Sunday, April 29, 2007

Union Officials Show Up In Force
To Support Eastview Little League:
Local 13, 63,94, 802...

Unions Support Eastview Little League
By Diana L. Chapman

The unions showed up in force this week to support the Eastview Little League, saying that the unions “are families” and have to take care of each other – especially when it impacts long shoring children – or any children for that matter.
Mike Mitre, president of ILWU, Local 13, indicated that he wants to see stronger leadership from the council office to save the fields where some 600 children play.
“I came because the ILWU has thousands of members in San Pedro,” the president explained. “We have to come together and work out a solution. Anything to do with children is personal. I’ve had members calling me and asking for help.
“This is when you really look to your leadership,” for answers.
Other unions presidents attended from Local 63, 94 and 802. Doug Epperhart, president of the Coastal Neighborhood Council, and several of his board showed up to expressed their support as well and frustrations with the council office who will not discuss other options that have recently opened up.
Joe Gatlin, president of the Central Neighborhood council, said he too pledges his support, but was unable to attend due to a timing conflict. No one from Northwest Neighborhood Council was there although the league falls under this council’s jurisdiction.
As of July 1, league will no longer have a home as July 1 where it has operated for 40 years on the corners of North Gaffey and Capitol Drive at the former DiCarlo Bakery site. The league leased the site for $1 a year until Target purchased the property and plans to demolish the fields to make way for a new store.
Target officials have reported to other media outlets that they’ve offered $250,000 to the league to build their fields elsewhere, which league officials said they would gratefully accept if there was an elsewhere.
Union officials showed up to take photographs and endorse the league, which has been battered with fears that their kids will no longer have a place to play and have scrambled in vain to find new locations. Temporary sites offered up by Councilwoman Janice Hahn, at both Knoll Hill Park (the current home for the Peninsula Dog Park) and 22nd Street, which is under the state tidelands trust act, have triggered a storm of controversy.
Officials from the Coastal Neighborhood council have already vowed to fight any attempts to relocate Eastview at the site – after they were told they could not even develop passive parks there because of the state tidelands act, which will only allow aquatics or marine related developments at the site.
In addition, dog park members worked for more than a decade to obtain the Knoll Hill Site, which has only one entrance in and out, and also drew ugly battle lines, making San Pedro even more divisive on issues swirling around the community.
Tired of battle scars, Eastview officials have vowed to stay at the Target site, have gathered more than 7,000 signatures asking the mega store to allow them to maintain their current location and written to politicians as high up as the governor.
They’ve also send a letter to Robert J. Ulrich, the Target president, to request again to stay at its current location as was done with the Woodland Hills Little League, when the private property they were on was auctioned off. Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zein helped them hang onto the site.
“Eastview Little League maintains a strong desire to remain at the Corner of Capitol and Gaffey Streets,” the league wrote in an official statement. “Any temporary solution to this issue – without the assurance of a permanent (site) for Eastview – exposes the League to similar problems a few years from now.”
Officials from the council office also attended, telling Eastview endorsers that the councilwoman was “not the obstacle” and that the Los Angeles Unified School District was partly to blame for this matter.
However, School Board Member Mike Lansing has opened up the idea of looking at the Cooper Continuation School site where 60 students attend that could possibly be relocated. Officials from the league were enthused by the possibility, adding that it could also have additional items such as a jogging path, tennis and basketball courts.
Despite their enthusiasm, league officials maintain that while that could be possibly become a new location, not one of the locations suggested at this point will be done in time for the kids to begin to play ball in the spring.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Students learn Scary Lessons About Having a Pirate for a Mate
The Los Angeles Harbor Film Festival Continues Sunday

Hundreds of students from around San Pedro –coming from both private and public schools— swarmed into the Warner Grand Theatre this week to take advantage of a free film and literary lessons at the ongoing LA Harbor International Festival.
The festival continues through Sunday.
More than 700 students flocked to the festival’s event, which showed the movie, “Treasure Island,” as well as handing out a free copy of the book before the event so students could discuss and entertain their ideas about the story. The program is called: "Read the Book, See the Movie."
The 18th century pirate novel evolves around a youngster named Jim Hawkins, who receives an unexpected pirating lesson when a dark stranger shows up at his mother’s inn, then plunging him into a swirling world of black marks and undesirable relations with the notorious pirate, Long John Silver.
“This was overall our best year yet,” said Stephanie Mardesich, festival director. “Students were responsive and very well behaved. They enjoyed the experience from reading the book to going to the movie theater.”
Under the program, festival organizers were able to pass out 750 the “Treasure Island” books to different schools for students to read prior to the event. About 60 students attended from San Pedro High; 40 from Mary Star of the Sea High School, 100 from Dana Middle School, 30 from Rolling Hills Renaissance; 60 from Seventh Street Elementary; 140 from Barton Hill Elementary; and 245 from Port of Los Angeles High School.
In addition, at least 30 students from San Pedro Adult Learning Center attended; 120 more were expected Saturday when the movie aired again. Students were provided tasty snacks, popcorn, granola bars and Capri Suns, the organizer said.

Literacy Coach Sylvia Perry from Dana Middle School said she was extremely pleased by the entire event and is enthusiastic about what’s coming up next year – Swiss Family Robinson.
“The program is really neat,” the coach explained. “All the kids enjoyed it so much and they had a discussion afterwards. Most of our students read the work before going. I enjoyed it myself.”
The festival will continue through Sunday, ending with the finale film, which starts at 5 p.m. today. “The Lost Village of Terminal Island” details the story of a tight knit Japanese American community who were extracted from the island and sent by the hundreds to interment camps after the outbreak World War II.
Costs are $10 for this film and include a free hot dog.
Also on Sunday, the film “I Build the Tower” will begin at 1:30 and recounts the story of Italian immigrant Simon (Sam) Rodia, who took 30 years to build his beatific mosaics and towering spirals – leaving behind a much touted gift to Watts – the Watts Towers.
The film costs $5.
For more information, visit Tickets can also be bought on Williams Book Store on Sixth Street, across from the theater, and at the box office. The theater is located at 478 West Sixth Street.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A New Idea For Eastview Little League
Let's entertain the idea at least...or lose again

By Diana L. Chapman

Whenever adults fight, it’s sad, but it’s incredibly tormenting when they include their kids in the fiasco. This unfortunately happens often when adults fight; the children are sucked in and are no longer allowed to play or even smile at each other.
That’s exactly what the East View Little League predicament reminds me of.
After I posted a story on how we need to become a team to save East View, I received a bunch of complaints. They ranged from: I want a Target (which has taken over the DiCarlo bakery property where the league was allowed to play for $1 a year for about 40 years) to haven’t Eastview officials had long enough to figure it out? What’s their problem?
The problem: these are a bunch of parents who work full time, are possibly not politically savvy and truly haven’t had a councilwoman to back their efforts or negotiate with Target. Negotiations should have kept them right at their original site as apparently Los Angeles Councilman Dennis Zine was able to pull off for the Woodland Hills Little League when their 35 years of operating was nearly lost. The private property the league operated on went up to auction.
Today, they still operate there, said John Shaikin, the league’s president, who explained they leaned heavily on their councilman to stay at the location.
The other problem – San Pedro can be its own worst enemy.
We are on the brink of enduring another big share of diminishing returns. Let me correct that. Everyday, I wake up, look at San Pedro and say – we lost again. We lost another field. We had another apartment complex built taller than it should have been. We just gave away the store again to another developer or organization, such as the private Boy Scout camp at Cabrillo Beach on public lands. And we just lost another round for our kids.
Whether you like Eastview or you don’t like Eastview, the fact that 600 kids play baseball should tell you the story. I hear these complaints: “I don’t like this coach.. My kid had the worst experience playing there.” The complaints go on and on…and are much like the complaints that I’ve heard every year no matter where my son plays. It’s true. Alright. Eastview isn’t perfect.
Does that mean we make the kids pay? Does that mean we make my girlfriend’s son, Jake, who loves to play at Eastview pay because of our shortsightedness. I was pleased that after I posted the story on the blog, however, that people started stepping up to the plate with new solutions. And a new thought came along. Perhaps we should look at the Cooper Continuation High School site on Taper Avenue? It’s a large plot of land with only about sixty students who could be relocated to the continuation school at Angel’s Gate.
Why else should we look? Because it opens a myriad of possibilities. If you live around that school, you might be cussing me out right now. But all I can see is a big gain for the community at large. Before you get angry, let me explain.
The site belongs to Los Angeles Unified School District. Mike Lansing, a school board member, already has agreed to explore the option and turn over the idea to his lucky benefactor –meaning whoever wins this thankless board seat in May. This means the answer isn’t no from the district. Eastview league officials, Dave Stanovich, the president, and Board Member Ron Galosic, see it as a way to open doors not just for their league, but for a myriad of other uses – a track around the diamonds, batting cages, tennis and basketball courts.
What perhaps makes the site an even bigger possibility is that the city of Los Angeles apparently wants to open a brand new library on the north end of town. This spot could actually be a possibility.
Residents around Cooper may be winding up their fists to sock me. In my defense, I have to say I think for myself I’d enjoy these possibilities for children in my neighborhood -- a place to jog and a place to play basketball, tennis and baseball. Also in my defense, I guess I won’t be a “Not-In-My-Backyard” soul after the district proposed building a high school for 1,200 students at Fort MacArthur /Angel’s Gate in 2012.
My biggest disappointment – my son will be to old to go there.
Unlike the Knoll Hill Park fiasco, where East View would have to kick out the Peninsula Dog Park which has fought like cats to get that spot (or any spot to accommodate a dog park)and 22nd Street where the state has a complete lockdown on the area via California tidelands trust laws, this appears to be the biggest possibility to save Eastview permanently and open up several other major uses for residents.
This is the team playing I’ve been looking for. Thinking out of the box about what could be good for all of us in the future – and not our old tribal wars.
Knoll Hill and 22nd Street, both owned by the Port of Los Angeles, are just temporary sites and are no solution for the Eastview saga that’s been haunting San Pedro for decades. Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn proposed both these sites as possible new locations for Eastivew Little League, but both are uphill battles. The idea is to eventually move them to the city’s sanitation property on the north end of town.
When that will happen? Who knows. If it happens, it will be after the councilwoman is long gone and no longer holding the bag.
Then you have the entire 2,300 condominium development at the former Naval housing property on Western Avenue, directly across from Green Hills Memorial Park.
Developer Bob Bisno tried to persuade Eastview officials that they should endorse his highly volatile and controversial project – in order to have new league ball diamonds built there. Eastview officials balked at the contract, saying they couldn’t represent scores of their members who opposed the project. I agree. To develop the site with such dwellings, Bisno has to get the city to agree to rezone it from single, residential to multiple unit zoning.
The mere size of the project, and the sheer volume of traffic for Western Avenue, has scores of residents singing the blues, including myself.
On top of that, the school district needs to develop a high school at the Bisno site and has been trying to obtain about ten acres for a campus that would seat 800 students.
It would be great right now, if our councilwoman started working for us, and our kids and their futures. Let’s ask for acreage for a new school and swap that Cooper land with the school district. That way, the district can build a brand new school on the Bisno property, Bisno could have some of his units (a lot less than 2,300) and the Eastview Little League and residents can have a mini-sport complex and possibly a brand new library.
Another uphill battle? Yes, but not anywhere near trying to obtain port land where things will be mowed down in short order and cause just another huge community uproar as did the temporary move to the dog park. In the end, doing either of these sites give us just this – absolutely nothing.
This new proposal could be a winner for everybody – especially to those who should mean the most to us – the children of San Pedro’s present and the children of San Pedro’s future.
Not to mention, the children of San Pedro’s past.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Teacher a Huge Loss at 15th Street Elementary School:
Friend, Father, Teacher

Diana L. Chapman

He was a like a father or an uncle and a friend to many – but most of all he was a popular, nurturing teacher with a bright smile, who suddenly died last month leaving behind a gaping hole at 15th Street Elementary School and a dazed campus.
Steve Kemp, 59, who would have celebrated his 60th birthday on April 14, had no apparent signs of medical problems, but was rushed in for emergency surgery. He died a short time later on March 28 apparently of an aortic rupture, according to his wife, Mary Linehan.
Despite the crises teams that arrived on campus, the hardest part for school officials was explaining to the “best class he ever had” that Mr. Kemp would no longer be arriving on campus.
This year, he led a group of gifted third grade students and was extremely pleased with the students, the parents and the way the children were developing under his tutelage, his colleagues said. In prior years, he taught both fourth and fifth grades.
Because of the unity Mr. Kemp brought to his class, students were asked to write their feelings about him as part of a healing process.
Several students wrote about his bad jokes, and explained how when the class didn’t laugh at them, he would. They adored his pizza parties, the books he read to them in class and heading out to P.E. with the amiable teacher.
“The last I heard him,” wrote Javier, “was when he gave me his report card. “He said I was smart. That made me feel really good because those were his words. ..Remembering this makes me feel both sad and happy at the same time.”
Wrote (age?) Amanda: “My personal experience with Mr. Kemp is when he used to make jokes to me that we’re not funny. But he used to laugh, and that would be funny.”
Crises teams arrived on campus to help teachers – and his class of gifted third grade students– to deal with the up swell of grief that consumed the school for days, but was leveled out during spring break.
Even still, teachers at the school said the mourning is likely to go on for quite some time, because the teacher was so giving, he would often drop do whatever he could to help. He began teaching at 15th Street in 1979, but prior to that entered the Peace Corps, ran a small construction business, supervised a dorm at USC and became a volunteer firefighter.
James Campbell, a close friend and first grade teacher at the school, said he arrived at campus knowing the bad news about Steve’s death and had to relay the information to many others who did not. The day was extremely difficult, he explained, because he was emotionally challenged on keeping himself together for his students. Memories of Steve kept interrupting his teaching, especially when he thought about his friend’s generosity and the way he constantly reached out to help others. They carpooled together.
“Across the board, everyone said he would listen to what you had to say and be interested in it no matter what you were talking about,” the teacher revealed. James kept his emotions in check by thinking about his friend would handle it.
“I just thought about: “How would Steve handle this? He would want us to be strong for the kids,” he said.
Filled with stories of friendships and students that he helped, close friend and fourth grade teacher Diane Holt said the two often teamed together up at school to help each other and their students. Calling him her “buddy,” she said every single day at school has been a “constant reminder” of his loss. “He was cherished and so well read that he could come up with multiple perspectives,” on any situation,” she explained adding that he was very father even to her and his students.
His students describe a teacher who spent money on pizza parties for them, stayed after school and would never give up on his sense of humor.
“He always laughed at his own jokes like this: “Ha, Ha, Ha!’ Or “Very funny! Now get back to work,” wrote his student Valerie. “I feel happy and sad when I remember this. Happy because he is always in my heart. Sad because he isn’t here anymore.”
First grade teacher Jose Lopez said Steve mentored him and became a close friend who he admired for the way he inspired children. In particular, he said, the teacher got a hold of one student who was considered a “terror,” by all the teachers. Steve took that student in and Jose said he was stunned by the overall difference of that student.
“I don’t know what he did, buthe changed that kid,” the teacher said. “He took him under his wing and he just turned him around. Sometimes, I think it’s because he just listened. He listened to people and was always interested in what they had to say.”
Perhaps this statement from one student, Panos, summed it up: “Mr. Kemp used to smile a lot because we did so good.”
Steve is survived by his wife, Mary Linehan; his daughter, Kristyn and son-in-law, Brian Dreschsler, and his granddaughter, Ashley. He also is survived by his stepson, Dan Swaigler, a stepdaughter, Demery Ryan, and her husband, Dave, and sister-and-brother-in law, Tom and Carrie Wright.
The family requests that all donations be sent to First Books, a foundation that provides books to children.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Make Way For Chicks...OK, it's ducklings...

Spring has arrived at the San Diego Zoo....Make way for these ducklings! They practically shoved every other bird out of the pond with their vivacious must-follow-mom-treading-in-the water lap swimming. These ten were ready to rev. And everybody at the zoo enjoyed watching them. That's real duckie.

Shorts & Sweets:
Here are my two of my favorite kids, Max and Nick, twins that just turned three-years-old doing their typical thing -- hanging out at the Corner Store. It seems like they are saying: "Mom, Dad, when is spring going to come? It's still cold."
Send me quaint kid photos to so I can post them.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Mega-High School Appears to Be A Thing of the Past for San Pedro

By Diana L. Chapman

Rather than continuing on with a controversial plan to build mega-high school on Western Avenue, Los Angeles school officials revealed Thursday night another option for the San Pedro community: two scaled back campuses – one anchored on the north side of the port town and the other on the south.
If approved, San Pedro could have two more additional high schools: an 800 student campus at the former Naval housing property on Western Avenue and a second 1,200 student campus on school property at the Angels Gate-Fort MacArthur site.
The proposal erases the original – to build a 2,025 student high school campus at the former Naval housing property on Western – a concept that brought mounting waves of criticism in regards to traffic gridlock from the community and acrimonious battles with property developer Robert Bisno who intends to build 2,300 homes there.
School officials announced last night that Bisno lost another round in the courts by refusing them access to the property to explore educational options and that they will now be allowed on the site.
To sooth over community wounds and meet the needs of students, currently at the oversaturated San Pedro and Narbonne high schools, officials unveiled proposed plans to construct two smaller campuses to a small audience that attended Thursday’s meeting at San Pedro High School.
If approved, predicted completion dates would be 2012.
“We developed a modified plan over several months which meets our high school seat need, is instructionally sound for our students, is fiscally responsive to the voters who funded the construction bonds and which helps address some of the traffic and recreational facilities concerns of our San Pedro community,” e-mailed school Board Member Mike Lansing, who steps down from his post this June. “This is a “win-win” plan and I am proud to bring it forward to the community for their input/support.”
Now impacting his neighborhood, Coastal Neighborhood Council President Doug Epperhart said he didn’t have much to discuss at this moment, but added: “The proposal opens up many possibilities.”
While not everyone at the meeting was happy, most speakers commended the school district for listening to their views that the original high school plan was too massive for the community.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for thinking about compromise,” said speaker John Wells. “You are working on compromise, but I think we can still find something better then this.”
Neal Kleiner, who is running for Lansing’s seat, commended Lansing for his efforts to reduce campus sizes, but added he’d “like to take it a couple of steps further” by making both those sites ninth grade academies instead that would then feed into San Pedro High School.
“That’s been working at Paramount and it’s been working in Lynwood,” he told school officials. “It takes care of that lack of connectiveness.”
Initially the district had proposed using about 15 acres from the proposed Ponte Vista site for a high school – where a gated town home community has been proposed -- to ease intense overcrowding at both Narbonne and San Pedro High Schools.
Both the high school and the Ponte Vista project launched an intense and hot campaign against either proposal at the 62.5 acres parcel of land perched across from Green Hills Memorial Park for the same reasons: traffic gridlock, an intense fear of overbuilding and fears of few ways to evacuate in the event of emergencies. The land, currently zoned for single family homes, would have to be rezoned for the Ponte Vista development.
Under the school’s new proposal, a much smaller school would be built on about six acres in the north west piece of former Navy land – a campus of about 810 seats and would be a “choice” school for those attending Narbonne.
The second site of 1,200 seats would surround students with many other educational possibilities that currently exist there, the Fort MacArthur Military Museum, the Marine Mammal Care Center, the International Bird Rescue and Research Center and the Angel’s Gate Cultural Center.
School official Larry Tash explained the school district has been steadily working toward the creation of “smaller learning communities,” as much research has shown the importance of students being connected to their schools so they will go on and graduate.
“Research tell us it’s extremely important for secondary schools,” he explained. “And we’ve all made the decision that all secondary schools will have smaller learning environments.”

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Eastview Letters just keep coming in Support..


I heard about your situation and as the President of a little league in Woodland Hills, we were actually faced with a similar situation when our property, which we were at for about 35 years, were put up for public bid. After about a year and a half of fear, we thankfully were successful in our bid and continue to operate to date.

I have taken the liberty to forward your petition to members of our league, as we understand the situation and the impossibility of finding comparable space elsewhere in today's society. For what ever it's worth, we leaned on our councilman, Dennis Zine, who was tremendous, and we retained a land use attorney with major connections to help get our word out. They were able to get to state and local officials which we did not have access to, and to get our story to the people that needed to hear it.

I hope that your councilperson will be as helpful and that you can convince Target's parent company that a little league field is more important then another store. If we can be of any help, please let me know.

John ShaikinPresident, Woodland Hills Sunrise Little League











My name is Monica Anderson & I've lived in San Pedro since 1961. I work at a nearby container terminal representing Cosco, (China Ocean Shipping Co.) & Target stores is one of our Import customers. It's also ironic that my step-son works at national "Target" in Minneapolis, Minn., as a senior art director. My husband & I have visited your beautiful national headquarters & were amazed to see the many different aspects of what is actually entailed in running a successful retail store of this magnitude. Our entire family has shopped at your two local Torrance, Ca., stores for many years as we all thoroughly enjoy spending our hard earned money at Target. I was also elated to find out that a new retail Target was going to be opening in San Pedro, but not at the expense of giving up our beloved Eastview Little League baseball fields. Now in my 50's, I thoroughly enjoy watching my nephews & their friends play baseball right here at Eastview Little league fields in San Pedro, Ca. & have ever since my nephews played T-Ball. They are now 12 & 15yrs of age. These fields are on the property that was once owned by Di Carlo Bakery & then purchased by Target approx. two yrs ago in the hopes of building a new Target on the corner of Gaffey & Capital Streets in San Pedro, Ca. We were hoping that Target may have some solutions in helping to resolve Eastview Little League's re-location dilemma. Eastview Little League is a highly respected & loved organization of wonderful parents, family members & friends who tirelessly donate their time to ensure that their children have a nice place to play organized & supervised baseball. We are genuinely looking forward to hearing your views & ideas on this matter…...

Thank You & Regards, Monica Anderson Pacific Container Terminal, Yard Office

It’s Richard DiCarlo writing from Phoenix. I not sure if I can sign the petition on the website because of resident location, but if I can, please email me back and I will be more than happy to do that for you. If I cannot, please accept the following as a testimony to the Joe Gregorio fields (formerly DiCarlo Fields) and if you would like to present this at a hearing or meeting, please do it with my utmost permission:

David, I remember when we played baseball together at Eastview LL and, if I remember correctly, we played later at the Navy field on Western Avenue. (Your fastball was a bit quicker by that time). I have been following the story about the fields from on-line accounts in the Daily Breeze and my father, Lorenzo DiCarlo, has been sending me articles in the mail. I compliment you and fellow participants in your passion to save these fields for the youth in San Pedro in order for them to have a place to begin their baseball careers and continue their life development skills. I have been fortunate over the years to coach my boys, Lawrence and Sammy, here in Phoenix at our local little league when they played there. They are 17 and 14 now and still playing ball. Even though they are too old to play at the LL level anymore, we now volunteer at Shaw Butte LL as umpires.

The benefits of baseball for youth are numerous. More than just the fields will be taken away should the city not acquire some land to develop a sports complex for the youth. (The land along Paseo Del Mar comes to mind but I know its deemed “preserve”). Not only will the youths be deprived of this gift, but the adults and the community as a whole. As you know, I am a police officer here in the City of Phoenix, and I have seen some youth make immature and poor choices. Some of the repercussions have been temporary and others have been, and will be, life-long consequences. Not only for them, but for their families as well.

By having a place to play baseball, it begins to teach youth the very basics of decision-making, adjustment to change, physical skills(development and capabilities), participation in events with peers and adults, and the skill of working as a team. The last concept (team work), in my opinion, encompasses all the entities of the ones mentioned previous to it. As you know, baseball is a very fluid game and many things can change within it. A team can go from being on top to losing in the last inning. This is where the coaches’ guidance comes in for the youth. Teaching them to lose graciously and not allowing the players to engage in finger-pointing is a skill that needs to be exhibited. That is the difference between youth and being an adult. The adult is able to cope and react honorably, where the youth need to be developed in this life skill. Unfortunately, we have all seen adults in life that maybe could have paid more attention to this skill. On the same note, winning can be very rewarding and exciting. It shows the youth how the “little” things in practice and the attention-to-detail can pay off. Accepting praise graciously, too, is a life-learned skill.

It is wonderful to see how the generations developed and maintained the fields for the youth of San Pedro to play on over the years. It was a wonderful gift that my grandfathers and subsequent owners of the bakery property were able to share with the community. And I don’t use the words “community” and “gift” lightly. It takes a community to raise our children. I love the saying (I will paraphrase), “a hundred years from now will it really matter what kind of car I drove or what my house looked like? What is more important is if I made a difference in a child’s life.” I guess the same goes if we ask, “Does it make a difference where we did our shopping?” Can we not drive ten minutes up the Harbor Freeway to another Target. Or better yet, how about just making the store a bit smaller so that our youths can grow? I pray that Target will AT LEAST donate money towards relocation and building of new fields.

These fields hold and carry many memories for those of us that played on them. I implore the political leaders in San Pedro to find some land for the dreams to be carried and continue. David, I remember visiting the field not too long ago when my son and I were in town for one of our frequent visits. I was so proud to show him where I played ball. It was also the same field where my brothers and other relatives were able to coach and begin developing their players in life and playing skills. I cannot tell you the invaluable lessons and relationships I built by coaching here at our local little league in Phoenix when my sons were growing up. Not only with the kids, but with their families as well. This is why it is a community–building sporting event.

Continue to fight this good fight, David, with dignity and passion. Sometimes this journey gets muddled with politics and money. But, know in your heart, that you are doing the right thing. Let’s hope our leaders of the community can work together with our “corporate” world in finding the right thing to do. For every problem, there is a solution.

Kindest regards,

Richard DiCarlo --------------------

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More thoughts on Eastview....

TO: AYSO Friends and Families and Community,

I am writing this to you today, because it was brought to my attention that some of you took my words from last Saturday's letter to the editor out of context, and took them to be a slight on AYSO. I am here to tell all of you that we are on the same team, we are and should always be friends, and that nothing I said was directed to you personally. Remember, we ALL do what we do, for THE KIDS OF SAN PEDRO, AND NOT FOR OURSELVES.

When I attended the NW Neighborhood council meeting last week, some people asked me to address the fact that we were a private organization, and that is one of there reasons why they should not help us in our fight. (Correct me if I am wrong, but aren't the two of us, AYSO and Little League, both private organizations?) Anyways, I got home and wrote the letter, because I thought I could address, that even though we at Eastview are "Private", we benefit the community just as much as our towns public organizations.

The lines I chose to use to compare this, WAS NOT DIRECTED IN ANYWAY TO AYSO. My first comment was directed a public facility in town, where San Pedro High school tried to use for Baseball practice, but the red tape in getting the gates unlocked at that public facility, made it an uneasy task to make happen. In that comparison, I wanted to let everyone know that Eastview is open 24/7, for anyone to play on. Sorry if you took it as a slight on AYSO.

Secondly, the line I used to say that Eastview does not charge for all-stars, was a comparison to this past basketball season when all three of my children made All-Stars, and they charged me a fee for each of my children to participate. Again, no comparison to AYSO, I don't even know what you do, because none of my children were ever at the All-Star level in soccer to find out. Regardless, I was just trying to show that being private is not like the plague, and that it actually deserves as much attention as do some of our public facilities.

I am not here to make any enemies, and that is actually why I did not call out the facilities I was talking about in the letter. The bottom line, is that ALL YOUTH ORGANIZATIONS IN TOWN, whether PUBLIC OR PRIVATE, all need to be on the same team, and I hope all of you see it that way too. I am here for the kids, and I know all of you are too.

Thanks for listening,

Your friend from Eastview,

Ron Galosic

Sunday, April 15, 2007

How a Community Can Take a School Back....One at a Time

By Diana L. Chapman

It started out small, but that’s how the seed was planted. An elementary school teacher, Karyn Douglas, stood on a dusty school yard on a cold dreary day, looked around the asphalt campus at one of the Los Angeles district’s betters schools and said: “It’s time for the community to take back our schools.”
She didn’t say: It’s time for the administrators to take the schools back. She didn’t say it was time for the teachers. Nor the parents.
She repeated it: “We need to take our schools back,” – meaning all of us – the communities that surround them.
Rooted to the ground, those words would resonate with me for the next two years, and while I didn’t know it at the time, would take me on a wild toad ride journey of gathering with the right people, at the right time, at the right place to start improving a middle school considered close to bottom of the barrel in the neck of our San Pedro port town.
Why would I, a dedicated mother, school volunteer and writer – pick the one of the two middle schools in our neighborhood – Dana Middle School – that’s reputation was so abhorrent that other parents were engaged in full debates about why I made this choice to send my son there?
My compatriots believed by reputation alone that the school was littered with gangs, juvenile delinquents and in a poor neighborhood. The gossip about my “choice” began to bubble about the inadequate decision for my 11-year-old son. But I stood firm for one reason. There was one aspect to me that the other school didn’t have – one extremely courageous point on the part of this particular Los Angeles Unified School District middle school, or any school with about 2,000 students. It was this: while perhaps it was a narrow opening, the door was still somewhat ajar to allow parents in.
That’s what I wanted.
I wanted the opportunity to oversee my son’s education and to spend volunteer hours with other students who needed attention in dozens of ways, because I so clearly remembered the disaster years in my middle school in an affluent area of Glendale.
At 11, I was thrust into a school where students were doing heavy-duty drugs, overdosing and falling out of their seats in the classroom, having sex, drinking – and participating in orgies. No one could have prepared me for that – and no 11-year-old should have to be. Students were terrorized with fights, and many were unhappy and fearful, including myself, going to school every day. And that was considered a good school.
As the years coursed by, it repeatedly was clear to me that not much had changed –and many educators will readily admit it – middle schools are the most ignored population of our three-tier public education system. That just make no sense since it’s such a pivotal time of a child’s life where they will build their value systems and start forming career choices. That explains perfectly why 50 percent of LA Unified high school students drop out.
We’re not catching them when we need to – in junior high; we are not giving them the spirit, confidence or exploration they need. We’re not making them feel safe – so how can they study? The students receive a basic education, that’s good. But not enough. District policy states if they are not receiving a C average, they are banned from attending any extracurricular activities, including school dances.

The attitude I was getting from the kids who were “below par” – was why I am I here? There’s nothing here for me. I’m stupid. I can’t do anything anyway. What’s the point? That angers me…because we all know that every child has something to offer.
When my son and I walked into Dana’s doors, a new principal, Terry Ball, had arrived with fresh ideas. Kim Blanks, a teacher’s aide whose own children went there, was waiting in the wings to start many programs she wanted to accomplish for several years, including a school newspaper. We launched Dana’s Data with another parent, Doug Epperhart. And less than a block to the north sat the Boys and Girls Club, run by my friend, Mike Lansing, the executive director of the Los Angeles Harbors Boys and Girls Club and an LAUSD school board member – who was willing to work together to start after school programs to keep more kids off the streets.
It’s clear that improving schools has little to do with the mayor of Los Angeles; perhaps it doesn’t even have much to do with Los Angeles school district’s new Superintendent. Other than, David Brewer III’s philosophy -- that the responsibility doesn’t fall solely on the educators, but on the community. I realize this must be done at a grassroots level.
Much of what I think now; the changes belong to the principal; it belongs to us, the community.
With that, the birth of a great collaboration was born. We began lobbying local businesses, parents, talking with then the Los Angeles Police Departments’ Police Captain Joan McNamara; We even met with colonels to ask them to bring back their families -- most of whom flee from attending Los Angeles schools. It’s no surprise one of the best elementary schools in our area, White Point, has partly reached high tests scores and academic levels because the military families provide the tremendous backbone as a volunteer force.
By the end of the 1 ½ years, a combination of the community – teachers, parents, local businesses, the police and the few military families available have attempted to cluster students into smaller after school clubs, to help make them feel safe and actually, in my mind, provide them a second home. Keeping them off the streets is imperative in today’s racial climates where children are getting continually killed in gang retaliations. I’m angry. My reasoning: if we can do it here, then we can do it at dozens of other school’s – and keep our kids safe. One more shooting of an “innocent” should be driving us all the edge of upheaval. How can we allow innocent kids to be killed for being nothing more than a different color?
Thus at Dana, .we began an art club (in association with Art to Grow on), a Spanish Club, a swim/surf club where Boys and Girls Club vans take students to a local pool, a tennis club, and our teachers added to their current list of ecology and history clubs by adding a chess, quilting and cheer leading after school program.
Proposed clubs include a basketball club, the junior Police Explorer’s Academy (which should start next week), In addition, a local restaurateur. the Omelettee and Waffle Shop owners, Mona Sutton and Leslie Jones, plans to start a cooking club shortly. I grew even more excited when the former Corner Store owners, Susan McKenna and Marisa Guiffre, offered to teach cooking classes as well! Now, that’s talking about truly taking care of our kids, poor, rich, or otherwise.
Success comes in small ways – as we are starting up a new club every other month. But I can point to our most successful program – the Art Club – which has an average of 40 students every Thursday after school. Special education students, gifted students, troublesome students (who had to sign a contract with me and stay in the club for the rest of the year instead of stiffer penalties for some bad behavior) and our regular kids all mix – and they all get along, meeting other students they would never have “hung with” before.
The best part includes watching how well they get along.
When we opened up a tennis club the other day – in conjunction with the Boys and Girls Club – 22 kids signed up! I shiver to think how many will want to join the Basketball Club.
Some how, it paints the true picture.
As my friend, Doug Epperhart, always says: “Our new principal has done more for my daughters’ education then the mayor or the new superintendent ever will.”
And if you add the principal with community efforts, we will wind up with what everyone always seems to want – a much better school. And a seed turns into a beautiful tree with flowing and healthy branches that can be seeded everywhere.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What to do About Eastview’s Little League?
Let’s -- at last -- Become A Team

By Diana L. Chapman

Eastview Little League officials, bemoaning the expected loss of their beloved ballfields, seek at least one miracle to save the ballpark that has operated successfully there for 45 years under good faith when owned by a local bakery. But once the property sold, and Target became the official purchaser, no miracle has appeared on the horizon and the league’s eviction date -- June 30 -- threatens the field with dark clouds and bulldozers. This is the time for all of us to stop and think: Is this just about a few baseball fields? No, this is about all of San Pedro -- and the future she faces as a “port town“ under fire from development on all sides. Had I been a politician -- and thank goodness I’m not -- I would have gone in smiling to Target officials and lavished them with praise about our community wanting such a store -- but not at the expense of our Littlle League fields. Had I been Target officials, I would have used common sense to explore other options than sweeping away fields used by thousands of kids for decades -- to make way for a parking lot. Perhaps Target could develop an underground parking lot and leave the ballfields where they are. No matter how you cut it, if Target destroys the fields, it will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many San Pedrans. There’s no excuse for Target to behave like this. Are they going to be a good neighbor? It doesn’t appear so. So why would I even think about shopping there and dealing with the additional shoppers streaming in from elsewhere? Yes, you can argue it’s about convenience and getting a lot of those necessities at a lower price. But again, this isn’t just about BALLFIELDS. This embraces the future of all of San Pedro and the way we dig our way into more and more traffic pits and hordes of townhomes -- or -- join forces and present our demands in a united front. It’s our final wakeup call to become a team to demand what we want and not just accept the decisions of others such as the Port of Los Angeles, big developers and even City Hall. We must define our future. And while you might say that shouldn’t include a private league, this reveals just the beginning of transgressions that will continue with San Pedro’s limited space if we don’t find ways to curb or use the potential growth for our best interest as a whole. This league’s turmoil forecasts just the beginning of troubles brewing ahead for San Pedro -- a town that faces problematic growth with a rapid acceleration in both population and traffic downtown and along Western Avenue. This is such a problem that we’d better unite now or we’ll regret it in the future, brave the oncoming onslaught or it will sweep over us like a tidal wave. We should start with the miracle that Eastview president Dave Stanovich seeks.

Let’s make it happen for him. Because the truth is this: We have to stop arguing among ourselves, each putting their own cause ahead of others. That approach plays into the hands of big developers who build townhomes and megastores with increased traffic and then duck out of town cash in hand. This would be tragic if we haven’t figured how to play like a team.

How can we do it? We have to quit thinking in our own boxes. We have to see the big picture and create a tapestry of San Pedro residents and organizations (often, unfortunately, enemies) -- soccer leagues, dog parks, the San Pedro Youth Coalition, Neighborhood Councils, -- and yes, individuals like you and me -- spelling out what we want loudly and clearly with a strengthened voice. That’s the miracle: San Pedro thinking about San Pedro as a whole and not just in pieces. Our community has a way of life that’s fading fast into conglomerates of traffic gridlocks, monolithic businesses and tightly wedged townhomes. The athletic fields, which remain a necessity but are vanishing before our eyes, are a fantastic place to begin with this new team. Let’s prove ourselves here and forge ahead to the next issue. In this case, all of us -- organizations and residents --- need to write letters demanding that Target to come up with other options to keep the fields there. As a community, we can do this. We can demand such an effort and refuse to shop at Target if we can’t save these fields. Because it’s not about the fields anymore. It’s about our way of life that will be buried beneath the dust and debris of progress. If we don’t unify now, we must forever hold our peace and watch for years to come as our quality of life gets bulldozed away. And that’s truly just around the base. But with a strong team, this can be just the beginning of many a home runs for our future.
Please visit for more information about how to save Eastview.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What To Do to Escape San Pedro in case of a Disaster? Who Knows....

Dear Readers:

I wanted to share this concern a reader brought up, because it has been bothering me too. Comments, thoughts, solutions and suggestions...are welcome. Diana

Dear Diana
I have a concern I would like you to know about here in San Pedro which
I'm sure you are aware of. First off, let me tell you a little about
myself. I was born and raised here in San Pedro. A third generation. I
have a wife and four kids. I am the youngest of nine siblings. They all
have attended local schools as I have. Seven out of nine of us reside and are
raising our families here in San Pedro. So, it's not like I am a person
who just came to San Pedro and doesn't have a clue to what's going on in
our community.
Diana, my main concern is the traffic problem and over-population going
on. As you know, the traffic congestion on Western Avenue, Gaffey
Street, and Pacific Avenue is getting out of hand. It's ridiculous when
you have to wait 20-minutes on a Saturday morning to get from Ninth and
Western to Summerland and Western. I work in Gardena and it takes me
20-minutes to get from San Pedro to Gardena on the 110. The problem is
the same on Gaffey. On weekday mornings trying to get on the 110-freeway
you can be held up in traffic all the way from 17th Street. Sometimes, I
have to go to Pacific Avenue or Harbor Blvd. for a quicker route.
I can't imagine if there was a major catastrophe in San Pedro where
everyone had to evacuate. It would be impossible! This brings me to what
I am concerned about. There are many buildings, apartments, and condos
being built now and many more to come.

How congested do they want San Pedro to be? I just don't understand it? Can you imagine the traffic in 10-20 years? Diana, San Pedro is an awesome little town. I know the
businesses, the port, and our politicians want our town to grow but they
have to stop and think of the consequences involved. I'm sure there are
many San Pedrans' who feel the same way. There may or may not be a
solution, but if there is, I sure would like someone to do their best to
step in and focus on crippling it before it worsens. I have plans on
retiring here in San Pedro and I don't want to be smothered out.
Thank you for listening.
God bless!
Joseph Gonzales
Dear Diana - with all due respect it seems to us there's an abundance of fields and they need to be shared among the ball clubs, which doesn't seem to be the sensibiilty in what has become far too competitive and territorial. What happened to the tenets of good sportsmanship and the fact that how the game if played is far more important than winning.
Please don't reply - we'll never see eye to eye.

Stephanie and Lee Mardesich

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Shorts & Sweets

Welcome to the Neighborhood Elvis (the dad) and little Godscilla, the daughter, to San Pedro!

Elvis, an American bull dog, rescued from Watts by her new owner, Lisa Marie, allowed the dog to have one baby, but doesn’t want him to have any more – despite the rarity of the breed, she said.

Fearing that he would be used as a fighting dog, Lisa Marie said she was given a tip to rescue him and eventually the owners agreed to give him to her. Due to her rescue background, she prefers Elvis not sire any more babies, but she couldn't resist allowing him to have one baby girl, 12-week-old Godscilla.
“These dogs are total athletes,” the owner said. “They were used during World War II to protect soldiers and their property.”
The trio just moved here from Hermosa Beach, where it was too crowded, Lisa Marie said.
They’ve been walking daily – so keep your dog senses keen so you can spot the charming duo.

$10 Can Save a Kid’s Life
By Stephanie London

Hi. I’m from the Boys and Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor, San Pedro Unit, and I’m in a leadership group called the Keystone Executives. We are trying to fundraise for “Malaria No More.” This is a fundraiser in which we raise money for the children and families in Africa who are dying from malaria. We are asking if you can donate $10 to this cause. Your $10 can save a child’s life. The $10 goes to purchasing a net to keep the mosquitoes out of the kid’s beds when they are sleeping and it also goes toward medical supplies and vaccines. So if you can donate $10, or whatever you can, we would really appreciate it. If you would like to pay by check, you can make the checks payable to the Boys and Girls Club of the Los Angeles Harbor.
Or if you would like to drop off your donation personally, we are located at 1200 S. Cabrillo Avenue, San Pedro. For more information, call (310) 833-1322. Sincerely, the Key Stone Executives Team.
In the photo from left to right are three members of the Key Stone Executives Team: Stephanie, London, 14, Alberto Palmas, 16, Jessica Haley-Clark, 16.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Shorts & Sweets

Having a cool neighbor with a load of reptiles and other bizarre critters is intriguing.
Having that neighbor, David Brummel, living right next door is even better; he can entertain us for hours just a skip and skitter away.
The latest entertainment for the kids: Jah, a four foot long, one-year-old crocodile monitor lizard who can grow up to ten feet long!
As cute as this guy (the lizard I mean) can be, David doesn’t recommend children get these dudes for pets because of their long claws, sharp teeth and their aggressiveness! Plus, they get large…really large. About 2/3 of their length is tail.

"I've wanted one of these for more than half my life," my neighbor told me, "but it takes such a big commitment and its such a big responsibility, it was a big decision to get one."
(Don’t forget that, David. He better not escape. We live right next door.)
Since he was a child, David has collected and cared for an abundance of critters, especially reptiles. Not counting his two black Labradors, he also has ten other reptiles, including a sail fin dragon, green basilisks and day geckos. He even owns a tarantula.
How does that grab you? Hopefully, the monitor lizard doesn’t. Actually, they are relatively safe as long as you get them as youngsters, keep their claws clipped and tame them.
“The key is to get them when they are babies so you can train them,” David explained as Jah scrambled across his head and then dropped down to the ground where he roamed about on his leather leash. “I only recommend that advanced hobbyists get these. If you don’t know what you are doing, they can be dangerous.
“They have long teeth (sharp) enough to cause nerve damage.”
The largest such monitor to exist is owned privately and is 11 feet one inches long, David told me. But the top weight he's ever heard of is 60 pounds. On that leap, I say: OK, neighbor, keep that sucker indoors – will ya!

Christopher Widdy, San Pedro High School senior and captain of the soccer team, has earned a full athletic scholarship to California State University, Bakersfield – a school that will compete in the NCAA’s Division 1 this year with the nation’s best teams.
Few college soccer coaches scout high schools for players; they tend to look at private clubs instead. However, San Pedro High Coach Paul Butterfield worked diligently to get college coaches to scout his players, Chris in particular.
CSUB Coach Simon Tobin said he spotted a couple of other players in San Pedro where raw talent abounds, but few soccer coaches visit for scouting. Most scouts go to private clubs; Simon also listens to his own players’ recommendations about potential teammates. That means Chris, who also captains the Palos Verdes Soccer Club where he has played since the age of 9, has opened doors in San Pedro.
Chris has worked hard to bring up his test scores and grades—a tough road. But nothing reflects his happiness more than his feelings about playing soccer.
“Everything seems to work when I’m on the field,” Chris explained. “It just seems that everything fits perfectly. There’s no stress.”
He believes his biggest attributes are his ability to anticipate plays and the way he attacks the goal. He readily admits his weakness has been playing too much as an individual and not enough as a team member– a style that probably will change quickly under Coach Tobin, who has coached at CSUB for 20 years.
A native of England, Simon looks for players all over Europe, Mexico and South America. He says Chris still has much to learn about soccer, but he’s strong and should be ready to play immediately as a forward or midfielder.
Having known the Widdys for years, I was lucky to meet Simon, who said he looks for speed and agility in his recruits. He prefers the quicker Latin style of play.
He wasn’t interested in coming to San Pedro to scout high school players, but San Pedro Coach Butterfield called him repeatedly. When he was in the area, Simon decided to drop by and watch a game. He was impressed with several; players but especially Chris.
Chris believed his chances for a soccer scholarship had slipped away because “we were deep into the year and I just thought it was over.”
His plans were to attend a community college, but through Butterfield’s relentless efforts, he received the offer from CSUB. “I am grateful because he (Butterfield) believed in me,” Chris said. “I didn’t think I was capable of playing at a Division 1 level, but he did.”
Receiving a scholarship has been his dream, as well as his entire family’s. He’s determined to earn a degree in business. Coach Tobin explained he typically discourages his players from going into the professional soccer ranks until they earn their degrees, because an injury can rule them out of the sport. A degree, however, can never be taken away.
I personally am quite pleased, because Chris has assured me that he will come back to help coach other children in San Pedro.
Other former San Pedro players “always came back to train with us and they really helped us out,” he said.