• Underwater Parks Day: COMMUNITY Calendar Jan. 14, 2016

    Jan. 16
    Underwater Parks Day
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium for Underwater Parks Day. By attending this free event, you can learn about Marine Protected Areas in Southern California that went into effect on January 1, 2012.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
     
    Jan. 17
    Uptown Word Reading, Art Series
    January’s Uptown Word Reading & Arts Series will focus on San Bernardino. The event will feature Ruth Nolan, Isabel Quintero and Uptown Word organizer, Liz Gonzalez, three writers who have all at one time in their lives lived in San Bernardino. There will be an open mic following the readings, as well as free light refreshments.
    Time: 1 p.m. Jan. 17
    Cost: Free
    Details: Uptown Word website
    Venue: North Branch Library, 5571 Orange Ave., Long Beach
     
    Jan. 17
    Salt Marsh Open House
    Step out into nature and discover the hidden world of the Salinas de San Pedro Salt Marsh.
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium educators and Coastal Park Naturalists as they help uncover the world of mud and water that is our local wetland.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 17
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
     
    Jan. 22
    Farmer’s Market
    Experience the downtown San Pedro Farmer’s Market’s fresh produce and craft vendors.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 22
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 449-9299
    Venue: 6th Street between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street, San Pedro
     
    Jan. 22
    Creation Station
    Participate in hands-on craft activities that are appropriate for all ages.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 22 through 24
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 732-1270; www.CraftedPortLA.com
    Venue: Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles, 112 E. 22nd St., San Pedro
     
    Jan. 23
    Pet Parade
    Break out the top hats and tiaras for the Port of Long Beach’s 2016 pet parade.
    Time: 9 to 10 a.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.portoflosangeles.org
    Venue: Downtown Harbor, 6th Street at Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    The Great San Pedro Crab Feed
    The Harbor Area Chapter of the Rotary Club is hosting The Great San Pedro Crab Feed, a family-style dinner.
    Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: $60
    Details: (310) 210-8577; arlenedickey@gmail.com
    Venue: Cabrillo Youth Center, 3000 Shoshonean Road, San Pedro

     
    Jan. 23
    San Pedro Relay for Life’s Purple Ball
    Support the American Cancer Society at the San Pedro Relay for Life’s Purple Ball
    Time: 6 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: $80
    Details: (310) 753-3334; Purple4Relay@aol.com
    Venue: DoubleTree by Hilton Port of Los Angeles Hotel, 2800 Via Cabrillo Marina, San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    Full Moon Yoga
    Be part of January’s Full Moon Yoga at Terranea Resort. Reservations are required. Donations will go to charity.
    Time: 6 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 265-2740; www.Terranea.com
    Venue:. Terranea Resort, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, Peninsula
     
    Jan. 24
    Sandy Banks
    The Friends of San Pedro Library are presenting Sandy Banks, a CNN, PBS and NPR commentator and celebrated speaker and former columnist for the Los Angeles Times. She will discuss topics the future of print journalism and the Los Angeles Times.
    Time: 2 p.m. Jan. 24
    Cost: $15
    Details: www.friendsspl.org
    Venue: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 27
    Join SEA Club
    Third to sixth grade students enrolled in Cabrillo Marine Aquarium’s SEA Club (Science Education Afternoons) will learn while having fun exploring the local marine environment. The club will meet from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on four consecutive Wednesdays, Feb. 3 through 24. Preregistration is required; deadline to register is Jan. 27.
    Time: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Wednesdays, Feb. 3 through 24
    Cost: $30
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
     
    Jan. 28
    Heart of the Harbor Local Harvest Farmer’s Market
    Enjoy the Heart of the Harbor Local Harvest Farmer’s Market in Wilmington
    Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.LocalHarvestFarmersMarkets.com
    Venue: L Street between Avalon Boulevard and Marine Avenue, Wilmington

    Jan. 31
    45th Annual Whale Fiesta
    This fun-filled family event, co-sponsored by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Cetacean Society, celebrates marine mammals, and the beginning of the migration of the Pacific gray whales along Southern California.
    More than, 20 marine life organizations will exhibit and provide information about their efforts to bring awareness and protection to these animals. Throughout the day our expert Cabrillo Whalewatch naturalists will give talks on various marine mammals.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 31
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue:  Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White, San Pedro

    Feb. 4
    Farmer’s Market
    Enjoy Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center’s Farmer’s Market.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro

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  • 28th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration: ENTERTAINMENT Calendar Jan. 13, 2016

    Jan. 16
    28th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration
    Con Funk Shun and The Delfonics Review are the musical headliners for the 28th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration.
    Con Funk Shun’s 1977 LP, Secrets, was certified gold in the United States. The Delfonics Review has been performing to audiences all across the United States.
    Time: 12 to 5 p.m. Jan. 16
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1950 Lemon Ave., Long Beach
     
    Jan. 22
    Don Adler
    Don Alder’s music is a unique combination of deeply textured melody and story. Lyrical and compelling, his original songs are notes of exploration – some passionate and haunting, some hard-driven, others light and teasing. In quiet pieces or pushing right to the edge, Don’s phenomenal finger style playing and rich voice captivate. His style of playing incorporates finger-picking with simultaneous percussion to create a wall of sound. 40 per cent of his show includes vocal and he only does original material. His music is ranging from jazz to folk to blues to world music.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 22
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    OHM
    OHM is the brainchild of Chris Poland (guitar: ex Megadeth, Damn the Machine, others) and Robertino Pagliari (bass: ex New Yorkers, others), and Nick Menza (drums:ex-Megadeth).OHM has been making top-shelf rock and jazz music since 1998.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: $30
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    Burns’ Night
    Enjoy a night of bagpipes and a Scottish menu with Haggis in honor of Robert Burns, Scottland’s renowned poet.
    Time: 6 to 10 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.whaleandale.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale, 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    Itzkoff, Melik-Adamyan Perform The Interludes Concert Series
    Classical Crossroads’ The Interludes concert series present Beverly Hills National Auditions winners, amicus duo, cellist Coleman Itzkoff and pianist Alin Melik-Adamyan, and the Sakura cello quintet.
    Time: 3 p.m. Jan. 23
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; http://tinyurl.com/TheInterludes
    Venue: First Lutheran Church and School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    Jan. 24
    San Gabriel 7
    Experience a collection of Brazilian with horn driven jazz-funk.
    Time: 4 p.m. Jan. 24
    Cost: $15 and $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 24
    A Night of Modern Acoustic Guitar
    Enjoy a night of acoustic finger-style music played by guitarists from all over North America. The next generation of acoustic players, these musicians incorporate percussive and harmonic techniques that are considered to be the avant garde of acoustic music.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 24
    Cost: $25
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 29
    The Sea Shanties
    The Sea Shanties have come ashore and will be in The Whale & Ale’s private dining room sining all of the favorite tunes
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 29
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.whaleandale.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale, 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 30
    TriFecta
    TriFecta will perform, at 8 p.m. Jan. 30, at Alvas Showroom.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 30
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 30
    The Bird Dogs
    The Bird Dogs, real life brothers Dylan and Zachary Zmed, bring a genuine and youthful Everly Brothers experience to the stage. The Zmeds deliver the same luminous harmonies originally sung by Don and Phil Everly..
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 30
    Cost: $25 to $140
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/hcyag94
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 31
    Homenaje
    Be part of an afternoon of Cuban and African-influenced jazz.
    Time: 4 p.m. Jan. 31
    Cost: $10
    Details: (310) 519-1314; http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 4
    Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles
    Cal State University Dominguez Hills presents Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers performing spirituals and other African-American music as part of Watts Rebellion Commemoration and Black History Month.
    The Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers of Los Angeles is a critically acclaimed choral ensemble founded in 1968 by Albert McNeil, a long-time Los Angeles-based conductor and music instructor who sought to bring attention to the vast body of folk music termed ‘African American,’ particularly music known as ‘Negro Spirituals.’ The singers’ rich and moving renditions of traditional African-American music, from spirituals to theatre music, a cappella to choral have been enjoyed by audiences all across the United States and in more than 70 countries.
    Time: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 243-3337; http://tinyurl.com/Albert-McNeil-Jubilee-Singers
    Venue: University Theatre, CSUDH, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

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  • ExxonMobil Safety Violations Meeting: ANNOUNCEMENTS Jan. 12, 2016

    Jan. 13
    ExxonMobil Safety Violations Meeting
    U.S. Chemical Safety board Chairwoman Vanessa Sutherland will be available for questions regarding an ongoing investigation into ExxonMobil’s Torrance refinery safety violations.
    A public meeting will feature Rep. Ted Lieu, Sutherland, Chemical Safety Board investigators, and representatives from the Torrance Refinery Action Alliance, California Occupational and Safety Halth Administration, California Environmental Protection Agency, Western States Petroleum Association, United Steelworkers (USW), and Blue Green Alliance.
    The public meeting will allow citizens to learn about the investigation into ExxonMobil’s Torrance refinery, ask questions and discuss what can be done to enhance the safety of our community.
    ExxonMobil has been under investigation since an explosion on February 18, 2015 tore through the facility and launched a heavy piece of equipment within feet of the highly-toxic modified hydrofluoric acid (HF) tank, as well as spreading ash throughout the community. Congressman Lieu and Congresswoman Waters formally requested a CSB investigation following the incident. Six months later, Cal/OSHA fined ExxonMobil $566,600 with 19 separate citations, including 18 classified as “serious” and six characterized as, “willful because Cal/OSHA found that Exxon did not take action to eliminate known hazardous conditions at the refinery and intentionally failed to comply with state safety standards.”
    Since the February explosion, several additional incidents have occurred at the Torrance refinery. On September 6, the Torrance Fire Department reported a “significant incident” when a leak occurred of highly-toxic modified HF. On October 23, a large steam cloud appeared above the refinery, the result of a leak that occurred in a pressurized eight-inch pipeline. These incidents have underscored the dangers posed to the community by toxic chemicals, which ExxonMobil’s worst-case scenario estimates could imperil the lives of a quarter million people in Southern California.
    Time: 5 p.m. Jan. 13
    Venue: Receiving area in front of Torrance City Council Chambers, 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance

    Jan. 14
    Long Beach Hosts Parks Public Input Meetings
    The City of Long Beach is participating in a comprehensive parks and recreation needs assessment being conducted by the County of Los Angeles. The public is encouraged to participate in a community meeting in Long Beach to ensure that the voices of the community are heard regarding priorities for future park development and rehabilitation.
    The following local community outreach workshop is scheduled to gather input about where new parks, recreation facilities, or open spaces areas are most needed; which parks need repair or expansion; and what type of recreation facilities are most needed:
    The goal of the Park Needs Assessment is to engage all communities within the County to gather data and input for future decision-making on parks and recreation. Specifically, the final report will determine study areas and will identify, prioritize and outline costs for potential park projects within each study area in the County.
    Time: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jan. 14,
    Details: www.lbparks.org
    Venue: Houghton Park, 6301 Myrtle Ave., Long Beach

    Jan. 19
    Minimum Wage
    The Long Beach City Council will consider receiving and filing recommendations from the Economic Development Commission, with regard to the minimum wage policy in the city.
    The city council will also consider directing the city manager to provide additional information or to prepare an ordinance relative to the implementation of the policy.
    Time: 5 p.m. Jan. 19
    Details: 16-0043
    Venue: Long Beach City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Jan. 19
    Eastbound Motorists Diverted to Pico Avenue.
    As part of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project, eastbound Ocean Boulevard between the Desmond Bridge and downtown Long Beach will be closed for up to 36 months starting Jan. 19. Through traffic will take a short detour using Pico Avenue to rejoin Ocean Boulevard into downtown.
    A temporary, overnight closure of eastbound Ocean Boulevard from State Route 47 to Golden Shore will take place from 9 p.m. Jan. 18 to 5 a.m. Jan. 19 to prepare the roadway for the long-term detour. Eastbound traffic will be detoured to northbound SR-47.
    In addition, there will be an overnight detour for traffic using westbound Ocean Boulevard at Golden Shore. From 9 p.m. Jan. 18 to 5 a.m. Jan. 19, all westbound traffic will be diverted to Pico Avenue. Motorists will be able to rejoin westbound Ocean using the on-ramp from Pico.
    For the long-term eastbound Ocean detour starting Jan. 19, commuters heading to downtown Long Beach from the Gerald Desmond Bridge will exit Ocean Boulevard to Pico Avenue and rejoin Ocean via two signalized intersections, dedicated turn lanes and a newly striped two-lane on-ramp. Diverting eastbound traffic allows westbound Ocean to remain open during construction.
    The northbound Long Beach (710) Freeway connector will remain open until further notice during the long-term closure of eastbound Ocean.
    When completed in 2018, the new bridge will include six traffic lanes and four emergency shoulders, a higher clearance to accommodate new generations of cargo ships, and the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle and Pedestrian Path with scenic overlooks.
    The replacement project allows the Gerald Desmond Bridge to remain in use while the new bridge is under construction. The bridge project is a joint effort of Caltrans and the Port, with funding support from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation
    Details: www.newgdbridge.com

    Jan. 20
    Complimentary Community Health Lectures
    Learn about arthritis prevention and reduction with the help of Romina Ghassemi. RSVP.
    Time: 7 p.m. Jan. 20
    Details: (310) 548-5656
    Venue: San Pedro Chiropractic and Posture, 1534 W. 125th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 21
    Community Engagement Meeting
    Participate in the Los Angeles countywide parks needs assessment, at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21, at Peck Park.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 21
    Venue: Peck Park, 560 N. Western Ave., San Pedro

    Jan. 23
    Coffee with Lowenthal, O’Donnell, Austin
    Councilman Al Austin, state Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell and Rep. Alan Lowenthal invite you to join your friends and neighbors for a casual conversation over a cup of coffee.
    Share your thoughts on federal, state and local legislative issues important to you.
    Time: 9 to 10:30 a.m. Jan. 23
    Venue: Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach

    Jan. 27
    Complimentary Community Health Lectures
    Learn about t what muscle pain is and what to do with it with the help of Romina Ghassemi. RSVP.
    Time: 7 p.m. Jan. 27
    Details: (310) 548-5656
    Venue: San Pedro Chiropractic and Posture, 1534 W. 125th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 30
    E-waste, Shred Drive
    This e-waste and shred drive is hosted by the students of the Hughes Middle School Environmental Science Class. Funds raised will go towards taking the children of the class on different field trips where they will learn more about how to keep our world environmentally green and protected.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 30
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/ShreadItRecycleIt
    Venue: Hughes Middle School, 3846 California Ave., Long Beach

    Feb. 22
    Now Trending
    Art students and recent graduates from leading Southern California art programs are invited to mine the cultural landscape of Los Angeles for inspiration leading to the submission of dynamic new work to be showcased in Palos Verdes Art Center’s Second Biennial Alpay Scholarship University Student Juried Exhibition, Now Trending. Submission deadline is Feb. 22.
    • All media considered – new media encouraged
    • Limited to three (3) submissions
    • No submission fee
    • Winning submission awarded $2,000 Alpay Purchase Prize and $10,000 scholarship from The Beverly G. Alpay Memorial Education Fund in support of the creation of new artwork to be exhibited in a 2017 solo exhibition.
    * Submissions open January 4, 2016 at pvartcenter.org
    * Submission deadline, February 22, 2016
    * Exhibition dates, March 17 – April 17, 2016
    Time: Feb. 22
    Details: (310) 541-2479; www.pvartcenter.org

    Sand Bags Available
    With the upcoming rain in our forecast, the Los Angeles Fire Department is offering free sandbags and/or sand at the following stations in District 15:
    Banning Park, 1331 Eubank St., Wilmington, (310) 548-7538 (bags only, call to confirm availability)
    24801 Frampton Ave., Harbor City, (Harbor City Recreational Center) (310) 548-7585 (call to confirm availability)
    Peck Park – 560 N. Western Ave., San Pedro, (310) 548-7580 – Dept. of Recs. & Parks (sand only, call to confirm availability)
    444 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 86, San Pedro, (310) 548-7542 (bags only, call to confirm)
    18030 South Vermont Ave., Harbor Gateway, (310) 548-7579 (bags only, call to confirm availability)

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  • LBEDC Deliberates Minimum Wage Recommendations: RL NEWS Briefs Jan. 11, 2016

    LB Economic Development Commission Deliberates Minimum Wage Recommendations

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 6, the Long Beach Economic Development deliberated its recommendations, which could be reviewed and voted on by the end of January.

    Commission Chairman Frank Colona recommended $13 as the minimum wage by Jan. 1, with a one-year exemption for nonprofits and businesses with less than 25 employees.

    The recommendations include incremental raises within three years, increasing the minimum wage in the city to $10.50 by Jan. 1, 2017, $12 by Jan. 1, 2018 and $13 by Jan. 1, 2019.

    The Long Beach City Council also will consider whether or not sick days and wage theft enforcement will be adopted and if there will be exemptions for youth, where they would be just paid the state minimum wage of $10.

    Some business owners argued that the city should define small businesses as having 50 employees or less. On Jan. 1, the state raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour. The council is expected to discuss minimum wage on Jan. 19.

     

    Los Angeles Releases Homelessness Strategy Report

    LOS ANGELES — On Jan. 7, the City of Los Angeles released a draft Homelessness Strategy Report, which lays the foundation for a regional approach to addressing this chronic issue. The report was requested by the Homelessness and Poverty Committee in June.
    The report calls for substantially expanded staffing, services, rental subsidies and permanent housing for the city’s homeless residents. Its recommendations will guide the mayor’s and city council’s short- and long-term homelessness policy decisions. The report also identifies potential funding streams and begins to estimate initial costs that will help inform the mayor’s proposed 2016/2017 budget.
    The draft Homelessness Strategy, which coincides with a strategy being issued by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, will be heard by the Homelessness and Poverty Committee on January 13, with a followup meeting later in the month. It is expected to be considered by the full Los Angeles City Council in February.
    This past fall, city leaders pledged $100 million in funding to address homelessness. At the mayor’s request, the city council in December approved $12.4 million in emergency relief funding, which is being used to get Angelenos off the street and out of harm’s way. With El Niño winter storms already hitting the Southland, these dollars are helping expand temporary housing and other critical services that meet urgent needs.
    Some of the principles of the Homelessness Strategy Report include:

    • Adopting a “No Wrong Door” approach to improve the city’s interactions with homeless people. From police officers to librarians, city employees will be empowered with the tools, relationships, and resources necessary to connect people in need to services and housing;
    • Establishing a focused homelessness governance infrastructure in the City so that there is institutional knowledge and accountability. This includes establishing a homelessness czar or coordinator;
    • Continuing to expand, improve and use the Coordinated Entry System as a core process that matches homeless people with vital resources;
    • Embracing the “Housing First” approach;
    • Using City funds to leverage federal, state, and county dollars to fill unfunded gaps;
    • Making more housing available at all income levels;
    • Working closely with Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority for expert guidance and support;
    • Ensuring that services and housing are provided in all Los Angeles communities.

    Since June, the Homelessness & Poverty Committee has taken input and provided guidance to the development of the draft plan, with meetings focused on:

    • Findings, trends and outcomes of the homeless count
    • Improving city department interactions with the homeless
    • Identifying and serving different levels of homelessness
    • Housing needs/funding
    • Homelessness governance structure
    • Mental health and health services for the homeless

    The public is invited to give feedback on the City’s Homelessness Strategy Report. Comments can be shared here: http://www.lamayor.org/homelessness-strategy-feedback

     

    Four Arrested on Federal Mail Fraud Charges

    LOS ANGELES – On Jan. 6, four men from Southern California have been arrested on charges that they embezzled more than $8 million from an industrial launderer based in Gardena that provided finishing services for Citizens of Humanity, a manufacturer of high-end designer jeans.

    Luis Mariano Rodriguez, 48, of East Los Angeles, the one-time president of CM Laundry LLC, and three associates were taken into custody yesterday morning for allegedly causing the laundry to pay fraudulent invoices that contained fictitious and inflated charges, and concealed Rodriguez’s role in the underlying transactions.

    Since 2007, CM Laundry has been owned by Citizens of Humanity LLC, a Huntington Park company that manufactures more than 1 million pairs of high-end denim jeans every year.

    The other three defendants arrested yesterday by special agents with the FBI and officers with the Los Angeles Police Department are:

    • Antonio Anguiano, 48, of Riverside, the owner of FI Products, which sold personal protective equipment;
    • Terry Jay Mink, 62, of Rancho Palos Verdes, the owner of H&T Industrial Products, a hardware company that serviced CM Laundry; and
    • Rene Exequiel Bautista, 43, of Sylmar, the owner of Valley Star Realty, which was used in the scheme under the fictitious business name “K&R Industrial Supplies.”

    Los Angeles. All four defendants were released on bond and were ordered to return to court for arraignments on Feb. 1.

    According to a criminal complaint filed on Dec. 30, 2016, Rodriguez caused CM Laundry to pay more than $8 million after fraudulent invoices were submitted to the company.

    According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Anguiano, through his company, FI Products, billed CM Laundry for over $3.6 million during the period of the scheme, which allegedly ran from about May 2007 to about September 2013. During this period, FI Products transferred about $2.3 million to Rodriguez and his company, Genesis Electronics Inc.

    Mink, through his company, H&T Industrial Products, billed CM Laundry for more than $5.5 million and transferred about $3.6 million to Rodriguez and Genesis.

    Bautista, a real estate agent participated in this scheme through his company, K&R Industrial Supplies, which he established in 2012 at the behest of Rodriguez and was used to submit invoices from Genesis to CM Laundry. Over an 18-month period, K&R Industrial Supplies billed CM Laundry for approximately $640,000 and transferred about $493,000 to Rodriguez and Genesis. “Bautista admitted Rodriguez produced and submitted all of the K&R Industrial Supplies invoices that were submitted to CM Laundry and paid by Citizens,” according to the complaint affidavit. “Bautista stated [in a deposition related to a civil lawsuit] that he did not create any of the K&R Industrial Supplies invoices, did not know what any of the invoiced items were, and did not supply anything to CM Laundry.”

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

    The complaint charges Rodriguez with three counts of mail fraud. The other three defendants are charged with one count of mail fraud. If they are convicted, each of the four defendants would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

    As a result of civil litigation brought by CM Laundry and Citizens of Humanity, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge in November 2015 ordered Rodriguez and several other defendants to pay a total of $9,563,786, according to the criminal complaint.

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  • Little Fish Theatre’s “Pick of the Vine”: Lite, Palatable Fare

    As is tradition, the Little Fish Theatre opened its 14th season with “Pick of the Vine,” an hors d’oeuvres platter of very short plays before the coming 10-course meal of full-lengths they will stage in 2016. They say it may be their regular patrons’ favorite show. Judging by audience reaction in the sold-out theatre on opening night, it seems Little Fish know their core demographic.

    It’s probably no coincidence that most every example of short theatrical performances you can think of—Vaudeville, Saturday Night Live, etc.—are comedic rather than dramatic. Perhaps numerous separate bits of drama would be too heavy to ingest in one sitting, while a sketch can be swallowed without making you too full to consume more. Whatever the rationale, this is the ethos that dominates “Pick of the Vine.” Of the 10 shorts on the menu, only two-and-a-half are not over-the-top comedies. If you like your funny subtle, “Pick of the Vine” is not the show for you. That’s just not what they’re going for.

    In fact, there’s such a consistency of tone that you would think a single author wrote at least half of these plays, if you didn’t know from the program that each is by a different author. For example, in How Nice of You to Ask (a college research assistant conducting a sex survey has the tables turned on him by his septuagenarian interview subject), The Temp (an office staff is a little too unfazed by the death of a temp recently in their midst), What You Don’t Know (two Caltrans-type workers decide how best to deal with a bit of roadkill with an identification tag), and Reston (a pair Ivy League alums are bound and determined that their progeny get in a preschool so selective that there are DNA requirements), just about every single joke is written and delivered with everything but a neon sign that says “LAUGH HERE.” That is a particular style of comedy, and—like all styles of comedy—whether it’s funny is a matter of taste. Considering that the audience laughed perhaps literally every time laughs were solicited, as mentioned above, Little Fish knows its patrons’ taste.

    For this reviewer, the most interesting pieces were the ones meant for a different part of the palate. Ten Picnics, a survey of the first four decades or so in the life of Frank as he revisits the same picnic spot with a series of women (first his mothers, then various dates, and eventually his wife and their own child), is a compelling idea, although ultimately it’s too ambitious for the brevity of each vignette, which makes the whole piece come off as too slight. Develop this one into a full-length play, and playwright Mark Harvey Levine may really have something.

    George D. Morgan’s The Wiggle Room seems both more successful and more of a missed opportunity. Morgan’s play is a fictionalized version of a real-life conference call that took place on the eve of the doomed 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger mission between NASA employees and managers at aerospace and manufacturing corporation Morton Thiokol. Perhaps being a fly on the wall for the call, in which NASA successfully inveigles Morton Thiokol to sign off on the pending launch even though they know that the temperature is such that O-rings are projected to fail (which they did, causing the in-flight explosion), is interesting enough, but what makes The Wiggle Room particularly compelling as a piece of theatre is that monomaniacal bureaucracy that is the lifeblood of Morgan’s NASA company men is funny. Ultimately, The Wiggle Room turns predictably somber, which almost comes off as a failure of nerve on Morgan’s part (although no doubt it would be a neat trick to make a play about a real-life corporate failure that cost seven people their lives funny from start to tragic finish).

    The best of the non-comedic works is M. Rowan Meyer’s Cancelled, which concerns a couple’s coping with the death of their would-be adopted son just days before they were to travel to Nigeria to bring him home. Director Branda Lock manages to keep the proceedings from running off the rails into melodrama, as well as orchestrating the night’s most effective blocking.

    The best of the comedies is David MacGregor’s Small Talk. On paper this tale of a young lawyer (Patrick Rafferty) dragging his girlfriend (Kathryn Farren) to pre-marriage counseling because she is incapable of making small talk—essential to the development of his future career—shouldn’t be as funny as it is, but the four-person cast’s various attempts (both real and role-playing) at conversation, more than a little of it centering on cheese, are golden. Rhythm is everything in Small Talk, and director Branda Lock once again does excellent work with her cast.

    The many, many roles in “Pick of the Vine” are handled by just nine actors, often called upon to play totally disparate roles in back-to-back scenes, and on occasion even to portray more than one character within a single piece. It’s quite an acting exercise, and without fail all of the cast members show themselves to be in good shape.

    It would be too much to say that “Pick of the Vine” has something for everybody, or even that it’s a repast with much of a varied menu. But for most people there’s not much here that will get stuck in your craw, and if you’re in the mood for some lite snacks with a few meatier morsels thrown in for good measure, “Pick of the Vine” is likely to hit the spot.

    PICK OF THE VINE LITTLE FISH THEATRE • 777 CENTRE ST • SAN PEDRO 90731 • 310.512.6030 • LITTLEFISHTHEATRE.ORG • THURS-SAT 8PM (EXCEPT NO SHOWS JAN 14 & FEB 11) + SUN 2PM ON JAN 17 & 24, • $25-27; WITH DINNER $38-48 • THROUGH FEB 13

    Photo credit: Mickey Elliott

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  • There is No Place Like Home

    Gun Violence, Homelessness, a New Civil Consciousness

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    On the very same day that President Barack Obama grew emotional as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence nationwide, the California Legislature passed a $2 billion package to “Prevent and Address Homelessness” in communities within the state.

    This happened during the same week armed men broke into the desolate headquarters of a federally owned wildlife refuge in Oregon and refusing to leave, “until the government stops its tyranny.”

    What a week of contrasts to start off the new year.

    I was left asking what took the president so long in taking executive action on gun control; the state legislature to act on homelessness? And just what does Ammon Bundy and his anti-government group, Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, really want?

    It’s easy to get cranial whiplash following mainstream reporting of events without any sort of historical context. Why should this year start any differently?

    The common thread that connects these three events is that they are attempts to redress long-term, one might say chronic, problems that have been with us forever it seems.

    America’s long and storied relationship with guns was established more than 200 years ago with the first shot that was fired at Concord, Connecticut marking the beginning of the American colonies uprising against the tyranny of British rule. These colonists, our ancestors, were called “terrorists” as they fought using guerrilla warfare tactics against the regimented lines of the red coats.

    We still celebrate our heritage, if not the tradition of resistance against repression in our history, whether it’s the American Revolution, the 1791 Whiskey Rebellion or the War of 1812. Even now, every sporting event begins with a performance of the “Star Spangled Banner.” The line, “The bombs bursting in air…” is not just a patriotic metaphor, it’s a national conviction in opposition to tyranny, whether foreign or domestic.

    I could write this entire column on the American love affair with guns going all the way back to duel between Vice President Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton (he’s the guy on your $10 bill), in which Hamilton was fatally shot.

    The Sandy Hook shooting is what moved Obama to decisively act, without the support of a Republican Congress. The rural uprising in southeast Oregon stands out as the counterpoint to the president’s message. This is a political conundrum that at present seems intractable.

    The homeless issue on the other hand seems equally insolvable, yet the grassroots uprising for curing this complicated and chronic epidemic has some new resolve.

    Getting our state legislators to act, to pass a $2 billion bond, to do anything at all to deal with a social crisis is astounding at the very least. It does show what can happen when people of good will, social consciousness and political support can accomplish when inspired and motivated.

    Yet, the money is just one part of a much bigger problem.

    I cannot believe that in a nation that can build the biggest dams to stave off droughts, bend rivers to provide waters to semi-arid regions like Los Angeles, and has the capacity to place a man on the moon, cannot solve homelessness or control the kinds of senseless massacres across this great land.

    What I do see as a possible cure to all of this is a new form of “civility” beginning to rise up against the nativist incivility that has from time to time gripped this nation out of fear of “the others”—particularly in the wake of the shootings in San Bernardino.

    What I see is a sense of community that embraces people—neighbor to neighbor—across previous boundaries of race, class and religion. That, at its very core has more to do with a very American creed of life, liberty and justice for all.

    This, I believe, is in the very core of our national consciousness and in the end will serve us far better than having a militarized state where everyone has to carry a gun and thousands are left without homes.

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  • With Bernie

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    Killer Mike is a strong supporter of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. File photo

    Another World Is Possible

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    Since Bernie Sanders launched his presidential bid, he’s been crystal clear on a number of key points: America belongs to the people, not a handful of billionaires; and people must organize themselves into a political revolution to reclaim their rightful power. Politics as usual will not be enough.

    “We’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back,” Sanders pledged in his announcement speech, reflecting his belief that without an energized and engaged electorate, nothing fundamental can be changed. “Now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same old, same old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas…. Now is the time for millions of working families to come together, to revitalize American democracy, to end the collapse of the American middle class and to make certain that our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy a quality of life that brings them health, prosperity, security and joy.”

    Over the summer, he made his ability to mobilize people a key part of his pitch to the Democratic National Committee meeting.

    “In my view, Democrats will not retain the White House, will not regain the Senate or the U.S. House, will not be successful in dozens of gubernatorial races across the country, unless we generate excitement and momentum and produce a huge voter turnout,” Sanders said to the group, as reported by John Nichols of The Nation.

    “With all due respect—and I do not mean to insult anyone here—that turnout, that enthusiasm, will not happen with politics as usual. The people of our country understand that given the collapse of the American middle class, and given the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality we are experiencing, we do not need more establishment politics or establishment economics.”

    Another way to describe the difference is solidarity-building social democracy—epitomized by the New Deal and the Great Society, as well as Nordic countries like Denmark and Sweden today—versus market-oriented neoliberalism, embraced by Republicans and Democrats alike since Reagan’s election, which was epitomized by stagnant or declining wages, North American Free Trade Agreement-style trade deals, and declining union power.

    Elites usually treat social democracy with disdain, but when pressured by its broad and powerful appeal, they can reverse themselves and blur the differences between it and neoliberalism. That is part of the blurring strategy Clinton has adopted in response to Sanders’ unexpectedly strong campaign.

    In line with his movement-building pledge, as 2016 dawned, Sanders’ campaign announced it had received donations from a record-breaking 2.5 million contributors in the fourth quarter of 2015, raising $33 million and smashing Barack Obama’s previous record of 2.2 million contributors. It was all the more remarkable in light of revelations from the Tyndal Report showing how dramatically Sanders has been ignored by the corporate media. Through the end of November, ABC World News Tonight devoted 81 minutes to Donald Trump’s campaign, compared to just 20 seconds for Bernie Sanders’. For all three networks, Sanders garnered less than 10 minutes of coverage, compared to 234 minutes for Trump, even though both had similar levels of support in the polls. Joe Biden, who didn’t even run, got 56 minutes.

    Yet, despite his much smaller media platform, Sanders easily managed to get Trump to reverse himself on whether wages—particularly the minimum wage—should be raised (a proposal Trump rejected in the November Fox Business GOP debate), because he understands Trump’s appeal far better than other politicians do. He also understands how his own politics trumps Trump. Indeed, Sanders has consistently done better against Trump head-to-head than Hillary Clinton, showing his ability to wean voters away from Trump.

    “Many of Trump’s supporters are working-class people. And they are angry,” said Sanders on Face The Nation on Dec. 27, 2015. “They’re angry because they are working longer hours for lower wages. They’re angry because their jobs have left this country and gone to China or other low-wage countries. They’re angry because they can’t afford to send their kids to college or they can’t retire with dignity.

    “What Trump has done, with some success, is taken that anger, taken those fears—which are legitimate—and converted them…into anger against Mexicans, anger against Muslims…. That is not the way we are going to address the major problems facing our country. The way we address them is, we bring our people together. We demand that Congress passes legislation, which creates millions of decent paying jobs, raises the minimum wage, pay equity for women, making college affordable for all.”

    At the same time, Sanders noted, Trump “is a guy who does not want to raise the minimum wage.”

    “In fact, he has said that he thinks wages in America are too high,” Sanders said. “But he does want to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top three-tenths of 1 percent.”

    That’s what raised Trump’s ire, causing him to falsely tweet that it was a lie: “@BernieSanders…said that I feel wages in America are too high. Lie!” In the GOP debate, Trumps exact words were, “Taxes too high, wages too high, we’re not going to be able to compete against the world. I hate to say it, but we have to leave it [the minimum wage] the way it is. [$7.25/hour]”

    After falsely accusing Sanders of lying about him, Trump made his flip-flop explicit—though he still held out “leaders” such as himself, as the “solution,” tweeting: “Wages in our country are too low, good jobs are too few, and people have lost faith in our leaders. We need smart and strong leadership now!”

    Trump’s dogged devotion to “leadership” as a solution is devoid of any specific policy ideas. It is a typical expression of the confused ideology of right-wing populism, which often tilts in the direction of fascism and stands in stark contrast Sanders’ laying out of detailed specifics. These are often based on existing working models in other countries. If both brands of populism are similar in tapping in speaking to legitimate anger, they could not be more different when it comes to reality-orientation—or when it comes to who to blame.

    “What he wants to do is divide our country between Latinos and Americans and Muslims and everybody else,” Sanders said of Trump on Face The Nation. “That’s not the kind of America we need.”

    Despite breakout moments like this, there’s no doubt the media blackout has hurt Sanders, whose economic populism is wildly popular with the American people, as opposed to political elites. It’s hurt him especially with regards to minorities, who are particularly in favor of social democratic ideas like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, free college tuition, expanding Social Security and Medicare-for-all to secure universal health care.

    Hip-Hop and Sander’s Reach

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    Bun B speaks out in support of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on a new podcast called Hip Hop for Bernie Sanders. File photo

    No one has suffered more as a result of the economic reality than blacks, Latinos and other minorities, but Sanders’ support among them has lagged up till now, partly because he’s still unknown to them, and partly because minorities experience racial injustice more clearly, urgently and acutely than they do economic injustice. The latter reason leads them to trust their political elites more than whites do, even as those elites have drifted in a more neoliberal direction over the past 25 years, and become strong Clinton supporters despite the Clinton record of slashing welfare and expanding drug war mass incarceration—moves which Sanders opposed at the time.

    Yet, despite a black and Latino political establishment heavily unified around Hillary Clinton, Sanders is gaining increasing support in the hip-hop community, which could potentially help change the direction of the race, when it turns to states where minorities play a major role in the Democratic primaries. The support began emerging several months ago, but has grown more noticeable in December, when Sanders was endorsed by Southern rappers Scarface (known for his early work with the Geto Boys), Bun B previously with the duo UGK, and Killer Mike, who won a Grammy with Outkast and is now in Run the Jewels. Outkast’s Big Boi had earlier expressed support for Sanders, “because he’s with prison reform,” but said he was not endorsing anyone.

    Early support emerged in July, when rapper Lil B, who had previously endorsed Hillary Clinton, switched his support in a series of tweets.

    “As much as I want a woman leading the USA, right now it’s all about Bernie @BernieSanders @SenSanders…he loves us,” Lil B tweeted on July 15.

    Later he added: “I heard Bernie @BernieSanders @SenSanders marched against segregation in the 60s which was not long ago! I love that brave dude!”

    As he explained to CNN in October, finding out about Sanders’ past influenced him (especially in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s youthful support for Barry Goldwater, noted for his vote against the Civil Rights Act), but it was only one step in the process:

    And when Sanders followed him on Twitter, the rapper’s admiration for the Vermont senator grew because to Lil B, candidates who follow others on social media tells him about who they feel they should be listening to.

    Lil B also defended Sanders regarding a Seattle incident when local Black Lives Matter activists confronted him onstage in early August.

    “It might be uncomfortable for him to talk about the issues but he has a leg to stand on,” Lil B told CNN. “I mean, if he was marching for civil rights back then, he was protesting against segregation … and all the youth, the black youth, should be able to hear him out…. I think he handled it very classy.”

    The media gave Sanders’ encounter rare high visibility portraying it negatively, but as Lil B saw it, “I think Bernie let them speak and it’s the admirable thing to do.”

    In fact, Sanders had already been in dialogue with Black Lives Matter activists. Just after the Seattle confrontation, on such activist, Simone Sanders was appointed his national spokeswoman. She had been in contact with Sanders for about three weeks at the time. Sanders quickly released a racial justice plan, which drew an immediate positive response.

    “The ‘violence’ framing in the initial draft of the Sanders Racial Justice platform is powerful & I look forward to seeing him expand this,” prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson tweeted.

    “We must pursue policies that transform this country into a nation that affirms the value of its people of color,” the plan’s introductory statement began. “That starts with addressing the four central types of violence waged against black and brown Americans: physical, political, legal and economic.”

    McKesson later participated in discussions with Sanders and his staff resulting in an expanded version, including the addition of a fifth type of violence to the list: environmental.

    Physical violence addresses both violence perpetrated by the state as well as by extremists. Sanders calls for police demilitarization, investment in community policing with increased civilian oversight and a diversity of the force that reflects the community, as well as a new federal model police training program to reorient the way law enforcement is done.

    “With input from a broad segment of the community including activists and leaders from organizations like Black Lives Matter we will reinvent how we police America,” the plan states.

    The section on political violence, disenfranchisement, begins:

    In the shameful days of open segregation, literacy laws and poll taxes were used to suppress minority voting. Today, through other laws and actions—such as requiring voters to show photo identification, discriminatory drawing of congressional districts, restricting same-day registration and early voting and aggressively purging voter rolls—states are taking steps which have a similar effect.

    It goes on to propose a variety of specific responses, including renewing and expanding the voting rights act, restoring ex-felons’ voting rights and automatic voter registration for 18-year-olds.

    The section of economic violence begins by quoting Martin Luther King, and goes on to call for tuition-free public universities, a minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2020, and an investment of “$1 trillion to put 13 million Americans to work” rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The section on legal violence proposes a range of policies for rolling back the failed racially-biased “War on Drugs” and investing in rehabilitation instead.

    The section on environmental violence paints a picture that insular white Americans know virtually nothing about: People of color disproportionately experience a daily assault on their health and environment. Communities of color are the hardest hit by air and water pollution from industrial factories, power plants, incinerators, chemical waste and lead contamination from old pipes and paint. At the same time, they lack access to parks, gardens and other recreational green space.

    All together, it’s an incredibly powerful, detailed document. But most minority voters probably haven’t even heard about it. Heck, they probably haven’t heard anything about Bernie Sanders at all. This is why the recent buzz of support from rappers could prove so significant. If they can draw attention to what Sanders stands for, he’s got a great deal to say to them on his own.

    “This is the opportunity and this is time to speak out,” said Bun B on the first episode of Hip Hop for Bernie Sanders, a new podcast that begun in December. “That’s what we try and do with hip-hop, to educate, inform, and pass that knowledge on…. With knowledge comes power, the power to stand up, be heard, and make change. The primary way for young people to stand up, be heard and affect change is to vote…. And, we’re trying to give people the kind of information they need so they can differentiate who they need to vote for.”

    Killer Mike spent five hours with Sanders recently in Atlanta. This included an hour-long interview in his barber shop for Rolling Stone magazine.

    “You seem to be the only politician who wants a smarter constituency,” Killer Mike observed in the midst of their conversation.

    The fact that Sanders had been an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee was “amazing,” he said, not because Sanders had done it, but because it was so unknown that even Killer Mike was surprised to have only recently learned of it.

    “I’m from the activist community,” he said. “I should know you…

    “In every black barber shop, there’s two blacks guys and an honorary white guy. When I was growing up it was Martin Luther King, Jesus—well, black Jesus in my shop—and Jack Kennedy. So, in my shop you are really about to get the heralded position of the white guy. It’s going to Martin, Malcolm, Bernie.”

    Killer Mike also gave an impassioned introduction to Sanders at a campaign rally. He began by referring to Martin Luther King, but not the figure most Americans think of.

    “What I’m talking about today is the Martin King post the Washington March,” he said, when King spoke out against the Vietnam War and organized the Poor People’s March.

    “I’m talking about a revolutionary,” Killer Mike said. “I am here as a proponent for political revolution that says health care is a right of every citizen. I am here because working class and poor people deserve a chance at economic freedom and yes, if you work 40 hours a week, you should not be in poverty…. In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the right man to lead this country. I believe it because he, unlike any other candidate, said ‘I would like to restore the Voting Rights Act.’ He, unlike any other candidate said, ‘I wish to end this illegal war on drugs….Unlike any other candidate in my life, he says that education should be free for every citizen.”

    Whether rappers like Lil B, Killer Mike and Bun B can do enough to make a difference in bringing minority voters around to Sanders—or at least around to considering him—remains to be seen. But there’s no longer any doubt he’s got plenty to offer them.

     

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  • New Laws Tighten the Reins on Compassionate and Affordable Care

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Users of medicinal cannabis finally get to breathe a sigh a relief, or at least inhale some THC in peace 2016.

    Three laws were enacted in the New Year that provide the regulatory framework to allow cultivators and distributors of medicinal cannabis to operate legally without harassment by law enforcement.

    For example, Assembly Bill 243 requires the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the State Department of Public Health, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the State Water Resources Control Board to regulate medical marijuana and its cultivation.

    The bill also requires various state agencies to mitigate the impact of marijuana cultivation on the environment.

    Cities, counties and their local law enforcement agencies now have to coordinate with state agencies to enforce these laws under a state-mandated local program.

    Those involved in the cultivation and sale of cannabis must apply for a license and regularly renew that license. The fees generated by the license would go into the Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act Fund.

    Medical-Marijuana2The new law also imposes fines and civil penalties for violations of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, and would require monies collected as a result of these fines and civil penalties to be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account, which this bill would establish within the fund.

    AB 266, among other things, would enact the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act for the licensure and regulation of medical marijuana and would establish within the Department of Consumer Affairs the Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation, under the supervision and control of the director of Consumer Affairs. The bill would require the director to administer and enforce the provisions of the act.

    This new law requires that the Board of Equalization, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, adopts a system for reporting the movement of commercial cannabis and cannabis products.

    The law imposes fines and civil penalties for specified violations of the act. The monies collected will be deposited into the Medical Cannabis Fines and Penalties Account.

    What’s most important about this law is that it clearly instructs law enforcement to not to arrest or prosecute compliant cannabis producers.

    The law also requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts the mandated cost associated with medical marijuana

    Senate Bill 643 sets the standards that doctors prescribing medicinal cannabis have to follow. The state medical board is charged with the responsibility of investigating, prosecuting and disciplining offending doctors who repeatedly recommend excessive cannabis to patients or repeatedly recommend cannabis to patients without a good faith examination.

    Under the new law, the Bureau of Medical Marijuana now has to require an applicant to furnish a full set of fingerprints for the purposes of conducting criminal history record checks.

    The law also prohibits doctors who recommend cannabis to a patient from accepting, soliciting, or offering any form of remuneration from a facility licensed under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act. Violating this prohibition is a misdemeanor.

    The law calls for the gubernatorial appointment of a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation chief with the confirmation of the state senate.

    The Department of Consumer Affairs is the authority that will create, issue, renew, discipline, suspend or revoke licenses for the transportation and storage, unrelated to manufacturing, of medical marijuana, and can authorize the department to collect fees for its regulatory activities and impose specific duties on this department in this regard.

    The Department of Food and Agriculture will regulate all that pertains to the cultivation and transportation of, medical cannabis and can impose specific duties on this department in this regard.

    The law requires the State Department of Public Health to regulate the manufacture and testing of medical cannabis.

    Counties are now able to impose taxes cannabis-related activity.

    This bill would require an applicant for a state license pursuant to provide a signed statement under penalty of perjury, thereby changing the scope of a crime and imposing a state-mandated local program.

    This bill would set forth standards for the licensed cultivation of medical cannabis, including, but not limited to, establishing duties relating to the environmental impact of cannabis and cannabis products. The bill would also establish state cultivator license types, as specified.

    Affordable Care Actimages

    Assembly Bill 248, which Assemblyman Roger Hernández (D-West Covina) authored, aims to close a loophole in health insurance coverage. Large-group health insurers did not need to provide essential health benefits which resulted in some insurers offering narrower, limited-benefit health plans, such as prevention-only plans to large employers with low-wage workers. This new law now requires large plans to provide at least 60 percent minimum value on those plans.

    The law does not apply to limited wrap-around coverage, as described in a specified federal regulation, or a policy that provides coverage for Medicare services.

    The law also does not apply to certain grandfathered health insurance policies that provide basic health care services without annual or lifetime limits.

    AB 339 aims to make sure health insurance benefit packages won’t have a discriminatory impact on the chronically ill and that outpatient prescription drug costs remain affordable.

    The bill, until at least Jan. 1, 2020, would provide that any form cost sharing for a covered outpatient prescription drug plan for an individual prescription will not exceed $250 for a $30 day supply.

    AB37 allows providers to sidestep the so-called “step therapy” rule, under which health insurers can require some patients to fail one therapy protocol before they’re allowed to move on to a more expensive one.

    The law’s author, Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks), has said the cost-saving rule can be disastrous to some patients with severe illnesses such as lupus, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis.

    “What is most painful in that process is the time lag—sometimes as much as 90 days,” said Nazarian at a legislative hearing this past year.

    He said he understood the reasons behind gradual escalation of medications, but that a one-size-fits-all approach to limiting medication may not actually fit anyone.

    Senate Bill 125 extends the enrollment period for health insurance by more than a month, starting Nov. 1 and ending on Jan. 31. The law also revises the definition of small employer by lowering the threshold. Employers with 100 employees working in California are also considered “small employers.”

     

     

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  • Photography Exhibit Reflects on Environmental Change

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer 

    How our environment affects us is not always holistically understood. There are economic, social and environmental factors often not in our control. Watts Now LA is a photo narrative series that deals intimately with the physical surroundings of that community and affecting change within it. The exhibit is part of the VisionLA.‘15 Climate Action Arts Festival, which ran concurrently with the Paris climate talks in December.

    Like the environment it examines, Watts Now is very local. It was created by the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, California State University Dominguez Hills, LA Housing is a Human Right, and Physicians for Social Responsibility and produced by local residents, youth, faculty and students.

    One of the photographs on display was a lake with weathered warning signs and devoid of life. The picture was of the lake at Willowbrook Recreation Park. Before the park was renamed after Laker basketball great, Magic Johnson, before signs were posted warning of high levels of toxins in the soil and water, local residents use to fish at the lake.

    Other photos showed the multi-colored soils and gravel forming heaps along railroad tracks bordering houses and schools, evidence of illegal dumping. To the naked eye the subtle brown hues of the soils may be hard to notice but the camera lens presented it clearly. Poisons of arsenic and boron keep the weeds from growing along the tracks, but the wind and rain spread these contaminants. People also use the tracks as short-cuts, taking residue with them as they walk.

    A homeless encampment is pictured along an empty storm drain, with litter strewn everywhere.

    Timothy Watkins, the president of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee said the exhibit sheds light on the toxicity that Watts is exposed to daily.

    ‘It may be one of the unhealthiest places in the city, in the state or in the nation,” Watkins said.  “In Watts there is a greater convergence of transportation modes — may be greater than anywhere else I can think of.”

    Watkins’ father, Ted, founded Watts Labor Community Action Committee 50 years ago to improve the quality of life in Watts, — the same year as the Watts revolt took place. Because of this milestone, Cal State University Dominguez Hills wanted to get involved with this exhibit.

    Law and social justice students from the university Cal State University of Dominguez Hills and students from Jordan High surveyed and took photos of these blighted sites as part of curriculum-based assignments.

    Watts

    Watts Labor Community Action Committee President Tim Watkins observes the photos at the Watts Now LA exhibition. Photo by Melina Paris.

    The Human Rights Housing Collective and two professors from Dominguez, Vivian Price and Jorge Cabrera, were also involved in the documentation. Cabrera worked with the students, going around Watts, collecting information about environmental injustice.

    Monika Shankar, with Physicians for Social Responsibility, got involved with this project when the physicians group started documenting the environmental conditions early this year.

    “Jordan Downs has been collecting pictures for many years because they feel the contamination needs to be documented,” Shankar said. “Part of the goal is to capture narratives, but there is also a goal for our own accountability, to be able to document what is happening on the Jordan Downs site in terms of remediation so that the main agencies involved at this site can be held accountable and do what they are supposed to be doing. Nothing says it like a photo does.”

    “Part of the goal is to capture narratives, but there is also a goal for our own accountability…. Nothing says it like a photo does.”–Monika Shankar with Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    These groups also plan to start testing with an independent group of organizations that take the information to compare to what they are being told publicly.

    Running through the city are not just one or two of each, but multiple rail lines, oil lines, pipelines, air traffic corridors, highways, and freeways. Southern Pacific, Union Pacific, Santa Fe Lines, and Metro rail are all there. Underneath the railways are oil pipelines. Some were put in a few years back, others date back to the turn of the past century when 90 million barrels per year of oil was being pumped through Watts to the Harbor with ships waiting off shore.

    Watkins looked at the impacts of this convergence. He saw the effects of the convergence when he started taking soil samples and researching the effects of 50 years of lead in the environment. He noted that while all communities are exposed to contaminants, Watts was exposed to many more contaminant levels.

    “If you just look at a minimal amount of lead poisoning due to consistent long-term exposure, you’re looking at symptoms that are identical, in many cases, to what we see our most uncivil and worst behaving kids in the community,” Watkins said.

    Watkins believes the result of this environmental injustice are high levels of mental health issues, low birth weights, high infant mortality along with anger, violence and destruction.

    “They’ve been subjected to the environmental condition,” Watkins said. “But then there is a social condition that would say, because they behave the way they do, they deserve to be subjected to yet another system of suppressive heinous kinds of condition.

    “But the community may, in fact, be under-informed or unaware of the real consequences to the exposure of big industries.” The bottom line is, “Your child isn’t safe.”

    Watkins notes the ongoing threat of the  “hyper toxic” site right next to Jordan Downs that’s undergoing a $700-million state required clean up is in the midst of an open air clean up.

    “Early in the morning, kids are walking to school, their mothers are right there next to them,” he said.

    “They are out there leaning against the fence waiting for the light to change. Workers out there driving the tractors and trucks are walking around in this (dust), they don’t have any protective gear on, no masks, and they’re just working. We don’t understand and the community [is] not being informed of it.”

    Watkins researched through the cancer registry if Watts has any illness clusters and discovered it’s almost impossible to find.

    From an illness standpoint it looks at Watts as being relatively healthy. But six miles away  in Los Angeles council District 9, there’s the hazardous South Los Angeles Wetlands Park. Watkins noted that Watts is 20 miles away and in the same council district as San Pedro, in District 15, but has not gotten nearly the attention it’s southern neighbor has on environmental justice issues.

    Watkins says Watts is not represented agency education level or the political level. He wonders where the advocacy is.

    “Sometimes these narratives are hijacked by agencies or politicians, folks who have more power in the community,” Shankar added. “But the stories of those who are more disadvantaged due to social circumstances or economic circumstances, they have a voice as well. And we want to elevate that voice.

    “It was wonderful to see the kids in the class, the way they had analyzed the conditions around them and the same day talking about gang violence around them…. They are making those observations and realizing the environment has contributed to violent behavior or inability to learn and concentrate. We provide that little connection but they are very aware of what is happening in their neighborhoods in a very sharp way.”

    The exhibit runs through Jan 31.  A closing reception will take place  Jan 29.

    Details: http://tinyurl.com/VisionLA15Watts

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  • Flash in the Pan: Noodle Theory

    By Ari LeVaux, Contributing Columnist

    I’ve often pondered why noodles are so yummy. Yet if some of the answers were not so integral to the recipe of the day:  pho ap chao bo.  I would caution against pondering this too deeply.

    It’s like wondering why the sky is blue. It’s a good question, but the answer something about light waves and stuff, simply isn’t as satisfying

    Alas, if we wish to enjoy true noodle bliss in our own homes and not depend on pros in restaurant kitchens to take us there blindfolded, we must go there ourselves because not all noodles—or the dishes made from them—take us to the textural places that rice noodles can. And, let’s face it, noodles are all about texture. Nobody eats them for the flavor.

    Rice noodles are gods among noodles, thanks to their forgiving yet robust chewiness. But another important quality of these starchy strands is their readiness to trade in their softness for crispiness. Or, most importantly, their capacity to be both chewy and crispy at the same time, like an electron that is both particle and wave. The crispy and soft parts interact differently with the sauce, adding diversity and complexity to the dish.

    Today’s dish, pho ap chao bo, appeared on my radar when I was a restaurant critic in Albuquerque, N.M. Some might consider this assignment to be more about enchiladas and chicharrones and green chile cheeseburgers than noodles. But Albuquerque’s Vietnamese restaurant scene is solid, thanks to a large Air Force base to which soldiers returned, with new wives in tow, from the Vietnam war. The wives in turn brought over their families. The rice noodles have been flowing, floating and frying-ever since.

    It was in these eateries that I became acquainted with the dual nature of the rice noodle.

    Noodles are served in many different ways in Vietnamese restaurants, not all of them crispy and chewy. Today’s dish could simply be categorized as stir-fried or pan-fried noodles, but that would put it in questionable company. I don’t want noodles that have only been stirred in a pan with other stuff. Or worse still: stirred soggy noodles. I want noodles that dance with the sauce and make me notice them as they party in my mouth, not merely a passive, personality-free delivery system for sauce. I want noodles with the backbone to also show their vulnerable side.

    After trying pho ap chao bo for the first time I obsessed with these noodles, laboring to reproduce them in the kitchen over the course of many attempts, until I finally succeeded. When it occurred to me, belatedly, that I could simply search online for the recipe, I felt vindicated to realize that I had basically nailed it — at least the most important step, the only step that matters. The step that, when mastered, will allow you to substitute crispy rice noodles into virtually any noodle dish, and it will be improved.

    Begin by cooking the noodles in plenty of boiling water until al-dente, AKA almost done. Then drain them and rinse off the excess starch in running cold water in the colander, and let them drain again.

    Then, fry the noodles in a flat frying pan on low heat in enough oil to completely cover the bottom of a pan. It can take 10 to 15 minutes to achieve the desired crispiness and accompanying shade of light brown. If you don’t have the patience to keep the heat low, the noodles will burn.

    On low heat the noodles will fry into a disk-shaped mass. When you suspect the bottom has crisped, lift up one edge with a spatula and peek. If you see a skin of crisp, and the noodles move as a single unit rather than a tangle of independent entities, flip that noodle disk like a pancake. When the other side is similarly fried, let the disk cool to the point where you can cut it into strips, each of which is like a meta-noodle composed of individual strands. The exterior of this meta-noodle is pure crisp, while the inside is chewy like gum.

    Toss the cut noodle pieces into your sauce, briefly stir them and serve.

    So that’s the gist. Now, here is an example of how to incorporate those crispy/chewy noodles into an actual recipe.

    While the noodles slowly get their crisp on in one pan, the sauce is prepared in another-also slowly, at least in my kitchen. While stir-fry is typically a high-heat, fast and furious affair, I prefer a different route.

    First, add the proteins. Beef is traditionally used in this dish. Tofu works too. If you are lucky enough to have some venison in the freezer, that works great too.

    Slice the meat thinly and lay the pieces into the oil, on low-medium heat, and let the exterior of the meat build a patient brown while excess water is released. Do not stir.

    While the proteins brown, add the veggies that can stand a little extra cooking, like carrots and onions. They can just sit on top of the proteins for now, gently steaming. Don’t stir.

    While that’s happening, cut more vegetables, like celery, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli. You want to time it so these veggies are perfectly cooked to your satisfaction by the time the noodles have been stirred in. But at this point, nothing has been stirred. The proteins remain at the bottom covered with layers of veggies, quietly steaming.

    Now, add chopped ginger and garlic to the top of the pile, along with your sauce components. I like a Chinese-style mix of oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice cooking wine and hoisin sauce. For a half-pound of dry rice noodles go with 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 2 tablespoon hoisin sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice wine. Now you can stir it.

    Wait a minute for the garlic to cook, then add your crispy-chewy noodles and gently stir them into the sauce. Note how even in this soupy sauce, the noodles won’t get soggy. Now you’re ready to apply the principle behind the dual nature of the rice noodle to other dishes.

     

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