Chiang Takes Campaign for Governor to Boyle Heights

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

State Treasurer John Chiang began what is being billed as a statewide listening tour for his campaign for governor Tuesday in Boyle Heights, one day short of a year before the primary election. While there, he also picked up an endorsement from Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, who represents the area that was once home to former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is also a candidate for governor.

“John is the very definition of a public servant,” Huizar said at Mariachi Plaza. “If you want flash and no substance, look no further than the White House at this time, and see how that’s working out. But if you want a trusted, steady and fearless leader who knows when to be tough against special interests, who knows when to cross the aisle to get things done for the people, then John Chiang is your choice for governor.”

The endorsement comes as a bit of a surprise in the gubernatorial race, given Huizar’s relationship with candidate and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who supported Huizar’s bid to replace him on the City Council.

Their relations became strained during the 2015 election season, however, when Villaraigosa backed former county Supervisor and Councilwoman Gloria Molina in her bid to unseat Huizar. Molina and Villaraigosa go way back, supporting each other’s political aspirations for decades.

Villaraigosa has not commented on Huizar’s backing of Chiang.

Chiang thanked Huizar for his support, calling him a “dear friend” and an “extraordinary council member.

“This is such a fantastic place,” he told the crowd of supporters. “I am so honored to be in this community. I strongly support Jose and his extraordinary efforts to strengthen this community by investing in safer neighborhoods.”

After the event at Mariachi Plaza, where mariachi musicians have gathered since the 1930s in hopes of being hired by visitors, Chiang visited the Libros Schmibros Lending Library and dined at Al & Bea’s Mexican Restaurant.

Chiang chose to start the tour in Boyle Heights because of its rich history as a multi-ethnic community of immigrants that reflects the “vibrant and rich diversity throughout California,” according to his campaign.

His second stop on the tour was in San Francisco Wednesday.

Chiang officially began efforts to run for governor on May 17, 2016, when he opened an account to raise money for a campaign.

“I’m running for governor to make sure the future my parents provided for my family becomes a reality for the future of all California families,” Chiang told City News Service in February response to a series of questions emailed to his campaign.

“As a child of immigrant parents, me and my siblings grew up in a much different time. My parents arrived in this country, each dreaming of a better future. While their determination and relentlessness led to a middle-class neighborhood with better schools, we still experienced bigotry, as the first Asian-American family on the block, but my parents never gave up on a better life for my family.”

The field to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown, who is barred from running for re- election in 2018 because of term limits, also includes Chiang’s fellow Democrats Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Villaraigosa and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.

Chiang was elected treasurer in 2014 after two terms as controller. He was first elected to the Board of Equalization in 1998. He began his career as a tax law specialist with the Internal Revenue Service and later was an attorney in the State Controller’s Office.

 

John Chiang lanza Campaña para Gobernador en Boyle Heights

June 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

BOYLE HEIGHTS — El Tesorero del Estado de California John Chiang lanzó la que se ha sido llamada una gira estatal para escuchar a la gente esta semana en Boyle Heights, un día menos de un año antes de las elecciones primarias.

Chiang abrió su gira formalmente en la Plaza Mariachi, en donde músicos han congregado desde alrededor de 1930 en busca de contrataciones y trabajo como mariachis itinerantes. Visitó también el candidato postulado para Gobernador a la biblioteca extraoficial Libros Schmibros y aprovechó para tomar su almuerzo en el restaurante Al & Bea’s. Recibió el respaldo público del consejal municipal José Huizar, representante del Distrito 14, el cual incluye a Boyle Heights.

Chiang decidió lanzar su campaña en Boyle Heights por su innegable historia como puerto símbólico para generaciones de inmigrantes que refleja “la diversidad reluciente y la riqueza cultural que se extiende por California”, según su campaña.

La siguiente parada de su gira fue la ciudad de San Francisco.

Chiang inició oficialmente sus esfuerzos como candidato el 17 de mayo del 2016 cuando abrió una cuenta para recaudar fondos con cual correr.

“Estoy corriendo para gobernador para asegurar que el futuro que mis padres hicieron para mi familia sea una realidad para todas las familias californianas”, dijoChiang a City News Service el febrero pasado como respuesta a una serie de preguntas enviadas por email a su campaña.

“Como hijo de padres inmigrantes, mis hermanos y yo crecimos en una era muy distinta. Mis padres desembarcaron en este país, ambos soñando en un futuro mejor. Aunque su determinación y persistencia resultó en circunstancias económicas mejores y escuelas mejores, todavía nos tocó sufrir la intolerancia racial como la primera familia asiastica-americana en la vecindad, pero mis papas nunca dejaron de luchar por nuestro porvenir”.

Chiang prometió que si logrará ser elegido “sería un líder fuerte al nivel de la economía quien gobernará con inclusividad” además de “ofrecer soluciones concretas ante cuestiones como el mejoramiento de la infraestructura, el apoyo para el sector creciente de energía sostenible y la protección de nuestros vecinos inmigrantes”.

“La gente de California merece vivir en un estado que les provee un ambiente de bienestar y prosperidad, creación de empleos, protección de sus ahorros, ameliorización general de los costos de educación, incubando la continuación de inovación, acceso a seguro medico universal y el fomento de la diversidad cultural que le da a California su identitad especial”, dijó Chiang.

Para intentar reducir las cifras de la pobreza en el estado, las cuales son solamente peores en el Distrito de Columbia, después de adjustaciones basadas en el costo de la vida, según los números repartidos por el Departamento del Censo, el candidato propone “inversion el analisís de la infraestructura y la inversión que resulta en la creación de empleos”, y “la inversion en viviendas alcanzables para ayudar a los miles de los desalojados transicionar de la calles a sus propios hogares”.

California se “recupera de una desintegración del sistema hipotecaria y una crisis económica de un nivel cual no se ha visto desde la Gran Depresión, y ahora debemos enfocar en sanar a las comunidades más afectadas y debiles con más alojamientos alcanzable para gente de humildes recursos y la creación de trabajos”, Chiang dijó.

El campo para reemplacer al gobernador actual Jerry Brown, quien debido a los limites en la duración de servicio público como elegido no puede volver postularse para reelección, también incluye a los similarmente Demócratas, el Vicegobernador Gavin Newsom, ex-Alcalde de Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa y la ex-Superintendente de Educación Pública Delaine Eastin.

Chiang fue elegido a tesorero en 2014 después de dos términos como controlador. Fue anteriormente elegido por primera vez a la Mesa de Equalización en 1998 Empezó su carerra como especialista en leyes de impuestos con el Servicio de Ingresos Internos (IRS) y después como abogado en la oficina del Controlador Estatal.

Six-Years Later, Familial DNA Used to Find Killer of Teen, Young Woman

June 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Nearly six years have passed since the rape and killings of a teenage girl and young woman in Lincoln Heights sparked fear that a serial killer could be on the loose.

Pleas to the public, offers of rewards for information leading to the killer led nowhere.

But police kept searching for the killer of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman, finally turning to a process called familial DNA testing to find their suspect.

Michelle Lozano were killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Michelle Lozano was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

On Wednesday, 32-year-old Geovanni Borjas was charged with capital murder. Police say they cracked the case by using a familial DNA test and secretly collecting the suspect’s spit from a sidewalk.

Borjas was arrested May 25 at his home in Torrance, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said. He was charged Tuesday with two counts each of murder and forcible rape, along with a single count of kidnapping.

The charges include the special circumstance allegations of multiple murders and murder during commission of a rape and a kidnapping. The allegations make Borjas eligible for the death penalty, but prosecutors have not yet decided if they will seek a death sentence.

Borjas pleaded not guilty, and is due back in court June 22, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. He remains jailed without bail, His attorney argued he does not pose a flight risk, noting he works full-time and is a father.

Bree’Anna Guzman was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Bree’Anna Guzman was killed in 2011, prompting fears of a serial killer. (EGP photo archive)

Borjas is suspected of kidnapping and slaying Lozano in 2011; the teen’s body was found the day after Easter, about 11:40 p.m. April 25, 2011, dumped along the Golden State (5) Freeway near State Street in Boyle Heights. The coroner said she was strangled.

Police said the body had been wrapped in plastic bags, put in a plastic container and dumped over a masonry barrier along the freeway, and when the container hit the ground, it broke open.

The eldest of six siblings, Michelle had told her mother she was going to walk to the store. She was last seen near Lincoln High School.

Calling her a bright girl who got along with everyone, friends said they were shocked by her killing.

Bree’Anna went missing 9 months later, on the day after Christmas. The mother of two small children disappeared after telling family members that she was going to walk to the Rite Aid pharmacy at the corner of Pasadena Avenue and Avenue 26, a short distance from her home in Lincoln Heights.

When Bree’Anna didn’t return, her family contacted police. They held candlelight vigils and plastered the neighborhood with posters with Bree’Anna’s face.

Geovanni Borjas was arrested in connection to the deaths of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman.  (LAPD)

Geovanni Borjas was arrested in connection to the deaths of 17-year-old Michelle Lozano and 22-year-old Bree’Anna Guzman. (LAPD)

Her body was found about 9 a.m. Jan. 26, 2012, near the Riverside Drive onramp to the southbound Glendale (2) Freeway in the Silver Lake area. The body was partially clothed and apparently was dumped at the location, police said.

Beck said both victims had been sexually assaulted.

In 2012, hoping to allay rumors of a serial killer on the prowl, LAPD issued an alert saying they believed the two murders were “distinct” and not connected. EGP at the time reported that police said they were unable to corroborate rumors of “several men riding around in a white van kidnapping young women from the street.”

The Los Angeles City Council first approved $50,000 rewards in each of the cases in February 2012: renewing the rewards in subsequent years to no avail.

However, Beck said detectives were eventually able to connect the crimes, and once that was done, police requested permission from the state Attorney General’s Office to perform a familial DNA search.

“After the familial search a person was identified as a contributory match to the suspect,” Beck said.

“That individual was suspect’s father, who was arrested on a non-sexual-assault-type crime earlier in his life.”

After conducting further information into the father’s background, detectives “identified a family member who they thought possibly could be the suspect involved in these (crimes) and they collected a surreptitious DNA sample,” Beck said. “They did this by following the individual. During that following, he spit on the sidewalk. Detectives collected that and the DNA was a match. It was a match to both of these murders.”

Beck declined to elaborate on a possible motive for the killings or a link between Borjas and the victims.

Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the detective work that led to the arrest, calling the victims “two innocent women who had their whole lives ahead of them.”

He said the families and friends of the victims “are finally within reach of some of the justice that they and this city deserve.”

According to Beck, the case marks only the second time police have relied on a familial DNA search, which can narrow the search for a suspect to a particular family and point detectives to suspects whose DNA is not yet in a database. Beck noted that Borjas’ DNA was not in any existing database prior to his arrest.

The only other case in which the LAPD used familial DNA was the Grim Sleeper serial-killer case, in which detectives used a discarded pizza crust to collect DNA linking the killings to Lonnie David Franklin Jr., who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2016.

At a police press conference Tuesday, Bree’Anna’s father. Richard Duran struggled to keep control of his emotions. His daughter did not know Borjas, Duran said in Spanish, breaking down in tears as he described his daughter as loving mother and sister, and thanked the LAPD for their efforts to bring her murderer to justice.

“I have to thank the LAPD,” he said. “… Now we know the person that hurt our family is behind bars.

“That gives me a lot of happiness. I have closure now.”

 

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Eastside Youth Demand Inclusion in City Budget

May 25, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Feeling they don’t have a seat at the table during budget season, over 200 local students rallied outside Los Angeles City Hall Tuesday and invited the mayor and council members to sit down at the dining table they’d set up and “break bread” over a discussion on city youth services.

“You say youth are the future yet you don’t invest in our youth,” said 14-year-old Martin Raza as he stood across City Hall.

The students are members of the Invest in Youth Coalition which is campaigning to get city officials to invest in a youth development task force aimed at getting funds for community-based safe places and youth programs such as tutoring, mentoring, workforce development, college support and other services.

Although 800,000 young Angelenos live in the city, the Youth Coalition points out there is no specific department that addresses their needs.

Jackie Vargas, right, discusses the importance of involving youth in the city;s budget process with representatives from the mayor’s office Tuesday at a table set up outside L.A. City Hall. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Jackie Vargas, right, discusses the importance of involving youth in the city’s budget process with representatives from the mayor’s office Tuesday at a table set up outside L.A. City Hall. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

“We want a better future for ourselves and that starts with the budget,” Ariana Chavez, 17, told EGP. “We want a voice in our city.”

A number of students, sitting with representatives from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office and several council members, argued that the timing of budget sessions during school hours makes it hard for them to participate in the discussions.

The group estimates a $10 million budget allocation for youth development would allow for the creation of 50 programs citywide, something they want to see,.

Arlyn Nuñez, 18, of East Los Angeles, told EGP that Tuesday’s City Hall “dining table” discussion is the first step toward making sure city youth receive much-needed services.

“We’re in a low-income area, we don’t have many services available to us,” Nuñez said, explaining that tutoring and other after-school programs would benefit the region.

“Instead, money is being spent in incarcerating our youth.”

According to the coalition, 10,000 youth – ages 19 and under – are arrested annually: most are minorities.

The group points to the cities of San Francisco and New York, each of which has a youth development department, as examples of what can be done.

“Being a part of an after-school program helps students stay away from the streets and prevents them from getting locked up,” said Lincoln High School student Leslie Sanchez.

Garcetti’s representative pointed out there has been investments in youth through HIRE LA’s Youth Initiative and LA College Promise. Through HIRE LA, Garcetti hopes to see at least 20,000 youth employed by 2020. Under LA College Promise, LAUSD students will be guaranteed admission and a year of free tuition at a Los Angeles Community College campus.

Councilman Jose Huizar has asked city staff for a report on how the city spends its funds and how it can better prioritize youth services. “It’s a monumental task, but one Councilmember Huizar really wants to see done right,” stated Huizar spokesman Rick Coca in an email, adding that CD14 staff have had a series of meeting with youth advocates, one as recently as Monday.

Coca said his boss stands with advocates “in recognizing that the City’s youth stand to benefit the most from a thorough, well-researched comprehensive report on where our resources are going in funding youth services.

“ … So we convened a session with the CAO and the CLA and representatives from the Boyle Heights For Youth and LA For Youth campaigns to begin to figure out the scope and what we want the criteria to be since “youth programs and services” can cover so much ground.”

Eastside students rally outside L.A. City Hall Tuesday, urging elected officials to invest in youth services. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Eastside students rally outside L.A. City Hall Tuesday, urging elected officials to invest in youth services. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A [dedicated] youth development department is imperative if Los Angeles hopes to address the issues young people face, said Lou Calanche, executive director of Legacy LA, a community based non-profit that runs youth programs at Hazard Park and the Ramona Gardens Housing development in Boyle Heights.

Last year, in response to multiple officer-involved shootings in Boyle Heights, members of 23 nonprofit groups called on city officials to fund a department focused on youth development services.

“Boyle Heights is about 50 percent under the age of 25, if youth voices aren’t front and center in times like today, then the city is saying that youth of color aren’t a priority,” said Joel Garcia, director of Self-Help Graphics, a community arts center in East Los Angeles.

Several students acknowledged that organizations like Legacy LA and Self-Help Graphics were instrumental in keeping them out of trouble and on the path to college.

Araceli Rodriguez, a senior at Garfield High School will attend Sacramento State University in the fall. She told EGP it is especially important for the city to invest in youth at a time when the Trump administration is threatening budget cuts for education and other public programs.

“We need our leaders to send a message and put their money where their mouth is, that starts here in our city.”

Suspect in Eastside Church Assault Arrested

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

BOYLE HEIGHTS (CNS) – A 50-year-old man is being held in a Los Angeles jail on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in a Boyle Heights church, and police are seeking additional victims.

The attack occurred around 10:40 a.m. on May 6 in the sacristy of Resurrection Church on Opal Street, the Los Angeles Police Department said.

The victim defended herself and her resistance caused the man to flee the church grounds in his vehicle, police said. The suspect’s vehicle was later located and impounded by police.

The suspect was identified by police as James Melendez of Los Angeles. He was arrested May 9 on suspicion of assault with the intent to commit sexual assault. He’s being held in lieu of $125,000, according to online inmate records.

Anyone with information about additional victims was asked to call the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Area Detectives-Sex Crimes Detail at (323) 342-8995.

Pedestrian Fatally Struck by Car

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A pedestrian was struck by a car and killed Wednesday in the Boyle Heights area, police said.

Ramon Guerrero, 61, of Los Angeles was hit by the car shortly before 6 a.m. as he crossed the street in a crosswalk at Olympic Boulevard and Orme Street, the Los Angeles Police Department reported. Guerrero died at a hospital.

The motorist, 49-year-old Fredy Guirao of Los Angeles, stopped at the scene and was interviewed by police but was not arrested.

“Alcohol and/or drugs are not a factor in the collision,” a police statement said.

Anyone with information about the case was urged to call Officer Juan Mendoza at (213) 833-3713; Detective Felix Padilla at (213) 486-0753 or (877) LAPD-247.

Man Fatally Shot

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A man was fatally shot Monday in Boyle Heights.

The shooting occurred about 7 a.m. at Eighth and Fresno streets, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

The man, who was in his 30s, died at the scene, according to the coroner’s office. His name was withheld, pending family notification.

No arrests were immediately reported.

Residents Will Have Say In USC Health Campus Expansion

March 16, 2017 by · 2 Comments 

The Board of Supervisors took steps Tuesday to ensure Boyle Heights residents have a voice in shaping development around LAC+USC Medical Center.

Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended hiring a consultant to facilitate a partnership between the county, USC and local residents, hoping to generate a shared vision for the campus and community.

“It is important we make sure everyone gets a seat at the table,” Solis said.

Residents and community advocates told the board that they’ve been excluded from conversations about development of the campus for too long.

“Development is great, but not when the community is stepped on,” resident Jesus Ruiz said, adding that many of his friends had been forced out of Los Angeles by rising costs.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, told the board that he and other leaders were “thinking about how we can best serve the community where we reside.”

Residents expressed concern about being displaced in a gentrifying neighborhood.

“History paints an unfortunate story of what happens to communities when powerful institutions like USC come and develop. Many times it’s a cycle of displacement, criminalization and ultimately, erasure,” said Esthefanie Solano, a youth organizer for InnerCity Struggle who grew up in Boyle Heights.

“We expect USC to invest in, support and see every young person and resident as their next medical student, doctor, surgeon or biotech engineer.”

The discussion came as the county considers adding services for the homeless and improving juvenile justice facilities on or near the campus, where it owns 124 acres and LAC+USC Medical Center.

Solis said the development options were wide-ranging, including a clinic, housing and a biomedical center.

For its part, USC is planning a 200-room hotel, more student housing and a cancer treatment center as part of its 80-acre Health Sciences Campus.

However, as the university builds out its campus, the lack of resources in the surrounding neighborhoods becomes even more stark, community advocates said.

“It’s not about being anti-USC, it’s about let’s work together,” said Lou Calanche, executive director of Legacy LA Youth Development Corporation and a USC grad.

Community leaders said growth on the campus should be aimed at creating more jobs and affordable housing for those who live nearby.

The motion – co-authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl – was added as part of a supplement to the board’s agenda. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urged his colleagues to postpone a vote, arguing that more review was warranted, as the impact of the work would reach “well beyond USC.”

The board’s vote was 3-0 in favor, with Ridley-Thomas abstaining.

The board directed the county’s chief executive officer to report back on goals and a work plan for the Health Innovation Community Partnership.

 

Search Continues for Gunman in Drive-By Shooting

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES  – Police searched Tuesday for a gunman involved in a drive-by shooting that wounded a 17-year-old boy in the Sanford neighborhood of Los Angeles south of Boyle Heights.

The shooting was reported around 11:10 p.m. Monday near the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and South Indiana Street, said Officer Liliana Preciado of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Division. The teen was taken to a hospital, where he was in stable condition, she said.

A description of the car or the suspect was not immediately available.

The shooting was believed to be gang-related, Preciado said.

 

 

Man Shot in Boyle Heights

March 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

(CNS) – A man was shot in his stomach Sunday in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, authorities said.

It happened at 10:08 p.m. in an alley north of the intersection of Cesar Chavez Avenue and Soto Street, Sgt. A. Aldegarie of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station said.

Paramedics took the man to a hospital, Aldegarie said.

Suspect information was not available, he said.

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