• Sister Corita

    Seeds of Renewal, the Language of Pop

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Beginning Sept. 3, Marymount California University, in collaboration with the Corita Art Center and fINdings Art Center, will present Be the Change: The Corita Experience, an exhibition at the Klaus Center in San Pedro that surveys the work of artist, activist and educator Sister Corita Kent.

    More than 60 pieces of Sister Corita’s vibrant pop art serigraphs will be featured in the show, reflecting her passion for tearing down the walls that separate people, confronting injustice and promoting peace.

    Sister Corita’s work has been traveling around the world since about 2011, but “now is the time” for its message to really transmit, said Annette Ciketic, director of fINDings.

    I wanted a firsthand understanding of Sister Corita from those who knew her and had a relationship with her. I have found that many lionized heroes of the left, after many decades, tend to get diced, sliced, repackaged and then mass-distributed in a form palatable enough that even old, ideological foes can stomach and regurgitated at their convenience. That is, if they weren’t forgotten. I suspected that was part of the reason Sister Corita’s work has been touring around the world for the past few years.

    Annette is one of several San Pedro alumni of Immaculate Heart College, whose class graduated during the 1960s. The college, which operated in the Hollywood Hills, closed in 1981. Through Annette, I met her fellow alum and Sister Corita student, Laurine DiRocco. Laurine was named educator and artist of the year by the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce women’s conference this year.

    Both Laurine and Annette are dedicated to art and teaching other teachers using Sister Corita’s methods. Neither are gallery artists.

    These teaching methods eliminate the barrier between student and teacher and posits that a learning environment conducive to excellence can be achieved through diligence, hard work and engagement between students and teachers.

    Annette recalled Sister Corita telling her students, “I don’t want you to copy me. I want you to become the best you are.”

    “There was a famous [often repeated Balinese] quote in our art department, ‘We have no art. We do everything as well as we can,’” Annette explained.

    Annette recalled how Sister Corita and her class created their own rules.

    “We sat in class one day; it was in a space about like this,” Laurine said, carving an invisible three-dimensional space with her finger that included Annette’s office to the edge of the sidewalk outside. Annette then read off from a list of Sister Corita’s general rules for teaching, which Annette and Laurine abide by to this day:

    • Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for a while.

    • General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

    • General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students.

    • Consider everything, and then experiment.

    • Be self-disciplined. This means finding someone wise or smart and following them. Be disciplined and follow in a good way. Self-discipline is to follow in a better way.

    • Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win or lose, there’s only make.

    • The only rule is work.

    • Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They are two different processes.

    • Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It is lighter than you think. There’s always a sense of celebration.

    • We’re breaking all of the rules, even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.


    Annette read the “Helpful Hints” addendum to the rules. They included: “Always be around, come and go to everything; always go to classes; read anything you can get your hands on and look at movies carefully and often; save everything—it might come in handy later; there should be new rules next week.”

    I found the first rule the most intriguing. It was also the one I remembered the most clearly. Annette’s and Laurine’s description of their time at Immaculate Heart College made the idea of “place” seem like something more than a physical location. It was as if the word “place” was really a description of a relationship.

    “We were always a school without walls,” Annette explained. “Every Friday in the art department, we’d go somewhere as a group. It might be Buckminster Fuller’s house, Charles Hughes’ house, Mark C. Bloome’s place [and] other famous people’s homes… the park, the beach…”

    “She’s always giving us ways to see bigger, deeper, more…” Laurine added.

    Laurine recalled Sister Corita took her class to a car and tire shop in Beverly Hills owned by the wealthy entrepreneur Mark C. Bloome. It took up a whole city block. Sister Corita gave each of the students 35mm slides with the film cut out, called “findings” to frame the details of what they saw in ways they never saw before.

    “When you’re looking through something like that [the finding]…rather than getting this whole room, I can get a portion of this whole room,” said Laurine, attempting to explain the shift in perspective that comes from focusing your attention on a particular detail of an object.

    “We get out of our cars with our findings, people are getting gas, people are getting tires and we’re doing this,” said Laurine as she joined her left thumb and index finger with her right to form the square of a finding.

    “[Later] I realized I learned to see…that without the card… I would be driving along and I would be talking and then I would stop and say, ‘Look at that,’” Laurine said, describing the experience of seeing something new in a scene she had numerous times before from a different perspective.

    Finding Sister Corita

    Like the environment out of which Sister Corita matured as an artist and scholar, in which she helped foster her students during the late 1950s and ‘60s, her life’s work was a world without walls. Her medium of choice was serigraphy (silkscreen), a process that lends itself to mass production with the potential of reaching more people and traveling further than one-off fine art meant for gallery spaces.

    Her oeuvre was pop art. Andy Warhol’s 1962 iconic exhibition of Campbell’s soup cans was lightening in a bottle to Sister Corita. It opened up the possibility of inserting layers of meaning to the viewer, whose subconscious is already bombarded with advertising imagery.

    Sister Corita’s work was very much tuned in to the politics, culture and societal moment of the 1960s. Whether it was Civil Rights or the anti-war movement, she engaged it the best way she knew how: first through her teaching. When she left the order, she kept up that engagement through her art.

    My conversation with Annette and Laurine reminded me of conversations I have had with my greatest teachers in my academic life—teachers I’ve called close friends and mentors. This was the kind of relationship Annette and Laurine had with Sister Corita. I realize that I couldn’t fully appreciate Sister Corita’s legacy without understanding to some degree the environment in which she matured intellectually and professionally at Immaculate Heart.

    Annette and Laurine and I did not have enough time to talk about this part of Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sister Corita’s legacy, but they recommended that I read the first-person account of Dr. Anita Caspary, who served as the order’s mother superior during this turbulent transitional period of the church.

    Sister Corita joined the order in 1936, earning advanced degrees in art and art history. What’s really important about Sister Corita’s biography is that she was a teacher inside the order during the period of transformation—almost in anticipation of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI’s call for renewal of the church and the opening of Vatican Council II.

    One of the key things the Vatican Council II called for was experimentation on adapting religious life within the order and outside of it. This was to engage modernity while doing all that they were called to do as Christians.

    That also meant addressing injustice, inequality, and suffering even as they shared their faith. This change meant changes in prayer life, favoring the vernacular as opposed to Latin to communicate with the faithful, connecting authority to service and movement away from the kind of clericalism that can emerge in a 2,000-year-old institution.

    I can’t say that Sister Corita intentionally worked to be an activist. She was the tip of a sword that pricked all things unjust. The first conflict came from her religious art, which began to capture attention by the late 1950s, but was considered sacrilegious. Another seminal event that drew Sister Corita into conflict was the attention garnered by the 1964 Mary’s Day celebration.

    The order organized the annual event that included a day of prayer and procession dedicated to Mary, as mother of God. The event was a fairly dour and low-key affair that would end with an evening procession winding up the college hill on the campus, and a crown of flowers would be placed on the statue of Mary by a specially chosen student.

    That year, Sister Corita was asked by the college president to create a new Mary’s Day festivity that celebrated the real woman Mary of Nazareth, as opposed to the solemn event it used to be. This break from tradition caused conflict with the traditionalist male hierarchy of the church and the order.

    This very public dispute led to the removal of all Immaculate Heart sisters teaching in Los Angeles diocesan schools, who were given an ultimatum: either conform to the standards of traditional religious life, or seek dispensation from vows. Annette noted that about 90 percent of the sisters that held advanced degrees in the order chose to leave their vows and reorganize as a nonprofit lay organization, the Immaculate Heart Community.

    In many respects, the forces with which the sisters of Immaculate Heart of Mary had to contend were similar to the forces of Jim Crow, American exceptionalism and imperialism, and the patriarchy that allowed celibate priests to dictate when and where nuns should pray and the kinds of habits they should wear.

    The order, Immaculate Heart of Mary, ceased being a canonized order. As a lay community, it thrives and arguably it better fulfills the order’s desire to achieve what the Vatican Council II called them to do as part of the renewal of the church: comfort the afflicted, heal the sick, and extend the hand of friendship to all who need it.

    I asked Annette why we are now remembering Sister Corita Kent. But I know the answer: her work has never stopped being relevant.

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  • LBMA Misses Opportunity

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    It wasn’t that long ago that street art was just considered the scribbles of street vandals on private property. In the past few decades these “vandals” have become “artists,” and their works have moved from the street to the interior walls of art galleries and museums. The Long Beach Museum of Art was the latest venue to exhibit such art, called “Vitality and Verve.”

    When the Long Beach Museum of Art decided to host the exhibit, curators seemed to be unaware of the origins and intentions of street art, which is to attract attention toward a cause, or to be used as a form of provocation.

    Street artist Saber achieved that goal with one mural in particular, “Too Many Names.” In contrast to the aesthetically appealing murals in the rest of the museum, Saber’s mural confronts an unsettling subject with a grizzly artistry. His monumental mural covering an entire wall, contains the names of the more than 557 people killed by police in the United States in 2015. The names, written in the spray painted technique of taggers – and emblazoned with the name of Long Beach tagger Hector Morejon – is controversial for it’s subject matter and its stylistic symbology.

    In the midst of a timely and national conversation about victims of police shootings, the museum passed on an opportunity to participate in the dialog. The question remains: Why is this mural so controversial for the Long Beach museum?

    “I think at first it was difficult to absorb,” Saber said. “This particular piece draws a line in the sand between people who support the museum and people who support the artists,”

    The suspicion is that donors are uncomfortable with the subject matter. When a reception was planned on July 31 for members of the group Families for Justice, the museum slammed on the brakes. The families invited the press to help promote the young organization and the issue of police shootings in the nation, particularly shootings in Long Beach. The group was founded by the families of Morejon, whose name is in bold blue letters, as well as the families of Donte Jordan, and Feras Morad, who was killed when he experienced an extreme reaction to psychedelic mushrooms.

    The press was greeted by a museum employee who passed out a statement from the museum that read: “The Long Beach Museum of Art (LBMA) is not affiliated with Families for Justice: LBC. The press release that was issued by Families of Justice: LBC on July 31, 2015 was not approved by the Museum nor does it reflect its views.”

    A request for an interview with the museum director was met with an emailed statement. Aug. 7, which read:

    “The media was not barred from the museum. There were several of them here on campus with Saber and the organization Families for Justice. Some of them took photos of the group in front of the mural, which we allowed. Since we are not affiliated with Families for Justice we conveyed to Saber that we would not allow any interviews conducted on campus regarding the formation of their organization.”

    “It shocked me (that they wouldn’t allow interviews in the museum). When somebody else is paying your bills, I guess you have got to toe the line.” said Michael Brown, a member of Families for Justice. “I’m sure media has come into the museum before. This issue is in the headlines and it’s not going away. We are glad that they showed enough fortitude to leave Saber’s work on the wall. There’s 557 names on that wall. People are being exposed to this problem.”

    Pamela Fields, mother of Donte Jordan, was hopeful that her son’s story could be told that day through the mural. The families had grouped together for support following the devastation and loss of their loved ones.

    “I felt alone, like nobody felt my pain,” Fields said. “I needed to be one-on-one with the mothers of those killed. In Long Beach, police brutality is our reality.”

    They want the police department to know that families have been affected. After her son was shot 10 times in the back, and twice more on the ground, she lost her job as a nurse and Fields found herself homeless for 19 months.

    During this citywide exhibit, 21 artists were invited to participate. The mural project is presented in collaboration with Thinkspace and Pow! Wow! Ron Nelson, museum director, described an effort to spotlight artists who are stepping out of their studios to paint on a grand scale using outdoor walls as their canvas, as well as urban artists who are beginning to work in a traditional studio setting.

    Muralists were not simply given access to the museum walls. As a result of this exhibit, murals cover walls all over the city. The stunning murals have added the desired aesthetic to downtown Long Beach. Street art has become more accepted by the general public due to its artistic recognition, and the high-profile status of Banksy and other graffiti artists. This has led street art to become tourist attractions in many cities.

    “Street art is very popular right now,” Saber said. “It is used as a vehicle for gentrification. It’s something that looks great on T-shirts and it looks great on Coca-Cola bottles. I’m happy that it has opened doors for the artists, but it has watered down our message. At the end of the day, this was never meant to be commodified. This was meant as a way to express ourselves on our own terms.”

    Saber was especially drawn to the tragic death of Hector Morejon, a 19-year-old, who was killed while tagging. Although Saber is an internationally recognized artist, he began as a tagger, leaving his marks on trash cans.

    “I felt an affinity to Hector because he was killed tagging,” he said. “I have had friends killed tagging. I talked to his family and he was not a gang member. He had no gang affiliations. He was a kid trying to fashionably fit into his environment.”

    The artist is concerned that, since this genre of art has achieved popularity, many have turned their backs on the roots of the work. Young taggers take inspiration from renowned artists such as Saber. Street art exists worldwide. Cities and towns throughout the world are home to street art communities, from which pioneering artists emerge. It is in every city now, but taggers are still being killed for misdemeanor infractions.

    “We’ve turned our backs on them,” the artist said. “It’s not cool to be them.”

    Saber considers it a victory that his mural remains on the wall of the museum. Although he is grateful that his art remains, he admits that during the weeklong installation, concessions were made. The artist was asked to change the color of Hector’s name from red to blue and was not allowed to add finishing touches that were meant to create a memorial at the foot of the mural. Most troubling, his artist’s statement was taken down off the wall. In the world of conceptual art, the artist’s statement serves to summarize the artist’s message. Random Lengths News has decided to print his statement in entirety for our readers. See “Too Many Names

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    Editors Note: the following artist’s statement was disallowed by Long Beach Museum of Art :

    In 2015 there have been 534 people killed by police in America and the year is not over. This is not a fully compiled list. These numbers are not unusual as every year hundreds of people’s lives are senselessly cut short due to the violent tactics implemented by these officers. Hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out to the victims’ families in civil suits at the expense of the taxpayers.

    To be fair, police have a difficult job. Most of the time their good deeds go unnoticed. This is a thankless job. In some cases the killing of another person is justified if it means another life is saved.

    Of course, it is easy to blame the bad apples within the police force but unfortunately the statistics speak for themselves. These numbers are so consistently overwhelming that the conclusion leads this discussion away from the individual officers to the bigger problems within the system and structure in which they are trained.

    If the tools given to these officers were more focused on de-escalation as opposed to “shoot first and ask questions later,” then thousands of lives could be saved as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.

    New body camera legislation is being put forth, which could help lead to more transparency, saving lives in the end as well as millions in taxpayer dollars. Billions of dollars worth of military equipment, as well as the failed “War On Drugs” campaign, has led to the police acting as an occupying force within our communities.

    The relationship between the police and the communities they serve are strained to a breaking point. Long Beach is no exception to this strain on the community. In the last couple of months, two young people have been tragically killed in violent circumstances due to these police tactics. Both of these kids were unarmed and posed no threat to the officers. If only restraint and tactics of de-escalation were implemented then maybe these young lives could have been saved.

    The mantra “To Protect and Serve” gives us the feeling that we could trust these officers in these difficult circumstances. But until the system is overhauled, this vicious cycle will continue and the body count will only grow.

    — Saber



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  • Arrest Made In Murder Case: RL NEWS Briefs Aug. 18, 2015

    Arrest Made In Murder Case

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 17, the Long Beach Police Department arrested 25-year-old Patrick Fereti Mose of Long Beach was arrested in connection with the Aug. 2 murder of Vaiola Vaipulu.

    LBPD officers were dispatched at about 7 p.m. Aug. 2, to a residence in the 6700 block of Olive Avenue regarding a natural death of a female adult. The woman was later identified as 60-year-old Vaiola Vaipulu of Long Beach.
    The Los Angeles County Coroner investigator responded and detected suspicious circumstances. Long Beach Homicide detectives also responded to initiate an investigation. Through their investigation, detectives discovered surveillance video linking a possible suspect vehicle to the case and, subsequently, to the identification of a suspect.
    Mose is being held in Long Beach City Jail on $1 million bail. He is scheduled to appear in Long Beach Superior Court for arraignment on Aug. 20.

    Hotel Workers File Class Action Lawsuit Against Long Beach Hotel for Wage Theft

    LONG BEACH —Workers employed by the Long Beach Westin Hotel have filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the hotel has subjected them to numerous wage and hour violations, including off-the-clock work, the denial of meal and rest breaks, and failure to reimburse them for work supplies.

    The hotel is operated by Noble-Interstate Management Group California and Interstate Hotels & Resorts, both named defendants, and is 95 percent owned by Utah Retirement Systems.

    The lawsuit, brought by the law firm of Alexander Krakow + Glick and the Law Offices of Kyle Todd, claims that the hotel’s housekeepers are not paid for work they perform off-the-clock.

    The lawsuit is the latest step taken by Long Beach hotel workers, the majority of whom are women, in a campaign to put an end to workplace abuse in the Long Beach hotel industry. In July, workers and community members held a march to Long Beach City Hall to call attention to housekeepers’ experiences of inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature by hotel customers, as well as other workplace concerns.

    The workers’ campaign is supported by Stand With Women Against Abuse, a coalition of women’s organizations, health professionals, clergy, and community leaders.

    The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the murder is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Transportation Technology Strategist Fellow Appointed

    LOS ANGELES — On Aug. 18, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the appointment of Ashley Z. Hand as the transportation technology strategist fellow at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

    The fellowship is funded through a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation.
    Most recently, Hand served as chief innovation officer in Kansas City, Mo. — the first woman in the nation’s history to serve as a municipal chief innovation officer. In that post, she developed Kansas City’s first-ever digital roadmap; established a public-private partnership to build a smart city network along a new streetcar starter line; and utilized data to deliver city services more efficiently. She previously served as an architectural designer and planner for the global firm AECOM, where she worked collaboratively across the public and private sectors to encourage clients to use sustainable best practices.
    As an architect, Hand’s commitment to green, durable, and environmentally-sound buildings has earned her the designation as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, with a specialty in Building Design and Construction. In 2014, she was recognized by the Central Exchange as a Rising Star in Technology, and by Next City Vanguard for urban leadership. Hand was selected in 2013 as the Kansas City Business Journal’s inaugural NextGen leader and was recognized in the previous year as Emerging Professional of the Year by American Institute of Architects-Kansas City.
    As the transportation technology strategist fellow, Hand will work closely with DOT General Manager Seleta Reynolds and Chief Technology Officer Peter Marx to position Los Angeles as a national model in sustainable, tech-enabled transportation and as a test bed for technologies that will change the future of transportation.
    In her new role, Hand will create a citywide transportation technology strategy to plan for the future of road safety, road use efficiency, traffic regulation, and traffic enforcement, and will be responsible for a policy plan to ensure a safe, mobile, sustainable future for Los Angeles. This strategy will also help LADOT meet the transportation goals outlined in the Mayor’s Sustainable City Plan.
    The fellowship is funded by a grant from the Goldhirsh Foundation and serves as part of Garcetti’s effort to build a tech-savvy transportation system that helps Angelenos navigate the city — including wi-fi equipped smart bus stops, ridesharing at LAX and creating a data-sharing partnership with the Waze app to help cut commute times.


    Career Drug Trafficker Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison

    LOS ANGELES – On Aug. 17, one of the principal cocaine traffickers associated with an international narcotics ring was sentenced this morning to 20 years in federal prison after law enforcement seized more than 170 pounds of cocaine and $1.5 million in drug-tainted cash linked to his narcotics-trafficking activities.

    Zaid Wakil, 43, of Winston Salem, N.C., was sentenced for his drug trafficking activities in which he acquired cocaine from Los Angeles-area traffickers with the intent to distribute the narcotics on the East Coast.

    In a sentencing memorandum filed with the court, federal prosecutors said that Wakil “participated in an extensive scheme to traffic in extraordinary quantities of cocaine.” They argued that Wakil “willfully pursued a criminal lifestyle” as reflected in his 20 prior criminal convictions over the course of more than two decades on charges that included drug trafficking, forgery and burglary.

    Following a jury trial in February at which Wakil represented himself, he was found guilty of participating in a drug trafficking conspiracy and three counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute. The three narcotics-possession counts were the result of three seizures between May and July of 2011 in which more than 170 pounds of cocaine was seized. Authorities in Arizona and seized nearly 70 pounds during two traffic stops, and investigators were able to intercept a 105-pound shipment that Wakil attempted to send to the East Coast via FedEx.

    The first cocaine seizure in this case came during a May 2011 traffic stop of Wakil’s car in Flagstaff, Ariz. by officers with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. After he was released from custody less than two months later, Wakil contacted his Los Angeles-based supplier and stated that he was “still moving,” despite the law enforcement seizures of his drugs and money. According to wiretapped phone calls played at his trial, Wakil told his supplier at that time: “Let’s make the profits bigger.”

    Wakil engaged in “sophisticated means to conceal his activities,” according to prosecutors, who noted that he operated a “shell business” in Santa Clarita – a purported trucking company that he used to conceal his cocaine shipments and to make his drug proceeds appear to be legitimate.

    In 2010 and 2011, law enforcement in the San Fernando Valley, Ohio and Maryland made three seizures of cash totaling more than $1.5 million from vehicles that Wakil was driving. “[O]n each occasion, a trained narcotics detection canine gave a positive alert on the seized money,” according to the government’s sentencing brief.

    Wakil was one of 22 defendants charged in June 2012 in two grand jury indictments with participating in a large-scale conspiracy to traffic cocaine. The conspiracy involved a drug-trafficking partnership between operatives in Mexico, Canada and the United States. Fourteen of the 22 defendants named in those indictments now have been convicted.

    Both of the Los Angeles-based leaders of the conspiracy – Ichiro Tomatani-Guzman and Eduardo Olivares – pleaded guilty and each received 10-year prison terms. The leader of the Canadian nexus of the conspiracy – John Darrell Krokos – pleaded guilty and received a 138-month prison sentence.

    Eight of the defendants charged in this case remain fugitives. They are:

    • Jesus Esteban Felix Leon, 43, of Culiacan, Mexico;
    • Jesus Felix Alvarez, 23, of Culiacan, Mexico;
    • a man known only as “96”;
    • Inocencio Aispuro-Lizarraga, 66, of Mexico;
    • Rigoberto Ortega-Guzman, 60, of Downey;
    • Fausto Medina, 42, of Lynwood;
    • Mauricio Leon-Torres, 41, of Los Angeles; and
    • Luis Cazarez-Beltran, 51, of Downey.

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  • Coyote Ugly: Don’t Kill the ‘Problem’ that We Created

    By Diana Lejins, Contributing Columnist

    Social media outlets roared with outrage, after an American dentist killed Cecil, an iconic lion in Zimbabwe.

    Walter Palmer paid $55,000 to guides, who lured Cecil out of his protective environment. This allowed the hunter to unlawfully trophy hunt and destroy this magnificent creature. On the whole, Americans understood the travesty of this egregious event.

    Ironically, thousands of miles away from Africa, in Long Beach, citizens have lured coyotes to their residential areas with food, water, unsupervised pets and the promise of more to come.  

    Now, because of a few isolated incidents, several groups of residents are up in arms and want to kill all of the coyotes. Extremely troublesome and alarming remarks have been made on Facebook and Nextdoor websites about people wanting to take matters into their own hands with crossbows, spear guns and electrical devices.

    To further put things into perspective, an estimated 4.7 million dog bites occur in the United States each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 5,700 letter carriers were victims of dog attacks in 2014 across the United States. According to Long Beach Animal Care Services, about 500 dog bites were reported in 2014 citywide.  Nationwide, 42 fatalities were reported in 2014.

    And, according to USA Today, outdoor cats kill as many as 3.7 billion birds per year in the continental United States. Should people fearful of dog bites or those who are avian devotees have a right to demand that dogs and cats be “mitigated?”

    While there have been a few coyote snipes on pets (mostly unsupervised and outside), there have been zero attacks on humans and none on leashed pets in Long Beach. Experts in the field have explained that it is usually the scavenger coyotes, who are less canny and aggressive, that are trapped and killed. This leaves the more clever ones to propagate. Coyotes also provide invaluable services to the environment such as cleaning up “road kill,” preying on the over 1,500 species of harmful rodents (including gophers), and keeping other “pesky” wildlife and vermin in balance.

    District 5 Councilwoman Stacy Mungo originally catered to the trap-and-kill groups with a proposal to create a “mitigation committee” that would have led to trapping and euthanizing the coyotes. However, at the Aug. 11 Long Beach City Council meeting, she did a 180-degree turn and agendized a proposal allowing the city staff to follow-up with an organized, more humane management plan. Dozens of citizens lined up to speak to the issue, and about two-thirds were pro coyote. The council passed the item unanimously.

    Long Beach staff favors a more educational approach. The current plan includes educating the public about coexisting with coyotes, enforcing laws prohibiting feeding of wildlife and addressing public safety. This will be reviewed and adjusted to keep pace with any changing circumstances.

    Residents need to stop their “bad behaviors,” and adhere to measures recommended by California Department of Fish and Wildlife authorities. These include not making food and water available, keeping pets protected and out of harm’s way, and taking other measures that can be found on the Animal Care Services and the Department of Fish and Wildlife Department websites. It is important to note that hunting is illegal within Long Beach city limits.

    Mahatma Ghandi once said, “The greatness of a nation… can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

    We must heed these prophetic words. Otherwise, what makes us any different than the likes of Walter Palmer?

    Diana Lejins is a journalist and photographer focusing on civil rights, animal welfare, environmental and disability issues.  


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  • Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder: RL NEWS Aug. 17, 2015

    Wrong Way Driver Charged with Murder

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 13, Alvin Ray Shaw Jr. was charged with charged with murder, driving under the influence of alcohol within 10 years of another DUI offense, driving with more than .08 percent blood alcohol and causing injury within 10 years of another DUI offense and driving with a suspended or revoked license.
    The 28-year-old’s blood concentration level was at least .15 percent.
    The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office stated Shaw, of Hawthorne, is suspected of driving 2012 Mercedes-Benz eastbound against traffic on the Gerald Desmond Bridge on Aug. 1. His actions are suspected of causing the death of one man and injuring another. Shaw collided with a 2014 Ford Fusion, driven by a 21-year-old San Pedro man, and a 2010 Nissan pickup truck driven by 30-year-old San Pedro resident Miguel Gonzalez. The Mercedes Benz and the Nissan truck caught on fire. Gonzalez was pronounced dead at the scene.
    Shaw remains hospitalized. An arraignment is pending his release. He faces a maximum of 18 years to life in state prison.

    LB North Patrol Cracks Down on Street Gang

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 12, the Long Beach Police Department North Patrol Division Directed Enforcement Team served six search warrants at the residences of North Side Longo Gang members who were wanted on various felony charges.
    These search warrants resulted in three (3) felony arrests:
    Name, Age, City of Residency, Charges
    Steve Orozco, 23, Long Beach, Parole Violation
    Gaviel Mayorga, 33, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    Clark Cooper, 31, Long Beach, Possession of Stolen Property
    About $35,000 worth of stolen property, believed to be associated with cargo truck thefts that have occurred within and outside of the City, and $4,300 in cash, believed to be related to a north Long Beach burglary, were recovered related to the search warrants and arrests of Mayorga and Cooper. Detectives are still investigating these cases and the origin of these recovered items.
    If anyone has information regarding the crimes listed above or about the North Side Longo Street Criminal Gang they are urged to call (562) 570-7370 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org

    POLA Containers Decrease in July

    SAN PEDRO — July 2015 containerized cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles decreased 2.5 percent compared to the same period this past year. The POLA handled a total of 699,127 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in July 2015. Current and historical data is available here.
    Imports decreased 3.5 percent, from 363,393 TEUs in July 2014 to 350,627 TEUs in July 2015. Exports declined 16.4 percent, from 163,294 TEUs in July 2014 to 136,402 TEUs in July 2015. Combined, total loaded imports and exports decreased 7.5 percent, from 526,688 TEUs in July 2014 to 487,029 TEUs in July 2015. Factoring in empties, which increased 11.2 percent, overall July 2015 volumes (699,127 TEUs) decreased 2.5 percent.
    For the first seven months of 2015, overall volumes (4,602,648 TEUs) are down 3.5 percent compared to the same period in 2014.
    Current and past data container counts for the Port of Los Angeles may be found at:www.portoflosangeles.org/maritime/stats.asp


    Long Beach Sets Cargo Record

    LONG BEACH — Cargo container volumes surged through the Port of Long Beach in July, with an 18.4 percent increase over the same month in 2014, making July a record month in the port’s 104-year history.
    Previously, POLA’s best year was 2007, just before the Great Recession of 2008. Now, after a slow start at the beginning of 2015, the gains in July mark the fourth time in the last five months that cargo totals have climbed significantly higher.
    The port’s terminals moved 690,244 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in July, an increase of 18.4 percent compared to July 2014. Imports jumped to 345,912 TEUs, a 16.2 percent increase from last July. Exports increased an impressive 15.9 percent to 143,875 TEUs despite the stronger U.S. dollar, which has made U.S. exports relatively expensive overseas.
    July makes the fourth time in five months that the port has seen import gains – July (18.4 percent), May (4.8 percent), April (7.3 percent), and March (42.1 percent) – an indication that the U.S. economy is growing, and the stronger dollar is giving retailers the confidence to order more products from overseas to stock their shelves for consumers. The National Retail Federation foresees at least 3 to 5 percent gains for the back-to-school and early holiday shopping seasons.
    Through the first seven months of 2015, Long Beach cargo numbers are edging higher, with total cargo up 2.8 percent compared to the same period last year, imports up 1.4 percent and exports down 10.9 percent.
    For all the latest monthly cargo numbers, click here.
    For more details on the cargo numbers, please visit www.polb.com/stats.

    Center Long Beach Announces Free STI Testing, Treatment Program

    LONG BEACH — The Center Long Beach announced that starting Aug. 18, the organization will expand services to include comprehensive testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. This pilot project will start by offering the free service two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will include screenings for syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis B and C.

    The STI testing program will enhance the current rapid HIV testing program that has been extremely successful, conducting more than 7,000 tests since 2010.

    The Center Long Beach will be collaborating with St. Mary’s Medical Center to provide a mobile testing clinic and medical staff during the pilot period that will last through the end of the year. During the pilot period, The Center staff will collect data and feedback from the community to develop a program that meets the needs of the LGBTQ community in Long Beach. Additionally, The Center Long Beach will be remodeling its health services space to accommodate additional STI testing services including an exam room, additional lab space and office space for new and current health services staff.

    Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting Aug. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455; www.centerlb.org
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    MADE in Long Beach Seeks Crowdfunding for Food Market Expansion

    LONG BEACH — In celebration of seven successful months in business downtown on Pine Avenue, the 12,500 sq. ft. “MADE in Long Beach” retail destination is preparing to launch the second phase of their local business incubator: Market at MADE.

    Having established relationships with local farmers, food makers, bread bakers, beekeepers, and Long Beach Creamery to name a few, MADE will invest in an expansion to help native culinary businesses and brands thrive and mitigate the usual risk associated with small businesses who open storefronts. Among the requisite facilities and amenities are refrigeration units and display installations to provide for the marketing and distribution of local fare. Market at MADE will also create a location for meeting, mingling and experiencing the unique flavors of the city.
    Crowdfunding launched will run until Sept. 6, with a primary goal of raising $75,000.

    At every level of support, starting at $5, MADE will reward its contributors. There will also be opportunities for donors to “put their stamp” on the Market by personalizing seasonal menu items, events, and fixtures within the store. MADE will have limited opportunities for these high-profile opportunities and encourages First to Market contributors to get in early before those rewards sell out.
    Rewards for contributors come from some of the 100+ makers and merchants whose products are currently stocked at MADE, as well as partners such as Our Town Trolley and Renaissance Long Beach Hotel.

    Details: MadeLB.com


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  • Adventurous Sports with Less Risks

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  • Turf Removal Programs Collapses

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    With the severe drought acting as a wakeup call to conserve water, more and more people have been searching for solutions.

    The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, backed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power dug up a wellspring of incentives. Chief among them was the popular Turf Rebate program, which allows residents to get rebates for replacing their water-consuming turf with more drought-friendly plants. So popular was this program, that its allotted funding quickly dried up, parching the plans of many well-meaning future water savers. At least for the moment.

    Many people wonder whether or not the water district will ever reopen its rebate program to new applications. Bob Muir, a spokesman for the water district, said the agency may reopen it sometime in the future, but for now, they are just working on taking care of existing rebate requests that have not yet been fulfilled, with their remaining funds.

    “Right now we’re making a waiting list of those who have not yet received their rebates,”  Muir said. “We are trying to transfer those who did not qualify for the rebate (for example, those who did not finish their project within the 120-day period).”

    So now what? Well, we don’t exactly know. Obviously things have changed in terms of rebates. Before the water district’s rebate program collapsed, people would have been able to get a $3.75 rebate for every square foot of turf removed, by combining the district’s $2 rebate with LADWP’s $1.75 rebate. While the water district will no longer be offering its rebates to new applicants, LADWP will still be offering its rebate of $1.75 for up to 1,500 feet. They also offer a separate rebate for commercial, industrial, public agency and municipal customers of $1 for the first 10,000 square feet, and 50 cents for every foot thereafter, up to 43,560 square feet. Those wishing to apply for either of these rebates should go to the water district’s website atwww.socalwatersmart.com.

    “We see in many programs that about 30 percent of reserved projects are not completed,” said Muir, on the subject of unfinished projects. “We only see about 10 percent are left unfinished.”

    Muir said the district knew the money would run out, but not so soon.  

    “The board hoped we would have money all the way into the fall, like September or October,” said Muir. “Instead of six months, it lasted six weeks”.

    There have been an overwhelming number of people who have flocked to the program. However, the program’s collapse reminds us that we need more than surface solutions, which risk being underfunded by water authorities, and perhaps speaks to a far deeper disconnection between the interests of governments, water agencies and individual water users that continues to cloud our practical policy judgments.

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  • Signal Hill Mother, Boyfriend Charged in 2014 Death of 2-Year Old Son: RL NEWS Aug. 13, 2015

    Signal Hill Mother, Boyfriend Charged in 2014 Death of 2-Year Old Son

    SIGNAL HILL — The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau filed felony charges against 25-year-old Jessica Cereceres and her 23-year-old boyfriend Samuel Aguilar in connection to the death of Cerecere’s 2-year old son Josue Maldonado.

    The alleged incident took place on Aug. 10, 2014. A report was issued to Signal Hill police officers of the baby not breathing. Though several life-saving measures were attempted they were unsuccessful and Josue was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. A death investigation was preformed soon after by the Los Angeles County Sheriff. Aguilar was arrested in December on account of witness intimidation and dissuasion and was later charged with murder, felony child abuse and spousal assault.

    His bail has been set at $1.3 million. Cereceres cooperated with the investigators and appeared before the Long Beach Superior Court for a hearing, where she was convicted of felony child endangerment and arrested. She is being held at a $200,000 bail.

    Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call (323) 890-5500 or visit http://lacrimestoppers.org.


    Former SPHS Substitute Charged for Having Sex with Students

    Michelle Yeh

    Michelle Yeh

    SAN PEDRO — On Aug. 11, Michelle Yeh, a former San Pedro High School substitute teacher was charged on with was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16, two counts of oral copulation of a minor under 16, and two counts of lewd acts on a child 15 years of age. Both students were boys.

    Prosecutors say the 29-year-old Michelle Yeh pursued relationships with many students.

    She was charged with four counts of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor under 16, two counts of oral copulation of a minor under 16, and two counts of lewd acts on a child 15 years of age, according to a press release.

    Yeh was arraigned, on Aug. 12, at the Long Beach Superior Courthouse. Prosecutors asked for $250,000 bail. The woman faces up to nine years and eight months in state prison.


    Long Beach City Council Votes on Motion to Study Minimum Wage Increase

    LONG BEACH– On Aug. 11, the Long Beach City Council unanimously voted to initiate a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to examine the potential impacts of raising the minimum wage in Long Beach.

    Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal authored the motion, which requested that a study be made about the effects on the city and business, as well as exploring possible incentives for businesses to comply.

    More than 100 low-wage workers and community members spoke in support of raising the minimum wage at both a press event and a hearing at Long Beach City Hall.

    The Long Beach City Council took steps later that evening to kick-start the process of raising the minimum wage by commissioning the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation to study the economic impacts. The city council also moved the issue of wage enforcement through the city manager, who will report back. The council is expected to review the study in the coming months. Mayor Robert Garcia expressed support for the proposed study earlier this month.

    “I commend the Council for its decision to move forward with this important study on the impacts of a minimum wage for Long Beach, as well as possible incentives for businesses and nonprofits,” Garcia said in a statement. “I am committed to ensuring an objective and thorough examination of this issue that includes all voices and perspectives, and I want to encourage residents, workers, employers and everyone in the community to participate in that process.”

    The study is expected to take approximately three months to complete.

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  • Proposition 47 Reclassification Clinics: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS Aug. 13, 2015

    Aug. 15

    Proposition 47 Reclassification Clinics

    Get free help filling out the reclassification application. Thanks to new law called Proposition 47, you may be able to get non-violent felonies reclassified to misdemeanors. Qualifying felonies are:

    • Simple drug possessions
    • Shoplifting under $950
    • Petty theft under $950
    • Forgery or insufficient funds under $950
    • Receiving stolen property under $950

    Bring a Copy of Your Criminal Record, (Docket or Rap Sheet)
    To obtain your record: Visit any criminal court in every county where you have a conviction. Ask the clerk’s office for the complete print-out of your criminal docket. (Free in Long Beach, while you wait) or visit any local live scan office to RAP sheet; the cost is $35 to $60 (2 to 4 weeks).
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Aug. 15
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Centro C.H.A. Inc.,1900 Atlantic Ave., 2nd Floor, Long Beach

    Aug. 26

    West Division Forum

    Join Cmdr. Smith at the West Division Leadership Forum. A Long Beach Police Department, gangs detective will give an overview on gangs. Spanish translation will be available.
    Time: 6 p.m. Aug. 26
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570-3461; Jose.Vazquez@longbeach.gov
    Venue: Long Beach Police Department, West Division,1900 Atlantic Ave. 2nd floor

    Sept. 13

    Nutcracker Auditions

    The Peninsula School of Performing Arts will be hosting auditions for The Nutcracker to be performed at the Norris Theatre on Nov. 20, 21, 28 and 29.
    The performing arts school is looking for gingersnaps (children ages 5 to 7 years old) at 9 a.m., for mice soldiers and clowns (children 7 to 10 years old) at 10 a.m., party scene boys and girls, and angels (children 10 to 13 years old) at 11 a.m., and more advanced roles at 12 p.m.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sept. 13
    Details: pspsdance@gmail.com, www.pspadance.com.
    Venue: 2325 Palos Verdes Drive West, Palos Verdes Estates

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