A Reasonable U.S. Senator, Rand Paul

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Kentucky Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul voted against the Senate’s bi-partisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill last year. While there might not be “hordes” of illegally present people in his state, it’s fair to say that most of the labor infrastructure in Kentucky of the horse racing industry is peopled with many people who are here illegally. Senator Rand knows who works in his state and who doesn’t and, more importantly, who hires them.

People should pay attention to their representatives; Senator Rand thinks that the Republican Party should not be characterized as the Party of “Deportation.”

Is the hard-right anti-immigration reform front cracking in front of our eyes?

 

First, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made an idyllic statement about the men and women who brave death and destruction to walk hundreds of miles through deserts and mountains to cross into the US without formal inspection by U.S. officers as people who do so as an “act of love.” Love, of course of their families and themselves because they reject poverty, corruption and inattention by their own people.

Secondly, in the aftermath, Bush’s statement caused explosions of anger among the 25% or so who absolutely reject legalizing the illegally present people, or allowing them to stay or come legally, which is not possible under current law. The hard right went berserk over that statement. Even the lovely and smart Laura Ingraham blew a fuse when Fox’s Bill O’Reilly asked her if she could support Jeb Bush for President in 2016 after that one statement.

Thirdly, those who object to Bush’s statement and emotionally decry it by declaring that Bush is cooked because they won’t support him for president are now reacting in the same manner to Rand’s statement as they did to Bush, and did last year to Marco Rubio’s sponsorship of the Senate’s immigration bill. Yes, the same one-issue obstructionists are turning on Senator Rand because he said that the Republican Party should not be the party of “Deportation.”

These minority obstructionists need to study American history for they stand against it in the specifics of their obstructionism and their inability to live up to the best of American history.

When Southerners blackmailed the North in the Constitution’s development on the subject of slavery, the North at least made it illegal to import slaves after 1820. When the South stood in the way of state expansion, the Missouri Compromise was reached allowing limited slavery expansion as against unlimited. When California entered the nation as a free state it did so as a result of a compromise. When Abraham Lincoln needed thousands of German speaking immigrants to join the Union Army to fight for the Union he appointed German speaking generals that he personally didn’t like or know because he needed the troops. Journalists spotted the Germans throughout the Union Army when the soldiers would reply to their questions with something like: “I fite vit Schmidt.”

 

In 1876, Republicans made a deal with Democrats to withdraw the ten-year-long occupation of the South by the U.S. Army if the Democrats recognized the Presidential election returns that kept the Republicans in the White House despite their winning fewer votes than the Democrats.

 

Deals, compromise, bi-partisanship are the three legs of American governance in our two-party system. First, of course, the basic reason we in the USA have a superior form of government and governance than anywhere in the world is that we have a two party system with winner take all. We do not have multi-parties and/or proportional representation and we do not have a parliamentary system. Lastly, we have a real constitution that divides the government into three EQUAL parts, the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

The political parties are keys to how our governance works. For example, how would independent Ross Perot have put together an administration had he won in 1992? There are literally thousands of jobs and functions and representations on boards and commissions that the President and the White House must appoint. The parties provide a clearing house for these appointive jobs and functions. Today’s city councilman or county commissioner is tomorrow’s congressman or Senator or even President. Patronage, it is called and it is a universal system but if a political party is not involved in most of the US, it is hard to govern. A certain Minnesota independent ex-governor discovered this the hard way. Ross Perot would have found it impossible to be President without one or the other of our parties making a deal with him.

Senators Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and others in the Senate are now joined by former Florida governor Jeb Bush in pushing the party towards compromise on immigration; compromise in the best American tradition wins elections. Those unwilling to compromise or are one-issue fanatics stand to lose in the long run of American history, the long run being 2016.

 

Contreras is the author of several books and formerly wrote for the New York Times Syndicate’s New American News Service.

 

County Budget to Top $26 Billion

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday tentatively approved a recommended $26.054 billion budget for 2014-15 that Chief Executive Officer William T. Fujioka said would provide a “strong foundation” for the county as it emerges from the recession.

The recommended budget, which is fully balanced, not only avoids layoffs and furloughs but adds 1,345 positions, including child social workers and public safety workers, who will help the county implement recommendations for reducing violence in the county jails.

The budget proposal also includes funds for “modest, fiscally responsible raises” for all county employees, ending several years of salary freezes, Fujioka said.

The addition of about 100 child social workers comes after a week-long walkout of county child-welfare workers in December in protest of what they called heavy caseloads. Fujioka said at the time the county had already made provisions for hiring more social workers as part of a plan to reduce social worker caseloads into the mid-20s by late this summer.

According to Fujioka, the budget proposal includes $56.5 million for implementing recommendations of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence; $3.6 million to restore hours at public libraries, where services were cut beginning in 2009-10; and $1.1 million for the Department of Animal Care and Control to operate a communications center in the Antelope Valley and bolster criminal investigations.

Fujioka notes in the proposal that “significant revisions to the budget may become necessary” depending on the local impact of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. He said the Department of Health Services has developed estimates of the law’s impact on the county, but noted the “unpredictability of what will actually take place as the ACA implementation rolls forward.”

“This was a very difficult budget to put together,” he told the supervisors at their weekly meeting.

Recession budgets are “relatively easy,” he explained, “because you can just say, ‘No, we have no money,’” while a budget with a very large surplus is “very easy.”

“Post-recession budgets are very difficult because the key issue is sustainability,” Fujioka said, noting that $6.5 billion of the budget depends on state and federal funding. “Any hiccups in that could be very, very devastating for us.”

The spending plan represents a 0.2 percent reduction from the 2013-14 county budget, which totaled $26.099 billion, according to the county.

In his budget memo to the Board of Supervisors, Fujioka attributed the county’s financial health to “long-standing conservative budget practices and our strong compliance to fiscal policies.”

He also noted that while many costs are increasing, the county is anticipating increases in revenues from property and sales taxes, in part from reassessments of homes that had declined in value during the recession.

“The budget will provide a strong foundation as we move forward into better times,” the CEO said Tuesday.

A series of public hearings on the budget will begin May 14, with the supervisors scheduled to to vote June 23 on a final budget.

Dancing It Up At Music Center Festival

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(The Blue Ribbon of The Music Center)

(The Blue Ribbon of The Music Center)

Fifth grade students from Vernon Street Elementary in the city of Vernon were among the 18,000 students who danced together on The Music Center Plaza as part of the 44th Annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival, California’s longest-continuing free arts education program presented by The Blue Ribbon of The Music Center.

City Probe Clears Huizar: Godoy Lawsuit Continues

April 17, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

A panel hired by the city to investigate sexual harassment and retaliation claims made against Councilman Jose Huizar by a former aide concluded there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Huizar.

The concluding section of the report, which was obtained last Friday by City News Service, evaluates the 18 allegations made by Francine Godoy against Huizar in a complaint filed with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation and denial of employment. In each case, the probe “did not reveal any evidence” to support the claims, according to the panel.

Regarding Godoy’s claim of a hostile work environment in the 14th Council District, the panel found that “to the contrary of the allegation, many CD-14 staff members expressed that Ms. Godoy created a hostile work environment, by targeting others with criticism and profanity.”

The report, prepared by Batza and Associates in conjunction with a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight appointed by Council President Herb Wesson, notes that Godoy refused to cooperate in the investigation, so the probe “was as thorough as possible given the circumstances.”

Godoy sued Huizar and the city last year, alleging — among other things—that her former boss offered to support her in an election campaign in exchange for sex. She claimed she declined to provide sexual favors, leading to a pattern of discrimination and retaliation that included Huizar withdrawing his support for Godoy’s bid for a seat on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

Huizar has denied any wrongdoing, although the married councilman admitted last October that he and Godoy had a “consensual” relationship that he “deeply regrets.”

Godoy’s attorney, Michael Eisenberg, could not be reached for immediate comment on the city’s investigative report. In the past, he has been critical of the city’s investigation, noting that Wesson—who ordered the probe—headlined a political fundraiser for Huizar last October, calling Huizar his “best friend on the council.”

Eisenberg filed court papers last year calling the city investigation an attempt to obtain information that could be used against Godoy in her lawsuit.

Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Huizar’s law firm, Walsh & Associates, hailed the report’s findings.

“We are very pleased that after a thorough and exhaustive review with numerous and comprehensive interviews, this distinguished panel of legal professionals has concluded that Ms. Godoy’s allegations are baseless,” Alaniz told City News Service.

“We have maintained all along that Ms. Godoy’s claims are false and malicious and that her claims are motivated by greed and a desire to destroy the councilman’s reputation because he would not help advance her career as she demanded,” he said.

The City Council voted 10-0 today to cover Huizar’s legal fees defending against the lawsuit, agreeing to pay Walsh & Associates up to $200,000.

Council members have received copies of the investigative report, but it was not reviewed by the council when it met in closed session April 11 to discuss paying Huizar’s legal fees.

Garcetti Releases $8.1 Billion Budget Proposal

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled an $8.1 billion budget proposal Monday that includes money for expanding library hours, hiring more firefighters and code enforcement officers and fixing deteriorated city streets and sidewalks.

Repeating a theme he used in his State of the City address last week, Garcetti said his first budget proposal as mayor focuses on a “back-to- basics” agenda and would “pave more streets, fix more sidewalks, provide more police patrols (and) help businesses get started more quickly.”

“Angelenos expect a city hall that’s on their side, that spends their taxpayer dollars wisely, that protects people and opens up doors of opportunity,” he said. “That’s what back-to-basics is all about.”

The proposed budget bridges a projected shortfall of $242 million in fiscal year 2014-15 with the help of better-than-expected returns from taxes; savings on employee pensions and benefits; the elimination of vacant positions that equal 46 full-time jobs; grants and surplus funds; and $47.9 million from the city’s reserves.

Garcetti said there would be no layoffs, but he and other city leaders are pushing for no raises for city employees while calling on all workers to pay 10 percent of their health-care premiums.

Garcetti also proposes spending $142 million to fix 2,400 of the city’s 28,000 lane-miles of streets, including patching more than 350,000 potholes. His budget also calls for $20 million to repair sidewalks.

The budget proposal also calls for $1.8 million to increase library hours, nearly $14.8 million to maintain police ranks at 10,000 and $3.5 million to train and hire 140 more firefighters.

It also proposes a combining the police department and fire department dispatch systems to cut down on delays, a change that would run about $1.5 million.

Garcetti also proposed a pot of $1.4 million in incentive money for city employees who present innovative ideas for improving the way the city is run.

Garcetti said he wants to spend $1.7 million to hire about a dozen more code enforcement officers to handle building violations and other problems such as overgrown yards and broken windows.

The funding would increase a team of 25 officers to 38 and reduce the processing time for code enforcement complaints from 25 days to 14, according to the mayor’s office.

The budget also calls for increasing zoo admission fees by $1 and charging a $1 fee for swimming in city pools, which are now free to use.

The proposal also would result in a $282 million reserve, which Garcetti said is the highest in the city’s history. The city also would not be dipping into its budget stabilization fund, sending a “strong signal to the country, the bond markets, to our people that this city is getting its fiscal house in order,” he said.

“While we have many highlights, this budget represents a transition period,” Garcetti added. “We’re making a down payment on our future. This first year, the gains will be modest. Although revenues are on the rise, deferred costs have risen even faster.”

Garcetti said he will delay a plan to begin phasing out the city’s business tax for one year, saying the city is dealing with a “tough budget year.” But he included a goal in his budget plan to shave the existing business tax rate from $5.07 for every $1,000 of gross receipts to $4.25 per $1,000 by 2018.

According to the mayor’s office, lowering the tax rate would result in a loss of about $15 million in tax revenue for the city during the first year.

Many cities already have much lower gross receipts tax rates or do not charge one, though Santa Monica has one that is a little higher than Los Angeles’, according to Garcetti.

Garcetti said residents can learn more about the budget proposal online at https://losangeles.opengov.com/transparency.

The mayor’s proposal will be reviewed by the City Council, which is expected to begin daily budget hearings April 29. City leaders typically aim to approve a budget — with revisions from the council — by May or before July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Councilman Paul Krekorian, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, said the council will “closely examine every part of the proposed budget and hear from each city department, the public and others” during the budget meetings.

Krekorian said he is eager to work with the mayor and other members of the council to create “enduring growth, while maintaining fiscal discipline.”

City officials have worked since 2008, when the city was hit by the worst recession in its history, to reduce a structural deficit by about 80 percent “while simultaneously building the strongest reserves in modern city history,” Krekorian said.

“I’m proud of the work that we’ve done so far to establish a more sustainable city budget, but our work is not yet done,” he said.

Hillsides Charity Turns to Crowdfunding

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A nonprofit group that provides services to needy and at-risk families, children and youth has launched a campaign through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo to raise $5,000 to purchase sports and entertainment equipment for its “bare bones” recreation center.

Headquartered in Pasadena, Hillsides provides services ranging from parenting and mental health support to residential treatment services for children and youth who cannot live at home due to trauma or behavioral challenges.

Recreation staffer Steven Cole plays the guitar with a client.  (Courtesy of Hillsides)

Recreation staffer Steven Cole plays the guitar with a client. (Courtesy of Hillsides)

The “Recovery through Recreation” program aims to provide a fun, engaging, and safe environment for the children and youth in Hillsides’ Residential Treatment Services program, according to group’s fundraising announcement. Hillsides says funds raises will go toward buying a ping pong table, air hockey table, weights, and assorted games, among other items.

“The children living at Hillsides come from backgrounds of extreme poverty, neglect, and trauma. Participating in recreational activities helps children cope with stress, learn about structure and limits, gain a sense of achievement, and lead healthier lifestyles,” said Hillsides chief executive officer, Joseph M. Costa. “We are excited to tap into a new source of innovative fundraising led by staff members that will improve the lives of the children under our care.”

To contribute, please visit: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/recovery-through-recreation.  The campaign will last until June 8. To learn more about Hillsides, visit www.hillsides.org.

Community Calendar: April 17, 2014 – April 23, 2014

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday, April 17

5-8pm—L.A. Sheriff Candidate Forum/Debate at the Hollenbeck Youth Center. James Hellmond, Jim McDonnell, Bob Olmstead, Todd Rodgers & Paul Tanaka to participate. Moderator: Superior Court Lance Ito. Free & open to the public. Doors opens at 5pm; at 6pm a HYB Exhibition Boxing Match, followed by the debate at 6:30pm. Center is located at 2015 E. 1st in Boyle Heights.

 

Friday, April 19

10am-4pm—LA Zoo “Big Bunny’s Spring Fling!” runs through Sunday. Children can make bunny-related crafts, pet adorable bunnies, watch a magic show, visit the Eggucation Station, take a picture with Big Bunny (for a fee) & more.  Activities free with Zoo admission: $18 for adults; $13 for children 2-12; $15 for seniors 62 and up. The Zoo is in Griffith Park: 5333 Zoo Drive, LA 90027. For more information, call  (323) 644-4200 or visit  www.lazoo.org.

 

Saturday, April 19

8-11am— Monterey Park Pet License and Low-Cost Vaccination Clinic. While at the clinic dogs must have a collar and leash. Microchips will also be available at the clinic for $15. Cash or check only. Location: Garvey Ranch located at 750 S. Alhambra Ave. For info, call (626) 307-1217.

 

11am-1pm— Monterey Park Easter Egg Hunt. Children 11 years and younger are invited to participate in activities including facepainting, raffles, contest and prizes. Sponsored by the city of Monterey Park and LAMP optimistic club. City Hall is located at 320 W. Newmark Ave. For info, call (626) 307-1388.

 

11 am—LA County Day of the Child/Dia de Los Ninos Celebration at LA Plaza de Cultura y Arte in downtown LA. Enjoy cultural activities, interactive storytelling sessions, art workshops and more. Take in the exhibit “Viva la Causa! Dolores Huerta and the Struggle for Justice.” LA Plaza is located at 501 N. Main Street, across from El Pueblo (Olvera Street).  For more information, call (213) 542-6458 or visit www.lapca.org.

 

12noon-5pm—Colorful Annual Blessing of the Animals at El Pueblo (Olvera Street) in downtown L.A. Pet owners are invited to take part in the centuries-old tradition celebrating the benefits animals provide mankind. Event includes entertainment, procession of the animals and is free to the public. Olvera St. is directly across from Union Station-Cesar Chavez and Alameda.

 

2-4pm— Easter Egg Hunt at Bell Gardens Library. Other children’s activities include storytelling and loteria (Bingo). Bell Gardens Library is located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. For info, call (562)927-1309.

 

Monday, April 21

5pm—Financial Literacy Classes for Adults / Educación Financiera para Adultos at the Robert Louis Stevenson Library. Sessions are in Spanish. This week’s topic: Budget & Savings. Learn how to create & stick to a spending plan/El propósito de este taller es de tener una discusión de cómo crear y mantener un plan de gastos para alcanzar tus metas financieras. The library is located at 803 Spence St. LA 90023. For more information call: (323) 263-6901.

 

Tuesday, April 22

10-11am—Family Place Workshop Series at Bell Gardens Library. The fourth workshop in the series will devote to a discussion on children’s literacy. The workshops are designed to provide early childhood information, parent education, socialization and family support. Bell Gardens Library is located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. For info, call (562) 927-1309.

 

Upcoming

City of Vernon Hosts Blood Drive and Head Shaving Benefit April 24. Proceeds benefit  Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles & the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Time: 7am to 1pm. Location: Vernon Fire Station 1: 3375 Fruitland Ave. For info, call (323) 583-4821 ext. 510.

 

El Día de los Niños Celebration/ Celebrating Young Americans April 26 at Belvedere Park in East L.A. Free event includes special appearance by Clifford the Dog; arts & crafts; face painting; storytelling; free child fingerprinting/IDs; concerts & plays and more. Park is located at 4914 Cesar E. Chavez Ave.  LA. 90022. For more info, call Ancelma Sanchez at (213) 926-8154 or email selmas@cdcla.org.

 

Free Art Tour with Fallen Fruit on the Metro Gold Line April 26 in honor of Earth Day. Three-hour event will explore public art & neighborhood history from the historic Union Station to an installation of self-portraits at the Armory Center for the Arts in Old Pasadena. Event is from 11am to 2pm. Tour departs union Station at noon. The tour is approximately 90% walking. RSVPs recommended but not required. For more information, visit metro.net/art and click on Art Tours, or call (213) 922-4ART.

 

Free Tenant Rights Workshop April 24 Presented by the City of Montebello and the Housing Rights Center. Experts will be on hand to answer questions about fair housing, evictions, security deposits, repairs and rent increases. Time: 5:30pm to 7:30pm. To R.S.V.P call Marlene at (800)477-5977 ext. 1105. Location: Montebello Public Library, 1150 W. Beverly Blvd.

 

To submit an event to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement. For more information, email advertise@egpnews.com or call (323) 341-7970.

Expanding Opportunities for CA Students

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

California lawmakers are considering two different proposals to increase educational opportunities for California students from the youngest to the oldest.

One bill, the Kindergarten Readiness Act, would make voluntary transitional kindergarten available to every four-year-old by offering free preschool to those whose families can’t afford it.

“Transitional kindergarten” is currently only available to children who turned 5 between Oct. 2 and Dec. 2 — the old age eligibility cutoff date to enroll in kindergarten. Now, only children who turn 5 by Sept. 2 can enroll in kindergarten.

The change, which would be phased in over five years, is intended to make preschool available to as many as 350,000 children from low-income and immigrant families when fully implemented.

Advocates say expanding access will have long-term benefits, including fewer students falling academically and socially behind their middle-class and wealthier peers. Less money would be needed for special-education classes; students repeating grades or failing in school and ending up in prison, say supporters of SB 837, authored by Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat. Passing the billing is the Democrats’ top priority this year, Steinberg said

The other bill expands college financial aid to undocumented immigrants.

The California Dream Loan program has the support of UC President Janet Napolitano.

“The University of California is a huge engine of social mobility,” she says. “And you hear story after story of students whose lives were changed and their families’ lives were changed because they had the ability to go to the university.”

Supporters of SB 1210, authored by Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens, say the loans will help undocumented students close the $3,000 to $6,000 financial aid gap, which could eliminate the need for a student to take multiple jobs or drop out of college.

If approved, loans would be available to undocumented students attending the University of California or California State University who are not eligible for federal or private student loans, the primary source of the funding gap.

Under Lara’s bill, the state would allocate funds to a loan pool at each campus, to be administered by the school and eventually replenished through loan repayments. State legislative analysts estimate the cost to be $6.9 million the first year. The UC and CSU estimate as many as 2,100 undocumented students could borrow just over $9 million the in the first year alone. The senator has called on the two college systems to match state contributions.

“We invest in California students from an early age and many of them have done what we’ve asked them to do: work hard, study and pursue a higher education,” said Lara. “If we’re serious about strengthening our economy then we must remove obstacles for our future workforce when they’re close to the graduation finish line,” he said in a statement.

Napolitano says the bill is about opportunity and fairness.

“We should work as hard as we can to ensure that they have every chance to succeed,” she says.

The state already has extended in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants and made them eligible to apply for Cal Grants.

Lara said, “Continuing to invest in our future and ensuring that all students have access to the funding resources they need to succeed should be a top priority.”

Information from the California News Service was used in this report.

 

Vigil Held for El Monte Victim of Bus Crash

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Ramon Castro, (left) wears his older brother Adrian’s letterman jacket, as he and the two young men’s father, Raul, (right) listen to speaker after speaker described the 19-year-old as someone who was well liked, a good son and friend, and a talented athlete. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Ramon Castro, (left) wears his older brother Adrian’s letterman jacket, as he and the two young men’s father, Raul, (right) listen to speaker after speaker described the 19-year-old as someone who was well liked, a good son and friend, and a talented athlete. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

More than three thousand people attended a vigil Monday for popular El Monte High School senior Adrian Castro, who was killed in a tragic crash in Northern California that claimed the lives of 10 people, including five southern California high school students.

The students were scheduled to visit Humboldt State University in Arcata when a FedEx big rig hit their bus head-on around 5:30 p.m. on April 10. The students had been accepted or were considering attending the university.

The 48 occupants of the bus included 44 students, 19 from 11 LA Unified schools. The CHP said 9 people died at the scene, and one person who suffered severe burns died at a hospital. 31 people were taken to seven hospitals following the crash.

April 17, 2014

April 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

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