News Briefs

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Trial begins for surfers accused in paparazzi brawl

After a mistrial was declared in March, proceedings in a trial against two Malibu surfers accused in the beach beating of a paparazzo picked up again last week Friday with pretrial motions, continuing into Monday and Tuesday. The trial was scheduled to begin this week Wednesday in Malibu Courthouse, before this paper went to print.

Malibu residents Skylar Peak, 25, and Philip “John” Hildebrand, 31, are each charged with one count of misdemeanor battery for their alleged involvement in the June 2008 beating of French paparazzo Rachid Aitmbareck after he tried taking photos of actor Matthew McConaughey.

In March, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence J. Mira declared a mistrial in the case against Peak and Hildebrand after he learned that Peak’s mother, Denise Peak, had been injured in a car accident.

The fracas between the paparazzi and the wave riders began on June 21, 2008, when a pack of photographers staked out McConaughey as he surfed at Little Dume Beach.

Video of the incident soon surfaced on the Internet and appeared to show another pack, several young men in surf trunks, ordering Aitmbareck and other paparazzi to “go home,” and dragging the photographers into the water. The surfers say the videos have been edited out of context and do not accurately portray what occurred.

Web site honors Shane with good deeds

Ellen and Michael Shane, parents of 13-year-old Emily Shane who was killed in April by a driver on Pacific Coast Highway, have created a Web site to honor their daughter’s memory and spread her spirit.

The idea of the Web site, www.emilyshane.org, is that people will perform good deeds and acts of kindness in memory of Emily, say that they are doing it for Emily and then enter a record of the act performed on the Web site.

“She was such a giving and kind person, and we felt this was a perfect way to pay tribute to her memory,” Ellen and Michael wrote in a mass e-mail promoting the site.

“It can be anything,” they continued, “from helping an elderly person with groceries, to giving someone directions, to sharing a lunch with someone who forgot their lunch at home, to giving a homeless person something to eat. There are so many possibilities.

As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, the site had recorded 415 entries. Many entries tell of comforting the lonely, generosity, planting flowers or even just helping out around the house.

One entry reads: “I have always given the homeless change or bills when they have come to my window of my car while stopped at traffic lights. Instead of just smiling and giving them cash, I now make a point of telling them that is for Emily … and explain more if I have time …”

According to the e-mail, the Shane family hopes to achieve 100 million good deeds in a year.

Dump truck hits 7 parked cars

Officials conducted an investigation midday Friday following a collision of a county dump truck and seven parked vehicles, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. No injuries were reported, and witnesses in the report said traffic in one lane was stopped for two hours.

Department of Public Works employee Carlos Molinas, of the water works division, was driving a dump truck back from an emergency repair site when he struck seven parked vehicles along the side of the highway at 12 p.m. just south of Malibu Pier, according to the report.

Molinas, a longtime employee of the department, has a “spotless” driving record both on and off the job, said Gary Boze, public information officer for the department.

Bob Stencer, chief of public affairs for the department, said that for the size of the county’s fleet, instances like these are very rare.

“We have thousands of vehicles out all over the city,” Stencer said. “Driver safety is something we take very seriously.”

He added that the department has several internal investigation procedures that activate when a collision occurs, and that investigation is ongoing. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Molinas could see sanctions, varying in ranges of severity, possibly simply attending a “refresher course” in driver safety.

If the circumstances of a collision are particularly bad, such as fatalities or drug or alcohol involvement, employees may be placed in a desk job during the investigation. However, the preliminary investigation and Molinas’ past driving record showed no reason to summarily take him out of the driver seat, Boze said.

Stencer assured that the county has insurance to pay for the damage, and more details will be available following the completion of the investigation, which may take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks.

Assembly approves single-use bag ban

The state Assembly approved a bill June 1 by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, to ban single-use carryout bags at check-out stands in grocery stores, drug stores, convenience stores and liquor stores. The bill, narrowly achieving the two-thirds vote it needed to pass, will now be voted on in the Senate.

“Single-use carryout bags pollute our waterways and injure or kill marine life. We need a uniform, statewide ban on single-use bags so consumers know wherever they shop what to expect at the check-out stand,” Brownley said in a June 1 press release.

AB 1998 would ban all single-use bags sold in supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores and liquor stores.

Opposing the bill, the American Chemistry Council in Arlington, Va., supported plastic bag recycling programs instead of an outright ban, and argued that the proposed ban threatens the jobs of 500 employees in California and could put two Los Angeles area plastic bag manufacturers out of business.

According to ACC, the proposed ban amounts to a $1 billion tax on consumers.

“The last thing Californians need is something that acts just like a $1 billion tax added to their grocery bills. But that’s what this legislation does,” the Sacramento-based senior director of state affairs for ACC, Tim Shestek, said in a statement.

Shestek said the bill is “creating a new million-dollar bureaucracy to monitor how people take home their groceries.”

New search conducted for Richardson

A search was conducted June 5 and 6 for Mitrice Richardson, 24, a Cal State Fullerton graduate who vanished after being released from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station after midnight on Sept. 17, 2009. She had no car, no purse and no cell phone. She had been arrested at Geoffrey’s restaurant for not paying a dinner bill and was reported by staff to have been acting strangely.

Authorities have searched Malibu hills and canyons several times without finding a trace of her. The Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station says that no foul play is suspected.

Former clothing exec to teach at Pepperdine

Former Patagonia Chief Executive Michael Crooke, of Ojai, will be joining Pepperdine University’s faculty as a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Business Practice at the Graziadio School of Business Practice and Management, effective in August.

Crooke will coordinate the launching of the school’s new Social, Ethical, Environment Responsibility Certificate program, known as SEER. He will teach the capstone course on responsible business practice as well as classes on strategy and leadership for organizational success.

“The Pepperdine eco-entrepreneur SEER certification will prepare students to begin integrating an eco-systems approach not only to emerging businesses but also existing organizations that aspire to evolving their perspective business model to embed corporate social responsibly into the firm’s DNA,” Crooke said in a recent press release.

From 1999 to 2005, Michael Crooke served as president and chief executive officer of Patagonia, Inc., a technical outdoor clothing company, and Patagonia’s parent company, Lost Arrow Corporation. He succeeded Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, in taking the Lost Arrow post. Recently Crooke has counseled various high-growth businesses on strategic issues as an independent consultant and serves as the director of several nonprofits.

‘Hands Across the Sand’

Hands Across the Sand, an organization dedicated to stopping off-shore oil drilling, is organizing a nationwide demonstration June 26. The idea is that participants meet at the beach at 11 a.m., and at noon join hands in a line stretching across the beach for 15 minutes to voice their opposition to off-shore oil drilling.

Malibu’s meeting location is at Surfrider Beach. More information is available at handsacrossthesand.com.

Showing support for spaying and neutering

The California Spay and Neuter License Plate Fund, along with the California Veterinary Medical Board, launched a California Spay and Neuter Specialty License Plate Program to provide funding for free and low-cost spay and neuter surgery programs across California.

The plates will feature original artwork created and donated by Malibu actor and artist Pierce Brosnan. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Brosnan and other special guests appeared Tuesday at the West Los Angeles Animal Shelter in celebration of the program. The plates are available for purchase at www.caspayplate.com

By Stan Parker and Olivia Damavandi