• 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

    Read More
  • Furutani for State Senate

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The acrimony of the traveling political circus that is the national presidential primary system takes up so much air these days that it’s sometimes difficult to pay attention to the down-ballot candidates. This is precisely true in the race for the 35th district seat in the California State Senate between Warren Furutani and Assemblyman Steve Bradford. It’s a reality that’s out of balance.

    The fact is that the closer to home that democracy is practiced, the more significant its impacts become. Hence, the importance of the state senate and assembly races, or even local city council and neighborhood council races. It is even more rare to find politicians who measure up to their campaign promises. Warren Furutani is one of those rare exceptions.

    Furutani, 67, has represented two-thirds of this Los Angeles County district, from serving on the LAUSD school board, the Los Angeles Community College District Board or as a Democratic member of the state Assembly, which he left in 2012. Moreover, he is a lifelong resident of the district, graduated from Gardena High and is a fourth-generation Japanese American with family ties to Terminal Island that pre-date World War II. He not only has the pedigree and the experience to represent the 35th district, he also has a track record of saying what he means and then standing up for it when he votes.

    I’m reminded of a June 2011 incident when Furutani was in the Assembly and an Irvine Republican, Don Wagner, dropped an inflammatory, non-sequitur slur against Italian Americans during a debate over a revised Redevelopment Agency. Furutani got into the buffoonish Wagner’s face not once but twice before being physically restrained by his colleagues. Clearly, he is one to not tolerate a racist remark, even from colleagues in government and even when it’s not directed at him.

    Again, rarely do we get to vote for a candidate with such solidly progressive politics that have been tested over time and who has such deep roots in our community that he stands out amongst those who come better dressed but who don’t truly represent the working class.

    His knowledge of this district was exhibited to me when he ran against Joe Buscaino for the Los Angeles City Council race in the 15th District. I asked him about the cultural assets of the district, thinking he might be knowledgeable of a few of them. Off the top of his head he listed every one of them from the Korean Bell at Angels Gate Park all the way up to the Watts Towers without skipping a beat—even naming a few I wasn’t aware of.

    Make sure that when his campaign workers knock on your door that you get a lawn sign to tell your neighbors that Warren Furutani is the guy who will fight for the Harbor Area in Sacramento.

    Read More
  • Southern California Edison Expands Desalination Technology on Catalina to Fight Drought

    By Christian Guzman, Editorial Intern

    While cities throughout California are coping with the drought by mandating water reductions and instituting fines, the Catalina Island city of Avalon is adding a technological strategy: Southern California Edison recently installed a second desalination plant for the city’s use.

    In 1991, Avalon became the first California city to augment its water needs with sea water. When the first desalination plant was brought online, it supplied one-third of the city’s fresh water. But the city’s population has grown and with it the demand for water in an already water-deficient state. On Dec. 5 of this past year, a second plant was activated to manage the increased demand and decreased supply.

    The Middle Ranch Reservoir, Avalon’s main source of fresh water, has steadily diminished during California’s drought. The California Public Utilities Commission monitors the reservoir and mandates conservation at critical points. In 2014, the reservoir fell below 300 acre feet, which caused the commission to order 25 percent water rationing for Avalon.

    Despite obstacles, the people of Avalon remain determined and resourceful. When the drought was at its worst, they managed to shave their water use by 46 percent, which exceeded the mandated reductions. In Avalon, water conservation is a way of life.  Businesses and residents’ response included shipping laundry to the mainland and installing salt water toilets in about 90 percent of homes. Restaurants even served disposable utensils to avoid washing silverware.

    The drought persisted the next year. The Middle Ranch Reservoir approached 200 acre feet. The California Public Utilities Commission would then mandate 50 percent water rationing.

    “With a local economy dependent on nearly 1 million tourists and visitors each year, that [50 percent] reduction would have crippled the island,” said Andrew Veis, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe’s Office.

    Knabe championed the establishment of a new desalination plant through negotiations with Avalon and Southern California Edison. This past year, he proposed funding for the plant with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In February, the board allocated $500,000 for the plant’s funding. Avalon contributed an additional $500,000 to Southern California Edison, which operates both desalination plants, to mitigate cost increases to customers. However, since the plant cost more than $3 million, the people of Avalon still will see some increase in their bills.

    Ron Hite, the Catalina Island Southern California Edison district manager said that the new desalination plant treats 240 to 400 gallons of saltwater per minute. Each day, the plant is expected to provide 125,000 gallons of freshwater.

    Avalon’s residents are excited to have the desalination plant up and running. Without it, hotels and restaurants would be forced to turn away some customers to stay within their water allotments. Southern California Edison estimated that there would have been a 10 percent revenue loss to the city. But at the request of SCE, the California Public Utilities Commission agreed to not initiate 50 percent water rationing when the Middle Ranch Reservoir reached 200 acre feet. The commission determined that the plant could produce enough freshwater to supplement the reservoir’s reserves. Businesses and residents have been spared for now.

    “We’re really relying on this new desal plant to get through this severe drought,” Avalon restaurant owner Steve Bray said. “If [rain] doesn’t come, this [plant] is going to … make sure we have enough water over here.”

    The desalination plants, new and old working in tandem, can provide about 300,000 gallons of freshwater a day to Avalon. Business owners and residents will stay at 25 percent water rationing, instead of 50 percent. But their relief may only be temporary.

    California has been in a drought for more than four years now. This year’s El Niño has helped some, but NASA has concluded that California needs three more years of above average rainfall to return statewide reserves to normal. In a report to the Avalon City Council, Southern California Edison noted that even with both desalination plants providing fresh water, peak summer demand cannot be supported. If the Middle Ranch Reservoir continues to drop, further rationing will be unavoidable.

    Avalon’s residents are aware of this dismal possibility. Some people believe the government needs to do more to secure water for their city.

    “The city [government] is trying, but more needs to be done by the state and federal governments,” said Gregg Miller, manager of Hotel Metropole in Avalon. “We need more [water] storage and production.”

    More infrastructure would help make fresh water more available, but construction would be costly. Residents also want the government to help pay for this.

    “The state and federal government need to help us pay [for costs],” Miller said. “Most water users are tourists, and we [the residents of Avalon], cannot afford to absorb the costs.”

    Read More
  • *** RLn Calendar of Events *** April 14 – 27, 2016


    April 15
    The Good Foot!
    Enjoy soul, funk and Latin sounds with guest DJ Johnny Basil, and resident DJs Rodi & Dennis.
    Time: 9 p.m. April 15
    Cost: $7
    Details: www.alexsbar.com
    Venue: Alex’s Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    April 16
    Anne Walsh & Pretty World
    This concert will be a CD release celebration for the group’s newest CD Brand New.
    Time: 8 p.m. April 16
    Cost: $25
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://tinyurl.com/Anne-Walsh-Pretty-World
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    April 17
    Chris Wabich
    From Los Angeles, Chris Wabich is known as a versatile and original voice on the drumset. The variety of artists he works with reflects his diversity as both musician and producer.
    Time: 3 p.m. April 17
    Cost: $15
    Details: http://www.gighear.org/venues/show_event.php?id=4845
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    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


    April 15
    Steinfest brings all the flair, contests, song, dance and fun of Oktoberfest to the Steinhaus Restaurant & Beerhall. The event includes free passes to the Alpine Village Oktoberfest opening weekend for everyone at Steinfest.
    Time: 7 p.m. April 15
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.alpinevillagecenter.com
    Venue: Alpine Village Center, 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance

    April 16
    Lawn Bowling
    Celebrate spring with this free and fun event.
    Time: 5 p.m. April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.EASBA.com
    Venue: Long Beach Lawn Bowling Club, 1109 Federation Drive, Long Beach

    April 16
    2nd Annual Local LA Breweries and Artisan Food Festival
    Join in and celebrate Los Angeles’ local beers and food. The event will include craft beers from well known and up-and-coming Los Angeles breweries and a wide variety of artisanal foods made locally. Only people 21 and older will be admitted.
    Time: 12 to 4 p.m. April 16
    Cost: $40
    Details: www.alpinevillagecenter.com
    Venue: Alpine Village, 833 Torrance Blvd., Torrance

    April 16
    City of Carson Resource Conservation Expo
    The expo will have workshops offering helpful conservation information related to water, electricity, gas and recycling. The first event is Recycling Bingo, in which attendees will learn about the right ways to recycle and win prizes at the end of the event.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://ci.carson.ca.us/
    Venue: Carson Community Center, 801 E. Carson, Carson

    April 16
    Earth Day Bird Fest Celebration
    The Earth Day and Coastal Bird Fest celebrates nature and local wildlife with a beach cleanup, educational demonstrations, music, arts and crafts, and activities for children of all ages.
    Time: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562, www.CarbrilloMarineAquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, Waterfront

    April 16
    Earth Day Chalkfest
    This is a free Earth Day-themed chalk art festival.
    Time: 10 a.m. April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.PortOfLosAngeles.org
    Venue: Wilmington Waterfront Park, 1004 C St., Wilmington

    April 16
    Salt Marsh Open House
    Step out into nature and discover the hidden world of the Salinas de San Pedro Salt Marsh.
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium educators as they help uncover the world of mud and water.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    April 16
    The Gala
    Celebrate Palos Verdes Art Center’s 85 anniversary.
    Time: 6 p.m. April 16
    Cost: $250
    Details: (310) 541-2479
    Venue: PVAC, 5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    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


    April 16
    Out of Africa
    Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy presents Out of Africa. Following the film, former Conservancy board president Bill Swank will share remarks about living near the Blixen residence during his teens.
    Time: 4 p.m. April 16
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    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
    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


    April 22
    Spring Arts Academy Showcase
    The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor presents an evening debuting the rising talents of some very creative young minds. The showcase will include a fine arts gallery; classical and rock music numbers; short film screenings; and an animated film.
    Time: 5 p.m. April 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 833-1322 x 249, www.bgclaharbor.org/spring-arts-academy-showcase/
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    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
    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

    Read More
  • Just FAITH Lives Up to Her Name

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Singer-songwriter, Just FAITH, has been capturing fans far and wide, one stage at a time.

    She performed at a fashion show and the Lighthouse Festival in 2014. In 2015, she performed at the Bully Prevention Extravaganza.

    This past month, she was the opening act for the Mary Jane Girls, a 1980s band launched by rhythm and blues funk legend, Rick James, at the Gaslamp in Long Beach.

    At age 13, she already has a long list of accomplishments. She released her first EP at 10 and then an album in May 2015. Her song, Ripples & Rapids reached No. 1 on Indie Music Charts in July 2015.

    Just FAITH’s title track, Home Sweet Home, was nominated for best Christian song by Hollywood Music in Media and is making rounds on more than 20 satellite radio stations. She has also been in the top 10 for local rock charts since December 2014 (out of more than 200 artists for San Pedro and more than 330 for Long Beach), where she earned No. 2.

    She is working now on a full length rock album, to be released later this year.

    Just FAITH defies categorization by drawing inspiration from a range of musical genres, from Christian music to rock to hip hop. This young lady has a full, developed voice, reminiscent of Bjork. When she’s used her voice to sound more gravelly, she’s been told she sounds like the pop artist, Pink.

    But Just FAITH is just being true to herself.

    Her music has a powerful sound that is distinctly her own. It does not have a trace of pop-engineered sounds. On a track titled, Nametag, Just FAITH comes through with clear, beautiful harmonies and wide range

    Just FAITH began writing songs at nine years old, drawing inspiration from her lived experiences. Her songs are filled with messages of hope, perseverance and encouragement—a feature she credits to her faith.

    “God influences me in my writing and gives me the words to sing every time,” FAITH said.

    Just FAITH is a representative of the next generation of artists who blend their artistry and faith. There is a growing diversity and versatility in Christian music, which has increasingly been breaking into the pop charts. This genre has grown in support. It even has its own music festival called Joshua Fest in Quincy, Calif. More than 50 bands play at this annual event.

    Some of these crossover artists are the ones who have inspired her most, including, Skillet, RED, Flyleaf, Manafest, Lecrae, and NF.

    Just FAITH said she has been listening to Skillet since she was a baby. Skillet, RED and Flyleaf are Christian rock bands. Manafest, Lecrae, and NF are rappers.

    “These artists inspire me because their lyrics are so deep and their music is so powerful,” Just FAITH said. “They touch on topics that not a lot of people talk about.”

    Just FAITH, who is a fan of Greek mythology, said many of her new songs contain references from fictional stories such as the Percy Jackson & the Olympian series.

    Nico Di Angelo,  a fictional character in Rick Riordan’s  Percy Jackson & The Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus series is referenced in a new song called, This Place Isn’t Made for You.  He is the demigod son of Hades and mortal Maria di Angelo).

    “I tell his story through the eyes of Percy Jackson,” Just FAITH said. “I talk about Nico Di Angelo because I understand how he feels when he wants to push everyone away.”

    This (feeling) is also explained in another one of her songs, Stand Out In the Rain, she added, where she talks about her own experience.

    The messages of hope Just FAITH conveys in her songs have the straightforward thinking of a young person. She talks about stopping to enjoy the moments and to notice the little things in life.

    She is wary of materialism and believes the capacity for change is unlimited.

    “It is exciting when I create the tracks for my songs and see all the different pieces come together,” Just FAITH said. “I enjoy the writing process, though sometimes there are challenges.”

    Just FAITH cut her first EP, The Beat, when she was 10 and her first album, Home Sweet Home in 2015.

    She felt many people did not understand her musical direction. So for her new album, she came into the studio with music and lyrics and the tracks mostly laid out.

    Many of the instrumentals are from tracks she laid down at the Boys and Girls Club in San Pedro, with help from an employee there who has a degree in music production.

    “In my newer songs, I used more sounds that are eerie and vintage in style, mixed with edgier rock than [in] my first album, which I am very excited about,” Just FAITH said. “I write songs to smile to, songs to cry to, and songs to dance to.”

    Still, Just Faith aims for her music to touch and to change people. One of the ways she wants to make her mark is in bullying prevention.

    This past year, Just FAITH’s team raised money to put on the Warner Grand Theatre event called the Bully Prevention Extravaganza.

    She performed with a live band and between numbers, Just FAITH spoke on the meaning of her songs and how they relate to bully prevention. Just FAITH’s team got the community involved and local businesses sponsored tickets for the extravaganza that they gave to schools.

    “I love performing my new songs because I feel they represent more of who I am,” Just FAITH said. “I just debuted two of my new songs Take a Look Around and Trailblazer when I opened for the Mary Jane Girls. I had the most amazing time and just got lost in the songs because I love them so much.”

    Just FAITH is looking forward to working with her band to learn new music and have more performing opportunities. She will be performing on May 21 at Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s elections and Los Angeles Public Safety Summit at Point Fermin Park.

    Just FAITH was invited to perform at Joshua Fest 2016. Several of the bands she mentioned as inspirations will be performing there also.

    As her name implies, if you just have faith you can do anything.


    Details: www.JustFaithMusic.com, www.ReverbNation.com/JustFaith and www.youtube.com/c/JustFaithMusicOfficial


    Read More
  • Joe Buscaino, Saving San Pedro: ‘Cease and Desist’

    By Kevin Walker, RLn Contributor
    On April 5, District 15 Councilman Joe Buscaino and founders of the Facebook group, Saving San Pedro, were dealt a cease-and-desist letter, requesting a halt to “defamatory statements” against local homeless people.

    The letter, filed by lawyer Frank Grant on behalf of San Pedro resident Brynn Utovac, named Saving San Pedro founders Joanne Rallo and George Palaziol, group member Frank Nolan and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino.

    Utovac, whose life experience includes periods of homelessness, said Saving San Pedro is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 14th amendment.

    Among her chief concerns are photographs of local homeless people—some, she contends, may not be older than 18—taken by Saving San Pedro members and posted on social media.

    “We don’t know if these people are minors,” Utovac said. “These photos could have a long term damaging effect.”

    Amy Gebert, a spokeswoman for Councilman Buscaino, said that the councilman had not seen the letter and that his staff is awaiting advice from the city attorney before issuing a response.

    Gebert runs social media for the District 15 office. She says Buscaino belongs to 94 Facebook groups, but emphasized that the councilman has little to no control over those groups, including the Saving San Pedro page.

    “On the pages we control we maintain a very high community standard,” Gebert said. “The councilman can’t control the Internet.”

    Buscaino’s office does moderate the Facebook page for Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Watch, as well as a page for the district’s Spanish-language constituency.

    Saving San Pedro was formed in late 2015 in response to growing homeless encampments in the Harbor Area. It has more than 4,000 members on Facebook, including Buscaino. However, the group’s attendance at the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meetings  rarely amounts to  more than a handful of people.

    Buscaino has been public in his support of Saving San Pedro and has placed one of its leaders on his Homeless Task Force. This disturbs Utovac, who sees the organization as a hate group, promoting discrimination against the area’s homeless.

    “Joe [Buscaino] is protecting people with established residences, that is the group he is interested in,” said Utovac about a potential violation of the 14th Amendment by the councilman.

    Utovac also pointed to heated comments left on the Saving San Pedro page when news broke about the cease-and-desist letter; one of those comments seemed to provide a general description of her residence.

    “We don’t hate anything,” said Palaziol. “She’s just trying to garner attention from something negative in our community.”

    San Pedro’s homeless, like that of the rest of the city, has been on the rise for at least two years. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority the neighborhood is home to several encampments, most of which are near the U.S. Post Office on Beacon Street.

    Saving San Pedro has made a habit of documenting the activity at these encampments, which they say are magnets for crime and drugs, yet no evidence nor solutions were offered to the area’s neighborhood councils. Palaziol sits on the Coastal Neighborhood Council even though his residence is within Northwest San Pedro boundaries.

    Utovac claims that the group’s practice of taking and posting images of local homeless is likely to impede their ability to get a job in the future, especially in fields related to the law.

    Palaziol is unsympathetic.

    “Tough shit if you can’t go to law school,” he said. “If you get caught doing something in public, you have to deal with the consequences.”

    Palaziol argues that one of the page’s primary functions is to report and shame people for public misbehavior and law breaking.

    “Social media is a doubled-edged sword,” he said. “It’s not the 1950s.”

    The city attorney has until April 18 to respond to Utovac’s cease-and-desist letter.

    For his part, Palaziol, who is in the process of turning Saving San Pedro into a 501(c)3 nonprofit, seems unlikely to comply with Utovac’s demand.

    “If she wants to sue, then sue,” he said.

    Read More
  • Activists Defeat SCIG

    Court Strikes Down BNSF Railyard Project

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On March 30, Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Barry P. Goode voided plans for BNSF’s off-port railyard, Southern California International Gateway, SCIG. His decision was based on violations of the California Environmental Quality Act.

    The decision brought to a halt—at least for now—a project with a 50-year lease. The project has been in a formal planning process since September 2005. The decision brought to a halt—at least for now—a project with a 50-year lease and a formal planning process that goes back more than 10 years. But the fierce grass roots opposition BNSF faced every step of the way also has a long history. The judge’s ruling, which was announced shortly before Earth Day, validated a decades-long strategy of self-education and self-empowerment by low-income communities of color that echoed environmental justice struggles across the country and around the globe.

    “This is a people’s victory,” said Jesse Marquez, executive director of the Coalition for a Safe Environment, a key community-based plaintiff organization. “This is a court victory that involves residents of the Harbor Area who 15, 20 years ago started to raise the red flag that there was a connection between port pollution and public health.”

    “The project was literally the definition of environmental racism,” said Mark Lopez, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, another key plaintiff.

    The eventual decision had been expected all along, he said.

    “I think it’s very validating for our community leaders who [have] been active in this for so long,” Lopez said. “So, we’re very proud of the work that folks put in.”

    “It’s a vindication that all the arguments we were making in the public policy arena really had substance behind them, and were justified, because the information and arguments we’re making were based on a clear understanding of the project,” East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice co-founder Angelo Logan said. “BNSF and the port were really spinning the project in public, and the court reviewed the information, and found that our claims were accurate.”

    “Our prayers have been answered,” exclaimed Pastor Alfred Carrillo of the Wilmington Apostolic Faith Center. “As a pastor I have struggled for years on how to console my church members when they come to me crying about their children having to be rushed to the emergency room at hospital because their child could not breathe and was having a life threatening asthma attack.”

    “We knew all along that they were misrepresenting the environmental impacts,” said Morgan Wyenn, a Natural Resources Defense Council lawyer. “We never had any doubt. The [environmental impact report] just really did not make sense in a lot of ways…. It’s great to know that all that hard work paid off, and that now there will be some changes by what the port does.”

    The judge’s order voided key decisions by the Port of Los Angeles: its March 7, 2013 certification of the project’s environmental impact report, followed by its “Site Preparation and Access Agreement and Permit” with BNSF and by the Los Angeles City Council, and its May 8, 2013 approval of the port’s actions. Two other EIR-related documents approved by the port were also voided.

    “We are disappointed,” both POLA and BNSF stated separately.

    BNSF was disappointed, “because the decision appears to delay a nationally and regionally significant transportation infrastructure.”

    The port stated that it was “disappointed with the court ruling that delays or deprives the region of many environmental benefits and both ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach of important rail infrastructure.”

    But it was the very inadequacy of the plan’s environmental protections compared to harms that lay at the core of the ruling.

    “There isn’t one public school or child care center in the harbor that can cope with the amount of air pollution from the ports, trucks and the railroad industry now,” California Kids IAQ Executive Director Drew Wood said. “How can we expect them to deal with hundreds of tons more of toxic air pollution annually from the BNSF SCIG Facility?”

    In fact, Wood told Random Lengths that indoor air pollution—both in homes and schools—is the most overlooked threat of all.

    “There isn’t one building [in] all of Southern California in the worst polluted areas that is properly dealt with,” he said.

    The SCIG would only add to an already highly toxic environment.

    “The whole area was an oil field a 100 years ago and then homes were built on that land,” Wood said. “So you have gases permeating to the surface, and into the homes, and buildings, and then you have the outside air to contend with as well.”

    In short, children nearby the SCIG are already sorely in need of environmental protection—as they have been for generations. Responding to the judge’s decision, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Toebben called it “a body blow” to Southern California’s economy. But it’s the actual bodies of real children who would suffer even further, if the judge had not ruled as he did.

    “The order makes it clear to me that especially when a facility is going to be built in an area that will impact so many lower income communities of color, and is right next to schools, and playgrounds, and daycare centers, that special effort really has to be made to analyze the health impacts of such a project,” said Andrea Hricko, USC professor of Clinical Preventive Medicine.

    The off-dock railyard, four miles from the port, would have handled more than a million containers a year that are now trucked to its Hobart Yard facility in Commerce—25 miles away. The gains in time, efficiency and reduced air pollution would have been substantial, proponents argued. But from field hearings 10 years ago to the court proceedings just concluded, critics charged that the plan sacrificed the well-being of those vulnerable communities closest to SCIG, including school children and a homeless veterans service center, while improperly ignoring the full extent of its impacts to the region as whole. It also fails to ensure it would keep improving with new technology.

    A key question was whether containers handled at SCIG would replace those at Hobart Yard, or be added to it. The EIR simply ignored any analysis of Hobart on the assumption of replacement only, much as the port has previously defined projects narrowly, even in piecemeal fashion, to avoid dealing with the full range of their impacts.

    “They never really analyzed what was going to happen at Hobart,” Wyenn said. “They just said that other things might happen there, but they claimed those other things aren’t caused by the project… And the judge was like, ‘No! No! No! The fact that you have this extra space is because of the SCIG project and we need to analyze what would happen at the SCIG and what would happen at the Hobart Yard.’”

    “I think the Hobart analysis was cheating, to get to a desired result, and the court called them on it,” NRDC senior attorney David Pettit added. “We told them back in 2005, ‘This thing needs to be built on dock,’ and if they had listened to us, it would be up and running right now.”

    Whatever the motivation, ignoring Hobart violated CEQA. Relatedly, the EIR also ignored the “cumulative impacts” of SCIG along with another planned railyard nearby, Union Pacific’s Intermodal Container Transfer Facility —another CEQA violation. The EIR also fell short on specific issues of air quality impacts, greenhouse gases, noise impacts and transportation impacts.

    One of two key air quality failings concerned a mitigation measure, MM AQ-9, “Periodic Review of New Technology and Regulations.” The purpose of such a measure is to ensure that newer, cleaner technology continues to replace older, more polluting systems. But the judge found that “as drafted, the measure has no real ability to require mitigation. It could leave outdated technology locked into a major project for half a century,” and thus found that “MM AQ-9 is inadequate as a mitigation measure.”

    “We are pleased with the court’s decision today,” said William A. Burke, chairman of the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board. “Communities in the surrounding areas are already highly impacted by air pollution from the ports and other activities…. This is a public health victory for all the residents and others who go to school and work in these areas.”

    This case marked the first time the AQMD had sued to block a project under CEQA. The California attorney general also intervened in the case, along with the City of Long Beach and its school district—an unprecedented alliance of public entities opposing such a project.

    But the heart of the opposition came from residents in the communities and organizations that had formed to protect them. This represented the culmination of a decades-long process of community self-education and self-organization, Marquez pointed out.

    “We were ground zero 15 years ago, 20 years ago,” Marquez said. “We didn’t have answers to many of these questions, in fact, at that time, we weren’t even sure what kind of questions we should ask.”

    They didn’t even know the words to form the questions. In 2001, Marquez recalled, the port launched a proposal to build a wall 20-feet tall and 1.4-miles long in Wilmington. The purpose behind it was port expansion: a six lane diesel truck highway, a railroad track extension and expansion of the TraPac container terminal further into Wilmington. The community push-back immediately gave birth to Marquez’s organization and eventually resulted in the Wilmington Waterfront Park, instead of a long concrete wall. That same year also saw San Pedro home owners launch the China Shipping lawsuit, as well as the emergence of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice. The Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma was also being formed, and a partnership between public health and environmental scientists at UCLA and USC, formed in the 1990s, began reaching out to work with community groups under the leadership of Andrea Hricko.

    But it was the public relations firm that first pushed the wall proposal that introduced Marquez to the word “mitigation.” Once he learned its meaning, he eagerly advanced from simply objecting to project harms to proposing alternative solutions in ever-growing detail.

    “My first public comment, was only 6 to 7 pages long, [but] when it comes to the BNSF SCIG project—now 15 years later—my public comments range from 30 to 50 pages long,” Marquez said.

    And that was just the EIR.

    “When it came to our presentation to the downtown city LA City Council, I submitted over 3,000 pages of documents to support our public comments, because we know if later on we were to file a lawsuit, having all these documents there, having all our detailed public comment submitted, they would help our case go forward,” Marquez said. “It’s a tribute to our communities and our environmental justice organizations, and other groups, where we do research, where now we are in a chess match. We can checkmate the port and almost everything that it’s proposing to do with a better proposal.”

    Opposition to SCIG specifically started a decade ago.

    “There was a lot of concern because of the location,”  Lopez said. “If it was adjacent to schools, emergency housing for homeless veterans, parks, and other housing…. So community members spent a lot of time in our organization and others spent a lot of time building up an understanding of what the proposed project was, about the potential issues, the air quality impacts. And so, I think that something that probably isn’t really seen is the amount of community leadership that built up over the last decade.”

    Thus, the whole movement has gone through a progression similar to what Marquez described—from objecting to harmful projects, to becoming advocates for specific clean technology alternatives, to pushing for systemic rethinking. Now, Lopez sees a real window of opportunity for the mayor and port executive director to break with the pattern of past mistakes that they had no role in creating.

    “Hopefully they’re not invested in someone else’s mess,” Lopez said. “I think they’ve been very quick to distance themselves on the China Shipping issue [11 neglected mitigation measures], and say, ‘Oh you know, this was past leadership’s mistake.’ And so, we hope that they take the same approach on this project, saying, ‘This was past leadership’s mistake. Let’s get this right this time. Let’s look at community—focused partners and really get to work on this.’”

    “The port really needs to figure out how it’s going to deal with both near dock and far-away container movement,” Pettit noted. “That’s implicated at China Shipping, as you know, because of the port’s failure to comply with the [liquified natural gas] mitigation measure, and now it’s directly implicated in SCIG, which also had an LNG requirement in it … I’m sure the folks at [Union Pacific] who want to expand the [Intermodal Container Transfer Facility] are also looking at that.

    “My own view is that the days of transporting containers by diesel power from the port to near dock railyard, I think those days are over, as they should be…. And, the port and the city need to recognize that, and move to a zero-emission system to get boxes from the port to the nearby rail yards. And, that applies to China Shipping, and also to SCIG, and also to ICTF.”

    Indeed, the entire state policy structure is moving toward a zero-emission freight system model, driven primarily by global warming concerns, but reinforced by public health and mortality impacts as well. Industry is fighting back, but their position is untenable, Marquez argues. This is because it’s built on lies that are being publicly exposed.

    “When I took a tour of Europe, I went to the Port of Rotterdam and found out that for the last 80 years-plus they’ve always used electric trains there; so there was no train exhaust pollution coming out of electric trains there,” Marquez said. “But yet, the POLA, the Port of Long Beach and even representatives in different government agencies would tell us, ‘Oh, there’s no other alternative.’ Well, we began to realize they lied to us.”

    On March 8, BNSF issued another statement blasting the decision, calling it “a major loss for both ports, the local community and the region,” but it was a claim without substance, as Andrea Hricko noted.

    “BNSF is continuing to claim the same benefits of this project that they’ve been claiming for 10 years, but they can’t document those benefits,” Hricko said. “They cannot document that the air is going to be better. They cannot document that there’s going to be less traffic on the roads. And the judge is saying, ‘Your document isn’t able to show that and we need it to be re-analyzed.’”

    What happens next will take time to unfold. There will be more proceedings before the final judgment is issued, after which an appeal may be filed within 60 days. But those who sued are hoping that a more thorough rethinking process takes hold instead, one that finally shifts into a more holistic, long-term perspective.

    “If you look at China Shipping, SCIG and TraPac, they do look like they were planned by three different entities, without knowing that the others were there,” Pettit said. “It’s definitely a piecemeal approach and I think that that has hurt the port because they haven’t been thinking big picture about how to move the boxes when they show up on the docks.”

    The need to refinance the Alameda Corridor, which we reported on in this past issue, is yet another consequence of this piecemeal pattern.

    Pettit sees two major lessons for the port in all this.

    “Lesson No. 1 is just be upfront in the environmental documents and if the project is going to cause problems, then confront them and figure out how to deal with them, rather than pretending they’re not there,” he said. “Secondly, is the vision problem, is looking ahead, and well, looking back at all the health problems the port has contributed to, and looking ahead to new technology…. It’s time to make a change. And I think the port leadership and the city need to step up and do that.”

    “We’re looking forward to participating with the city and the port in a real comprehensive plan,” Logan said.

    After more than a decade, community members can’t wait to get started.


    Read More
  • When Enough Isn’t Enough:

    Campaign 2016

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    It has been five years and a few months since the young people of Egypt rose up at Tahrir (Liberation) Square to protest and ultimately depose Hosni Mubarak’s regime 18 days later.

    This was an unexpected but long overdue consequence of repression in the Middle East that has fueled other upwellings of discontent. The discontent has woven its way through Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Turkey. That discontent then transitioned into the Occupy movement in Europe and here.

    Some of those same voices can be heard in the Umbrella protests in Hong Kong in the face of Chinese repressions or in Miramar’s pro-democracy movement. This is a global, universal uprising for human rights and it’s been a long time coming.

    The underlying specifics in each of these countries are unique, but the thread of  overarching inequality and political domination by moneyed political elites runs through them all– including here in America.

    Some will even argue that it is U.S. economic domination that is the greater cause of the global corruption and greed. Others, as Naomi Klein did in her book, The Shock Doctrine, see the cause as the result of specific free market economic policies put into play during the Cold War and the expansion of global capitalism.

    Whatever your take on all of these world-wide protests, the source of the current discontent expressed on both the right and left in the current U.S. presidential campaign is the same: growing economic inequality, greater awareness of corruption (think Panama papers) and an increasing sense of powerlessness by the many, while moneyed elites hide their assets in offshore accounts.

    The politics that created this discontent stemmed from Milton Friedman, the Chicago School of Economics guru, whose monetary theory of free markets underpinned President Ronald Reagan’s “trickle-down economics” policies 35 years ago. Friedman is also responsible for promoting such policies as the all-volunteer military, freely floating exchange rates, the abolition of medical licenses, the negative income tax and school vouchers.

    Increasingly, since the Great Recession of 2008, there has been a critical reassessment of Friedman’s monetary theory on the left and a gut reaction to its unequal results on the mostly white, working class on the right.

    The result is Sen. Bernie Sanders on one side exclaiming, “enough is enough,” and Donald Trump on the other tapping into a distorted bit of nostalgia by saying “Make America Great Again.” The underlying cause of the dissatisfaction is the same for both sides, but their prescriptions for the ailments are a million miles apart. The 2016 election results will have universal repercussions and will resonate down to the smallest of neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

    This leaves me with some unsettling questions:

    • Can we equate the rise of the Islamic State’s anti-Christian violence and extremism in Syria to the anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment and violence of the Christian right and neo-fascists in America and Europe?
    • Aren’t the Christian and Muslim extremists and neo-fascists linked to the same kind of global economic inequalities that divides the 99 percent from the 1 percent?
    • Aren’t these the same disparities that cause economic and cultural exclusion, whether it’s Los Angeles street gangs battling for turf and dominance or immigrant Belgian terrorists resorting to violence as the final solution?
    • Though the tactics and targets are different, aren’t the underlying causes the same?

    I am unsure at this point about drawing conclusions. But I believe all of these universal uprisings are connected. They are connected to all of us.

    When I hear Sanders exclaim, “enough is enough” I am drawn to that as an inclusive statement that encompasses all of the above. It has a universal appeal that in the end just might lead to a global effort for universal economic reform and make Wall Street bankers and tyrants squeal as their monopoly on the game is broken and divided more equitably.

    Read More
  • LA VOIX HUMAINE @ Long Beach Opera

    The human voice is a compelling means of connection, especially when it’s all you have left. That is the situation for Elle, the sole onstage character in La voix humaine, in relation to her cheri. Recently separated, he telephones her one last time to say goodbye and arrange the retrieval of his belongings. Her real-time side of the phone conversation is the sole scene in Francis Poulenc’s operatic adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s play of the same name.

    Such a conceit runs the obvious risk of being terribly boring. And I’m not going to lie: there’s not a lot in Cocteau’s plot that inspires. The only twist (if you can call it that) is that Elle comes to realize that her cheri is now someone else’s. If La voix humaine is to work, it must be on the backs of the music and the performance.

    Naturally, music is a matter of taste, and personally I can’t imagine anyone listening to La voix humaine at home on the stereo the way you might La bohème (although in the interest of full disclosure, you won’t hear that on my stereo, either). More than half of it probably qualifies as recitative—the necessary sin of the art form—and there isn’t an aria in earshot. In other words, the music probably doesn’t carry its fair share of the weight.

    But there’s nothing not to like in the performance. Suzan Hanson, a Long Beach Opera mainstay, always manages to make opera singing look easy, and her combination of command and power manages to impress even when the material doesn’t. Even so, it’s her acting that keeps us engaged. Elle’s emotions run the gamut from forgetful reverie to abject misery when the reality of her situation comes back to her, emotions often arrested in midsentence due to the many losses of connection across the telephone line (a reasonably effective metaphor).

    Despite playing the sole character, Hanson is not alone onstage but is accompanied by pianist Kristof Van Grysperre, another LBO regular—and with good reason. The jagged nature of Poulenc’s score relies upon a synchrony between vocals and piano, and here the two performers animate La voix humaine as one.

    Before intermission attendees are treated to an undercard of short pieces by Poulenc, then by some Erik Satie, all delivered by some combination of piano, cello, viola, and Robin Buck, LBO’s vocal utility player. While the Poulenc pieces offer some highlights (particularly by violist Seulgee Park), it was Satie’s work, especially “Three Distinguished Waltzes of a Jaded Dandy” (with a title like that, it has to be fun, right?) that provide the evening’s greatest delight.

    Along with a program that is likely to provide you with at least a couple of novel experiences, Long Beach Opera continues its tradition of site-specific performances by staging La voix humaine, et al., in the subterranean section of the Federal Bar, which for the purposes of this show stands in for a café or salon where—in my mind’s eye, at least—these works might have played in the early-20th-century Paris that birthed them. A light meal is included with the performance, along with the respectfully quiet clanking of silverware. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill night at the opera.


    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

    Read More
  • New Faces Vie For Council Seats In April 12 Elections

    Long Beach voters in even-numbered districts will have to choose from a plethora of candidates this year. Long Beach City Council facing off in the April 12 election.

    District 4 Councilman Daryl Supernaw, who was elected in 2015 after Patrick O’Donnell became an assemblyman, was not opposed this year.  However, 10 candidates are campaigning for Districts 2, 6 and 8.

    What’s at stake is the leadership and representation of distinct city areas, from downtown Long Beach, where much of the city’s dollars are focused, to culturally diverse areas such north Long Beach and Cambodia Town, which have issues concerning quality of life and public safety.

    Some candidates are newcomers vying for a seat on an equal, yet influential, playing field. Others are fiercely challenging incumbents.

    There has been recent outrage surrounding a controversial mailer sent out by the Long Beach Citizens for Good Government, a PAC that has contributed to the campaigns of both Wesley Turnbow and Joen Garnica.  Both candidates are supported heavily by local businesses in their districts.  Incumbents Al Austin and Dee Andrews both face the challenge of reestablishing their platforms against newcomers, while gaining support from state senators and Mayor Robert Garcia.

    District 2

    When Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal announced she would not seek a third term as a write-in candidate for District 2, three candidates stepped up to represent a district that includes the Port of Long Beach, the East Village Arts District and coastal neighborhoods as far east as Redondo Avenue. They are Joen Garnica, Eric Gray and Jeannine Pearce.

    Name: Joen Garnica

    Experience: President of East Village Association, vice president of Promenade Area Residents Association, director of Downtown Residential Council, president of Garnica Interiors Inc.
    Issues: Building community, protecting quality of life and growing local economy
    Background: Garnica has worked in District 2 for more than 12 years as president of Garnica Int- eriors Inc., an interior design firm on The Promenade in Downtown Long Beach.   Her endorsements include the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee.
    “I am running because I’ve been committed to my community for years.  That commitment to community is what drives me to serve,” said Garnica in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    Name: Eric Gray

    Experience: President of Downtown Long Beach Residential Council, president of ITO Solutions
    Issues: Economic development, quality of life, public safety, mobility, arts and culture, historic preservation, homelessness, LGBTQ community, music and entertainment, parking improvement and senior citizens
    Background: Gray helped revamp the Pine Avenue business district as co-founder of the Historic Old Pine Avenue Business Association.  Former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster has endorsed him.  He currently is President of ITO Solutions, a software and hardware company.
    “I believe that a candidate like myself needs to balance business, labor and community, and I believe I am the best candidate to do so,” said Gray in a candidate statement to PADNETtv.


    Name: Jeannine Pearce

    Experience: Director of Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, former director of Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community
    Issues: Building a healthy community, protecting the environment, promoting a thriving local economy and strengthening local democracy.
    Background: Pearce has held multiple positions as a community leader in outreach programs. She has worked with Mayor Robert Garcia as a member of his transition team. She was recently endorsed by Rep. Janice Hahn.
    “I’ve worked to make sure that working families can put food on their tables, to make sure that the youth have healthy neighborhoods and ensure that our economy is growing and thriving,” Pearce said in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.

    District 6

    The Sixth District encompasses neighborhoods in the central part of Long Beach, including the area around Long Beach Polytechnic High School, parts of the Cambodia Town and Wrigley areas.

    Councilman Dee Andrews is seeking a third term as a write-in candidate. His challengers are Robert Harmon, Erik Miller and Josephine A. Villaseñor.

    Name: Dee Andrews

    Experience: District 6 Councilman
    Issues: Employment opportunities, unemployment, youth tutoring and youth mentoring and improvements in public safety and infrastructure
    Background: Andrews’ key endorsements include the  Long Beach Police Officers Association, Long Beach Firefighters Association and the Teachers Association of Long Beach.  He was elected in 2008 and in 2012.
    “Sometimes they overlook the central area and this is why I ran for the Sixth District council position to make sure that they do the same share they do for the City of Long Beach…and this is what makes me so proud to be a part of that situation,” said Andrews in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    Name: Robert Harmon

    Experience: Surgical technologist for Kaiser Permanente, project co-manager of Cambodia Town Square and International Marketplace Project
    Issues: Public safety, promoting cultural heritage, leadership, economic justice and dignity, opportunity and job creation, and community improvement
    Background: Harmon’s career includes work as a surgical technologist, engineer and president and CEO of his non-profit organization, Top Gun Supercarrier.  He also has a military background and pursued bringing the USS Ranger aircraft carrier to Long Beach.
    “I’m running because, for me, it is a call of duty,” said Harmon in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    Name: Erik Miller

    Experience: Director of Operation Jump Start and former Long Beach Gang Reduction Intervention  and Prevention, GRIP,  Taskforce Chairman.
    Issues: Community outreach, youth development and mentoring
    Background: Miller is a community leader and gang intervention specialist.  He said he wants to provide safer neighborhoods through more police and gang reduction.
    “I’m tired of seeing crime ridden, violent streets in the Sixth District.  It’s time for a change and I’m here to tell you I can be that change,” said Miller in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    Name: Josephine A. Villaseñor

    Experience: Member of Long Beach CERT
    Issues: Connect police department and fire department with community, public safety, gang intervention, and homelessness
    Background: Villaseñor started the Wrigley Community Watch and continues to be active in numerous neigh- borhood organizations.
    “Our district has been left in the dark, and I want to bring light back to our district,” said Villaseñor in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    District 8

    Councilman Al Austin is seeking a second term. Laurie C. Angel and Wesley Turnbow are his challengers.

    The Eighth District includes the Bixby Knolls and Rancho Los Cerritos areas, as well as part of North Long Beach

    Name: Al Austin

    Experience: Councilman for 8th District, staff representative for the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, AFSCME, AFL-CIO.
    Issues: Public safety, infrastructure improvement, community building, economic and job development, and leadership
    Background: Austin was elected in 2012 to Long Beach City Council.  Since taking office, he has promoted public safety and the commercial corridors revitalization in his district. Mayor Robert Garcia, the Long Beach Police Officers Association, and the Long Beach Firefighters Association have endorsed him.
    “This election is about progress and we have the opportunity—[by] re-electing me—to continue the great progress we’ve had in the Eighth District,” said Austin in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.

    Name: Laurie C. Angel

    Experience: Business manager for Academic Technology Services at Cal State University Long Beach, former senior financial analyst for the Orange County Transportation Authority
    Issues: Finance and business, quality of life, and public safety
    Background: Angel has worked for the Orange County Transportation Authority, as well as for California State University, Long Beach.
    “I’m an active community member and I have every intention of ensuring that our residents have the best quality of life possible and that they’re well represented,” said Angel in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.


    Name: Wesley Turnbow

    Experience: Chief executive of EME, Inc. Issues: Business and finances, leadership, police and education
    Background: Turnbow has been president of metal and finishing shops. He received support from local businesses.
    “I want to reconnect our communities with the city hall,” said Turnbow in a candidate statement for PADNETtv.



    Read More
  • 1 67 68 69 252