Authorities Monday identified a man who was fatally shot in an apparent gang-related attack in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the Boyle Heights area.
Ramon Gerardo Vera, 25, was gunned down about 12:20 a.m. Saturday in the 2900 block of East Olympic Boulevard and died at the scene, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
“Someone shot him multiple times with a 12-gauge shotgun,” according to a police statement.
Detectives believed the shooting was gang-related. Anyone with more information on the crime was urged to call police at (323) 342-8957, or (877) LAPD-247.
Ambitious students attending East Los Angeles College who are having a hard time paying for college may have a new financial resource, thanks to a $ 1 million dollar gift from a former Montebello Unified school teacher.
Blanca Flanagan Rios died in March 2012 at the age of 99. Before she passed, the longtime Monterey Park resident included in her trust a bequest to establish the Blanca F. Rios Scholarship Trust at ELAC. A fund was also established at Cal State University, Los Angeles.
The gift is one of the largest ever received by ELAC, according to the college’s announcement.
ELAC President Marvin Martinez accepted the donation from Rio’s family at a reception held in March at the college.
“East Los Angeles College is extremely grateful for this generous gift and will make sure that Blanca F. Rios’ legacy continues the work she dedicated her life to,” Martinez said. “Many of our students have real financial need and Ms. Rios’ generosity will allow them to get the education they deserve.”
The gift includes a $15,000 donation to support ELAC’s Helen Miller Bailey Library.
Rios taught Spanish at Schurr High School in Montebello before retiring in 1977.
“Education was first and foremost to Aunt Blanca,” her nephew, Richard Espinoza said. “As a teacher, she worked with children who she knew could be successful in college, but came from families who couldn’t afford to send them. She wanted to help make sure that students who are college material have the ability to get to go to college.”
Full-time ELAC students with a minimum B average and financial need will be able to apply for the scholarship this spring. Students should also have knowledge, understanding and appreciation of Mexican culture and history, according to the ELACC announcement.
Less than 5 percent of the participants in federally funded clinical trials are non-white, and less than 2 percent of clinical cancer research studies focus on non-white ethnic or racial groups, UC Davis researchers have found.
Researches said the findings, published online last month in Cancer are worrisome given the increase in cancer cases among the country’s diverse populations, especially in states with large ethnic populations, like California.
Clinical trials are considered essential for the discovery and development of better drugs and treatments for cancer. Participation in trials has been shown to lower cancer mortality in patients with some types of tumors.
However, according to researchers at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, ethnic adults are nearly completely absent from clinical trials going on today, despite a 20 year old Congressional mandate that all research funded by the National Institutes of Health include a representative number of minority participants.
Researchers examined online citations from medical publications to determine how frequently data based on minorities in clinical trials were reported and analyzed.
Professor Moon Chen, the study’s lead researcher, said a greater emphasis on minority-focused research and recruitment of racially diverse participants is needed, akin to efforts decades ago to include more women.
“The proportion of minorities in clinical research remains very low and is not representative of the U.S. population with cancer,” said Chen, the cancer center’s associate director for cancer control. “What is needed is deliberate effort. Minorities are not hard to reach. They are hardly reached.”
Chen and his colleagues searched NIH online data – ClincalTerials.gov – to determine the number of clinical trials with an emphasis on a particular ethnic population. They found that only about 150 trials, out of about 10,000, or less than 2 percent, met the criteria.
The study’s authors concluded that the overall participation of adult minorities is not proportional to their representation in the U.S. population. For example, blacks experience the highest incidence of cancer (593.7 cases per 100,000 people) but, along with Hispanics, have the lowest rates of cancer clinical trials participation at 1.3 percent.
By contrast, researchers found that in clinical trials involving patients under age 15, minority representation among children is excellent, either equal to or greater than their proportion of the population.
“The record of participation by racial/ethnic populations in pediatric clinical trials suggests that a comparable record is potentially achievable in clinical trials for adults,” the authors stated in the study.
Karen Kelly, a co-author and associate director for clinical research at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the value of participation by ethnic groups is well documented, citing as an example the development of an oral treatment for lung cancer that resulted from observing lung tumors in Asians.
“In lung cancer, it opened our eyes,” said Kelly. “Clinical trials in diverse populations can help us understand the biology of disease, and why a drug may produce a higher response rate and higher toxicity in one group than in another. Moreover by targeting the population most likely to benefit from a novel treatment we can accrue patients more quickly to clinical trials that will lead to faster results.”
The authors acknowledged that barriers, such as mistrust, costs, transportation and cultural differences, contribute to the lower minority participation rate, but suggest that using more “culturally sensitive” educational materials and “specially trained patient navigators” could make a difference.
“The solution is not changing the attitudes of minorities but rather in ensuring access to health research,” the authors argued. Clinical trials should be designed to include and focus on specific populations, and scientific journals should insist on appropriate representation and analyses of NIH-funded research by race and ethnicity, they concluded.
“Whatever happens in the laboratory or in the clinic needs to be applied to solving real-world problems, and those relate to the disproportionate effects of cancer and other diseases on racial and ethnic minorities,” said Chen.
A part of Los Angeles history could soon be on display, according to Councilman Gil Cedillo who helped secure support for preserving the “Zanja Madre” public viewing.
The Zanja Madre, or Mother Ditch, was recently discovered during construction for a new plaza in Chinatown, at the former site of Little Joe’s Restaurant, a popular eatery for decades in Los Angeles.
The Zanja Madre is the original aqueduct that brought water from the Los Angeles River to the Pueblo de Los Angeles, and is credited as a factor in the survival and growth of the city.
Cedillo, whose district includes Chinatown, said he wanted to make sure the important discovery is preserved for years to come. Approximately 40 feet of the ‘Zanja Madre’ will be displayed in sections at the future Blossom Cultural Plaza, the Los Angeles Historic State Park, and as part of Metabolic Studios’ Los Angeles River Water Wheel project.
“I am extremely excited about this significant discovery of the Zanja Madre, which served as the lifeline to the survival and early development of Los Angeles, and which has survived nearly 130 years below the former Little Joe’s parking lot just south of Capitol Milling,” stated Cedillo in a press release.
A portion of the aqueduct was discovered earlier this month at the Forest City’s Blossom Plaza in Chinatown. After notifying the city and working with the Office of Historic Resources, Metabolic Studios and Forest City agreed to carefully excavate the Zanja Madre in its entirety, according to a Cedillo’s press release.
“This is a true example of a successful public-private partnership where the community will truly benefit,” Cedillo added.
The Zanja Madre is scheduled to be removed on April 26.
The mother ditch was built in 1781, within a month of the city’s founding. The water system was mostly used for household and irrigation purposes until 1860. By 1904 the aqueduct was no longer used as a water source, according to Cogstone’s 2004 report, which was prepared for Metro when parts Zanja Madre were discovered along the Gold Line.
Water & Power is a film that looks and feels like a dark crime drama but aims to ultimately portray a message of love and family in Latino culture. Adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, Writer-Director Richard Montoya is unapologetic for his film’s gritty depictions of corruption in city politics and law enforcement in order to present a world that is very real to the people living in East Los Angeles, but is in many ways an American story.
Montoya, a co-founder of the famed Chicano performance troupe Culture Clash, has served as a writer, director and actor on stage and television. Water & Power is his feature film debut.
The film centers on two brothers nicknamed Water and Power by their father, a hardworking irrigation field man for, naturally, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The father utilizes unconventional methods to instill a bond between his sons to always look out for one another as they pursue their own life ambitions.
You can’t have power without water and you can’t have water without power, is the father’s message to his sons.
Water is now a rising political star as a California State Senator with plans for federal office. Power is a top cop in an elite LAPD unit. One brother’s ill fated attempt to save the other leads the two of them to a seedy motel room on the eastern edge of Sunset Boulevard on a rare stormy night in Los Angeles. Through a series of tense emotional confrontations, the brothers must decide how to survive the night without destroying the legacy of their father, or betraying each other.
Filmed in just 12 days, Water & Power does not hold back on the visuals. Landmarks familiar to anyone who has spent time in East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights or downtown L.A. are seen throughout. Images of uniformed cops using drugs, guns and gangsters dominate the film. In this world with no clearly labeled good and evil, the central characters must make decisions that will lead to serious consequences for everyone.
Nicholas Gonzalez who portrays Power, says the film’s story goes beyond the darkness.
“For me it was about portraying the character’s love and intent behind his actions,” Gonzalez said. “Everything that happens afterwards is for the preservation of his brother’s life without much care for his own.
“For me it’s more the love, and through that there is a lot of darkness we are willing to do for family and out of love for another person.”
Montoya began the process to adapt the stage drama for the silver screen as a Sundance Film Institute fellow in 2007. Over the course of four years he was confronted with the reality that what works on stage doesn’t always transfer to film.
“Pretty much what we have done is beat the play out of the movie,” Montoya said. “The language of cinema is completely visual and we kinda had to start from scratch.”
“To me the story of the brothers resonates in more quieter ways in the film. When they are not yelling, when it’s not intense, when they are just kinda looking at each other, remembering something, or holding each other in an intimate way.”
One of the noticeable differences between the stage production and the film is the heavy presence of gang culture, highlighted by the film’s paralyzed homeboy narrator, Norte/Sur, played by Emilio Rivera of Sons of Anarchy fame.
“I have heard the point of view of ‘here comes the gangs’, ‘the cholos,’” said Montoya. “But no one films it right. No one gets it right.”
“We have to be honest about this story at least. Lo and behold in the end the moral compass of the story is a guy in a wheelchair? That’s what Father Boyle [Homeboy Industries] believes. I believe it’s a possibility.”
Montoya says it is important to confront the truth, even in all its discomfort, before you can move forward to a better outcome.
“From the Rampart cops, to the Catholic Archdiocese, who do you trust in L.A.? Who do you trust? A cop? I don’t know. A Latino mayor? I don’t know. The bishop?” Montoya asked. “I don’t know. It’s just an incredible institution.”
“I am not saying everything is corrupt. In a world of the ‘Godfather’ and ‘Chinatown’ everything was corrupt, except for these little glimmers of hope. I am just trying to be honest about that.”
“The brothers switch from good guys to bad guys throughout the night. I’m not saying the cholo has angel wings around him because he is a flawed guy too. But in the end he kinda holds the two brothers together.”
One person who is enthusiastically on board with Montoya’s vision is none other than Edwards James Olmos. As a result, the top of the promotional posters for the film state, “Presented by Edwards James Olmos.”
“I want you to know I’ve never done this before,” Olmos said. “It’s a very, very, incredible thing Richard has done,” Olmos said about the film.
The iconic Chicano actor provides a valuable platform for the independent film and with starring roles in Stand and Deliver, American Me, Mi Familia and Selena, a direct connection to the Latino film audience.
“The writing of this piece, nothing compares to this. I have been involved in great pieces of work that have happened to be of Latino base and nothing compares to this writing.”
For Olmos, it is humor that holds the dark cautionary story together. “This writing is so deep inside the psychology of what it’s talking about, that it is funny. It’s a tragedy but it’s funny.”
Olmos, a fan of the play, was moved when he saw the film version at the L.A. Film Institute. He approached the AMC theater chain to release the film according to a report published in Variety magazine. The film is scheduled for a limited run in selected AMC theaters in Los Angeles and other cities on May 2.
“I’m very proud and honored to be a part of this, to bring this out to life,” Olmos said. “And I pray to God that people see this movie.”
When Water & Power concludes its long journey into theaters, Montoya hopes audiences will connect with the realism in the film.
“I want to see the beautification of East Los Angeles. But I gotta go through the dark before I get there. I have to be honest with myself before I can get there.”
“Having just recently moved to City Terrace I am finding areas in the barrio that are just beautiful,” Montoya said. “The little shops where they make furniture, the churches, the people that struggle daily just to make it, and the people that are doing quite well there thank you very much.
“That part of East L.A., those streets are just beautiful over there. And I tried to show that in the movie, but it was shot with a critical eye, a critical eye that sharpened over the years through Culture Clash.”
Water & Power opens May 2nd in 10 AMC theaters throughout Los Angeles County area. For a list of showtimes see http://www.imdb.com/showtimes/title/tt2052015/2014-05-02
Today, Thursday, April 24
7am-1pm—City of Vernon Hosts Blood Drive & Head Shaving Benefit. Proceeds benefit Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles & the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Refreshments and snacks will be provided. Location: Vernon Fire Station 1: 3375 Fruitland Ave. For info, call (323) 583-4821 ext. 510.
8:30-9:30am—Parenting Workshop on Managing Finances, Hosted by MUSD Head Start Program & Family Place. Session is in Spanish. Open to parents & caretakers of children age 0-5 . Session repeats at 12:15 pm. Location: 1060 S. Greenwood Ave. For more info, call (323) 728-0421
5:3-7:30pm—Free Tenant Rights Workshop Presented by the City of Montebello and the Housing Rights Center. Experts will answer questions about fair housing, evictions, security deposits, repairs and rent increases. Location: Montebello Library, 1150 W. Beverly Blvd. To R.S.V.P call Marlene at (800) 477-5977 ext. 1105.
Friday, April 25
3-7pm—2014 Montebello Chamber Business Expo at the Shops at Montebello. Free & open to the public. Exhibitors, food court & more. $10,000 raffle. For more information, go to www.montebellochamber.org.
6-11pm—Three-day Family Fiesta at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Monterey Park goes through Sun. Music, rides, raffles, food & more. Church is located at 1501 S. Atlantic Ave. Monterey Park, 91754, For more information, call (323) 264-1338.
8pm—Outdoor Free Movie Night at Montebello City Park. “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” (PG-13) is a teen-rebellion, wacky musical comedy that centers on teenager Riff Randell, who has a passion for rock and roll and disdain for education. Arrive early (4-6pm) for Oral History Drop In and contribute to community story bank by sharing a personal anecdote on camera or interviewing a friend or family member. Bring a thumb drive to take home a copy of your recording and video portrait. City Park is located at 199 S. Taylor Ave.
Saturday, April 26
8am-5pm—Monterey Park 5-Mile Bike Ride & Earth Day Festival at Barns Park. Learn to conserve energy, water and resources. Pre-register for the 8am family bike ride by emailing Javier at Javier@bikesgv.org or calling (626) 536-1044. Barnes Park: 350 S. McPherrin Ave. For more information, call (626) 307-1320.
9am-3pm—Two Free LA County Hazardous & E-Waste Roundups at South Gate Park and Roosevelt Park Senior Center (Florence-Firestone). Safely discard household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles, universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones. Locations: South Gate Park, Tweedy Blvd & Hildreth Ave in South Gate; Roosevelt Park, 7600 Graham Ave., LA. For more information, call County of LA Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to www.888CleanLA.com, contact LA County Sanitation Districts at 1 (800) 238-0172 or www.lacsd.org.
11am-2pm—Metro Gold Line Celebrates Earth Day with L.A Free Art Tour with Fallen Fruit. Three-hour event explores public art & neighborhood history from Union Station to an installation of self-portraits at the Armory Center for the Arts in Old Pasadena. Tour departs Union Station at noon. Tour is 90% walking. RSVPs recommended but not required. For more information, visit metro.net/art and click on Art Tours, or call (213) 922-4ART.
11am-6pm—Monterey Park’s Free Two-day 17th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival featuring traditional Japanese dancing, taiko drums, martial arts, origami and ikabana demonstrations. Hand-made crafts & food will be sold. Location: Barnes Park, 350 S. McPherrin Ave. For more information, call (626) 307-1390.
10am-3pm—L.A 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, April 29
10-11am— Family Place Workshop Series at Bell Gardens Library. The workshops designed to provide early childhood information about obesity. For children ages 0-3 and their parents. Presented by Ricardo Lopez Leslie Martinez from the Community Health Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital. Location: 7110 Garfield Ave. For info, call (562) 927-1309.
Wednesday, April 30
6-7pm—Celebrate Día de los Niños/Day of the Child at the Greenwood Library in Commerce. Take in “Marionettes on Parade” Puppet Show by the Franklin Haynes Marionettes. Free to attend. Library is located at 6134 Greenwood Ave., Commerce, 90040. For more information, call (562) 927-1516.
To submit an event to the Community Calendar, e-mail email@example.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 341-7970.
A 31-year-old kidnapping suspect led authorities on a chase last week from Boyle Heights to downtown Los Angeles, where he jumped out of an SUV, ran through downtown streets and disappeared inside a building.
Jesus Ramirez was arrested late April 17at the Pepper Tree Motel on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood by a fugitive task force consisting of FBI agents and Los Angeles Police Department detectives, explained Laura Eimiller of the FBI.
Ramirez was wanted in connection with a drug case and kidnapping earlier this year in St. Paul, Minn., Eimiller said.
“Our task force had been assisting with surveillance on this suspect that had started in Minnesota by the St. Paul police and had tracked him to Boyle Heights early April 17. That’s when that pursuit began,” Eimiller said.
“He escaped downtown by running into that building to hide,” Eimiller said. “It took a couple of hours to pick up his trail again but we tracked him to North Hollywood and arrested him at that motel.”
Eimiller also said she believed that Ramirez, who claimed to be a resident of Los Angeles, was indicted in Minnesota last week.
The pursuit of Ramirez began about 12:45 p.m. near Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights, said LAPD Officer Nuria Vanegas.
Ramirez, driving a burgundy Ford Expedition with Nebraska license plates and an empty child carrier in the back seat, led authorities to Broadway and Eighth Street, where he got out of the SUV and ran into a building shortly after 1 p.m.
Police set up a perimeter in the area and closed down the surrounding streets, with helicopters circling overhead. The fugitive task force was also involved in the investigation.
A man, who asked that his name not be used, said he was working to set up for a concert at the Orpheum Theater at 842 Broadway when he saw officers chasing Ramirez in the alley.
“I saw him run down the alley and when I saw the helicopters, I knew something was going on,” he told Video News West.
The man also said he saw Ramirez run into the side door of the theater that leads into the lobby.
“They (the police) just had everybody move out of the way,” he said.
Officers were stationed outside the theater armed with assault rifles, according to witnesses at the scene.
Damien Bray, who was eating at the Yardhouse restaurant downtown, said he saw the suspect’s vehicle and watched law enforcement vehicles swarm the area.
“It was like right out of an action movie,” Bray said.
California’s African-American, Latino and American Indian children lag far behind white and Asian kids when it comes to access to health and education opportunities. Those are the findings of a new Kids Count policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation that measured data such as birth weights, reading and math levels, and family support.
According to Laura Speer, Casey Foundation associate director, the report is valuable because the Census Bureau is projecting children of color will represent a majority of American kids by 2018, and by 2030 the majority of the U.S. labor force will be people of color.
“We think it’s a really critical time for the country to focus on improving outcomes for these kids, since they really are going to be the future success of the country,” Speer stated.
The report found Asian pupils in California are more than five times as likely as African-American kids to score at or above proficient in eighth-grade math, and white children are more than three times as likely as African-American pupils to be reading-proficient in fourth grade.
Ted Lempert, the president of Children Now, said a child’s fourth-grade reading level is important because it’s a proven indicator of success later in life.
“One of the indicators of this study is high school students graduating on time. And, one of the best predictors of that high school graduation rate is fourth-grade reading, and so it really is an early marker of how kids are faring in the education system,” he said.
Lempert added that, while the results are very unsettling, the good news is that research shows state investments in high-quality programs for kids can make a difference. He said California is taking those steps with the new Local Control Funding Formula to address these racial inequities.
The full report is at AECF.org.
The U.S. Senate earlier this month approved an extension of long-term unemployment benefits, but hopes were dashed that a deal could be reach before Congress’ Easter recess, and most observers say the measure faces an uphill battle in the House when legislators return to work.
Last week, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California called House Republicans refusal to vote on extending unemployment benefits “immoral.”
Pelosi’s comment comes in a letter to Nevada’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, in which she thanks them for their support of extending jobless benefits to the long-time unemployed.
The governors wrote Pelosi and House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, and urged them to take up the Senate’s bill, reported Daniel Newhauser for Roll Call.
The unemployment rates in Nevada and Rhode Island, where the pace of recovery following the Great Recession has been slower than the national average, are the highest in the country.
“As you know, long-term unemployment remains unacceptably high despite the fact that our economy has been recovering from the worst recession in generations. When our country has experienced similar rates of long-term unemployment in the past, Congress has consistently acted in a bipartisan fashion to extend emergency unemployment benefits,” the governors wrote.
In response, Pelosi wrote: “It is unconscionable” that the House has failed to act. “Never before has Congress allowed emergency unemployment insurance to expire while long-term unemployment rates have remained so high.”
“House Republicans’ refusal to extend emergency unemployment insurance is callous, shortsighted and immoral,” Roll Call reported Pelosi wrote.
There are Republicans who believe a compromise can be reached to move forward passage when the legislative body returns from its recess. Some republicans want job-related measures added to the bill and to then send it back to the Senate. According to Roll Call, Boehner is waiting for those proposals to come from the White House before he will consider moving ahead, but there seems to be little support in the GOP Conference for passing an extension.
In the meantime, the California Department of Employment Development, (EDD), which oversees the state’s unemployment benefits program, on last week put the number of Californians who have now run out of benefits at nearly 1.3 million.
On Friday of last week, according to EDD, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Los Angeles County was holding steady at 8.7 percent in March, compared to the previous month, and was below the 10.1 percent rate in March 2013.
Total nonfarm employment increased by 18,900 jobs in Los Angeles County between February and March to reach nearly 4.2 million. The government sector accounted for the bulk of the increase, adding 5,700 jobs, according to the EDD.
About 431,000 people were unemployed in March in Los Angeles County, which has a labor force of nearly 5 million. Statewide, 1.5 million people were unemployed, up slightly from February.