HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG FOR A BIKINI? [Column]
June 15, 2015

Last April, my husband and I set aside our pipe dream of buying a cabin in the woods and instead poured all that precious cash into one big hole in the ground. That is to say, we succumbed to the Southern California cliche and built a swimming pool in our yard. Suddenly, and predictably our lives revolved around the pool. Dinners became poolside BBQs. Playdates became pool-dates. There were always, always, towels in the dirty clothes hamper. And our 9-year-old daughter's closet became home to a rapidly accumulating collection of bathing suits. The last part was my fault. I am a sucker for adorable kids' clothes in general and bathing suits in particular, especially those that are even remotely vintage-looking. (Read more...)

THE CASE FOR HAVING JUST ONE KID [Column]
Jan. 13, 2015

For the first five years of my daughters life, I was frequently told that I should consider having more children. I was still in the early 30s, after all, and had no fertility issues holding me back. "Don't you at least want to try for another?" people would ask, genuinely thrown. "No," I'd answer, "I just want one." Then would come the litany of reasons to procreate again. Single children tend to be spoiled. You can afford it. Children need siblings. There will be no one to share her burden when you et old. There will be no one to share her grief when you die. Don't all husbands secretly pine for a boy? Won't she feel pressured to be a perfect child? And what if she dies? WHAT IF SHE DIES? (Read more...) 

THOSE SCARY THREE-LETTER WORDS [Guest Blog]
October 17, 2011

Talking openly with your children about sensitive subjects is hard. It always has been. The topic my parents used to fear is S-E-X. My sister was 13 when my dad decided it was time to have “The Sex Talk” with her. It was the early 1980s. My dad, an educated, modern man who wanted to get things right, did the responsible thing and bought a sex-education book. When the moment seemed right, he headed to my sister’s bedroom, opened the door, tossed the book on her bed, and said: “Read that, and don’t ever do it.” Then he shut the door and walked away. (Read more...)

JUDGING KIDS IS A MIX OF HOPE, HEARTBREAK [Part of a series]
May 21, 2008

Gibson Lee’s day could be boiled down to names on a worn-out chalkboard. Each morning, the Long Beach Juvenile Court judge slides on his black robe and strides four steps to a raised bench at the front of his fifth-floor courtroom. The names of juveniles are scrawled on a chalkboard near the door. Each name signifies a criminal case ready to be called and a child ready to be judged. “Every day has a routine,” says Lee, 60. “And every day is different.” (Read More…)

A CASE OF ABUSE AND MURDER [Article]
Oct. 7, 2007

Two weeks had passed since his mother’s murder, and 14-year-old Charlie Schockner was looking to share one haunting thought. His mother, Lynn Schockner, had been stabbed to death during an apparent burglary attempt on Nov. 8, 2004, as police surrounded her Bixby Knolls home to investigate a prowler call. Officers caught the killer fleeing the yard with a bloody dagger and a cap full of jewelry. Now it was late November, and Long Beach Police Detectives Chris Cardoza and Richard Birdsall had arrived to update Charlie and his father on the status of the unusual case. After the briefing, Charlie made an excuse to talk to Birdsall in the front yard — out of his father’s earshot. He lowered his voice and shared the haunting thought. “How’s my Dad involved?” he asked. “I know he’s involved somehow.” (Read More…)

OFFICER DOWN! HOW THE LBPD WON A RACE FOR LIFE [Article]
March 30, 2007

Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts had seen this emergency room countless times. But this was different. It was three days before Christmas, and two of Batts’ officers had just been shot during a traffic stop on a downtown thoroughfare. Both had been hit above their bullet-proof vests. Blood was everywhere. The doctors and nurses at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center moved in a tense choreography — pressing, cutting, retrieving, hovering. Their stern faces conveyed a grim, unspoken truth. (Read more…)

BRUCE KOKLICH SENTENCED FOR KILLING HIS WIFE [Article]
March 24, 2007

A successful real-estate agent was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison Friday for killing his wife, the daughter of a late state senator. Bruce Koklich, 44, pursed his lips and clasped his hands tightly together as Norwalk Superior Court Judge Philip Hickok imposed the sentence mandated for second-degree murder. Hickok also denied a defense motion for a new trial and a request to release Koklich on bail pending his appeal. Despite repeated claims of his innocence, Koklich was convicted last October of killing Jana Carpenter Koklich , the daughter of Paul Carpenter, whose dying wish was that his son-in-law be charged with murder. (Read more…)

COUNCILMAN RESIGNS AMID BUSINESS-DEAL SCRUTINY [Article]
Feb. 8, 2006

Embattled City Councilman Dan Baker abruptly resigned his position at the beginning of Tuesday’s council meeting, leaving behind a panel of stunned colleagues and apparently ending a once-promising political career. “I’m going to step aside and I’m pretty much done,” Baker said before walking out of the nearly empty Council Chambers. “The council, I hope, will be able to move on with its business and move on with the very important things of this city. So effective tomorrow, I will be resigning my position on the City Council.” (Read more…)

COUNCILMAN, POA BOSS in $7.5 MILLION DEAL [Article]
Feb. 2, 2006

City Councilman Dan Baker and Steve James, the head of the city’s police union, formed a limited partnership last year that led to the purchase of a $7.5 million apartment complex in Missouri, the Press-Telegram has learned. Longtime political allies Baker and James, president of the Long Beach Police Officers Association, formed Sunset & Woodland Properties on Aug. 5, 2005, according to Missouri Secretary of State records. The arrangement was made less than two weeks before the council approved a new labor contract giving city police officers a 21 percent pay raise over four years. (Read more…)

JUDGING THE JURY [Article]
Nov. 1, 2004

Daniel Poston quit jury duty on a Tuesday morning. The Whittier postal carrier rode his motorcycle to downtown Los Angeles — just as he had done every weekday for nine months. He stepped through the familiar set of stately double doors at the U.S. District Court, took an elevator to the fifth floor and entered the small, empty jury room that had become his second home. He walked to the dry-erase board and picked up a marker from the ledge below. Then he scrawled the words that would end his jury service: “We should change the name of this court to United States Dairy Court,” he recalls writing, “because you guys are milking this thing to death.” (Read more…)

BELMONT SHORE RAPIST SENTENCED TO 1,030 YEARS [Article]
Sept. 16, 2004

A serial rapist who terrorized East Long Beach for five years was sentenced to 1,030 years in prison Wednesday after several of his victims — some of them elderly — gave dramatic, tearful statements to the court. Long Beach Superior Court Joan Comparet-Cassani imposed the maximum sentence allowed for “Belmont Shore rapist” Mark Wayne Rathbun, 34, convicted last month of 54 felony acts on 14 victims between 1997 and 2002. Rathbun, who was linked to the crimes through DNA evidence, is considered the most notorious and prolific serial rapist in the city’s history — attacking women of all ages as they slept in their homes. (Read more…)

UNITS OF SORROW [Part of a series]
Dec. 6, 2001

Look around Long Beach and you’ll find plenty of Cambodian refugees who have overcome obstacles and won success in their adopted country. You’ll find those who learned English, attended college, gained citizenship; those who got jobs and bought homes; those who sent their children to Stanford, Berkeley and Harvard. But you probably won’t find them here, in the courtyard of this pink, stucco apartment building at Eleventh Street and Walnut Avenue in Long Beach. (Read more…)

A SCHOOL OF THEIR OWN [Part of a series]
 March 14, 2001

It’s silent-reading time at Mary McLeod Bethune School, but Carlos Mololey isn’t reading. Instead, the stocky 10-year-old skips to the center of the classroom, turns and takes a running leap onto a big, blue beanbag. He lies there, sprawled out and grinning proudly. In other schools, Carlos’ rambunctiousness might be reprimanded. But here, in this West Long Beach school designated for homeless children, the diversion barely registers a blip on the radar screen of teacher Brian Dilts. As far as Dilts is concerned, Carlos has earned the privilege of a little tomfoolery and so have the 10 other homeless kids attending Bethune on this chilly November day. (Read more…)

WEIGHING LIVES: JUDGES USE DISCRETION TO CUT THREE-STRIKES TERMS [Part of a series]
Oct. 30, 2000

Gerry Tyrone Brown’s best chance to escape the three-strikes law was staring him in the face. But he didn’t much like the way it looked. Brown, a 44-year-old with a 15-year history of burglaries, had been charged with stealing tools from a residential garage in Long Beach. Under California’s three-strikes law, he faced a mandatory 25-year-to-life sentence. But on this day in 1998, a Long Beach Superior Court prosecutor had offered him a deal: seven years in prison in exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest. If he turned down the deal and was convicted at trial, only a judge’s mercy could save him from the more ominous three-strikes sentence. (Read more…)

It’s Your Story — Tell It! Media! [Book]
2010

Girl Scouts Cadettes put the "me" in Media as this journey encourages them to explore the great big multi-media world around them and then remake media to better match the reality they know. Along the way, Cadettes become aware of the value of media, its limitations and effect and the power they have to lead and inspire others. For more information, click here.

It’s Your Story — Tell It! BLISS: Live it! Give it! [Book]
2010

In Bliss: Live It! Give It!, Ambassadors dream big, now and for the future while encouraging others to dream big too! They explore their values, strengths and passions as a way to open doors to wonderful, new adventures. Designed as a flip-book, Bliss: Live It! inspires girls to pursue their dreams while Bliss: Give It! encourages girls to assist others in pursing theirs. For more information, click here.