• Experiment Suggests News is Low in Facebook Feeds

    • 01/03/2018
    • Reporters Desk
    • Editorials
    • Comments are off

    How much news is really in Facebook’s “News” Feed differs from person to person, and influenced by any number of muddy variables.

    The makeup of a person’s feed might depend on the device they’re using. Whether they like a lot of news organizations’ pages. Whether they ever click on this news article link or watch that news video. Whether they’re on wifi or using data, checking in the morning or the evening. Whether their Facebook friends shared and discussed the news. Whether those news outlets have fast-loading pages. Whether they’ve “snoozed” groups, friends, or pages (a feature Facebook is rolling out this week). What you count as “news.”

    Click here to read full story.

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  • Corruption Code Stuck in Error Mode

    • 12/22/2017
    • Sara Corcoran
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Sara Corcoran, Washington DC Correspondent

    Title 18 Section 201 is a relatively unknown section of the federal criminal code related to the bribery of public officials and witnesses. Its interpretation and limitations can impact higher profile public officials.

    The federal bribery statute, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 201, which is overly broad and vague, makes it a crime for a public official to “receive or accept anything of value” in exchange for being “influenced in the performance of any official act.”

    U.S. prosecutors have aggressively tried to ensnare several political titans including Democrat Sheldon Silver, former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell (VA) and Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in the trap of Section 18 and failed. Silver, a former New York Assembly Speaker and McDonnell were exonerated on appeal.

    Silver was charged in a 2015 bribery case for accepting $4 million in kickbacks disguised as legal payments from law firms. Although he was found guilty, Silver appealed.  His appeal centered on improper jury instructions as jurors were told that “any action taken or to be taken under color of official authority” should be considered an official act. This broad interpretation coupled with charges misleading the jury on the definition will make it challenging to ever refile a case against Silver. And, if a prosecutor tries to go against Silver again, using new or different charges, chances are that that prosecutor will hit a solid wall put up by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Mcdonnell.

    In that case, Chief Justice John Roberts opined that common interaction between public officials and the public, while it may be tawdry or distasteful, does not rise to the definition of criminal activity unless tied to a specific quid pro quo involving a contract or legislative bill.

    In 2014, McDonnell was charged and convicted of federal corruption when he received favors, money, loans and gifts totaling $170,000.00 from Star Scientific Chief Executive Officer Jonnie R. Williams Sr. Prosecutors argued that these items influenced official acts. But in a vote 8-0 in favor of McDonnell, the precedent is clearly established.

    Under this standard, the Sen. Menendez case should never have been filed or should have been withdrawn prior to trial. Government lawyers spent more than two years and millions of dollars compiling a criminal case that simply couldn’t stick as evidenced by a jury vote of 10-2. In the 11th week of trial at the 11th hour of jury deliberations, the judge declared a mistrial. Hopefully prosecutors do not waste further resources trying to exploit a 20-year friendship between between a senator and an eye doctor.

    Another contentious case, which would never have been brought post-McDonnell, involves former Washington D.C. City Councilman-at-large Michael Brown, the son of former Commerce Secretary and former Democratic National Committee Party chairman Ron Brown. Unwilling to incriminate others in a government deal and finding his bank account looted by a campaign aide, Brown chose a plea deal and prison. In doing so, he waived his right to appeal and to have his case reviewed under the new “McDonnell Standard.” His only option now is to ask for a presidential pardon.  Brown has a book documenting his experiences scheduled for release in 2018 and wouldn’t be surprised if Silver, McDonnell and Menendez aren’t far behind on the book circuit.

    The reality is that SCOTUS has narrowed the reach of the statute. The layman’s definition of corruption has changed and we all need to adjust our cognitive dictionaries so that public perception of public official corruption aligns with its legal definitions. In other words, the Supreme Court has narrowed the statute but many overzealous prosecutors are trying to indict with broadened interpretation of the statute.

    A suggestion for the U.S. Department of Justice from a wonkish journalist: please stop mining this code. It simply isn’t worth it. There is a high probability that even if DOJ manages to secure a conviction on a public official bribery case, it will be overturned on appeal. Many of these cases are politically motivated by the DOJ, which should only look at the evidence. So let’s not waste taxpayer dollars on unsustainable political witch hunts. Let journalists do their jobs in exposing potential corruption so that the voters have the information to decide who they want in office, not prosecutors.

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  • Global Warming’s Clearer Role in Wildfires

    • 12/22/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • Briefs, News
    • Comments are off

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    The Thomas Fire became the largest recorded wildfire in California history this week, the first of a far-flung splatter of fires triggered by Santa Ana winds starting on Dec. 4. The Creek, Rye and Little Mountain fires erupted the next day, followed by the Skirball fire on Dec. 6, and Liberty and Lilac fires on Dec. 7.

    Ten years ago, Random Lengths News wrote about a similar outbreak of Southland fires, framed in terms of global warming, but we’re no longer an isolated voice making the connection. The UCLA Newsroom published a story UCLA experts explain why California is burning in December, almost all of which was global-warming-related in some way.

    “The temperature extremes — a record-warm summer and autumn — are exactly what we expect to occur given climate change, and there’s evidence that autumn and spring are likely to become even drier, even if our annual precipitation doesn’t change much,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist quoted in the story.

    One big-picture way to grasp what’s happening begins with understanding global warming as doing two things: first, raising temperatures broadly, and second, raising the amount of energy flowing through the global ecosystem, increasing its turbulence and expanding the range of extreme states on multiple scales of time and geography.

    One time scale is that of multi-decade megadroughts, first discovered by Columbia University climate modeler Richard Seager, who we interviewed in 2007. He identified a 4th century when a series of megadroughts that affected large areas of the West. The transition to this sort of climate was already under way, he told us, well before the past four years of severe drought followed by two years of drenching rains. Medieval megadroughts were occasionally punctuated by years like that, without ending as a result. So we could still be in the midst of the first megadrought of the modern era.

    In fact, the two-year cycle of floods followed by drought that we’re living through now—at least so far—is another level on which extreme states produced by climate change can be observed. “Last year’s stormy and wet winter, coupled with this year’s record-breaking high temperatures, and our current dry winter conditions, mean that we are extremely susceptible to fires — and this problem is going to continue and get worse,” said paleoclimatologist Aradhna Tripati in the UCLA story, neatly summarizing how this two-year cycle and the underlying warming trend combine to raise the fire threat ever higher.

    On the other extreme, daily cycles are growing more intense as well—exemplified by extremely low humidity and strengthening Santa Ana winds. There are also cyclic patterns in between. One, first noticed by Swain in 2013, is the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” a region of unusually high atmospheric pressure pushing the Pacific jet stream to the north of California, resulting in very dry conditions.

    The ridge has returned repeatedly since, and is now seen in its larger context, linked with low pressure and outbreaks of very cold, Arctic air across the eastern United States, such as the “Snowmageddon” and “Snowpocalypse” snowstorms. One study showed a sustained upward trend in the number of days typified by this “dipole” condition. Thus, while climate deniers point to snow as disproof of global warming, scientists are gaining a clearer picture of how it’s exactly the opposite — and intimately tied to the very different extreme weather (and consequences) we’re living through in Southern California.

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  • State of Long Beach

    Jan. 9, 2018
    Mingle with Long Beach friends and neighbors before hearing Mayor Robert Garcia give a year-in-review and address issues for the future at the State of the City. RSVP.
    Time: 5 p.m. Jan. 9, 2018
    Details: http://stateofthecitylb.com/
    Venue:  The Terrace Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Long Beach Area Peace Network

    Honor Wayne Marchyshyn as Peacemaker of the Year at the Long Beach Area Peace Network meeting.
    Time: 6 p.m. Dec. 31
    Cost: $35
    Details: (562) 433–7025; facebook.com/occupylongbeach
    Venue: Christ Lutheran Church, 6500 Stearns St., Long Beach

    Monthly Beach Cleanup

    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites the public to participate in its monthly Beach Clean-Up.
    Volunteers learn about coastal habitat, the growing amount of marine debris within it and the benefits of protecting this ecosystem.
    Time: 8 to 10 a.m. Jan. 6, 2018
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venues: CMA, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Free Shuttle Service Connects LB Airport to Blue Line During Holidays

    The Blue Line 2 Airline express bus shuttle is operating daily every half hour from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Jan. 7, 2018.
    The complimentary shuttle stops at Long Beach Airport on the outer curb in front of the historic terminal and at Metro Blue Line’s Wardlow Station on Pacific Place.
    Details: www.lgb.org/travelers/blue_line_2_airline.asp

    Coastal SPNC Grants

    The deadline for submitting Neighborhood Purpose Grant applications is Jan. 10, 2018.  At this time there is $2,500
    available for this second round of funding.  You must have a 501 c(3) designation in effect to qualify.
    Details: www.cspnc.org/neighborhood-purposes-grants

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  • Would a Refinery, by Any Other Name, Taste as Sweet?

    • 12/22/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Culture Writer

    When selecting an evocative name for a business, most restaurateurs are inclined to go for something that hints at rural and pastoral. Call a place “The Farm,” “Ed’s Orchard,” or “Sally’s Seafood Dock” and you evoke images we associate with pure and wholesome environments.

    The owners of a restaurant in Carson apparently have a different philosophy, because they named their restaurant The Refinery. Maybe it’s just me, but when I see those extravagantly piped towers spouting flaming gas, I don’t get hungry. Nevertheless, when I learned of the restaurant’s existence, I had to go there just to see what they serve.

    Some of you reading this are probably wondering if this column is a hoax, because you have never heard of this place. I hadn’t either; I ran across it while looking for something else. It is inside the Doubletree Hotel by the Carson Civic Center. It has no exterior signage, as well as no Facebook presence or Yelp reviews. For a place that has been in business for more than two years, that’s a remarkable level of invisibility.

    The restaurant is off the lobby next to a lively bar. It has the nice but anonymous look you expect from hotel restaurants. The menu is surprisingly eclectic, offering what is accurately described as “California Asian Latin Fusion.” You can get Korean style or traditional buffalo wings, housemade guacamole, street tacos, or honey ancho chili glazed salmon, all pretty ambitious given the location.

    After considerable deliberation my wife and I decided to start with a cup of clam chowder and a boursin quesadilla; the quesadilla paired French cheese and mozzarella with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized sweet onions and tropical salsa. We asked for a dollop of the guacamole on the side because we wanted to try it. Our server, Norma, obliged at no extra charge.

    Our expectations were modest, but both starters greatly exceeded them. The chowder had been described as award-winning. When I questioned this I was told that it did indeed win a local chowder cook-off. It probably deserved to, because the lightly herbed rich broth had a silky rather than floury texture, decent amount of clams and enough potato to add interest without making you think it was there for filler. I like mine a little more peppery, but that can always be added and I’d have this again.

    The description of the quesadilla told me it wasn’t going to be traditional, but as it turned out, it was very good. The flavors were fresh, the spinach lightly cooked so it still had an appealing texture. The guacamole was average, but it made a nice dip when a little variety was desired.

    For mains we selected a plate of granola and chili crusted ahi tuna and an impressively thick pork chop that had been marinated with hoisin sauce and put over a medium-hot Chinese mustard sauce. The chop was served with mild garlic mashed potatoes and ginger braised red cabbage, and it made a pretty plate as well as a balanced meal. The chop itself was well cooked with a combination of smoky, sweet and spicy flavors. I should note that this entrée ran $21, a modest price for a lot of good food.

    The tuna didn’t quite hit the same mark, but it was close. Crusting the fish with sweet granola before searing was a clever idea, but they were a bit timid with the chili so the balance was slightly off. It was a good piece of fish. It was served over a mix of sautéed arugula and spinach along with rice and what was described as a tropical fruit chutney but was really a mango and fruit salsa. The sweetness of the granola and the salsa weren’t exactly the right pairing, I can’t say why. I might have preferred this with the chutney that was actually described on the menu.

    With our meal we had glasses of wine from the serviceable list. You won’t find any obscure vintages here, but you’d hardly expect to. They offer decent mass market brands at very fair prices and that suits the place.

    A few desserts were offered, but none struck our fancy and we were full anyway. Dinner for two with starters and three glasses of wine ran $96, of which $60 was food, a remarkable deal for a pleasant experience. I still won’t salivate when passing that refinery I can see from the freeway, but would willingly come back to this one for another bite to eat.

    The Refinery is inside the Doubletree Hotel at 2 Civic Plaza Drive in Carson. It is open at 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Sundays. There is a parking lot, wheelchair access, full and bar. Corkage is $14.

    Details: (310) 830-9200; https://tinyurl.com/ydgcoo95


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  • San Pedro Fish Market to Cast a Wider Net

    • 12/22/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Culture Writer

    The San Pedro Fish Market and Restaurant recently announced plans to open three new outlets, a remarkable burst of activity from a place that has been in one location for more than 60 years. Co-owner Mike Ungaro said it’s not unprecedented.

    “Our only other expansion was acquiring Shamrock Seafood in Wilmington in the 70s,” Ungaro said. “They did processing and distribution and we turned that into a restaurant in the 80s. It’s not that we didn’t want to expand, because Tommy Amalfitano, one of the founders, always wanted to open more fish markets. He didn’t have the help to do that.”

    Shamrock Seafood has a limited menu and counter service; two of the new operations (in Palos Verdes and Torrance) will follow that style. The third new establishment (in Long Beach) will be a full service restaurant. Ungaro said that he had a revelation after observing the popularity of fast casual seafood chains like Slapfish and California Fish Grill.

    “We looked at that and thought, ‘We’re already doing a version of what those guys are doing out of our Wilmington location, and we have people coming from Dana Point to Malibu for it. There’s clearly a demand and we’ve figured out how to supply it. We can hybridize what they do with what we do and call it the San Pedro Fish Market Grill,’” Ungaro said. “We let people create their own menu, pick their seafood and we’ll make it a sandwich, a salad, a plate, burrito, tacos… they create their own experience. We’ll also incorporate our world famous shrimp tray, which is our biggest seller.”

    The Long Beach restaurant in the former Joe’s Crab Shack will resemble the original San Pedro Fish Market. Ungaro’s vision of why that will work is interesting.

    “We’ve been around so long, doing what we’re doing that I think of us less as a restaurant [and more] as an entertainment destination,” he said. “I looked at where our customers come from and 94 percent travel more than five miles to visit us. That’s the opposite ratio from most restaurants. We have repeat customers from a 100-mile radius, including a lot in Santa Ana and as far away as San Bernardino. We’ll be able to say, ‘If you don’t want to come to San Pedro on weekends and wait in the crowd, you can get the same great flavors any day closer to home.’”

    The popularity of the San Pedro Fish Market with outsiders and Ungaro’s inspiration for thinking about the place as an entertainment destination, may spring from the popularity of the Kings Of Fish reality TV series that is filmed there. Ungaro says that the series not only introduced the place to customers, but may be responsible for the restaurant’s survival.

    “I am amazed at the number of people who come down because they saw us in that show,” he said. “They come up to me and ask, ‘Is this where Tommy or Henry works?’ Apparently they have no idea that I’m in the show too. It has won three international awards and been viewed [more than] 50 million times on our YouTube channel and it has opened up an entirely new opportunity for us to tell our story. In the early days of the redevelopment of the waterfront I realized early on that we weren’t part of that plan. They didn’t know who we were or what our story was. Now, we’re the only ones who are considered as an anchor tenant and that’s because we told our story. The new episodes are going to focus on opening these new locations. We had two episodes come out [the past] Friday and two today. We are going to show the risks and rewards, all the drama behind it and it’s going to send people to all of our places.

    To view episodes, check the Kings of Fish YouTube channel or kingsoffish.com.

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  • Waging the War of Words

    • 12/22/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    The anti-government echo chamber and the neo-libertarian revolt against the Mueller investigation

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    I would bet that the vast majority of the readers of this paper, if not the people in the communities we serve, are shaking their heads wondering, “How in the hell did Congress pass such a convoluted tax bill?”

    Or perhaps even, “How did Roy Moore nearly get elected in the recent Alabama senate race?”

    The Alabama senate race as well as some of the state legislature and gubernatorial races across the country show how deeply partisan America is just now, entrenched in an ideological battle over cultural values, civil rights, property rights, sexual harassment, the Mueller Russia investigation and yes, President Donald Trump himself.

    I am also pretty sure that most of my readers here, with the exception of Arthur Schaper, don’t regularly listen to Fox News, or read Breitbart or any number of conservative blogs, newsletters and websites. I’m right there with you. But these days, however, my inbox keeps filling up with stuff I routinely would dump in the trash, but I got curious lately.

    So I started opening up a few of these emailed newsletters — like Conservative HQ, the Conservative Caucus and a gun  rights group — to see what they’re up to. My interest was piqued by the news reports on the growing number of conservative’ attacks on the Robert Mueller investigation into the Trump Campaign’s connection to Russian meddling in the 2016 general election. It just seems awfully suspicious that after successfully getting a string of indictments this past October  that Mueller’s FBI team would be accused of extreme partisan bias. One might think the Trump’s defenders protest too much.

    What mostly goes unnoticed in the “liberal” media (a term I use sparingly given that the mainstream media is mostly owned by corporations that I’d deem less than liberal), is the mounting wave of coordinated “talking points” generated by the radical right to influence public opinion.  I’ll give you a little taste of what’s generating the anti-Mueller Russian investigation smear:

    The Conservative Caucus newsletter: Robert Mueller has already disqualified himself from any further involvement in this sham investigation. His appointment of cronies and extreme partisans disqualifies him. His association with disgraced former FBI Director James Comey disqualifies him and his potential involvement in the Uranium One scandal disqualifies him.

    Peter J. Thomas, the chairman of the Conservative Caucus, continues with the following inflammatory accusations:

    The putrid stench of this partisan witch-hunt that is specifically designed to overturn the results of the 2016 Presidential Election is so pervasive that it is making patriotic Americans gag from sea to shining sea.

    The boldfaced copy is his not mine and of course it appears contrary to the reality that Mueller has a higher level of support than Trump.

    Thomas goes on to tell his followers to send, “emergency contributions of $15, $25 and up to $100 or more to end this highly politicized sham investigation.”  This group, like many other “nonprofit” political organizations, just outside of Washington D.C. are nothing more than conservative front groups waging a war of words and ideas to fuel the Republican subset, Freedom Caucus, in the U.S. Congress.

    These political action groups are derivatives of the radical right’s think tanks like the Cato Institute, designed to paper our nation’s capital with libertarian anti-government research papers, talking points and agenda settings to influence both the public and the conservatives in Congress.

    That this wave of anti-Mueller investigation talking points just happens out of nowhere simultaneously is the kind of magical thinking that you’d attribute to the Flat Earth Society.

    This war-of-words is specifically being used to derail a legitimate investigation into the influence these kinds of tactics had on the 2016 elections and to protect the Trump presidency.  It’s obvious to those paying attention that Trump can’t fire Mueller without looking more guilty than President Richard Nixon did when he fired Archibald Cox.

    With the investigation inching closer to discovering what collusion there actually might have been between the Trump campaign and the Russian social media psyops program,  the only defense is to discredit the investigation and obscure the allegations with confusion.

    So Fox News and Breitbart started picking up the attack on Mueller and he knows that this is the game to throw him off the trail and the Trumpster team knows he knows it and they pretend they aren’t doing it.

    What they are counting on is that the 48 percent of the people in rural Alabama who somehow justified voting for Roy Moore (or the 15 percent in San Pedro who somehow still support Trump) don’t know it’s the game.  What they are counting on is you starting an argument with some idiots on Facebook or at the local bar (that refuses to have Fox News on the TV) over the buzzwords and the real fake news that is being pushed on us by these conservative drones trolling the internet.

    In the end, what we are witnessing is a nation divided by where it gets its information. As a result, we are seeing arguments exploding over not actual news, but talking points and buzzwords masquerading as news. This is a classic disinformation campaign. The kind you see right out of the playbooks of our own spy agencies use on foreign countries. What is baffling to our American sensibilities is that these same tools of media disruption are now being used against our own unsuspecting republic.

    This is why getting to the bottom of the Russian psyops influence on the 2016 campaign is so important. It might wake up whole groups of people who have been trolled and influenced all this time since Trump launched his campaign for the presidency.

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  • Grand Vision Brings Art, Music Back to School

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    With the arts under attack in America, many educators are fighting back to make sure that art, music and dance remain in public schools.

    Grand Vision Foundation is among those taking the fight for arts education to the forefront of its community. The organization has quietly and persistently delivered a deep and robust arts education program to more than 1,800 fourth- and fifth-grade students. The students come from the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Title I elementary schools (schools with high percentages of low-income students).

    Grand Vision Foundation calls its program Meet the Music. It places art educators in classrooms throughout the Harbor Area.

    “The Grand Annex presents 40 to 50 concert dates a year, but the reason we do all of this is to build community for the arts,” explained Joselyn Wilkinson, the foundation’s director of education. “This is behind all of our efforts.”

    Meet the Music

    Students learn to play instruments in the Grand Vision’s Meet the Music program, which places art educators in classrooms throughout the Harbor Area.

    The original Meet the Music program, founded by Liz Schindler Johnson and Taran Schindler, began with Recorders in Schools, a program that started nine years ago. The lowly little recorder, a flute-like instrument, serves as a gateway tool to empower students to easily play music and even read simple sheet music.

    Wilkinson, who graduated with honors from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures, joined Grand Vision four years ago. Working in conjunction with classroom teachers, she helped fine tune what was a modest program to meet the needs of the individual schools and students.

    LAUSD provides limited arts education to elementary schools. However, due to budget restraints, the schools have to choose which grade level receive arts education and for how many weeks during the semester. This means that resources are constrained in school. Grand Vision Foundation serves as a community arts partner to expand access to arts education.

    “We work in partnership with the schools to step in where there is a gap and a need and provide some really rich arts experiences that the schools would not be able to provide,” Wilkinson said.

    Roots of Music

    Today,  Grand Vision has expanded to not only build the students’ musical knowledge but also to enhance multicultural understanding through the Roots of Music module, a program that introduces the ethnic origins of popular music.

    “Our students are very fortunate to participate in [Root of Music Program],” said Lauren Baczkowski, a teacher at Barton Hill Elementary on Grand Vision’s website. “Several students are showing more confidence.”

    Roots of Music includes an invaluable partnership with the Los Angeles Opera. Each year the students attend a youth-oriented opera performance at the Warner Grand Theatre. The fifth graders are presented with a rare opportunity to learn about alternative forms of music and culture while their minds are still receptive to what is out there. Teachers have an approved curriculum that introduces students to forms of music that they won’t stumble upon on YouTube. The program is taught by the Los Angeles-based world music group Adaawe. Students learn anchor concepts like rhythm, melody and dynamics by engaging with African rhythm, American spirituals and folk, and Mexican traditional music. Adaawe members are from varied backgrounds. The musicians originate from Kenya, Morocco, Israel, Panama and the United States to the classroom. Students learn the roots of popular American music while studying historical events such as the Atlantic slave trade.

    The growth of the program has brought more educators and volunteers onboard to teach music, dance and visual arts.

    Early Inspiration

    Grand Vision was founded by Liz Schindler Johnson, who is now its executive director. She was drawn to community activism following the 1992 Los Angeles riots. She believes that many of her colleagues in community-based arts education developed an awareness during that period of civil unrest. “When we were launching the Recorders in Schools program I met with teachers,” Schindler Johnson recalled. “I assumed that they had identified musically gifted students.”

    But teachers told her they had no idea who was musically talented because students never participated in music during school hours. That clarified things for Schindler Johnson. She became focused on providing an opportunity for students to discover unrealized musical aptitude.

    The first instructor with the early recorder class was Andrea Dowdell. Dowdell was teaching the recorder in a small private school in Torrance. She was already an eager volunteer with Grand Vision Foundation.

    “I was born and raised in Germany and it is a very common thing there to learn the recorder in school,” Dowdell said.

    Dowdell suggested the curriculum that remains in use for the recorder class.

    Dowdell also identified gifted students, such as a young man named Anthony, who exhibited a prodigious capacity for hearing music and playing back the tune without sheet music. Anthony was easily the star student that year and performed solo at the Grand Vision gala.

    Meet the Music staff now includes Giselle Ruiz, Andrea Dowdell, Dr. Dawn Norfleet and Sukari Reid-Glenn. Both Norfleet and Reid-Gleen are flautists and composers.

    Model Art Schools

    But it takes a village to raise a child. Amy Eriksen, executive director of Angels Gate Cultural Center, has combined the center’s previously existing educational outreach program with Grand Vision to form the Model Art Schools program.

    “Model Art School is an idea that allows us to think about integrated, sequential art education for students in our local LAUSD elementary schools,” Eriksen said. “We partner with others, like Grand Vision, to bring continued funding from our varied sources to make sure that schools are receiving arts programming at every grade level in a different art form.”

    Program directors work with the individual principals and teachers to create 10-week programs in their schools.

    Combining resources has allowed the school district, Grand Vision and Angels Gate to connect with students across the city.

    “Often the school will have the LAUSD artist come in and do one grade level, and then we have partnered with choreographers such as Pony Box Dance Co. to come in and do the second-grade dance program,” Eriksen said. “Then, we bring in visual arts to the third grade. Grand Vision brings the Roots of Music program to the fourth grade and we bring in creative writing to the fifth grade.”

    Wilkinson agrees.

    “We would love to see our elementary schools with their own orchestras and bands, but the least we can do is to have every single fifth grader in our area be able to learn to play music, together with their class,”  emphasized Wilkinson.

    All this requires concentrated fundraising efforts to maintain the program. Generous donations from the Max H. Gluck Foundation, the California Arts Council and a long list of charitable donors make a good portion of this effort possible.

    Each year Grand Vision hosts a wildly popular Gathering for the Grand Gala. The 2018 gala on March 24 honors Andrew and Adela Sibler with a Beatles themed party titled All You Need is Love.  Tickets for the auction, dinner, and dance are available at www.grandvision.org/gala.

    The foundation has booked Jackson Browne for a fundraising concert on Feb. 9 at the Warner Grand Theatre. Tickets for Browne’s benefit concert at the 1,500-seat Warner Grand Theatre are sold out on the Ticketmaster site.  A quick search turned up a few tickets on StubHub. Fans might still be able to get in.

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  • Platform Places Activism Experience on SameSide

    • 12/21/2017
    • Zamná Ávila
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    These days, the extent of our outrage at public policy, government misdeeds or private injustice comes in the form of a retweet, a repost or an online rant in all caps in 140 characters or less. Indeed, if there is ever a revolution, it won’t be televised, but it won’t happen in the wake of mass marches either.

    The elevation of Donald Trump to the presidency is proof that raging against the machine through social media is no substitute for electing preferred candidates or pressuring our elected representatives on issues closest to our hearts.

    Siblings David Legacki and Nicole àBeckett are the founders of SameSide, a platform to engage community in activism and support entrepreneurs. Photo courtesy of Nicole àBeckett

    This is the conclusion reached by San Pedro-natives, David Legacki and Nicole  àBeckett, after the 2016 election. Rather than just throw their hands up in despair, the siblings combined their political ideals with their interest in supporting small businesses. They founded SameSide.

    Its model is simple. SameSide partners with progressive advocates to create an experience with a venue, whether it’s a comedy show, a pop- up restaurant with cutting edge chef or brewery tour. These venues serve as a space where participants connect with like-minded people and get invigorated by calling stakeholders and/or writing letters to their representatives. Participants pay for the experience and most of the money then goes to the business owner or host. SameSide takes a small percentage to support its business.

    “People get involved in the political action through supporting the entrepreneurs or businesses that support the same cause,” explained àBeckett, who now lives in Los Angeles. “The reason we have cost is that our host puts it all together. We want them to be invigorated to keep doing it.”

    Dining for DACA

    Recently, SameSide promoted Dining for DACA at Santa Luna restaurant in Wilmington. Dining for DACA is an initiative SameSide came up with to support  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which has been threatened by the Trump administration, by partnering with restaurants, most of which are sensitive to those issues.  For $35, participants were introduced to the business, treated to a three-course meal and called to action.

    “I am so happy to host … to get involved,” co-owner and Santa Luna Chef Antonio Castañeda  said, speaking Spanish. “I didn’t have the opportunity that dreamers have…. For me the dreamers and I are one because Santa Luna comes from a dream. It’s an obligation to have a dream and generate an impact with what you know how to do.”

    Attendees wrote letters to legislative representatives, phone banked and emboldened others to do the same. They were provided with scripts to call representatives and friends, and template letters to send to their legislators.

    “Growing up I wasn’t aware of it,” said Angelica Brambilia, one of the attendees. “I sympathize and realize that it could have been my family.”

    Local politician representatives also attended the event.

    “If it wasn’t for DACA I wouldn’t be here,” said Fernando Navarrete, a field deputy for District 15 Councilman Joe Buscaino and a DACA recipient. “We have people who are supporting but we have to have a Dream Act. We contribute to the economy and [many of us] earn our bachelors with little or no funding.”

    “As Latinos we have an obligation to our parents,” said Gabriela Medina, District Director for U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan, “We need to be reminded not to be complacent…. Tell your elected officials what you want.”

    SameSide’s Story

    A few years ago, Legacki left the corporate world to serve as a Navy Seal. There he met people from different backgrounds, ethnicities, creeds and political spectrums. What he learned is that regardless of their dissimilarities they all were able to have each other’s back and, at the end of the day, break bread together.

    “The military is the last melting pot where we are forced to work with people,” Legacki said.

    He came back from his service yearning for that sense of family and accountability.

    In the 2016, the country came to a standstill when the Electoral College voted in Donald Trump as president of the United States.

    “I couldn’t sit idly in this day and age,” Legacki said.

    Thousands took to the streets to protest the inauguration of one of this country’s biggest embarrassments.

    Women marched in major cities to show their discontent with the new Twitterer-in-chief, his contention against women and the policies that a Republican Congress was supporting. àBeckett was among those women.

    But she was frustrated, she felt that marching and raising funds were just not enough. There needed to be more palpable ways to take action.

    The two put their heads together and came up with a concept to bring people together, share experiences and help hearten both participants and hosts to make a difference.

    “We wanted to find a way to come out, meet face-to-face, create understanding, experiences, fun and energy,” àBeckett said. “My brother and I are politically involved. We wanted to find a way to get more people involved and move the needle.”

    They enlisted people they knew — artists, chefs, comedians. They researched best practices.

    “We didn’t ask them to do anything they didn’t want to do already,” Legacki said. “We quit our jobs to do this. I have a 2-year-old and I couldn’t imagine telling him I just had a day job.”

    The first experience was a phone banking event supporting Sara Hernandez, a progressive woman for Congress.

    “At the end of the day, [participants] were joking, competing; they became friends,” Legacki remembered.

    After the phone banking, the hosts took participants to a brewery tour in the arts district of Los Angeles.

    “In a nutshell, we are a marketplace for experiencing political engagement, music, arts and culture,” àBeckett said. “This model can be scaled to support any issue.”

    Details: https://onsameside.com

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  • AltaSea’s Future Defies History

    • 12/21/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Krusoe and the future of fighting global climate change on the LA Waterfront

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    In the history of the world, there has never been an industry, a marketplace or an economy that’s been created without a significant investment by the public sector.

    The international trade that connected the New World with the Old would not have been created without the support furnished by monarchies during the age of exploration. The Industrial Revolution would not have been a revolution if not for government desire for expansion through colonialism and imperialism. Manifest Destiny in United States would not have been manifested if the federal government had not seized and redistributed territory in the march westward.

    Even the history of our port in the Los Angeles Harbor shows that government investment through the creation of a free port was the dominant ingredient in the robust economy we see today in Southern California; government projects at the port included the federal breakwater and other investments like bridges and dredging. This has been the pattern throughout the development of most of our city.

    It is in light of this history that the unveiling of the La Kretz Innovation Campus at Berth 58, down the street from the historic Warehouse One, on Dec. 11 was something to behold.

    In his speech at the unveiling, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti sounded notes of caution and optimism as he communicated his vision of the future, the Port of Los Angeles and AltaSea’s role in shaping that future.

    This day was a celebration of the La Kretz Blue Economy Incubator, a key component of AltaSea’s ocean innovation campus.

    “AltaSea literally pulled back the curtains at our facilities in the Port of Los Angeles, revealing our next major step forward as we launch construction of the La Kretz Blue Economy Incubator,” AltaSea Executive Director Jenny Krusoe said.

    Garcetti communicated that this campus was a catalyst for  greater collaboration with the private sector in the investment in new technologies and innovation.

    The mayor suggested that this new way forward in economic development through blue technology, clean sea technology, would rely heavily on philanthropic investments, as well as, emerging tech start-up companies focused on what is called “blue tech” research and development.

    This private-public incubator approach is being touted citywide as the cure for the loss of industrial manufacturing jobs within the past 30 years in Southern California. It is heavily reliant on the speculative buy-in from developers, academics in the marine sciences, the port and the City of Los Angeles.

    Of the more than 300 officials and civic leaders who attended the unveiling of the La Kretz Innovation Campus, a reflection of AltaSea’s significant political and business support, conspicuously missing from the gathering was the environmental community that should have naturally been there.

    Also conspicuous was the silence on just how much the La Kretz Foundation donated and how far along the path AltaSea is in reaching the $549 million goal of bringing AltaSea from concept to reality as this paper reported in 2014.

    “What I’m not doing is relying on public money to generate phase one,” said AltaSea’s former Chief Executive Officer Rachel Etherington back then. “We would be remiss to not look at that and we would be remiss to not start these conversations. But my immediate fundraising targets do not include big amounts of public funding.”

    Since that time, the Port of Los Angeles has stepped up to offer greater support for this project. Tim McOsker, the legal counsel for AltaSea, said that with the renegotiation of the lease with the port, AltaSea’s budget has been drastically readjusted down to some $150 million, which doesn’t include the port’s investment.

    This change suggests there’s been a pivot from the more grandiose plan rolled out several years ago to a more practical approach that is now being promoted by Krusoe and the new board.

    But this pivot doesn’t immediately mesh with the mayor’s grandiose vision of a campus where scientists, educators, policy makers and entrepreneurs work together to accelerate marine research.

    Indeed, neither the mayor nor councilman for District 15, Joe Buscaino, would or could reveal any major developers or any of Los Angeles’ billionaires that they have personally lobbied to support the project, even though they are leading the charge to support it.

    Since the Oct. 19 Bisnow developer breakfast presentation, which focused primarily on AltaSea over other waterfront opportunities, and then the following week’s tour by the esteemed Brookings Institute in San Pedro, a great expectation has been laid upon the success of this project and Krusoe’s talents in leading it forward.

    AltaSea is a visionary project that has taken 17 years to emerge through the efforts of many people, including the former director of the POLA Geraldine Knatz, who was absent from this event, and Camilla Townsend, the chairwoman of the AltaSea board.

    Other developments in the harbor region have also been slow to move forward like the Ports O’ Call waterfront redevelopment, the second phase of Crafted at the POLA or significant housing projects. However, the arrival of SpaceX, a Tesla company, and the announcement of Molina Healthcare moving into the Topaz building on Sixth Street in downtown San Pedro, have all raised the temperature on speculative values.

    Krusoe and others are expecting this excitement to flow over to the AltaSea project. “AltaSea is excited to be part of the emerging LA Waterfront Innovation District,” she said.  It is an entirely new designation for what some at the port see as a spin-off from their zero-emissions plans for clean technologies.

    Still, the future of such an enterprise remains dependent upon how much of the marine science and environmental communities embrace this concept and whether the universities and colleges associated with Southern California Marine Institute join in to relocate there. The institute has been courted almost from the very start and Krusoe said that they are scheduled in for the next phase of the warehouse development. The institute’s relocation to the AltaSea site will probably be the key element to its future success.

    At this point, it would be very significant if the State of California or Los Angeles County invested in some portion of the infrastructure for AltaSea. But Krusoe is not there yet. She has focused like her predecessor on the private sector donations that now seem to be flowing in on a significant level.

    So, our city and county’s political elite will continue to cheer on AltaSea from the sidelines until the county or the state enters and becomes a game changer.


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