October 25, 2012


LAWT Staff Writers


The numbers only tell half the story; over 400 vendors supplied good food and a variety of other merchandise to more than 300,000 people along a 1.1 mile radius of the Crenshaw Blvd. corridor for approximately nine hours at the 7th annual ‘Taste of Soul’ Family Festival last Saturday, October 20th.

“Taste of Soul” has become the largest assembly of Black Businesses in Los Angeles.  The event has become such a phenomenon that local Black businesses are emerging from booth renter to employer and large established corporations, like Chevy and Broadway Federal Bank and government agencies, such as Metro Transportation Authority (MTA), are providing jobs to those who were once collecting unemployment. 

All of this transpired because of the masses of individuals who annually gather at ‘Taste of Soul’ to enjoy the array of festivities and they have also been afforded the chance to meet, greet and explore the vendor products and services in an atmosphere that is conducive to such success.

Metro was able to promote the once controversial Expo Line and the upcoming Crenshaw Line in a way that did not involve political red flags.  Last weekend Metro reported an increase of individuals they encountered at ‘Taste of Soul’ who used their new branch of transportation to attend the event and who said they intend to continue using it for days beyond

“Taste of Soul” isn’t just about food and entertainment; it’s also about the empowerment of businesses, many people hadn’t heard of some of these businesses before “Taste of Soul”; it gave our local businesses and our corporate sponsors great exposure, said Creator and Founder of “Taste of Soul”, Danny J. Bakewell, Sr., who is an established, successful business icon in his own right.  Thus, ‘Taste of Soul’ has demonstrated empowerment at its best during a time when our economy is slowly recovering from near collapse.

Local favorite creole seafood eatery such as Harold and Belles invested in seven booths at the event, and discovered that ‘Taste of Soul’ is not just where you sell food; it’s where you grow your established brand.

A variety of cultures were represented in vendors such as Stone’s Jamaican, Mel’s fish, the Cobbler King, Real Water and many others that offered candy, clothing, sweet cakes and more.  One gentleman who specializes in selling Kettle Corn made his first appearance at the event in 2011 and has literally not left Crenshaw Blvd. since then.  Throughout the year, you can find him on the corner of Crenshaw & Martin Luther King Blvd in front of the Department and Water building.  “Taste of Soul” is building and growing businesses along the Crenshaw corridor all year long.

The month of October also celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness and many of the attendees wore pink ribbons in support of the cause.  There was a health vendor that offered breast mammograms, and Aids Healthcare Corp provided tests for HIV in addition to important tips to combat the dreaded disease. 

The non-profit and community service organizations were also well represented on Saturday.  With booths representing a variety of services that support healthcare, job development, safety, education, neighborhood safety and disaster preparedness, you could find SEIU, Fire Station 94, the Brotherhood Crusade, the Urban League, LA City Workforce Development and others that demonstrated we are a tight knit neighborhood that has spending power, business acumen and a strong sense of community. 

“Taste of Soul” Nation is people working together; “Taste of Soul” is not just a family festival; “Taste of Soul” has a purpose and a common goal to provide an economic stimulus for our neighborhood resulting in an event that promotes respect for one another in a peaceful and fun-loving atmosphere of hope and love.  

You proved that “Taste of Soul” was CREATED FOR YOU and you definitely SHARED THE LOVE.   The boost for this economic engine is the quality of the event and the SPIRIT of the people selling and attending.  The vendors have proven that they are here for the long haul because most of them have submitted their requests for space for the October 19th, 2013 “Taste of Soul.”  Hope to see you next year!!!  The vendors will definitely be there!!!

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 18, 2012

Associated Press


Los Angeles County assessor John Noguez has been arrested following a yearlong corruption investigation into influence peddling and slashing of property taxes for political allies.

District Attorney Steve Cooley’s office says Cooley plans to announce the arrest and give details on the charges during an October 17 news conference.

The Los Angeles Times reports the charges include bribery and corruption.

Noguez was a longtime county appraiser before being elected to the assessor’s office’s top job in 2010.

District attorney’s office investigators began looking into improper tax breaks granted to more than 100 wealthy property owners since Noguez’s election.

Assessor’s office employees had complained they were pressured to lower property taxes for clients of prominent Noguez campaign contributors.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 04, 2012

LAWT Wire Service


The California Wellness Foun­dation (TCWF) announced the appointments of Crystal D. Crawford as program director and Claudíette Wright-Bey as executive assistant to the president and CEO.

“The Foundation welcomes Crystal and Claudíette, each of whom brings a wealth of knowledge to their respective roles,” said Diana M. Bontá, president and CEO. “Crystal is a professional with strong leadership skills and deep knowledge in women’s health, educational outreach and health policy. Claudíette’s organized approach and initiative are invaluable to the operation of the executive department.”

Crawford oversees the foundation’s grant making related to the issues of diversity in the health professions and women’s health. Her responsibilities include reviewing letters of interest and grant proposals and making funding recommendations related to these issues. Before joining TCWF, she was CEO of the California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP), the only statewide organization solely devoted to improving the health of California’s black women and girls through policy, advocacy, education and outreach. Previously, she was CABWHP’s director of public policy for more than a decade.

Throughout her career, Crawford has combined policy and legal approaches to many social justice and civil rights issues and causes. Before working in the nonprofit, public interest sector, she was an associate with corporate law firms in Los Angeles, Boston and New York, as well as a public school teacher. Originally from Harlem, N.Y., Crawford earned her bachelor’s in history from Dartmouth College and her law degree from New York University School of Law. Among her many recognitions are the Advocates’ Award from Western Center on Law and Poverty and the PowerPAC Award from the Los Angeles African American Women’s Political Action Committee.  She is admitted to the bar in California, New York and New Jersey.

“I bring to TCWF a passion for promoting unity across racial and ethnic communities and social justice causes as we work together to improve health outcomes for all of our communities,” Crawford said. “It is a tremendous privilege to join the foundation as we continue to advance its stellar commitment to improving the health of Californians, including low-income individuals, women and communities of color.”

As executive assistant to the president and CEO, Wright-Bey coordinates administrative and clerical activities for the president and CEO and is liaison to TCWF’s Board of Directors. Prior to joining TCWF, she served as the executive assistant to the head of school and board of trustees at St. James’ Episcopal School in Los Angeles. She also worked as the assistant to the vice president of information technology at Advanstar Communications and served as assistant to the head of school and board of trustees at The Buckley School in Sherman Oaks. Wright-Bey is pursuing her master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Cali­fornia Lutheran University and holds a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from The University of La Verne. She is a member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to contribute to the Foundation’s mission of grantmaking for health promotion, wellness education and disease prevention,” Wright-Bey said. “It is gratifying to know that our efforts of service and leadership are transforming lives.”

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 11, 2012

Robert L. Johnson, chairman of The RLJ Companies and founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), announced recently that RLJ Acquisition, Inc. has successfully completed the business combination acquiring Image Entertainment, Inc. and Acorn Media Group, Inc., two highly complementary media content distribution companies to create RLJ Entertainment, Inc. Approved by the company’s, Image’s and Acorn’s respective shareholders, RLJ Enter­tainment, Inc. becomes one of the largest independent global distributors of digital and video content.

“RLJ Entertainment CEO Ted Green, COO Miguel Penella, and I are very excited about this new business combination,” said Johnson.

“RLJ Entertainment’s goal is to become a preeminent distributor of content to all media platforms including DVD and Blu-Ray, digital downloads, digital streaming, and broadcast and cable. We are also committed as part of our business strategy, to leveraging our experience in acquiring, distributing, and monetizing content to create branded digital subscription channels over the Internet targeted to distinct audiences that are underserved by current media platforms and interested in programming that appeals directly to their unique viewing interests.

“RLJ Entertainment believes that the growing convergence of streaming digital content directly to the television set will revolutionize the way consumers acquire content on a customized a la carte basis rather than purchasing bundled packages. RLJ Entertainment is uniquely situated to become a prominent player in a digital media world where the consumer controls what they want to see and when and where they want to see it.”

RLJ Entertainment marks the third company Johnson has taken public, including Black Entertainment Television, which became the first African American company publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1991 and RLJ Lodging Trust, a $2 billion market cap hotel REIT with 144 hotels, which Johnson co-founded with CEO Tom Baltimore, went public in May of 2011.

Shares of RLJ Entertainment common stock will be traded on the NASDAQ Capital Market under the stock ticker symbol RLJE.  RLJ Enter­tainment warrants will be traded on the Over-The-Counter Bulletin Board.  The company anticipates that payments to holders of its shares of common stock that redeemed their shares will be made promptly following the closing of the business combination.

In conjunction with and to provide funding for these acquisitions and RLJ Entertainment’s ongoing working capital needs, RLJ Entertainment entered into a $70 million credit agreement with a group led by SunTrust, which includes a five-year $15 million revolving credit facility and three tranches of term loans totaling $55 million with final maturities ranging from five to five and one-half years, at interest rates ranging from prime rate plus 5 percent to 6.25percent or LIBOR plus 6 percent to 7.25 percent plus an additional 3 percent per annum paid in kind on the last $15 million of the facilities.

Parent Category: News
Category: Business

October 04, 2012

Provided courtesy of Jeff Cosby, Wells Fargo Financial Advisor


Given the volatility of the job market over the past few years, job loss and other unexpected career disruptions or changes have become all too common for many Americans, and they can throw off one’s long term plans and goals. When we encounter these types of major life changes, the more immediate need to adapt to our new lives and settle in to our new realities tends to take priority. However, in spite of the focus required for those day-to-day challenges, planning for retirement continues to be top of mind for many. According to the most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index, when asked to rank their most important savings priority, 41percent of investors said “saving for retirement.” But how to do it?

Regardless of your personal circumstances, there are some basic steps you can take to plan for the day you retire. First, you should consider how much time you have left in the ranks of the employed, and adjust your planning based on your stage in life so that you will be financially prepared to retire.

If you have at least ten years left before you plan to retire, you still have the advantage of time on your side. One of the most basic principles of investing is putting your money into different investment vehicles and then leaving it there so you can potentially reap the benefits of long-term returns. With more than ten years left to invest, you might be able to afford to take on a bit more risk with your investments. While equities – such as stocks – have an inherent risk of losing money, they also have a history of providing significant returns over a long period of time. Just keep in mind that past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Probably the biggest advantage of getting an early start is the benefit of compounding earnings. Based on the investments in your retirement portfolio, the money you put in has the potential to earn more money for you – whether through interest payments, dividends, or other means of growth. In many cases, those earnings can be reinvested into your portfolio, further enhancing the total value of your savings and allowing your money the opportunity to “make money” for you.

If your retirement is less than ten years away, then it’s time to start making subtle adjustments to your investment mix. Hopefully, at this point you’re not just getting started, but rather taking a look at how your investments are allocated and making sure they appropriately match your risk tolerance, your investment objectives and your relatively short time horizon. Because you have less time to work with, you still want to have some investments that offer growth, but you also want to begin looking at preservation of principal through fixed income alternatives such as bonds, which may provide a little more stability in your portfolio and help reduce your overall risk.

Finally, at some point you’ll reach that day that you once thought was so far off. When you find yourself officially in the position to retire, you will have a whole different outlook on those funds you have set aside for just that purpose. Instead of making contributions to your retirement funds to help them grow, you’ll need to maintain your income from those investments. You’ll likely begin taking distributions from them to pay for your day-to-day expenses. A thorough review of your investments will help you clearly see just how much you have saved, and how you will have to plan your distributions so you don’t run short on funds during your retirement.

Financial preparation for retirement is different for every individual. To make sure that you’re on the right track, take the time now to assess your own situation and see what you can do to make sure you’re ready when it’s time for you to retire. The good news is that with proper investment planning, you should be able to retire with confidence—if you get organized.

Investments in securities and insurance products are:



Parent Category: News
Category: Business

Taste of Soul Sponsors