• RLn COMMUNITY, THEATER Calendars: Jan. 2, 2015

    Jan. 11
    South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society
    Gregg DeChirico, president of the Cactus & Succulent Society of America, is presenting a program on the plants and wildlife of Madagascar, starting at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 11, at the South Coast Botanic Garden, in the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
    Learn how the most diverse flora and fauna imaginable are caught in a complicated and anxious struggle for survival.
    Details:  southcoastcss.org
    Venue: South Coast Botanic Garden
    Location: 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula

    Jan. 17
    The Bombs that Saved China
    Learn about how the fight against Japan in the China-Burma-India campaign required rugged machines, at 11 a.m. Jan. 17, at the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance.
    Lt. David K. Hayward will talk about his experience with the B-25.
    Details: (310) 326-9544
    Venue: Western Museum of Flight
    Location: 3315 Airport Drive, Torrance

    Jan. 17
    Tidepool Wonders
    Explore one of the lowest tides of the year on the rocky shore with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, from 12 to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17, and from 12:30p to 2 p.m. Jan. 18.
    Bring family and friends to the aquarium’s John M. Olguin Auditorium for an informative slide show, followed by a walk led by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium education staff to the nearby Point Fermin tidepools.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Jan. 17
    Underwater Parks Day
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.Jan. 17, 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.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Jan. 17
    27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peace & Unity Parade Celebration
    The 27th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace & Unity Parade Celebration will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 17, in Long Beach.
    This year’s theme is “From Poverty to Prosperity.”
    The parade will begin on Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue intersecting Anaheim Street, and is followed by a multi-cultural celebration at King Park, 1950 Lemon Avenue.
    Details:(562) 570-6816
    Venue: King Park
    Location: 1950 Lemon Ave., Long Beach
    Jan. 9
    Shadows-A Play
    Experience Shadows-A Play, at7 p.m. Jan. 9, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
    Playwright and San Pedro native, Linda Dunton Delmar presents the 15th anniversary of her off-Broadway play based on her own childhood experience.
    Tickets range from $15 to $35.
    Details: (310) 833-4813; www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex
    Location: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 17
    Murder on the Nile
    Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Nile opens, Jan. 17, on the Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage.
    Murder on the Nile promises a host of colorful characters and all the twists and turns of a classic Christie to keep you guessing to the final shattering climax.
    Tickets are $24 for adults, $21 for seniors and $14 for students.
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage
    Location: 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

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  • RLn ENTERTAINMENT Calendar: Dec. 30, 2014

    Jan. 4
    The Jazzedelics are scheduled to perform, at 4 p.m. Jan. 4, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Jazzedelics is the brainchild of singer and percussionist Tony Jones and guitarist Doug Perkins. Their music is based on a simple premise: what if seminal rock giants of the 60s had written their songs in a jazz framework?
    Suggested donation is $20.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 6
    John Daversa Progressive Big Band
    The John Daversa Progressive Big Band performs, at 8 p.m. Jan. 6 and 7, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    The John Daversa Progressive Big Band is one of the leading forces of large ensemble jazz today.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 9
    Rob Klopfenstein
    Rob Klopfenstein performs at 7 p.m. Jan. 9, at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro.
    Rob Klopfenstein is an all-around entertainer on the piano along with special guest artists.
    No cover charge for bar or dinner guests.
    Details: (310) 832-0363; www.whaleandale.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale British Restaurant
    Location: 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
    Jan. 9
    Richard Sherman Trio
    The Richard Sherman Trio performs, at 8 p.m. Jan. 9, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 10
    Cole Marcus Trio
    The Cole Marcus Trioperforms, at 8 p.m. Jan. 10, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Jan. 16
    Los Tribes
    Los Tribes performs, at 8 p.m. Jan. 16, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 17
    Robert Sarzo
    Robert Sarzo performs a tribute to Santana, starting at 8 pm. Jan. 17. at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Jan. 18
    Frank Potenza
    Frank Potenza performs, at 4 p.m. Jan. 18, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 22
    Jeff Hamilton Trio
    The Jeff Hamilton Trio performs, at 8 p.m. Jan. 22, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

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  • RLn COMMUNITY Calendar: Dec. 23, 2014

    Dec. 27
    Cannon Battle Sails
    Get ready to rock the harbor aboard Los Angeles’ official tall ships, from 2 to 5 p.m. Dec. 27 and 28, in San Pedro.
    The cost is $60 for adults and $40 for children.
    Details: (310) 833-6055; online 
    Venue: Downtown San Pedro Harbor Cut
    Location: 6th Street at Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro
    Dec. 29
    The Nature Center is hosting fun workshops over winter break for children 5 to 8 years old, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Dec. 29 through 31, at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach. (more…)

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  • Listening in to LACO’s Baroque Conversations

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra has a well-loved tradition of performing the five concert “Baroque Conversation” series.

    Now in its ninth year, music director Jeffrey Kahane leads the program. This year the program uniquely included four harpsichords with the chamber orchestra. There were two performances: Dec. 11 at Zipper Hall in downtown Los Angeles and on Dec. 13 at The Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge

    Former San Pedro resident and artist, Curtis Berak, is the builder and owner of the four harpsichords that were played. Two were modeled after Italian designs (Italians were the first to make harpsichords), the other two were French designs. The tops of the harpsichords also were on display at the back of the stage. Each was finely painted by San Pedro artist Timna Pilch, depicting country side scenes and painted marble. (more…)

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  • If Not Now When?

    How We Fail at Democracy, How It Fails Us

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    We spend a lot of time in this country talking or posturing about defending democracy. How many times have we gone to war in the past 100 years on this very premise?

    Yet, I am constantly reminded of how often we don’t live up to those hallowed words, let alone the intent behind them.  The recent U.S. Senate report on the CIA’s use of torture, the egregious acts of brutality by various police agencies against people of color and the militarization of police forces nationwide all lead me to question once again, the “rule of law” and its service in protecting our liberties and freedom. (more…)

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  • Being Homeless is Not a Crime

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Neecee, who asked that her last name not be included in this article, has been homeless for the past three years. She often gets the free meals offered at Mary Star of the Sea Church or Kurt’s Kitchen on Pacific Avenue in San Pedro. At 45 years of age, she carries her life in a shopping cart filled with blankets, clothing and other personal affects. Neecee’s 23-year-old son and her brother also are homeless.

    In circumstances as these, a shower is difficult to come by. When the opportunity arises to get one, you take it.

    A couple of weeks ago, around about the time the recent storm hit Southern California, Neecee was given permission to shower at a friend’s house. When she returned to the place at Plaza Park where she left her cart, all of her belongings were gone. (more…)

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  • Disillusionment at the Ancestral Court

    By Lionel Rolfe

    Recently, when the publication of a paperback version of my first book The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey (the book originally came out in hardcover in 1978), I remembered my visit to Brooklyn to meet my Hassidic ancestors.

    My mother Yaltah and aunt Hephzibah were prodigy pianists and my uncle Yehudi, the violinist, had been described as the greatest musical prodigy since Mozart. At that point the three were alive in London, so a stopover in Brooklyn was appropriate.

    The first morning after my arrival in Gotham, I emerged from the black pits of the subway to find that number 790, the address of the Hassidic headquarters, was quite a bit further down Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway.

    As I began the trek down the broad, shabby, but still dignified boulevard, I felt my balding head and cursed myself for not having followed the advice of people who had told me to get some cover for my shiny dome. It doesn’t have to be a yarmulke; any type of hat would do, I had been told.

    “But wouldn’t that be dishonest?” I had asked. “I mean, I’m not an orthodox Jew.”

    “Just to show them respect,” had been the answer.

    Ah, in that case, I knew what would have been ideal: one of those jaunty black berets that my grandfather Moshe always used to wear. Moshe used to have an endless supply of them, one in this room, another in that room, maybe even one in the chicken shed.

    A beret made you a dapper, worldly gentleman, and yet, if you had come from the ghettoes of Eastern Europe, it eased your conscience about your naked head. But there were no berets in the ghetto shops. My pace quickened and as it did so, the whirring worrying in my head that I would have to brave the Lubavitcher Court hatless also increased. Many a writer had been thrown bodily out of the Lubavitcher Court. On the other hand, the Schneersohns, the Lubavitchers, were my cousins. The Menuhins were but an offshoot of the famed Chabad father-to-son dynasty, which presided over the Polish-Russian town of Lubavitch.

    Once the Lubavitchers had been the major leaders of half of Russia’s Jewish population, which numbered several millions. But the pogroms at the turn of the century, the mass exodus of the Jews before the Russian Revolution and then Hitler, reduced the Lubavitchers to holding sway over only a few thousand souls. They had done so ever since Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, the sixth generation head of the Lubavitcher dynasty, had been released from a Soviet prison in the 1920s. He had made his way first to Paris, then to Brooklyn.

    Now, I stood in the foyer of 790, behind the heavy entrance doors, uncomfortable because I could be naught but a stranger to the bearded Jews chanting in the next room with a passionate, melodic, electric hum that I recognized. Although in my youth my grandfather did not sing Hassidic melodies to me, there was an intense melody in the hum of his activity. Even if he was merely showing me the right way to pull up a weed or to dig a hole to trap a gopher gnawing at the roots of an orange tree or tamping down the compost heap back of the chicken shed, the old Hassidic energy emerged in melodic glory, thanking G-d for always creating something new.

    Now, Hassidim emerged from the room where they had been chanting and davaning; they kissed the mezuzah on the door and went outside. My mind became involved in the kissing of the door’s mezuzah and I wondered if they expected me to do it. When a Hassid, a thin, pale-looking young man, had finished kissing the mezuzah, he looked straight at me, without giving me a sign of acknowledgement. He did not even ask me what I was doing there and left the building. Seconds later, another Hassid, with a more authoritative bearing, walked in the door and asked me what I wanted.

    I heard my voice mumble something, and then I was being pointed to a door I assumed was an office.

    “Somebody should be there soon,” a passing Hassid told me.

    Finally an “American” rabbi arrived I began to explain my purpose to him. He confirmed what the Los Angeles Hassidic American rabbi had said, that Rabbi Israel Jacobson was the man I needed to see.

    The “American” rabbi had returned. He kept glancing up at me. Something was making him nervous. Then I laughed.

    “Have you a yarmulke” I asked him.

    He looked relieved.

    “Yes, yes,” he said quickly, and rummaged through a cabinet, coming up with a red yarmulke.

    I put it on, and the rabbi looked as if God Himself was smiling in His Heaven.

    Now, the yeshiva student became very friendly. He wanted to talk. I asked him if he had ever heard of Yehudi Menuhin, the violinist.

    “No,” said the student.

    “Well,” I said, suddenly feeling silly, “he’s my uncle, and one of the world’s most famous violinists. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of him, for he is also a Schneersohn.”

    I talked for awhile about the Menuhins and the Schneersohns, and about the book I was writing.

    “I am related to the family, too,” said the student proudly.

    I looked at him and saw that his broad, beaming countenance could be said to look like my own.

    I told him, “I had not been raised religiously; in truth, I hadn’t even been Bar Mitzvah’d. It wasn’t until six months ago that I had even started to look into my family background. I hadn’t known how extraordinary and eccentric my family was. I had always known they were famous musicians, but not religious figures, too.

    “I’ve been reading a lot about my ancestors,” I said.

    “Follow me,” the student replied.

    We went down a narrow, winding stairway to a basement synagogue, a gigantic room filled with noise and hubbub. Everyone was chanting and talking; it was chaotic, and no one person seemed in charge. The student approached the torah rabbi on my behalf. I was surprised. The rabbi was surprised too, and angry. He glared at the student as if to say, “Deal with it as you will.”

    So the yeshiva student returned to me and said I should put on tfillin, the Hebrew phylacteries. For the second time in my life, I did so. I repeated the Hebrew words without knowing what they meant.

    We went upstairs, and the student said he would help me find Rabbi Jacobson. The student talked to several people and discovered which of the yeshiva buildings Jacobson was in at the moment. He pointed to the right one. I shook his hand and began walking, and came upon what looked like an abandoned building. From down at the end of one of its darkened halls, however, came the sound of voices, and finally from the shadows emerged the man who, I knew, had to be Jacobson.

    “I want to talk,” I said to the rabbi, and got the feeling that he had been expecting me.

    Jacobson merely nodded and pointed to the door at the far end of the building. I followed the little man.

    It was a small, dark room with a rough bench and some chairs. At first Rabbi Jacobson couldn’t understand, and my heart sank.

    “Moshe Menuhin, my grandfather,” I said.

    Finally Jacobson took out a piece of paper and wrote the name down, and I began worrying. To whom could I go if this man didn’t know? Jacobson had become my link with the past. “Meshe,” the rabbi finally said slowly, and his face lit up. “You’re related to him? How are you related to him?”

    “He is my grandfather.”

    “And what do you do?”

    “I am a writer. I am writing a book. I am told we are related to the Schneersohns.”

    Rabbi Jacobson nodded. “I have a letter,” he began explaining, “written to me from Russia many years ago about Meshe, the father of Yehudi Menuhin. Your grandfather is the direct descendant via a marriage with a daughter of the great tzaddik, Menachem-Mendel Schneersohn, the famed grandson of Schneur Zalman. And on his father’s side he was the great-grandson of Levi-Yitzhak of Berditchev.”

    He scrawled the name “Levi-Yitzhak” on the back of an envelope. I knew who Levi-Yitzhak was.

    I remembered having read about the saintly but eccentric teacher, and saying to myself, “That man reminds me somehow of myself.”

    Now I was learning that there might be a reason for this.

    “I want to see the letter,” I said.

    It’s in Hebrew,” the rabbi told me. Suddenly his tone of voice became suspicious. He was no longer friendly. He began to scowl, and began asking me questions like a prosecuting attorney hot on the trail of a confession. The rabbi questioned me about my family, my Jewishness, my upbringing.

    When I said that my brother Robert was a physicist at Los Alamos, New Mexico, he asked “What’s a physicist? Is that like a doctor?”

    After that I thought it was best not talk too much about the relentless pursuit of the mechanics of matter, for Hassidim are, after all, mystics, who treasure the universe’s mystery as God’s very own cloak.

    Jacobson was on much surer ground when I mentioned my daughters, and the rabbi asked, “Is the mother Jewish?” My first wife had not been Jewish, I had to admit. (Neither were my next two wives, come to think of it).

    The rabbi raised his hands in horror and announced that he had no intention of contributing to a book such as mine.

    “I will not besmirch the name of the Schneersohns, one of the greatest of Jewish intellectual family names, by linking it with that of the Menuhins,” he said dramatically. “I will tell you no more.”

    My anger exploded.

    “The Schneersohns have nothing to be ashamed of by being linked to the Menuhins,” I replied. “And you have no right to talk to me that way. I am every bit as much a Jew as you are.”

    “Is your mother Jewish?”

    “Of course. She’s a Menuhin.”

    “And your father?”

    I nodded.


    “But your children aren’t.”

    “What do you expect me to do–disown my own children?”

    “I’m not running a charity,” said the rabbi. “I can’t worry about every lost soul. And Yehudi Menuhin, he’s not married to a Jew either, is he?”

    “He’s not.”

    “Listen,” he said. “I will maybe help you if you go back to the yeshiva and start by getting to know some of the young men there.” I shook my head. I said I had to be in London soon, which was only partly true. But I knew I didn’t want to spend much more time in New York, let alone with the Hassidim.

    “All right then, when you get to London, look us up there,” Jacobson said.  “Associate with the right people. Stay away from the shiksas.”

    If I did all those things, maybe Jacobson would then consider revealing all the details of my family tree.

    Maybe I should simply go back to my Manhattan hotel and catch the next plane out. I was still seething. But no, I owed it another try. I would go to an afternoon of lectures by one of the Lubavitcher rabbis.

    The lecture was on Tanya, the great opus of Jewish psychology written in 1797 by the Alter Rebbe himself, Schneur Zalman. The Tanya lecture concerned Jewish souls and non-Jewish souls. According to Tanya, all human beings have souls, but only Jews have higher souls.

    One of those around the table listening to the rabbi’s lecture was a loud, aggressive-sounding fellow who, as it finally came out, was a member of Rabbi Kahane’s Jewish Defense League, the militant Zionist political organization centered in Brooklyn, until it moved to the West Bank.


    He started talking about “uncircumcised dogs” and I knew I wasn’t going to stay much longer in Brooklyn. My shiksa wife often told me that while they might have circumcised me in the hospital, it didn’t look that way. Oy, I thought, that’s all I needed, to have a roomful of Hassidim telling me I should get an operation. London seemed a much better fate than a retroactive circumcision.


    The new paperback edition of “The Menuhins: A Family Odyssey” by Lionel Rolfe is available from Amazon.


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    Dec. 19
    James Kimo West
    James Kimo West performs, at 8 p.m. Dec. 19, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Suggested donation is $20.
    Details: www.jimkimowest.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 20
    A Celtic Christmas
    Eric Rigler and Dirk Freymuth will perform, at 8 p.m. Dec. 20, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Drawing from the Christmas repertoire, the duo combines with Wanda Law on Irish fiddle to produce a moving musical experience. Suggested donation is $25.
    Details: (310) 519-1314
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 20
    Holiday Pops Spectacular
    The Golden State Pops Orchestra performs, at 8 p.m. Dec. 20, at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre
    Location: 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    Dec. 20
    Long Beach Camerata Singers
    Long Beach Camerata Singers will perform, at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 20, at the Long Beach City College Auditorium.
    The singers will perform G.F. Handel’s Messiah, a beloved work that is part of many families’ holiday tradition.
    Tickets are $30.
    Details: http://longbeachcameratasingers.org
    Venue: Long Beach City College Auditorium
    Location: 4901 Carson St., Long Beach
    Dec. 28
    Peter Matuchniak & Friends
    Peter Matuchniak and friends perform, at 4 p.m. Dec. 28, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (310) 519-1314
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 4
    The Jazzedelics perform, at 4 p.m. Jan. 4, 2015, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (310) 519-1314
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 6
    John Daversa Progressive Big Band
    The John Daversa Progressive Big Band performs, at 8 p.m. Jan. 6 and 7, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (310) 519-1314
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 11
    David Kaplan
    Pianist David Kaplan will perform, at 2 p.m. Jan. 11, at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church.
    He will be performing Schumann’s Great Masterpiece – the 18 Davidsbundlertänze – interspersed with 17 newly commissioned miniatures by leading composers.
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.seriousmusicmedia.com/?page_id=2170
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church
    Location: 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

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  • With a New Chief, Will the LBPD Stop Prioritizing Marijuana “Crimes” Over Violent Crime?

    The headline to this article sounds ridiculous. Of course the Long Beach Police Department has never prioritized making marijuana busts over keeping residents safe and bringing violent criminals to justice, right?

    Yet if we reflect on the words of now-former LBPD Chief (and new L.A. County Sheriff) Jim McDonnell, we find that is, to some extent, exactly what he did.

    Give McDonnell this much credit: he never hid his disdain for medical-marijuana dispensaries. He didn’t want them in his town, and, despite being charged to protect and serve a citizenry that favors the legalization of even recreational marijuana use, in February 2012 he effectively inveighed the city council to repeal the medpot ordinance it had voted into place not two years earlier.

    McDonnell didn’t do it alone. He had a strong ally in now-former Long Beach City Attorney Robert Shannon. Coupled with what now-former Councilmember James Johnson later characterized as Shannon’s “bad legal advice” on the topic, every time it came up for debate McDonnell pulled no punches to compel the council to change course, including on at least one occasion apparently misrepresenting to the council the federal government’s position on asset forfeiture during the six-month period when 18 dispensaries enjoyed temporary exemptions from the ban.

    But perhaps McDonnell’s most dubious action vis-à-vis marijuana was to divert resources away from fighting violent crime to carry on his crusade.

    This leadership choice was put front and center near the end of McDonnell’s tenure, as the city council leaned in the direction of honoring the will of their constituency by taking steps to once again allow dispensaries within Long Beach. It was during these discussions that McDonnell brushed off an oldie but a goodie: were medpot dispensaries to come (back) to town, the LBPD would be forced to divert resources away from combating real crime, including violence.

    “We have been asked to devote more resources in the gang detail and the enforcement of realignment, prohibited possessors, property crime, and human trafficking,” McDonnell told the council in December 2013. “Opening the door to marijuana dispensaries will severely limit our ability to respond to these and other items requested by the Council.”

    On July 17, with the ordinance-in-progress having moved to the Planning Commission, McDonnell repeated his oft-repeated assertion: “the medical marijuana arena will negatively impact our ability to be able to address these [i.e., “human trafficking, prohibited possessors of guns, gang crime and violent crime”] and other issues.”

    What it seems no-one ever asked McDonnell directly is: Why would you divert resources away from combating (e.g.) violent crime to combat marijuana “crime”?

    Allocation of City resources, including police resources, is a zero-sum game. Any piece of the pie eaten up in one place is a piece of the pie that can’t be consumed elsewhere. So of course McDonnell was right in saying that were he to use X% of his resources on marijuana, that would be X% that couldn’t be used on, say, murder.

    I have no idea what percentage of police resources McDonnell deployed for marijuana enforcement actions—according to the LBPD, no public records exist on the topic—but if we take McDonnell at his word, it was enough to “severely limit” the LBPD’s ability to combat gang crime, human trafficking, and the like.

    Not all police serve the populace this way. In the nearby cities of West Hollywood, Santa Barbara, Oakland, and San Francisco—along with more distant cities such as Hailey, ID; Fayetteville, AR; and Kalamazoo, MI—the police departments have official policies of regarding marijuana “crimes” as law enforcement’s lowest priority.

    But not Long Beach. And the tone McDonnell set for dealing with dispensaries trickled down to his officers, who regularly employed what one judge called “strong-arm tactics.” Stories of police aggression toward collective members were rampant, alleged evidence of which may have been obscured by a common LBPD practice during such operations: the destruction of surveillance cameras and the seizing of DVRs.

    We know for certain that such aggression took place because some video surfaced despite the LBPD’s best efforts to conceal it. One such occurrence took place in June 2012, when police raided the THC Downtown Collective. Video clearly shows officers seeking out and then destroying surveillance cameras—an act the ACLU views as a violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments—but not before one officer was caught stepping on the neck of a compliant collective member as he lay facedown on the ground. That bit of police misconduct ultimately cost the City $50,000 in a legal settlement to obviate a judgment against the City that multiple councilmembers noted could have been far more costly.

    To the very end, McDonnell continued to expend a percentage of his limited resources on marijuana, shifting his focus to the marijuana delivery services that have flourished as a result of the City’s dispensary ban. Typically these operations have involved the confiscation of cash and product, but because the Compassionate Use Act (the state law allowing for cultivation, possession, and transportation of marijuana by persons with valid doctor’s recommendations and their caregivers) affords delivery drivers—presuming they have enough good sense not to take on such work without having a doctor recommendation and belonging to the collective for which they are delivering—an “affirmative defense” against prosecution, and since sales to qualified patients are not prohibited by state law, the only “crime” committed is a violation of the City’s ban, a misdemeanor that, considering state law, is not an arena where the City Prosecutor’s Office is likely willing to waste its limited resources. (The City Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment for this article.) The result under McDonnell is that the police have contented themselves with harassing delivery services, with little hope of getting convictions.

    Nor, of course, of putting a real dent in the distribution of marijuana. Delivery-service operators chalk up the rare bust to the cost of doing business and continue on as before. And because delivery services are by nature less centralized than a brick-and-mortar dispensary, there’s less chance for the City and police to monitor their business practices. That’s not to say there’s an overwhelming need for such monitoring, but if the City of Long Beach would prefer to have its cannabiz monitored as closely as possible, its recent tactics have failed spectacularly.


    Last month the reins of power at the Long Beach Police Department were handed over to Richard Luna, former deputy chief and 29-year veteran of the force. Publicly he has had nothing but kind words for his predecessor, presumably because that’s how he really feels and that’s simply what you say in such a situation (unless your boss has been forced out by scandal).

    Nonetheless, it is not the case that Luna must continue in every way to lead along McDonnell’s lines. So with the City poised to bring back medical-marijuana dispensaries, we should all—including the city council—urge Chief Luna to change course on Long Beach’s journey into a future where marijuana wouldn’t be weeded out even if voters in 2016 don’t vote to follow in the footsteps of our West Coast statemates and fully legalize it (which we are almost sure to do).

    Even if Luna ignores all the moral and ethical reasons why police ought not to bother with marijuana “crimes,” the pragmatic benefit of abandoning McDonnell’s approach is more than enough reason to do so. Police have an incredibly important job to do in society. Let us hope that in Long Beach Chief Luna can be lead them to do it just a bit better.

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: Dec. 18, 2014

    Dec. 19
    District 6 Food Distribution
    Bring your own bag and get free food, starting at 9 a.m. Dec. 19, at Earnest S. McBride Sr. Park in Long Beach.
    Details: (562) 570-6816
    Venue: Earnest S. McBride Sr. Park
    Location: 1550 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Long Beach
    Dec. 20
    Low Cost Pet Clinic
    A low-cost pet clinic will be available, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Dec. 20, at Marine Stadium in Long Beach.
    Details: http://scvvc.com
    Venue: Marine Stadium
    Location: 5255 Paoli Way, Long Beach
    Dec. 20
    Buy a Tree, Help a Child
    Buy a tree with a Cause is at the Los Altos Family YMCA to buy your family Christmas tree through Dec. 20.
    All money raised through these tree sales will go towards providing financial assistance for children who would otherwise be unable to afford life changing Y programs such as camp, childcare and swimming lessons.
    Details: (562) 596-3394
    Venue: Los Altos Family YMCA
    Location: 1720 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach

    Dec. 21
    Holiday Beach Clean Up
    Be part of the last beach clean up of 2014, from 12 to 2 p.m. Dec. 21, at Junipero Beach in Long Beach.
    Enjoy some fresh air and get a little exercise while doing your part in helping the community rid our beaches and our waters of trash and debris.
    Details: (562)570-4876
    Venue: Junipero Beach
    Location: Junipero at Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach

    Dec. 22
    Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners Meeting.
    The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners’ meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 22, at the Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices.
    The board will consider authorizing $3.75 million in spending, of which $1.6 million is budgeted in the Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices. Fiscal Year 2015 Capital Program, for Harbor Department Field Support and Operations Building and Harbor Plaza Facilities site work.
    Details:(562) 283-7070,
    Venue: Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices
    Location: 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach

    Dec. 21
    Holiday Bike Donation
    Do you have a bike lying around that doesn’t get used? Donate it to the Mental Health America’s City Wide Holiday Bike Donation, between 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 21, at the El Dorado Park West Community Center in Long Beach.
    Bikes in good condition will be refurbished and offered to select individuals for whom it will make the greatest impact and other bikes will be dismantled for parts and re-purposed.
    Venue: El Dorado Park West Community Center
    Location: 2800 Studebaker Road, Long Beach
    Dec. 26
    Holiday Tree-Cycling
    There are several free tree drop-off locations, from Dec. 26, 2014 through Jan. 9, in Long Beach.
    Wardlow Park
    Monlaco Road at Rutgers Avenue
    El Dorado Park
    2760 N. Studebaker Road
    South parking lot, behind administration building
    City Operations Center
    2929 E. Willow St.
    Click here to see the full map and for more information
    Also, if you have city refuse service, you can leave your tree out on the morning of Jan. 10, 2015 and it will be picked up.
    Jan. 1
    San Pedro Fish Market Scholarship
    Students from Mary Star High School, Banning High School, POLA High School and San Pedro High School can apply for the San Pedro Fish Market Scholarship.
    There will be four winners: $1000.00 to one student from each school.
    Post a video, preferably under 4 minutes, to YouTube (any YouTube page is fine) where you tell the viewers what you love about your community. Students must acknowledge in the first 10 seconds they are doing this to enter the San Pedro Fish Market Scholarship contest. The video must have two hashtags: #ilovesanpedro or #ilovewilmington or both, and one of the following;
    *Additional Rules: Videos must adhere to YouTube’s rules, regulations and
    code of conduct, including: No foul language, inappropriate behavior, or
    anything of like or the video will no be accepted.   Here’s a link for more
    information: https://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines

    Videos must be posted from Jan. 1 through Feb. 28 to be eligible to win.
    The video with the most views from each high school will win the Scholarship.  Winners will be notified the first week of March.
    The San Pedro Fish Market wants people across the world to see how much the children of the community love their hometowns.
    Details: (310) 350-8793; www.SanPedroFish.com
    Jan. 7
    Become A Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Aquatic Nursery Volunteer
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is now recruiting Aquatic Nursery docents, “volunteer teachers” for a three-month commitment one day a week between 9 a.m. to 12 noon, Tuesday through Friday.
    Recruits should have an interest in marine research, raising public science literacy and a personal desire for continued learning. Join the Aquatic Nursery staff for training Jan. 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the front of the Aquatic Nursery laboratory. Prior knowledge about the ocean is not required. Basic procedures of the Aquatic Nursery programs and an information packet will be provided; then use your knowledge to interpret lab activities for visiting schoolchildren.
    Details: (310) 548-7562 ext. 204; kiersten.darrow@lacity.org.
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen White Drive, San Pedro
    New Support Drug, Alcohol Recovery Groups         
    Recovery Choices, teaching skills and offering support for people recovering from alcohol and drug problems, is hosting weekly support group meetings in Hermosa Beach and San Pedro.
    Recovery Choices helps group members get clean and sober, and maintain their recovery. A $5 minimum donation is suggested to defray meeting room costs.
    Recovery Choices meetings will be:
    ·  3:30 p.m. Thursdays at Hermosa Beach Recovery NOW, Inc. Group Room, 2200 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 205A, Hermosa Beach
    ·  1 p.m. Wednesdays at San Pedro Recovery NOW, Inc., Office, 916 N. Western Ave., Suite 210, San Pedro
    Details: (310) 957-2099;www.RecoveryNowLA.com

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