• Regional harbor area utla mtg

    Week 2 On the Picketline, Picketlines Solid as LAUSD Flinches

    By Mark Friedman, Random Lengths reporter

    Entering into week 2 of the UTLA strike against LAUSD, student attendance at the schools was down to 15 percent and support on the picket lines from unions, parents, students and the community is way up. This not going as planned by the board and their school privatization backers. They hoped, through the media (and media articles), to pit parents against teachers, and on Jan. 19, Advanced Placement students, studying for the AP exams against all the rest. They have failed miserably.

    More than 15,000 non- teacher UTLA supporters have joined the picket lines at the more than 1,100 schools on strike against LAUSD. SEIU 99 (school staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc.) have struck in sympathy at 10 schools … and next week that will increase, according to UTLA spokespeople.

    Teacher demands for smaller classes, a nurse in every school every day, more psychiatric and academic counselors with smaller caseloads, teacher pay increases, cap on nonunionized charter schools have struck a real chord with the population overall. Even some national TV shows have featured the strike. Seeing the forthcoming UTLA victory, some politicians have finally spoken up in support.

    At a spirited meeting of harbor area schools, UTLA strike and picket captains heard reports and mapped out plans to increase support for the strike. Stephen Seal, harbor area chairperson motivated the crowd with chant of “one day longer, one day stronger.” The Eastern Airlines strikers, International Association of Machinists members created the “one day longer” slogan duiring the 1989 air traffic controllers lockout.

    The ILWU has turned out a few picketers at many school sites. This is an example for all unions to follow and to increase numbers of other unions and their members on the line and opening their union halls thus providing a safe area and food for students who do not want to cross the picket lines. This was a key factor in the West Virginia teachers strike victory… becoming a social movement.

    Rosa Diaz told the crowd said, “Parents held the picket line will we were marching downtown.”

    Support came from Metro bus and train drivers giving striking teachers free passage.

    Odetta Moore from Perry middle school told the unionists said, “As teachers we are always looking for parent and community support. We got it. Our line was flooded
    with parents bringing food and they supported our gauntlet along Redondo Beach Blvd. I felt on fire in mysoul.”

    Gloria Martinez, Elementary, VP of UTLA. Gave the major presentation. “We are on the right side of history for educational justice. Most of us have never been on strike. Yet, we had nearly 30,000 of us for the last five historic days. Next week our picket lines need to remain strong; and they are getting more creative. The power is not at the bargaining table, but on the pickets, our relationship with the community, activism we are creating. We will have an impact on UTLA for our future and come out of this with a stronger union. We are changing because we have decided to stand up and fight for what’s right.

    We had a contingent in today’s women’s March downtown and will be participating in Martin Luther King Day parades Monday.

    We will have regional actions and gauntlets next week. After decades of stamping on our rights, eliminating input on curriculum, cutting our role in budget issue discussions and curriculum and would so much over teaching. We have been doing more with less. We will be out one day longer than LAUSD. Let us not hesitate to ask other unions to join the line. We need to pressure the LAUSD board. We need to turn the heat up on the principals.” Many of whom, including their union head, Juan Flecha, have called on LAUSD to shut the schools, fearing their inability to provide a safe environment.

    All left the meeting with stacks of posters, bumper stickers, and a determination to win. Please visit www.randomlengthsnews.com for continued pro-union coverage.
    Send us your photos and comments, join and add to our Facebook page.

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  • UTLA Strike Solid, Daily Breeze Goes Ballistic with “War” on Kids & Union

    By Mark Friedman, 13-year veteran of California Teachers Association, Green Dot Public Schools, RLn Contributor

    Striking teachers photo by Jeff Manghera

    On Saturday January 19, UTLA organized regional meetings of picket captains, chapter chairs and UTLA leaders to plan broadening solidarity going into week two of the strike. They showed their determination to win…to win for the students and public education.

    I woke up Sunday after attending that inspiring meeting for the harbor area to see the banner headlines in the opinion section of the Daily Breeze: “The Union’s War on Kids.”

    The façade of impartiality of this newspaper, which for years has ranted against working people’s struggles, strikes and their unions, immigrant rights, a woman’s right to choose and environmental justice has been torn away.

    Let no one have any illusions which side the Daily Breeze is on. They are stand on the side of union busters, school privatizers, big business and the very wealthy against working people. The lead article was most of the front page, by Rebecca Friedrichs. She is a long-time union opponent, opponent of public-school education, pro charter and privatization who writes under the “authority” of being a teacher and speaking for what she says are the “thousands of teachers who have been silenced by the bullying of the union.” She says she “wants parental choice, and most choice schools are nonunion.”

    Well my answer to that are the 15,000 parents and students who joined the UTLA picket lines this past week, the tens of thousands of parents who kept their children out of the schools In acts of solidarity with the teachers, and the students themselves who marched on the picket lines in support of their teachers demands. That is parental choice in action, in solidarity. Parents have taken the side and it’s not due to the UTLA bullying but the understanding that teachers are fighting for what is right, they are on the right side of history.

    She says that “thousands of horrified teachers are trapped in unionized public schools.” I would say from personal experience (in helping to organize non-union charters), that thousands of teachers are trapped in charter schools, and would much prefer their unionization. Unionized schools give teachers and parents more say over the curriculum and learning and working conditions.

    And this, I hope, will be the next task of the UTLA after winning this strike: unionizing all charters so they can no longer be used as a hammer against unionized teachers, as a drain from public education funds. With all teachers unionized, UTLA will have so much more clout in determining the best possible course for public education and fighting to get necessary funding from the district in the state.

    Friedrichs is explicit in which side she is on. “Kids damaged by union inspired attacks on their schools. Kids don’t have lobbyists. They have parents who’ve been silenced by unions and teachers like me who are disgusted by unions who use us to gain power at the expense of kids. So now you know how bully unions terrorize teachers, parents and kids.”

    Wow. What lies that are fit to print and endorse as the obvious position of the Daily Breeze editorial board and publisher.

    I do not know what planet or what school district she teaches in, but it is certainly not reflective of the hundreds of thousands of teachers around the country from West Virginia to Arizona, Oklahoma and now California who are standing up to the decades of attacks on teachers wages, pensions and working conditions and government dismantling of public education (under both Democrats and Republicans). It is the tremendous outpouring of support for the UTLA that has made the LAUSD school district flinch, and has made the Daily Breeze so hostile to the increasing strength and power of the UTLA.

    Working people throughout Southern California, nationally and even internationally are cheering on the teachers, sending solidarity in many forms, and greater numbers of parents, students and other unionists are joining the picket lines. Expanding this solidarity will guarantee victory. We need other unions to actively come to support the teachers, on the picket lines and opening their halls to students who don’t want to cross teachers’ picket lines. And, I know absolutely that thousands of nonunion charter school teachers are cheering them on also. A UTLA victory is a victory for all of us.

    So next time you read the Daily Breeze, you will not have to ask yourself which side are you on, you will know. ONE DAY LONGER THAN LAUSD.

    As an alternative to Daily Breeze lies and anti-worker editorials, I urge all teachers and working people to read Random Lengths, send in articles and pictures on your struggles, Facebook us, Twitter us or Instagram us.

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  • Charter School Movement Out to Destroy Public Education

    Wealthy “philanthropists” Eli Broad and Bill Gates finance privatization efforts, having Beutner’s support

    By Mark Friedman; 13-year veteran of California Teachers Association, Green Dot Public Schools, RLn Contributor

    The movement for charter schools that began several decades ago was to escape teachers’ unions and school desegregation. The earliest charter schools were set up in privileged white communities. They were nonunion, primarily white, and tapped into public funds to finance a semi-private education

    However, one group of charters in Los Angeles, Green Dot Public schools, began as one unionized school, Ánimo Leadership, in Lenox. The founder was Stephen Barr. With the success of this first school, Green Dot expanded to five and now 21, middle and high schools. At that time UTLA was not interested in unionizing charter school teachers, so the six founding teachers, having tremendous foresight, formed their own union, Asociación de Maestros Unidos (AMU)” and affiliated to the California Teachers Association (CTA). And I am so glad they did, be as otherwise I would never have taught in a nonunion school.

    I began working there as a science teacher in 2003. The class size was 24. We lacked labs and taught out of mobile classrooms. Yet we were successful because all of the teachers and administrators (at that time!) were dedicated to serving students in one of the poorest neighborhoods, with one of the lowest graduation rates in all Los Angeles. The school was 97% Latino, 3% Black, with a very high percentage of English language learners and would become the first generation in their family to go to college. Parents who enroll their children took a chance with this first unionized charter.

    Due to the dedication of the teachers (now 650) Green Dot succeeded and has become one of the top charter school companies in the country. The reason? It is union. And it is union power at that first school and then others that ensured the best possible education for students. Well, over the years administration adopted a business model. They abandoned the mission of small classrooms, teacher and parent control. CEO was paid over $300,000, while AMU fought him for a 2% pay raise and a cap on class size of 33.

    And in terms of parent, teacher and student decisions, it became no different than LAUSD with a bloated downtown bureaucracy. For the first few years teachers decided upon all budget items, courses, textbooks and parents had a say over their child’s education. There were music and art classes, numerous clubs for after-school activities, and a teacher to student ratio that LA teachers are on strike for today.

    Loss of teacher, student and parent decisions

    But over the years, and especially when Green Dot accepted $15 million from the Gates foundation to implement a draconian teacher evaluation program (which was opposed by the majority of the teachers but supported by the union president and thus implemented), the school lost its mission, everything changed. Teacher turnover increased dramatically. Teachers were turned into robots and any independence in the classroom ended.
    Administration began to fire and harass teachers who stood up to defend the students and to oppose the school’s direction in over testing students and ending teacher and parent input in decision-making. Students responded with petitions and the administration, all the way to the top, violated students constitutional right to free speech and organize and the National Lawyers Guild stepped in to defend us. Through weeks of demonstrations and protests by teachers, parents, students, and hundreds of prominent individuals nationwide, the students won; administration was forced to back down from their violation of teacher and student rights.

    Unfortunately, the Green Dot mission is dead at their schools, despite their continued high ranking due to teacher determination to have their students succeed—just like the striking UTLA teachers and staff. The idea of small learning communities with teacher and parent control no longer exists. It will take a battle at Green Dot schools to bring it back and I will be there with them on their picket lines when that happens, just as I am on the UTLA picket lines every day of the strike, bringing the news to the readers of Random Lengths, the only local paper that is supporting the strike The union makes us strong.

    There’s nothing wrong with small schools, call them charters or whatever you want, if teachers and staff are unionized. That’s the bottom line. Teachers conditions are learning conditions, as I have heard so often this week on the picket lines. Class sizes must be reduced significantly. Every school should have a nurse and librarian and a library. Teachers need a pay raise. The caseload for counselors, academic and psychiatric, special education teachers must be seriously slashed. The UTLA strike demands are just. All working people should support them. Next step, after our victory, is to unionize all charter schools!

    The money is there in the state budget. Let’s use it. Why don’t we tax the oil companies a percentage of their profits?

    Unions and community organizations should open their doors now for students to provide them a place to go and food to eat. Instead of having to cross the picket lines and waste the day in a crowded auditorium watching a Hollywood movie. Through union and community solidarity we shall win and the strike of 2019 will be remembered as a great defense of public education and strengthening the labor movement locally and nationally.

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  • Art History Bears Path to Success for Wilson Grad

    • 01/15/2019
    • Melina Paris
    • Feature, News
    • Comments are off

    2018 Wilson High Graduate and Art History Major, Tess Anderson

    By Melina Paris, Staff Reporter

    Continuing our second in the series on two Wilson High graduates from Long Beach, we look at Tess Anderson’s story. Tess discovered her path to higher education through the arts. She received a full scholarship to Scripps college in San Diego, where she plans to earn a dual major in art history and art conservation, with a minor in history.

    The graduate came through the challenge  of a serious illness while still maintaining her studies. Just as in our first profile, Tess stood out because of her own resolution and through the support of her family and school. It became clear after talking to her mother, Tess also possess strength and compassion which is the key to what drives her forward.

    “Tess did not begin high school intending to be a valedictorian,” Michelle Anderson said. “However, after she completed her sophomore year and had earned a 4.0 to that point, she thought about the possibility.”

    Anderson recalled her daughter telling her, ‘I can do this.’ “with a smile on her face and a spark in her eyes.”  Tess’s parents encouraged her to not focus on that end goal, but to just do her best. Anderson said once Tess puts her mind to something, she does not give up easily.

    “Tess is truly a self-motivated young woman who put her mind to it and worked hard to achieve this goal,” Anderson said.

    She has taken nine Advanced Placement classes and several honors and accelerated classes. Tess spent much of her free time working on homework and projects. She did not just want to get good grades; she wanted to master the material.   

    The teenager’s mother didn’t exaggerate when she called Tess an incredibly talented artist, particularly with painting and drawing. Tess has been selected for three juried art shows while in high school, which is a rare accomplishment for someone her age. She’s taken studio lessons since third grade and has participated in Wilson High School’s excellent visual arts classes all four years of her attendance. Tess has a “deep love of history” and she spends her free time devouring podcasts, documentaries, books, and movies about history, art, and historical fiction. 

    When Tess began her advanced-placement art history class in her senior year, she discovered that she could make a career through combining her loves of art and history. At a tour of Scripps College, she discovered they had an art conservation major and she was hooked. 

    One look at Tess’s extensive resume makes clear that she had an extremely busy high school career. Her extracurricular activities included: Wilson High Parent Teachers Students Association student representative executive board member, studio art classes, volleyball club, girls’ volleyball team, art club, California Scholarship Federation and National Honor Society (where she received honors for academic excellence and excellence in biology awards), American Sign Language Club, adventure club, pride club, feminist club and SPCLA club.

    She interned for the Long Beach Firefighters Association, worked as a programmer for Just Ahead, and worked as a babysitter.

    It’s a wonder how this young woman balances her many activities. She did have a setback in her Junior year. She played volleyball during her first two years but then she contracted mononucleosis. She couldn’t get well and she kept getting injured. Tess ended up having to have surgery when her junior year started. She missed a couple weeks of school so she couldn’t try out for volleyball. She wasn’t well enough to play, so she decided not to. Then she realized she liked having the free time.

    “It was way too much,” Anderson said. “She had a zero period and then she would play or practice until 10:00 p.m. at night sometimes and taking AP classes. It was insane. We were very opposed to it in the first place but let her make her own decision. It wasn’t the best decision on our part. I own that. But she got well again.”

    She also had the support of her teachers. Her teachers knew “she wasn’t a flake.” During this time, Tess would strategize what classes she would go to each day. For instance, she would realize there was going to be a lecture in her AP biology class so she would go to that class. Then her mother would pick her up early or take her in late. She made it through and her teachers were really supportive and understood she wasn’t missing school just to miss school.

    Anderson said Tess thrives with her level of activity. She does get tired, but she rejuvenates. Her family is close and they do many things and have fun together. This has probably led to the fact that Tess is sociologically well-rounded in academics, the arts, and in community service. This was important to her parents. Anderson said they couldn’t just (have their kids) do one thing. It had to be a variety of things so they had a well-rounded view of the world.

    “That’s why we chose to raise the kids in Long Beach,” Anderson said. “We wanted a diverse community in many different ways.”

    Her mother said Tess is really talented in art and curious about things. She’s owned those skills and her art helped to develop them. In her higher education, Tess plans to specialize in paintings, which involves thoroughly researching the artist, time period of the painting, and the materials used by the artist to paint their work. 

    Scripps College has complementary internships with the Getty Museum and study abroad programs in England, France, and Italy that will enhance her education and exposure to experts in the field. Tess plans to take advantage of every opportunity available at Scripps.

    In one of Tess’s recent projects in her AP art class, she did a provocative series where she portrayed children in “uncomfortable situations.” Tess took a picture of President Nixon, the one (where he’s getting) on an airplane with his hands up in the air, waving. She switched Nixon to a child in a suit with baggy sleeves and his arms up, saying, “I’m not a crook.” In another she took a photo of Queen Elizabeth. Instead of being a portrait of the Queen, she switched it into a little girl’s face, presenting how putting children in these situations is uncomfortable— to make people think about, is it even comfortable for an adult? She also had a picture of a lynching that had taken place and a young boy had gone up to touch the victim’s feet.

    “It was really disturbing,” Anderson said. “I said, ‘Oh, I can’t stand that one,’ Tess said, ‘Good, you’re not supposed to like it. You’re supposed to think about how horrible that is.’”

    The students had to send a portfolio of 26 pieces of professional, college-level art for AP studio art, which Anderson noted is a huge amount of work. They are evaluated for content, technique, and style. Tess had the same teacher at Wilson for studio arts all four years, Dominique Szeto.

    “He really helped her grow,” Anderson said. “She was told, a lot, that she is very talented. He said ‘Yeah, you’re talented, but…’ That pushed her out of her comfort zone and helped her grow even more.”

    There is much more than art to Tess. Her mother said she notices things that are unjust or unfair and gets “amped,” and wants to do something about it. Just in the last year, she’s grown up and feels more confident to speak up and state her opinion.

    “She was one of the student representatives on the parent board at school and she would speak up to say when the students wouldn’t like a plan or to bring attention to what (the board) was missing,” Anderson said.

    Tess will have a dual major in art history and art conservation, with a minor in history. The art conservation ties in because of the historical research conservationists must do on the artist, the time period and on the medium that they used—they didn’t have the same materials we have now. Conservation also involves a lot of chemistry.

    The Getty offers a  master’s program and an interning program. Tess is excited about studying those conservation and historical concepts. She will also study abroad. There is an art school in England where she’s thinking of completing a semester and then either going to Florence or to Paris. And of course, Tess wants to get into The Louvre as an intern or anything at all. She said she would even sell snacks. She just wants to be in that space.

    Anderson said her daughter has had a hard time adjusting from the pace of what she was doing during the last four years. She has settled in by doing her art and one of her favorite ways to unwind is to watch historical fiction or documentaries.

    From overcoming serious illness to finding her voice and passion, Tess worked creatively within her challenges. Her family and school were there supporting her the whole way. And through her trials she gained the greatest lessons along the way, self reliance as well as her path towards higher education.

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  • Random Happening: Jazz Vocalist Judy Wexler Returns to Alvas

    • 01/14/2019
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Judy Wexler performs at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro Jan 19.

    With the cold winter nights we’ve been having it’s the perfect time to get out of the chill and warm up to a night of jazz vocalist Judy Wexler and her outstanding trio at Alvas Showroom.

    Wexler has just completed her fifth album, Crowded Heart, which is set for release in May. Collaborating with legendary pianist Alan Pasqua, Crowded Heart presents a program of modern jazz standards, featuring compositions by some of the greatest living jazz writers, including Fred Hersch, Alan Broadbent, Luciana Souza & Larry Klein, Larry Goldings, Gregory Porter, and Rene Marie.

    The vocalist has headlined at jazz festivals, performing arts centers, and major jazz clubs both nationally and internationally. She is skilled in the art of nuance as she delivers a range of moods with her crystal-clear vocals. Her previous CD’s have been critically acclaimed and topped national jazz radio charts. Susan Stamberg of NPR Weekend Edition profiled Wexler and said, “Based on the evidence, Judy Wexler can almost sing anything.”

    Wexler is known for her inventive interpretations of underexposed gems. She will preview selections from the new album and also perform songs by a diverse mix of jazz and pop legends, including King Pleasure, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Rollins, Richie Havens, Carole King, and Bob Dylan.

    On the lineup will be Judy Wexler, vocals; Jeff Colella, piano; Chris Colangelo, bass; and Steve Hass, drums.

     

    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 19

    Cost: $20

    Details: (310) 519-1314; tickets https://bit.ly/2SEC3xW, www.judywexler.com

    Venue: Alva’s Showroom, 1417 W. 8th Street San Pedro

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  • DPSS Announces Early Issuance of February CalFresh Benefits

    LOS ANGELES — In an effort to ensure that the Country of Los Angeles’ most vulnerable residents receive their critical monthly CalFresh benefits without interruption, the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) has been authorized to issue February CalFresh benefit distribution to eligible households on January 16, 2019.

    The early distribution of funds is not additional benefits, but an early issuance of the February CalFresh benefits.  Households are urged to budget their benefits accordingly to ensure that they have funds available to purchase food in the month of February.

    CalFresh customers may contact the DPSS Customer Service Center at (866) 613-3777 for assistance and additional information.

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  • 2018’s Five Great Meals in the Harbor Area

    • 01/14/2019
    • Richard Foss
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Culture and Cuisine Writer

    It’s the time of year that I look back at the year just passed — at its joys, trials and the big pile of restaurant receipts I need to do my taxes. As I dig into that job, I re-experience meals long digested and find myself looking through my photo archive to see whether that sushi was really presented as exquisitely as I recall, whether the goodness of that steak was discernible just by looking at it and whether that plate of pasta really was the size of a manhole cover? There are other memories, too, of wilted greens, salty sauces, and meals I began trying to forget as I was eating them, but I’m happy to leave those behind.

    I was able to come up with five noteworthy experiences of 2018 that I hadn’t written about in this publication. Two are inexpensive, two moderately priced, and one costs as much as all the others put together, but they were all delightful.

    Snacks and Wine at Off The Vine

    The food menu at Off The Vine is minimal, mostly cold snacks and salads with a few flatbreads and desserts. When I visited with some close friends it was for a glass of wine and a charcuterie board before dinner at a nearby restaurant. Later, I found myself wishing we’d  just stayed at Off The Vine and kept ordering small plates, because the experience was delightful. The space is cozy without being cramped, decorated with simple charm, with a staff of people who all know and love wine and are happy to make recommendations. The cheese and charcuterie board was nothing spectacular, but abundant hospitality makes good, honest food taste better. I left with a bottle of an interesting wine from a small producer and a determination to return and stay longer. Off the Vine is at 491 W. 6th St.,  #103, San Pedro. Details:  (310) 831-1551, offthevinewines.com.

    Pizza at Burattino Brick Oven

    It’s rare to have a thoroughly delightful time at a place that is having an off night, but that’s what happened at Burattino Brick Oven Pizza. The challenge of operating short-staffed was made worse by trouble with the register, and I heard the cashier dealing with a take-out order that had accidentally been delivered to the wrong address. There was much running around to fix things and in the process our salad was forgotten. None of that mattered when I had my first bite of what was probably the best pizza of the year. The thin crust had the lightness and rise that you only get from very fresh dough. The balance of toppings and sauce was just right — there was plenty of flavor but the whole thing didn’t turn to mush. If Burattino Brick Oven is like this on a bad day, I can’t wait to return for a meal when the place is firing on all cylinders. Burattino Brick Oven Pizza is at 19701 S. Western Ave., RPV. Details: (310) 832-1200, burattinopizza.com.

    New Mexican Food at Panxa Cocina

    A few months ago I reviewed the seasonal Hatch Chile roasts at Panxa Cocina and became so absorbed in that topic that I didn’t get around to mentioning the regular menu. This is the only restaurant in greater Los Angeles that puts New Mexican cuisine front and center, making it a place of pilgrimage for those who enjoy the spicy, smoky flavors of Albuquerque and Santa Fe. The things you know from Mexican cuisine are made a bit differently here – the enchiladas are stacked like a layer cake instead of being rolled and the tamales are more the size of dumplings than the fat version we’re used to. There’s a playful inventiveness in the presentations and details, so don’t expect a meal here to exactly duplicate anything you’ve had elsewhere, but the flavor profile is spot on. Panxa Cocina is at 3937 E. Broadway, Long Beach. Details: (562) 433-7999, panxacocina.com.

    Paella at La Española

    I order paella almost any time I see it on a menu because I’m extremely unlikely to make it  at home. The recipe is complex, requiring both time and practice, and I’m happy to leave it to a pro. Also, it’s usually expensive. But once a week in the small deli at La Espanola Meats, primarily an importer and manufacturer of Spanish foods,the Saturday paella lunch is served for about $12 a plate. The plates are paper and the paella is eaten at  long wooden tables on a patio that never lets you forget you’re in an industrial area of Harbor City,

    But the flavors are pure Spain.  A tip from a local: place your order in advance or show up early, because they often sell out. La Española is at 25020 Doble Ave., Harbor City. Details: (310) 539-0455, laespanolameats.com.

    Wine dinner at Mar’Sel

    Every once in a while you decide you deserve a meal that really takes you to another plane, a long, leisurely experience to savor and inspire. If you are in the mood for such an evening, perhaps for some special celebration, the best thing to do is see whether Mar’Sel at Terranea has a wine dinner scheduled. Their events are intimate — the one I attended was for only about a dozen guests — and Chef Andrew Vaughan and the guest winemaker come out to talk with diners, explain the dishes, and give thoughtful advice about food and wine pairings. If that sounds like having a private chef and sommelier at a dinner party, you have the exact feel of the evening. You’ll enjoy, learn, relax and spend some time in the most serene environment in a wide radius. It will be pricey — expect to pay about $220 per person — but your palate and brain will feel like they’ve enjoyed a vacation afterward. Mar’Sel at Terranea is at 100 Terranea Way, RPV. Details: (310) 494-7891, terranea.com/events.

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  • Random Letters: 1/10/19

    • 01/11/2019
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    On the Value of Truth in an Era of Deceit

    I read your latest issue/editorial [“Value of Truth in Era of Deceit” RLn 12/20/18] and your point was well made. It left me wondering about what real truth is anymore and whether or not there is more than just one real truth — and that totally depends on who is doing the believing in the first place. Moreover, separating individual beliefs and truths from individual opinions and facts seems to be more, and more like trying to separate different grains of rice in a global-sized bowl. Damn tough to do. Should we thank or curse technology?

    Keep up the fight James, we need your voice and views more than ever.

     Richard Pawlowski, Depoe Bay, Oregon

    Richard,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence and skepticism on truth. All I can tell about navigating the truth is that’s it’s a bit like navigating a boat – you can begin with using three points of reference, called triangulation, you can use your North Star and your own moral compass or you can rely on some crazy captain using his own internal radar to wreck the ship. Now some folks don’t seem to have a moral compass, some couldn’t find the North Star in a planetarium and some never learned geometry, but the one thing I’ve learned in business within the past four decades is never follow the guy who says,“Trust me.”

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    UTLA Needs Our Support

    Jan. 10  is upon us and now more than ever we need to step up and support our brothers and sisters in the UTLA, our teachers and our students. We need to support their bargaining efforts to preserve and provide quality education to all LA students.

    The ILWU Southern California District Council is spearheading the ADOPT A SCHOOL program in the cities of San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Harbor City and Lomita. ADOPT A SCHOOL means working with the Picket Captains on the strike lines to provide, water, food, bodies to walk the picket line, shuttling folks, etc.

    Please contact us to ADOPT A SCHOOL or to get information on how you can support this effort. ilwuscdc@gmail.com.

    If you can’t ADOPT A SCHOOL, of course any support is appreciated so contact me to find out how you can help.

    Ultimately, supporting UTLA on the picket line is the most important action we can do, so go to any LAUSD school near you and support them starting Jan. 10.

    In Solidarity,

    Cathy Familathe, President, ILWU SCDC

    Late update: The date for a possible strike by UTLA has been moved to Jan. 14.

    —Editors

    Rest in Peace Brother Dave Arian

    Words cannot come close to describing the grief in our hearts. For me, Dave was a great leader and friend. I could write a book. Look around. How many people are like Dave? Few and far between.

    Dave was supportive of my interview and hiring as assistant to the ILWU Coast Committee, ILWU headquarters in 2001.  With my hiring, it was the first time that an LA/Long Beach-born person had held that position, previously only held by San Francisco Bay Area personnel. We worked together on many ILWU Coast subcommittees.

    As an example, we put on the first ever International Dockworkers Solidarity Con- ference (uniting ITF and IDC dockworkers worldwide) in 2001, shoring up support prior to our coast contract bargaining in 2002.

    Dave was all about educating and organizing the rank and file believing whole heartedly in a “bottom up” union led by the will of the members. For many, many years, through his nonprofit Harry Bridges Institute (HBI), he organized annual luncheons to recognize and appreciate the women and men of  labor, not just ILWU members, but all unions were welcomed to participate. Who does that? Who will do that in the future? I don’t know anybody at this time.

    Let’s learn from Dave Arian and do our best to emulate Dave’s leadership and selfless principles and global vision. Dave, as a good friend, you were there at my family’s CPA firm ribbon cutting when we launched our firm in Redondo Beach.  What a friend!  And, possessing the mark of a good leader, you always listened to anybody approaching you with questions or concerns; you never belittled them. You valued their input, irrespective of whether you agreed or not.

    I could write a lot more, but space is limited. We will miss you Dave. Thanks for giving many of us vision and a template for leadership.  Rest in peace.

    Robert A. Maynez

    Director of Contract Administration & Arbitration, ILWU Local 63

    Republicans and Trump

    Let’s look back at what Congressional Republicans and President Trump threw at us in the past 12 months:

    Relentless attacks on the Affordable Care Act in Congress and the Courts, threatening the healthcare of tens of millions of Americans and patients with preexisting conditions;

    The cruel family separation policy that ripped thousands of infants and children from their parents at the southern border;

    A massive rollback of environmental protections and complete disregard for action on climate change (or even admission that it’s real);

    And a constant and unrelenting assault on the rule of law, law enforcement and our justice system, all in a feverish zeal to protect Trump at all costs.

    As you read this, we’re in Day 6 of a government shutdown, as the President desperately tries to obtain $5 billion for his wasteful wall, after two years of Republican control.

    While the incompetence of this administration is on full display, the scale of corruption is becoming more clear as well. Cabinet secretary after secretary have been forced to resign in the wake of scandals. Dozens of charges have been made against Russians and close Trump associates, and multiple guilty pleas obtained. And all the while, the President decries the Mueller investigation as a “witch hunt!”

    Looking back, it’s easy to feel angry or dismayed about what we’ve had to fight in 2018. But we can’t forget what we fought for — healthcare for every American, women’s rights, dignity for immigrants, and accountability.

    And thanks to your hard work to successfully take back the House in November, I know we won’t just resist Trump and the GOP’s harmful agenda in 2019. We will fight for progress, like strengthening voting rights, working towards Medicare for All, and finally doing our job of providing real oversight over this unethical administration.

    We couldn’t have flipped Congress and resisted the worst impulses of this chaotic President and his party without your support this year. With your support, I know that our country will put this dark chapter behind us.

    Congressman Adam Schiff, 28th District

    Candidacy Announcement

    I wanted you to be one of the first to know: I have officially launched my campaign for the nomination to Los Angeles City Council representing the 10th District. I am sensitive to voters who ask, “Why do politicians keep asking for more money for housing without explaining what happened to the money we gave the government yesterday?”

    I am asking you to join me in my campaign to continue to: aggressively advocate con- stitutional, individual and equal rights; seek an elected Metro board; support increased benefits and training for police, teachers, seniors, and veterans;  maintain 100 percent full and meaningful employment; modify the civil court system by adding evening and weekend hours and eliminating filing fees for individuals; and demand greater government accountability for fair housing and housing services for all citizens, not just for the privileged few.

    Juan Johnson, Los Angeles

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  • The Invisible Addicts

    • 01/11/2019
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    18 million Americans are dependent on prescription opioids

    By Leslie Belt, Contributing Writer

    In the decades since my friend, Betty, injured her back on the job, pain has been her constant companion. Never has it left her, not even as she married two husbands, raised four sons and climbed the ladder of success as a healthcare professional. At best, the succession of major back surgeries she underwent over the years provided a fleeting relief. Although falling considerably short of their promise to give Betty her life back, the steady supply of FDA-approved, high-dose opioid medications she was prescribed quelled any thoughts of ending it. That is, until this past September, when Betty was abruptly cut off of all pain meds.

    “My doctor never came right out and said it, but his message was clear: ‘You have a big problem,’” Betty confided. “‘I’m washing my hands of it and you.’” It was a hard thing for her to hear because, although she is almost 80, Betty still cares a great deal about how others see her. But she’s no fool. “Nevermind that I got those pills from him, not some drug dealer on the street or that I took them exactly as prescribed. Now, all of a sudden, I am a drug addict? I have never felt so alone or ashamed in my life.”

    Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Health and leading pain experts suggest that Betty’s circumstances are far from unique, and she’s not the only one wrestling with shame these days. In fact, 18 million Americans are currently dependent on prescription opioids. Closer to home, fully one percent of those residing within Random Lengths News’ distribution area are thought to be among them. Thanks to the prevalence of Medicare and medical racism and sexism in our nation’s healthcare system, odds are that the majority of these chronic pain sufferers are, like Betty, older, white women with long medical histories, which include some or all of these complex factors: accident trauma, failed back surgeries, fibromyalgia, neuropathy. Do the math and that’s a lot of women who have been coping with a lot of pain with a lot of pills for a lot of years.

    Therein lies the rub. Despite growing evidence to the contrary, policymakers, insurance companies and a host of other pain police have bought into a misguided and dangerous narrative that blames America’s burgeoning “opioid crisis” on weak patients and the reckless, overprescribing physicians who serve them. Since 2010, when high-dose opioid prescriptions were at their peak, pain doctors have been under mounting pressure to cut prescribing or face a slew of legal threats — ranging from malpractice liability and medical board discipline, to criminal convictions. Not surprisingly, prescriptions have been falling  (by more than 40 percent overall, and by nearly a quarter in California) ever since.

    Older white women whose lives are stable enough to allow them to regularly see their doctors don’t often become addicts. But when refused the medications they have  responsibly and beneficially used on a long-term basis, most will share my friend Betty’s shame at having been de facto treated as if she was one. Who can blame them, really, considering that more than 40 percent of participants in a recent study linked opioid addiction to a lack of willpower, and close to one in five said that they are less willing to associate closely with a friend, colleague or neighbor who is addicted to prescription drugs?

    It’s a powerful stigma, one that is thought to keep 90 percent of substance abuse disorder sufferers from seeking treatment. Some like my friend Betty will face the daunting prospect of opioid withdrawal on their own and triumph. Fear of this stigma is pervasive among those who do seek treatment as well, according to Susan Smith, a nurse at Providence Little Company of Mary’s Recovery Center.

    “Of the hundreds of patients treated for opiate addiction at the center, at least  25 percent are entering treatment for pain medications prescribed by a physician. They have a difficult time seeing themselves as addicts, because they see an addict as someone who uses drugs to get high.”

    This misconception ignores the physiology of this addiction, as well as what it takes to confront it, Smith asserts continuing.

    “I try to teach these clients that your body doesn’t know the difference between legal and illegal opiates. And that the program will provide  skills and support they need to manage life without opiates.”

    I’ve had a lot of regrets since my sister died of complications from shooting OxyContin with a dirty needle in 2008. Just one year after the manufacturers of the drug that killed her had quietly settled a suit alleging deceptive sales practices that had downplayed its dangers. I wish I’d asked more questions and had fewer answers. Mostly, I’m just sorry that I tried harder to fix her than I did to understand her.

    I will never have another chance to judge my sister less and love her more. But you just might. Is there is an older white woman who has had major medical issues in the past two decades and seems to be more agitated or withdrawn of late in your life? If so, she just might be in the fight of her life and need you on her side.  I am not saying that your nana is jonesing, just that she might be. But don’t expect her to bring it up on her own. If you are not sure,  ask her.  She will be grateful for your concern either way.

    Having just come through the holidays, it can be a sad and lonely time of year for a gal even if  she hasn’t been betrayed by western medicine and been forced to go through hell for the past few months. Nonetheless, my friend Betty continues to look on the bright side when it comes to life without opioids.

    “You want to know what I don’t miss most about prescription pain meds? Having to pee in a cup every 30-days to prove that I am not a drug seeking pill head. Seriously? Nowadays, even the president of the United States wants proof that you are not an addict, or he’ll take your pills away. You know what?  He can keep them. I don’t need or want them anymore. I guess that means that I am finally free.”

    If you or someone you love is suffering through addiction to or withdrawal from prescribed opioid pain medications and have questions that need answering give Providence Little Company of Mary Recovery Center a call at (310) 514-4021. Guidance is offered at no charge or obligation.

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  • Support LA’s 30,000 Educators

    Their success is ours, too                               

    By Mark Friedman, RLn Correspondent

    As a teacher and long-time unionist, I am compelled to respond to two Jan. 6 Daily Breeze anti-worker and anti-public education articles. An opinion piece by Rebecca Friedrichs and a “news” article by Sarah Favot slam teachers for wanting a better education for youth.

    Wouldn’t we all benefit by having a qualified nurse in all schools? How about well-trained college counselors to assist in college admissions and financial aid? How about a librarian to assist in students’ research, college applications and job searches?

    Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent is Austin Beutner, a millionaire former investment banker who served in President Bill Clinton’s administration known for his support for charter schools. He claims the district does not have the money for what the teachers are asking. However, there exists an almost $2 billion education fund at the district’s disposal. Let’s use it.

    “Beutner is using his background as a corporate profiteer and downsizer,” Alex Caputo-Pearl, United Teachers Los Angeles president said. “He has hired well-known privatizers and anti-union lawyers in an attempt to dismantle the school district as well as the solidarity of our union brothers and sisters. We will fight it every step of the way … public education belongs to the people of Los Angeles, not the super-rich.”

    Clearly Beutner fears the collective power of educators, parents, students, other unions and the community coming together. Our goal: a contract that reinvests in our schools and improves our working and learning conditions. And teachers have responded, winning broad public support.

    Over the past months, Beutner promoted “business as usual” around any possible strike, promoting information to parents and the community that all students should attend school and that instruction would continue, regardless of a possible strike. He hired 400 non-union substitutes (to replace 30,000 teachers) to keep schools open if teachers strike Jan. 14, which was still on the table as of presstime.

    “By filing federal court papers to try to prevent special education teachers from striking, LAUSD failed in its attempt to ‘use’ the most vulnerable students as pawns,” UTLA leaders responded. “If Beutner really cared about special education students, he’d have responded to UTLA proposals on special education class-size caps, thus relieving the burden of overcrowded classrooms and overwhelming caseloads” The school workers strikes and mobilizations, which started in West Virginia in February and continued in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado have shone the spotlight on some of the truly deplorable conditions working people face.

    The fact is the wealthy don’t care if schools are crumbling or that education is mostly worthless. Their children attend private academies and non-union charters (set-up to escape school desegregation and teachers’ unions) and Ivy League schools to learn to be rich, to manage the banks and factories. Workers, they’re convinced, don’t need much learning. As a matter of fact, they think literate and cultured workers are dangerous.

    The organization of the walkouts in West Virginia as a broad social movement won solidarity and cut across attempts to divide and parents from teachers. School workers reached out to involve students, parents and other workers in the fight. Volunteers gathered food for the many students who depend on school meals. Churches, community centers and families opened their doors to students so parents didn’t have to miss work or find child care. Solidarity in action — not mere words.

    This example is the road forward for LA teachers to victory, for all of us.

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