MUSD To Fill Chau’s Seat By Appointment

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Montebello Unified School District Board of Education has decided to appoint a replacement to fill the seat left vacant by Ed Chau who was elected last month to the State Assembly.

The school board decided to select a provisional member rather than call for a special election to fill out Chau’s unexpired term.

MUSD’s legal counsel advised the school board at their meeting last week that in order to comply with state laws the district had to decide within 60 days of the vacancy whether they would make a provisional appointment or hold a special election.

Superintendent Robert G. Henke recommended that the board elect to make a provisional appointment, noting that a special election could cost the school district up to $250,000. Henke said the money that would be used to fund a special election should instead be used on educational purposes that benefit MUSD students.

Board President Hector Chacon called not spending a quarter of a million dollars on a special election “prudent.” It makes sense, Chacon told the crowd at the meeting.

Board members approved the consent agenda that included the recommendation to make a provisional appointment. They also agreed to revisit a list of applicants previously found to be eligible when the board was seeking a replacement for Marcella Calderon, who passed away shortly after being reelected. They agreed to contact the people on the list to determine if they are  still interested in serving on the school board.

Once the provisional member is appointed, he or she will serve on the board until the next election in November 2013.

The school board will be honoring Ed Chau at the school district’s special board meeting on Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. MUSD will also be discussing the reorganization of the board of education.


White Memorial Welcomes 12-12-12 ‘Golden’ Babies

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(Photo courtesy of White Memorial Hospital)

It’s called a “golden year” and supposed to be lucky when your birthday falls on a day when all the numbers in the calendar date are the same.

Baby Azhani (pictured) was born at 10:12 a.m. at the White Memorial Medical Center in Boyle Heights on Wednesday, 12-12-12, marking a “golden” entry into the world.

As of press time, 6 baby boys and 6 baby girls had been born at the hospital, with 3 more babies (12 total) expected to be born by midnight on 12-12-12.

MAOF Names New Chief Development Officer

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The Montebello-based Mexican American Opportunities Foundation (MAOF) has named an East Los Angeles native as the nonprofit’s new Chief Development Officer.

Suzanne Gonzalez will serve as the Chief Development officer for the Montebello-based non-profit. (Photo courtesy of MAOF)

Suzanne Gonzalez will oversee MAOF’s fundraising and marketing initiatives, the community service provider announced Tuesday.

“Ms. Gonzalez brings a wealth of experience in Development and in the non-profit sector. In addition, as a former Gift Planning Officer with the California Community Foundation, she brings expertise as to what Foundations look for in successful proposals,” said Martin Castro, MAOF President and CEO. “We are delighted to have her on our team.”

Gonzalez called it an honor to be joining “such an exemplary organization that has a legacy of success in the community.”

She said she looks forward to building on MAOF’s accomplishments to ensure that the essential services the nonprofit provides “will continue to positively impact the lives of many.”

In addition to PADRES and the California Community Foundation, Gonzalez has also held fundraising posts at organizations such as the JWCH Institute, Pasadena Heritage, Clinica Msr. Oscar A. Romero and the CaliforniaKids Healthcare Foundation.

She holds a J.D. degree from Loyola Law School and a B.A. degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley.

For more information on MAOF’s services, visit www.maof.org.


Children’s Art Featured In 2013 Calendar

December 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The holidays can be a tough time of year for many children, particularly those in foster care or struggling with mental-health issues, or whose families are financially fragile.

A local program that provides much needed services to more than 9,000 children and families each year is hoping the community will remember them this holiday season by helping to bring holiday happiness to children in need.

Hot off the press! Eight-year-old Joseph Lopez, (center) whose drawing is featured in the 2013 Hathaway-Sycamores Children’s Art Calendar, and (right) Rob Myers, executive vice president of Hathaway-Sycamores, present Rita Henderson, (left), manager of community relations and educational programs for Nestlé USA, which provided funding for the 2013 calendar, with one of the calendars being sold to raise money for the group. (Photo courtesy of Suzanne Turpin)

From buying a one-of-a-kind calendar to adopting a less fortunate family, there are many ways to help those served by Hathaway-Sycamores Sycamores Child and Family Services—the largest private provider of children’s mental-health services in Los Angeles County.

There are several ways that members of the community can support Hathaway-Sycamores’ efforts, including buying the organization’s 2013 Children’s Art Calendar, featuring iconic local landmarks as interpreted through the eyes of 12 aspiring young artists who receive services at the group’s Highland Park Family Resource Center.

Not only is the calendar both beautiful and affordable ($10, plus $5 shipping and handling), but proceeds will help fund life-changing services for the thousands of youngsters and families served annually by Hathaway-Sycamores.  The calendar can be ordered at www.hathaway-sycamores.org or by calling (626) 395-7100 ext. 2516.

For additional information about these opportunities to support Hathaway-Sycamores, contact Andi Sica at (626) 395-7100 ext. 2516 or e-mail AndreaSica@hathaway-sycamores.org.

Advocates Call for Extension on Foreclosure Review Deadline

December 13, 2012 by · 5 Comments 

A program to allow foreclosed on homeowners, or homeowners facing foreclosure to seek a review of their distressed mortgage will come to an end on Dec. 31 unless federal officials agree to extend the deadline, a move being backed by a number of housing advocates.

The foreclosure review program has so far reached only a small fraction of those potentially eligible, homeownership advocates said during a recent telephone briefing, according to a news release distributed by the Greenlining Institute. Because the program has failed to reach its intended participants, the program’s deadline should be extended, they said.

Attempting to address evidence of widespread mishandling of home foreclosures, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in April 2011 created the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) program to deal with mortgages serviced by 27 leading companies that went into foreclosure during 2009 and 2010, estimated to be 4.4 million mortgages.

So far, not one decision has been made and no compensation has been given, and only about six percent, or 260,000 of those believed eligible to receive an independent review have actually begun the process to determine if they deserve compensation for mistakes or abusive practices.

“Millions of foreclosures may have been handled wrongly, and this program is an important source of potential help – but only if people know about it,” said Greenlining Institute Community Reinvestment Director Preeti Vissa. “Last June, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found major problems in the government and banks’ efforts to publicize and reach out to affected homeowners. While some efforts have been made to fix those problems and there has been improved outreach, there just hasn’t been time to effectively get the word out to the millions of homeowners at risk.

Alan Jenkins, Executive Director of The Opportunity Agenda, said “We cannot let arbitrary deadlines prevent us from rebuilding the American Dream.” He said federal authorities need to drop the deadline and allow applications to be submitted “for as long as needed.”

“Fully addressing the fallout from bank misconduct in the foreclosure crisis is crucial to our economic recovery, and to families across America,” said Jenkins.

Tunua Thrash, executive director of the West Angeles Community Development Corporation in Los Angeles, said very few of the people coming to them for help have even heard of the program. “It’s not fair to slam the door on people before they even know help is available.”

Those who believe they may be eligible can request an independent review online at www.independentforeclosurereview.com, or call 1-888-952-9105 for more information.


Contest to Award YMCA Family Memberships

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It’s said “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it could take just100 words to win your family a free YMCA family membership.

Councilman Jose Huizar is sponsoring the “Gift of Health” essay contest, which will award six families a membership at the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA.

Huizar announced the contest last week at the White Memorial Medical Center’s Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration. The YMCA and White Memorial are administering the program.

Four families from White Memorial’s Healthy Eating Lifestyle Program (HELP) have already been selected based on commitment and participation in that program.

The other six families for the program, which is funded by the councilman’s office, will be selected through a 100-word essay writing contest. Winners will be announced in the New Year.

“I can think of no better gift to give our families this Holiday Season than the gift of health,” said Huizar. “Through these sponsorships in collaboration with the YMCA and White Memorial, we are ensuring 10 families are going to be fit and healthy in the New Year – hopefully it will inspire others to do the same.”

Huizar urged families striving to be healthy, or who need a little extra help, like a gym membership, to meet their healthy living goals, and who and live with 5-miles of the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA (2900 Whittier Blvd., L.A. 90023) to apply. Deadline to apply is Jan. 4, 2012.

For contest details, call (213) 473-7014.

Contest Details

• Write an essay of how your family will benefit from this “Gift of Health.”

• Essay must be 100 words or less.  Please write legibly and/or use a computer.

• Explain how you will stay motivated to make a lifestyle change.

• You must live within 5 miles of the YMCA or be able to commit to access your membership.

• Include the following information on your letter – this information does not count as part of your 100-word essay: (First and last name, address, phone and e-mail, number of members in your family and their names and ages.)

Essays will be judged by the White Memorial Community Leadership Council which includes members of our community.

Winners will be notified by phone and receive a letter by mail.

Mail your essay to:

(Postmarked no later than January 4, 2013)

Sara Rubalcava-Beck

Attn:  YMCA Essay Contest

White Memorial Medical Center

1720 Cesar E. Chavez Ave.


LA Council Committee Moves to Regulate Group Homes

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One week after a quadruple slaying outside an unlicensed boarding home, a City Council committee on Monday unanimously approved a plan to regulate group homes for the disabled, senior citizens, recovering drug addicts and others.

The so-called Community Care Facility Ordinance would authorize about 1,000 licensed care facilities housing seven or more people to operate in residential neighborhoods under certain conditions, including a cap on two people per bedroom and landscaping, lighting and noise restrictions.

With the backing of the Public Safety Committee, the proposal will move to the full City Council for a vote in January.

Councilman Mitchell Englander, the plan’s principal backer, called the proposed ordinance the most liberal in the state. Previously, operators of facilities of seven or more people had to plead their cases before the city in order to be allowed in residential zones, a process that could run as much as $14,000.

The ordinance strikes a balance between protecting the character of residential neighborhoods and protecting “the most vulnerable in society who are taken advantage of and warehoused in deplorable conditions,” Englander said.

The ordinance also strengthens the city’s ability to crack down on illegal unlicensed boarding homes by providing specific language that distinguishes boarding home businesses from multi-family residences and barring landlords from issuing four or more leases in residential zones without a license to operate as a care facility.

Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Kris Pitcher, who oversees an area with about 57 group homes, told the committee that some of the homes become regular scenes for personal theft, disputes among tenants, assaults, narcotics violations and general blight.

The 4-0 approval by the committee came on the heels of a quadruple homicide last week at an unlicensed boarding home in Northridge, where an estimated 17 people were living at a residentially zoned property where officials found more than 75 building code violations. LAPD officials have not said publicly whether the victims or four people arrested for the murders lived at the home.

Englander said it was impossible to know whether the proposed ordinance could have prevented the killings, but he said it would deter landlords from operating such facilities.

Dozens of opponents testified at the hearing, claiming the conditions the ordinance would force many group homes to close, forcing vulnerable people into homelessness and placing greater burden on the city’s dense urban centers.

Michael Arnold, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, told the committee the ordinance would increase the city’s homeless population of about 24,000.

“Los Angeles is a city with a critical shortage of affordable housing,” Arnold said. “No one supports cramming 20 or 30 people in a single- family residence. However, many people who share housing … are good neighbors.”

“Small transitional housing programs are not eligible for licensure and will be put out of business,” Arnold added.

Critics also argued the city’s lack of resources would make the ordinance unenforceable. Inspections would be complaint-driven, a Department of Building and Safety official told the committee.

Opponents also said the ordinance would violate federal fair housing laws, but Deputy City Attorney Amy Brothers told the committee the proposal was legal.

Business Men Missing in Campaign Violation Case

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A receiver for a defunct affordable housing developer under investigation by federal authorities has agreed to pay $165,000 for alleged fraudulent campaign donations made to a host of former and current city officials, it was announced late last week.

The Ethics Commission charged the owners of a housing development company, Ajit Mithaiwala and Salim Karimi, with 33 counts of making contributions under assumed names to candidates including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, former Mayor James Hahn, Councilmen Tony Cardenas, Eric Garcetti, Jose Huizar, Ed Reyes and Dennis Zine.

The executives of Advanced Development and Investment and Pacific Housing Diversified, which are in receivership, are accused of funneling $23,850 to the candidates. Mithaiwala and Karimi held political fundraisers at ADI’s offices and Karimi’s home. Employees and family members were asked to donate to campaigns and were then reimbursed for the contributions with cash and checks. The alleged fraud took place between 1999 and 2009.

“This type of violation is considered to be one of the most serious transgressions that the commission enforces against” in order to avoid corruption in decision making, Ethics Commission staff wrote in a report to the Board of Ethics Commissioners.

Court-appointed receiver David Pasternak said Mithaiwala and Karimi were believed to be in India, but their current whereabouts are unknown. Pasternak is managing the men’s receivership estate, which includes $30 million, a Bentley and two BMWs.

Over the last two decades, Advanced Development and Investment was involved in building 16 affordable housing projects in Los Angeles that received about $32 million from the city, the Los Angeles Times reported in October 2010.

Federal authorities are investigating the company’s executives for alleged tax evasion and fraud. The cities of Glendale and Los Angeles also filed civil suits against the developers.

Villaraigosa received $7,500 from the companies, employees or relatives of Mithaiwala and Karimi between 2001 and 2006. Villaraigosa spokesman Peter Sanders declined to comment on the settlement. Cardenas received $3,500, Garcetti, $500, Huizar, $1,500, Reyes $1,500 and Zine, $500.

Ethics Commission staff recommended the maximum penalty of $5,000 per count. As part of the agreement, the two companies neither admit nor deny the alleged campaign fraud.

Pasternak said the estate will pay outstanding tax debt before paying for the ethics violations.

“At some point in the future there will likely be payment,” Pasternak said. “It may or may not be for the full amount.”

The terms of the settlement will go before the Ethics Commission’s board on Thursday for approval. If the four members on the five-member board — one seat remains vacant — disapprove the agreement, a full hearing will be scheduled, and the terms of the settlement would be void.

December 13, 2012 Issue

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