• LB Hotel Workers Sue for Wage Theft Violations

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On April 19, Long Beach Renaissance Hotel workers filed a class action lawsuit for multiple forms of what amounts to wage theft. This included denial of rest breaks and overtime pay, being forced to do unpaid prep work and not being reimbursed for expenses.

    “It’s very common in the hotel industry what’s happening at the Renaissance Hotel,” said Michael Morrison, the lead attorney who filed the suit.

    “You’ve got mostly immigrant and low-wage earners, who [are] basically being subjected to what’s called ‘off the clock work.’ That means that they’re working and not being paid for that time that doesn’t appear in their time records, even though the company knows that they’re performing this work.”

    But there are more issues involved than state law violations regarding rest periods and meal breaks.

    Elizabeth Castillo

    Long Beach Memorial nurse Elizabeth Castillo spoke about the poor health conditions of female hotel workers during a June 16, 2015 rally.

    “There’s problems with them complying with the Long Beach municipal code,” which provides for five sick days a year, Morrison explained. “The company is taking the position that they’re only entitled to three sick days, because that’s what California provides.”

    The suit also includes an unfair business practice charge. When a company breaks the law by underpaying workers, it gets an unfair edge against its competition, too, which California forbids. But if no one is punished, the practices tend to spread.

    “So this, in the broader sense, is a good idea to sue these hotels about these violations, because it may make other hotels think twice about doing the same thing.” Morrison explained.

    There are three named plaintiffs, each representing a sub-class of workers with specific kinds of complaints in common: banquet subclass, housekeeping subclass and food service subclass.

    For example, the complaint alleges, “housekeepers are required to work off-the-clock daily. Specifically, housekeepers are required to come in to work anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour before the start of their scheduled shifts to prepare the materials they will use to clean service rooms. However, housekeepers are not compensated for their work.”

    Nor are they reimbursed for cleaning supplies and protective gloves purchased because management fails to provide them. They are also expected to clean a set number of rooms daily, often working unpaid overtime in order to meet their quotas.

    “Members of the banquet subclass are routinely not provided with rest periods or compensation in lieu thereof as required by California law,” another sub-class example in the complaint noted. “Banquet workers cannot take rest breaks, in part, because there is no one available to relieve them of their duties.”

    This means that their work is intentionally structured to deprive them of their breaks. Nor are they compensated for these stolen break periods. Similar intentional understaffing is involved in depriving the food service sub-class of rest and meal breaks as well.

    “We have another lawsuit—that just like this [one] against the Westin Hotel—the violations are shockingly similar between the two,” said Morrison, when asked about the broader situation in Long Beach as a whole. That suit was filed this past August.

    “The only thing we can guess is it’s not just hotels, there is incentive for employers to cheat employees out of money, because it saves them money,” he said. “But the hotel community, I think, is particularly vulnerable, because most of the people are immigrants.”

    There’s independent confirmation of this. A 2014 Department of Labor report on minimum wage violations in California and New York found an estimated 334,000 monthly violations from one data source and 372,000 weekly minimum wage violations from another, both representing more than 3 percent of covered workers, with lost income running from $22.5 million to almost $28.7 million per week.

    The report found that, “In California, non-citizens are…approximately 1.6 times more likely to suffer from a minimum wage violation.”

    While other forms of wage theft are more difficult to track, there’s every reason to believe immigrant workers suffer from them as well.

    “So there’s a language barrier, there’s also a fear of essentially going up against the powerful corporate entities,” Morrison said. “We think it’s the type of workers, the low-wage earners, they’re being victimized because they can be victimized, and so this is in part a class and race issue in addition to just the balance of power between employees and employers.”

    Workers at both Renaissance and Westin are involved in a unionization struggle with UNITE HERE! as well.

    “We’re not involved in the union effort, but we do want to see changes in the hotel … more importantly, and something that the union can’t do, we’re suing for back wages, money that they’ve already earned and not been paid,” Morrison said. “So, it’s about improving future conditions; it’s about fairly compensating people for the work they’ve done, and the money they’re entitled to.”

    There’s clearly more involved than just this one hotel.

    “We see this link to the broader struggle,” Morrison said. “We have essentially a working poor here in America. People are actually working full time, doing the responsible thing, and yet they barely or cannot make a living.”

    Low wages are one part of the problem, wage theft is another.

    “Legal solutions are imperfect, you also need political solutions. You need economic solutions,” Morrison continued. “You need pressure from other parts of society on these hotels to make sure that they’re paying their workers correctly.”

    It’s a huge struggle, but it’s moving in a promising direction.

    “Long Beach in the last few years has become a very progressive city in terms of advancing workers’ rights…you have seen municipal ordinances, you have seen the increase in minimum wage; and they want to increase the minimum wage even further,” he said. “They want to have protections for women as well…So, I think Long Beach could be a model in the future.”

    At least it’s a future that’s starting to become imaginable, one battle at a time.

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  • The Changing Face of America

    The new urban pioneers, slavery on the high seas and Trump

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    San Pedro is once again waiting at the threshold of another round of redevelopment and speculation, based upon the Port of Los Angeles’ commitment to waterfront development and the “about-to-be-signed” lease on Ports O’ Call Village, newly minted as the “San Pedro Public Market.”

    This anticipation can be seen from table at any of the growing number of sidewalk cafes, as the demographics shift from boomer to millennial. This new generation of residents are seen walking their dogs with plastic bags at the ready to scoop-the-poop, stepping past homeless people sleeping in the doorways of closed storefronts. These millennials are the new urban pioneers staking claims in the urban cores across America.

    In San Pedro, they are camped out in the newer downtown lofts and condos along 7th Street—drawn by the “buzz” surrounding the “cool” local art scene—that are also affordable compared to the rest of metro-Los Angeles, not forgetting to mention that it’s also close to the ocean, though that may not be the case for long.

    This new generation isn’t affected by the stories of a crime-ridden, drug-addled downtown San Pedro. It also isn’t affected by the presence of a homeless community. This aspect of San Pedro’s downtown core has always been exaggerated. For at least a generation, locals have used this perception as a reason to avoid enjoying San Pedro’s arts and culture scene.

    Joseph Wambaugh in his 2012 novel, Harbor Nocturne, goes into some detail explaining these native prejudices on everything and everybody residing below Pacific Avenue. His account, in many ways, reveals the struggles of retail businesses and their correlation to the high commercial vacancy rates here. This, even as rents escalate in the surrounding housing market of the business district.

    Whether any of the current re-branding will change the old prejudiced perceptions as reflected in Wambaugh’s book, the thought that tourism will breathe new life into the local economy via social media is still a gamble.

    The economic analyses pointing to tourism as the way forward after dramatic middle-class job losses following the collapse of the fish canneries makes it seem that it was all an inevitable conclusion of Reaganomics and free trade.

    Yet, one small piece of truth about the global fishing industry slipped out in the media this past year. The AP Wire Service recently won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigative series that exposed the use of slave labor on the fishing boats and shrimp processing plants in South East Asia.

    Their award winning and, I might add, courageous investigation helped free some 600 enslaved fishermen on these pirate boats. It also traced these products all the way back to local supermarkets—among them Safeway and Albertsons. It’s almost inconceivable that this could be happening today. But then, I think of the violent intolerance of ISIS and the kidnapping of young women by Boko Haram in Nigeria. The world is much less civil than we sometimes imagine.

    Still, the loss of these types of jobs from the domestic market and the increased competition from companies using cheap (or free labor) overseas has in the end transformed the economies of hundreds of communities across America. These changes in the global economy, to some extent, explains the backlash represented in the presidential campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

    If we don’t find a way as a nation to create good paying jobs here, there is little chance of expanding the local retail economy, which would employ more workers and, in turn, would bring more money into more hands.

    I would hasten to say that it is hard for any industry to compete against slave labor and that this might just explain why the majority of catches from our harbor are shipped overseas for processing, saving up to a dollar a pound.

    How is that possible, you might ask, when we have had local fish processing in the harbor for well over a century? This might lead some to read more closely the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal that the Obama administration has been negotiating, to see if there is a “slave labor” exclusion in fish processing.

    If you want an explanation of the root cause of the rise in homelessness in America—look no further than the price we pay for free trade and supporting businesses who use slave labor abroad—and perhaps the price of shrimp.

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  • Anguish & Obsession:

    An American Love Story

    In Anguish, the model is bound with her hands tied behind her back and blindfolded with police tape. Courtesy photo.

    By Melina Paris Contributing Writer

    Huss Hardan knew that not everyone was going to find Anguish & Obsession: An American Love Story palatable.

    In fact, he even warned potential spectators that the exhibit includes the kind of “mature” content that might make people with milder dispositions uncomfortable.

    At the April First Thursday Artwalk in San Pedro, Hardan noticed that a few people walked a few feet into huZ galleries — where the exhibition is on display — then turned around and left. Hardan’s theory is that people with milder dispositions tend to be offended by the political statement and not offended by the nudity.

    The images in Anguish & Obsession: An American Love Story express the abuse of power, fetishistic obsessions that some have with firearms, the disastrous consequences of such obsessions and the danger of militarized police.  Hardan believes that some people do not want to acknowledge that bad things happen to people, often because they are in a privileged position. He references a subset of people who tend to be white, wealthier and very isolated. He says they don’t want to know there is political and social strife going on that doesn’t affect them.

    “People who actually bother to come to galleries want to see it,” Hardan said. “You always want a reaction but the reaction was, they did not consider the message, read the statement, or ask what it was about.”

    The space inside of huZ galleries is open, clean, and black and white. The feel of the exhibit is minimalist, grasping and slightly sterile –that is, until you see the photos. The exhibit is organized as two halves: the left with digital black and white photographs and the right comprised of photographs taken with 15-year-old expired film.

    Yellow police tape was woven through the exhibit and each print was displayed in steel frames and hung from silver chains.

    He was surprised to get such a positive response, especially from the younger crowd. He expected the split between younger and older to be wider. Anguish and Obsession — An American Love Story is beautiful and disturbing, artistic and inspired, brave and playful, and dangerous and painful.

    For the exhibit, Hardan created a hybrid style from Helmut Newton and “Weegee,” a 1930s and 40s photographer named Arthur Fellig. Much of Weegee’s work depicted realistic scenes of crime, injury and death. By tuning his radio to the police frequency, Weegee often arrived at a crime scene ahead of the police. This gave him the nickname after the Quija board, the popular fortune-telling game.

    Helmut Newton, a widely imitated photographer, was known for his provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos.

    Hardan explained that initiating this hybrid created much more of a high contrast shot so it makes the photographs much more impactful. Subtlety wasn’t the idea here.

    The titles of the photographs on the left side also served as thematic concepts: Photograph, Seduction, Obsession, Realization, Anguish and The Slaughter of the Innocent.

    The titles on the right side include: Prelude, The Innocent, the Frenzy, The End of Seduction, Repose and Regret, The Denial Within, Opening Pandora’s Box and The Slaughter of the Innocent.

    The focal point of all of the prints is a model of African descent and a military-style automatic assault rifle. The result is an exhibit that intentionally, or not, delves into race, gender and gun politics.

    In Seduction and Obsession, Hardan captures beautifully composed photos of the model draped with white linen in bed with a gun. The photos have a high-gloss magazine quality. In Seduction, the model looks quite pleased and in charge, even playful by facing away from the gun, almost as if she is teasing. In Obsession, she looks directly at the gun as one would towards a lover. She and the weapon are both under the sheets, closer.

    The Realization and Anguish regret and pain are articulated. It doesn’t feel any more as if the composition is just about the model and the firearm. In Anguish, the model is bound with her hands tied behind her back and blindfolded with police tape. In the final photograph the model appears as if she were fatally shot, as she futilely clutches her stomach to keep from bleeding out.

    The exhibit’s right side continues the narrative with the Prelude by starting at the beginning but as a negative photograph. The sheets are black instead of white, with silver edges, as is the gun.

    From The Innocent to the End of Seduction, the imagery are slight variations of the exhibit’s left side before ending with a reflection of Slaughter of the Innocent as a negative photograph.

    Hardan’s intention in the way he composed his photographs in the exhibit are readily apparent. His juxtaposition of these images are curious. Particularly in the print titled, Repose and Regret.

    The artistry of the whole image with two ghost-like forms under the main photo grabs attention, more so than the visually intensified emotional consequences of the photos. It’s easy to become distracted with the beauty and execution of the photograph, instead of the emotional effects it portrays.

    Hardan wanted the model for this exhibit to be a black woman. His model was incredible, he said because the photos were shot in the pitch black studio.  First the lights were on to get focus, then with all lights off he took the shot in the dark with a flash.

    “It is amazing that her facial expressions are very natural,” Hardan said. “You need someone who is very strong willed for this and very comfortable with themselves. She is not a shy person. You need that to have a message.”

    He also chose to have a black model because of the things that are happening to black people. “They are happening far more,” Hardan said. “Abused would be a word, when you just look at things like the incarceration rate, when the crime bills are written specifically to address minority crimes.”

    This exhibit is about the obsession of whatever system takes advantage of you. Hardan cites the political system as an example, with incarcerated people losing the right to vote. He wrestled with the fact that a convict served their time, but still serves it — forever. With our incarceration rates, this removes a huge segment of the population. Prisons are for profit. So it’s a business. Then, convicts surely are taken out of the voting pool.

    You also see abuse of power when the person seems to be a willing participant. But then, you can see where it turns, the person has been almost suckered in and is then abused. The dynamic changes, they become a victim and they lose their rights.

    Hardan’s depictions provide the pieces of the puzzle that is our obsession and its potential effects on us.

    There will be a closing reception May 5 and the exhibit will be showing until the last week of May.

    Gallery hours: 1 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sunday, through May 31.
    Details:huZgalleries.com
    Venue: huZ Galleries,  341 W. 7th St., San Pedro

     

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  • *** RL NEWS Briefs *** April 22, 2016

    Mayor Garcetti Releases Proposed Budget for 2016

    LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti released a new budget proposal for the 2016-17 fiscal year for the City of Los Angeles on April 20.

    The $8.76 billion budget includes a major focus on addressing the city’s problems with homelessness, underfunded police, crime and prevention and job creation.

    The plan includes an investment of $138 million towards battling homelessness.  The budget includes plans to build more affordable housing, to hire more workers for outreach programs and to help create critical resources for these programs.

    The budget has been submitted for approval by the city council.  The council has until June 1, 2016, to approve the budget that will be delivered to Garcetti for a signature.

     

    POLA Surpasses Two Million TEUs in First Quarter

    SAN PEDRO – The Port of Los Angeles recorded the busiest quarter in its 109-year history, with a combined 2,030,982 twenty-foot-equivalent units, TEUs, recorded in the first three months of 2016.

    The record-breaking quarter is an 11.3 percent increase from 2015 over the same period.

    Total March 2016 volumes registered at 612,863 TEUs. It was a drop of 22.6 percent compared to March 2015, when volumes surged after congestion issues were resolved. March 2016 imports decreased 33.3 percent to 287,231 TEUs compared to the previous year. Exports increased 9.5 percent to 159,362 TEUs in March. Empty container traffic dropped 22.8 percent to 166,269 TEUs. Combined, March overall volumes totaled 612,863 TEUs.

    Details: www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

     

    Carson Man Gets 8 Years for Trying to Run Over U.S. Marshall

    CARSON — On April 18, Keith Leon Smith, 47, of Carson, who was found guilty of assaulting a deputy U.S. marshal by trying to run him over with a minivan, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.

    Smith was found guilty by a federal jury on Jan. 14 of one count of assaulting a federal officer with a deadly and dangerous weapon.

    According to the evidence presented during a 3-day trial in U.S. District Court, six Deputy U.S. Marshals went to a residence on East 220th Street in Carson, where they believed Smith was residing, on March 11, 2015. The deputy marshals were conducting an investigation with the goal of taking Smith into custody after a federal judge in 2013 had issued a bench warrant. Smith was wanted because he had violated the terms of his supervised release, after serving more than seven years in prison for being convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine.

    While conducting surveillance, the deputy marshals saw Smith leave the residence and get into a minivan. The deputy marshals, who were in several vehicles, followed Smith and blocked his van. As the deputy marshals approached the minivan that Smith was driving and identified themselves as law enforcement officers, Smith reversed his vehicle toward some of the marshals service vehicles. Smith then suddenly accelerated his vehicle toward one of the deputy marshals, who was in front of the minivan. The deputy marshal, now in the way of the oncoming minivan, fired his weapon at the windshield and fell backward onto the ground.

    Smith briefly stopped the vehicle as the shots hit the windshield, and then accelerated the minivan toward the deputy marshal, who was then lying on the ground. The deputy marshal was able to jump out of the way of the minivan and fire several shots at the vehicle.

    Smith then sped away as the deputy marshals gave chase. But, due in part to his dangerous driving, which included swerving into oncoming traffic, Smith was able to elude capture that day. However, deputies with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department found Smith’s minivan the next day and took him into custody.

     

    MacArthur Park Gets Green Space

    LONG BEACH — On April 19, District 6 Councilman Dee Andrews announced that JetBlue will provide a $50,000 for a new Green Space Garden at MacArthur Park in Long Beach

    The project will bring urban farming to the area.

    Andrews proposed the garden project late last year and has been waiting for the recent rehabilitation and new playground at MacArthur Park to be completed before he got the garden started.

    The project is expected to start this summer.

    Details: (562) 570-6816.

     

    Man Murdered in Central Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — One man was killed and three others were wounded after a shooting April 18 near the 1200 block of 17th Street in Long Beach.

    The incident, which took place at about 8:45 p.m., claimed the life of 19-year-old

    Delhaun Jackson, who was declared dead at the scene.

    The other three victims were taken to area hospitals. One is in critical condition and the other two are in stable condition. No suspect information is available at this time.
    Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

     

    Rotary Makes Reading Fun

    SAN PEDRO — On April 17, the Rotary Club of San Pedro sponsored a Community Reading Day event at the San Pedro Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

    The group hosted more than 100 children for a fast-paced presentation by children’s book authors Annabeth Bondor-Stone and Connor White. Rotary also donated backpacks of books to take home for the pre-kindergarten through 4th grade audience. Each child received a signed copy of the authors’ book Shivers – The Pirate Who is Afraid of Everything.

    The Rotary Club received a 2016 local grant from Rotary District 5280, which encompasses a large part of the Los Angeles area, and did additional fundraising to support this event.  Along with the Rotary Club of San Pedro, several local outreach and service organizations participated including Harbor Interfaith Services, Toberman Neighborhood Center, the Boys and Girls Club of South LA Harbor, the YWCA and the YMCA.

    The Rotary Club of San Pedro meets Thursdays at 7:30 a.m. mornings at the Doubletree Hotel at Cabrillo Beach Marina.

    Details: www.rotarysanpedro.org.

     

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  • OFFICE HOUR @ South Coast Repertory

    If it walks like a future school shooter and talks like a future school shooter, should we treat it like a future school shooter? This is the starting point for Office Hour, essentially a one-act play portraying a professor’s potentially pivotal office hour with a troubled student.

    So you don’t spend the first 10 minutes of Office Hour trying to puzzle it out, yes, that is the Sandra Oh of Grey’s Anatomy fame (how sick she much be of that tag. Sorry, Sandra) playing Gina, a creative-writing adjunct with a heart of gold. This semester it’s Gina who has David (Corey Brill) in class. David’s costume is baseball cap, hoodie, and sunglasses. He never speaks, except to read his ultraviolent, sexually twisted, execrably bad fiction (sample line: “I’m gonna rape you in the ass ’til you bleed, Dad”) to increasingly nervous classmates, some of whom drop rather than persevere through a semester with such a discomforting presence. “Talk about draining your fucking chi,” says one of Gina’s fellow professors.

    The unexpected humor found in lines like that is a nice aspect of Julia Cho’s script. Office Hour asks serious questions (how do people become isolated? What does it do to them? How do we break through to someone who’s been shaped in such a way?), but Cho manages to imbue the proceedings with conversational humor that most always works.

    The results are more mixed when it comes to the meat of the matter. No, Cho never descends to the level of public-service announcement or an ABC Afterschool Special, but now and again she comes close. At times David seems too much like a type. This may be partly by design. In the scene that sets up the fly-on-the-office-wall section that’s the bulk of the play, one of Gina’s cohort says something along the lines of: There have always been broken people in the world, but now they get ideas, such as killing a bunch of people before they kill themselves. That’s all well and good, but the characters who populate Office Hour are most interesting in their idiosyncrasy. Gina works hard to break through David’s barriers because something in their making resonates with her own upbringing. It’s David’s and Gina’s starting points, and their individual efforts to erect a bridge between here and there, where Office Hour is most compelling.

    By its very nature Office Hour could easily be a big bore in the wrong hands, but Cho is lucky enough to get a good director and cast. Brill and Oh do good work in letting us see their struggles. Portraying a full character arc in the course of a single conversation is not the easiest acting task, yet they get the job done. For his part, director Neel Keller physically makes the most of a play that is static by design.

    Helping relieve the stasis is what I’ll call (in a reference that will be intelligible only to people who see Michael Haneke films) the Funny Games device. But Cho and/or Keller probably go to the well once too often, taking what proves effective throughout most of our flight and rendering it slightly tired and incoherent as we come in for a landing.

    The unsung heroes of Office Hour are scenic designers by Takeshi Kata and Se Oh and their crew. Gina’s office is a miracle of verisimilitude, from the years of water damage slowly marching from the ceiling down the walls to the fire extinguisher and event poster visible in the hallway just beyond Gina’s door. And when this set first comes into view, creeping forward under electric blue lighting (lighting design by Elizabeth Harper), it’s jaw-dropping. I wanted to stand up and ask them to do that four more times, but that would have been bad form, right?

    Office Hour may not always speak with perfect eloquence, but it’s something worth hearing, especially as amplified by South Coast Repertory.

    OFFICE HOUR SOUTH COAST REPERTORY • JULIANNE ARGYROS STAGE: 655 TOWN CENTER DR • COSTA MESA 92626 • 714.708.5555 SCR.ORG • TUES-SUN 7:45PM + SAT-SUN 2PM • $20-$69 • THROUGH MAY 1

    (Photo credit: Debora Robinson/SCR)

     

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  • Trump and Clinton Take New York Primaries

    By Mike Botica, Editorial Intern

    NEW YORK — New York, hometown to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, gave each one sizable wins in the race for the presidential nomination on April 19.

    According to the Associated Press Trump took a 60 percent lead over John Kasich and Ted Cruz, both of whom received 25 and 15 percent respectively.  Clinton also beat Sanders, taking in 58 percent of the vote.

    Trump maintained his significant lead in the race for the GOP nomination, bringing the total number of delegates to 845.  Cruz sits in second place with 519 pledged delegates, while Kasich has 148 delegates.  Trump is now just 392 delegates away from securing the party’s nomination, with five states soon to vote on April 26.

    Clinton’s win in New York gives her 1,930 delegates, bringing her even closer to the 2,383 needed for nomination.  Sanders gained 1,189 delegates as of April 21. He needs to win big to catch up in the race for the nomination.

    Clinton’s victory in her home state follows an alleged voter fraud scandal that resulted in thousands of New York voters being listed as ineligible or incorrectly.  An investigation is undergoing by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to determine what happened.

    The next five states in the election cycle are Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut.  Most notably, Pennsylvania has 210 delegates for the two Democratic candidates to win.

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  • *** RLn Calendar of Events *** April 22 – 27, 2016

    ENTERTAINMENT

    April 23
    Joe Bonamassa
    As Joe Bonamassa enters his 26th year as a professional musician, he continues to blaze a remarkably versatile artistic trail, and amass an authentic, innovative and soulful body of work.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $125
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/j9alfvk
    Venue: Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    April 23
    Classical Crossroads
    Classical Crossroads’ “The Interludes” concert series present Beverly Hills National Auditions winner, pianist Vladimir Khomyakov.
    Time: 3 p.m. April 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; http://tinyurl.com/Vladimir-Khomyakov
    Venue: First Lutheran Church & School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    April 23
    To Mindanao with Love
    To Mindanao with Love cultural solidarity night concert with Lumad indigenous people from Mindanao, Philippines. The show will feature live musical performances and short films about their struggle to defend their land and culture.
    Time: 5 to 7 p.m. April 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/ToMindanaoWithLove
    Venue: Cal State University Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Lecture Hall 150 Long Beach

    April 23
    Kristin Korb
    Bassist and vocalist Kristin Korb returns to Los Angeles with a new show. The program features new originals and fresh arrangements of jazz standards.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://tinyurl.com/Kristin-Korb-Friends
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 24
    Annette Warren Smith
    Smith made an indelible musical mark as the voice of Ava Gardner in Show Boat. Hear her stories and classic songs from the era of big bands and movie musicals.
    Time: 3 and 7:30 p.m. April 24
    Cost: $20 to $50
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Vision Foundation, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 24
    Singing For Chanson
    Juri Kamiyama, Yu Ooka, Satishi Kirisawa, Jeff Takiguchi, Nori Tani and Hiroshi Nunokawa take the stage at Alvas.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 24
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://tinyurl.com/SingingForChanson
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 29
    Reverend Tall Tree
    Stompin’, shufflin’ and hollerin’, Rev. Tall Tree plays blues and American roots in the tradition of Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf and Bo Diddley.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 29
    Cost: $20 to $30
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/ReverendTallTree
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    April 23
    Meet the Grunion
    Grunion are small sardine-size fish of the silversides family, which are one of the few fish species in the world that actually come ashore to lay their eggs on sandy beaches. They are found from central California through Baja California, with Cabrillo Beach being one of the better places to observe the fish.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 23
    Cost: $5
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    April 23
    Fresh 2016
    This is a gala in support of continued programming, education and events for South Bay Contemporary, bringing cutting edge contemporary art programming and art education to the South Bay Region. This year the gala event will take place at the historic Italian Villa courtyard of the Shriver
    Time: 5 to 8 p.m. April 23
    Details: http://southbaycontemporary.com
    Cost: $50
    Venue: Shriver Courtyard, 21 Pomegranate Road,Rancho Palos Verdes

    THEATER

    April 24
    Sister Act
    Musical Theatre West presents Sister Act, Broadway’s feel-good musical comedy at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. When wannabe disco diva Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a crime, the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look—a convent! Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Delores helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through April 24
    Cost: $20
    Details: (562) 856-1999, ext. 4, www.musical.org.
    Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    April 25
    Bear Story
    SPIFFest is presenting the 2016 Oscar-Nominated Animated Shorts, which includes Bear Story.
    Time: 5 p.m. April 25
    Cost: $20
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/SPIFFBearStory
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 27
    A Walk in the Woods
    Nearing the end of the Cold War, a pair of arms negotiators — a clever, cynical Russian and an idealistic young American — step away from the bargaining table to meet in the woods outside Geneva for a series of talks to explore the obstacles their countries face on the path to peace. There, they debate politics, the future of the free world, the nature of mankind, and the very survival of humanity.
    Time: 8 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays; April 27 through May 22
    Cost: $47 to $55
    Details: http://ictlongbeach.org/?p=2912
    Venue: International City Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    April 29
    H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival
    The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival® & CthulhuCon™ promotes the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers, panel discussions, author readings, gaming, art, and sometimes live music.
    Time: 6 p.m. April 29 through May 1
    Cost: $15 to $80
    Details: www.hplfilmfestival.com
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    April 30
    Lysistrata
    Lust, power struggles, and loyalty test both genders in this raucous trip into the past, proving some issues never change. Well, in ancient Greece, a young lady named Lysistrata devises a plan to do just that. Her solution? Withhold the one thing men care about more than killing the enemy – sex. In this earliest of comedy dealing with the war between the sexes, the women of Greece go on a sex-strike until a peace treaty is signed.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays; April 30 through May 28
    Cost: $27
    Details: http://www.lbplayhouse.org/show/lysistrata/
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    April 30
    Mayday! Tales of Love and other Emergencies
    Celebrate the lusty month of May with delicious stories read aloud, outside, under the stars. Snuggle up with your honey under the night sky for spellbinding storytelling suitable for all lovers and lovers of literature. Featuring works by O. Henry, Alice Walker, Bret Harte, Dorothy Parker, W.B. Yeats and Irwin Shaw.
    Time: 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. April 30
    Cost: $10
    Details: https://angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    ARTS

     

    April 24
    Amadi Collection
    The Amadi Collection presents fine historic works spanning from Native American rugs to Ottoman textiles.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 28
    San Pedro Student Art Show
    Drawing, painting, design, photography, ceramics, film and jewelry
    Cost: Free
    Venue: San Pedro High School Historic Gym, 1001 W. 15th St.

    May 7
    Skyline
    Using emerging patterns, silhouettes and lines of 3-D sculptures, curator Ben Zask created an installation where the main gallery of South Bay Contemporary gallery becomes unified as a skyline. Zask is focused on sustainable practice in sculpture, thus the majority of sculpture will be constructed of found materials and mixed media. Art preview during the May 5, during San Pedro First Thursday Art Walk. An artist’s reception is scheduled for May 7.
    Time: 4 to 7 p.m. May 7
    Cost: Free
    Details: southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: Loft Galleries, 401 S. Mesa St., San Pedro

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  • Subcontract Workers Act Collectively Against California Cartage Co.

    By Christian Guzman, Editorial Intern

    California Cartage Co. warehouse workers participated in a one-day strike against the company on April 6, protesting the terms of their employment as well as recently issued notices that they will soon be unemployed.

    Although many of the strikers have been working in the California Cartage Co. warehouse for more than five years, technically, they aren’t employees of the company at all. A staffing agency called Associate Management Resources Inc., provides the workers to California Cartage Co.

    We are on strike because the company keeps violating our rights and breaking the law,” said Victor Gonzales, a warehouse worker. “Cal Cartage is trying to remove us—I’ve been here for seven years through a temp agency….We need to create permanent jobs for [us].”

    California Cartage Co. does not plan to hire the workers permanently. Furthermore, the company has notified the workers that on April 30 the company will no longer be doing business with Associate Management Resources. Workers who want to continue working at California Cartage Co. would have to reapply with a new staffing agency.

    The workers assert that California Cartage Co. is terminating them because of ongoing lawsuits between both parties.

    In 2014…they [the workers] filed a class action lawsuit alleging violations of the City of Los Angeles Living Wage,” said Celene Perez, co-director of Warehouse Worker Resource Center.

    There is also a hearing scheduled in June for California Cartage Co. to address a complaint of labor law violations. The National Labor Relations Board will preside over the hearing.

    In addition, the workers informed the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health of workplace hazards at California Cartage Co., which resulted in citations this past year.

    California Cartage Co. and Associate Management Resources Inc. were contacted for comments on employee mistreatment. California Cartage Co. declined. Associate Management Resources Inc. did not respond.

    The warehouse workers have largely been supported by the Warehouse Worker Resource Center. The center believes the California Cartage’s termination decision is in response to the workers’ collective actions and demands.

    These workers should be protected from retaliation,” Perez said. “California Cartage must retain these workers and bring them on as direct employees.”

    The warehouse workers returned to work the day after the strike. California Cartage Co. still plans to terminate the workers. But in January, the workers successfully lobbied California Cartage Co. to supply them with state mandated steel-toe boots. So, the workers remain united and hopeful for change.

    The retaliation we are experiencing has been ongoing…but our fight will go on past May 1, until we win,” Gonzales said.

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  • Vopak Spill in Wilmington Due to Human Error

    By Mike Botica, Editorial Intern

    On the morning of March 31, watchmen for the U.S. Coast Guard received reports of an oily-water substance leaking from a holding tank on the Vopak Terminal. The terminal is at berth 189 of the Port of Los Angeles in Wilmington.

    Coast Guard representative Sondra-Kay Kneen said investigators believe the spill took place the previous night, but conditions were too dark to make a report until hours later.

    This was the second oil spill at the port in almost three weeks. The prior spill was reported on March 13 at Berth 198 in Wilmington. The Coast Guard reported that a faulty pipe on the Istra Ace was the culprit in that spill. POLA spokesmen did not want to comment on that spill, stating that comments would be handled by the Coast Guard.

    Another spill also took place at the sister Port of Long Beach, where oil water leaked from a well this past January. More than 2,000 gallons of oil water were spilled onshore at the Port of Long Beach. Some of that spill ended up in the storm drains.

    The March 31 oil spill happened after a breach on TULA, a Mexican oil and chemical tanker that was carrying large quantities of bunker fuel while docked at the Vopak Terminal. Kneen said that most of the oil was contained on the pier.

    According to sources close to Vopak Terminal, who asked their names not be used for this article, an unidentified subcontractor didn’t turn a valve properly, causing the leak of at least 20 gallons of bunker fuel into the POLA. The clean up cost some $1.4 million according to one source. The subcontractor has been removed from working at the terminal.

    This was confirmed by another Coast Guard spokeswoman Andrea Anderson, who said the spill was due to an open valve that leaked an oily-water mixture into the harbor.

    Oil spill response organizations, such as the National Response Corp., worked to clean the spill using oil skimmers and absorbent pads with the help of the Coast Guard.

    The Coast Guard specifically used oil containment booms to clean the spill from the harbor. A court order precluded the tanker ship from leaving the harbor. However, TULA was allowed to depart from POLA April 4, once the spill was fully contained.

    It headed back to the Lazaro Cardenas harbor in Mexico.

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  • Beach City Grill: Cozy Cajun Creole in San Pedro

    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    Beach City Grill has long been on my radar. Since its grand re-opening several months ago, I’ve been eyeing it closely, eagerly anticipating my nostalgic reunion with the cozy eatery.

    When I was a little girl, I would beg my parents to take me there. It wasn’t like the other “adult restaurants,” where I would have to sit quietly and stare at barren walls or doodle on my napkin until my grilled cheese sandwich finally emerged from the depths of the kitchen. It was a magical place. I loved everything about it. The eclectic ambiance, the iconic beach towel table clothes, the heavenly desserts and what seemed to be an endless basket of piping hot Cajun sweet potato fries. I lived for those fries; they were made of dreams.

    More than 20 years later, I returned to find that very little has changed. I’m actually OK with that—in fact, it’s what I was hoping to find.

    The place is cozier and much smaller than I remember, but I felt comfortable and content sitting alone in a booth, my gaze shifting back and forth between the fish tank and the open air kitchen. The menu is generally the same. A little Cajun, a little creole, some Cuban and Caribbean, but mostly it’s international comfort food. Popular items still include the seafood gumbo and the jambalaya. The Gumbo ‘Ya-ya’ is a combination of both the gumbo and the jambalaya. It was hearty, comforting, spicy and had just the right amount of dirty rice. Some portions tend toward too large, but I found myself wanting a little more for the soft tacos.

    The dessert list is long enough to sustain a separate business all on its own. The variety of pies, cakes and the ever-popular Death by Chocolate is enough to send anybody over the edge and right into a food coma.

    What I particularly like about Beach City Grill is that the menu is diverse and interesting, with something for just about everyone. Where else in the Harbor Area will you find a Cuban medianoche pork sandwich (a classic after-hours snack popularized by club goers in Havana) and shrimp divi divi, which tweaks a Caribbean-style dish with Indonesian peanut sauce? You won’t.

    This restaurant is a role model for risk taking—regardless whether it’s Zagat-rated or not. No chef should shy away from a challenge or pushing the status quo. There is no shortage of Thai, Chinese, Italian and greasy spoon, hole-in-wall places this side of the harbor, so the question becomes: What is your restaurant going to do differently?

    I borrowed some garlic fries from a table next to me and didn’t return them. I wouldn’t go too hard on those fries for a date night, but if you’re out with friends or (somewhat) comfortable with your significant other, you might find they’re worth their weight in gold.

    Beach City Grill is unlike any other restaurant in the area and the food is good. But honestly, I felt like something was missing since my visit more than 20 years ago. I miss Larry Hodgson, the original chef and owner who opened the restaurant.

    I miss his passion—an ingredient often taken for granted. Dishes should be seasoned with just as much salt and pepper as they should be with a zest for cooking, plating and pleasing others. This is not to say the new owner does not exhibit those qualities, but I find it challenging to compare the two now. Or, maybe I just miss my childhood? Well, it’s nothing another slice of Death by Chocolate won’t fix.

    Details: (424) 287-0645

    Venue: Beach City Grill, 376 W. 6th St., San Pedro

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