Guard Shoots Man Outside Commerce Strip Club

April 11, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A man who had been asked to leave a Commerce strip club because he was thought to be drunk and unruly was shot and wounded by a security guard he allegedly tried to run down on April 5, authorities said.

The shooting happened around 12:15 a.m. outside Nicola’s, a topless club at 960 S. Gerhart Ave., said Sgt. Mark Renfrow of the Los Angeles County sheriff’s East Los Angeles Station.

“There was somebody who was unruly inside the club,” Renfrow said. “They tried to get him to leave.”

The patron then got into his car and tried to run over a club security guard, but the guard fired at the man’s car, striking him in a leg or buttocks, Renfrow said.

The man was taken to County-USC Medical Center, where he was in stable condition and was expected to survive, Renfrow said.

“It sounds like the guy had too much to drink and didn’t want to leave,” he said, adding that the guard appears to have acted in self-defense and that the patron would be arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon – his car. The shooting was under investigation.

Keep Sales Dollar Local, Urge Montebello Businesses

April 11, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Over 70 local businesses participated in the 24th Annual Montebello Business Expo last week, hoping to stimulate the local economy by urging local residents and fellow businesses to spend their money in the city.

The expo was sponsored by the Montebello Chamber of Commerce and held April 4 at the Quiet Canon, a restaurant and banquet facility located at the city-owned golf course.

Over 70 businesses gathered at the Montebello Business Expo on April 4 in Quite Canyon. Businesses offered coupons, food tastings and informative pamphlets to residents in order to promote local businesses. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Local businesses displaying their wares and their services included banks, restaurants, flower shops, health care facilities and jewelry stores. Food tasting, free giveaways and information for the public made for a lively event.

Chamber President Andrea Wagg said the expo, which has brought in thousands of attendees over the years, is meant to get Montebello residents to frequent local businesses and to get businesses in the city to use the services of other local businesses, thereby helping the local economy.

“Its important to keep the [sales] tax dollar local,” Wagg said. “By shopping in the local community it ensures that every [sales] tax dollar that can stay in town, does stay in town.”

Montebello City Administrator Francesca Tucker-Schuyler told EGP that the expo is one way for residents to get familiar with what businesses in the city have to offer.

“It definitely helps stimulate the local economy,” Tucker-Schuler said.

For Wagg, stimulating the local economy is essential, especially since the state has taken away redevelopment funds from cities like Montebello, leaving the work of economic stimulus to fall on local businesses.

Ryan Nomura participated in the expo to promote his business, M Flowers. He told EGP that it was not his first time as an exhibitor, adding that the expo is a good way for him to promote his business to the public.

“You get to meet different people, and this has led to new customers over the years,” Nomura said.

While the possibility of getting new customers is one of the benefits from attending the expo, Narine Evangelisti of El Camino Credit Union said it’s not the only one.

“A lot of people don’t know what we could offer and what we could do for the community,” Evangelisti said. “Our main goal isn’t gaining the new member today, its more for them to get to know us,” she explained.

“A lot of businesses are waiting for business to walk in the door and a lot of times that doesn’t happen,” Wagg said. However, in a few short hours at the expo, businesses are able to seen by residents of Montebello and surrounding cities who are eager to taste, test and learn more about the local businesses, she said.

About 65 percent of businesses at the expo this year have participated in the event for the last 20 years, Wagg said.

Denise Hagopian is one of those who has attended the expo for many years. She goes to promote her specialty store, A Heavenly Choice, she says, and to show support for the local economy.

“The business expo is my favorite thing in the entire year because it brings the business community and residents out to meet each other in a fun environment,” she said.

Residents that attended the event received coupons, free samples and information pamphlets from local businesses. Many residents attended in order socialize with local businesses outside of their store setting and in order to receive more information about the services the businesses offer.

“Even though you live in the city most people haven’t gone to every restaurant and business,” Wagg said. “The expo exposes residents to businesses they would have otherwise not gone to.”

I’m Already Against the Next War and You Should Be Too

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Last week, the boogeyman is North Korea. Is anyone surprised? The Stalinist “Hermit Kingdom” is right out of central casting. Isolated, always bellicose, unpredictable, and on a war footing for decades: If the Korean War was an American citizen, it would be deciding about now whether to take Social Security early or keep brandishing its atomic weapons for a few more years.

But that narrative is shaped by nearly unavoidable bias. It’s easy to bash North Korea, but if I address my own knowledge of the country honestly, I must admit that most of what I think I know about it is really just what other governments choose to tell me. And those other governments routinely lie — to everyone, about everything, day in and day out, as a matter of policy so ingrained in their character that it can only be accurately characterized as pathological.

So, I can’t really know whether Kim Jong Un is a nuke-waving megalomaniac or a milquetoast reformist whose every public utterance is filtered by other states’ censors to make him LOOK like a nuke-waving megalomaniac, pursuant to those other states’ agendas.

Nor can I know whether his generals are egging him on to confrontation, or working frantically to cool things down. Or whether his armies are the brainwashed oriental hordes of US propaganda or just a starving gaggle of scarecrows who’ll throw down their weapons and throw up their hands the first time they see what a US “smart bomb” does to their positions along the DMZ.

If this particular war breaks out — or to be more exact, breaks out again — we’ll be deluged with detailed accounts of how “they” fired first and how the “free world” merely responded in kind. And once again, we’ll have no way of knowing whether those accounts are true stories or heaping piles of bovine scat. The most we’ll really be able to know (and then only if we’re willing to look closely and carefully) is that even if Kim is as bad as we’re told he is, his adversaries aren’t much better on their best days.

And of course we can know — when we take the time to think about it, we DO know — that war is evil, that as Sherman put it, it is “all hell,” and that it always, every time, serves the interests of the politicians and their crony corporate profiteers at the expense of the victims on all sides who pay the butcher’s bill in blood, treasure or both.

The state did not invent war (in fact it may have been the other way around), but the state has normalized war. It has perpetuated, and continually worked to perfect, wholesale murder for four centuries now. Not just Kim’s state, but all of them. Even if anarchy resulted only in Hobbes’s imperfect, retail “war of all against all” — a doubtful proposition, in my opinion — that would be a dramatic improvement.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society ( He served as a US Marine infantry NCO in the first Gulf War.

April 11, 2013 Issue

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Villaraigosa Challenges Mayoral Candidates on Education

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Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made “daring to dream” a theme for his final state of the city address Tuesday, which he also used to challenge the candidates running to succeed him to focus more on education.

The outgoing mayor, whose successor will be sworn in July 1, burnished the achievements of his nearly eight years in office, while also urging the candidates looking to replace him to make education policy a “bigger” and “bolder” part of their campaigns.

Villaraigosa summed up Angelenos as people who “think big” and “swing for the fences,” saying he began his tenure as mayor in dramatic fashion, by shooting for the seemingly impossible.

“Eight years ago, we dared to dream,” he said of his goals then to improve public safety, environmental sustainability, the city’s transportation system and students’ academic performance. And in all those areas, he said, “we promised to deliver, and we did.”

Villaraigosa, in a break from his prepared remarks, acknowledged there were “failures” during his time in office, but he said it was the result of taking risks.

“You fail sometimes when you dare to dream,” Villaraigosa said at UCLA’s Royce Hall. “You fail sometimes when you fight, even when you’re fighting alone.”

Villaraigosa admonished what he perceives as timidity on the part of Councilman Eric Garcetti and Controller Wendy Greuel, the two mayoral candidates in the May 21 election.

Villaraigosa recounted his own struggles with school, having dropped out of high school twice before becoming inspired by a teacher to believe in himself.

Education policy is “personal for me,” Villaraigosa said, and not a “footnote on a campaign mailer or fodder for an attack ad.”

“It has been disheartening to see our mayoral candidates devote so little time to a serious discussion of how to deliver a quality education to all our children,” Villaraigosa said, expressing impatience at what he perceives as a lack of “comprehensive visions” the candidates seemingly pursuing “one or two planks in a plan about an audit of this or a piecemeal change in that.”

“We want the whole plan … we want to elect a leader,” Villaraigosa said. “We want to choose someone who won’t nibble cautiously around the edges.”

Villaraigosa urged the mayoral candidates to take the same kind of leadership that comes with the powers afforded to the mayors in New York and Chicago, who are formally tasked with running the school districts in their cities.

Although the mayor of Los Angeles has no formal role in education, Villaraigosa has made education one of his priorities since taking office in 2005.

Villaraigosa founded the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, an independent educational nonprofit group that partners with the Los Angeles Unified School District and oversees 22 schools in predominantly low-income neighborhoods in an effort to boost student performance.

Villaraigosa said test scores have risen at the partnership schools, while academic achievement has also improved in the rest of the LAUSD, with dropout rates also reduced.

Both candidates have since said they agree education policy is extremely important to the city, and will participate in an education-focused debate before the May election.

Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman noted that the two candidates debated education policy with other candidates during the primary election.

Villaraigosa also spoke on the improvements he made in increasing funding for public transit projects, reducing carbon emissions, attracting businesses, and the various challenges he has faced since 2005, among them a “billion dollar structural shortfall” in the city budget.

The city consolidated departments, cut 5,000 jobs and negotiated with city employees to increase their contribution to their retirement and health care.

“For the sake of prosperity in the long-term, we shared sacrifice in the short term,” Villaraigosa said.

And after raising the retirement age for new employees from 55 to 65, who will receive 75 percent rather than 100 percent of their salary as pensions, Villaraigosa said the city “must do more.”

With the city still facing a more than $150 million budget deficit, Villaraigosa early in his speech previewed his upcoming budget proposal – due out on April 19 – saying that it will be balanced and contain a healthy reserve.

Public safety was one area Villaraigosa did not budge, saying that his budget will fund the more than 10,000 officers in the police department.

He urged his successor to not only preserve the progress he’d made, expanding the police ranks from 9,284 in 2005 to more than 10,000, but also to “raise it again.”

Villaraigosa said because he led a comprehensive plan to tackle gangs, violent crime has dropped 49 percent since he took office, while property crime fell by 30 percent, with the most dramatic dip happening in gang-related crimes, which fell 55 percent.

“We pledged to focus resources on those communities most plagued by violence,” Villaraigosa said. “We promised to develop programs that addressed the root causes of why young people join gangs in the first place.”

In response to the speech, Councilman Paul Krekorian said he was “proud of the work” that the City Council and Villaraigosa have “done together to create jobs and establish a leaner and more sustainable city budget,” including taking “significant and difficult steps to reduce a projected billion dollar deficit by more than 80 percent.”

Outside Royce Hall, city employees used Villaraigosa’s speech to demand the city put more funding into city services and hiring workers, but did not offer any specifics about where the money would come from.

“Los Angeles has weathered a tough recession, but now it is time for the city to begin to look forward,” said Cheryl Parisi, chair of the Coalition of LA City Unions.

“We need to begin restoring good jobs and vital services, and broaden the economic base of our city. It’s time to revitalize and rebuild our great city and reinvest in our communities and public services.”

They urged the city government not to continue the trend of contracting out for services.

“Now is not the time to sell off our city’s core assets through privatization or cut more services. Now is the time to turn the corner and start fixing our city,” said David Sanders, regional director of SEIU Local 721, which represents 10,000 city workers.

The Young Grow Old

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Rank and file Democrats are desperate for a turnaround of their political fortunes, and an end of the Robber Baron era – so much so that they see the recent elections as their deliverance. For them, the last presidential election was a sign that the country is turning to the left, and that Democrats will be able to keep the presidency for eternity. They believe that obstructionism of Republicans will be drowned by the growing numbers of youth, minority, homosexual and Latino voters. Their hope is that the changes will put them on the road to a more communitarian and humane society.

Pundit after pundit predicts that the entrance of large numbers gay and Latino voters will end the culture wars that divide the country. There is only one problem – progressives forget that the “Young Grow Old.”

It is easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment. I remember demonstrations in the 1960s, and thinking that we had entered a new era. I did not fully appreciate the seductive power of capital in negating any communitarian or humane transformation. I also underestimated the ability of the ruling class to twist the words of sociologists, and blame the victim with phrases such as the “culture of poverty.”

Nor did I take into account the self-interest of many of the demonstrators who opposed the war; they remained interested for only as long as they were personally threatened. Poverty and injustice was only visible for as long as the young remained young. They became invisible once more as the baby boomers grew old, and took on mortgages. They then distanced themselves from poverty, which again became a non-priority.

Before we enter the World of Oz once more, we should remember that age will not make us wiser; it will not make us more humane. Our system of governing has been taken captive by billionaires who have always been old and count on the young growing old. They count on the individual and the community being disconnected. They have purposely disconnected the family unit from the community, and destroyed any sense of shared history. In this environment poverty and injustice become invisible.

We are blinded by temporary victories and the glitter of that huge flag pin dangling from our lapels. Tax breaks for the rich are softened by senior citizens discounts. Daily we play the game of bargains. Every day my family receives more advertisements from Macy’s than it does from St. Jude’s.

The tactics differ; St. Jude tries to jar us with photos of pelones, bald children who have gone through chemotherapy. Macy’s plays more to our self-interest, and like society seduces us. It sends us coupons. Items that cost $99.99 are marked down to $79.99, and then as a preferred customer you get an additional 20% off, and if you have a Macy’s Bank of America card, you get an additional 20%. By the time you get through with the sale you have saved over 50%. That is a deal!

The cost of being taken (exploited) becomes invisible. Penney’s recently started a marketing strategy where it posted the true price. No coupons. However, it was such a disaster that the new CEO came under attack and was fired.  The truth be told, we have reached the point where young and old want to be taken.

As Latinos and gays get older and discrimination is hidden by the coupon game they will forget that at one time Latinos did not have green cards, and gays could not marry. None of us are immune to seduction. We just turn the other way. Latinos and blacks today tolerate reactionary voices among them, although it is obvious that these voices conflict with their interests.

As in the movie “Soylent Green,” (1973) we’ll take the green wafer which is advertised to contain “high-energy plankton.” Foods that we remember will fade from memory as we grow old.

Coming off my high horse, it does not have to be like this. Our minds can stay young, and we should remember that at one time most people could afford a home. I bought my first home at 21 – no down payment, total cost $8500. I could qualify for it on my janitor’s salary. Today that same house costs $500,000; $100,000 down. And I am sure I could not qualify for it on a teacher’s salary. You do not get coupons to buy a home unless they plan to take it away.

The Left is complicit in the aging of our memory. Their journals and their activities include little material to politically educate and integrate Latinos. The Nation rarely includes articles on Latinos west of Chicago. Tellingly, most turned the other way as Mexican American history, books and culture were banned in Arizona.

If Democrats want to keep Mexican Americans and youth young, they are going to have to invest in their political education. They must integrate Mexican American and Latino history into the fabric of the progressive history of the United States. The Left is going to have to respect Mexican Americans and support their causes and know who they are.

Recently there was an exchange between so-called socialists; a Mexican American member (a true activist) criticized the body for its white chauvinism. He criticized the members’ lack of knowledge of Latino history. A pedant answered the criticism with a long-winded response naming many African-American members of the Communist Party.

What was revealing was that the respondent named only Latin Americans living south of the United States as communists. It was as if Mexican Americans or Latinos in this country did not exist.

If progressives really want a communitarian society they will support Mexican American and other Latino issues. They will integrate these causes into the progressive agenda, work to achieve them instead of just handing out coupons. A sign of respect for the masses is remembering their names even when they are not considered part of the vanguard.

I must admit it is nice to get a senior citizens discount even though there are others who cannot afford to watch the movie.  You know, the people cannot afford Obamacare because of the cost of medical insurance. In order to have a humane and communitarian society, we have to go beyond, “Don’t touch my Medicare!” and stop hoarding it as if it were only for the old.

Rodolfo F. Acuña is a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, and the author of 20 books, including “Occupied America,” which has been banned in Arizona. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Department, still located at Cal State Northridge.

Boyle Heights Renters Displaced by Fire

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A fire damaged a two-story apartment building in Boyle Heights Wednesday morning, displacing residents but injuring no one, authorities said.

The fire at 156 S. Soto Street near Second Street was reported at 3:44 a.m. and knocked down at 4:19 a.m., said a Los Angeles Fire Department captain. A dozen residents were displaced, according to reports from the scene.

Commerce Residents Raise Thousands to Fight Cancer

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Relay for Life kicks off with cancer survivors (pictured) leading the annual Survivor’s Lap. (City of Commerce)

About 700 people attended last Saturday’s Commerce Relay for Life where 18 teams camped out for 24-hours, taking turns walking or running around the Veteran’s Memorial Park baseball field to raise money for American Cancer Society.

Two-hundred thirty-nine participants raised nearly $24,000 for the American Cancer Association, according to Daniel Larios of City of Commerce Public Information Office.

A Luminaria Ceremony was held late in the evening to remember the lives lost to cancer and celebrate the lives of the survivors.

The fundraising event held for the second year in a row in the city was held in collaboration with the Commerce Industrial Council.

Variety of Factors Play Into Age Related ‘Shrinking’

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Will you get shorter as you age? It could depend in part on how long you stayed in school and whether you eat right and exercise as an adult, according to a USC study released Monday.

“The evidence shows that it is not only early life events that are associated with how we age, but health decisions in later life as well,” according to USC economics professor John Strauss, an investigator on the study published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

The study, based on a survey of 17,708 adults beginning at age 45, found a strong relationship between height loss and cognitive health — with people who performed poorly on memory and basic math tests shrinking more. Men who completed primary school shrank 0.9 centimeters less, while completing high school meant 1.9 centimeters less shrinking.

Researchers said that amount may seem small, but it can be a large difference given that the average height loss for men as they age is 3.3 centimeters.

For women, completing primary school led to 0.6 centimeters less shrinkage, compared to an average height loss of 3.8 centimeters.

Decreases in height can also be greater for people suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis and spine-joint inflammation, conditions that are related to diet, exercise and smoking, according to the study.

The study also found that people who live in urban areas tend to shrink less than people in rural areas.

“Height has been recognized as an acceptable proxy for childhood health conditions, but there are complications there,” according to USC economist Geert Ridder, a co-investigator on the study.

“Some of adult health might be determined by childhood circumstances, but people shrink differentially, and that shrinkage is also a measure of adult health conditions.”

Researchers plan to conduct follow-up measurements on the study’s participants every two years to gather more information about human aging.

Bell Gardens High School Seniors Take Over City Hall

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Bell Gardens High School seniors ready for college eagerly attended Student Government Day in Bell Gardens April 4 to learn firsthand how city government works.

Bell Gardens High School seniors listen to Abel Avalos, the city’s director of community development at the Bicycle Casino on April 4. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Hundreds of students participated in the annual event that introduces participants to city government by having students shadow Bell Gardens staff around city hall.

The event included a mock city hall meeting, after which students were transported to the Bicycle Casino where listened to the event’s closing speaker, Abel Avalos, Bell Gardens’ director of community development.

Avalos shared his perspective about growing up in Bell Gardens, going to college and returning to work in his hometown. He said it was a way for him to give back to the community that helped him reach his goals.

He said he saw participating in the city’s Government Day as a way to “maybe inspire one or two of these kids to achieve their goals, to do the things they know they could, and overcome any obstacles that come before them.”

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