Ferguson Exposes the Creeping Militarization of Police Forces

August 21, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The tragedies unfolding in Ferguson, Missouri, are doubly infuriating.

First, there is the obvious outrage of yet another unarmed black teenager being stopped by one of the town’s white police officers as he was walking to his grandmother’s home.

A scuffle ensued, and officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown (six times, including twice in the head, according to an autopsy report). The young man’s corpse was then left lying in the street for hours, during which time the police didn’t even bother to notify his family. Understandably, furious citizens have erupted in protest.

Outrage No. 2 is that Ferguson’s police, practically all of whom are white in a town that’s two-thirds black, responded to the public outcry like an occupying army.

Instead of the calm, professional, and empathetic approach required, the police confronted Ferguson with full military force, rolling out in armored “Bearcat” vehicles, hovering helicopters, riot gear, camouflage outfits, and body armor.a

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They approached the unarmed citizens with assault riffles, grenades, tear gas, night sticks, and a macho attitude. It was a tactical, commando assault on civilians, the vast majority of whom where doing what they should be doing: calling autocrats to account.

But wait: Where did this tiny town’s police force  — supposedly made up of peace officers  — get such weaponry and a military attitude? From the Pentagon.

The Defense Department has quietly been militarizing America’s police departments for the last two decades, sending billions of dollars worth of Bearcats, helicopters, machine guns, etc. to any Mayberry police chief with Rambo fantasies.

Your town and mine are being militarized too. We must halt this perversion of policing, or we’ll be the next Ferguson. For starters, tell your governor: “Don’t militarize my block.” You can do it at change.org/petitions.

 

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. OtherWords.org

 

August 1, 2013 Issue

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Seniors Beware: Scammers Have You In Their Sight

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Sadly, senior citizens continue to be the favorite targets of slick salespeople and scam artists.

We have a report that some mobile phone salespeople are tricking elders into switching their accounts from landlines to cellular companies, even when they don’t own a mobile phone.

The ruse often involves an offer to provide the unwary target with more information regarding their company; that’s when a third person is put on the line to verify that the customer has approved the transfer of service even through the word transfer was never used.

This type of false verification is called “slamming,” a word most people have never heard unless they have been victims.

The result of being “slammed” is that the telephone user can be without telephone service for a number of days.

Family, health care providers and friends may be unable to reach the victim during times of emergency. It sometimes takes days for the victim to even realize they’ve been duped and their service disconnected, especially for those seniors who receive few calls.

In some cases they are unable to get service restored for several days and are told they will no longer have the same phone number. In the interest of full disclosure, a person close to an EGP staff person has been a victim of this practice.

The scam created havoc in the victim’s life.

While the person’s landline provider protested that it was not there fault, we think protections should be put in place to make slamming more difficult.

We suggest that the company losing the account should be required to verify that the customer requested the change in service.

We’ve lately also been made aware that many seniors are getting a large number of sales calls even thought their names and numbers have been placed on the National Do Not Call list.

Perhaps the penalties for calling a no-call number need to be increased, since seniors have actually been bullied into buying merchandise, services or sending funds to scammers.

One other scam that not only seniors but other bank card owners are also falling prey to are reoccurring charges which a credit or debit card holder has not authorized while purchasing an item seen on television or heard on the radio.

These charges are usually small amounts that can escape notice on bank statements, often the number on the statement is either busy or the victim is promised a small rebate even though the charge may have occurred for a long period of time. Cardholders can request assistance from their bank or card company to have the charge stopped and to get a rebate.

These are just some of the scams mostly targeted at seniors. We urge family members, friends and caregivers to keep an eye on their senior’s accounts and even phone conversations to ensure they don’t become the victim of a scam artist or fast talking salesperson.

 

Beefing Up Food Safety

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In a 1968 comedy called The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Paul Newman is captured during World War II in Italy. After the prisoner of war spends several weeks trying to escape, his captor tells him some great news: The guards now have bullets in their guns.

The Food and Drug Administration news about food safety reminds me all too much of this scene. Guess what? They’re now going to start trying to make sure our imported food is safe!

“Under the proposed regulations…U.S. importers would, for the first time, have a clearly defined responsibility to verify that their suppliers produce food to meet U.S. food safety requirements,” reads the agency’s press release.

Let me translate this: The guardians of our food supply now have bullets in their guns.

Imported foods make up one fifth of the vegetables, half of the fruits, and more than 90 percent of the seafood we eat. The odds are that some of the food you eat is imported. And while Greek olives and French cheese sound divine, how about Chinese tilapia or Vietnamese catfish that ate human feces as part of their diet?

Yep, that’s gross, but I’m not making it up. When I reported on the safety of imported seafood, the experts I interviewed described fish farms in China where the family outhouse flows directly into the tilapia pond.

The most outrageous part of the imported seafood story happens at U.S. borders and ports, where imported food enters our country. We can’t control whether other countries think human waste is an acceptable fish food, nor can we control whether they enforce their own laws. But — in theory at least — we do control what we allow into the U.S. market.

Unfortunately, our government inspects less than 2 percent of the seafood we import — a much smaller percent than either the EU or Japan. Even the Government Accountability Office says our system is lousy.

And when the inspectors find filthy, rotting, or contaminated seafood? They don’t destroy it, they just give it back to the importers. The importers are then free to bring it in through another port, where there’s a 98 percent chance it won’t be inspected.

Nowadays, many foods have country-of-origin labeling, so you can choose to avoid imported foods from certain countries when you’re shopping at the store. But you won’t have the same option when dining out, because restaurants are exempt.

Labeling is only a partial solution. We need real food safety. And that means a regulatory system that works.

Our federal food safety system is a convoluted mess overseen by a number of different departments and agencies. Marion Nestle, author of Safe Food, famously pointed out the ridiculous nature of the system, noting that one agency regulates cheese pizza but another one regulates pepperoni. Corn dogs and bagel dogs are regulated by different agencies. So are liquid beef broth and chicken broth.

Meanwhile, many small farmers see the government as a bully who lets large corporations with intimidating legal teams off the hook yet focuses its “food safety” efforts on small, sustainable farmers who are less capable of fighting back.

Just ask Vernon Hershberger. He’s an Amish farmer who got in trouble for selling wholesome (yet illegal) foods to 200 members of a private food-buying club — and his food never made anyone sick.

How does it serve the public interest for the government to crack down on farmers like Hershberger while allowing imported foods into the country even when we know they come from countries that frequently produce unsafe food?

Let’s hope these new regulations on imported foods do the trick. But even if they do, they won’t cover all imported foods. The new system will only cover imported food that’s regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. In other words, only some of the guards now have bullets in their guns.

 

OtherWords.org columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It.

 

 

Mural, Monument Honor Former Monterey Park Recreation Worker

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Monterey Park seniors lent a “hand” this week to help create a mural in memory of a former administrator they say helped transform their senior center into one of the busiest centers in the San Gabriel Valley.

Beth Ryan, who served as the city’s recreation supervisor for over 30 years, was honored Monday with the unveiling of a mural at the Langley Senior Center. Ryan, who passed away in July 2012, had previously been honored by the city for her work in creating programs and activities for the center and for helping its seniors come together despite their cultural differences.

The Beth Ryan mural is located at the Langley Senior Center in Monterey Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The Beth Ryan mural is located at the Langley Senior Center in Monterey Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The city and the non-profit Monterey Park Friends of the Seniors decided to bestow this latest honor to mark the one-year anniversary of her passing.

Former Monterey Park mayor and Friends of the Seniors president, Frank Venti, told EGP that it was Ryan who helped everyone feel comfortable despite the city’s changing demographics, which today predominately includes different Asian groups and Latinos.

“She was able to keep harmony in all these groups,” said Venti, adding that it was “an incredible accomplishment.”

The mural, designed and painted by Muralist Nathan Mauden with help from the public, is located in the center’s lunchroom. It depicts different types of drums symbolizing the community’s different cultures, juxtaposed on an American flag along with Ryan’s portrait.

Former mayor Betty Tom Chu is also a member of the Friends group. She told EGP the mural will add “some color” to the mostly blank interior of the senior center. Chu told seniors present for the unveiling that the mural signifies the friendships forged at the Langley Center.

“The mural itself will continue to promote peace and harmony among this multi-cultural group,” said Chu. “When you bring people together in activities that cross multi-cultural lines you begin to become friends with each other.”

Seniors and residents contributed to the creation of the mural by getting their hands dirty. Each person dipped their hands in paint and placed them on the mural to collectively create the artwork.

“All of us participated to make this come to life,” Chu said. “It brought everyone together, it wasn’t somebody else doing it.”

A monument honoring Ryan was also unveiled the same day at Beth Ryan Park, a pocket park located adjacent to the center.

Funds for the mural and the monument were raised by Friends of the Seniors. According to Chu, money for the mural came from big donors like Steven Forbes and the White House Historical Association, with the help of Ryan’s son, Frederick J. Ryan Jr., who worked with President Ronald Reagan before becoming the chairman of the board of trustees for the Ronald Reagan Library.

“Beth Ryan’s reputation has spread beyond Monterey Park,” Chu noted.  “As a result of his [Frederick’s] involvement, people understand the work that she has done here.”

EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

Ryan’s biggest accomplishment was founding the Friends of the Seniors organization at the center, Monterey Park Recreation and Community Service Director Dan Costley told EGP. She also helped obtain funds to expand the center and update equipment, like computers.

“This is her one-year remembrance and tribute to her,” Venti said. “It’s going to be very hard to ever find somebody like her.”

 

Langley Center is located at 400 W. Emerson Ave. Monterey Park, 91754.

 

How Solitary Confinement in Pelican Bay Almost Drove Me Mad

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

How can I make anyone understand what it’s like to cling desperately to the hope of someday being heard because that’s the only hope left? That’s one reason why the hunger strike going on across California’s prisons matters. It might just keep that hope alive for prisoners locked down in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing and Administrative Segregation Units (known as the SHU).

At the age of eighteen years, four months, and six days, I was cast into the SHU where I stayed for two and half years, alone, without a window, a television, or a radio. (Mail, when it came, was delayed for months at a time.)

My only real distractions were the terrifying and gut-wrenching sounds and smells of grown men reaching their breaking points: crying, screaming, banging; blood and feces being smeared on walls and bodies; Correctional Officers (C/Os) yelling, shooting pepper spray… and puking.

I found a small measure of comfort in books and in treasured conversations through the ventilation system, with older men whose faces I’d never see (conversing with anyone face-to-face was so rare as to be nonexistent). There was also the sound of my door being padlocked shut whenever there was a tsunami warning, meaning that if a tsunami did wash over us, the inmates’ only hope is that death comes quickly. Maybe that sound was the most dehumanizing of all, because to realize you matter so little to other human beings is not a feeling one gets used to, or ever forgets.

There were seven inmate suicides during my time in the SHU. None of them surprised me. As an eighteen-year-old with my entire life ahead of me, I understood why people wanted to die.

To combat the temptation to follow my neighbors into the afterlife, I exercised with extreme vigor, I wrote, I studied family photos, as well as images I found in old magazines, imagining myself in the places and situations depicted. These offered at least the illusion of escape from the bare cement walls that always seemed to be closing in on me. Such relief came at a cost — a progressive separation from my real life. I could get so lost in my fantasies (about home, barbecues, beaches, about committing violent crimes, about sex, building my dream house, about any number of things) that the slightest interruption — the sound of the food port being unlocked at dinnertime — could hurl me into fits of anger, depression, anxiety attacks. Living in the SHU was literally driving me mad.

On the bright side, there is a bakery in Pelican Bay. We’d often get fresh baked cookies in our lunches. They were delicious. Sometimes, though, C/Os [correction officers] would remove them from some of the lunches for their own enjoyment. They were that good, good enough to make someone squash an inmate’s only sense of relief, perhaps his only source of joy, with a dirty boot before passing in the tray. “You really have to try one…”

I spent two and a half years in the SHU, ostensibly as punishment for a fistfight with another inmate (I was charged with battery with no serious injury). I believe the real reason was that I had defied the Administration by refusing to participate in prison gang politics and to inform on other inmates who were active gang members. You could say I was lucky to get out in that short a time. More than 75 Pelican Bay SHU prisoners have been held in isolation for more than twenty years, and more than five times that number have been there for more than a decade.

Ironically, when I was placed in the SHU they told me it was for my own protection, and to give the prison time to evaluate my housing needs. If that “evaluation” had taken any longer, I would have lost my mind.

 

Michael Cabral has served ten years on a 15-Life sentence for murder, beginning when he was still a juvenile. His first two and a half years were spent in the Pelican Bay SHU. He spent time in Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad, and is currently at Corcoran State Prison. His writing has appeared often in The Beat Within, New America Media’s weekly publication of writing and art by juvenile detainees.

 

Monterey Park Approves Ordinance To Require ‘English’ Letters on Signs

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An ordinance requiring businesses for identification purposes to have at least one sign that uses modern Latin letters like those used in the English alphabet, was unanimously approved last week by the Monterey Park City Council. Citing public safety and economic growth concerns, the council said the change is in the city’s best interest.

A second reading of the ordinance is required before it can be formally adopted.

Monterey Park businesses will soon be required to include at least one sign using the modern Latin alphabet to identify the location.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Monterey Park businesses will soon be required to include at least one sign using the modern Latin alphabet to identify the location. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Monterey Park is home to a large Asian population and many of the signs on restaurants and businesses in the city are in an Asian language and use those languages’ characters. The new ordinance will require non-residential establishments to have at least one sign where the words are spelled out using the modern Latin alphabet, as used in English. The wording, however, does not have to be translated to English, according city officials.

At the July 22 council meeting where the ordinance was approved, Councilman Mitchell Ing said safety concerns during an emergency were behind the council’s decision to address this specific item in the zoning ordinance, which had not been updated for nearly 20 years.

“There has to be some type of language that can be pronounced phonetically so that the police and fire department can identify the business,” he said. “[My concern] is for the liability of the city if the fire department could not find a non-residential establishment because it didn’t have the sign in English.”

According to Acting Senior Planner Samantha Tewasart, however, based on a “windshield survey,” only one business appeared to not be in compliance. She told EGP that the ordinance is being adopted as a precaution to ensure businesses maintain the same standards of visibility.

The ordinance was met with loud opposition by individuals and businesses that believed the council was about to adopt an ordinance that would require businesses to replace non-English signs with signs only in English, prompting a flood of calls to city officials and staff. The debate in Monterey Park over whether businesses should be required to have signs in English is not new; it has been going on for years.

Special Projects Manager and Lead Planner James Funk said at the council meeting that previous policies requiring signs to be in English were found by the city attorney to “not meet constitutional requirements.” As a result, this time around city staff instead recommended that the ordinance be changed to require the use of characters more familiar to English speakers. They said the change would help make the city more business- and consumer-friendly, promote economic development and most importantly address safety concerns.

EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

EGP photo by Nancy Martinez

In addition, business could also change to widely used numbers, identified as Hindu Arabic in the staff report.

Resident Nancy Acuri told the council that it seems like the city sees English as a “dirty word,” and is using the constitutional argument as a loophole. She cited California’s constitution as stating English is the state’s official language.

“This is crazy to change the signs to the modern Latin alphabet signs, they’re going to read the same,” said Acuri.

For example, a restaurant called “Ne-How” may use logographic script —such as the Han characters used by Chinese, Korean and Japanese languages — to spell out its name, but simply requiring the phonetic pronunciation of the word does little to convey what the business is, they argue.

The ordinance would allow for non-English words so long as they can be pronounced easily, EGP was told.

The new ordinance will now also include minimum and maximum requirements for illumination and font size to help drivers and emergency personnel easily identify the location and the nature of the business.

In a letter to the council, Chief of Police Jim Smith and Fire Chief Jim Birrell said that often callers requesting emergency services use business names rather than an address. A change in the ordinance would make it easier for police and fire personnel to identify the business.

The ordinance will go into affect 30 days after it is formally adopted on August 7.

Closure of Lincoln Heights Field Office Stings, Say Stakeholders

August 1, 2013 by · 8 Comments 

An office in Lincoln Heights that has served as the Council District 1 (CD-1) field office for nearly 25 years, despite turnovers in council representatives, has closed at the direction of newly installed Councilman Gil Cedillo.

The councilman has opted to move the field office to the historic Highland Park Masonic Building at 5577 N. Figueroa St., the same location where his election campaign was headquartered. The new location will still be easily accessible to Lincoln Heights residents, and be more convenient for people living in other parts of the district, Cedillo’s staff told EGP.

On Tuesday, members of the Lincoln Heights business community told EGP that while they don’t understand why the councilman decided to close the office that has served the community well for nearly a quarter of a century, they recognize Cedillo’s right to choose where his office is located. They emphasized, however, that the closure will leave a huge void in the community, and noted the office had been used by council members representing Lincoln Heights since 1989, when then-councilwoman, now-Supervisor Gloria Molina first opened it.

Vera Padilla, a member of both the Lincoln Heights Chamber and Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council, told EGP the office was in a great location and a resource in an area where many services are lacking.

“There was always an open door policy. We were so close to [former councilman] Ed Reyes’ office we could go in and out at any time with any problems that we had … Now we will have to travel to Glassell Park until the Highland Park field office is opened,” Padilla said.

Manny Rodriguez, a lifelong resident of Lincoln Heights, said the field office’s closure was a “bitter blow.”

“I wish we would have been consulted on that as well as his [Cedillo’s] choice for field representatives. Those are two decisions that are not easy to digest,” Rodriguez said.

Cedillo’s spokesperson Fredy Ceja told EGP poor accessibility and visibility were the reasons why the field office was being relocated.

“We understand that the Lincoln Heights office has physically been there for 25 years. We feel that the office was not in a visible or accessible location and was not inviting to community folks,” Ceja told EGP in a written statement.

“We felt that it was time for change. The Highland Park office will be easily accessible by bus, Metro rail, and has ample parking,” Ceja told EGP.

Some Lincoln Heights stakeholders, however, say they aren’t convinced.

Steven Kasten, of Steven Kasten Realty Inc. and president of the Lincoln Heights Chamber of Commerce, says the office was located on one of the most prominent corners of the North Broadway business corridor. It was across from Bank of America and an elevator made the second floor location easily accessible to the elderly and disabled, said Kasten, who happens to own the property where the office was located but says that’s not why he favored it remaining in Lincoln Heights.

Kasten pointed out that there are several city parking lots nearby and a bus stop right at the corner, giving the location “great accessibility to Lincoln Heights and all CD-1.”

Richard Macias, a Lincoln Height attorney and immediate past president of the chamber, is not as upset as some of his colleagues. He says the Lincoln Heights community was lucky to have the field office in their neighborhood for as long as they did, speculating that if the economy had been better, Reyes might have accepted the expense of moving to another part of the district.

Macias points out that Cedillo is not the only official in recent times to leave Lincoln Heights, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez moved his field office to Echo Park.

Kasten sees that as part of the larger problem of poor representation for Lincoln Heights over the years.

“People get elected here and then they do not open a field office, case in point, Jimmy Gomez and the new councilman. When Javier Becerra was first elected to Congress, he had a field office in Lincoln Heights and he chose to open his field office in Eagle Rock on Colorado Blvd, [and] on Sunset Blvd [in Echo Park],” Kasten said, adding they believe Becerra’s staff made that decision because they didn’t like the area.

He said Lincoln Height’s biggest problem is the erroneous image the area has had for decades. “… People think it’s a high-crime area, its unsafe” and then the elected officials won’t open a field office in the area, which he says makes it harder to attract businesses to the neighborhood just northeast of downtown Los Angeles. He said the image that area is overrun by “gangs and crime and unsafe” is far from the truth.

“We have the lowest crime rate in the City of Los Angeles and the Hollenbeck Division. Businesses do well here,” he said, noting that the area’s business improvement district sees to it that “graffiti is painted over immediately and streets are clean.” But “every time you have something negative it sets you back.”

Kasten said not having the field office of any elected officials hurts. “Now we have no one, there is not one representative with a field office in Lincoln Heights,” he laments.

Chamber’s secretary Vivian Villaseñor said when Reyes was first elected he may have acted vindictively toward the chamber because the president at the time had supported his opponent. She says she can’t help but wonder if Cedillo is doing the same thing.

While the chamber did not endorse a candidate, individuals members did and that may have contributed to the perception that the Lincoln Heights Chamber endorsed Cedillo’s opponent Jose Gardea, she said.

Maria Denis is with Sacred Heart High School and says her experience so far with Cedillo’s office has her worried. She says calls to his field office aren’t returned and he cancelled a luncheon speaking engagement. Now he’s moved his field office out of the community, she said.

Denis, however, still hopes Cedillo will meet with the chamber to discuss their concerns and reassure them that he does care about Lincoln Heights.

Villaseñor told EGP that while Highland Park has been undergoing gentrification and some see it as an up and coming or more desirable neighborhood, the area still has a lot of crime and vacant storefronts, specifically along North Figueroa near the post office, so she doesn’t understand why Cedillo would choose Highland Park over Lincoln Heights.

“I come from Highland Park, it is a rough area. You don’t walk around there at night because it’s not safe and yet the councilman chooses to be out there.” She said there are a lot of homeless in Highland Park, a lot of panhandlers,” adding she feels like he is pitting one neighborhood against the other.

Former Councilman Ed P. Reyes only had one field office, the now closed Lincoln Heights location at 163 S. Avenue 24. Cedillo plans to eventually have three, including the field office in Glassell Park that used to be the CD-13 field office for former councilman, now Mayor Eric Garcetti. The office was inherited through redistricting, according to Ceja, who notes that all of Glassell Park is now in CD-1. Cedillo hopes to open the third office in the Pico Union/Westlake area sometime in the future.

Cedillo’s move to Highland Park has not been without controversy in that neighborhood either. The opening has been delayed to next month, after it was discovered that windows in the historic building, located in a historic preservation zone, had been replaced without authorization. The building’s co-owner, Hector Cruz, says Cedillo is not to blame for the window controversy, and had nothing to do with them being replaced.

Cedillo’s spokesperson told EGP that the councilman’s office is working with the owner to resolve the issues. “We’re not in a rush to get in there. We want to respect the historic nature of the building,” Ceja said.

Cruz told EGP that the building has been a field or campaign office for several elected officials, including former councilwoman and assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, Sen. Kevin De Leon and former mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Cruz declined to state the rental costs for the newly remodeled space.

Cedillo’s office said they don’t yet have the final cost for the Highland Park office, but “We will be more than happy to share that information with you once the project is completed,” Ceja told EGP.  “That is public information and is available to the public at any time.”

The Lincoln Heights stakeholders said they are looking forward to Aug. 8 when Cedillo’s Listening Tour is scheduled to stop in Lincoln Heights.

 

The Lincoln Heights Chamber of Commerce will meet on Aug. 6, and the public is invited to attend. The Chamber office is located at 2716 N. Broadway, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90031. 

 

Lincoln Heights Pierde Oficina Municipal Que Tuvo Durante Casi 25 Años

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Después de casi 25 años y después del liderazgo de varios concejales, la oficina en Lincoln Heights del Primer Distrito del Concejo de Los Ángeles (CD-1) se ha cerrado, ya que el nuevo Concejal Gil Cedillo ha optado mejor abrir su oficina local en Highland Park.

La nueva oficina de Cedillo, que atenderá a Lincoln Heights y otras comunidades, estará localizada en el edificio histórico masónico de Highland Park, en 5577 N. Figueroa St., donde Cedillo tuvo la sede de su campaña electoral.

 

Highland Park Masonic Building - Los Angeles California

La oficina del Concejal Cedillo en el edificio histórico masónico de Highland Park esta programado a abrirse a fines de agosto. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

El martes, los miembros de la comunidad de Lincoln Heights dijeron a EGP que no entendían por qué Cedillo cerró la oficina en Lincoln Heights, pero acordaron que Cedillo tenía el derecho de elegir donde tener su oficina. Sin embargo, también acordaron que la oficina cerrada será un vacío porque la

Vera Padilla, integrante de la Cámara de Comercio de Lincoln Heights y del Concejo Vecinal de Lincoln Heights, dijo a EGP que la oficina era una localización ideal para ellos y fue un recurso siempre disponible.

“Siempre tenían una política de puertas abiertas… podríamos entrar y salir en cualquier momento con cualquier problema que teníamos… ahora tendremos que viajar a Glassell Park—hasta que se abra la oficina de Highland Park”, dijo Padilla.

Manny Rodríguez, residente de Lincoln Heights por toda su vida, dijo que el cierre de la oficina de campo fue un “golpe duro”.

“Me hubiera gustado que nos hubieran consultado sobre eso [cambio de ubicación], así como la contratación de los representantes locales [de Cedillo]. Esas dos decisiones no son fáciles de digerir”, dijo Rodríguez.

El vocero de Cedillo, Fredy Ceja dijo a EGP que accesibilidad y visibilidad fueron las razones porque se translado la oficina de campo.

“Entendemos que la oficina de Lincoln Heights estuvo físicamente allí durante 25 años. Creemos que esa oficina no estaba en un lugar muy visible ni accesible, y no era acogedor a la gente de la comunidad. Nos pareció que era el momento para hacer un cambio. La oficina de Highland Park será fácilmente accesible por autobús, tren ligero de Metro, y cuenta con un amplio estacionamiento,” Ceja dijo a EGP en un comunicado.

Sin embargo, algunas partes interesadas de Lincoln Heights no están muy convencidos por esa explicación.

Steven Kasten, de Steven Kasten Realty Inc. y presidente de la Cámara de Comercio de Lincoln Heights, dice que la ubicación de la oficina estaba en uno de los rincones más destacados de la calle N. Broadway, y tenía un elevador para que las personas mayores y personas con discapacidades puedan acceder el segundo piso. Además, varios estacionamientos de la ciudad están cercas y una parada de autobús esta justo en la esquina. “Tenía una gran accesibilidad a Lincoln Heights y a todo CD-1”, dijo Kasten.

Por otra parte, Richard Macías, un abogado en Lincoln Heights y el ex presidente de la Cámara de Lincoln Heights, dijo que la comunidad de Lincoln Heights tuvo suerte de tener esa oficina por tantos años, especulando que si la economía hubiera estado mejor, el ex concejal Ed P. Reyes hubiera hecho el gasto de trasladar su oficina a otra parte del distrito hace mucho.

Macías señaló que el Asambleísta Jimmy Gómez también cerro su oficina de Lincoln Heights y la trasladó a Echo Park.

Kasten lo ve como un problema mayor de la representación de Lincoln Heights en los últimos años.

“La gente se elige aquí y luego no abren una oficina de campo aquí, los ejemplos son Jimmy Gómez y el nuevo concejal. Cuando Javier Becerra fue elegido por primera vez al Congreso, él tenía una oficina en Lincoln Heights y eligió moverla a Eagle Rock en Colorado Blvd.., y a Sunset Blvd. [en Echo Park]”, dijo Kasten.

“Nuestro problema mayor es nuestra imagen, que se remonta a décadas, la gente piensa que es una zona de alta criminalidad, que no es seguro y no quieren abrir una oficina aquí. Por eso no hemos atraído más empresas por nuestra imagen de pandillas y de crimen, de ser una zona insegura—lo cual es muy lejos de la verdad”, dijo Kasten. “Tenemos la tasa de criminalidad más baja de la ciudad de Los Ángeles y la División Hollenbeck. Las empresas aquí están muy bien.”

Villaseñor dijo que ella sentía que cuando Reyes fue elegido por primera vez, él le tuvo coraje contra la Cámara de Lincoln Heights porque el presidente de la cámara en aquel entonces había apoyado a su oponente. Ella se preguntaba si lo mismo podría estar pasando con Cedillo.

La Cámara no respaldó un candidato durante la reciente elección, pero los miembros individuales sí apoyaron personalmente a los candidatos que preferían, lo cual pudo haber contribuido a la percepción de que la Cámara de Lincoln Heights respaldaba al adversario de Cedillo, José Gardea, dijeron.

Kasten dijo que la Cámara de Lincoln Heights nunca ha respaldado a ningún candidato, y todos los candidatos fueron invitados a foros en la cámara, incluyendo Cedillo.

Maria Denis, de la preparatoria Sacred Heart, dijo que su experiencia con la oficina de Cedillo hasta la fecha la hizo preocuparse. Las llamadas a la oficina de campo no fueron devueltos, Cedillo canceló su apariencia como orador en un almuerzo anterior, y ahora ha mudado su oficina fuera de la comunidad.

Mientras que el ex concejal Reyes sólo tenía una oficina de campo—en la ubicación ahora cerrada en 163 South Avenue 24—Cedillo planifica tener tres oficinas.

Cedillo actualmente tiene una oficina en Glassell Park, que solía ser una oficina CD-13. Esa oficina de campo fue heredada por la redistribución de distritos, según Ceja, quien explicó que todo Glassell Park se encuentra ahora en CD-1, pero antes de la redistribución de Glassell Park se dividía entre tres distritos municipales.

La tercera oficina podría estar en el área de Pico-Union/Westlake en un futuro lejano.

El 8 de agosto, Cedillo tendrá una reunión en Lincoln Heights como parte de su gira de charlas, la reunión esta programada para las 6:30pm a 8pm en el Centro de Jubilados de Lincoln Heights, en 2323 Workman Street, Los Ángeles 90031.

 

Dodgers: Holding Tight To First Place In the West

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno

EGP photo by Fred Zermeno

Chris Capuano (pictured) of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched a three hitter on Sunday and takes a 1-0 victory in 11 innings with a solo walk off homerun by none other than the rookie sensation Yasiel Puig to win the game. The Dodgers took 3 of 4 games from the Central Division Cincinnati Reds. On Wednesday, the Men in Blue had a 3 1/2 lead in the West. They are the best team on record since June 20 and have come from 9 1/2 games back to first place in one month. The Dodgers will travel to Chicago and St. Louis this week before coming home next weekend to host the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

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