• Long Beach Hoists Rainbow Flag

    By Crystal Niebla, Contributing Reporter

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer leaders and allies joined nationwide celebrations following the Supreme Court’s historic ruling making marriage for same-sex couples the law of the land this past June.

    More than 200 members of the LGBTQ community and its allies gathered at a rally outside Long Beach City Hall to hear community leaders speak about the court’s decision. Earlier that day, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is openly gay, raised a rainbow flag over the Civic Plaza as a symbolic gesture of victory for equality.

    Garcia, who has been with his partner for seven years, said that the same-sex marriage ruling was “uniquely important [and] American.”

    “We know now that we are equal as anyone else, and our opportunities as a hopefully future-married couple, will be accepted no matter where we go, and that’s really special for all of us,” he said.

    At the rally, Long Beach Law founder Audrey “Stephanie” Loftin, with her wife, Rebecca Birmingham, explained the legalities of the Supreme Court ruling. Same-sex marriage fell under the liberties and protections granted by the 14th Amendment, Loftin said. However, she said the ruling “did not describe what marriage is.”

    Following the court’s 5-4 decision, President Barack Obama made a statement on the progress in equality the U.S. has made.

    “Progress on this journey often comes in small increments,” Obama stated. “Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

    Although marriage for same-sex couples is now legal nationwide, many of the civic leaders said that there are still issues that the LGBTQ community must tackle, such as workforce discrimination and high rates of homelessness. According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, between 20 to 40 percent of the nation’s homeless population consists of LGBTQ youths.

    Shortly after the Supreme Court decision, #NotTooProudToFight trended on Twitter—a hashtag that urged that the discrimination toward the LGBTQ community is heavier for people of color because they experience intersectional forms of prejudice.

    “I think it’s about building a momentum that reminds us of how interrelated these [issues] are,” said supporter Katie Cox, who identifies as queer. Cox held a sign at the rally that read: “Too Proud Not to Keep Fighting: Love, Justice & Freedom from Violence FOR ALL”

    “One of the reasons that I think gay marriage has had so much popularity… is that it doesn’t fundamentally challenge [issues] like systemic racism in this country,” Cox said. “I think that a lot of my friends of color who are LGBT feel alienated because they don’t include an intersectional perspective…”

    Thadeo Kimble, 34, of Long Beach, who identifies as a transgender man and volunteers at the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, said he felt the ruling made the LGBTQ community voice stronger, but other forms of stigma persist.

    “When we have moments like this, yes, we have to celebrate, but there’s still much more to fight for. Everything’s under an umbrella,” Kimble said. “It’s going to take time and every voice will be heard.”

     

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  • Misty Copeland:

    The Unlikely Dream

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    American Ballet Theatre ballerina, Misty Copeland, reached a new milestone this past month when she was named principal dancer at the storied national dance company.

    When Random Lengths interviewed the emerging icon in 2011, she was in the middle of Prince’s “21 Nite Stand” tour at The Forum. She had landed commercial contracts with ProActiv and Blackberry and was making regular rounds at late-night talk shows such as Lopez Tonight and the Tavis Smiley Show.

    Never shy about talking about her humble beginnings being raised by a single mother, Copeland has often said a girl like her isn’t supposed to be where she is today. Care and nurturing by people and institutions made it possible, along with a belief in herself.

    “You have to believe that you’re good enough…that you’re worthy and know that it’s not easy,” Copeland said. “You have to put in the work, but you also have to allow yourself to dream.”

    Copeland’s reply reminded me of a 1995 ABC News clip in which sports correspondent John McKenzie asked tennis legend Venus Williams if she could beat a particular top-ranked player. Without hesitation, Venus said she could. But McKenzie asked again with a degree of doubt. Venus’ father Richard then backed him down, stating “She already told you what it was going to be.”

    Say what you will about Richard, his faith and confidence in his daughters gave them unshakeable faith and confidence in themselves.

    “It’s not me that’s standing up here. I’m constantly saying that…but it’s everyone who came before me and got me to this position, and all the little girls that can see themselves through me,” Venus said at the time.

    Copeland had a constellation of supporters including Dana Middle School drill team coach Elizabeth Cantine, who saw Copeland’s potential as a 13-year-old child when she auditioned for drill team captain, and Cindy Bradley of the San Pedro Ballet, who ultimately gave Copeland the foundation of classical ballet training on the basketball courts of the San Pedro Boys and Girls Club.

    Copeland recalled in 2011 how Bradley sent her home with several letters offering a scholarship to train at her studio.

    “The first couple [of letters] I didn’t give to my mom because I didn’t want to go back,” Copeland recalled.

    The advanced class she tried was intimidating and she didn’t have a means of getting to the studio.

    “Eventually she got to my mom and convinced me to come back,” Copeland said. “I started at a beginner level and it took off from there.”

    Copeland eventually came to live with Bradley five days a week to accommodate her around-the-clock training. The time also allowed for the acculturating needed to navigate the world of ballet.

    Even after she left the comforts of home for the American Ballet Theatre’s Corps de Ballet in New York, Copeland still needed a corps of cheerleaders to reinforce what she already knew. During the press conference on the day of the announcement, Copeland recalled how mentors such as Lauren Anderson, the first African-American principal dancer with the Houston Ballet, and Raven Wilkinson with the Ballet of Monte Cristo in the 1950s, greeted her on the stage with flowers following her debut as the lead of Swan Lake this past year.

    “I think I would have had a completely different path if there had been more before me,” she said. “Maybe I wouldn’t have worked as hard, I don’t know. But I think this would have been a completely different path.”

    She admitted to having moments of self-doubt and wanting to quit, while wondering if there was a future for a black woman in classical ballet.

    Copeland noted that race and racism wasn’t something talked about when she was a child. She didn’t have a concept that she was different until she joined the Corps de Ballet at 19.

    “When I joined the Corps de Ballet…I looked around and saw only one in a company of 80 dancers,” Copeland said. “I think that’s when I stepped back and said ‘Is this really the path for me. Do I really have a future here?’ I considered dancing at Harlem because I’d be surrounded by people who looked like me and I’d probably get every opportunity I wanted.”

    Becoming a principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre was the dream. Giving up the dream wasn’t an option.

    In her recently published memoir, Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina, Copeland describes challenges she faced from both the standpoint of race and class status:

    I was 19 years old and had just been promoted to American Ballet Theatre’s corps de Ballet. The Corps is an integral part of a dance company, the base that helps to weave the balletic tale. But for most ballerinas the goal is to soar beyond it, to stand out enough to get a featured part, and hopefully, one day, become a principal—that small band of stars. For now, though, I was just one of the cattle, and it was intensely competitive. No one in the main company knew that I was a prodigy who had started training 10 years later than most girls, nor did they care to find out. My reputation didn’t precede me; I had to start from scratch. I felt that the other dancers, and even some of the instructors, were constantly judging me, and that many wondered why I was there at all. Perhaps some of it was in my head, but despite my love for ABT, I felt very much alone.

    When my second year in the corps came, I had another obstacle in my way: I was not the same ballerina that ABT had known before. I had finally had my first period and gained 10 pounds. Where there had been buds that could barely fill a bra, my breasts became full and voluptuous. They were so foreign to me that they were uncomfortably heavy, and I was startled when I looked in the mirror. My body had completely changed. Like myself, I soon realized that ABT, too, was searching for the little girl that I had been.

     

    Copeland noted that despite her success, she still has to work hard, mostly because she still has to deliver at the same level or better to push back against any notion that her success stems from anything other than hard work and talent.

    “With everything that’s happening, I go into ballet class every morning; I work my butt off eight hours a day because I know I have to deliver when I get on the stage,” she said. “I have to go out there and perform live every night and prove myself, maybe more so than other dancers because people are assuming ‘Why is she getting this attention?’ or ‘Is it really because of her dancing?’”

    As Copeland’s star has risen on stage, her participation since 2009 in multiple tours with Prince and her racking up of endorsement deals, including Under Armour sports apparel, have led to ever-growing opportunities off the stage.

    This fall, Copeland will be making her Broadway debut in On the Town, a special two-week run from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6. She’ll be taking over for New York City Ballet principal Megan Fairchild as the main love interest, Ivy Smith.

    When she was asked if there were any other dreams on her bucket list, Copeland said she’s already achieved her dream by becoming a principal at Ballet Theatre. The challenge now is to live it.

     

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  • Exhibitions Put Focus on Mexican Cinematography, Chicano Art

    “Dos Mujeres Frente al Mar,” from La Perla. Photo by Gabriel Figueroa. Courtesy of Williams Bookstore

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Great film is collaboration. A great director works together with a great cinematographer and they point the camera at the most talented actors available. Tradition holds that the director is credited as the genius behind the art of cinema, but the cinematographer is frequently the silent voice hidden within the reel — the director of photography.

    Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa was considered the premier cinematographer of Mexico’s Golden Age of Film. Beginning in the early 1930s and continuing for a quarter-century, Mexico was home to one of the world’s most colorful and diverse film cultures. Not many other countries could claim a comparable range of production, diversity of genres and number of master filmmakers.

    Recently, Santa Monica artist representative Patricia Correia joined her good friend, Alida Post, of Post-Future Art Co. at Williams Book Store in San Pedro, to organize an incandescent exhibition of Figueroa images culled from original 35mm light test strips.

    Revered for his meticulous detail, Figueroa’s collection of photographs is comprised of images taken directly from the final film reel. His photographs are impeccable examples of lighting, composition and chiaroscuro in both landscape and portraits.

    Figueroa’s son, Gabo, approached Correia to revive his father’s striking images and introduce them to a new generation that may not have been aware of his work. The call from the younger Figueroa came at an important moment in Correia’s life. A recent widow, she had closed her gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. The death of her husband and the 2008 recession combined to push her into an early retirement. The project to display Figueroa’s stunning photos inspired her to return to the art world.

    From their inception, movies were predominantly monochromatic—shot in various shades of a single color. Figueroa’s luminous monochromatic cinema defined the golden age of Mexican cinema.

    Figueroa is known for his iconic images that helped forge a Mexican visual cultural identity, including faces swimming in light, figures cast in shadow, and skies so glorious they became known as “Figueroa skies.”

    In the early 20th century, Mexico experienced one of the greatest upheavals in modern history. The Mexican Revolution broke ties with the past and opened the path to a modern nation. Mexican filmmakers were at the front lines of creating this new national character through the art of cinema.

    In this beautiful collection of photographs, you see a nation emerging from rural peasantry, and witness an artist emerging to become a national hero. Diego Rivera called Gabriel Figueroa “the fourth Mexican muralist,” taking his place alongside the greats: José Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Rivera himself.

    “I have done nothing more than to define the boundaries of reality in the hands of the camera,” Figueroa said in 1971. “To tell stories, to invent stories: my life has been nothing more than an accident in an accident in that universe already populated by timeless beings.”

    Nominated for an Oscar in 1964 and honored for his work on the film Macario at the Cannes Film Festival, Figueroa’s work included many classic films including The Fugitive from director John Ford, Under The Volcano and The Night Of The Iguana from John Houston, La Perla from director and actor Emilio “Indio” Fernández and Los Olvidados, created with the master of Mexican film, Luis Buñuel. Figueroa received a lifetime achievement award from the American Society of Cinematography in 1995.

    An additional bonus to this exhibit is Correia’s connection to the Chicano art that rose out of the United Farmworkers movement in California. Post-Future Art Co. has a massive collection of Chicano art posters on sale to compliment the black and white photos from the Figueroa collection.

    In her Bergamot Station space, Patricia Correia Gallery, she has exclusively displayed emerging Chicano artists during the past five years.

    “I showed all the classics,” Correia said. “I showed Patssi Valdez, John Valdez all of them… I wanted to give them all a platform.”

    The movement has finally come into its own, inspired by impressionism, expressionism, the Mexican muralists, photorealism and retablo paintings (devotional paintings using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art).

    The most famous patron of this movement is Cheech Marin. Primarily known as an actor, and performer, Marin has developed the finest private collection of Chicano art in the United States. Correia has brought signed copies of his book, Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge. At the core of the book is a portfolio of 96 stunning paintings, largely drawn from Marin’s own collection.

    The Chicano vision has found its own voice and Post-Future Gallery has some of the best examples on view.

    The closing reception for this exhibit is planned for Aug. 6, during the San Pedro first Thursday Art Walk. Post – Future Art Company is open by appointment and every month during the first Thursday Art Walk.

    Cost: Free
    Details: www.post-future.com or email postfutureart@gmail.com
    Venue: Post-Future Art Company, 443 W. 6th St., San Pedro

     

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  • Garcetti Launches Online Support for Temporary Deportation Relief: RL NEWS Briefs for July 7, 2015

    Garcetti Launches Online Support for Temporary Deportation Relief

    LOS ANGELES — On July 6, Mayor Eric Garcetti launched an online effort to build public support for President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions to provide temporary relief from deportation to immigrants with longstanding ties to the United States.

    These actions are stalled by the Texas v. United States case. The letter calls for support of the president’s reform plans, which will be delivered to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans June 9.

    Despite hundreds of legal experts confirming the constitutionality of these executive actions, the lawsuit continues to bar implementation of the programs. Expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and implementing Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents will positively impact our cities, states, and country.

    The executive actions would add an estimated $41 billion in new tax revenue to our nation’s economy over the next 10 years. If every eligible person applied for and was granted DACA and DAPA, over the next decade the United States GDP would increase by $90 to $210 billion, adding 150,000 jobs.

    Garcetti has long been committed to municipal action on immigration. He re-established the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and launched the “Step Forward L.A.” campaign, which helps navigate the path to citizenship and aims to assist 100,000 Angelenos across the city with DACA and DAPA processes.

    The effort supports actions taken by the Cities United for Immigration Action coalition, a movement co-led by Mayor Garcetti. In April, Mayor Garcetti helped recruit over 70 cities and counties to file an amicus brief in the Texas v. U.S. case, arguing the critical need to fix our country’s broken immigration system.

    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will start hearing oral arguments on July 10. Leading up to that date, members of various organizations will present printed copies of Garcetti’s petition to the Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

    “Recent Supreme Court triumphs show us that public opinion matters. By raising our voices, we are fulfilling our responsibility as Americans to pursue a more equal and inclusive society. We are asking the Fifth Circuit Court to implement these executive actions, which will build a more robust economy and strengthen core American values,” said Mayor Garcetti.

    To find out more and sign the petition, visit www.lamayor.org/daca_works

    Garcetti Announces New Public Works Commissioner

    LOS ANGELES — On July 2, Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Joel Jacinto to the Board of Public Works.

    Jacinto serves on the Affordable Housing Commission and is executive director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, a community-based organization that empowers youth, families, and businesses through health and human services, community economic development, and through a community center that serves as a place for collaboration and community engagement.

    Throughout his career, Jacinto has been active in networks and coalitions that advocate for diverse communities, especially underserved and low to moderate income populations. He was instrumental in the creation of Historic Filipinotown and worked closely with the City to enhance the public spaces in that neighborhood to reflect its character, such as creating decorative crosswalks, installing streetlight banners, and building a gateway sign at Silverlake Boulevard and Temple Street.

    Jacinto recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greenlining Institute, a public policy, research, and advocacy non-profit organization based in Berkeley, Calif.

    Complementing his work in social services, Jacinto is a long-time arts and cultural practitioner, having co-founded in 1990 a Filipino folk and traditional arts organization, Kayamanan ng Lahi. He was also a founding board member of the Alliance for California Traditional Artists (ACTA), which provides advocacy, grants, and other resources for folk and traditional artists in California to preserve the health and longevity of California’s cultural landscape.

    Hailing from San Francisco, Jacinto attended UCLA and received his degree in Kinesiology. He also completed post-graduate coursework in Public Health at the University of Hawaii Manoa and Applied Anthropology at California State University Long Beach. Jacinto has resided in Los Angeles for 26 years, along with his spouse Ave and two sons, Kai and Keianu.

    The City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works (BPW) is the five-member executive team responsible for the administration of the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, overseeing and managing more than 5,000 employees within the Department’s five bureaus: Bureau of Contract Administration, Bureau of Engineering, Bureau of Sanitation, Bureau of Street Lighting, and the Bureau of Street Services. Public Works is responsible for design, construction, renovation, and operation of public projects ranging from bridges to wastewater treatment plants and libraries; curbside collection and graffiti removal; and maintenance of streets, sidewalks, sewers, streetlights, and street trees.
    If confirmed by the City Council, Jacinto will directly oversee the Bureau of Engineering.

     

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  • Bixby Park Construction Project Begins: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS July 3, 2015

    July 6
    Bixby Park Construction Project Begins
    The first phase of planned renovations at Bixby Park is scheduled to begin on July 6, with the construction of a new playground featuring a 2- to 5-year-old play structure and a 5- to 12-year-old play structure with climbing components and slides, sand play areas, eight swings, a cable climber, two universal access slides, and an additional shaded seating area.
    The playground renovation will involve fencing around the construction area, and the occasional closure of parking spaces and sidewalk areas to accommodate equipment and delivery during the construction hours of Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., and occasional Saturday hours.
    The renovations will also include a fitness loop, with construction scheduled from July to August 2015; and a free-standing restroom, with construction scheduled from July through December 2015.
    Funding for the entire project includes $1 million appropriated by the City Council for the FY 2014 Capital Improvement Program Budget, and $250,000 in one-time funding from the Second Council District for Park Playground and Other Improvements.
    Details: (562) 570-3165
     
    July 6
    Musical Theatre West Offers Summer Youth Conservatory Programs
    Throughout the month of July, Musical Theatre West is providing free and affordable arts enrichment programs for children of all ages through two Summer Youth Conservatory programs this summer, offering aspiring student performers (ages 8-18) the opportunity to work with theatre professionals in developing their musical theatre skills.
    Musical Theatre 101, an introductory program teaching students the basics of musical theatre and auction prep, takes place July 6 to 10.  The morning session from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for students grades second through seventh is full, however limited space is available for the 1 to 4 p.m. program for students grades eighth through 12th.  The cost for the one-week camp is $150.
    Discovering Theatre is for students with a background in theatre and students who enjoyed Musical Theatre 101.  The program runs two weeks, from July 13 through 24. On July 23 at 7 p.m. students will perform in a show they created for the public, family, and friends.  Limited space is available for this class for students grades second through seventh and space is still available for students grades eighth through 12th.  The cost for the two-week program is $275.
    Students wishing to participate in all three weeks of training will receive a $75 discount – only $325 for both programs.
    Time: 9 to 4 p.m. July 6 through 23
    Details: (562) 856-1999 ex. 232; Brandon@musical.org
    Venue: Musical Theatre West, 4350 E. 7th St., Long Beach
     
    July 7
    NWSPNC Youth and Outreach Committee
    The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council will host its Youth and Outreach Committee and board meeting agenda.
    Time: 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 7
    Details: View agenda here.
    Venue: City Hall Building, 638 Beacon St., Room 452, San Pedro 
     
    July 7
    Central SPNC Executive Board, Agenda Setting Meeting
    The Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council will host its executive board and agenda setting meeting.
    Time: 6 p.m. July 7
    Details: View agenda here.
    Venue: The Whale & Ale, 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    July 7
    LB City Council
    City Manager Patrick West has placed a request for Long Beach City Council direction on the July 7 city council agenda regarding JetBlue’s request for federal inspection services at the Long Beach Airport to allow international flights. JetBlue sent a letter to the City of Long Beach in February requesting the city to apply to the federal government for a customs facility. On March 3, the city council voted in support of motion by Councilman Al Austin, along with Councilman Roberto Uranga, to not take any action regarding JetBlue’s request until receiving further direction from the council, and to delay any request for direction until 60 days after there was full representation on the city council, following the special election in April to fill the vacancy in the Fourth District.
    The city council also is expected to consider an ordinance amending the Long Beach Municipal Code that relating to livestock and other animals.
    Time: 7 p.m. July 7
    Details: here
    Venue: Long Beach City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    July 8
    Capture POLB
    Photos from beginners, amateurs and pros to be exhibited at MoLAA
    The Port of Long Beach is partnering once again with the Arts Council for Long Beach for Port of Long Beach Photo, a three-part photography learning experience for amateur and pro photographers alike. The free program will be held this summer and end in October in conjunction with Long Beach Arts Month, which is an annual celebration of local arts and culture.
    The series consists of a workshop taught by Port photographers, followed by a twilight shoot aboard a boat, culminating with a gallery exhibition and reception showcasing photos from every participant, with recognition for the best work. A DSLR camera is mandatory to participate.
    This is the third year that the Port has partnered with the Arts Council for this successful photo program. We’re also happy to announce that the exhibit will be featured at the Museum of Latin American Art this year.
    Reservations will open Wednesday, July 8, at noon and are limited to 75 people.
    Program Details
    Port of Long Beach Photo Workshop
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. July 25
    Port of Long Beach Photo Tour
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 1
    Port of Long Beach Photo Gallery
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 3
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave, Long Beach
    Details: RSVP by clicking here, www.polb.com/photoworkshop

    July 11
    Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum Volunteer Open House
    Join the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum for a fun and interactive volunteer open house. The volunteer open house will offer you a chance to learn about the Adobe, wonderful volunteer opportunities and meet some volunteers.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 11
    Details: (310) 603-0088; www.dominguezrancho.org
    Venue: Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, 18127 S. Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez

    July 13
    LB Board of Harbor Commissioners Agenda
    A Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners agenda has been released.
    Time: 6 p.m. July 13
    Details: (562) 283-7070; BHC Agenda
    Venue: Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices, 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach
     
    July 13
    Auditions for Psycho Beach Party
    The Long Beach Playhouse is proud to announce open call auditions for a Psycho Beach Party by Charles Busch. The play is a combination of Gidget  and The Three Faces of Eve, this spoof features a gender-bending cast, surfer culture, and a good girl/bad girl story, all set on a Malibu beach in 1962.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. July 13 and 14
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach
     
    July 19
    Beach Clean Up
    Join the monthly (third Sunday of the month) beach clean up. Enjoy some fresh air and get a little exercise while doing your part in helping to keep some of the garbage out of the ocean and off of the beach.
    Time: 12 to 2 p.m. July 19
    Details: www.facebook.com/events/380630362133973
    Venue: Junipero Beach (on the sand at the end of Junipero), Long Beach

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  • POLA Starts Construction on Yusen Terminal Improvements: RL NEWS Briefs of the Week of July 2, 2015

    SAN PEDRO

    POLA Starts Construction on Yusen Terminal Improvements

    SAN PEDRO — The Port of Los Angeles will begin construction this summer on a two-year project to improve the marine container terminal operated by Yusen Terminals LLC. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has awarded Manson Construction Co. a $44.6 million contract to upgrade berths, and backlands at Berths 212-224.
    Based on all design, project management and construction costs, the port’s total investment is estimated at more than $67 million. This amount includes cost for an on-dock rail project which will be done under a separate contract in 2016. Additionally, Yusen estimates it could invest more than $60 million in support of the project. About $8 million of the port’s costs will be paid by California Proposition 1B Transportation Bond funds.
    Yusen operates the 185-acre container terminal under a long-term lease with the port that extends through 2026. The project is part of the Port’s larger capital program aimed at enhancing berth, gate and rail efficiencies at all Los Angeles marine terminals. Over the next five years, the port plans to invest more than $800 million in its facilities.
    The project consists of upgrading wharf, and backland infrastructure within the terminal’s existing footprint to enhance Yusen’s ability to service the biggest ships in the trans-Pacific trade lanes. The improvements will allow Yusen to simultaneously work three container ships carrying up to 13,000, 11,000 and 6,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) respectively and ensure cargo flows during peak periods when ships call at all three berths.
    To date, the largest ship that has called at Yusen is an 8,500-TEU vessel. The terminal typically receives 6,500-TEU ships and works two vessels concurrently.
    Major project elements include:

    • Deepening Berths 214-216 from -45 to -53 feet and Berths 217-220 from -45 to 47 feet.
    • Adding up to four new ship-to-shore gantry cranes and raising some existing cranes to equip the terminal with up to 14 operating Post-Panamax cranes, including eight Super Post-Panamax cranes with a maximum outreach of 197 feet or 22 container rows across.
    • Extending the wharf crane rail infrastructure that supports lateral repositioning of ship-to-shore cranes by adding 1,500 feet of crane rail at Berths 217-220.
    • Adding four new alternative maritime power (AMP) boxes at Berths 217-220 to provide shore to ship electrical connection facilities.
    • Increasing Yusen’s on-dock rail capacity 25 percent by adding a single 2900-foot line of loading track to accommodate higher container volumes in a short period of time when large ships call.

    The project incorporates 25 measures to mitigate environmental impacts during construction and ongoing terminal operations. They include using the cleanest construction equipment, implementing noise reduction strategies and recycling building materials for use on-site or other construction projects. Green practices include:

    • By Jan. 1, 2017, 95 percent of the ships calling at the terminal will comply with the Port’s expanding Vessel Speed Reduction Program and slow to 12 knots with 40 nautical miles of Point Fermin.
    • By 2026, NYK-operated ships calling at the terminal must run on shore power for 95 percent of the time they are at berth.
    • Independent energy audits will be done every five years and energy-saving technology will be used wherever possible throughout the facility.

    The construction project is expected to generate about 592 jobs during construction and eventually add more than 2,200 permanent direct and indirect jobs to the Southern California economy through 2026. More than 13 percent of Manson’s subcontractors and suppliers are small or very small business enterprise companies. Construction will be done under a project labor agreement that facilitates timely project completion, ensures fair wages are paid and promotes use of local labor.

    LONG BEACH

    Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach Announce New President of Board of Directors
    LONG BEACH — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Long Beach appointed Trent Bryson as its new president of the board of directors.
    Trent is a business owner and CEO of Bryson Financial, a Long Beach-based business.
    Trent two-year term began July 1. He will be responsible for leading more than 40 volunteers.
    The club serves about 4,300 children annually.

    LB Launches Unpermitted Construction Crack Down Hotline
    LONG BEACH — On June 30, Long Beach announced the implementation of a new Saturday hotline to address concerns about potential unpermitted construction.
    The unpermitted construction hotline is open to the public each Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anonymous complaints regarding potential unpermitted construction may be reported by calling (562) 570-0000. All reports will be investigated and will be subject to a site visit by a code enforcement inspector.
    Anonymous referrals about possible unpermitted, unsafe, unhealthy, or unsightly conditions in homes and neighborhoods may also be reported after business hours at (562) 570-2633 or www.lbcode.org.
    In cases of verified unpermitted construction, the city will issue a Stop Work Order to the responsible party, halting all further building activity. The Stop Work Order will remain in effect until the city has determined that the property is in compliance, and all applicable permits have been issued. Failure to comply with the notice in a timely manner will result in administrative citation fines and possible case referral to the city prosecutor’s office.
    Most major construction projects, including alterations and repairs, require a permit of some type to ensure the safety and health of property occupants and neighbors. Projects that typically do not require a permit include fence additions, interior painting and repairs of existing plumbing leaks and faucets.
    Code Enforcement responds to complaints of violations of the Long Beach Municipal Code, including substandard buildings, property maintenance, inoperative vehicles, weed abatement and land use violations.
    The city encourages a preliminary consultation prior to beginning any project, and has designated staff available to discuss the various technical aspects associated with each individual project.
    To schedule an appointment with city staff, call (562) 570-6194 or visit the Permit Center at City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., 4th Floor, Long Beach.

    Top Seaport Honors Go to Long Beach
    LONG BEACH — On June 29, the Port of Long Beach was named the best seaport in North America at the recent Asian Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Awards in Hong Kong, hosted by the shipping trade publication Asia Cargo News.
    The award recognizes the best ports as judged by importers, exporters, and logistics and supply chain professionals. In the past, the program was organized by another publication, CargoNews Asia. If viewed as a continuation of those awards, this is the Port of Long Beach’s 17th time in the last 20 years winning the Best North American Seaport honors. A year ago, Long Beach won the award for being the world’s Best Green Seaport, based on its environmental record.
    The more than 15,000 industry professionals who read Asia Cargo News participated in the nomination and selection of winners. The awards were presented recently at an event in Hong Kong. Awards also are given in many categories, including best shipping lines, container terminals, air cargo terminals, airports and rail haulers.

    Robbery Suspect Arrested, Charged, Firearms Recovered
    LONG BEACH — On June 29, multiple felony charges were filed against 21-year-old Randall Nick Young, a Long Beach resident, for his involvement in two commercial robberies that occurred Long Beach.
    Young is suspected of entering a restaurant in the 4300 block of East Anaheim Street with a handgun and demanding money on June 22, and doing the same in the 600 block of Redondo Avenue on June 24. The loss was cash in both instances and nobody was injured in either incident.
    Robbery detectives received an anonymous tip that the suspect lived at a residence in the 3300 block of Roxanne Avenue in Long Beach.
    On June 25, detectives served a search warrant at the residence and arrested Young in connection to the robberies. During the course of the investigation, the suspect’s 48-year-old father, Martin Young, was also arrested for weapons and narcotic violations. Detectives recovered in excess of 50 firearms at the residence, in addition to evidence believed to be connected to the robberies.
    The case was presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for review on June 29. Randall Young was charged with four counts of robbery. He is currently being held at Los Angeles County Jail on $100,000 bail.
    Martin Young has since made bail and is expected to return to court on July 24. The District Attorney’s Office is still reviewing Martin Young’s case for filing.
    If anyone has information regarding these crimes they are urged to call (562) 570-5537 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Investigation Leads to Major Drug, Cash Seizure
    LONG BEACH — The Long Beach Police Department Drug Investigations Section served a search warrant on a residence resulting in the seizure of several pounds of illegal narcotics and cash believed to be related to a large scale drug trafficking ring.
    Detectives targeting high volume narcotics shipments in the Long Beach area made contact with suspected narcotic traffickers. Detectives then followed leads that led to the 700 block of McDonald Avenue in Wilmington. There they served a search warrant resulting in the seizure of the following:
    • 124 Pounds of cocaine
    • 3 Pounds of methamphetamine
    • About $25,000 in cash
    One person was detained in connection to the narcotics, however the LBPD is not releasing their identity at this time pending further investigation.
    Anyone wishing to report illegal drug activity should contact the Long Beach Police Department’s Drug Investigations Section at (562) 570-7221 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    LOS ANGELES

    Garcetti Announces New Public Works Commissioner
    LOS ANGELES — On July 2, Mayor Eric Garcetti nominated Joel Jacinto to the Board of Public Works.
    Jacinto serves on the Affordable Housing Commission and is executive director of Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, a community-based organization that empowers youth, families, and businesses through health and human services, community economic development, and through a community center that serves as a place for collaboration and community engagement.
    Throughout his career, Jacinto has been active in networks and coalitions that advocate for diverse communities, especially underserved and low to moderate income populations. He was instrumental in the creation of Historic Filipinotown and worked closely with the city to enhance the public spaces in that neighborhood to reflect its character, such as creating decorative crosswalks, installing streetlight banners, and building a gateway sign at Silverlake Blvd. and Temple Street. Jacinto recently received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Greenlining Institute, a public policy, research, and advocacy non-profit organization based in Berkeley, Calif.
    Complementing his work in social services, Jacinto is a long-time arts and cultural practitioner, having co-founded in 1990 a Filipino folk and traditional arts organization, Kayamanan ng Lahi. He was also a founding board member of the Alliance for California Traditional Artists (ACTA), which provides advocacy, grants, and other resources for folk and traditional artists in California to preserve the health and longevity of California’s cultural landscape.
    Hailing from San Francisco, California, Jacinto attended UCLA and received his degree in Kinesiology. He also completed post-graduate coursework in Public Health at the University of Hawaii Manoa and Applied Anthropology at California State University Long Beach. Jacinto has resided in Los Angeles for 26 years, along with his spouse Ave and two sons, Kai and Keianu.
    If confirmed by the Los Angeles City Council, Jacinto will directly oversee the Bureau of Engineering.

    Garcetti Announces $15 Million in Funding for Housing Homeless Veterans
    LOS ANGELES — On July 1, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the Los Angeles area will receive more than $15 million from the first round of Proposition 41 grant returns.
    These grants will help with housing, disability benefit advocacy and health care. Five projects across Los Angeles, from Skid Row and East Los Angeles to Crenshaw, will receive funding.
    This is the first round of funding through Proposition 41 and the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Program.
    Seventeen programs across the state received funding and the majority of those programs committed to providing intensive support services that respond to veterans’ individual needs.
    A second round of awards will be available this fall, providing additional opportunities to apply for and receive funds for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, and preservation of affordable multifamily housing for Los Angeles’ veterans and their families.
    Garcetti campaigned in support of Proposition 41, which passed in 2014 and will make $600 million available to expand housing options for veterans, allowing homeless veterans and their families who struggle with disabilities and unemployment to access safe, decent, affordable places to live.
    The mayor also partnered with Governor Jerry Brown to help educate local developers and service providers about how to apply and compete for Prop. 41 funding.
    Between January 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, Los Angeles housed 3,960 homeless veterans, a press release stated.

    LA Failed to Collect $1.8 Million for Traffic Control
    LOS ANGELES – On July 1, Controller Ron Galperin released an audit of “Special Event” assignment and reimbursement practices at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Auditors found that, when providing traffic control at gatherings like sporting events and movie premieres, poor accounting and inadequate cost monitoring resulted in the city swallowing $1.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year in employee overtime costs — money that should have otherwise been paid by sports teams, entertainment companies and other event sponsors.
    City labor agreements require that traffic officers and other DOT employees receive time-and-a-half when they work overtime and perform traffic control at special events.
    The city generally absorbs the traffic control costs associated public rallies and demonstrations. But when it comes to the Academy Awards, Hollywood Bowl nights, block parties and certain other such events, the sponsors are generally supposed to reimburse the city for traffic control overtime costs.
    Galperin’s audit found that in Fiscal Year 2013-14, the DOT deployed personnel to 2,242 special events and paid out $5.9 million — 40 percent of all DOT overtime — to employees who managed traffic at them. While $3.5 million of the 123,000 hours of overtime was reimbursed, $1.8 million —which should have been billed to and collected from event sponsors — was instead absorbed by the city because the DOT didn’t properly track and monitor how much it was spending on event overtime and costs.
    The audit further found that, in instances where the DOT had a standing contract to provide traffic services at venues like Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Bowl, the department miscalculated the hourly rates it paid its own employees. Consequently, in FY 2013-14, the DOT underbilled venues by $147,808.
    In his letter to policymakers, which accompanied the audit, Galperin also questioned why the City was only recovering the cost of paying employee overtime and not other costs associated with traffic control, like department overhead, uniforms, wear and tear on City vehicles that would otherwise be garaged, fuel costs, and potential workers’ compensation costs.
    Last month, Galperin released a related audit detailing exceptionally high overtime use in the DOT. The audit found that, as a percentage of salary costs, the DOT paid more overtime than any other department except the Fire Department. The cost of paid overtime at the DOT more than doubled from FY 2009-10 to $14.6 million in FY 2013-14. Paid overtime accounts for 12 percent of DOT salaries — compared to 5.6 percent at the Los Angeles Police Department and 4.7 percent at other civilian departments.

    LA City Council Approves PACE Financing
    LOS ANGELES — On June 30, The Los Angeles City Council authorized three Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) providers to provide easy to access financing for seismic retrofits, energy efficiency projects, renewable energy installations, and water conservation – including turf removal.
    PACE financing allows property owners to access long-term financing that they pay back through their property taxes. This structure simplifies lending procedures and gives property owners access to a network of pre-qualified contractors whose work quality is checked by the lender.
    This is the second significant initiative of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s earthquake plan that has been approved by the city council. This past month, the council approved an ordinance that will prevent cell towers from collapsing so LA residents can communicate and our businesses can function after an earthquake.
    The council action also instructs the CAO to consider bringing additional providers into the market in the coming months.
    Read more about Mayor Garcetti’s earthquake plan at www.lamayor.org/earthquake and his sustainability plan at www.lamayor.org/sustainability

    Garcetti, Cedillo Improve Ellis Act Enforcement
    LOS ANGELES — On June 30, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Gil Cedillo, chairman of the Housing Committee, announced a call to city departments to improve enforcement of the Ellis Act.
    The Ellis Act is a 1985 California law that allows properties subject to rent stabilization to be removed from the rental market. Intended to offer landlords a means to “go out of business,” the Ellis Act is sometimes abused in order to evict tenants, especially in strong real estate markets.
    Cedillo introduced a motion that directs the Housing and Community Investment Department to review permits for properties that have invoked the Ellis Act at all stages of their development plans, including the issuance of both demolition permits and building permits, for a 5-year period after the properties have been withdrawn from the rental market. This closes an existing loophole and ensures that property owners follow the city’s rent stabilization ordinance, when they remove units through the Ellis Act.
    To raise awareness of the City’s rent stabilization regulations and provide better information to both renters and property owners, Garcetti is asking that properties subject to the rent stabilization ordinance be indicated in the zoning information mapping access system. The zoning information mapping access system an online resource that provides property information to the public at zimas.lacity.org. The zoning information mapping access system will also indicate properties that have filed for removal from the rental market under the Ellis Act.
    From 2005 to 2014, the city lost more than 13,500 rent-stabilized units through Ellis Act removals.

    Decker Sworn In as U.S. Attorney
    LOS ANGELES – Eileen M. Decker was sworn in, June 29, in a private ceremony as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
    Decker was sworn in by U.S. District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell in her courtroom in the United States Courthouse.
    Decker now leads the largest United States Attorney’s Office outside of the District of Columbia. The office, which currently employs about 250 lawyers, serves more than 19 million residents in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
    After being unanimously confirmed by the Senate on June 11, Decker was given a four-year appointment by President Barack Obama. Decker succeeds U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., who resigned to become a United States District Judge in August 2014.
    Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Decker was the Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety for the City of Los Angeles, and served in the administrations of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. As Deputy Mayor, Decker was responsible for matters related to the police department, fire department and emergency management department. In addition, she was the principle government liaison to all federal law enforcement agencies for Los Angeles.
    Decker was an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1995 until 2009, during which time she prosecuted cases in the office’s national security, fraud and violent crime sections. For most of her almost 15 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Decker acted as a supervisor, serving as the chief of the National Security Section (2007 to 2009), deputy chief of the Organized Crime and Terrorism Section (2002 to 2007), and deputy chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force (1999 to 2002).
    From 1990 to 1991, and again from 1992 until 1995, Decker worked in private practice in Los Angeles at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. From 1991 until 1992, she served as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor in the Central District of California.
    Decker received her undergraduate and law degrees from New York University. She also received a master’s degree in Homeland Security Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School.

    Gilmore to Serve as Sister Cities Of Los Angeles Chairman
    LOS ANGELES — On June 26, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Tom Gilmore as chairman of Sister Cities of Los Angeles, as prescribed by the organization’s bylaws. Councilmember Tom LaBonge will serve as Chairman Emeritus and continue to support the work of Sister Cities with his longstanding relationships.
    Sister Cities of Los Angeles is a 501(c)(3) that was founded as part of the broader movement around Sister Cities International, a nonprofit Washington-based organization that emerged from President Dwight Eisenhower’s People-to-People program in 1956. Sister Cities of Los Angeles coordinates programming in the areas of civics, education, culture, trade and economic development, travel, sports and recreation, and other areas of mutual interest. Sister Cities of Los Angeles promotes the image of Los Angeles around the world, expands global interest in the city, and invites visitors to Los Angeles.

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  • Tongva Allies With Homeowners to Fight Plains All American

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On June 14, John Tommy Rosas, tribal administrator for the Tongva Ancestral Tribal Nation, filed a notice of public nuisance against Plains All American Pipeline.

    The notice was related to the April 19 Santa Barbara oil spill. The Tongva Ancestral Tribal Nation’s traditional lands encompass the Los Angeles basin, from the offshore islands to as far inland as Redlands.

    “Due to your negligence on May 19, 2015, you created a disaster,” states the letter that the Tongva Nation’s legal representative, Anthony Patchett, wrote.

    It goes on to cite some well-known aspects of the disaster—the leaking of 101,000 gallons of crude oil, two state beaches closed, a fishing ban and the deaths of hundreds of birds—but it also notes that an oil slick “stretched down the shoreline of California, and entered the Tongva/TATTN tribal waters and tribal coastal areas including wetlands of the Tongva Ancestral Territorial Tribal Nation in Marina del Rey.”

    The concern with Plains was not new, Rosas explained.

    “I’ve been fighting with Plains and obstructing their permits, and continuations of their impact on our land for six or seven years now,” Rosas said. “They’ve been a constant problem.

    “We have serious concerns about all this oil production offshore, the impacts, the fracking, it’s all been an issue forever… It impacts land, it changes the integrity of the land.”

    And, that clashes with deeply held spiritual beliefs.

    “So we have a duty to do what we can do, no matter who’s controlling the land,” he said. “We still fight for the earth and fight for the animals for the environment and for the future generations, no matter who they are.”

    The Tongva tribe has a unique legal role to play, Rosas argued.

    “We have international law rights that have to be honored and so the oil spill violates local state and federal law, but it also violates international law, that only we have the standing on,” he said.

    Ocean protection is becoming increasingly important for a variety of reasons, and the Tongva, who have been here for 8,000 to 10,000 years, have the most long-standing interest in such protection locally.

    The oil in Rancho’s pipeline actually belonged to ExxonMobil. When ExxonMobil applied for an emergency permit to move its oil by truck, while the pipeline was being repaired, the Tongva spoke up right away.

    “I said we object to this,” Rosas said. “I’m not trying to take credit but they denied their permit.”

    The letter also referenced Plains’ mismanagement at Rancho LPG. Patchett explained that the letter was a first step, which could be followed up with the filing of a lawsuit. Five days later, Patchett sent a letter representing Rosas, as well as San Pedro Peninsula Homeowner’s United, requesting a public hearing regarding Rancho’s operations from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. The request is specifically for an administrative nuisance abatement proceeding, as provided for by the municipal code. The letter requests a hearing “to determine if under Section 12.27.1 LAMC Rancho LPG:

    1. Jeopardizes or adversely affects the public health, peace, or safety of persons residing or working on the premises or in the surrounding area, or;

    2. Constitutes a public nuisance, or;

    3. Has resulted in repeated nuisance activities.

    This represents a new line of attack that’s never been tried before, so it remains to be seen what will come of it. But it’s not the only action being taken in the aftermath of the latest Plains disaster.

    “We’re also submitting petitions to the EPA,” Patchett said, “But that’s not finalized yet.”

    “Rancho, we just feel that’s an inappropriate place,” Rosas said. “We also have tribal and cultural resources there. I think they damaged one of our Indian village sites and we don’t know what’s going on there. They haven’t consulted as required by law, they haven’t let us do monitoring.”

    This opens up yet another new legal front.

    “We’re not just wanting them to correct what’s been done, and remediate, but we want those tanks out of there,” he said. “They’re just like big bombs waiting to go off. I just think it’s in an inappropriate place. I think it hasn’t been done right. The regulatory government agencies have let them retroactively keep that plant there. If they tried to do that now, they wouldn’t be allowed. So, I don’t think they should be able to do that.”

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  • #LoveWins: LGBTQ, Allies Celebrate Nationwide Marriage Equality in Long Beach

    The U.S. Supreme Court Declared Marriage for Same-Sex Couples Legal in All 50 States

    By Crystal Niebla, Contributing Reporter

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer leaders and allies joined nationwide celebrations after the Supreme Court historical ruling legalized marriage for same-sex couples in all 50 states on June 26.

    More than 200 of the LGBTQ community and its allies—LGBTQ supporters who are heterosexual and/or cisgender people—gathered outside the Long Beach City Hall, hearing community leaders speak about the court’s decision. Earlier that day, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, who is openly gay, raised a rainbow flag over the Civic Plaza as a symbolic gesture of victory for equality.

    Garcia, who has been with his partner for seven years, said that the same-sex marriage ruling was “uniquely important [and] American” because it represented the equality all should have.

    “We know now that we are equal as anyone else, and our opportunities as a hopefully future-married couple, will be accepted no matter where we go, and that’s really special for all of us,” he said.

    At the rally, Long Beach Law law Audrey “Stephanie” Loftin, with her wife, Rebecca Birmingham, explained the legalities of the Supreme Court ruling. Same-sex marriage fell under the liberties and protections granted the Fourteenth Amendment, Loftin said. However, she said the ruling “did not describe what marriage is.”

    Following the court’s 5-4 vote decision, President Barack Obama made a statement on the progress in equality the U.S. has made.

    “Progress on this journey often comes in small increments,” Obama stated. “Sometimes two steps forward, one step back, compelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens. And then sometimes there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

    Although marriage for same-sex couples is now legal nationwide, many of the civic leaders said that there are still issues that the LGBTQ community must tackle, such workforce discrimination and high rates of homelessness. According to U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, between 20 to 40 percent of the nation’s homeless population consists of LGBTQ youths.

    Shortly after the Supreme Court decision, #NotTooProudToFight trended on Twitter—a hashtag that urged that the discrimination toward the LGBTQ community is heavier for people of color because they experience intersectional forms of prejudice.

    “I think it’s about building a momentum that remind us of how interrelated these [issues] are,” said Katie Cox, who identifies as queer. Cox held a sign with her friend that illuminated the conversation.

    “One of the reasons that I think gay marriage has had so much popularity … is that it doesn’t fundamentally challenge [issues] like systemic racism in this country,” Cox said. “I think that a lot of my friends of color who are LGBT feel alienated because they don’t include an intersectional perspective…”

    Thadeo Kimble, 34, of Long Beach, who identifies as transgendered man and volunteers at the Long Beach LGBTQ Center, said he felt the ruling made the LGBTQ community voice stronger but other forms of stigma need to be solved.

    “When we have moments like this, yes, we have to celebrate, but there’s still much more to fight for. Everything’s under an umbrella,” Kimble said. “It’s going to take time and every voice will be heard.”

     

     

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  • LBPD Focus on Public Relations at Town Hall Meeting

    By Diana Lejins, Contributing Columnist

    Hiring practices, promotions, diversity and community engagement were the focus of a June 11 town hall meeting that the Long Beach Police Department hosted at Church One, in the northern part of the city.

    While promoted as a gathering to address the recent killings of two unarmed young men, only the last 20 minutes were allowed for the more pressing and controversial issues.  Crammed into those precious few moments were racial profiling, use of force policy, officer-involved shooting and police accountability or transparency.

    The entire strictly-controlled encounter appeared to be more of a public relations outreach rather than what should have been an honest and sincere dialogue with the community.

    The Victims

    Hector Morejon, 19,  was allegedly trespassing when Officer Jeffrey Meyer shot him on April 23. The teen’s autopsy report has been withheld pending further investigation. The family has stated that they do not believe the LBPD can fairly investigate its own.

    “The police department cannot investigate itself,” said Ruben Morejon, Hector Morejon’s brother. “It’s an inherent conflict of interest.  It should be turned over to the Department of Justice.”

    Feras Morad, who weighed about 120 pounds, was exhibiting erratic behavior after consuming hallucinogenic mushrooms and jumping through the glass of a second-story window on May 27.  The 20-year-old honor student and nationally-recognized debater was shirtless, without any weapons, and bleeding from multiple wounds. Sources said that at least three firefighters were on the scene along with Officer Matthew Hernandez, who shot Feras.

    Morad’s cousins, Kareem and Hassen Morad, made impassioned pleas for change.

    “The use of lethal force was not justified on my unarmed cousin,” Hassen Morad said. “I’m asking you to ensure that no family has to endure the hell that my family has experienced as a result of  this tragedy…. The question I pose to every member of the police department is this — imagine your son or daughter in the same situation — how would you want the officer called in to react?  Every victim of lethal force is a loved one to somebody out there.”

    Several medicinal marijuana advocates connected the shootings to the lack of compassion and zero tolerance mentality that is pervasive in the LBPD. They expressed concerns about the number of marijuana and other non-violent offenses that have landed “people of color” and persons with mental illnesses in the prison system disproportionately. The irony of the situation is that those with PTSD and other mental problems could be helped with medical cannabis, serving to prevent these types of outcomes.

    The organization “Black Lives Matter” also made their presence known with T-shirts and passionate, pointed speeches and questions.

    Public Relations Paid by Taxpayers

    Because of recent events, the LBPD reportedly is in the process of hiring a public relations firm to enhance its image.  If the LBPD cleaned up its department, mandated excellence, compassion and honesty from all of its officers and actually made changes in attitudes towards all members of the community, they wouldn’t need to hire an expensive marketing firm at taxpayer expense.  That money would be better spent on individual body cameras that could better protect the officers and the public.  These cameras could also effectively monitor and help to ensure quality of service.
    About the Author:
    Diana Lejins is a seasoned journalist and photographer, focusing mainly on civil rights, animal welfare, environmental and disability issues.

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  • Cruising for the Blues, Looking For The Light

    By B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

    Before I could cross 6th Street, I had to make a quick trip to see what that righteous music that was pulling me down the block on yet another Third Thursday in San Pedro.

    An energetic music happening was taking place with Soul Shot on 6th and Mesa streets. The group was burning the corner up with a free concert of your favorite rhythm and blues grooves. Delivering such way down deep funkiness, you could not help but smile and shake your bones.

    One song as an example that Soul Shot played, was Bill Withers “Use Me Up.” That tune had a Latin funk feel so infectious that everyone was floating from the energy. This band has been part of The San Pedro scene for a while, one that if you haven’t seen,  you should. Here is an example of a band who doesn’t just play covers, they embody the original. Soul Shot will be back at 6th and Mesa for another funk fest of soul classics on the next First Thursday, July 2.

    Three performance venues were having quite the scene on June 18.

    Off The Vine, Wine Shoppe and Lounge has presented quality music acts almost since they opened their doors. In November of 2013 owners Michael and Alie Koth first presented local artist and musician Mike Rivero, who is the founder of the Cuban salsa group, Calle 6. Rivero kicked off this long running series of live shows  with a solo performance in November 2013. Other upcoming shows include San Pedro favorites: the soulful Chad Bishop and the rock outfit Twenty Eyes.

    My mission on Third Thursday was to catch Dave Widow and Friends at Off The Vine. On this night the surprise friends were Joe Puerta and Burleigh Drummond of the band Ambrosia. This was a Dave Widow date I didn’t want to miss out. I was not disappointed in the least.

    This current relationship between the veteran acts began this past summer. Dave Widow had his longtime friend Joe Puerta, along with keyboardist Christopher North played a date at Alvas showroom. Joining the band that night was veteran session percussionist Alvin Taylor in what was a sell out show.

    This led to Dave Widow and The Line Up opening for Ambrosia at the House of Blues in Anaheim. On that evening, a jam ensued with the Grammy-nominated rock group (three of the original members are from San Pedro) who invited Dave Widow up to play with them.

    On this Third Thursday, a very full room at Off the Vine waited in anticipation and was served some serious blues-rock. Dave Widow played songs from his CD Waiting For The World To End and random covers to everyone’s satisfaction. Throughout the two sets Widow maintained that soulful blues feel and tone, while the music went in new directions with Drummond and Puerta laying down the groove.

    The energy between the players and the audience was palatable.

    “I had a great time playing for a helluva enthusiastic crowd, in this oasis of joy at Off The Vine,”  Puerta said. “My old comrade, Burleigh jumped head first into the fray and kept the joint rockin’. Dave was inspired to new heights and I enjoyed keeping that groove flowing and growing.”

    “It was a fun show, I really enjoyed playing with Joe and Burleigh,” Widow said. “Those guys inspired me to a higher level in the second set. I felt we were playing off each other like we were all-as one”

    Like all great players, the three men listened to one another finding their personal voice in a musical conversation that spoke volumes to those listening.  For that moment in time, it was perfect.

    “One thing I know for sure, blues is the truth,” Burleigh Drummond said of the evening. “I had a great time playing with my bandmate Joe Puerta and the impressive Dave Widow the other night at Off The Vine. The Blues was well served that night. I sincerely hope to do it again soon”

    One of the many patrons who filled Off The Vine that night was Jim Wasti, owner of Jim’s Car Service on Pacific.

    “I was right in the front and couldn’t believe how good it was,” Wasti said. “I’m a big fan of Ambrosia and have been following Dave’s music for a while. It was one of the best shows I’ve been too.”

    The Whale & Ale an old English pub and restaurant is nestled in the heart of the Art District at 7th and Centre streets. This establishment has also has had some very fine entertainers over the years. On this particular Third Thursday, owner Andrew Silber had saxophonist Benn Clatworthy playing the be bop style of jazz to a receptive crowd. Clatworthy will be returning to The Whale & Ale July 18. Coming up on First Thursday is the outstanding Barry Anthony’s six piece Dixieland band.

    Across the street is Godmothers Saloon run by Sandra Marchioli.

    “We are now having live music seven nights a week,” the owner was proud to announce.

    This venue is the spine of the community music scene. Bringing diverse local  favorites like Americana artist Cliff Wagner & Old #7 or rockabilly performers like Deke Dickerson, as well as local favorites Seatbelt and classic rock cover bands.

    However, blues is a staple here, recently Marchioli has brought the tremendous talents of Candye Kane, White Boy James and The Blues Express, The New Blue Revolution, The Mighty Mojo Prophets, Henry Carjaval of Rod Piazza’s Mighty Flyers. Making Godmothers a regular stop for a mix of other blues talents.

    On June 20, Dave Widow played a second inspired show this time at Godmothers with Joe Puerta of Ambrosia and New Orleans drummer-vocalist Chris Couchois. The group scorched the room with fiery covers and originals, including Ambrosia classic “Holding on to Yesterday.” Dave Widow and Friends will return July 19. I can’t wait to see who will be playing on that date.

    All three of these fine establishments are part of the downtown scene whether it is First or Third Thursday, or any other day of the week, downtown San Pedro is the place to be.

    Off The Vine
    600 S. Pacific Ave., Suite 103, San Pedro
    (310) 831-1551; www.offthevinewines.com

    The Whale and Ale
    327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
    www.whaleandale.com

    Godmothers Saloon
    302 W. 7th St., San Pedro
    (310) 833-1589

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