations where retail pot dispensaries will be able to open.

    All license applicants in Los Angeles now need to pay attention to “Undue Concentration,” which means that the premises of a cannabis business have to be situated according to a specified ratio of license to population based on U.S. data and updated by each decennial census.

    For retailers, that ratio would be one license per 10,000 residents; for micro businesses, one license per 7,500; for manufacturers, one license per 7,500 residents; and for cultivation the ratio is 1 square foot of cultivated area for every 350 square feet of land zoned M1, M2, M3, MR1.

    Existing medical marijuana dispensaries won’t be subject to the Undue Concentration analysis. A micro-business involved in on­ site retail counts towards the Undue Concentration License and limits applicants to retailer licenses, and a micro-business involved in cultivation counts towards the undue concentration limits applied to the cultivation licenses types.

    Businesses in a geographical area of Undue Concentration have to file with the city clerk, on a form provided by the Department of Cannabis Regulation, a request that the city council find that approval of the license application would serve public convenience or necessity, supported by evidence in the record. If the city council does not act on a request within 90 days, it will be deemed to support public convenience.

    According to the city controller’s office, there were 191 marijuana businesses that were eligible to apply for a special 2017 Business Tax Registration Certificate and 756 marijuana businesses that held a business tax registration certificate in 2016. The city attorney’s office had filed 563 criminal cases against marijuana businesses.

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  • Only Sissies Like Yellow

    • 01/12/2018
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Culture
    • Comments are off

    Tom of Finland Explores the Influence of the Man Behind the Leather

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Among many gay men, Tom of Finland is a well-known name. When I learned there was a movie about his life, I wasn’t interested in seeing it. I prejudged the film because of my opinions against fostering unattainable fantasies that produce negative self-image issues in men.

    However, the film gave me a different perspective of the man and his drawings.

    Despite the pressure to fit gay men into boxes that defines their masculinity or femininity, they have more individual latitude in their self-expression than ever before. That hasn’t always been the case.

    Tom of Finland, a biopic film about artist Touko Laaksonen who shaped fantasies of muscle-bound men through his drawings, takes viewers on a journey through time, when gay men were considered mentally ill, weak and effeminate, and partaking in homosexual activities was a crime in most countries.

    The constant struggle to live out their realities  is exemplified best in an impactful scene from the film. After escaping a police raid on a party they attended, Touko, played by Pekka Strang, and his partner, Nipa, played by Lauri Tilkanen, engage in a conversation about an ideal future.

    “I’d like us to have an apartment together,” Nipa tells Touko. “Big windows with light-yellow curtains.”

    “Only sissies like yellow,” Touko responds.

    “I’d like the curtains to be open when we dance with friends,” Nipa continued. “I want you to hold my hand in broad daylight. I want the curtains to be open.”

    “Nice idea, but totally unrealistic,” Touko countered.

    Nipa encourages Touko to make those dreams real by selling his work internationally, where he took on the nom de plume, Tom of Finland.

    In the course of four decades, Touko produced about 3,500 illustrations, mostly of beefcake men wearing tight leather or denim clothes. A gay subgroup arose that impacted self-expression and pop culture. Music bands such as Queen and the Village People took cues from that influence, where men in uniform expressed themselves with homo-eroticism.

    In seamless flashbacks and flashforwards, Touko’s life is recounted from when he was in Finland’s army. Finland was an ally of Nazi Germany.

    Yet the film also reminds viewers that gay men were just as a likely to be forced into gas chambers as Jews. Following Touko’s arrest in Berlin, a German soldier told him, “You know, we used to put scum like you into concentration camps and gassed them to death.”

    Touko, in his public comments, had always repudiated Nazism, especially when critics slammed him for his works that seemed to glorify men in Nazi uniforms.

    However, Touko didn’t set out to be an artist whose work opened doors. He didn’t draw these images to galvanize anyone, at least not initially. Filmmaker Dome Karukoski portrays Touko as selfish, and maybe even predatory. This was probably best illustrated when it appeared that Touko’s sister, Kaija (played by Jessica Grabowksy) was interested in Nipa. Nipa at first seemed to welcome her attention, but Touko pursued him and won Nipa over.  They both chose to live their truth at a time when many gay men camouflaged their sexuality through heterosexual marriage.

    Touko’s former commanding officer, for example, was married and played with men on the side. When he was caught during the raid on his house party, he ended up in a mental institution, where he hoped he would be “cured.”

    When AIDS seemed to ravage the world, Touko questioned his contribution to the epidemic. However, he quickly learned that he was in fact a lifeline to young gay men, who had to choose between a life in a closet, death or freedom.

    “You make these different boys feel special — beautiful,” said Jack, a friend of his who died of AIDS.

    Touko’s work also helped break the stereotype that all gay men are effeminate, which is not to deny the contributions of less masculine men in the gay rights movement. They, and transgender women, were at the forefront of the movement. Touko’s work allowed for the diversity in  sexuality and the celebration of masculinity.

    Tom of Finland is more than a history lesson about gay men who dressed up in leather and denim. It’s an invitation to continue fighting to express sexuality and love in whatever way one deems important.

    “Make sure everyone knows we exist,” Nipa tells Touko before he dies. “Promise.”

    Tom of Finland, co-produced by the Art Theatre, QFilms and The Center Long Beach, will show at 11 a.m. Jan. 13 and 14, at the Art Theatre, 2025 E. 4th St., in Long Beach. For tickets visit www.arttheatrelongbeach.org/our-films.

     

     

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  • Council Seeks Way Out of Lawsuit

    • 01/11/2018
    • Lyn Jensen
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Carson City Council’s vote allows members to hold two offices at once

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    Carson Mayor Albert Robles is due in Los Angeles Superior Court Jan. 25 for a case rooted in two issues — his refusal to resign from the other elected office he occupies with the Water Replenishment District of Southern California and questions about where he lives.

    California law prohibits elected officials from holding two offices simultaneously, with one exception; the state approves of local government bodies crafting ordinances to work around that law.

    So with Robles’ court date looming, the Carson City Council used its Dec. 19 meeting to provide  Robles with a legal loophole. It passed an ordinance — and an urgency ordinance containing identical language — that allows council members to simultaneously as “elected or appointed officers” on sergeral other specific governing bodies, including the Water Replenishment District.

    At the meeting, City Attorney Bill Wynder said the action would “create a mechanism which will avoid the appearance of incompatibility of holding multiple offices in a manner recognized by law.”

    Court documents declared the Los Angeles County District Attorney wants to remove Robles from his water board seat arguing the “opportunity for conflict between the offices is formal and constitutional, as the jurisdictions overlap.”

    “The district attorney wants to pursue this complaint against me because she happens to favor the oil industry,” said Robles during the meeting.

    The district attorney’s complaint argues that precedent for removal is established.

    “There are at least nine separate attorney general opinions, which have concluded that holding the offices of city councilman and water district simultaneously presents substantial questions of law,” the complaint stated.

    Since his reelection to the mayorship of Carson and to the Water Replenishment board in  2016, Robles has only dug deeper into his stance that the offices do not conflict and his intention to fight the district attorney’s lawsuit.

    The district attorney’s case singles out the board’s decision to increase pump taxes on three groundwater monitoring wells in Carson as an area of potential conflict, along with Tesoro’s attempt to merge its Carson refinery with one in Wilmington. The water district could also develop capital improvement projects that need the council’s approval.

    Before the council members voted, Wynder instructed them to draw slips of paper from a bowl to determine which member would abstain. He told them this was to avoid a conflict of interest by even the simple act of voting on the resolution.

    Wynder’s concern stemmed from the fact that Robles draws two salaries from serving in two elected offices. He and his fellow council members were voting on the possibility that they all might be allowed to earn two or more salaries by serving in two or more elected offices.

    For the vote on the urgency ordinance, Cedric Hicks abstained. For the second ordinance, Wynder advised the council to draw again, this time to determine which two council members would abstain.

    Hicks and Jawane Hilton abstained from the second vote.

    “The good news for Hicks is that his fingerprints aren’t anywhere on this,” Wynder quipped.

    Several residents appeared at the meeting and spoke against the council’s action.

    “This is tantamount to an admission of guilt,” commented Jan Schafer, a resident.

    The next day Carson Connected, an online blog maintained by Carson resident Lori Noflin, asked, “Did Carson officials conspire to obstruct justice?”

    The city’s new ordinances allow members of the city council to hold “elected or appointed” offices with the Water Replenishment District, the West Basin Municipal Water District, The Metropolitan Water District, the Compton and Los Angeles school boards, the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District, the county sanitation district, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the Southern California Association of Governments.

    Both ordinances required a second reading at the council’s Jan. 9 meeting.

    Sergio Calderon, Robles’ colleague in the Water Replenishment District, has twice brushed with the district attorney for a similar issue. In 2008 and again in 2016, the district attorney sued Calderon for serving simultaneously on the water board and the Maywood City Council. Both times Calderon resigned from the council rather than give up his seat on the water board.

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  • Baker Brothers Big Band

    • 01/11/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off

    ENTERTAINMENT

    Jan. 13
    Baker Brothers Big Band
    Baker Brothers Big Band will be playing your favorite big, dynamic, screamin’ and swingin’ numbers.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: $20
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/events
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 19
    Seatbelt + Chum!
    Wiff the surf with Seatbelt’s rockabilly and Chum, SoCal’s Killerest Surf Band.
    Time: 9 p.m. Jan. 19
    Cost: Free
    Details: https://tinyurl.com/Seatbelt-Chum
    Venue: Godmothers Saloon, 302 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    It’s Comedy Tonight
    Comedian Jeff Keller headlines with Carlisle Forrester and Jake Gallo as the opening acts. This is an excellent opportunity to attend a front run comedy show locally with food wine and funny.
    Time: 7 to  10 p.m. Jan. 19
    Cost: $4.80
    Details: https://tinyurl.com/SanPedro-Comedy
    Venue: Community Art Machine, 446 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 20
    Tribute to Nirvana, Amy Winehouse
    Kick back as seasoned tribute bands such as Nirvanish and The Winehouse Experience perform pitch-perfect renditions of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Back to Black.
    Time: 9 p.m. Jan. 20
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.goldstar.com
    Venue: Gaslamp, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach

    Jan. 20
    Christina Montes-Mateo

    Classical Crossroads’ The Interludes concert series presents Beverly Hills National Auditions winner, harpist Cristina Montes-Mateo. Cristina Montes Mateo is recognized throughout the world as one of the leading harpists of her generation.
    Time: 3 p.m. Jan. 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.palosverdes.com/ClassicalCrossroads/TheInterludes.htm
    Venue: First Lutheran Church & School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    Jan. 26
    Hot House
    Hot House will be setting the house on fire at Harold’s Bar in San Pedro. Richard Manzanaer who plays the guitar and vocals, Chris Couchios who plays drums and vocals, Rocco Presutti who plays bass vocals and Ike Parnell who plays keys and vocals will have you doing the Ameri-gumbo.
    Time: 9 to 12 p.m. Jan. 26
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 832-5503
    Venue: Harold’s Place, 1908 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    THEATER

    Jan. 12

    Pick of the Vine: Season 16 at Little Fish Theatre
    An exciting night of entertainment awaits you in these 7- to 15-minute short plays hand-picked from authors across the country. The 2018 selections include: Wishes by Mark Harvey Levine, The Train by Irene L. Pynn and The Last Word by JC Cifranic.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and  2 p.m. Sundays,  Jan. 12 through Feb. 17
    Cost: $23 to $27
    Details: https://www.facebook.com/TheLittleFishTheatre
    Venue: Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre St., San Pedro

    Jan. 13
    Black Coffee

    In 1930, Agatha Christie wrote Black Coffee as a play featuring her master sleuth Hercule Poirot. In this seldom seen and intricately crafted mystery, Christie weaves scientific discoveries, international espionage, and unimaginable murder together to give the audience a night of unraveling the knots of danger and suspense.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays  Jan. 13 through Feb. 10
    Cost: $14 to $24
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    ARTS

    Jan. 13
    Unfiltered Photo Exhibition
    A fan favorite reception will be hosted for the exhibit, which runs through Jan. 28.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://bit.ly/UNFILTEREDFanFavorite
    Venue: MADE by Millworks, 240 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Jan. 27
    Randi Matushevitz, Huss Hardan Closing Reception

    The final day for Urban Dilemmas, the incredible large scale mixed media paintings from Randi Matushevitz and Color of Money photographs by Huss Hardan.
    Time: 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 27
    Details: www.huzgalleries.com; www.randimatushevitz.com
    Venue: Huz Galleries, 341 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    Jan. 12
    MLK Tribute

    Join this special tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. There will be music, dance, poetry and history.
    Time: 6 p.m., Jan. 12
    Cost: Free
    Details:  (310) 835-0212  ext. 1467
    Venue: Carson Community Center Main Hall, 801 E. Carson St., Carson

    Jan. 12
    Aquarium Family Overnight
    Grab your sleeping bags and coziest pajamas for an overnight adventure, exploring the Aquarium’s many exhibits. Space is limited
    Time: 5 a.m. Jan. 12 to 7 a.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: $90
    Details: (562) 590-3100; aquariumofthepacific.org
    Venue: Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach

    Jan. 13
    MLK Jr. Peace & Unity Parade
    The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace and Unity Parade’s theme this year is “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.” Remember the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and all that MLK Day represents.
    Time: 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. at 7th Street, Long Beach

    West End Catalina Kelp Dives

    Three dives exploring the reefs and kelp forests of Catalina Island’s wild west end. Enjoy a full hot breakfast while the crew is keeping an eye out for dolphins and gray whales.
    Time: 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: $125
    Details: http://catalinaexplorer.com
    Venue: Catalina Explorer, 141 E. 22nd St., San Pedro

    Tidepool Walk
    Join educators as they explore the shore. Attend an informative slide show in the John M. Olguin Auditorium, then come along on a naturalist-led ramble on the rocks to see animals in their natural habitat.
    Time: 12:30 to 2 p.m. Jan. 13
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Jan. 14
    Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour
    Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy presents Wild & Scenic Film Festival On Tour, an exciting selection of adventurous and inspirational films about nature. With beautiful cinematography and some remarkable individuals, the passion is contagious.
    Time: 3 p.m. Jan. 14
    Cost: $10 to $15
    Details: www.pvplc.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 20
    How To Handle Intrusion
    Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration invite you to a discussion on how to safely and humanely handle marine mammal encounters on boats and docks. The discussion will be lead by Justin Viezbicke, California Stranding Network Coordinator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.marinemammalcare.org
    Venue: Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    Jan 21
    Press Play
    This is a free community based event promoted by Ashley-Dominique Green of Good Giving Events  Jose Joe Recendiz of E562productions and Sonic Sieng of Sonic’s BBQ Co. Gather in the park for a day of , love, peace, play time and networking.
    Time: 1  to 4 p.m. Jan. 21
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Bixby Park, 130 Cherry Ave, Long Beach

    Jan. 26
    2018 Walk for Kids Kick-Off
    Gladstone’s Long Beach is helping to kick-off the 7th Annual Long Beach Walk for Kids! RSVP to join. Learn more about the 5K walk benefiting the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House. You will hear how you can help us sustain the needs of families with seriously ill children undergoing treatment at a nearby medical facility.
    Time: 9 a.m. Jan. 26
    Details: (562) 285-4308, www.rmhcsc.org/longbeach
    Venue: Gladstone’s Long Beach

    Jan. 27
    Third Annual Marley Festival

    The Marley Festival will again bring some of the best reggae bands from Southern California together for this one special day to support original reggae music. The event will feature reggae artist Don Carlos and the Soul Syndicate Band with Common Sense, and special guests.
    Time: 5 p.m. Jan. 27
    Cost: $25 to $30
    Details: GaslampLongBeach.com
    Venue: Gaslamp, 6251 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach

    Wheels & Heels 2
    Join in for the second Annual Wheels and Heels event hosted by #Reign46 Queen Mothers Ginger Grant and Diana Prince. This special event will raise money for “Infinite Flow – A Wheelchair Dance Company” who pair able-bodied people as dance partners with people in wheelchairs to create beautiful dances.
    Time: 3  to 6 p.m. Jan. 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 436-7900
    Venue: Hamburger Mary’s, 330 Pine Ave., Long Beach

    Jan. 28
    Long Beach Vegan Chili Cook Off

    Come on out and taste some great vegan chili and pair em up with some delicious specialty beers, tapped just for the event. There will be up to $500 in prizes.
    Time: 2  to 8 p.m. Jan. 28
    Details:  http://lbvegan.com
    Venue: 4th Street Vine, 2142 E. 4th St., Long Beach

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  • Inauguration Protest Case Results in ‘Not Guilty’

    • 01/04/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    A jury found the first six defendants to stand trial in connection with protests at Donald Trump’s inauguration not guilty on all charges.

    By Baynard Woods, Contributor

    The first six of 193 people charged with rioting and conspiracy after being arrested in connection with protests on Inauguration Day were found “not guilty.”

    The case has been seen as a test of the First Amendment under the Donald Trump administration. Because the arrests occurred in Washington D.C. the crimes are prosecuted by U.S. Attorneys who ultimately answer to Jeff Sessions.

    Lead prosecutor Jennifer Kerkhoff has argued, on a novel legal theory, that anyone who was wearing black and was in the vicinity of 12th and L streets, where police used pepper spray, grenades and batons to cordon off more than 200 people in a kettle, is guilty of conspiring to riot and of any property damage associated with the riot. Among those kettled are journalists who were covering the protest, legal observers and medics.

    Of the six defendants in the first group to stand trial, one, Alexei Wood, is a journalist who was live-streaming the protest, and two medics, one who is a registered nurse, were there to offer medical services.

    “She was aiding and abetting this riot,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Rizwan Qureshi in court.  “That was her role…. As a provider of medical services, she was a co-conspirator. She aided and abetted this group. She wasn’t prepared for a march or a protest. She was prepared for war.”

    At the close of this trial, when Kerkhoff told the jury that the standard of ascertaining guilt “beyond reasonable doubt” in a case “doesn’t mean a whole lot,” Judge Lynn Leibovitz assured the jurors: “I’m sure she didn’t mean to say what she just said.”

    Detective Greggory Pemberton has spent an entire year investigating the case, which has relied on evidence from unreliable, far-right sources such as Project Veritas, which recently tried to trick the Washington Post and discredit the women accusing former Alabama Senatorial candidate Roy Moore.

    “The trial also underscored the extent to which the Trump administration was actively working with far-right and neo-fascist political groups like Project Veritas, Oath Keepers, Media Research Center and Rebel Media to criminalize and punish anti-fascist and anti-Trump activists,” the advocacy group Defend J20 said in a statement. “Despite what could be considered collusion with these groups and the government’s attempt to criminalize ‘anti-establishment’ views, the jury roundly rejected those efforts.”

    In a recent motion filed on behalf of defendants in the next round of trials, it was alleged that Pemberton gave false testimony to the grand jury in order to bring charges, claiming that everyone who was arrested was present for the entire march and the destruction of property, which included broken windows at several chain businesses heavily associated with capitalism such as Bank of America and Starbucks.

     

    One of the defendants was not even at the protest on Inauguration Day but is being charged on the basis of a podcast talking about the protest.

    The judge had already dismissed the felony inciting a riot charge against all of the defendants.

    In a statement the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia indicated that it would continue to prosecute the remaining 187 defendants in the case.

    “The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia believes that the evidence shows that a riot occurred on January 20, 2017, during which numerous public and private properties were damaged or destroyed,” the statement reads.  “This destruction impacted many who live and work in the District of Columbia, and created a danger for all who were nearby.  The criminal justice process ensures that every defendant is judged based on his or her personal conduct and intent.  We appreciate the jury’s close examination of the individual conduct and intent of each defendant during this trial and respect its verdict.  In the remaining pending cases, we look forward to the same rigorous review for each defendant.”

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