• Making it Big While Staying True

    Fr3qu3nc3 band members Frank Unzueta, Lucas Valenzuela, Chey Espejo and Tommy Pinteric. Photos courtesy of Lucas Valenzuela.

    Luke Von Duke talks about the road he’s traveled from Somehow Still Alive to Fr3qu3nc3

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    I talked to Luke Valenzuela at Alvas Showroom during a Frank Unzueta’s One World concert in November of 2013.

    I was there on assignment covering Frank Unzueta. I knew he was Luke’s uncle and thought at the time it would be great to interview both musicians together. Luke caught my attention in 2009 as Luke von Duke with his band, Somehow Still Alive. He was different. At the time, he was the only local artist I saw who embraced hip hop and rock music the way he did.

    When I greeted Luke at Alvas recently he didn’t immediately recognize me. I was just the guy that did the photoshoot of him and his band for the feature. B. Noel Barr wrote the story. His eyes lit with recognition when I said I was from Random Lengths.

    “Hey man, how you doing?” he said. “Man, I got a new band called Fr3qu3nc3 (pronounced “frequency”), but I’m not ready to talk about it just yet.”

    “That’s OK—get in touch with me when you are,” I told him.

    A year-and-a-half later, Luke messaged me on Facebook with links to his music and a query about running a story about him.

    I told him I’d get in touch the week after next, when Random Lengths wasn’t publishing. He tagged me first.

    Luke has three songs: “Laugh at Myself,” “Don’t Hold Your Breath” and “I’m Nothing.” They struck me as being strangely familiar. It reminded me of the industrial-sounding, British, pop music from the 1980s.

    It turned out, I wasn’t far off.

    When Luke and I finally met up at Averill Park, he explained that Fr3qu3nc3 emerged out of a low point, when Somehow Still Alive disbanded. I remembered back in 2009, there was a great deal of excitement that that band was on the verge of making it big and breaking out beyond the confines of San Pedro.

    “The music I was doing in 2008 and 2009 seemed like it was starting to break through but it was pushed back to the underground,” Luke said. “We were opening for headliners and we were being looked at by labels and that was in ’09. Back then, the music business was a little bit better.”

    Fr3qu3nc3’s music was inspired by Depeche Mode, an English electronic band that formed in 1980. The band’s original lineup included Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke. Clarke was replaced by Alan Wilder in 1982.

    Gahan fronted the band as lead vocalist, while Gore played guitar and keyboards and was main songwriter for much of their first 13 years together.

    Luke attempted to make a cover of Depeche Mode’s 1990 song, “Enjoy the Silence” using FL Studio, a music production program. He wasn’t satisfied with the result, explaining that his software didn’t have the right patches to correct some of the bugs in the system, making his effort sound amateurish.

    “It was as if I used a Playschool beatmaker,” he said.

    But it was during this process that he found the Asian Strings patch and created what became the first line of Fr3qu3nc3’s debut song, “Laugh at Myself.”

    “I’ve always loved Depeche Mode and The Smiths’ Morrissey and The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary,’” Luke said.

    After completing “Laugh at Myself,” Luke gained momentum. Working with a guitar and the melodies inside his head, he started cranking out original music. That’s also when he hooked up with lifelong friend “Tommy Gunn” Pintaric.

    “That’s my boy; I loved that guy,” Luke said. “I’ve known him for 27 years. I’d take a bullet for him… Well, I’ll take a punch for him, not a bullet.”

    Charismatic and funny, Luke’s “taking a punch” slaps me as an inside joke that is both funny and real. Luke said he had produced five more songs before he approached Tommy. He had previously reached out to another drummer who ultimately flaked. Luke and Tommy believed Fr3qu3nc3’s sound needed some funk. That’s where Uncle Frank comes in.

    “Chances are, nine times out of 10, the kids that shred around here were taught by Uncle Frank,” Luke explained. “His guitar playing…to me, he’s one of the most amazing guitar players around. He’s not Frank Unzueta. He’s Uncle Frank around here.”

    As Luke puts it, Fr3qu3nc3 got real sexy after Frank’s inclusion. His guitar playing reminds Luke of Johnny Mar from The Smiths, one of his all-time favorite guitarists.

    Sean Herrera from Sifa joined the group, but he parted ways from the band due to scheduling conflicts. Luke and Sean remain close enough that Luke said for Sean, he would also take a slap in the face.

    Chey Espejo next joined Fr3qu3nc3. Chey was a member of Knucklebuster, who we’ve also featured in these pages, as well as Luke’s late 1990s band, Beer Drinking Weather.

    “I keep my eye on both of them [Herrera and Espejo] because they are so good,” Luke said.

    After explaining how he put this current band together, Luke got to the real reason why we was ready for a write-up.

    He had found some muscle in the industry with 12-time Grammy winning producer and musician, Rafa Sardina.

    “His playing is just clear and he’s worked with everybody,” Luke said excitedly. “He’s worked with Lady Gaga, He’s worked with Beyonce.”

    Luke said his production sounds like Jesus recorded them.

    Indeed, Rafa’s client list reads like a Who’s Who in all the major music magazines from Rolling Stone to The Source with artists such as Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Harry Connick Jr, Mariah Carey, Shakira, Dr. Dre, Dru Hill…. the list goes on.

    Luke sent Rafa an email and amazingly got a response. More importantly, he got an audience with Rafa at which time he listened to Fr3qu3nc3’s music.

    “I couldn’t believe that this was happening. I almost pinched my own ass to see if I was dreaming,” said Luke jokingly. But he was serious.

    Rafa apparently liked Luke’s music enough to shop it around to some of his industry contacts—a pretty freaking huge deal.

    At 34, Luke has been chasing his dreams for more than 20 years. In that time, he’s suffered many disappointments.

    “It’s a rat race; I feel like everybody is fighting over the same piece of moldy cheese,” he said, reflecting on his years in the game. “When you get a taste of what the music industry is all about, it’s kind of scary.”

    “They’re not about development anymore,” he said. “You could have great music, but if you don’t have massive social media support, they won’t talk to you.”

    Pantomiming the typical conversation artists have with music executives before they make it to the big time—if they make it—Luke begins:

    “Hey, you got the best music in the world. I listen to it every night with my wife. How’s your following? How many Facebook likes do you have? 200. How many YouTube views? 500. Get out of here.”

    “They don’t want to mess with you,” he said.

    Luke and his Beer Drinking Weather bandmates thought they had it made when Interscope Records was looking at them. It ultimately didn’t work out. He blames oversaturation of artists as the biggest hurdle, noting that there’s a Fr3qu3nc3 at every corner, a Luke rapping on every stage, and somebody making beats everywhere else.

    This time, Luke is hiring a public relations agent to help him get his recognition up in social media and beyond. Right now, the stars seems to be coming into alignment and his dreams of financially supporting himself and his parents seems a little bit closer. He intends to stay on his grind, making use of any opportunity, ‘til the wheels fall off.

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  • GINA’S CHOICE AWARDS AT THE WEST COAST BBQ CLASSIC

     

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine Writer

    If you were unable to attend the West Coast BBQ Classic at the Queen Mary May 9, I feel sorry for your loss. What you missed was some of the best barbeque this side of the Mississippi, so allow me to paint a picture for you.

    Imagine thousands of hungry attendees, 80 certified barbecue judges and 57 eager teams competing for the ultimate prize: a wifi barbecue grill, a check for $10,000 and a chance to hold the state title of Grand Champion. Brought to you by the Kansas City BBQ Society, this was the fourth annual barbeque classic here in Long Beach. And, let me tell you, it was well worth the heartburn I experienced after sampling some of the best meat I’ve ever tasted in my life.

    Contestants were able to compete in several categories, submitting entries for chicken, ribs, pork and brisket. Judges rated each team’s entry on a scale from one to nine and allocated points for appearance, taste and tenderness. Oh, to have been a judge that day…

    I’m horrible at “sampling” anything. If someone hands me an excellent piece of barbecue chicken or a pork rib, there is no way I’m taking just one bite. If it’s out of this world, I’ll happily take the whole thing down (and probably ask for seconds).

    Naturally, I lasted about two hours before I had to army crawl back to the car just so I could drag myself home and take a nap. From what I was able to try, there were four teams that really stood out above the rest. While they didn’t place in the top five of any category, their entries were so on point, I can only imagine how sensational the winners must have been.

    Competing for their second year at the West Coast BBQ Classic was Team Woodshed. Based in Orange, the Woodshed is actually a brick-and-mortar store, and is well known for their premium firewood.

    Purchased by husband–and–wife team Mike and Patty Sharpe in 2006, the Woodshed gained notoriety in the restaurant world in Southern California. In 2012 Patty lost her beloved husband to leukemia, but she continues to honor him by continuing to run the business with genuine enthusiasm.

    I found the team to be incredibly upbeat and eager to please everyone. They didn’t have an arrogant air about them; they were there to have fun. Of course, it’s about the food, but competing as a team that is actually known for providing cooking wood to other contestants, I still thought their entries were quite incredible. The kalua pork was a particularly bold move considering most judges are looking for traditional barbecue fare, but sometimes you need a break between smoky ribs and charred chicken. Served alongside spicy pineapple beans and rice, the kalua pork was the perfect combination of sweet and tangy.

    Outta Gas BBQ deserves an honorable mention, particularly because they won the People’s Choice Award. Husband–and–wife team Chris and Laura Ades started grilling in the backyard. Their love for exceptional barbecue quickly turned competitive in 2013. Their team, comprised of friends and family and their loving entourage, gave them a competitive advantage.

    Outta Gas BBQ catered to the hordes of people like a well-oiled machine. Their booth alone was a crowd favorite, giving them an added appeal. Crowds formed in front of their grilling station, which looked like a roadside barbecue shack and waited patiently for their ribs.

    My personal favorite was their short rib taco with romaine lettuce and cabbage slaw served with a lime wedge. I almost asked for two but instead Laura gave me a generous serving of their special beans cooked with chunks of bacon. I have no problem with bacon; I say put it on everything.

    But the true showstoppers were the soon–to–be husband–and–wife duo Harry Soo and Donna Fong, who compete as Slap Yo Daddy BBQ and Butcher’s Daughter BBQ. Unlike most of the competing couples I spoke to at the event, Harry and Donna have a whole different dynamic. In fact, they are not a team at all. They travel around competing against each other and the stakes are high.

    By day Harry is an information technology manager in downtown Los Angeles, but by night he’s a barbecue grill master—a title which he undoubtedly earned. The man has so many barbecue accolades, it’s almost ridiculous.

    His most incredible win was placing first among 7,000 contestants in a barbecue contest in Kansas where he did it with chicken. Harry is well known in the world of barbecue. He currently teaches barbecue techniques to eager and willing enthusiasts. Many of his students were competing against him at the Queen Mary.

    Donna is a quiet, introverted molecular biologist who lives in Northern California. She had her first taste of barbecue several years ago and decided the only way to eat great barbecue all of the time was to become a judge. She started taking barbecue courses from Harry and as they say, one thing led to another. They have since been happily competing against each other for years.

    I stood between their booths, watching in complete awe as they kept passing me slices of different things to try. My heart went pitter-patter. With expert precision, Donna sliced off a piece of her Wagyu beef brisket from Snake River. For those of you who don’t know, anything from that breed of cattle costs a pretty penny, but my god it is worth every cent. Her brisket melted in my mouth; I’ve never had anything like it.

    Harry offered up his pork ribs, his famous chicken, both of which were excellent. The chicken, in particular, was so juicy that I forgot I was eating chicken.

    As I turned to leave, Harry handed me a tender morsel of something that blew my mind. To this day I still have no idea what I put in my mouth but whatever it was, I have a new appreciation and fondness for barbecue. After that bite, the world stopped for a moment. In some respects, it was life–changing. That one piece will forever be my first, my last, and my only (until, of course, next year).

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  • Human Trafficking:

    A Look at Modern Slavery in the Harbor Area

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Editor’s Note: Above is a still photo from the film, Niña Quebrada, which tells the story of a young girl forced into prostitution by her boyfriend upon arriving in Los Angeles from Mexico. Though the story in the film is based on fictional characters, the circumstances in which these characters are found are accurate depictions of the travails that many victims of human trafficking face. The accounts reported in this article are true stories that focus on the many aspects of human trafficking, including sex and labor trafficking.

    Mary didn’t have the best home life when she met a man who pulled down the stars and the moon for her, promising everlasting love.

    But the illusion of a better life soon turned into a nightmare. The man forced her to have sex with other men for money, threatened her and even tattooed his street name on her face. Alone, trapped and forced into prostitution, Mary feared for her life and the lives of her family members.

    “They had tortured, sexually abused her; it was horrible,” said Lt. Dan Pratt of the Long Beach Police Department’s Vice Investigations detail, whose group handled the case. “She didn’t have the wherewithal to seek help. She was just afraid. She didn’t know what she should do and she believed everything he said. He manipulated the heck out of her.”

    Pratt said it was satisfying to put her perpetrators in jail. One is facing life in prison and another is awaiting sentencing.

    Unfortunately, Mary’s story is not unusual.

    In 2014, the Vice Investigations detail handled 24 cases, made 26 arrests and rescued 29 minors from modern slavery, otherwise known as human trafficking.

    According to a 2007 United Nations report, human trafficking generates about $9.5 billion in the United States, annually. There is no official estimate of the total number of human trafficking victims in the United States, but estimates show that about 100,000 children are involved in the sex trade industry in the country each year. The Attorney General’s office states that between mid-2010 and mid-2012, California law enforcement officials identified 1,277 victims and arrested 1,798 people. Los Angeles is among three of the FBI’s highest child sex trafficking areas in the nation, according to a 2009 Department of Justice report.

    The victims of human trafficking are hiding in plain sight, while being controlled and held captive. They are people waiting at the bus stop as you drive by on your way to work. They might be your neighbor’s housekeepers, or the workers who made your child’s toy.

    “Human trafficking essentially is a continuum of exploitation,” said Kay Buck, executive director of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, also known as CAST, a direct service provider to survivors of human trafficking in the Los Angeles region. She further defined the crime: “It is when a person is forced through physical force, fraud or coercion to remain in a situation of exploitation.”

    CAST helps survivors escape and provides shelter, case management, legal services, and advocacy. It works collaboratively with more than 90 organizations. In 2014, it served more than 350 survivors and their family members.

    Sola, a domestic slave from Africa, is one of the human trafficking survivors CAST helped rescue. Seemingly employed as a nanny, she was in the United States with a family—her captors—were on an extended vacation. They were staying at a hotel. Sola managed to get the hotline number for CAST at the African embassy, when Homeland Security officials interviewed her separately from her traffickers. They gave Sola the CAST hotline number. When the family went out to a theme park, Sola was left alone at the hotel and told not to leave. That’s when she took the opportunity to call.

    “She hid it there in her bra strap for a whole month before she summoned up the courage to call when the family was out,” Buck recalled.

    The first day CAST planned the escape with her over the phone, Sola didn’t show.

    “She didn’t have the courage to leave,” Buck said. “She called back that night and we did the same the following morning. That time, she did have the courage to leave. We were able to help her escape and take her to our shelter where she stayed for a year.”

    A June 2012 International Labor Organization report estimates that globally there are 20.9 million cases of human trafficking, including 5.5 million children. It is the second largest criminal industry in the world after drug dealing. Many victims of trafficking are forced into prostitution, pornography or exotic dancing. But trafficking also occurs in the form of labor exploitation such as domestic servitude, restaurant work, “sweatshop” factory work or migrant agricultural work. Buck explained that modern slavery cases are really an extreme form of labor exploitation, where people are physically threatened or beaten to force them to work.

    “Many times they are nearly starved to death,” according to Buck. “There is a lot of threats and coercion that occurs in human trafficking cases that make it different from maybe wage and hour violations that are also labor exploitation, but are not modern slavery cases.”

    Diego experienced that violence firsthand. He was 15 when local gangs in Central America threatened to rape his sister and kill his mother if he didn’t join their gang. According to Buck, Diego’s family put together some money to send him out of the country. After much hardship, he made it to Mexico, where he was faced once again with more gang violence. Diego watched as a friend who was travelling with him from the same region was shot and then burned in a trash can. He was also forced to carry drugs over the U.S. border.

    Fortunately, Diego was caught by border patrol officers, who recognized that he was caught up in a trafficking case and called CAST.

    “You can imagine the trauma that this 15-year-old kid endured through that journey of just trying to live a normal life,” Buck said. “Traffickers do swoop in and they do target vulnerable populations.”

    CAST has helped Diego with legal services and with accessing health care, that included the mental health care the boy was in extreme need of, after his ordeal.

    Diego is reportedly doing well now, said Buck. In fact, he was recently named a student leader at his school.

    “It shows that with the right support, survivors of trafficking have so much potential and they go on to live successful lives,” Buck said. “Survivors are not broken people. They have experienced horrific, terrible ordeals with usually unspeakable violence, but with support they can really start to rebuild their lives and become our neighbors in the community.”

    Random Lengths News did not use the real names of the human trafficking survivors in this story because the agencies involved are trying to protect the identity, privacy and safety of the survivors, some of whom are minors. For more information about CAST visit www.castla.org. The CAST hotline number is the (888) KEY-2-FREE or (888) 539-2373.

    Other sources include:
    Free the Slaves: http://freetheslaves.net
    Mary Magdalene Project: (818) 988-4970
    Gems Uncovered: (562) 275-1698

    Click here to read a related story about students who examined the role of human trafficking in their lives.

     

     

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  • Filling in the Blanks

    Harbor Commissioner Dave Arian leaves nothing unsaid at POLAHS State of the School address

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    In four minutes and some change, Harbor Commission member Dave Arian spoke clearly and directly about a new place the Port of Los Angeles High School finds itself. The former head of the ILWU International and Local 13 began his remarks by cracking a joke.

    “I’m a little different from the other speakers,” he remarked during the State of the School address May 6. “Not too many people ask me how to get into POLAHS. They just ask me how to get into longshoring.”

    Before Arian spoke, Principal Tom Scotti and Councilman Joe Buscaino both joked about how parents peppered them with questions and petitions, at restaurants or at their offices, for help in getting into the highly touted school.

    To be sure, Scotti laid out the school’s successes and the milestones they—the teachers, students, community and board of trustees—were able to reach in 10 years.

    In fact, three alumni and a current student of the school spoke about the impact the school has had on their lives, and Scotti was able to cite statistics indicating the areas in which the school surpassed both the state and the school district in narrowing the student achievement gap between that of white and Asian American students and that of black and Hispanic students.

    Arian served as a counterpoint, and was blunt.

    “I’ve never been a big supporter of charter schools,” he said. “I’ve always been a big proponent of the public schools system. I’ve never been fully won over by the charter concept. And I’m still not.”

    Arian said he recognized that new examples need to be set about how to educate young people.

    Scotti, who had been with the school since its beginning when temporary classes were held on Cabrillo Beach, spoke about how in a pro-labor and pro-public school community, POLAHS was viewed with skepticism and had much to prove to naysayers.

    Scotti’s remarks covered all of the bases. He joked about the emerging, multi-generational student body made up of children of varying class grades from the same family.

    He also spoke about the coming shift to Common Core and his desire to build on the school’s strengths and to guide student achievement along four pathways of success: maritime industry, environmental studies, digital media and geographical systems.

    Scotti noted that these pathways would help students aiming to enroll at universities and would also put them on the front doorstep to getting a credential that could lead to an above-minimum wage job right out of high school. He even alluded to changes that still needed to be decided upon by the board of trustees at next month’s meeting.

    And, Scotti said it all with hardly a mention of the activism that forced the changes in the first place.

    Arian was the only one to address directly the campus turmoil that occurred seven months previously—a period that saw Scotti’s resignation, student demonstrations and board meetings packed with upset parents, students and teachers, and ultimately Scotti’s return.

    Arian cast the campus struggle on a national scale and what it portends for the future.

    “In this last year, the struggle that took place is the kind of struggle that we should exemplify in America,” Arian said. “Where teachers, students and the community rose up and said ‘No. We don’t like what’s going on. We want to go a different way.’”

    Arian didn’t weigh in on either the board of trustees or the community side of the conflict, but rather on the necessity that there be a process by which all stakeholders in the school can have a voice and affect change.

    “It’s either that or Baltimore,” said Arian, referring to the recent social upheaval in the Eastern seaport town. “That’s our choice today because these kids [at POLAHS] are becoming a part of something that’s possible…That community in Baltimore was not given that opportunity in America.

    “When we look at POLAHS, and what POLAHS has begun to do—not only in San Pedro, but in Wilmington and other areas—these kids were given an option to struggle within the system against the system for a better system, rather than destroy it because they have no connection to it.”

    Arian was also the only one to note that the teachers have unionized, something that many local opponents of charter schools didn’t imagine happening 10 years ago.

    “When it came time to struggle, some of the teachers came to me knowing that I had organizing experience,” Arian said. “I did everything I could to help them organize and get into a union…It’s not just about a contract. It’s about improving the condition of the environment of your profession.”

    POLAHS Board of Trustee President Jayme Wilson—the other locus of community ire aside from the school’s former chief executive Jim Cross—was noticeably absent from the proceedings.

    Wilson has guided the board through this evolution. That has included the hiring of an auditing firm; initiating discussion on how to change the board’s bylaws to make it more inclusive of the parents and community members, and setting up systems and processes that conform to the California Public Records Act. And, he has done so despite vociferous calls for him to step down by parents and students over the past several months.

    Wilson did not respond to Random Lengths News requests for comment.

     

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  • Connecting the Dots

    Between the Waterfront, Minimum Wage, Homelessness, Free Trade

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher
     
    So, one day, this guy walks into the newspaper’s lobby to check out our used books for sale and says off-handedly, “I love reading your newspaper. It’s so quirky.”

    I stopped what I was doing at my desk and pondered his comment, fixated on his choice of words. Being in the “word” business, I tend to take what people say both seriously and with a grain of salt. English is such an imprecise language, particularly in terms of verbal communication.

    I thanked him for the perceived compliment. My newspaper has gotten far worse compliments from some local conservatives over the past 35 years. He bought a book and left happy.

    If quirky means unique, then I think he gets that what we are doing here is different from what the corporate media feeds the public every day.

    If putting the news in some context or perspective that allows readers to sort out the chaos of infotainment, political punditry and uber-conservative slant that is so often pawned off as “fair and balanced,” then I feel we have done our service to humanity, if not our community.

    Take the battle lines that have been drawn in the debates over raising the minimum wage, homelessness, waterfront development and free trade in Los Angeles and beyond. In one shape or form, these are all connected to local and global economics. Looking back we can see how past free trade agreements have decimated domestic jobs markets and stagnated wages while enhancing other sectors such as the high-tech and import industries.

    The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are prime examples of globalization’s effects. There are many around here who still remember the canneries, shipbuilding, fishing and manufacturing industries that were lost to overseas competition.

    What few in the Harbor Area seem to remember is that there was a collective job loss of 30,000 jobs during the course of a decade. That’s half of the local job base and there hasn’t been a full recovery of those well-paid middle class jobs since.

    They called it Reaganomics, trickle-down economic theory that included tax cuts for the wealthy and banking deregulations that collapsed the savings and loan associations. The communities of the Harbor Area were devastated and continue to see the residual effects years later, while virtually nothing has replaced those 30,000 jobs.

    In the interim, with the addition of the USS Iowa, Crafted, the Arts District and other cultural amenities, local civic leaders have pushed to turn Pedro into a tourist destination. This, as the long-awaited Bridge to Breakwater promenade and the redevelopment of Ports O’Call Village is completed.

    The Port of Los Angeles has shouldered much of this responsibility with little help from the rest of the city. Just recently, at the urging of the neighborhood councils and executed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the relevant city departments hosted an invitation- only summit meeting to discuss a possible collaboration on redeveloping this waterfront. The neighborhood councils were not invited. Sadly, the same kind of thinking that got us into this decline is the same kind civic leaders are proposing to get us out.

    The challenge of course, is how to invest in something other than low-wage service jobs or industries that can and will be eventually shipped overseas with a new Trans Pacific Trade Agreement.

    Two of the best candidates along this spectrum are AltaSea, the proposed marine research collaborative being planned at the foot of 22nd Street in San Pedro, and the new biotech research facility at Harbor-UCLA county hospital just up the 110 Freeway in the Harbor Gateway. Both hold significant promise for creating better and sustainable jobs while suggesting spin-off businesses related to their core mission.

    Even PortTech, the futuristic thinking creation of the local chamber of commerce and the Port of LA, seems to be on the path forward along with the creation of POLA High School and the partial relocation of Marymount College to this area. However, none of this is as futuristic as Virgin Galactic, that is taking over some of Boeing’s Long Beach Airport manufacturing facilities and is advertising job openings for hybrid propulsion specialists and information technology support technicians right now.

    My fear is that it will take another decade to create even 10,000 new middle class jobs, which merely amounts to a third of what was lost. Even if we add up all of the good ideas listed above, the global trade industry is racing to automate the good paying jobs we have now out of existence. The future can be seen, I’m told, in ports like Hamburg, Germany, where entire terminals are run by a handful of workers, not teams of longshoremen.

    Raising the minimum wage or eventually supplying housing to the homeless as a part of some bigger development plan either here or citywide is actually an admission that our past economic theories were more like failures than a cure in our pursuit of a sustainable economic future.

    Obviously, the billions in profits made from overseas investments never seemed to “trickle down” or back to those who could most benefit from a few thousand dollars. Tourist dollars only go so far in supporting enough better jobs and aren’t recession proof.

    Unfortunately, what we need now is a bigger and bolder vision with a billion dollar budget-–not more excuses as to why what needs to happen can’t get done.

    It’s as if the same 12 people are recycling the same two answers for the same three problems over the past 20 years—tourism and gentrification. It is far past the time for the leadership of this city and community to connect the dots.

     

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  • Angels Gate Examines Human Trafficking

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Although Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves 150 years ago, modern forms of slavery are thriving throughout the world. The housekeeper, the quiet young girl working in the nail salon or the teenage boy standing on the street corner could all be victims of human trafficking. Perpetrators profit from the control and exploitation of other human beings.

     
    Inspired by their plight, tenth-grader Deandra Blade examined his relationship to freedom and containment, dominance and submission, and power within life in his first work of art. The result was a representation of the Emancipation Proclamation.

     
    “The theme I was going for was the feeling of entrapment,” Blade said. “It started out as a tribute to the Americas and the Emancipation Proclamation just appeared…. I was thinking about the way some African-Americans feel entrapped.”

     
    Blade was part of a group of students at Angels Gate Continuation High School who were asked to examine those themes during an intensive 18-week art program. The culmination of the program is Hidden in Plain Site: Creative Referendums to Human Trafficking, a powerful exhibition in the main gallery at Angels Gate Cultural Center.

     
    There are a half–dozen eye-catching 3-foot by 5-foot, brightly colored acrylic paintings on canvas in the main gallery at Angels Gate Cultural Center.

     
    The personal creations portray the lives of the young students who came to reveal their own familiarity with the topic of human trafficking. All but one of the student artists had no previous art training, but they have all produced highly individual, strikingly intimate works.

     
    Funded by a grant from the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, artists Jerri Allyn and Inez S. Bush worked with a group of 15 at-risk students. They were asked where they feel dominated, then researched and wrote essays about the subject.

     
    “Three-quarters of the students admitted to feeling enslaved by addiction, three-quarters said they had an older sibling that they felt dominated by, and we discussed the potential for being vulnerable to trafficking in their own lives,” Allyn said. “During the course of the class, two students revealed that they believe they may have people in their lives who are victims of trafficking, confirming the ubiquitous nature of this issue.”

     
    Walking into the main gallery at Angels Gate, the vibrant canvas paintings block traffic in the gallery. The hanging of the art was deliberate and intended to obstruct movement—reflecting the loss of freedom suffered by trafficking victims.

     
    The work of Christopher Alvarez is among the first visitors encounter when they enter the gallery.  The theme of his painting is the bondage of drug addiction.

     
    “People who are in jail are used for forced labor against their will, to make money off them. That is a form of human bondage,” Alvarez said.

     
    A senior, he served a brief stint in jail. The red, black and green flag used in the background represents Rastafarian beliefs. The Rastafari way of life encompasses the spiritual use of cannabis and the rejection of the degenerate society of materialism, oppression and sensual pleasures.

     
    “I am showing freedom through confinement, and confinement through freedom. It is the paradoxical nature, where he finds freedom through a drug that really limits your options,” said Alvarez who is pursuing a career in film.

     
    A wild figure with bloodshot eyes is depicted in the foreground of his painting, representing the “average pothead.” It is not coincidental that the figure is wearing a jump suit that reads, “L.A. County Jail.”

     
    A group of professional artists worked on their own representations of forced labor. Their art installations were placed in and around two cargo containers on the grounds of Angels Gate— representing one method of transportation used to smuggle workers.

     
    Professional artists Allyn, Melissa Crandall, Katelyn Dorroh, Leah Laird, Christine Palma, Leah Solo, April Williams and Erich Wise featured their works in the cargo container installation.
    Solo considers the real cost in the manufacturing of  toys such as Barbie dolls, which are assembled using child labor. Viewers are invited to use the objects to meditate on “enslavement” in this interactive installation.

     
    Williams takes on the subject of the glorified “cool pimp,” who has worked his way into American pop culture by enslaving young girls into prostitution. Her charcoal series of a girl disappearing from vision, while the pimp lurks behind her, is beautiful and ominous at the same time.

     
    Inspired by a model United Nations program, Hidden in Plain Sight: Creative Referendums to Human Trafficking will run through June 6 at several venues throughout San Pedro.
    The full schedule of programming at Angels Gate Cultural Center is as follows:

    May 16
    1 p.m. Tour cargo containers and youth exhibits with artist team. Bring lunch and picnic on the bluff.
    2:30 p.m. Art is Action: Conversation about human trafficking with participants
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through June 6
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 519-0936; angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

     

    photography by Slobodan Dimitrov

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  • 62 Teams Compete at the West Coast BBQ Classic

    LONG BEACH — Meat, whether it’s beef, pork or fowl rubbed with savory seasonings then roasted over an open fire… those transformed fats and proteins recalls a certain something that’s been with us since our hunter-gathering past. It’s primal but it’s also communal.

    Every region in the world has its own tradition for preparing and cooking meat. Some of them will be represented at this year’s West Coast BBQ Classic this Saturday on May 9, from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Briefs: May 1, 2015

    Boyd Put on Administrative Leave
    SAN PEDRO — Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka issued as statement after a federal grand jury indicted the chief of police for the Port of Los Angeles on corruption and tax charges.
    “In light of Thursday’s announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles Port Police Chief Ronald Boyd is being put on administrative leave until further notice,” Seroka said. “Deputy Chief of Port Police Thomas Gazsi will assume Boyd’s responsibilities. The city and Port of Los Angeles will fully cooperate in the investigation of this matter.”
    The corruption charges in the indictment relate to a scheme in which Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd stood to financially benefit from the development of a social networking program that would become the official smartphone app for the Port and would then be marketed to other law enforcement agencies.
    Boyd, 57, of Torrance, who in January was named as chief of public safety and emergency management at the port, was charged in a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury. The indictment accuses Boyd of corruption, lying to FBI agents, failing to file federal corporate tax returns for a private security company he created and tax evasion.
    At the center of the case are four “honest services” wire fraud charges that accuse Boyd of executing “a scheme to defraud the citizens of the City of Los Angeles and the Harbor Department for the City of Los Angeles of their right to the honest services of defendant Boyd by means of bribery and kickbacks, materially false and fraudulent pretenses and representations, and the concealment of material facts.” The corruption scheme centers on a program called Portwatch, which was developed to provide information to the public and to allow citizens to report criminal activity at the port.
    In 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, a company that entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the unnamed company developing Portwatch. The parties involved with BDB intended to generate revenues by marketing and selling a similar app – called Metrowatch – to other government agencies. “Under the terms of this agreement, defendant Boyd would receive approximately 13.33 percent of all gross revenues generated by the sale of the Metrowatch application throughout the United States,” according to the indictment.
    The revenue-sharing agreement was contingent upon Boyd’s assistance in securing the Portwatch contract for the unnamed company. Over the course of a year, beginning in October 2011, Boyd took steps to benefit the unnamed company with respect to the Portwatch contract. The indictment alleges that his actions included hosting a private meeting with the unnamed company for the purpose of disclosing confidential information, meeting with Los Angeles officials that included the city attorney and the mayor, editing the scope of work for the Portwatch contractso that he could personally monitor the Portwatch app’s development, and urging the Port to expedite a press release to announce the implementation of the Portwatch app.
    The indictment goes on to allege that Boyd, who was interviewed by special agents with the FBI last October, lied to the investigators when he denied having any financial interest in Metrowatch. The indictment alleges that Boyd falsely stated that BDB was created to sell body armor, and that he was unaware of the revenue-sharing agreement between the unnamed company and BDB. In relation to these alleged misrepresentations, Boyd faces three counts of making false statements.
    Counts 8 through 16 of the indictment allege tax violations. Boyd is specifically charged with four counts of failing to file tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011 for his security business, At Close Range. He is also charged with five counts of tax evasion for the tax years 2007 through 2011 for failing to report income that was “substantially greater than the amount stated on the return,” according to the indictment.
    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
    If he is convicted of all 16 counts in the indictment, Boyd would face a statutory maximum sentence of 124 years in federal prison.
    Boyd is expected to surrender to federal authorities next week on a date to be determined.

    Suspected Kidnappers of Baby Eliza Plead Not Guilty
    LONG BEACH — On April 30, Giselangelique Rene D’Milian, Anthony Ray McCall and Todd Boudreaux, who are suspected and charged with the kidnapping and murder of 3-month-old Eliza de la Cruz, pleaded not guilty to felony charges.
    The next court date for all three suspects is a preliminary hearing on June 17.
    On March 25, the Long Beach Police Department made four arrests in connection with the January 2015 kidnapping and murder of a 3-week-old baby Eliza.
    D’Milian, 47 and a resident of Thousand Oaks, was arrested in Corona. D’Milian is suspected of developing the kidnapping plot to produce two babies after lying to her married boyfriend that she was pregnant with his twins. She was booked for murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and conspiracy. She is being held in Long Beach City Jail. Her original bail amount was $1 million and has been changed to no bail;
    Anthony Ray McCall, 29 and a resident of Oceanside, was arrested in Oceanside. He was booked for murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and conspiracy. He is being held in Long Beach City Jail. His original bail amount was $1 million and has now changed to no bail;
    Todd Damon Boudreaux, 43 and a resident of Fontana, was arrested in Fontana. He was booked for accessory after the fact. He is being held in Long Beach City Jail. His original bail amount was $20,000 and has now changed to no bail.
    A bail review hearing for McCall and Boudreaux will take place May 5.
    Charisse Nicole Shelton, 29 and a resident of Corona, was arrested in Corona. She was booked for accessory after the fact and is also being held in Long Beach City Jail. Her original bail amount was $20,000 and has increased to $1 million. Shelton is D’Milian’s daughter.
    The kidnapping occurred Jan. 3, when Long Beach police were dispatched to a shooting in the 100 block of West 51st Street, where three adults sustained gunshot wounds and a 3-week-old baby was kidnapped. The following day, the baby was found dead in a trash dumpster in Imperial Beach.

    Port Industry Leaders Examine Trade Trends for 2015 And Beyond
    LONG BEACH — On April 29, Experts from across the goods movement industry spoke at the 11th annual “Pulse of the Ports: Peak Season Forecast,” hosted by the Port of Long Beach.
    The event drew 600 people to the Long Beach Convention Center’s Pacific Ballroom to hear how current trends will affect trade throughout the rest of the year.
    While the unique and highly anticipated annual event explores the cargo forecast, this year’s session also discussed the recent challenges of cargo movement and how the supply chain is evolving to cope with demands for higher efficiency and improved reliability.
    Speakers at the event identified improvements in the U.S. economy, slowing growth in the Asian economy and long-term trends in shipping as forces that shape the flow of cargo through the San Pedro Bay ports.
    Walter Kemmsies, chief economist for Moffatt & Nichol, titled his talk “Outlook – lots of moving parts” due to the mixed bag of forces that will shape trade this year. While the economy is not fully recovered, he said it’s been on the upswing and that will likely continue and will fuel increases in imports. Meanwhile export growth will be challenged due to a strong U.S. dollar and the increasing efficiency of overseas agriculture and other sectors.
    Kemmsies noted that while the global economic outlook is for slow growth at best, global markets are becoming more stable, which in the long run will fuel increase trade through U.S. ports.
    Other panelists recounted challenges impacting the industry, such as equipment shortages and congestion. Increased transparency, improved coordination among stakeholders, and supply chain optimization were among the key goals listed for 2015 and beyond.
    Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero echoed a sentiment expressed by many of the panelists when he predicted that most of the volume redirected during the recent labor negotiations would return to West Coast ports.
    An archived webcast of the event and speaker information are available at www.polb.com/pulseports.

    Woman Sentenced for Running Wheelchair Scam
    HAWTHORNE — Adeline Ekwebelem, 51, was sentenced, April 29, to 78 months in federal prison.
    Ekwebelem, of Hawthorne, ran a company that submitted more than $7 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare – primarily for power wheelchairs that were not needed by patients. Her actions caused the government health insurance program to lose almost $3.5 million.
    Ekwebelem, 51, was also ordered the defendant to pay $3.45 million in restitution to the Medicare program.
    Following a seven-day trial this past September, a federal jury found Ekwebelem guilty of 16 counts of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud and payment of illegal kickbacks.
    The evidence presented at the trial showed that Ekwebelem’s Gardena-based durable medical equipment supply company, Adelco Medical Distributors, Inc., billed Medicare for medically unnecessary durable medical equipment – primarily power wheelchairs – for beneficiaries often recruited off the street. As part of the scheme, which ran from January 2007 through December 2011, Ekwebelem illegally paid kickbacks to “marketers” who recruited those beneficiaries and then paid kickbacks to a handful of complicit doctors in exchange for fraudulent prescriptions for durable medical equipment.
    Those doctors included Dr. Charles Okoye, who was sentenced to two years in federal prison after he pled guilty to conspiring with Ekwebelem to commit health care fraud, and Dr. Uche Chukwudi, who fled a month before trial and remains a fugitive. Three of Adelco’s marketers – Romie Tucker, Cindy Santana and Maritza Hernandez – have also received sentences of up to two years in prison for their roles in the scheme.
    As the evidence at trial showed, Ekwebelem did more than cause substantial losses to Medicare – she also caused harm to Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare will only pay for one wheelchair every five years. On at least one occasion, Ekwebelem submitted a fraudulent claim to Medicare for a power wheelchair that she did not even let the beneficiary keep, which later prevented the beneficiary from getting a wheelchair when it was actually needed.

    Nation’s Ports Win Funding
    WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation’s ports will receive an additional $36 million in funding next year as a result of an amendment championed by Rep. Janice Hahn that the U.S. House of Representatives passed April 29 during consideration of the energy and water appropriations bill.
    Almost 30 years ago Congress established the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to pay for dredging and other maintenance needs for federally maintained commercial and recreational ports and harbors. Shippers pay a tax on goods they import through our ports, providing about $1.6 billion of “Harbor Maintenance Tax” revenue every year, enough to cover the cost of keeping the ports and harbors they rely on in good working order. However, most of that funding never makes it back to the ports. Each year Congress appropriates only a fraction of the Harbor Maintenance Tax receipts, leaving $9 billion behind in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
    As a result, ports across the nation are being denied the crucial funding they need to dredge and are filling with silt. In fact, the full depth and width of our ports are available less than 35 percent of the time, meaning ships are forced to carry less cargo or wait for high tide to safely come into harbor. This costs the American economy billions of dollars each year.
    This past year, Hahn led a successful effort to set annual targets for harbor maintenance appropriations increases leading toward full usage of the Trust Fund by 2025. These targets were passed into law as part of the Water Resource and Reform Development Act, which passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (passing 412 to 4 in the House).
    However, the Energy and Water appropriations bill proposed for Fiscal Year 2016 would have funded the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund below the 2016 Water Resource and Reform Development Act target level. Hahn spearheaded an effort to make sure the target would be met and together with Rep. Bill Huizenga introduced an amendment increasing funding by $36 million to meet the target for 2016.
    Video of Hahn speaking in support of increased harbor maintenance funding during the debate on her amendment can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Y8juvAWMU&feature=youtu.be

    Possible Locations for New Bixby Knolls Post Office Announced
    LONG BEACH — The U.S. Postal Service has come up with a list of possible sites for the new Bixby Knolls Post Office:
    A) 3838 Atlantic Avenue
    B) 4121 Atlantic Avenue (current Trader Joe’s location)
    C) 4250 Long Beach Blvd. (Trader Joe’s new location)
    D) 4462-4470 Atlantic Avenue @ 45th St. (shop space next to Marshall’s)
    Depending on the location chosen, the new post office would be scheduled to open in either September of this year (options A and D) or March of 2016 (options B and C).
    Anyone wishing to comment on any of these possibilities has 30 days to send written comments to:
    Dean Cameron
    Facilities Implementation
    1300 Evans Avenue, Suite 200
    San Francisco, CA 94188-8200

    Rancho Los Alamitos Honors Ottos with Cottonwood Award
    LONG BEACH — Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation will present its prestigious Cottonwood Award to Doug Otto and Freda Hinsche Otto at the fourth annual Cottonwood Award Luncheon on May 14, 2015.
    The award will be presented by this ast year’s recipients, former California Gov. George Deukmejian and Gloria Deukmejian. The Cottonwood Award is presented to individuals who have shown outstanding leadership in valuing and protecting the cultural resources of the region. Previous award winners include LA County Supervisor Don Knabe and Julie Knabe and former Long Beach Mayor, Beverly O’Neill.
    The Rancho will also be paying special tribute to the Port of Long Beach and the Long Beach Navy Memorial Heritage Association for their extraordinary contributions to the preservation and advancement of the educational mission of Rancho Los Alamitos, and their support of projects throughout the city.

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  • Chief of Los Angeles Port Police Named in Federal Corruption Case

    LOS ANGELES – On April 30, a federal grand jury indicted the Port of Los Angeles chief of police on corruption and tax charges.

    The corruption charges in the indictment relate to a scheme in which Chief Ronald Jerome Boyd stood to financially benefit from the development of a social networking program that would become the official smartphone app for the Port and would then be marketed to other law enforcement agencies.

    Boyd, 57, of Torrance, who in January was named as chief of public safety and emergency management at the port, was charged in a 16-count indictment returned by a grand jury. The indictment accuses Boyd of corruption, lying to FBI agents, failing to file federal corporate tax returns for a private security company he created and tax evasion.

    At the center of the case are four “honest services” wire fraud charges that accuse Boyd of executing “a scheme to defraud the citizens of the City of Los Angeles and the Harbor Department for the City of Los Angeles of their right to the honest services of defendant Boyd by means of bribery and kickbacks, materially false and fraudulent pretenses and representations, and the concealment of material facts.” The corruption scheme centers on a program called Portwatch, which was developed to provide information to the public and to allow citizens to report criminal activity at the port.

    In 2011, Boyd and two business partners formed BDB Digital Communications, a company that entered into a revenue-sharing agreement with the unnamed company developing Portwatch. The parties involved with BDB intended to generate revenues by marketing and selling a similar app – called Metrowatch – to other government agencies. “Under the terms of this agreement, defendant Boyd would receive approximately 13.33 percent of all gross revenues generated by the sale of the Metrowatch application throughout the United States,” according to the indictment.

    The revenue-sharing agreement was contingent upon Boyd’s assistance in securing the Portwatch contract for the unnamed company. Over the course of a year, beginning in October 2011, Boyd took steps to benefit the unnamed company with respect to the Portwatch contract. The indictment alleges that his actions included hosting a private meeting with the unnamed company for the purpose of disclosing confidential information, meeting with Los Angeles officials that included the city attorney and the mayor, editing the scope of work for the Portwatch contractso that he could personally monitor the Portwatch app’s development, and urging the Port to expedite a press release to announce the implementation of the Portwatch app.

    The indictment goes on to allege that Boyd, who was interviewed by special agents with the FBI last October, lied to the investigators when he denied having any financial interest in Metrowatch. The indictment alleges that Boyd falsely stated that BDB was created to sell body armor, and that he was unaware of the revenue-sharing agreement between the unnamed company and BDB. In relation to these alleged misrepresentations, Boyd faces three counts of making false statements.

    Counts 8 through 16 of the indictment allege tax violations. Boyd is specifically charged with four counts of failing to file tax returns for the years 2008 through 2011 for his security business, At Close Range. He is also charged with five counts of tax evasion for the tax years 2007 through 2011 for failing to report income that was “substantially greater than the amount stated on the return,” according to the indictment.

    An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

    If he is convicted of all 16 counts in the indictment, Boyd would face a statutory maximum sentence of 124 years in federal prison.

    Boyd is expected to surrender to federal authorities next week on a date to be determined.

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  • Robles’ First Action: Approve Zone Change

    Labor Makes Noise for Stadium Jobs

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    Normally a zoning change is a simple routine city council action—unless it has something to do with possibly building a stadium for the National Football League. Then, it turns into a major media event with boisterous representatives of organized labor crowding into the council chambers.

    On April 21, the Carson City Council considered approving a zoning overlay that would allow for a 75,000-seat football stadium to be built on a former toxic waste dump. Hundreds of stadium supporters—some in labor union shirts, some in Los Angeles Raiders jerseys—crowded noisily into the council chambers, along with several TV news crews.

    Petitioners, who were paid to collect more than 15,000 signatures, had swarmed the city for weeks. The effort was to put the zoning change to a vote just in case the council refused. Carson2gether, a group of more than a dozen labor unions, was behind the petition drive. The group had funding from the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers.

    Two agenda items pertained to clearing the way to build a professional football stadium. The first one concerned the certification of sufficiency of signatures on an initiative. The new city clerk and former mayor, Jim Dear, wheeled in carts loaded with boxes that he said contained enough valid signatures to put the zoning change on the ballot. He said the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder had indeed validated a sufficient number of signatures on the 300-page petition.

    The three sitting council members—Albert Robles, Lula Davis-Holmes and Mayor Pro Tem Elito Santarina—voted unanimously to approve that item.

    Next the council called for public comment and watched presentations about how much money a new stadium would make. Albert Robles—sworn in as mayor a few hours earlier—said public comments would be limited to one minute each, except “anybody out there with a Super Bowl ring, you get two minutes.” That remark was directed to Michael Haynes, who played for the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII and spoke in favor of the stadium.

    Nineteen persons spoke vehemently in favor of the stadium. Mike Hannan of the Los Angeles/Orange County Building and Trades Council discussed how much money a new stadium would likely make. Various speakers argued the stadium would create 17,000 construction jobs, 9,000 permanent jobs and produce $9 million in continued business revenue every year.

    John Acosta of the American Federation of Musicians boasted how entertainer Bruno Mars and other superstars were waiting to headline concerts at the yet-to-be-built site. Several other labor representatives made comments about bringing the “Los Angeles Raiders” back, hysterically cheering about how “we need” football and “we need” a Super Bowl.

    One speaker harped on how the planned stadium would create a “world-class tailgating experience,” apparently unaware of the fact that, when the nearby StubHub Center was built in the early 2000s, irate residents forced a ban on tailgating.

    Harry Dew, a lone opponent at the meeting who spoke of the stadium plan, said he was furious about the proposal to build the stadium.

    “Carson is my home,” he said. “This’ll take away my home.”

    He left as another meeting attendee shouted an obscenity.

    Shortly before 9 p.m. the council voted unanimously to amend the city’s general plan and create a stadium overlay on a parcel along Del Amo Boulevard and the 405 Freeway. The action approved the building of a professional stadium and “other permitted uses” within Carson. It eliminated residential uses from the site, a stumbling block in past attempts to develop the former brownfield.

    Up the 405 Freeway, a few miles north of Carson, Inglewood is courting the St. Louis Rams of the National Football Conference, who were the LA Rams from 1946 to 1994. That city may be on the verge of bringing them to a new stadium proposed for the old Hollywood Park site.

    Whether the NFL will allow two American Football Conference teams in the same division in the same city, while an NFC team plays in the same coverage area, is an issue no one has yet addressed. Both the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers play in the West Division of the AFC.

     

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