L.A. to Explore Tech Approach To Hire Police

September 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

With nearly half of the city’s non-sworn employees expected to reach retirement age by 2018, two Los Angeles City Council members Tuesday sought ways to reduce the potential impact, including the use of technology to recruit new workers.

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced a motion asking for the Personnel Department and the Information Technology Agency to report on electronic tools and technologies that are available to improve the city’s recruitment and civil service hiring processes.

Councilman Paul Koretz introduced a motion that would instruct the Personnel Department to report to the City Council within 45 days with an overview of succession plans in all city departments, and to highlight areas of concern.

“The city needs to take full advantage of the technological resources available in order to compete with other employers, and to process the volume of hires necessary to resupply the city with an effective workforce,” Rodriguez’s motion states.

City Controller Ron Galperin reported in 2015 that the number of retirement-eligible employees will grow to 13,794 by 2018, which is about 46 percent of the total civilian workforce. The number does not include police or firefighters.

City workers can retire at age 55 if they have been with the city 10 or more years, or at 60 years old if not.

The largest number of retirement eligible employees will be in the Public Works and the Water and Power departments, as 2,221 Public Works workers will be eligible to retire by 2018 and the DWP will see 4,336 of its workers reach retirement age.

When he issued the report, Galperin said he views the city’s aging workforce as “both a challenge and a series of great opportunities.”

“While we’re in danger of losing the expertise that so many of our experienced employees have developed over the course of their careers, we also have the chance to develop skills and mentoring programs to ensure that the city workforce is equipped to meet the needs of tomorrow,” he said.

In response to the report, Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive directive requiring that general managers of all city department make full succession plans by January 2018.

Koretz’s motion, which notes the executive directive, would direct the Personnel Department to report to the City Council on all of the succession plans that have been developed to date, along with recommendations that will ensure development of a pool of qualified candidates for key positions.

Bell Gardens Parks to Go ‘Smokefree’

August 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Bell Gardens is the latest in a growing list of cities moving to make parks and recreation areas off-limits to smoking.

Under a new policy tentatively approved Monday by the city council, smoking of traditional tobacco products, e-cigarettes and marijuana would be prohibited. The council voted unanimously to adopt the policy, however, before it can become official, the law requires a second reading and vote, which is scheduled to take place at the city council’s meeting on Sept. 11.

“Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard,” said Bell Gardens Mayor Jose Mendoza. “The intent of enacting an ordinance which totally bans smoking in our parks, public facilities and city events is to protect the non-smokers in our community, especially children from serious side effects like lung cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma.”

BG-Play Smoke Free Feature

According to Mendoza, secondhand smoke is the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States.

The city currently only enforces a state health and safety code that prohibits smoking “in and within 25 feet of any playground or recreational area specifically designed to be used by children,” and “in and within 25 feet of any public building,” according to a Bell Gardens staff report.

Several residents and representatives of the American Lung Association spoke in support of the ordinance during public testimony Monday. In a statement Tuesday, the Lung Association applauded the council for its action.

“We commend the City of Bell Gardens for advancing a smokefree parks policy that will protect community members, especially children, from secondhand smoke exposure in local parks and recreation areas,” said John Yi, the organization’s advocacy director for California. “This effort would not have been possible without the hard work of local high school students who understand how important it is to create smokefree environments for the community.”

Yi was referring to efforts by local high school students to bring the anti-smoking issue to the public and to encourage city officials to take action.

“A smokefree parks policy is important to me and my community because it will make for a safer and more enjoyable experience for myself and for others,” said Kimberly Gonzalez, a senior at Bell Gardens High School.

According to the Lung Association, exposure to any level of secondhand smoke is harmful. In 2006, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) officially declared secondhand smoke a Toxic Air Contaminant and the United States Surgeon General issued a landmark report concluding that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Policies to limit smoking in parks and recreation areas vary from city to city, and in some cases do not exist. Data from the Lung Association shows this to be true among the cities neighboring Bell Gardens. According to the data, neither Bell nor Montebello ban smoking in city parks, while Commerce restricts smoking at its parks to designated areas, as does the city of Los Angeles.

In unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, including East Los Angeles, smoking is 100% prohibited.

The Lung Association singled out Huntington Park as a “shining star” when it comes to anti-smoking policies, noting that the southeast city has  “comprehensive smokefree policies including 100% smokefree parks” and “an A grade in our 2017 State of Tobacco Control Report.”

Bell Gardens’ move to restrict smoking comes on the heels of a recent poll conducted by the Lung Association to gauge Bell Gardens residents’ views on making parks off-limits to smoking. According to the Lung Association, 89% of those surveyed said they support smokefree park policies and nearly everyone said they “would be more likely to visit a city park if it was smokefree.”

“Recognition that secondhand smoke is extremely toxic has bolstered efforts by local elected officials across the state to take action to protect their residents from exposure,” said the Lung Association, which cited additional efforts to “protect” residents by prohibiting smoking in other public areas, such as entryways around businesses and other areas where people congregate.

When finalized, Bell Gardens’ ordinance will also prohibit smoking in city buildings and facilities, including parking lots and alleys, and at all city-sponsored events.

Violations of the smoking ban could result in a misdemeanor charge, or reduced to an infraction by the city attorney or city prosecutor. A first time infraction carries a $100 fine; second violation $200; and $500 for the third violation in a 12-month period.

Big Pay Hikes OK’d for LADWP Workers

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s most powerful union will see a significant bump in pay, with the City Council’s approval Wednesday of a new contract for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18.

The deal was approved 11-3 despite three council members’ objections to the speed with which it came to the council for a vote, having skipped a committee hearing after the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the contract last week.

Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu and Mike Bonin, who cast the dissenting votes, said they felt the process lacked transparency.

“The approval of this plan without greater discussion, public outreach or deeper analysis undermines the public’s trust in their local government,” Ryu said.

Bonin said he learned the details of the deal and that it was coming to a vote though the media

“I’m disturbed, as are a few others, by this process, and there is still information I feel I don’t have,” Bonin said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who ultimately voted for the deal, also said he learned of the contract details through the media.

“This process stunk. One cannot assume approval of a contract without proper vetting. We heard about this contract through a number of media reports.

In the five years I’ve been here through city contracts, my office and myself were at least briefed on what to expect,” Buscaino said.

The deal, which has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, continues the practice of union workers not contributing toward their health care costs — a benefit not enjoyed by all city workers.

The new contract has been criticized by some as being too generous — to the point that it could cause other city unions to ask for raises — as well as for being fast-tracked to a vote.

The contract gives six raises over five years for the IBEW Local 18’s 9,000 members at a total rate of about 13 percent to 22 percent, depending on the consumer price index. It also ends the union’s $4 million controversial annual contribution to two nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which have been heavily criticized due to a lack of transparency as to how they were spending and tracking the money.

The contract will cost an estimated $56 million annually, but will not impact the city’s general fund as it will be funded via adjustments to the LADWP’s budget, according to an LADWP commission memo.

Fred Pickle, executive director of the LADWP’s Office of Public Accountability, said because the department routinely comes in under budget each year, the raises would not likely result in higher rates for customers.

When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, one of his chief issues was a promise to bring sweeping changes to the LADWP. That pledge made him an enemy of the IBEW, which spent $2 million supporting his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel. Once elected, Garcetti blocked the approval of a four-year contract with the IBEW so he could renegotiate a new deal that resulted in no raises for the union.

“Public unions are major donors to City Hall political campaigns, so perhaps it should be no surprise if elected officials are reluctant to drive a hard bargain. But this contract could sure use more analysis and public debate,” the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote while also criticizing Garcetti for not driving a harder bargain this time around after his landslide re-election in March.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn said the deal was not a template for future deals with other unions and contended the raises are needed to keep LADWP workers from leaving to work for other cities.

An audit of the LADWP released earlier this year by City Controller Ron Galperin found that the utility spends about $40 million a year on apprenticeship programs that only graduate about 51 percent or fewer of their enrollees, and that many of the graduates go to other utilities to get better salaries.

“This contract moves us in the direction of much-needed reforms, specifically ending ratepayer funding of the two nonprofit training institutes that I audited in 2015, and offering a retention incentive for certain workers who are expensive to train and frequently lured away by private utilities,” Galperin said. “At the same time, I’m not convinced that all of the across-the-board increases were justified by the need to attract and retain employees at the DWP. We must be watchful stewards of ratepayer money.”

Llewellyn said the elimination of the payment to the two institutes was a big win for the city.

When pressed by some council members as to why the city didn’t push harder on healthcare contributions, Llewellyn said, “We pushed on everything … We pushed on everyone, and they pushed back on everyone. And we ended up in the middle with what I believe is a reasonable deal.”

Proposed Retail Center Splits Commerce

April 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A proposal to build a retail complex that could include a big box type retail store on Washington Boulevard near the 710 Long Beach Freeway in the City of Commerce is drawing heat from a local environmental group, at the same time others in the city say the development will bring needed jobs and added revenue to the city.

Plans for the for the proposed Commerce Retail Center Project on Washington, running from the 710 Freeway to Atlantic Boulevard, and from Washington Boulevard to Sheila Street, include a 122,450-square-foot “Major Anchor” retail store, with adjoining restaurants and other retail spaces.

Lea este artículo en Español: Centro Comercial Propuesto Divide a Residentes de Commerce

It would be built on land the city is selling as required under the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies across the state. The city is in escrow with Gatwick Group, LLC, however, the sale is contingent on approval of the retail project.

The city’s planning commission reviewed plans for the proposed development, but last week split 2-2 on whether or not to recommend approval to the city council. One of the five commissioners recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest.

Speculation among the project’s opponents is that the project applicant, Venture Retail Group, plans to lease the site to Walmart, although no specific retailer is named in the project, only a description that describes a retail format found at many of Walmart’s larger stores.

Planning Commissioner Mike Alvarado told EGP he strongly supports the project, saying it would again make Commerce a “Model City,” a reference to the city’s motto.

“The city, as it is now, looks horrible, it is decaying,” Alvarado told EGP, explaining that revenue generated from the development would help pay for repairs to streets, sidewalks and other infrastructure put off for years.

Opponents, however, say the land is too contaminated with toxic chemicals spread by the now closed Exide battery-recycling plant in Vernon and past industrial uses. It is “irresponsible” to move forward without first creating a cleanup plan, says Mark Lopez, director of Commerce-based East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.

The property was once home to a heavy machinery business, according to Lopez. Toxic materials, percholorethylene (PCE) and tetrachloroethylene (TCE), that could affect movement and control of the body, can be found on the site, Lopez said.

A final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Commerce Retail Center Project was released on March 3 of this year and is waiting approval. Lopez believes the review of potential environmental issues, including health hazards has been inadequate.

He says the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) hasn’t yet characterized the elevated levels of soil contamination, adding the organization does not “trust” DTSC to do an adequate oversight job given the agency’s failures in the Exide contamination issue.

DTSC however, citing its “great deal of experience and expertise overseeing the investigation and cleanup of these types of properties across the state,” told EGP in an email statement that the agency is using its “expertise to ensure the work at the Gatwick site in the City of Commerce is done properly so property is safe for its planned use.”

View of site for proposed retail development at Washington and Atlantic boulevards. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

View of site for proposed retail development at Washington and Atlantic boulevards. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The agency said it has reviewed and evaluated the developer’s risk assessment and cleanup plans and “sent our comments back to the developer for revision,” DTSC spokesperson Sandy Nax told EGP.

“In addition, the developer has recently acquired a new land parcel within the same block from the City of Commerce. DTSC has required investigation of the subsurface soil in the new parcel and the Proponent will be conducting soil sampling soon.”

East Yards and others also say they are concerned the project could negatively impact the I-710 Corridor Project to improve an 18-mile stretch of the I-710 from Long Beach to the Pomona 60 Freeway in East Los Angeles. The goal of the 710 project is to “improve air quality/public health, improve traffic safety, modernize the freeway design” to accommodate projected growth in the area.

The project has been under review for years, and at one time contained a proposal to take upwards of 100 homes in the Ayers neighborhood to make room for the expansion. If built, the retail center would be located near the 710 Freeway where Lopez said they fought to locate the new northbound off-ramp to avoid the taking of the Ayers neighborhood.

“So part of our struggle was to redesign the project so it wouldn’t take those homes and what we did, instead of having the off-ramp [east of the freeway], it would come to the other side where they want to put the Walmart,” Lopez said, adding they know for a fact that a Walmart is slated to open on the site.

“So if they build a Walmart, who’s going to have better protections from the lawyers, Walmart or the homes?” asked Lopez.

Lauren Wonder, a spokesperson for Caltrans District 7, told EGP there is currently no project alignment for the I-710 project. Nothing has been decided, she said. “The time frame for the final environmental impact report is now early 2017.”

Until the final I-710 EIR is published, comments received and the document is finalized, any discussion of future impacts “will only be a speculation,” Commerce’s Publics Works Director Maryam Babaki told EGP.

Both Babaki and Alvarado say it could take 10 or more years to move the I-710 project, and the city can’t just wait until it does.

Alvarado said he has no problem if Walmart ultimately winds up being the anchor tenant, adding he wants a tenant that will attract more people and benefit other businesses in the area.

Commerce’s General Plan calls for service commercial, general commercial and light industrial uses in the area. A big box store, like Walmart or Target, could generate $600,000 to $800,000 in added revenue per year for the city, according to Maryam Babaki, Commerce’s director of Public Works.

Mayor Ivan Altamirano told EGP he hasn’t decided whether to support the project, saying, “this is not a decision to be taken lightly.”

“I want to know all the players and pieces of this project and quite frankly I don’t believe all of that information has been disclosed,” he said.

“Our community is actually divided on this project. It seems like everyone in the city is already calling this project Walmart except for the developers.”

Altamirano said several factors must be taken in consideration, such as the impact on traffic and the number of good paying jobs it will bring for residents. We also have to look at crime in the area, and whether there are enough sheriff deputies to patrol the area, he told EGP.

Alvarado told EGP the city is already working on traffic improvements in the area, including the widening of Washington Boulevard. The opponents are “a group of people that want to hold back progress of the community,” he said. He and others believe the real issue is opposition to Walmart.

East Yards calls Walmart’s employment track record “problematic,” claiming company workers earn low-wages and work too few hours to qualify for benefits, and has closed up stores with little notice to employees.

Alvarado doesn’t buy the argument, and points out that that other businesses in the area, including at the Citadel, only pay their employees the minimum wage and “nobody complains.”

A date has yet to be set for the project to go before the full city council for review, but it is likely to be within the next few weeks, said Alvarado.

Altamirano said that he will not be rushed into making a decision that will have such a significant impact on the community.

“Once all the information is provided then we can move forward on what is best for the residents of Commerce,” the mayor said.

“Those that don’t want a Walmart are rightfully concerned about the negative effects Walmart has historically had on communities. Those that are in favor of the project I believe really just want a shopping option, Walmart or not.”

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Council Committee Wants Numbers On Garcetti Earthquake Retrofit Proposal

January 29, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council’s Housing Committee instructed staffers Wednesday to report back on how much Mayor Eric Garcetti’s earthquake retrofit proposal will cost Los Angeles tenants and landlords.

Garcetti in December unveiled a plan that called for requiring certain older homes to be reinforced against earthquakes.

The proposed mandates would apply to soft-story apartments, which are built atop carports, and brittle concrete buildings, constructed prior to 1980, when the city began requiring earthquake reinforcements on new construction.

At issue could be whether or to what degree landlords would be allowed to pass the costs onto renters. Some property owners are also asking city officials to look into doing away with the city’s rent control law, which they say makes it difficult for them to come up with the funds to pay for the
seismic retrofits.

City officials will also look into a statewide program that could provide loans to property owners to do the retrofit projects.

The issue is scheduled to be discussed again in 30 days in the Housing Committee.

 

New Bell Gardens Official Claims Independence

January 22, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Bell Gardens residents will have a special opportunity to meet the newest member of the city council next Monday when Maria Pulido is sworn in during the council’s annual reorganization ceremony when council titles and assignments for the year ahead are made.

Pulido was appointed Nov. 23 to fill the seat left vacant by the death of mayor Daniel Crespo, fatally shot Sept. 30 by his wife during a domestic dispute at their Bell Gardens home.

At just 24 years of age, she is the youngest woman to ever serve on the council. EGP spoke with Pulido this week to get her view on the job ahead.

For some, the death of the popular mayor has left a void on the council, but Pulido told EGP her job isn’t to do everything as Crespo would have, but to find her own voice when dealing with city issues.

“I doubt we have the same mentality and ideologies,” said Pulido about Crespo. “So, [while] there is pressure, I can’t change the way I think just to accommodate those expectations,” she told EGP. “Otherwise, I’m not going to be serving the rest of the residents.”

Maria Pulido, 24, is the youngest woman to serve on the Bell Gardens City Council.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Maria Pulido, 24, is the youngest woman to serve on the Bell Gardens City Council. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Pulido has only attended two council meetings so far so it may still be too soon to tell, but the political novice says she doesn’t shy away from controversies and has no qualms about asking questions when something’s not clear.

“I’m comfortable with the idea that there are no dumb questions,” she said. In her view, asking questions publicly keeps residents from thinking the council votes blindly on whatever goes before them.

Being seen as independent is important to Pulido.

She says council decisions affect the city’s 52,000 residents, so she has to speak out if she disagrees with staff or her fellow council members. “I’m not going to vote one way just because I don’t want to disagree with four other people,” she emphasizes.

Pulido says she’s been spending time reviewing past staff reports with City Manager Phil Wagner to help her get up to speed on the city’s finances and her role on the council.

Wagner describes Pulido as “eager to learn ” and having “compassion for the city.”

The longtime city administrator, who over the years has witnessed many of the city’s fiercest political rivalries, told EGP, “It does not seem she has political ties to anyone, which in my opinion is rare.”

Those political rivalries have at times erupted during city council meetings, with residents accusing council members of corruption and heated debates and finger pointing between council members, especially if it’s election season. Those outbreaks are less common these days, but Pulido tells EGP she is prepared to not take the attacks personally if it happens again. She wants to be seen as transparent and reliable and says she will refrain from making promises she can’t keep just to make someone feel good.

In a city where it is not unusual for council decisions to be met with suspicion, Pulido’s appointment has drawn little reaction from the city’s usual vocal galley of critics, especially surprising since Pulido works at the Briarcrest Nursing Center in Bell Gardens, the same facility where Councilwoman Jennifer Rodriguez is employed.

“I don’t think I was brought in…I worked for that recognition,” says Pulido about her appointment. “I made the extra effort to advocate for myself before the council made their decision.”

Wagner tells EGP those who tend to be vocal may simply have no reason to complain.

“Maybe people are pleased with her appointment, and have no issue,” he said.

Pulido has already met with the Neighborhood Watch, Bell Gardens High School students, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard and residents at local events, such as “posadas” and other Christmas programs, and will soon go on a ride-a-long with police to learn more about crime in the city. She says she also hopes to meet with Montebello Unified School District officials, since Bell Gardens youth attend MUSD schools.

At last week’s meeting, the new councilwoman was attentive, taking notes on comments made by staff and concerns raised by residents.

“A lot of people expect me to be nervous,” but the city’s “staff has really made me feel comfortable and prepared,” she points out.

Pulido is working on her Masters Degree in social work at Cal State Long Beach, something she says goes hand in hand with government.

“Social workers and public officials are both agents of resources,” she said. “We both connect and obtain information for residents.”

She says her priorities are public safety and ensuring the city balances its budget, which according to Wagner will mean continuing to address the ongoing fallout from the dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency, unsustainable water rates and the economy in general.

Pulido says neither her young age nor status as a full time student will prevent her from doing her job on the council, and might actually come in handy.

“Since I am younger, I can bring in that population that identifies with me, that would otherwise not be comfortable speaking up,” Pulido said. “If anything, it’s an asset.”

Commerce City Council Ballot Set for March Election

December 31, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Six candidates will vie for two City of Commerce Council seats in the March 2015 Municipal Election, the city has confirmed.

Councilman Joe Aguilar is not seeking reelection, making Councilwoman Denise Robles the only incumbent on the ballot, however, longtime former council member Hugo Argumedo has thrown his hat into the ring.

Robles, who is seeking her second term, has often been at odds with her colleagues on spending priorities and other issues, but she told EGP she is eager to continue representing the city where she has lived her entire life.

“…I think there are many things that [still] need to be accomplished,” she said, pointing out that she has worked hard to “establish relationships with business and the community.”

The city needs to attract more businesses to Commerce and more work on improving the city’s appearance is needed, she said, detailing her priorities for a second term if reelected.

Aguilar’s exit from the race has opened up opportunities for other candidates, including some who have been active in the city in various ways for years.

Aguilar  told EGP that at age 72, and after two terms on the council and three stints as mayor, he is ready to move on. He will continue his support of the city, but from another angle, he said.

“Being a councilmember takes a lot of time and I need more time for myself and my wife,” Aguilar told EGP. He said he needs to spend more time caring for his wife who has some medical issues.

However, he’s not leaving without first staking a preference in the race to succeed him, or perhaps replace Robles. He has publicly endorsed Sonia Rodriguez in the upcoming election.

Rodriguez is senior administrator of American and Ethnic Studies at USC and has served as a member of the city’s committee on Measure AA, charged with making recommendations on spending of revenue from the special tax approved by voters.

Aguilar said 51-year-old Rodriguez is  “very responsible” and committed to the city.

According to Rodriguez, she supports improving the city’s use of technology. She thinks Commerce should install more surveillance cameras around the city as a tool to reduce crime, and invest more in the city’s infrastructure.

She told EGP’s she’s “blessed” to have earned Aguilar’s endorsement and to have Mayor Pro-Tem Lila Leon guiding her candidacy.

“I believe in clean air, in clean water and educational purposes,” she said, adding she plans to go door to door to hear from residents what they want from the city.

Also on the ballot is John Soria who says he is a lifelong resident of the city. He works as a law enforcement technician with the Sheriff ‘s Department.

Soria told EGP he is running because he thinks it’s time for a change. He said he came to that conclusion after watching the ongoing fighting between current members on the council.

“I possess the ability to engage and be responsive to both our community and our council members in order to move our city forward,” Soria told EGP, citing his “extensive experience” acting as a liaison between the public and law enforcement personnel.

If elected, Soria said he would advocate “to enhance public safety, restore programs and services, and mitigate environmental impacts so as to safeguard the quality of life for our families.”

Oralia Rebollo, 35, was also born and raised in Commerce, and says she has been thinking about running for the council since 1998 when she took part in the city’s Student Government Day.

Rebollo is a 17-year Commerce employee, which she says has allowed her to see first hand that the city needs new initiatives to “help all our youth become successful and productive adults.”

“Some of my priorities, once elected, are establishing family based programs, promoting community health, improving air quality and strengthening the City’s relationship with the business community,” she told EGP.

Former Councilman Hugo Argumedo may have the most name recognition in the race. His decision to run again, after being forced to resign back in December 2010 as part of a plea bargain agreement made after he pled guilty to obstructing justice, was not unexpected, according to some city insiders who wanted to remain anonymous.

Prosecutors said Argumedo signed a false affidavit as part of a civil lawsuit between the city and former City Attorney Francisco Leal.

As part of the plea deal, Argumedo was prohibited from holding public office for three years.

When he resigned, Argumedo admitted “regret” over his actions, EGP reported at the time.

Argumedo was first elected to the city council in 1996. He cites among his accomplishments the opening of the Crown Plaza Hotel, the purchase of the Citadel Outlet stores, creation of the Education Commission, and the restructuring of the Commerce Scholarship Program.

In his biography, Argumedo says he is a strong advocate of community-based policing and Neighborhood Watch programs.

He has also been a member of the Model City Democratic Club of Commerce, the Commerce Sister City Association and the Rosewood Park Elementary School PTA.

EGP could not reach John Diaz in time for this article.

The election will be held on March 3, 2015.

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