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KSBR News Briefs on Monday, May 21, 2018

Suspect charged after California explosion due in court

A 59-year-old Long Beach man who was arrested on an explosives charge after a blast killed his former girlfriend last week at her day spa, is scheduled to appear in court this afternoon.

Stephen Beal faces a detention hearing in federal court in Santa Ana. He’s charged with possessing an unregistered destructive device that the FBI says was found at his home.

Beal hasn’t been charged with the May 15th blast that killed 48-year-old Ildiko Krajnyak when she opened up a cardboard box at the spa in Aliso Viejo.

Beal didn’t enter a plea during a court appearance last week and his public defender declined to comment.

Beal and Krajnyak met online in June 2016 and dated about a year and a half.

FBI Special Agent Evan Jesch said in an affidavit the romance cooled earlier this year after disputes over exclusivity and finances. Though their romance had ended, Beal and Krajnyak remained business partners.

Investigators searching Beal's home say they found two improvised explosive devices, three firearms and more than 100 pounds explosive material.

Beal, a model rocket hobbyist, told investigators he hadn’t made any bombs and didn’t have material for an explosion as powerful as the one he saw in news coverage.

 

Girl burned after falling against Newport Beach fire pit

Authorities say an off-duty firefighter was on hand to help a 10-year-old girl who fell against a fire pit and was burned during a father and daughter camp-out in Newport Beach.

The Orange County Fire Authority says firefighter Mike Heddleston was at the YMCA-sponsored camping trip with his daughter when the other girl fell against a steel fire pit Saturday at Newport Dunes.

Captain Steve Concialdi says Heddleston grabbed a bottle of water to cool the girl's burns and wrapped her up in a towel.

The Orange County Register reports the girl is being treated at a burn center for first and second degree burns to her hip, ribs and wrist.

 

Divided Supreme Court rules for businesses over workers

The Supreme Court says employers can ban their workers from banding together to complain about pay and conditions in the workplace.

The justices ruled 5-4 today, with the court's conservative members in the majority, that businesses can force employees to individually use arbitration to resolve disputes. The outcome is an important victory for business interests.

An estimated 25 million employees work under contracts that ban collective action by employees who want to raise claims about some aspect of their employment.

The Trump administration backed the businesses, reversing the position the Obama administration took in favor of employees.

The court's task was to reconcile federal laws that seemed to point in different directions. On the one hand, New Deal labor laws explicitly gave workers the right to band together. On the other, the older Federal Arbitration Act encourages the use of arbitration, instead of the courts.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, writing for the majority, said the contracts are valid under the arbitration law. "As a matter of policy these questions are surely debatable. But as a matter of law the answer is clear."

In dissent for the court's liberals, Justice Ruth Bader called the decision “wrong." Ginsburg said that the individual complaints can be very small in dollar terms, "scarcely of a size warranting the expense of seeking redress alone."

 

Charter backers outspend teachers in 2 California races

In the battle for the future of our state’s schools, charter school advocates are far outpacing teachers unions in spending to support candidates for governor and state schools chief.

Wealthy donors who support charter schools and education reform have poured more than $22 million into independent committees to support former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for governor and former schools executive Marshall Tuck for state schools chief. Many of the same donors have also contributed directly to Villaraigosa's and Tuck's campaigns.

The independent committees aren't subject to campaign contribution limits but are banned from coordinating messaging with the candidates.

Teachers unions have dropped about $4 million on independent committees to back Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor and Assemblyman Tony Thurmond for superintendent. Teachers unions and other organized labor groups have also contributed to Newsom's and Thurmond's campaigns.

All four men are Democrats who want more education funding. But they differ on state officials' role in improving schools and how to handle nonprofit charter schools, which are publicly funded but typically run independently of the traditional public school system.

 

New Starbucks policy: No purchase needed to sit in its cafes

Starbucks is announcing a new policy that allows anyone to sit in its cafes or use its restrooms, even if they don't buy anything.

The new policy comes five weeks after two black men who hadn't bought anything were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks.

Company executives have said its previous policies were loose and ambiguous, leaving decisions on whether people could sit in its stores or use the restroom up to store managers.

Starbucks said Saturday it has told workers to consider anyone who walks into its stores a customer, "regardless of whether they make a purchase."

The company said anyone can use its cafes, patios or restrooms without buying anything, but it noted workers should still call the police if someone is a safety threat.

 

Ladera Ranch

The Ladera Ranch Civic Council tonight will have discussion about commerce in the community.

Council Chair Stephanie Ramsey says the three main shopping centers have storefront vacancies which can impact the potential economic vitality of the community.  The Kohl’s site remains vacant, and the Gelson’s grocery store moved to Rancho Mission Viejo.

She says Ladera Ranch Chamber of Commerce President Todd Stearns will give a business update.

She says the community will be looking to become a city in about ten years. And in order to do so, it will have to have the sales tax base from brick and mortar stores to help support the city. The Council will be working with Rancho Mission Viejo and residents to determine what kind of stores would be successful in the local shopping centers.

Tonight’s Civic Council meeting begins at seven at the Santa Margarita Water District.

 

Garden Grove Strawberry Festival

Friday through Monday, May 25th through May 28th, Garden Grove will host its 60th Annual Strawberry Festival.

Festival Association President Elect Dawn Miller says at the Village Green between Main Street and Euclid Avenue in downtown Garden Grove, all sorts of activities are scheduled including a parade, games, rides and plenty of  food with strawberries.

On Friday, the Festival kicks off at six in the evening with the giant strawberry cake cutting ceremony at Acacia and Main Streets. Free cake will be available to all who attend.

She says on Saturday, a parade will begin at ten in the morning with floats, bands, equestrians and TV celebrities.

More information is available on-line at www.StrawberryFestival.org

 

Rancho Family Fest

The Ranch Santa Margarita Chamber of Commerce is organizing the annual Rancho Family Fest for June 9 & 10 at Central Park in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Commerce President and Fest Committee member Jim Poettgen says during the event, bands will be performing, while children enjoy the fun zone and others visiting the various food booths and vendors.

Poettgen says the entrance cost is ten dollars for both days. Children under 12 may enter for free.

He says some of the money raised will go towards enhancing the business community in Rancho Santa Margarita.

More information is available on-line at www.RSMChamber.org