August 15 2013 Issue

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130815-FRONTPAGES-11

Chicano Moratorium Commemoration at Salazar Park

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August 24

3:30pm-7:30pm— March and vigil at Ruben Salazar Park in memory of those who died during the East Los Angeles Riots of 1970 and 1971. The march will begin at the park and proceed to the location of Ruben Salazar’s death. A vigil will follow the march. The event is sponsored by The Chicano Round Table, Lorena Jaramillo and David Sanchez Ph.D. Salazar Park is located at 3864 Whittier Blvd., L.A. 90023.

 

 

 

Students Return to a New Garfield High

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Wide-eyed freshmen looking around in awe, gave James A. Garfield High School Principal Jose Huerta a great sense of pride on the first day of school, and Huerta’s eyes were almost tearing up, he confesses, as he saw students walking by the structural glass walls lining hallways of the new high school building for the first time on Tuesday.

Principal Jose Huerta and LAUSD Boardmember Mónica García meet with Garfield HIgh School students on their first day of the 2013-2014 academic year. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Principal Jose Huerta and LAUSD Boardmember Mónica García meet with Garfield HIgh School students on their first day of the 2013-2014 academic year. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Update: Check out more photos at EGP’s Facebook Page 

Huerta says the caliber of the building, the state of the art technology inside and even basics like air conditioning—which many schools take for granted—have been a long time coming for the Bulldogs.

Garfield students and staff dealt with construction and portables for two years while construction was underway to replace two of the campuses main buildings: the administrative building with classrooms and the auditorium.

An arson fire in 2007 leveled the school’s auditorium and damaged the attached administration building, both were demolished and construction began in 2011, with the Los Angeles Unified School District later suing its property insurers for several million to reconstruct the auditorium.

While the new three-story administrative building, which is the main entrance to the campus, is complete, construction of the1,400-seat auditorium and a plaza paying homage to famed former Garfield calculus teacher Jaime Escalante is still underway. Escalante, immortalized in the movie “Stand and Deliver,” passed away in 2010.

Former LAUSD School Board member David Tokofsky, who represented School District Five at the time of the fire, was present for the first day of school campus visit with other school officials and special guests.

Tokofsky recalled the tragic fire that night and how the late Bill Orozco, a community activist, was the first to call him and others at 5:30a.m. when he learned the building was in flames.

“He was better than the fire alarm system here,” Tokofsky said kindly of Orozco, a former member of the EGP family.

Superintendent John Deasy said the construction, totaling about $41.5 million, was absolutely a good investment. “The youth [of East LA] deserve nothing less. This is a remarkable opportunity,” Deasy told EGP.

“I’m satisfied—I got to visit AP Calculus, AP Spanish classes, freshmen taking biology. Everybody was focused and everybody was doing rigorous work,” he said about his visit.

Members of the Garfield Alumni Foundation were also in attendance taking in the new campus. Ester Espinosa, director of scholarships for the Alumni Foundation, said the school had a very distinct look with brick and ivy when she attended several decades ago, nonetheless, she said the new additions were exciting, “a sign of the times” and “modern.”

On the exterior, the building looks like a monolithic and massive square with two tiers of angled windows flanking the front of the building, but the other side of the building has a curved, semi-circle shape with a courtyard and columns. The courtyard will lead to the auditorium that is still under construction.

Maria Brenes, InnerCity Struggle executive director, said the campus has a college feel and will be a “game changer” for Garfield.

“I think it sets the bar high for all of us to support the students. I don’t think we have any more excuses for students not achieving success, we should expect all students to graduate and be prepared for college—and if they chose to go, great. They have the preparation and skills to do it,” Brenes said.

Brenes said the new high school building could also have ripples in the community and change perceptions. “I mean Garfield is a symbol of success and hope,” she said.

She also commended Principal Huerta and the teachers for implementing a new program approved under the Public School Choice reform a few years ago.

Garfield High School students return to a renovated campus Tuesday. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Garfield High School students return to a renovated campus Tuesday. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Garfield is also one of few LAUSD schools that have opened on-site health clinics with the goal of addressing underlying health issues that could cause students to miss school. The Garfield “Wellness Center” that opened late last year, is available to students and community members. The center is managed by Bienvenidos Children’s Center.

The new administrative building houses 12 classrooms for students in different grades and from different small learning communities. About 70 percent of the students come from Career & Performing Arts Academy because they were previously housed in bungalows, Huerta said.

Construction on the auditorium is expected to be completed around December or January with a community celebration and official ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for the first quarter of 2014.

 

Garfield Community Announcements 

 Donor Bricks Available : Individual bricks that will be located at the new Garfield High School Escalante Plaza are available to donors interested in supporting the campus. The pavers, which can hold up to 3 lines of written text, with no more than 18 characters per line, are available at $200 per brick. For more information call (323) 981-5577 or visit Garfieldhs.org

East LA Classic ‘Beef Bowl’: The Garfield Alumni Foundation is planning its first Beef Bowl dinner at a local restaurant for varsity football players from both Garfield and Roosevelt this year. The event is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 30 and will focus on enjoying a prime rib dinner and creating camaraderie between the two schools. The foundation is looking for sponsors and donors for the event as well as for their annual scholarship program. For more information visit GarfieldAlumniFoundation.org 

 

 

Residents to USC: ‘Leave the Park Alone’

August 15, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

Over 60 residents gathered at the Hazard Park Gym last week to voice dissent over the proposed master plan for the University of Southern California health sciences campus in Boyle Heights. While the range of objections covered all aspects of the project, the principal concern is the idea of Hazard Park being reduced in size to accommodate new roadways, specifically, the city plan to extend Norfolk Street to Soto Street to create a new entry point into the campus.

For many of the residents gathered in the gym on August 8, a follow up to a similar meeting held on August 3rd, Hazard Park is sacred ground and any plans to alter the area is grounds for suspicions. The park is considered sacred to many residents as it is the site where iconic educator Sal Castro addressed student protestors during the famed walkouts of 1968. Castro died on April 15 of this year and there is currently an ongoing effort to create a monument at the park to Castro and student participants.

Resident Laurence Calderon and USC official Martha Escutia engage in an animated discussion on parking issues amongst other concerns highlighted over the health science campus master plan. (EGP photo by Paul Aranda Jr.)

Resident Laurence Calderon and USC official Martha Escutia engage in an animated discussion on parking issues amongst other concerns highlighted over the health science campus master plan. (EGP photo by Paul Aranda Jr.)

Though the proposed Norfolk street extension would appear to have a minimal impact on the overall park, the move symbolizes a much larger concern that the deep-pocketed private university could easily expand its reach further down the line.

“[USC] are junkies,” local resident Martin Hernandez said to the delight of the crowd during the public comment. “… And they got plenty of money to pay for their habit.”

Voicing his concerns, Dave Luna, 82, demanded that the planned Norfolk extension not cut into the adjacent ball fields. USC officials earlier stated that the ball fields will not be impacted by the extension, but in an area where distrust towards both the university and the city run high, residents are not shy in expressing doubts.

For some, the distrust stems from years of frustrations at what they feel is a systematic neglect of the park and programs for local children. Luna first started coaching football and baseball at the park back in 1972. He recalls various grassroots efforts that were needed to deliver sports equipment and renovated playing fields. “There were a number of things that we did here for the park,” Luna said. “They didn’t give us a damn thing…that is why I hate to see the park cut up.”

Lawrence Calderon spent several minutes engaged in an animated conversation with former state senator Martha Escutia, who was recently hired as vice president of USC government relations. Calderon was adamant that parents need a break from the poor parking conditions at the park. Currently the lot in front of the gym can only hold a few dozen vehicles. Those who cannot obtain a spot have to use metered parking on Norfolk Street. Calderon recalled many times when he had to excuse himself from his coaching duties to put additional money into the meter during games.

During the opening remarks, Escutia summarized the recommendations and concerns expressed at the earlier meeting. Laurie Stone, executive director of land use and planning for USC Real Estate followed with a project summary and encouraged the audience to visit the four stations set up along the perimeter of the gym to comment on different components of the large-scale project. Residents mostly focused on the first two stations that covered Norfolk Street and traffic and parking.

Escutia said the August 3rd meeting wasn’t as productive because once residents completed the public comment session they walked out. In an effort to generate feedback and ideas for the plan she moved the public comment portion to the end. The switch worked as residents actively participated in most of the groups and generated a lot of excitement during the public comment portion, including many attacks against USC and Escutia herself over her tenure as a state senator. Despite the shots, Escutia expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

“Overall I thought it was a fantastic session tonight,” Escutia said. “We were finally able to get some dialogue and engagement, and writing down ideas and some good ideas came out.”

“We just have to do more of this,” she added. “It is never to late. I don’t know why people say it is too late. It is not too late.”

Escutia said no permits have been issued to begin any construction so there is plenty of opportunity for residents to share their ideas for the project.

“That’s what I am doing right now, just information gathering. It’s a process of community engagement.” Escutia added. “This is not the last time people will see me. If people want to invite me into their homes or their gym I will go.”

Eastside Councilman Accused in Workplace Sexual Harassment Complaint

August 15, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A former aide for Los Angeles Councilmember José Huizar, who represents the 14th Council District, has filed a workplace discrimination and sexual harassment complaint against him.

Francine Godoy, Huizar’s former deputy chief of staff, filed a complaint a couple of months ago and also filed a “right-to-sue” notice, according to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

“The Councilmember is surprised by the claim. He strongly and emphatically denies the assertions made in the claim sent to the city and intends to fully cooperate with the city in any investigation of this matter. Because of the potential for litigation, we cannot at this time comment on this issue any further,” Huizar’s spokesman Rick Coca told EGP in an emailed statement. “In the meantime, however, the Councilmember remains focused on delivering top-notch City services to the constituents of the 14th Council District,”

The redacted complaint alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on her gender and focuses on a date on or before April 21, as being retaliated against after rejecting sexual advances.

The complainant said Godoy was asked “impermissible non-job-related questions,” “denied a work environment free of discrimination and/or retaliation” and denied employment. The complaint also said she was forced to transfer, denied promotion and “denied ability to run for office.”

“I was subjected to sexual harassment [quid pro quo] and retaliated against when I refused advances as well as subjected to the above,” the complainant wrote in the claim.

Last week, Council President Herb Wesson called for the convening of a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight, an independent panel that reviews misconduct complaints against elected city officials, according to Wesson’s spokesperson Ed Johnson. Although he declined to identify which elected official is the target of the complaint that prompted the panel, and who filed the complaint.

The five-person panel will decide if an investigation is warranted, or if there could be an informal resolution, according to Raelynn Napper, the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator and division manager.

If an investigation is needed, the panel will direct an outside investigator to look into the claims, she said. The panel would then review the results of the investigation and decide if it will take the side of the elected official or ask him to find his or her own legal representation in the event of a lawsuit.

Godoy was identified as the person who filed the complaint against Huizar in June, by a Los Angeles Times report.

When Godoy plans to file a lawsuit is unclear. EGP could not reach Godoy for comment.

Huizar was first elected to the city council in 2005. He is married and has four small children.

 

Information from City News Service was used in this report. 

 

‘Boyle Heights City Hall’ Now Open

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The one time home of a Masonic temple and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta’s Community Service Organization, CSO, reopened last Saturday as the newly minted “Boyle Heights City Hall.”

The new Boyle Heights City Hall is located at 2130 E. 1st Street.(Office of Councilmember José Huizar)

The new Boyle Heights City Hall is located at 2130 E. 1st Street.(Office of Councilmember José Huizar)

With more than $22 million in repairs, the 89-year-old “Chicago Building,” located at 2130 E. 1st Street in Boyle Heights, will house as many as “15 city, non-profit, and community organizations and agencies offering a myriad of services and assistance and providing the type of one-stop service that is hard to match in the City of Los Angeles,” according to the office of Councilman José Huizar.

The city purchased the building in 2007, but it sustained major damage from the 2008 Chino Hills Earthquake, forcing the relocation of all the tenants, including the Council District 14 field office. Huizar helped secure the funds needed to repair and retrofit the facility built in 1924.

“Given its history of service and activism, the completion of the Boyle Heights City Hall is much more than a celebration of a massive brick and mortar improvement,” said Huizar. “It is a reminder of why we did it to begin with: to build a better community and provide a brighter future to the residents of Boyle Heights and our surrounding neighborhoods. It also completes our goal to create a Boyle Heights Civic Center at the intersection of First and Chicago, which is now home to a new Hollenbeck Police Station, Ross Valencia Pocket Park, a renovated Benjamin Franklin Library and the new Boyle Heights City Hall.”

Other groups to be housed at the facility include: the Bureau of Street Services; College Track (which helps students prepare and succeed in college); the Housing and Community Investment Department; the Economic and Workforce Development Department; Lucille Roybal Family Source Center; the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council; El Centro de Ayuda FSC; Abuelitos de Boyle Heights; Maravilla Foundation; Hollenbeck PAL; Fuego Tech; Los Angeles Youth Opportunity Movement and Girls Today, Women Tomorrow.

Festival Offers Kids, Parents A ‘Fresh Start’ For the School Year

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Up to 10,000 backpacks loaded with school supplies will be handed out to children in the Northeast Los Angeles area and L.A. neighborhoods this Saturday at Fresh Start 2013, billed as a “working families community festival.”

The last ‘Fresh Start’ festival was held in Watts and Oakland in 2011. Saturday’s event will take place at Dodger Stadium. (SEIU ULTCW)

The last ‘Fresh Start’ festival was held in Watts and Oakland in 2011. Saturday’s event will take place at Dodger Stadium. (SEIU ULTCW)

The free event at Dodger Stadium is open to the public and will feature free haircuts, live performances, entertainment and a children’s play area. It is being presented by the United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), an arm of the Service Employees International Union, in partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dodgers Foundation, California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-51) and others.

More than 60 organizations have signed up to participate in the “huge” health and resource fair, according to Wendy Carillo of ULTCW. The event will also include free health screenings and organizations will provide information about a variety of services and resources, she said.

Carillo said while this is the first time the Fresh Start festival will take place at Dodger Stadium, ULTCW has held the festival almost every year since 2010 in Los Angeles and Oakland.  It’s a way for the union to give back to the community, she said.

The union, with 125,000 members in Los Angeles County alone, and 185,000 members statewide, represents in-home care workers for the elderly and disabled, she said. Many of the union members are Spanish speakers, she said.

While cumbia-rock band “Very Be Careful,” Plaza de la Raza’s youth mariachi group and circus performers are expected to draw a large audience; attendees are being encouraged to make their way to the on-site tent where presentations on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on Californians will be presented.

The presentations will be repeated throughout the event with simultaneous translation offered in Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean and Armenian, according to Carillo.

“Its an opportunity for them [local residents] to know that health care opportunities will be available, it is a law that will affect the state and the entire nation, everyone needs to be covered,” Carillo said, explaining the presentations will be made by Covered California™, the state’s new health insurance exchange.

“This is our way to give back and inform the community about how health care laws will affect them,” Carillo added.

Assemblyman Gomez says this will be his first large-scale event —which hopes to attract over 20,000 attendees—he is supporting since taking office. He said he will be there in person to hear from his constituents.

“Most parents care about whether their kids have health care options, if there is an opportunity to listen to a presentation on the new health care options, parents will take it,” Gomez told EGP, citing a similar and recent event he held in collaboration with Sen. Ed Hernandez.

“There is a deep, deep hunger for more information,” Gomez said.

Renata Simril, senior vice president of external affairs for the Los Angeles Dodgers and a Dodgers Foundation board member, says the Dodgers have historically held back to school events focused on helping kids and young people.

“The pillars of our programs are sports and recreation, education and literacy and health and wellness benefiting children and families” in Los Angeles, Simril said.

The Dodgers are opening the facility and stadium employees will fill the backpacks, she said. Honda will be donating the cost of the backpacks, she added.

“For us, this is really a great way and a pretty significant way—we are reaching up to 10,000 kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a backpack and school supplies,” Simril said, adding the Dodger’s Foundation has a commitment to the surrounding community with its “Community of Schools” program that will be launched formally later this fall.

“There will be a lot of information on affordable care act, but most importantly will be fun for people to come out,” Carillo said.

“This is something that will be a long term priority, getting more and more people covered under the healthcare system,” Gomez concluded.

The Fresh Start festival will be held this Saturday, August. 17, from 12pm to 5pm at Dodger Stadium located at 1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles 90012. Parking and admission is free.

 

For more information visit http://www.freshstartfest.org/ 

Math Understanding is Key to Success for Girls

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An epidemic is sweeping the nation. Girls are at a disadvantage when it comes to success in math and science, and the future does not look bright if parents don’t act now.

Girls Math

In the next ten years, 80 percent of all jobs will require technical skills, according to Labor Department statistics. And jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields are expected to grow twice as fast as all jobs.

But currently, the ratio of boys to girls enrolled in STEM courses is a staggering six to one, putting girls at a severe disadvantage to excel in these fields in the future.

STEM jobs require strong mathematical aptitude. So when it comes to your daughter’s math classes, these statistics should motivate you not to let her off the hook. From design to computer science, studying math now means enjoying a world of professional options later.

How do you steer your daughters toward classes that can help them develop the skills and interests necessary to pursue these careers?

—Find math role models: Leverage your own professional network to educate your daughters about these fields. Do you have a friend who works in math, science or engineering? Ask her to talk to your kids about her job, what she studied in school, and how math applies to her everyday work and life. This discussion can be a great inspiration.

—Take a field trip: Show girls that math can be fun through weekend field trips. Visit a science museum or take a tour of an architecturally impressive building to learn how it was designed. Take your daughter’s interests into account to plan outings that will spark a deeper interest in real world mathematical applications.

—Gear up: It’s not enough to sign up for higher level math courses. Be sure your young mathematicians are equipped to succeed in their classes.

A high-quality graphing calculator is crucial. Look for models with a high-resolution color LCD and full textbook-style display that include features and functions that enhance the understanding of lessons and bring math to life. The PRIZM graphing calculator from Casio, for example, lets students create their own graphs over pictures, from a library of real-life scenes.

Some calculators even have built-in spreadsheet function.

—Be musical: When you’re listening to your favorite tunes, don’t forget that music and mathematics go hand-in-hand. Understanding the fundamental principles of music may help your daughter strengthen her visuospatial reasoning and succeed in her math courses.

In a study published by “Nature,” the science journal, students improved their mathematics test scores significantly after several months of musical training. Encourage her to join the school band or take piano lessons.

In today’s economy, having a solid mathematical foundation is becoming increasingly important. So don’t let historical gender imbalances in these fields hold your daughters back. With a little encouragement, getting girls hooked on math can be easy as pi.

 

 

‘No Child Left Behind’ Waiver Leaves Some Behind

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Eight California school districts are being given more time to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but critics say all California schools should have been given a waiver. According to Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, the U.S. Department of Education has chosen to bypass the governor and the state superintendent, and engage in a piecemeal approach.

“This continues this top-down, one-size-fits-all approach for districts, which we think in the long run is not going to work,” Pechthalt declared.

According to State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, all California schools deserve relief from what he called the unworkable mandates of No Child Left Behind, and Congress should make revising the policy a priority. The U.S. Department of Education has twice refused to grant No Child Left Behind waivers to the entire state of California.

Pechthalt said he believes there’s now a fairly broad consensus among those who think the reforms from No Child Left Behind have been destructive.

He said NCLB has been “a stick to encourage reform rather than incentivizing reform, and the whole sort of testing mania that came out of that has been, I think, just uniformly destructive. And I say that as a union leader, as a teacher for more than 20 years and as a parent.”

Pechthalt said the California Federation of Teachers supports finding alternatives to No Child Left Behind.

“We want to be partners in school reform,” he said. “We have ideas. We spend our careers working with children in the classroom. We want what’s best for our kids and we want to see improvements in public education.”

In exchange for the one-year waiver, the eight districts – which include Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, Fresno, Oakland, Sacramento, Santa Ana and Sanger – must implement their own measures of accountability and monitor their own progress.

 

More information is at CFT.org and at cde.ca.gov.

Six Arrests Made in Glendale Identity Theft Ring

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Authorities made six arrests Tuesday in connection with an investigation that began in June 2011 into an identity theft ring that produced phony credit cards.

Three other suspects remain at large, Glendale Public Information Officer Tamar Hadjimanoukian said.

The investigation included personnel from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the Identity Theft Task Force of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Police Department, California Attorney General’s Office and United States Secret Service, Hadjimanoukian said.

In January, Glendale Police officers stopped a 2011 BMW with tinted windows. The passenger was recognized as a person of interest sought for identity theft by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Hadjimanoukian said.

Officers arrested two men on suspicion of possession of  “re-coded’’ credit cards in January, passenger Levon Mkrtchian and the driver, David Yezgatyan, who is now at large.

“Subsequently, members of the Financial Crimes Unit conducted a search warrant at a business belonging to the two men,” Hadjimanoukian said.

“Evidence of re-coded credit card manufacturing was seized during (service of the) warrant.”

The subsequent investigation resulted in the seizure of credit card skimmers, computers, components to encode blank cards, guns, methamphetamine, marijuana and about $60,000 in cash.

Also, two trucks holding bladder tanks to purchase gas at stations with re-encoded cards taken from victims were found.

Arrested Tuesday were Edgar Alaverdyan, Karine Mahrabyan, Edvard Martirosyan, Levon Mkrtchian, Emil Andy Morkus and Serob Yegoyan.

 

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