‘Public Art’ Goes Underground In Cypress Park

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The Cypress Village Tunnel Art Walk on Saturday presented “The Gift of Public Art,” a holiday themed public art exhibition inside an underground tunnel walkway located on Figueroa Street near Nightingale Middle School and the Antigua Coffee House.

The exhibit was part of the Second Saturday of the month NELA Artwalk.

Visitors appreciate the art of the Cypress Village Tunnel Art Walk. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Visitors appreciate the art of the Cypress Village Tunnel Art Walk. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The tunnel project makes use of a formerly abandoned underground pedestrian walkway owned by the city of Los Angeles, which was cleaned up earlier this year by volunteers with city approval and transformed into a community gallery.

Over the years, the tunnel that at one time served as a safe connection between Cypress Park and Lincoln Heights, and for students to avoid the busy traffic on Figueroa, was overtaken by crime and graffiti.

Saturday’s exhibition featured 200 ft. of public art by different artists, “including a very large wheatpaste installation featuring street campaign posters from 2007–2013 by Shepard Fairey and others.”

The exhibit also included a first time showing of works by Jake Hendrix Hakim, 15, and Catalina Bolivar, 15.


East L.A. Coach Accused of Lewd Act With Students

December 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A girls volleyball coach at Esteban Torres High School in East Los Angeles pleaded not guilty Wednesday to sex-related counts involving two 15-year-old girls, but his attorney indicated that a plea deal was in the offing.

Jonathan Adam Roldan, 23, was charged Wednesday with three felony counts each of unlawful sexual intercourse, oral copulation of a person under 16 and sexual penetration by a foreign object. Those charges all pertain to one alleged victim.

He’s also charged with three misdemeanor counts of child molestation involving the second girl, prosecutors said.

Roldan is accused of carrying on a sexual relationship with one student beginning in September while “dating” a second student.

He was arrested around 7 p.m. Friday, Dec 13 at his East Los Angeles home. Sheriff’s officials said one of the teenagers told school officials about the alleged sexual contact that day, and they reported it to the sheriff’s department.

Judge Shelly Torrealba ordered Roldan to be jailed on $360,000 bail while awaiting a Jan. 13 court appearance, at which a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.

Roldan’s attorney told the judge that his client had been placed on leave, had no prior criminal record and had 20 people in court on his behalf.

“My client voluntarily met with the detective and admitted his involvement in inappropriate conduct with two students. We will be focusing on working with the assigned prosecutor to resolve the case without a trial and ensure that the eventual punishment is proportionate to the conduct alleged and

the individual charged,” defense attorney George F. Bird Jr. said after the hearing.

Los Angeles Unified School District officials said Roldan — who worked as a campus aide as well as a junior varsity girls volleyball coach — will be fired if he is convicted.

“Parents and guardians were notified over the weekend of an arrest by phone,” according to the district. “A letter was sent home today with students. … The district takes these charges very seriously. Every precaution is taken throughout L.A. Unified to ensure the safety of students and staff.”

Exhibición de Arte en Túnel Subterráneo de Cypress Park

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Cypress Village Tunnel Art Walk presentó “El regalo del arte publico”, una exhibición de arte dentro del túnel subterráneo localizado al cruzar la calle de Antigua Coffee House en el 3400 N. Figueroa St.

La exhibición de 200 pies de largo presentó mini murales con temas navideños por artistas locales incluyendo a SEL, Ezra, Zender, Felix, Gianni Arone, Swan y por primera vez se presentó el trabajo de dos jóvenes artistas Jake Hendrix Hakim,15, y Catalina Bolivar, 15.

El proyecto fue idea de Yancey Quiñones, dueño de Antigua Coffee House. “La entidad abandonada” es utilizada como una galería para atraer a personas a el área del noreste de Los Ángeles.

Para ver más fotos visite: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eastern-Group-Publications/146212265407642


Invitados aprecian el arte del túnel subterráneo de Cypress Park. EGP foto de Jacqueline García

Invitados aprecian el arte del túnel subterráneo de Cypress Park. EGP foto de Jacqueline García

Ho Hum Holidays? Ten Tips to Make the Season Joyful

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

That’s a tall order for some people during the holidays who may envision a time filled with too much to do, interactions with unpleasant family members and a season focused on things rather than experiences.

Arizona State University Associate Professor and family therapist Larry Dumka offers insight into making the most of the season by focusing on things that really matter to you and those you love.

1. Ask yourself what you value about the holidays and clarify what is most meaningful to you.

2. Prioritize your time since it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fit in all of the activities. “We all have 168 hours a week and no more. We also have other responsibilities,” said Dumka, associate professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at ASU.

3. Have a conversation with loved ones about which events you want to focus on and scheduling time together.

4. If you are the person who takes care of most holiday tasks in your household and would like that to change, talk with others in your home and tell them how you think the usual routine should be altered.

5. Ditto for changing a holiday tradition. “Try to get buy in and ask family members what is important to them as well as telling them what is important to you. You’ll need to have household members on board with any change, especially those who liked the old plan,” Dumka said. Expect push back if you try to change a holiday tradition. “That’s inevitable. It’s how a family’s emotional system works,” he said.

6. If you have to see a family member who you don’t particularly enjoy, realize what your tolerance is and plan things that don’t overtax your coping resources. Decide if it’s worth it to have a conversation with that person to try to improve the relationship or if you can plan a way to interact that allows you to keep your integrity as well as being respectful. “That’s a tough balance. Couples have to do that with each other, too,” Dumka said.

7. If you’re a college student with newfound freedoms returning to a home environment, be respectful of parents and their rules. It might also be a good time to have a mature conversation. “Young adults can initiate an adult conversation with their parents rather than act in a child role. I think most parents have an expectation that that is going to happen,” he said.

8. Take care of yourself during the holidays by getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating and drinking with moderation. “These are ways to keep your strength and resources up during a time that has a lot of emotion connected to it because friends and family are getting together,” he said.

9. If someone has lost a loved one, make a special effort to include them in activities.

10. Realize that the purpose of the holidays is celebrating togetherness, relationships and the good things in life.


The T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics is an academic unit in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Santa Visits Bell Garden Seniors

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

HSA client Lucille Lefto , middle, poses with Santa. (Elizabeth Ruiz for HSA)

HSA client Lucille Lefto , middle, poses with Santa. (Elizabeth Ruiz for HSA)

Ross Hall in Bell Gardens was filled with holiday cheer last week, thanks to the Rio Hondo-Vernon Rotary Club and Human Services Association that once again hosted a Christmas party for local elderly.

Santa in his red suit, and sporting some pretty cool sunglasses to help him with the California sun, made a special trip to the center to deliver a bag full of gifts and to help fend off the depression that some times take over at this time of year.

“We try to bring these seniors some cheer that they normally would not receive especially during the holidays,” said HSA Associate Director Darren Dunaway.

“For most of us this season is the busiest time of the year with parties and lots of shopping. For seniors, however, depression can set in due to the fact that their finances are limited, they may not be able to get to church services or may even be alone or separated from their families. So this is a big deal for them,” Dunaway said.

The El Monte High School Choir also treated the seniors at last week’s holiday celebration to a live holiday themed musical performance as they enjoyed a “scrumptious” meal.

Participating seniors receive services through an HAS program, including Care Management, Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), Alzheimer Day Care Resource Center (ADCRC), Caregiver Support program and Groups, Home-based care, Home delivered meals and congregate meals.

HSA’s mission is to “provide compassionate comprehensive care to promote wellness and build strong communities,” the group said in an emailed statement.

Ride Metro for Free Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Metro will offer free rides on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, with the goal of reducing traffic congestion and providing safe transportation for those staying out extra late.

No fare will be charged on Metro Rail and Bus lines from 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 24, until 2 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 25, and from 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 31, until 2 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1; free fares expire at 2 a.m.

Those boarding buses and trains after 2 a.m. will need to TAP to ride. Fare is $1.50 per direction per line or $5.00 for a Day Pass.

On Christmas Eve, Metro Rail will close at its usual weekday time, which is around midnight.

Bus and rail lines will follow their regular weekday schedules on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, according to Metro.

On New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31): Metro will provide all-night service on the Red, Purple, Blue, Expo, Green, Gold, Orange, and Silver Lines in addition to bus lines which normally operate late-night owl service. Trains will run at 20-minute intervals from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m.

For more information, visit http://www.metro.net.

DUI Checks to Continue Over Holiday

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

 The annual “Avoid the 100 “winter holiday crackdown on intoxicated driving in Los Angeles County resulted in nearly 500 DUI arrests over the weekend, authorities said this week, noting that the Avoid the 100 campaign will include dozens of sobriety/driver’s license checkpoints and more than 200 “roving DUI saturation patrols” in various areas of the county, and will continue through New Year’s Day. 

There were 495 motorists arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs between 12:01 a.m. Friday and midnight Sunday in the county, authorities said. During the same period a year ago, there were 456 DUI arrests in the county.

“Our task  force will be highly visible during this enforcement period, and those suspected of driving while intoxicated will be shown zero tolerance if they are over the limit,’’ said Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro.

Castro urged people to use a designated driver or public transportation if they have been drinking.


L.A. Updates Neighborhood Council Voter Categories

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council raised the bar Wednesday for Angelenos who want to vote in neighborhood council elections, approving changes that prevent people with only a receipt from a local business from participating.

The city’s 95 neighborhood councils serve as advisory panels to the City Council and are allotted money to distribute to local schools and other neighborhood groups, or to fund community events such as parades and festivals.

The council voted 12-0 to eliminate a voter and candidate category called the “factual basis stakeholder,” which enables people who buy an item locally to vote or run for a post. An amended ordinance codifying the change requires mayoral approval.

“Factual basis stakeholder” would be replaced with “community interest stakeholder,” a label applied to those with a “substantial and ongoing” tie to the community, such as participation in a local nonprofit group, school or church.

The changesalso remove a requirement to have at least one “community interest stakeholder” sit on neighborhood council boards, as long as such stakeholders can run for the “at-large” position that is open to all stakeholders.

Commerce Woman Killed In Drunk Driving Crash

December 19, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

A 28-year-old woman was killed Sunday in a two-vehicle crash on the Pomona (60) Freeway in Montebello, and another driver was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving, the California Highway Patrol said.

The woman was later identified as Lidia Ortega, of Commerce, said Coroner’s Capt. John Kades.

The wreck was reported at 1:39 a.m. on the eastbound 60 Freeway approaching Paramount Boulevard, said CHP Officer A. Rubio in the Traffic Management Center.

A 24-year-old Rosemead man driving a 2013 Kia Optima was eastbound on the Pomona (10) Freeway, lost control of the car and hit the concrete center divider. The car then veered to the right and struck the left side of a 2001 Acura Integra, with three people inside, causing it to spin out of control, the CHP said.

The two rear passengers were not wearing seatbelts, and were ejected from the Acura. Ortega was pronounced dead at the scene.

The other passenger, a 46-year-old man from La Habra, suffered major injuries. Paramedics rushed him to an area hospital.

The driver of the Acura, a 34-year-old Los Angeles man, suffered moderate injuries. He was also transported to an area hospital.

The man driving the Kia Optima was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving. He was not injured.



Hundreds Turn Out for Exide Closure Hearing

December 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The state Department of Toxic Substance Control ordered Exide Technologies in Vernon to conduct an emergency clean up of off-site contaminated soil, dust and sediment at several locations and in at least two storm drains within 1,500 feet of the plant that been found to have concentrations of lead and other metals at or near hazardous-waste levels. Concerned that anticipated rainfall could wash the hazardous waste into local storm drains, officials on Monday told Exide in a letter the clean-up must be done by Dec. 31.

DTSC’s emergency order comes in the heels of a hearing last Saturday during which hundreds of angry residents from southeast Los Angeles County told a Southern California Air Quality Management District independent hearing board they are fed up with the battery recycler and want the facility shut down.

Residents were joined Saturday by a number of elected officials representing the area impacted – from Boyle Heights to Huntington Park. Exide however was not without its own group of supporters, many of them workers at the plant and local union representatives.

Exide workers and residents from throughout Southeast Los Angeles County attend Exide’s abatement hearing at CSULA. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Exide workers and residents from throughout Southeast Los Angeles County attend Exide’s abatement hearing at CSULA. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The formal judicial proceeding held Saturday at Cal State Los Angeles marks the latest round to hold accountable the Vernon based facility accused of failing to maintain toxic lead and arsenic emissions at permissible levels, thereby allegedly elevating the cancer risk for more than 100,000 people living in the region.

The hearing was held in response to SCAQMD’s petition to temporarily shut down Exide’s smelting operations until it upgrades its air pollution control systems to reduce the release of toxins into the air.

Exide and SCAQMD presented their cases to the board before the start of public testimony. To promote greater participation from the community, air quality officials provided a free shuttle service to and from the meeting.

Nancy S. Feldman, attorney for the air quality district, told the hearing board Exide’s air pollution control system is not adequately controlling emissions from its blast furnace.

According to the district’s petition, Exide is accused of consistently violating its permit conditions and District Rule 1407, which requires that good operating practices be used to maintain air movement and emission collection efficiency.

“We will establish that Exide’s air pollution control equipment has insufficient draw to control the arsenic emissions into its air pollution control system as intended,” Feldman said in her opening remarks. She said the problem has been further compounded by leaks in the furnace.

But Exide’s lead attorney Steve O’Neill argued that Exide’s current emissions do not exceed limits set by AQMD.

He said the facility has made substantial improvements since emission samples were taken back in March. Relying on data from those tests would be “relying on obsolete evidence,” he said.

In March, air quality officials found lead and arsenic emissions from the battery recycler high enough to warrant notifying 200,000 residents in Boyle Heights, Maywood, Vernon, Commerce, East Los Angeles and Huntington Park that their cancer risk had been raised.

O’Neil also called the argument for requiring negative pressure “incomprehensible.”

“The District is making a highly technical argument,” he said, adding they had failed to identify what “design criteria has not been complied with by Exide.”

But Feldman said the reduced risk of arsenic exposure does not equate compliance with all other district rules and regulations.

During public testimony, speaker after speaker said health and safety, not technicalities, are what matters. They cited personal cases of cancer, asthma and other health issues they believe were caused by the lead battery recycler.

“We know… that there is no safe level of lead in children’s blood,” said Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents many of the impacted cities and neighborhoods. “Without board action the environment and quality of life of hundreds of thousands of local residents and their children will continue being at risk of silently being poisoned.”

O’Neill, however, said AQMD must prove its case with facts, not “emotional” testimony.

“This [hearing] is not a referendum on Exide’s popularity,” he argued. “The central issue is simple: Is Exide operating its furnace and control equipment as designed and engineered and permitted by AQMD?”

Feldman, hoping to make the district’s case more understandable, used the analogy of a household vacuum cleaner to further her argument.

She said a vacuum cleaner is supposed to suction up dirt and debris, filter and capture it in a canister. But if the vacuum’s suction capabilities are not strong enough, not everything will be picked up and the debris could instead be scattered into the air “before it ever reaches the filters.”

“But what if all that dust, dirt and debris from the vacuum cleaner also contained toxins, poisons, things that were carcinogenic,” she said. “While this case may focus on the technical issues, we must not lose sight on the fact that an order of abatement is to protect the public health”

Boyle Heights resident Arturo Herrera, pictured, expresses his frustrations with Exide Techonogies, during the SCQAMD hearing Saturday at CSULA.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Boyle Heights resident Arturo Herrera, pictured, expresses his frustrations with Exide Techonogies, during the SCQAMD hearing Saturday at CSULA. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

O’Neill claims the district is trying to impose requirements on Exide that currently do not exist in the district’s rules or Exide’s permit.

But Feldman says the abatement order is not about trying to enforce a non-existent requirement, but “giving meaning and substance to the rules that are already on the book.”

“No matter how the district tries to word its argument the fact remains that the district is trying to impose a standard that does not exist in any rule or any permit condition,” said O’Neill.

He said AQMD’s hearing board can only issue an abatement order if there is an ongoing violation and shutting down the operation is necessary to stop the violations.

“The rules language states in present tense that the rule must be ‘being’ violated in order to justify abatement,” he said. “A historic violation that has been remedied or fixed cannot provide basis for abatement.”

Santiago Rosas, an Exide worker for over 32 years, called on the hearing board to look at actual facts, not just information from people who do not know about the plant’s operations.

“Exide has spared no expense by using first quality and top of the line equipment,” he said in Spanish.

Exide’s lawyers say the closure order is being fueled by politics, not facts. They claim an unnamed politician confronted AQMD’s Executive Officer Dr. Barry Wallerstein to find a “creative way” to shut down Exide at a public meeting at Resurrection Church on Oct. 8, 10 days before the abatement petition was filed.

“We are here because of political and public pressure,” O’Neill said. “There has been a great deal of political and public pressure on state environmental agencies to shut down Exide since the health risk assessment results.”

It was a point echoed by many speakers, with most seeing the move to seek closure as a positive outcome of efforts to pressure air quality officials to move in that direction.

“Absolutely we are!” responded Martha Molina-Aviles, field director for Sup. Gloria Molina. “These [residents] have come to us and asked for us to advocate on their behalf because they have not been listened to prior to this.”

Longtime Boyle Heights community activist, Monsignor John Moretta of Resurrection Church, testified Exide has not done enough to win back the community’s trust. He said the company released higher than safe levels of arsenic while it was being closely monitored following findings of too high lead emission.

Moretta said he was there not because of “political pressure,” but out of “moral pressure.”

“Can you imagine how we felt, first lead, now arsenic,” said Moretta. “Exide has not been a company of their word; they have been given many opportunities to clean up their act.”

Several speakers called for the plant to be permanently closed, rather than temporarily as called for in SCAQMD’s petition. They said public health should be the priority.

“Put some teeth on these orders to keep these companies from throwing out emissions and endangering our community,” said Boyle Heights resident Arturo Herrera.

Some, however, see the state agency’s petition as overreaching. They say approval would not solve the health and environmental problems in the community.

“Closing Exide is not going to get rid of cancer, autism or asthma,” Huntington Park resident Esmeralda Rosas said.

David Campbell, secretary-treasurer of United Steel Workers Local 675, in a statement called for keeping the plant open in order to protect 100 good paying union jobs.

On Saturday, O’Neill emphasized that Exide had never been cited for violating Rule 1407 until Dec. 4, days before the hearing. He argued the district’s move to amend its rules to require negative pressure contradicts its allegation that Exide is violating the negative pressure requirement.

The state’s department of Toxic Substance Control in April tried to close the plant due to its hazardous emissions, but Exide appealed and a judge overturned the order.

Saturday’s hearing was the first of several hearings to be held as part of the petition process. The next hearing will be held January 7, 2014 at the board’s Diamond Bar headquarters. Testimony is expected to continue in subsequent days and another community hearing will be announced before closing arguments.




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