• Red Car Takes Final Ride

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The San Pedro Waterfront Red Car completed its final trip at the conclusion of the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival on Sept. 27. Neither Supervisor Don Knabe’s nor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board’s last ditch efforts were enough to save the beloved trolley.

    When it was announced in March that the Red Car was going to be shut down, the port cited a $40 million price tag on the low end of cost estimates and $227 million to build out the line to all of the attractions on the waterfront from Wilmington on the north and to Cabrillo Marine Aquarium on the south.

    On Sept. 17, Knabe made a motion to direct the CEO of Metro to provide a presentation for discussion in two months addressing what it would take to continue the Red Car on a limited basis and connect it to other Metro transportation lines.

    A week later, the Metro wrote to Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka requesting that the Red Car continue limited operations until the county could devise a way to keep the trolley running with its financing.

    While port staff agreed to meet with the Metro board about the Red Car in the coming weeks, the red trolley is officially dead.

    The port frequently refers to its economic imperative of ensuring port operations while being a good friend of the community.

    In a July interview with Random Lengths, Seroka noted that “Ports O’ Call isn’t going to do anything for the port, but hopefully it does something for the community and creates businesses that are going to be here.”

    Former Red Car ambassador, Bob Bryant, considers this an example of Seroka talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    Bryant recounted an episode in which he spoke in front of the Harbor Commission. He said Seroka followed him outside and told him that Harbor Commissioners Anthony Pirozzi and Dave Arian were doing everything they could to keep the Red Car operational in some capacity.

    “Look what happened. They shut it down anyway.”

    Though there have been discussions about the possibility of including 5,000-unit condos in addition to other development along the waterfront in an effort to draw people to the Los Angeles Harbor, little has been said about how to facilitate non-commercial transportation in and out of the harbor.

    “That’s 10,000 cars,” Bryant said. “Joe [Buscaino] has not spoken up at all.” He calls the councilman’s silence cowardly.

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  • Chicano Moratorium Turns 45:

    The Struggle Continues

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor
     
    Certain tragedies, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, become lodged in the perpetual memory of the nation. However, there are some historical events that often escape the collective memory of Americans, such as the National Chicano Moratorium.

    On Aug. 29, 1970, more than 25,000 Chicano anti-war and anti-draft demonstrators from across the country gathered on Whittier Boulevard in East Los Angeles to protest the Vietnam War. Law enforcement officers claiming to have been chasing a robbery suspect that ran into the demonstration in Laguna Park (now Ruben Salazar Park) attempted to break up the gathering, herding participants at the park back toward the street.

    “The moratorium was a massive attack on the civil rights of our community, which included the deaths of various people, injuries to scores and the arrests of hundreds,” said Juan Gomez-Quiñones, a history professor at the University of California Los Angeles. “The march was peaceful, orderly….There was no reason for police interference with the march and assembly….The police said it was a Chicano riot. The Chicanos said it was a police riot. When you look at the film and you hear the audio transcripts, what you hear is mayhem being driven by police.”

    For Eliseo Montoya, the events of that day are not a lost memory. Montoya and his family went to Laguna Park to see what was going on that day. He said his parents weren’t political. They were just curious about the moratorium. They couldn’t have known that the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was going to turn the peaceful event into a war zone.

    “All I can remember is my mom picking me up, my dad, and running, running,” recounted Montoya. “I can’t remember speeches or who it was. I was maybe 7 years old at that time. I was barely going into the first grade.”

    Tear gas canisters were dropped from helicopters and demonstrators were chased through the streets by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies and Los Angeles Police Department officers. Four people were killed, 150 were jailed and a number of businesses went up in smoke. Mike Castañon, who was about 10 or 11 years old at the time, was riding his bike to the event when the violence erupted.

    “All you’d see was smoke and siren, and people running,” said 56-year-old Mike Castañon. “It was just chaotic.”

    Gomez-Quiñones also remembers that day vividly. He and his friends were close to the stage when the officers attacked the large group of people.

    “We had to scramble to get out,” Gomez-Quiñones said. “I had to carry a friend’s young child. We had to get out quick.”

    Luckily for his friends and him, his godmother’s home was only a block away.

    “I was just flabbergasted,” he said. “We did not hear any order of disbursement. The only warning was when people began to shout and pushed us to each other. Like a thunderbolt.”

    A Bit of History

    The National Chicano Moratorium was the pinnacle of opposition to the Vietnam War by Americans of Mexican descent.

    “The 5,000 to 10,000 who were actually in the park had a deep experience,” remembered Rosalio Urias Muñoz, one of the co-founders of the National Chicano Moratorium. “The most important driving force was the war and its impact on the community. But our method of organization, our intent was to build it as part of the overall Chicano movement and to reinforce so that it didn’t become a separate issue competing with the other issues.”

    Muñoz and one of his friends, Ramses Noriega, set out to mobilize the Chicano community against the war. Muñoz, a multi-generational Chicano, came from a middle-class, educated family. Both of his parents were teachers. Noriega came from a working-class family of Mexico. They met at the United Mexican-American Students, which became the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, best known as MEChA.

    Muñoz, who became the first Chicano student body president at UCLA, was drafted Sept. 16, 1969. He refused induction and they decided he would use that day to mobilize Chicanos around the country, starting in Los Angeles.

    The two young men began meeting with several grassroots community organizers such as Cesar Chavez, Reies Lopez Tijerina, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Dolores Huerta and MECha leaders to lend their support in opposition to the war and share ideas. His action against induction hit Chicano, as well as mainstream, media.

    There had been several moratoriums throughout the country, but this one was a united display against the Vietnam War. Members of the Brown Berets were among the groups active in the community, setting up and operating health clinics, organizing community watchdog groups in an effort to curtail police brutality, and protesting the high number of Latinos serving and dying in a war they didn’t support. The first demonstration, Dec. 20, 1969, was organized by the Brown Berets in Los Angeles. By March of 1970, the different leaders—comprised of student activist groups, nonprofit organizations, unionists and clergy—decided to organize the National Chicano Moratorium on Aug. 29, 1970.

    “We marched right in the middle of the barrio (in this context “barrio,” which literally means “neighborhood,” means “community”),” Muñoz said. “We marched not in downtown LA or the federal building, we marched right through the heart of the community.”

    In many of the communities, people taking part in the demonstration had to argue with their school principals, police, parents, priests, who believed going to war was a duty to the country.

    As early as 1965, politicians, journalists, students and youths had voiced their unhappiness over the massive number of student deferments granted to white students, allowing them to avoid going to war.

    In the fall of 1966, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara began Operation 100,000, which relaxed physical, mental and language proficiency standards for the draft. That enabled the armed services to put more minority and poor youth on the front lines. From October 1966 to December 1971, the Operation 100,000 program brought about 354,000 people to the military.

    “It was opening [the military] to more people from the ghettos, from the barrios, from the fields,” Muñoz said. “It hit the minorities and then the very poor whites as well. And they said, ‘Oh, this is giving them job opportunities.’ Later on, they looked at the people who were let in, and it was the same educational, the same low-paying jobs, when they came back, if not worse.”

    Muñoz noted that too many were dying, and Chicanos began asking why they were told to give their lives in a place far from home.

    “The government was lying about why they were doing this and wouldn’t really talk about what happened,” Muñoz. “And the GIs [who] came back or wouldn’t, and those who came back, many were hooked on drugs or had PTSD…. There was a part of it, ‘It’s not ours to reason why, it’s what to do and die.’ We began to challenge that.”

     

    National Chicano Moratorium Casualties

    Ruben Salazar

    Ruben Salazar. File photo

    Ruben Salazar, the news director for the Spanish-language TV station, KMEX, was one of the four casualties of the National Chicano Moratorium.

    Salazar was in East Los Angeles covering the event on Aug. 29, 1970. More than 25,000 people—predominantly Americans of Mexican descent—came to Laguna Park to march and rally. Large contingents of federal, state and local law enforcement showed up, too, and they ultimately launched a violent attack on the demonstrators.

    To escape the madness in the street, Salazar sat down with a beer at the Silver Dollar tavern. A deputy fired a tear gas canister through the front door of the bar, striking Salazar in the head, killing him instantly.

    The coroner’s inquest ruled the shooting a homicide, but Tom Wilson, the sheriff’s deputy involved, was never charged. Though a 2011 civilian panel concluded there is no evidence that sheriff’s deputies intentionally targeted Salazar or had him under surveillance, many people still believe the homicide was a premeditated assassination.

    Salazar served as a Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent in 1965, covering the escalation of the Vietnam War. In 1970 he became the KMEX news director, where he investigated allegations that police were planting evidence to implicate Americans of Mexican descent in the July 1970 police shooting of two unarmed Mexicans. Salazar’s statement on Bob Navarro’s KNXT show three months before his death that undercover LAPD detectives had warned him that his investigations were “dangerous in the minds of barrio people,” lends credence to the belief.

    The violent end to the peaceful moratorium, the murder of Salazar and the continued opposition to the Vietnam War outraged communities throughout Southern California—including Wilmington, where about 500 people gathered near the 900 block of Avalon Boulevard the evening after the National Chicano Moratorium. Community members reacted to the police presence with rocks and bottles. At least 80 businesses were damaged. The following Monday, at least six fires were set, including an empty house, a vacant commercial building and trash bins in the general vicinity.

    Rosalio Urias Muñoz (center) and other Chicano leaders fielded questions, on Aug. 30, a day after the National Chicano Moratorium, a peaceful gathering, was attacked by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department. Photo courtesy of Rosalio Urias Muñoz.

    “We kept on,” said Muñoz about days after the attack. “We didn’t back down. We didn’t say, ‘Oh, gosh, there was violence,’ We handled that. There was no reason for them to attack. It just proved that our front line was in the barrio. We had to fight discrimination by the police and the political system for what they had done to us in the war. It was a turning point in our attitude…. We protested; we fought back; there was an inquest into Ruben Salazar; and there was this whole experience.”

    For more than a year, groups continued the fight despite government infiltration, which was a common tactic for handling other groups, such as the Black Panthers.

    The Impact

    The events that took place on Aug. 29, 1970 deserve more than a simple mention in history books. There is relevance to events taking place today, Muñoz said.

    “It shows that activism—principled activism—that works for unity can have tremendous impact on a local, regional, national and international level, on all those levels,” Muñoz said. “It shows that there is systemic and systematic discrimination in government policies that are…detrimental to our interest.”

    Montoya is now a member of the Chicano Brown Berets, a group that emerged from the Brown Berets of the 60s and 70s. He believes that the moratorium still provides the mentality for “our raza (Montoya prefers to use the term raza to describe people of the Americas of indigenous, mixed and Spaniard descent) to know you can talk back,” Montoya said.

    Leaders who have emerged from that generation include politicians, judges, professors and union leaders who marched in the moratorium and walked out of the schools.

    “If you look at the big lawsuits [against] the LAPD and the sheriff’s, you’ll start finding the names of the attorneys, Roxanne Paz or Luis Carrillo, for example, and others [who] marched in the moratoriums. They were organizing in the Brown Berets, and the MEChAs.…They were monitors during the Chicano moratoriums.”

    Participants in the moratoriums also have become leaders in the fight for immigrant rights. The late labor and civil rights leader Humberto Noé “Bert” Carona was one example.

    Much has changed in the 45 years since the National Chicano Moratorium. Latinos have more representation and a greater voice in both academics and politics. The draft is gone.

    Despite improvements in the lives of Chicanos, Latinos and other people of color in this country, struggles remain. Black and brown people continue to be the targets of systemic and systematic racism. A disproportionate amount of people of color and poor whites are actively recruited into the military, poor people and people of color often face a lack of job opportunities and high student debt. Additionally, the lack of relevant education for people of color makes them easy targets for discrimination.

    “We do want our education; we want more than a paragraph for our history…Chavez is not the only one,” Montoya said. “We’ve got to save our history, we’ve got to save our culture, we’ve got to save our youths, we can’t let them forget. “

    Also, racist attitudes in privileged communities, such as those present in the people who support presidential candidate Donald Trump, are still prevalent.

    Montoya, who was in Berlin when the Berlin Wall came down, said it’s ironic that the U.S. government cheered the event, but now wants to do that to neighboring counties to the south.

    “How can we be so freaking hypocritical to demand a wall be taken down and yet we want to build the biggest wall there is,” Montoya said. “We are looked at as less-than-equal-to…. Here’s a man (referring to Trump who had several deferments during the Vietnam war) who had no huevos (balls) to be in the military.”

    Muñoz said the banks and mainstream media are partially to blame for Trump’s popularity.

    “Some of them say they don’t like him, but how come he’s in every headline?” he asked rhetorically. “There are probably as many people for Bernie Sanders in the polls, but who’s getting the headlines?”

    Yet, Montoya sees a positive reversion due to Trump’s xenophobic comments.

    Eliseo Montoya and Mike Castañon, of the Chicano Brown Berets, clasp hands in front of a mural that is adjacent to Ruben Salazar Park in East Los Angeles. Photo by Zamná Ávila

    Eliseo Montoya and Mike Castañon, of the Chicano Brown Berets, clasp hands in front of a mural that is adjacent to Ruben Salazar Park in East Los Angeles. Photo by Zamná Ávila

    “A lot of people are starting to get fired up again,” Montoya said. “Thank you Donald Trump…Please keep talking shit, ‘cause it’s riling up my raza.”

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The movimiento Chicano (the Chicano Movement) is about more than the moratorium. In fact, being Chicano is more than just being an American of Mexican descent, Montoya said.

    “In order to have the privilege to call oneself a Chicano or Chicana requires you to play an active part in the advancement of your raza,” Montoya said. “Get off your nalgas (butt) and stand up and be seen and heard; make your representatives work for you.

    Muñoz, who is now active in Latinos For Peace, an antiwar group seeking to cut the military budget, agrees.

    “It’s a struggle,” he said. “It’s a democratic and class [and] cultural struggle that you have to keep on renewing and developing.”

     

     

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  • Notice of Preparation of Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for China Shipping Container Terminal Project

     

    The City of Los Angeles Harbor Department (LAHD) has prepared a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report for the following project in the Port of Los Angeles: Berths 97-109 [China Shipping] Container Terminal Project. The LAHD has prepared, as part of the NOP, an Environmental Checklist in accordance with current City of Los Angeles Guidelines for the Implementation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) of 1970, Article I; the State CEQA Guidelines, Article 7, Sections 15086-15087; and the California Public Resources Code Section 21153.

    Availability: The NOP is being circulated for a period of 30 days for public review and comment starting on Sept. 18, 2015 and ending on Oct. 19, 2015. The NOP is available for review at:

    • Port of Los Angeles Environmental Management Division, 222 W. 6th Street, Suite 900, San Pedro, CA 90731;
    • Los Angeles City Library, Central Branch, 630 W. 5th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071;
    • Los Angeles City Library, San Pedro Branch, 931 S. Gaffey Street, San Pedro, CA 90731;
    • Los Angeles City Library, Wilmington Branch, 1300 N. Avalon Blvd., Wilmington, CA 90744.

     

    The NOP is also available on the Port’s web site: http://www.portoflosangeles.org under the Environmental tab. Public Meeting: A scoping meeting will be held on Oct. 7, 2015, at 6 p.m. in the Board Room at the Harbor Department Administration Building, 425 S. Palos Verdes Street, San Pedro, CA 90731.

    The meeting will be conducted in both English and Spanish.

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  • Long Beach Lands a Ringer for Uptown Renaissance

    When I met Ryan Smolar 11 years ago, he seemed an unlikely candidate for the Long Beach connector extraordinaire he was to become, this 22-year-old computer nerd living in a studio apartment that might charitably be described as charmingly slovenly. But Smolar’s irrepressible good nature, goofy humor, and active mind were evident even within that messy cocoon, traits that were magnified exponentially by a motor that wouldn’t quit. And because he was always more interested in elevating his community than himself, if you knew him, you were likely to benefit from more than just his companionship. Blair Cohn, Justin Hectus, Evan Patrick Kelly, Brian Ulaszewski, Logan Crow, and the late Shaun Lumachi are just a few names from the long list of community contributors who were boosted by Smolar (and I count myself among them). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

    Eventually frustrated with institutional resistance, Smolar left Long Beach in 2011, for the next three years living in over a dozen different cities spread out across the U.S., before settling in Santa Ana, where he currently serves as lead consultant for downtown Santa Ana’s Business Improvement District (BID).

    But the link between Ryan Smolar and Long Beach runs deep, and so when 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson came calling to see whether Smolar would join the team to help steer North Long Beach on its “Road to the Renaissance,” it was an offer he couldn’t refuse.

    It’s a story Smolar tells in his characteristically informal fashion. “I was in the jacuzzi when Rex called,” he laughs. “[…] He asked to join the team to assist director of the Uptown BID—so, the Blair [Cohn, executive director of the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association]—to get things popping up here—you know, activate the retail, connect with the community, the region, and the rest of Long Beach. […] He’s kind of moving the big ships, and he needed more help with the intermediary steps to revitalizing the district, and to make sure this was an equitable, inclusive, and creative process that connects to the community here broader Long Beach.”

    Smolar pivot’s in a positive direction when asked about North Long Beach’s challenges: “I don’t really tend to think in terms of the ‘challenges,’ because that’s [something] hard, and that has the effect of constructing a reality for this community, of putting it in a box that it will have trouble getting out of. I look more at what opportunities we have. I think one of the first things we need is a place for creatives and the community to come together and start to build something.”

    To contextualize Smolar’s sense and vision of community, cast your mind back to 2002, when really young Ryan moved from his childhood home in the San Fernando Valley, where Smolar says he may never have attended a single community event, to Long Beach, where he had the good fortune to meet a Downtown Gazette reporter who took him to a plethora of events she was covering. “I’d never seen anything like it,” Smolar recalls. “It was intoxicating.”

    He fell in with an intellectually engaged Long Beach subculture that included Daniel Brezenoff, who would later serve as Councilmember Robert Garcia’s legislative director and has followed Garcia to the mayor’s office. By the time Smolar moved to the East Village Arts District, he himself was writing for the Gazette and gaining ever deeper insight into how the city worked—and didn’t work.

    “The DLBA [Downtown Long Beach Associates] was putting together big events that weren’t really connected to the people who were coming in and who I saw as my community, these creative, awesome, young people who had so much talent,” he says. “We didn’t really want to be a part of the things that were going on downtown. So we were trying to figure out how to break into that. […] We felt like we really knew the community, and that what was happening wasn’t working.”

    Ironically, it was the DLBA, by hosting a lecture by urban studies theorist Richard Florida, that indirectly galvanized Smolar to see whether he could do better. Smolar read Florida’s Rise of the Creative Class, which contrasts the redevelopments of Pittsburgh and Austin. As Smolar explains, the formula for Austin’s redevelopment was capitalizing on its organic music scene, which impelled 20-somethings to stay rooted to the city, which resulted in their interacting with each other over the longer term and creating businesses, which in turn attracted big investors who wanted young, educated talent, a phenomenon Austin city officials responded to by continuing to help the music scene proliferate. By contrast, Pittsburgh bulldozed historic buildings in favor of erecting large institutions that required extensive upkeep, without any functional basis for doing so—a model that proved unsustainable.

    “That was the message that Richard Florida had,” Smolar recalls, “and we were bringing him here to talk to us, which was super exciting to me, because I really resonated with that Austin model. […] Downtown Long Beach was asking questions like, ‘How do we connect with the university? How do we build this functional economy? How do we invest in the arts in a sustainable way?’ I was asking the same questions, and I was seeing we were reading the book that tells us what to do. I was like, ‘Yes! Yes!'”

    But to Smolar’s disappointment, he didn’t see the city heeding these lessons. So in 2007 he (with the help of partner Rachel Potucek, former legislative aide to Councilmember Suja Lowenthal) decided to take matters into his own hands by creating University by the Sea. Described as “an upscale arts and education festival that demonstrates how satisfying it can be to live in Long Beach’s downtown urban playground” by offering attendees the opportunity to “‘go back to school’ for fun enrichment classes such as wine tasting, personal finance, dance, urban architecture, interior design and more”—as well as featuring a slew of outdoor musical performances, an student film festival, and a silent-film showcase held in the Jergins Tunnel—Smolar saw U-Sea as addressing two particular downtown shortcomings: making downtown businesses active participants in an event, and facilitating a downtown presence for Cal State Long Beach. In addition to U-Sea’s major partnership with Cal State Long Beach, business partnerships for the one-day event included the Aquarium of the Pacific, the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, the Arts Council for Long Beach, and several Pine Ave. restaurants.

    “People were delighted that we were coming and talking to them,” Smolar recalls. “They saw a lot of opportunity downtown; they just hadn’t made that connection. […] This is how you activate a community. You bring these disparate parts together, and you showcase its talent.”

    Among that talent Smolar tapped to teach classes were then-Mayor Bob Foster, Straight Talk TV host Art Levine, CSULB President F. King Alexander, and then-LBPD Chief Anthony Batts.

    Despite selling out the 1,500 tickets to enter the Jergins Tunnel (open for the day for the first time in 40 years) and exceeding capacity at most every one of the 60+ classes offered, the progressing worldwide financial meltdown translated into diminished institutional support for U-Sea’s 2008 incarnation, particularly on the part of the City and the DLBA, and so Smolar decided against putting on U-Sea in 2009. He turned to other Long Beach projects, including developing the Long Beach Post‘s Website and working for the Small Business Development Center. More recently he’s been working with LB Fresh to help the foment a local, sustainable food scene by connecting “eaters, feeders, and seeders” and creating system-wide change with limited resources—resources he’s greatly augmented by securing grant money from the California Endowment over the 18 months.

    He’s also curated and published two compilations of Long Beach authors, Book by Authors and Book by Authors: North Long Beach. And what he saw in the submissions for the latter stuck with him.

    “What I read in those pages is hope, a want to be included in the good things happening in this city, of people finding community here and loving the diversity, feeling sometimes that this area is getting the short end of the stick and wanting to change that,” he says. “I think that’s all really great energy to channel into productive output that will transform and activate this area.”

    Which brings us back to now. Councilmember Richardson says that, while over the last 18 months the Uptown BID has focused on operations (cleaning, maintenance, security), with those programs up and running, some of that focus can be shifted to “vision” issues: placemaking, programming, long-term initiatives, grant-writing. And Smolar is just the man to help with that job.

    “Ryan’s got a unique set of experiences and talents,” Richardson says. “[…] We have a reputation now in North Long Beach. We try big things. […] Not everyone can keep up. But I think Ryan can contribute to the special things that are happening up here.”

    That jibes with the effect many feel Smolar has had on the Long Beach community at large. For example, Blair Cohn, universally recognized for invigorating Bixby Knolls, says all his success stems from his experience working with Smolar on University by the Sea.

    “I have to say that Ryan’s creativity was the spark that opened up the floodgates to and of all the creativity in Bixby Knolls,” Cohn says. “I call him my muse. He inspired me to try new things for this district, experiment, and figure out how to best promote our businesses while also engaging our local community and customer base.”

    Summer And Music co-producer Justin Hectus, who labels his Smolar experience curating music for U-Sea and elsewhere as “a real peanut-butter-in-my-chocolate moment,” has similar feelings.

    “Ryan is one of a kind,” he says. “He’s a big thinking idea machine who can actually drill down and execute concepts that no one would have thought of much less dared to make into reality. He’s got the stuff to make magic out of a handful of beans.”

    Smolar’s general diagnosis for the Uptown beanery is a deficiency in connectivity, whether in the form of “strengthened connection between bottom and top, the powerful and the powerless, the known and the unknown” or stronger connections between North Long Beach and not only the rest of the city, but also with nearby outlying areas.

    “I feel North Long Beach is the victim of disenfranchisement and disinvestment because it’s not connected closely to power or institutions.” he says. “[…] If you look at a map of Long Beach, and looks like this.” (Here he extends a hand perpendicular to the ground, his thumb pointing skyward, then pointing to the thumb with his other hand.) “That’s North Long Beach. When I first met with Rex [which took place at city hall], one of the things I told him is, ‘There are two city halls between where we are right now—Lakewood and Signal Hill—and where the BID is. We’re probably more proximate to Compton, Paramount, etc., than we are to downtown Long Beach. That regional difference is a big issue.”

    Smolar’s prescription is primarily two-pronged. The first concerns improving Uptown’s communication lines both internally and running outward, thus maximally capitalizing on Uptown’s diversity, an area strength that has yet to be converted from potential to actual.

    “When you have diversity, there is often a lack of connectivity across [the diverse groups],” he says. “So we need North Long Beach hyperconnected to itself. And then we need to understand our context and narrative. That’s going to be the most effective way of dealing with those targets around the region that we need to be interacting with.” He says part of that job is simply “going out and knocking on doors and telling people what we’ve got here, what we’re looking for, and representing those needs and opportunities to them.”

    The second prong of Smolar’s attack is refocusing North Long Beach regionally.

    “What does the thumb, as epicenter, really look like?” he asks. “What’s our relationship to these communities north of us, east of us, west of us? How do we improve those relationships? One of the biggest problems in Long Beach—not just North Long Beach—is its myopia, its naval-gazing, its desire to be unto itself. When I’ve gone out regionally, they can’t connect with Long Beach, because we’re here just looking at our toes and telling ourselves that they look good. We really have to reach out more broadly. […] North Long Beach has access to different pockets [of people] who aren’t being served [culturally, artistically, etc.]. So if we can serve those customers uniquely, then this is where they’re going to come.”

    Smolar isn’t the first person to recognize Long Beach’s connectivity problems, and remediating them is more easily said than done. But as Cohn opines, there’s plenty of reason to believe Smolar is just the man to help change the status quo.

    “North Town is in for a huge dose of creativity to the likes it has never seen,” Cohn says. “Ryan is an innovator, a creator, a connector. He thinks so far outside of the box that he’s the David Bowie of community development. He’s always up for a challenge and will dig deep into the community to find the assets, doers, and create programs that will give the Uptown BID a boost that it seeks.”

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  • Former RLn Reporter Launches Campaign for LBCC Trustee: RL NEWS Briefs Sept. 24, 2015

    Former RLn Reporter Launches Campaign for LBCC Trustee

    LONG BEACH – On Sept. 21, Vivian Malauulu, a journalism professor at Long Beach City College and former Random Lengths News contributor, announced her intention to run for the Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees to represent West Long Beach in April 2016’s municipal election.

    Malauulu, a career educator who has been teaching college, community college and high school students in the local community for almost 20 years, launches her campaign with more than $30,000 in initial campaign contributions and an impressive list of formal endorsements that includes the full and part-time faculty associations and classified staff at Long Beach City College, state Sens. Isadore Hall and Tony Mendoza, former state Sen. Betty Karnette, the Teamsters union, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

    Malauulu earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge; she earned a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills; and she several teaching credentials.  Prior to joining the faculty at Long Beach City College, she worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for almost 20 years teaching high school

    English and theater and she served as an activities director, career adviser, and girls’ track and field coach.  Her first teaching job was at Banning High School in Wilmington, her alma mater.  She has also taught at Carson High School, Los Angeles Harbor College, and California State University, Dominguez Hills. 

    As a trustee, Malauulu plans to collaborate with other trustees to raise support of college issues that will:

             Renew efforts in vocational training to provide LBCC students with valuable job skills to help strengthen our working middle class;

             Assure that fiscal responsibility and absolute transparency consistently govern all board actions;

             Inspire civility on the Board to help relieve embarrassing, ongoing tension among current

    Trustees;

             Serve the residents of District Area 2 and the college at large with dignity, honesty, and respect; and

             Encourage a shift in the priorities of the Board to focus on improving faculty and staff resources and working conditions in order to enhance student learning.

    Malauulu, a commissioner for the City of Long Beach, presently serves as chairwoman of the city’s Commission on Youth and Children. She also serves as a member of the Board of Managers for the Greater Long Beach YMCA Early Childhood Development Program.  She is a registered longshore worker at the twin ports complex of Long Beach and Los Angeles and she is an active member of ILWU, Local 13, where she has served as an elected officer in various positions.

    A first-generation American who emigrated as a child from Honduras to the United States in 1981, Malauulu spoke no English upon her arrival. She credits her love of education, her tough work ethic, and her faith for inspiring her to dedicate her professional career toward educating students, equipping teachers, enabling workers, and empowering her community.

    Vivian and her husband George Malauulu, who is also a longshore worker and former educator, have been married for 17 years.  Together with their four children they are longtime residents of Wrigley neighborhood of west Long Beach.
     

    LBPD Gets Bomb Scare

    LONG BEACH — A man who came into the Long Beach Police Department East Police Sub-Station, at about 11:15 a.m. Sept. 23, gave officers bomb scare.

    The man made anti-police comments and placed an object between the handle and the glass of the main entrance. Officers called the Los Angeles County Bomb squad and evacuated nearby businesses and residential units; traffic in the Los Coyotes Diagonal, from the traffic circle to Clark Avenue also were closed.

    The man was whose identity has not been made public was detained. The bomb squad determined that the object did not have any explosive materials. The suspect is being held for mental evaluation.

    Industrial Fatality

    LONG BEACH — An industrial accident, which ended the life of 26-year-old William Vasquez-Uz of Los Angeles, took place at about 8:45 a.m. Sept. 16, at 700 Pier A Way.
    When Long Beach Port Police officers arrived they found Vasquez-Uz on the asphalt next to a trailer, about 30 feet behind a 2009 Sterling 3-axle tractor. The Long Beach Fire Department responded and pronounced the Vasquez-Uz dead at the scene.

    An investigation found that the Vasquez-Uz was the driver of the 2009 Sterling 3-axle tractor. The victim got out of his tractor without setting the emergency brake and without putting it in park. Vasquez-Uz, who was on his cell phone at the time, attempted to unlatch the trailer. The trailer slowly began to roll forward, striking the him. He was subsequently run over by the trailer.

    Garcetti Announces First Steps of Comprehensive Strategy to Combat Homelessness

    LOS ANGELES — On Sept. 22, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the first steps of a comprehensive strategy to address the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles.

    The effort would invest at least $100 million annually in city funding to help house tens of thousands of homeless individuals.

    To address immediate needs, Garcetti also announced a short-term strategy to secure an additional $13 million in emergency funding to expand homeless services and housing. The bulk of that funding — $10 million — will be allocated to veterans and non-chronically homeless people in the form of housing subsidies. This should re-house people who need short-term assistance to get off the street and on with their lives. Garcetti called for shelters to remain open 24 hours a day during the rainy season, and for winter shelter availability to expand by two months. The mayor also proposed seed money to incentivize new storage and access centers across the city — that would newly provide access to restrooms, showers, laundry, and services, as well as providing safe storage for personal possessions.
    This comes as Los Angeles City Council leaders declared homelessness in Los Angeles a “state of emergency” and introduced a motion to allocate $100 million in one-time funding for homeless services.
    The city council’s action is a critical down payment on the mayor’s comprehensive homelessness plan, which is being developed jointly by city, county, Home for Good and other partners.
    In addition to one-time funding, the mayor is calling for an annual $100 million investment that would fund permanent housing for the homeless and establish an institutional foundation to tackle homelessness for years to come.
    The plan relies on three pillars, which set both short and long-term goals:

    • Securing housing for homeless Angelenos, by scaling up the Coordinated Entry System — including a substantial increase in permanent supportive housing, housing subsidies and supportive services.
    • Keeping at-risk individuals and families from becoming homeless through new investments in affordable housing — and enforcing the $15 an hour minimum wage increase signed into law by Mayor Garcetti this past June.
    • Implementing further strategies to better balance the health and safety of the streets with the rights and needs of those forced to live on them — including the development of regional access centers that provide free personal property storage, access to clean restrooms, shower facilities, and laundry machines, and connect homeless individuals with shelter services and permanent housing.

    Connecting homeless Angelenos—and those most at risk of becoming homeless—with good jobs can help end the cycle of homelessness. Garcetti also launched the Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise, an initiative focused on fostering workforce development solutions for individuals who face the greatest barriers to employment – those with a history of homelessness or incarceration, and disconnected youth.
    Funded by a $6 million investment by the U.S. Department of Labor, the five-year initiative will be led by the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board and City of L.A.’s Economic and Workforce Development Department, with support from the employment social enterprise organization REDF. Social enterprises are mission-driven businesses that earn and reinvest their revenue to provide people who are the hardest to employ with jobs so that they participate in the economy and their communities.
    The initiative will feature transitional and bridge jobs, as well as training and support services for individuals in need. The Los Angeles Regional Initiative for Social Enterprise is a unique model, designed to better align and integrate existing services and foster cross-sector collaboration between social enterprises, and government, private and nonprofit sectors.

    Garcetti Appoints Commissioner to LA Commission on the Status of Women

    LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti’s appointed businesswoman and community advocate, Pamela A. Bakewell, to the City of Los Angeles Commission on the Status of Women. The Los Angeles City Council confirmed Bakewell Sept. 22.
    Bakewell is executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Bakewell Company — one of the largest African-American commercial real estate development companies in the Western United States.  As COO, she oversees the day-to-day operations of the real estate development and redevelopment projects, as well as the print and broadcasting divisions of the Bakewell Company — which includes the L.A. Sentinel and L.A. Watts Times newspapers.
    Previously, Bakewell served as executive vice president and chief neighborhood officer at the Los Angeles Urban League. She serves as president of Sabriya’s Castle of Fun Foundation, which assists hospitalized children affected by leukemia, sickle cell disease and other blood disorders. Bakewell has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and is a member of the Coalition of 100 Black Women.
    Established in 1975 and re-launched by Mayor Garcetti with an emphasis on promoting gender equity citywide, the Commission on the Status of Women has a mandate to advance the general welfare of women and girls in Los Angeles, and to ensure that all women have full and equal participation in City government.
    In August, Mayor Garcetti signed an executive directive calling on city departments to implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which the city adopted in 2004.The directive requires each general manager or head of department to submit a Gender Equity Action Plan by February 1, 2016.

    Brown Meets with Chinese President, Announces First Chinese Province to Sign Under 2 MOU Climate Agreement

    SEATTLE – On Sept. 22, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. co-chaired the Third U.S.-China Governors Forum and met with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. He later announced the first Chinese province – Sichuan – to sign on to the Under 2 MOU climate agreement.

    The forum included a bipartisan group of five U.S. governors – Brown, Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Michigan), Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa), Gov. Kate Brown (D-Oregon) and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Washington) – and six Chinese officials – Sichuan Party Secretary Wang Dongming, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun, Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan, Zhejiang Governor Li Qiang, Shandong Gov. Guo Shuqing and Shaanxi Gov. Lou Qinjian. The event was organized by Madame Li Xiaolin, President of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.

    Following the forum, Brown joined participants at a meeting with Xi to discuss the day’s events, and later, the governor met privately with the president. The forum and meeting follow significant diplomatic and business exchanges between California and China since Brown took office, including a Trade and Investment Mission to China and meetings between Brown and Xi during his visit to California as then-vice president of China in February 2012 and again as president in June 2013.

    Additionally, the governor met with Sichuan Party Secretary Wang Dongming and announced the first Chinese province to sign the Under 2 MOU – Sichuan.

    The Under 2 MOU is an agreement amongst sub-national jurisdictions around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. With the addition of Sichuan, a total of 24 jurisdictions in 10 countries and five continents have signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU, collectively representing more than $5.55 trillion in gross domestic product and more than 228 million people. If the Under 2 MOU signatories were a single country, they would represent the third largest economy in the world behind only China and the United States.

    This comes just one week after the U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles, where Brown announced the first cities – Zhenjiang in China and Los Angeles – to endorse the Under 2 MOU and the renewal of a landmark agreement between California and China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the first agreement between the NDRC and a subnational entity on climate change.

    Brown will announce additional global signatories to the Under 2 MOU later this week at a signing ceremony in New York City.

    Brown also signed the U.S.-China Governors’ Accord on Clean Energy & Economic Development. The agreement aims to advance the development and commercialization of clean energy innovation and encourages signatories to adopt measures to promote energy efficiency in buildings and industries, modernize the electrical grid infrastructure, reduce transportation emissions, promote technologies and approaches to enhance air quality and strengthen trade and investment activity that supports the commercialization and deployment of renewable energy and clean technologies.

     

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    Crunch Games and Title Winning Moments

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  • In Time,

    Brothers’ Dream,

    A Delgado Brothers Documentary

    Melina Paris Music Columnist

    Just off a great performance that pulled in a big crowd at the Sept. 6 New Blues Festival at Long Beach’s El Dorado Park, Joey Delgado of The Delgado Brothers spoke briefly about the band’s upcoming documentary, In Time, directed by Lance Mungia.

    The title of the film is also the name of a song on Learn to Fly, The Delgado Brothers’ last album. In Time was filmed a more than two years ago, but Delgado said it is going to be a five-year process, so it’s still in rough form. The Delgados are hoping for additional funding to help them complete the film by next year. Originally, they started an Indiegogo account to raise funds. Now, they are applying for a Sundance grant program for films that are already in process.

    “In Time screened two years ago in Monrovia, and more 500 people attended and loved it,” Delgado said. “The premise of the movie is all about my older brothers growing up in the East Los Angeles rock ’n’ roll scene in the 1960s. That is how we started out playing. My brother Bob, the bass player in our current band, was the one who started guiding us to the blues, the real blues. We were able to learn it first-hand”.

    The Delgado Brothers have a rich history of performing and a special relationship with their fans in East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. This past May they shot additional footage at The Carrie Hamilton Theater in Pasadena. At that time, there were some songs missing from the original filming so the Delgado’s put together a performance with a 7-camera shoot. Many of the songs recorded that day will make it into the film.

    Delgado comes from a family with eleven children. The older generation of brothers started the family’s musical tradition, playing roots and rock music in East Los Angeles.

    The elder brother, Eddie, was in a group called the Ambertones. Another brother, Bobby, had a career as bassist with Thee Exotics. These groups contributed to the start of Chicano Soul and were instrumental in influencing the next generation of local musicians, like Los Lobos and Tierra and, of course, the next generation of The Delgado Brothers.

    Younger brothers Joey, Bobby and Steve formed the Delgado Brothers band. Delgado described their sound as a Texas style, similar to older blues of artists like T Bone Walker, older B.B. King and Muddy Waters.

    In Time will be released to the Delgado Brothers’ friends and family first, then will be available worldwide on iTunes. When the film is completed it will have a screening at a local theater.

    “The Delgado Brothers have been playing for 45 years and I’m proud of the fact that we’re still trying to create new music and we’re still relevant,” Delgado said. “We don’t try to rely on our past successes. We just keep creating and keep playing and we love what we do.”

    Details: http://delgadobrothers.reverbnation.com

     

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  • Fanning the Flames in a Crowded Theater

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The Sept. 3 homeless forum at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro wasn’t so much about airing grievances and coming up with solutions as it was about de-escalating tensions in the community while gearing up townsfolk for the fight to roll back Proposition 47. The measure reduces many nonviolent felonies to misdemeanors as long as the perpetrator doesn’t have a violent past. Voters passed the proposition in November 2014.

    The forum also was about masking inconvenient truths.

    The format of the event featured five panelists—including Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Homelessness Policy Director Greg Spiegle, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Deon Joseph, LAPD Harbor Division Capt. Kathryn Meek, Special Assistant City Attorney Capri Maddox and Harbor Interfaith Services Coordinated Entry System Regional Coordinator Shari Weaver—answering pre-selected questions that were gathered on Councilman Joe Buscaino’s Facebook page. Not surprisingly, most of the questions came from a law enforcement angle, thereby giving most of the speaking time to Joseph, Maddox and to a lesser extent, Meeks.

    Buscaino’s office showed video interviews with four of the 76 “success stories” his emergency response team was able to get off the street and into permanent housing. All of them were among the residents of the encampments near the Beacon Street post office and Ante’s restaurant in the past year.

    Among them was Denise Vigil, also known as Neecee, whose struggles have been documented in the past year in Random Lengths.

    Not long after the forum finished, Neecee was seen outside San Pedro City Hall with her sleeping bag, belongings and her Section 8 voucher in hand. Nora Vela, director of Helping the Homeless in Need, the group behind the tiny houses in San Pedro, took Neecee into her home for the night. The episode called into question either the effectiveness of Buscaino’s Emergency Response Teams or his office’s integrity on the issue. The next day a message was left with Branimir Kvartuc, Buscaino’s communications director, but he has yet to respond.

    Joseph repeated his mini online documentary about the police officer who “single-handedly got 150 people off the streets.” Later he mentioned that he helped about 730 people who were in danger of being kicked out of their home.

    Joseph prefaced his allotted 15 minutes by saying he wasn’t going to engage in demagoguery against the homeless, but was going to engage in some truth telling based on his 18 years of experience working Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles. It should be noted that Joseph had the benefit of a seven-and-a-half-minute Facebook video documentary show before the forum to introduce him and the LAPD perspective on the problem of homelessness. The following is deconstruction of the video:

    The Hi-Jacking of the Moral High Ground

    Joseph has endless gritty hard luck stories for people accustomed to watching John Walsh’s America’s Most Wanted or some other crime drama. Some of his stories are heartwarming.

    But his solution to homeless question calls for city residents to “come to a political middle ground between NIMBYs (not in my backyard) and the lefties.” He said the lefties just want to let the homeless stay where and as they are, while NIMBYs don’t want them in their communities. His explanation was simplistic and just not true. Homeless advocates are not proposing to leave people out on the streets, but this is how the entire discussion of homelessness is framed.

    “There’s fallout to leaving the homeless where they are,” said Joseph to Buscaino during the video as they walked in downtown Los Angeles’ Skid Row. “Some of these people aren’t really homeless.”

    He said that he gets five contacts per week from family members looking for their loved ones. Yet, who knows if those families were broken or dysfunctional in any way that caused these folks to live in the streets in the first place, or if these families simply didn’t have the wherewithal to care for their loved ones before they turned to the streets.

    His narrative stemming from his experience has a way of covering up some of the dynamics that lead people into homeless, particularly if they are dealing with mental illness.

    Frequently we hear that there aren’t enough shelter beds to accommodate those who are sleeping in the streets. But because of the framing of the conversation, donated tents and tiny houses are now “dens” of drug abuse and prostitution and an irritant from a law enforcement perspective. In so many words, it makes cops’ job harder.

    In the video, Joseph said there are five major missions on Skid Row that collectively provide 9,000 meals per day, in addition to providing clothes, support services for drug addiction, housing and jobs.

    Council District 14 includes Skid Row and much else of downtown Los Angeles. According to the last homeless count, there were a little more than 6,000 homeless residents in the district.

    “Some people become obese living on the streets because they eat what they want to eat,” Joseph noted.

    Homeless advocates would agree with him on the best ways a concerned citizen can help the homeless, which includes providing hygiene kits and perhaps directing them to nearby services. Joseph makes a strong argument about not giving money or buying food for the homeless. Interestingly enough, this is an area in which Vela and Joseph actually agree.

    Since Vela began her outreach efforts by handing out 12 tacos, she has been preparing balanced and sometimes vegan meals. She regularly hands out hygiene kits and has gone so far as to build portable toilets and showers for a few individuals. That’s a lot further than many people are willing to go to help another human being, especially in San Pedro.

    There’s a reason the LAPD was under a consent decree for 10 years, and it wasn’t because they were interested in community policing. Joseph hints at this a few times during the homeless forum.

    During the forum, Joseph categorizes the homeless into four categories:

    • Good people doing the best they can under unfortunate circumstances.

    • Good people with addictions leading them to criminality, such as theft.

    • Bad people with redeemable qualities, such as gang members, who turn their lives around and become assets to the community.

    • Predators that prey on the weak.

    Joseph uses the example of the Downtown Gangsters, comprised of Bloods and Crip gang members. This group was the target of a 2014 interagency crackdown. Joseph said the gang had co-opted the bathrooms and started charging the homeless to use them while allowing paid drug and prostitution customers to use them free—all happening within blocks of the LAPD’s headquarters, the city attorney’s office and district attorney’s office.

    He also called the initiatives such as more public bathrooms and tiny houses noble ideas, but ultimately ill-conceived. He cites examples of how they failed in downtown Los Angeles.

    He says these initiatives encourage human trafficking, drug sales and drug overdoses. Joseph spent considerable time in the documentary video discussing the 27 Andy Gump toilets that were installed in Skid Row back in the 1990s. The problem here is that he doesn’t address how to deal with the proliferation of human fecal matter on public streets.

    Joseph subtly hints at how the LAPD’s negative perception from the early 1990s politically impacts their work in the streets when he discusses the LAPD’s warning that the Andy Gump toilets would cause crime to skyrocket in Skid Row.

    “Of course, we’re the big bad LAPD, so they brought it in anyway,” Joseph said.

    But perhaps the biggest issue with this part of the discussion is that San Pedro is not downtown Los Angeles. There are 6,000 homeless people in Council District 14 and about 1,500 in all of Council District 15, and there are only 376 homeless people in San Pedro. The most dominant gang in San Pedro, when last checked, was Rancho San Pedro. There are several other gangs in the Harbor Area, but the Harbor Area is not downtown Los Angeles.

    To Joseph, this forum wasn’t just about dealing with the homeless, but about cutting the police some slack in how they deal with the homeless and amending or ending Prop. 47. Basically, he argued that the inability to arrest addicts in possession of drugs in quantities legally labeled as “personal use” is hamstringing the police.

    In reference to how the police deal with the mentally ill, he blamed society for not giving them tools other than handcuffs and a gun. He doesn’t elaborate further on the point. At the end of the night, the only apparent solution was more resources for Harbor Interfaith.

    Aside from Shari Weaver asking property owners to accept Section 8 vouchers and Spiegle’s discussion about the lack of affordable housing, there was no serious discussion about increasing affordable housing. Buscaino, at the end of the night, noted that there are 311 supportive housing units that were either already available or about to become available at the Blue Butterfly Villa, Vermont Villas 127th Street Apartment and the El Segundo apartments. The question is how many, and how long were these available?

    The councilman said he also wrote letters to the mayors of neighboring cities requesting their buy-in in creating supportive housing in their respective cities and forming a South Bay Committee on homelessness to discuss best practices and solutions.

    Make no mistake about it, just about all of the initiatives the councilman spoke about that Thursday night are worthwhile initiatives. But, if the bottom line to ending homelessness is securing permanent housing for our most chronically homeless, then he’s essentially saying that the best that we can do in the immediate future is get 311 of our 376 homeless people off the street, give or take a dozen.

    The councilman did well to highlight Shari Weaver, the face of Harbor Interfaith Services in its role as the lead agency for Service Planning Area 8 of the Coordinated Entry System. Weaver repeatedly noted that she works with a really great team in reaching out to our community’s most hard to reach and most difficult to help populations.

    Spiegel’s discussion of increasing the affordable housing stock and improving transitional care and housing for those being release from prisons, hospitals, and foster care didn’t go unnoticed, but certainly unappreciated.

     

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  • Stumping on Fear and Arrogance

    San Pedro Stands up to Fear Mongering

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The Veterans for a Strong America fundraiser aboard the USS Iowa was promoted as Republican candidate Donald Trump’s first speech detailing his national security policy. It lasted all of 13 minutes.

    Donning a red baseball cap emblazoned with the campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” Trump’s bombastic rhetoric only added gasoline to the enflamed passions of those who called his stump speeches on illegal immigration racist “hate speech.” This, while the leader of the USS Iowa Battleship Center non-profit, Jonathan Williams, feigned political neutrality.

    A few hundred anti-Trump demonstrators comprised of community activists, union members and Latino leaders protested outside the Pacific Battleship Center’s fence on Harbor Boulevard. They listened to State Sen. Isadore Hall (D-35 District) speak on his divest-from-Donald Trump campaign, which passed the State Senate on Sept. 11.

    Known as California Senate Resolution 39, Hall explained that his resolution condemns racist hate speech by all presidential candidates and calls on the State of California to divest from Donald Trump and all of his enterprises. The crowd cheered for the speakers and booed every mention of Trump’s name.

    “Collectively we send a message that we won’t stand for hate speech…he is here in San Pedro to mislead America,” Hall said as an effigy of Trump bobbed up and down behind, silhouetted by the outline of the famous World War II battleship.

    “Whatever empty promises he makes today he is disqualified to be commander in chief,” Hall announced.

    Hall then concluded his comments with, “I only have one thing to say to you, Donald Trump—You’re fired!”

    Hall’s final comment seemed to encapsulate the protesters’ sentiments precisely. Then something strange happened.

    As Hall’s press conference closed, the Port Police loosened access to the parking lot and the protesters poured in to within 100 feet of the USS Iowa, where Trump had just arrived. It was a moment made for TV news, as the lines were clearly drawn between Trump supporters on the fantail of the ship underneath the big guns and the crowd yelling at the fundraiser attendees to “Dump Trump”—possibly into the harbor.

    Most of this drama never made it onto the nightly news, even though seven or more media companies were covering the event.

    Clearly, the Veterans for Strong America, which promoted and benefited from this event, is a political astroturf organization using its connections to the state of Iowa and the Republican leadership of the Pacific Battleship Center board of directors to use the ship as a symbolic backdrop for what otherwise was just a crass use of patriotism for political benefit.

    Although VSA had basically no money in their coffers until today, they have been busy trying to swiftboat Hillary Clinton by suing the federal government for Clinton’s emails over an issue that’s largely been resolved by numerous congressional committees over the past three years.

    Veterans for a Strong America founder Joel Arends introduced Trump at the rally Tuesday night and gave him their endorsement.

    The whole situation calls into question Pacific Battleship Center CEO Jonathan Williams’ “apolitical” position on the event and puts the center at odds with the museum’s landlord, the Harbor Area’s labor unions, the rather strong Democratic leadership of both the City of Los Angeles and the majority of Harbor Area voters.

    The 18th century essayist Samuel Johnson once said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Besides the misuse of this historic battleship, Donald Trump is clearly the modern definition of the term.

    Trump says he is going to “Make America Great Again” by increasing the size of the military by pouring more money into it. He said that with him as commander and chief, Americans are going to win so much that they are going to get bored with winning. He doesn’t explain which wars he’s planning on fighting (or winning). Hall noted that with all the money that is being spent on nuclear submarines, the greatest threat the United States has ever known, ISIS, doesn’t even have a rowboat as far as he knows.

    Yet Trump’s call for even greater spending on the military comes at a time when the infrastructure needs of this country are greater than they have ever been and our ability to compete in the world economy hinges on the ability to train the workforce in generations to come.

    Lastly, all I can say is that in business when I’m confronted by an egotistical blowhard who says, “Trust me,” I hold onto my wallet and run the other way. And that’s my advice for anyone who is even mildly considering voting for Trump.

     

     

     

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  • Dump the Trump Campaign Gears Up

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor; Photos by Phillip Cooke

    More than 300 demonstrators picketed presidential candidate Donald Trump’s visit to the USS Iowa from just beyond the parking gates of the Pacific Battleship Center on Sept. 15. They came to the waterfront from throughout Southern California, including Carson, Costa Mesa, Wilmington and San Pedro. The Dump Trump forces provided the perfect backdrop for State Sen. Isadore Hall to promote his Senate Resolution 39, which calls for the state to divest from all Trump-related businesses in response to celebrity candidate’s purposeful race-baiting. (more…)

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