• Toberman Reunion and the Challenge of Recovering Forgotten Memories

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    A year ago, Executive Director and CEO Linda Matlock told me that Toberman was planning a reunion of sorts.

    It’s happening on Oct. 24. The event is intended to be both a fundraiser and an opportunity to celebrate the children who have matriculated through Toberman since the 1930s.

    Matlock described the event back then as a legacy event. She organized a staff to search the archives for children who matriculated through Toberman since its relocation to San Pedro in 1937. (more…)

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  • The Coming Full Circle of a ‘90s Musical Protégé

    I’ve been told that San Pedro has been a place where the famous or the infamous — from artists to war criminals — come to lay low. I always assumed it was a tongue-in-cheek assessment. Then last summer, I met Rion Michael.

    At first he was simply our office’s new next-door neighbor. I usually saw Michael in the afternoon, when I was leaving for lunch and he was sitting on his porch braiding his hair. We always exchanged salutations. Eventually, Michael asked if I worked at the newspaper on the corner.


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  • U.S. Reaches Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: RL NEWS BRIEFS, 10/7/2015

    U.S. Reaches Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

    On Oct. 5, The White House announced the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement— an agreement 10 years in the making. Described by the White House as a new an improved NAFTA, only it includes several more countries in the Pacific Rim and great deal more labor and environmental protections, this agreement will intensify the nation’s gaze towards the East and serving as check on China’s growing power in the region.

    The agreement, which includes Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Japan, eliminated tens of thousands of tariffs on American made products and open more of Asia’s markets to American agricultural products.

    The White House in their released fact sheet said the agreement is “the largest expansion of fully-enforceable labor rights in history.”

    According to the White House, the TPP will result in “the largest expansion of fully-enforceable labor rights in history” by renegotiating NAFTA and including the freedom to form unions and bargain collectively. They claim that the agreement will prohibit child labor and forced labor and set requirements for acceptable work conditions such as minimum wage, hours of work, and safe workplace conditions.

    They also said that the TPP will have “the highest environmental standards of any trade agreement in history…” by upgrading NAFTA standards by “putting environmental concerns at the core of the agreement and making those obligations fully enforceable,” by cracking down on ozone depletion and improving energy efficiency. Among their projected goals is to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, logging, hunting and fishing.

    The TPP will include new rules for internet commerce, claiming lower costs, less spam and cybercrime. The agreement bans “forced localization” which had required U.S. businesses to place their data, servers, research facilities and other necessities in other countries in order to access those markets.

    Also, the TPP will discipline state-owned companies in other countries, which are often given preferential treatment, to ensure that they compete on a commercial basis and that the advantages they receive do not have an adverse impact on American workers and businesses.


    Construction Alert: Month-Long Nightly Lane Restrictions on Wilmington Ave. & 223rd St.

    Starting Oct. 8, contractors are scheduled to have nightly lane restrictions surrounding Wilmington Ave. and 223rd St. intersection, due to construction. The construction will take place week nights starting Oct. 8 and is anticipated to finish at the end of the month (tentatively Oct. 31). Traffic signals will be on flashing mode during the more severe lane restrictions. This way, traffic will continue through the intersection as well as make left or right turns without the need of detouring traffic.

    During construction businesses and local resident access will be maintained at all times. The public can expect noise and vibrations from back-up alarms, work crews and other construction related equipment and activities. Flaggers will be on site when necessary to allow access to traffic. Water trucks will be used to minimize dust. Construction activity schedules and closures are subject to change.


    Governor Signs Plan to Reduce Recidivism of Mentally Ill Offenders into Law

    On Oct. 3, Gov. Brown signed bill Senate Bill 621, which aims to reduce recidivism by providing diversion programs to non-violent mentally ill offenders.

    The bill clarifies how the money in the state’s mentally ill offender crime reduction grant is spent, allowing it to be used by counties to use on said diversion programs.

    “Too many people with mental health needs are taken to jail as a first option,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, who sponsored the bill. “This bill will help make clear that counties can apply for special grants to pay for diversion programs for the mentally ill. This will save tax dollars and help those in need become more self-sufficient and stay out of jail.”

    The bill did not receive a single no vote in the legislature.

    Every year, more than two million adults with serious mental illnesses are sent to jail. They are more prone to have longer stays in jail, and are three times more expensive to incarcerate and are at a higher risk of being incarcerated again than those without mental illnesses.


    Governor Signs Law To Encourage Public-Interest Legal Practice

    Gov. Brown signed into law a plan that will use unclaimed funds in lawyer trust accounts to encourage lawyers to pursue jobs in the public sector, allowing low-income Californians to have greater access to equal justice.

    Senate Bill 134 will fund the Public Interest Attorney Loan Repayment Program, which uses unclaimed funds that have been transferred to the state general fund after being held for three years. It encourages newly graduated lawyers with student debt to pursue work in the public interest, as the pay is often lower than in private practice.

    Lawmakers of both parties have described the new law as an innovative revenue source. A similar program in Oregon has collected more than $500,000 since 2010.

    “Every year, thousands of young lawyers graduate from law school with a desire to launch their careers performing public service,” said Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, who authored the bill. “Faced with skyrocketing education costs, however, more and more of our finest legal minds are opting to instead go straight into private practice.”

    The repayment program was created years ago to help repay the student loans of attorneys who agreed to practice in certain public-interest areas, but the program had gone unfunded. The Student Aid Commission will administer the program by establishing eligibility and selecting participants eligible up to $11,000 for four years of service.

    “Too often we grant rights without providing the tools to make those rights real. Here is a creative way to ensure those rights,” Hertzberg said.


    POLA and POLB to Update Clean Air Action Plan

    Environmental teams from both the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach will hold a joint community workshop open to the public on Oct. 14 to gather input on the next update of the Clean Air Action Plan, also known as CAAP.

    The workshop will be held from 3-5 p.m. at Banning’s Landing Community Center in Wilmington. The workshop will include a presentation outlining the scope and timeline of the update, as well as an interactive dialogue with attendees. The plan is considered by the port a “living document” and has since been receiving input from their stakeholders.

    The CAAP, adopted in 2006 and has since been updated in 2010, has reduced air pollution from ships, trains, trucks, terminal equipment and harbor craft that operate in and around the ports.

    Since adoption, levels of diesel particulate have dropped 82 percent, oxides of nitrogen have dropped 54 percent and oxides of sulfur have declined 90 percent.


    California Passes Law Which Protects Elephants, Rhinos

    On Oct. 4, Gov. Brown signed Assembly Bill 96 into law, banning all trade of elephant ivory and rhino horn in the state.

    California joins two other states, New York and New Jersey, in passing a statewide ban on ivory and rhino horn. New York and California respectively hold the first and second highest amounts of trade in ivory.

    “Californians have fired a warning shot across the bow of all those who knowingly sell, buy or traffic in illicit ivory and rhino horn in the state,” said David Thomson, who is a chairman from the African  Wildlife Foundation. “The protection of elephants, rhinos and other wildlife cannot and should not be the sole domain of field-based conservationists and rangers… we need our courageous leaders in Washington, and Beijing, in Dar es Salaam, as well as Sacramento, to take ownership of this issue and give rangers and conservationists much needed support.”

    According to the African Wildlife Foundation, as many as 35,000 African elephants and 1,215 rhinos were illegally killed each year due to a growing demand in countries such as China, Thailand, and the United States for use in statues, art, and jewelry.

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  • TE San Pedro Rep Illuminates Joan Of Arc

    By Stephanie Serna, RLn Contributing Writer

    As I arrived at the entrance to Theatrum Elysium San Pedro Repertory, where I was finally about to experience for myself the “powerfully moving” production of Joan of Arc, I suddenly had a doubt.

    “Is this the theater?” I inquired as I stood in a back alley watching two young men set up a snack table inside a concrete courtyard surrounded by a locked wrought-iron gate. A small dog appeared and ran to greet me through a slat in the gate . (more…)

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  • President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Pope Francis to their family pets Bo and Sunny in the Blue Room following the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Pope Francis Visits America

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Pope Francis to their family pets Bo and Sunny in the Blue Room following the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Sept. 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…. whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

    Matthew 25:35-40


    “Is the Pope Catholic?” Newsweek asked in its cover story headline. “Of course he is,” they answered in the much smaller subhead. “You just wouldn’t know it from his press clips.” But that says more about the national press than it does about Pope Francis.

    Yet if the world is flooded with too-facile stories, images, explanations and descriptions, Francis is eager to engage it at all levels and remain seemingly unperturbed by how readily he is misunderstood or misrepresented.

    On his flight from Cuba to Washington, when reporters asked about the Newsweek headline and “about comments, mainly from the United States, claiming the pope is a communist,” as the Catholic News Service put it, Francis replied, “I am certain I have never said anything more than what is in the social doctrine of the church,” adding, “I follow the church and in this, I do not think I am wrong.”

    Broadly this is true, though an analysis from Religion News Service did identify two areas in which Francis has advanced church teaching—but not taken a new direction: calling for “global abolition of the death penalty,” and affirming a “right of the environment.”

    Providing context, the website of the U.S. Conference of Bishops describes “Seven Themes of Catholic Social Teaching.”

    While several of these have been focused upon narrowly and selectively and construed rigidly in recent decades—most notably, “Life and Dignity of the Human Person,” and the “Call to Family, Community, and Participation”—others have de-emphasized, if not largely neglected, especially in the public sphere: the “Option for the Poor and Vulnerable,” “The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers,” “Solidarity” and “Care for God’s Creation.”

    While an increasingly politicized church hierarchy has contributed to a much narrower view, particularly here in America, the vast majority of what Francis has said and done is simply a matter of restoring a more balanced emphasis.

    The church has always advocated for immigrants, for example, and Francis did so again at the White House on Sept. 23, but not in partisan terms. “As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families,” he said.

    He spoke similarly to Congress the following day. “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners,” Francis said. “I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants.”

    What’s really set Pope Francis apart is not doctrine, but his pastoral emphasis, reaching out to engage in a spirit of service, which has been so strongly echoed in the enthusiastic welcome he has received—both in the world at large, and here in America with this trip. There also is the fact that he’s the first pope from the global south, where the majority live much like the earliest Christians, when Christianity was the religion of the Roman Empire’s underclass.

    Perhaps his first act alerting the world to these aspects of his papacy came just two weeks after it began, when he washed and kissed the feet of a dozen inmates in a Holy Thursday ritual at a juvenile detention center, including Orthodox and Muslim detainees, as well as two young women, “a remarkable choice given that the rite re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his male disciples,” as the Associate Press commented. Popes normally perform the ritual at St. John Lateran basilica, washing the feet of 12 priests, representing the 12 disciples. AP added:

    [T]he Vatican released a limited video of the ritual, showing Francis washing black feet, white feet, male feet, female feet and even a foot with tattoos. Kneeling on the stone floor as the 12 youngsters sat above him, the 76-year-old Francis poured water from a silver chalice over each foot, dried it with a simple cotton towel and then bent over to kiss each one.


    Still, it was a pastoral act, not a signal of changing doctrine. Like the rest of the Catholic hierarchy, Francis has insisted that the subject of women priests is off the table, and his unquestioned orthodoxy on the subject illuminates the real limits and extent of his fresh thinking.

    The vast majority of the pope’s trip to America reflected his pastoral orientation. His visit to the overcrowded Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, in particular, underscored his attention to ministering to “the least of these,” while the large public masses embraced the whole body of the church. He began his speech to the inmates by telling them:

    I know it is a painful time, not only for you, but also for your families and for all of society. Any society, any family, which cannot share or take seriously the pain of its children, and views that pain as something normal or to be expected, is a society ‘condemned’ to remain a hostage to itself, prey to the very things which cause that pain. I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own.

    Francis further stressed the importance of rehabilitation programs:

    It is painful when we see prison systems which are not concerned to care for wounds, to soothe pain, to offer new possibilities. It is painful when we see people who think that only others need to be cleansed, purified, and do not recognize that their weariness, pain and wounds are also the weariness, pain and wounds of society.


    Francis also spoke out to warn against the kinds of mistaken thinking which lead supposedly more elevated people astray.

    “We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism,” Francis said in his speech to Congress. “This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.” He went to add:

    There is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps.

    When Francis turned to talk about the environment, as many on the religious right feared he would, he significantly undercut their hysteria over his supposed “Marxism.”

    “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good,” Francis said, quoting from his encyclical, Laudato Si. “This common good also includes the earth,” he continued, “a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to ‘enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.’”

    He went on to say, “I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States—and this Congress—have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a ‘culture of care’ and ‘an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.’”

    In that speech to Congress, Francis employed the uplifting framework of citing four great Americans who “shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people”— Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. Day, the radical founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, is a particularly complex and compelling individual for Francis to cite. His orthodoxy in refusing to reconsider women priests stands in stark contrast to the long history of female saints, a history that Francis implicitly seemed to invoke.

    “Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints,” Francis said. Day is now in the process of becoming a saint herself, with the unanimous support of American bishops—in sharp contrast to how she was perceived during her lifetime, and despite the fact Day famously said, “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed that easily.”

    After that canonization vote, Larry Purcell, executive director of the Redwood City Catholic Worker House, told Catholic San Francisco, “I am concerned that the canonization process will sanitize her life and will not emphasize how categorically she opposed the empire of the United States and how the empire is expanded and maintained with massive military might,”

    Francis shares much in common with Day, including at least some measure of her pacifist orientation. “Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world,” he told Congress.

    Unfortunately, the majority in Congress seem ill-prepared to listen, despite his tireless efforts to engage with everyone. They seem to have need of Francis, even more than the inmates of Curran-Fromhold.




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  • Homelessness State of Emergency Gets Optimistic Response

    By Kevin Walker, Contributing Reporter

    Los Angeles leaders recently declared a homeless state of emergency, pledging $100 million in aid toward housing assistance, shelters and other services.

    The number of homeless people living in LA rose by 12 percent between 2013 and 2015 and now stands at more than 25,000.

    The majority of these, about 17,000 people, are classified as “unsheltered” by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. These people live outside on city streets or in cars and recreational vehicles due to a shortage of shelter space.

    The increasing size and visibility of the city’s homeless encampments have been a wake up call to neighborhoods that have traditionally seen the issue as a problem for Skid Row. San Pedro, which sits on the southern end of the 110 Freeway next to the Port of Los Angeles, is one of these neighborhoods.

    Since 2013, the number of homeless living in the Harbor Area, which is comprised of San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City and Harbor Gateway, has risen to about 1,500 people—a 25 percent increase since 2013. Between 300 and 400 of these people live specifically in San Pedro.

    “The key word is ‘noticeable,’” said George Palaziol. “There’s been an increase in the visibility. We had the homeless here [before], they just weren’t visible; they would go and hide.”

    Palaziol, who is part of a new San Pedro Homelessness Task Force formed by Councilman Joe Buscaino, says the sharp rise in his neighborhood’s homeless population is due in large part to the clean-up of nearby Ken Malloy Harbor Park.

    “Once they cleared them out [of the park], where do these people have to go?” he said. “San Pedro seems to take the brunt of it because we have all the services.”

    Palaziol welcomes the city’s state of emergency declaration.

    “I think it’s about time,” he said. “This money is going to be a huge help.”

    But where exactly should that money go? Palaziol says he wants funds directed toward existing service providers in San Pedro, but resists the idea of building more shelters in the neighborhood.

    “I would definitely like to see that money go towards building something near San Pedro, not necessarily in San Pedro,” he said. “Another place would be like opening the welcome mat to more homeless people.”

    His position is at odds with homeless advocates like Nora Hilda, founder of the group Helping the Homeless in Need San Pedro, who expects to see new facilities built in the neighborhood.

    “There will be one [shelter] in San Pedro,” Hilda said. “It’s just a matter of finding the right property and moving everyone on to it.”

    She says that sheltering the homeless in unfamiliar neighborhoods is often so isolating that they will return to living on the street in areas where they feel at home.

    While no official plans for new homeless shelters or facilities have been announced for San Pedro, Hilda’s comments are in line with recent statements made by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. During a recent appearance on the KPCC radio show Airtalk, Garcetti stated his support for a decentralized approach to helping the homeless.

    “People want to stay in the communities where they are, even if they’re homeless,” said Garcetti. “We need to give them the services where they are.”

    Garcetti called for an additional $100 million every year towards the building of permanent supportive housing, a service that some homeless advocates say is essential to getting people off the street in the long term.

    Karen Ceaser, a longtime homelessness advocate in San Pedro and a former caseworker at the Union Rescue Mission in Skid Row, says that permanent supportive housing along with a “Housing First” strategy is the city’s best bet if it intends to get a return on its investment.

    “Provide housing, then you provide services—right on site,” she said. “It’s way cheaper to do that then have them [the homeless] call emergency services.”

    The strategy is being credited for a 15 percent drop in San Jose’s homeless population and a 72 percent decrease in the state of Utah.

    James Preston Allen, president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, expressed support for the emergency declaration, but advised City Hall to listen to its neighborhoods.

    In a draft letter to the mayor and city council, he urged them to use “the advice and energies of the seven neighborhood councils who have formed homeless committees” and to “fully consider the consequences of under-funding such an initiative.”

    Where exactly Los Angeles will get the $100 million is still unknown, as is how the money will be used. To homeless advocates like Ceaser and Hilda, however, the declaration is a sign that City Hall is finally dealing with the reality of homelessness in Los Angeles.

    “You can’t escape it; it’s everywhere,” Ceaser said. “It’s long overdue.”


    Kevin Walker is a staff reporter for Neontommy.com at USC’s Annenberg Media Center


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  • It’s Time to End the Homeless Crisis

    Garcetti, Buscaino, Pope Francis and the Moral Imperative

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this editorial or the pages of this newspaper should be taken as the official position of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council — to which I was elected President in 2014 — nor does it reflect the opinions of any of its board members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

    Mayor Eric Garcetti recently stood on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall flanked by seven city councilmen to announce a plan to spend $100 million addressing homelessness as a “state of emergency.”

    Significantly missing from this line up was Councilman Joe Buscaino of Council District 15, who after hosting his own forum on homelessness just weeks before on Sept. 3, announced the creation of his new “San Pedro Community Homelessness Taskforce.” The forum was a reaction to a very small motion on a Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council agenda that called for “supporting tiny homes” and calling for its own forum on homelessness. Buscaino’s meeting trumped the neighborhood council’s forum date by just 10 days.

    Even though the homeless issue is a citywide—even county and nationwide—crisis, Buscaino focuses only on one part of his district: San Pedro, which has only some 376 persons without shelter, even though there are 1,544 in the entire district. This very narrow focus on the “unintended consequences of the simple act of offering food to the homeless, which may enable an individual to continue a negative spiral of substance abuse and illegal behavior,” shows a deep lack of understanding of both the causes and the cures, even ignoring Garcetti’s call for treating this as a “state of emergency.”

    The problem with Buscaino’s approach of outlawing the practice of giving food to the homeless, unless “additional services” are provided, is that it doesn’t address the districtwide problem of providing immediate shelter. The other problem with his approach is that his new panel is made up of political supporters with no background on the issue with exception of Shari Weaver of Harbor Interfaith Shelter.

    Like his White Point Landslide taskforce, these select few are not obligated to hold public meetings or to make their proceedings transparent to the public. Moreover, their charge does not include critiquing the city’s existing policy on homelessness. That means it’s unlikely there will be any questioning of the rationale or logic of the law enforcement policy of evicting homeless encampments.

    This last issue of forced evictions, you may recall, is the very crux of why we have so many homeless people visibly encamped in the public domain.

    Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., the Bishop of Rome, Pope Francis, made a historic appearance before the U.S. Congress and reminded our national leaders of something most of us learned as young children: The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matthew 7:12).

    This rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.

    With these few sage words, Pope Francis reminds us all of the moral imperative of caring for our less-fortunate neighbors without shelter.

    It’s advice that good Catholics like Councilman Joe Buscaino and others in our community might heed in relation to Francis’ call, “To enable these real men and women to escape from extreme poverty, we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”

    These are powerful words that just might guide both the San Pedro Taskforce on Homelessness and the Los Angeles City Council to act swiftly and humanely.

    While I do not share Pope Francis’ religion, I do applaud his faith in humanity and his courage to speak that truth in the halls of power and privilege.

    Yet even Garcetti knows the complexity of solving the homeless issue, as he told the Congress of Neighborhood Councils at its Sept. 26 conference “there is no one fix to solving this problem.” However, he does express his belief in the moral imperative to act, promising $100 million in the coming year as a down payment.

    What I find unacceptable is that in this country, which is the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world, has the capacity to put a man on the moon in a decade, is the leader in technological innovation and agriculture, doesn’t have the money, talent or ideas to solve this most basic human condition.

    We lack the political will to do what is morally, legally and now spiritually the right thing to do. What we do have is a bunch of people who want to blame the victim and argue about the nature of the problem. We have a councilman who believes the problem is a law enforcement issue rather than a state of emergency that needs and demands swift and decisive action.


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  • Chef Sam Choy. Photo courtesy of Cabrillo Marine Aqurium

    2nd Annual Sustainable Seafood Expo in San Pedro:

    Savvy Choices for Seafood Lovers

    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    Organic, sustainable and locally grown, are concepts that often come up when it comes to sourcing and procuring food.

    This growing awareness has raised consumers’ expectations of food purveyors and their ethical responsibilities. However, most of these conversations tend to refer to vegetables or meat. Rarely do I hear anything about the sustainability of seafood.

    But that’s going to change Oct 11, when the second annual Seafood Sustainability Expo comes to San Pedro from noon to 5 p.m. at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles. The event features a variety of information booths, cooking demonstrations, seafood sampling and plenty of wine and craft beer, all of it intended to both educate and stimulate.

    The Sustainable Seafood Expo is Southern California’s only major sustainable seafood event. It’s hosted by the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and its supporting organization in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, founder of SeafoodWatch.org, which helps consumers choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that have less impact on the environment.

    It’s particularly appropriate to hold the Sustainable Seafood Expo in San Pedro, where fishing has been crucial to the local community and its culture for so long. The Expo will give people the opportunity to sample new seafood options, sustainable wines and craft beers while providing practical information about purchasing seafood, whether in a market or a restaurant. Experts and volunteers from the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium will be on hand to explain fisheries, habitats and other factors that affect ocean ecosystems.

    The event is designed to be informal, yet informative, so people can enjoy seafood and learn about fish farming and harvesting without a long lecture. Seafood sustainability varies from ocean to ocean and even by different seasons and countries. All things should be considered when making seafood choices, and consumers have a vast amount of options available to them.

    Much like last year, a centerpiece of the event will be a range of amazing cooking demonstrations, several of which will be conducted by such executive chefs as Christine Brown, the former owner of Restaurant Christine in Torrance, Bernard Ibarra of Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and Pete Lehar of Gladstone’s in Long Beach. Additionally, Hawaiian celebrity Chef Sam Choy, who founded the Poke Festival and Recipe Contest in 1991, will be there to dazzle onlookers.

    The Expo will be followed by a new event, the Sustainable Seafood Dinner, a farm-to-table dining experience featuring locally sourced seafood and seasonal fare prepared by Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy, who has set himself apart from most Southern California caterers by using sustainable, organic ingredients. Seats are limited and dinner tickets are $150 which includes entry to the expo.

    Expo tickets are $30 in advance or $40 at the door. Discounts are available for Friends of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Members.

    Details:(310) 548-7562; www.sustainableseafoodexpo.org

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

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  • Red Car Takes Final Ride

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Chicano Moratorium Turns 45:

    The Struggle Continues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    A Bit of History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    National Chicano Moratorium Casualties

    Ruben Salazar

    Ruben Salazar. File photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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









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

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

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

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



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