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California sanctuary state act passes with LA Sheriff’s support

Protestors gathered in downtown Los Angeles in April to urge California lawmakers to enact legislation that would make California a sanctuary state. SB 54 passed out of the legislature on Sept. 16. (Photo by Frank C. Girardot, Hub Staff)
By Ding Shu
World Journal

California has challenged President Donald Trump by declaring itself a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants.

The designation, known as the California Values Act, came at the end of a long legislative session. The act will restrict state and local law enforcement officers from working with customs officers and prevents the holding of prisoners simply because they are illegal immigrants. The law will allow state and local authorities to transfer offenders to federal prison, a point that was praised by both Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. McDonnell noted that the state legislature said he’s fine with Governor Jerry Brown signing the bill known as SB 54.

“I strongly opposed SB 54 as initially introduced, because I viewed it as a threat to public safety,” McDonnell said today. “… SB 54, as passed by the legislature, is a very different bill today. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Brown and his staff and members of the State Senate and Assembly, we can move beyond the bill’s early false premise that local enforcement was going to act as immigration agents. This is fundamentally not true.”

The bill provides protections for immigrants who are in the country illegally, but also was altered recently at the request of Brown to give local law enforcement more freedom to work with federal immigration officials and to hold an individual for federal authorities if they have been convicted of a felony or some other serious crimes.

“SB 54 clearly reflects what is working in Los Angeles County and the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department,” McDonnell said. “While not perfect, SB 54 kept intact our ability to maintain partnerships with federal law enforcement officials who help us in the fight against gangs, drugs and human trafficking. It also retains the controlled access that the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement has to our jails. This access will continue to be guided by the strict standards of the existing state laws, the Trust Act of 2014 and the Truth Act of 2016 that pre-date SB 54.”

The bill, authored by Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, passed on a final vote of 27 to 11 in the state Senate.
It was introduced in reaction to Trump’s actions and speech on illegal immigration, including a vow to increase deportations. Trump also has threatened to cut off federal funding to “sanctuary” jurisdictions — although there is no legal definition of the term — which limit cooperation with the federal government on immigration enforcement.

Declaring a community a “sanctuary” city or state has become a way to openly defy Trump.

While a number of cities — including San Francisco and Santa Ana — have declared themselves a sanctuary city, Oregon is the only state that has taken on the identity, doing so in 1987.

In mid-September a federal judge in Chicago blocked the Trump administration’s rules requiring so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with immigration agents in order to get a public safety grant.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber ruled that the city of Chicago has shown a “likelihood of success’ in its arguments that the administration exceeded its authority in imposing new standards governing Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants across the country. Leinenweber’s preliminary injunction applies nationwide and not just to Chicago.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the new policies as necessary to help fight illegal immigration. “So-called `sanctuary’ policies make all of us less safe because they intentionally undermine our laws and protect illegal aliens who have committed crimes,” Sessions said when he announced the new guidelines in July. “These
policies also encourage illegal immigration and even human trafficking by perpetuating the lie that in certain cities, illegal aliens can live outside the law.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

Taking the 5 to the 10 this weekend? Don’t try it, says Caltrans


LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Roadway maintenance work will prompt closures of some connectors between the Golden State (5) Freeway and the San Bernardino (10) Freeway east of downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, Caltrans said today.
The eight-hour closures will begin at 4 a.m. Sunday, Caltrans reported.
Affected will be the westbound I-10 connector to the southbound I-5, and the southbound I-5 connector to the eastbound I-10, Caltrans reported.
Some on- and offramps also will be affected.
The work will involve a wide variety of maintenance tasks, including pothole repair, graffiti removal, and re-striping of roadways.

Blue Line delayed by possible suicide attempt


LONG BEACH (CNS) – A person who may have been trying to commit suicide was struck and critically injured today by a Metro Blue Line train in Long Beach, police said.
The injury occurred about 8:55 a.m. near the train station at Wardlow Avenue and Pacific Place, the Long Beach Police Department reported.
The person was taken to a  hospital, police said. Buses were brought in to ferry rail passengers around the area while an investigation was conducted. Normal rail service  resumed after about an hour.

Experimental herpes vaccine could kill patients

Agustín Fernández III, a former Hollywood filmmaker, co-founded Rational Vaccines, which tested a controversial herpes vaccine offshore. The vaccine is not approved in the U.S., and its creators have been criticized as ignoring U.S. safety rules. But Fernández has vowed to continue trials and manufacturing the vaccine offshore. (Courtesy of Alejandro Renteria)
By Marisa Taylor
Kaiser Health News

Defying U.S. safety protections for human trials, an American university and a group of wealthy libertarians, including a prominent Donald Trump supporter, are backing the offshore testing of an experimental herpes vaccine.

The American businessmen, including Trump adviser Peter Thiel, invested $7 million in the ongoing vaccine research, according to the U.S. company behind it. Southern Illinois University also trumpeted the research and the study’s lead researcher, even though he did not rely on traditional U.S. safety oversight in the first trial, held on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.

Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor a safety panel known as an institutional review board, or an “IRB,” monitored the testing of a vaccine its creators say prevents herpes outbreaks. Most of the 20 participants were Americans with herpes who were flown to the island several times to be vaccinated, according to Rational Vaccines, the company that oversaw the trial.

“What they’re doing is patently unethical,” said Jonathan Zenilman, chief of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center’s Infectious Diseases Division. “There’s a reason why researchers rely on these protections. People can die.”

The risks are real. Experimental trials with live viruses could lead to infection if not handled properly or cause side effects in those already infected. Genital herpes is caused by two viruses that can trigger outbreaks of painful sores. Many patients have no symptoms, though a small number suffer greatly. The virus is primarily spread through sexual contact, but also can be released through skin.

The push behind the vaccine is as much political as medical. President Trump has vowed to speed up the FDA’s approval of some medicines. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who had deep financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, slammed the FDA before his confirmation for over-prioritizing consumer protection to the detriment of medical innovations.

“This is a test case,” said Bartley Madden, a retired Credit Suisse banker and policy adviser to the conservative Heartland Institute, who is another investor in the vaccine. “The FDA is standing in the way, and Americans are going to hear about this and demand action.”

American researchers are increasingly going offshore to developing countries to conduct clinical trials, citing rising domestic costs. But in order to approve the drug for the U.S. market, the FDA requires that clinical trials involving human participants be reviewed and approved by an IRB or an international equivalent. The IRB can reject research based on safety concerns.

Robert Califf, who served as FDA commissioner in the Obama administration until January, said he couldn’t think of a prior instance in which American researchers did not set up an IRB abroad.

“There’s a tradition of having oversight of human experimentation, and it exists for good reasons,” he said. “It may be legal to be doing it without oversight, but it’s wrong.”

However, Rational Vaccines downplayed safety concerns, asserting there was little risk the participants would be harmed because they had herpes already. Agustín Fernández III co-founded­ Rational Vaccines with tenured SIU professor William Halford. He said Halford, the lead investigator, took the necessary precautions during the trial conducted from April to August in 2016. Halford died of cancer in June.

The university backed its professor’s work by posting a glowing article on its website about the vaccine. SIU is one of the patent holders of the vaccine and set up a business account to collect donations for the work.

Nonetheless, Southern Illinois University officials said they had no legal responsibility to ensure safety measures were in place because the university has an arms-length relationship with Rational Vaccines. Fernández said the company licensed two patents related to the vaccine from the university.

“SIU School of Medicine did not have any involvement in Rational Vaccines’ clinical trial,” said Karen Carlson, the university’s spokeswoman. “But we are confident that as the chief scientific officer of Rational Vaccines, Dr. Halford followed safety protocols appropriate to the clinical trial.”

But other researchers said they were appalled by what they described as the university’s complicity in ignoring more than 70 years of safety protocols. Scientists called for more rigorous clinical trial oversight in the wake of Nazi atrocities involving human experiments in the 1940s.

“You can’t just ignore human-subject protections that have evolved since the end of the Second World War,” said Zenilman, who served as a technical consultant to the presidential commission on bioethical issues during the Obama administration.

Zenilman, an expert on sexually transmitted diseases,  cited U.S. government research in the late 1940s that deliberately infected study participants in Guatemala with sexually transmitted diseases without their consent.

In 1974, Congress passed sweeping regulations aimed at protecting human subjects, requiring IRBs in government-funded research. Later, an advisory committee to the U.S. government wrote of the need for safety review committees to ensure that “basic ethical principles” were in place to protect human subjects from harm. The 1979 Belmont Report also urged researchers to balance the risk to the human subject against the benefit of any breakthrough in medicine.

While the FDA declined to comment on the herpes vaccine trial, spokeswoman Lauren Smith Dyer said “the FDA believes that the oversight of clinical investigations, including review by an IRB, is critically important and is a regulatory requirement for clinical investigations subject to FDA regulations.”

Despite Gottlieb’s stance on the need for FDA streamlining, many researchers are skeptical that he would approve a vaccine based on trials that did not follow American regulations or traditional safety rules for its experiments.

Even so, Fernández, a former Hollywood filmmaker, said he and his investors plan to submit the trial data to the FDA in hopes of getting the vaccine approved for treatment. If the FDA does not respond favorably, he said, the company will continue its trials in Mexico and Australia. Fernández said he hopes to set up an IRB for these next trials. No matter what, he plans to manufacture the vaccine offshore. However, without U.S. approval, the challenges to market such a vaccine in the United States remain significant.

A Thiel representative said the billionaire was not available to answer questions by email or in an interview. Thiel, who rose to prominence as co-founder of PayPal, reportedly advised Trump on possible FDA nominees after donating $1.25 million to his presidential campaign. Thiel has been a vocal critic of the FDA, claiming in an interview that its approval process was so unwieldy “you would not be able to invent the polio vaccine today.”

Fernández said he hoped the trials would put political pressure on the FDA to give the vaccine a closer look. He said his vaccine would be initially aimed at helping patients who experience the “worst of the worst” symptoms. He believed the vaccine eventually would be shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the disease. According to the CDC, about 1 in 6 people ages 14 to 49 have genital herpes.

“I will not stop,” said Fernández, who described the trials as his personal mission. “Too many people are suffering.” Before the trial, Halford tested the vaccine on himself and Fernández. After he failed to secure federal funding and an IRB, Halford moved ahead with the trial offshore.

Other researchers said they feared that desperate herpes patients would seek to be test participants or get the vaccine without being informed properly of the risk.

Researchers at several universities and private clinical research centers are working on two different herpes vaccines under FDA and IRB oversight. One is expected to undergo final trials by 2018 before being submitted to the FDA for final approval. In addition, the National Institutes of Health has conducted a first trial of a third potential vaccine.

Califf said drugs and vaccines are often costly to bring to market simply because they initially don’t work or are shown to be unsafe.

“The FDA is not the problem,” Califf said. “The issue is that there are so many failures.”

The vaccine’s researchers told KHN the St. Kitts trial showed the vaccine is safe and highly effective in preventing outbreaks in herpes patients.

The results have not been published in a peer-reviewed journal and Halford’s previous attempt to publish was rejected. Reviewers of the paper said they were concerned by the lack of safety and said they were skeptical about his scientific approach.

Yet some herpes patients, who are part of a tight-knit online community, have followed the project with hope and enthusiasm.

1 in 10 CSU students are homeless, study finds

A sign in the office offering CalFresh services -- formerly known as food stamps -- provides information for CSULA students
By Diana Kruzman
Hub Correspondent

When Julie Teitgen’s apartment caught fire two years ago, she had no idea where to go. She was homeless.

At the time, Teitgen, 33, lived with her ex-boyfriend and his mom in a two-bedroom apartment in Westlake. For three weeks after the fire, Teitgen didn’t know where she would sleep each night or when she would be let back into her apartment. She stayed with her ex-boyfriend’s sister but struggled to adapt to the new environment. One night, she slept on a cot in her yard.

And all the while, Teitgen had to continue her role as a student — balancing classes, homework and grades while working on her bachelor’s degree in child development at California State University, Los Angeles.

“Spring quarter was starting, and I had all these books that needed to be read,” Teitgen said. “Our landlord kicked us out, saying he was going to condemn the place, and we didn’t know what to do.”

As a student struggling to find stable housing, Teitgen is not alone. A study released in June  found that nearly one in every 10 CSU students is homeless — and that factors from family emergencies to high rent prices to the costs of college are making stable housing difficult to find.

For community college students, the numbers are even higher — a study conducted last year found that nearly one in five students in the Los Angeles Community College District is homeless. And overall homelessness among college-age Angelenos is on the rise. Over the past year, the number of homeless people aged 18-24 grew by 64 percent, according to data from the 2017 Homeless Count.

‘Couch Surfing’

“Homelessness is broader than what most people think,” said Jed Richardson, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the author of the LACCD study. “It can be going from couch to couch or having difficulty paying rent. For a student on the brink, even a broken axle in their car can be a disaster.”

The CSU study found that 46 percent of respondents who identified as homeless were in a situation similar to Teitgen’s — staying “temporarily with friends, relatives or other people,” a process known as “couch surfing.”

That’s why Jennifer Miller, the Dean of Students at CSULA, emphasizes the need for emergency housing to help students who are caught in a difficult situation and find themselves temporarily without a place to live. She says a lack of permanent housing is usually connected to other issues like hunger and emotional distress, which can ultimately lead students to drop out of college if they don’t get support.

“Our students can’t focus if they’re hungry and they’re exhausted,” Miller said. “Our ultimate goal is their success as students.”

But other factors may be more difficult to address. Richardson says that as college becomes more accessible for lower-income students and members of minority groups — as well as necessary to obtain any kind of higher-paying job — students who don’t have support from their families or can’t take out student loans aren’t able to keep up.

“People’s notions of who is going to college are rooted in who went 50 or 60 years ago,” Richardson said. “That’s just not true anymore. We’re getting a different group of people — older students, parents, financially independent students — who have different challenges.”

Rents much higher in LA

Rising rent prices can play a part as well. Rentcafe, a website that tracks renting data across the country, found that a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles costs $2,055 a month on average, compared to $1, 210 nationwide. And costs are even higher in neighborhoods near universities like UCLA and USC, leading some students to seek temporary housing elsewhere.

That’s exactly what the Bruin Shelter — a nonprofit organization that started out as a student organization on the UCLA campus in 2012 — aims to provide. The shelter, which is run out of a church in Santa Monica and could fit up to six students at a time before recent renovations closed it off temporarily, is meant as a short-term solution for students from three Los Angeles-area colleges who don’t have a place to stay.

“Some students who come to us are incoming freshmen without the support of their parents,” said Kenton Sakurai, the co-president of UCLA’s Bruin Shelter. “Some are worried about financial issues or family problems. A lot of it is just unfortunate events or unforeseen circumstances.”

As studies like CSU’s and LACCD’s train the spotlight on students struggling to find secure housing, some steps are being taken to address the issue of student homelessness, as well as related problems like food insecurity. Miller worked to open CSULA’s first food pantry last spring, and says that showers are available on campus for students who otherwise wouldn’t have a place to clean up.

On a legislative level, there’s Measure H — a sales tax increase that passed last November and will direct funds toward addressing homelessness in Los Angeles. In June, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to compile a report on how some of that funding could be used specifically to help homeless students in Los Angeles, with the ultimate goal of helping them stay in school rather than dropping out.

For Teitgen, the services offered at CSULA — from having a food pantry to offering her temporary housing after the fire broke out — are a step in the right direction.

“I’m so proud of my school for advancing,” Teitgen said. “But I know there have to be other students going through this.”

Watts charter school celebrates 20 years of education

Mallory Johnson’s class.
By Mike Szymanski
LA School Report  

When Gene Fisher opened an independent public charter school in September 1997 in Watts, it shared a one-room bungalow in a housing project with the Urban League State Preschool. 

Fisher quickly realized that recruiting kids from rival gangs was not going to happen. 

So he moved his two kindergarten students and tiny staff, ending up in an abandoned church in the shadows of the 110 Freeway and the jets coming in low to LAX. This month, the school community celebrates its 20th anniversary expanding into a new two-story building — still in Watts, only a mile from where they began. 

Watts Learning Center — LA Unified’s seventh independent charter elementary school and one of the first inner-city charters in Los Angeles — continues to be a model school in a neighborhood where just heading to school can be dangerous. More than a dozen other charter schools approved around the same time at LA Unified have since closed down or converted back to district schools. 

It’s faced big struggles since the beginning. Watts opened a middle school in 2008 that LA Unified nearly shut down in 2013 after questioning whether it had a “sound educational program.” But the middle school is now on a new campus and thriving.   

The elementary school became a California Distinguished School in 2004 and Charter School of the Year in 2007, and some of its graduates have gone on to full-ride scholarships at such universities as USC. 

Pulling together in Watts

They did it by pulling together a team that believed they could bring quality education to one of the most disenfranchised communities in Los Angeles. And they insisted on keeping Watts in the name. 

Fisher started with only three teachers, an office manager, a principal, and two kindergarten students. Watts Learning Center now has 53 teachers and instructional aides, 89 staff and foster grandparents listed on their staff rosters, and 780 students on two campuses. There are nearly 400 students in kindergarten through sixth-grade at Watts Learning Center Elementary School at 310 W. 95th St., and 380 at the Watts Learning Center Middle School on the campus of Dymally High School at 8800 S. San Pedro St. 

The elementary school has 51 percent black students and 47 percent Latino students, and the middle school is 16 percent black and 83 percent Latino. All of the students are eligible for free lunch. 

“Some educational institutions have said that it’s a challenge to educate black youth, particularly young men, but we don’t see it that way, we see it as an opportunity,” Fisher said. “We understand the community and the struggles these boys have in their everyday life and so we figure out how educational values fit into their lives and improve the community as a whole.” 

Fisher acknowledged that the neighborhood has been tainted with a history of unrest, crime, and poverty, and said, “We never want to forget the community, so keeping Watts in the name of our school is important to us.”  

“We chose the name Watts. It’s an under-resourced community, and people know it,” Fisher said. “Our charter school allows us to implement a belief system to change the narrative of the neighborhood’s reputation with the Watts riots and the Watts rebellion.” 

‘We can emphasize the good’  

Walking through his lime green-painted campus with the children playing in the sun, Fisher said, “We are here with beautiful weather, good transportation, entertainment, fun, and beaches. People come to Southern California, but not to Watts. We can emphasize the good and change the narrative of our neighborhood.” 

But there’s still a reputation that lingers. When the head of a teacher prep program at a Michigan college tells prospective teachers about internships in Watts, it sends a shiver through the students and their parents. Inevitably, they recall the 1992 riots that left 50 dead after the acquittal of four white police officers accused of beating a black motorist. Before that, it was the center of a rebellion after a black driver was pulled over by police in 1965. Thirty-four people died. 

“When I tell the parents that the school is located in Watts, I can hear the phone fall out of their hands, and that reaction is across racial and ethnic groups,” said John A. Yelding, chair of the Education Department at Hope College, a small liberal arts Christian college in Holland, Michigan. “But after five years of coming to the school to train to become teachers, it is a much-sought-after program.” 

For four weeks each spring, roughly 10 students from Hope work with the urban students in Watts. A few years ago, Ashley Person loved the school so much that she bugged Watts’ elementary school director until there was a teaching job open. 

“She kept telling me she was coming back here to teach, she loved it so much,” Yelding said. “And now she is here.” 

To learn more on how the school thrived and grew, go to LA School Report, laschoolreport.com  

Send off summer with a visit to California’s finest locales

Solvang offers a variety of places to stay and eat. Photo Courtesey: Flikr/abi skipp
By Andrea Hescheles
Hub Correspondent

Looking to escape the daily grind? You don’t need to venture very far for a change a scenery.  California offers plenty of great weekend getaways. Whether you want to visit beach towns, the desert, mountain retreats or wine tasting on the Central Coast, the options are endless. 

Here’s a list of destinations all within a couple hours of Los Angeles where you can enjoy the perks of being on vacation without hopping on an airplane. 

Catalina Island
Want to experience a taste of island life without traveling to a far away place? Then check out Catalina Island, a great place to visit for a weekend getaway. Whether you are looking for outdoor activities or just a relaxing day lounging around the beach, the island offers a little bit of everything. 

Located about 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles, the island is only accessible by passenger ferry, which takes one hour from Newport Beach, Dana Point, Long Beach or San Pedro, or 15 minutes by helicopter.  

There’s plenty of exciting things to do here, including fishing, kayaking, boating, snorkeling, scuba diving, jet skiing and parasailing. 

Other attractions include the Nature Center at Avalon Canyon, Catalina Island Museum and the Wrigley Memorial & Botanic Garden, honoring the memory of William Wrigley Jr., founder of Wrigley chewing gum. 

For thrill seekers, there’s the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour, an aerial adventure where you will have a blast zipping high above treetops and the ocean. 

Take the Jeep Eco Tour and see buffalo and other wildlife roam freely. Take an ocean tour and search for sea lions, dolphins and harbor seal on one of the ocean tours. Or you can just  relax. Have a drink while soaking up sunshine in one of the lounge chairs or in a cabana or lounge chair at the Descanso Beach Club, a bar and restaurant right on the beach. 

The island offers a variety of dining options, from take-out to fine dining. Some of the seaside restaurants serve fresh seafood or prime steaks which you can enjoy at a table overlooking the harbor. 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a freshly-made waffle ice cream cone, saltwater taffy, caramel apples or Buffalo Milk, Catalina Island’s signature cocktail made out of vodka, kalua, crème de bananas, crème de cacao and other ingredients. 

Two Harbors, a small village on the west end of Catalina Island, offers a host of activities such as hiking, back country camping, mountain biking, snorkeling, boating and scuba diving. 

Want to just relax? Check out Harbor Sands, where you can food and drinks from Harbor Reef Restaurant on its waterfront dining deck. 

For more information, visit www.visitcatalinaisland.com or www.catalinachamber.com. 

Big Bear Lake
A year-round getaway, this mountain resort community surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest is about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles. With so many recreational activities, it’s an ideal trip for outdoor lovers. 

Here, you can unwind and enjoy the mountain views and breathe fresh mountain air.  From boating to kayaking, mountain biking to horseback riding, hiking on one of  dozens of hiking trails,  jet skiing.  water sports, Big Bear offers all types of recreation experiences. 

You can also swim in the deep blue freshwater lake, go fishing in the lakes for trout, catfish and bass. And sailing, tennis, helicopter ride or guided off-road Jeep tour are popular activities. 

Other amenities include a nine-hole golf course, public zoo, campgrounds, the Big Bear Historical Musem and the Big Bear Solar Observatory. 

Visit the Big Bear Village complex for dining, shopping and entertainment. The Village also features art galleries, candy shops, ice-cream parlors, and pubs and gift shops. Every weekend until the end of October Big Bear celebrates Oktoberfest, a beer drinkers’ festival 

This resort is also a winter destination for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, making Big Bear a great getaway to spend the night or weekend in the winter.   

For more information, visit www.bigbear.com. 

Hearst Castle
About four hours from Los Angeles, San Simeon is a great destination for relaxation on the Central Coast. Hearst Castle, the former home of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, sits on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and features 165 rooms, 127 acres of gardens, terraces, pools and walkways. This is a great place to visit for a day trip. 

After taking in some history, visit the elephant seals. Just a short drive from Hearst Castle, the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery which spreads over 6 miles of shoreline around Point Piedras Blancas. 

And if you’re up for a side trip, continue on to Paso Robles, about 20 minutes inland from Hearst Castle, where wine is the main attraction. 

Want to explore even more of the Central Coast? Take Highway 1 to experience miles of scenic bliss and check out one of the seaside communities including Cayucos, Morro Bay and Cambria. 

For more information, visit www.hearstcastle.org. 

Nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley, this replica of a Denmark town is a wonderful place to escape for a fun day trip or weekend getaway. Just a short drive from Los Angeles you will feel like you’ve traveled internationally. 

This little village is a cool spot to walk around and explore all the little shops, Danish-style architecture, Danish bakeries and restaurants. 

In addition, there are 20 wineries for wine tasting, including the Carivintas Winery and Lions Peak. It’s also fun to see if you can recognize some of the spots featured in the movie “Sideways.” Of course, no visit to Solvang is complete without sampling traditional Danish foods and pastries. 

And don’t forget to pick up a bucket of Danish butter cookies to take home to family, friends and coworkers.   

For more information, visit www.solvangusa.com 

Ojai Valley Inn and Spa
A staycation wouldn’t be complete without a little rest and relaxation. Located about one hour from Los Angeles, this golf and spa resort is a great place to kick back and relax for a weekend. 

There is so much to do here you don’t even have to leave the property. You can play a round of golf, get a massage or just lounge by the pool. Other amenities include tennis, biking, art classes, spa treatments.  

You can also spend an afternoon exploring downtown Ojai, where there is an outdoor bookstore, boutiques, art galleries, wine tasting and olive oil tasting rooms. The Ojai Olive Oil Company offers free tours of their orchards and production facility and a store with a variety of olive oils.  

In addition to olive orchards, Ojai is surrounded by orange groves, making it known for its famous sweet pixie tangerines. 

For more information, visit www.ojairesort.com 

Advice on Advice: How to select a management firm

Craig R. Colbath is Managing Director of the Singpoli Private Wealth Group.

Let me start with a question: do you have a plan?  For those of you who have read my previous columns, I hope that the answer is: “Yes!”

If you have a financial plan, it is time to select the person or firm that will manage your investments so that you can ultimately reach the goals in your plan.  There are three courses of action that you can take as an investor.  You could also blend the approaches together.

First, you could do it yourself.  Second, you could hire an asset manager, investment adviser or an insurance professional.  Third, which is relatively new, you could select a “robo adviser.” Some investors chose two or even all three. In fact, the do-it yourself firms and full-service advisers now offer “robo” options! Confused yet?

There has never been a better time to manage your own money as firms such as Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, and Vanguard, to name a few, have developed investment and planning tools that are simple and effective. If you have the time, aptitude, and “stomach” to manage your own investments then there have never been more resources for you than today. In a future column, we will consider the specific offerings that are available to you as an investor with these firms.

The second option is to hire an adviser to assist you with the management of your investments.  You can find an adviser at a Bank, an insurance agency, a wire-house firm or as a Registered Investment adviser. Regardless of which type of firm you select, I strongly recommend that you work with an adviser who has a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or a Certified Investment Analyst (CIMA) designation. If you are going to turn your hard-earned money over to another person to invest, you need to make sure that they have the training and ethics to provide the insightful guidance necessary to earn their fee and help you meet your objectives.

If you are going to work with an adviser who is going to manage your investments, I recommend that the adviser or someone on the adviser’s team has a CFA or a CIMA designation. Both designations require a high level of course work and exam(s) that must be successfully completed.

The CFA program is a professional credential offered internationally by the Association for Investment Management and Research. Globally, there are about 130,000 charter holders.  To obtain the designation, the candidate must have four years of qualified work experience, complete three exams, and adhere to the CFA Institute Code of Ethics.  This is a very challenging program.  In my twenty plus years in the investment business, I have met more people that have failed the program then have passed.

From my experience of working with advisers with this designation, they often use individual stocks and bonds to manage their client’s investments.  They have been trained to analyze individual securities and tend to like to use their craft.  For investors who enjoy holding individual stocks or bonds in their portfolios, working with a CFA can be a positive experience. Generally, the portfolio will consist of a broad mix of stocks and bonds to provide the proper diversification. An investor with a larger portfolio would be the most appropriate client for this strategy.

The Certified Investment Analyst (CIMA) program is sponsored by the Investment Management consultants Association (IMCA) and was founded in 1985.  There are over 10,000 CIMA Advisers in the U.S. today. To be a CIMA adviser, you must have three years of industry experience, complete a self-study program, attend a one-week executive education program and pass a qualifying exam.  The program provides a platform to help the adviser build quality portfolios using mutual funds, separately managed accounts or ETFs.  The adviser learns how to blend the different portfolios to provide the optimal return while attempting to minimize risk.  Because the CIMA adviser can use mutual funds and ETFs, they have the flexibility of working with both large and small portfolios.  It doesn’t take as many individual holdings to get a properly diversified portfolio when you are using a fund that may already hold many individual positions.

A relatively new concept in investing is “robo” investing.  Robo advisers offer you a computer trading program that is automatic, systematic, and completely unemotional.  You can work with an adviser or go directly with one of the many firms that have entered the marketplace.  You generally complete a profile that defines your investment risk profile and time horizon and selects a portfolio to fit your profile.  Your money is then invested in the strategy.  The strategy has been built through computer models built by programmers.  You can select more than one portfolio to provide more diversification.  For investors who are managing their own portfolio, the investment levels are low as are the fees in most cases. In addition to the low fees, you do not have to monitor the individual positions in the portfolio as the computer makes the decision as to when to buy or sell.  Many full-service firms are adding these portfolios as the demand has been growing from the investing public.

In summary, work with a Certified Financial Planner to prioritize your goals, then make an honest decision. Do I have the interest, time, capability, and stomach to manage my own investments?  If you do, then look for a firm that has the tools to fit your style and open an account.  Either select the investments yourself or use one of the “robo” options that the firms have today.  If you want to work with an adviser, then I suggest you work with a CFA or CIMA credentialed professional.  You are likely to get a better constructed portfolio that will have a higher likelihood of meeting your goals.

There have never been more ways to manage your investable assets than today.  This is both a benefit and a curse!

Craig R. Colbath is managing director of the Singpoli Private Wealth Group.

President Garcetti?: Poll shows L.A. residents support bid


LOS ANGELES (CNS) — If Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti chooses to run for president, he need not worry about a local backlash, as a majority of county residents said in a new survey released last week that they would support the move. 
   The question was asked of Los Angeles County residents as part of a survey conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. 
   At least in his hometown, Mayor Garcetti polls strongly as a potential candidate for president,” said Fernando Guerra, director of the center. “Naturally, it’s far too soon to tell what kind of support that could translate into outside of Los Angeles. But as of today, he’d have L.A.’s backing.” 
   After taking a number of steps that some political observers have seen as preliminary maneuvering to running for president in 2020, Garcetti has not ruled out a presidential run when asked directly by reporters over the last few months – but he also has not ruled out a run for governor of California in 2018. 
   Garcetti, a Democrat, recently visited New Hampshire to support a mayoral candidate in Manchester. 
   The visit to the site of the nation’s first presidential primary during the August trip also included cocktails in the Hamptons at the estate of billionaire Ronald Perelman, a major political donor. 
   The mayor also recently appeared at Democratic Party events in Wisconsin and at the Center for American Progress’ Ideas Conference in Washington, D.C. 
   According to the survey, 63 percent of the 914 respondents said they would be ‘strongly supportive’ or ‘somewhat supportive’ of Garcetti launching a bid for the White House. 
   Support for a Garcetti presidential run was strongest among Latinos (73 percent), voters aged 30-44 (69 percent), and those earning less than $40,000 a year (74 percent). Those with advanced graduate degrees or earning more than $100,000 annually were the only groups mostly opposed. 
   Even among residents who self-identified as conservative, 51 said they supported a Garcetti candidacy. 

This story included reporting from City News Service.

LA Supervisors to offer reward in Monrovia teen shooting


MONROVIA (CNS) — The Board of Supervisors approved a $20,000 reward earlier this month for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever gunned down a Canyon Oaks High School senior and wounded a 17-year-old boy in Monrovia.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger recommended the reward in the killing of 18-year-old Oscar Garcia, who was hanging out with two friends inside a garage in the 100 block of West Cypress Avenue on the evening of April 22 when a man walked up and pointed a gun at the group. After a short verbal exchange, the gunman fired multiple shots and then ran off toward an alley behind the home.
Garcia, the second youngest of six children, died at the scene.
The 17-year-old, whose name has not been released, survived what authorities said were life-threatening gunshot wounds. A teenage girl escaped injury.
Detectives believe the gunman may live in the area where the shooting occurred or may frequently visit there. At a news conference in May, police said the shooter appeared to have targeted the location, but may not have been looking for Garcia and his friends.
“We don’t believe the victims were the targets of the assault,” sheriff’s Lt. Joe Mendoza told the news media.
Garcia’s mother, Guadalupe Castaneda, who had appeared alongside detectives and said her son “would always go the extra mile to care for others” and “didn’t deserve to end this way.”
Garcia had been set to graduate in June and planned to study photography at a local community college.
The suspect was described as a light-skinned Hispanic man between 20 and 25 years old. Witnesses said he was about 6 feet tall, with a medium build, brown eyes, short black hair and a goatee. He was wearing a black baseball cap with some kind of logo.
Barger urged anyone with information to call Mendoza at (323) 890-5564 or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS (8477). 

This story included reporting from City News Service.