• Honda Lending Discrimination Case Settled: RL NEWS Briefs July 15, 2015

    Honda Lending Discrimination Case Settled
    TORRANCE  On July 14, the Department of Justice and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the settlement to resolve lending discrimination allegations against American Honda Finance.
    The allegations state that Honda, based in Torrance, engaged in discrimination against African American, Latino and Asian American borrowers in auto lending.
    Honda has agreed to change the way it prices its loans by limiting dealer markup to 125 basis points (or 1.25 percentage points) for loans of 60 months or less, and to 100 basis points (or 1 percentage point) for loans greater than 60 months. The settlement also provides $24 million in compensation for alleged victims of past discrimination.
    The coordinated investigations by the department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that preceded the settlement determined this system of subjective and unguided pricing discretion directly results in Honda’s qualified African-American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers paying more than qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers. The department and the bureau anticipate that Honda’s new caps on discretionary markups will substantially reduce or eliminate these disparities.
    Honda is known as an “indirect” auto lender because, rather than taking applications directly from consumers, the company makes most of its loans through car dealers nationwide who help their customers pay for their new or used car by submitting their loan application to Honda. Honda’s business practice, like most other major auto lenders, allows car dealers discretion to vary a loan’s interest rate from the price Honda initially sets based on the borrower’s objective credit-related factors. Dealers receive greater payments from Honda on loans that include a higher interest rate markup.
    The settlement resolves claims by the department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Honda discriminated by charging thousands of African-American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers higher interest rates than non-Hispanic white borrowers. The agencies claim that Honda charged borrowers higher interest rates because of their race or national origin and not because of the borrowers’ creditworthiness or other objective criteria related to borrower risk. The United States’ complaint alleges that the average African-American victim was obligated to pay more than $250 more during the term of the loan because of discrimination, the average Hispanic victim was obligated to pay more than $200 more during the term of the loan because of discrimination and the average Asian/Pacific Islander victim was obligated to pay more than $150 more during the term of the loan because of discrimination. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits such discrimination in all forms of lending, including auto lending. Honda resolved the bureau claims by entering into a public administrative settlement.
    In addition to the $24 million in payments for its past conduct, under the Justice Department consent order, Honda will also pay $1 million to fund a consumer financial education program focused on consumer auto finance that is designed to benefit African-American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander populations.
    The settlement also requires Honda to improve its monitoring and compliance systems. The settlement allows the lender to experiment with different approaches toward lessening discrimination and requires it to regularly report to the department and the bureau on the results of its efforts as well as discuss potential ways to improve results.
    The settlement provides for an administrator to locate victims and distribute payments of compensation at no cost to borrowers whom the department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identify as victims of Honda’s discrimination. The department and the bureau will make a public announcement and post information on their websites once more details about the compensation process become available. Borrowers who are eligible for compensation from the settlement will be contacted by the administrator, and do not need to contact the department or the bureau at this time.
    The settlements in these matters provide for a total of at least $1.2 billion in monetary relief for impacted communities.

    Man Suspected of Killing Roommate Arrested
    LONG BEACH — On July 10, Norman Mathew Perdon was arrested in connection with the stabbing and murder of his former roommate Allen Estes, 38.
    The incident took place July 4. Long Beach Police Department officers found Estes at about 5:30 a.m. near Anaheim and Dawson Avenue. Estes had sustained several stabbing injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.
    A tip helped police find Perdon. He was arrested at the 1400 block of Walnut Avenue. Charges have been filed against him and detectives presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on July 14. He is being held at the Long Beach Jail where his bail has been set at $1.02 million.

    POLB Names Managing Director of Communications
    LONG BEACH — On July 14, former chief communications officer of Metro Los Angeles, Noelia Rodriguez, was selected by the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners to be the new managing director of communications, government relations and marketing divisions.
    Rodriguez’s experience ranges from the White House and Los Angeles Mayor’s Office to Metro Los Angeles.
    As Metro’s chief communications officer, Rodriguez led 275 employees and managed a $50 million budget overseeing media relations, government relations, marketing, communications and community relations. She was also responsible for customer programs and services.
    She previously served as director of the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University, vice president of corporate communications at Univision, director of communications and press secretary to First Lady Laura Bush from 2001 to 2003 and deputy mayor under former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. In 2000, Riordan appointed Rodriguez to serve as president and CEO of LA 2000, the host committee for the Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles’ first political convention since President Kennedy’s nomination in 1960.
    Rodriguez’s expertise is expected to further enhance the Harbor Department’s award-winning advocacy and communications efforts.
    Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University Los Angeles. She also completed one year of studies in the social ecology program at University of California Irvine.

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  • Garcetti Appoints New Press Secretary: RL NEWS Briefs July 14, 2015

    Garcetti Appoints New Press Secretary

    LOS ANGELES — On July 14, Mayor Eric Garcetti appointed Connie Llanos as press secretary for his administration.

    Llanos serves as communications director and strategic advisor to Councilman Curren D. Price Jr. She began her career as a journalist for the Los Angeles Daily News where she covered mainly development, politics, and education. Llanos has also previously served in Congressman Tony Cardenas’ and Councilman Felipe Fuentes’ offices, and as a key advisor on several political campaigns.

    Now, she will be the primary liaison between the media and Mayor Garcetti. Llanos will assume her new position on July 22, 2015.

     

    Compton Community College District Establishes Partnership with Molina Medical

    COMPTON — On July 8, the Board of Trustees for Compton Community College District approved a memorandum of understanding with Molina Medical Management Inc. to establish of a health care clinic on Compton Community College District premises.

    The proposed clinic will be in space provided by Compton Community College and established and run by Molina Medical. It will provide services to Compton Community College students. The campus is located at 1111 E. Artesia Boulevard, Compton, CA 90221.

     

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  • Eighth District Youth Summit: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS July 14, 2015

    July 18
    Eighth District Youth Summit
    Youths, ages 13 and up, and their parents and/or guardians to participate in “PD & Me,” a Youth Summit, featuring the “Why’d You Stop Me?” program. As some of the content may not be appropriate for all minors, written permission (click link to access form) from a parent or guardian is required for all attendees under 18. Adult family members are also encouraged to attend.
    The purpose of the summit is to bring teens together to promote stronger relationships with local law enforcement.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 18
    Details: (562) 570-6685.
    Venue: Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
     
    July 18
    Green Terminal Island Plan
    The public is invited to attend the next community workshop for the Green Terminal Island Freeway Transition Plan and provide input on concepts to transform the freeway into an eco-friendly corridor that better serves the community.
    The event will build on earlier outreach efforts, focusing on the community’s vision for converting the Terminal Island Freeway into a local-serving road with an associated greenbelt.
    Time: 10 a.m. July 18
    Details: (562) 570-5972; www.lbds.info/green_ti.
    Venue: Silverado Park, 1545 W. 31st St., Long Beach
     
    July 18
    Remove the Felony
    Change your life and take action. Participant will get free help filling out the reclassification application.
    Thanks to a new law called Proposition 47, you may be able to get non-violent felonies reclassified to misdemeanors. Qualifying felonies are:

    • Simple drug possession
    • 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 obtain Rap sheet; $35-$60 (2-4 weeks)
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. July 18
    Details: www.MyProp47.com
    Venue: Centro Cha Inc.Center for Working Families, 1900 Atlantic Ave, 2nd Floor, Long Beach
     
    July 21
    Long Beach City Council Meeting
    The Long Beach City Council will consider the preparation of an ordinance that would comply with state law to expedite the permitting process related to the installation of certain solar energy systems.
    The city council also will consider an ordinance that would lessen the amount of gas meter testing to save money for the city.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. July 21
    Details: http://longbeach.legistar.com
    Venue: Long Beach City Hall

    July 21
    Show Your Metamorphic Art
    How have you as an artist adapted to changes in your environment, your world? How have you interpreted changes in our ever evolving city, our ever changing world? How has our greater, shared metamorphosis influenced your art and/or how does your art represent adaptive change? WE Show III wants to know.
    WE Labs and the Arts Council for Long Beach are partnering on an exhibition series just for Long Beach artists.  Submission is open to all artists who are signed up on the Arts Council for Long Beach, Arts and Cultural Registry.
    The Arts and Culture Registry is a free service designed to be a comprehensive and inclusive list of artists and arts organizations serving Long Beach.Shows will exhibit on a quarterly basis and will be featured through regular We Labs Art Tours.
    Work Media: Most 2D media; limited space available for 3D work.
    Work Size: 6’X6’, 80 LB. max.
    Entry Requirements:
    ·                     Artist’s information on the Arts Council for Long Beach, Arts and Cultural Registry must be current and complete.

    ·                     Digital images (JPEG) of up to three works may be submitted either by email (using We Transfer) to iph@welabs.us or on CD/DVD, mailed or delivered to: WE Labs, 235 E. Broadway, 8th Floor, Long Beach, CA 90802

    ·                     Artist resume or biography & exhibition record, if any.
    ·                     Artist Statement (please address metamorphosis and/or adaptive change)

    ·                     Sales price (if applicable)

    Time: 12 p.m. July 21
    Details:iph@welabs.us
    Venue: WE Labs, 235 E. Broadway, 8th Floor, Long Beach
     
    July 28
    Back-to-Back Community District 4 Meetings
    Long Beach District 4 is hosting a community meeting at 6:30 July 28 at Los Altos Public Library and July 29 at Orizaba Park.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. July 28 and 29
    Venues: Los Altos Public Library, 5614 Britton Drive, Long Beach
    Orizaba Park, 1400 Orizaba Ave., Long Beach
     
    July 29
    POLA Releases Zero Emissions Plan
    The Port of Los Angeles will host a workshop at Banning’s Landing Community Center where people will be able to give input and comments an issued draft white paper on zero emission technology that details the port’s testing of zero emissions technology to date.
    The paper also details its proposed near-term plan for encouraging zero emission technology use in maritime goods movement, particularly as it relates to drayage trucks and yard tractors. By 2020, the port plans to facilitate testing and development of up to 200 zero emission vehicles.
    The draft white paper outlines next steps regarding current and planned zero emission demonstration projects. It also includes recommendations for zero emission-related infrastructure planning, as well as strategies for pursuing local, state and federal funding for near-term zero emission equipment testing and for long-term capital investments and operations.
    People may also submit comments to ZEwhitepaper@portla.org until 5 p.m. Aug. 7
    Time: 3 p.m. July 29
    Details: www.portoflosangeles.org
    Venue: Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water St., Wilmington
     
    Aug. 1
    Schemes, Scams and Rip-Offs
    Participate in a fraud prevention forum for seniors. Learn how to stop and fight fraud and identity theft. Coffee and pastries will be served.
    Time: 9 to 11 a.m. Aug. 1
    Details: (562) 570-6685
    Venue: Expo Arts Center, 4321 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach

    Aug. 1
    Emergency Preparedness Workshop
    Learn to map your neighborhood at an emergency preparedness workshop.
    This free workshop will:

    • Describe specific Harbor Area hazards such as the Palos Verdes and San Andreas Earthquake Faults, Tsunamis, Hazmat, Landslides, etc..
    • Teach the basics of personal and family preparedness.
    • Present the Map Your Neighborhood 9 Step Program. The program teaches communities how to work together and be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours following a disaster.
    • Provide attendees with information and materials needed to organize a MYN program in their neighborhood.

    Time: 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Aug. 1
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/mapyourneighborhood
    Venue: Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro

     

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  • McDonnell Relieves Jail Personnel of Duty: RL NEWS Briefs July 13, 2015

    McDonnell Relieves Jail Personnel of Duty, Launches Internal Investigation
    LOS ANGELES — On July 10, two lieutenants, one sergeant, one senior deputy, four deputies and two custody assistants with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were relieved of duty and a number of others were reassigned to other duties pending further investigation.
    The alleged incident began when the involved inmate was booked in at the Inmate Reception Center on June 19. Allegations included the inmate not being provided food and being handcuffed for a lengthy period of time following a force incident during which the inmate reportedly assaulted a female deputy. The inmate ate upon entry to the jail, but was allegedly restrained for about 32 hours; during that time he received medical attention and a cup of water.
    On June 27, the inmate filed a complaint and an investigation began. The complaint was brought to the attention of Sheriff Jim McDonnell on July 9. A decision regarding personnel actions was made within 24 hours.
    The Sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and Internal Affairs Bureau have been asked to investigate the entire matter. The Office of Inspector General and Federal Bureau of Investigation were also notified.
    Notification was sent to all custody personnel assigned to Inmate Reception Center reminding them of protocols regarding restraint, checks and feeding of inmates and additional training has been ordered. Further corrective action is pending.

    Another Murder in Long Beach
    LONG BEACH — On July 10, 42-year-old Tomas Palmas of Long Beach died after being shot on the prior night.
    Long Beach Police Department officers found Palmas at about 10:36 p.m. July 9, at the 1700 block of Cerritos Avenue, while responding to reports of a shooting. Palmas had been struck. Long Beach Fire Department paramedics responded and transported Palmas to a local hospital where he remained in critical condition.
    He died at about 7:12 p.m. July 10.
    The motive for this shooting is still unclear and no suspect is in custody at this time. The investigation remains ongoing.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Crime Increases in Long Beach
    LONG BEACH — Within the past few months, overall crime has increased 5.3 percent when compared to the 5 year average through May 31, 2015 in Long Beach.
    Ninety-nine gang court order arrests have been made so far this year, while 167 Gang Court Order arrests were made in 2014.
    With the support of City Council, $350,000 in non-recurring funding is currently being used to target residential property crime, allowing the Long Beach Police Department to bolster efforts towards investigating and preventing burglaries. As of the end of May, the city has experienced 212 fewer residential burglaries for 2015, in comparison to May of last year, which is a 21.9 percent decrease.
    Here’s a comparison of some categories of crime through May 2015, and compared to the five-year average:
    • Murder, down 27 percent; down 47 percent avg.
    • Aggravated assault, up 33 percent; up 12 percent avg.
    • Garage burglary, down 3 percent; down 9 percent avg.
    • Auto burglary, up 5 percent; down 5 percent avg.
    • Grand Theft Auto, up 6 percent; up 4 percent avg.
    • Petty theft greater than $50, up 72 percent; up 8 percent avg.

    International Flights Study Gets OK to Move Forward
    LONG BEACH — On July 7, the Long Beach City Council, voted 6-3, councilmen Al Austin, Darryl Supernaw and Roberto Uranga opposed, to move forward with conducting a feasibility study at the Long Beach Airport to allow international flights.
    The action follows a request from JetBlue Airways in February for Long Beach to apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, for a User Fee Airport designation to establish a Customs facility, which would allow international flights.
    About two dozen residents testified before the city council and a packed council chambers in opposition to moving forward with this request, citing a number of reasons, including the potential threat to the Airport Noise Compatibility Ordinance, which limits the number of flights at Long Beach Airport, as well as financial and security risks to the City, with minimal or no anticipated economic gain.
    Airport Director Bryant Francis outlined six components that would be included in the feasibility study:
    1) Terminal enhancement facility definition
    2) Facility planning and design
    3) Project cost estimates
    4) Facility demand and traffic forecasts
    5) Financial pro forma and funding plan
    6) Feasibility report, which includes a compilation of steps 1-5
    Councilmember Austin also obtained assurances that the feasibility study would include additional elements, including:
    1) A forecast of additional General Aviation flights, including corporate and personal jets, that would utilize the Federal Inspection Service facility;
    2) A Risk Assessment of potential threats to the airport noise control ordinance and a plan to mitigate impacted neighborhoods and schools from environmental and health impacts should the airport noise control ordinance become invalidated;
    3) An assessment of potential security risks created by the addition of international flights.
    The motion that was approved also required at least two community meetings as part of the feasibility study process.
    The airport director indicated that the study is expected to be completed in six to seven months, at which time, the report will come back to the council for another vote on whether to proceed.

    Lola’s Mexican Cuisine to Open New Location in North LB
    Lola’s Mexican Cuisine announced that it will be opening its second location this fall in Bixby Knolls. Lola’s will be located at 4140 Atlantic Avenue, the current location of Le-Yen Chinese Family Restaurant.
    Lola’s has been operating its first location on 4th Street in Long Beach since May of 2008.

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  • Second-Class Citizenship Continues, But Today, I Celebrate

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    The June 26 Supreme Court ruling that made it legal for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 states was a major step forward in the fight for equality.

    I was ecstatic, elated and everything else that comes with this major victory. This euphoria borne from this victory stems from the pride of being an active participant in this long struggle. My name won’t be in history books, but I know that my voting, marching, protesting, blogging, reporting and supervising other reporters on the issue made a difference.

    Why does this ruling matter? California achieved marriage equality two years ago. The ruling matters because beyond the continued presence of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, there’s the civil right to be equally protected under the law. To me, marriage equality has less to do with love or being gay or bisexual. It’s about civil rights. It’s the same response singer Hozier gave in an interview about his song, “Take Me to Church.” If a group of people contribute to the well-being of a free society they should have equal rights. It’s that simple.

    People within the LGBT community still have a long list of battles that need to be fought. Transgender people are still not being treated fairly and the lives of people of color continue to be treated as if they are without value. Some people believe that marriage equality was simply a struggle championed by and for white gay men. I disagree. The victory for equality and civil rights will pave the way for future victories. It won’t be overnight and it won’t be easy. It took generations to end slavery and segregation, voting rights are still not secure and social discrimination continues to exist. But today we must celebrate because we are one step closer to full equality.

    As a Latino with intersecting identities, I understand that the fight for civil rights has not ended. Tomorrow, another ignorant person (and “ignorance,” we must remember, is not an insult. It is just a lack of knowledge) will ask me: “What’s your nationality?” — A question that most non-people of color rarely get. There will be another who will, because of the color of my skin, assume I’m the valet, the car wash attendant or a part of a cleaning crew.

    But today, I celebrate a milestone in the struggle for civil rights, even as I continue to socially be considered a second-class, hyphenated citizen.

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  • PADRE: The New Long Beach Restaurant That Will Blow The Rest Out of the Water

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    Well, that’s it. I’m no longer single. I just fell in love with a restaurant. I know that’s so unlike me. I don’t typically swoon at the promise of being swept off of my feet. But something happened the other night. Padre has essentially changed all of that. So, here’s the deal — Long Beach, brace yourself. It’s about to get real serious in the food and beverage industry. I’ve been ranting for months that I am often underwhelmed by restaurants in general.

    When I walk into a restaurant, I don’t want to order anything safe. I want to take a bite out of something and be transported to another place. Padre, the new Latin gastropub in downtown Long Beach, exceeded my expectations in every way. (more…)

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  • Not Too Proud to Fight

    By Viktor T. Kerney, Guest Columnist

    On June 26, the Supreme Court delivered a historic ruling for Marriage Equality. Same-sex couples now have the freedom to marry in all 50 states. All of the hard work and dedication finally paid off.

    But not everyone felt joyous and liberated. Many queer people of color saw the marriage win as a hollow victory. Placing marriage at the forefront belittled issues pertaining to queer communities of color.

    Of course we are grateful we can marry the ones we love, but how can we truly celebrate when our lives, our experiences are disregarded and disparaged? For many queer people of color, this wasn’t the victory that would change things forever. In fact, many didn’t feel that the fight for marriage equality really included us.

    When you looked at the articles, magazine covers or TV interviews, all you would see is white male faces. You would hear their point of view, their experiences and their struggles. All through the marriage battle, it was clear that white gay males were the brand of the movement. Suddenly, other matters like the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, transgender issues and LGBT youth, got pushed aside. We heard that once the fight for marriage equality was done, the focus would shift on these matters. However, the question is, will the same amount of energy and vigor be there for these battles?

    To be honest with you, I’m not sure. I’m not sure the overall LGBTQ movement understands that this victory was only round one and that the struggle doesn’t end with the freedom to marry. This is just the beginning of an ongoing fight. The overall LGBTQ community has to open its eyes and see what’s going on within. I need for them to see that in 32 states we can still be fired for being gay. Or, how our transgender sisters are being killed in horrific ways and then, misgendered by the media. How more and more LGBTQ youth are rapidly becoming homeless and forced into a life of crime or prostitution just to stay alive. How racism is destroying the very foundation of our community, the deportation of undocumented LGBTQ people, the record numbers of deaths from the police and how black lives are completely disdained in America.

    As a black gay man, it is hard to celebrate our marriage victory, knowing these problems are haunting us every single day. The same streets my gay brothers and sisters are cheering on, are the same streets filled with the blood of my black brothers and my black transgender sisters. As people plan to marry their partners, there are undocumented people being torn apart from their love ones and families. We stood together during this fight for marriage equality, now we need to stand, side by side, to continue the battle.

    As I stated earlier, the marriage victory was just the first round. The fight for job projections, transgender rights and basic human rights is on the docket. If we are going to call this the new civil rights movement, then we all have to be involved. It’s not just a transgender battle, or a people-of-color battle… It’s our battle. So please, don’t think it’s over. We’re just getting started.

    All hands on deck.

    Kerney enjoys writing and discussing LGBTQ issues, pop culture, and social justice. His work has been featured in Bilerico Project, Buzzfeed and Moviepilot.

     

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  • The Future of Marriage Equality:

    The Road Continues

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor           

    Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right to marry for all adults of legal age, questions remain about potential struggles ahead for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

    What are the ramifications, challenges, resistance and future for the equality civil rights movement?

    To help answer these questions, Jenny Pizer, senior counsel and director of law and policy at Lambda Legal, took some time out of her busy schedule. Founded in 1973, Lambda Legal is the oldest and largest national legal organization whose mission is to achieve full civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people living with HIV, through impact litigation, education and public policy work. Pizer has worked with Lambda Legal for 19 of its 42 years.

    Pizer believes the long-term ramifications of the June 26 landmark ruling will mostly be positive, both socially and legally.

    “We and our families will no longer be marked as different and less than other people. Instead, we will have the same opportunities as heterosexual couples to celebrate our love and commitment publicly, and to invite our friends and extended families to join those celebrations if we wish,” Pizer said. “Of course many couples will choose not to marry, or will choose not to do so in a gathering of relatives. But whenever a group is marked as different and lesser, many forms of discrimination and other abuse can follow. The Supreme Court’s lifting of that mark opens a new day for lesbian, gay and bisexual Americans.”

    Pizer pointed out Justice Anthony Kennedy’s repudiation of the prejudice and discrimination of the past and his acknowledgment that gay people deserve equal protection under the law.

    “This confirms what a majority of Americans now understand and it promises greater inclusion and respectful treatment in myriad contexts as a social matter,” Pizer said.

    Of course, as a legal matter, this decision only resolves the question of marriage for same-sex couples. Yet, it could have a great many legal challenges to come.

    “These will include various discrimination issues, including the employment, public accommodations, housing, health care, credit and insurance discrimination issues that remain far too common in the private sector, as well as the discrimination issues that are pervasive in government-controlled settings such as prisons, immigration detention, foster care and juvenile justice systems, public schools and other government services,” Pizer said.

    Nevertheless, the ruling does not necessarily prevent other challenges to marriage equality. It does not prevent resistance to its mandate that same-sex-couples be treated with respect.

    “But its holding and reasoning dictate an ‘equal treatment’ answer to the range of family law questions we see some anti-LGBT public figures defiantly raising,” Pizer said. “Yes, elected officials and candidates with extreme oppositional views are free to express those views. And candidates, anti-LGBT advocates and religious leaders are free to encourage public employees to obstruct and refuse to perform job duties related to same-sex couples marrying. But employees who heed those calls may well find themselves needing new employment. No one is entitled based on religious freedom or other basic rights to demand payment for work not performed. If anyone refuses to do their job according to the law and supervisors’ directions, they put themselves at risk of unemployment. They may also incur personal liability for choosing to discriminate contrary to a now-clear, direct constitutional command.”

    Just days after the Supreme Court made its decision, county clerks and other government agencies defied it. The disobedience of these people invites lawsuits and personal liability for damages and attorneys’ fees, Pizer said.

    “Our rights of worship and conscience have firm, important legal protection in every state and at the federal level,” Pizer said. “But those rights of religious belief and worship do not entitle any of us to harm others, or to demand a salary while not doing the job.”

    She warns that the struggle for equal treatment continues. The LGBT community must work together to enact comprehensive non-discrimination laws at state and federal levels, resisting overly broad religious exemptions.

    “We continue the work to educate the public about who we are and what we need to live full, free, safe, healthy and fulfilling lives. We especially heed the urgency of need of our transgender sisters, brothers and others, particularly those held in violent, abusive institutions that don’t respect individual gender identity and medical needs. We continue to advocate aggressively for the policy changes and resources needed by those most vulnerable in our community, including LGBT youth, seniors, the disproportionate numbers who are living in poverty, and those at risk because they are undocumented. And perhaps most of all, we redouble our commitment to working in the tightest possible collaborations with our sister movements focused on achieving racial justice, an end to ethnic profiling and bias, and reduction of our culture’s still-deeply-rooted sexism – the toxin that continues to impede progress toward full equality for women and LGBT people alike.”

     

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  • Special Election Spawns Dear Recall Attempt

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    In the latest fallout of Carson’s June 2 race to fill Assemblyman Mike Gipson’s old seat, City Clerk Jim Dear was served with a Notice of Intention to Recall on June 30.

    In his current job as city clerk, he forwarded it the next day to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters for processing. The city council took action that night to remove Dear from the recall process and appointed city administrative analyst Lisa Berglund in his place.

    Once the registrar processes the notice, recall proponents have 120 days to gather slightly more than 8,000 signatures necessary to force a recall.

    Next, the signatures will be submitted to the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters, who will have 30 days to determine if a sufficient number of signatures have been gathered. If they are determined to be valid, then the city council has 30 days to schedule a recall election, which must take place between 88 and 125 days after the council’s action. By that timeline, a recall election would be possible in early 2016.

    This isn’t the first time Dear has stared down a recall effort. Dear’s political opponents, Carson Citizens for Reform, attempted to unseat him as mayor in 2008, accusing him of being too closely tied to corporate interests and “disrespectful” of residents and fellow council members Lula Davis-Holmes and Mike Gipson at the time. Dear soundly defeated that effort.

    The current recall allegations, however, follow a June 15 confrontation during which former Mayor Vera Dewitt and members of her organization, Carson Citizens for Reform, held a press conference in the city clerk’s office and asked Dear to step down, alleging voting irregularities, including:

    • Endorsing at least one of the special election candidates “during the L.A. County Democratic endorsement proceedings;”

    • Allegedly disenfranchising thousands “in the northern [black majority] part of the city with little or no notification and no effort to find another polling location;”

    • Delaying election results by attending a city clerk certification class that “could have been taken at a different time;”

    • Changing the combination to the clerk’s safe, while it contained uncounted ballots “so that not even the deputy city clerk can access the vault.”

    These charges, plus a few others were listed in the Notice of Intent to Recall, including:

    • “Called the former Elections Officer the “N” word,” but without indicating who that officer was;

    • “Tried to sabotage the NFL Stadium negotiations …”

    • “Ran for city clerk just to spike his pension” and “embarrassed the city” and “unethically endorsed a candidate in the…Special Election.”

    Dear rebutted the charges in an interview with Random Lengths in the days following the June 16 council meeting.

    “Three elementary schools used in the March 3 election informed us they were unavailable because June 2 was the week of [elementary school] graduation,” he argued. “Our job was to secure public facilities in these three consolidated precincts, as close as we can get to the old locations.”

    The schools are at 232 Place in south Carson, which serves predominantly Asian-American and Filipino-American voters; Leapwood, and Annalee. Dear said there were no known complaints from the 232 Place precinct’s voters about the substitute location.

    Dear insists he did not personally endorse any candidate in the June 2 election. He’s a member of the Los Angeles County Democratic Club which endorsed second-place finisher Jesus-Alex Cainglet but “the organization is free to endorse whoever they want.”

    With regard to sabotaging the NFL stadium deal, he replied that DeWitt was throwing everything at him, indicating the city seal on his desk.

    “She’s saying I tried to sabotage NFL stadium efforts by withholding the city seal [on certain documents] … on every document for the NFL, I’ve said yes.”

    In one of the more explosive moments of a chaotic June 16 council meeting, Charles Davis, former Compton city clerk, publicly told the council Dear called him “nigger.” Davis is African American. He previously served as a Carson election official when then-clerk Donesia Gause was seeking re-election.

    On June 16, Davis told the council that Dear served him with court papers, then muttered the expletive as he walked away. Later that night, Dear argued with Mayor Albert Robles and stormed out. He and Davis separately told ABC newscaster Elex Michaelson their stories.

    “I would never, ever call that person the N-word,” Dear said. “People who know me know I don’t even cuss.”

    Davis said he wasn’t calling Dear racist but, “My mama once told me when people are really pissed they say what’s in their heart.”

    Possible Motives Behind

    Vote Delay

    The local activist group believes Dear deliberately delayed the vote count so that the fourth member of this council could not be seated before the council appoints a fifth council member.

    “It is our interpretation that you would like to hold an election in November, at great expense to taxpayers, so that you can run again for mayor of this city in 2017,” DeWitt said during the June 15 press conference.

    The current council majority wanted to have Gipson’s seat filled by June 16 so that Robles’ seat could be filled by appointment on June 20, just in time for the June 23 meeting. Dear said during the council meeting that he would certify the election on June 23. The legal deadline for certifying the election was June 26.

    To affect this outcome, Mayor Robles called for a June 12 emergency meeting with only 24-hour notice to hire Davis as a temporary elections official to complete the ballot count, passing the measure by a 2-1 vote, with Councilman Elito Santarina on speakerphone—though he complained that he was unable to clearly hear the proceedings on his end.

    Longtime council observer and perennial council candidate, Rita Boggs, questioned the council on whether the meeting was properly noticed.

    The day after the meeting, Dear changed the combination to the vault holding the ballots and then filed an injunction against the council the following Monday to retain control of the clerk’s office. Dear was confronted by DeWitt and her organization after this.

    At the June 16 council meeting, to circumvent Dear, Mayor Robles and Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes appointed Hilton to Robles’ seat, with Santarina voting against.

    Dear called the action illegal because Santarina broke quorum by leaving just after Robles made the motion and Lula Davis-Holmes seconded it.

    Hilton is now serving on the council. At press time a fifth council seat remains vacant.

    Dear has called the recall effort a “repeat of 2008,” referring to the previous recall attempt. “Same characters, another waste of taxpayer funds.”

    He said that any allegation of voter disenfranchisement is potentially inflammatory in this city with a large African-American population.

    “She’s claiming I somehow disenfranchised disabled and minority voters, by moving three polling places.”

    Dear denies it and the other charges. He suggests DeWitt’s motive for launching the recall is that she wants to be city clerk.

     

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  • The Rule of Seven:

    Developing the Waterfront—Global vs. Local Jobs

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Ask anyone who has ever had to deal with the City of Los Angeles, they will tell you that it takes “forever” to get anything done. Be it building and safety, the Department of Transportation or the Port of Los Angeles. And it doesn’t matter the size of the project, either. I still remember how it took seven years from concept to completion to finish the little parking lot on 6th and Mesa streets. The bigger the bureaucracy, the longer it takes to get it approved.

    This is the obvious problem Mayor Eric Garcetti has in his “back to basics” approach to fixing Los Angeles City Hall. Upgrading the technology only goes so far in solving what’s wrong with Los Angeles. You still have to have people who make the system work and who can make a reasoned decision in something less than seven months or seven years.

    Former Mayor James Hahn once had a cure for this, but it seems to have been forgotten. He called on all department heads to hold monthly meetings in each council district and committed them to group problem-solving. It seems a bit quaint these days to actually get everyone around the table to solve problems, but it still works when the directive is clear.

    The problem is that Los Angeles is a top-down organization, and the top, for most of us, is a distant 20-mile trek up the 110 Freeway that gets more congested with traffic the closer you get to City Hall. It would be far easier if City Hall was open for business on Sundays.

    The one unfulfilled Mayor Hahn promise was to bring City Hall to the people. What an amazing concept—a local office for every department with which a citizen has to conduct business. I personally know people who have had to go to the Van Nuys Building and Safety office for a specific “plan check” because the San Pedro office couldn’t handle it.

    In the sage words of former State Sen. Tom Hayden, “the only problem with fighting City Hall in Los Angeles is finding City Hall!”

    Yes, it’s time to actually bring our city government back to the districts with fully functioning department offices. And it wouldn’t be too much to ask for the entire city council to have at least one meeting annually in each of the 15 council districts.

    If the mayor and the city’s leaders desire to have more civic engagement by its stakeholders, they should be more willing to decamp from City Hall more often, and gain a little perspective on how things look from a distance. Yet, even so, this is only a partial cure for what makes this city so unmanageable.

    The amount of time it takes to get projects of almost any size finished makes Los Angeles the city in which many avoid doing business, because time equals money. Unless, that is, you are the billion-dollar developer who pays for “fast-tracking” and there is a perceived economic imperative to what you do—think L.A. Live, think the film industry and think global trade at the Port of Los Angeles.

    The case in point in the Harbor Area is the contrast between moving forward with the waterfront developments, commonly referred to as “bridge to breakwater,” and the Port of Los Angeles’ current drive to keep pace with the global shipping industry.

    The Ports O’ Call development plan has been in exclusive, closed-door negotiations for I forget how long, and the Yusen terminal expansion contract has just been announced at a cost of $42 million, with an expected total of $64 million, and an uncertain commitment from Yusen on spending a similar amount. The Ports O’ Call deal is dragging its feet over terms and conditions, while Yusen will be built at breakneck speed. But why?

    The Yusen terminal will accommodate larger super-container ships, capable of carrying up to 22,000 TEUs under the Vincent Thomas Bridge. The ships are so big that they may not be able to use the turning basin in the West Basin. This is one of many terminals that are slated for expansion as POLA’s response to the Panama Canal expansion and its fear other ports are siphoning off cargo container traffic from the Pacific Rim.

    Trade that brings $415 billion worth of cargo into this port and provides $400 million in revenues and reportedly creates 1.1 million jobs in California is what I call an “economic imperative.” The twin-port complex is nationally significant, since some 45 percent of all imports are brought to the Los Angeles and Long Beach docks and then transported to Chicago and beyond.

    While these numbers seem impressive, they do little for the local economy as the investments in terminals chase dwindling employment, caused by automation and smaller tax revenues into the city’s general fund. The San Pedro waterfront developments are but a footnote to these much grander enterprises, and yet, as impressed as we are with wealth and jobs created, much of that wealth and the majority of those jobs are not left here.

    The communities surrounding the two ports have for a long time suffered the effects of global expansion of industrial trade, but have seen few of the jobs created by this expansion. In fact, as many as 35,000 of those jobs created evaporated with the NAFTA free trade treaty during the 1980s and 1990s.

    The Ports O’ Call waterfront development, such as it has been presented, is at best a poor trade-off for the loss of those jobs, and in the real world of global capitalism, small change for paying back this area of Los Angeles for this great economic injustice.

    We will be lucky if the Bridge to Breakwater gets built within 7 years.

     

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