May 01, 2014
By Craig Carter
LAWT Contributing Writer
It was only after her fellow Dialysis Technician prodded her several times, that Andrea Riser-Zanders found her way to the adult school at Central and 108th, the then-named Maxine Waters Employment Preparation Center.
She was so busy.
Riser-Zanders was a single parent with two kids at home and working two jobs . But her friend persisted. “Did you ever go there, “ her friend asked. “You’re going to miss the deadline.” Why me? Riser-Zander wanted to know. “Because you are nursing material. You care. You have insight. And it’s free.”
So with that, she took and passed the entrance exams, and spent 2001-2002 in the LVN program taught by Norma Roberts. She had to quit a job and work weekends because the class meets six hours a day, five days a week, but she found a way.
Now she is a Clinical Manager at a dialysis unit who teaches at local universities and dreams of opening a school of her own.
“I saw Maxine Waters as my open door to get back into medicine,” she says.
Like so many students at Maxine Waters, Riser-Zanders had abandoned her dreams long ago. Twenty years before enrolling at Maxine Waters, she turned down a chance to go to USC and study to be a Physician’s Assistant because she didn’t see how she could do that and tend to her young children and husband.
“But I think I was born to be a nurse,” she says. “I love the job.”
The nursing program at Maxine Waters Service Area (as it is now called) is no longer free, but the $10,000 cost is much cheaper than the $30,000 to $40,000 that other institutions charge. That breaks down to $6.53 an hour, less than the cost of many pre-schools.
But the future of the school is in doubt, imperiling the dreams and second chance opportunities of the people in the surrounding communities.
Maxine Waters Service Area is part of Los Angeles Unified School District, whose primary mission is to educate children, not adults. Superintendent John Deasy made this abundantly clear two years ago when he killed the nursing program along with the entire adult division.
Only community outcry and Herculean effort from students and staff were able to save it. Or part of it. The adult education programs is a third the size it used to be and has long waiting lists of students eager to get in.
“Without Maxine Waters, I would have been a tech much longer, “ says Riser-Zanders. Eliminating adult schools “would take away a lot of opportunities for mothers and others. They would be taking a stepping stone away.”
Maxine Waters is funded for next year at about the same level it is for this year, but after that its future is in doubt. Governor Jerry Brown, under AB86, has directed adult schools and community colleges to get together and remake the way the state educates adults. Where Maxine Waters and its career tech education programs – which in addition to nursing include automotive, welding, construction, culinary, landscaping and office skills classes – fits into the new vision is as yet unknown.
Riser-Zanders knows that her future includes more education. She will start a Doctorate in Nursing Practice this fall at Chatham University, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. But she will be continuing lessons she learned at Maxine Waters.
“What I learned at Maxine Waters,” she says, “is if you start something, you finish it. Be there every day until the end. That’s how you get to the next level.”
May 01, 2014
V. Stiviano, the woman whom Donald Sterling was talking to when he made racist remarks, is “very saddened” by his lifetime NBA ban, and she didn’t release the recording of their conversation, her lawyer said Tuesday.
Somebody released it “for money,” but it wasn't Stiviano, the attorney said.
“My client is devastated that this got out,” he said.
Nehoray previously said the recording posted online is a snippet of a conversation lasting roughly an hour.
In the recording, the Los Angeles Clippers owner apparently is upset with Stiviano for posting photos online of herself with Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling asks.
The Johnson photo has since been deleted from Stiviano’s Instagram account.
On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver condemned the remarks. He banned Sterling for life from any association with the league or his team, and Silver fined him $2.5 million.
Stiviano has been described as Sterling's girlfriend.
In March, Sterling’s wife, Rochelle, sued Stiviano, seeking the return of more than $2.5 million in lavish gifts the woman allegedly received from her husband, including luxury cars and a $1.8 million duplex.
The lawsuit claims Stiviano, 31, met Sterling, 80, at the 2010 Super Bowl.
It accuses Stiviano of engaging “in conduct designed to target, befriend, seduce, and then entice, cajole, borrow from, cheat and/or receive as gifts transfers of wealth from wealthy older men whom she targets for such purpose.”
Stiviano’s attorney has filed documents to dismiss many of the accusations and denies that she took advantage of Sterling, describing him as having an “iron will” and being one of the world’s shrewdest businessmen.
Nehoray told the Times that Stiviano and Sterling didn’t have a romantic relationship.
“It’s nothing like it’s been portrayed,” the lawyer said. “She’s not the type of person everyone says.”
She was a hard-working waitress and did volunteer work helping crime victims before becoming an “archivist” for Sterling, he said.
“She had no association with any rich people before this,” he said.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said Stiviano was a volunteer with its Victim-Witness Assistance Program in 2010 and 2011, the Times said.
April 24, 2014
LAWT Staff and Wire Report
“Earth Day is being celebrated everyday in your New Ninth District, as we work to clean up — and green up — our community,” Councilman Curren D. Price told his constituents recently.
“From our targeted community clean-up initiative to opening up new parks and community gardens, we are on a mission to transform our neighborhoods starting with improving our environment.
“This weekend we held four community clean-ups across the district to celebrate Earth Day, with dozens of community volunteers and collected tons of trash and bulky items. As we take a moment today to think about preserving our environment, visit sites like www.epa.gov/earthday/tips for tips on how to live ‘greener.’”
Price also invited the community to present their ideas for environmental changes, and on activities or policies they would like to see his office take on by visiting the ninth district website contact page, www.the-new-ninth.com. Visit the site also, for volunteer information for their next clean and green event.
May 01, 2014
Oklahoma officials were conducting an autopsy Wednesday on an inmate who writhed, clenched his teeth and appeared to struggle before prison officials halted an execution in which the state was using a new drug combination for the first time. The man later died of an apparent heart attack.
The autopsy on 38-year-old Clayton Lockett will include an examination of the injection sites on his arms and a toxicology report to determine what drugs were in his system, medical examiner's spokeswoman Amy Elliott said. The autopsy in Tulsa was expected to last for several hours, Elliott said, and it could take two to four months to complete the toxicology report.
It is routine for the medical examiner's office to conduct an autopsy on inmates after an execution, but Lockett's death is unusual because his execution was halted before he was declared dead.
Lockett had been declared unconscious 10 minutes after the first of three drugs in the state's new lethal injection combination was administered Tuesday evening. Three minutes later, he began breathing heavily, writhing, clenching his teeth and straining to lift his head off the pillow. Officials later blamed a ruptured vein for the problems with the execution, which are likely to fuel more debate about the ability of states to administer lethal injections that meet the U.S. Constitution's requirement they be neither cruel nor unusual punishment.
The blinds eventually were lowered to prevent those in the viewing gallery from watching what was happening in the death chamber, and the state's top prison official later called a halt to the proceedings. Lockett died of a heart attack shortly thereafter, the Department of Corrections said.
"It was a horrible thing to witness. This was totally botched," said Lockett's attorney, David Autry.
Questions about execution procedures have drawn renewed attention from defense attorneys and death penalty opponents in recent months, as several states scrambled to find new sources of execution drugs because drugmakers that oppose capital punishment — many based in Europe — have stopped selling to U.S. prisons and corrections departments.
Defense attorneys have unsuccessfully challenged several states' policies of shielding the identities of the source of their execution drugs. Missouri and Texas, like Oklahoma, have both refused to reveal their sources and both of those states have carried out executions with their new supplies.
Tuesday was the first time Oklahoma used the sedative midazolam as the first element in its execution drug combination. Other states have used it before; Florida administers 500 milligrams of midazolam as part of its three-drug combination. Oklahoma used 100 milligrams of that drug.
"They should have anticipated possible problems with an untried execution protocol," Autry said. "Obviously the whole thing was gummed up and botched from beginning to end. Halting the execution obviously did Lockett no good."
Republican Gov. Mary Fallin ordered a 14-day stay of execution for an inmate who was scheduled to die two hours after Lockett, Charles Warner. She also ordered the state's Department of Corrections to conduct a "full review of Oklahoma's execution procedures to determine what happened and why during this evening's execution."
Robert Patton, the department's director, halted Lockett's execution about 20 minutes after the first drug was administered. He later said there had been vein failure.
The execution began at 6:23 p.m., when officials began administering the midazolam. A doctor declared Lockett to be unconscious at 6:33 p.m.
Once an inmate is declared unconscious, the state's execution protocol calls for the second drug, a paralytic, to be administered. The third drug in the protocol is potassium chloride, which stops the heart. Patton said the second and third drugs were being administered when a problem was noticed. He said it's unclear how much of the drugs made it into the inmate's system.
Lockett began writhing at 6:36. At 6:39, a doctor lifted the sheet that was covering the inmate to examine the injection site.
"There was some concern at that time that the drugs were not having that (desired) effect, and the doctor observed the line at that time and determined the line had blown," Patton said at a news conference afterward, referring to Lockett's vein rupturing.
After an official lowered the blinds, Patton made a series of phone calls before calling a halt to the execution.
"After conferring with the warden, and unknown how much drugs went into him, it was my decision at that time to stop the execution," Patton told reporters.
Lockett was declared dead at 7:06 p.m.
Autry was skeptical of the department's determination that the issue was limited to a problem with Lockett's vein.
"I'm not a medical professional, but Mr. Lockett was not someone who had compromised veins," Autry said. "He was in very good shape. He had large arms and very prominent veins."
The cause of death for the last inmate to be executed in Oklahoma was determined to be acute mixed-drug toxicity, Elliott said. The manner is listed as homicide.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma, which was not a party in the legal challenge to the state's execution law, called for an immediate moratorium on state executions.
"This evening we saw what happens when we allow the government to act in secret at its most powerful moment and the consequences of trading due process for political posturing," said ACLU executive director Ryan Kiesel.
In Ohio, the January execution of an inmate who made snorting and gasping sounds led to a civil rights lawsuit by his family and calls for a moratorium. That execution also used the drug midazolam, but in a lower dosage than Oklahoma used and as part of a two-drug combination. The state has stood by the execution but said Monday that it's boosting the dosages of its lethal injection drugs.
A four-time felon, Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman and watching as two accomplices buried her alive in rural Kay County in 1999. Neiman and a friend had interrupted the men as they robbed a home.
Warner had been scheduled to be executed two hours later in the same room and on the same gurney. The 46-year-old was convicted of raping and killing his roommate's 11-month-old daughter in 1997. He has maintained his innocence.
Lockett and Warner had sued the state for refusing to disclose details about the execution drugs, including where Oklahoma obtained them. The case, filed as a civil matter, placed Oklahoma's two highest courts at odds. The state Supreme Court later dismissed the inmates' claim that they were entitled to know the source of the drugs.
April 24, 2014
By Jennifer Bihm
LAWT Contributing Writer
Jamaican born artist Michael Talbot was among the winners at the 30th annual Future Writers and Illustrator Awards on Sunday April 13 in Los Angeles. Associate Administrator for Education at NASA Headquarters Leland D. Melvin, keynoted the event, which featured thirteen science fiction short story and illustration entries, picked from thousands around the world. Talbot’s entry was for the story “Shifter,” written by Future Writer winner, Paul Eckheart.
“[The win] was very shocking,” recalled Talbot.
“I had entered and basically forgot about it until I got the call that I was finalist. I wasn’t expecting it.”
He’s been drawing, he said, for as long as he can remember, choosing to do so while other kids were playing outside. He was attempting to apply for a scholarship but ended up in the Future Illustrators program, created by author L. Ron Hubbard. The 20 year old is currently studying his craft at the Lesley University of Art and Design and says that he feels winning the prestigious award will take him to the next level.
“I’m going to finish college and after that I’m going straight for whatever I want to do [in graphic design and illustration].
Meanwhile, Melvin former NFL recruit and NASA astronaut said he chose to be a part of the event because writers of science fiction are significant in helping to spark ideas for real life advancements on earth and in space.
“Science fiction,” he said, “often becomes science fact.”
“What you do with your writing and illustrations,” he told the finalists during his keynote speech, “you impact not only our world, you impact our world.”
The Future Writers/ Illustrator awards are based solely on the creators’ work, there is no entry fee according to program officials. Winners are published in the latest volume of the Writers of the Future anthology. Prizes also include thousands in cash and royalties, mentorship from experts in their field and TV and radio interviews, helping them to advance their careers.
“To be honest, I don’t think I’m anything extraordinary or beyond the typical artist or lover,” said Talbot.
“But, I do believe I’m able to make an impact on people through my art and that’s precisely what I strive to do.”