Reuters reports ‘Russia says will target U.S.-backed fighters in Syria if provoked.’ To read story, go to http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia/russia-says-will-target-u-s-backed-fighters-in-syria-if-provoked-idUSKCN1BW14U.

21 Sep

Will Long Beach Become a ‘Sanctuary City’?

17 Sep

The Long Beach City Council is to decide or not, on Tuesday, Sept.19, if Long Beach is to become a ‘Sanctuary City.’

Sponsoring the motion in support of SB 54 are 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga and Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson.

According to the legislative text, which avoids the word, sanctuary, and which may be read here, would reaffirm the city’s “commitment to the laws adopted in SB 54 (California Senate Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, Democrat, 24th District) and its “continued support of the California Trust Act” and would direct the City Manager to work with local immigrant rights organizations and local schools to write and present a local policy that expands SB 54 in 60 days.

The same legislative text states the policy considerations should include: “(p)rotecting and advocating for local DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)  and DREAMER (sic) students,” “(p)reventing future deportations of local residents,” “(e)xamining partnerships with LA County for local legal defense fund,” “(p)rotecting the confidentiality of local immigrant residents and their information, and ensuring no City resources are used to create registries based on religious affiliation, immigration status or any other protected class such as gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.” and “(a)ffirm an aggressive approach to advocating at the federal and state level for pro-immigrant policies.”

According to bill information from the California Legislature, which may be viewed here,  SB 54 passed the California Senate, on Saturday, Sept. 16, with a vote of 27-11 and passed the California Assembly on Friday, Sept. 15, with a vote of 51-26.

According to a Sacramento Bee story on Saturday, Sept. 16, which may be read here, Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the bill after de Leon and Brown reached a compromise, which “now allows local police to respond to notification requests and transfers immigrants to U.S. Immigrations (sic) and Customs Enforcement if individual  has committed one of more than 800 crimes outlined in The Trust Act.”

The same story pointed out, “(t)he California Police Chiefs Association went neutral on the measure after Brown’s demands were reflected in the last round of amendments,” while “(t)he California Sheriffs’ Association continues to oppose it,” and that a partisan divide between Democrats and Republican exists, where the Democrats argue the bill makes the population safer and the Republicans argue the opposite.

The City Council on Tuesday, Feb. 7, went on record supporting SB 54.

 

Long Beach Dreamers Protest the Rescinding of DACA

10 Sep

 

About 300 people, who were mostly immigrants and their allies, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach, at 185 E. Third St., protested, rallied and marched against the federal government’s planned ending of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as the acronym DACA, which was announced the day before.

 

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At the start of the Long Beach protest, on Wednesday, Sept.6, against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program, the crowd stood along the north side of Third Street

At the start, about 30 people stood with their signs and chanted on the north side of Third Street as cars drove past.  The protesters chanted in English and Spanish:  Education, not deportation; No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here; No borders, no nations, no deportations; Move ICE (U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement), get out the way, get out the way; (Long Beach) Mayor Garcia: listen, we are in struggle; The people united will never be defeated; If we don’t get no (sic) justice, you don’t get no (sic) peace; No justice, no peace, no racist police.

They also engaged in calls and responses: first asking “What do we want?” and answering with “DACA.”  Continuing they shouted, “When do we want it?” “Now” was the shout back, and “When immigrants are under attack, what do we do?  Stand up fight back.”

Occasionally honking horns in solidarity could be heard.

After standing along Third Street with their signs and chanting, the crowd gathered to hear the speakers in English with Spanish translation.  At the start of the speeches the crowd was about a 100 people and by the end, it was about 300.

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Elizabeth Garcia is a DSA-LB leader and activist.  Garcia emceed the Wednesday, Sept. 6, protest against the federal government’s rescinding the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks

Elizabeth Garcia, who identified herself as a member of the Long Beach Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, spoke before emceeing.  Garcia said, “As socialists, we understand that the ruling class has no real interest in getting rid of undocumented immigrants.  We understand that it is their source of labor and that they are going to exploit it.  What we do know is that they’re using these tactics to keep us afraid, to keep our communities deeper underground to make them afraid to speak out when their landlords are taking advantage of them…living in uninhabitable conditions, when their bosses decide to steal their labor from them.”  She added, “There is value inherent in human life.  We do not defend people because they produce things for this country.  We do not protect because they clean your house or cook your food.  We protect them because they are human beings.”

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The Rev. Nancy Frausto of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church is a DACA recipient.  Frausto spoke at the protest against the federal government’s rescinding the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

The Rev. Nancy Frausto, who is the Associate Rector from St. Lukes Episcopal, told the crowd she is a DACA recipient.  Frausto, who spoke in Spanish and English, said, “I was brought into this country when I was 7-years-old.  I have worked and sacrificed so much to achieve my dreams.  I get to be a pastor to a wonderful congregation.  I get to know people and I get to know their stories and I know many people are suffering….They are trying to separate communities of color.  They are trying to pit us against each other.”  She asked the crowd to be loud for the mayor could hear that Long Beach needs to become a sanctuary city.

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Alicia Morales is a DACA recipient and an activist with the LBIRC.  Morales spoke. Wednesday, Sept. 6, protest against the rescinding of the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

Alicia Morales, who is an activist with the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, said, “I am undocumented, I’m unafraid and I’m unapologetic….Yesterday’s (Tuesday, Sept. 5) decision was a blow to my humanity.  It was a blow to the humanity of the many families who call California their home, who call Long Beach their home.”  In response to the argument that President Obama’s Executive Order, which brought about DACA, was an example of presidential overreach, she pointed out President Obama tried to work with the Congress of 2012, but it failed to pass any legislation addressing immigration.

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Paula Abad is the chairwoman of Anakbayan Long Beach.  Abad spoke at the protest against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program; photo by Barry Saks.

Paula Abad, the chairwoman of Anakbayan Long Beach, which according to its About Facebook page, is a progressive Filipino youth and student organization, said, “We are in solidarity with all of the migrants and all of those affected under this decision.  We condemn the rescinding of DACA against undocumented youth whose parents were forced to migrate here because of the harsh conditions that their families were facing in their homeland.”  She ended with the chant, “Long live international solidarity.”

Michelle Connolly, who represents Indivisible Connected Long Beach, read President Obama’s response to the rescinding of DACA.  To read President Obama’s response on Facebook, go here.

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A view of the protest crowd, before the speeches began on Wednesday, Sept. 6, but after the chanting along Third Street; photo by Barry Saks.

A statement from Congressman Alan Lowenthal was also read.  To read the congressman’s response, go here.

After the speeches, the protesters, carrying their signs and chanting, marched south down the Promenade toward Broadway, turned right on Broadway toward Pine Avenue.  They again turned right on Pine and headed back to the park.  While most of the chants were the same as used earlier in the evening one was not, which was “No ban on stolen land.”

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The front of the protest march down the Promenade, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, in downtown Long Beach, California; photo by Barry Saks

The Sacramento Bee, on Tuesday, Sept 5, paraphrased UC Davis Law School Dean Kevin Johnson, who is a national expert on immigration.  Johnson said federal officials framed the end of DACA as a six-month phase out, with a March 2018 deadline  for Congress to pass a law addressing DACA.  In the same story, Johnson also provided historic context.  He said the Obama-era program, started in 2012, has allowed an estimated 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children – including more than 200,000 in California– to get authorization to work or go to school and have their DACA status renewed every two years.  To read the Sacramento Bee story go to here.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, on Tuesday, Sept. 5, rescinded the DACA program.  In part the Attorney General said, “(T)he executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions.  Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”

“The effect of this unilateral executive amnesty, among other things, contributed to a surge of unaccompanied minors on the southern border that yielded terrible humanitarian consequences.  It also denied jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans by allowing those same jobs to go to illegal aliens.”  To read the Attorney General’s full statement, go here.

Barry Saks is a socialist.

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The crowd during the speeches, on Wednesday, Sept. 6 at the Harvey Milk Promenade Park in Long Beach.  The speeches were part of the protest against the federal government’s rescinding of the DACA program the day before; photo by Barry Saks.

 

SB 562 Update

6 Sep

The Sacramento Bee reported in late August that California Assembly Speaker Anthony said it was time to have a serious discussion on how to create a universal health care system for all in California and that he appointed a select committee, in which Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, and Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, would lead.

In the same story, Rendon was quoted of having said, ‘For me, this is an attempt to have an honest discussion.’

The Los Angeles Chapter of Health Care for All, in a Sept. 4 email, said Rendon indicated the committee will hold statewide hearings of residents for feedback after Sept. 15.

The same email also announced the California Democratic Party Executive Board unanimously decided to endorse SB 562, also known as the Healthy California Act.  In the email, HCA-LA characterized its mission as “to educate, activate and encourage people to participate in advocating for (a) just equitable, accessible, comprehensive, affordable, and quality healthcare in a publicly financed universal single-payer system.”

In late June, a statement was issued on the Assembly Speaker’s website, which said when the bill was sent to the Assembly it was “woefully incomplete” and that he was putting the bill on hold in the Assembly Rules Committee.

State Senators Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, introduced the bill in February.

Public Advocates Files Appeal for Parents, Children’s Defense Fund-California, Latinos in Action-California Against Long Beach Unified School District

29 Aug

 

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Parents and their supporters, on Thursday, Aug. 24, pose for photo after their press conference announcing their appeal to the California Department of Education regarding their Administrative Complaint against the Long Beach Unified School District; photo by Barry Saks

Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, Children’s Defense Fund – California and Public Advocates, Inc. held a press conference, on Thursday, Aug. 24, to announce that Public Advocates, Inc. had filed an appeal, the day before on Wednesday, Aug. 23, with the California Department of Education, that alleged the response of Long Beach Unified School District to an administrative complaint for poor parents, their children and foster youth was inadequate.

The administrative complaint filed in April alleged $40 million intended for poor students, English-language learners and foster youth was misspent.

Public Advocates, Inc., which according to its website, is “a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination,” filed the administrative complaint and appeal for CDF-California, for Latinos in Action-California and for parents, challenging the district’s budgeting of funds, which are required to be targeted toward new or better services for high-need students under the new school funding law, the Local Control Funding Formula.

The press release distributed at the press conference admits LBUSD has taken steps to address the April complaint.  It states, “The district has discontinued paying $14 million in teacher salary increases out of these funds and significantly reduced challenged technology expenses, resulting in more than $17 million over the next two years….(T)he district also revised its 2016-17 spending and academic plan…to provide greater clarity as to how the district is spending the $40 million.”

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Angelica Jungco, Senior Staff Attorney for Public Advocates, Inc., on Thursday, Aug. 24, speaks at press conference, where the appeal to the California Department is announced.  The appeal is for a decision on an administrative complaint filed in April against the Long Beach Unified School District; photo by Barry Saks

Angelica Jungco, Senior Staff Attorney for Public Advocates Inc., said, “We’re here today to celebrate that LBUSD has taken steps to address some of the issues raised in our complaint….Our complaint also prompted the district to making meaningful improvements to its spending and academic plan….In particular, the district revised its plan from last year to better explain how it is spending that the $40 million we asked questions about….While we are encouraged to see the strides the district has made towards providing better information, it should not have taken years of advocacy and a formal complaint to compel LBUSD to explain its strategies for high-needs students.”  Jungco added, “Here in Long Beach, we have parents, youth and community members ready and willing to partner with Long Beach Unified (District) to make the promise of equity and shared decision making at the heart of the new funding law a reality.”

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Shimica Gaskins, the Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, on Thursday, Aug. 24, speaks at press conference; photo by Barry Saks

Shimica Gaskins, who is the Executive Director of CDF-California said, “Today we are proud to stand here as a community to announce the appeal of our case to the California Department of Education and bring Long Beach schools closer to achieving equitable distribution of funds through the Local Control Funding Formula.  The LCFF dramatically changed the way schools are funded in California and for the better….The law requires us to align resources to students’ needs.  As advocates and community members, we have been focused on ensuring the goals of LCFF are achieved when budgetary decisions are made….(S)ome students have had great educational opportunities here, while others have been tracked into a path where they may graduate from high school but without the skills or the support needed for college and career readiness.  These English-learner and low-income and foster-youth students would have benefited from a more early intervention to ensure they did not fall behind and from more individualized support from teachers, a counselor or tutor.  For years, we have weighed with letters to both the State Board of Education and the Long Beach School Board with recommendations on how to better serve these students.  We are not convinced that the investments made thus far are materializing into improved services that are sufficiently accessible for  high-needs students and that’s why CDF-California signed on to the Unified Complaint Procedure.”

Guadalupe Luna, who spoke in Spanish with English translation and who is a complainant and a parent of three school-age children, said, “I have seen in adequate tutoring programs for which my children don’t qualify because the limited slots are for the students with severe learning needs or enrichment for students who are more advanced.  There is nothing for English- learner, low-income and foster-youth students who aren’t in these programs.  The lack of equity in the district affected my children and more students in Long Beach.”

Martha Cota, who also spoke in Spanish with English translation and who is a parent and resident of Long Beach and is the Executive Director of Latinos in Action-California, said, “LBUSD should consider convening a parent-consulting team that focuses specifically on how supplemental and concentration funds will be spent on benefit (sic) for high-needs students.”

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Marina Roman Sanchez, a parent and one of the complainants, on Thursday, Aug, 24, waiting to speak at press conference; photo by Barry Saks

Marina Roman Sanchez, who also spoke in Spanish with English translation and a complainant, pointed out she learned she had to become an advocate for her children, which included filing complaints and using a lawyer.  Sanchez, who has two school-age children, one with autism, said, “After 16 years of supporting my children, I found out that there are many other families who do not receive the necessary services they need just because they do not know how to maneuver (through) the policies of the district….I would like for other families to actually receive the appropriate services without having to tirelessly fight for their rights.”

CDF-California, according to its About Facebook page, “provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves.  We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities.”

Latinos in Action-California, according to its About Facebook page in Spanish, is a nonprofit organization with the mission to strengthen and enrich the quality of life for families, youth and individuals.

Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach, according to its About Facebook page, “works to reduce health disparities and improve community health through systemic changes fueled by adult and youth resident engagement, collaboration and resource sharing, and strategic communication about community needs and solutions.” The California Endowment funds BHC: Long Beach.

On Friday, Aug. 25, Chris Eftychiou, the Public Information Director of LBUSD, provided a statement by email.  The statement reads, “Our school district’s Local Control Accountability Plan meets or exceeds state requirements and the spirit of the law.  The Long Beach Unified School District is one of the most progressive school systems in terms of addressing specific student groups in the plan.  In addition, about 70 percent of our students meet one of the specified populations to be addressed in the plan, so the whole-system work we’re doing benefits these students as well.

“The LCAP is by nature an ongoing, living process.  We consider all viewpoints.  But just because someone disagrees with our approach, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re in compliance and producing steady, significant growth in student achievement.

“When the California Department of Education releases student performance data next week, the public also will see that the Long Beach Unified School District showed greater growth in English and math last year than the state’s other large school districts.  All student subgroups improved here, including all racial/ethnic subgroups, students learning English as their second language, special education students, and homeless and foster children.  Many of our schools closed achievement gaps by 50 percent or more.

“The bottom line is that Long Beach is getting significantly better results than our counterparts elsewhere in the state, but Public Advocates disagrees with how we’re getting there.  So the question is, at what point do such complaints become an attempted end run around local control, when large law firms from well beyond Long Beach continue to assert their vision of how we should be serving our local students?  When Governor Brown successfully pushed for local control of spending in our public schools, he wanted exactly what Long Beach is doing. We surveyed 20,000 of our parents this year, and 94 percent indicated that they agreed or strongly agreed that they felt welcome to participate at their child’s school.”

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Guadalupe Luna, another parent and complainant, on Thursday, Aug. 24, speaks at press conference; photo by Barry Saks

 

 

 

Long Beach Area Peace Network Protests the President’s Afghanistan Troop Increase

24 Aug
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Outside Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s Long Beach Office, on Tuesday, Aug. 22, stood about a half dozen people protesting the president’s Afghanistan troop increaseion; photo by Barry Saks

About half dozen people, organized by the Long Beach Area Peace Network, on Tuesday, Aug. 22, protested President Donald Trump’s decision to increase U.S. troops in Afghanistan at 100 West Broadway, which is outside Congressman Alan Lowenthal’s Long Beach office.

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John Fortier stands, on Tuesday, Aug. 22, with his protest sign

John Fortier, 83, who is a retired teacher from the Los Angeles Unified School District, was at the protest.  Fortier went into the military right out of high school ended up as an airplane gunner in Korea.  He characterized a reoccurring nightmare he had as a “PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) experience.”  Fortier, who taught school for about 35 years, said, “I dreamt I was in a great big plane and that we were flying in among high tension wires and I called, my pilot whose name was Bob, ‘Hey Bob get out of these wires….We’re going to go down.’….I would wake up with a sweat, sometimes I would be yelling (and) sometimes just talking.”  After being discharged for two or three years, he met a friend he served with.  His friend reminded him that North Korea military personnel would string low-hanging ropes or cables to bring down low-flying U.S. military planes bombing railroad tracks.  After being reminded, his nightmares ended.   Fortier added he does a weekly Friday one-man protest in Redondo Beach, where he lives.

Carol Quinlan, 59, who lives in Long Beach, was also at the protest.  Quinlan said, “This is an unwinnable war…and that we need to get out.”  Quinlan, who is a longtime LBAPN activist, added that the money that is being spent on the war in Afghanistan should be spent on infrastructure and schools.

While the president did not specify how large the Afghanistan troop increase would be during his Monday night address Fort Myer, Va., near Washington, the New York Times reported the increase would be “4,000.”  During the presidential campaign Trump argued for a withdrawal from Afghanistan.

 

Hotel Workers Union Hosts Panel To Move Toward a Long Beach Ordinance to Protect Housekeepers from Excessive Workloads and Sexual Violence

21 Aug
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Audience before the panel discussion, on Thursday, Aug.17, on working conditions of hotel housekeepers; photo by Barry Saks

More than 150 people attended a panel discussion, as part of the Stand with Women Campaign on Thursday, Aug. 17, at the First Congregational Church, at 241 Cedar Ave, on women in the hotel industry, toward Long Beach adopting an ordinance to address sexual assault and workloads.

The Long Beach Coalition for Good Jobs and a Healthy Community, Clergy and Laity for Economic Justice, and UNITE HERE Local 11 sponsored the discussion.

Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, of the United Methodist Church, emceed with the panelists: Juana Melara, who is a hotel housekeeper; Nereyda Soto, who translated for Melara; M. Lorena Gonzalez, a citywide Seattle Council woman; Katherine Spillar, the Executive Director of the Feminist Majority Foundation; Long Beach 1st District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez; and Maria Elena Durazo, who served as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles Federation of Labor from May 2006 to December 2014.

Besides the Long Beach Councilwoman Gonzalez on the panel, the other Long Beach council members in the audience were Vice Mayor and 9th District Councilman Rex Richardson, 2nd District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, 5th District Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and 7th District Councilman Roberto Uranga.

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Bishop Mary Ann Swenson after introducing Katherine Spillar hands the mic to her, on Thursday, Aug. 17, for her to speak on the panel on hotel housekeepers in Long Beach; photo by Barry Saks.

The Bishop, who served as the Vice Moderator for the Central Committee of World Council of Churches, said, “I think it’s a very special time for us to stand with women, to support women in the workplace and to prepare ourselves to help people to inact the kinds of policies that will ensure dignity and safety for the working women…Unfortunately many of these women are in terrible working conditions and that subjects them…to working to long and also to the problems of sexual harassment.”

Spillar, who is also the Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine, said, “(T)hose of us who are the victims of discrimination or who are oppressed in the workplace banding together and organizing to push forward.  That is how change is made.”

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Maria Elena Durazo, on Thursday, Aug. 17, speaks on panel on housekeepers in the Long Beach hotel industry; photo by Barry Saks 

Durazo, who, according to the Los Angeles Business Journal, has declared she is running for a California Senate seat in 2018, added, housekeepers must knock on doors and “hope the person who answers the door is not a sexual deviant.”

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Hotel housekkeper Juana Melara (left) with her translator Nereyda Soto (right) speaks, on Thursday, Aug. 17, on panel on working conditions in Long Beach hotel industry; photo by Barry Saks

Melara, who spoke in Spanish, in which Soto translated in to English, said she has been a hotel housekeeper for 22 years and that her workday she gets paid begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4:30 p.m.  However, she must get to work before 8 a.m. to prepare her cart, which her employer doesn’t consider as part of her work.  She said she cleans 14 or 15 rooms each day but she gets frustrated because at times she doesn’t have the necessary tools.

Once she had to work on her hands and knees because she didn’t have the needed tools.  She said she must lift the mattresses, which is heavier than her own body weight and sometimes a room may have more than one bed. Because of the stressful workloads, housekeepers are sometimes not aware of their surroundings, enabling hotel guests physically to take advantage of the housekeepers.

One time a guest tied a worker up with a telephone cord, locked her in the room and sexually assaulted the worker.  The worker left in an ambulance and never returned.

Once a guest asked Melara for a massage and another time a male guest exposed his “private part” to her and feared she would be raped.  Security arrived 20 minutes later.  By the time security came, he had exposed himself two other coworkers and was never caught.

Melara received a standing ovation.

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Seattle Councilwoman M. Lorena Gonzalez speaks, on Thursday, Aug. 17, on panel regarding working conditions for housekeepers in Long Beach hotel industry; photo by Barry Saks

The Seattle Councilwoman, who is also a former civil rights attorney, said she grew up as a migrant farm worker, picking fruit, cherries, apples and asparagus that her family could not afford.  She added, “(T)he guest is not always right.  Rape is never right…That’s about power.  It’s about who has it and who doesn’t.”  She spoke about the Seattle law protecting hotel workers.  She said, “If somebody has been raped or somebody is in the process of about to be raped, it is common sense to have a panic button to make sure that they can get the help they need.”

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Lena Gonzalez, who represents the 1st District on Long Beach City Council, speaks. on Thursday, Aug. 17 on panel regarding working conditions in hotel industry; photo by Barry Saks

Long Beach Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, said tourism in Long Beach is “looking good,” hotel occupancy is “80 percent,” which “7 percent above the national average,” and “the port has had the best cargo forecast in decades.”  However, she said, “49 percent of hotel housekeepers have reported incidents of sexual harassment” and hotel housekeepers in the service sector have the highest rate of workplace injury.   

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Photo by Barry Saks