• Watts Writer Workshop Members Reunite: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: Oct. 22, 2015

    Oct. 23
    Watts Writer Workshop Members Reunite
    To expose a new generation to the idea of finding a voice through creativity, the organizers have invited middle and high school students from the Watts Learning Center, Dominguez High School Centennial High School and Carson High School.
    Artists, poets and musicians from the Watts Writers’ Workshop will come together for a 50th anniversary gathering.
    Time: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 23
    Cost: $6 parking
    Details: (310) 243-3583.
    Venue: Loker Student Union ballroom, California State University Dominguez Hills, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    Oct. 24
    Green TI Fourth Community Workshop
    The public is invited to attend the fourth community workshop event marking the completion of the Green Terminal Freeway Transition Plan.
    Residents will have the opportunity view preliminary designs to transform the TI Freeway into an eco-friendly corridor with an associated greenbelt that better serves the community. This free event will feature interactive booths, demonstrations, and refreshments.
    Time: 10 a.m. Oct. 24
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Street adjacent to Hudson Park, 2335 Webster Ave., Long Beach

    Oct. 26
    Coastal Risk, Beautification Meeting Notice
    The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Coastal Risk and Beautification Meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Marine Exchange Room.
    (Note: Use the Gaffey St entrance to Olguin High School, follow the road up the hill, and continue till the very to. The Marine Exchange can be seen atop the hill, on the left, at the very end of the driveway.)
     Link to agenda
    Time: 6 p.m. Oct. 26
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Marine Exchange Conference Room,3601 S. Gaffey St #803, San Pedro

    Oct. 27
    Andrews Hosts Public Safety Town Hall
    Councilman Dee Andrews will host a 6th District Town Hall meeting, at 6 p.m. Oct. 27, at the Mark Twain Library in Long Beach.
    The topic of the Town Hall meeting will focus on public safety. The guest speakers will include Commander Robert Smith, Long Beach Police Department, West Division and Homeless Services. The commander will be reporting crime updates and giving tips on crime prevention.
    Time: 6 p.m. Oct. 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570-6816
    Venue: Mark Twain Library, 1401 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Oct. 28
    Paseo Del Mar Landslide Permanent Restoration Project
    Residents are invited to a community briefing on the White Point Landslide Permanent Restoration Project, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Cabrillo Marine Community Room in San Pedro.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: Here
    Venue: Cabrillo Marina Community Room, 2865 Via Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro

    Oct. 28
    Beat 12
    Beat 12 Community Watch Group will hosts its first meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at the Orizaba Park Community Center in Long Beach.
    If you are interested in joining the Beat 12 Community Watch Group sign up.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: HERE
    Venue: Orizaba Park Community Center, 1435 Orizaba Ave.

    Oct. 30
    Inaugural South Bay Economic Forecast
    California State University, Dominguez Hills will host the region’s first South Bay Economic Forecast with a breakfast and panel discussion from 7 to 11 a.m. on Oct. 30, in the Loker Student Union ballroom on the CSUDH campus.
    For decades, Los Angeles County’s South Bay region has been home to big industries such as international trade, aerospace, energy, and automotive, and has had one of the highest concentration of Fortune 500s in the state of California. As these and others industries evolve and grow in the region, a focused analysis of key economic and employment drivers, and the impacts and opportunities that exist was warranted.
    Hosted by business news anchor for KNX 1070 Frank Mottek, the morning’s events will feature a report on real estate and housing trends by Dr. Jose Martinez, assistant professor of accounting, finance and economics at CSUDH; a speaker panel with Praveen Penmetsa, CEO and founder of Motivo Engineering, Michael Keenan, director of planning and strategy at the Port of Los Angeles, and Andre Oosthuizen, vice president of marketing with Porsche Cars North America, Inc., looking at their industries’ impact in the region; and the forecast report by Dr. Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist for the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.
    Time: 7 to 11 a.m. Oct. 30
    Cost: $95
    Details: (310) 243-3337; www.csudh.edu/economic-forecast
    Venue: Loker Student Union Ballroom, CSUDH, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    Nov. 11
    Cats-only Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics
    The Peter Zippi Fund for Animals is once again sponsoring a cat-only mobile spay/neuter clinics for Harbor Area residents. The date is Nov. 11 at Los Angeles Harbor College in Wilmington.
    The cost is $10 co-pay for residents of 90731 (only) and 90744 includes vet exam, surgery, pain injection, and rabies & FVRCP vaccines. Veterinary services are provided by Lucy Pet Foundation who also handle all appointments.
    Time: Nov. 11
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.lucypetfoundation.org
    Venue: Los Angeles Harbor College, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington

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  • DMV Worker, 5 Others Charged in Identity Theft Scheme

    DMV Worker, 5 Others Charged in Identity Theft Scheme

    SANTA ANA — A clerk at the California Department of Motor Vehicles office in El Monte and five others have been indicted on federal identity theft charges for allegedly using legitimate birth certificates and Social Security numbers obtained from Puerto Rico to create new identities that were sold to people willing to pay thousands of dollars for fraudulent identity documents.

    DMV clerk Tracey Lynette Jones, 33, of Long Beach, surrendered to federal authorities on Oct. 19. She was arraigned that afternoon. Jones entered a not guilty plea, was released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to stand trial on Nov.24.

    Jones and the other five defendants were named in a four-count indictment returned on Sept. 30 by a federal grand jury. The indictment charges all six defendants with conspiring to produce identification documents. Several of the defendants, including Jones, are charged with various identity theft offenses.

    Four of the remaining defendants were arrested in Septemeber by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and investigators with the DMV’s Investigations division. They are:

    • Wilfredo Montero, 36, of Los Angeles;
    • Adolfo Maria Cruz, 47, of Corona;
    • Roberto Ruiz, 35, of Tustin; and
    • Jose Cruz, 49, of Corona.

    Out of the four defendants arrested in September, three have been freed on bond and Cruz remains in custody.

    The sixth defendant charged in the case, Jorge “Diablo” Perez, aka Pedro Josue Figueroa-Marquez, 33, originally from Mexico, remains at large and is being sought by authorities.

    According to the indictment, the conspiracy was allegedly spearheaded by Montero and catered to individuals willing to pay as much as $5,000 for new identities obtained with genuine birth certificates and Social Security numbers obtained from Puerto Rico residents. Investigators are working to identify the source of the documents obtained from Puerto Rico.

    The case, which is the result of a three-year undercover investigation, revealed many of the ring’s customers were previously deported felons. Federal prosecutors have filed charges against three people believed to be customers of the identity theft ring, and authorities are seeking to take those individuals into custody.

    “Based on our evidence, this ring’s clients had good reason to want to obscure their pasts,” said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. “And, for a price, the defendants were allegedly willing to oblige.”

    An affidavit in support of criminal complaints that were previously filed in the case describes a July 2012 meeting between Montero and an HSI undercover special agent posing as prospective client. After the undercover investigator indicated he wanted to purchase identity documents, Montero led him to his garage where he pulled out a Puerto Rican birth certificate and matching Social Security card which were concealed inside a boxing glove.

    After obtaining identity documents for buyers, the defendants, for an additional fee, allegedly helped their clients use the documents to apply for California driver’s licenses or California identification cards under the assumed identities. The indictment alleges defendant Jones altered records in the DMV’s electronic databases to make it appear the applicants had passed required exams to obtain a driver’s license when, in fact, they had not.

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

    If convicted in the identity theft conspiracy, the six defendants named in the indictment would face a statutory maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.

    Eight Charged in Credit Card Scheme

    LOS ANGELES — On Oct. 21, authorities arrested four defendants charged with federal fraud and identity theft charges for allegedly participating in a scheme that installed credit card “skimmers” inside gas pumps at gas stations across Southern California and Southern Nevada.

    A criminal complaint charges eight defendants – three of whom are fugitives at this time – with participating in a conspiracy that secretly installed electronic devices known as skimmers inside of gas pumps that were equipped with point of sale terminals. When gas station customers swiped their credit or debit cards through the device that reads the magnetic strips on the back of their cards, the information was stored on the skimmers that were hidden inside the gas pumps. According to the affidavit in support of the complaint, members of the conspiracy were able to later retrieve the account information without going back inside the gas pumps by using Bluetooth-equipped devices, such as cellular phones or tablets.

    According to an affidavit by a special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, participants in the conspiracy manufactured skimmers with parts purchased at electronics stores. At the gas stations, they allegedly used large vans to conceal their activities as they forced open panels on the gas pumps and installed the skimming devices that were not visible to customers who used their credit cards at the pumps.

    The affidavit outlines how the organization installed dozens of skimmers at gas stations operated by different companies in areas that include San Gabriel, Burbank, North Hollywood, Van Nuys, Eagle Rock, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Torrance, Long Beach, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Tustin, Fountain Valley, the Coachella Valley and Las Vegas, Nevada.

    In conjunction with the arrests, investigators executed a series of search warrants. At one location, they found materials indicating that members of the conspiracy were actively involved in the manufacture of counterfeit credit cards.

    The eight defendants named in the criminal complaint are:

    • Nazar Daniyelyan, 47, of Sun Valley, who was arrested;
    • Ruben Karapetyan, 39, of Porter Ranch, who was arrested;
    • Armen Khalulyan, 30, of Los Angeles, who is a fugitive;
    • Arutyan Oganyan, 41, of North Hollywood, who is a fugitive;
    • Grigor Pambukyan, 26, of Van Nuys, who was arrested;
    • Arsen Terzyan, 32, of Van Nuys, who was arrested;
    • Anthony Tngryan, 26, of Van Nuys, who is a fugitive; and
    • Oganes Tagaryan, 23, of North Hollywood, who is expected to surrender to authorities in the near future.

    The four taken into custody Oct. 21 are expected to make their initial court appearances this afternoon in U.S. District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

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

    The eight defendants are charged with conspiracy to possess 15 or more unauthorized access devices. If they are convicted of this charge, each would face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

    If any member of the public has information concerning the three fugitives in this case, they are urged to contact the Secret Service at (213) 533-4400.

    The investigation into the credit card skimming ring is ongoing. At this point, authorities have no estimate for the loss that may be associated with the stolen credit card information.

    LB Council Authorizes Winter Shelters

    The Long Beach City Council voted 9-0 to authorize a winter shelter for homeless persons between Nov. 2, 2015 and March 15, 2016.

    The shelter will open a month earlier than usual this year, in part due to considerations about the winter being forecast to be wetter than usual.The winter shelter will be operated by the Long Beach Rescue Mission, a provider for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which pays for the annual program. The shelter in Long Beach will be at 6845 Atlantic Ave.

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  • Crash, accident, collision

    One Man Killed, Five Injured: RL NEWS Briefs of the Week Oct. 21, 2015

    St Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach is Pretty in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Starting at 7:30 p.m. every evening until 6 a.m., the hospital will be lit up in pink. The hospital will feature pink filters on the footlights giving the soft glow of pink to the hospital campus. In addition to a hologram of the iconic pink ribbon projected onto the hospital exterior. Also in the foreground, you can see pink ribbon poles. This will occur through the end of the month. Photo courtesy of German Martinez.

    St Mary’s Medical Center in Long Beach is Pretty in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness. Starting at 7:30 p.m. every evening until 6 a.m., the hospital will be lit up in pink. The hospital will feature pink filters on the footlights giving the soft glow of pink to the hospital campus. In addition to a hologram of the iconic pink ribbon projected onto the hospital exterior. Also in the foreground, you can see pink ribbon poles. This will occur through the end of the month. Photo courtesy of German Martinez.

    One Man Killed, Five Injured in Collision

    SAN PEDRO — One man was killed and five others were injured Oct. 17 in San Pedro.

    Alcohol and/or drugs may have been a factor in the crash, officials said.

    The multi-vehicle crash was reported at about 2:30 a.m. in the 1500 block of South Gaffey Street, ] Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.

    The driver of a Toyota Scion — a man in his 40s — was going southbound on Gaffey Street when he began making an eastbound turn onto 16th Street. The car was struck on the passenger side by a northbound BMW, which sideswiped two other vehicles. The driver of the Toyota was killed instantly, LAPD officials said.
     

    Buscaino’s Homelessness Task Force Meets

    SAN PEDRO — Joe Buscaino’s committee on the “homelessness problem” met Oct. 15 for the first time.

    The meeting, which was closed to a Random Lengths News reporter, included law enforcement members and county homelessness officials. The group plans to meet monthly for the first six months. The upcoming meeting is Nov. 19.

    The coordination of food banks and feeding programs, panhandling, providing housing are among the topics the group must tackle.

    POLA Advances Clean-Energy Solar Power Projects

    SAN PEDRO — On Oct. 15, the Port of Los Angeles entered a long-term agreement with Hecate Energy Harborside LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hecate Energy LLC, to build, operate, and maintain photovoltaic solar power systems that will generate electricity at multiple site locations within the Port. The photovoltaic solar power systems will feed clean energy to the utility grid operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

    The agreement supports the Port’s larger goals under the San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan to expand the use of clean energy and related infrastructure while continuing to improve air quality throughout Southern California. Key initiatives to date include a 1 megawatt photovoltaic solar power systems atop the port’s World Cruise Center.

    Hecate was selected as the operator following a competitive bidding process.  Specializing in developing and operating alternative energy generation plants, Hecate will build and operate photovoltaic solar power systems at up to 12 different site locations on Port property with a total capacity of approximately 10 megawatts. The locations are a mix of rooftop, parking lot and underutilized ground mount site locations.

    The 10 megawatts of solar energy is enough electricity to power about 2500 homes. It also represents about one-sixth of the port’s power demand.

    Under the agreement with the port, Hecate will operate its photovoltaic solar power systems for 20 years, starting when each site becomes operational. Subject to final approval by the Los Angeles City Council, the photovoltaic solar power systems are expected to begin generating electricity in mid-2016.

    The port will receive about 7 percent of Hecate’s gross annual revenue from the sale of its electricity to the LADWP. The port’s income is projected to total more than $2.8 million over the life of the operating agreement. No costs to the port are anticipated outside of expedited roofing maintenance.

    The solar power generation projects will serve to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help the LADWP supply clean energy to its customers.

    Overall, the increased use of electricity to run ship-to-shore cranes, ships at berth, and terminal equipment has contributed to a dramatic reduction in harmful pollution from port-related operations. Newly release data from the port’s 2014 Inventory of Air Emissions show emissions of diesel particulate matter down 85 percent, sulfur oxides down 97 percent, and nitrogen oxides down 52 percent since 2005.

    The port committed to installing 10 megawatts of photovoltaic solar power on its property under an umbrella agreement with the California Office of the Attorney General.  The operating agreement with Hecate will help the Port both meet and exceed its commitment.

    LA Harbor Commissioners Approve Grant Recipient Agreements

    SAN PEDROOn Oct. 15, the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved agreements between the Port of Los Angeles and its two largest Community Investment Grant Program recipients, International Trade Education Programs Inc. of Carson and the Los Angeles Maritime Institute of San Pedro.

    The two recipients were among 32 organizations selected this past June to receive funding under the Port’s grant program. ITEP and LAMI received grants of $340,000 and $255,000 respectively.

    International Trade Education Programs Inc. began as a pilot program in 1999 at Banning High School in Wilmington. Since then, International Trade Education Programs Inc. has developed four model academies on the campus, including the International Trade Academy; Global Safety and Security Academy; Global Environmental Sciences Academy; and the Maritime Agriculture, Tourism, Cuisine and Hospitality Academy.  Eight additional academies are also running in San Pedro, Gardena, Barstow, Harbor City and Carson. In addition, each year International Trade Education Programs Inc. places about 100 of its students in maritime industry-related internships, including placements at the Port of Los Angeles.

    Los Angeles Maritime Institute is a local nonprofit organization and creator of the TopSail experiential education program for at-risk youth. In operation since 1992, the program consists of three to five one-day sails in and around San Pedro Bay, and an optional multi-day voyage to Catalina Island. The program promotes teamwork, teaches responsibility and encourages leadership and self-esteem through character-building experiences aboard the twin brigantines, Irving Johnson and Exy Johnson, the Official Tall Ships of Los Angeles. Youth also receive educational information about the Port and maritime industry, as well as the local coastal ecosystem. For some participants, TopSail voyages provide a first-ever introduction to the port and its operations.

    The port awarded a total of $1 million in grants for fiscal year 2015 and 2016. In approving the year International Trade Education Programs Inc. and Los Angeles Maritime Institute agreements, Harbor Commissioners also authorized similar grant amounts for ITEP and Los Angeles Maritime Institute for the fiscal 2016-17 grant cycle to assure program continuity.

    Port of Los Angeles Moves 730,306 TEUs in September

    SAN PEDRO — The Port of Los Angeles handled a total of 730,306 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in September 2015. While volumes were robust, they did not match the past September, which was among the strongest in port history. September 2015 volumes showed a decrease of 5.8 percent compared to the same period in 2014.  Current and historical data is available here.

    “While we fell short of last September’s exceptional volume of 775,000 TEUs, I’m encouraged by the productivity our terminals and supply chain partners have demonstrated over the past six months,” said Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka. “We are experiencing a consistent pattern of larger ships and more efficient cargo conveyance at volumes that are market leading.”

    Imports decreased 9.4 percent to 383,963 TEUs in September 2015. Exports declined 17.5 percent to 124,286 TEUs in September 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 9.4 percent, overall September 2015 volumes of 730,306  decreased 5.8 percent.

    For the first nine months of 2015, overall volumes (6,119,623 TEUs) are down 2.9 percent compared to the same period in 2014.

    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at: http://www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp

    Record September Delivers Best Quarter in Port’s History

    LONG BEACH — With the best September in its 104-year history, the Port of Long Beach moved enough cargo volume to also achieve its busiest quarter, signaling a return to pre-recession trade levels in September.
    Many of the popular Halloween and holiday items on U.S. store shelves today were brought through the harbor in recent months. Retailers are stocking costumes, decorations and other goods in order to meet consumer demand.
    Measured by individual containers of freight, cargo volume at the Port of Long Beach climbed 4.1 percent in September compared to the same period in 2014, to 655,624 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of boxed cargo. The year’s third quarter — July through September — topped 2 million TEUs in a first for the port, and improved 14.8 percent over the third quarter of 2014.

    Through the first nine months of 2015 the port has seen a 5.2 percent increase in cargo volume compared to the same period last year. At this rate, the port would finish the year with more than 7 million TEUs for only the third time in its history..
    This year’s third quarter saw 10.6 percent more imports and 10.5 percent more exports, compared to the third quarter of 2014.

    For September alone, imports dipped 1.9 percent compared to the same month last year, to 332,909 TEUs. Exports grew 6.1 percent to 125,639 TEUs. Empty containers rose 14.6 percent to 197,076 TEUs. With imports exceeding exports, empty containers are sent overseas to be refilled with goods.
    For all the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.

    For more details on the cargo numbers, please visit www.polb.com/stats.
     

    Murder in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 19, 25-year-old William Tyshoen Davis was shot and killed at about 12:30 a.m. in 2000 block of Magnolia Avenue in Long Beach.
    When officers arrived, they discovered Davis had been struck in the torso. Long Beach Fire Department paramedics responded and transported the victim, in critical condition, to a local hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

    A motive for the shooting is unknown and is being investigated as possibly gang-related.

    The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Workers Declare Boycott of Long Beach Westin Hotel

    LONG BEACH On Oct. 13, employees of the Long Beach Westin Hotel declared an official consumer boycott of the hotel in support of their demand for a fair organizing process to decide on unionization.

    The boycott call comes after workers filed a class action lawsuit in August alleging that the Long Beach Westin violated state wage and hour law concerning legally-mandated breaks and overtime pay. The hotel is operated by Noble Interstate Management Group and majority-owned by Utah Retirement Systems.

    Since February 2015, Long Beach Westin workers have been urging their management to accept a fair process by which workers can decide whether to unionize without the intimidation and pressure-tactics that frequently accompany unionization efforts.  Hotel management has refused.  On August 17, three Long Beach Westin employees filed a class action on behalf of housekeepers, restaurant workers and banquet servers, alleging that the hotel has violated wage and hour law related to rest breaks and meal periods, overtime, off-the-clock work and reimbursement to workers who purchased their own work supplies. The lawsuit is pending in Los Angeles Superior Court.

    This boycott is the latest step taken by workers at the Long Beach Westin hotel who have been organizing to address working conditions they consider intolerable since February.

    Details: www.unitehere11.org
     

    State Agency OKs New Pollution-Scrubbing Technology

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 20, the California Air Resources Board approved a new technology that uses specialized barges, which connect to the exhaust ports of container ships, to scrub pollution.

    In 2013, the Port of Long Beach provided about $2 million in seed money to help test the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System. Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc., a Carson-based company, can now market the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System to vessel operators as an alternative to container ships plugging into the electrical grid to reduce emissions while at berth.

    Container and cruise ships must significantly reduce at-berth emissions to meet state regulations, but the existing “shore power” option requires retrofits to each vessel. According to Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc., the Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System barge system can meet the state standards by removing 90 to 99 percent of harmful emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter without requiring vessel retrofits.

    With an emissions inventory released this month showing already record-low pollution levels at the Port of Long Beach, officials hailed the regulatory approval as another option to advance the port’s environmental goals to near-zero and zero emission levels.

    “The California Air Resources Board’s approval of ACTI’s project as an alternative to the at-berth emissions reductions rule provides the flexibility our shipping lines need while protecting our environment and creating new jobs for our communities,” Commissioner Rich Dines said.

    The California Air Resources Board’s approval of Advanced Maritime Emissions Control System on container ships will allow Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc. to begin the process of testing the system on other vessel types.

     

    Boeing Pays $18 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

    LONG BEACH – On Oct. 14, the Boeing Co. paid the United States $18 million to settle allegations that the company submitted false claims for labor charges on maintenance contracts with the Air Force for the C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

    “Defense contractors are required to obey the rules when billing for work performed on government contracts,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “Today’s settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department will ensure that government contractors meet their obligations and charge the government appropriately.”

    The government alleged that Boeing improperly charged labor costs under contracts with the Air Force for the maintenance and repair of C-17 Globemaster aircraft at Boeing’s Long Beach Depot Center in Long Beach.  The C-17 Globemaster aircraft, which is both manufactured and maintained by Boeing, is one of the military’s major systems for transporting troops and cargo throughout the world.  The government alleged that the company knowingly charged the United States for time its mechanics spent on extended breaks and lunch hours, and not on maintenance and repair work properly chargeable to the contracts.

    The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally brought by former Boeing employee James Thomas Webb under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act.  The act permits private individuals to sue on behalf of the government those who falsely claim federal funds, and to share in the recovery.  Webb’s share of the settlement has not yet been determined.

    The case was handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Defense Contract Management Agency.

    The False Claims Act lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Webb v. The Boeing Company, CV13-000694 (C.D. Cal.).  The claims resolved the civil settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.

    Operators Of Medical Equipment Supply Company Convicted

    LONG BEACH – On Oct. 15, a federal jury in Los Angeles convicted the former owner and the former operator of a durable medical equipment supply company of health care fraud charges in connection with a $1.5 million Medicare fraud scheme.

    Amalya Cherniavsky, 41, and her husband, Vladislav Tcherniavsky, 46, of Long Beach, were both convicted late Oct. 15, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and five counts of health care fraud.  Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 14, 2015, before U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. of the Central District of California, who presided over the trial.

    The evidence at trial demonstrated that Cherniavsky owned JC Medical Supply, a purported durable medical equipment supply company, and that she co-operated the company with her husband, Tcherniavsky.

    According to the trial evidence, the defendants paid illegal kickbacks to patient recruiters in exchange for patient referrals.  The evidence further showed that the defendants paid kickbacks to physicians for fraudulent prescriptions – primarily for expensive, medically unnecessary power wheelchairs – which the defendants then used to support fraudulent bills to Medicare.

    According to the evidence presented at trial, between 2006 and 2013, the defendants submitted $1,520,727 in fraudulent claims to Medicare and received $783,756 in reimbursement for those claims.

    To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to: www.stopmedicarefraud.gov.
     

    Death of 15 Year-Old Male Juvenile in Carson is Being Investigated

    CARSON — Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide detectives continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy.

    The shooting took place Oct. 17, in the 23900 block of Avalon Boulevard in Carson.

    Detectives have learned that the victim was walking on Sepulveda Boulevard from Avalon Boulevard, Carson, with a female companion when they were approached by a silver or white 4-door vehicle. Two male black suspects wearing hoodies exited the vehicle and shot the victim multiple times. They then re-entered their vehicle and fled eastbound on Sepulveda Boulevard out of view.

    The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. The female companion was unharmed during the incident.

    At this time, it is unknown if this incident is gang-related, however, it appears that the victim was specifically targeted by the suspects.

    The investigation is still on-going.

    There is no further information available at this time.

    Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call (323) 890-5500 or visit http://lacrimestoppers.org.

    Homeless Vet’s Vermont Villas Officially Open

    HARBOR GATEWAY — On Oct. 15, the Vermont Villas officially opened for homeless veterans.

    The Vermont Villas, at 16304 S. Vermont Ave. at Harbor Gateway, will serve chronically homeless veterans.

    Resident services will include health and social service resources. The four-story Vermont Villas features 79 studio and one-bedroom apartments, common gathering spaces for residents, and offices for staff. Common spaces include a teaching kitchen, a large courtyard with barbecues and resident vegetable gardens, a lounge, and meeting rooms. Other amenities include on-site property management, offices for five on-site staff, who will provide supportive services for the residents, secured access, and laundry rooms.

    The apartments, which cost $22 million to build, are now being occupied by about 68 residents. It was a collaboration of Affirmed Housing and PATH Ventures that took more than two years to build. The apartments follow the model of permanently housing people who are homeless and then providing services such counseling and training.

    Former LA Sheriff’s Deputy Indicted by Federal Grand Jury

    LOS ANGELES – In a case stemming from the beating of a handcuffed man at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, a sixth member of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was indicted Oct. 16 on federal charges for allegedly participating in the cover-up of the violent incident.

    Byron Dredd, 33, who is no longer with the LASD, was named in a three-count indictment that charges him with conspiracy to violate the victim’s civil rights and two counts of making false reports.

    Five other former deputies have been convicted in relation to the 2011 attack and are pending sentencing (see: http://go.usa.gov/3Jypx).

    Dredd, along with the other defendants previously convicted, was assigned to the Visiting Center at Men’s Central Jail. On Feb. 26, 2011, the victim and his girlfriend went to the jail to visit the victim’s incarcerated brother. Both visitors had cell phones in their possession, which is prohibited under jail rules. When the phones were discovered, the victim was handcuffed and brought into an employee break room, where he was beaten and sprayed with a burning agent similar to pepper spray. The victim was later transferred to the hospital by paramedics. As a result of false statements made by the previously convicted deputies and allegedly made by Dredd, the victim was charged with several crimes, including resisting an officer and battery.

    The indictment against Dredd alleges that he wrote an incident report in which he falsely claimed that the victim attacked one of the deputies and then attempted to escape.

    “The Department of Justice will continue to hold accountable individuals who abuse their positions as law enforcement officers by committing crimes or by trying to cover them up,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “While this former deputy sheriff allegedly participated in a scheme to violate the civil rights of a man who had to be hospitalized after he was beaten by other deputies, his actions should not reflect on the good work performed by the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles deputy sheriffs.”

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

    If convicted of the charges in the indictment, Dredd would face a statutory maximum penalty of 35 years in federal prison – up to 10 years for the civil rights conspiracy, up to 20 years for the falsification of records, and up to five years for making false statements to the FBI.

    Dredd will be summonsed to appear for an arraigned in U.S. District Court in the coming weeks.

    This case is the result of an investigation by the FBI, and is one in a series of cases resulting from an investigation into corruption and civil rights abuses at county jail facilities in downtown Los Angeles. As a result of the investigation, 15 current or former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have now been convicted of federal charges.

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  • MOLAA’s Salsa Intensifies the Heat

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Back in September, Grammy award-winning Herman Olivera sang to the driving rhythms of Conjunto Costazul during an evening of New York salsa at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach.

    Olivera and Conjunto Costazul put on an energetic show in front of a full house of non-stop salsa dancers of all ages

    Conjunto Costazul’s four trombones and powerful drumming made for a big sound with special guest Artie Webb, on flute, who added more flavor to the music.

    “There is an incredible energy out there with the full moon tonight,” Olivera said. “The public is having a great time and the band is propelled to new heights”

    Olivera calls the music a “stimulant.”

    “You leave your house with a thousand problems and you come to a show, you want to forget your problems and so do I,” Olivera said. “I go to a musical high and I’m up there with the moon. I’m very honored to be here again closing the series.

    Olvera has been trekking to Southern California since 1981 and says that he’s seen a lot of growth in the salsa scene ever since.

    “There’s always a lot of dancing and activity out here, it’s public news that LA is into salsa,” Olivera said. “The whole state of California is happening from San Francisco to San Diego. It’s like what New York used to be in the 70s.”

    Over the years, Olivera has worked with the likes of Johnny Pacheco, Ray Barretto, Bobby Rodriguez and La Compañia, and The Machito Orchestra. He currently performs with Eddie Palmieri’s orchestra and is featured on five of Palmieri’s CDs, including Masterpiece/Obra Maestra with the late, great Tito Puente, which earned two Grammys. The musicians who inspire him include Puente, Rodriguez, Palmieri, Machito, Hector Lavoe and Palmieri.

    Olivera makes the music extraordinary by keeping to the original New York salsa style. It’s organic music that originated on the streets and in the clubs of New York from the late 1960s through the early 1980s. Singers of that era drew their lyrics from their often-raw feelings about what was happening in the streets, their lives and times and emotions.

    As music tends to do, salsa has changed throughout the years, taking a turn toward pop-oriented romanticism, salsa romantica. But Olivera says he has put a “grasp” on the genre.

    “I’ve maintained a certain musical structure from the 1970s,” Olivera said. “I haven’t been too commercial.”

    Make no mistake, it’s not outdated. Olivera is the bridge between the 1970s and the new generation.

    “I seem to be one of the only ones in this lane,” Olivera said. “Most of my counterparts have gone to the commercial side.There’s a market for that, but when you are the root, it’s very important. When you kill the root, you kill the tree.

    “People are gyrating to this music. I’ve been very lucky to take this music globally, where some of my counterparts have a very small public. People want real music — you cannot fake it out, man — and they want to hear real music with real lyrics. This is dance music.”

    Salsa thriving in Central and South America, where it was struggling 30 years ago, and has a presence in some unexpected places, such as Australia.

    Olvera’s most recent solo release is La Voz Del Caribe, (The voice of the Caribbean), which was nominated for a Latin Grammy.

    “It’s on the radio and it’s been accepted very well from salsa lovers all over the world,” Olivera said.

    Olivera also just finished a new album with Palmieri called Mi Luz Mayor that’s set for release in February 2016. Some singles went on sale of Sept. 26.

    Details: www.kxlu.com

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  • Between Heaven & Hell

    By Lionel Rolfe

    It’s an oppressively hot day.

    It was the first time this summer the temperature had gotten up in to the 90s. That wouldn’t have meant much — after all last month it was only August — but for the humidity. Summer usually isn’t humid in Los Angeles. Humidity is mostly alien to Los Angeles. That’s more for Miami or New York or those kinds of places. I don’t know for others, but this kind of weather makes me depressed and hopeless.

    I guess I’m spoiled. The air conditioning in my 20-year-old Toyota is broken. So I don’t go out much more than I absolutely have to. But as I pamper myself, I feel guilty. Like everyone else, I’ve seen those pictures of families from Africa and the Middle East, often children and young mothers, stranded on old rust buckets in the Mediterranean, crying from hunger, thirst and fear.

    The more real poverty that I see, the more I despair. And, I know that I’m only one missed paycheck away from joining their ranks.

    Today I’m OK. I am inside my apartment, at my desk by the window in my bedroom where I normally write. As I said, the weather is almost surreal. It looks angry and gray and wet out there but I know if I opened the window, it would be hot and oppressive. Luckily my window is closed, and the air conditioning is keeping away the suffocating humidity, purring quietly and efficiently. The temperature is nice inside. But I know if the window were open, I’d quickly be wiping the copious sweat away from my chin and head. I would be completely miserable.

    I suppose being old and diabetic doesn’t help. Sometimes my legs really rebel against carrying me any further. Old age, I guess. But young age has its pains as well, for sure.

    It’s about 5 p.m. outside. I can see the plants are rustling, so I know there’s some kind of breeze out there. Maybe it’s a kind of Santa Ana, but not a dry one, but a wet one. I’m going to hide from the outside because I’m too comfortable in my bedroom to deal with it.

    Not too far away from my desk is the collection of William Blake my father had lovingly assembled.  The air conditioning keeps whirring quietly, almost silently. Perhaps I’ll go open the pages of the great old Blake, savoring those songs of innocence and songs of experience and that “tiger, tiger burning bright in the forests of the night. What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry?”

    Maybe it’s wrong to be as smug and content as I put on the television and listen to the gloom and doom of what the Germans are doing to the Greeks — to my mind, the whole thing breaks of World War II again. The Germans are really coming across as pricks —lecturing the Greeks about the virtues of austerity. I’ve seen the Germans when they are on vacation in the mountains of Bulgaria. They remain an arrogant bunch, even if they supposedly lost the war. Meanwhile, all the escapees from the civil wars raging in Africa and the Levantine are being dumped into Greece and Italy, with derisive little remarks from the Germans.

    I look out the window again. A bit more drama is going on out there now. Some sort of angry winds are whipping the giant jungles leaves that form the landscaping around the apartment swimming pool. Something angry is out there, but thank God I’m inside.

    You probably have to live in Los Angeles to understand those Santa Anas — those famous winds that blow out of the desert down through the canyon passes into the basin. Raymond Chandler once wrote that when the Santa Anas come, meek wives look at the back of their husband’s necks and sharpen their knives. But the air conditioning is making that hypothetical. The scene outside is more surreal than real. Certainly, the turmoil outside doesn’t perturb the little plastic girl I have dancing on the window ledge. She’s doing a hula dance, powered by sun power. When the sun goes down, she stops dancing.

    But I can’t stop thinking of the other day when my ex-wife called me from across the country. She begged me for help. She was getting evicted. You have to know a way to help, she said. If I didn’t, I’d be killing her. She said she had no car, no way to move everything, including Hammy the blue-fronted Amazon she took with her when she left me for another man. She pointed out I had loved her once, just for that alone I had to find a way to help her. But nothing she said worked. I’m old and tired and have barely enough money to live myself—and I don’t know for how much longer.

    “Of course I care,” I thought, and meant it. But there was still nothing I could do. For the next several nights I dreamt of her being homeless, and woke up upset and drenched and exhausted from the thought. No wonder I didn’t want to feel that raging humidity and heat outside.

    Some years back, as a result of that lingering love, when I came across some extra money I sent her a check for a few thousand dollars. But that was then and now is now.

    I switched on the television.

    “Black lives matter” is the new cry of the civil rights movement. Fox news suddenly wonders why they don’t say “white lives matter,” purposely ignoring the obvious. Maybe it’s because innocent white men and women don’t get killed by cops every day? You think?

    Racists have always taunted the oppressed by being obtuse about the suffering, because they want to deny the suffering. They know perfectly well why people say black lives matter. There’s a wonderful woman I know, a black woman. For a girl from the hood, she has done OK for herself. She’s brought into the American dream and lives a middle-class life—but the other day with a surprising look of deep hurt on her face, she reacted to yet another killing of a black person. I forgot which one it was — in Ferguson, in Cincinnati, in Stanton Island, wherever, and she was suddenly both scared and frightened. It was there to read on her face. My friend is a civilian employee of a police department, so she knew something of the lay of the land. That’s why she felt both safe and scared at the same time.

    Her expression stayed with me. Some people have said it’s wrong to feel sorrier for Cecil the Lion than a dead child. I don’t know how to compare the life of an animal to the life of a human being anymore. Both are sentient beings living on this earth. Both are important. Of course all life is important, black, white, yellow, — whatever. But there’s an immediate real reason to say “black lives matter.”

    I saw a documentary not long ago about music, and in it a flautist is playing his instrument to a dolphin, and the dolphin obviously is enraptured and is swooning. Then the animal starts singing the melodies of his universe, and the human flautist and dolphin create a haunting duet.

    There’s a ridiculous notion around that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure that that doesn’t rank right up there with the words over the doors of Auschwitz, “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

    It ain’t necessarily so. I wish I knew what was.

     

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  • Iconic Mug Shots

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    Icons: we all make use of them in some form or another. Be they in the form of singers, actors, politicians or cartoon characters, we identify with them. We aspire to be them and we worship them.

    We think we know who they are — at least until something jars our perspective.

    Iconic Mug Shots, the new group show by Ray Vasquez, which features seven other artists, does exactly that. It paints some of the most instantly recognizable stars of pop culture in the most instantly recognizable pose of the police booking photo: the mug shot. The works explore how the images of these fantastic gods are impacted when placed within the circle our own vulnerable human reality.

    As I walk into the Azul gallery with Vasquez and his wife Cora, the stars are definitely out. The walls are covered with a veritable pop icon constellation: Adam Levine, Keith Haring, Sophia Loren, and even Bugs Bunny and Mr. Potato Head. They are all painted as though they were caught at the moment the police cameras flashed across their faces.

    So I asked, “Why?”

    “Well,” said Vasquez, “We all have a day job and don’t want to be caught in these kinds of situations, so I think we fantasized

    . “If you look up icon in the dictionary you will find references and images of more saint-like figures like Jesus Christ. You look up to those figures, but you also look up to these icons, their celebrity, which they each achieved for specific reasons, like musicians or actors or even politicians. And when you see them in a mug shot it’s like, ‘Wow, you guys are also kind of human in a way if you can be in a situation like that.’”

    Then I asked them how they came up with these ideas.

    “Well, a couple of years ago we did an icon show,” Vasquez said. “We did the 60s and 70s, just iconic figures. And we were in Long Beach at Warehouse 1333 and it was real successful, and this time we were thinking, ‘Let’s do something really similar.’ We like to do a lot of galleries, you know, like theme shows. We did Day of The Dead, we did a women’s show and we just thought ‘Ah, let’s repeat the show and see if we can further it.’ So as we were talking about celebrities and icons we thought of mug shots. It was just a conversation Cora and I had. Again, just the alter ego on the inside of us and looking into the people we look up to.”

    “We try not to go back on the original [pure] icon or figure like Christ or Nelson Mandela. [Many of] these figures went to prison for years… They didn’t have mug shots of course. I mean, I’m not saying the Dalai Lama had a mug shot but still, he was chastised.”

    “Well, we’re always trying to think of new themes and concepts that will stir up thought about things we’re talking about. The Iconic Mug Shots show that these famous people can get in trouble too,” Cora added. “I mean, with all the arrests going on it applies to everybody. Pointing to a mug shot of Charlie Chaplin, she said “He was blacklisted [as a suspected communist during post-World War II political hysteria]. He couldn’t come back to the U.S. so he had to go to Europe and if he came back he would be arrested. This guy was famous and known and beloved but still he was wanted.”

    Ray also wanted to make it very clear that the intent was not to make fun of these icons. “We’re not trying to make fun of other people’s misfortunes” he said, “We’re not trying to make fun of them.”

    Iconic Mug Shots is being shown through Oct. 25 at the Gallery Azul, 520 W. 8th St. in San Pedro

    Details: www.galleryazul.com

     

     

     

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  • Deedub, KLB Shape their Fate

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Artist and entrepreneur, Deedub, is intent on spreading joy through his ventures to all who will listen. He and his wife, KLB, blend reggae, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and rock into what they call “Earth music.”

    “There are no borders or limits to the genres I will choose from as far as inspiration and to take samples and ideas from with my music,” Deedub said. “I feel like the Earth music label is better than anything for our music.”

    But it’s not just music. Deedub and KLB have their own record label and a line of clothing called Deedub Records Apparel. They bring their sound to community service, most recently appearing at the 2015 Special Olympics. But it is their sound, 100 percent, start to finish.

    Deedub says he has collaborated with the likes of Young Guru (producer for Jay Z) and Khaliq-O-Vision (producer for Michael Jackson) in the past, but he works solo now.

    “I feel like it’s time for me to take the reins and bring the sound that I hear in my head and feel in my heart,” he said, noting that experience has made him better able to express his feelings through the music and production process.

    Deedub says he developed his performance skills during seven years of club gigging, mostly in Los Angeles, but also at the Original Blue Café in Long Beach.

    “I credit them as my training ground and the people who gave me my first opportunities to do shows where they weren’t just some promoter trying to rip you off,” Deedub said. “They actually gave me some respect and gave me a time slot. I really appreciated that. Then we started doing more shows in Hollywood at the Whiskey and the Viper Room.”

    KLB’s role in the music-making has grown larger over time. Previously, she only sang on Deedub’s tracks, but these days she describes their music as more of a partnership. The couple sees the Deedub Records Apparel line as an extension of their sound. The men’s line is on their website and their women’s line debuted at Orange County Fashion Week, Sept. 19.

    “We are unveiling our streetwear, casual items,” Deedub said. “It’s inspired by skateboarding and surf styles — SoCal Style — just the same as our music. Our goal is to make classic pieces and fits.”

    “Including Polo shirts and a little tie-dye,” KLB adds. “We add positive sayings on the tags just to give people a boost and get our message across.

    “Little reminders to people to enjoy life and sing the song of the soul,” Deedub interjects.

    The musical couple spread positivity by donating a portion of their apparel line proceeds to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Sweet Relief helps musicians who develop disabilities or have hardships in their lives.

    “It’s helps musicians who have [a] need for it,” KLB explained. “Musicians who may have had major accidents that affect their ability to make a living.”

    The couple found their way to a performance at the Special Olympics through Reverb Nation’s call for artists’ submissions.

    “I’ve performed at so many bars and nightclubs, and that’s all fine,” Deedub said. “A lot of times the other acts I’ve performed with in the past were kind of the opposite of what my music is about. It doesn’t really jive well for me to perform in those venues so much. Now I’m seeking places that are more like festivals where people are getting together to have good vibes and the enjoyment of life is the goal.”

    “Also it’s where we can inspire people,” KLB added. “I think the Special Olympics was great for that because all the athletes are an inspiration to everybody and it just fit perfectly.

    For KLB the best part of the Special Olympics was performing on stage when a special needs child came up.

    “He was dancing along, following our movements and singing along,” KLB said. “After I would sing my part he would also sing it. It boosted our energy on stage. This is why we’re doing this. It was awesome.”

    “We were performing Liberation, Deedub said. “That was the most special thing and why I do the music, for the message and to connect with people.”

    The pair is working on another album while reaching out to festival promoters to perform and spread their message. That message?

    “Spread love,” KLB said.

    “We want to see people take their power in their own hands,” Deedub said. “Our music is very motivational and empowering. You have a destiny but you also have fate, which you can change yourself. Your decisions and actions really matter and they add up.”

    “It’s pretty deep,” Deedub continued. “I know all the work I’m doing is for a reason that’s probably beyond my understanding. My destiny is to do the music, so I do it happily.”

    Details: deedubrecords.com/deedub_home_page.html

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  • Local Specter Expected at Scary Stories 13

    By Ivan Adame, Contributor

    Scary Stories, which has entertained audiences of all ages with terrifying tales for so long it’s become a local Halloween tradition, returns on Oct. 29 for its spooky-sounding 13th year.

    As if the event won’t be nerve-wracking enough, its producers are anticipating an amorphous green specter, which in recent years has tended to be captured in photographs, to be among the attendees at Angels Gate Cultural Center.

    This Halloween’s 90-minute fright fest will feature locals Melanie Jones, Heather Handwerk, John Charles Meyer and Cathy Scott Skubik in a sort of “greatest hits” performance, reading favorites from the past 12 years. Stories by the likes of Saki, Thomas M. Disch, Mary Howitt and others will be told around a campfire, complete with sound effects.

    In its earliest incarnations, Scary Stories took place at the fire pit where the Iron Circle Nation frequents the annual Many Winters Gathering of Elders event. After seven years, it was relocated to the gun emplacement. That’s when an apparition — photographic or spectral — began to mysteriously appear in photographs by speaker and photographer Handwerk.

    “Some people think it’s a camera glitch, but Heather and I believe that we have a Scary Stories fan from the other side — or the in-between,” said Jones, the director of Scary Stories, during a promotional video on YouTube. “She is getting more and more at home with us. There is a definite communion going on, and we welcome her — or him — or them.”

    Jones says factors like the military presence during both World Wars and the Cold War have made the grounds of Angel’s Gate “founded on fear.” She finds that highly fitting. She’s looking forward to seeing the green specter, too.

    “I’d like to think this green being is rejoicing in the fire and dancing our fear away and trusts us and approves that an old gun emplacement is used for listening and snuggling up and creating community,” Jones said. “I hope she will be back.”

    Scary Stories 13 will take place on. Oct. 29 at Angels Gate Cultural Center, at 3601 S. Gaffey St. Admission is $5. Children six and younger are admitted free. Be sure to bring your own seating and dress warmly.

     

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  • Staff Abuse Censure Hearing Set for Oct. 20

    Carson City Clerk Jim Dear Gets to Tell His Side of the Story on Staff Abuse

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor 

    Politics in Carson has always been a messy business. The March 2015 elections, in which former Mayor Jim Dear was elected to the city clerks office and the upcoming Oct. 20 censure hearings, which delves into his conduct among city staff, gives credence to that reputation.

    The most recent turn of events follows Carson City Council’s unusual step to waive client-attorney privilege. The council announced at the Sept. 15 meeting, that the clerk’s office was investigated by an independent outside firm. The investigation is in response to complaints by city staff to the city manager’s office in August. The council voted to pay the firm $50,000 at that council meeting.

    At the time, Carson Mayor Albert Robles noted that the city was exposed to significant legal liability if staff members elected to sue and the courts found that Dear created a hostile work environment.

    Dear’s supporters, including his lawyer, Bradley Hertz, questioned the timing, adding that such personnel matters, if of genuine concern, are routinely handled in closed session. He charged that publicly airing them amounted to character assassination.

    Initially, only a summary of the report was read into the record by lawyer Maria Aarvig. A week later, the city posted a redacted version of the report on the city website blacking out the names of the people interviewed. Meanwhile, a group allied with Dear called, the Carson Alliance 4 Truth, posted the unredacted version on its website and Facebook on the week of Oct. 5.

    The 52-page report addressed staff complaints about Dear’s behavior. This allegedly caused them to take steps to secure work stations and plan escape routes in the event that Dear became violent. In addition, the report delved into complaints of Dear making racially derogatory remarks and allegedly meddling in personnel matters.

    The interviews, along with the original staff complainants, paint a picture of a work environment fraught with tension. Dear was elected clerk in March; Albert Robles was selected as mayor in April; and a recall election was launched against Dear in June.

    Quick takeaways from the document:

    The staffers interviewed came primarily from the city clerk’s and city manager’s offices, including former city manager Nelson Hernandez and current assistant city manager Cecil Rhambo.

    Two members of the clerk’s office provide perhaps the most detailed account of what was alledgedly happening behind the scenes while Dear was conducting the June 2015 special election and his reaction when recall papers were filed against him later that month.

    Dear relied on temporary help to the exclusion of available full-time staff members in his office. Two of these temps, Joseph Pion and Joy Simarago, spoke in Dear’s defense during the Sept. 17 special council meeting, saying they never heard him say anything racist.

    Though Dear pushed to make them full-time staff in the clerk’s office, the city manager’s office apparently let them go.

    All interviewees gave examples of Dear’s alleged propensity to take the same liberties that he did as mayor, including accessing, unimpeded, every part of city hall, whether he had business there or not. He was allegedly directing staff from other departments according to his priorities and he allegedly forced his will on personnel decisions such as pressuring the city manager’s office to hire or terminate staff members regardless of merit—a power he did not have even as mayor.

    The latter involves the hiring and retention of a former staff member alleged to be romantically linked with Dear. She was allegedly hired as a result of pressure from Dear, despite lack of clarity that she was legally able to work in the United States.

    The city council discussed and approved modified versions of Aarvig’s recommendations that could be immediately implemented to help make staff feel safer in their work environment. These included a review of existing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, adoption of a non-retaliation policy and anti-nepotism policies and adoption of a resolution urging the city clerk to seek professional psychiatric help.

    City Manager Ken Farfsing moved the city clerk’s office staff to another wing of city hall as part of his effort to provide immediate relief for affected staff members.

    By the end of the night, the council had restricted Dear’s access to Carson City Hall’s common areas, the clerk’s office and the vault in the basement.

    Dear has since said he is considering charging the council with violating California’s penal code, which forbids anyone from delaying or obstructing any public official in the discharge of any public duty.

    Dear said he’s making the charge because the council has stripped him of his staff, put them in an entirely separate office and told him to come to City Hall only on business.

    “That’s the only reason I come to City Hall anyway,” he argues. “They cannot ban me from City Hall. I’m an elected official.”

    Dear attempted to have three of his friends serve as volunteer replacements for the staff that was moved from his office, despite orders from City Manager Ken Farfsing to stop. City officials succeeded in obtaining restraining orders against the volunteers.

    Just a day prior, a judge denied the city’s bid for a restraining order against Dear. The judge ruled that the city did not present sufficient evidence to warrant such a step. Another hearing on the ma

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  • China Shipping NOP, POLA’s Failed Mitigations

    Draft Supplemental EIR Admits to Lack of Compliance with Legal Settlement

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The Port of Los Angeles likes to call itself “America’s premier port” and claims it is strongly committed to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations. It likes to call itself the model of “green port technology” even as it facilitates some $290 billion in trade per year as of 2014. Clearly, POLA and the Port of Long Beach are the largest most productive ports in the nation. Together they are also the single highest producing source of air pollution in the entire Los Angeles basin.

    What is little remembered is the lawsuit filed by attorneys Gail Ruderman Feuer (the wife of the current Los Angeles City Attorney) and Julie Masters of the Natural Resources District Council on behalf of several Harbor Area activists against the port’s China Shipping environmental impact report 13 years ago—a lawsuit that resulted in a $65 million settlement.

    Documented in the Amended Settlement Judgment section of the decision is a long list of environmental, cultural and aesthetic mitigations to be accomplished and reported on by both POLA and China Shipping. They have failed to do so since 2011.

    The California Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the NRDC’s favor in this case, finding that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, in failing to address “any site-specific environmental issues related to the China Shipping project.”

    As part of its decision, the court stayed a number of China Shipping terminal improvements including: the last 200 feet of the first wharf, erection and operation of four 16-story cranes, operation of the first wharf and construction of the later phases of the project, until the port and city prepare an environmental review of the project’s impacts in full compliance with CEQA.

    Compliance with this judgment was to be reported at least annually in the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRPs).

    The port says that it has made great strides in meeting its clean air goals and standards, yet after this newspaper filed a California Public Records Act in September of this year, it was revealed that the port has failed to produce any MMRPs dated more recently than April 2011. So it may be impossible for them to verify these cleaner air standards.

    Curiously, this curtailment of the MMRPs is around the time that the port under the leadership of Geraldine Knatz disbanded the Port Community Advisory Committee, which after the China Shipping settlement was used to oversee and inform the public as to the progress of port mitigation on this and other terminal operations.

    Without the pressure of public oversight, the port obviously failed to perform its mandatory reporting. The port continues to deny the relevance of or need for any public oversight and has preferred to hold closed door meetings with neighborhood council presidents, local chamber of commerce directors and their plus-one guests. That plan has clearly backfired on them. A port community advisory board would have clearly caught their non-compliance much earlier and brought it to the attention of the Harbor Commission.

    It has also been revealed that the port failed to include the court-ordered mitigation and reporting requirements during their latest lease renegotiations with the China Shipping Co. over berth 97-109. Now in the current Notice of Preparation in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) the port is claiming that these mitigation and reporting requirements are “infeasible”.

    The port is clearly at fault here and now it is attempting to backtrack and cover up the evidence of its non-compliance. Why these mitigations weren’t written into a long-term lease in the beginning is anyone’s guess at this point. Ever since the port responded to my public records request and issued a Notice of Preparation, the port has instituted a gag order preventing staff or anyone else at the port from speaking to the press.

    Part of the problem is that the port self- certifies its own environmental impact reports. This has historically been a problem here, since their reports are rarely subject to critical review. And in the absence of the PCAC, there’s scant public oversight on compliance.

    Even worse is that the port has only given the public 12 days between the Oct. 7 public scoping meeting and its arbitrary Oct. 19 deadline to respond to the SEIR. This is hardly enough time for the neighborhood councils, public agencies or the NRDC to respond. Clearly that deadline needs to be extended by 120 days.

    The current rework of the SEIR that should concern everyone is that the port is backing off a list of critical environmental goals that include: greenhouse emissions, air quality, transportation/traffic, noise pollution and something called “mandatory findings of significance”.

    Of these, the air quality and transportation categories are probably the most immediate concerns to area residents, even though there is both a state and national mandate to combat greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming.

    Under the air quality section of the NOP, three of the five issues raised were marked as “Potentially significant impact.” These include: full compliance with alternative marine power (electric plug in), vessel speed reduction; liquefied petroleum gas powered yard tractors and liquefied natural gas powered drayage trucks and emission standards for berths 121-131 and 97-109.

    The failure to comply with the original EIR means that not only dirtier air quality for the seven communities surrounding the port and for the workers in the harbor but has an even harsher consequence for those neighborhoods that directly abut the port.

    Because of the missing mitigation monitoring reports it is not entirely clear exactly what mitigations the port has fully accomplished and what they have not, for instance what is the status on these issues:

    • Traffic mitigation plan: The port is required to complete and implement traffic studies for China Shipping and the entire Port by expedited dates in the agreement.
    • Port-wide policy changes: As part of the settlement, the Port has adopted resolutions setting forth two new Port-wide mitigation policies:
    • The Port will require the purchase of only clean, alternative fuel yard tractors for all new leases and “significant” renegotiations of existing leases.
    • The port will now only grant permits for new or replacement cranes if they are “low-profile,” subject to a showing of their feasibility.

     

    Though the port is pinning their argument on the “feasibility” of the requirements, I suspect that the real issue is that China Shipping is trying to wrangle its way out of having to pay any further monies toward mitigation connected to this lease. It is also rumored that China Shipping is going to be merged with another state owned shipping company, COSCO.

    The port’s failure to meet transportation and traffic mitigation goals is another example of the conflict between the traffic needs of local citizens and the future growth of port operations along with the development of the waterfront, designed to turn the Harbor Area into a tourist attraction.

    This failure to meet the transportation and traffic mitigations will only continue to grow as the port regains its pre-2008 container volumes and annual trade surpasses $290 billion per year.

    Even with the current expansion of the 110 and 47 freeway connectors, how does the port expect to expand tourist traffic to the San Pedro and Wilmington waterfronts while at the same time exponentially expanding container traffic on the same freeways? The port makes no effort to address these congestion issues or include the possibility of a light rail connection.

    One of the other unforeseen and unaccounted for issues not mitigated in all of this is the eviction of some 50 homeless people living along the parts of the freeways that are being expanded. This is the human face of the port’s disregard for the consequences of their actions on the surrounding communities or the lives of those impacted by port expansion.

    In the end, this Supplemental EIR is an attempt by the Port of Los Angeles to renegotiate the terms of its Amended Settlement Judgment by self-certifying a new one without going back to court or allowing for adequate time for considered response from the communities affected. They are avoiding holding China Shipping accountable for its part in the failure to protect harbor area citizens from further environmental harm.

    Gene Seroka, the executive director of POLA, has claimed that this is a corrective action and is the consequence of the previous administration’s failure to act, but much of this would have been avoided with more—not less—citizen oversight, which is one mitigation that should be permanently written into the new Supplemental EIR.

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