• RLn ENTERTAINMENT: June 16, 2016

    June 18
    Dave Widow, Bernie Pearl
    Blues-rocker Dave Widow and his band The Line Up bring rhythm and blues back to the Annex, along with Bernie Pearl.
    Time:  8 p.m. June 18
    Cost: $20 to $120
    Details: Brown Paper Tickets
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    June 18
    Tim Weisberg
    Tim Weisberg has long been regarded as one of the most original rock, blues and jazz-fusion flutists.
    Time: 8 p.m. June 18
    Cost: $25
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    June 18
    Long Beach Bayou Festival
    Enjoy the sounds of Lousiana’s zydeco and blues at the Long Beach Bayou Festival.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 18 and 19
    Cost: $25 and $30
    Details: (562) 912-4451www.longbeachbayou.com
    Venue: Rainbow Lagoon Park, Shoreline Drive, Long Beach
    June 19
    Nori Tani Quartet
    The Nori Tan Quartet will perform their Song for My Father concert.
    Time: 4 p.m. June 19
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    June 25
    Yuval Ron Ensemble
    Academy Award Winning composer & oud player, Yuval Ron and his band return to the Annex to share the ancient intercultural connections between the musical traditions of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
    Time: 8 p.m. June 25
    Cost: $20 to $120
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/YuvalRonEnsamble
    Venue: Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    June 25
    John York
    John York is a singer, composer and instrumentalist well known as a former member of the Byrds.
    Time: 8 p.m.  June 25
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    June 26
    Catina DeLuna, Fish To Birds, Ashley Maher
    Asley Maher will kick off the concert with her highly infectious brand of world-folk-jazz, accompanied by guitarist Frederico Ramos.
    Time: 4 p.m. June 26
    Cost:  $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Read More
  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: June 16, 2016

    June 16
    Community Gathering in Response to Orlando Events

    Community members are invited to gather in prayer and music in observance of the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando, Fla.
    Time: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 16
    (562) 434-0996
    Temple Israel, 269 Loma Ave., Long Beach

    June 17
    Free Food Distribution
    Long Beach District 6 is hosting a free food distribution event.
    Time: 9 a.m. June 17
    Details: (562) 570-6816
    Venue: Ernest S. McBride Sr. Park, 1550 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Long Beach
    June 18
    Capitol on the Corner
    You are invited to Capitol on the Corner where you will have the chance to meet and talk with your various elected representatives at the local, state and federal levels.
    Guests include Long Beach District 5 Councilwoman Stacy Mungo, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, Sen. Janet Nguyen, Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Assesor Jeff Prang.
    Time: 9 to 10 a.m. June 18
    Details: (562) 570-5555; Click here to RSVP

    Venue: Wardlow Park Field Office, 3457 Stanbridge Ave., Long Beach
    June 20
    Coastal Board and Stakeholder Meeting
    The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council is hosting its next stakeholder meeting.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. June 20
    Venue: Cabrillo Marina Community Building, 223 Whalers Walk, Berth 28 San Pedro
    June 20
    Unexpected Pedro
    The presubmittal site meeting for Unexpected Pedro, an artwork appreciation mural will be at 4 p.m. June 17.  The Contract Award will be given the week of Aug. 8.
    If selected, the winning muralist will be asked to submit a final, revised rendering.  You can visit the 2d painted mural, which is a transition onto 6th street, with access to the 5th street parking lot.  Artists must design their submission with the location or vista in mind, as well as the imagery from the Warner Grand Theatre.  Artwork showing religious, overtly sexual or political themes will not be allowed.  RSVP for presubmittal site meeting by June 17. The mural is due October 14. Deadline for concept sketch or application is 5 p.m. July 15.
    Time: 5 p.m. July 15.
    Details: (310) 732 -0010; SanPedroWaterfrontArtsDistrict.com

    June 22
    Community Planning Meeting
    Participate in the community planning meeting for Atlantic Avenue and 61st Street in Long Beach.
    Find out about a really exciting development being planned near Houghton and provide your feedback to the city and the developer.
    Time: 6 p.m. June 22
    Details: Facebook events page

    Uptown Façade Improvement Opportunity
    The Long Beach is working with property owners in Uptown to help improve their building façades, signage, painting, landscapes and lighting.
    Details: hunter@uptownlongbeach.com

    Crisis Counseling at the LGBTQ Center Long Beach
    In response to the event in Orlando, Florida, The Mental Health Program at the LGBTQ Center Long Beach is offering free crisis counseling. You may contribute monetary support to the victims of the Pulse Orlando Shooting through Equality Florida’s GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday
    Details: (562) 343-4455; www.centerlb.org
    Venue: LGBTQ Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Pet Safety
    Los Angeles Animal Services is reminding pet owners take extra care of their dogs or cats during the expected extreme heat weather.
    If your dog or cat breathes noisily and rapidly, has trouble swallowing, and looks distressed, he or she could be having a heatstroke, and you should get him or her out of the heat, apply cold, wet towels to the back of the head, cool off your pet and take him or her to the vet immediately.  Don’t leave your pet alone in the car and keep a gallon of cool water and ice cubes in a bucket for your pet.

    Read More
  • Across the Great Divide

    We are recognized as much by our friends as we are by our adversaries

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    This has been a raucous election season and with the results.

    Sadly, Bernie Sanders garnered only 43.2 percent of the primary vote to Clinton’s 55.8 percent in California—nothing at all like what the pollsters were predicting at all. Does anyone perceive the undue influence of the Associated Press prematurely calling the delegate count the day before the election?

    One can only presume that this depressed the Sanders vote, but by how much, we’ll never know.

    Bernie’s parting words, “The struggle continues” was not an admission of defeat, but a pronouncement that the political revolution that started in Iowa has not ended with him bringing 1.5 million voters to the polls in California.

    I have never been more honored than this past week when I learned I was named in Isaac Galvan’s hit piece targeting Warren Furutani—a rival for the 35th State Senate  district. The mailer attempted to slander both of us over the homeless issue. This desperate attempt to use the homeless as a political football so late in the campaign, using the ranting language of the Saving San Pedro vigilantes, is such a crass subterfuge of the political debate as to appear comical.

    In part, Galvan alleges that “Furutani and Allen are the biggest proponents of the ‘Tiny Homes on Wheels for the Homeless’ in San Pedro.”

    It was a statement reminiscent of the Facebook rants of Saving San Pedro’s George Palaziol. Then Galvan exclaims that we are also behind the “busing-in of homeless from Long Beach and Santa Monica.”

    Not only is Galvan delusional in his allegations but he also confers far too much power upon the lowly position of neighborhood councils in Los Angeles—a board with more little more than an advisory role.

    Councilman Joe Buscaino hasn’t been paying too much attention to the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council except for our election rules, to which he then used to qualify a bus load of Los Angeles Police Department cadets to vote as stakeholders in the recent polling on June 7.

    As insignificant as neighborhood council races are to the real politics of Los Angeles, this current race for Central (which extends voting on a second day—June 14) has taken on some symbolic significance, mainly because of Buscaino’s support for his surrogates in the Saving San Pedro uprising.

    This is curious because of the 15 opposing candidates to the slate that I’m working with, five of them are known Republicans. In addition, Allyson Vought, threatened to sue the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council over a spurious copyright infraction of the San Pedro mascot of the famous Three-Eyed Fish logo and was paid a ridiculous settlement of $2,000.

    The two who are also running on the this slate that announces “transparency” and “accountability” are the two incumbent council members responsible for the “copyright infraction” and who objected to my revealing Vought’s name to the full council when the settlement was announced. These are the reactionary people Buscaino is supporting. The only question that should be asked is why? Their full slate can be seen in the  June 2016 edition of the conservative-leaning San Pedro Today magazine on page 19. It’s fairly easy to see the difference.

    Symbolism is high up on Buscaino’s priority list these days as he is being honored by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce on June 16 with its “Bold Vision” award. That may have something to do with finally getting the Port of Los Angeles to sign a lease for the Ports O’ Call waterfront after three years of closed door negotiations. This is political symbolism at its finest. The plan that was released was ultimately a significantly scaled back version than the one announced two years prior. This of course then brings up the not- so-subtle role that POLA plays in both politics and civic affairs in San Pedro and Wilmington.

    Readers of this publication will notice the continued absence of any port sponsored ads for almost a year, while they continue to place ads in our boosterish competition. This can only be explained by the silent influence of Buscaino to dish out to anyone who even slightly criticizes him and his relationship to the Assistant Port Director Doane Liu, his former chief of staff.

    This retribution was on display formally during a bizarre opposition vote at the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce recently over my reelection bid to the board.

    According to one source, it was engineered by Arley Baker, the senior head of communications at POLA.
    Baker showed up to vote at the Central San Pedro elections—something I’ve rarely seen in my years of covering neighborhood council elections. This, while Saving San Pedro continues its attempt at bullying this paper’s loyal advertisers.

    What seems to be agitating their ire is that no matter how much pretty propaganda they put out (they now reach some 53,000 contacts on digital media. Whether they place ads or not in this publication, they just can’t seem to buy off or threaten our independent editorial coverage, especially when it comes to environmental issues.  And that’s what you, our loyal readers respect, even if you don’t always agree. What the Port of Los Angeles doesn’t respect is that with far less budget, we still reach nearly 16,000 more readers who know the difference between propaganda and independent news reporting.

    Why does this even matter? Because the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the $400 billion gorillas in the room and their influence both economically and politically extends far beyond their control of the Tideland Trusts they maintain for the people of California. And the unchallenged power that they wield is daunting to all those who don’t have the agility to push back or who are reliant upon their charity or largess. The real debate that we continue to carry is “what’s the highest and best use” of the State Tidelands?

    Stay tuned. There’s more to come on accountability and transparency at POLA. Thanks for reading.

    Read More
  • MARAT/SADE @ Long Beach Playhouse

    The full title of Peter Weiss’s most famous work, popularly known as Marat/Sade, goes pretty far in telling you what you’re going to see for the next two-and-a-half hours when you walking into the upstairs to the Studio stage at the Long Beach Playhouse. In The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, the loonies are running the asylum for two-and-a-half hours of theatre. It’s a charming conceit, but ultimately little more than that, despite a very strong cast.

    Being armed with a bit of history helps with this one. You’ve at least heard of Sade and his cruel ways, but it’s his radical ideas about freedom, his cynicism about the French revolution, and his denial of the right to property that are central here. Plus, knowing that Sade has been imprisoned by Napoleon (France’s emperor once the revolutionary dust had settled) tells us something about his feelings regarding the present day of the play. Marat is likely to be less familiar to most, but if you know that he was one of the French revolution’s most influential public writers and that he spent a lot of time in sitz baths for a skin condition (he—or the loony who plays him, if you like—spends the entire play in a bathtub), you won’t be too disoriented.

    But Weiss wants you at least somewhat disoriented. This is (as a nice little placard in the lobby informs us) Theatre of Cruelty, part of the surrealist tradition of “break[ing] with Western theatre, and a means by which artists assault the senses of the audience and allow them to feel the unexpressed emotions of the subconscious.”

    Does it work? Well, it didn’t on me. I’m just going to say it: I was bored. I hate saying it, because this cast really knocks themselves out. Noah Wagner imbues Sade with the vitality and arrogance you expect from the original sadist, and each actor-cum-inmate is a distinct presence. But one of the grave shortcomings of Marat/Sade is that, aside from Sade and the minor role of Coulmier (Colton Dillion), the director of Charenton (where the historical Sade really was confined and did put on plays), these are less characters than a collection of tics subsumed into playing roles in Sade’s play. All we know about “the inmate playing Corday” (as she’s billed in the program; played by Liz Waite), for example, is that she’s narcoleptic, highly sexed, and portrays Marat’s killer in Sade’s play. There’s literally nothing more to her onstage. And we know more about her than we do about any other inmate (save Sade himself). In other words, there’s no-one to care about in Marat/Sade. Worse yet, this lack of connection is magnified by how overstuffed Sade’s play is with his philosophical rambles, which may be meant to make you think but certainly are not designed to make you care. The net results is that either you engage with the spectacle, or you don’t engage at all.

    Undoubtedly Sade would not have given a damn about either of these complaints. You don’t have to read much Sade to know that the man was both a pontificator and was not shackled by the confines of literary tradition. A screed on politics, society, and human nature that has next to nothing in the way of dramatic action is probably a fair representation of the kind of theatre Sade might have created.

    But there’s a little thing they teach English majors about in grad school: the imitative fallacy. You can boil it down to a rule of thumb that goes something like: If you’re going to portray someone being bored, the portrayal better not be boring. Weiss has written a play that is not just about what it would be like if Sade harnessed a bunch of lunatics to dramatize events during the last days before Marat’s murder, it is that. The characters are non-actors trying to act, and the text is mere pretext for Sade’s philosophical rambles. It’s low-quality theatre that we’re meant to forgive because it’s supposed to be low-quality theatre.

    But hey, Marat/Sade won the 1966 Tony for Best Play, so clearly there are a lot of people who feel differently. For those people, I’d say the biggest failing of Long Beach Playhouse’s production may be that it’s too tame for its own good. If Weiss’s Marat/Sade is the way it is partly to “assault the senses of the audience,” a production’s going lite on the shock value, such as only the briefest bit of partial nudity despite numerous depictions of open copulation, undermines the play’s raison d’être. I don’t doubt that many Long Beach Playhouse regulars might be turned off by the level of shock value that Weiss and Sade would want; but if that’s your concern, why do Marat/Sade at all?

    The answer, I’m guessing, comes after careful calculation. Long Beach Playhouse is most known for staging populist work and typically draws crowds with a median age of 60. This is a demographic that may be more inclined to window-shop the wild side than to walk on it.

    That said, even most younger, more adventurous theatergoers are unlikely to have seen anything quite like Marat/Sade. And with this cast doing their damnedest to energize Weiss’s words, maybe you should ignore my reaction and find out for yourself what the hype is all about.


    (Photo credit: Michael Hardy Photography)

    Read More
  • Carnivore Hunts Down Best Steakhouses

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    I just broke up with a vegetarian. You could say we parted ways due to artistic differences: I saw meat as glorious and delicious and he— well, he did not. Dating him for the past two months was pleasant, but at the end of the day, food is my religion and I chose meat over man.

    And so, in true Gina fashion (as I do after any breakup) I went on a rampage. I tore through the Harbor Area, eating at every steakhouse imaginable and then some. Every restaurant I graced with my presence was instructed to bring out the obligatory meat option. I was a ruthless carnivore. No sides. No salads. Every plate was devoured with the same fervor as a tempestuous one-night stand.

    Here are some of the best places to grab a great hunk of meat in the harbor:

    Chianina Steakhouse

    Chianina, the Italian style steakhouse, is brought to you by Michael’s Restaurant Group. It features their exclusive Chianina beef — one of the oldest breeds of cattle in the world. Several years ago, Michael’s Restaurant Group started breeding the cattle in Iowa. It currently reigns as the sole purveyor of Chianina beef in the United States. The finished product is a meat that is incredibly tender, lean and flavorful. Chianina reigns true as my favorite steakhouse in the Harbor Area, partly because I’m biased and tend to lean towards anything with Italian flare, but also because the food is amazing.

    The interior is sleek and modern — a boutique-style steakhouse. The portions are appropriate. While they  offer typical steakhouse sides, feel free to opt for their traditional Italian sides like risotto or fettuccine or their delicious seasonal veggies. Sit at the bar and let one of the bartenders craft you a cocktail. Then move onto the dinner menu.

    From 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday nights, they offer a $32 three-course steak dinner, which you will not find anywhere else. Get on their email list for special events, exclusive dinners and seasonal menu changes. They feature great cocktail and wine dinners.

    Chianina is at 5716 E. Second St. in Long Beach.
    Details: (562) 434-2333; www.chianina.com

    555 East American Steakhouse

    Think old-school, traditional style steakhouse boasting classic American dishes. 555 East Steakhouse is a mainstay in Long Beach. It is easily one of the most popular steakhouses for miles around with good reason. All steaks are USDA prime and corn fed for 150 days before they’re  hand-cut, and then aged for 28 to 35 days. If you’re a meat eater and appreciate fine steak, then you get where I’m going with this. If you’ve dined there before, then you know they hardly need an introduction. They sear their steaks in a special broiler and then finish them with a mound of seasoned butter. The tableside Caesar salads and the chocolate soufflé with the molten center need not be forgotten. Indulge one and all.

    555 East Steakhouse appropriately is at 555 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach.
    Details: (562) 437-0626; www.555east.com

    Nick’s on 2nd

    There is always a wait to get a table at Nick’s on 2nd in Belmont Shore in Long Beach, so unless you make a reservation, be prepared to hang out for a while. They operate under strict “spirit of excellence,” and they are very committed to maintaining a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Prices are reasonable and the menu is well rounded. The restaurant offers classic American comfort food. I find steak to be rather comforting, especially after a serious breakup, so I usually order the center cut filet mignon with steak butter and a loaded baked potato. I have never had a bad meal at Nick’s and according to the general reviews, neither has anyone else.

    Nick’s on 2nd is at 4901 E. 2nd St. in Long Beach.
    Details: (562) 856-9000;www.nicksrestaurants.com

    Think Prime

    Think Prime is known for its extensive Happy Hour menu, which they offer everyday of the week. If you live in San Pedro or anywhere else for that matter and you haven’t been to Think Prime, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to indulge in one of the 32 items offered on its Happy Hour menu. From 4:30 to 7 p.m. (and all day Monday) cocktails and snacks are abounds. Oysters Rockefeller, shrimp scampi, the huge tower of onion rings and cevapcici, the Croatian style meatballs, are among the most popular dishes for snacking before indulging in one of their huge bone-in ribeye steaks.
    Think Prime is at 29601 Western Ave. in Rancho Palos Verdes
    Details: (310) 220-0415; www.thinkprimesteakhouse.com

    A member of the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association, Gina Ruccione has traveled throughout Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication

    Read More
  • News

    RL NEWS: June 15, 2016

    Hahn Calls on Ryan to Allow Vote on Gun Policy

    LONG BEACH — On June 14, Rep. Janice Hahn called on House Speaker Paul Ryan to allow the House of Representatives the option of voting to for stricter gun control.
    The request came after the June 12 deadly attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla. On that day, Omar Mateen entered Pulse nightclub and opened fire on a crowd. Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 people before a shootout with police that ended his life.

    “Moments of silence are not enough to honor the victims we have lost and do nothing to protect us from future attacks,” Hahn said. “I am calling on Speaker Ryan to finally allow us to vote on legislation to ban military-style assault weapons and prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms.”

    LB City Council Votes to Revise Sex Offender Residency Restrictions

    LONG BEACH — On June 14, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to revise residency restrictions for sex offenders.
    The revision would bring the city’s regulations into compliance with state law.

    In 2015, the California Supreme Court ruled that restriction prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet from public or private schools, parks, or day care facilities, are unconstitutional because many registrants live in affordable housing units. The court found that the restrictions hindered registrant’s access to employment opportunities and assistance programs.

    The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation stated that most residency restrictions would be determined on a case-by-case basis, except for those related to crimes involving minors under 14.

    Read More
  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: June 15, 2016

    June 25
    B.A.R.K. Dogs
    BARK Dogs will be at the Los Altos Library on June 25. The program encourages children to better their reading skills by reading aloud to certified therapy dogs.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 25
    Venue: Los Altos Library, 5614 E. Britton Drive, Long Beach
    June 25
    I Dig Long Beach 10th Street Tree Planting
    New trees are coming to 10th Street June 25. The Port of Long Beach has provided funding to plant 6,000 trees in Long Beach neighborhoods through 2020. Help plant them
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. June 25
    Venue: Northgate Gonzalez Market, 2038 E. 10th St., Long Beach
    June 29
    CASA Information Session
    CASA is hosting a volunteer information session from 6 to 7:15 p.m. June 29 at Total Wine in Long Beach. RSVP.
    Details: (323) 859-2888; volunteer@casala.org
    Venue: Total Wine Long Beach, Long Beach Towne Center, 7400 Carson Blvd., Long Beach
    June 30
    Leadership Long Beach is Accepting Applications
    Applications are now being accepted for class of the Leadership Long Beach Institute program, which will begin in August 2016. Deadline is June 30. The program creates relationships for the participants to learn directly from those who see and face the challenges and opportunities for the community.
    Cost: $25
    Details: www.leadershiplb.org
    Venue: Leadership Long Beach, 743 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
    Fitness Classes at Plaza Park
    From May 30 to Aug. 26, Plaza Park is offering free summer exercise classes throughout the week. Tuesdays are dedicated to the Run Club, with an early morning boot camp on Wednesdays; CrossFit Kids meets on Friday and Saturday has early morning “Glute Camp,” as well as yoga later in the day.
    Time: Tuesdays 5 p.m.; Wednesdays 6:45 a.m.; Friday 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.
    Venue: Plaza Park, 7000 S. Beacon St., San Pedro

    Read More
  • News

    RL NEWS Roundups: June 14, 2016

    News: LA Council Approves San Pedro Public Market Lease

    SAN PEDRO — On June 10, the Los Angeles City Council approved the 50-year ground lease for the San Pedro Public Market.
    Proponents of the redevelopment are hoping the $150 million project on 30-acres will transform the waterfront into a tourist destination.
    The approval came three days after the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the lease.
    The development is expected to include retail, restaurants, park areas and office space. Construction is slated to begin in 2017.

    Man Killed in Long Beach Car Collision

    LONG BEACH — A man was killed in a traffic collision at the intersection of Carson Street and San Anseline Avenue.
    The crash took place at 12:01 a.m. on June 11. The other driver, a 26-year old Lakewood resident, was rear-ended by a motorcyclist. The car veered off the roadway, hitting a wall, while the motorcyclist was thrown forward into the road.
    Long Beach Fire Department Paramedics responded and determined the cyclist was dead at the scene. The woman sustained minor injuries and was transported to the hospital.
    At this time, the motorcyclist is not being identified pending notification of next of kin.
    Anyone with information is asked to call (562) 570-5520 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Man Murdered in North Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — A 20-year-old man was murdered near the 6400 block of Coronado Avenue in Long Beach.
    The incident took place at about 4 a.m. June 9. Police officers responded to shot calls. When they arrived they found that two men who had been shot in the upper torso. One man was taken to a local hospital and is in stable condition. The other, Wylee Pritchett, a Lakewood resident, was killed at the scene.
    The motive for the shooting is under investigation. However, police do not believe the shooting was gang related.
    Anyone with information is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Long Beach Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Return

    LONG BEACH — On June 8, Carl A. Kemp, 43, the owner of The Kemp group, a public relations firm, was charged June 7 for filing a false tax return for the year 2012.
    Kemp also failed to report more than $200,000 in income received from illegal marijuana stores located in Long Beach.
    In a plea agreement filed, Kemp agreed to plea guilty to the tax offense. Kemp now owes $210,661 to the Internal Revenue Service to cover the back taxes due for the past six years. He also received a civil fraud penalty. The charge of subscribing to false tax returns is punishable by three years in federal prison.
    Kemp will be directed by the court to appear for an arraignment later this month.

    Calderon to Plead Guilty to Federal Corruption

    LOS ANGELES – On June 13, Former California Sen. Ronald S. Calderon agreed to plead guilty to a federal corruption charge.
    He admitted in a plea agreement filed that he accepted tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for performing official acts as a legislator.
    Calderon, 58, of Montebello, agreed to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud through the deprivation of honest services to resolve a case against him that was filed in 2014. The plea agreement comes several weeks before Calderon was scheduled to go on trial on charges contained in a 24-count indictment.
    In the plea agreement, Ron Calderon admits accepting bribe payments from the owner of a Long Beach hospital who wanted a law to remain in effect so he could continue to reap millions of dollars in illicit profits from a separate fraud scheme and from undercover FBI agents who were posing as independent filmmakers who wanted changes to California’s Film Tax Credit program.
    Calderon’s brother, Thomas M. Calderon, 62, also of Montebello, a former member of the California State Assembly who became a political consultant, pleaded guilty June 6 to a federal money laundering charge for allowing bribe money earmarked for his brother to be funneled through his firm.
    In the plea agreement, Ron Calderon admitted participating in a bribery scheme involving two areas of legislation and the hiring of a staffer at the behest of those paying bribes.
    In the first part of the bribery scheme, Ron Calderon took bribes from Michael Drobot, the former owner of Pacific Hospital in Long Beach, which was a major provider of spinal surgeries that were often paid by workers’ compensation programs. (The spinal surgeries are at the center of a massive healthcare fraud scheme that Drobot orchestrated and to which he previously pleaded guilty. Ron Calderon is not implicated in the healthcare fraud scheme.) Drobot was a client of Tom Calderon’s political consulting firm.
    California law known as the “spinal pass-through” legislation allowed a hospital to pass on to insurance companies the full cost it had paid for medical hardware it used during spinal surgeries. As Drobot admitted in court, his hospital exploited this law, typically by using hardware that had been purchased at highly-inflated prices from companies that Drobot controlled and passing this cost along to insurance providers. Drobot bribed Ron Calderon so that he would use his public office to preserve this law that helped Drobot maintain a long-running and lucrative healthcare fraud scheme, which included Ron Calderon asking a fellow senator to introduce legislation favorable to Drobot. The payments from Drobot came in the form of summer employment for Ron Calderon’s son, who was hired as a summer file clerk at Pacific Hospital and received a total of $30,000 over the course of three years, despite the son doing little actual work at the hospital.
    In another part of the bribery scheme, Ron Calderon accepted bribes from people he thought were associated with an independent film studio, but who were in fact undercover FBI agents. In exchange for the payments – including $3,000 monthly payments to Ron Calderon’s daughter for services she never provided – Ron Calderon agreed to support an expansion of a state law that gave tax credits to studios that produced independent films in California. The Film Tax Credit applied to productions of at least $1 million, but, in exchange for bribes, Ron Calderon agreed to support new legislation to reduce this threshold to $750,000, according to the plea agreement.
    Ron Calderon took several official actions with respect to reducing the threshold for the Film Tax Credit. Ron Calderon signed a letter on his official Senate letterhead indicating that he would propose legislation lowering the threshold, introduced a “spot bill” he told an undercover agent would be used to propose such legislation, and promised that he would vote in favor of that proposed legislation.
    In addition to the payments to his daughter for work she did not do, Ron Calderon had one of the undercover agents make a $5,000 payment toward his son’s college tuition and a $25,000 payment to Californians for Diversity, a non-profit entity that Ron Calderon and his brother used to improperly pay themselves.
    As part of the agreement with the undercover agents, Ron Calderon performed official acts that led to the hiring of another undercover agent as a staffer in his district office at an annual salary of $45,105.
    As part of Ron Calderon’s plea agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed not to seek a sentence of more than 70 months in federal prison, a term that is expected to be within the United States Sentencing Guidelines advisory range for this case. However, Judge Snyder would not be bound by any sentencing recommendation and could sentence Ron Calderon up to statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
    Tom Calderon pleaded guilty last week to money laundering and admitted that he agreed to conceal bribe payments for his brother from the two undercover FBI agents by having the money go through his company, the Calderon Group. Tom Calderon allowed payments to be made to the Calderon Group “to conceal and disguise the fact that the money represented the proceeds of bribery,” according to his plea agreement.
    Tom Calderon “deposited the $30,000 bribe payment from [the undercover agent] into the Calderon Group’s bank account and then wrote a check for $9,000 from the Calderon Group’s bank account to Ronald S. Calderon’s daughter,” Tom Calderon admitted in his plea agreement.
    As part of Tom Calderon’s plea agreement, prosecutors have agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than one year in prison, which is expected to be within the United States Sentencing Guideline advisory range for the offense. However, when Judge Snyder sentencing Tom Calderon of September 12, she could impose a term of up to 20 years in prison, which is the statutory maximum penalty for the money laundering count.

    Hahn’s Pipeline Reform

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Hahn’s pipeline reform provision was up for vote on the House Floor on June 8.
    Rep. Hahn has been vocal about the need to protect communities that face the threat of pipeline accidents, such as Wilmington.
    S. 2267, the PIPES Act of 2016, would make sure that the Secretary of Transportation issues formal guidance clarifying pipeline status. The provision would specify the status of pipelines and ensure they get regular inspections that would prevent oil spills.
    “Residents of Wilmington and communities like it across the country need to know that they can trust the system to protect them,” Hahn said. “And for too long the system has failed.

    Read More
  • journalism

    Walking the Thin Line Between Advocacy and Journalism

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    On June 12, I woke up to terrible news. Twenty people killed in the early-morning hours by a lone gunman in Orlando, Fla. The incident took place at gay club on Latino night, during a month of celebration for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.

    My first instinct was denial. I did not want to read further. I went to get my morning coffee and headed to the gym. As I drove back I found out that the number of deaths were at least 50 with an additional 53 injured. With sadness, I fought the tears fighting to burst.

    But that sadness soon turned into anger, as diffused information included details about the shooter’s homophobia and soundbites of police officials quoted them saying the incident was under “investigation.” They could not call it a hate crime, an act of terrorism or even an act of violence at the time. Reporters were also careful to not call the incident anything other than what officials told them.

    What? Excuse me? Fifty people killed at a gay club by a known homophobe with radical ideas about Islam and we can’t call it anything until the president of the United States denounces the crimes 12 hours later? Are you serious? Now, I’m walking a very thin line in writing this post. As journalist I am supposed to remain neutral in reporting the news cycle. So, let me be clear. I am not writing this post as the co-president of NLGJA-LA, I am not writing this as bisexual man; I am not writing this as a Latino; I am writing this post as both a journalist and a human being — two identities that can’t always be separated, and shouldn’t, in my opinion.

    Journalism Ethics

    I became a journalist to add my grain of salt onto the world through information and for the betterment of humanity. And, while I don’t consider my work anything close to the work of well-known and prestigious investigative journalist. I sincerely believe my work makes a difference, however small. If you knew me, you’d know that I have the upmost respect for my career and that I avoid conflicts of interests and ethical missteps.

    And, while I admire newsrooms who maintain themselves at a distance, I often wonder what makes political endorsement acceptable, but support through truth and information unethical.

    I applaud National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s mission to help ensure fair and accurate coverage. The organization has stated that it is not an advocacy group. It wants to help journalists with questions about how to cover the LGBT community, and it has provided some tips as to how to do so at http://tinyurl.com/NLGJA-OpenLetter-Orlando. Here are a few tips, as well as some information from NLGJA’s stylebook on how to handle terminology while covering this story. There’s even more on our website, NLGJA.org.

    1. Don’t assume someone’s sexual orientation. If it’s germane to the story (likely, in covering the Orlando shooting), ask how the person identifies.
    2. Don’t assume someone’s gender identity. If it’s germane to the story (possibly, in covering the Orlando shooting), ask how the person identifies.
    3. Don’t use gay to include lesbian, bisexual or transgender. It’s OK to use “gay” in headlines for space, but make sure to explain it further in the story.

    To assist journalists, NLGJA offers a stylebook on common word choice and tipsheets on issues that affect our communities. You can find both at nlgja.org/resources. NLGJA also has professional development available through its Newsroom Outreach Program. The project was designed to help newsrooms better understand the complexities of covering our diverse communities, while remaining unbiased. Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance. The organization has members in local, national and international newsrooms who are experienced covering these issues.

    Human Choice

    However, it’s not enough. I have decided to take a stand today and call for action, not silence. I am sincerely offering condolences to the survivors of the deceased. I am asking that as a community of not just LGBT people, or journalists, but as humans, we open our hearts, and if possible, our pockets, to the injured and the family of the deceased. I am calling for unity. I am advocating for visibility and strength. I am calling all of us to fight xenophobia. We must not allow this horrible incident to drive a wedge within our communities.

    I wear many labels some by choice and some by birth, but as a human being I must act according to my conscience. I have a position and an opinion about many things, including gun control, religion and culture. And, while I still honor my job as a journalist by working hard to not allow those opinions to influence my reporting, I believe that as a Latino, and as member of LGBT community and humanity, I have the responsibility to acknowledge this act of horror as a devastating tragedy, condemn the actions of people who fuel hate in our communities, offer my condolences and offer any help I am able to provide, including simple information about how to help. It is the least I can do.

    Visit Equality Florida’s Go Fund Me page and give.

    Read More
  • Nation Unites in the Wake of Orlando Tragedy

    Shows of solidarity are being evidenced across the nation in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, which left 50 people dead, and another 53 wounded.

    The nation is voicing its support of the victims of the shooting from the Tony Awards, to late night host John Oliver the message is clear: “We are one.” Hundreds of people lined up to donate blood to the surviving injured, for example.

    The attack came during Pride month, which commemorates the Stonewall riots of 1969. But this week’s pride parades, usually a colorful and celebratory affair, turned markedly somber.

    While the impact was felt around the nation, fear did not dissuade the community from coming together in West Hollywood. The parade went on as planned amid amped up security and the arrest of a 20-year-old, with a car full of weapons, who reportedly was on the way to the festival. Many participants held signs proclaiming, “We are Orlando.” Throughout the country, vigils are taking place in honor of the victims.


    Many elected representative reacted to the massacre in official statements:

    “This act of anti-LGBTQ hate violence stole the lives of over 50 people and left many seriously injured. Our hearts are with the friends and loved ones of those who are mourning today…. As many of us are celebrating Pride month, we must remember that there is still hate and discrimination against many races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities. During this time we must remain unified. We must not allow those that are filled with hate to drive a wedge into our communities.”
    Porter Gilberg, executive director of the LGBTQ Center Long Beach

    “I am horrified by this shooting and senseless act of mass murder. I am so angry and my heart breaks for the victims and their families.”
    —Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach

    “Our hearts go out to victims of this terrible act of terror and their families as they cope with this senseless tragedy. This shooting appears to have been motivated by homophobia. As such, it is a reminder that homophobia is dangerous and can be deadly….. Today, we extend that love to our brothers and sisters in Orlando and [we] march in solidarity with them.”
    —Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin

    “Once again, a shocking act of violence forces us to reflect on the price of allowing easy access to fearsome weaponry. We must distinguish between the freedom to bear arms and the irresponsible policies that open the way, again and again, for our enemies to turn their hatred into explosions of deadly mass violence.”
    —Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

    “This was not just an attack on the LGBT community; it was an attack on our nation and its values… Our hearts ache deeply for the victims and their loved ones with the pain and shared sense of loss that all of us feel when innocent people fall victim to senseless violence. We Stand with Orlando.”
    —George Hofstetter, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs


    Here are few stories that have surfaced in the wake of the tragedy:

    These are the Victims of the Orlando Massacre

    Orlando FacesRead more at Fusion.com and the Orlando Sentinel

    ‘He’s Not a Terrorist, Just an American Homophobe’

    By Grant Stearn
    The horrifying massacre in Orlando … was clearly a hate crime, not an Islamic terrorist attack.
    Read more at OccupyDemocrats.com

    Hate Speech Lit the Fuse

    By Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon
    Every anti-gay politician, every bigoted preacher, every self-hating bully has blood on his hands.
    Read more at DesertSun.com

    Clinton Calls Orlando Attack ‘Radical Islam’

    By Nick Gass
    Hillary Clinton … broke from President Barack Obama in referring to the terrorist attack as “radical Islamism,” countering Donald Trump’s accusations that both she and Obama are weak on tackling terrorist threats.
    Read more at Politico.com

    Equality Florida has set up a Go Fund Me page to help victims and the families of Orlando Massacre

    ABC News Timeline:

    Read More
  • 1 70 71 72 262