• California Dreaming

    From Booms to Busts, the Optimists are Always Searching for the Gold

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    At a meeting I attended recently with the management of the Port of Los Angeles, a civic leader voiced his enduring optimism for a bright and successful future. I gave the unsolicited reply, “an ounce of skepticism is worth a pound of optimism.”

    Others at the meeting said aghast, “Oh, no. How would anything ever get accomplished?”

    Skepticism is not the opposite of optimism. That would be “pessimism.” And that, I am not.

    To my mind, skepticism as it pertains to government funding of waterfront development is the same as saying, “design for the best; plan for the future and build for the worst-case scenario.”

    This is why we have earthquake and fire regulations in our building codes. It’s to remember past mistakes. It’s the remembering of the past that makes me skeptical. Most agencies, politicians and bureaucracies never wish to look back at past mistakes, even when trying to avoid them in the future. This is particularly true here in California.

    Dating back to the pre-Gold Rush era, California’s history is littered with examples of optimistic boosters predicting a lasting boom period, only to bust 10 years later like clockwork.

    The recent Great Recession is an example of this boom-bust cycle in which hundreds of billions of dollars were made and lost based upon some bizarrely crafted mortgage bond swaps that ultimately resulted in the foreclosure on millions of Americans’ homes—some of which are just down the street from where you live.

    Californians, however, have never been big on being pessimistic about the future. We’ve always thought something better was just over the horizon. Our politicians are the best at selling this “just over the rainbow” ideal and almost never, ever tell us to look back.

    Even during the recent Memorial Day services, while reflecting on the sacrifices of the fallen, they never asked the questions, “What were we fighting for?” Was it really our freedom the soldiers fought for in Iraq or Korea or Vietnam? Any reflection to the contrary is seen as being “un-patriotic.”

    I remain skeptical.

    A year ago we interviewed former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka in our office during his run to become the next sheriff of Los Angeles County. I was amazed. His optimism seemed almost delusional, considering that the FBI was investigating him at the time.

    Does the allure of power cloud one’s hold on reality while running for public office? He seemed so assured that he was the one who should lead the sheriff’s department out of its scandal- ridden state—a scandal he had overseen and possibly helped create.

    I remained skeptical.

    The California dream that we’ve all embraced one way or another is so ingrained in our culture and consciousness that to even question it publicly is almost an absurdity.

    Yet, with the recent report that Los Angeles ranks No.1 with the largest homeless population in the state, coupled with the declining number of affordable housing units in the face of rising gentrification, I do, at times, wonder aloud, “What is the future that we are building, and who does it serve?”

    Questioning the dream or challenging it with uncomfortable truths is not very popular, particularly here, where so many still believe that the next gold rush is just over the horizon—be it on the waterfront at the Port of Los Angeles, the rising Playa Vista development up the 405 Freeway, or even the long-contested Ponte Vista project on Western Avenue. (Don’t we love to invent exotic-sounding Spanish names for places while refusing to learn the language?)

    “Progress is building,” you can hear it in all the words, the effusive optimism, ebullient and overtly denying any negativity. Yet, as I’ve warned before, there are always the unintended consequences. Even in the best of projects. This is the value of skepticism—an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    So my skepticism is not rooted in a defeatism that says that this or that can’t be done. My skepticism is rooted in caution. Let’s not make the same mistakes twice. And, if we are as smart as we think we are, let us design and build something for the future that is worth living in, for all of us.

    And yes, that too is a kind of California dream.


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  • Mid-City Studio Tour Provides Insight Into Artist’s World

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer
    An artist’s studio is a charmed place, filled with creative drive. It is a sheltered haven, where an artist can be alone with the muse.

    The upcoming Long Beach Mid-City Studio Tour is a rare opportunity to obtain insight into working artists in their creative environment.

    This year’s 7th Biennial Mid-City Studio Tour includes more than 25 carefully selected artists working in the fields of painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography pastel, printmaking, art books, installations and mixed media. The tour takes place at various locations in the Long Beach area.

    One of the early founding artists on the tour is legendary Long Beach mixed-media artist Slater Barron.

    “Many of us have been close friends before we even started the tour, so we have hung in there with each other,” Barron said. “We have moved a little bit across our traditional strengths. It’s good that we can accommodate work, beyond where we were before. ”

    Barron works in many media, including dryer lint formed into astonishingly accurate reproductions of sweet candy treats or delectable sushi, among other subjects. Pieces about current social issues come from her sociology background, and her humor comes out in works of lint, food and assemblage.

    Because of the unusual nature of her work, she has appeared many times on television programs including The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Visiting with Huell Howser. Her resume lists at least 30 solo shows and more than 100 group exhibitions nationally and internationally.

    New to the tour this year is Nate Jones, who grew up in Signal Hill, working in his dad’s tire shop. Surrounded by the durable material of tires his entire life, Jones was challenged in 2004 as he was getting his bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Cal State Long Beach to come up with a new expression for his art, which originated in a painting class. Jones said he uses tire shavings as “paint” to create abstract expressionist pieces that are painterly. These, however, are not spontaneous. Rather, they are intentional and carefully directed.

    Jones’ connection to his media is deep and visceral, an affinity picked up from working side-by-side with his father as a child. The manipulation of discarded rubber product mimes his paintings, which are also on display in his studio. Initially laying down his ideas with pencil and paper, Jones develops his concepts into large-scale, color-infused sculptures, which are surprising in their wit, insight and intelligence.

    Savvy art collectors know about these studio tours. Rare opportunities abound to discover thought-provoking new artists’ work, as well as to purchase art at studio prices, minus the often substantial gallery fee.

    Caryn Baumgartner is an example of an artist who had a successful studio tour. Baumgartner’s focus is primarily on figurative painting. She employs a variety of mediums, including oil, wax, charcoal, encaustic, collage and assemblage, as well as photography and digital painting, as a means to articulate the human portrait.

    “The first year that I was on the tour was just an amazing experience,” Baumgartner said. “The turnout was amazing. I sold out of most of my big pieces, and I also sold small pieces and sketches. To see that people were investing in art during the depth of the recession was very encouraging to me.”

    A studio tour is an opportunity to have an intimate experience with artists and their work at a comfortable pace not always possible in galleries. Collectors have been known to travel from Ventura and San Diego counties to Mid-City galleries for the opportunity to find rare treasures at great prices.

    Long Beach City College art professor Carol Roemer draws from her knowledge of art history, finding motivation and meaning in the expressive forms of the past. Her multimedia work intertwines mythology and symbolism of early civilizations with personal introspection, dream imagery and meditation.

    Roemer suggests that the best way to begin the tour is to start at Chez Shaw Gallery. Lynn Shaw is setting up a salon-style gallery in her home that will have small-format pieces from every artist on the tour. Aficionados will be able to purchase these works for only $75.

    Since this is a biennial tour, it will be 2017 before these studios are open to the public again. This year’s tour takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6 and 7. So, clear your calendar now. A map and bios of participating artists are available on the tour’s website: midcitystudiotour.com.

    Participating artists in this year’s tour include: Kristine Baker, Caryn Baumgartner, Slater Barron, Sheriann Ki Sun Burnham, Dorte Christjansen, Cynthia Evans, Moira Hahn, Betsy Lohrer Hall, Nate Jones, Kim Hocking, David Hocking, Connie DK Lane, Tini Miura, Kimiko Miyoshi, Pia Pizzo, Bob Potier, Dawn Quinones, Sue Ann Robinson, Carol Roemer, Joan Skogsberg Sanders, Kumi Steffany, Annie Stromquist, Craig Cree Stone, Gail Werner and Jaye Whitworth.

    Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 6 and 7
    Cost: Free
    Details: midcitystudiotour.com

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    A Match Made at Alvas

    By Melina Paris Music Columnist

    Frank Unzueta and Aaron Blake demonstrated that when done right, jazz and opera can fit together like a hand in glove. They did this during their May 8 performance in An evening of Jazz and Opera at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.

    Unzueta, a jazz pianist and composer, has superb composition skills. His playing on piano and guitar is richly layered. Blake, an operatic tenor, has precise delivery. He is highly charismatic with a well-versed knowledge of the American songbook.

    Classical and jazz musicians have similar methodologies in music composition and arrangements. Logic implies that the genres would culminate at a point. It is not uncommon to listen to classical music and at times experience the thrill of jazz elements within it.

    The show is presented at Alvas annually, often at Christmas, to growing positive reception. Unzueta’s jazz trio, which includes Gordon Peeke on drums and Ernie Nunez on standing bass, started the evening performing songs from Unzueta’s CD, Thoughts Revealed. Unzueta’s music unfolds before you. It’s emotive. He simply names the title, the music begins and steadily you are deep into the ambience of the melodies.

    The first set presented six beautiful numbers. “Madrid,” dedicated to Unzueta’s grandmother, and “Love Me When Winter Comes” were particularly notable. The former is a playful, sweet song with strong salsa–tinged arpeggios. The latter, which Unzueta calls a “spacey tune,” evokes the desire to just keep listening.

    Beginning the second set, an animated Blake came out to perform Rossini’s “The Merry Widow,” accompanied by Unzueta on piano. Crisp and clear, Blake’s vocal elixir makes an instant impact.

    Blake grew up locally in Rancho Palos Verdes. He is also a violinist and an alumnus of Julliard School, where he developed a love for jazz. This was a special night for him. His family and his first voice teacher, now 92 years old, were present. Blake shared with the audience that he just auditioned for the prestigious New York’s Metropolitan Opera with good results. He promised more on that later but never quite got to that story. Instead, he entertained us with comedic stories of high points along the road early in his singing career, which began with opera at 15 years old.

    Fast forward to present day, the Los Angeles Times has called him “a vocal powerhouse.” This rising star is strong and soft at once and delivers his absolute best.

    Unzueta and Blake continued with two love songs by Sir Paolo Tosti, “Aida Celeste,” by Verdi, which is known as one of the most challenging roles for any tenor, and “Ah Moon of My Delight,” by tenor Richard Crooks. Also performed were “The Prayer” by Charlotte Church, “Non Ti Scordar Di Me” by Italian pop singer Giusy Ferreri, and “Core ’ngrato composed by Salvatore Cardillo.

    More jazz and show tunes were interspersed throughout the show, including popular numbers from Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald. They also performed Man of La Mancha’s “The Impossible Dream,” George Gershwin’s, “Foggy Day” and the Yip Harburg-Harold Arlen classic, “Over the Rainbow.”

    The finale included an operatic note with Unzueta on guitar and Blake performing a favorite, “O Sole Mio,” to resounding applause.

    The pairing of jazz and opera is something for music lovers to experience. Spoil yourself with the indulgence and let the music elevate your spirit next time Unzueta and Blake return to Alvas.


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  • Brouwerij West Navigates Community Concerns and Permits

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Brouwerij West may finally get to shed its gypsy brewer status this summer, if it can just get past the objections of its northern neighbors about hours of operation.

    Crafted at Port of Los Angeles hosted a community meeting to answer questions and assuage resident concerns May 27.

    Residents attending a May 7 zoning hearing opposed Crafted’s master conditional-use permit application, which would have added live entertainment that could go from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. for the entire property. They feared that venue which could stage live entertainment events between the two warehouses would disturb the typically quiet neighborhood.

    Residents on the northern hillside who raised objection have been quoted as saying they only want to preserve their quality of life.

    Rachel Sindelar, director of Crafted reportedly said that the early opening hour listed on the application would be to accommodate a future coffee bar operation.

    The idea is to turn the warehouse into a full-scale production brewery with a bottling line, a full service restaurant and dining area in the courtyard space between their space and Crafted’s. In all, Brouwerij will occupy more than 7,500 of the 60,000 square feet available in Warehouse No. 9. There will be 15,370 square feet of common area seating within the market.

    Crafted’s plans calls for Off the Vine, a farmers market and a space for community kitchen classes in the warehouse.

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  • RL NEWS Briefs — May 22, 2015 — Longshore workers approve 5-year contract

    Longshore workers approve 5-year contract

    SAN FRANCISCO — On May 22, West Coast Longshore workers voted to ratify a tentative contract agreement reached in February with employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association.

    Twenty-nine experienced slowdowns this past February due to contract disputes and suspension of operations.

    “The West Coast ports are an economic engine for the United States, supporting millions of workers and trillions in economic impact,” said PMA President and CEO Jim McKenna in a statement. “The disruptions that occurred during negotiations, and the inconvenience and hardship created by them, were regrettable.”

    International Longshore and Warehouse Union members voted 82 percent in favor of approving the new 5-year agreement that will expire on July 1, 2019. The previous contract was ratified in 2008 with a vote of 75 percent in favor.

    Voting results were certified by the ILWU’s Coast Balloting Committee, which was chosen by Coast Longshore Caucus delegates elected from each of the 29 West Coast ports.

    “Membership unity and hard work by the Negotiating Committee made this fair outcome possible,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath.

    The new agreement provides about 20,000 jobs in 29 West Coast port communities.  The contract will maintain health benefits, improve wages, pensions and job safety protections; limit outsourcing of jobs and provide an improved system for resolving job disputes.

    “This new pact is terrific for management and labor, and proves that by working together, we can build a partnership that will continue to help to improve this economy and provide jobs all across the United States,” said Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Doug Drummond in a statement.

    Port of Long Beach workers returned to work Feb. 17.

    Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia also issued a statement.

    “We can now move forward together and continue operating the world’s best Port, which is the engine of our local and national economy,” he said. “My thanks to all the parties involved for working hard to reach this important agreement.”


    Andrews Announces Write-In Campaign 

    LONG BEACH — On May 22, Long Beach City Councilman Dee Andrews announced that he will seek another term as a write-in candidate in April 2016’s municipal primary election.

    Under Long Beach’s City Charter, council members may run for a third term, but only as write-in candidates in the primary election. Upon advancing to the general election, their names will appear on the ballot.

    Andrews was elected to the Long Beach City Council in a Special Election in 2007. He was re-elected in 2008 and was unopposed in his re-election in 2012. Andrews has been a resident of central Long Beach for more than 60 years. He served as the first black student body president at Poly High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social science and physical education from California State University Long Beach.

    For more than 29 years, Andrews taught black history and government at Long Beach Poly and Wilson High Schools. He now works as a substitute teacher at Cabrillo High School in the Long Beach Unified School District.

    UCC Gets New Director
    LONG BEACH — On May 21, the United Cambodian Community board of directors appointed Susana Sngiem as its new executive director.

    Sngiem worked at the United Cambodian Community as a program director for two years. She recently served its interim executive director.

    Sngiem is the first second-generation Cambodian-American to be appointed executive director at the UCC. Her family immigrated to Long Beach from Cambodia in the early 1980s after surviving the atrocities of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime, from 1975 to 1979.

    Born and reared in Long Beach, Sngiem earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California Irvine and a master’s in social work from the University of Southern California.

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  • The Nick Smith Project and Influence

    Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    The Nick Smith Project is a hot one to keep an eye on. I saw Smith perform music from his latest CD, Influenced, this past March at the Jazz Chapel Room in Long Beach. Months later, I’m still playing his music on repeat, while recalling my conversation with him about music and the importance of paying homage to the artists that inspired and blazed a trail for others to follow.

    Smith put together a top-notch cast for that night, featuring Ray Fuller on guitar, Chris Coleman on drums, Vashon Johnson on bass, Michael Hunter on trumpet and vocalist Marian Marie along with the twice Grammy nominated saxophonist, Najee.

    A significant part of my impression of the evening is likely owed to the role played by Jazztyme Entertainment, a company that specializes in putting together intimate concerts at dining venues.

    The producer of Jazztyme, Anthony Le Noir knew what he was doing by booking the Jazz Chapel Room, which is located in the same hotel as the fine-dining restaurant, the Skyroom.

    Set in the snow white décor of the Jazz Chapel room, Marian Marie, in a well-fitted black lace dress, opened the show with a cover of Jill Scott’s “A Long Walk.” Hunter attached a mute on his trumpet and started jamming with Najee on his flute, forming a sublime harmony. Najee played his flute at least as much as his saxophone that evening and it worked beautifully.

    The band next performed “Mo Chillin,” from Influenced next. This is a straight ahead jazz single with Najee improvising followed by Hunter’s full robust trumpet.

    With Smith laying down an intricate, multi-layered solo on keys, Coleman was continuously scaling and building on drums. Then, Johnson painted the stage floor thick with bass. This is bona fide jazz taking you on an improvisational ride to venture out with the music — wherever it leads.

    Next, they performed a celebratory tune, ironically titled, “Mack’s Blues.” Horn harmonies on this original number were exceptional and Smith’s dexterity on the ivories compelled you to move. Smith’s music and arranging skills are highly intuitive. He utilizes sound modules and samplers, building the most creative expressions, for example, augmenting a vibraphone or an organ into a number and creating a surprising elevation.

    The agile guitarist, Ray Fuller, took the lead on the “Wes Montgomery” track, another multi layered tune with rich, full chords. Fullers nimble-fingered, unremitting playing befitted musical foreplay while Smith hit the stratosphere, driving the high notes on keys. Najee flowed into this mood synchronized on flute, cool, gifted and impassioned.

    Between sets, I was able to speak separately with Najee and Smith. I learned from my conversation with Najee that he had flown in from New York the day before the show and had just walked into rehearsal.

    “Because we didn’t over rehearse, there was an element of freedom in there,” Najee said about the evening’s performance. “Nick is actually a very good prolific writer. When you read his charts you’ve got to pay attention, he puts a lot into it.”

    Najee is recording a CD called Signature. He described it as his first album not to include A-list musicians on it.

    “I’m introducing people [who] the world hasn’t already heard,” Najee said. “A guitarist by the name of Chuck Johnson, who tours with me, sings on this album. I also have a couple features with Robert Damper, who’s played with Kenny G for about 30 years.”

    From my conversation with Smith, it was clear his intentions for Influence wasn’t just to create a groove for people to dance to but to offer up a kind of musicology lesson for the generations of folks who are not taught music.

    “I was lucky to come from a musical background and at a time when schools taught music,” he said. “Many kids are only into the technical aspects today. They want to create a beat, but how, if they don’t know the elements of the drums?”

    It wasn’t as if we had a lot time to talk, but conversation quickly went deep with Smith casting a critical gaze at the repackaging and branding of rhythm and blues as “smooth jazz” and too many people not knowing the difference.

    “You‘ve got to have a foundation,” Smith said. “If you’re not into the traditions, at least know the difference.”

    We seem to be of the mindset that if you don’t hear vocals, it’s jazz and that’s not true. He noted that there are a lot of great R&B songs that did not have vocals, such as music from groups like Earth Wind and Fire.

    “We need to stop putting things in categories,” Smith said, noting that it misleads people and makes the process of creating more difficult for musicians who have dedicated their lives studying the craft.

    Smith became animated at this point.

    “Why should it be? I may have this much knowledge (gesturing with his hands spread wide), but I can only use this much,” he said after drawing the palms of his hands significantly closer. “I’ve had the pleasure of working with many people like: Najee, Eddie Harris Hank Crawford… These guys gave me some valuable information and I want to hopefully leave something positive to someone else and I hope that they can benefit and learn from it…. I just want to give back.”

    You can see The Nick Smith Project perform quarterly through Jazztyme Entertainment Shows in Long Beach at The Sky Room and in Beverly Hills at HOME (House of Music and Entertainment).


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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: May 20, 2015

    May 21
    Peak Relief Chassis Proposals Sought
    LONG BEACH — The Port of Long Beach will seek bids on the creation of a new fleet of truck chassis for peak periods of the year, complementing the existing equipment used to haul cargo containers to and from terminals.
    The “peak chassis fleet” is planned to be implemented in two phases, starting with 1,000 chassis and then adding another 2,000 chassis.
    POLB will host a meeting for potential bidders at 10 a.m. May 21, at the Port’s Interim Administrative Offices, 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach. The deadline for bids is 10 a.m. June 2.
    Time: 10 a.m. May 21
    Details: www.polb.com/planetbids
    Venue: Port of Long Beach Administrative Offices, 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach

    May 21
    Riverwalk Draft Environmental Impact Report Available
    The draft environmental impact report for the proposed Riverwalk project, on a 10.56-acre parcel at 4747 Daisy Ave., is now available.
    Click this link and then scroll down the page to the Riverwalk Residential Development Project section to see the report and all of its appendices.
    The report (without the appendices) can also be accessed directly here.
    The public comment period during which the City of Long Beach will receive written comments on the Draft EIR is now open and ends on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.
    Comments should be sent to:
    Craig Chalfant
    Long Beach
    Department of Development Services
    333 W. Ocean Boulevard, 5th Floor
    Long Beach, CA 90802
    Fax: (562) 570-6068
    Email: craig.chalfant@longbeach.gov
    The Long Beach Planning Commission will hold a study session on this project and the draft EIR on Thursday, May 21, 2015, starting at 5:00 p.m. in the Long Beach City Council Chambers in Long Beach City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach.
    This study session is open to the public. The Planning Commission will consider all oral and written testimony, both in support of and in opposition to the project, during this meeting.
    May 21
    Meeting on Long Beach SEADIP
    The Long Beach City Council is hosting a Southeast Area Development and Improvement Plan meeting to discuss the development of the 1,500-acre area of Southeast Long Beach from Seventh Street to the Orange County border, including land along the Pacific Coast Highway that stretches from Bellflower Boulevard to First Avenue.
    The meeting will feature a conceptual land use plan presentation that includes general locations and types of commercial, residential, industrial, mixed-use and wetlands uses, an overview of past feedback from community workshops and a discussion on the next steps for a final plan. The council will not take any formal action at the meeting.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 21
    Details: Materials on the SEADIP website
    Venue: City Council Chambers, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach
    May 23
    March Against Monsanto Long Beach CA #MAMlbc
    Participate in the 3rd annual global March Against Monsanto. Bring your friends and family and be prepared to make some noise. Have some fun while raising awareness about genetically modified food and Monsanto’s predatory business and agriculture practices.
    Time: 1 to 4 p.m. May 23
    Details: www.facebook.com/events/1541888442730249
    Venue: Pacific Coast Highway at 2nd Street, Long Beach
    May 23
    Docent Training Starts This Month
    Do you like the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum? Do you want to get involved? Become a docent. The museum is offering two sessions: one on the weekday evenings and one on Saturday mornings. Each session has four classes to attend
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. May 23, June 6 and June 20.
    Details: (310) 603-0088; www.dominguezrancho.org
    Venue: Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, 18127 S. Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez
    June 1
    Shakespeare’s R&J Auditions
    The Long Beach Playhouse is doing an open call for Shakespeare’s R&J by Joe Calarco.
    The play is scheduled to run July 25 through Aug. 22.
    Bring a headshot and resume.  Audition sides with character monologues from the script with be provided.  Please be very familiar with the script and the roles you are auditioning for.
    Four young prep school students, tired of going through the usual drill of conjugating Latin and other tedious school routines, decide to vary their governed lives. After school, one breaks out a copy of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and they all take turns reading the play aloud. The Bard’s words and the story itself are thrilling to the boys and they become swept away, enmeshed in the emotion so much so that they break school rules in order to continue their readings. The rigidity of their lives begins to parallel the lives of the characters in the play: roles in the family, roles in society and the roles played by men and women soon seem to make all the sense in the world, and then, suddenly, they seem to make no sense at all. Perceptions and understanding are turned upside down as the fun of play acting turns serious and the words and meanings begin to hit home and universal truths emerge.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. June 1 and 2
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 Anaheim St., Long Beach
    June 3
    SPHS Project Planning Community Meeting
    The San Pedro High School Project Planning community meeting will take place at 6 p.m. June 3, at the San Pedro High School Auditorium.
    Come learn and participate in this next phase of the district-wide facilities bond program: There bout $1 billion in Comprehensive Modernization Projects.
    The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education has identified San Pedro High School to be one of the initial 11 new comprehensive modernization projects.
    –          Be part of the planning process for this major investment!

    –          Provide your input in the development of the project!

    –          District Staff will review priority needs for facilities at
    Time: 6 p.m. June 3
    Details: (213)241-6495
    Venue: SPHS Auditorium, 1001 W. 15th St., San Pedro

    Water Conservation Effort Heightened/Water Wasters Hotline
    The Long Beach Water Commission recently declared a Stage 2 Water Supply Shortage. Watering has been limited to 2 days a week (Tuesdays and Saturdays) as well as other restrictions.
    Details: (562) 570-2455; website

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  • LA City Council Gets on Road to Minimum Wage Increase

    LOS ANGELES — On May 19, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to request that the city attorney prepare and present an ordinance that establishes a citywide minimum wage.

    The provisions of the ordinance need would begin July 1, 2016 increasing annually from $10.50 in 2016 to $12 in 2017, $13.25 in 2018, $14.25 in 2019 and $15 in 2020.

    Businesses with $25 or fewer employees would begin the new minimum wage schedule starting July 1, 2017. Nonprofits with 25 or fewer employee will also have the same modified schedule or may apply for a waiver through the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Contract Administration if their top executive earns less than eight times the wage of the lowest paid worker and if they serve transitional employees or are primarily funded by state or federal reimbursements that are more than 50 percent of their payroll.

    “Today, help is on the way for the one million Angelenos who live in poverty,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a press release. ” I started this campaign to raise the minimum wage to create broader economic prosperity in our city and because the minimum wage should not be a poverty wage in Los Angeles.”

    Rep. Janice Hahn agreed.

    “With this vote, Los Angeles becomes a leader in the movement to pay fair wages, support our workers, and fight poverty,” she said. “Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour helps ensure that no one who works hard at a full-time job lives on the brink of poverty.”

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  • Long Beach Innovation Team Members Chosen

    LONG BEACH — On May 18, Mayor Robert Garcia announced that Long Beach has hired its first Innovation Team (i-team).

    The team, funded by a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, will function as an in-house research and development unit. The i-team will focus first on economic development, advising the City on how best to stimulate growth, create jobs, and leverage City resources, including through online delivery of City services.
    The i-team will also help the city develop and implement solutions to improve city services, enhance civic engagement, and improve neighborhoods and business districts.

    The i-team will use a data-driven process to assess problems, generate solutions and deliver measurable results.
    Long Beach will receive $3 million over three years from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The new i-team includes Innovation Team Director John Keisler; Innovation Deputy Ryan Murray; Researcher Holly Okonkwo; Programmer Alex Chavez; Innovation Fellows Alma Castro, Eric Romero and Heidi Wiersma; and Designmatters Fellow Chase Airmet.
    i-team Backgrounds:
    John Keisler, Innovation Team Director: After completing bachelor degrees in philosophy and religion at St. Olaf College, Keisler joined Teach For America, teaching middle school English and civics in Newark, N.J. To address the chronic community challenges facing his students, he turned to a career in city management, working with the League of California Cities and completing his master of public administration at the USC Price School of Public Policy.  In 2005, Keisler was hired as a management assistant by the City of Long Beach, and rotated through four departments. Over the next few years, he led multiple change-management projects throughout the city, serving as the Animal Care Services Bureau Manager, Business Operations Manager for the Parks, Recreation & Marine Department, and CFO for the Police Department.  He has lived in Long Beach for the past 12 years.
    Ryan Murray, Innovation Deputy: Murray worked in government and nonprofit settings in New York City for more than 15 years, after moving from his childhood home of Barbados. His career has focused on building partnerships to address social and economic justice issues and create opportunity for those most vulnerable. Most recently, he worked for the New York City Mayor’s Office. There he oversaw external affairs, and learning and change management for innovation initiatives designed to reduce administrative burdens faced by human services providers, and to improve residents’ access to programs and benefits. Murray has also served as a direct social service and HIV/AIDS education practitioner, community organizer and capacity building manager for a city agency which administered youth, workforce and community development programs.  He earned a master’s in public health degree from Hunter College, City University of New York.
    Holly Okonkwo, Researcher: Okonkwo is a cultural anthropologist specializing in issues of diversity and change in the United States. Her work and research focus on the broad question of the origins of social inequity and ways to systemically better the lives of others through the use of mixed methods and developing innovative research projects. She has explored gender and class disparities in science education, labor and technological innovation in Southern California, Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C.   Okonkwo completed her doctorate in cultural anthropology at the University of California Riverside. She also has a master’s in education policy, serves on the Committee for Gender Equity in Anthropology, and volunteers on a number of committees and mentorship programs in her local community.
    Alex Chavez, Programmer: Chavez is a software developer who graduated from Cabrillo High School and California State University Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2013. Previously, he worked as a programmer analyst at Kaiser Permanente solving problems in IT infrastructure and implementing innovative solutions for displaying and analyzing data.  Using a customer-centered approach, he has demonstrated the ability to work with a variety of systems and stakeholders, and to use technology to simplify complex processes. Upon realizing that his experience and skills in technology can help address community challenges, he has joined the Long Beach to make his hometown a more connected place.
    Alma Castro, Innovation Fellow: Castro’s passion for public service has provided her with a diverse set of skills and experiences. She received her double bachelor’s in political science and women’s studies from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Her dedication to her profession led her to complete her master’s degree in public administration in 2011 from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. She has worked as a HIV prevention coordinator in Los Angeles, engaged young women in global advocacy at Girl Scouts of the USA, and has recently lived abroad in Guatemala. While abroad, she had the unique privilege of being an observer during the genocide trial in 2013 and was part of a consultant team at UN Women. There, she helped complete a two-part diagnostic examining the quality of care and services to victims of crimes and on gender equality within Guatemala’s prosecution offices. She lives in Long Beach.
    Eric Romero, Innovation Fellow: Romero became passionate about studying social issues and actively engaging in local community development efforts addressing issues of poverty, housing, and immigrant integration while an undergraduate student at California State University Long Beach.  After completing a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Romero pursued a master’s degree in urban and regional planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, with a focus on economic development.  Furthermore, he worked as a project manager for Global Public Affairs at UCLA Luskin, a school-wide initiative focused on preparing graduate students for careers in global governance, where he oversaw operations and program development.   He lives in Long Beach and seeks to bring innovative solutions to difficult problems.
    Heidi Wiersma, Innovation Fellow: Wiersma earned her bachelor’s in community health from Western Washington University before beginning her career in chronic disease prevention for a county health department. It was while co-facilitating a community health improvement process that she began to understand the influence local government policies can have on enhancing people’s lives. From May 2011 to June 2013 Heidi served as a community health and development peace corps volunteer in Rwanda where she helped increase program awareness by facilitating regional life skills camps for youth. In her host community, Wiersma mobilized community partners to obtain a USAID grant to address child malnutrition and its primary contributing factor, poverty, through an income generating project.  In August 2013 she began the master of public administration program at the USC Price School of Public Policy. She lives in Long Beach.
    Chase Airmet, Designmatters Fellow: Airmet completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah in Design Theory & Practice. While in Utah, he worked as a research fellow for the Spark Health Innovation Lab as a draftsmen for a number of architectural firms and as a junior product designer for Espiritu Design. Airmet is a graduate industrial design candidate at the Art Center College of Design. He has a drive and passion to create objects, services and experiences that excite and delight users. Inspired by nature and simple clean designs, he seeks to design new growth and value for companies through a trend and research based iterative design process considering all aspects of the product from the end use to the manufacturing and business opportunities.

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  • RL NEWS Briefs for the Week: May 18, 2015

    POLA Container Volumes Slip 6% in April
    SAN PEDRO — April 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 6.1 percent compared to the same period this past year.
    The port handled a total of 662,973 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in April 2015. Comparatively, the previous April was particularly robust as importers advanced inventory due to concerns about labor negotiations later in the year. Additionally, there were vessel alliance uncertainties this April as shipping lines continued to return to their Trans-Pacific rotations.
    For the first four months of 2015, overall volumes (2,486,927 TEUs) are down 5.3 percent compared to the same period in 2014. Current and historical data is available here.
    Imports dropped 9.9 percent, from 364,126 TEUs in April 2014 to 328,140 TEUs in April 2015. Exports declined 15.8 percent, from 172,945 TEUs in April 2014 to 145,655 TEUs in April 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 11.8 percent, from 537,071 TEUs in April 2014 to 473,796 TEUs in April 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 12 percent, overall April 2015 volumes (662,973 TEUs) dropped  6.1 percent.
    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

    Long Beach Cargo Continues Rebound
    LONG BEACH — Container cargo flow through the Port of Long Beach increased 7.9 percent in April compared to the same month this past year.
    This is the busiest April in nine years.
    A total of 614,860 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of containerized cargo were moved through the port in April. Imports reached 317,376 TEUs, a 7.3 percent increase from this past year. Exports fell 6.1 percent to 137,546 TEUs. Empty containers surged 25.3 percent to 159,938 TEUs. With imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.
    In April, the terminals were also working through the backlog left over from the winter’s congestion in San Pedro Bay. By the end of the month, no more container ships were waiting at anchor to come into the Port of Long Beach. To see the latest on cargo ship tracking at the Port of Long Beach, please see “Vessels at a Glance.”
    For all the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.
    For more details on the cargo numbers, please visit www.polb.com/stats.

    LB Council Approves Alcohol Nuisance Abatement Ordinance
    LONG BEACH — On May 12, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved the further implementation of an alcohol nuisance abatement ordinance to decrease nuisance-related activity such as loitering near liquor stores.
    Liquor stores requirements include:

    • The store must provide exterior lighting and security measures to the satisfaction of the Long Beach Police Department chief.
    • No more than 10 percent o f store windows and transparent surfaces may be covered or obstructed.
    • The business must be operated and maintained in a neat, quiet and orderly condition.
    • The businesses may not result in adverse effect to the health and peace or safety of people in the area.
    • All exterior payphones shall be removed.
    • The building address shall be displayed on all sides of the building facing a public right-of-way, including an alley.

    LB Harbor Board Approves Cement Terminal Project
    LONG BEACH — The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the Mitsubishi Cement Facility Modification Project this past week.
    The approval gave the green light to the addition of 40,000 metric tons of additional storage capacity consisting of storage and loading silos on vacant port property that is adjacent to Mitsubishi’s existing facility at Pier F.
    The site will increase in size from 4.21 acres to 5.92 acres. The board’s approval was contingent on environmental measures and upgrades.
    The terminal receives imported cement and cement-like materials via bulk cargo ships. The product is stored in a warehouse or in silos. It is then loaded onto trucks and taken to local and regional concrete batch plants. With the economy improving and demand for cement rebounding, the approved project will allow Mitsubishi to more efficiently meet the regional demand for cement.
    To ensure that the facility is as green as possible, the project requires Mitsubishi Cement to maintain a truck fleet with at least 90 percent of the fleet having engines from 2010 or newer. Mitsubishi will also install solar panels and energy-efficient lighting and conduct an energy audit every five years. Mitsubishi will also work with the port on a technology review every five years to identify new technologies that can be incorporated into operations to further reduce emissions.
    While the terminal already offers shore power so ships at berth can shut down their engines to reduce emissions, not all vessels are able to plug in. With the upgrades, when ships can’t use shore power, a new emission control system called “Dockside Catalytic Control” will connect to the vessels’ exhaust stacks and capture pollutants.
    The approved project calls for Mitsubishi Cement to contribute $333,720 to the port’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Grant Program. The port Community Mitigation Grant Programs are designed to improve community health by lessening the impacts of port-related air pollution, and to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
    Construction of the improvements is expected to take two to three years.

    Snowden Gets Vindicated
    On May 7, after almost two years since the Edward Snowden publicized that the National Security Agency was collecting phone records, the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declared that the secret program was illegal from the start.
    The court found that Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act does not allow the dragnet program in which the NSA collects records on Americans.
    The decision came as Congress considers whether to amend or renew Section 215 before its sunset on June 1. Narrowig Section 215 under the proposed USA Freedom Act or to letting it expire would end the agency’s wide-ranging collection of phone records.
    Section 215 authorizes a court to order the disclosure of business records only when they are “relevant to…an authorized investigation [of] international terrorism.” That provision would plainly allow the government to get the phone records of a suspected terrorist or his associates. But the NSA has argued that it should get much more: Everyone’s phone records are “relevant,” it contends, because at some point it might be useful to search them to identify terrorist ties. The court of appeals unanimously rejected the NSA’s reading as “unprecedented and unwarranted.”
    The USA Freedom Act would end the phone-data collection program and foreclose the use of other statutes for similar “bulk collection.” It would mandate that experienced lawyers appear before the surveillance court to defend privacy when the government seeks new spying powers.
    The USA Freedom Act has been endorsed by Silicon Valley corporations, human-rights groups, and a broad spectrum of legislators, like Sens. Ron Wyden, Pat Leahy and Mike Lee, and Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and John Conyers. But don’t mistake this for a new realization by our representatives that privacy matters. The real reason the bill has such wide support, including from the executive branch, is that its reforms are quite modest—and absent reform of some kind, Section 215 may simply expire. The NSA currently collects all our phone records, but because of changes by President Obama last year, it can search them only after it has shown a judge that it has reasonable suspicion that a particular number is linked to terrorism. Under the new law, it would still be able to do that—but phone companies, not the NSA, would store the data.

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