Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO YOU ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From -- The

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn Asks You to Approve Prop A to Allow Funds That Would Out-Recruit Gangs By Providing After School Programs, College Bound Funding and More
NOTE from Diana first:
Dear Readers:
As a volunteer, I work with students who are either living in the midst of a gang infestation in their neighborhoods or are trying to break away from gangs. Some teenagers wonder if they are going to make it to the age of 18, since they've already lost so many innocent friends to gang violence.

Recently, I had a 14-year-old tell me he wants out of a gang. But his grades are low, so he can't play the sport he loves -- soccer -- at high school. To keep him away from gangs, he needs to be busy after school every single day and pursue his love: soccer. This is the type of tool that Prop A will pay for -- providing more sports and other activities at schools and oustide of campuses. I've asked Janice "Where is this money is going?" She has assured me a large chunk will go to after school programming.
It's "old hat" for some to who don't believe after school programming works. But time and time again, studies show its successful in keeping kids out of gangs. We saw success at Dana Middle School where kids once roamed the streets in packs once school let out. With clubs like swimming, cooking, basketball, chess, art and cheer, many students were diverted to clubs rather than the streets. Most of the clubs were were run by parents on a shoe-string budget. However, if we vote yes on Prop A, we can implement programs like this at many of Los Angele's public schools.. It's elementary. My Dear Watson.
Here is Janice's argument for it:

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn Asks You to Vote Yes on Prop. A -- the Measure to Curb Intense Gang Violence Using Funds to Prevent Kids from Getting Into Gangs in the First Place
By Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn

Proposition A is on the ballot on Tuesday, November 4, because mothers across Los Angeles begged the City to change the way we deal with gang violence.
They asked us to find a way to keep their kids from joining gangs and to prevent any more needless gang killings. They begged us to prevent the loss of innocent lives, like Cheryl Green’s. Cheryl was a 14-year old girl, standing outside her house in the Harbor Gateway with her friends at 3:30 in the afternoon. She was in the right place at the right time.

But, gang members drove by, sprayed Cheryl and her friends with bullets and she was killed almost instantly. So, a week before Christmas 2006, her mother had to bury her daughter. Mothers all over Los Angeles asked us to do something to keep this from happening again. We listened and Mothers Against Gang Violence was formed and Proposition A was placed on the ballot.

The City currently has more police officers on the street than ever before. We have more gang injunctions in place than ever before. We have arrested more than 400,000 gang members and sent them to jail. But, what has it gotten us? We now have six times the number of gangs and twice the number of gangs we did 20 years ago. Why? Because we are spending the majority of our resources on suppression and very little on prevention. We cannot arrest our way out of the gang problem. And while more police officers and gang injunctions are great tools to combat the violence, we know that for every gang member we arrest, another young person is being recruited to join a gang.

Some young people join gangs because they need protection just to walk to and from school. Some join gangs so that they have something to do after school. And others join gangs to give them an “after-school job.” Finally, some join because they think that no one cares about them. Once they make that decision to join a gang, they set out on a life of crime, violence and possibly death. And once you join a gang, it is almost impossible to remove yourself from that lifestyle. Even if you want to get out, the gang will not let you. It is a terrible cycle.

We must find a way to reach our young people and keep them from joining gangs in the first place. We can do that by providing them with positive alternatives to gang involvement. We know that for every gang member we arrest, another young person is being recruited to join a gang. We need to give them alternatives like good after school programs, such as music, drama and art (like the great Art-to-Grow-on Program); as well as mentoring and tutoring programs. We know that kids in after programs do better in school, they stay in school and the crime around that school goes down dramatically.

After-school programs like LA’s Best and our Boys & Girls Clubs will be funded through Proposition A. The College Bound program at the Boys & Girls Club is invaluable at pointing kinds in the direction of college—but they need more resources. Proposition A will provide those resources.

We should also be offering job training to young people who will probably not go to college. We know that nothing stops a bullet like a job. If a young person has the skills to land themselves a job, they won’t even be tempted to join a gang. Proposition A will fund job training for our young people, not only keeping them out of gangs, but also building a the next workforce.

Proposition A will allow Los Angeles to change the way we deal with gangs. It will allow us to reach every child—especially those at risk and give them positive choices.
Voters will be asked to invest $36 a year for the safety and growth of our children. That is only $3 a month for every property owner in Los Angeles and that is a small price to pay to provide hope and opportunities to our young people.

We have a lot of support for Proposition A. Not only do we have Chief Bratton, Sheriff Baca and our rank and file police officers, we also have the support of Fire Chief Barry and our firefighters. The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Proposition because it will help train our next workforce and create safer streets, benefiting our businesses. We have the support of the San Pedro Progressive Democratic Club and the National Association of Women Business Owners, as well as locals like Mike Lansing, Steve Kleinjen and John Olguin. But, what we really need is your support—the support of the voters on Election Day!

Proposition A is located at the end of the ballot, so make sure you look for it.
Remember, on Tuesday, November 4, vote Yes on Proposition A for our kids.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mike collecting goods for soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mike says he couldn't do all the work without his wife, Shirley, helping ...and then kids like this who wrote and drew pictures for those fighting for our country.

“I can never, ever, have enough,” said Mike Walker, who recently, on top of hundreds of other soldiers, agreed to adopt a brigade of 1,200 marines and send them care packages.
By Diana L. Chapman

He needs you to write a Christmas card or a letter.

He’d like you to provide cigars, heat resistant candy –such as licorice –toothpaste, liquid soaps, Pop-Tart ready-to-eat meals, Harmonicas, CDs and fruit to name a few things – and he, in particular cherishes notes and cards you’ve written to soldiers – especially right now.

With the winter holidays descending upon us soon -- and no matter how you feel about the war -- Mike Walker hopes you will support the troops, he said, as they are the wall that protects our freedom.

And the sooner, the better because it takes two to three weeks to ship anything to Iraq and “for the guys I have living in caves in Afghanistan.” It takes four to six weeks for parcels to reach them. Kids letters, in particular, seem to give the troops joy, he said.

Having packed off 3,800 pounds of food and hygiene products so far to soldiers in those two countries, and with the help of his website, called San Pedro Packages for Patriots, Mike started off small. He has asked that soldiers not be fully identified to protect them.

When he met his daughter’s friend’s husband, Gunny P, a Marine gunny sergeant, who was serving on his third tour in Iraq, Mike and his wife, Shirley, decided to send him a care package. The Gunny sergeant, who is now home, wrote back thanking Mike and explained he shared “everything,” with his troops.

The sharing concept went so deep into Mike’s gut, that even now, Shirley, wonders if they will have a Christmas of their own as their house has been gobbled up by hundreds of boxes and supplies that have been donated from all across the South Bay.

When Gunny P came home, he gave Mike the name of another marine sergeant and his military clientele kept building. And building. And building.

Even his business, San Pedro Automotive on North Gaffey, has seen a rising swell of boxes and supplies. After he realized he couldn’t afford it all, he asked his customers to help. His customers came through and began pouring the supplies in, including Q-tips and packages of Oreo cookies.

Incoming calls from the two countries, military officials thanking him for their troops, took Mike aback – to the point of crying.

One sergeant called and told him that his entire troop was luxuriating in the chance to smoke the case of cigars he sent.

“That was when I heard them all yell: ‘Thank you,” he explained as he showed me his board, a collection of photographs filled with soldiers faces thanking him for his support.” “I heard the whole squad shout 'thank you.' I called my Dad and I cried so hard. They are all thanking me. Wives and mothers call and are thanking me. Why are they thanking me? I’ll say: ‘You have a son that had done three combat tours and who has put their life and limbs on the line. You live everyday worrying about your husbands or sons. I can’t even imagine that pain.

“’No. I thank you.”

With each packet sent, he throws in copies of letters from children like this. He’s asked several local elementary schools to participate and received letters. Older students also have started to write as well from the Boys and Girls club and San Pedro High School's Marine Magnet.

The little kids wrote notes like this:

“Dear Soldier: My name is Ernie. I’m in 3rd grade and I’m 9-years-old. I really like tanks. Do you drive a tank? Thank you for fighting for our land. Who are you fighting right now? And what is your team name? What are your favorite weapons? Are you good at boot camp? Do you sometimes get hurt? I have so many questions. Do you own a bazooka? I love talking to a soldier. What is it like being a soldier? Well bye until you write back.”

Another San Pedro child wrote: “Dear Soldier: I’m in third grade. What branch of the military are you in, Nave (sic) seals, Marines or Air Force? I think your family is proud of you for helping the country in war. What kind of weapons do you have? Have you ever been in a tank before? If you have time, would you please write a letter to us, please.”

Mike can tell you dozens of stories since he began to ship out scores of packages to those serving from all the Armed Forces in the current war. The stories are practically leaping off the pages. So many letters and calls have come in, since he decided to go all out last February and ask for help, that he’s tickled and overwhelmed at the same time.

Here are some of the stories:

--A soldier called his mom, who in turn, called Mike to tell the automotive shop owner, that the packet of children’s letters that arrived were from the class of his fourth grade teacher at an elementary school in Rancho Palos Verdes. The soldier was so moved by the children’s letters that Mike and the school are planning a reunion, between the teacher and marine.

Then there came the day where the shipping costs were growing into thousands of dollars and his wife told him to calm down: “’God will take care of it,” his wife said, Mike reported to me. Mike wasn’t so sure.

The next day, a man showed up to give him $50 to help the marines in any way he needed. Mike refused saying he wasn’t a non-profit and didn’t have a way to take the money.

Fortunately, the man convinced Mike simply by saying this: “"I wish there had been someone like you when I was serving in the 1991 Gulf War, sitting in the middle of nowhere in120 degree desert and drinking hot water. You are going to take my money.'”

Since then, Mike agrees to take money to pay for shipping costs and those expenses have been covered via donations.

So committed is the mechanic and business owner, that several times he set up shop at local stores, such as Ralph’s and Sam’s Club, so that shoppers could make purchases and give them to Mike and his waiting truck. Each time, the shoppers have shown mass support for the troops–and overflowed his truck with goodies. It almost looks like Mike look is working for Santa Claus.

Perhaps he is.

One of his most successful days, he explained, was when he learned about Brian, an injured marine who stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) and was only saved because the “blasting cap didn’t go off.” Brian was shipped home to recuperate from the injuries to his leg in the Newport Beach area. Placing Brian’s photo up on a truck, moved so many shopping at the stores that dozens wrote get well cards and some even donated money, totaling $32. Mike and his wife happily delivered the cards and money in person.

The soldier, he said, was first speechless and then just overwhelmed.
As endless as the war has seemed, the stories Mike can tell are never ending as well. He received calls from soldiers asking for soccer balls and stuffed animals that they could give to the kids in the two war-torn countries to give them hope. He’s been able to accommodate both requests. One woman came in and offered 400 hand-knit beanies, which he immediately pointed out would help troops in the chilly winter of Afghanistan.

It all boils down to this, he explains.

“I challenge people to do something,” he said, revealing it doesn’t matter how you feel about the war, but that people should focus on the fact that these men and women are willing to die for us. “These men and women don’t want your pity. They want your support.”

Mike’s biggest regret since he started this is: he can’t do it full time since he has to work. If he gets an inheritance or runs into some big cash, he will quit working and devote his life to helping those soldiers who put themselves in harms way to protect us, he explained.

He received this letter from a soldier: “Thank you for being there and for sending your love this way. For caring so much about a total stranger, truly restores my faith in God and this great nation.”

Items suggestions include: heat resistant candy (Twirlers, licorice), chips, cookies, crackers, dried fruit, granola and protein bars, gum, nuts, trail mix, cup of noodles, Pop tarts. Toiletries include mouthwash, disposable razors, toothpaste, dental floss, Q Tips and much more.

For a full list of items needed and more information, visit:
To drop donations office, they can be left at San Pedro Automotive, 1208-C N. Gaffey, San Pedro. Or call (310) 831-3700.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Dear Readers:

The other day, a friend called and asked if it was OK to post opposition to one of the issues on the blog. Of course it is. While I may not agree, it doesn't mean we should not look at every angle. In the recent Point Fermin controversy, many residents had much to say, pro and con. As always, my side rests with the kids. If you're looking for my ulterior motives, just figure out the best stance for the kids and you'll find where my heart lies. But as an impassioned advocate for children, I -- like anybody else -- may miss an important piece of information or more.

Please feel free to make comments on the blog; the only requirements are that writers stick to the issues and don't maliciously attack anyone. I for one, would have loved to see many readers put comments on Amy Epperhart's beautiful piece of poetry, The Moth. So many readers came up to me and told me how beautiful her piece was. It would be nice if she could see those comments on the blog.

It's the same story with the Youth Aquatic Center. The man aiming to build such a facility in San Pedro was told many times how wonderful his idea was. If you like it, say it! If you don't, say it too. But again, stick to the issues. And be kind to other's feelings -- especially those of kids. When kids create, adults can be the first to stamp out their artistic side, even when they don't mean to.



P.S. One last thing: if you have art, writing or funny photos of your children, please send them to me in J-peg format at We get so wired in our busy lives, we miss creative pieces from kids like Amy. I'm just sure there are many more out there -- and for some reason -- that poem just made my day.

By Ray Buffer, artistic director of the Relevant Stage Theatre Company

Audition times are still available for actors and singers (adults and children) for The Christmas Carol. Call 310.929.8129 for an audition time.

The Christmas Carol is a stage adaptation of Dicken's classic story "A Christmas Carol"

The Relevant Stage begins its annual tradition of offering The Christmas Carol, a stage adaptation of Dicken's classic story "A Christmas Carol" to families in December.

Written during a time of decline in the old Christmas traditions, Dicken's original book played a critical role in redefining the importance of Christmas and the major sentiments associated with the holiday.

An old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of one night. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/money-changer who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth.

He holds anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love and the Christmas season.The cast is augmented with the inclusion of the Youthorizons Chorus, a community choir consisting of youths from the San Pedro area, ages 10 - 18 performing Olde English Carols.

Please call 310.929.8129 or email before Monday, Oct. 27.

Location: Warner Grand Theatre - 478 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, California, United States

Choristers:Any gender, aged 10 to 18 from California, USA Choristers Lead / Male / Female / All Ethnicities / 10 - 18 years Description: Young boys and girls, ages 10-18 will sing Olde English Carols intermittently throughout the play. Wardrobe: Victorian

Elizabeth/Chorister:Any gender, aged 10 to 14 from California, USA Elizabeth/Chorister Featured / Female / All Ethnicities / 10 - 14 years Description: Elizabeth is a street kid who runs errands for Scrooge and doubles as a caroler. Wardrobe: Victorian

Herald/Chorister/ScroogeAs A Boy: Males, aged 10 to 14 from California, USA Herald/Chorister/Scrooge As A Boy Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 10 - 15 years Description: Herald is an errand boy who fetches the poulterer; This role also sings as a caroler and portrays Scrooge as a very young boy singing "Silent Night" alone in a room. Wardrobe: Victorian

Maggie Cratchit/Mrs. Fezziwig:
Females, aged 30 to 50 from California, USA Maggie Cratchit/Mrs. Fezziwig Featured / Female / All Ethnicities / 30 - 50 years Description: Maggie Cratchit is wife to Bob, mother to Tiny Tim - very opinionated; Mrs. Fezziwig is the queen of the ball and the hostess with the mostest. Wardrobe: Victorian

The Spirit of Christmas Present/Simon or Simone:
Any gender, aged 20 to 50 from California, USA The Spirit of Christmas Present/Simon or Simone Featured / Male / Female / All Ethnicities / 20 - 50 years Description: "Christmas Present" can be either male or female; the role doubles for Simon or Simone - the town gossip. Wardrobe: Victorian/Fantasy

Young Ebenezer/Townsperson:

Males, aged 20 to 30 from California, USA Young Ebenezer/Townsperson Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 20 - 30 years Description: Through flashbacks we see Young Ebenezer fall in love (dance at Fezziwig's) and become separated from Sylvia. This role also doubles as a towns person. Wardrobe: Victorian

Sylvia/The Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come :Females, aged 20 to 30 from California, USA Sylvia/The Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come Featured / Female / All Ethnicities / 20 - 30 years Description: Sylvia is the love of young Scrooge's life who breaks up with him and marries another; The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come is a scythe-wielding omen. Wardrobe: Victorian/Ghastly

The Spirit of Christmas Past/Oscar Males: aged 20 to 40 from California, USA The Spirit of Christmas Past/Oscar Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 20 - 40 years Description: Christmas Past is a ghost/Oscar is the son of Archibald - a man who borrowed money from Scrooge Ghost:

Jacob Marley's Ghost/Archibald Males: aged 50 to 70 from California, USA Jacob Marley's Ghost/Archibald Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 50 - 70 years Description: Marley is Scrooge's dead partner who comes back to haunt him; Archibald is a man who has borrowed money from Scrooge. Wardrobe: Victorian/Ghastly

Bob Cratchit/Fiddler Males, aged 30 to 50 from California, USA Bob Cratchit/Fiddler Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 30 - 50 years Description: Cratchit works for Scrooge and is
father to TIny Tim; The fiddler, is seen at Fezziwig's party - and does not need to actually play the violin. Wardrobe: Victorian

Reginald/Mr. Fezziwig Males, aged 30 to 60 from California, USA Reginald/Mr. Fezziwig Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 30 - 60 years Description: Reginald is the fundraiser who approaches Scrooge. Fezziwig is the former employer of Scrooge, who throws a party for his employees. Wardrobe: Victorian

Tiny Tim Cratchit :Males, aged 10 to 18 from California, USA Tiny Tim Cratchit Featured / Male / All Ethnicities / 12 - 18 years Description: Young male 12-18 bears a little crutch and has his limbs supported by an iron frame Wardrobe: Victorian

Ebenezer Scrooge :Males, aged 50 to 70 from California, USA Lead. A charismatic miser with presence, capable of broad emotional range. Wardrobe: Victorian

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Principal is on the Hunt for a Gym for Her Basket Ball Players and a Track for the School’s Cross Country Team After Harbor College Would No Longer Allow the Use of Their Facilities without Higher Costs

By Diana L. Chapman

As principal of a hard-core, academic high school – which was recently nominated for a national blue ribbon award for the “No Child Left Behind Act” -- Mattie Adams realizes hitting the books hard without giving students a way to let off steam can be a detriment to their success.

As principal of Harbor Teacher’s Preparatory Academy, a Los Angeles Unified School District High school based at Harbor Community College, she’s responsible for the accelerated education of 362 students – with this year’s incoming freshman being the largest ever – 130.

Having opened in 2002 – with the concept of having its students prep for teaching and leave with either a two year Associate’s Degree or at least 30 college credits before going onto university, Mattie can tout that she’s already been able to host three successful graduations.

It’s what she doesn’t have that’s bothering her – a gym for her 30 some basketball players, a team that has ranked third or above in the Crosstown Division the last several years. The Cross Country team, made up of about ten students, also lost the chance to use the track. The students feel deflated and discouraged by the upset.

The struggle to support, what the principal considers imperative to help student development, stems from the original contract which allowed the high school to use the college’s facilities, but the Los Angeles unified school was not allowed to use any athletic space at the college, said David Kooper, Chief of staff for LAUSD Board Member, Richard Vladovic.

Last year, the college officials approached the principal with their concerns that it was too high of a risk to have the students playing in the gym or running the course – without college personnel being hired to watch over them.

The school district was only able to renegotiate the contract with the college – without any clause to support an atheletic’s program, said Linda Del Cueto, head superintendent of the district’s Region 7, which encompasses the campus.

“We were only able to negotiate the contract without athletics,” Linda explained via email. “In the meantime, I'm working closely with Principal Adams and she was able to secure the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club for girls basketball practice and games. I'm now working on use of some of our middle schools for the boys.”

When the issue arose last year, it left the principal scrambling to search for new location; the discrepancy forced the basketball players out of college’s gym and runners off its track. Ever since, the principal has been on a hunt for new space. Last year, she was able to work a deal with Los Angeles’s Recreation and Parks to use Peck and Victoria’ parks – but then the parks wanted a much bigger payment then the small school could afford this year.

The teams are homeless again. Parents are angry. And the students are disappointed.

“We just can’t afford to pay what a large school does,” the principal explained, while readily admitting that even these academicians need sports for their growth. Currently, high school officials have asked for a discounted rate for use of the two park’s facilities, but still have not heard, even though it’s the middle of fall, whether they can use them.

“The parks have decided they want more and more money,” she said.

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, who was unaware of the matter, said through a spokeswoman that her staff will look into the issue to offer help.

"We are going to contact the school, LAUSD and Rec and Parks to see how we can help," explained Courtney Chesla Torres, chief of staff for the councilwoman.

In the meantime, all this spells out a lot of grumpy students – who can’t wait to get back to their sport and compete.

“All I want, is the same rights as any other high school in this area,” explained one student who asked not to be named. “… the right to be educated and compete in sports without worrying about where we play next....or if our team can play at all."

School officials are working to cut a deal with other school campuses within the district to ensure that the students of Harbor Teacher’s Prep will be allowed to continue in their sports activities.

“The district has been very helpful, but it can take time,” the principal said. “We’re working on it.”

For now, however, the students are still homeless when it comes to sports.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT: A Three Day Celebration to Honor Murdered Children; San Pedro High Student Writes Letter Asking for The Air Force to Stop Destroying a Hillside behind Cabrillo Aquarium; LAUSD Nominates Harbor Teacher's Prep Academy in Wilmington for the 2008 National Blue Ribbon Award

Three Day Weekend Celebration to Honor the Lives of Murdered Children; Please Attend and Support the End of Killing the Innocents -- and even the Not-so-Innocents

Their mother's will be there.

Their photos will be there.

Even their shoes will be there.

But they will not.

In another attempt to stop the violence, Justice for Murdered Children will launch a three day weekend celebration in San Pedro to honor victims of homicides starting this Friday (Oct. 24) with a candlelight vigil walk starting near the Vincent Thomas Bridge that will end with a ceremony at Ports O' Call Village.

This is an opportunity for the entire community to support those who have lost their children to homicides and another effort to increase awareness that killings are ongoing.

"This killing must stop," said LaWanda Hawkins, who founded Justice for Murdered Children in San Pedro after her 19-year-old son, Reginald Reese, was shot down on a Sunday, Dec. 6 in 1995. He was killed from multiple gun shots. Los Angeles police have never found the killer(s).

The three day celebration, which will include Friday night's walk, will begin at 5 p.m. starting under the Vincent Thomas Bridge near the Los Angeles Port's new fountain, corners of Harbor Boulevard and Swinson Street. A ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. with the reading of the victim's names, guest speakers and music.

Saturday will host a large concert at Port's O' Call -- complete with a carnival, Hip Hop, Gospel and Rock music, from noon to 9 p.m. The entry fee will be $10 and balloon's will be released honoring the victims. Anyone who has lost a loved one to violence is encouraged to bring photographs.

On Sunday, also at Ports O'Call, the Warren Chapel Church will give a sermon, starting at 11, and and a car and motorcycle show will begin at noon, accompanied with more music. At 2 p.m., a free food-giveaway will be launched.

Ironically, while LaWanda Hawkins said she was part of some of the planning, she was surprised when the official planners for the organization -- who didn't know where her son was killed. The location, which she called coincidental, seemed symbolic since her son was killed in a vacant lot across the street.

"This whole program is to make people aware of these homicides and to ask them not to stereotype," she said. "I just want to remind them that this can happen to anyone. We have to cherish our kids everyday. We have to learn that they are gifts."
SP High Student Writes Letter Contending that the Air Force is Destroying Hillside Behind San Pedro's Gem, the Cabrillo Aquarium

By Christian Sthelik, San Pedro High School student

Fort MacArthur Air Force housing has been destroying the cliffs near Cabrillo Beach for the past year or two in order to "stabilize" the cliffs.

They are now planning on "stabilizing" the cliff behind Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, the same cliff that is a part of the Cabrillo Native Plant Garden.

There have been supposed sightings of the Palos Verdes Blue Butterfly in the garden, the same butterfly that was believed to be extinct. also, there are several feral cats which call the garden their home.

The Air Force is moving fast. If we the people are to stop this immoral crime against nature and the citizens of the United States, then we must move even faster. We, the people, must exercise our right to question an establishment which we believe is doing wrong.


Submitted by the LAUSD Communications Staff

Los Angeles – Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced today that Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy in Wilmington is a nominee for the prestigious 2008 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy is one of only 35 public schools in the state nominated for this award. Harbor Teacher Preparation Academy is also a 2007 California Distinguished School winner.

The NCLB Blue Ribbon is a recognition program of the U.S Department of Education and honors schools that are academically superior, demonstrate gains in student test scores and show advances in closing achievement gaps.

“Harbor Teacher Preparation academy has a record of excellence and this honor is an example of a collective effort that not only benefits our students, but brings a sense of pride to our teachers and greater community,” said Board member Dr. Richard Vladovic, who represents schools in Local District 8.

“This is great news and I applaud the hard work of all the teachers and administrators at Harbor Teacher Preparatory Academy,” said Superintendent of Schools David L. Brewer III. “The nomination means that our students are receiving the quality education they deserve.”

Nominated schools will now submit an application to the U.S. Department of Education in February 2008. Each school will need to meet 2008 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Academic Performance Index (API) schoolwide and subgroup growth targets next fall. Those that meet these final targets will be honored at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2008.#

Labels: Harbor Teacher Prep
One of the Biggest Reasons I Sent My Son to Port of Los Angeles High Charter School Over San Pedro High; The Overcrowded Conditions Will Cost the Larger High School – Especially When No Relief Is in Sight for the Building of Another Campus

By Diana L. Chapman

“How do they do it?” I quizzed my friend, a long-time teacher at San Pedro High School who the students adore. “How do they keep calm and not get into riots on a 90 degree day?”

I was, of course, referring to the students attending the miserably, overcrowded conditions at San Pedro High where I found myself becoming unnerved when visiting the school for meetings last year. As time went on, I was becoming more and more alarmed about sending my son, who should have started there this year as a 14-year-old freshman.

Instead, he’s at the Port of Los Angeles High Charter school. There are many reasons that factored into it, but the major one that came up again and again is simply the overcrowded conditions which made me feel like I was in a prison – and the threatening storm that the campus will turn year-round as the school becomes perplexingly even more overcrowded.

Year round has proved disastrous for families and the study behaviors of students – so much so that Los Angeles Unified – has worked on dismantling all of its year round schools. I shudder when I think of San Pedro High going year round – a threat many residents are taking lightly – but perhaps should not.

Here’s a snapshot for those who haven’t been there lately during school hours: I’m coming onto the campus for, ironically, a safe and civil meeting, and the bell rings. Students storm out the doors, racing as fast as they can to get to their next class. They are pushing and shoving in hallways that are thick with so many bodies, there’s no room to breath – and as an adult, I found myself getting picked up in a tidal wave of kids desperate to get to their next class.

Having gone through this bitterly uncomfortable rigmarole many times, I couldn’t understand why the students weren’t having fist fights in the hallway.

“They just go with it,” my teaching friend said. “They know how it is ,so they keep a cap on it.”

But here’s my question of the day: Why should they have too????????????? In a school where there’s 3,500 students made for a campus of about 2,000 – and in a community that keeps rejecting the building of a new high school or even a small satellite – my fears for my son increased. While his personality fits San Pedro, his safety appears to me much better at the charter school, since it’s much smaller, the staff is close and the Port police station is being built right next door.

We already know that we have many racial hostilities going on in this town. We already know that student LaTerian Tasby, who became a popular football and basketball player at San Pedro High and turned his life around, was shot to death by gang members at a high school party last year around this time. Many kids in the know will tell you it was because he was an African-American – and an easy target due to his height, six feet, six inches.

Call me a nervous Mama, an overly dramatic mom, or whatever you want. But I just think showing students that they are worth so little, meaning we won’t allow a new high school or even a satellite campus to relieve the stress, tells the kids exactly what we think of them.

Then they, in turn, sure show they feel: I’d walk in the hallways at San Pedro and find trays of discarded food just strewn along the floor – because I guess the students couldn’t bother to find a trash can. Why should they? If we have no respect, why should they?

Kids can read us far better than we think – more than we would ever admit. They take the cues from the adults that surround them – and most of all, they are not stupid. They get it – and they get it well. They know who cares; They know who doesn’t.

Don’t ever underestimate a kid – because they will return what we hand out with glee. For example, my son recently was lucky to be called to a press conference held by our smiling-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, whose teeth I’ve come to know more than anything else by his repeated photo ops.

The mayor’s office needed kids to wear T-shirts and show that they wanted clean air in our overly polluted Harbor Area when there was a launching of clean truck initiative in town.

But when my son arrived with a group of other students, there weren’t enough T-shirts to go around – and so the kids who couldn’t wear the shirts weren’t allowed in the photographs.

My son seethed.

Then, the mayor’s staff was rude to one of the school officials and the mayor said, according to my son, “Oh, I was supposed to say something about their school. Oh, well,” and turned around and walked away.

Ryan came home that night with the fastest political education he could have ever received. In that short period of time, he summed it up like this: the whole thing was staged, the mayor didn’t care an ounce about the kids and wasn’t even friendly – and he will never vote for Villaraigosa if he runs for governor. Four years from now, Ryan will be able to vote.

I’m not going to say yet that my son is happy at the Port of Los Angeles. He’s only been there for less than three months and admittedly, he feels somewhat disenfranchised as all his friends are at San Pedro High – and the school’s rules are markedly different from other schools. But just like college, where kids call home crying in the first several months after leaving, they tend to wind up happier than they’ve ever been.

I’ve come to greatly admire the current assistant principal, Gaetoni Scotti, and just wish he was principal everyday. The last principal left and Mr. Scotti is acting in the interim.

He’s been responsive to many of my requests, such as when my Mom’s twin brother died, he was able to help me arrange quickly with the teachers that Ryan might be gone for awhile. I also loved it at Back to School night, because the teacher’s were fun and zany, which often helps keeps students attention when they learn.

I’m not going to say yet that it’s a better school than San Pedro High. I also can’t even say I’m 100 percent sure that it will be safer, because we all know of the tiny Amish school that was attacked by a ruthless man, who killed all the girls he held hostage. No one could ever have predicted that.

And I am going to say I have wonderful friends on the SP High Lady Boosters – who surprised me when they took the “fix San Pedro first,” stance, as many in town have before building any other schools.

I respect their opinion as I know how hard they do work for the kids. But all those things just didn’t make me feel comfortable with the same issue that keeps coming back to haunt me. It’s this: an overcrowded school, a few hot days, a few agitated students and the whole place could blow.

This is what happened at Locke High School last year, and my friend who was working there as an assistant principal, said it was one of the most shocking and distressing things he’d ever witnessed in his life. The worst part: he felt helpless to stop it.

As a reporter, I can recall many stories where the schools were under lockdown, including Banning High, when skirmishes broke out on campuses. That meant, the kids couldn’t get out and the parents couldn’t get in.

I watched on TV and saw the photos of parents screaming and trying to climb fences to reach their kid. And I saw kids trying to climb over to reach their parents. Somehow, I don’t mean to be so negative, but I can see this happening at San Pedro until we relieve the overcrowding.

And I’ll admit right here and now – I’d be one of those parents climbing the fence.

Making SP High better is a good concept – and no matter what – still needs to happen, because there are good teachers there. There is an excellent staff. The real question though is: how long will it take and how much longer will the kids have to endure the current sardine-can setting they are in?

I didn’t want to wait long enough to find out the hard way. That’s the simplest explanation I can give you as to why my son is now enrolled in a charter school.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Point Fermin Elementary School Power/View/Safety Matter
By Russell Jeans

Since my contribution to Diana’s blog, some additional facts have come to light and some new "spin" is going on. I hope you read through this and click on any links referenced if you need verification.

The view challenges have been popular as to the significance of the view issue. An early email received by the school district was sent by James, my neighbor, on March 17, 2006. Quoting, in part:"I am contacting you … to find a solution to a problem we are experiencing in our neighborhood regarding the placement of several new power poles that are adversely affecting our view and, in addition are a threat to the schools children' safety..." "Because of LAUSD's generated need for all of this electrical power, four new 50 foot high power poles have been erected carrying high voltage overhead lines and thus devaluating (sic) many of the homeowner's (sic) property at a real estate market value of about $200,000 each." (He makes no mention of who made that evaluation and on what it was based.)James lives a block away and claims he has no harbor view, as it is obstructed by a building in front of him. That has been repeated elsewhere and is a salient point on another blog.

Quoting the blog: “Mr. Campeau stated factually that out of the front of his home he has a good clear view of the stucco walls of a condominium building and cannot even see the school unless he stands on his roof.”

The blog continues: "Now here are some true facts (Me - true facts?? Are there any other kind? Just a little humor):Mr. Campeau's view is of the stucco wall of a condominium building and he has no real view of the school site.."

Actually, standing anywhere on the south half of the school yard and also standing on Kerckhoff Ave., you can look towards James’ house and see directly into all the east facing windows of the house. Therefore, not only does he have a view of the school yard, he also can see more of the harbor than some of his neighbors. So much for true facts.

Pressure Politics

When you can’t win on the merits, create a web.
The March 17, 2006 email concludes, "If LAUSD is not willing to be a good neighbor and do the right thing, very in-depth investigations will be made...that might include the media and/or costly litigation taking this matter to another level which all of us probably do not want to see." (That sentence was blatantly inflammatory. At that point, his complaint was baseless.)

The Daily Breeze article ( included this: "If LAUSD doesn't remove the wires, Campeau said he may appeal to the district's Office of the Inspector General, or even to Jerry Brown, the state attorney general."

So far, he has gone to the city’s DWP, Street Services and Engineering in Public Works, the LAUSD, the councilwoman’s office, the newspaper, the local neighborhood council, NOISE, the city’s mayor’s office, the school PTO and says he wants to be on the school’s School Site Council.

The “very in-depth investigations”Well, the "very in-depth investigations" found a property right issue regarding right-of-way. (I would be interested to know who actually did these "very in-depth investigations", who suggested such a strategy and why. Are these just vain questions or are real answers going to be told?)

I am not in any way implying here that determining property rights is wrong. I am saying that he was trying to look at property rights of others - in this case public agencies – hopefully to find something that might be twisted to his personal advantage.

The occupation of the right-of-way

The existence of the right-of-way is indisputable. The city owns it and the school district is using it. The LAUSD notified the city that a permit was issued in 1931 for use of the right-of-way. The City cannot find the original permit; although there is no dispute that the permit was issued. (I wish the “very in-depth investigations” would include the search for the permit.)

The right-of-way was fenced about 1961 for the security of the school children. The lunch awning was installed about 2000 on the right-of-way to allow maximum use of the playground area. There are no known disputes on any of that until James had a view issue.

On June 25, 1999, DWP approved the current location of the transformer that was to be installed for Fire Life Safety upgrades, technology upgrades and air-conditioning upgrades. According to the LAUSD letter to the City, the transformer location was selected by the DWP.

The power apparently will not be connected to the school until the current complaint is resolved; as the equipment location and line configuration are directly tied to resolving the complaint.

The new fire alarm system is supplied from the lower, current power. In the long term, the system could be compromised if the higher voltage is not connected. (That from a LAUSD technician very familiar with the fire system.) Obviously, the point being the higher voltage is required for the school even without the air-conditioning.

Meanwhile, the City issued a Notice to Abate Nuisance or Correct Violation order on July 6, 2006. The notice states: “You are hereby notified to comply with the requirements of the LAMC by obtaining a revocable permit from the Dept. of Engineering…” (Claims have been made that the LAUSD is trying to force the city to issue a permit.)

On August 24, 2007, the LAUSD in a letter to the City listed the improvements on the right-of-way and stated the specific reasons for doing so (e.g., security, maximum use of playground, necessary upgrades and noise reduction). The letter also notified the city the LAUSD was requesting the issuance of the permit.

On March 25, 2008, the Coastal Neighborhood Council sent its list of motions to Janice Hahn’s office for that month. (See minutes where motion passed unanimously )

Motion #12 begins, “At Point Fermin Elementary School, The Board of Public Works Bureau of Street Services Investigation and Enforcement Division has determined that Los Angeles Unified School District has built and installed into public right of way on Carolina Street a school lunch shelter area, chain link fencing, a new high voltage power substation, and air conditioning condenser units without a permit…

“…WE…ADVISE that the Board of Public Works deny any permit request by Los Angeles Unified School District concerning right of way encroachments at Point Fermin Elementary School, and that The Board of Public Works directs LAUSD to immediately remove any structures (bold added by me) from the public right of way.

The City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Engineering and Bureau of Street Services issued a joint report with the follow recommendation:

“Authorize the City Engineer to issue a Revocable Permit to the Los Angeles Unified School District to allow an existing lunch shelter, air conditioning condenser units, a ground transformer and chain link enclosure to remain in the public right-of-way along a portion of Carolina Street in San Pedro until such time that funds are available to widen Carolina Street.”

(BTW, widening Carolina Street will never happen because to do so would result in removing all of the improvements encroaching on the right-of-way by all the property owners up and down the street.)

Quoting more from the report regarding safety:

“Based on…information from the DWP, there is no engineering or safety-related basis to deny the LAUSD’s request for a Revocable Permit.”

“It is the Bureau of Engineering’s recommendation that the Board approve this request for a Revocable Permit to allow the existing perimeter fencing, transformers, condensers and lunch shelter to remain in the public right-of-way…”

There it is. The violations? Improvements encroaching on right-of-way that was assumed by both agencies to be school district property. Not one safety code violation. Not one building code violation, other than building on the right-of-way – and that without objection from anyone until now. Not anything other that a matter of property rights – and the rightful property owner’s (the city) technical advising bureaus can find no reasonable objection to issuing a permit. In fact, they fully recommend the issuance with the current configuration.

Well, after all of these years of being neighbors to the school and not once pushing for any safety improvements to the school, a view issue motivates a concern for safety. The concern? A sidewalk. They want a continuous sidewalk on the east side of the street. That means replacing the walk way off of the street (within the existing right-of-way) that gives safe access to the back of the school. They think the construction of the continuous sidewalk on the right-of-way is safer and of greater value than the current right-of-way improvements they want removed.

I used that walk way for several years as I took my son to school. When I was doing that, I always felt we were safer being off of the street than if a continuous sidewalk existed there. (That was my thinking long before all of this mess.) Moreover, as noted above, the preferred route (and safest, with or without a continuous sidewalk) is from Carolina, down 34th and to the main entrance on Kerckhoff. The sidewalk is uninterrupted and 34th is a dead end street.

The actions of the school district and the city have created safer conditions than the recommendations and concerns for sidewalk safety of a few neighbors and the local neighborhood council.

Again, I have used that part of the street as a parent taking my son to school and always felt safer doing so than if a continuous sidewalk replaced it. I still use it personally sometimes when I walk down to the school today and feel really good while doing it.

What’s really going on?

The neighbor’s single issue is his view. Some will object to my saying that. But, not a peep came from him to the school about school safety in the four years I was on the school site council. We always include the opportunity for public comment on the agenda. There has never been a continuous sidewalk on the east side of Carolina St.

Yep. He made safety complaints to the school district officials at the time he complained about his view obstructions. The safety complaints were power pole and line related. They were there to put pressure on the district to act on his view issue. There were no violations noted. There were suggestions to spend more money to redo the installation – suggestions that would conveniently solve his view concerns.

There was no concern, no mention, no issue regarding the continuous sidewalk until the right-of-way issue was discovered.

There were wires on utility poles adjacent to the lunch awning from the time the awning was erected. The voltage carried on those wires could kill a person in a heartbeat, just as sure as the higher voltage. There was no objection when the awning was installed.

He also has no objection if the poles’ heights are restored to that of the original poles. For him, there is no safety remedy that doesn’t include eliminating the higher utility poles from his view.

Some of his supporters have their own agenda. Their aversion to the school district is so strong that irrational and nonsensical positions are taken and statements are made so that knowledge and facts become their enemies.

The neighborhood council should have known better. Their mean-spirited motion would do nothing for the betterment of the education of the neighborhood children (and their parents) the advisory council represents.

The councilwoman’s divisiveness and partisanship have kept the matter going on as long as it has. When all the facts were made known to the city’s and the school district’s appropriate personnel, they acted reasonably and responsibly. She should have backed them. She should have, herself, gone down to the public counter and requested a permit that would have been immediately issued. Instead, she opted to protect the view issue of one individual.

At one time, James had an attorney involved. That apparently is no longer true. I suspect he was advised there is no legal issue for him and continuing to pay an attorney would be throwing money away.

This is about preferential treatment. The replacement power poles are no different than most of the other poles in the neighborhood. You can see a photo here of a utility pole really obstructing a view a block from the school. The property owner asked the city if it were possible if the city could move the pole. They told him they could do that, but he would have to pay for it. He asked how much and they said $25,000. He didn’t pay.

James wants the poles moved, cut or removed. He doesn’t want to pay. He wants you to pay by using public funds. He is my neighbor, a very good neighbor and very nice. But, on this matter, he is also very wrong.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dear Readers: On occasion, I get the chance to read works of students in San Pedro. When I read Amy Epperhart's "Moth," I enjoyed it so much that I asked her if I could post it on my blog. She said: "Sure." Amy attends the Port of Los Angeles High School and has future plans to become an archaeologist and participate at dig sites either in England's Stonehenge or near the Egyptian pyramids. Here is her poem:
The Moth
I am a moth
Plain and hardly visible
Working hard each day
Flitting around in a frenzied whirl
Trying to learn all I can learn
Trying to accomplish all I possibly can
But I forget, I'm only one small moth
In the grand scheme of life
So I close my eyes
And fold my wings
To climb one leafy branch at a time
Each day, I grow and learn
My wings grow a little larger
A little more colorful
A little more unique
I am a moth
Ever smiling. I spread my vivid wings
And let the fluid currents of life
Take me to my dreams

Child Abduction -- Preventing a Parent's Worst Nightmare; Senior Lead Officers Gives Parents Tips after that Near-Abduction at 14th and Cabrillo streets during 5 p.m. Rush Hour
By Senior Lead Officer Joe Buscaino
Los Angeles Police Department's Harbor Area

As a child, I vividly remember watching the "Adam Walsh Story" on television about the 6-year-old disappearing at a Sears Roebuck Store in Hollywood, Florida. Only five to ten minutes after his mother left Adam in the toy department she returned.

Adam was nowhere to be found.

Adams's mother's frantic search for her son that hot July afternoon has grown into a 25-year search for answers: Who took her son? Why did they kill him?

On July 27th 1981, John and Reve Walsh launched what is still considered today the largest manhunt for a missing child in the state of Florida. But two weeks later when Adam's severed head was discovered in an irrigation canal by two fisherman, one hundred miles away in Vero Beach, the harsh reality set in. Adam will never return home.

As a father of two children, losing a child through abduction has to be a parent's worst nightmare. We have seen and read stories about child abductions. Some of the stories resulted in positive outcomes, others, like Adam Walsh, have not.

Most recently in our own San Pedro, we had a close call when two Latino males, ages 20-30, driving in a two door, dark (shiny) blue Dodge pick-up truck, approached a San Pedro High female student and a tried to pull the her into the truck. Thankfully, it was through the help of a Good Samaritan that fended the suspects off the victim. We as a community should be outraged that such an act took place in our own town.

I was asked by Diana to tell parents what they need to do as a precaution for their kids. Upon Diana's request, a website came to mind that has been a resource for parents, teachers and police officers called

AmberWatch Foundation is dedicated to the prevention of child abduction and molestation. This website allows you to download and print a coloring book for your child. Here are
some helpful tips taken from the coloring book that should be reviewed with your child(ren):

1. Know Your Phone Numbers. Knows what emergency numbers to call
if you're alone and you need help.

2. Staying Safe on the Internet. Don't give out your name, age,
address or phone number on the Internet.

3. Checking with your Parents. Never go anywhere without checking
with your parents first, and make sure they know when you'll get back.

4. Don't get close to any car that slows down or stops near you.
If the car stops near you, run away and go tell a trusted adult.

5. My Buddies. Always use the buddy system. Take a buddy with you
whenever you go out to play or walk to school.

6. Attention-Be Safe Kid. Say "No" and run away if someone
tries to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared and go tell your parents or a trusted adult.

7. Yell, Fight, Run! If someone tries to hurt you, yell for help,
fight as hard as you can and run away.

8. Know your house. Keep windows and doors locked and secured when
you're home alone. Don't open the door and don't let anyone in without your parent*s permission.

9. Lost? Look for Name Tag. Stay with your parents or a trusted adult when you are at the mall, amusement park or other public areas. If you lose them, go to the nearest security officer or store clerk with a nametag and tell them you're lost.

10. My Path. Never take short cuts. Always walk along well-traveled streets and follow the route that your parents planned our for you to go to school or other activities.
11. Taking a Message. Don't tell anyone on the phone that your
parents are not at home. Just say: "They can't come to the phone right now," and take a message.
12. No Secrets! Always check first with your parents before youaccept anything from anyone, even from someone you know. If someone gives you something, or does somethin, and tells you to keep it a secret, tell your parents.

As a society, we should not have to worry about taking these precautions, but the reality is that we have to! As a police officer, a father and your neighbor, I hope and pray that you will never have to experience this nightmare.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

My friend’s daughter – who is in my carpool-- called and warned me right away Wednesday that school officials were keeping the kid’s inside the campus after school. The reason: a potential abduction nearly occurred in broad daylight near two of our most populated schools – Dana Middle School and San Pedro High.

“Look for me inside the campus,” the 11-year-old spouted, not realizing that the story would send chills up and down my spine. It’s always been one of my biggest fears that a child I know could get kidnapped, including my own son.

Once I picked up my friend’s daughter, I asked if the middle school sent a warning home. She immediately pulled out a folded letter from the school. I’m pleased to say they did write a warning – a little late, but thank God they did it. I’m assuming it took time for them to sort out the story, because a letter was sent home yesterday, on Oct. 13.

According to the letter, last Wednesday (Oct. 8), “two Latino males, ages 20-30, driving in a two door, dark (shiny) blue Dodge pick-up truck, approached” a San Pedro High female student, making “inappropriate remarks,” which I’m sure were of a sexual nature, and then the male passenger jumped out and tried to pull the student into the truck.

The suspects were both described as bald.

All I could think of was how terrified this girl must have been when those men tried to grab and drag her at the not-so-quiet 14th and Cabrillo streets about 5 p.m. which just shows how belligerent, brazen and fearless these guys are. At 5 p.m. at 14th and Cabrillo, there are still often dozens of kids around – between the Boys and Girls Club and the schools – games at Daniel’s Field, officials leaving the school and adults coming to pick up their children.

That doesn’t even mention 5 o’clock traffic, people coming home, residents shopping at Von's and running errands.

And here were these guys fearlessly trying to snatch a younghigh school girl into their vehicle.

This is why – while so many people complain about parents driving their kids to school instead of allowing them to walk -- I completely understand why we all do it. What if this was your kid? Would you ever forgive yourself?

Fortunately for this girl, an adult intervened to help her “fend him off” and I applaud whoever this person was. I’d like to thank him or her myself – because this is the kind of person we need to help protect our kids. And thank God, again, that someone was brave and had the courage to not sit and wait until the police arrived.

But if this adult had waited, I shudder to think what might have happened.

A report has been filed with the Los Angeles Police Department – and if you have any information regarding this matter, please call the school at (310) 241-1106 or the police department’s Harbor Division at (310) 548-7605.

While the Dana letter encouraged parents not to alarm their children, it does express an important point we need to make to all of our kids no matter what age they are.

“We do not want your children to be alarmed,” wrote Mary Argandona, an assistant principal at Dana Middle School, “yet, as always, we ask that you stress with your children the need for them to be aware and alert of their surroundings at all times. All students walking home should do so in a group.”

Plus, I’m sad to say with the closure of the Daily Breeze supplement, More San Pedro, and it seems – less coverage in the Daily Breeze of San Pedro crime – we will have to rely on each other for this information.

Lately, I’ve been shocked to read in the small Daily Breeze crime blog about people being shot in the back repeatedly and other horrific shooting incidents that are no longer making as big news it in the big newspaper where we all look for our information.

Therefore, I recommend to parents, students and officials that e-mail blasts on stories like this are imperative to keep our residents -- and our children -- safe. Please pass this story on – especially if you have friends whose children walk to school.

And that doesn't matter if it's Torrance, Wilmington or Palos Verdes. Everywhere potential incidents like this can happen.

This just gives me one more reason to tell my son – who just can’t understand it – why I make him call the minute he arrives somewhere and the minute he leaves. Over cautious? Absolutely. But then I don’t want to find out the hard way if I’m not.

And even then, there are no guarantees.

Forward this story -------------------------------PLEASE!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Vision That Just Makes Logical Sense: the Port of Los Angeles Is Responsible for the High Numbers of Children with Asthma in and Around the Watery Domain; Should Not The Ports Give Back By Caring for Children? Why Was A Proposed Youth Aquatics Center Scratched from the Port’s Future Plans?
By Diana L. Chapman

It seemed an ocean-dunk away from making enormous tidal waves of good sense.

Reports, after endless reports, say children living around ports, especially the Los Angeles Harbor, suffer a much larger number of asthma cases than in other regional locations across the nation.

Port activities, diesel trucks unloading their wares, making thousands of trips here weekly, and many of the ship’s emissions alone, contribute to the environmental pollutions that hurt the health of our kids.

So when I met Bill Schopp, who is both the director of the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club and co-founder of the non-profit Cabrillo Beach Youth Sailing Club--and he explained to me his dream -- I was on board – immediately -- as we all should be.

He wants to build a Youth Aquatic Complex in San Pedro– which would house the many possibilities for children in the port from sailing to kayaking to fishing and possibly even Chinese Dragon boat rowing – to teach youth about their chances of ocean prowess – both physically,
educationally and perhaps even – vocationally.

The idea launches the concept of a wave of activities for youths and streams them under the umbrella of one organization, such as the sailing club’s non-profit – and other groups would be allowed to use non-profit status if they too were involved in educational marine activities at the site.

I also worry, because I don’t want another non-profit in town that eats another location that the rest of the public can’t get to, such as the Cabrillo Youth Camp, run by Boy Scouts – which has been a sore spot in this community for years.

And I was dismayed when I took my son up to Bogdanovich Park on a pupil free day with his two soccer playing friends. They wanted to play a pick-up game, but they were ousted from the field because only the AYSO can use it, park officials told me. What a waste! An entire
day of kids out of school and one empty field just doesn’t make sense. Why do we have a "public park" then?

So I asked Bill how are you going to prevent that from happening?

"The beauty of this concept is that each group will be responsible for their own program," Bill explained. "I think of this complex more like a shopping mall of youth activities under one roof. The way to keep the doors open to all kids would be to have each group sign a contract to insure an open door policy and fund raising requirements for each group to insure scholarship potential for underprivileged kids.

It all made a perfect paradise of sense. It could be tied to the local schools where elementary students to high school students could have a shot at sailing or studying marine life in the proposed labs at the facility. In short conversations with educators, I can immediately tell they like it – already – and would be thrilled to have such an opportunity.

The idea was so powerful– that I set sail with the concept, taking it to Los Angeles Councilwoman Janice Hahn when I had a meeting with her about another subject. Immediately, Janice told me she endorsed the idea and would take it to Los Angeles Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz to see if she could garner her favor.

Soon after, I heard from city staff that both believed it was an excellent choice for the community and that the port should fund it. What happened next dismayed me.

Bill’s proposal had – initially suggested for a vacant lot – fringed by 22nd Street to the north and bounded by Miner to the east, was dropped from the port’s master plan last month. It had been in the port master plan for several years, but was scratched by the Port Commission despite the angst and pleas of the Cabrillo Beach Youth Sailing Club board members who have been promoting young kids to sail for the past seven years.

What happened? I called the city staff asking. They are checking and planning to get back to me.

What a bitter scurvy to taste after years of work, first in filing a non-profit to teach youth sailing – and then of course, losing the opportunity. By now, the USC Rowing Team, the 65 foot long fishing vessel, the Sea Angler, Sea Scouts – and possibly the Chinese dragon rowing boats, have showed interest in joining such a complex. In addition, kayaks and other sea related activities would be included.

I get aggravated because this makes so much logical sense to pursue, it’s ridiculous that the commission dumped it. So many ports all over the nation already do such things – and even though Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States – not to mention one of the biggest ports in the world -- it seems to be one of the least progressive in terms of helping the community. I find this same scenario over and over again with the city of Los Angeles.

"Every major port in the world has one except LA," Bill said, "specifically, San Diego, Newport, Long Beach, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, Miami, Baltimore and Chicago."

In Los Angeles, it seems you need someone like a Bill Schopp to pull teeth through city politics and fight for things we should already have. Not only should this be a perfect fit, it’s a natural fit. It's something city officials should have already accomplished -- actually long ago. There are kids here who might just want to work the many occupations that exist at the port, then perhaps the port can help itself out and introduce them to it.

That being said, Bill, of course, thank God, has not given up. He tends to be a quieter, more humble guy, working behind the scenes – but also a man who knows what sailing for him did as a kid. He wasn’t good at many sports, and as he sadly explains, he crossed so many off his list, he was beginning to wonder what to do. But at the time, as a kid hanging out at the docks near the Cabrillo Beach Yacht Club, members there encouraged him to join as a junior member and start sailing.

That’s when he found his sport and it lead him to, let’s just say not such a shabby career today from Cal Maritime graduate to terminal operations management and the director of a yacht club. He’s driven to help other youth like himself who were shopping around trying to determine where they fit in the big scheme of things.

Because that original avenue was shut off, he has filed for mitigation funds from the China Shipping settlement asking for $4.7 at the initial location to $5.7 million elsewhere to build the aquatic complex. The cost depends on the location.

If his first choice fails again, his second choice would be the remodeling of a part of 22nd Street Landing, at a cost of $5.2 million, but asking for $4.4 million from the mitigation funds. A large area of the building is vacant – and has been vacant for several years – where the area could be converted for a laboratory and an outdoor section as a 3,000 square foot boat house which could exist for kayaks and potentially the USC rowing equipment -- and possibly the Chinese Dragon boats.

His last resort would be the Scout Camp that the Boy Scouts have had a lease on for years along Cabrillo Beach – much to the chagrin of many residents – as it has not ever been opened up to the public for year round usage. While that would cost about $5.25 million to convert, he fears that is not a particularly good area for beginning sailors as it’s midway in Hurricane Gulch, where burly, gusting winds challenge the best of sailors.

Having sailed the gulch many a times on a 24 footer – and not a eight foot long Optimist which the youngsters would be on – I am inclined to agree. There were times I was just terrified in the gulch.

It’s unfortunate that Bill even had to go after mitigation funds. The port should have clearly done this years ago already – and there are so many good groups out there going for that money such as the Maritime Museum and the plan to overhaul and clean up Cabrillo Beach – with a small boat houses to encourage residents to come back and use the beach.

No matter what – if Bill gets his way which I hope he does –the facility would include a 3,000 square foot boat house, docks for all the boats that are participating in the center, an umbrella for all the different organizations to work under, restrooms, showers, and areas for classes to undertake lab studies.

I urge our councilwoman and our port director to make this so. It should be a perfect wave for the community – and not only that – in the end – it will help the Port of Los Angeles recruit knowledgeable students to work their facilities.

Because I’m sad to say, everyday I find more and more students who live in San Pedro, who have never been on the ocean, sat in a boat or seen a sea lion up close. Now that’s a tragedy.
Father Steps Up to Protect His Son's Former School, Point Fermin Elementary, and Wants the Public to Understand What Has Happened; In the Meantime, Students Keep Suffering from the Heat Over Another Adult Dispute

Dear Readers: This posting is from a knowledgeable father who sat on the Site Council for Point Fermin Elementary School for two terms and spent the second term as a chairperson. He's lived in San Pedro all his life and works as a lead operator for the Joint Water Pollution Control Plant. His son now attends Dana Middle School, but when he heard this issue arise about the troubles at his son's former elmentary school, he wanted to set the record straight with the public. Diana

By Russell Jeans

In 2005, construction began on an air conditioning system at Point Fermin Elementary School with funding provided from the Proposition BB Bond, approved by the voters in 1997. The power demand, as a result, for the school would increase. New 4800 volts cables had to be brought in to the school by replacing existing utility poles with higher poles to meet the safety regulations for the higher voltage. The new utility poles were installed in December, 2005.

A neighbor, who lives almost a block away from the school, filed a complaint that his harbor view was now being obstructed by the higher poles. The school received a copy of his email noting his concern for his view in March, 2006. Up until a few days ago, the neighbor made no direct contact with the school.

Interestingly, there are other utility poles in the four directions from his property in the neighborhood that are as high, or higher, than those new poles - and they all obstruct somebody's view of the harbor. The school district followed all relevant laws and codes for the installation with inspections from building and safety to guarantee compliance, as is standard and proper practice in any construction. Bringing the power up to the school was performed by the DWP. Consequently, as a result of the complaint, connecting the new air conditioning system was stopped.

The school district prudently didn't want to spend additional funds needlessly if the outcome of the complaint was going to require additional changes. For nearly three years, the air conditioning system has remained inoperative while this neighbor, with support from others, continues his quest. The neighbor took his complaint to Councilwoman Janice Hahn.

With intervention by the councilwoman in support of the neighbor, the DWP reduced the height of the new utility poles by literally cutting 5 feet off to the bare minimum height to help placate the neighbor and his supporters. They didn't object to doing that, other than to say it wasn't low enough. They prefer the power be routed underground, the most expensive option. Again, in trying to placate the neighbor, the DWP offered to modify the power line installation with free labor.

However, the school district's portion of these changes would require spending an estimated $200,000. The school district's portion of the project would be done by outside labor through open bid, like what was done in the original installation. The school district has refused to spend the money for several reasons.

First, the city has no code restrictions regarding views. Second, the original installation meets all the safety and building code issues. Third, there is no discretionary money currently available for such a project. Lastly, it would be a "gift of public funds" to spend that money when there is no legal mandate forcing the changes.

Essentially, that means the school district would spend public money for the aesthetic issues of one, or a few, individual(s), while putting into question their fiduciary responsibilities due to dispersing public funds in such a cavalier manner.

Meanwhile, the neighbor attacked on several fronts. Although claiming to be new at this kind of thing, he strategically acted in a way only a politically savvy person would. An active member of the Coastal Neighborhood Council, he brought his issue to them and gained their support. A motion passed by their board had no input from anyone representing the school. He also went to NOISE (an ad hoc group politically opposed to the proposed Angel's Gate high school) and successfully requested their support. He looked through the records to see if there were any inconsistencies or irregularities that might derail the project in its current form. That strategy is not a guarantee. But in bureaucracies as big and old as the two government agencies involved, the likelihood of finding something is great.

He hit paid dirt. The power brought into the school goes to a transformer on the school site. The transformer, he found out, sits on city right-of-way that the school district has been using since a revocable permit was issued in 1931. No one can find a copy of the permit, according the city's engineering office. But, it is known that the permit was issued and that the school district initially used the city's right of way to plant vegetation. Thirty years later, the school district fenced in the school in 1961, including the city's property in the permit.

Both agencies simply assumed, while doing the current project, that the right-of-way was actually school district property. According to the councilwoman, the permit has expired - but nobody knows when. So, the neighbor finds his pot of gold.

Several improvements sit on the right-of-way. The biggest one is the lunch awning installed in 2000. It offers outdoor seating to the students to eat lunch and snacks rather than cramping them into the old cafeteria inside. The councilwoman says she doesn't want to see the lunch awning moved. However, the motion passed by the neighborhood council, while not only recommending denying any new permit, recommends removing all existing structures, specifically including the lunch awning, the fence, the transformer and associated air conditioning equipment that is on the city's right-of-way.

The council did not hear from any school district representative before passing the motion. An issue associated with the right of way is a sidewalk. On part of the east side of Carolina Street, where the right-of-way exists, there in no sidewalk. The neighbor and his friends think this is unsafe. They feel if the right of way is taken back by the city, the city can construct a proper sidewalk so children and adults can safely use that side of the street.

In the article in the Daily Breeze that appeared Sunday, October 5th, a photo was provided showing the area of concern. In the photo is a walk way well off of the street (safer than a sidewalk) to provide access to the school through a gate at the end of the walk way. That gate is open at the beginning and the end of the school day for a brief period for school employees' convenience. The children are to enter at the front of the school on Kerckhoff Avenue or an entrance on 32nd Street.

Access from Carolina Street, to avoid walking on the part of the street without a sidewalk, is by walking from where the sidewalk does exist on Carolina to the sidewalk on 34th Street (the south perimeter of the school) to get to the front of the school. For other pedestrian traffic, there is an uninterrupted sidewalk on the west side of Carolina. The city has said they have no plans to provide a sidewalk.

Besides, it would not be economically feasible. The Board of Public Works would issue the new permit. There is a staff report available to them that recommends issuance of a new permit. Their investigation verified there are no safety or engineering issues of a negative nature. They also confirm the sidewalk issue is a non-issue. There is no reason not to issue the permit; therefore, their recommendation.

Currently, it is projected the board will take up the issue of the permit at its next meeting on October 22nd. Make no mistake about this situation. With the permit, there is no issue forcing the school district to spend approximately $200,000 or more, to placate a neighbor and his friends so he doesn't "suffer" the same "burden" many of his other neighbors also experience.

He is not asking for all the utility poles in the area that obstruct harbor views be removed or modified, just those affecting him. Unfortunately, this same person, as I pointed out above, is actually very politically savvy - or is getting advise from someone who is. If he doesn't get his way with the view, quoting him in the Daily Breeze, he has threatened to take this to the school district's Office of Inspector General or California's attorney general, Jerry Brown. That kind of statement is made to apply pressure on the local political representative to act - in part, to avoid the additional political costs and burden of having other entities involved, to which the councilwoman (as well as the school district) would have to devote more time and energy.

The councilwoman has objected to using city funds to help subsidize the school district's financial burden. She points out, rightly, that the economy in the city is not that strong right now and the city budget is very tight. Of course, the school district that serves the same economy and the same population has the same problem, if not more severe than the city.

There is no compelling reason for either of these agencies to spend more money and time on this project. The Board of Public Works should issue the permit. The result would be both agencies involved here having acted responsibly.