Wednesday, April 30, 2008
It was a bad day.
How bad? Testy is the best way to describe my disposition at the time.
And it wasn’t only me. Everyone I bumped into seemed irritable.
I watched people get into arguments. I was in a couple of them myself.
First, a little background:
Stepping out of my normal box, I see a San Pedro community pulsating with anger about over development, a proposed new high school, traffic quagmires and parking shortages. In general, I see a community frustrated about the way San Pedro is reshaping itself.
New families priced out of the South Bay housing market see this community as the last bastion where you can live near the water in a “reasonably” priced home – under a million bucks. They are the fresh faces in a town that prides itself on generations of tight, large families that emigrated from places such as Croatia and Italy. Newcomers bring new pieces to the puzzle. Sometimes they fit, and sometimes they don’t.
Downtown is being redefined as an upscale condo haven, but everybody’s holding their breath wondering if the new units will sell in a sliding economy. Downtown businesses are shuttering their doors or surviving by a thread. And looming budget cuts from every direction make people wonder whether they will have jobs tomorrow. On the street, I keep hearing people ask: “Tell me again, why can’t we break away from L.A.?”
It seems everyone is wondering what tomorrow will bring.
This brings me to my point. That was exactly the type of day I was having Tuesday. Small things were piling up, like the ATM failing to give me a receipt. When I went inside to get one, the clerk told me irritably she couldn’t help. The ATM is operated separately and there was nothing she could do.
Talk about a gigantic lie! That was the beginning, and it went downhill from there.
Then two things happened that made me wake up and smell the flowers. It took some time. The first was at a meeting when Ana Dragin, an aide to Councilwoman Janice Hahn, confirmed she was leaving to have her first baby.
At the end of the meeting, LAPD Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino and his wife Jay surprised Ana – and all of us – by presenting her with a cake and flowers. This might not seem like a big deal, but I could tell it made Ana’s day. It was so thoughtful because these people don’t work together routinely. This group meets once a month or so to discuss safety issues.
Still, I returned to my grumpy mode within minutes of leaving the meeting.
Late in the afternoon, I was peering out at the ocean as I walked along Paseo del Mar. Point Fermin Park was oddly quiet for 5 o’clock. It was nearly empty, in fact.
That’s when I saw it: a thick wave in the middle of the ocean going in the opposite direction of the current.
It seemed odd. I couldn’t remember a rock out there before. That’s when it began to rise up from the water. I suddenly realized it was a gray whale headed back to Alaska. Then it lurched out of the water in a giant leap!
It was like magic to see something like this. I looked around to find someone to share it with and didn’t see a soul. There it went again! The whale performed another spectacular breech into the air. I witnessed this three times and still I couldn’t find another soul.
Perhaps the gift would have to be savored alone.
But toward the end of the walkway, three young men were peering out at the ocean with big smiles on their faces. That made me suspect they had lucked out, too.
“Did you see the whale?” I asked excitedly. Happily, one of the men said not only had they seen the leviathan, they watched it leap from the water six times. Although he’d lived in San Pedro for years, he’d never seen anything like that before.
That put my grumpiness to rest, at least for the rest of the day. Within a few minutes the park had filled and the whale had moved on. That glimpse reminded me why we live in San Pedro: It’s because you can see the universe work its magic on a daily basis.
At that moment, I felt I was the luckiest gal on Earth.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
IT’S TIME TO REALLY WORRY ABOUT OUR KIDS AND FOR THE COMMUNITY TO STEP UP WHETHER THAT BE VIA DONATIONS, VOLUNTEERING OR FINDING OTHER OUT-OF-THE -BOX SOLUTIONS
By Diana L. Chapman
The bit of luck that existed in the Harbor Area when it came to ugliness of gangs will soon be erased with our mayor’s latest and greatest plan – which is way too late and not that great.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa believes that if he transfers funds currently for gang prevention that exist here and other areas of the city –and filters it to twelve more distinct gangster-ridden neighborhoods with higher crime stats, he will be doing something really different that will work. He plans to hire 1,000 more officers, I guess to stomp the gangs out in those neighborhoods.
Well it’s not that different and it’s unlikely it will work.
First, I wish the mayor had to face Harbor Area victims and tell them that our area didn’t provide enough statistics to keep the money here. I’d like him to face:
a) My girlfriend who stumbled on her way home during rush hour in San Pedro into the brazen shooting in broad daylight of a 15-year-old on his front porch. My friend was desperately trying to reach his younger sister to get her out of the line of fire. While I can’t name my friend, I know one thing; she has not been the same since and makes sure she’s out of San Pedro before dark.
b) LaTerian Tasby, 17, a prominent football and basketball player, who died trying to protect his friends at an athlete’s party last October when gangsters crashed the party, carrying knives and guns and shouting racial slurs. They shot LaTerian in the chest. After all, the kid was an easy target, 6’ 7” inches, and someone who would fight to save his friends and who knows.
c) Cheryl Green, the 14-year-old gunned down in Harbor Gateway because she was black.
d) The six-year-old who was shot in the head in his parent’s van, when gang signs allegedly were flashed on both sides. Who cares who was in the gangs – all I care about is a six-year-old does not ever deserve to be shot.
What would the mayor say to these people? Sorry, the media just blew your story up so much – the neighborhood got a lot of hype it didn’t deserve. And how about it mayor? You sure were prancing around the cameras when Cheryl Green was killed during the big media blitz.
Our kids are dying in the streets – everywhere in this city – so why would you take away from one area to allegedly fix another. Historically, every time the police zero in on a region with a driving force to batter down gangs, the gangsters do one thing – they leave and move to areas left wide open..This is exactly what happened when the LAPD broke up Nickerson Gardens – and in fact – exactly what happened with the mafia in Sicily when the government cracked down in the late 1800s. Many mafia members upped and move to the U.S. Why not? It was a wide open territory.
Where an area has less police to mind the store and less programs to mind the kids, we become – like La Terian Tasby -- a giant to target.
I shake to think what will happen if the Toberman House loses so much funding they quit sending former gang members out in the streets to sooth the hostilities and prevent more gang killings.
Or what the Boys and Girls club will do when it’s budget plummets by up to $200,000. The club has discouraged kids from joining gangs with after school programs-- including encouraging kids who never thought they could go to college in a million years – do exactly that -- go to college.
In fact, more than 127 Boys and Girls club seniors have been accepted to colleges and are headed there this fall, with even more waiting in the wings for their acceptances.
But I fear all this will be swept away when the money gets sent to areas such as Watts, Hyde Park and Panorama City. Not that those areas don’t deserve the money, but what many local officials believe is that without the money here – gang crimes are only going to get worse.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who serves the Harbor Area, said she’s puzzled why more money isn’t used on diversions – primarily after school programs which time and time again are shown in studies to prove to be the best way to keep kids from gangs.
She's planning to put forward a multi-million intiative to the voters to establishes scores of after school programs throughout Los Angeles.
“We have to out recruit the gang members,” Janice said. “They are good at recruiting. They are there before school, during school and after school. It’s not rocket science. We’ve just given up and we have left our kids completely vulnerable to gang members.”
I too am a huge advocate of promoting after school programs – something I’ve worked on at Dana Middle School the last few years to keep the kids off the streets, out of gangs, far from drugs and to help them find their interests.
Meeting with some success, about ten of us were allowed to show the mayor’s staff
Dana’s pilot program. The model could be done anywhere, as it draws from a variety of sources, including police, parents, businesses, community members and nearby community organizations.
The mayor’s staff let us in the door and -- at the time -- offered for us to come back. But that door, no matter how many calls or emails, was not reopened. The Dana program only keeps scores of kids off the streets and helps them reprogram that – yes – they are worthwhile! They are smart! They are talented! They can bring their grades up!
Kids can change on a dime given the right set of circumstances unlike the parents that the mayor’s office told me need to be reached and changed first. Well, good luck changing the heroine addicted parents, the gangster parents, the single mom with six kids to feed who is just trying to keep everyone alive. It's not realistic. It's tough to teach an old dog new tricks.
But a young dog – that’s another story.
I’d rather pour all my efforts into the youngsters – who no matter what you say – still have a chance to make it if the right person, right program, right college bound effort, right talent is dropped into their lives.
I’ve witnessed it myself many times. A girl who wrote that she lived like “Cinderella,” raised her brother and sister, and lived a routine of social workers and police storming her house – was recently interviewed by both Pepperdine and Harvard. Shortly, she will be off to a UC school with future plans to become a judge. That happened – and only happened – because one of these programs captured her heart. In this case, it was the College Bound program.
Or how about Dana’s basketball coach, who runs a club where no kid can be turned away. Derrick Smith not only teaches the intense discipline of the sport – but watches over their grades.
“I’ve learned so much about basketball,” wrote one 13-year-old boy. “Coach has taught us we could become anything that we want to be. He also taught us to reach for the sky. It also keeps kids off the streets who might be doing bad things if they didn’t have this basketball club. I respect the coach as an idol and a father figure.”
We need parents to volunteer. We need more coaches who can look past the athlete and into the heart of a kid. We need community leaders to step up and help shore up after school activities – in particular at middle schools where kids still have a much bigger chance to change.
And we need the mayor to realize the damage he's about to do for our area.
If the rest of us don't pick up after the cuts, it makes it just that much easier for gangs to pick our kids off the tree as easily as a piece of fruit ready to fall.
In essence, the mayor hasn't done the Harbor Area kids a single favor -- but when we have another killing with a lot of hype, I suspect the mayor will be back, smiling that wide grin for the cameras.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
COASTAL NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL SUPPORTS DANA MIDDLE SCHOOL:
To keep Dana Middle School’s after school clubs flourishing, the Coastal Neighborhood Council sponsored the programs with a $5,000 check, upping it from its original $2,500.
The council agreed that if any other group matched its $2,500 sponsorship, it would offer Dana that same amount to help keep the clubs thriving and flourishing. The Central Neighborhood Council has agreed to provide $3,500 – primary for a soccer club to begin at the school.
An avid supporter, Coastal’s Treasurer John Stinson said the community can no longer afford to not provide for programs like this which keeps students off the street, in a safe haven and helps them explore their interests.
“The Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council has had the opportunity to sponsor a number of youth programs and activities over the years and the Dana Middle School After School Clubs are a fine example of providing creative and healthy alternatives to gang involvement, drugs and the like,” he explained.
“Our children are our future and sending them down the right path by providing constructive activities like these will help them enjoy a brighter and safer tomorrow. It is an investment we can not afford not to make.”
The clubs, which started three years ago with an art and Spanish Club, grew dramatically to about eight clubs, with new additions coming in constantly. So far, Dana has Spanish, Croatian, art, basketball, cooking, swimming and junior police explorers. Some of the clubs are run by parent volunteers. Calling it LA Network for Kids, the Dana Parent Teacher Organization has done fundraisers and sought sponsors to keep the programs alive.
So far, Coastal Neighborhood Council has provided the largest donation, but other neighborhood councils are stepping up.
More programs are expected to be launched shortly – including sailing and musical theater.
TIP A COP ---WON’T YOU PLEASE
In what might prove to be a most interesting night, Los Angeles officers will be waiting hand and foot on patrons at the Copper Room Restaurant Tuesday night (April 22) and will accept tips for a fundraiser.
Officers are donating their tips to the Relay for Life, a benefit for the American Cancer Society. The fundraiser begins Tuesday at 5 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. The Copper Room is located at 589 West 9th Street.
Senior Lead Police Officer Joe Buscaino said he will be serving in honor of an aunt he lost to cancer.
For more information contact Sheri Hadjis at (310)-704-1299 or Debbie Heath, (310)-614-4201.
DON’T FORGET THIS IMPORTANT COMMUNITY EFFORT AGAINST VIOLENCE
A Peace and Unity Rally will be held May 15 to honor the 189 homicide victims killed in San Pedro and to unite the entire community against violent crime.
Put together by the San Pedro Safety School Collaborative, residents are asked to show their support by showing up from 6 to 8 p.m. at the San Pedro High School Pirate Stadium. The event is one of the first efforts the collaborative has done to combat gang violence – and any other violent crime.
Over the past two decades, 189 residents have been killed; 24 of them have been children under the age of 18. Many of the murders remain unsolved.
Los Angeles Police have agreed to patrol the event – and toward the end of the event, those attending will be asked to hold their lighted cell phones up in the darkness as a symbol of unity.
The rally is the first large event the collaborative is planning to combat violence.
To volunteer or for more information, call the YWCA at (310) 547-0831 and ask for Gabriela Medina or Alice Castellanos.
TRY ROWING CHINESE DRAGON BOATS AT AN UPCOMING OPEN HOUSE AT CABRILLO BEACH – COME SEE THESE BEAUTIES AT SEA AND PERHAPS DECIDE THAT YOU WANT TO BE ON A TEAM
Never seen a Chinese Dragon boat? Here’s your chance.
The newly formed LA Harbor Dragon Boat Club will hold an open house so residents can not only see, but even try their paddling hand, on these boats that are rowed by teams of paddlers.
On May 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., residents are asked to drop by and consider putting on a life jacket and rowing out on one of the boats.
The group wants to form both youth and adult teams. The event will be held at the Cabrillo Beach Youth Waterfront Sports Center, 3000 Shoshonean Road.
For further information, contact Marie at email@example.com or at (310)-324-5929 for the youth team. For adults, contact Bruce at Blheath@mindspring.com or (425)-503-3988.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
LOS ANGELES SCHOOL OFFICIALS BRING SOME PROMISING BUY-INS FOR AN ANGEL’S GATE HIGH -- AND NEWS THAT, DESPITE SHARP PROTESTS FROM NEIGHBORS, SOME RESIDENTS WILL REALLY WANT TO HEAR
By Diana L. Chapman
In what appeared as a miraculous buy-in package to build a high school at Angel’s Gate, Los Angeles school officials this week turned criticisms into advantages for residents to continue the progress toward building an 800-seat campus at the site.
Linda Del Cueto, the superintendent for region district 8 which includes all of San Pedro and areas stretching up north to Watts, promised a list of benefits that might encourage even critics to turn their heads around and consider the site. She added the school likely would either become a 9th grade academy or a 9th-12th grade high school
The Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David L. Brewer, III, makes the final determination, however.
The proposed promises included:
--Every student attending the school must live in San Pedro
--A magnet school will not be built at the site
--The proposed school would not be a satellite to San Pedro High, but exist as its own entity and run as its own school
--No “cherry picking,” such as taking only the brightest students from San Pedro High will occur
--Residents likely will have the “preferred option to chose which school their child attends, Angel’s Gate or San Pedro High.
- There are two options in which the new high school --if built-- could work. One proposal opts for a 9th-12th grade high school with small learning communities. The second: allowing a 9th grade academy only, splitting it into two learning communities and then those students would matriculate to San Pedro High School.
School officials believe that just the volume of sports alone at San Pedro High will attract residents to the larger, currently overcrowded high school while other parents will want their children in a smaller learning environment.
“It will not be a magnet school,” Del Cueto told a small crowd of about 20 at a meeting at San Pedro High School, which included both city and school officials, teacher union representatives and residents in leadership roles. “We will not bus kids into this community. We already have two magnets (at SP High).
“What’s hard about this, let’s face it, we haven’t built high schools for years and years…There’s really so much in the air. The athletics really helps drives the question.”
In addition, the superintendent said her team was considering the Angel’s Gate High School, projected to open in 2012, would use a small learning community system– which groups students in smaller houses with the same interests.
The district is currently adopting smaller learning communities across the board to cope with the giant population of many of its current schools. San Pedro High School, for example, was built in 1936. By 1970, the campus housed 72 classrooms with 2,500 students. The student population, however, has now climbed way beyond its capacity and now has 3,561 students and an additonal 34 bungalows, said Principal Bob DiPietro.
That extensive overcrowding – where students complain about standing up through class and barely being able to make class on time due to swollen crowds in the hallways – has driven the district to look for other options, such as building at Angel’s Gate.
For nearly three decades, the school district has owned 47 acres at Angel’s Gate. The proposal would allow for the 800 seat campus to continue an expansion of up to 1,215 students at a later date.
Residents near Angel’s Gate have fought sharply against the proposed school, saying that the traffic will clog residential streets, increase accidents on an already accident-prone Alma Street, ruin the serenity of the area, drive out foxes living at the site – and destroy the wholesomeness of the neighborhood with noise pollution.
School officials said they are attempting to mitigate these issues. Parking is a repeated concern. However, Doug Epperhart, with the Coastal Neighborhood Council indicated that school officials should meet with the committee planning the Angel’s Gate master plan. The master plan, which develops the park part of the area owned by the city of Los Angeles, is considering a 600-space underground parking structure, he said.
“I was very impressed,” said Epperhart of Monday’s meeting (4/14/08), who had criticized the district earlier for not trying to meet the resident's needs.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Families of murder victims in San Pedro are asked to call in and share their stories if they would like their loved one honored at an upcoming peace vigil against violence this coming May.
Volunteers are also being sought for the May 15 event that will be held at 6 p.m. at San Pedro High School’s Pirate Stadium.
The vigil was sparked by the public outcry of the October shooting death of a popular San Pedro High football and basketball player, 17-year-old LaTerian Tasby, who was killed at a party filled with local athletes. Gang members allegedly crashed the event and prompted a brawl. Several other youths were stabbed, but survived. LaTerian was shot in the chest.
The San Pedro Safety Collaborative -- a group of law enforcement, school and service organization officials – have been studying a variety of ways to make San Pedro safer. After LaTerian was killed, the group agreed the entire community should step forward in a united stance against violence -- not just for LaTerian, but for all victims in the community who've been murdered.
Over the past two decades, 189 residents – including 24 children – have fallen to violence, averaging out to about nine deaths a year in the seaside community. However, few vigils have ever been held in any of these deaths.
Some of the murders were triggered by gangs; Many remain unsolved.
Joe Buscaino, a senior lead police officer for LAPD, said officers are tired of telling family members that they have just lost a loved one and watch the intense suffering and pain in the aftermath. The officer was born and raised here, and remembers several of the residents who were killed as people he grew up with or knew at school.
Besides family members who would like to honor their loved one, volunteers are also needed to help with the event, which will include guest speakers, students reading off 189 names of those who have died, and a ceremony where those attending will be asked to light up their cell phones to honor those who have been lost.
Residents who would like to honor their lost loved ones during the vigil should call, Gabriela Medina, and those interested in volunteering should call Alice Castellanos or Jennifer Gonzalez. All three work at the YWCA. The number is 310-547-0831.
If you need to reach the writer, email Diana at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 10, 2008
"GRAND ILLUSIONS: MAGIC IN SAN PEDRO"
The Port of Los Angeles High School proudly presents their Second Annual Spring Fundraiser - Grand Illusions: Magic in San Pedro. The show will be held at the historic Warner Grand Theater on Friday, May 2nd at 8pm. General Admission tickets are $25 - Senior and Student tickets are $15.
The POLAHS Spring Fundraiser is produced in collaboration with last year's master magician, Jeff Parmer. The show will include specialty acts by; Dana Daniels and his Psychic Parrot Luigi, Long Beach residents Les Arnold and Dazzle and Craig Davis' Circus
Preceding the show, POLAHS invites friends and supporters to join them for A Magical VIP Dinner at Ports O' Call Waterfront Dining. This enchanting event will include a cocktail reception leading to a 4-course gourmet experience, plus an exclusive dinnertime magic show by Brian Gillis and Sisuephan. Diners will enjoy Warner Grand Theatre Shuttle Service to and from the Theatre on the London style double-decker Big Red Bus. The evening continues with a Sweet Partings Reception in the fINdings Art Center - the new gallery adjoining the Warner Grand foyer, for a POLAHS student art exhibit.
The fun begins at 5:30 PM on Friday May 2nd, 2008 and tickets are $150 for Adults and $75 for Children under 12. Tickets are available at
www.polahs.net, the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and
Sunday, April 06, 2008
A LOT OF INTERESTING THINGS TO DO ABOUT TOWN -- FROM ROWING DRAGON BOATS TO PLAYING TEXAS HOLD'EM AS A FUNDRAISER FOR TWO SCHOOL'S BOOSTER CLUBS -- SAN PEDRO HIGH AND MARY STAR!
FROM OUR BOOSTER CLUB FRIENDS:
Howdy Partners !
Yep, it's our Annual TEXAS HOLD'EM fundraiser (a poker game battle!) between the SPHS Pirate Booster Club and the Mary Star Stars Booster Club.
Mark Your Calendars for Friday April 25, 2008. Check-in starts at 5pm.(check out last years event pictures at http://www.pirateboosters.org/ )
We have new information this year and it will be held again at our best location ever-the San Pedro Elks Lodge!
Check out the details in the attached brochure, it's better than everway to support our booster club.
Get your tickets early before we sell out.
Scott Carter,2nd Vice President
SPHS Pirate Booster Club
FROM OUR DRAGONBOAT FRIENDS:
Hi All: Good news! The two boats are painted, on the beach and ready for our first season as the LAHDB club. Special thanks to all the players that made this happen: Al Larson Boat Yard and Mariano Bracco for giving their expert painting services gratis, Lewellen Paint for their generous paint donation and many of the new LAHDBC members for their time and labor in prepping, transportation and coverings for the freshly painted boats. It was alot of hard work, but it was worth it!Great job everybody - they look great!
LAHDB Club Open House - May 10th from 8 am to 1 pm at the Cabrillo Watersports Center in San Pedro. Everyone is invited to come down and experience Dragon Boat for themselves. Invite your friends to come as well. This will also be the start of our 2008 Dragon Boat season. We will be forming adult and children teams and signing up paddlers for practice sessions. The cost for a season membership is $60. That includes membership, club t-shirt, Long Beach Dragon Boat Festival (July 26th and 27th) entrance fee, insurance and practice schedule.
The Open House is another opportunity for members to get involved. We currently are in need of 8 more volunteers to help out at the open house.Volunteer needs:
- Run the food concession (fund raiser) - Help at the LAHDBC booth signing up children and adults for membership - Help with the dragon boats on the beach and in the water. - Help direct people from the parking lot to the event on the beach front.All volunteers will receive a hot-off-the-press LAHDB Club t-shirt for helping out.Please let myself, Bruce or Marie know if you are interested in volunteering. We will also need your shirt size."Crimes of the Heart" Fund Raiser on May 10th (same day as the open house) @ 3:00 : If you are interested in attending the play tickets are available for $35. It is going to be a great afternoon of comedy/theater and I hope you are planning on attending.
Please let myself or Bruce know how many tickets you would like for the performance. We have many great prizes to give away at the intermission: movie tickets, gift baskets, gym work-out passes, gift certificates, LAHDBC t-shirts, wines, DB paddle and more. Also, we are planning on going to go over to the Whale and Ale after the show. I hope you are planning to spend the day with the LAHDB club on May 10th. Come and meet some old friends and make some new ones! Finally, we are having a planning meeting at the Cabrillo Watersports Center on April 9th at 6:30 pm in the meeting room upstairs. If you would like to get involved with the club this season, this would be a great opportunity to see how things work.3000 Shoshonean RoadSan Pedro, CA 90731 Looking forward to a great DB season! Thanks,Patrick