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TRANSIT TALK-Change the Purple Line before it’s too late. Metro is proceeding with the construction of this subway extension. From the Metro website, “From the current terminus at Wilshire/Western, the Purple Line Extension will extend westward for about nine miles with seven new stations. It will provide a high-capacity, high-speed, dependable alternative for those traveling to and from LA’s “second downtown,” including destinations such as Miracle Mile, Beverly Hills, Century City and Westwood.”  

This is all wrong. I do not mean the route of the subway, or the station locations, I refer to the color of the line. It is all wrong. Why? It shares tracks, stations and maps with the Red Line. These two colors are too similar in the color wheel. This leads to confusion for riders.  

It is the same for Blue and Expo Lines which share lines, and both have shades of blue. For Expo it’s an Aqua color. 

While similar colors may work from a design standpoint, and look attractive on maps in a designer’s and Metro offices, for the rider in a train station or on the train this color scheme is a disaster. 

Differentiating between two very similar colors is difficult in dimly lit places, such as the 7th Street Metro Station, terminus for the Blue and Expo Lines and in some subway stations.  

There are also problems of how well the colors print, and how badly the colors wear over time.  With colors fading over time into similarities of each other, red and purple look the same, as do blue and aqua.  

There are those who have difficulties with colors. A rider standing in a busy Metro station trying to read a Metro map where two separate lines have very similar colors is difficult enough in the best of days, but for those with color identification problems, or any vision problems, in dimly lit stations, they are faced with unnecessary obstacles. 

Quick and easy identification of a light rail of subway is critical to the rider, particularly if the rider is new to the system. The sole mission of Metro is not to only build rail transit. Another critical mission, and indeed responsibility of Metro, is to take into consideration the complete riding experience, from those exploring Metro transit for the first time, to seasoned riders. 

Metro and its designers have been using a black background for the rail line maps. In Metro stations this creates a visual black hole with two dots of similar color barely poking out from the blackness and the visual competition in the stations. It is worse when these posters are in shaded areas. This does not quickly communicate to riders which rail line is which color. 

This is no small problem. Two rail lines of similar colors leads to rider frustration, anxiety, especially for transit riders, including this transit rider, and it does lead to riders to taking the wrong train, which this transit rider has done. 

I have done this with the Red and Purple Lines. I’ve spoken with riders on the Expo Line who took the Blue Line because they couldn’t separate blue from aqua.  

Once on the wrong train, the rider, once they come to the conclusion they are on the wrong train, then needs to exit at the next station and then wait for the next train traveling in the opposite direction to get back to the station which will get them onto the correct train. This is a colossal waste of time, and does much to discourage more people from riding Metro trains in the future. 

I have a suggestion to stop the Purple Line coloring of the subway. Don’t use purple. True, the color has already been designated by Metro for this extension of the subway, but it is better to change it now before the line is built. This cannot be too difficult for Metro which in the course of a few years changed its name from RTD to MTA to Metro. Those changes must have cost a nice sum in printing costs, and other changes throughout the organization. 

Give the color purple to the Crenshaw Line where no color has yet been designated. The Purple Line in the Leimert Park/Crenshaw Black American centers would not be lost in name association to the movie of the same name.  

Take the aqua color and give that to the wrongly colored Purple Line. Then, for the Expo Line, go back to the original color proposed by for City Councilman Bernard Parks: rose. Rose is a lovely color. 

With these changes the subway would have two distinct colors: red and aqua, and the Blue Line and Expo light rail lines would have two distinct colors: blue and rose.  

These changes will go a long way to easing the frustration and anxiety of riding transit in Los Angeles. Another way to look at is that this is good for the rider. Doesn’t Metro want that?

 

(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra)

-cw

 

EXCLUSIVE TO CITYWATCH--Condemned by some as pornography and lauded by others as the empowering of women, Playboy was the quintessential men's magazine. It was the first to combine intelligence and wit with pictures of pretty girls … and Wow … what a combination.  (Photo above: Playboy new and old. Marilyn Monroe was first Playboy cover.) 

Hugh Hefner created a formula to allow us “Boomer Men” (and several generations beyond) to hold our heads high while appreciating female beauty and, at the same time, providing a platform for social discourse. Yes, Playboy was fantasy to the endmost degree, but it was also a force for social and political change. 

From hard hitting contemporary interviews to political and social satire, Playboy consistently supported civil rights and personal freedom. Its editorial page pulled no punches. 

It also supported the arts showcasing writers and artists from many different and diverse disciplines such as Photography, Painting, Drawing, Music, Dance, and Theatre, to name a few. 

And there were articles about sports and liqueur, and fashion, and social graces in the mix. 

Of course, Sex was the driving force that allowed Playboy its platform. It catered to young adult male fantasies while at the same time infusing Hefner's own social values. And yes, much of it was sophomoric and silly, but that does not demean the real and positive things Hugh Hefner was doing … like shining light on injustice and supporting civil rights … like promoting freedom of speech and fighting censorship … and always supporting women's causes … something playboy's critics never acknowledge. 

"What am I talking about?" I hear you cry. "Like Hefner, Playboy is still alive".  Alas, I beg to differ.  The magazine is alive in name only. 

Just recently I received an offer I couldn't refuse. A Playboy subscription at a ridiculously low price. They were practically giving the magazine away. As a previous subscriber to the magazine (albeit not for many years), I accepted the offer and received my first issue this month. I was expecting a nostalgic stroll down memory lane, but was appalled to discover an homogenized magazine that had little resemblance to the Playboy of old. To their credit, they did have an interview and a few articles … and there was a pretty girl on the cover, but that is all that remains of the iconic magazine. 

If Hugh Hefner was dead, I would say he was rolling over in his grave, but he is alive and I suspect has nothing to do with the magazine … his name positioned as Editor in Chief not withstanding. 

Disclaimer: 

I don't know if Hugh is actively involved with Playboy or not. And, of course, my critique of Playboy Magazine is only my opinion. 

In conclusion: 

I raise my glass to Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Magazine of Old… and say Thank You.  Thank you for my first glimpse at the beauty that is woman.  Thank you for the many cartoons and jokes that made me laugh.  Thank you for the many articles that informed me and made me think.   Thank you for the stories that entertained me.   Thank you for always holding up sex as a positive force in the human experience.  And thank you for always supporting women's rights. 

To Hugh Hefner and Playboy Magazine of old; Farewell and I salute you!!

 

(Charles Tarlow is a CityWatch contributor and lives in Los Angeles.)

-cw

“A POSTER CHILD FOR WHAT’S WRONG”--Fix the City, a nonprofit advocacy organization, has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the Mayor’s and City Council’s approval of the controversial 27-story 269-unit luxury apartments known as Catalina Tower in Koreatown. (See graphic above.) 

The suit names Michael Hakim/Colony Holdings as Real Parties in Interest. 

This project is the poster child for what is wrong with the planning approval process in Los Angeles. The Mayor and City Council actually approved a project that their own City Planning Commissioner called a “tumor.” 

That’s because the 27 story project was approved in a neighborhood that has predominantly two to five story buildings. 

In the name of the need for increased density, neighborhoods are being destroyed in violation of the law. The City’s traffic is already unbearable. Its first-responders are asked to do more with less - with response times suffering as a result. Residents are asked to go to extreme measures to conserve water while the Council and Mayor approve huge projects that will consume tens of millions of gallons of water. (This one consumes 29 million gallons per year). 

Mayor Garcetti claimed in his State of the City Address that “we’ve transformed City Hall from a place of closed doors and backroom deals, to one of openness and accountability.” 

The Catalina project is the poster child not only for bad planning and violation of city laws but also for mysterious backroom deals. Nothing has changed in City Hall. 

The lawsuit alleges that: (1) the General Plan Amendment was not legally initiated by the City; (2) the project was dead-on-arrival because the developer never appealed the CPC rejection; (3) it challenges the failure of the city to require an Environmental Impact Report for this massive project, and (4) it asks that the City comply with its General Plan Fire/Emergency Section – Mitigation Measures mandate to “require that [the] type, amount, and location of development be correlated with the provision of adequate supporting infrastructure and services.” 

Adding more density to a city already collapsing under its own deteriorating infrastructure is as wise as trying to put out a fire with gasoline. It is time for city leaders to remember that they not only have to obey the law, they have an obligation to protect and respect those of us who already live here. As Koreatown goes, so goes every neighborhood. 

(Laura Lake is a board member at Fix the City.) Graphic credit: KCRW radio.

-cw

RECLAIMING THE POWER-For the first time in decades, California is poised to play a significant role in determining each party’s presidential nominee. Being a reliably blue state, presidential candidates in the recent years have done little campaigning in the Golden State. As Angelenos know, whenever President Barack Obama’s entourage arrives in town, Southern California in particular has served little purpose in national and state politics other than as a source of money from the region’s Hollywood elite.

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EDUCATION MATTERS-In the last few days, the LA Times has published misleading information on the California Appeals Court decision this week denying the lower court ruling in the Vergara lawsuit – a suit wherein a few carefully chosen students were urged to press a lawsuit to terminate teachers without due process, changing the law pertaining to what they call tenure. In addition, this lawsuit would serve to weaken teachers unions.

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TAX OVERLOAD--In my last CityWatch article, I addressed the national/global issue of taxes, and how the mighty who want us to pay ever more taxes have their own tendencies to avoid paying them, and to avoid playing by the rules on just about everything else. Well, the same thing applies on a local level for the City of the Angels.

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CAMPAIGN 2016-Candidate Janice Kamenir-Reznik is the sole woman running for State Senator Fran Pavley’s 27th District Seat. The longtime attorney and social activist shared her thoughts about the implementation of the state’s expanded Paid Family Program, the housing crisis, and education. In the second part of this interview, we discuss the drought and infrastructure issues, utilities, campaign finance reform and criminal justice.

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WHO CAN YOU TRUST?—(Editor’s note: This open letter was intended for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Jimmy Gomez. It deals with critical city planning issues and the ongoing matter of trust and transparency. We felt it was important for you to see this letter.) Photo above: LA’s ongoing air quality crisis.

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THE CITY-Plans to build a park in densely-populated Koreatown were trumped by the developer of a proposed 364-unit luxury apartment project who … joined by family and business associates … contributed $25,600 to the campaign warchests of city officials, including $2,900 for Council President Herb Wesson and $4,500 for Mayor Eric Garcetti, city records show.

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JUSTICE--In California, murder and embezzlement cases don’t face the clock ticking on a statute of limitations. Per California law, the prosecution of felony sexual offenses is generally limited to ten years following the offense, barring DNA evidence, which may buy extra time. The bipartisan Justice for Victims Act (SB 813), which passed the Senate Public Safety Committee earlier this week, is posed to change that.

The legislation, sponsored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino) and the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, would allow indefinite criminal prosecution of rape and other felony sex crimes, including continuous sexual abuse of a child.

“I introduced the ‘Justice for Victims Act’ earlier this year for a simple reason: It will help to ensure that rapists and sexual predators are not able to evade justice simply because of a shortened statute of limitations,” the senator shares. “Survivors of sexual assault should always have the ability to seek justice in a court of law, even years after the alleged crime was committed.”

Senator Leyva notes that the bill would not impact the burden of proof but would provide victims more time to come to terms with the assault and to build up courage to come forward to authorities. Supporters of the bill include San Bernardino County DA Michael Ramos, California Women’s Law Center Executive Director Betsy Butler, Assembly Member Mike Gipson, and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred.

SB 813 has strong bipartisan support from legislators, including principal co-authors Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills,) Assembly Member Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson,) Assembly Member Das Williams (D-Carpinteria) and Assembly Member Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood) on the Democrat side of the aisle. Republican supporters include co-authors Rocky J. Chavez (R-Oceanside) and Assembly Member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale.)

“As a Principal co-author on Senate Bill 813, I am proud to support this legislation,” noted Assembly Member Gipson.  “Sexual assault is one of the most personally invasive crimes that can be committed against someone leading to deep pain and life-long trauma. When we think about the emotional pain that is held by the survivors of sexual assault, it is only made worse by the knowledge that you are helpless in receiving justice. SB 813 is long overdue, but will serve to ensure that if these crimes happen in the future, the state of California will have an effective remedy for the survivors who deserve closure. I serve as a proud male ally on this issue.”

The “Justice for Victims Act” is co-sponsored by San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael A. Ramos and the California Women’s Law Center (CWLC) and supported by Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, California Police Chiefs Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Crime Victims United of California, End Rape SOL, National Association of Social Workers, among others.

Critics of extending the statute of limitations often point to the difficulty in mounting a prosecution or defense due to destruction of evidence including emails, text messages, and surveillance video, as well as diminished memory for details.

However, sexual assault victims may be reluctant to come forward at first, as emotional reactions may include self-doubt and shame, as well as the awareness that very few cases end in conviction. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), for every 100 rapes, 32 will be reported to law enforcement; 7 will lead to arrest; 3 will be brought to prosecution; 2 will lead to felony convictions; and 2 will spend a day in prison.

Eliminating the statute of limitations should be just one of the steps taken to ensure justice for sexual assault victims. We need to provide better support to encourage victims to come forward, ensure speedier processing of rape kits, and continue efforts to educate about consent.

  • For information and support for rape and sexual assault, visit www.rainn.org.

(Beth Cone Kramer is a successful Los Angeles writer and a columnist for CityWatch.)

-cw

VOICES-Apparently some believe that AB 2806 would "significantly weaken the investigative powers of LAUSD's Office of the Inspector General and reduce their ability to uncover charter school fraud, corruption, and waste.” To that I say, bravo! (Photo above: Cheryl Dorsey guesting on the Dr. Phil TV program.)

The last thing that the LAUSD's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) needs is more power. The OIG has been yielding tremendous power; retaliating and investigating me since I went public with my whistle-blower blog in February 2016.

As a retired twenty-year veteran sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department, I know firsthand what it means to take on a super power like the LAUSD. This is not my first rodeo. I will not be bullied nor silenced.

Ironically, this started when I reported on what I believe to be potentially criminal activity at best or administratively inappropriate activity at least, to then superintendent Cortines, in the presence of Michelle King. I wrongly assumed he would be outraged.

I advised the superintendent that the Office of the Inspector General's "unholy trinity" -- also known as Inspector General Ken Bramlett, Deputy Inspector General Frank Cabibi and Supervisory Investigator Jorge Urquijo -- have been playing a game with Charter Schools Division, Facilities Services Division and the Bond Oversight Committee regarding their requested investigations  to "uncover school fraud, corruption, and waste.”

During a September 2015 meeting with Cortines and King, I posed the question, "How does one investigate fraud, waste and abuse when one is committing fraud waste and abuse?" The bullying and retaliation was swift and has been unrelenting.

On January 12, 2016, I was informed in a written letter from Inspector General Ken Bramlett that the Office of the Inspector General had a problem with "...the effect my conduct is having on staff and management..." That's when the forced resignation treatment began. Yes, to AB 2806!

On February 24, 2016, I reminded now Superintendent Michelle King via email about that September 2015 meeting, that what I believe is ongoing is malfeasance, tax payer and payroll fraud; I also told her of my desire for an investigation into my complaint of retaliation and bullying by the OIG. The Office of the Inspector General is attempting to force my resignation under the threat of "disciplinary action which could lead to termination.”   Yes, to AB 2806!

On February 25, 2016, in response to my email to Ms. King, I received a written response from Lynn Ibara, LAUSD Associate General Counsel, directing me to "discuss" this matter with someone other than Ms. King and that "the District is aware of your correspondence and will work toward a resolution of the issues [you] presented.”

Well, what Ms. Ibara didn't say in her response is that the "resolution" would involve my forced resignation. I didn't understand at the time that "working toward a resolution" was code talk for the fact that the Office of the Inspector General, Office of General Counsel and Staff Relations would now be coming for me. Yes, on AB 2806!

On March 1, 2016, I received a "Notice of Unsatisfactory Service" from Staff Relations Manager Melinda LeDuff Menefee, Frank Cabibi and Jorge Urquijo. There were a litany of "charges,” albeit unsubstantiated, leveled against me; however, Cabibi recommended, "No Disciplinary Action" in this notice.

I found Cabibi's "recommendation" to be remarkable since several of the charges that the Office of the Inspector General alleged reported I had been found guilty of "fraud" and "falsifying documents,” yet Cabibi decided not to discipline me on these seemingly serious administrative charges. How could staff relations find me guilty (without an investigation) and Frank Cabibi not discipline me on the charges?

Please explain how staff relations manager Ms. Menefee could charge and sustain allegations of fraud against me without a proper investigation…which should have included my interview? Power, that's how. Yes, on AB 2806!

Ms. Menefee's investigation appears to mirror that of Cheryl Broussard, Employee Opportunity Section, Office of General Counsel, when I alleged discrimination, retaliation and disparate treatment based on my ethnicity. That is, take whole cloth statements made by the unholy trinity (Bramlett, Cabibi, Urquijo) as truth; require no documented evidence to substantiate the statement and neglect to provide me, the employee, an opportunity to refute allegations with my own documented evidence. This is power. Yes, on AB 2806!

This, however, is not what I have come to know as an "investigation" based on my twenty years as a police officer/sergeant.

The Los Angeles Unified School District continues to circle the wagons. The Office of the Inspector General puts forth an uncontested version of alleged "employee misconduct" and it is adopted as truth -- so more power is the last thing this office should be granted. Yes, on AB 2806!

I wonder what it will take for taxpayers and parents of LAUSD students and other District employees who have been mistreated as I have, suffered emotional harm, loss wages, been bullied into resignation (as they are trying to do to me) to wake up and compel a real investigative agency to look inside the Office of the Inspector General at LAUSD. Apparently, bullying District employees into resignation in the midst of an administrative hearing is typical of them. Yes, on AB 2806!

On March 1, 2016, I received an unsolicited "Settlement Offer" from Kathleen Collins, Chief Administrative Law and Litigation Counsel, Los Angeles Unified School District, Office of General Counsel, which demanded my resignation. This "Offer" if agreed upon, would also require that I "cease making or causing to be made any statements public or private that disparage the District, the OIG, or individual employees of the District or of the OIG.

Apparently, the all powerful OIG and District will "allow" me to resign in "lieu of proceeding with discipline. Now, that kinda sounds like a veiled threat. Why is the Office of the Inspector General trying to silence me under the threat of "discipline that could lead to termination”? Because the Office of the Inspector General has power. I feel as if Ken Bramlett, Frank Cabibi and Jorge Urquijo have been plowing over me with impunity since June of 2015. And now, they want me to "cease making public statements disparaging the OIG or individual employees." When did truth become disparaging?

Understand, I have been a District employee for ten years and have never been the subject of any negative discipline -- that is, until Cabibi and Urquijo (who were both only recently hired in April 2014) placed a manufactured "Notice of Unsatisfactory Service" letter in my personnel file on March 1st.

I will not be quiet.

When I discovered that the Office of the Inspector General was seeking more power and more authority to bully, mistreat, and retaliate against me with impunity under the guise of an "investigation" I felt compelled to say, "hell no.”

Those connected to Charter Schools under the purview of the LAUSD who are familiar with and in support of AB2806 probably already know that the OIG does not deserve more power -- you just didn't know why

That's where I come in.

The Superintendent, president of the LAUSD Board of Education and Director of the Office of General Counsel are seemingly steadfast in their unwillingness to investigate malfeasance and corruption occurring in the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). They have ignored my complaints and refused to intervene and stop the Office of the Inspector General administrators from their unrelenting retaliation campaign against me as a whistleblower.

And the staff relations manager in HR has joined the campaign to force my resignation. They already have too much power. I am just one person taking on the LAUSD machine -- the Superintendent, Office of General Counsel, and Office of the Inspector General, Staff Relations. While they may chew me up, they won't be able to spit me out. Not quietly anyway.

It is my hope that California Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon and California Assembly Members Scott Wilk and Matt Debabneh will not expand the authority and reach of an already out of control LAUSD Office of the Inspector General when this bill comes to the house floor for a vote. Yes, on AB 2806!

I will end this blog as I do in every article, attesting to abuse of authority by an unholy trinity. Should I befall any hurt, harm or danger, I am requesting my friends and family to begin their investigation at the steps of the Los Angeles Unified School District – and more importantly, in the Office of the Inspector General, Investigations.

 

(Cheryl Dorsey is a retired LAPD sergeant, speaker, and much sought after police expert on important issues making national headlines; as such she has appeared as a guest expert on the Dr. Phil Show ,  and is a frequent commentator on CNNDr. Drew,  HLN,  MSNBC and KPCC. She is the author of The Creation of a Manifesto, Black & Blue; an autobiography that pulls the covers of the LAPD and provides an unfiltered look into the department’s internal processes. Visit Cheryl’s website www.cheryldorsey.net., listen to her on Soundcloud  follow on Twitter @sgtcheryldorsey  and BlackandBlueNews) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

JUST SAYIN’--Living in Los Angeles allows one the opportunity to enjoy the full gamut of those peculiar sensations commonly expressed in the abbreviation, “WTF!” (Exclamation point mandated.) From bemusement to indignation to outright incredulity, our great city’s policies and practices seem calculated to inspire consternation. Especially if you should ever set foot, or wheel, on the streets.

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SKID ROW-As a Skid Row community activist, I must point out that Skid Row’s most northern border on 3rd Street is connected to Little Tokyo and our two communities have supported each other’s efforts to improve our communities a lot in recent years. But when I attended a recent Little Tokyo Community Council ‘All Committees’ meeting, I was shocked to hear about the serious concerns they have about METRO’s construction in their community.

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While we applaud the mayor and City Council for attempting reforms that try to mimic the Neighborhood Integrity Initiative heading for the March 2017 ballot, today's City Hall proposal (see below **) is a half-baked effort that continues to shortchange Los Angeles residents in favor of developers who shower the City Council and mayor with money.

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