EGP Endorsements: City of Los Angeles General Election

May 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Voters in the City of Los Angeles will go to the polls again on May 11– at least we hope they will — to vote on Los Angeles Unified School District Board seats, one city council race, and on a proposal to reform the process for disciplining officers in the Los Angeles Police Department.

We fully understand that some people may be experiencing voter fatigue, but it’s still important to vote, even if only one of the three measures listed are on the ballot in your area. Here are Eastern Group Publication’s endorsements for the May 11 General Election:

 

Vote No Proposition C

EGP is urging a No Vote on Charter Amendment C because we do not believe allowing officers to choose the makeup of the board that will discipline them – even if it gives a “larger voice” to civilians — will actually result in officers accused of acting outside police policy not being more routinely, or fairly disciplined.

In our view, the current makeup of department hearing officers, that includes two police officers and one civilian allows for both experience on department policy and civilian oversight to be part of the process. According to the data, citizens tend to be more lenient than police personnel when it comes to disciplining the actions of officers. Civilians tend to temper disciplinary hearings, cognizant of the fact that those being disciplined are human and often act on human instinct.

Police officers are aware of this pattern, so it’s no surprise that they support allowing officers up for review to choose the makeup of the hearing board they will appear before.

We believe that a disciplinary hearing composed of only civilians will lack the experience on policy and police procedures necessary to give the panel the needed depth of knowledge needed for such a critical function.

Vote No on C.

 

Cedillo for Los Angeles
City Council District 1

Eastern Group Publications is re-stating its endorsement of Councilmember Gil Cedillo for reelection to Council Seat No. 1.

As we stated before, we believe that Cedillo has been attentive to the needs of the 1st District. We believe the incumbent has made strides in cleaning the district, no easy task given the density of the district. Cedillo’s trash removal program has been adopted by the mayor and deployed to other parts of the city. So has his initiative to remove bulky items, such as old mattresses, broken furniture and other items thrown on the streets and alleys of his district, not to mention his program that allows trash haulers to go into a person’s home to remove those items; an especially valuable resource for the elderly.

Despite complaints about pedestrian safety, improvements have been made. Some have criticized that the councilman is only making the improvements, such as installing traffic signals and lighted crosswalks because people are complaining, but isn’t that what we expect them to do?

There is no doubt that homelessness and affordable housing are big issues in the first district. Gentrification that has led to displacement is a concern, with no easy answer.

There is no doubt that there is a critical shortage of housing in the area, especially affordable housing. The shortage is a citywide problem, as is investment in low-income neighborhoods that actually lead to more and better paying jobs, as well as increased revenue to pay for city services.

While Councilman Cedillo has our endorsement, we ask that he do a better job engaging residents in the process to solve the problems in their own backyards, including updating neighborhood plans and permitting of new construction.

Both he and his staff must listen to the concerns of the residents of his district.

Recent revelations about his challenger, Joe Bray-Ali, making racist and homophobic and other despicable comments have strengthened our support for Cedillo. As we have noted in the past, Bray-Ali has demonstrated a temperament that is not only immature, but also resembles bullying.

Take, for instance, the councilman’s decision not to support a bicycle lane on North Figueroa. We believe it was a wise decision that had community support, despite the aggressive attacks by his challenger, who for a time would take to Twitter and other social media sites to blame the councilman’s decision against bike lanes for every traffic accident in the district – even some outside the district.

The truth is, just constructing bike lanes will not solve the problems on North Figueroa or in many other areas.

EGP believes reelecting Cedillo to another terms is what’s best for the residents of the first district. Cedillo is a known quantity, who has been well-vetted during his decades is public office.

We have been greatly disturbed by the number of candidates and newly elected officials who are not adequately vetted by their supporters, and even the media, only later to be found unprepared, insincere, or in the cast of Bray-Ali, unsuited for public office.

This not only wastes time and funds, both public and private, but also contributes to the lack of participation in the electoral process.

Cedillo, Bray-Ali Headed to May Runoff

March 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

About 140 votes shy of the 50 percent plus one votes needed for an outright victory, incumbent City Councilman Gil Cedillo likely will have to face his challenger, Joe Bray-Ali, in a May runoff for his First Council District seat following final vote results released today.

According to the new figures, Cedillo’s vote count fell to 49.34 percent, with Bray-Ali coming in second with 37.97 percent.

The results will not be certified until Tuesday, but with 100 percent of all precincts counted and the tally of the vote-by-mail and provisional votes completed, Cedillo had 10,396 votes in his column while Bray-Ali finished with 8,000 votes.

Any registered voter can ask for a recount, if he or she is willing to pay for it, within five days of the certification. The fee varies based on how many people are needed for the recount, but can range from $5,054 to $21,158 per day.

Cedillo finished the March 7 election with 50.98 percent of the vote and a March 10 update saw him increase his lead to 51.28 percent.

Another update released last Tuesday, however, showed his lead drop below 50 percent, and it stayed below 50 percent in an update on Friday.

A runoff election would be held on May 16.

Former Councilman Named 2016 Lummis Day ‘Noisemaker’ of the Year

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Los Angeles councilman Ed Reyes will receive the 2016 “Noisemaker Award” at the Lummis Day Community Foundation’s annual fundraising gala on April 16 at the Highland Park Ebell Club.

Reyes, who spent 12-years representing the city’s first council district, will be recognized for his work and contributions to the community, which event organizers say are consistent with their mission “to celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and to promote cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”

Born and raised in Lincoln Heights and Cypress Park and a current Mt. Washington resident, Reyes was elected to the city council in 2001. He “worked tirelessly on a range of projects and programs that improved the quality of life for the City and District 1,” the Foundation said in its award announcement.

While in office, Reyes policies supported construction of mixed income housing with affordable units, preservation of natural habitats, and the recovery of spoiled ecosystems in a manner that allowed for both natural regeneration and the construction of improved infrastructure, according to the announcement. It also cited improvements to the Taylor Yard corridor, Cornfield Park, a rehabilitated McArthur Park the Los Angeles River Master Plan among his accomplishments while in office.

Former Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, pictured, will be honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation April 16. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)

Former Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes, pictured, will be honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation April 16. (Lummis Day Community Foundation)

Reyes was and still is a steadfast supporter of the Lummis Day Festival.

Since being termed-out of office, Reyes has worked as a private consultant helping private companies build much needed housing, develop water harvesting technology to recycle storm water and create mixed income and mixed use projects through the L.A. region.

He also sits on the Commission for the LA County Parks and Recreation Dept., representing Supervisor Hilda Solis.
Proceeds from the fundraising gala support the annual Lummis Day Festival taking place this year June 3-5 at five Northeast Los Angeles locations: Occidental College in Eagle Rock, the Audubon Center in Montecito Heights, the Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, Sycamore Grove Park and surrounding the York Boulevard & Avenue 50 park in Highland Park.

Founded in 2006, the Lummis Day Festival includes live entertainment, poetry readings, art and other activities that celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles.

As always, admission to all festival events will be free of charge.

Tickets to the gala (6:30-10 p.m.) are now on sale: $40 per person in advance, $45 at the door. Dinner, beer, wine and soft drinks are included with admission. The Highland Park Ebell Club is located at 131 S. Avenue 57 in Highland Park.

For more info, email lummisdayweb@gmail.com or call 323-646-8331.

Addressing Homeless Problems in Northeast L.A.

February 26, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Representatives of various city and county housing and mental health agencies, elected officials, law enforcement, nonprofit groups, residents and the homeless gathered Tuesday night for a town hall meeting on issues of homelessness in Northeast Los Angeles. While some complained about trash, illegal camping and public safety, others defended the rights of the homeless and called for policies that go beyond “sweeping the problem away.”

The meeting was held at Ramona Hall, a parks and recreation facility adjacent to Sycamore Grove Park on Figueroa Street.

There’s been an ongoing problem with litter and illegal dumping in the area. Residents and a local school have repeatedly complained sidewalks are being taken over by the homeless and their possessions. They fear using the park for recreational activities, despite the city on more than one occasion sending in crews to clean up the area.

Much of the discussion focused on the rights of the homeless and the need for more services to help them. Panelists answered questions about what can be done to lessen the impact on local neighborhoods like Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Montecito Heights and Cypress Park.

A representative of a housing complex demands more housing for homeless people and more efficient application process. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A representative of a housing complex demands more housing for homeless people and more efficient application process. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

They were asked about the process for dealing with the seemingly ever-growing number of homeless encampments along the Arroyo Seco Parkway and in public spaces like the 200-acre Debs Park in Montecito Heights; panelists repeatedly responded that the homeless have rights too and need more services to assist them. “When you move them from one corner, they just wind up on another corner,” pointed out one of the speakers. That’s not the solution.

Someone in the audience asked why the city isn’t looking into designating campgrounds where they can live in Northeast L.A..

Senior lead officers from the LAPD’S Hollenbeck and Northeast police divisions said their goal is to not to arrest unless there is a real danger, but to try to encourage the homeless to get services; an approach shared by neighborhood prosecutors for Hollenbeck and Northeast who said they try to deescalate situations rather than prosecute the homeless.

Several panelists pointed out that many of the homeless have deep roots and ties to the neighborhoods.

“They are locals, moving out of the area is not an option for them,” said John Urquiza, a member of the Northeast Alliance.

There are not enough beds, transitional housing or wrap-around services available in the northeast area and they do not want to go to shelters in Skid Row or El Monte, speakers said. They’d rather live on the street, it’s a lifestyle said one of the speakers.

Everybody would like an apartment, countered Rebecca Prine with the Homeless Coalition and Recycled Resources, which does outreach to and collects data on the homeless in Northeast L.A.

They feel safe living along the Arroyo because at some point they were residents somewhere nearby, she said. Some of her clients have families in the area, she said.

In 2011, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) estimated there are 68,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. Out of those, more than 31,000 suffer of a physical or mental illness such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, psychotic disorder, anxiety, etc. Today, there are an estimated 44,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County.

Urquiza said that Highland Park has become one of the most expensive areas to live, with rent averaging $1,800 a month. “Nobody talks about housing, they all talk about revitalization,” he said.

First District Councilman Gil Cedillo’s Field Deputy Sylvia Robledo told the audience her boss has made affordable housing one of his top priorities and on Wednesday would introduce a motion calling on the city administrator to comprehensively study how the city is using it’s $9 billion in federal funds to provide transitional housing.

The issue is complex, there is not one single solution, said Martin Schlagetev, Councilman Jose Huizar’s aid in charge of homeless issues. He discussed how the councilman’s office is working comprehensively on the issue, from cleaning streets to bringing in county social workers to work with the homeless simultaneously.

Ron is homeless and attended Tuesday’s town hall. He said the homeless feel harassed by the police and park rangers. He accused them of pushing him out of his camp and to the riverbed.

He said there are too many rules and it takes too long to get services. “Go get a TB check, go fill out a survey, do something” and you’re still waiting six months later.

Richard Renteria counsels the homeless and said most of those he’s interviewed are afraid to  live in Skid Row shelters.

“The majority of people here are one check away from being homeless and if I became homeless, I’d rather live here in the Arroyo than in the shelters that I serve,” he said.

For nearly two hours, several residents sat quietly waiting for a chance to discuss their concerns, growing increasingly frustrated, and in some cases angry, that nothing was being said about their right to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods.

Minutes before the meeting was to end, Edward Carreon finally had a chance to speak. He said he understands homelessness cannot be addressed in one day, that more affordable housing and services for the homeless are needed, but he wants the city and police to do something to protect his and his family’s rights.

“Not all the homeless are good people like it’s been said here,” he said. A lot of them are really bad characters. They are selling and shooting up heroine, and there’s a chop shop where they sell stolen bikes. You come across them having sex in the bushes at Debbs Park, Carreon said. “I can’t even take my daughter out anymore, I don’t feel safe.”

The city needs to step up police patrols to protect residents in the area, he said, before being cut off by the meeting moderator who said they were out of time and had to adjourn.

Immediately following the meeting, several residents said they attended the meeting because they were worried about the growing number of homeless in their neighborhoods and how aggressive some have become.

Kim Hepner has lived in Montecito Heights since 2002 and said she was frustrated that people like her who had followed the rules and waited quietly to ask questions were never given a chance to speak. The meeting was all about the rights of he homeless, she said.

“What about those of us who want to use the park to exercise? There’s a big problem with obesity in this area and people need the park,” she said. “People are afraid, I can’t even walk my dog in the park anymore, she said.

“We used to have gang problems” when I first moved to Montecito Heights, but that got better. Now it’s the homeless and it’s “very unsafe out there,” she told EGP.

She said thanks to the Next Door mobile app she is able to discuss the issues with people living in her neighborhood.

“There are a lot of us on there and we talk about how we can protect each other,” she said. “We watch out for each other” and talk about the illegal homeless encampments, dumping and other illegal activities in the park, Hepner said.

Speaking after the meeting, the residents said they understand the frustration of the homeless, but someone needs to understand them and their safety concerns.

Officer Craig Orange with the Los Angeles Police Department Northeast division told the audience that it is not a crime to be homeless, but more resources are needed to address the issue. “We can’t assume that just clean ups are the solution, or mental health help or housing, it is a combination of all” these things, he said.

 

EGP Editor Gloria Alvarez contributed to this story.

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