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

    Garcetti Launches Online Support for Temporary Deportation Relief

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Garcetti Announces New Public Works Commissioner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    SAN PEDRO

    POLA Starts Construction on Yusen Terminal Improvements

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

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

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

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

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

    LONG BEACH

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

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

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

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

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

    LOS ANGELES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Tongva Allies With Homeowners to Fight Plains All American

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

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

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

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

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

    The concern with Plains was not new, Rosas explained.

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

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

    And, that clashes with deeply held spiritual beliefs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2. Constitutes a public nuisance, or;

    3. Has resulted in repeated nuisance activities.

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

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

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

    This opens up yet another new legal front.

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

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

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

    By Crystal Niebla, Contributing Reporter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

     

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  • LBPD Focus on Public Relations at Town Hall Meeting

    By Diana Lejins, Contributing Columnist

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

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

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

    The Victims

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Public Relations Paid by Taxpayers

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

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  • Cruising for the Blues, Looking For The Light

    By B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The energy between the players and the audience was palatable.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Across the street is Godmothers Saloon run by Sandra Marchioli.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • TERRA’S KITCHEN:

    The Farm to Door Food Delivery Service

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    We all have guilty pleasures. Mine happens to be watching the Food Network for hours on end and then trying to recreate lavish dinners for my friends and neighbors. It’s a process that can take days on end — especially if I’m trying to plan a Game of Thrones-themed dinner with six courses and a wine pairing.

    Needless to say, this can put a slight strain on both my stomach and my wallet. Actually, “slight strain” is an understatement. I’d be lying if I told you that I have never spent an entire paycheck at Whole Foods. That being said, there is a way to eat fresh, eat well and eat with ease without throwing down wads of cash.

    Enter Terra’s Kitchen, a new farm-to-front door food delivery service, which brings the finest ingredients and chef-designed recipes right to your door.

    Essentially, it’s everything you need to cook great-tasting meals at home. Their goal is quite simple: bring back family dinner night with less hassle and at a fraction of the price.

    Here’s how it works: Go to their website and choose from their menu of seasonal recipes. Unlike some of their competitors, Terra’s Kitchen allows you to swap out or remove recipes. Next, experiment with different cooking techniques and flavor profiles you wouldn’t typically try at home, like chicken with sugar pea and radish salad, or skirt steak with chimichurri and sweet potato fries. Menus are constantly evolving and they only use the best ingredients.

    Then, just wait for your delivery.

    Terra’s Kitchen sources their produce and meat from local purveyors and then preps and portions everything for you. Everything is delivered in a refrigerated vessel with step-by-step, foolproof recipe cards. All you have left to do is cook and enjoy.

    If that doesn’t make your life easier, I don’t know what will.

    Gina Ruccione is a self-proclaimed food critic, has traveled all over Europe and Asia, and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her blog at http://foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.

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  • Grassroots Fighter Seeks Seat In Congress

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    In April of 2014, Common Cause and the ACCE Institute released a report, “Big Oil Floods the Capitol: How California’s Oil Companies Funnel Funds Into the Legislature.”

    The No. 1 recipient identified was State Sen. Rod Wright, who subsequently resigned following an unrelated criminal conviction. The No. 2 recipient, Isadore Hall III, was the assemblyman who replaced him in a low-turnout special election this past December.

    Now, Hall wants to take his oil-drenched politics to Washington, as the anointed successor to Janice Hahn, who’s running for the board of supervisors. But, while other political insiders have bowed out of the race, he’s now got a very serious grassroots environmental crusader running against him: Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem Nannette Barragan, fresh off her leading role in the March 3 landslide 3-to-1 defeat of “Measure O,” which would have opened up Hermosa to oil drilling for decades to come.

    On April 14, Equal Pay Day, Barragan made her announcement.

    “I’m excited to announce that I will be running for Congress and I am glad to do it on a day that clearly illustrates how much more work needs to be done to make sure that everyone is treated fairly,” Barragan said. “I have always and will always be an advocate for women, families and equal rights. Ensuring women get paid the same as men who do the same work will be a pillar of my campaign.”

    Although living outside the district, Barragan is a Carson area native, born of immigrant parents. She has family in Wilmington and San Pedro as well. “I’m about to move back home, coming back to Pedro,” she said.

    Fighting for, protecting and inspiring working class families like the one she grew up in is a common thread connecting almost every issue Barragan touched on in a recent interview, from raising the minimum wage to protecting children’s health from a polluted environment.

    “In the district, where I come from, the median income is about $44,000, and only 60 percent graduate from high school, and 10 percent go on to college,” she said. “So, I just tell people I’m one of the 10 percenters who beat the odds… I was able to go to college, and I’ve got, I achieved, the American dream. Now, I’m coming home to make sure that others have the same shot at the American dream. So, for me it’s a very hopeful story.”

    The day she announced, Barragan got formal support from Blue America PAC, which supports progressive Democrats. It was announced by influential progressive blogger Howie Klein, Blue America’s treasurer, who also indicated support to come from RL Miller, chair of the California Democratic party’s environmental caucus, and executive director of Climate Hawks Vote, dubbed “a superPAC on a shoestring,” which won 11 of the 17 races it endorsed in 2014, its first active cycle.

    “The contrast between Nanette and her opponent couldn’t be clearer,” Miller said. “One has a proven track record fighting big oil and winning, the other sides with big oil.”

    These seemingly small deeds have since been followed with endorsements from nearby Congress members Linda Sanchez (D-CA 38) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA 40), both of whom have previously represented portions of the district, as well as two Arizona Congress members, Ruben Gallego and Raúl Grijalva, and three more from Texas: Joaquín Castro, Rubén Hinojosa and Filemon Vela, as well as BOLD PAC, the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She’s also been endorsed by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz, South Gate Vice Mayor Bill De Witt and Carlos Alcala, the Chicano Latino Caucus chairman of the California Democratic Party.

    If it sounds like it’s shaping up to be a black-Hispanic struggle, that may reflect networks of initial support, but a peek beneath the surface reveals something more troubling. In addition to oil money, Hill and Wright were also neck-and-neck near the top of recipients of tobacco money, which was once strictly off limits for Democrats.In August, the Sacramento Bee reported that Hall was one of six Democrats cited taking more than $20,000 in tobacco money in recent years.

    “All of them represent districts with high poverty,” the Bee noted, “Smoking is more prevalent in poor communities—nearly 28 percent of adults who live below the poverty line smoke, compared with 17 percent of adults who are at or above it, according to data from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

    In short, the real interests Hall represents are directly threatening to the black community. At the same time, Barragan has a track record of working across racial lines. As a student at UCLA, she had an internship at the Clinton White House doing outreach to the African-American community.

    At first, she could not believe it when a UCLA career center advisor urged her to apply for internships in D.C.

    “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ My parents are immigrants from Mexico, I have no political ties.”

    When the Supreme Court rejected her, it confirmed all her fears, but then the White House accepted her.

    The result “was a turning point in my life,” Barragan said. “I saw so many people that looked just like me, so many people that had my story. They didn’t have the political ties, they also came from humble beginnings. And for me, that was really motivational, and inspired me to say, ‘Look if I work hard, I too can do anything that I want.’”

    As a result, she ended up “serving as a facilitator between the president and any African-American organizations,” she said. “Working on a lot of issues that affect a lot of people of color and minorities, and other areas as well… people like Martin Luther King III, and Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.”

    But that was only a beginning.

    “I loved it so much that I went back in 1999, to work for the NAACP on the hill, to do legislative policy, working on health care policy for the NAACP,” she said. “One of the areas was racial health disparities,” which was an issue being highlighted by the Surgeon General at the time.

    Barragan’s awareness of those disparities clearly influences how she sees the public health side of environmental justice issues, as she made reference to the “toxic tour” conducted by Communities for a Better Environment.

    “It’s pretty startling to hear the members, to see that children are dying of cancer before they graduate from high school. To me that’s just unacceptable.”

    Even without a guided tour, air pollution impacts in the district are unavoidable, Barragan noted.

    “We see children who walk around with inhalers,” she said. “It’s a public health crisis.

    “How do we attract businesses to come in bringing cleaner, greener jobs?” she asks. “How do we make that change?”

    On June 10, Climate Hawks Vote announced its endorsement of Barragan. It explained the endorsement in part by recounting a telling bit inside the drama that’s usually completely hidden from voters:

    Last week during a critical vote on a fracking bill, state legislator Isadore Hall III was sitting on the sidelines and chillin’ with his friends at Western States Petroleum Association as the vote count seemed to stall at 19 (it needed 21 for passage). He told them his voting strategy—he would abstain so as to not cast the deciding vote, but if two others voted for it he’d have to go along so as to not hurt his reputation with the greens. Fortunately for Hall’s entirely undeserved reputation, two others voted yes, so he cast vote No. 22.

     

    Miller said they hoped the early endorsement would help cut through the fog.

    “I wanted to make an early endorsement, much earlier than usual—the primary is a year away—because I’m really excited about Nannette,” Miller said. “And, partly because I wanted to try to get the word out among the national folk that this race presents a clear, classic difference between a big oil-funded politician, who is very much part of the machine, versus somebody who is an outsider, fresh-faced and is right on all the policy issues.”

    While Hall wrapped up a lot of early endorsements, Miller said many are having second thoughts.

    “I have already started to talk to both elected officials who regret their endorsements, and Democratic club people who regret their early endorsements,” she said.

    It’s not just oil and tobacco interests that have raised questions about Hall.

    In late November, the Los Angeles Times reported that Hall was “facing criticism from competitors for his use of campaign funds to pay for expensive dinners, limousine rentals, luxury suites at concerts, and trips to resorts in Maui, Ojai and Pebble Beach.” Hall reportedly called them a political necessity in the race. “Hall said he has to raise and spend money to introduce himself to those he hasn’t represented in the past.”

    All that money did not buy very many votes, however. Hall did well enough to avoid a runoff election, winning almost 18,000 votes for 55.9 percent. But in the 2012 general election, Wright garnered more than 10 times as many votes, while the badly-beaten Republican tallied three times as many. Now, Hall is trying to use that paltry turnout, purchased in part through lavish spending, to lay claim to a congressional district in which most people have never heard of him.

    Barrragan doesn’t expect to outspend Hall, only raise enough to get her message out and mobilize grassroots support, as she did in the fight against Measure O. She began that fight as an outsider, ran for city council, won, and over time, mobilized such strong support that the council as a whole moved from formal neutrality to outspoken opposition to the drilling plan. And that grassroots connection remains primary for her.

    “We’re proud of the endorsements we’ve received,” she said, “But for us, this is going to be about focusing on people in the district, not the insiders and special interests, but doing what the people of the district want.”

     

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  • Keeping the Mic Live and Open

    By Charles Lamont, Guest Columnist, and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    In what seems like a new addition to San Pedro’s already rich cultural smorgasbord, the open mic scene in San Pedro is a growing phenomenon with at least five venues every week.

    The original open mic scene started at the old Sacred Grounds Coffeehouse back when it occupied the building where Niko’s Pizzeria now stands. At least that’s the way Owen Tirre remembers it. Tirre, has been running the open mic at the Wigwam for several years.

    There are a great number of talented players in San Pedro, but they are fragmented into pockets of players and may never cross paths. The open mic scene is the place where they might meet and play together — creating phenomenal music on the spot. And, the people who return frequently to perform improve noticeably each time.

    The wooden, open ceiling structure and wide open spaces looks and feels like a barn. With a mini seashell stage and a microphone artist of all sorts step to the stage to play original music.

    Many performers seem to fit a type: long haired, fedora wearing artists of age 50 or better. Their music almost always defaults to folk by virtue of their acoustic guitar, but their lyrics come from well-lived lives that come from travel, experience and wiry humor of going through it all, whether bad or good.

    Tirre sees the local open mic scene as a place where artists can play unfettered by the demands of live entertainment venues.

    “A venue was needed for performing artists, poets and spoken word performance artists such as Randy Stodola,” said Robert Brandin, who helps run the open mic at the Wigwam. “The beginners and the performance artist types need a place to start out where the audience is supportive… For many seasoned performers who have stopped playing, the open mics are the way back to playing once again.”

    Stodola is a professional artist who fronted punk bands the Alley Cats and the Zarkons during the 1980s and early ‘90s. After a long hiatus, Stodola has reemerged at various venues from Hollywood to San Pedro. The open mic scene is where he tries out material on where he performed music he hasn’t played in a long time.

    “If you play original music, where do you play in the Harbor area?” Brandin asked. “Bars want mainly danceable cover music.”

    Indeed, there’s an over-abundance of talent in this town and too many venues either requiring artists to pay to play or play covers, providing little opportunity for artists to try new material on live audiences.

    At least at an open mic, there’s a stage and willing ears. But the thirst is deep in San Pedro.

    When Tirre began experiencing burnout earlier this year, he nearly stopped hosting them until local artists Brandin and Richard Sauers picked up the slack with some much needed energy.

    “I like the vibe and the space we created for people to come and do their thing,” Brandin said. “We’ve seen people blossom as a result of having a place to play. Without the availability of a performance place, many players would not have regained the confidence to play again.”

    It’s hard to say whether the growth of open mics in San Pedro is an isolated phenomenon. Long Beach still has lots of open mic venues such as Viento y Agua and 4th Street and Vine.

    It has been my experience that things sometimes just come together at open mic night. The vibe is just right, the combination of performer and audience is just right and the magic just happens.

    Other times it can be awkward or embarrassing but it’s all about the people — the performer and the audience. It couldn’t happen without an accepting and supportive audience.
    Venue: The Royale Hotel, 238 W. 10th St., San Pedro
    Time: 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Mondays and Saturdays
    Details: (310) 832-5225

    Venue: The Redmen’s Lodge/Wigwam, 543 Shepard St., San Pedro,
    Time: 6:30 p.m, Wednesday
    Details: Redman’s Lodge on Facebook

    Venue: Sacred Grounds, 468 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    Time: 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays
    Details: Sacred Grounds on Facebook

    Venue: Off the Vine, 491 W. 6th St., #103, San Pedro
    Time: 7 p.m., Every other Thursday
    Details: Off the Vine on Facebook

    Venue: The Corner Store, 1118 W. 37th St., San Pedro
    Time: 3 p.m. First Sunday Ukelele Hootenany; 3 p.m. Last Sunday
    Details: The Corner Store on Facebook

    Venue: Old Torrance Coffee and Tea, 1413 Marcelina Ave., Torrance
    Time: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursdays
    Details: http://otcoffeetea.com/

    Venue: The Crest Sports Bar and Grill, 1625 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance
    Time: 7 p.m., Thursdays
    Details: http://thecrestsportsbarandgrill.com/

    Venue: Viento y Agua, 4007 E. 4th St., Long Beach
    Time: 7 p.m. Thursdays
    Details: www.vientoyaguacoffeehouse.com

    The Wigwam and The Corner Store are mostly unplugged. There’s a mic and speaker system at Sacred Grounds.
     

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