Group trying to save O.C. Japanese historical site

Mary Urashima exits the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Chuch in Huntington Beach. The site was slated for demolition two years ago and Urashima formed a task force with hope to save the rare historical site. . The Furuta family poses in front of their home in 1912. This future of this building, along with the original Wintersburg church, mission, manse and barn is currently being debated by Rainbow Environmental Services, preservationists and the Huntington Beach City Council. Norman Furuta and his mother, Martha Furuta, stand near what used to be a goldfish pond on the historical Wintersburg site. A mural that was once painted on the side of the Huntington Beach Art Center depicts the granparents of Norman Furuta, founders of the Witnersburg site. The mural also pays tribute to their lily ponds and shows the Japanese Presbyterian Church. The Furuta family sold fresh-cut lilies up until the 1970s. The flower venture started after the family returned home following WWII. The Furutas had been interned and the tenants who rented their home did not care for the goldfish ponds that were built in the 1920s. The Furuta family sold fresh-cut lilies up until the 1970s. The flower venture started after the family returned home following WWII. The Furutas had been interned and the tenants who rented their home did not care for the goldfish ponds that were built in the 1920s. Furuta children near goldfish ponds and barn, which still exists on the site today. Charles Furuta, with family and friends, on the Furuta farm tennis courts. The Furuta home, constructed in 1912. The Furuta family founded Wintersburg, which included a Japanese Presbyterian Church, a barn, a mission and this home, among other structures. The cornerstone for the Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church faces Warner Ave in Huntington Beach.. Mary Urashima has fought to preserve the former Wintersburg Japanese Presbyterian Church — located on a 3.7-acre Continue Reading

First land trust effort in Fruit Belt is growing, but so is skepticism

Dennice Barr's Grape Street home has been in her family for 70 years, tucked in the Fruit Belt where escalating rents are becoming the norm. Three blocks away on Lemon Street, India B. Walton pays $1,200 per month to rent a single-family home. Both women are worried about something that would have seemed absurd 15 years ago: whether a rush of people who want to live in the neighborhood will make it difficult – even impossible – for them to stay. The answer could be a nonprofit, community-based land trust that would be charged with developing homes on vacant lots. It would be the first one in the Fruit Belt, but not in Buffalo. "I have a shoot-for-the-moon kind of attitude," said Walton, a three-year Fruit Belt resident who works for Open Buffalo, a force behind the land trust idea. "We have our vision and plan for the future." The neighborhood just east of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus thrived through the 1950s. Residents said it began to change around the time race riots hit nearby Jefferson Avenue in the late 1960s, then youth gangs roamed the Fruit Belt streets in the 1970s. The neighborhood became more poverty stricken and viewed as a mecca for crime, even though some said the neighborhood was never as dangerous as its reputation made it out to be. Over time, the neighborhood became older and quieter. Then the development of the Medical Campus brought attention to it, along with a concern: If the neighborhood becomes the hot real estate market some believe it might, will development increase real estate values – and tax bills – and force residents from their homes? For now, "might" is the key word. The gentrification that was predicted for the 34-block neighborhood has not yet come to pass, but residents, community activists and some city officials all agree that something needs to be in place to ensure it remains an affordable place to live for low- to moderate-income residents. Growth on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has Continue Reading

Q&A with U.S. Forest Service chief Tony Tooke, who sees collaboration as key to improving public lands

Tony Tooke, chief of the U.S. Forest Service since last fall, visited the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show last week, meeting with volunteers, partners and conservation groups as part of a mission to broaden the coalition of organizations, agencies and communities working to improve recreation on public lands. In a brief chat with The Denver Post, Tooke emphasized collaboration and partnerships as essential to meeting the array of challenges facing the National Forest’s wildlands. The interview has been edited for length and clarity. DP: How are you working to support recreation on public lands? TT:  One of the ideas I have identified is to enhance our recreation opportunities, improve access and sustain our infrastructure. We have challenges in being able to strengthen and enhance those opportunities. We have challenges of being able to maintain access and maintain infrastructure. We are looking at all kinds of ways to address that priority. One way we want to do that is to work in shared stewardship with our many partners, our many volunteers, other federal agencies, states, work with counties, work with communities. We just have a whole diverse range of partners when it comes to outdoor recreation, and we want to work in the spirit of shared stewardship. We want to work collaboratively to make a difference. DP: The National Forests are struggling with insects, disease, the impacts of climate change and drought. How can you help improve the health of those lands? TT: The National Forest System has 80 million acres at moderate to high risk, and a third of that 80 million is very high risk, so there’s a lot at stake. Again, the way to make a difference is work in shared stewardship with diverse partners — other federal agencies, states, counties, local communities, environmental and conservation groups, the timber and outdoor recreation industries, tribes and all kinds of groups. When we talk about improving the condition of the forest, we are Continue Reading

Town urged to reject $40 million land deal

Jason Stern of the Weber Law Group talks about the firm's solar farm proposal for Enterprise Park at Calverton at a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. Photo Credit: Jean-Paul Salamanca Residents and two businesses asked the Riverhead Town Board Wednesday night to reject the current proposed $40 million land deal on the table for the Enterprise Park at Calverton and to consider new offers for the property — including a solar farm project and a dragstrip. The board voted 5-0 to adjourn a hearing on the property to another date amid questions regarding the change in partners... To Continue... Already a Newsday or Optimum customer ? Log in Get unlimited digital access $1 for 4 Weeks $0.99/Week Thereafter Subscribe There's more to the story! Start your FREE 4-week trial to continue reading. No credit card required. GET STARTED Jean-Paul Salamanca covers the East End. He focuses on Riverhead, Southold and Greenport on the North Fork, as well as Hampton Bays, Westhampton Beach, Flanders, Riverside and Quogue on the South Fork. Continue Reading

The Trump administration is redefining the ‘public’ in ‘public lands’

The Trump administration, aided by a willing but slim majority in Congress, began to comprehensively dismantle public lands protections in 2017. The regulatory results were fairly astonishing. They amount to an unprecedented rollback of conservation norms that date back to Theodore Roosevelt, who made the preservation of natural resources national policy more than a century ago. Trump’s disassembling of public lands protections include drastically slashing the size of national monuments in Utah, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, jettisoning protections for sage grouse throughout vast areas of the arid West and taking a headlong dive into increased fossil-fuel production. The latter involves ending moratoria on coal and oil-and-gas leasing, terminating methane emission controls, scuttling hydraulic fracturing regulations and eviscerating federal consideration of the long-term costs of carbon emissions on the planet’s environment. Americans have lived through public land scandals such as the Teapot Dome affair in the 1920s, in which bribery by oil companies sent the secretary of Interior to prison. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration’s secretary of the Interior privatized federal coal in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin without trying to obtain fair market value for it. But those giveaways pale before what is going on now. The legal grounds for the Trump turnaround in national policy will be tested in the courts over the next few years. In some cases, the administration may be unable to show a rational reason for changes in course that were conscientiously vetted and adopted just a few years ago. But the politics of this abrupt about-face should be debated now, as the Trump public lands revolution takes effect. Do the American people — owners of the scaled-back Utah monuments as well as the surrounding lands — favor removing Native archaeological and sacred sites from those areas without a clear Continue Reading

Utah can best manage its public lands

A recent press release by a Washington, D.C.-based organization calling itself the Campaign for Accountability has accused the American Lands Council and its director of fraud for its advocacy of transferring federal land to the states.The assertion being that a legal challenge compelling such a land transfer may be unconstitutional and, therefore, using CFA’s logic, any funds raised in support of said effort, whether they be used for educational purposes, advocacy or preparing for litigation, must be fraudulent.The Washington County Board of Commissioners recognizes its right and responsibility to be involved in matters impacting public health, safety and welfare. This includes the right to leverage our efforts with those of other counties or organizations when such associations are joined in an open, transparent and lawful manner. Such freedom of association is appropriate and is a common lawful practice in all levels of governance.Advocates for the transfer recognize that the U.S. Constitution delegates to Congress “the power to dispose of (i.e. sell, transfer, or grant) territorial lands and other property.” History has affirmed that land held in trust by the federal government for other states east of the Mississippi was in fact disposed of.In late April, Reps. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah) launched the Federal Land Action Group, a congressional team that will develop a legislative framework for transferring public lands to local ownership and control.“The federal government has been a lousy landlord for western states and we simply think the states can do it better,” Rep. Stewart said. “If we want healthier forests, better access to public lands, more consistent funding for public education and more reliable energy development, it makes sense to have local control.”Rep. Bishop, chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, said, “This group will explore legal and historical background Continue Reading

Rep. Steve Chabot’s campaign has paid son-in-law’s firm more than $150,000 for web consulting

WASHINGTON — Rep. Steve Chabot’s campaign has paid his son-in-law’s company more than $150,000 for website design and other Internet services since 2011.Kevin Bischof, who married Chabot’s daughter Erica in 2006, runs a consulting firm called Right Turn Design. On his LinkedIn page, Bischof says he started the company in 2010 as “a premier new media partner for conservative campaigns and organizations.”Chabot, a Cincinnati Republican, began using Right Turn Design soon after Bischof launched the firm, paying out between $40,000 and $58,000 for each two-year election cycle, according to campaign finance reports. Right Turn Design has earned Internet consulting fees from the congressman’s re-election account, as well as from Chabot’s  leadership PAC, called WinNovember.So far this year, Chabot’s campaign has paid Right Turn Design about $11,000, records show.Good government advocates say it smacks of nepotism and self-dealing, although it’s also perfectly legal and quite common. The money comes from donors, not taxpayers. “The rules allow candidates to engage in these kinds of self-dealing transactions,” said Meredith McGehee, chief of policy at Issue One, a nonprofit group that advocates for stronger ethics and campaign finance rules. She said lawmakers’ campaigns are often “a family and friends affair.”Indeed, a USA TODAY investigation in 2013 found that 32 lawmakers had hired relatives to work for their campaigns — paying out more than $2 million in campaign money, during the 2012 election cycle, to children, spouses, parents and in-laws for a gamut of different jobs. The practice is considered legal as long as the relatives are qualified and earn market rate for their work.Jamie Schwartz, a longtime Chabot campaign adviser, strongly defended Bischof’s work and the congressman’s decision to hire a family member for campaign Continue Reading


WASHINGTON - President Bush signed yesterday rules that allow tough interrogation of terror suspects as well as military-style courts, promising the Sept. 11 mastermind will be among the first to go on trial. "With the bill I'm about to sign, the men our intelligence officials believe orchestrated the murder of nearly 3,000 innocent people will face justice," Bush said, referring to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. He and Abu Zubaydah, who helped train some of the suicide pilots, will be among the first to face trial before military commissions, where rights are much more limited than they are in U.S. courts. However, trials are not expected anytime soon. Civil liberties groups predicted the Military Commissions Act will be struck down by U.S. courts. "Nothing separates America more from our enemies than our commitment to fairness and the rule of law, but the bill signed today is a historic break because it turns Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. facilities into legal no man's lands," American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said. Under the new law, the Bush administration immediately sought court approval to block requests from hundreds of detainees being held at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay who have asked for hearings to overturn their confinement. Although several lawmakers attended the White House event, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was not there because of a commitment to campaign for GOP candidates. McCain had questioned whether the law would ban torture and won White House assurances it would. [email protected] Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Sigma Alpha Epsilon founded in antebellum Alabama: ‘We came up from Dixie land’

Sigma Alpha Epsilon's international headquarters may be in Illinois, but the fraternity's roots are firmly planted in the antebellum South. "We came up from Dixie land," says a ditty from an old songbook, boasting about SAE's success. Now, nearly 160 years after its founding at the University of Alabama, another song — this one chanted by members of the frat's University of Oklahoma chapter and containing racial slurs and lynching references — hearkens back to the bad old times in the land of cotton and puts a new spotlight on the group's activities over the years. SAE began on the Tuscaloosa campus on March 9, 1856, a few months after Noble Leslie DeVotie outlined his vision to a close circle of friends during a stroll along the banks of the Black Warrior River. The initial members visualized "a bond which would hold them together for all time," William C. Levere wrote in a 1916 history of the fraternity. "So it came about that in the late hours of a stormy night, the friends met in the old southern mansion and by the flicker of dripping candles organized Sigma Alpha Epsilon." More chapters were soon launched in Tennessee, North Carolina and even Washington, D.C., at what is now George Washington University. But the founders weren't interested in a national presence. According to Levere, it was their intention "to confine the fraternity to the southern states." When a North Carolina chapter member raised the topic of a "Northern Extension," charter member Thomas Chappell Cook — who later served as a surgeon in the Confederate army — responded that "the constant agitation of the slavery question was a barrier to northern chapters, as it would preclude the possibility of harmony." The Civil War soon put an end to the internal debate. The fraternity's charter was surrendered in 1861 because of the fighting. The Washington City Rho chapter was the only one to emerge from the war intact. SAE would not return to Continue Reading

Long Island, N.Y., town passes new laws to limit noise of helicopters and planes in the Hamptons

An eastern Long Island town has passed new laws aimed at reducing noise from planes and helicopters landing in the Hamptons. East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell says three new laws go into effect on Memorial Day weekend. He says complaints about noise from the town-run airport have been growing for years. One law creates an 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. year-round curfew daily on all takeoffs and landings. A second creates an extended curfew of 8 p.m. to 9 a.m. daily for aircraft considered noisy. The town also is limiting aircraft deemed noisy to landings and takeoffs once a week from May to September. He says "noisy" aircraft are classified by FAA sound standards. A group supporting the helicopter industry is considering legal action to fight the laws. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading