The Eighth Terminal

Last month, I had the honor of being appointed a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner by Mayor Eric Garcetti and confirmed by the L.A. City Council. The purpose of the Harbor Commission is to oversea the management and operation of the Port of Los Angeles. The confirmation hearing actually took place on my birthday and was a great way to start off what turned out to be an extraordinary day and awesome experience for family, my friends and me.

Becoming a Harbor Commissioner provides me the opportunity to do what I love and that is representing San Pedro on an even broader scale. For those who have followed my columns over the past three years you have become accustomed to my passion for this town and where I believe we need to focus in order to secure our economic future for generations to come.

When my grandfather Domenic Costa came here in 1920, and my father in 1956, they both saw a waterfront at very different stages of development and transition, so being given the opportunity to help frame the waterfront for future generations to come is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. In fact, I welcome the challenges in front of my fellow colleagues and me on the Harbor Commission.

My appointment finalized Mayor Garcetti’s commitment of appointing three of the five Harbor Commissioners from San Pedro. The other two local commissioners are David Arian, the commissions Vice-President, who was appointed back in 2010, and newly appointed commissioner, Patricia Castellanos. Commissioner Arian, a former ILWU International President, has been a fixture on the waterfront as a union worker and labor leader. In addition to Commissioner Castellanos’ role as commissioner, she serves as deputy director of the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), a leading policy, advocacy non-profit, where she oversees the organization’s efforts to advance economic development strategies that lead to better jobs and an improved environment.

As I prepared after my appointment hearing at City Hall, I began reviewing the capability, capacity, and strategic objectives of the Port of Los Angeles. The Port consists of seven terminals that import and export over 40% of the world’s cargo into the nation. For every one job the port creates an estimated 10 jobs are created regionally. So, staying competitive in the global economy is critical to our economic future. That means we must find ways to increase our efficiency and continue to build the required infrastructure that differentiates us from other ports across the country.

Another key element is the opportunity to redevelop Port’s O’ Call and the extended waterfront to the outer harbor where the Lane Victory sits today. In order to do so, we must think about this segment of the waterfront as the Eighth Terminal. If we prioritize this development as we do all the other terminal developments, then we will develop a world-class waterfront in our lifetime, not in a generation, but today.

The question is will we collectively embrace change? Will we embrace new out-of-the-box ideas or will we stubbornly hold on to nostalgia for the way things were rather than what they can be? My focus and hope is that we will all have an open mind and raise our expectations on what “can be” not “what was.” This does not mean we should eliminate our historic past, but rather integrate it with something new.

And we should think big. San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, Seattle’s Pike Place Market and the Baltimore Harbor are great examples of what dreaming and thinking big looks like. We in San Pedro need to start thinking as big – if not bigger – than they did because we represent the waterfront for Los Angeles, one of the greatest cities in the world.

Finally, I would like to thank my wife Carolyn for her love and support, Councilman Joe Buscaino for his advocacy and finally our new Mayor Eric Garcetti for giving a Pedro Boy the opportunity to represent his hometown on the Harbor Commission and work to influence generations to come. This is our opportunity to build a world-class waterfront together for a new generation. As the expression goes, it’s time to go big or go home, San Pedro. spt

Anthony Pirozzi can be contacted at apirozzi@yahoo.com.

SPHS Totally 80’s Class Reunion

I still remember graduating from San Pedro High School back in 1983. It was a clear and warm day as we walked onto the original high school field. Back then the football field ran east to west as opposed to the current north to south setup. We were the Utopian’s as our painted sign proudly hung on the outfield fence. Our cap and gowns were a flashy gray with a burgundy tassel and the excitement of this milestone was in the air, not only on the field with the candidates, but in the bleachers filled with family and friends. As Student Body President, I had the honor of welcoming everyone to the ceremony, made a brief speech on the importance of this day, and enjoyed the rest of the ceremony. Thirty years ago seems like yesterday as time has truly flown by.

Having been involved in planning the SPHS Class of ‘83 20th and 25th year class reunions the time seemed right to combine class reunions for our 30th. I thought whom better to approach with this idea than my friend and SPHS teacher Kathy Carcamo (class of ’85)? Always the optimist, Kathy and I have stayed friends since high school and when approached with the idea she not only liked it, but thought the whole decade should be invited, and coined the phrase “Totally 80’s Reunion.” Although the phrase sounded like a valley girl expression from the 80s, it worked. I then proposed we engage the San Pedro Pirate Boosters to help with membership and scholarship fundraising efforts, so we did.

The San Pedro Pirate Boosters were incorporated as a nonprofit in 1958, but actually started supporting student athletes under the leadership of Matty Domancich and Bill Seixas in 1954 and is one of the oldest booster clubs in all of L.A. Unified School District. Next year, the boosters are preparing to celebrate their 60th anniversary. Currently lead by Pirate Boosters President, Leonard Miller, the club has seen memberships go from a 71-member organization two years ago to 376 today. This success is attributed to the commitment and hard work of the Pirate booster new leadership team like Guy Spinosa, Noe Lopez and Joe Domicoli, longtime members Jerry Lovarov, Larry Robertson, Leon Carr and Rick Trujillo. Other key contributors to this success are John Fiorenza, Kathy Carcamo, and Stacey Soto. This is the core of the “Pirate-for-Life” theme that continues to transform the traditional Pirate Booster club into a forward-looking group with a vision to bring home Pirate Alumni and build a Pirate network that is unparalleled by any other in the Harbor Area.

An example of this transformation is the boosters’ goal to break 500 members this year and surpass 1,000 by 2015. Most importantly is the focus and emphasis on building the Pirate Booster Scholarships annual fund. In the past, 2012 seniors received scholarships from a $1,000 budget, whereas 2013 seniors received scholarships from a $4,000 budget. The 2013 scholarships were presented at a dinner for the first time in front of family and friends at the San Pedro Fish Market. The goal now is to double the fund each year through membership and fundraising so more and more scholarships can be presented to students at the annual San Pedro Pirate Booster Scholarship dinner event. The proceeds from the Totally 80’s Reunion will not only support the scholarship fund but also provide reunion attendees an introductory membership to the San Pedro Pirate Boosters.

The Totally 80’s Reunion is scheduled for October 12 and will start at 6:30 p.m. at the San Pedro Elks Lodge. Music will be provided by DJ Scott Martin, an 80s favorite and Pirate alumni. Tickets are $40 each and can be purchased online at www.sanpedropirateboosters.com. Please purchase tickets ahead of time and spread the word. Our goal is to sellout the event before the Oct. 12. If the event has not sold out, tickets will be available at the door. I look forward to seeing all of you at this great event for a great cause to provide scholarship funding for our future Pirate Alumni. spt

Where Did the Summer Go?

In many ways I’m a bit old fashion and somewhat of a traditionalist. For example, I don’t believe in wearing a hat at the dinner table, I think holding a door open for a lady is still pure class, and teaching your kids to mow the lawn, pull the weeds, put out the trash and put away the dishes is important. I also believe that having them get a job to pay for gas and car insurance builds responsibility and character. Lastly, I believe school in the second week of August is too early, especially when most other schools start two weeks later.

There is still something pure about summer unofficially beginning on Memorial Day weekend and ending after Labor Day weekend, thus starting the school year. For all of the reasons for starting at the beginning of August, it still seems odd and doesn’t feel right and most families haven’t adjusted and in some cases continue to rebel by taking their family vacation during the first week of the new school calendar. After all, isn’t that what August is for, vacations? The only saving grace this year is that June gloom seems to have turned into July gloom, but I am sure by the time this column comes out we will be in the last days of beautiful, sunny, 90-degree August days enjoying the beach with the kids.

Oh yeah, they’ll be in school.

Although cut short, this summer has been a blast. My family spent a couple days with friends up in Paso Robles having a great time on Lake Nacimiento, then a week in Palm Desert with 100 or so fellow San Pedro locals for Pedro Springs week, most of whom live in our neighborhood, and a week in Florida visiting Universal Studios Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center, and Cape Canaveral then experiencing the launch of a communication satellite all while enjoying Cocoa Beach. It was a summer to remember.

What is most memorable about most summers though is watching the kids in our neighborhood growing up together. When we moved into our house back in December of 1996, the only kids in the neighborhood were Nick and Courtney Synstelien and our three-month-old, Antonio. Today, Nick just graduated from UCLA, Courtney attends San Jose State, and Antonio is a junior at SPHS and just received his driver’s license. Wow, how time flies.

Since then, we have seen the neighborhood grow in the number of kids, 20 to be exact. The nine girls and 11 boys; my other two sons Vincent and Luca, as well as Shereese, Sydney, Noah, Logan, Heather, David C., Tiana, Falo, Vincent A., Hailey, Madison, Avery, Joey, Kaitlyn, Nathan, Liz, Eric, and David O. are all growing up together in various stages. I think of them as the neighborhoods Little Rascals as each of them have some characteristics similar to Alfalfa, Darla, Spanky, Buckwheat, Porky, and Froggy. Watching them grow over the past 17 years has been great and it’s not over yet. Recently, the neighborhood graduated from elementary school and having two of my own in high school and one in middle school promises to bring even more experiences to the neighborhood, let alone our house.

The summers are filled with late nights with the kids either playing sports, capture the flag, skating boarding, video games, wiffle ball, swimming or just hanging out in front of the house. As I sit hear writing this column the street is full of the kids skating up and down the street, yelling “car!” anytime they see a car heading up or down the street so nobody gets hit. Even on family nights out for dinner, Noah Botica and Dave Carlton are on their skateboards in our driveway when we pull up as the boys constantly text each other on when they are almost home so they can hang out together. Soon, the question will come up from one of my boys, “Can so and so sleep over?”

As I finish up this column the next morning, sure enough, David Olivieri is crashed out on one of our couches and my son Antonio on the other. After all, isn’t this what summer is all about? spt

Seeing San Pedro’s Future Through Its Past

Celebrating a 125 years of San Pedro, for me, begins with thoughts of my grandfather, Domenico Costa, emigrating from Ischia, Italy, back in 1920, and my father Tony in 1956.

Both of them came to San Pedro at drastically different times but at the same age of 18. My grandfather arrived when San Pedro was in its Golden Age, the years following World War I where the port was growing dramatically and surpassed all other west coast ports in handling of tonnage in 1923. Like many emigrants from Europe, he became a fisherman at a time when the Los Angeles Harbor was becoming a leader in the industry.

My father came to the United States at a time when life in Italy was still recovering from the effects of World War II and at a time when our fishing and canneries were beginning to thrive. His fascination with radio growing up in Ischia led him to attend a technical trade school in downtown Los Angeles in the evenings where he would learn to repair radio and televisions and operate his local business, Tony’s TV, for 40 years.

Today, many of our local jobs are based around the import and export of cargo and raw material, as well as local companies and small businesses that support the industry. The local, regional and national impact of the goods movement industry is tremendous. For example, it is forecasted that for every single waterfront-related job 10 more are created in the region and over 40% of the nation’s cargo passes through our port. The methods in which cargo is transported today has also changed dramatically over the years. The crate-by-crate approach of the 1950s to the containerization and technology tracking cargo of today are indications of where this may evolve to within the next 10 years.

San Pedro is in the middle of a new development era. A couple of years ago, there was no thought that we would have the USS Iowa as a floating museum on our waterfront or that we would see Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles established. Five years ago, no one predicted that Marymount College, now a four-year university under the new name Marymount California University, would have a San Pedro-based campus on 6th Street offering Bachelor and Masters Degrees. Finally, 10 years ago predicting that the Southern California Marine Institute would consider moving from Terminal Island to the San Pedro side of the channel was unheard of, but here we are in the middle of the Port of Los Angeles’ $500 million, 28-acre development effort of the AltaSea Marine Research Innovative Center, ironically situated just a stone’s throw away from where a vibrant fishing fleet once operated some 40 years ago.

All of the indicators point to San Pedro heading towards a technology-rich and higher-educated local workforce to support jobs and industries that are on our horizon. It’s this challenge of preparing the next generation’s workforce for these future jobs that we must collectively work together to achieve. As San Pedro transforms to a destination for high-tech jobs, we must continue to innovate and find ways in which to expose our youth to science, technology, engineering and math. Also, we must focus today’s work force to ensure that they are well prepared for the technology that will come to our port while we find ways to attract new jobs to our waterfront.

These new industries will need a safe environment to build upon, so we must address the crime that we read and hear about each day. It’s no secret that we are being pulled on by both ends of the spectrum as we battle for this transformation to take hold. We must be persistent because the future is upon us and we must secure it. While other cities are maintaining the towns of today, we must continue to build San Pedro as a technology hub for tomorrow while making it a global destination and crown jewel at the tip of Los Angeles. spt

Anthony Pirozzi can be contacted at apirozzi@yahoo.com.

Bike Lanes – To Share Or Not To Share?

In my younger days, I enjoyed riding my bike around the Palos Verdes peninsula. My bicycle was a used green ten-speed and not anywhere near the technical complexity of today’s road bikes.

I would venture off from my parents’ house near Crestwood Avenue and make my way to 22nd St. and then head around the backside of the hill to Palos Verdes Dr. North then back home on Western Ave. On other occasions, I would tackle the switchbacks near Marymount College or ride through Miraleste Drive and then up Crest Rd. to the top of the hill to enjoy the view.

My most memorable bike ride was with my friend Todd Karli when we followed the Olympic torch back in 1984 for the Los Angeles summer games. We met at PCH and Western and followed the running of the torch up Crenshaw to Palos Verdes and down Hawthorne all the way to 190th and PCH before returning home. We experienced a little part of history that day.

Back then there were no bike lanes, although looking back it would have been nice to have had them, especially through the blind turns around the backside of Palos Verdes. Today, many cities across the country have made bike lanes an important part of the landscape and Los Angeles is no different. In fact, you can read the five-year bike lane plan for Los Angeles at the Department of City Planning website. The strategy is to lay down at least 200 miles of bike lanes every five years across Los Angeles to create a contiguous bike lane network. As part of the 2010 Bicycle Plan, 253 miles of bike lanes will be implemented at a cost projection of $27 Million, and San Pedro is right in the middle of it.

Recently, bike lanes have been implemented on Capitol and Westmont and have resulted in one of the biggest local protest in a long time. The story has lit up Facebook, been covered on the local TV news and in newspapers and local protests have been conducted on Westmont. Why? Is it because people in general do not like bike lanes? No, it’s because locals are frustrated because car lanes and left turn lanes have been eliminated and center dividers narrowed to put in these bike lanes.

The result has been longer commuting times bringing kids to and from Taper Ave., Dodson and Mary Star High School, as well as making it difficult to maneuver in and out of Ralphs and Albertsons parking lots during peak hours. Drivers are not only confused by the markings on Westmont that separate the bike and car lanes and where they can cross them when merging to make a right turn, but become so frustrated with waiting in traffic that they enter the bike lanes to bypass the traffic altogether. This has resulted in moving violations being issued. What remains to be seen are the wait times that may occur on Westmont and Gaffey St. during soccer season for families to arrive at the Field of Dreams, the impact when Ponte Vista is developed, or the delays on Gaffey now that the southbound lanes at the Channel St. intersection has been reduced to a single lane. Based on the protests, it remains to be seen if the current plan to change Pacific Ave into single car lanes to make room for bike lanes gets implemented.

One idea that may be considered to resolve the current and future bike lane dilemmas is to establish shared bike lanes similar to what has been done along 2nd St. in Belmont Shore. This type of lane requires an automobile to yield for bicyclists present in the lane otherwise autos are free to travel in the lane.

Although the bike plan was approved prior to Councilman Joe Buscaino being elected, he has been proactive in assessing the situation and getting feedback from residents and listening to business owners’ concerns in order to determine how to resolve this issue. What is also encouraging is the vocal and written outpouring by locals who are truly frustrated with the way this segment of bike lanes have been implemented and are determined to fix it. spt

Garcetti: A Vote For San Pedro

For years, San Pedro has been disillusioned when it comes to getting attention during election season in Los Angeles. In fact, the last time we felt special was when we had both James Hahn serving as the Mayor of Los Angeles and his sister Janice Hahn as our Councilmember. This was our opportunity to truly shine and experience a rebirth for San Pedro and revitalize our downtown and our waterfront.

The momentum shifted when Mayor Hahn lost to current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and in the past eight years the emphasis on developing our waterfront lost some of the urgency that the project had during Hahn’s term. Although much has been accomplished, there is much more to complete. The question we must ask ourselves when deciding who to vote for in the upcoming Mayoral election is which candidate has the experience to take our waterfront to the next level, as this is really what’s at stake in this election for San Pedro.

Our waterfront has been the lifeblood not only to San Pedro and the Harbor Area, but to the entire Los Angeles region. It is estimated that for every one waterfront job, 10 regional jobs are created. In these tough economic times, it will be essential that the next mayor understands what is required to keep our port competitive as we battle the challenge from a widened Panama Canal, due to open in 2014.

In addition, there is the potential to have a world-class marine research center at City Dock #1 that will provide knowledge-based jobs locally like we have never seen before. A world-class center would put San Pedro on the global stage for ocean research and development as it would be the launching port for many future deep sea explorations. The center would be a catalyst for numerous small businesses to open in support of this new local industry and it would create educational opportunities that would make our waterfront a premiere West Coast hub for oceanography and maritime studies at every level, from kindergarten all the way up to university doctorate programs.

Finally, the next mayor must understand the importance of revitalizing the waterfront with the goal of becoming one of the best and most famous waterfronts in the world. We need a mayor that is not afraid to build our waterfront into becoming an international tourism destination, not just a local attraction for folks that live 30 miles from the water, but even for those that live 30 hours from it.

This is why I am supporting Eric Garcetti to become the next Mayor of Los Angeles. This was a tough decision because I personally like both candidates, but if you equate the future potential of our waterfront as a world destination to what has actually happened in Hollywood with its development over the past 10 years, then you too would support Garcetti.

As a councilman whose district included Hollywood, Garcetti must be admired for the transformation of Tinseltown during his terms, and I believe that the experience and leadership it took to get there is what San Pedro needs in its next mayor. Link this knowledge and experience with the passion, energy, and leadership of our own councilmember, Joe Buscaino, and we have a recipe for success. It is no coincidence that Buscaino has endorsed Garcetti for the May 21 run-off election. It is because they share the same vision for Los Angeles, especially growing our waterfront to become a world destination!

San Pedro is forecasted to be the swing district in this election. So, after all these years after being thought to be the stepchild of the city of Los Angeles, we could be the district that determines the outcome. This is a great position to be in. Eric stated when he was in San Pedro, “A lot of people call this area the tail. I see a different image: If the city of L.A. is like a kite, this is the anchor… The growth of this town began because this harbor was dug.” I couldn’t agree more. spt

Anthony Pirozzi is a member of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and past president of Eastview Little League. He can be contacted at apirozzi@yahoo.com.

Reconnect And Restore Paseo Del Mar

A cruise along a contiguous Paseo Del Mar was one of the best attributes of living in San Pedro and has left so many memories for each of us. For me personally, the vivid memories transcend my lifetime.

For example, as a kid my parents would take us for Sunday afternoon drives around the hill to stop for ice cream and on our way home would conclude the drive along Paseo. As a young adult, I would back my 4×4 Toyota truck against the rail just above Royal Palms, drop the tail gate to enjoy a pizza, chips and a beverage with my buddies late into the evening while we bantered back and forth on just about any topic with the sound of waves crashing the shoreline. It was also the place where I asked my best friend if I could kiss her for the first time while sitting in her uncle’s old white Dodge pickup truck.

This October, my best friend and I will be celebrating our 20th year of marriage. As parents, we would pack our three boys in the Suburban and enjoy various stops along Paseo. You’ve heard the phrase “staycation,” but a trip along Paseo was our “daycation.” If we entered Paseo from Western Avenue, we’d first stop at the swings and jungle gym adjacent to Fromhold Field and after an hour or so we might head further down Paseo to the park and walk down to the beach.

Our favorite stop, though, is at The Corner Store to get some old school candy and try a different root beer from the last time we were there. Our daycation would end at the Korean Bell to enjoy the beautiful ocean view and fly a kite. If we entered from Gaffey, we might stop at Point Fermin Park or the Korean Bell first and do the rest in reverse order. It is these types of stories that we all share in some way or another and the reason that we must stop nothing short of restoring Paseo Del Mar back to its original state.

Paseo Del Mar is just a small portion of California’s scenic coastline and was one of the best-kept secrets in Los Angeles until November 20, 2011 when 600 feet of the hillside spanning some 120 feet slid into the Pacific Ocean. The landslide made the news and brought to light what we all knew regarding the instability of our local coastline. Our immediate knowledge and experience of this has been the Portuguese Bend landslide. For decades, the land along Portuguese Bend has been sliding into the ocean and for years the road has had to be maintained and repaired. The degradation is so severe that today a clear view of the Portuguese Bend Beach Club can be seen while driving over the sliding roadway when just 10 to 20 years ago it was not. If not done correctly, this could be the future and experience while driving along Paseo Del Mar.

There appears to be three options being considered to repair the Paseo landslide, ranging in cost from $6.7 to $51.3 million dollars. The cheapest solution is a graded sloping of the hill that would require constant maintenance throughout the year and for decades to come. In other words, this would be the Portuguese Landslide model for Paseo Del Mar. The most expensive option, which I support, is to shore up the hillside and build a bridge to reconnect Paseo Del Mar. This option would ensure a safe and accessible roadway for generations to come.

In today’s economy, it’s easy to state that the bridge option is too expensive to restore the roadway back to its original state and entice us to select the cheapest route. As the last palm tree stands proud on the remaining bluff of Paseo, it’s a symbolic gesture that we too must do the same and work diligently to reconnect and restore Paseo Del Mar to its original glory.

Just as Paseo has connected us for generations, we must connect it for future generations to come. We owe it to ourselves to restore this historic scenic roadway that in many ways defines who we are as San Pedrans. spt

Dillon Field: A Tribute Representative Of San Pedro

The sign-ups are over, the draft is done and the first practice is behind us. Baseball season is here. It is the time of the year when hundreds of kids prepare to play the national pastime. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not, the game itself is a reminder of simpler times and brings back many childhood memories. My favorite team is the Los Angeles Dodgers and as a kid I would spend just about every night listening to Vin Scully on the radio or while watching the games on channel 11. My most vivid memories were agonizing over the Dodgers losing to the New York Yankees in the 1977 and ’78 World Series. My cousin was a Yankee fan and having to face him each day during the series in back-to-back seasons was tough. After all, bragging rights when you’re twelve was a big deal. It wasn’t until 1981 when the Dodgers would face the Yankees again and finally win the World Series in six games. It’s been a long stretch since 1988, since the last time the Dodgers won the World Series, but then again there is always this year.

This month brought back many childhood memories when I attended the dedication and tribute of Bobby Dillon. I had just finished our first practice with my Eastview Little League AAA Dodgers and headed over for the tribute with my 10-year-old son Luca proudly wearing his Dodger uniform. I had never met the Dillon family, but was aware that Dillon Field existed in San Pedro. About 100 family and friends attended the tribute, which took place at the corner of 22nd Street Park facing Miner Street, the site of the old field, which today is the parking lot of the old warehouses being used by Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles.

This beautiful Saturday afternoon was about the memory and tribute to the man that founded the Cabrillo Bay League. In 1962, Bobby passed away suddenly from a heart attack when he was 42. His son Bobby Jr. was 10. I couldn’t help but think about the similarities in age that Luca and I had with Bobby and Bobby Jr., which put the this special day into perspective.

As any great baseball day, the weather was perfect and the stories of hard fought games between the Sharks and the Squids, as well as coaches getting a bit animated after a tough game, were told leaving the crowd both laughing and in tears. Pete Moore, who is 93 years young and helped coach the Squids with Bobby, was present as well.

The most touching was hearing from Bobby Dillon Jr. and his sister Sylvia Valdez who gave a touching speech about her father and the way it use to be. One thing she said that hit home was that a play date back in the ’60s was kids going out to play all day with fellow neighborhood kids and how Sundays were meant for visiting family and friends. As the ceremony wound down I was able to meet and talk with Bobby Jr. He left an impression on me that I believe was a reflection of his father, kind and true. The port did a great thing honoring a guy whose goal was to teach kids how to field a ground ball, catch a fly ball, and get a hit all for the love of the game and his community.

Many realities of San Pedro were reflected in the hour tribute, which I have always known, but was solidified once again on this day. Our town is tied together by sports. We have always been a town of pride with a competitive edge. This is most prevalent when our local teams travel because San Pedro always has the most fans on its side of the field. Our sense of pride is unparalleled when it comes to local sports. The very nature of the word itself embodies all that we are: SP for San Pedro and PORTS, which is our community’s lifeblood. Put the two together and the word sports embodies the live, work and play hard attitude that is San Pedro. spt

L.A. City Proposes Sales Tax Increase

Watching our government operate in crisis management mode is disappointing considering the issues facing our nation. I mean, was it really necessary for us to have to spend our New Years Eve and New Years Day watching the hourly updates and countdown to the fiscal cliff? In the end, couldn’t our government have come up with the agreement they did a month prior?

We shouldn’t be surprised because this was the same mode of operation when congress was discussing raising the debt ceiling a year ago and it will be the same drama when the debt ceiling, budget cuts and sequestration are discussed in a few months. The last congress kicked the can to the next congress, so what’s changed?

What would be encouraging though is if our president and House and Senate leaders spend less time on television blaming each other for the current fiscal problems and get in a room and work the issues like grown men and women. I thought that’s what we were paying them to do.

As I write this column, our national debt is $16,455,674,641,631 and climbing and has surpassed the debt ceiling that was set at $16,394,000,000,000 in 2012. I write the national debt numbers without abbreviation because I think we have lost perspective on how big these numbers really are. The national debt equates to $52,377 per United States citizen to date. If we took the approach of our government to manage our own day-to-day budgets we would be increasing our personal debt by taking out credit cards, pay day loans, borrowing from family and friends to pay for a lifestyle we couldn’t afford or sustain. In the end, without cutting our expenses, we would probably go bankrupt. Our government must make the same tough choices that individuals do each day to in order to balance the growing deficit. This is also true for our local government.

Back here in Los Angeles, our city council is proposing a 0.5% sales tax increase to cover a $200 million dollar city budget shortfall on the March ballot. This proposed increase comes at a time when many are still finding it difficult to make ends meet. Sales tax hits the rich, poor and middle class, so why is the city council proposing a sales tax increase now? Is there another way to reduce the city debt?

Well, for the past few years our city controller and mayoral candidate Wendy Gruel performed audits of many of the city departments. Her audits came with recommendations to save the city millions of dollars that would help offset the cities debt crisis. It would seem appropriate that each of the audit recommendations be implemented and measured for effectiveness before the city council asked for a sales tax increase from an already over taxed public.

When it comes to sales tax increases, they are sold to us as being temporary and represented as a small percent increase only and never represented as a percent increase of the existing sales tax. For example, when Prop 30 was being proposed, we heard more about taxing those who make over $250,000 per year and rarely about the 0.25% sales tax increase that came along with it. Maybe because 0.25% sounds like an insignificant number, correct? The reality is that a 0.25% increase on the state sales tax rate of 7.25% is a 3.45% tax increase on everyone. As we start 2013, our current state tax is now 7.5%. On top of the state sales tax is another 1.5% local tax bringing our current Los Angeles sales tax to 9%. If the proposed sales tax increase is approved on the March ballot, doing the math again, a 0.5% increase on top of the current 9% sales tax is another 5.6% tax increase. This would mean that between Prop 30 and the proposed 0.5% tax increase, if approved, would result in an 8.95% sales tax increase since November. What happened to protecting the poor and middle class from tax increases?

This 1903 quote from Winston Churchill is still true 110 years later, “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.” spt

Birth Of SPHS Girls Soccer

As the 2013 high school soccer season kicks off it brings back memories of my days playing for the San Pedro High School varsity soccer team, especially now as I watch my son Antonio play for the JV team.

Back in the early 80s there was only varsity soccer, which made tryouts highly competitive. Many hoping to make the team did not and as a sophomore, I was one of them. I had only played soccer for three years and knew to make the team the next season I would have to train even harder in the off season. I joined the Pirate track team to increase my speed, ran hurdles to improve my reaction time and agility, and spent countless hours improving ball placement and left foot kicking skills. The next season I made the varsity team and in 1983, my senior year, I became the teams co-captain. That year we finished first in the Marine League but it wasn’t the first place finish that I reflect on, but rather being on the team that had two girls on the roster for the first time in SPHS history: Weslie Williamson and Lisa Kamppila. It was also the year that Weslie scored the first goal by a girl Pirate against Locke High School at Daniels Field.

My coach was Anthony Scirocco for both seasons that I played for the Pirates. He was great to play for because he had passion and tried different approaches and drills to help us improve our game and listened and learned from his players, as well. One thing I appreciated about coach was his candor. For example, looking back at my junior yearbook he signed it saying, “If you could be as hard working in the classroom as you are on the field, now that would be something. Go and get ’em.” That was coach. But with all of the pressure that comes with high school coaching, Scirocco was great at encouraging and motivating us to be our best. He also had vision.

During my senior year, I was the teacher’s assistant during his second period class. Once his students began their individual assignments, we would discuss the upcoming season, players, drills, basically everything soccer. One day, Scirocco leaned over to me and asked, “What would you think if we had a couple of girls on our soccer team?” At the time I wasn’t aware that two girls had tried out, the thought of having them play on a team with twenty boys was bold. Together we discussed the pros and cons and in the end agreed that having them on the team would have a positive impact, not only on our team, but on the future of girl’s soccer at SPHS.

Weslie played soccer for six years and Lisa five prior to coming to SPHS. It was their love for the game that gave them the drive to tryout for the boy’s team. Once they joined the squad the team accepted them without any concerns. They practiced just as hard (if not harder) than any of the boys and were great teammates. That season was Locke’s first year in the Marine League. When Weslie and Lisa entered that game, Locke was already having a difficult time containing our offense and trouble penetrating our defense. Weslie joined the forward line and after a barrage of shots on the Locke goalie one of them came loose from his hands right to Weslie and she put the ball in the back of the net. We would go on to win the game 11-1. That goal paved the way for others such as Noelle Jensen and Lisa Tregarthen to play on the boy’s soccer team until the first girl’s soccer team was established in 1988.

Weslie and Lisa’s decision to tryout for the boy’s soccer team back in 1983, and the decision by Coach Scirocco to put them on the roster, blazed the trail for all the girls who play Pirate soccer today. It was bold and it was time. I was glad to have been a part of it. Go Pirates. spt