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L.A. crime rises less than 1 percent

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LAPD officials said that from 2014 through 2016, violent crime rose 37.5 percent and total crime rose 21 percent.

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Overall crime in the city of Los Angeles has risen less than one percent through the first half of the year, an improvement over the previous three years that saw more significant spikes in crime, Los Angeles
Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said today.

From 2014 through 2016, violent crime rose 37.5 percent and total crime rose 21 percent.

“We think we are making progress in the city of Los Angeles,” Beck told the Board of Police Commissioners while giving them the statistics. Through July 1, homicides have risen 2 percent compared with the same time period last year, rapes have gone down 9 percent, robberies have gone up 4 percent and assaults have been about even, Beck said. Property crime was up .7 percent. Crime in the city fell every year from 2005 through 2013, going from 489 homicides to 251, and 31,767 violent crimes to 16,524. The numbers started to rise in 2014, and in 2016 the city registered 294 homicides and 28,084 violent crimes.

Heat wave creates dangerous situation in L.A. region

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heat

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Southland slipped into the grips of another heat
wave today, with Los Angeles County temperatures forecast to reach triple-
digit territory in several communities and to be even higher Friday and over
the coming days.

National Weather Service forecasters said the high heat that will plague
the region for the next several days is the result of an upper-level high-
pressure system parked over parts of the southwestern United States.

“Very warm overnight temperatures are also expected during this heat
wave, increasing the possibility of heat stress. The warmest overnight lows
will be in the foothills and lower mountain areas where lows in the mid 70s to
mid 80s will be common,” according to an NWS statement.

“It is still too early to predict just how long this heat wave will
last. However, the mountains and deserts will remain well above normal through
Sunday and possibly into early next week.”

A heat advisory will be in force until 9 a.m. Friday in the San Gabriel
Mountains, the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Area and the San Fernando
and San Gabriel valleys, immediately followed by a more serious excessive heat
warning scheduled to last until 9 p.m. Saturday. The excessive heat warning
will be in effect in the Antelope Valley at the same time.

“The very high temperatures will create a dangerous situation in which
there is an increased threat of heat related illnesses. The extended heat wave will also bring elevated fire weather conditions through the weekend,” the statement said.

Forecasters urged Southland residents to protect themselves and their
loved ones from what will be oppressive heat. People who work outside should
schedule strenuous activity for early morning and evening hours, wear loose-
fitting clothing, drink lots of water and take frequent breaks.

Residents are also urged to check on relatives and neighbors and never,
ever leave kids, seniors or pets in a parked car, even with the windows cracked
open, because a vehicle’s interior can quickly reach lethal levels in the heat.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued similar
recommendations and also urged people living without air conditioning to take
advantage of cooling centers, shopping malls and libraries to stay cool. A list
of cooling centers is available online at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov or by
calling 211.

The NWS forecast sunny skies in Los Angeles County today and highs of
77 at LAX; 86 in Avalon; 87 in Downtown L.A. and Long Beach; 94 in San Gabriel;
95 in Pasadena and on Mount Wilson; 96 in Burbank; 103 in Saugus; 104 in
Woodland Hills; 106 in Palmdale; and 108 in Lancaster.

Temperatures will rise only marginally in the Antelope Valley Friday but
climb substantially in other communities. Downtown, for instance, will go
from 87 today to 96 Friday, Pasadena from 95 to 102, San Gabriel from 94 to
104, Woodland Hills from 104 to 110, and Saugus from 103 to 108.

Sunny skies were also forecast in Orange County today, along with
highs of 73 in Laguna Beach and San Clemente; 74 in Newport Beach; 89 in
Irvine; 91 in Mission Viejo; 92 in Anaheim. 94 in Yorba Linda; and 95 in
Fullerton. Orange County temperatures will also be higher Friday, when
Fullerton will hit 100 and Yorba Linda 101.

South Pasadena celebrates Route 66, bashes 710

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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

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holloway

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

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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

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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
today.

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

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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:
PaulMattRemembered@mattconstruction.com.

Welcome to The Hub

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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.