• Cooking Tips and Tricks:

    How to Not Completely Screw Up Thanksgiving Dinner

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine Writer

    The holiday season comes at the same time every year, but somehow it always seems to sneak up out of nowhere.

    Stress ensues and often continues all the way to New Year’s Day. And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s here again.

    This year Thanksgiving falls on Nov. 26, exactly two weeks from the morning this edition of Random Lengths hit the streets. That tends to set the tone for the rest of holiday parties leading up to the New Year, so let’s make sure we don’t get off to a rocky start.  I did you all a favor. I talked to some of the best chefs in the Harbor Area and had them share some cooking tips and tricks for making Thanksgiving dinner run as smoothly as possible. You can thank me later.
    Brine your turkey

    You need to brine your turkey. Period. End of story. Regardless of if you prefer a wet brine or a dry brine, it needs to happen. Dustin Trani, the executive chef of J. Trani’s in San Pedro, says the trick is to never let it brine for longer than 24 hours. The point of brining a turkey is to cure the outside so that you keep the moisture and juices in the bird. If you do it too long, it breaks down the bird. If you don’t do it long enough, it’s like dipping the turkey in salt water. That does nothing. At the very minimum, brine it for eight hours, but again NEVER longer than 24 hours.

    Let Your Bird Rest

    Do not skip this part. The bird must rest after it gets out of the oven. Every chef I spoke to could not emphasize this enough. If you cut into the bird and you see all of that “wonderful juice” on the cutting board, there is a problem. That juice is no longer in your bird. Now it’s too late. Cook the bird according to the instructions and weight for your turkey. Aim for a center temperature of 145 degrees and then pull it out and let it rest until it comes up to 165 degrees. This is anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.

    Don’t Overcomplicate Anything

    For some of you, this next tip might sound blasphemous, but bear with me. If you have a tendency to dry out your turkey every year, Frank DeLoach, executive chef of Padre in Long Beach, suggests butchering your turkey before you cook it. I know, I struggled with that concept too, but let’s talk this one out. Thanksgiving is supposed to be enjoyable, the turkey included, so I’m open to any suggestion that makes my life a little easier on that day. Deconstruct the bird as you would a chicken, as the dark meat and light meat cook best at varying lengths of time.

    “Too many people overthink Thanksgiving. Just enjoy it,” he says.

    Don’t Stuff Your Bird

    As one chef said, “Don’t stuff your turkey. That’s stupid—that’s how you kill people. It actually creates bad bacteria and doesn’t cook out properly.”

    Well, that’s enough to instill fear in the masses, but more importantly, every chef agreed unanimously. Other tips for making stuffing include cutting your bread the day before; it dries out the bread so the stuffing holds more flavors.  Also, make sure to cut the bread cubes into small pieces. Big chunks of bread are obviously not bite size and are harder to eat.

    Canned Cranberry Sauce. Please Don’t

    Cranberry sauce is not rocket science, folks. At the very least you can make this from scratch. Executive Chef David MacLennan from James Republic likes to take fresh cranberries and pulse them in a food processor. Then add sugar, orange juice, a little zest and some Grand Marnier. Do this a couple of days in advance to let everything sit and marinate together. Throw that in the fridge and you’re done.

    So, You Want to Make a Casserole?

    I like the idea of casseroles but I don’t do well with soggy anything. If your idea of casserole includes throwing green beans in a baking dish with a can of cream of mushroom soup, I worry—unless, of course, you’re into brown mush. Then be my guest. Here’s a better way to do a casserole. MacLennan suggests making all of the components in separate parts to ensure a better consistency. Blanch the green beans in salt water, shock them in ice water to stop them from cooking, drain and dry. Make a mushroom cream sauce separately. The crispy onion topping is also fairly easy to make. Cut up shallots, toss in buttermilk and then dredge them in flour. Fry them up in a little pan and you’re good to go. Just reheat all of the components, layer and serve.

    Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at


    Turkey Gravy:gravy, turkey, mash potatoes

    Gleaned from the New Orleans

    Is there any part of the meal that strikes more terror into the heart of the cook than the all important gravy? Many folks just open a packet or a can and call it good. Most wonder, where does a gravy even come from?

    There are three simple components to a gravy: a thickening agent, the “drippings” or at least a stock, and the seasonings. My tip focuses on the third, assuming the first two are under control.

    What makes a gravy memorable is its consistency. For Thanksgiving turkey gravy, I have found two ways.

    First, if you do not put your dressing inside the turkey, stuff the cavity of the bird with celery, onion, red and green bell peppers and carrots. When the bird is done, fetch the vegetables and add them to the start of your gravy. Using an immersion blender will render the gravy into smooth, velvety deliciousness, with a lovely sheen across the surface. The abundant flavor comes from the fact the vegetables have cooked inside of the turkey for hours.

    If you do stuff the turkey, roast in a pan that has enough space to place the vegetables around the turkey, to take in some of the flavor from the bird. The seasoning will take less time than the turkey, so either start with the vegetables in the pan and take them out after a couple of hours, or put them on the pan when the turkey is within two hours of being done. They will blend in just as easily as when they are inside the turkey. However, do make sure they are entirely cooked. They should be complete mush.

    For the full recipe, email nmunster@portsocalldining.com

     — Noramae Munster,  Culinary Director at Ports O’ Call Waterfront Dining.

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  • 1,000 Strikes:

    Picketers form the Port Truckers Strike press conference in October. Photo by Slobodan Dimitrov

    Port Trucker Says They’re Not About to Stop

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor
    From Oct. 26 through 30, port truckers engaged in their eighth unfair labor practices strike in the past two years. But on the last day, José Portillo, who works for Intermodal Bridge Transport, told the Los Angeles City Council, “If it takes 1,000 strikes, that’s what we’re going to do, because we’ve got to change this industry and we’ve got to stop wage theft.”

    Portillo was testifying for a resolution of support, co-authored by Councilman Joe Buscaino, which was subsequently passed 11-0.

    That same day, 14 new drivers filed “wage and hour” claims valued at $3.5 million with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, and an additional 19 DLSE claims were in the process of being completed and filed, according to a Teamster press release—a clear signal that the strike’s end did not signal any letup in the struggle. So far, 705 claims have been filed, with 155 orders, decisions or awards. These totaled $12 million in back wages and penalties, with estimated liability for the remaining claims totaling more than $60 million.

    It was the first strike joined by drivers from Gold Point Transportation. It expanded to include warehouse workers from Cal Cartage, who suffer from similar sorts of unfair labor practices. Drivers from Pacific 9 Transportation remain out on strike.

    “It’s pretty incredible that these drivers have struck eight times in the last two years, and that the Pac 9 drivers remain on strike and it’s become very clear that this isn’t going away anytime soon,” Teamsters spokeswoman Barbara Maynard said. “José Portillo said ‘I will strike 1,000 times if that’s what it takes.’ That takes incredible bravery and strength to say that…. So the LA City Council heard that, loud and clear. They were very, very supportive and pledged to help, and meetings are being set up, and those things are moving forward.”

    Other drivers spoke out forcefully as well, before the council voted.

    “There have been weeks when I worked and made $2,200 gross and, after all the deductions, all I made to take home was $200 for the week,” said Humberto Canales, a striking XPO driver. “We’ve got to stop what’s going on.”

    His testimony was supported by payment records from different companies submitted to the council, showing that such treatment is common. One weekly statement showed a net loss of $617.06 for a week in July 2014.

    “They are stealing money from us,” said Isabel Samayola, another IBT striker. “We really, really need your help.”

    “I would like to thank the city council for [its] support,” Pac 9 striker Amador Rojas said. “This gives us strength to continue fighting so we get a better future.”

    “Thank you for helping expose the abuse that these workers have to endure each and every day in the Port of LA,” Teamsters Vice President Ron Herrera said.

    “The workers [who] came before us today are responsible for moving our goods,” Buscaino said, urging support for the resolution. “They make up the economic engine that has made our port complex what it is.”

    The resolution stated that the council, “reiterates its support for all the workers at the Port of Los Angeles, and calls on all companies who conduct business at the Port of Los Angeles to comply with federal and state employment and labor laws and provide them with the same wage and benefits protections afforded to all employees in our city.”

    The resolution was co-authored by Councilman Bob Blumenfield and Council President Herb Wesson, with Councilwoman Nury Martinez seconding. But two other council members delivered perhaps the most moving council testimony of the day.

    “I rise as the son of a Teamster and as the brother of a Teamster,” said Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, triggering a round of spontaneous applause. “I want to reiterate my support. This is a basic request that all companies at the Port of Los Angeles comply with state and federal labor laws. It’s that simple. Our workers, our men and women in the Teamsters, and our workers at the Port of Los Angeles deserve that basic right, and their families need these benefits that they fight so hard for every day and that they work for every day. I personally know what that is like, growing up, as I said, as the son of a Teamster, so I urge a unanimous ‘aye’ vote on this important resolution. Let’s support our workers at the port.”

    Councilman Paul Koretz recalled perhaps the earliest hearing on the issue, which he convened a decade ago as chairman of the Labor and Employment Committee in the state Assembly. Among those in attendance was Rep. Janice Hahn, then a member of the LA City Council.

    “We were talking about wage theft, and we were talking about misclassification; we were talking about working conditions,” Koretz recalled. “The amazing thing is that this is still an issue, and we still haven’t found a way to resolve it…. I want to let you know that I, for one, am 100 percent behind you, as I always have been and I will be until we find a way to get this done. I believe I am speaking for most, if not all, of my colleagues in saying that as well. We are behind you. We want to get the word out. And we want to solve this problem.”

    And the message is getting through to the industry as well.

    “We’re hearing rumblings out there on the grapevine that people recognize clearly that change is coming—and, by ‘people,’ I mean the industry recognizes changes coming,” spokeswoman Barbara Maynard said. “It’s very, very clear that the fight really is on, and it’s not just on at of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but it’s on across America. These strikes are not going to stop. The number of wage and hour claims filed with the California division of labor standards enforcement is growing every single week.”

    And it’s not just a matter of port truckers and warehouse workers, she said.

    “On Tuesday [Nov. 10], there’s a national day of action for low-wage workers, there’s going to be activities in cities across America including here in Los Angeles, port truck drivers are participating with that, and as a part of that, they are filing claims on Tuesday at the Long Beach office of the DLS. They will also be out protesting with other low-wage workers demanding change.”

    Maynard cited a wide range of deceptive labor practices in different industries that are increasingly recognized as illegal—misclassification of independent contractors, using staffing agencies to employ workers as “permatemps” with low wages, no benefits or worker protections, or using franchising, as with McDonald’s, to avoid dealing with workers altogether.

    “What we’re finally starting to see,” Maynard said, is “workers across America have peeled the curtain back on the root causes of income inequality and the party’s on. The party’s on not just at their individual workplace, in the industries that they work in, but it’s also on because these workers are really demanding that the presidential candidates take ownership and demand change and offer solutions when they get elected to the White House.

    “We’ve certainly seen that with the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, with Hillary Clinton’s candidacy taking on some of these really big issues, that otherwise would have been the 800-pound gorilla sitting in the room that nobody mentioned,” Maynard said.

    Locally, new action by Los Angeles County is expected soon. “On Nov. 17, the County of Los Angeles, the Board of Supervisors is going to have a hearing on wage theft, and port drivers will be central to that hearing, and to that discussion, and the ultimate policies that come out of it,” Maynard said. “There are many port trucking companies that are in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles and those companies are misclassifying workers and stealing the workers wages. Having the County of Los Angeles weighing in on this is very, very important.”

    In July, the supervisors—approving a measure drafted by Supervisor Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Labor in Obama’s first term—requested two reports dealing with the issue of wage theft to inform their actions.

    The first report, was to be “an analysis of the county’s legal authority to regulate wage theft… and its authority to enforce municipal, state, and federal wage theft laws,” while the second called for a “recommendation for the most effective and efficient model by which the county can enforce wage theft regulations.”

    “It’s important to provide enforcement tools against those [who] would take advantage of our employees,” said Solis, shortly before the vote.

    “Wage theft is 20 percent higher in Los Angeles County than the national average,” Victor Narro, a project director of UCLA Davis Center, told the supervisors.

    Port truckers, forced to shoulder the burden of paying for the ports’ clean truck revolution are even more hard-hit than most of Los Angeles’ wage theft victims and are clearly looking forward to the county taking action.

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  • Angels Gate Cultural Center at 30:

    Reconnecting Roots, Strengthening Neighborly Bonds

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    On Nov. 7, Angels Gate Cultural Center was the site for A Gathering of Angels: Studio Artists from 1985–2015, an exhibition of former and current Studio Artists to kick off the center’s 30th anniversary.

    A Gathering of Angels includes the work of 16 alumni artists and 45 current studio artists. The three downstairs galleries will set the stage for a cacophonous gathering of bold and diverse artists representing every year of Angels Gate Cultural Center’s history. The work delivers messages of awakening, shining light on issues ranging from the local to the international.

    Angels Gate Cultural Center itself serves as a source of inspiration. Oil paintings of stunning views of Catalina Island, a history of the adjacent Gaffey Street pool, and a postcard-style rendering of its landmark flag pole is proof of this inspiration.

    The works chosen for display are strongly inspired by the park’s ocean views in varied materials and mediums. It’s apparent they were inspired by the formal and abstract potential of beach trash and port architecture. The cultural landscape and the diversity of San Pedro also play a prominent role in making connections between artists.

    The show’s curator, Martabella Wasserman, said she took advantage of the unique opportunity of capturing a bit of the center’s history from the founding art colonists who were there at the very beginning.

    Wasserman gave artists one simple parameter for the show: that the work fits in the limited space of 2 cubic feet.

    “I always think it’s more fun to give an artist minimal  [space] constraints rather than a conceptual constraint,” Wasserman said

    Through curating this show, Wasserman said she enjoyed seeing how community, shared space and geography informed the themes that emerged as she worked with these artists from different periods of the center’s growth.

    Executive Director Amy Eriksen, spent several years as Angels Gates’ director of education before she was elevated to interim executive director. She expressed a keen interest in returning the center to its roots after spending the past year pouring over old documents and talking to board members, and past and present studio artists.

    Eriksen drew upon her experience as an alumnus of Idyllwild Arts Academy, a prestigious pre-professional arts training school with a comprehensive college preparatory.

    “I spent many summers at Idyllwild Arts and was very lucky there was a camp there, and to have been able to walk with Dr. Max and Mrs. Beatrice Krone, who were the ones that started that space,” Eriksen said. “When I was in middle school, he’d walk with a walker down the walkway, and he would sit down and I would catch him and have him tell me a story.”

    Eriksen, in many ways, took that same approach at Angels Gate, talking with founding artist Muriel Olguin and her contemporaries, such as Sam Arno.

    “The process of taking over a space for a new use is very important to me,” Eriksen said.

    This past year, she was focused on putting together a board that understands that process. She has tasked the board with forming a new mission statement.

    “[A mission statement that only says] Experimenting, community art and culture never spoke to anybody,” Eriksen said. “It was just something that was there.  It didn’t engage you and made you want to be here. That was the conversation we had with board and the community.”

    Eriksen noted that she and the board are engaging community partners at the park, which include Fort MacArthur, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Marine Exchange and, the Marine Mammal Center.

    Historically, there hasn’t been much collaboration between the stakeholders at Angels Gate Park since the property was transferred into public hands in 1980. In fact, the park was the site of open warfare between factions with differing visions about the future of the park. That is a significant reason why eight years after getting a 30-year lease, a workable master plan has been elusive. Eriksen says that in the past couple of years there’s been a shift in thinking and in relationships. She suggests there’s a greater sense of collaboration at the park and the community in general.

    “It’s not because of my tenure at all [that we are beginning to shift],” She said. “We were lucky enough that we already had a staff in place willing to start that shift.”

    Eriksen said this took the harness off the board to talk to potential community partners and forge new friendships.

    One of the ways the center has been forging those ties was through the popup galleries they would set up in downtown San Pedro on First Thursdays.

    “We would have eight to 10 organizations here that we partner with on Saturday for Open Studios day,” Eriksen said. “They would have their information out. It’s a great way for them to talk to our membership list. That’s also a way for us to market to their people.”

    A Gathering of Angels will be displayed until Jan. 23, 2016.

    The gallery showing of Service and Other Stories: A Living History Project will continue on display in Main Gallery I through January 2016.

    The exhibition highlights the memories of Veterans of the U.S. armed forces featuring the work of Farrah Karapetian. Karapetian worked with Veterans Joe Deeble, Mike Flech, John Warhank and Justin Wilson to convey their personal stories.

    In the Main Gallery II the last iteration of a  two-year curatorial initiative Getting Off the Ground: Contemporary Stories from an American Community will be on view.

    The work represents a wide range of approaches to telling stories relevant to the local community. Artists include  Kaleeka Bond, Ben Caldwell, Cherie Benner Davis, Corita Scott Kent, Delbar Shanbaz, Louis M Schimidt, and Michael Sterns. Visitors will be able to tell their own story through interactive art stations in the gallery.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through Jan. 23, 2016
    Details: (310) 519-0936; www.angelsgateart.org
    Venue:  Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey, San Pedro

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  • The True Heart of the Harbor Doesn’t Bleed

    Heart of the Harbor volunteers served food to homeless people and community members this past October at Banning. Featured photo by Slobodan Dimitrov

    Wilmington Grassroots Effort Tackles Homelessness

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Our present discourse on homelessness and how to address it has many problems. But the most glaring parts of that discourse make distinctions between the deserving and undeserving poor, and the classification of homeless advocates as “bleeding hearts.”

    Local social media pages are filled with posts by amateur gumshoe detectives. Armed with smartphones and snacks, they spend evenings staked out in their vehicles on dark corners tracking and filming the movements of homeless encampments, serial panhandlers and suspected bike thieves.

    Some do their part by holding up signs reminding motorists to “give a hand up, not a hand out”—ironically on the same street corner where the San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice demonstrators had maintained their vigil against the Iraq war for all those years.

    Others, like David Gonzales and Nikki Fabela, feed the hungry and provide them with needed supplies in Wilmington.

    The Dispatcher, the ILWU newspaper, recently published a profile on Gonzales, a guard in ILWU Local 26, and his group’s work feeding and connecting homeless people to resources.

    I was aware of his effort when Random Lengths published “Here Comes Rolling Thunder” this past June. The profile featured Nora Vela and the San Pedro-based Helping the Homeless in Need. Though the groups initially shared the same name, their efforts were independently grown.

    Gonzales wasn’t happy that the tiny homes controversy this past July took over the debate on how to address homelessness in the Harbor Area. He noted that after a Sept. 3 homeless forum at the Warner Grand Theatre, homeless people became targets of increased sweeps with physical attacks and a general free-for-all vilification of the homeless on social media. Many homeless people at their regular haunts were cleared out, including some at a longstanding encampment near the Longshore Dispatch Hall in Wilmington.

    “It’s my opinion that the forum put the entire Harbor Area homeless population into exile,” Gonzales said. It’s like now all of a sudden the thing to do is to bash the homeless people. They were actually throwing rocks at the little houses. The tiny houses were never a solution. It was just an attempt to give comfort. I think it could have been better located.

    “We got more homeless people in Wilmington than San Pedro. In Wilmington, we have more people that have struggled more. We’re not called the Heart of the Harbor for nothing. This is a working class town—a longshore community… We ain’t no candy-ass city. We’re about real life.”

    Heart of the Harbor/Helping Those in Need

    When it comes to the Gonzales’ close-knit group Helping Those in Need, he’d rather the attention not focus on himself but on the people who make it happen every week. In particular, he credits Fabela in helping realize his ambition to “pay it forward,” a phrase he got from a Haley Joel Osment film.

    One day he posted a bit of food porn on Facebook, a shrimp burrito he bought for lunch. The post received a lot of comments and likes from Facebook friends until he posted the comment, “I’m going to start a soup kitchen and feed the whole east side from my front yard.” He was only joking at first, but the idea struck a chord and stayed with him.

    For him, that idea turned into a question: Can I really feed some people?

    Gonzales likes to barbecue, so he bought two boxes of hamburger patties from Smart & Final—a total of 80 patties for 40 people. Fabela was the first person he enlisted to help.

    Being a self-professed social media addict, he put out a challenge to Wilmington on Facebook to show up for his barbecue.

    “The east side seems like the stepchild of Wilmington,” Gonzales said. “The west side has the Boys and Girls Club, the teen center, the YMCA, YWCA…”

    He said the response was overwhelming. Through Facebook, he found many people from similar walks of life as his own coming out to help and others who were already feeding the homeless on their own.

    “It’s a beautiful thing,” Gonzales said. The whole [thing] just came together. We want to help people in the street in need. We don’t just help the homeless individuals.”

    The group gives away food and water to families living in single-room occupancy hotels—families who are less than a step from being homeless.

    “The people in those hotels…they are on hotel vouchers,” Gonzales said. “They are in an empty room with nothing to eat. So we are concerned about them. There are families in there with children.”

    Heart of the Harbor works through existing aid agencies and men’s and women’s shelters in Wilmington and San Pedro.

    “We use the resources that not too many people are aware of,” he said. “Our desire and main goal is to transition people off the street. We’re not doing this to make people comfortable on the street. We’re doing this to build relationships and give hope. We know everybody’s name and everybody knows us by name.”

    Victory Outreach ministry is among the groups with which he’s built relationships.

    Gonzales says the group has been successful in getting people off the street over the past two months.

    “We just want to offer a little bit of love, comfort and hope, and at the same time encourage them to get off the street and let them know of the resources available,” he said. “Sure, we may not have enough and there may be a shortage of shelters, but there are resources you can go to for emergency relief.”

    A Bleeding Heart

    At 46 years old, Gonzales is a single dad of seven children. He’s critical of President Barack Obama’s administration, mostly because he believes the president is trying to take away our Second Amendment rights.

    He admires some of the positions of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump—particularly Trump’s emphasis on making “America great again.” Though Trump’s positions on immigration and the candidate’s racial attacks on Hispanics has cooled Gonzales enthusiasm for him.

    He’s a firm supporter of the military and draws inspiration from two uncles who are Vietnam War veterans. He says that if he had to do it differently, he would have joined the military. His arms are covered with tattoos, a reminder that he’s a former gang member. He is also a recovering drug addict, he says.

    Gonzales recalled abuse from his stepfather from the age of 3. At 13, Gonzales fought back. He recounted calling his mom at work and telling her what happened. She told him to never come home again. As a result, he bounced around from couch to couch of the few friends he had at the time, and stayed with an aunt for a short period. But he was just another mouth to feed to the adults around him. Banning Park in Wilmington became the place where he slept.

    Gonzales described himself as the “black sheep” of the family. He said he doesn’t know his biological father’s side of the family. He tried connecting with him briefly as a teenager, but discovered he was married and had another family.

    “He took me in for a minute,” Gonzales said of his father. “But he had a wife. Me and her clashed…. With me being so full of anger that only lasted for a couple of days. “

    He remembers trying to find food.

    “I ate from garbage cans at the Taco Bell on Anaheim, because I was too proud or embarrassed to beg or ask for change,” Gonzales said. “I would wait until the night time and [I’d] go dumpster diving. That was before I started selling dope when I was 16. [With the drug money], I was able to afford a motel room every now and again.”

    Gonzales explained he tried getting help from family, but by then, he was struggling with drug addiction. Then he got a job as a security guard at the age of 18. His first post as a security guard was at Pick-Your-Part in Wilmington.

    “I was like a lot of people on the street—jack of all trades but master of none,” he said. “But there was always security. So that was always my fall back.”

    Labor and Love

    In September 1999, Gonzales was hired by Local 26 as an emergency watchman. It was there that the seeds that would become Heart of the Harbor/Helping Those in Need were planted.

    “I knew what the union was from a very early age,” Gonzales said. “I didn’t know the details of how it worked, but I knew that it was something people from here wanted to be. Kind of like back East with the coal mines where people from my background would do. It was the job of the community. I knew it was a thing of pride.”

    Gonzales said that when he started working at the Hanjin Terminal as a guard, he began opening up to people—a sharp contrast to his tendency to view strangers with suspicion.

    One of the first people he opened up to at the terminal was Mark Reyes, one of the shop’s stewards.

    “We’re guards, so there’s nothing but time to talk and get to know each other,” Gonzales explained. “For some reason Mark just helped me out. He was a steward who helped me with some of the union issues I had. We just developed a bond. He liked heavy metal, I liked heavy metal. We started going to concerts.”

    When Gonzales, third youngest child Emory was born she had a heart defect. Reyes was there for Gonzales and his family.

    “She had two holes in the upper chambers of her heart, causing her heart to beat extra fast. She needed major open heart surgery to correct the defect.

    “He showed me genuine concern. The walk of life I came from, nobody does anything for free unless they have a hidden agenda.”

    Gonzales describes Reyes as a bigger-than- life character calling for him through the hospital, and who literally held Gonzales and his daughter up before she went into surgery.

    But Reyes wasn’t the only one, Gonzales recalls, looking back to the period after he separated from his wife and moved into a new place. He didn’t have any money to give his children a good Christmas.

    A colleague at Hanjin Terminal, Christina Leblanc, through casual conversation with him learned of Gonzales’ situation.

    Without his knowledge, Leblanc collected donations from all the guards at all the nearby terminals.

    “It was a better Christmas than I ever could have ever provided for them,” Gonzales said. Gonzales counts Leblanc as one of those that encouraged him and pointed him towards recovery from his drug addiction. The experience inspired him to do for others what was done for him.

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  • Artists Respond to SP Fire: RL NEWS Briefs of the Week Nov. 10, 2015

    Featured photo by Kent Tolley

    Artists Respond to SP Fire


    Modern Muralist Ricky Hernandez and volunteers painted murals to beautify the buildings that caught on fire on Nov. 2 in San Pedro. Photo by Betty Guevara

    SAN PEDRO — Six businesses were destroyed after a fire erupted at about 4 a.m. Nov. 2.
    It took 146 firefighters more than two hours to contain the flame off the 500 block of Pacific Avenue and 6th Street, official from the Los Angeles Fire Department. Fire crews found smoke billowing from a one-story row of businesses.
    A fire captain was hospitalized and treated for exertion.
    The cause of the fire remains under investigation and there was no estimate on the damage.
    On Nov. 5, a group of artists responded by volunteering their services and creating a temporary mural painting on the corner of 6th Street and Pacific Avenue on boarded up buildings impacted by the fire.
    That same afternoon arts district’s Tactical Urbanism Committee met. A couple of the participants in that committee were charged up.
    “They were really charged up,” said Linda Grimes, who heads the San Pedro Waterfront Arts District. “But, these kids are really hungry and they want to make a splash in the community.”
    Ricky Hernandez and his business partner, Ben Avila, offered to organize a crew.
    “I contacted all the artists who I know,” Hernandez, 23, said. “We wanted to give back to the community.”
    There were more than 20 artists who showed up.
    Hernandez’s business, Modern Muralists, purchased the materials. The arts district is working to reimburse the artists for the materials.
    The artwork theme was Phoenix Rising.
    “We feel a phoenix rising from the ashes is a sign of rebirth,” Hernandez said.
    Though the work is a temporary display pending repairs to the businesses, artists see it as an opportunity.
    “It was an exercise for us and a demonstration for others,” Hernandez said.
    The arts district wants to continue doing more murals in the corridor and hopefully pay the artists for their work.

    LBPD Investigates Attempted Murder of CHP Officer

    LONG BEACH — A man, who may shot at, but did not hit, a California Highway Patrol officer on Nov. 5, was found dead near railroad tracks.
    The incident took place at about 1 p.m. Nov. 1. The Long Beach Police Department requested the assistance of the CHP with the search of an armed suspect near South Street and Cherry Avenue.
    The preliminary investigation indicates a CHP motorcycle officer was eastbound on the 91 Freeway, west of Long Beach Boulevard, when he attempted to conduct a traffic stop for a carpool violation. The gold Ford Taurus exited the freeway at Long Beach Boulevard, and proceeded through a red light, initially at a slow rate of speed, then suddenly accelerated and drove away.
    A vehicle pursuit ensued for about three to four minutes and ended at South Street and Cherry Avenue when the suspect vehicle collided into a cinder block wall.
    The suspect exited the vehicle and ran eastbound on South Street. When the CHP officer attempted to contact the suspect, the suspect turned and fired at the officer who took cover behind his motorcycle. The officer did not return fire. The suspect fled southbound between businesses on South Street and out of the officer’s line of sight.
    Long Beach Police received calls from businesses in the area regarding a male adult suspect attempting to rob employees at gunpoint and carjack a vehicle.
    A short time later, during a search of the area, Long Beach Police found a man lying near the railroad tracks north of Market Street, with a handgun nearby.
    The man matched the description of the suspect involved in the attempt murder of the CHP officer and the attempt robberies.
    Long Beach Fire Department responded and determined the suspect dead at the scene. It appeared that the suspect sustained a self-inflicted gunshot injury.
    The name of the suspect is not being released at this time. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office will make positive identification and notify next of kin.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    $50,000 Reward Issued In Murder Investigation of LBPD Officer

    LONG BEACH — On Nov. 3, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna announced a $50,000 reward and asked for the public’s help with the murder investigation of Long Beach Police Officer Franke Lewis who was killed about 40 years ago.
    The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, at the recommendation of Supervisor Don Knabe, recently issued a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for the murder. The Long Beach Police Officers Association and the Fraternal Order of Police increased the reward to $50,000. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is working with the Long Beach City Council in an effort to add an additional $25,000, which would raise the total reward to $75,000 if successful.
    On Dec. 13, 1975, just before 3 a.m., 28-year-old Long Beach Police Officer Franke Lewis was murdered in the 6200 block of Cantel Street in Long Beach. Lewis had been with the department for about two years and was returning home after his patrol shift ended when he tried to stop a crime in progress and was murdered.
    About 30 minutes prior to Lewis arriving home, Mr. Denis Gitschier was driving on the freeway, but began to feel tired. Gitschier pulled off the freeway, onto Cantel Street, and went to sleep in his car. He was awakened by a suspect or suspects violently beating him, possibly in an attempt to steal his car.
    Based on the investigation, detectives believe Lewis arrived home, parked his personal car and, seeing this activity down the street, went to investigate. As Lewis approached, the suspect or suspects who had violently beaten Gitschier confronted Lewis, shot him, and fled. Residents called police after hearing the gunfire.
    Lewis was pronounced deceased at the scene.
    Gitschier was transported to a local hospital where he remained for several days due to the extent of his injuries.
    Lewis’ duty weapon, police badge, and police identification were taken from his person on the night he was killed. On March 12, 1976, Officer Lewis’ police badge and police identification were recovered from a vacant residence at 915 South Acacia Ave. in Compton. Lewis’ duty weapon remains outstanding.
    Long Beach Homicide detectives have revisited this case multiple times over the years. Most recently, detectives have spent time looking at the case, locating witnesses and conducting interviews across the country.
    The investigation revealed at least one and possibly two vehicles with several male and female African-American occupants were in the area the night Lewis was killed. These occupants were not known to reside in the area. The vehicles are described as a mid-70s, black top, blue body 4-door Fleetwood Cadillac, and an early 60s white 4-door Fleetwood Cadillac.
    Detectives have canvassed the East Long Beach neighborhood where the murder occurred and are looking for additional witnesses. They are hopeful the reward will prompt reluctant witnesses to come forward.
    Anyone who may have lived in the Long Beach or Compton areas in 1975, or who may have been involved, or has any information about the murder of Long Beach Police Officer Franke Lewis is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Man Dies in Traffic Collision at 710 Freeway

    LONG BEACH — A 35-year-old Long Beach resident died, Nov. 5, after he lost control of his car while driving southbound on the 710 Freeway.
    The incident took place at about 12 a.m. Long Beach Police Department officers responded to a collision south of the 6th Street off-ramp. When officers arrived at the scene they found a vehicle overturned and the man dead.
    Witnesses said that the driver lost control of the vehicle and it began to spin sideways. The vehicle slid toward the west curb, down the west embankment, overturned and crashed into a tree. The driver did not seem to have his seat belt on at the time and was partially ejected through the sunroof. No other vehicles were involved.
    The identity of the driver is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin.
    Anyone who may have information regarding this incident is urged to (562) 570-7110 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.


    Amazing Women nominee Diana Lejins is a community activist and photojournalist. Long Beach. October 15, 2015. Photo by Brittany Murray, courtesy of Diana Lejins

    Amazing Women

    Random Lengths News’ Diana Lejins is among the finalists being honored at with the Long Beach “Amazing Women” at 6th annual Press­Telegram gala, Behind Every Woman Is an Amazing Story, Nov. 10 at the Centre at Sycamore Plaza in Lakewood.
    The Long Beach-based photojournalist and advocate for people with disabilities. She became interested in advocating for people with disabilities because her parents and grandparents were deaf. Lejins has lived in Long Beach for about 30 years.
    This events celebrates the lives and accomplishments of local women who are doing amazing things to help community, schools and businesses.
    The program culminates a 3­month selection process in which nominations were submitted by Press­Telegram readers and 18 winners were chosen in six categories: arts and culture, business/entrepreneur, community service or volunteer, health and wellness, education and lifetime achievement.
    A special “tribute” will also take place honoring Joan Van Blom. Winners will be honored at the gala with a special video presentation and award. Profiles will also appear in the Press Telegram, Press­Telegram.com and www.presstelegram.com/AmazingWomen.
    The finalists include:
    Arts and Culture: Mina Barnes, Joan Hansen, Lisa Hartouni
    Business and Entrepreneur: Kristi Allen, Dana Buchanan, Sofia Riley
    Community Service or Volunteer: Crystal Angulo, Diana Lejins, Juanita Wilson
    Education: Dr. Lyndsey Christoffersen, J. Cacilia Kim, Carrie Redflox
    Health and Wellness: Sunny Daye, Kelli Johnson, Karen Taylor
    Lifetime Achievement: Requeta “Ricky” Campbell, Julie Mendell, Phyllis Schmidt
    Tribute: Joan Van Blom

    Hall Endorses Malauulu

    LONG BEACH – On Nov. 6, Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees candidate
    Vivian Malauulu announced that her campaign for the Board’s Area Two seat in next
    April’s municipal elections has secured a formal endorsement from local State Sen. Isadore
    Hall. Hall’s 35th State Senate District includes portions of Long Beach.
    Last week, Malauulu announced that her campaign had obtained the support of State Assembly
    Education Committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell. Her endorsements also includes Long Beach City College’s full and part-time faculty associations and classified staff, State Sen. Tony Mendoza, former State Sen. Betty Karnette, Teamsters Joint Council 42, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

    Pacific Shore Now Endorses Pearce for LB City Council

    LONG BEACH — On Nov. 4, The Jeannine Pearce for Long Beach City Council Campaign is announced the endorsement of the Long Beach Chapter of the National Organization for Women, Pacific Shore NOW.
    “It is the consensus of Pacific Shore NOW to endorse Jeannine Pearce for Second District of the Long Beach City Council, based on the fact that her work most closely aligns with the primary NOW issues,” stated Zoe Nicholson, president of Pacific Shore NOW, in the organization’s endorsement release.
    Jeannine Pearce is a longtime 2nd District resident. Her priorities include supporting a thriving and growing local economy, building a clean and safe environment for resident.
    Adopted at a young age, Jeannine grew up very poor. She moved out of her home at the age of 16 and has worked since then. She made the move from her home state of Texas to California with her husband in 2005. After a decade of working multiple jobs while going to college, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Long Beach State University with a degree in sociology in 2009. She lives near Retro Row with her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Jubilee.

    POLA Communications Initiative Earns Top Honors

    SAN PEDRO — On Nov. 4, the American Association of Port Authorities awarded the Port of Los Angeles the association’s top communications competition prize, the Dan Maynard Communication Award for Overall Excellence. The port also earned 21 additional awards as part of the AAPA’s 48th annual Communications Awards Program, which received a total of 126 competition entries from 28 ports around the country.
    The Dan Maynard award is given to the port with the highest-scoring single entry regardless of category. Earning a nearly perfect score in the Special Events competition category this year – and the highest overall of any submission – was the Port of Los Angeles’ Lunar New Year Festival. This first-time event was created to honor Los Angeles’ many cultures and the port’s primary trade partners abroad. Attracting more than 3,000 visitors to the LA Waterfront, the festival was applauded by a judging panel from the Public Relations Society of America’s National Chapter.
    The Port of Los Angeles was also recognized with six additional American Association of Port Authorities Awards of Excellence, six Awards of Distinction and nine Awards of Merit. The port’s Awards of Excellence included:
    – STEM Funshop – This first-time event was organized to educate youth about the Port and maritime-industry careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an age-appropriate, positive and stimulating way. The event attracted more than 1,000 participants, double the expected number.
    – Think Watershed Field Trips – These hands-on, science-based boat field trips were created by the Port to teach fourth through seventh grade students about the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability in the maritime environment. The program reaches up to 15 schools (30 classes) and 900 students per year.
    – Tall Ships Festival LA 2014 – Featuring ten tall ships and Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s giant Rubber Duck, the festival and its “parade of sails” attracted more than 277,000 visitors to the LA Waterfront over a five-day period this past August and generated an estimated $8.2 million in local spending.
    – America’s Port® Video – This marketing video highlights Los Angeles’ position as the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere and as a global model for sustainability, security and social responsibility. Translated into five languages, the video emphasizes the key advantages of doing business with the Port of Los Angeles.
    – School Boat Tour – Hosting more than 10,000 students this past year, the port’s free educational boat tour program for students 4th grade and above provides students with an up-front perspective and in-depth look at the Port’s daily operations and the global maritime industry.
    – LAtitude – This high-quality, multi-media e-news magazine shares informative stories about business trends at the Port and how the Port works with its customers, cargo owners and the industry at large to create win-win opportunities.
    The Dan Maynard Communications Award for Overall Excellence trophy was awarded to the Port of Los Angeles during an awards luncheon on Nov. 4, 2015 at AAPA’s annual convention in Miami.
    The annual AAPA Communications Awards Program has recognized excellence in port communications since 1966. The award competition includes 15 entry classifications, ranging from advertisements, to videos and magazines, to social media programs. Entries are judged by an independent panel of experienced communications professionals from the Public Relations Society of America’s National Chapter in Washington, DC.

    LA Fails to Charge, Spend Developer Fees for Infrastructure

    LOS ANGELES – City Controller Ron Galperin issued an audit that found the City of Los Angeles is failing to exercise its power to charge citywide development impact fees, which state law says can be collected from developers to mitigate their projects’ impacts on neighborhoods and defray the costs of public facilities and infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, libraries, parks and police stations.
    In preparing their report, auditors in Galperin’s office compared Los Angeles with other western cities. In fiscal year 2013-14, San Francisco had $3.6 billion in permitted construction and collected $96 million in impact fees. Portland had $1.5 billion in permitted construction and collected $31 million. Meanwhile, Los Angeles had $5.3 billion in permitted construction but collected less than $5 million in impact fees. Based on these numbers, auditors said Los Angeles had the potential to collect tens of millions of dollars more in fees.
    Also, when auditors looked at the fees the city had collected, they identified $54 million sitting in eight special funds whose balances had grown or remained stable over three years, which suggested the city was failing to spend the money it collected. Auditors cautioned that some unspent fees could be subject to challenges and/or refunds. Most of the fees the City charges are for neighborhood-specific purposes. In fact, the only citywide fees the city charges are for public art and fire hydrants.
    The 1987 California Mitigation Fee Act allows cities to charge residential, commercial and industrial developers fees to pay for public facilities new developments necessitate. The fees can be used for many purposes, such as increasing fire and police protection, traffic mitigation, and the construction of libraries, parks, public art, child care facilities and affordable housing.
    Developers who spoke with the controller’s office said their primary concern wasn’t having to pay mitigation fees, but the glacial pace of project approval — even when their projects generate jobs and revenues for the city — revenues that include impact fees.
    In his report, Galperin called for the city to establish a comprehensive impact fee program and designate one department to take responsibility for making sure the funds are properly and efficiently used.
    Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association President Richard Close concurred. “In high development neighborhoods like mine, we have a great need for new infrastructure, but City officials often tell us they don’t have the money,” Close said.
    In preparing their report, auditors examined a three-year period ending in FY 2013-14. They identified seventeen funds established to hold development impact fee revenues. The balance of those funds at the end of the period was $68 million.
    More information about the funds where impact fees are deposited, as well as the other 900+ City special funds, including fund contact information, can be found at controlpanel.la.
    Link to audit: http://controller.lacity.org/Audits_and_Reports/index.htm

    SoCal Company Pays $4 Million, Enters Agreement to Resolve Allegations that it Overcharged U.S. Military for Fruit, Vegetables

    LOS ANGELES – On Nov. 2, Los Angeles-based Coast Produce Co., paid $4 million to resolve civil allegations that it fraudulently overcharged the U.S. military for fresh fruits and vegetables that it supplied to military dining facilities and Navy ships in Southern California.
    As part of a second agreement with criminal prosecutors, Coast Produce Co. will implement various measures to ensure the company complies with its legal obligations.
    Coast Produce Co.’s settlement agreements with the government resolve a civil lawsuit and criminal investigation into allegations that the company violated the federal False Claims Act and obstructed an investigation related to two contracts the company had with the Department of Defense to supply fresh produce to the military in the Los Angeles and San Diego regions.
    The allegations against Coast Produce first surfaced in a “whistleblower” lawsuit filed in 2008 by an industry consultant. To resolve the allegations in the lawsuit, Coast paid a $4 million settlement on Sept. 2. U.S. District Judge David O. Carter unsealed and dismissed the civil lawsuit on September 17.
    Under its contract with the Department of Defense, Coast Produce allegedly was required to charge only the current prices charged to Coast by its own suppliers for the fruits and vegetables (the “delivered price”), plus an additional fixed $1.50-per-unit distribution fee that included Coast’s profit. The lawsuit alleged that Coast Produce knowingly overcharged the military on the delivered prices in three ways: 1) by instructing two suppliers to provide inflated quotes for produce, which the company then submitted to the Department of Defense as pricing support, while simultaneously instructing the two suppliers to actually bill at their regular lower prices; 2) by charging the Department of Defense more than it paid for bananas and pineapples under long-term fixed-price supply contracts; and 3) submitting artificially high quotes to the Department of Defense – typically from vendors Coast Product had no intention of buying from – in order to set a payment rate, but then actually purchasing the produce it supplied at lower prices and keeping the difference.
    The settlement arises from a qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit originally filed under seal in 2008 by Kevin Driscoll pursuant to the provisions of the federal False Claims Act. The U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated Mr. Driscoll’s allegations, elected to intervene in the lawsuit, and negotiated the settlement. Pursuant to the False Claims Act, Mr. Driscoll will receive $920,000.
    In relation to the criminal investigation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Sept. 2 filed a criminal information against Coast Produce, alleging that the company altered or falsified records. The information alleged that Coast Produce provided false invoices to the Department of Defense when it requested evidence concerning the prices Coast was paying for produce it provided the military. The criminal information was filed pursuant to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement, in which the government agreed to defer any criminal case against Coast Produce for a two-year period in return for the company’s agreement to implement various compliance and remedial measures during that period, among other things. If Coast Produce does not violate the agreement during the 24-month period, the government will not proceed with a criminal case against Coast.
    In an ordered signed on Oct. 30, U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson dismissed the information filed by the government, which can be refiled in the event of a breach of the agreement by Coast.
    There is no allegation that the fruits and vegetables supplied by the company were unsatisfactory in quality. Coast Produce agreed to the civil settlement without admitting any wrongdoing. As to the criminal Deferred Prosecution Agreement, Coast admitted the facts attached, but did not admit that it committed any crime.

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  • NWSPNC Public Safety Committee Meeting: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS Nov. 3, 2015

    Nov. 4
    NWSPNC Public Safety Committee Meeting
    The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s Public Safety Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 at Via Dolce Café in San Pedro.
    Time: 6 p.m. Nov. 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: website
    Venue: Via Dolce Café, 29050 S. Western Ave., San Pedro
    Nov. 4
    Long Beach Flu Shot Clinics
    The City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services is hosting flu shot clinics throughout the city this fall, to prepare for flu season.  While winter is the typical time for flu activity, outbreaks can occur as early as October. An annual flu shot is the best way to keep people from getting ill.
    If you can’t make the clinic at Scherer Park, the following clinics are also available:

    • Thursday, November 5, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., Houghton Park Community Center, 6301 Myrtle Ave., Long Beach
    • Thursday, November 12, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m., McBride Park/Cal Rec Center, 1550 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Long Beach

    Appointments will also be accepted at the Health Department during regular business hours by calling (562) 570-4315 (a small administrative fee may apply).
    Time: 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nov. 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570-7468; www.longbeach.gov/health
    Venue: Scherer Park, 4600 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach
    Nov. 4
    SEADIP Update
    The Southeast Area Specific Plan/SEADIP Update Initial Study and Notice of Preparation is now available for public review until Nov. 20. The Initial Study and Notice of Preparation announces that an Environmental Impact Report will be prepared for the project and that a Scoping Meeting will be take place. The Scoping Meeting will take at 6 p.m. Nov. 4, at the Best Western Golden Sails Hotel at 6285 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach. The Scoping Meeting will describe the project, the California Environmental Quality Act process, the purpose of the Initial Study and Notice of Preparation and upcoming EIR, and offer an opportunity for members of the public and other interested parties to comment on the environmental “scope” (or breath of topics and issues) that will be analyzed in the EIR.

    Nov. 6
    Garcetti Announces Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence Program
    Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced a new artist-in-residence program.
    The Department of Cultural Affairs has developed the Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence Program, which challenges artists to work with city departments on innovative ways to connect Angelenos with Garcetti’s vision for Los Angeles.
    The first department to receive an artist residency will be the Department of Transportation. The selected artist will design an accessible, targeted campaign to engage Los Angeles communities with Vision Zero — a citywide strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities within 10 years.
    The first Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence will serve as an ambassador for Los Angeles’ workforce, reflecting the numerous ways that designers, performers, and curators can help animate the delivery of public services within the DOT.
    The Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence will be selected through a community-driven process and contracted to work within the DOT as a part-time consultant-contractor for a period of 24 months. The selection process is managed by the Department of Cultural Affairs and DOT. The selected Creative Catalyst will be contracted by the Department of Cultural Affairs and receive a $20,000 stipend co-funded by both departments.
    The City of Los Angeles Creative Catalyst Artist in Residence Program guidelines are available online at:  http://bit.ly/1W4Yx5O and http://culturela.org/
    The mailed portion of the application must be postmarked Nov. 6, or hand delivered by 4 p.m. on Nov. 9. Applications will not be accepted via email, due to a legal requirement that demands an ink signature on the certification page.
    Details: joe.smoke@lacity.org.
    Nov. 12
    Regional El Niño Town Hall Meetings
    The City of Los Angeles is sponsoring town hall meetings that will review ways to prepare for El Niño. Officials will talk about the risks and answer questions related to winter weather.
    Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (213) 484-4800
    Venue: Peck Park Recreational Center, 560 N. Western Ave., San Pedro

    Nov. 13
    Last CERT Training of the Year
    The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness and trains them in basic disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operation.  The CERT training is 24 hours.
    Time: 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 13, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 14 and 15.
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570 – 2525; cert@longbeach.gov

    Nov. 14
    Rain Harvesting Workshop
    Learn how to harvest rain water and purchase a rain barrel. Get ready for El Niño and start capturing your rainwater runoff with a rain barrel. Rain barrels are $85 each but SoCalWaterSmart offers a rebate of $75 per barrel for up to four barrels.
    Specifications of each rain barrel:

    • Designed with brass spigot for garden hose attachment
    • Barrel has a screen to prevent mosquitoes from accessing water
    • Side brass overflow
    • Made from plastic reused food grade barrels

    Available in Black or Terra Cotta (subject to availability)
    Time: 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 14
    Cost: $75 to $85
    Details: www.rainbarrelsintl.com
    Venue: Scherer Park Community Room, 4646 Pasadena Ave., Long Beach
    Nov. 14
    Diabetes Walk-a-Thon
    St. Mary Medical Center’s Annual Juanita McNealy Diabetes Walk-a-Thon supporting the Center Outpatient Diabetes Education Program will take place Nov. 14.
    The funds raised will be used to continue providing low cost services to individuals diagnosed with diabetes.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Nov. 14
    Details: (562) 491-4840; click here
    Venue: Cabrillo High School, 2001 Santa Fe Ave., Long Beach
    Nov. 16
    Nightly Road Closures
    As construction continues for the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, temporary nightly and weekend road closures are necessary in the vicinity of Pico Avenue and Ocean Boulevard to facilitate installation of falsework over Pico Avenue and the on-ramp to westbound Ocean.
    The Pico on-ramp to westbound Ocean will be closed nightly from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Nov. 16 through 20.
    The Pico underpass at Ocean and the westbound Ocean off-ramp to Pico will be closed nightly from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday, Nov. 20 through 25.
    These closures will affect Port of Long Beach traffic headed to Terminal Island (Piers S-T) and San Pedro, and port traffic that uses Pico Avenue to travel between Piers A-D and Piers E-J.

    Jan. 31, 2016
    NWSPNC Funds Available for Youth Based Projects
    The Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council is interested in funding youth based projects benefiting health, environment, humanity or the arts in San Pedro. There is approximately $2,000 available for this initiative with a $1,000 maximum per grant. Applicants must be, or partner with, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit or a public school. Priority will be given to youth initiates/youth led projects and projects within Northwest San Pedro. Applications must be received no later than January 31,
    2016 and the decisions will be announced March 2016.
    Time: Jan. 31, 2016
    Cost: Free
    Details: Click here
    Feb. 17, 2016
    DMV LB Under Renovation
    The California Department of Motor Vehicles field office at 3700 E. Willow St. in Long Beach is scheduled for a renovation project and will be closed for about 15 weeks. It is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Feb. 17, 2016.
    Details: (562) 490-2626; Click here
    Senior Police Partner
    Interested in becoming a part of an exciting Long Beach Police Department volunteer program? Senior Police Partner applications are being accepted.
    Senior Police Partners are a motivated group of seniors who are dedicated to making a difference in our community and are trained to assist fellow seniors in the area of crime prevention, peer support advice and resource referrals. Each year, Senior Police Partners donate over 5,000 hours and help hundreds of senior citizens throughout Long Beach. Senior Police Partners provide the following services: crime victim assistance; vacation checks; peer support/resource referral; graffiti reporting; limited safety patrols; handicap parking cites; education and awareness programs; DUI checkpoints; and community presentations.
    Requirements to apply: Must be at least 50 years of age and have no felony convictions, good physical health, the ability to volunteer at least twenty hours per month, and possess a valid California driver’s license and vehicle insurance.
    Details: (562) 570-7212; Click here

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  • Buscaino to Propose Sobriety Center for Homeless People: RL NEWS Briefs for the week of Nov. 3, 2015

    Officials Propose Sobriety Center for Homeless People

    SAN PEDRO — On Oct. 28, Councilman Buscaino met with Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas and Dr. Mitchell H. Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, who proposed an idea of a “sobriety center” for the chronically homeless.

    Currently, the LAFD and the Los Angeles Police Department only have the option of the emergency room or jail when transporting the chronically inebriated. Both of these current options are a huge drain on financial resources. Both Terrazas andDr. Katz told stories of individuals who are transported over a dozen times per month to either the emergency room or jail.

    Terrazas said that 20 individuals account for 2,000 LAFD calls. Prior to his role in Los Angeles County, Katz was the director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, where he successfully implemented a “sobriety center” program.

    Buscaino said he is bringing this idea to his next Homelessness Task Force meeting.

    Halloween Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 31, at about 3:30 a.m., Long Beach Police Department officers responded to the shooting of a man in the 1000 block of Olive Avenue.

    Long Beach Fire Department paramedics took the man to a local hospital where he died a short time later.
    A motive for the shooting is unknown and the investigation remains ongoing.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrmeStoppers.org.

    Elderly Woman Killed in Halloween Traffic Fatality

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 31, Long Beach Police Department officers responded to a traffic collision near the intersection of Pacific Avenue and 14th Street, where an elderly woman was struck by a 2005 Acura Legend.

    Apparently, the driver, a 20-year-old man, was travelling northbound on Pacific Avenue when he struck the woman who was trying to cross the street westbound on Pacific Avenue, just north of 14th Street, outside the crosswalk.

    Long Beach Fire Department paramedics took the victim to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased.
    The Los Angeles County Coroner will positively identify the victim and notify next of kin.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7355 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers,org.

    LB Harbor Commission Hires Chief of Staff

    LONG BEACH — In late October, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners selected U.S. Marine Col. Richard Jordan as the new chief of staff, to assist the commission in making key decisions in governing the Port of Long Beach.

    Jordan most recently served as director of enlisted professional military education at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va., overseeing about 280 Marines and civilians at six educational academies around the globe. Previously, he was the strategy and policy division chief for the Middle East for the U.S. Central Command, from June 2011 to June 2014. In that role, he interacted on a daily basis with civilian leadership from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
    He was promoted to colonel in 2011, and has been responsible for as many as 400 Marines. He deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, 2005 and 2008. From 1993-1999 he served with a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron. He joined the Marines in 1990, starting at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, where he studied to become a naval aviator and helicopter pilot.

    The chief of staff coordinates all administrative and communications functions for the board, serves as a personal adviser on general issues, makes recommendations on public policy issues and coordinates trade missions and conferences, among other duties.

    Jordan, who was born in Houston, graduated in 1990 from Sam Houston State University in Texas with a bachelor of science degree in Criminal Justice. In 2011, he earned a master of strategic studies degree from the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.
    Jordan is scheduled to start at the port on Dec. 7.

    Port Invests $383,000 in Community Organizations

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 30, The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners voted to award 77 sponsorships totaling $383,200 to local community organizations to help engage and inform residents about the Port of Long Beach’s mission.

    In August, the Board of Harbor Commissioners adopted new guidelines for its community sponsorship program to bring greater transparency and accessibility to the program.
    The new sponsorship guidelines establish two application periods per year. These awards came from submissions in September through Oct. 2. The port received 112 applications, including 16 first-time applicants, putting the Port on track to receive more sponsorship requests than any previous fiscal year. The next call will be in March 2016.

    A list of sponsorship recipients can be found here.

    Former LASD Sergeant Sentenced to 8 Years in Prison

    LOS ANGELES – On Nov. 2, Eric Gonzalez, a former sergeant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, who was found guilty this summer of federal civil rights offenses related to the beating of a handcuffed visitor to the Men’s Central Jail, was sentenced to 96 months in federal prison.

    Gonzalez, 46, received the eight-year sentence. Gonzalez, who was a 12-year veteran of LASD at the time of the offense, was one of three former deputies who were found guilty in June of civil rights charges.

    At the trial, a jury determined Gonzalez, along with former LASD Deputies Fernando Luviano and Sussie Ayala, violated the civil rights of the victim in 2011 when they beat the man and caused bodily injury. The jury also determined that all three defendants falsified records when they prepared reports claiming that the victim was not handcuffed during the incident. Gonzalez and Ayala were additionally convicted of conspiring to violate the victim’s civil rights by using unreasonable force.

    Two other defendants who were named in a federal grand jury indictment in late 2013 – Pantamitr Zunggeemoge and Noel Womack – previously pleaded guilty.

    Gonzalez was the leader of the conspiracy to violate the victim’s civil rights, according to a sentencing memo filed by prosecutors. “While [the victim] may have suffered the bruises and cuts, the negative impact of defendant Gonzalez’s actions does not end with [the victim], nor is [he] the only victim. The actions undertaken by the defendants in this case have impacted the public trust and thus extend beyond [the victim] and his family,” prosecutors wrote.

    The evidence presented at trial showed that the victim and his girlfriend went to the jail to visit the woman’s incarcerated brother on February 26, 2011. Both visitors were in the possession of cell phones, which are prohibited under jail rules. When the phones were discovered, the victim was handcuffed and brought into an employee break room, where prosecutors said he was subject to a “savage beating” and sprayed with a burning agent similar to pepper spray. The victim was later transferred to the hospital by paramedics.

    Following the incident, Gonzalez instructed Zunggeemoge how to write a report that falsely described how the victim swung his left elbow and struck Zunggeemoge, which prompted the use of force. Subsequent reports by other defendants also falsely described how the victim attempted to escape from the break room.

    Ayala and Luviano are scheduled to be sentenced by Nov. 30. Ayala faces a face a statutory maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison, and Luviano faces up to 30 years.

    In October, a federal grand jury indicted a sixth deputy in relation to the incident at the Visiting Center. Former Deputy Byron Dredd pleaded not guilty on Oct. 30 to conspiracy to violate civil rights and two counts of making false reports. He was ordered to stand trial on Dec. 22.

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

    St. Mary Medical Center Earns 7th Consecutive ‘A’

    LONG BEACH – On Oct. 28, Dignity Health – St Mary Medical Center earned its seventh consecutive “A” in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group, a national independent nonprofit health industry watchdog. Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Score is considered the gold standard rating for patient safety and is compiled under the guidance of the nation’s leading patient safety experts.

    “St. Mary’s ‘A’ grade is a powerful reminder of its commitment to putting patient safety above all else, and we are pleased to recognize the persistent efforts of its clinicians and staff to protect their patients,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, which administers the Hospital Safety Score.

    To see St. Mary’s full score visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.


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  • Republicans would tank the economy again, given another chance

    Paul Krugman, Paul Ryan (Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong/AP/Mary Altaffer/photo composite by Salon)
    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    The idea that George W. Bush “kept us safe” has rightly been exposed to ridicule recently by Donald Trump. But Bush also failed miserably on another front: keeping us safe economically, as he presided over the biggest economic catastrophe since the Great Depression — and his presidency was already an economic disaster before that, per Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

    On this second front, the GOP blame-shifting centers on Obama, in order to virtually erase the epic market failure from history. Just as Bush is supposed to get a pass for 9/11, while getting credit for “keeping us safe” afterwards, he’s also given a pass for the housing bubble and the financial crisis which gave us the Great Recession, so that all blame can be focused on Obama, who supposedly made things worse with his “job-killing” policies.

    In the real world, empirically-based economists know this is ridiculous.

    Read more at www.Salon.com

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  • (Artists+Activists) x Innovation = Talent + Opportunity + Engagement

    By Melina Paris, Columnist

    To maximize the Knight Ridder Cities Challenge, the ArtExchange (ArtX), a visual arts center in the downtown East Village arts district, hosted (Artists + Activists) x Innovation, on Oct. 19. Local artists and activists were invited to share ideas about how to improve Long Beach.

    Because the Press Telegram was once owned by Knight-Ridder Inc., Long Beach, where the newspaper is based, is among 26 places across the nation eligible to receive ongoing funding from the Knight Foundation for programs intended to attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.

    It’s the legacy of John S. and James L. Knight, brothers whose names were once atop the largest newspaper chain in the country. It’s called the Knight Cities Challenge.

    The facilitators of (Artists + Activists) x Innovation recognize that artists and activists do not connect that much. Nicolassa Galvez, CEO of the ArtExchange, said she kept hearing conversations about the importance of collaboration among both groups, but it was only happening on a small scale, usually among people who already knew each other.

    “This evening’s purpose is to hold a space for Long Beach artists and activists to connect or reconnect and brainstorm innovative ideas for cross-collaboration,” said Kenny Allen, one of the event facilitators, who is also managing director of Evolve Theatre and the marketing and membership director for the nonprofit organization Teaching Artists Guild.

    Other facilitators were John Thatcher Montgomery, an ArtX Studio artist and the lead organizer of PechaKucha Nights Long Beach, and Janay Watts, an activist-scholar and emerging writer who organizes with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and facilitates youth intergroup dialogue through restorative justice.

    Attendees came from the Long Beach Arts Council, Long Beach Fresh and Housing Long Beach, as well as a variety of freelancers who came to participate through writing and videography, among other means.

    After the preliminaries—a few icebreakers, a few assessments of assets, and the identification of issues—attendees broke into four or five brainstorming groups. That’s where the action happened.

    People got to know each other. They aired out concepts for a better Long Beach. At least 75 were recorded, shared and eventually combined under more expansive umbrellas.

    Categories included the attraction and retention of talent, quantifying important digital technologies and media to increase access and information sharing, the engagement of artists in activism and community, increasing civic and community engagement, identification of new spaces to move community forward and bridging socio-economic gaps.

    Montgomery and Galvez had recently been focusing on a grants writing cycle for ArtX to fund creative projects, which they presented to the local Knight foundation. The Knight Cities Challenge was also in the back of their minds. Later, Galvez and Allen met at a Long Beach Arts Council meeting and the Knight Cities Challenge came up again. The challenge had a hard deadline of Oct. 27, so they decided to dive into this opportunity to bring these two groups, artists and activists, together.

    The Long Beach Community Foundation is excited about artists and activists coming together in this way. It provides charitable services to encourage philanthropy and strengthen nonprofits to effect positive change and improve the quality of life for greater Long Beach. It has also signalled its support.

    “There were so many great ideas and I see more potential for innovative collaboration,” Galvez said.


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  • Copeland Gives Back with Charity Master Dance Class

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    Misty Copeland, principal dancer at New York’s famous American Ballet Theatre and national role-model to countless aspiring young women dancers who’ve been told they just weren’t right to make it—particularly dancers of color—will be hosting a master dance class at the place she began to conquer those obstacles.

    From the stage of the Warner Grand Theatre, in front of a live audience, Copeland will lead 50 students through 90 minutes of the movements, knowledge, art and inspiration that have translated into her success.

    Tickets to the master class set for Dec. 21 at 5 p.m., are $40 and $25—but $10 less for anyone who purchases tickets to San Pedro City Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker at the Warner Grand, which Copeland performed in as a young girl. Proceeds go to San Pedro City Ballet’s DancED Steps Up, which provides local public schools with a wider variety of dance instruction.

    Copeland will also be the centerpiece and fund-raising engine at a post-class reception, where tickets are $350 a piece and again benefit DancEd Steps Up.

    While Copeland is now one of the world’s best-known and most-talented dancers, her first lessons were humble. They started when she tried out for the drill team at Dana Middle School. Even there, Copeland’s talent was obvious. The coach, Elizabeth Cantine, appointed her team captain and after working with her for a bit, suggested that Copeland take classes at the local Boys & Girls Club.

    There on the basketball courts, Copeland began to learn the arts of ballet. She felt rather self-conscious about it, according to the account of her first ballet class that appeared in Rivka Galchen’s profile in the New Yorker.

    “I was so embarrassed,” Copeland told the magazine. “I didn’t know anything the other girls in the class knew; I thought I was doing everything wrong.”

    Later, however, that changed.

    “One day it just clicked,” Copeland said. “I began to understand what it was.”

    In that same profile, Copeland emphasized that she remains a student. As she returns to the site of her beginnings as a dancer to teach this master class, that’s a key to understanding who she is.
    Time: 5 p.m. Dec. 21
    Cost: $15 to $40
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St. San Pedro.


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