Earth Day and Environmental Justice Close To Home


Be green, buy hybrids and recycle are all a part of the Earth Day hype and overall environmental awareness. But what about environmental justice and environmental racism.

In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with Bill Gallegos, the Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment (CBE). This nonprofit is “a social justice organization with a focus on environmental health and justice that organizes in working class communities of color because those communities suffer the most from environmental pollution and toxics.  CBE works in urban communities in Northern and Southern California among low-income African Americans, Latinos and other nationalities who are bombarded by pollution from freeways, power plants, oil refineries, seaports, airports, and chemical manufacturers. “

Communities for a Better Environment

Communities for a Better Environment

During my host interview on Annenberg Radio News Tuesday, Gallegos and I discussed the environmental conditions in Southeast Los Angeles. Listen below!

CB’s Green Report: Southern California Water Supply Cut 10 Percent
watering lawns.jpg

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted Tuesday to reduce its water deliveries across the region by 10% this summer.

The water board has hinted for months that a major reduction was coming down the pipe due to drought conditions (for the past three years) and restrictions on water exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Basically, there is more demand than available supply.

As the water district’s general manager, Jeffrey Kightlinger summed it up nicely with – “We’re short.”

These are the agency’s first cuts to residential water users since the early 1990s drought. According to the North County Times, “the agency cut deliveries 17 percent in 1991 and 10 percent in 1977.” The cuts will begin on July 1 and last for a year.

And there is more bad news for Southern California residents. In addition to a smaller water allocations, the water rates will increase about 26 percent (on average) on Sept. 21.

“The era of big lawns is over,” said Bob Yamada, water resources manager for the San Diego County Water Authority.  “I think we’re going to have to make some lifestyle changes with regard to how we use water, and particularly how we use water outside.”

The Los Angeles Times explains the new reductions and its penalties:

“The Metropolitan Water District, which imports water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta and the Colorado River and sells it to local water districts, will achieve the reductions by imposing penalty rates. Local utilities that use more than their allocation will have to pay more.”

If Southern CA has been waiting for a signal to implment mandatory conservation…they certainly got it yesterday from the MWD,” twittered Ryan Alsop of the Long Beach Water Department.

Yet, the Los Angeles City Council just rejected the LA Department of Water and Power’s proposal to increase water rates and face penalties to encourage residents to decrease water consumption by 15 percent. The Council asked for more time to review and vet the proposal. Meanwhile, Long Beach has instituted a successful conservation program (pdf) over 21 months ago. Just last month, it “hit a 10-year low in consumption, or 14% drop in average water use.”

Listen to Annenberg Radio News on Tuesdays (Spoiler: I’m the host)


I’m super excited about my latest gig. I am the host of Annenberg Radio News on Tuesdays. Our radio show airs on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00 – 4:20 p.m (PST). In addition to reading scripts, I also get to conduct a host interview where I speak with someone relevant to the show’s topic. Last Tuesday, I spoke with Professor David Hernández of UCLA‘s Cezar E. Chavez’ Chicana and Chicano Studies Department regarding illegal immigration deportation quotas. The show concentrates on local stories mostly. Tuesday’s show had stories on immigration, the Mayor’s policies and parks in South Los Angeles.

Please feel free to listen to my very first radio show (click here), in which I made very few errors. Woo hoo.. even though I’m glad it was the test show. (We go live this Tuesday!) My goal.. zero errors (although I’ve now noticed how often NPR hosts make mistakes). To err is human, right?! Just don’t laugh.

Stay tuned for my upcoming show. You can hear it on Tuesday at 4 p.m. (PST) on the radio at KCRS 1560 AM. And for those of you outside of Los Angeles, you can click on the Annenberg Radio News site, where the show will stream live. The shows are also archived on the web site too.


The Caramel Bella

CB’s Green Report: America Recycles on Nov. 15th & Other Green News

Don’t forget to recycle and buy recycled products. Saturday, Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day created by the National Recycling Coalition. The “Recycling” holiday (as I like to call it) is designed to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling. The National Recycling Coalition is seeking to encourage more people to join the recycling movement to create a better environment. Some of the ways people can get involved by (1) recycling, (2) taking a national pledge and encouraging others to do so, (3) finding out about local events, and (4) learning more about recycling and caring for the environment. Surely, we can all do our part on Saturday and the rest of the days of the year.

Al Gore as Obama’s Climate Czar? Hmmm.. Although it would be a great job if President-elect Obama and his team actually created one (rumor is they are toying around with the idea), Former Vice President Al Gore said he isn’t interested. That’s surprising considering all of his work on global warming such as The Inconvenient Truth movie and the Nobel Peace prize. And who doesn’t think he would be the perfect person to fill that position?

Will it be the power of positive thinking? President-elect Barack Obama has called for the review of the Bush administration’s executive orders, but has not decided to reverse the ones related to stem cell research or environmental issues like offshore oil drilling. However, U.S. conservation groups on Thursday already see victory for reversals on Bush Administration decisions that they say did a lot of damage to the nation’s environmental protections in the past eight years.

Obama’s environmental efforts as president may be slow. Despite President-elect’s statement that he will move quickly to address global warming, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee predicted Wednesday no Congressional action on a climate change bill until 2010. “Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that while every effort should be made to cap greenhouse gases, the economic crisis, the transition to a new administration and the complexity of setting up a nationwide market for carbon pollution permits preclude acting in 2009.”

Score: Navy 1, Whales & Environment 0. Well, no one is exactly keeping score but the Supreme Court definitely sided with the U.S. Navy in its case against the National Resources Defense Council (check out Navy v. Whales post for more info). The environmental group had successfully gotten the California Supreme Court to place judicial restrictions on submarine training exercises off the coast of Southern California because of potential harm to marine animals like whales and dolphins. According to the environmentalists, the submarines give off harmful sonar waves that could change marine animals breeding and migration patterns or cause them physical trauma. The possible lesson learned here is potential animal harm doesn’t quite measure up to possible human harm through jeopardizing national security.

Does smog kill? Yes. According to a recent study, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley’s air causes more deaths than all of the fatal car crashes in the last year. Whoa! And the study shows the region could save more than “$28 billion annually in health care costs, school absences, missed work and lost income potential from premature deaths.” California State University – Fullerton researchers were trying to figure out the potential economic benefits of reducing air pollution to federal standard levels. California needs to clean up its act, I mean air, literally!

Obama Wins….Yes We Did!

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

“Yes, we did” was the resounding chant last night at the California Obama Headquarters event in downtown LA at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel. As Obama won the key swing states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida, the chant became louder and louder among the several-thousand strong throng of supporters and activists. The words turned from a murmur into a roar when CNN reported that Senator Barack Obama had been declared the next president of the United States of America.

For many people, the cheers turned to tears. And the crowd began hugging, kissing and high-fiving each other. “Obama! Obama! Obama” would erupt from all corners of the room. People of all races, ethnicities and ages turned to their neighbors beside them and said, “Yes we did. Yes, we did.”

As Obama’s victory speech was played on the big screen, the crowd watched with full attention. Men and women of all ages really began to cry with Obama’s mention of history being made.

I spoke to a middle-aged black man who was in tears during Obama’s speech. He said, “I can’t believe it. I thought I would never live to see the day when an African American was elected president.”

I also spoke with a 31-year-old white man named Mark Lafferty, who said he had never been more proud of this country. His words were reminiscent of Michelle Obama’s words only months ago.

The celebration really began after Obama’s speech ended and the balloons and confetti filled the room. His supporters worked, played, prayed, cried and now… partied together as their candidate made history for the American people.

Comedian David Allan Grier, DJ Z-Trip, artist Shepard Fairey, Mayor Villaraigosa, spoken word artists Sekou Andrews and Steve Connell, and gospel group, Mary Mary, took the stage to kick off the celebration.

And all throughout the night, you could feel energy of the room vibrating and hear someone chanting: “Yes, we did” with a face full of hope for tomorrow.

Note: Also posted at Pop + Politics

Celebrities turning out for Obama

Fellow blogger, The Black Snob, has a great post today about celebrities turning out their support for Barack Obama. She rounded up some great pictures from Shepard Fairey’s photo shoot on Oct. 7 in Los Angeles. Some of the celebrities featured are poet Saul Williams and his wife, actress Persia White as well as my fav, Tracee Ellis Ross. She also snagged some pics of Forrest Whitaker at an Obama “Campaign for Change” event in Michigan. Please check out her post.


The Caramel Bella

Kanye West Arrested at LAX Today

Pure craziness today is that Rapper Kanye West was arrested today at LAX airport for attacking two paparazzi. He was formally charged with felony vandalism. According to reports, Kanye and his bodyguard/manager, Don Crowley, destroyed the photographer’s equipment valued at over $10,000. (And I thought I was having a bad day.)

Maybe someone needs to breathe and relax.


The Caramel Bella

High Fuel Costs + Lots of Travelers = Unhappy Airline Travels

If you want to feel the effects of the economy without driving your car, try flying the friendly skies.

The increasing fuel costs have hit America’s airlines pretty hard. Yesterday morning, on my way to Denver for the Democratic National Convention, I experienced the airline woes and U.S. economic troubles firsthand. The storm began upon my arrival at Los Angeles International Airport around 7:15 a.m. for an 8:45 a.m. flight. I was following the standard time allowances – 1 hour and ½ for domestic flights. My arrival was met with a snake-like line that emptied out of the United Airlines check-in area into the street, where passengers were getting dropped off. I immediately sensed trouble. I was up against the 45-minute cut-off for getting your bags checked-in. So, I stood and stood and stood. And I watched the clock tick away my entire 45 minutes before the 8:00 a.m. time limit to check my bags.

At first I couldn’t understand why United’s check-in lines were so long and their agents were so unhelpful. Where did the customer service go? Why didn’t any of the agents care if I was going to miss my flight? For that matter, why didn’t any of the agents worry about the mile long line of passengers about to miss their flights?

Why? The current economics of airline travel created this entire monster. The high fuel charges faced by the airline industry have been passed on to the customer in a very inefficient way.

To begin with, United Airlines now requires $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the second bag. (I stopped looking at the prices after the second bag.) And if your dear bag or bags should weigh over 50 pounds, you, my fellow passenger, are looking at another $125 charge for an overweight bag. Yikes. These new costs, created to help United offset their increasing fuel expenses, were the cause of most passengers missing their flights and standing in long check-in lines. Each customer, even those with an electronic ticket, were forced to stand in lengthy lines to pay for their baggage at the counter. Several passengers were seen transferring packed items to additional luggage or trash bags to avoid overweight charges. In short, it was an inefficient zoo!

The long wait to check-in led to many customers missing their flights and lost baggage. Due to my bag missing the cut-off window, I was placed on standby for the next flight. My plight was a shared one. More than 50 people were on standby for the following flight. Some less fortunate travelers were still on standby from flights on Sunday.

Although I arrived in Denver yesterday, the process getting there wasn’t a pleasant one. I endured long lines, baggage costs, sub par customer service, and spending more time at the airport waiting to fly standby than on the plane.

But I’m here in Denver now and off to cover and explore the Democratic National Convention 2008 activities. And I am looking forward to hearing the Dems’ approach to the economic problems, especially oil troubles, we are facing.


a weary Caramel Bella

I’m back.. I know you missed me.

Ha ha. Yes, I’m back. I should say… I hope you missed me.

Over the past two weeks, this Caramel Bella has been SUPER busy (and with little internet access). I finished my apprenticeship with a major cable network (boo hoo.. I loved that job). I moved out of my fab studio in New York City. I drove back across country to Los Angeles, and visited friends and family on the way. My stops included Cleveland, OH; Gary, IN; Waterloo, IA; Silverthorne, CO (outside of Denver); and St. George, UT; before arriving in my homebase of Los Angeles. I hope you were reading my twitters.

And now my travels and career find me in Denver, Colorado for the Democratic National Convention. I’m writing for So, please stay tuned for my adventures and mis-adventures at the DNC.

The Caramel Bella

Los Angeles vs. New York

I figure I might as well stay on this PopandPolitics bent today…

New York

New York

So, my new editor of, Tricia Romano, has her own blog entitled, which I suppose highlights why she luvs LA.  As a L.A. resident currently in New York city, I found her posting on NY completely hilarious. And I recently wrote my own ode to Los Angeles. And I honestly find NYC a bit overrated. So, I had to share.

Here is a portion of the post. Be sure and check out the entire piece, “I couldn’t help myself, diatribe on New York.”

Consider: New Yorkers, who pay out the nose for rent and other costs of living, put up with an unbelievable amount of people, dirt, grime, and stress, are heavily invested in believing that they live in the “Greatest City in the World.” Because if it’s not the center of the universe, then why are they putting up with all this bullshit? I think they hate L.A. so voraciously because the public image of L.A. is an easy target, (blonde, fake, tan, insipid, shallow, ect), and also because they know in their bones, they’d actually like it better if they just tried to live somewhere outside of Hollywood or Bev Hills. It’s almost a case, of someone doth protest too much.


The Caramel Bella



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my luvs

My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

Things that work my nerves

Bad drivers, cranky and moody people, lack of sleep, crime, filth

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.



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