Santa Claus, classic cars and fruits and vegetables took over Bell Gardens Intermediate when the school’s environmental club hosted their farmers market on Saturday. Santa Claus made a visit and handed out toys to children.
Julien Rivera, was excited to Santa Claus. He told EGP he attended the event because he is a member of the Garden Club at Garfield Elementary.
Montebello children played in the snow at the city’s Winter Wonderland event on Saturday. The event took place at Montebello City Park and featured a visit from Santa Claus, pony rides and food stands.
Alyssa Kitnao and her friend Kailena Sanceda, on the right, took a ride down the snow slide in the middle of the park.
Beverly Hospital’s Board of Directors Chair, Dr. Carlos M. Haro, and a group of carolers from Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Church sang Christmas songs to patients at the Montebello hospital last week.
The group of carolers visited different departments and eventually made their way to the pediatrics wing where they sang to six-year-old Alyssa Sanchez, in the bottom photo.
Children were falling left and right and giggling with delight as they tried to master the art of ice-skating during the inaugural “East LA on ICE” event held last Saturday. Some brave parents even ventured onto the specially created skating surface to help their children stay on their feet. The experience is likely to be one that won’t soon be forgotten.
The event took place along side the 3rd annual Winter Wonderland event, which featured snow rides and the 11th Annual Toy Giveaway at the East LA Civic Center.
Dodger’s first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was on hand to help pass out toys, cut the ribbon to the specially built skating rink and sign autographs. A tree lighting ceremony with ABC television personality Alysha del Valle took place later in the afternoon.
The festivities, which included live musical entertainment and local restaurants selling food, were repeated on Sunday, but under wetter weather.
The East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce co-sponsored and co-presented East LA on ICE in conjunction with County Supervisor Gloria Molina’s office.
According to East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President Eddie Torres, his group’s members had pitched the idea of bringing an outdoor ice skating rink to East Los Angeles several years ago and were excited to see it finally come to fruition.
East LA on ICE is meant to be an addition to the holiday activities, not a substitution to anything, especially not the East L.A. Christmas Parade, Torres said referring comments published in EGP newspapers last week stating the parade is not happening again this year.
Yadira Cuevas, an East LA resident who attended the event with her mother-in-law and daughter, stood in a long line to get the chance to skate on the ice, a new experience on the eastside. Her daughter had never skated before but was excited, and a little worried, to try it for the first time.
Maria Casarez’s eight-year-old daughter Maria Carballo, on the other hand, already knows how to roller skate, so she wasn’t worried. Before last weekend, the ice skating rink closest to her neighborhood was at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles.
A friend told Yesenia Baraja about the ice skating event and festival and while she no longer lives in the area, she decided it would be fun to take her son ice skating. She said the ice skating rink is definitely an attraction that has the potential to bring more people to East LA every holiday season.
Tears, laughter and applause filled the Bell Gardens High School auditorium Monday night during the screening of the documentary “Boys in Peril,” which followed three Bell Gardens students and their struggle to get into college.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Cineasta Capta la Lucha de Estudiantes de Bell Gardens
Abel Aguilar, Julio Perez and Edgar Rodriguez were filmed in the 2011-2012 school year during their senior year at Bell Gardens High School. The film, produced and directed by Graham Streeter, depicted some of the obstacles that young Latino men face on their journey to get into college, highlighting the alarming statistic that only one in ten Latino men graduate from college.
Streeter told EGP that he chose to take on this project to try to get some answers as to why the number is so low. Each boy dealt with a different issue, which Streeter said can help people understand the many challenges young Latino men face.
“I came in looking for an answer and the answer lies within the three of them, but it’s not clear-cut and dry or something you could prepare for,” he said.
He looked for first-generation college students and chose Bell Gardens due to its demographics, which are predominantly Hispanic. Originally, Streeter only planned on following one student, but the compelling stories of the three young men moved him to film all three during their senior year of high school.
All three students were part of the AVID program, a college readiness elective dedicated to preparing students for higher education. Each faced situations that are common to many students in Bell Gardens and communities with similar populations.
For Aguilar, his challenges were rooted in the environment and influences that surrounded him growing up with a single mom. As an undocumented student, Perez faced the challenge of wanting a higher education but not having many financial resources available to him. And as the oldest child in his family, Rodriguez was forced to take on the responsibilities that come with being the “man of the house” when his father abandoned the family.
While Perez was accepted into several universities, a lack of financial support ultimately forced him to attend community college instead. Perez’ frustration over his reality was vivdly depicted in the film. On Monday, however, he told EGP has no regrets about allowing his challenges as an undocumented student to be filmed.
“At first I felt I was dragged into [doing the documentary],” Perez told EGP. “But then I saw the importance of it, I realized that people were going to benefit from it and I could reach out to people who are in my situation.”
The three young men saw the movie for the first time at Monday’s screening. Following the showing, they reunited on stage to take questions and comments from the audience, made up of students, faculty, MUSD board members and city officials. They each gave an update on their current situation.
Bell Gardens Vice Mayor Sergio A. Infanzon had a cameo spot in the film during which he talked about the issues that undocumented students face. Following the screening he told Perez that the city’s youth group initiative had raised money to help fund part of his tuition.
“It’s an opportunity for us to tell the story of every single student who lives in the city of Bell Gardens,” Infanzon told EGP about the importance of sharing the film. “To a certain extent, the story of these individuals is an accurate portrayal of many of the people who live in the city.”
Rodriguez, who is now attending UC Santa Barbara, told EGP he was happy with the end product and his depiction in the film.
“I wanted to put it out there because I know I’m not the only one struggling with the same situation,” Rodriguez told EGP about his role in his family. “Its not only one struggle, there is a variety of struggles that lead to that big problem” that prevents many young Latino men from pursuing a higher education.
Sonia Valencia, like many in the audience, said she was moved by the film.
Several people took advantage of the opportunity to congratulate the three young men for their accomplishments and to offer them their support.
“I was able to see that people cared for me and how much support I have,” Perez told EGP following the event. “I only wish I could return that to people that are also in my situation.”
Monday’s screening was the fourth and final screening at Bell Gardens High School. Streeter told the audience that for the next year, the film would be screened for free at schools across the country and in foreign countries. At the end of the yearlong screening tour, Streeter plans to put the film online in the iTunes Store, which would allow the general public to purchase and download the film.
“I hope they will understand the Latino struggle to become college bound,” said Streeter.
Responding to last week’s massacre of students at a Connecticut elementary school, police Chief Charlie Beck said Monday every Los Angeles Unified elementary and middle school will have daily visits from LAPD officers when classes resume in January.
Beck said at least one police officer would make at least one stop daily at every elementary and middle school in the LAUSD – nearly 600 campuses in total. He also offered the department’s assistance to charter and private schools that request added security.
Beck called the move a “significant, significant” redeployment effort.
The officers will make the stops part of their routine patrol, Beck said, adding that “nobody will ever know when. You won’t know whether they are in uniform or plain clothes.”
Asked why the department has not deployed to schools on a daily basis until now, Beck said, “we try to deploy resources where they are needed. There wasn’t any obvious connection to our elementary schools before this, but as I said, once barriers are breached, they will be easily re-broken.”
Beck acknowledged that the redeployment of officers to L.A. schools will have a cost.
“There is a cost, (the officers) won’t be doing something else, but I challenge anybody to say this is not worth doing right now,” he said.
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy said he welcomed the expanded security.
“It is an absolute effort to reassure the public,” he said.
Pressed on how much difference the addition of one officer at a school would make, Deasy said the odds that an LAPD officer would be present when a shooter enters the school are “a heck of a lot better (than) if there’s not an LAPD officer assigned to the school.”
He said the Los Angeles School Police Department would require a tripling of its budget to provide the level of added security being offered by the LAPD.
School Police Department Chief Steve Zipperman said the presence of LAPD officers on LAUSD campuses would “augment already robust deployment” across the schools.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and other local law enforcement agencies will also lend deputies and officers to police LAUSD schools.
Meanwhile, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that he was accelerating his annual gun-buyback program, which will now be held the day after Christmas instead of next May.
Villaraigosa said the city is “heartbroken and horrified” by the tragedy and that the time to act to prevent a tragedy in Los Angeles is now.
“Too often in the wake of a tragedy like this, we’re told it’s too soon to talk about solutions,” Villaraigosa said. “Too often we wake up with another headline that reminds us we are too late.”
The buyback program offers people gift cards in return for surrendering firearms – no questions asked.
Villaraigosa also said he supported Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s stated goal to introduce a ban on the sales of assault weapons. A Clinton-era ban expired in 2004 and has not been renewed.
“No single piece of legislation will solve all of our problems, but the assault weapons ban is a powerful first step,” Villaraigosa said.
Like people across the country, parents, teachers and students in the Montebello Unified School District were shocked by the tragic news that a gunman had shot and killed 20 students and 6 adults at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday.
Hoping to reassure parents and students in the District that they are safe, Assistant Superintendent Michael G. Cobarrubias on Tuesday told EGP that MUSD last Friday informed parents via a phone messaging system about the breaking news and let them know that district police officers were patrolling school campuses.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Distrito Escolar de Montebello Se Prepara Para Emergencias
While there was no evidence of a local threat, as an added precaution, a crisis intervention team was quickly put together to assist school counselors and psychologists help students and staff who might be feeling concerned or emotional about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
MUSD Chief of Police Linh Dihn told EGP that every school in the district has a comprehensive emergency plan that includes a response protocol for an active shooter. Although recent legislation does not require schools to divulge the exact details of their plans, Dihn did say school staff has been trained and some of MUSD’s police officers have received SWAT training.
School police work closely with local police agencies to prepare for such emergencies, Dihn said.
Cobarrubias said that the district has conducted drills on how to respond to potential emergency situations like lock downs, fires and earthquakes.
“Schools are probably the safest place a child can be,” Dihn said. “They have extra eyes looking after them.”
According to Dihn, the district has 45 campus officers patrolling the schools as well as 15 to 20 additional officers who were brought in this week to patrol elementary schools throughout the district. Dihn told EGP that officers would continue to be stationed at the campuses after the winter break.
Local police agencies like the Montebello Police Department and the Sheriff’s Department were very supportive after the tragic news broke last week, Cobarrubias said.
The Sandy Hill shooting has also raised questions about how to identify and deal with students who are exhibiting emotional or psychological problems.
MUSD has been working on the issue for some time, and two years ago, the district put together a suicide prevention protocol procedure to help identify individuals who may cause harm to themselves or others.
“Many issues of violence are a result of a person with a mental health issue,” Cobarrubias said. “I think [the protocol] has helped minimize the chances of this happening in our district.”
Staff and officers were trained to look for signs and report troubled behavior by students. Those who were reported would be referred for a risk assessment and assigned to a psychologist or counselors if needed.
Parents are also asked to report anything unusual or any rumors describing potential harm to students to the campus police or school administration so they can investigate the matter, Cobarrubias said.
With funding from U.S Department of Justice Campus Oriented Policing Services grants, MUSD has purchased metal detectors, cameras and updated communication devices.
The funding was also used to develop the new Search and Seizure policy that was presented at a school board meeting last month. The policy presentation also included information about the use of metal detectors and how K-9 units would be used on campuses to help sniff out narcotics and gunpowder residue.
“Rest assured that keeping kids safe is our priority,” Cobarrubias said.
The school board was expected to approve the new Search and Seizure policy at it’s meeting held last night after press time.
For more information about the mental health services offered by MUSD, call Michael G. Cobarrubias at (323) 887-7900 ext. 2275. For any safety concerns regarding the school district, contact MUSD’s Police Department at (323) 887-7916.
Christmas has always been a time of joy and celebration, even among those who claim not believe in Jesus, but still participate in the festiveness of the season of giving.
This Christmas, however, the murder of 20 small children and seven adults by a man just barely out of his teens has cast a shadow over the festivities. The fact that someone, anyone, could so callously kill two-dozen 5 and 6-year-olds is something we will probably never fully understand.
We can understand, however, how some will want to cower in their homes, their children close by their side in hopes of keeping them safe, but those actions are far from being a solution to what ails us.
As difficult as it is, we have to find the will and the courage to get back to our regular routines and life, and that includes our schools. Doing so does not say we don’t care about what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but that we want to overcome that monstrous act by helping our children become strong, normal adults. At the same time, we can still go about finding the fixes and the tools that will help keep us safer.
We need to acknowledge that our mental health system in woefully lacking in the resources needed to help all the Adam Lanzas among us, and all the parents and families struggling to keep their child from becoming the next Adam Lanza. Our legislators must take action to increase the availability of mental health services, as well as fix our gun laws.
And now, despite the damper hanging over us, we have to find the strength to carry on and have faith that there is still a lot of goodness in the world: Just look around, its being demonstrated in countless acts of kindness and giving this holiday season.
From all of us here at EGP News, a very Merry Christmas.
A compassionate and tearful President Obama minced no words following the Sandy Hook, Connecticut school massacre and demanded action. Though Obama did not specify what action he had in mind, the action that has and will again spark colossal debate is how to crack down on the manic and senseless gun violence that has caused indescribable pain and suffering for so many victims, and now those victims are the innocent of innocents, elementary school children, their teachers, and their grieving parents, relatives, and friends.
The usual suspects were quick to pounce with their by now silly and facile, “guns don’t kill, people kill” pap line. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long loudly called for Obama and Congress to enact new and tougher gun control laws, quickly jumped back into the gun control fray and made the same call again. As the names and faces of the children and the others gunned down in the horrific school massacre become known, a legion of voices will also demand that gun control be shoved back on the White House and congressional table. This is where things again will get thorny.
The assumption is that the NRA and the gun lobby is so all powerful, and financially well-heeled, that it can beat back any congressional move to impose tougher restrictions on gun access. It’s certainly done a masterful job at that. The NRA did not issue an official statement on the massacre, other than a terse one liner that it would wait until all the facts are in. But that didn’t stop other gun control opponents who worked the blogs and websites vociferously denouncing calls for tougher gun laws, and geared up for a round of talk show appearances to tout their view.
But the NRA’s money, political clout, and the saber rattle of gun control opponents is only part of the reason that tougher gun control laws, no matter how many heartbreaking massacres occur, face a hard uphill climb. The tip off on that came during the recent presidential election. Obama and Romney were briefly challenged by Bloomberg and gun control advocates to advocate and propose new gun curbs. This was prompted by the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre. They demurred. The issue quickly dropped off the political radar scope. The reason for the dodge had nothing to do with Romney’s well-known NRA membership and opposition to tougher gun control laws. Nor did it have anything to do with Obama’s seeing the issue as an unnecessary wave of the red flag in front of millions of gun owners in what was then thought to be a potentially close presidential reelection battle.
Both simply recognized that gun ownership is a fact of American life and a rigidly protected constitutional right. During his stint in the Illinois legislature, Obama’s major concern was cracking down on illegal gun sales, and the spread of and access to semi-automatic weapons. This does little to keep guns out of the hands of loose screws such as alleged Aurora shooter James Holmes and alleged Sandy Hook school shooter, Adam Lanza. In the White House Obama has simply followed the precedent of nearly all presidents and that’s to leave tougher restrictions on gun sales and trafficking to the states. Some states have passed laws that ban assault guns and high capacity ammunition magazines, limit the number of gun sales, require child safety locks on new guns, and outlaw the sale of cheap handguns.
The huge drawback to the state by state gun action is that it does not significantly limit the massive trafficking in guns across state lines. It also doesn’t begin to address the question of how to identify and then prevent the legions of human ticking time bombs that do not have a criminal record and for all intents and purposes appear to be normal functioning individuals from legally purchasing and even stockpiling weapons, and that includes weapons of mass destruction. Ultimately only Congress can pass a uniform federal standard to restrict the manufacture, sale and transport of guns.
This is where the fight begins and unfortunately has quickly ended. The first ending was Congress’s failure to reauthorize the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban which expired in 2004. Congress has been virtually mute on any gun curbs in the years since then. This did not mean that gun control bills weren’t written and introduced. They were in every Congress session. But not one piece of gun control legislation made it to the House floor. The 112th Congress was no different. None of the proposed gun control curbs even made it out of a house committee.
This in no way means that gun control curbs are dead in the water in perpetuity in Congress. Obama has called tougher gun control laws “common sense.” This signals that if there is enough public outcry and push that one or more of the gun control measures could finally make it out of a house or senate committee. Obama is not running for reelection and does not have to look nervously over his shoulder and worry about enraged gun owners raking him over the coals for putting his White House muscle behind one of the bills.
That and the eventual passage of fresh gun restrictions would at least send the right signal that the gun lobby is not invincible and that millions of Americans want and demand anything that will at least potentially head off the next rampage.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a political analyst and the author of “How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge.” He is an associate editor of New America Media and host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network. Follow him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/earlhutchinson
As cracks form among CEOs and Republican Members of Congress over their hardline anti-tax position in the fiscal showdown, religious leaders from across the ideological spectrum have been united in supporting new revenue over additional spending cuts. And they’re speaking for their people.
A strong majority of religious Americans favor letting the Bush tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans expire. Even reliably conservative groups, such as white evangelical Protestants, are evenly divided on the issue.
The outcome of this debate has profound moral consequences. The government’s capacity to invest in the common good and responsibly reduce the debt depends on raising more revenue. Letting tax cuts that only benefit the richest two percent expire isn’t a magic bullet, but it’s a necessary component of a balanced solution that doesn’t harm poor families or slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits for current or future beneficiaries.
Clergy have spoken clearly about our duty to protect low-income families in the fiscal showdown negotiations. Inspired by the clear mandates of Scripture, many of our nation’s most prominent faith leaders have drawn a circle of protection around programs such as education funding, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit. This stance reflects not only religious teachings about justice and compassion, but also popular opinion among people of faith. A post-election poll by Public Religion Research Institute showed that majorities of all major religious demographics (with the lone exception of white evangelical Protestants) oppose cutting protections for the poor in order to reduce the deficit.
In addition to programs aimed expressly at low-income Americans, we also have a responsibility to defend Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. Social Security keeps 21 million Americans out of poverty every year. Medicaid protects not only low-income children and families, but also provides long-term care to millions of older and disabled Americans. And Medicare is the cornerstone of our national commitment that American seniors receive the healthcare they need regardless of economic status. Using deficits caused by irresponsible tax cuts, unfunded wars, the financial crisis and an inefficient healthcare system as an auspice to weaken programs that ensure basic economic security and access to health care for millions of Americans is wrong. Arguing that we must slash these programs now to avoid destroying them later is a failure of leadership.
Faith leaders of the PICO National Network are telling our elected officials in no uncertain terms that protecting the poor, preserving the social contract and making the richest Americans pay their fair share are nonnegotiable priorities. This message is particularly important as corporate CEOs intensely lobby both parties to enact an agenda that cuts taxes for rich people and powerful corporations while undermining needed benefits for seniors and working families. Trickle-down economics and austerity benefit only the wealthy and powerful, and the rest of us pay the price.
Some conservative leaders argue that the religious obligation to care for the vulnerable — which is common to all faiths — applies to individuals but not government. But Scripture is clear that nations, not just individuals, will be judged by how we treat the least among us. Furthermore, private religious groups alone cannot meet the needs of struggling families. Just four percent of food aid to hungry Americans comes from private sources. Government has to play a strong role. Those who would let people suffer rather than have government provide assistance put political ideology before the commandment to love our neighbors.
The fiscal showdown is a day of reckoning for the conservative movement’s long-term “starve the beast political strategy. For decades, they have cut taxes at every opportunity in order to run up deficits that would force the government to dramatically scale back the safety net. As right-wing lobbyist Grover Norquist put it, the objective is to shrink government to the size where he can “drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” The moral imperative to ensure that this plan fails is clear, and the well-being of millions of Americans who are precious in the eyes of God depends on it.
Butler is executive director of Faith in Public Life. Whitman is director of policy at PICO National Network. This op-ed previously appeared in The Hill.
Several protesters gathered at the site of a war memorial in East Los Angeles last Friday to object to the wording on a plaque installed at the monument to temporarily replace one of three plaques stolen in October.
The dispute over the naming of the memorial — located at the intersection of E. Cesar E. Chavez, Lorena and Indiana commonly referred to as Cinco Puntos — is not new, but the recent act of vandalism at the site is once again heating up the controversy.
At issue is what the proper name for the memorial site is and how it should be dedicated.
Eddie Morin, the son of Raul Morin, a highly decorated World War II veteran and author who passed away in 1967, organized the protest that consisted mostly of family members and a few members of Disabled American Veterans Chapter 22 based in Montebello. Raul Morin’s bravery and accomplishments during World War II are memorialized at the site.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Resucita Vieja Controversia Sobre el Nombre de un Monumento a los Veteranos
“In memoriam the Mexican Colony gratefully dedicates this monument to the sacred memory of the American soldier of Mexican Descent who gave their lives in World War II, 1941 – 1945 for the survival of the principle of democracy. Dedicated May 30, 1947. Erected by the Latin American Civic & Cultural Committee, Inc.”
A plaque bearing the Spanish translation of those words still hangs on the opposite side of the monument, thought it was damaged by vandals who presumably tried to steal it when they stole the other three.
Eddie said the original plaque made no mention of “All Wars,” but was instead a tribute to World War II veterans of Mexican descent, like his father. Reiterating a point he has made at past protests, Eddie said East Los Angeles already has an All Wars Memorial: it’s at Atlantic Park.
“Intruders,” according to Eddie, put up the temporary plaque as part of their on-going “encroachment” campaign. He went so far as to accuse the parties who put up the temporary signage of stealing the original.
Eddie’s brother David Morin, however, said that was just speculation. He told EGP there’s nothing wrong with the name “All Wars,” the problem is changing the name “just because you want to.” He said the move demeans his father’s accomplishments and those of other Mexican American World War II veterans.
Veterans Rick Romero, Filo Morales and Richard Cardena told EGP they too oppose the wording on the temporary plaque and said it should be replaced with an exact replica of the one stolen.
VFW Post 4696 Commander Tony Zapata, who watched the protest from a distance, told EGP on Monday that the temporary plaque is just that: temporary. He also said it reads “All Wars Memorial” because that’s what everyone has been calling it for as long as he can remember.
“All that energy that he’s putting into protesting, why doesn’t he put it into fundraising to replace the plaque,” Zapata said, referring to Eddie Morin. “He can call it anything he wants and we’re doing the same thing.”
Zapata is a member of the Mexican American All Wars Committee, a body involved in the planning for a multi-agency redevelopment project to turn the intersection and memorial site into a traffic circle. He said the name of the site was settled long ago and a plaque honoring Raul Morin, located on a second traffic circle, will be incorporated into the new project.
Related story: Mexican American Veterans’ Memorial In East L.A. Vandalized
As EGP has previously reported, a number of veterans feel the “All Wars” reference is more inclusive, and pays tribute to all of those who have served in the armed forces.
Rick Coca, a spokesperson for Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar who represents the area, said a majority of the veterans they have talked to prefer that the site be referred to as the All Wars Memorial, adding that Morin’s legacy will be respected with the placement of the Morin Square plaque in the reconfigured intersection.
Coca also said the councilman’s office and local veterans are working with Assembly Speaker John Pérez’s office to get a permanent replacement plaque should the police not locate the original.
The Monterey Park City Council is urging residents interested in serving on the city’s Personnel Board to submit an application by Jan. 17, 2013.
The city has a vacancy on the five-member board, which handles issues related to employee recruitment and selection procedures, hears employee discipline appeals, and makes recommendations regarding the Personnel System Rules & Regulations.
The board meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers with meetings usually lasting one to two hours. Members of the board are appointed by the city council and receive no compensation for their time.
To download an application or for general information on city boards,etc., visit the Commissions, Committees & Boards section of the city website (http://www.ci.monterey-park.ca.us or contact the City Clerk’s office at (626) 307-1359.