A 21-year-old man found dead on a Montebello street, alongside another young man with head injuries, fell off a car they were riding on in what appears to be a tragic accident, a sheriff’s lieutenant said Tuesday.
David Christopher Lugo was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a coroner’s spokesman.
“Three men fell off the vehicle,” Lt. Holly Francisco of the sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said, adding it appeared to be a tragic accident.
The accident occurred on North Third Street about 4:40 a.m., and friends called for help, she said.
Witnesses at the scene told EGP they were awakened by an argument outside on the street.
One person, who asked to remain anonymous, said yelling was followed by the sound of a vehicle speeding away.
When the witness went outside to investigate, he saw two men lying on the street.
The victims were reportedly on top of the truck as it tried to leave the area, and fell off when the driver pulled to a stop, neighbors told EGP.
Sheriff’s deputies said they received reports of an argument before the accident, but could not confirm if there was an argument or just loud voices.
Friends and relatives flocked to the Lugo home throughout the day Tuesday. Relatives described Lugo Jr. as an “artist” who would work out with his father.
Sheriff’s deputies withheld the name of the other injured man, who was hospitalized with head injuries.
All of the parties are cooperating and we have no suspects,” Francisco said. The investigation is ongoing.
Los Angeles City Council made the first big push Monday for a major plan to restore an 11-mile stretch of the mostly concrete Los Angeles River back to its natural state.
Local river advocates and city leaders are urging officials in Washington, D.C., to sign off on a $1 billion plus restoration plan that is one of four being proposed in a study conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and the city of Los Angeles. The Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study is set to be released in September.
The Los Angeles River restoration effort was one of just seven in the nation picked to be part of the Urban Water federal Partnership, an urban waterway revitalization program launched under President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative.
The council voted 14-0 to back Alternative 20, which will tear up about two miles of concrete walls along the Glendale Narrows portion of the Los Angeles River. That portion of the river runs by Griffith Park and through Elysian Valley.
The plan backed by the City Council would connect the river to the Verdugo Wash, and to park areas like the Los Angeles State Historic Park, also known as the “Cornfields.” Additional connections include to Taylor Yard, the Arroyo Seco confluence and Piggyback Yard, a Union Pacific rail yard in downtown Los Angeles.
This plan is up against Alternative 13, a far less ambitious, and less expensive plan, that is a strong favorite, Los Angeles River advocates say.
Most of the 51-mile long Los Angeles River, which flows from the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach was paved and turned into a water channel during the first half of the last century, a process that destroyed much of the habitat for birds, amphibians, and numerous other wildlife and vegetation that frequented or lived in the area. Most of the river was closed off by concrete walls or made inhospitable for leisure activity.
The portion being studied for ecosystem restoration was one of the only areas where the riverbed remained unpaved.
The Los Angeles City Council tentatively approved an ordinance Wednesday that would lift a decade-long prohibition on murals adorning privately owned buildings, a move that one council member said would restore the city’s reputation as the “mural capital of the world.”
The measure, which still must come back for final council approval, was approved on a 13-2 vote, with Paul Koretz and Bob Blumenfield dissenting.
The only sticking point in the ordinance was whether to allow murals on single-family homes. The ordinance given tentative approval would not allow murals on homes, but the council asked its staff to report back on a possible “opt-in” process for specific communities to allow them on single-family residences.
“The city of Los Angeles was known as a place where we supported the arts, where we had free expression on our walls,” according to Councilman Jose Huizar, who said he represents Eastside communities that have long embraced mural art.
The murals, often depicting images of cultural and historical figures not taught in schools, gave him an informal education growing up, he said.
Since the ban, which was put in place amid litigation over commercial advertising, city officials have been “grappling” with a way to bring murals back to the city, with efforts to reverse the ban dragging on for a decade, Huizar said.
“We said no to our artists for the last decade, and I truly think it’s time to say yes,” he said.
Huizar noted that relatively few murals – about 2 to 3 percent of those in the city – are painted on single-family homes.
Koretz, who represents a Westside district that includes Bel Air, said he opposed the ordinance because he “got no calls (from constituents) wantingthe murals in their community.”
Some critics of lifting the ban have raised concerns about people painting objectionable or offensive imagery, including hate speech and swastikas. But council members heard from a string of artists and well-known figures in the mural art world who implored the council to lift the ban.
Mural Conservancy Executive Isabel Rojas-Williams, flanked by “legendary mural artist” Kent Twitchell and the niece of celebrated Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, told the council “the mural community stands united before you to ask that you put an end to the dark ages of muralism in Los Angeles.”
The conservancy participates in a variety of public mural restoration projects, including restoration of several iconic freeway murals that were commissioned by former Mayor Tom Bradley for the 1984 Summer Olympics.
One muralist, in beseeching the council to approve the mural ordinance, said, “I’m ready to paint. I would love it if you would pass it.”
Huizar, chairman of the council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said lifting the ban would re-establish Los Angeles as the “mural capital of the world.”
While Labor Day this Monday is a significant and much anticipated national holiday, another lesser known but highly regarded local holiday is also taking place this weekend.
Usually coinciding with the Labor Day weekend, the City of Los Angeles annually marks the anniversary of its founding on Sept. 4, 1781 with a procession style walk that more or less follows the route believed taken by the city’s founders from the San Gabriel Mission to the what is now known as El Pueblo Historical Monument in downtown Los Angeles.
Founded before California became part of the US, Los Angeles will turn 232-years-old next week.
According to historians, the original 44 “pobladores” (settlers) and two priests set out from the San Gabriel Mission to establish “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles sobre el Río Porciúncula”—the city’s original full-length name, which translated means The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River.
The journey is now commemorated as the “Los Pobladores Historic Walk to Los Angeles,” a nine-mile trek from the Mission to the area more commonly known as Olvera Street, just northeast of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles. The reenactment walk, which dates back over 30 years to 1981, will be held this Saturday Aug. 31 and all are welcome to participate. Local city officials are expected to participate.
Participants will gather at at 6am from the San Gabriel Mission – 428 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel, 91776 and walk to Olvera Street, where they will join in the city’s birthday celebration, complete with live music, food, birthday cake and artists booths.
The festivities are scheduled to take place from 9am to 1pm, however, there is much more to enjoy on Olvera Street for the remainder of the day, including visiting the newly conserved David Alfaro Siquieros mural and Interpretive Center “America Tropical,” other museums and as always the cultural Olvera Street marketplace shops and restaurants.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site is located at 125 Paseo de la Plaza, Los Angeles, 90012. Walk participation and admission to the celebration are free.
Olvera Street is accessible via public transportation; take any Metro rail line to Union Station, and cross the street to reach the historical landmark. For more information, visit www.elpueblo.lacity.org or call (213) 485-8372.
The Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to push for federal legislation to restore a portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down by a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Gloria Molina called for an update of Section 4 of the 1965 federal law, urging their colleagues to allow county lobbyists in Washington, D.C., to go to work on the issue.
The two supervisors also recommended that the board write letters to federal and California legislators, as well as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and other local elected officials, to ask for their support.
“The Voting Rights Act is considered among the most important legislative accomplishments of the civil rights movement,” their motion reads.
Section 4 required federal review of any proposed changes to state and local voting laws in jurisdictions designated as having a history of racial discrimination.
The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision on June 24, invalidated the requirement for federal advance review, finding that the data used to decide which states and municipalities were prone to bias was out of date.
Noting tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Ridley-Thomas led the discussion with a presentation showing photos from the historic day and playing excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Civil rights advocates acknowledged that the proposed legislation would have the greatest impact in the Midwest and southern states, but said a grassroots effort was important to spur federal lawmakers.
“This represents a part of what local government has to do,” the Rev. James Lawson Jr., a longtime activist, told the board. He later added, “The sense that all people have the right to vote is essential.”
Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who cast the dissenting vote, said he thought there was some confusion about the high court’s ruling.
“(The decision) did not allow the government to discriminate against citizens of any race, color or other protected class,” Antonovich said, noting that challenges to voting laws, once enacted, were still allowed under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Advocates countered that efforts already underway to restrict early voting and require voters to show identification would unfairly target minorities.
Antonovich disagreed, saying voter fraud had been prosecuted in 46 states and that requirements for voters to identify themselves would ensure fair elections.
“You need to have proof of identity to open a bank account … to fly on a plane … to enter many government buildings,” Antonovich said.Others disagreed on the extent of voter fraud.
“Numerous individual audits and investigations have revealed claims of voter fraud are overstated,” if not outright fabricated, said Virginia Lee of the Advancement Project.
Molina was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
What accounts for the achievement gap between minority and white students? Researchers have long looked at economic differences as a key factor, but lately the role of school discipline policies has been getting more attention. Some lawmakers in California have proposed three bills focused on school climate as a way to narrow the achievement gap.
The release of statewide achievement test scores earlier this month underscored the need to address other factors beyond income level that might be contributing to an achievement gap.
Controlling for economic differences, African American students continue to trail white and Latino students in mathematics. Middle and high-income black students fell six percentage points below low-income white students, while Latino students trailed by one percentage point.
Lester Meza, a youth organizer with the educational advocacy organization, Inner City Struggle, said that young men of color need mental and behavioral health services instead of punitive suspension policies to succeed in school at a recent hearing at the State Capitol in Sacramento.
“When children and young men of color are allowed to express their feelings in a more amenable way, they spend more time in class, they become more educated, and when they come out of high school, they are college and career ready,” said Meza.
Studies show punitive discipline policies undermine school performance. Students who are suspended from school are three times more likely than their peers to drop out of school and Latino and African American students in Los Angeles and San Francisco are six times and two times, respectively, more likely to be suspended than white students, according to Public Counsel, an organization working to curb school suspensions and expulsions in California.
Community organizations working to narrow the racial achievement gap are beginning to shift their focus to boys and men, partly because young women fare better in school than their male counterparts and are less likely to be criminalized by the system, advocates say.
Latino and black young men are 10 percent more likely to drop out of California schools compared to their female counterparts.
“Boys and men of color matter. We cannot continue to be afraid, dismiss, and punitively punish our men. We have to realize we all matter for California to thrive,” said Jasmine Jones, a community organizer with the Black Organizing Project in Oakland.
A growing movement made up of community groups and advocates is pushing for reforms to school discipline policies that disproportionately impact Latino and African American boys, as a way to address the achievement gap and the high drop out rate.
Leading the movement is the Alliance of Boys and Men of Color, a statewide alliance of youth-led advocacy organizations. The alliance was created to advance the policy efforts of the Assembly Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color (BMoC), and the campaign is funded by The California Endowment. (New America Media is a TCE grantee.) Members of the group testified at the Select Committee hearing at the State Capitol earlier this month, calling for changes in policies and funding to improve outcomes for boys and men of color in education, health, safety and justice, and employment.
The Alliance of Boys and Men of Color are actively advocating for the passage of several pending state bills that address punitive school policies.
The priority bill among BMoC student advocates is Assembly Bill 420 (Dickinson), which would limit school suspensions and expulsions based on “willful defiance,” which make up the bulk of suspensions and expulsions in California schools. Willful defiance is defined as disrupting school activities or defying the authority of school staff.
Meza, one of the student advocates that provided testimony at the BMoC Select Committee hearing on August 8, said he benefited from a school policy that provided an alternative to suspension. To work through his hardships at home, he participated in a school counseling program.
“I had the option of taking counseling because my teachers cared for me,” Meza said. “In many other cities, they would have not dealt with that. They would have just suspended me, expelled me or moved me to a different school where they didn’t have to deal with me.”
Through his school, Meza was able to access anger management counseling for a period of five years. The unique model of school-based “wellness centers” is promoted through another policy backed by the youth-led Alliance of Boys and Men of Color, Assembly Bill 174 (Bonta). The bill will help create a grant program to fund school-based mental health services for students specifically impacted by violence and trauma, an issue that impacts low-income communities of color that are plagued with gun violence.
Another bill (AB 549), introduced by BMoC Committee member Assemblymember Reggie Jones Sawyer, would encourage school districts to define the role of police officers, among other school officials, on school campuses.
A 2009 report by the American Civil Liberties Union shows that students who have experienced an arrest or a court appearance are more likely to drop out of school and underperform on tests.
“Our organization is … focused on eliminating school police, “ said Jones. “One of my youth came into the office after being pulled over [by police], crying. I want my students to be able to walk in their communities without being afraid of officers. To not be threatened by their presence.”
Lawmakers will vote and these and other measures before the close of legislative session on September 13.
Governor Jerry Brown’s latest proposal to avoid the early release of some 9,600 prison inmates is as good a plan as can be implemented today.
The state has until December to shed these inmates from our prisons as ordered by federal judges who believe our prisoners are severely over crowded and thereby unfair to prisoners.
The governor has proposed spending more than $700 million to eliminate overcrowding by sending prisoners to alternative facilities.
Among those facilities are privately owned prisons in and out of the state, and a proposal to reopen city-owned jails in Shafter and Taft in the Central Valley, and perhaps sending more inmates to county jails.
The proposal, which comes with a hefty price tag, has also earned the support of prison guards who have traditionally fought efforts to send prisoners to privately owned and operated prison, but who this time around will staff one such facility.
We believe this is a sensible solution to a problem the state has only four months to solve.
To release another 9,600 felons into California communities is unfair to those who play by the rules, and an added burden to local policing agencies.
While the plan represents a practical solution in this moment, we also agree with Senate leader Darrel Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez that the state needs to develop and spend more on mental heath and drug treatment programs.
We also believe that a comprehensive review and overhaul of the states criminal sentencing laws is also needed.
There is no reason that all three recommendations can’t be undertaken simultaneously.
We have a crisis now and it calls for an alternative to releasing serious felons back into our communities, which Brown’s plan provides.
It will also give the legislature time to work on other proposals to safely and rationally reduce the prison population, without the threat if a judge’s order hanging over them.
What Sacramento needs to do is stop the bickering and get started implementing a more permanent solution.
Deeply unpopular and flagrantly unproductive, Congress is on its August recess right now. It won’t return until Sept. 9, after a five-week recess, leaving itself just a few days to settle issues like raising the debt ceiling and passing a federal budget. Here are some things you should know about where it stands at this stage of the game:
—Few, if any, Congresses can match this one for futility. It managed to help out some communities in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and to reach a deal on presidential nominations, but mostly it can’t get things done — whatever your politics. The repeal of Obamacare, action on climate change, a “grand bargain” on our fiscal problems, education and tax reform, creating jobs, strengthening gun laws… the list of dropped balls is long, although there is still hope for immigration reform, if just barely. A few weeks ago Speaker John Boehner told Americans not to judge Congress by how many laws it passes, but by how many it repeals. It hasn’t succeeded on either count.
—The budget process is a mess. It’s been years since Congress put together a budget according to its regular order, but even by its recent low standards this year has been chaotic. None of the appropriations bills needed for the government to continue running after Sept. 30 has been enacted. “It is common for Congress to leave big budget fights until the last minute,” the Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook wrote as Congress left town, “but the budgeting process now seems so adrift that even congressional veterans find it hard to see a resolution.” Passing a budget is the most basic function of government, and Congress can’t manage it.
—Members of Congress do not like to compromise. The parties are more divided ideologically than they’ve been for many decades, with one side fiercely hostile to government and the other convinced that government can accomplish good things. Neither side can get things done on its own. That’s pretty much the definition of when responsible lawmakers step forward to build a consensus. Yet in this Congress, either they don’t know how or they’re not interested. A glimmer of hope does exist, as more members respond to polls showing Americans believe it’s more important for the parties to compromise than to stick to their positions. They may not be able to come to agreement, but some of them are talking about how willing they are to reach across the aisle.
—Even so, it’s worth noticing that one of the congressional parties is extraordinarily difficult to lead at the moment. The Republicans are fractured and squabbling over their future direction. This makes me sympathize with the formidable task the Republican leadership confronts.
—Hardly anyone out there thinks Congress is doing a good job — it’s consistently below 20 percent approval ratings — and most people think it’s too partisan. Yet members aren’t very concerned. They’ve become quite skilled at running against Washington, even though they are Washington. And they count on the fact that few voters hold their own member of Congress responsible for its shortcomings, however unpopular Congress as a whole has become.
—As lobbyists descend in swarms on Capitol Hill, they hold more power than ever. They rain cash, twist arms, and even draft bills — all the things that powerful congressional leaders used to do. The NRA’s defeat of legislation strengthening background checks for gun purchases, in the face of overwhelming public sentiment after Newtown, was nothing less than an impressive display of political clout and an example of how influential lobbyists and special interests have become. Perhaps this is why a good number of my former colleagues have made a tidy living for themselves by becoming lobbyists.
—Finally, all of this contributes to the emerging themes for the 2014 congressional campaign. Candidates will clearly run against the mess in Washington, and a good number of them, though not all, will talk regularly about the need to be bipartisan. The big question for 2015 will be whether the successful ones can translate their talk into legislation to help move the country forward.
Lee Hamilton is Director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.
A legal ruling emerging last week from a storefront courtroom in rural Pottsville, Pennsylvania, could impact tens of millions of baby boomers nationwide caring for their aging and dying parents. This relatively obscure court’s decision could chill good end-of-life medical care and diminish legal options nationwide.
On Aug. 1, a Schuylkill County magistrate ordered a Philadelphia nurse, 57-year-old Barbara Mancini, to stand trial in the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw. Prosecutors from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office charged Barbara with assisted suicide for allegedly handing her father his prescribed morphine, which he consumed. Barbara was there to relieve her mother, Marge, of caregiving duties for Joe, who was in home hospice care as his death approached. Enduring a long list of serious medical conditions, Joe had made medical decisions to ensure he did not experience a prolonged, painful death. He completed his advance directive and designated his daughter Barbara as his medical surrogate so she could carry out his wishes if he were unable to do so. He had stopped taking all medication and stated he wanted no medical interventions. What he wanted was to die at home in peace. What he and his family got was anything but peaceful.
All parties in this outrageous criminal proceeding seem to agree that Joe consumed a large dose of the morphine prescribed by a hospice physician to relieve his chronic, severe pain. Later that day, a hospice nurse came by the house to check on Joe. When the nurse learned he had taken extra morphine, she called her supervisors, who called 911.
What happened next should disturb every American. Despite Joe’s advance directive and Barbara’s instruction, in her role as his attorney-in-fact for healthcare, to refrain from intrusive medical interventions, EMTs took Joe to the hospital. Then a police captain took Barbara to the courthouse and charged her with assisted suicide, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
When hospital staff revived Joe he immediately expressed his anger at hospice for removing him from his home. When he learned Barbara was in legal trouble, he was even more furious. He died four days later in the hospital. Imagine … a dying man’s last thought is of his loving daughter’s arrest for the supportive and respectful way she cared for him!
I attended the preliminary hearing in Pottsville on August 1. I observed three hours of detailed testimony from prosecution witnesses. And I honestly can’t understand why Attorney General Kane is allowing this unjust prosecution to move forward.
This case has great resonance on a personal level. Fifteen years ago this month, I was that loving daughter, supporting my mother as my father, a decorated Vietnam vet, was dying. I learned so much that week. But the most searing lesson was that end-of-life decisions are the most important and personal decisions families face. They have immediate implications for the sick and dying. And they have long-term implications for those who live on. With loving family in attendance there is no need, nor space, for government at the bedside of a dying person.
Joe Yourshaw was very old and terminally ill. He had end-stage diabetes, heart and kidney failure, and arthritis. He died just short of his 94th birthday. Maybe his agony was so great, he longed to die. Where is the public interest in constructing a criminal case from this scenario? How will society benefit from imprisoning Barbara Mancini?
This case could be the bellwether for my generation. Millions of families across America are facing end-of-life decisions every day, as we baby boomers care for our parents, The Greatest Generation World War II veterans like Joe Yourshaw. The story resonates as we, ourselves, age. Do the 75 million+ boomers need to fear the long arm of government literally reaching into our living rooms to seize authority for our medical decision?
Attorney General Kane recently refused to defend the state’s ban on marriage equality because she said it was “wholly unconstitutional.” She should make a similar principled stand in this case and drop the criminal prosecution of Barbara Mancini. This step is appropriate because the U.S. Supreme Court has embraced the principle that dying patients should be free to receive as much medication as they need to relieve their suffering, even if it advances the time of death. Two cases decided by the Court in 1997, Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, rest on this principle.
This family is traumatized by this very public reminder of what happened to Joe against his wishes six months ago. That trauma is compounded by what’s happening to his daughter, Barbara, today.
Gwen Fitzgerald is the director of communications and marketing for Compassion & Choices. The column was originally published in USA Today on Aug. 20.
The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday asked city staff for an accounting of various obscure work rules that allowed Department of Water and Power workers to increase their take-home pay by an average of 16.6 percent above their base salaries.
The motion, approved unanimously by the 15-member council, also asks staff to develop a plan to rein in costs the work rules create.
“This set of issues has enraged the people of Los Angeles, and rightfully so,” according to Councilman Paul Krekorian, who introduced the motion with council members Felipe Fuentes and Mitch Englander.
“The fact that there are so many of these side agreements and work rules the people of Los Angeles are not even aware of, that this council has not even been aware of because they haven’t been brought to this council before, is an outrageous situation,” he said.
Fuentes, who chairs the Energy and Environment Committee that will hear the staff report in 30 days, said the motion calls for the creation of a “working group process … to identify, categorize and ultimately begin to instruct the City Council, the Department of Water and Power and its commission on how to … hopefully be more cost effective.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti criticized DWP work rules during recent labor negotiations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, which represents 92 percent of the DWP workforce. The resulting labor agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the union, includes a provision that would keep the door open for renegotiating work rules over the course of the contract’s four-year term.
Almost 60 percent of DWP workers are on track to take home more than $100,000 in pay by the end of the year thanks to hundreds of categories that allow for overtime, bonuses and other extra pay, according to an analysis by City Controller Ron Galperin, who created a searchable database of DWP and city employee earnings from January through June.
About 86 percent of DWP workers benefited from rules allowing for the extra earnings during the first six months of this year, and overall, DWP workers added an average of 16.6 percent in overtime, bonus and other additional pay to their base salaries, according to Galperin’s study. In
contrast, fire and police employees added an average 9.2 percent to their base salaries during the first six months of the year, while the majority of civilian workers got an average of 1.2 percent in additional pay in the same stretch.
The motion approved by the council Tuesday asks for a report “that identifies all relevant work rules, letter agreements between the DWP and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers for review,” as well as description of the process to “develop, implement and change” the work rules or arrangements.
The motion also instructs staff to look into the utility’s “current work practices and agreements that lead to high overtime rates, including overtime associated with the odd hour shifts and outsourcing premiums,” such as a requirement that DWP employees will perform 10 percent of overtime work before contractors could be called in.
Staff is also expected to create a way to “effectively benchmark the DWP’s performance and achieve operational efficiencies in its power, water and joint system operations,” according to the motion.