• Diversity Makes Music Taste Good

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Music Tastes Good is a music and foodie festival custom-made for its three-day stay in Long Beach–so carefully curated that promoters say it will actually taste and sound like the diversity for which the city is known, and thereby make Long Beach a destination for live music.

    “We know what we want and we think we can get it done,” said Joshua Fischel, a local musician and promoter who conceived Music Tastes Good. He proceeded to form a team that has partnered with public radio powerhouse KCRW-FM  to present more than 50 musical acts from Sept. 23 to 25. “We’re trying to represent every Long Beach community from Cambodian to Latino to African American to LGBTQ. That’s what Long Beach looks like and that’s what our fest looks like. We knew we had the people to make that happen. Long Beach gets passed over a lot, because of LA and Orange County, of course, but it’s a viable market for live music.”

    Fischel and his assistant, Meagan Blome, sat down with me to talk about the vision for Music Tastes Good. They’ve been working on the festival for a while — Fischel since December 2014 and Blome since February 2015. They’re still wrapping up details with city officials and departments, but sound optimistic that everything is coming together.

    “It’s just time,” Fischel said, “because downtown is improving so much; the whole city is improving. We’ve got this great city council, and an amazing mayor; it’s just time for something like this.”

    Fischel said it used to be difficult to do events like this. He moved to Long Beach 20 years ago, on what happens to fall on the same weekend the MTG fest occurs. But to make a living as a musician, he had to tour outside of Long Beach and travel the world.

    “No musician can make a living in just one town but we can at least give our musicians more of an opportunity,” Fischel said.

    Blome noted live music has become an economic driver in Long Beach.

    Fischel said that part of the musical concept in curating this festival, is to say “Here’s Long Beach,” “We’re trying to represent every Long Beach community, from Cambodian to Latino to African American to LGBTQ,” said Fischel. “That’s what Long Beach looks like and that’s what our fest looks like.”

    Blome said that the diversity in the lineup was definitely intentional.

    “We wanted that melting pot. In festival culture, you’re seeing a lot of these niche fests that cater to a specific demographic. We knew that that wouldn’t make sense for Long Beach. It’s really about community and about Long Beach.

    “To give you an example how much we’ve planned all this — with much respect to all the music fests out there—but a lot of fests are notorious for not having a lot of women artists,” Fischel said. “Especially headliners, it’s usually something like 10 percent. About 40 percent of our bands have at least a woman in it. In no way did we say, ‘We’re going to book this band because there’s a woman or because there’s a minority or a gay man,’ but we we’re very conscious of it.”

    With everything from rock to punk to jazz and hip hop in the lineup, Music Tastes Good may well be a music fest vanguard.

    M.P. Was the consciousness of the event also about showcasing a diversity of genres?

    J.F. The diversity of genres on the MTG lineup reflect the taste of our team. Everyone has been able to put a real stamp on it. We wanted everything to be amazing and entertaining and draw, of course. But when we announced it we had this ‘oh shit’ factor. When you look at the lineup, it’s like, really? Oh shit, De La Soul and Warpaint and Christian Scott and Living Color.

    M.P. How did food idea get involved and what was the criteria for your food vendors?

    J.F. My three passions are music, food and film. I hope to bring film on board at some point but it might be too ambitious for us this year.

    I grew up with a mom who was a chef and a cook and a teacher. Our whole family cooks, it’s what binds us together … Long Beach’s food culture is growing and we wanted to help showcase that…

    We’ve arranged a unique food experience for each day of the festival, starting with a barbecue and craft beer setup on Friday evening. We’re talking with a company from Texas that has multiple concept restaurants and we thought it would be really cool for them to them showcase each of their concepts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    Saturday there will be a pop-up food court with eight to 10 local restaurants, plus other vendors spread around, all local. For our VIP component, we have a farm-to-table dinner. We have six chefs from outside of Long Beach and we’re partnering them with six chefs in Long Beach. There will be six different stations and they will source the food from Long Beach farms. Then on Sunday we’ll have a Bloody Mary brunch.

    “A lot of festivals are bringing food on board. We wanted to separate ourselves and do something a little different. The whole idea is the way you grow a community is not just within the community, it’s bringing other people in to see what you’re doing.”

    Cost: $25 to $240
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/MusicTastesGood


    Read More
  • Catching the Coyote Yips

    Coyotes on the Rise in Harbor Area

    By Adriana Catanzarite, Editorial Intern

    Most people wouldn’t think that an urban landscape would be rife with wildlife, especially in Los Angeles County, the land of freeways and terrible drivers.

    However, there is one animal that’s steadily challenging the perception of the typical urban setting. From San Pedro to Long Beach, the canis latrans, the song dog, or coyote, has become a source of discord in the Harbor Area.

    Regarded as canine pests, killers of vermin, livestock and pets, coyotes have been the targets of government-sanctioned killing for more than a century. It’s hard to believe an animal the size of a small German shepherd could provoke so much vitriol. But since the arrival of European colonists, the coyote’s image has gone from being respected by Native Americans to straight-up vilified.

    Dogged Pursuit

    In Long Beach, the war against coyotes is being waged specifically in the neighborhoods surrounding the El Dorado Park Nature Center. A recent spike in coyote sightings and pet attacks have riled up residents. In 2015, there were about 223 coyote reports, according to Long Beach Animal Care Services. These include sightings and pet attacks. That same year, Councilwoman Stacy Mungo faced pressure after residents complained about coyotes acting aggressively toward children. As a result, Long Beach Animal Care Services drafted a new coyote management plan.

    The plan features a four-tiered response system. Relocating coyotes is against the law in California, so the last resort for officials is lethal trapping. Animal Care Services record coyote sightings and pet attacks and largely teaches residents how to properly scare coyotes away. Ted Stevens, the manager of Long Beach Animal Care Services, said the biggest difference in the new management plan is a lower threshold for employing lethal removal. Trapping and killing used to be authorized only for attacks on a human. That has never happened in Long Beach. Now, officials can  authorize  to trap and kill if there are at least three pet attacks in the same area.

    Blue: A coyote is seen or heard in the area. Education and hazing techniques are recommended.

    “It’s still kind of early in the season to tell [if it’s working],” Stevens said. “Last year we did have some increase in aggression levels that haven’t been seen in the past. Maybe it was an aberration; maybe it could happen again, we don’t really know. But we’ve always had education as the main focus and we’re going to continue that effort. Hopefully, we can have a peaceful coexistence, but you know, we’re prepared to do what we need to do.”

    Again, it’s tough to believe that coyotes are denounced when there’s a gaggle of geese roaming around El Dorado Park free to attack women with baby strollers with impunity. That’s not a joke, that actually happened.

    In San Pedro, city officials are still deciding how to respond to citizen complaints.

    Yellow: A coyote is seen multiple times in an area with humans or human-related food sources; is not wary of humans; and there are domestic animal losses.

    Education and aggressive hazing is necessitated. Increased response and patrols by Animal Control officers may be implemented.

    Councilman Joe Buscaino requested revising Los Angeles city’s coyote plan. The plan was released in mid-June of this year, and like Long Beach, it calls for more community education and outreach. In 1994, lethal trapping and killing was banned in Los Angeles. So far, officials seem reluctant to go back to this policy, earning criticism from residents in favor of harsher control. The Facebook group San Pedro Coyote Watch, is full of frustration and anger with the city for what they perceive as a lack of action.

    “I just want [the coyotes] to go away. Our animals are prisoners in their own home,” wrote Cheryl Valenzuela. “We pay taxes. This is BULL.”

    But scientists have repeatedly said: That lethal targeting does not control coyotes and may even exacerbate the problem.

    Howl About That

    Since 1931, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services has killed as many as 80,000 coyotes a year.  According to the Humane Society, controlled killings are only a temporary solution.

    Orange: A coyote kills a domestic animal, enters a dwelling or yard when people are present or acts aggressively towards people. Multiple incidents of this level in the same general area may indicate presence of one or more habituated coyotes.

    Education and aggressive hazing is necessitated. Increased response and patrols by Animal Control officers may be implemented and circumstances are discussed by department management.

    If three investigated and confirmed level orange incidents have occurred in the same general area within two weeks, targeted lethal removal will be used.

    Coyotes are highly territorial animals. Like wolves, territories are held by a dominant female and male, with lone coyotes or floaters scavenging in between areas. Take out the dominant pair, and these transient coyotes will just replace them. By actively removing a portion of coyotes from an area, humans inadvertently decrease the competition for food and habitat.

    The Humane Society reported that even if 75 percent of coyotes were killed every year for 50 years, it still wouldn’t be enough to eliminate them. It also found that when aggressively controlled, coyotes can actually increase their reproductive rate by simply breeding earlier and having larger litters. And, larger litters mean a higher survival rate, which equals more coyotes.  That’s right people. No matter what you do, these bitches will always be one step ahead.

    Balancing Act

    David Thraen, executive director of All Wildlife Rescue and Education, a nonprofit rehabilitation organization in Long Beach, said coyotes do more for the environment than we give them credit for. In fact, they’re a keystone species, meaning other animals largely depend on coyotes to keep the ecosystem in balance, keeping the rodent and small mammal populations in check. It’s all very Lion King.

    Red: Coyote involved in an investigated and documented attack, either provoked or unprovoked, on a human. City staff will notify California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which assumes the role of lead agency, and will work with local authorities to eliminate responsible coyotes.

    “They do serve a purpose,” Thraen said. “They’re like Mother Nature’s pest control. If it weren’t for the coyotes, then we would have a big squirrel problem…But they’ve been able to find a food supply, and adapt to the environment as it changes. So the number one thing is to get rid of the food source, and the coyotes will migrate elsewhere.”

    This food supply is from us. Specifically, from our garbage, the pet food we leave outside, the seeds scattered on the ground from bird feeders, fallen fruit from trees and of course, pets.

    The coyote management plan implemented by Long Beach has a checklist for residents to make suburban neighborhoods less tempting places for coyotes to grab an easy meal. Suggestions include keeping pet food securely inside, keeping trash cans secure, cleaning up stray seeds and fruit on the ground. Additionally, city officials suggest keeping vegetation trimmed back and restricting access to decks and sheds to reduce neighborhood hiding places and denning sites. The idea is to push coyotes out of residential areas and back into open and natural areas.

    Thomas Dewey, a retired craftsman in El Dorado Park Estates, has lived in Los Angeles County his entire life. Dewey said he’s  seeing coyotes out and about, although he’s never seen any in Long Beach.

    “I knew people who lost cats in Griffith Park,” Dewey said. “This was before the mountain lions became a problem. People would see [coyotes] an awful lot. But I never got close enough to be threatened by them. I can see how it would make some people nervous, but it doesn’t make me nervous.”

    Ted Stevens said that the way to prevent attacks on cats and dogs is to keep cats inside, and small dogs supervised outside. He stressed that coyotes are opportunistic hunters. They’re looking for the easiest meal. If they don’t come across pets or pet food while hunting, they’ll go back to their natural prey, leaving little Tigger in peace.

    Martin Byhower, an environmental and biological consultant, said that when it comes to biodiversity, outdoor house cats are more of a hindrance than the coyotes.

    “God, they’re terrible,” Byhower said. “Outdoor cats kill so many [native] birds, I think the number is in the billions. They’re killing machines. And this is not a value judgment on cats themselves, it’s just a fact. There are so many things that can happen when you let your cats run free, and actually indoor cats live longer. People talk about animal cruelty, but if you look at the way animals die because of outdoor cats, it’s just incredible. But it’s out of sight, so you don’t usually see it.”

    Most of this information has yet to deter the residents hellbent on completely removing coyotes. Several members of the San Pedro Coyote Watch group have frequently complained about the number of actions that humans need to take in order to peacefully coexist with this animal.

    But Dewey has taken a different tactic.

    “I see it as a problem we’ve created,” Dewey said. “So I wouldn’t really blame the coyotes.”


    Read More
  • What it Means to be a Patriot

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    I get extremely nervous when true believers start wrapping themselves in the American flag and then call others “unpatriotic” when they don’t stand and say the Pledge of Allegiance.

    A “patriot,” by definition, is one who loves and strongly supports or fights for his or her country.

    Patriotism does not exclusively belong to those who serve in the military or those who recite the pledge, created 116 years after the founding of our republic.

    There are many more who have served this country bravely that never once donned a uniform or carried a weapon (read President John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage).

    What most of our super patriot neighbors don’t know about this common civic ceremony is that it was written in 1892 by the socialist Christian minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931) with the hope that it would bind the open wounds of the American Civil War and unite the nation in a common creed of “liberty and justice for all”— healing a still divided nation.  These same ideals were enunciated in the Declaration of Independence by Thomas Jefferson in 1776.

    The essential words of that founding document give both light and interpretation to the U.S. Constitution’s meaning, which reads, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    Note that Jefferson and the rest of the founding fathers avoided the use of the word “God” in this document. The original Pledge of Allegiance written by a Christian minister, avoided making the same mistake, but we now find it inserted into this oft-recited 1952 version, a legacy inherited from the McCarthy Era witch hunts against communists, who by definition were atheists.

    It seems that once every decade I have to remind readers of this paper and others that the Pledge of Allegiance is not an expression of patriotism demanded by the state, or even legally required for entry into the discourse at our local neighborhood councils, several of which in San Pedro, are now turning the Pledge into a mandatory exercise.

    It has even been the ceremonial protocol for the opening of every chamber of commerce meeting—as if patriotism was a necessary requirement for engaging in free enterprise in the ever-globalized marketplace.

    The list accompanying a new report from the Partnership for a New American Economy found some surprising information, Steve Jobs, the famous co-founder of Apple, is a child of an immigrant parent from Syria.

    Walt Disney was a child of a Canadian immigrant; the founders of Oracle are from Russia and Iran; IBM (Germany); Clorox (Ireland); Boeing (Germany); 3M (Canada); and Home Depot (Russia).

    Not only do we not demand military service from the founders of this elite group of Fortune 500 corporations, we don’t even require their loyalty in business to this nation.

    The Pledge is not a requirement of law but has been adopted by custom. Saying the Pledge is reinforced by regimentation in schools and by protocols at some public ceremonies. But when the words are examined they are at best “aspirational” towards liberty and justice and they avoid pledging any loyalty to an underlying creed of this nation as expressed in both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Bill of Rights.  It would be better, as I suggested back in the 1980s, for the Pledge to be updated as follows:

    A Patriot’s Pledge of Allegiance

    I pledge allegiance to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
    Of the United States of America and to the ideals for which they stand;
    Among these are the rights of the people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, with freedom and justice for all.

    There is no need to mention God or the flag, which is merely a symbol, or that we are indivisible. It goes without saying that we as a nation of people are often divided and take great liberty to express those divisions whenever and wherever we choose. The creed behind the symbol is what we as a nation should be pledging allegiance too, not a piece of cloth.

    However, it was an exquisite form of irony to see Muslim immigrant, Khizr Khan, father of a U.S. Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004, ask Donald Trump if he had ever read the U.S. Constitution. One might ask the same question to those who are now demanding that every meeting of a neighborhood council start with the politically outdated pledge.

    How many of you have a copy in your coat pocket that you could pull out the next time you are stopped by the authorities? Perhaps reading the Constitution should be a mandatory step for anyone wearing a uniform and elected to office.


    Read More
  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: July 27, 2016

    July 30
    Work to End Homelessness
    Take action to end homelessness in Long Beach. The event will include a park cleanup, a cook out and community meal, haircuts, food drive and a roundtable.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 30
    Details: www.actday.org
    Venue: Long Beach Main Library Auditorium, 101 Pacific Ave., Long Beach

    Aug. 1
    Central SP Rules and Bylaws Committee Meeting
    Due to a venue issue the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will meet Aug. 1 at the San Pedro Regional Library.
    Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Aug. 1
    Details: View Agenda
    Venue: San Pedro Library, 931 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    Read More
  • RLn BRIEFS: July 27, 2017

    Court Places BNSF on Hold, Indefinitely

    WILMINGTON — BNSF’s environmental analysis was put aside as inadequate, July 26, when a $500 million railyard in Wilmington was placed on indefinite hold in a final judgment.

    The judgment affirmed that because the development was close to low-income areas on public land the state had jurisdiction on that specific railroad operation.

    The Southern California International Gateway development on 185 acres, would have brought about 2 million trucks per year and eight trains per day to the area. The company had held that the facility would take big rigs off the road.

    A preliminary judgment was issued in March demanding that BNSF and Los Angeles start anew. The company appealed that judgment on grounds that a state court did not have jurisdiction in interstate commerce. The company failed when a Contra Costa judge rejected that argument.

    The company’s options now are to appeal, forgo plans for the railyard or start anew with an environmental analysis.

    “This ruling affirms that the proposed project cannot proceed without additional measures to protect Long Beach neighborhoods, which is a win for Long Beach and Westside residents,” stated Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, whose city would abuts the facility.

    Guzmán Re-elected Harbor Commission President

    LONG BEACH — On July 25, Lori Ann Guzmán was re-elected as the president of the Harbor Commission. Guzman will serve a second term of one year on the board, which oversees the Port of Long Beach.

    The commission president chairs board meetings and represents the port to the public. Under the city charter, the mayor of Long Beach appoints city residents to the Harbor Commission to six-year terms. Commissioners oversee the port and direct the Port CEO, who in turn manages the more than 500-person staff of Long Beach Harbor Department in the development and promotion of the Port of Long Beach.

    Guzmán, who also is the director of finance for Huntington Beach, was appointed the Harbor Commission in 2013. She was appointed as the president in 2015.

    The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissions also selected Lou Anne Bynum as vice president and Tracy Egoscue as secretary.

    Read More
  • The Carrillo Brothers Welcome New Addition Happy Diner Family

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant WriterCa

    Three months ago, the Carrillo brothers added a new member to their Happy Diner Family on Gaffey Street. But it’s not another diner—this time, it’s a deli. By following a familiar recipe— everything made in-house, made to order and, like the rest of their establishments, made with bread and meat from local San Pedro purveyors — the Carrillo brothers have done it again.

    The menu ranges from breakfast to fresh wraps and salads, but the mainstays are sandwiches and burgers, all of them accompanied by a side of french fries or even homemade potato or macaroni salad.

    Popular dishes include the San Pedro Philly, which is not to be confused with a traditional Philly cheese steak. Instead, this sandwich boasts machaca beef, or spiced, slow-cooked and then shredded beef. The Borracho Burger, which sounds like it would probably cure a nasty hangover, features three different cheeses, bacon, spicy mayo and freshly grilled jalapeños. In all honesty,  it was the Beer Can Burger that took some some serious explaining. Imagine ground beef stuffed to the brim with grilled onions, bell peppers, bacon and Italian sausage that actually takes the shape of a beer can, and then is pressed down into a patty — that, my friends, is the Beer Can Burger.

    If that all sounds too intimidating there are those fresh wraps and salads. The grilled chicken fruit salad and chicken cranberry almond salad have been well received by many. There is one menu item that everyone seems to be obsessed with: the Buffalo Chicken Fries with cheese and ranch dressing.

    There’s more good news: Happy Deli caters and it delivers.

    Hours: 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

    Happy Deli | 530 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro | (424) 364-0319

    Gina Ruccione is a Southern California Restaurant Writers Association member. Visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com. Got a food tip? Email her at gina.rooch@gmail.com. Follow her food adventures Instagram @foodfashionfoolishfornication. 

    Read More
  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: July 26, 2016

    July 27
    Coastal Communications Committee Meeting
    The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Communications Committee meeting is scheduled to take place July 27 at the Corner Store.
    Time: 5:30 p.m. July 27
    Details: View agenda here
    Venue: Corner Store, 1118 W. 37th St., San Pedro

    July 27
    Central Committee on Homelessness
    The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Committee on Homelessness is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. July 27 at the San Pedro Regional Library.
    Time: 6 to 7:15 p.m.
    Details: Agenda
    Venue: San Pedro Regional Library, 931 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    July 28
    Domestic Violence Town Hall Meeting
    The Los Angeles Police Department Operations-South Bureau is hosting a series of Town Hall Meeting to address incidents of violent crime in our community. The goal of the Town Hall Series is to educate the community on alternatives to violence and to glean advice, concerns and recommendations on deterring crime, public safety and community policing.
    Time: 6 to 8:30 p.m. July 28
    Details: (323) 786-5580
    Venue: Peck Par, 560 N. Western Ave., San Pedro

    July 28
    NWSPNC Budget and Finance Committee
    The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Board Meeting is scheduled to take place.
    Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m. July 28
    Details: View agenda
    Venue: Taxco Restaurant, 29050 S. Western Ave., San Pedro

    July 28
    Providence SP OB-GYN Open House
    Providence San Pedro is hosting an OB-GYN open house. Meet the team and learn about how they can care for you.
    Time: 5 to 7 p.m. July 28
    Details: More Info >
    Venue: Providence San Pedro, 621 Butte St., San Pedro

    Aug. 3
    Notice of Preparation for Marine Oil Terminal Improvements
    An Initial Study/Notice of Preparation — the first step in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) process — has been released for a Marine Oil Terminal Wharf Improvements Project at the Valero Terminal on Mormon Island in Los Angeles Harbor.
    The primary goal of the proposed project is to comply with the Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards to protect public health, safety, and the environment, which involves demolition of the existing 19,000-square-foot timber wharf at Berth 164 and construction and operation of a new, Marine Oil Terminal Engineering and Maintenance Standards-compliant wharf, with minor infrastructure improvements to connect the new loading platform to the existing landside pipelines and utilities. The proposed project would also include a new, 30-year lease through 2047.
    The Initial Study/Notice of Preparation is available for review at www.portoflosangeles.org. The Initial Study/Notice of Preparation is released for public review to solicit feedback, which helps to identify any potential environmental impacts and suggest possible alternatives for the project that can be incorporated into the EIR.
    The Port of Los Angeles will host a public meeting to receive comments on at 6 p.m. Aug. 3, at 6 p.m., at the Port of Los Angeles Administration Building.
    Written comments on the Initial Study/Notice of Preparation may be submitted via email to ceqacomments@portla.org or to the following address through the public comment period from July 21 to August 19, 2016:
    Christopher Cannon, Director of Environmental Management
    Los Angeles Harbor Department
    425 South Palos Verdes Street
    San Pedro, CA 90731
    Comment letters sent via email should include the Project title “Berth 164 [Valero] Marine Oil Terminal Wharf Improvements Project” in the email subject line and the commenter’s physical mailing address in the body of the email.
    Time: 6 p.m. Aug. 3
    Details: (310) 732-3675; www.portoflosangeles.org
    Venue: Port of Los Angeles Administration Building, 425 S. Palos Verdes St, San Pedro.

    Aug. 13
    Back to School Supplies Giveaway
    Bring your child to the upcoming annual school supplies giveaway at Toberman Neighborhood Center.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 13
    Details: www.toberman.org
    Venue: Toberman, 131 N. Grand Ave., San Pedro

    Protect your Pets in Extreme Heat
    When it is hot for you, it is even hotter for your furry friend. Dogs and cats do not sweat through their skin. They cool themselves by panting or rapid breathing, which means animals must work extra hard to stay cool.
    The best plan is to keep your dog and cat protected from the hot weather. Here are some pet safety reminders:

    • Give your pet extra water
    • Offer your dog a wading pool
    • Never leave your pet alone inside a car
    • Walk your dog in the morning or evening
    • Avoid hot ground surfaces
      Don’t leave your pet outdoors for a long time
    • Care for your pet’s coat

    Read More
  • News

    RLn BRIEFS: July 26, 2016

    Voluntary Port Mitigation Fund Approved

    LONG BEACH — On July 25, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners authorized a $46.4 million program to lessen the impacts of port-related pollution on the community.

    The investment is expected to be disbursed within 12 to 15 years.

    The previous funding from the Community Mitigation Grants Program helped pay for projects, which included air-filtration systems at schools, renewable energy projects, energy efficiency upgrades and asthma outreach health programs.

    Before the port could consider establishing a new mitigation-related program, state law required the completion of a study identifying the port’s cumulative impacts to air, traffic, noise and water. The study, released in April, valued the impacts at $46.4 million.

    In early fall, the port will host a public workshop to help develop grant guidelines for allocating funds to the variety of community health, facility improvement and community infrastructure projects identified in the study.

    Funding is expected to be awarded beginning in 2017.

    Long Beach Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Tax Offense

    LONG BEACH — Long Beach-based lobbyist Carl A. Kemp was charged June 7 with subscribing to a false tax return for the year 2012.

    Kemp is 43, of Long Beach and is the owner of the public relations firm The Kemp Group. He entered the plea before United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez.

    “For years, Mr. Kemp failed to accurately report his income to the [Internal Revenue Service] going so far as reporting zero taxable income for 2012 when his business brought in more than $200,000,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Everyone, no matter what business they are engaged in, has a responsibility to fully report their income on their income tax returns.”
    He admits failing to report receiving an income of $754,783 from illegal marijuana stores and failed to report on his taxes for the years 2007 to 2012. Kemp admits that he owes the IRS $210,661 to cover the back taxes due for those six years, as well as a civil fraud penalty.

    “As admitted by Kemp in documents filed with the court today, all forms of income are taxable, including cash payments received from illegal marijuana dispensaries and fees paid for lobbying services,” said IRS Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando.

    The charge of subscribing to a false tax return includes a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison. Kemp will be sentenced on Nov. 7, when he will face a statutory maximum sentence of three years in federal prison.

    LA Homeless Services Authority Expands Shelter Hours

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced that nine crisis housing facilities are now open 24 hours per day. The shelters were previously open for 14 hours per day.

    Eight-hundred-twenty beds make up 93 percent of the crisis housing beds funded by the Los Angeles through LAHSA.”

    Los Angeles provided $1.5 million to convert the facilities from 14 hours to 24 hours.

    Read More
  • REASONS TO BE PRETTY @ Long Beach Playhouse

    I don’t know anything Neil LaBute has done since 2000’s Nurse Betty, but reasons to be pretty is exactly what you would expect if the only data you had was that the author of In the Company of Men and Your Friends & Neighbors had tried his hand at romantic comedy without edulcorating the ethos of those works.

    reasons to be pretty (why lowercase I have no idea) opens on a knock-down, drag-out argument between Greg (Johnny Martin) and Steph (Ali Kendall). Steph’s friend Carly (Courtney Chudleigh) overheard Greg tell co-worker Kent (Robert Adams), Carly’s husband, something to the effect that Steph’s face is plain in comparison the new girl’s, and Steph has gone ballistic, a situation made worse by Greg’s reluctance to own up.

    The central conflict of reasons to be pretty is what in more patriarchal days was called “man against himself.” In terms of honesty, Greg is a man without a country, loyal neither to honesty nor dishonesty. He won’t tell Steph that he’s in love with her and madly attracted to her despite the fact that that’s probably what she needs to hear for them to salvage their four-year relationship, yet he’s willing to cover for Kent, a far less ambivalent character who loves to brag about the many ways in which he’s banging the new girl.

    Despite the usual connotations of the word “pretty,” reasons to be pretty is Greg’s play, his journey. He’s never offstage, and he’s not an especially sympathetic character for most of the play, so if the character isn’t sufficiently humanized by the performance, the play is fucked. (A crude way to put it, I know, but considering LaBute’s love of expletives, I’m setting the mood.) Fortunately, Martin is equal to the task. He may be a bit stiff at times, but all in all he feels real. This could be said of the whole cast, in fact: stiff in places, but real enough. If the cast can loosen up as the run progresses and let LaBute’s quasi-realistic dialog become more sloppily conversational—and there’s no reason to think any of the four actors isn’t up to the task—we might get some real magic in places.

    One curious aspect of the casting is Ali Kendall. It’s pretty clear from the script that Steph should be fairly average-looking—not especially hard on the eyes, but not notably pretty. Yet by most any measure Kendall is gorgeous, an incongruity so obvious that I felt compelled to ask director Gregory Cohen about what he had in mind. Sure enough, he confirmed that he went out of his way to play against the text and make Steph someone the audience would almost have think of as beautiful, thus pointing up the question of image, self- and otherwise. I’m not sure it works, but it does make you think.

    That extra level of rumination probably adds to the overall experience, because ultimately there’s all that much to reasons to be pretty. LaBute is handy with dialog and not just skin-deep, but LaBute seems like a poor man’s David Mamet. reasons to be pretty is often funny, but it’s probably less affecting than he hoped, even with a final scene that pays off just right.

    Nonetheless, there are reasons to see reasons to be pretty (for one, it brings the funny despite not really being a comedy)and if the cast can fully capitalize on what LaBute has given them to work with, those reasons are pretty good.


    (Photo credit: Michael Hardy Photography)

    Read More
  • Why Bernie Needs To Take Satan’s Advice

    And Create An Un-Christian Coalition

    By Greg Palast with Dennis J. Bernstein for Nation of Change

    Bernie Sanders may have conceded the nomination, but he can still win control of the Democratic Party. By harnessing the power of his people, Bernie could ensure Hillary keeps the promises she made to him in exchange for his endorsement. And with 13 million supporters in his pocket, Bernie has the chance to create something far stronger than the Christian Coalition, which has shaped GOP policy for over two decades. He could lead a mighty Un-Christian Coalition, if you will, that moving forward could force Hillary’s hand so she has little choice but to serve the people as opposed to her corporate paymasters. In this week’s Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Election Crimes Bulletin, Dennis J. Bernstein and Greg Palast explain how Bernie can take a tip from Satan’s playbook and seize this moment to create one hell of a powerful a movement!

    TRANSCRIPT (Originally broadcast on July 13, 2016)

    Dennis J. Bernstein: Today we’ve seen Bernie came out strong in support of Hillary Clinton. Many people are troubled, some are supporting it, some aren’t. Let’s talk a little bit about what this moment means. Is this the end of a moment or the beginning of a movement?

    Greg Palast: Well, that’s up to the people, and Senator Sanders. When you saw him on stage, he looked like those guys who are reading those confessions from a North Korean prison: “I am sorry… I have disgraced the party… and I will atone for my sins.” I know a lot of people in the Sanders crowd, and the Bernie or Bust people, good friends of mine, are crying about Bernie drinking the Kool-Aid for the Democratic Party, but that was foreordained, they weren’t going to let him win.

    Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton, but he had something else on his side, which is not the people — remember he actually lost to Hillary Clinton in the primary by total number of votes — but he had the votes that counted. That is, he had the support of Robert Rubin, City Bank, Jamie Diamond…

    DB: Don’t forget my friend Penny Pritzker…

    Palast: Penny Pritzker, who is currently our unindicted Secretary of Commerce and billionaire banker of the Pritzker family. Obama had those three votes — and they’re the ones that counted! So it’s interesting, even though Hillary says, “Well, I deserve it because I have the most votes.” She deserved it in ’08 but she didn’t have the bankers’ vote. This time she does. But that’s not the issue, I want to talk to you about something that I think should comfort people…

    I want to tell you about advice I got in a very similar situation from just about the most brilliant man I’ve ever met. Many of you know of him as Satan, and some of you know him as the Reverend Pat Robertson. I was investigating Pat Robertson for The Guardian newspaper, so I went in to meet him secretly wired. Robertson had run, just like Sanders, for president. And just like Sanders, did not get the nomination of his party, the Republican Party. That went to George Bush. So I asked the Reverend Pat Robertson, because he had said that God had told him to run for president, I said, “With a campaign manager like that, how could you have lost?” And Robertson said to me, “The Lord did not tell me to win the presidency. He told me to run.”

    Now what that cryptic message meant (and it’s worth Bernie taking notes), as Robertson told me, he may have lost the presidency but his list of followers, 3 million people, became the Christian Coalition. So now is Bernie’s moment. I’m completely non-partisan, but when you change from partisan activity to a movement, then I can say something. This is Bernie’s chance to turn his political moment into a political movement, to create the un-Christian Coalition.

    As Pat Robertson told me, nothing moves in the Republican party, you can’t get a nomination for dog catcher anywhere in America without the approval of the Christian Coalition. That later morphed into the other evangelical crew. And we know that you can’t win without them. Trump had to win them over… The Republican Party has now been seized by the Evangelical Christian Right.

    So they have shown us, through satanic means, what we can do to create a movement to scare the hell out of the Democratic Party. Bernie has a lot more than 3 million followers. He’s bigger than the Christian Coalition. His Un-Christian coalition could shake up American politics, if he doesn’t do a Ralph Nader and run off… When Nader ran in 2000, I wasn’t disturbed that he may have taken enough votes to have elected George Bush. What disturbed me is that he didn’t fight for the black people whose votes weren’t counted. He ran away from creating a permanent movement…

    Dennis, here’s a pop-quiz: What was the Democratic Party’s position in 2012 on the minimum wage?

    DB: Uh, I don’t know.

    Palast: Well, no one knows…

    DB: And, no one really cared, right?

    Palast: Nobody cared what the party platform is. So if you want the movement to die, spend all your bullets on changing the party platform. If you want your movement to thrive, it’s more than handing the activists over to Hillary to avoid a Trump presidency, it’s about keeping America sane.

    For example, instead of arguing over whether there ought to be a vote on the TPP, Bernie’s Un-Christian coalition, 2 years from now, can tell President Clinton, “I hear you are now saying that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal meets your standards and so you’re going to sign it. But it doesn’t meet our standards, so we’re going to take our 7 million members and we’re all going to de-register from the Democratic Party.” Now do you think that Hillary Clinton would continue on such a course? Basically, the Sanders’ people have the ability to veto all the major policies of the Democratic Party, to seize control and have ultimate power within the Democratic Party.
    Read the rest of the interview at http://www.gregpalast.com/Sen. Bernie Sanders at LA Maritime Museum, May 27, 2016

    Read More
  • 1 62 63 64 259