East LA’s El Camino Real Library Closing Friday for Major Remodel

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(Los Angeles County Public Library)

(Los Angeles County Public Library)

El Camino Real Library in unincorporated East Los Angeles will close this Friday for major renovations and expansion, Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina announced on Tuesday.

Close to a thousand square-feet will be added to the 2,300-square-foot facility, which among other things will see the addition of a new multi-purpose meeting room.

Other improvements will include a Teen Area with computer outlets and more group seating; new heating and air conditioning; new book drops, and restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to Molina’s announcement.

“With this latest library makeover, we’re helping close the Digital Divide,” Molina said. “From the San Gabriel Valley through Southeast Los Angeles, we’ve already partnered with our County Public Library to invest tens of millions of dollars to bring our libraries into the 21st Century. We’ve transformed the Anthony Quinn Library, City Terrace Library, and East Los Angeles Library in unincorporated East Los Angeles – and now it’s El Camino Real Library’s turn.”

Other new library amenities will include iPad tablets for homework help and library catalogue browsing, a new outdoor reading patio and garden with drought-tolerant shrubs and trees and more parking for both cars and bicycles.

The renovations are expected to cost $4.6 million and be completed in the Fall of 2014.

“Sup. Molina has always been a strong supporter of the County of Los Angeles Public Library system, and we’re proud to partner with her on this latest library expansion and refurbishment project,” said Margaret Donnellan Todd, Los Angeles County Librarian.

During construction, library patrons are asked to visit the East Los Angeles Library at 4801 East Third Street, which can be accessed via the El Sol Shuttle.

For more information on shuttle routes and times, go to http://ladpw.org/pdd/elasw/en/index.cfm

Other nearby libraries can be located at www.colapublib.org or by calling (323) 722-5621.


Renderings of the new El Camino Real Library are available at www.colapublib.org/libs/elcaminoreal  






Deasy ‘Fills In’ at Torres High School Cafeteria

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy put on an apron and worked shoulder to shoulder with the kitchen personnel at Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles last week.

Cafeteria worker Maria Castillo trained Deasy, who worked the morning shift helping to feed hundreds of students. Deasy made the visit to highlight the work and role of cafeteria personnel and other staff in supporting student learning.

“I am happy the Superintendent joined the cafeteria crew today,” said Castillo, who has worked in LAUSD cafeterias for eight years. “It takes a lot of work but I enjoy my job because I know kids won’t go to class on an empty stomach. For many kids, I know that I may be serving them their only good meal of the day.”

Deasy stocked supplies and helped prepare food items, loaded Breakfast in the Classroom carts and served students throughout the morning, according to a school district press release.

“As a mother, I know how important it is to take care of all the needs of a child. They have to eat in order to be able to learn,” said Castillo whose son also happens to attend Torres High School. She said Deasy should remember laboring in the cafeteria when the school board considers future budget cuts, noting that Torres’ cafeteria staff has been reduced in recent years, leaving only eight food service workers to prepare and serve more than 2,500 meals per day during five different lunch schedules.

“It was a great morning,” Deasy said. “You have no idea what it takes to serve food at this scale. The teamwork is amazing. The thing that amazed me was how everyone in the cafeteria knew the students’ names and even encouraged them to eat. They know each other on a personal level. The students are deeply respectful of the cafeteria workers and the workers are very caring.”

SEIU Local 99, which represents nearly 45,000 employees in public and non-public organizations in early education, child care, K-12, and community college levels, helped coordinate the visit. The union includes Teacher’s Assistants, Playground Workers, Special Education Aides, Bus Drivers, Custodians, Cafeteria Workers and others.

“The work we do is necessary for a positive learning environment,” said Custodian Edna Logan, in a written statement.

Montebello Police Ask For Help in Finding Suspect

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 Montebello police asked for the public’s help Wednesday in finding a young man suspected of robbing a doughnut store twice in July, a police detective said.

The first robbery at Sunshine Donuts at 201 E. Beverly Blvd., took place about 1:55 a.m. on July 8, Montebello police Detective Al Martinez said. The second robbery came eight days later on July 16, about 1:45 a.m., he said.

In each case, the robber pointed a simulated weapon at the clerk whom was ordered to hand over all the cash in the register, Martinez said. The suspect stuffed the money into a blue laptop bag and fled.

The Hispanic suspect is 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, Martinez said. In both holdups, he wore a baseball cap, a dark tank top and yellow sunglasses.

Anyone with more information about the crime or the whereabouts of the suspect was asked to call (323) 887-1248. All tips can be made anonymously.

Glendale Freeway Repairs Underway

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 Repairs to the damage to the northbound Glendale (2) Freeway connector to the northbound Golden State (5) Freeway caused by a July 13 collision and tanker fire will cost Caltrans $16.5 million, the agency announced Tuesday.

The repairs will begin in October and should be completed just before Christmas, said Patrick Chandler of Caltrans.

The tanker fire caused extensive damage to the pavement, walls, support structure, draining and lighting within the tunnel.


Robbers Arrested Minutes After Crime in Alhambra

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – Two boys were arrested minutes after robbing a man of his cell phone, watch, wallet and cigarettes at knifepoint in an Alhambra park, a police sergeant said Wednesday.

The robbery took place at Alhambra Park at 500 N. Palm Ave. at 8:29 p.m. Tuesday, said Alhambra police Sgt. Jerry Johnson.

“The two male juveniles approached the victim in the park,” Johnson said. “One of the suspects had a knife and they ordered the man to give them his cigarettes and wallet and to empty his pockets.”

“The man complied and the two juveniles stole his property and fled the scene but were captured a few minutes after the crime was committed,” Johnson added.

The victim was not injured, Johnson said.

The names of the two suspects were not released because they are juveniles, Johnson said.

Former L.A. High School Health Care Assistant’s Sex-Related Conviction Upheld

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A state appellate court panel rejected an appeal from a former health care assistant convicted of sex-related charges involving two special education students at a Los Angeles high school.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal on Monday turned down the defense’s contention that there was insufficient evidence to support Oscar Enrique Santos’ conviction on charges involving one of the Garfield High School students, who used a wheelchair.

Santos was convicted of 21 felony charges, including oral copulation of an incompetent person and sexual battery by restraint, involving two girls who were 16 and 17 at the time.

The crimes occurred between classes in an on-campus elevator, authorities said.

Santos was assigned to help a male student in a wheelchair at the school.

He was sentenced in January 2012 to 18 years in state prison.



Time to Treat Aggressive Drivers to Aggressive Enforcement

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The time has come for traffic control and police enforcement agencies to take a closer look at the increase in hit and run accidents.

As other crimes decrease around the Southland, more attention should be placed on aggressively enforcing traffic rules Countywide. Too often, on the grounds that there are more important issues to tackle, potentially dangerous traffic situations have been allowed to go on unabated.

There seems to be a feeling by some of the motoring public that it is okay for as many cars as can get away with it to make a left turn after the traffic signal has turned red. We have seen as many as six cars force their way through even though cars traveling in the opposite direction have the green light.

It’s a hazard to drivers, and to pedestrians who are made to feel they have to run across a big intersection to avoid being hit by drivers who are offended that they have to stop for them.

Many drivers automatically blast their horns immediately the moment the light changes, not caring if there is a pedestrian still in the crosswalk. This stupid practice has caused some drivers waiting for the light to change to start to move before the intersection is clear.

We don’t know why some perfectly nice people turn into monsters behind the wheel of a car, but maybe some aggressive enforcement will change their attitudes.

We don’t admire aggressive drivers. We believe they are a menace to all who have to share the roads with them. Drivers with a lead foot who speed around schools are particularly reprehensible, and we do not understand their lack of consideration for the safety of children on their way to or from school.

It’s about time that they are taught a strong lesson for all our safety.

Obama’s Tax Plan a Bad Bargain for Small Business

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

President Obama is right to address the urgent need to modernize our once grand infrastructure. Unfortunately, the president’s corporate tax reforms would leave us in a deeper hole down the road.

The President’s plan to cut corporate tax rates responds to the tireless mantra of U.S. multinational corporations that America’s tax rates hurt their global competitiveness. In reality, American corporations are enjoying their highest level of profits in 60 years while their federal income taxes are close to the lowest level. The Government Accountability Office recently reported that large profitable U.S. corporations paid an effective federal tax rate of just 12.6 percent in 2010, a rate lower than many small businesses and middle-class families.

Large corporations like Pfizer, Bank of America and Google have avoided paying their fair share of U.S. taxes by abusing offshore tax havens and using accounting gimmicks to disguise U.S. profits as foreign profits. U.S. corporations are holding about $2 trillion offshore to shield it from U.S. taxation. These corporations have gamed the tax system, contributing mightily to the deficit while leaving small businesses and households to pick up a greater share of the cost of public services and infrastructure – from schools and police to roads and safe drinking water.

While the details aren’t clear, the President’s plan includes a one-time fee on offshore profits – much lower than the regular corporate tax rate – that he wants to use for investing in our country’s aging infrastructure and other priorities. Small businesses applaud increased investment in bridges, ports and other needed infrastructure that will also create jobs and put money on Main Street. However, history shows that rewarding corporate tax dodgers with hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks – as happened with the 2004 tax holiday that promised job creation and delivered a windfall to CEOs and shareholders instead – only accelerates tax haven abuse in the future. It would incentivize the armies of corporate accountants and lobbyists to create and exploit new loopholes even as old ones may be closed.

Ending corporate tax dodging is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue; it’s an American issue. In a nationally representative poll, in which Republicans outnumbered Democrats, more than 90 percent of small business owners said it is a problem when large corporations use accounting gimmicks to shift their U.S. profits to foreign tax havens in order to avoid taxes pay. Whether called a one-time fee or a tax holiday, a corporate tax amnesty policy is completely unacceptable to small businesses.

The President could close offshore tax loopholes without temporarily or permanently cutting corporate tax rates through a number of bills currently pending in Congress. These include bills to end deferral of taxes on corporate profits held offshore so that corporate income is taxed as it is earned and requiring offshore transactions to have an economic purpose beyond simply avoiding taxes.

Moreover, lobbyists who could not prevent the top-bracket Bush tax cuts from being reversed are saying that the President’s plan for reducing corporate tax rates to 28 percent, with a lower 25 percent rate for manufacturers, should be accompanied by a reduction in top tax rates for individuals in order to be fair to small business owners – most of whom report their business profits on their personal tax returns. This is another effort to use middle-class small business owners as a foil to help hedge fund managers, wealthy lawyers and big businesses like Bechtel, the nation’s largest engineering firm, that are formed as pass-through income organizations. These are the two to three percent of high-income “small business” owners who would reap a big windfall if income tax rates for those at the top were reduced; the rest of the real small business owners would not be affected.

The reality is that what small businesses really need is dependable modern infrastructure and more demand for their goods and services, not tax breaks for big corporations and wealthy individuals. We can strengthen this demand by making big corporations pay their fair share of taxes and investing the new revenue in economic development.

Tax reform should be about building a vibrant 21st century economy for all businesses, not rewarding big corporations for free loading on the rest of us.


Knapp is the president and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the American Sustainable Business Council Action Fund. This article previously appeared in The Hill.


Immigration —What’s Love Got to Do With It?

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As the Southern California harvest season came to a close in 1946, a young Mexican immigrant named Robert García paid tribute to the young women he had seen in the nearby town of Cucamonga:


Your beautiful women like flowers

are just like the women of my people

they show their love

and deserve respect on the street and at home


His verse, published by a local Spanish-language newspaper, provided readers a rare glimpse into the emotional world of the thousands of imported laborers who had worked in local fields since the first months of World War II. Mexican “braceros” were much talked about but little understood in the United States of the 1940s. They had been celebrated for saving the crops and assuring an Allied victory prior to V-J Day, extolled for their efficiency and commitment to their jobs, and sometimes praised for showing remarkable, “natural” skills as farm laborers. But in the face of such rhetoric Robert García wrote about other matters: love, emotional attachment, and longing. In so doing he opened up a window into the dreams of migrants and immigrants that policymakers then and now have often preferred to keep shuttered.

This week marks an important moment for considering such perspectives. While young Dream activists sit in detention in Arizona for challenging policies that deny them and their family members in Mexico the ability to travel to see one another, elected officials continue to debate policy proposals for overhauling the current immigration system and increasing spending on border enforcement.

Some of these issues date to Robert García’s time. Just over sixty years ago, on August 4, 1942, the United States and Mexican governments signed the international labor agreement, known as the Bracero Program, that would bring him and more than a million others to the U.S. as agricultural workers. It was the expectation of official negotiators that contracted braceros would never be given the chance to put down roots in the United States: The program was designed only for men, and it was meant to allow sons and husbands to leave their kin for a limited number of weeks with the promise that they would return home at the conclusion of the harvest. Braceros were idealized as laborers with strong arms (“brazos” means “arms” in Spanish), and little thought was given to their ambitions. But because participants like García showed more flexibility and more heart than policymakers had anticipated, developing new desires and friendships, and sometimes new permanent homes, in places like Cucamonga, braceros soon reshaped communities in both the United States and Mexico.

In ways that policymakers never anticipated, these migrants fell in and out of love from Arkansas to Zacatecas after 1942, maintaining relationships with family and friends on both sides of the border. Few policymakers recognized these dynamics, insisting instead on understanding workers as little more than game pieces on a North American board, one defined by nation-states and labor demands, and one that government officials could control with real confidence. Blind to love, they saw the Bracero Program as a handy system of ladders and chutes, guaranteeing that contracted men would move from one identifiable square to another, at the appropriate time, and that they would then transition back down the board at the end of the game, sliding home to Mexico once their work contracts ended.

García and his peers were never passive pawns playing this type of game, nor were they guided only by economic calculations or government directives. Like so many others in American history, they often followed their hearts, and some braceros anticipated establishing new families in the United States from the start. A popular Spanish-language song recorded in Los Angeles in 1948 entitled “El Bracero y La Pachuca,” for example, celebrated the dashing, romantic young migrant worker aiming to settle down despite the Bracero Program’s restrictions on their permanent residency in the U.S. In flowery verse, he recited love poems to a young Mexican American woman, his “linda princesa encantada (beautiful enchanted princess),” to no avail.

The history of braceros and other migrants in the United States reminds us that love and romance have clashed with government policies in many civil rights struggles, and that love’s challenge to the legal order has often made our democracy more expansive and responsive. Even when denied permanent residency, valued only as temporary workers and not as citizens in the making, as in the case of imported laborers at midcentury, immigrants formed and reaffirmed loving relationships that were both intensely local – based in workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools – and insistently transnational – with children, siblings, extended family living abroad, across increasingly militarized borders.

Forged over decades, these bonds have certainly changed the United States for the better, creating millions of families of mixed immigration status today, and assuring that churches and most local institutions from coast to coast now include both immigrants and the U.S.-born. These realities have challenged our policymakers, of course. But with so much at stake, the U.S. must legally recognize the ties of love that continue to bind our residents to one another. Immigrants’ courageous efforts to remain connected with their kin, to support and stay faithful to them, should remind us of the core values that we claim to uphold as a nation.


Stephen Pitti is a professor of History and American Studies at Yale University and director of the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program. He is author of the books, “The Devil in Silicon Valley: Race, Mexicans, and Northern California” (2003) and “American Latinos and the Making of the United States.” (2012) He can be reached via Twitter: @latinohistory Distributed by New America Media.


Web Series Sees Teen Issues Through Eastside Lens

August 22, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An annual event that fills some high school students with excitement and high expectations, while others are gripped with anxiety and dread, has arrived: school is back in session. And for high school students on the Eastside, it poses a unique set of challenges and circumstances you might not see on popular television shows like “Beverly Hills 90120.”

A web series that premiered this summer hopes to shed some light on the universal high school experience, with a Latino twist.

“East Los High,” a new teen drama exclusively on the HULU Internet channel, is the first English language show with an all Latino cast. The series strives to address teen issues and teen angst from the perspective of eastside students, on whose experiences the plot is based.

Gabriel Chavarria, who plays Jacob on the show and previously appeared in the “Freedom Writers”, says the cast members felt a great responsibility and pride in trying to portray their characters accurately and realistically.

“Yes, the show definitely portrays what is like today,” said Gabriel Chavarria, adding it’s not only teens from East L.A. who deal with the multitude of issues the average teenager faces on any given day. On top of the academic challenges of getting the classes you need to graduate, studying, testing, grades and applying to college, there are the pressures of relationships with family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, and of course, sex.

Like the popular television shows Beverly Hills 90120 in the early 1990s and 90210 in 2008 — shows with predominately white casts that regularly featured storylines about sex, contraception, pregnancy, abortion and future college plans amid the search love, friendship, acceptance, achievement and happiness — East Los High attempts to put the spotlight on those universal issues from a distinctly Latino point of view.

“Yes, the show really does portray what it is like, everyone just cares about sex but never really thinks about the value of sex and the consequences of having sex,” said eighteen-year-old Nicole Yasmine Lazo, a Boyle Heights native and rising sophomore at California State University, Los Angeles, and a fan of the series.

She told EGP that there many misconceptions about East L.A. Lots of people think the “hood” or “barrio” is a really dangerous place filled with “cholos” (gang members) who are going to try to rob and shoot you.

Carlos Portugal, co-creator, producer and director of East Los High, said he had to deal with those stereotypes while trying to film the series. Many of the show’s original crew members actually ended up dropping out when they found out that the show was being filmed in the East LA area, he told an audience at the Hispanic Media Coalition meeting in Pasadena on July 31.

East Los Angeles College student Yoonji Lu, told EGP she really liked that the show doesn’t portray the flawed “ghetto environment” stereotypes.

“East Los Angeles is beautiful and full of very great people. I am glad that there is a show to share the beauty of the city and the people. Hopefully this show can change the opinions that were once thought of East Los Angeles,” Lu said.

The show, however, is not preachy or a one-dimensional effort to shed an “everything’s good in East L.A.,” but as Brenda Salina writes for NPR’s Code Switch, “It also mashes up that telenovela feel with the aesthetics of the CW teen universe — cheating, drugs, hazing and sex tapes captured on mobile phones. Like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars, the characters’ interaction with the digital world.

East Los High has not shied away from some of the tough issues that other television shows find too controversial, such as whether abortion is the solution to an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy.

Chavarria said growing up in Los Angeles he saw first hand that the situations featured in the show “are what’s actually happening.

“I saw it in high school you know. Friends that I knew having to deal with unplanned pregnancy. It’s the reality of today.”

Likewise, Lu says she too can relate to some of the issues dealt with in the Web-based series.

“We all have a Vanessa (series character) back in high school that got angry that we stole her boyfriend,” she said. “There are many elements of the show that were present in my high school life; our relationships with our peers, the search for love, all the while working hard and trying to achieve a goal. Situations may vary but the core values are there,” Lu said.

The show’s writers wanted teens everywhere to think about the issues they face, and they have succeeded, says Chavarria.

“I feel that with the show’s message, teens will make well thought out choices and be a lot more informed and alert of what could happen if you are not prepared to become parents,” he said. The show provides answers to questions that a lot of teens have when it comes to these issues. It definitely makes you think about these issues.”

The entire series is available on fee based HULA Plus, for viewing on television, mobile devises and computers.

Valerie Mia Juarez is an East Los Angeles-area native studying journalism, public relations and communications at St. John’s University in New York. EGP Editor Gloria Alvarez contributed to this story.


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