• Iconic Mug Shots

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    Icons: we all make use of them in some form or another. Be they in the form of singers, actors, politicians or cartoon characters, we identify with them. We aspire to be them and we worship them.

    We think we know who they are — at least until something jars our perspective.

    Iconic Mug Shots, the new group show by Ray Vasquez, which features seven other artists, does exactly that. It paints some of the most instantly recognizable stars of pop culture in the most instantly recognizable pose of the police booking photo: the mug shot. The works explore how the images of these fantastic gods are impacted when placed within the circle our own vulnerable human reality.

    As I walk into the Azul gallery with Vasquez and his wife Cora, the stars are definitely out. The walls are covered with a veritable pop icon constellation: Adam Levine, Keith Haring, Sophia Loren, and even Bugs Bunny and Mr. Potato Head. They are all painted as though they were caught at the moment the police cameras flashed across their faces.

    So I asked, “Why?”

    “Well,” said Vasquez, “We all have a day job and don’t want to be caught in these kinds of situations, so I think we fantasized

    . “If you look up icon in the dictionary you will find references and images of more saint-like figures like Jesus Christ. You look up to those figures, but you also look up to these icons, their celebrity, which they each achieved for specific reasons, like musicians or actors or even politicians. And when you see them in a mug shot it’s like, ‘Wow, you guys are also kind of human in a way if you can be in a situation like that.’”

    Then I asked them how they came up with these ideas.

    “Well, a couple of years ago we did an icon show,” Vasquez said. “We did the 60s and 70s, just iconic figures. And we were in Long Beach at Warehouse 1333 and it was real successful, and this time we were thinking, ‘Let’s do something really similar.’ We like to do a lot of galleries, you know, like theme shows. We did Day of The Dead, we did a women’s show and we just thought ‘Ah, let’s repeat the show and see if we can further it.’ So as we were talking about celebrities and icons we thought of mug shots. It was just a conversation Cora and I had. Again, just the alter ego on the inside of us and looking into the people we look up to.”

    “We try not to go back on the original [pure] icon or figure like Christ or Nelson Mandela. [Many of] these figures went to prison for years… They didn’t have mug shots of course. I mean, I’m not saying the Dalai Lama had a mug shot but still, he was chastised.”

    “Well, we’re always trying to think of new themes and concepts that will stir up thought about things we’re talking about. The Iconic Mug Shots show that these famous people can get in trouble too,” Cora added. “I mean, with all the arrests going on it applies to everybody. Pointing to a mug shot of Charlie Chaplin, she said “He was blacklisted [as a suspected communist during post-World War II political hysteria]. He couldn’t come back to the U.S. so he had to go to Europe and if he came back he would be arrested. This guy was famous and known and beloved but still he was wanted.”

    Ray also wanted to make it very clear that the intent was not to make fun of these icons. “We’re not trying to make fun of other people’s misfortunes” he said, “We’re not trying to make fun of them.”

    Iconic Mug Shots is being shown through Oct. 25 at the Gallery Azul, 520 W. 8th St. in San Pedro

    Details: www.galleryazul.com




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  • Deedub, KLB Shape their Fate

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Artist and entrepreneur, Deedub, is intent on spreading joy through his ventures to all who will listen. He and his wife, KLB, blend reggae, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and rock into what they call “Earth music.”

    “There are no borders or limits to the genres I will choose from as far as inspiration and to take samples and ideas from with my music,” Deedub said. “I feel like the Earth music label is better than anything for our music.”

    But it’s not just music. Deedub and KLB have their own record label and a line of clothing called Deedub Records Apparel. They bring their sound to community service, most recently appearing at the 2015 Special Olympics. But it is their sound, 100 percent, start to finish.

    Deedub says he has collaborated with the likes of Young Guru (producer for Jay Z) and Khaliq-O-Vision (producer for Michael Jackson) in the past, but he works solo now.

    “I feel like it’s time for me to take the reins and bring the sound that I hear in my head and feel in my heart,” he said, noting that experience has made him better able to express his feelings through the music and production process.

    Deedub says he developed his performance skills during seven years of club gigging, mostly in Los Angeles, but also at the Original Blue Café in Long Beach.

    “I credit them as my training ground and the people who gave me my first opportunities to do shows where they weren’t just some promoter trying to rip you off,” Deedub said. “They actually gave me some respect and gave me a time slot. I really appreciated that. Then we started doing more shows in Hollywood at the Whiskey and the Viper Room.”

    KLB’s role in the music-making has grown larger over time. Previously, she only sang on Deedub’s tracks, but these days she describes their music as more of a partnership. The couple sees the Deedub Records Apparel line as an extension of their sound. The men’s line is on their website and their women’s line debuted at Orange County Fashion Week, Sept. 19.

    “We are unveiling our streetwear, casual items,” Deedub said. “It’s inspired by skateboarding and surf styles — SoCal Style — just the same as our music. Our goal is to make classic pieces and fits.”

    “Including Polo shirts and a little tie-dye,” KLB adds. “We add positive sayings on the tags just to give people a boost and get our message across.

    “Little reminders to people to enjoy life and sing the song of the soul,” Deedub interjects.

    The musical couple spread positivity by donating a portion of their apparel line proceeds to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. Sweet Relief helps musicians who develop disabilities or have hardships in their lives.

    “It’s helps musicians who have [a] need for it,” KLB explained. “Musicians who may have had major accidents that affect their ability to make a living.”

    The couple found their way to a performance at the Special Olympics through Reverb Nation’s call for artists’ submissions.

    “I’ve performed at so many bars and nightclubs, and that’s all fine,” Deedub said. “A lot of times the other acts I’ve performed with in the past were kind of the opposite of what my music is about. It doesn’t really jive well for me to perform in those venues so much. Now I’m seeking places that are more like festivals where people are getting together to have good vibes and the enjoyment of life is the goal.”

    “Also it’s where we can inspire people,” KLB added. “I think the Special Olympics was great for that because all the athletes are an inspiration to everybody and it just fit perfectly.

    For KLB the best part of the Special Olympics was performing on stage when a special needs child came up.

    “He was dancing along, following our movements and singing along,” KLB said. “After I would sing my part he would also sing it. It boosted our energy on stage. This is why we’re doing this. It was awesome.”

    “We were performing Liberation, Deedub said. “That was the most special thing and why I do the music, for the message and to connect with people.”

    The pair is working on another album while reaching out to festival promoters to perform and spread their message. That message?

    “Spread love,” KLB said.

    “We want to see people take their power in their own hands,” Deedub said. “Our music is very motivational and empowering. You have a destiny but you also have fate, which you can change yourself. Your decisions and actions really matter and they add up.”

    “It’s pretty deep,” Deedub continued. “I know all the work I’m doing is for a reason that’s probably beyond my understanding. My destiny is to do the music, so I do it happily.”

    Details: deedubrecords.com/deedub_home_page.html

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  • Local Specter Expected at Scary Stories 13

    By Ivan Adame, Contributor

    Scary Stories, which has entertained audiences of all ages with terrifying tales for so long it’s become a local Halloween tradition, returns on Oct. 29 for its spooky-sounding 13th year.

    As if the event won’t be nerve-wracking enough, its producers are anticipating an amorphous green specter, which in recent years has tended to be captured in photographs, to be among the attendees at Angels Gate Cultural Center.

    This Halloween’s 90-minute fright fest will feature locals Melanie Jones, Heather Handwerk, John Charles Meyer and Cathy Scott Skubik in a sort of “greatest hits” performance, reading favorites from the past 12 years. Stories by the likes of Saki, Thomas M. Disch, Mary Howitt and others will be told around a campfire, complete with sound effects.

    In its earliest incarnations, Scary Stories took place at the fire pit where the Iron Circle Nation frequents the annual Many Winters Gathering of Elders event. After seven years, it was relocated to the gun emplacement. That’s when an apparition — photographic or spectral — began to mysteriously appear in photographs by speaker and photographer Handwerk.

    “Some people think it’s a camera glitch, but Heather and I believe that we have a Scary Stories fan from the other side — or the in-between,” said Jones, the director of Scary Stories, during a promotional video on YouTube. “She is getting more and more at home with us. There is a definite communion going on, and we welcome her — or him — or them.”

    Jones says factors like the military presence during both World Wars and the Cold War have made the grounds of Angel’s Gate “founded on fear.” She finds that highly fitting. She’s looking forward to seeing the green specter, too.

    “I’d like to think this green being is rejoicing in the fire and dancing our fear away and trusts us and approves that an old gun emplacement is used for listening and snuggling up and creating community,” Jones said. “I hope she will be back.”

    Scary Stories 13 will take place on. Oct. 29 at Angels Gate Cultural Center, at 3601 S. Gaffey St. Admission is $5. Children six and younger are admitted free. Be sure to bring your own seating and dress warmly.


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  • Staff Abuse Censure Hearing Set for Oct. 20

    Carson City Clerk Jim Dear Gets to Tell His Side of the Story on Staff Abuse

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor 

    Politics in Carson has always been a messy business. The March 2015 elections, in which former Mayor Jim Dear was elected to the city clerks office and the upcoming Oct. 20 censure hearings, which delves into his conduct among city staff, gives credence to that reputation.

    The most recent turn of events follows Carson City Council’s unusual step to waive client-attorney privilege. The council announced at the Sept. 15 meeting, that the clerk’s office was investigated by an independent outside firm. The investigation is in response to complaints by city staff to the city manager’s office in August. The council voted to pay the firm $50,000 at that council meeting.

    At the time, Carson Mayor Albert Robles noted that the city was exposed to significant legal liability if staff members elected to sue and the courts found that Dear created a hostile work environment.

    Dear’s supporters, including his lawyer, Bradley Hertz, questioned the timing, adding that such personnel matters, if of genuine concern, are routinely handled in closed session. He charged that publicly airing them amounted to character assassination.

    Initially, only a summary of the report was read into the record by lawyer Maria Aarvig. A week later, the city posted a redacted version of the report on the city website blacking out the names of the people interviewed. Meanwhile, a group allied with Dear called, the Carson Alliance 4 Truth, posted the unredacted version on its website and Facebook on the week of Oct. 5.

    The 52-page report addressed staff complaints about Dear’s behavior. This allegedly caused them to take steps to secure work stations and plan escape routes in the event that Dear became violent. In addition, the report delved into complaints of Dear making racially derogatory remarks and allegedly meddling in personnel matters.

    The interviews, along with the original staff complainants, paint a picture of a work environment fraught with tension. Dear was elected clerk in March; Albert Robles was selected as mayor in April; and a recall election was launched against Dear in June.

    Quick takeaways from the document:

    The staffers interviewed came primarily from the city clerk’s and city manager’s offices, including former city manager Nelson Hernandez and current assistant city manager Cecil Rhambo.

    Two members of the clerk’s office provide perhaps the most detailed account of what was alledgedly happening behind the scenes while Dear was conducting the June 2015 special election and his reaction when recall papers were filed against him later that month.

    Dear relied on temporary help to the exclusion of available full-time staff members in his office. Two of these temps, Joseph Pion and Joy Simarago, spoke in Dear’s defense during the Sept. 17 special council meeting, saying they never heard him say anything racist.

    Though Dear pushed to make them full-time staff in the clerk’s office, the city manager’s office apparently let them go.

    All interviewees gave examples of Dear’s alleged propensity to take the same liberties that he did as mayor, including accessing, unimpeded, every part of city hall, whether he had business there or not. He was allegedly directing staff from other departments according to his priorities and he allegedly forced his will on personnel decisions such as pressuring the city manager’s office to hire or terminate staff members regardless of merit—a power he did not have even as mayor.

    The latter involves the hiring and retention of a former staff member alleged to be romantically linked with Dear. She was allegedly hired as a result of pressure from Dear, despite lack of clarity that she was legally able to work in the United States.

    The city council discussed and approved modified versions of Aarvig’s recommendations that could be immediately implemented to help make staff feel safer in their work environment. These included a review of existing anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, adoption of a non-retaliation policy and anti-nepotism policies and adoption of a resolution urging the city clerk to seek professional psychiatric help.

    City Manager Ken Farfsing moved the city clerk’s office staff to another wing of city hall as part of his effort to provide immediate relief for affected staff members.

    By the end of the night, the council had restricted Dear’s access to Carson City Hall’s common areas, the clerk’s office and the vault in the basement.

    Dear has since said he is considering charging the council with violating California’s penal code, which forbids anyone from delaying or obstructing any public official in the discharge of any public duty.

    Dear said he’s making the charge because the council has stripped him of his staff, put them in an entirely separate office and told him to come to City Hall only on business.

    “That’s the only reason I come to City Hall anyway,” he argues. “They cannot ban me from City Hall. I’m an elected official.”

    Dear attempted to have three of his friends serve as volunteer replacements for the staff that was moved from his office, despite orders from City Manager Ken Farfsing to stop. City officials succeeded in obtaining restraining orders against the volunteers.

    Just a day prior, a judge denied the city’s bid for a restraining order against Dear. The judge ruled that the city did not present sufficient evidence to warrant such a step. Another hearing on the ma

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  • China Shipping NOP, POLA’s Failed Mitigations

    Draft Supplemental EIR Admits to Lack of Compliance with Legal Settlement

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The Port of Los Angeles likes to call itself “America’s premier port” and claims it is strongly committed to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations. It likes to call itself the model of “green port technology” even as it facilitates some $290 billion in trade per year as of 2014. Clearly, POLA and the Port of Long Beach are the largest most productive ports in the nation. Together they are also the single highest producing source of air pollution in the entire Los Angeles basin.

    What is little remembered is the lawsuit filed by attorneys Gail Ruderman Feuer (the wife of the current Los Angeles City Attorney) and Julie Masters of the Natural Resources District Council on behalf of several Harbor Area activists against the port’s China Shipping environmental impact report 13 years ago—a lawsuit that resulted in a $65 million settlement.

    Documented in the Amended Settlement Judgment section of the decision is a long list of environmental, cultural and aesthetic mitigations to be accomplished and reported on by both POLA and China Shipping. They have failed to do so since 2011.

    The California Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the NRDC’s favor in this case, finding that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, in failing to address “any site-specific environmental issues related to the China Shipping project.”

    As part of its decision, the court stayed a number of China Shipping terminal improvements including: the last 200 feet of the first wharf, erection and operation of four 16-story cranes, operation of the first wharf and construction of the later phases of the project, until the port and city prepare an environmental review of the project’s impacts in full compliance with CEQA.

    Compliance with this judgment was to be reported at least annually in the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRPs).

    The port says that it has made great strides in meeting its clean air goals and standards, yet after this newspaper filed a California Public Records Act in September of this year, it was revealed that the port has failed to produce any MMRPs dated more recently than April 2011. So it may be impossible for them to verify these cleaner air standards.

    Curiously, this curtailment of the MMRPs is around the time that the port under the leadership of Geraldine Knatz disbanded the Port Community Advisory Committee, which after the China Shipping settlement was used to oversee and inform the public as to the progress of port mitigation on this and other terminal operations.

    Without the pressure of public oversight, the port obviously failed to perform its mandatory reporting. The port continues to deny the relevance of or need for any public oversight and has preferred to hold closed door meetings with neighborhood council presidents, local chamber of commerce directors and their plus-one guests. That plan has clearly backfired on them. A port community advisory board would have clearly caught their non-compliance much earlier and brought it to the attention of the Harbor Commission.

    It has also been revealed that the port failed to include the court-ordered mitigation and reporting requirements during their latest lease renegotiations with the China Shipping Co. over berth 97-109. Now in the current Notice of Preparation in the Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (SEIR) the port is claiming that these mitigation and reporting requirements are “infeasible”.

    The port is clearly at fault here and now it is attempting to backtrack and cover up the evidence of its non-compliance. Why these mitigations weren’t written into a long-term lease in the beginning is anyone’s guess at this point. Ever since the port responded to my public records request and issued a Notice of Preparation, the port has instituted a gag order preventing staff or anyone else at the port from speaking to the press.

    Part of the problem is that the port self- certifies its own environmental impact reports. This has historically been a problem here, since their reports are rarely subject to critical review. And in the absence of the PCAC, there’s scant public oversight on compliance.

    Even worse is that the port has only given the public 12 days between the Oct. 7 public scoping meeting and its arbitrary Oct. 19 deadline to respond to the SEIR. This is hardly enough time for the neighborhood councils, public agencies or the NRDC to respond. Clearly that deadline needs to be extended by 120 days.

    The current rework of the SEIR that should concern everyone is that the port is backing off a list of critical environmental goals that include: greenhouse emissions, air quality, transportation/traffic, noise pollution and something called “mandatory findings of significance”.

    Of these, the air quality and transportation categories are probably the most immediate concerns to area residents, even though there is both a state and national mandate to combat greenhouse gas emissions to reduce global warming.

    Under the air quality section of the NOP, three of the five issues raised were marked as “Potentially significant impact.” These include: full compliance with alternative marine power (electric plug in), vessel speed reduction; liquefied petroleum gas powered yard tractors and liquefied natural gas powered drayage trucks and emission standards for berths 121-131 and 97-109.

    The failure to comply with the original EIR means that not only dirtier air quality for the seven communities surrounding the port and for the workers in the harbor but has an even harsher consequence for those neighborhoods that directly abut the port.

    Because of the missing mitigation monitoring reports it is not entirely clear exactly what mitigations the port has fully accomplished and what they have not, for instance what is the status on these issues:

    • Traffic mitigation plan: The port is required to complete and implement traffic studies for China Shipping and the entire Port by expedited dates in the agreement.
    • Port-wide policy changes: As part of the settlement, the Port has adopted resolutions setting forth two new Port-wide mitigation policies:
    • The Port will require the purchase of only clean, alternative fuel yard tractors for all new leases and “significant” renegotiations of existing leases.
    • The port will now only grant permits for new or replacement cranes if they are “low-profile,” subject to a showing of their feasibility.


    Though the port is pinning their argument on the “feasibility” of the requirements, I suspect that the real issue is that China Shipping is trying to wrangle its way out of having to pay any further monies toward mitigation connected to this lease. It is also rumored that China Shipping is going to be merged with another state owned shipping company, COSCO.

    The port’s failure to meet transportation and traffic mitigation goals is another example of the conflict between the traffic needs of local citizens and the future growth of port operations along with the development of the waterfront, designed to turn the Harbor Area into a tourist attraction.

    This failure to meet the transportation and traffic mitigations will only continue to grow as the port regains its pre-2008 container volumes and annual trade surpasses $290 billion per year.

    Even with the current expansion of the 110 and 47 freeway connectors, how does the port expect to expand tourist traffic to the San Pedro and Wilmington waterfronts while at the same time exponentially expanding container traffic on the same freeways? The port makes no effort to address these congestion issues or include the possibility of a light rail connection.

    One of the other unforeseen and unaccounted for issues not mitigated in all of this is the eviction of some 50 homeless people living along the parts of the freeways that are being expanded. This is the human face of the port’s disregard for the consequences of their actions on the surrounding communities or the lives of those impacted by port expansion.

    In the end, this Supplemental EIR is an attempt by the Port of Los Angeles to renegotiate the terms of its Amended Settlement Judgment by self-certifying a new one without going back to court or allowing for adequate time for considered response from the communities affected. They are avoiding holding China Shipping accountable for its part in the failure to protect harbor area citizens from further environmental harm.

    Gene Seroka, the executive director of POLA, has claimed that this is a corrective action and is the consequence of the previous administration’s failure to act, but much of this would have been avoided with more—not less—citizen oversight, which is one mitigation that should be permanently written into the new Supplemental EIR.

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  • Conscious Eating

    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    Oct. 11 was the 2nd Annual Sustainable Seafood Expo at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles. If you didn’t get a chance to stop by it should definitely be on your radar for next year.

    As many of you know, I’m quite obsessed with food. Any chance to sample amazing dishes from some of our favorite, local chefs and seafood purveyors is an opportunity I would never shy away from. I was able to get my hands on almost everything but we’ll come back to that.

    I try not to just shove food in my face. I’m actually very interested in any discussion regarding food and lately the conversation about sustainability kind of gets me going. We all need to be more conscious about what we put in our mouths and sometimes what comes out of our mouths.

    Unfortunately, the American stereotype in other countries around the world is that we lack a fundamental cuisine. We’re a melting pot of different cultures and ethnicities so it’s easy to find any other cuisine: Italian, Japanese, Mexican — we even have Ethiopian, but I don’t see anything that is inherently “American.” Other than Dodger Dogs and In ‘n’ Out Burger, we’ve just sort of plowed through life consuming anything in abundance or — dare I say, “supersized” — and somehow over the years American consumerism became synonymous with American cuisine. That’s why we need to be talking about sustainability; we consume and waste too much. Folks, let’s be honest: that’s embarrassing.

    But enough of my ranting, let’s talk about the snacks.

    Whole Foods did a Spanish-style gazpacho that was absolutely perfect. Featuring Barramundi (think sea bass) with thick bacon and cilantro with crusty sourdough bread. I’ve spent the whole morning scouring the Internet for that recipe.

    Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra from Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes did his take on a sort of deconstructed taco with a roasted rockfish and carrot skewer with cumin and lime yogurt and Cotija cheese crumble. It was an absolute perfect bite—even though I had three.

    New to the event this year was the Exclusive Chef’s Table, a sustainable seafood dinner by Chef Paul Buchanan of Primal Alchemy, based in Long Beach. The dinner, which immediately followed the Expo, was family style and served outside of Crafted. Tickets needed to be purchased in advance, but I would say it’s safe to assume this will be a repeat component of the event for years to come. Buchanan partnered with Community Seafood in Santa Monica, a grassroots community supported fishery that focuses on sustainability.

    The menu included three passed hors d’oeuvres a kombucha pumpkin soup, Persian cucumbers with house smoked salmon and dill aioli, tasting spoons with laughing bird shrimp curry with Kaffir lime oil. Dinner included paella with Santa Barbara shrimp, mussels, and yellow fin tuna that was actually caught off of Long Beach. Next there was a halibut in a lemongrass marinade with red quinoa and grilled scallions. Dessert included a pluot cobbler with Chantilly cream.

    I have absolutely no problem with ANY of that.

    I’d say the whole event was a success. The Sustainable Seafood Expo helps educate us in an interesting, albeit palatable way. We are able to make thoughtful choices about not only what is right for us but also for the environment. Many of us have a hard time sitting through lectures, or maybe that’s just me — but I did enjoy listening to the prestigious featured panelists all of whom are incredibly passionate about seafood sustainability. And I’m passionate about people who are passionate — so pair that with a beer and some great food and that’s actually not a bad Sunday fun day.



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  • CENSORED! Ten Big Stories News Media Ignored

    Even in the era of ubiquitous social media, when a small news outlet can create a story that goes viral, some of the biggest news of the past year never reached most of the public.

    By Tim Redmond, Editor and Chief of 48 Hills

    When Sonoma State University professor Carl Jensen started looking into the news media’s practice of self-censorship in 1976, the Internet was only a dream and most computers were still big mainframes with whirling tape reels and vacuum tubes.

    Back then, the vast majority of Americans got all their news from one daily newspaper and one of the three big TV networks. If a story wasn’t on ABC, NBC or CBS, it might as well not have happened. (more…)

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  • 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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