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South Pasadena celebrates Route 66, bashes 710


Organizers of the 36th Annual July 4th Balloon Festival in South Pasadena made the 710 Freeway a central part of a theme that centered on Route 66 nostalgia.

Thousands gathered on Mission Avenue to cheer on a procession that included police cars, motorcycles, VIPs, music, student displays and so on. Most carried a ballon.

At its endpoint outside the city library City Councilman Robert Joe pointed out that the July 4 parade is a great way for all families to participate, celebrate, give thanks and continue to help build a great country.

South Pasadena resident Tang Weiming was among those on hand, cheering the South Pasadena High School swim team which participated in the parade.

But, the parade did not forget politics. State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, took a solid stand carrying a banner that proclaimed “Against 710 Extension”. But while Portantino and many others bashed plans to build a portion of 710 extension through South Pasadena, they also praised South Pasadena’s role as a destination on the now-decommissioned Route 66, and reminded all that their community isn’t against transportation, it seeks alternatives.

Should GOP Health Bill Prevail, Say Bye-Bye To Insurance Rebates

Rebates could end under the Senate health care proposal — now on hold until after the July Fourth holiday — to repeal the ACA.

If Senate GOP leaders have their way, the check may not be in the mail.

Many consumers collected unexpected rebates after the Affordable Care Act became law, possibly with a note explaining why: Their insurer spent more of their revenue from premiums on administration and profits than the law allowed, so it was payback time.

More than $2.4 billion has been returned to customers since the provision went into effect in 2011, averaging about $138 per family in 2015.

Those rebates could end under the Senate proposal — now on hold until after the July Fourth holiday — to repeal the ACA.

Insurers consider the requirement — known as the medical loss ratio (MLR) — onerous, and some had to change the way they do business because of it. To be sure, the rule didn’t resonate much with consumers, even if they received a rebate, because the amounts were relatively small, possibly enough to cover a family dinner out.

The MLR has fans among policy experts, who say it pushes insurers to be more efficient and creates a better value.

“When they struggle to pay premiums, when they’re making those sacrifices, [consumers] want most of the value of those premiums to go to actual medical care,” said Mila Kofman, a former insurance commissioner in Maine, who now runs the D.C. Health Benefit Exchange Authority.

Like much else related to the ACA, the provision was controversial from the start. It states that insurers can spend no more than 15 percent of their customer revenue on administration and profits when selling large group plans to employers, or 20 percent for individual coverage. If plans exceed this mark, they have to pay back the excess, either to employers or to people who bought coverage from them on the individual market. Employers who got rebates for their work-based plans could decide how to redistribute the money as long as it was used to benefit employees.

The Senate GOP health proposal, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would end that requirement in 2019 and let states decide whether to continue such limits and rebates.

In some ways, this change would be a gift to insurers.

The provision, as is, “limits their profitability” and, along with other factors, may have contributed to an exodus of plans from some markets, explained Christopher Condeluci, of CC Law & Policy in Washington.

“By allowing states to craft more flexible” rules, the Senate measure may make it “easier for insurers to operate,” said Condeluci, who served as tax and benefits counsel to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee when the ACA was being drafted.

From the start, insurers argued the one-size-fits-all rule was too strict and sought the broadest possible definition of medical expenses. Supporters maintained it could help slow premium increases or at least make them more in line with the underlying growth of medical costs. This point is “really important,” said Tim Jost, an emeritus law professor who studies the health care law and serves as a consumer advocate before the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

When the ACA took effect, health care inflation had slowed, but “insurers were still regularly raising premiums far above the actual growth in claims,” he said. “They were making a huge profit.”

The first year the provision was in effect, insurers paid more than $591 million in rebates for policies covering more than 8.8 million customers, averaging $98 per family. Not all insurers exceeded the limit, and the amount of rebates varied by insurer and state.

Over time, the number of customers in plans that exceeded the limit fell but was still nearly 5 million at last count.

The reason: Insurers both trimmed administrative costs and, in some cases — especially in the individual market — saw their spending on sicker-than-expected customers rise, making it less likely they would exceed limits. Indeed, some insurers were spending more than 90 percent of revenue on medical costs by 2014, according to a report by the Urban Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Some insurers have also reported losses on their individual market coverage.

Before the ACA, many states set rules on how much of their premium revenue insurers must spend on medical care — although those rules often did not apply to job-based insurance. The amounts varied, and they were often lower than what the ACA requires. North Dakota, for example, required 55 percent of revenue be spent on medical care, while New Jersey set the percentage at 80, according to a 2010 issue brief in the journal Health Affairs.

Like many other aspects of the Senate bill, the impact on consumers would vary by state.

The Congressional Budget Office, in its review of the bill, predicted that about half of people live in states that would maintain the current requirement. Others would loosen it and allow a greater share of premium costs to go toward administrative costs and profits. “In those states, in areas with little competition among insurers, the provision would cause insurers to raise premiums and would increase federal costs for subsidies through the marketplaces,” noted the CBO. The analysis also said the provision would have “little effect” on the number of people who have insurance.

Trial scheduled in Monkees band lawsuit

A musician is suing two surviving members of the Monkees because of how she was fired.

Trial is scheduled in musician Aviva Maloney’s lawsuit against two surviving members of the 1960s band the Monkees.

She alleges she was fired in a four-minute phone call after playing with the band for nearly 20 years and later was told it was because she didn’t look good onstage.

She’s suing Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, Warner Music Group and others involved with the
band’s tours.

Pasadena agrees to settle civil rights case


The City of Pasadena agreed to settle a civil rights suit in the amount of $300,000 for plaintiffs Michelle Rodgers and Selah Chavet, who were wrongfully arrested as a result of a dispute involving Rodgers and her brother, a Pasadena Police Sergeant. The women were represented by John Burton, a nationally recognized police misconduct litigator, and William Paparian, former Mayor of Pasadena.

“What happened here was really outrageous,” Paparian said. “The City Council ultimately did the right thing by settling this civil rights claim after mediation. These women are innocent victims of a department that has continually rewarded problem police officers instead of disciplining them.”

In March 2015 police officers handcuffed and jailed Rodgers and Chavet after Pasadena Sgt. Michael Bugh made a false report about a disturbance at the home of Rodgers’ and Bugh’s mother. The arrest came just 10 days after Rodgers filed a personnel claim with the Pasadena Police Department against Bugh. In the claim, Rodgers said Bugh abused his position as a police officer in an attempt to gain control of their family trust.

The dispute began on Feb. 27, 2015. Rodgers was falsely arrested by Pasadena police officers including Sgt. Keith Gomez on information supplied by Bugh, who alleged elder financial abuse. At the time of the arrest, Bugh headed the Pasadena Police Department’s financial crimes unit and supervised the police officers investigating his sister.

In a personnel claim filed with Pasadena PD against Bugh, Rodgers called the arrest a “preemptive strike by my brother Sgt. Michael Bugh to attempt to silence me,” She noted that Bugh hoped to prevent Rodgers from protecting the assets of the family trust.

Rodgers also said her brother “abused his position as a police officer for personal gain.” The March arrest of Rodgers and Chavet followed the filing of the personnel claim.

Ultimately the Los Angeles District Attorney rejected the elder abuse case and the Pasadena City Prosecutor rejected the trespassing case.

“The actions of the officers are part of a larger malady within the City and PPD wherein Chief Sanchez and his predecessor have allowed officers to treat the PPD as a personal fiefdom,” Paparian said.

Former Chinatown basketball coach sentenced to prison

Tony Wong, a former youth basketball coach was handed a two-year state prison sentence for molesting a boy more than a decade ago.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A former youth basketball coach in the Chinatown
area of Los Angeles was handed a two-year state prison sentence today for
molesting a then-teenage boy who played for his team more than a decade ago.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dorothy B. Reyes also ordered Tony
Wong, 62, to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

The victim, who is now in his late 20s, told the judge that he had no “real direction” in his life before he joined the Alpine Recreation Center’s basketball team coached by Wong, whom he described as the  “closest father figure I’ve had in my life.”

He said that he has subsequently lost friends who feel sympathy or
loyalty to Wong and that his mom feels like she’s a failure for not preventing
the crimes, which occurred between January and August 2004 at the recreation
center and in hotel rooms when the team traveled.

The young man’s sister described her brother as suffering “a betrayal”
of trust.

“It hurts to watch him suffer through it,” she said.

Wong pleaded no contest May 17 to three counts of committing lewd acts
on a child. Nine other counts involving the same victim were dismissed as a
result of Wong’s plea.

Wong was arrested last July 27 by Los Angeles police and released later
that day on a $240,000 bond.

He was handcuffed and taken to a courtroom lockup immediately after
today’s hearing to begin serving his sentence.

Dunkirk film goes big with 70mm release

The evacuation of Dunkirk.

BURBANK (CNS) – Director Christopher Nolan’s latest film “Dunkirk”
will have the widest 70MM release in 25 years, Warner Bros. Pictures announced

Directors such as Nolan and Quentin Tarantino are well-known fans of the
70MM film format, which is hailed for having higher resolution and better
visual impact that the more common digital showings.

Nolan is best known for films such as “Interstellar,” “Inception”
and the “Dark Knight” trilogy of Batman films.

Tickets for 70MM showings of “Dunkirk” went on sale Wednesday morning.
Tickets for regular showings will go on sale Friday. The film opens July 21.

Warner Bros. officials said the 70MM projection will make audiences
“feel they are a part” of the action in the film’s portrayal of an effort to
rescue British and Allied troops on the beaches of World War II Dunkirk. The
film’s cast features Harry Styles, Fionn Whitehead and Tom Hardy.

A full list of theaters in the United States and Canada offering 70MM
showings is available online at www.dunkirkmovie.com.

Influential builder Paul Matt dies at 85

Paul Matt
public memorial gathering is being planned for builder Paul Matt, whose Santa Fe Springs-based construction firm has had a hand in construction or restoration projects at such Southern California cultural landmarks as the Skirball Cultural Center, The Broad, the Petersen Automotive Museum, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Huntington Library and the Hollywood Bowl.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A public memorial gathering is being planned for
builder Paul Matt, whose Santa Fe Springs-based construction firm has had a
hand in construction or restoration projects at such Southern California
cultural landmarks as the Skirball Cultural Center, The Broad, the Petersen
Automotive Museum, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Huntington Library and the
Hollywood Bowl.

Matt, who lived in Newport Beach for more than 45 years, died on Friday
afternoon, surrounded by his family. He was 85.

His company’s other recent projects include the Annenberg Retreat at
Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing
Arts and the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Beverly Hills.

When the Engineering News-Record honored him with its 2015 Southern
California Legacy Award, the engineering and construction industry publication
said Matt’s “lifelong ambition to tackle challenging projects head-on with a
collaborative spirit has led to a career in construction that spans 65 years
and encompasses more than 450 buildings, many of which are among Southern
California’s most iconic structures.”’

Matt set his sights on a career in construction while working as a
welder on the Dalles Dam after serving in the U.S. Air Force. He started out as
a surveyor for the George A. Fuller Co. and, in 1962, was promoted to job
superintendent for the Salk Institute in San Diego, designed by the legendary
architect Louis Kahn.

‘Working on the Salk project — which was stopped by the client, then
completely redesigned for budgetary reasons — Matt “developed innovative
approaches in formwork, concrete and collaborative relationships with the
architect and consultants that provided the basis for his philosophy as a
builder the rest his career,” according to his family.

Matt was a senior executive at C.L. Peck and a member of the company’s
board of directors before co-founding MATT Construction in 1991 with his son
Steve and his brother Al, which has grown into a company that generates more
than $500 million in annual revenue and has 250 employees.

“My father loved his work and the people he collaborated with. During
his recent battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he continued to apply his
amazing passion for building,” said Steve Matt, the company’s CEO. “All of us
at MATT take great solace that he lived to see his dream fully realized …
building a company of great builders and great people. We will proudly carry on
his legacy.”

Matt, born June 1, 1932, in Rome, New York, earned a structural
engineering degree from Oregon Institute of Technology. He attended college on
the G.I. Bill.

He is survived by his second wife, Cathy. He was preceded in death by
his first wife Evelyn, mother of his children Steven, Colleen and Neil. He is
also survived by 11 grandchildren, four brothers and a sister.

Funeral services will be private, followed by a public celebration of
his life later in July. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking friends “to
send meaningful memories” of Matt via email to:

Welcome to The Hub


Let’s take on the elephant in the room first. Yes, we know there are fewer and fewer printed newspapers, tabloids, magazines, pamphlets, and books these days, and that this endeavor — in its printed form at least — flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

That said, we know most of you are reading this explanation on the same phone you used just a few moments ago to send a Snapchat or read a Facebook post, which should tell you that we are a little more conventional than we seem.

But we also know that conventional wisdom is just that — conventional. Not that we want too unconventional or eccentric — but we do believe there is a market for a polished and professional news source in our vast, and ever-changing community. And, with that in mind we created The Hub.

The Hub is a mobile, online and print news resource for Angelenos in their 20s and 30s that will be primarily distributed in downtown LA, Pasadena and Glendale. It is sponsored in part by the Monterey Park-based World Journal, which is venturing into English language media for the first time in its storied history.

We hope that readers of the Hub will find stories that have all but disappeared from traditional local news sources. Our editor, Carolina Garcia, is well-known for her work at the Los Angeles Daily News.

In her seven years with the Daily News, Garcia led a series of award-winning projects that included a magazine-style report on California’s drought and a special section about the dying town of Hinkley in rural San Bernardino County.

Garcia also steered LANG’s unsolved homicide project which was a finalist in data reporting for the 2015 Online Journalism Awards.

Expect The Hub to include that sort of hard-hitting journalism. Also expect the Hub to delve into the lives of millennials priced out of the region’s expanding housing market and explore the rise of marijuana-themed bakeries as legalization makes its way into the mainstream.

Affiliated with the World Journal, which is the largest Chinese language daily publication in Southern California, the HUB will not only be spot to find curated locally sourced information, it will also contain premium content from the World Journal translated for an English speaking audience.

Everyday online the Hub will offer breaking news, fashion and investment advice, music and restaurant reviews, political commentary and more.

Find The Hub in print every other Thursday this summer in Downtown LA, Pasadena and Glendale. Find us online everywhere.

— Frank Girardot is the Executive Editor of the Hub.

Uniboil in Monterey Park offers wonderful variety, reasonable prices.

Uniboil's summer special is a watermelon drink that is not only tasty, but it is also refreshing.
There’s something great about finding a new place that creates a special niche for itself by offering quality ingredients and tasty meals. It’s especially nice when that new place has cheery customer service, a clean kitchen and excited customers.
Such a place is Uniboil, a hot pot-style restaurant in Monterey Park’s Atlantic Times Square.
Alan Pun, the restaurant’s COO, tells his customers he wants them to have the experience of a lifetime — and he quite often delivers. What makes Uniboil different than other hot pot style restaurants is the variety of soup bases customers can use to create individual hot pot recipes. Among the bases are Szechuan Pepper Numb Hot Soup, a less spicy version of that, a “healthy” tomato, and a peanut- based satay.
Prices are reasonable too, Most of the hot pots are less than $15 and many are even less than $10. That might explain the number of students eating hot pot on a warm summer afternoon. Then again, it might not as Pun has also created an amazing watermelon smoothie- style drink that pairs quite well with just about everything on the menu.
Most recently, I had a house speciality that wasn’t soup — pigs feet. Pun said his recipe, which uses the numbing peppers, requires 10 hours to make properly. When eaten — the meat literally falls off the bone — it is tasty and succulent.
Uniboil is located at 500 N. Atlantic Boulevard #127, in Monterey Park. Hours are Sunday though Thursday 11 a.m until 10 p.m.,  Friday and Saturday 11 a.m until midnight. There is plenty of parking. For more information, call (626) 782-7189.

Eastvale residents take stand against proposed Wal-Mart

City documents show a proposed Walmart will use a variety of materials, including stucco, split-face block, metal, glass, and stone veneer to provide detailing.

As the possibility of a Wal-Mart moving to Eastvale becomes more and more real, a group of residents calling themselves Eastvale United have been circulating a petition in hopes of retailer from getting a foothold.

Activist Bobby Harrison said members of the group have recently conveyed their objections to the City Council and have set up a website to help collect signatures.

Harrison said figures show that the presence of Wal-Mart would result in a crime rate increase, putting Eastvale children and neighborhoods at risk of crime, endangering community security.

Harrison also said a Wal-Mart will: Reduce the value of community property; Weaken the quality of community life, and; Increase traffic and noise. The result would be a great impact on the lives of residents – and losses that cannot be undone.

The proposal would situate Wal-Mart at the intersection of Archibald Avenue and Limonite Road, near Hubbard Park. The result, according to Harrison will be endless trouble for residents including increased traffic and congestion that will spill over onto residential streets. He said it would be a bad decision to bring Wal-Mart into the emerging community in northwestern Riverside County, which is why his group is strongly opposed to the proposed supermarket.

Eastvale Planning Commissioner Feng Yanhao said that although the community has spoken up against a proposed Wal-Mart, the process is moving forward. Yanhao said that completion of the Way-Mart would contribute several hundred thousands of sales tax dollars to the city’s coffers. It would also create more than 100 jobs.

In turn the city could afford to hire more public safety personnel including fire fighters and police officers.