One Killed, Two Injured in Boyle Heights Crash

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A man in his 40s was killed and two other people were injured Tuesday when a car slammed into a light pole in Boyle Heights in a crash in which alcohol and excessive speed were factors, police said.

The crash on East Fourth Street at Boyle Avenue was reported at 2:17 a.m., said a Los Angeles Fire Department captain.

Firefighters cut one of the survivors out of the mangled white sedan that struck a pole just east of Boyle Avenue near the Golden State (5) Freeway, a news photographer reported from the scene.

A man was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Sgt. S. Bailey of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Central Traffic Division. Two other people were taken to hospitals with stable vital signs, Bailey said.

The sedan was westbound on Fourth Street when the driver lost control, he said.

Alcohol and excessive speed were involved in the crash, but wet weather did not appear to have played a role, Bailey said.

Building in Lincoln Heights Evacuated, Red Tagged

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Six people were removed Sunday night from apartments over a commercial building that became unstable in the Lincoln Heights area, a city fire official said.

The unstable building was reported at 7:15 p.m. at 590 W. Avenue 28, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Three men, three women and three dogs were removed from the 104-year-old building, which housed one- and two-story apartments above a business, Humphrey said.

All occupants exited the building safely, and no injuries were reported, Humphrey said. Those displaced were referred to the American Red Cross for assistance.

Residents reported hearing what sounded like an earthquake and a sudden jolt, before noting the building was collapsing.

Authorities Identify South Gate Shooting Victim

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorities on Monday identified a man found shot to death in a tattoo parlor in South Gate as twenty-two-year Erik Herrera.

The shooting death happened about 11:30 a.m. Sunday in the 4200 block of

Tweedy Boulevard. Herrera was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple gunshot wounds, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

There were no witnesses to the shooting, and detectives urged anyone with information to contact the Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

School Shooting Prompts Local Gun Buyback

December 20, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

A gun buyback event hastily planned for next week in response to the elementary-school shooting in Connecticut will be held at two locations – the Los Angeles Sports Arena and Van Nuys Masonic Temple, city officials announced Tuesday.

Los Angeles Police Department officials will be on hand at both locations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 26 to accept weapons. A shorter-than-usual, 10-day planning window required the city to offer only the two drop-off sites rather than the usual six, according to Vicki Curry of the mayor’s
office.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday that he was accelerating the buyback program from its regular time in May in response to last week’s shooting in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 students and six adults dead, along with the gunman.

“Cities and states must join with the federal government to do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to keep our communities safe,” Villaraigosa said. “It is absolutely critical to provide Angelenos with concrete actions they can take today to make our city safer tomorrow.”

Per the usual buyback program, gun owners will be able to donate weapons anonymously, “no questions asked,” Villaraigosa stressed Monday. People who trade in automatic weapons will receive a $200 Ralphs grocery store gift card. Handguns, rifles and shotguns can be traded in for $100 gift cards.

The city’s fourth annual Gun Buyback Program in May netted 1,673 firearms, a four-year low. Fifty-three assault weapons were among the cache. The haul also included 791 handguns, 527 rifles, 302 shotguns and one anti-tank rocket launcher. Also recovered were a pair of pocket pistols worth an estimated $2,000 and an illegal belt-buckle pistol.

Police Chief Charlie Beck has said gun buybacks are one tool among many to prevent gun violence. Gun violence declined by nearly 20 percent since the city started the program in 2009, Beck said during a May news conference to announce the results of the most recent buyback event.

“This is an effective method. I absolutely endorse it,” Beck said at the time.

The specific locations for the Dec. 26 gun buyback event are: Los Angeles Sports Arena, Parking Lot 6, 3939 South Figueroa St. and Van Nuys Masonic Temple, 14750 Sherman Way.

Some experts have questioned the ability of gun buyback programs to counter violence. A 2004 study by The National Academy of Sciences concluded that the theory behind the programs “is badly flawed and the empirical evidence demonstrates the ineffectiveness of these programs.”

The study found that guns typically surrendered in the programs are generally unlikely to be used in criminal activities. Researchers also noted that people who turn in weapons can easily obtain replacements, meaning there is generally no significant reduction in the number of guns on the streets. They also found that the odds of a particular gun being used in a criminal act
is 1 in 10,000, while the typical buyback event yields only around 1,000 weapons.

Public Hearing Scheduled for Wyvernwood Project

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Hotly debated for years, the controversy over the proposed Wyvernwood Garden Apartment complex redevelopment project could finally be settled in early 2013. On Jan. 9, a public hearing will be held on the mixed-use project that calls for demolishing and replacing 1,187 apartment units in Boyle Heights with 4,400 rental units and condominiums in several new buildings as tall as 18 stories.

The hearing is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide testimony in favor or against the proposal, or to simply ask questions about the project. Public comments will become part of the record.

A Los Angeles Advisory Agency/Hearing Officer is scheduled to consider approval of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and a tract map for subdividing the Wyvernwood property, submitted by the property’s owners, Fifteen Group Land & Development.

As of Monday, the Planning Department’s Staff Report, with staff recommendations, had not been released.

If the agency approves the EIR and tract map, the project will go on to be considered by the full Planning Commission, followed by the Los Angeles City Council which will make the final decision.

The Jan. 9 meeting will take place at 10 a.m. at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more information, call the Los Angeles Planning Dept. at (213) 978-1333.

Suspect In Killing of Officer in Cypress Park Arraigned

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One of six reputed Avenues gang members charged with killing a 27-year-old sheriff’s deputy was arraigned Monday following his extradition from Mexico.

Armando “Chivo” Albarran, 30, is charged with one count each of conspiracy and murder for the Aug. 2, 2008, killing of Deputy Juan Abel Escalante in Cypress Park. The murder charge includes the special-circumstance allegation that the killing was carried out to benefit a criminal street gang, Deputy District Attorney Phillip Stirling said.

Albarran was extradited Dec. 14 and was being held without bail.

Escalante was getting ready to leave for his morning shift at the Men’s Central Jail when he was fatally shot outside his parents’ home in the 3400 block of Thorpe Avenue in Cypress Park. Escalante, a father of three, had been a sheriff’s deputy for two and a half years and guarded dangerous prisoners, including members of the Mexican Mafia.

His family was living in his parents’ house in a gang-infested neighborhood in Cypress Park and planning to buy a home in Pomona when he was shot, authorities said.

His funeral, held at the downtown Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was attended by hundreds of uniformed officers, including Sheriff Lee Baca, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and then-Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton.

Prosecutors said Albarran was sitting in the back seat of a car with others charged in the case when the shooting occurred.

Five other people have been charged, and three have struck plea deals with prosecutors. Carlos Javier Velasquez, aka “Stoney,” pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Arnoldo Pineda, 31, who was forced at gunpoint to drive the car, and Guillermo Hernandez, aka “Flea,” 24, who was also sitting in the back seat of the car, each pleaded no contest to one count of voluntary manslaughter.

Hernandez was sentenced to 21 years in state prison and Pineda is awaiting sentencing, Stirling said. A fifth defendant, Jose Renteria, 21, is awaiting trial in February. A sixth man charged, Roberto Salazar, 26, remains a fugitive.

Los Angeles Fuel Reimbursements Too High, Says City Controller

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The city could be overpaying its workers for mileage reimbursements by tens of thousands of dollars per year on average, according to an audit released Tuesday.

The audit by City Controller Wendy Greuel raised questions about whether the overpayments are due to paperwork errors and poor oversight or whether workers are stealing taxpayer money.

The city overpaid drivers who use their own vehicles for city business by about $325,000 between 2009 and 2012, according to the audit. The city paid out a total $4.65 million in mileage reimbursements over that period.

In some cases, drivers were paid far in excess of paperwork presented to Greuel’s auditors.

One Bureau of Street Services employee received $30,252 over a 2 1/2- year period, but four mileage statements provided to auditors accounted for only $2,156. Street Services payroll employees were unable to produce an additional 49 mileage statements.

In other cases, drivers understated the distance between their home and headquarters, leading to inflated mileage reimbursements, Greul said.

Greuel said she could not be sure whether overpayments were due to poor paperwork and bad supervisor oversight or to theft. She called the results nonetheless “alarming” and faulted general managers for a lack of attention to detail.

Greuel said the worst offenders were the Street Services and Contract Administration bureaus and the Building and Safety, Housing and Transportation departments, which account for 80 percent of the city’s non-taxable mileage reimbursements.

Bureau of Street Services Director Nazario Saucedo declined to comment on the results of the audit. Given the city’s tough economic straits, Greuel said the poor management is “absolutely unacceptable and reckless.”

“City leadership cannot tolerate wasteful spending, especially at a time when the city is facing a $230 million budget deficit,” the mayoral hopeful added.

The audit also found that 20 of 52 drivers sampled out of about 1,000 did not have current car insurance policies on file with the city. Fourteen of those sampled did not have a valid driver’s license on file. Greuel said the missing documents would make the city liable if the drivers got into an accident.

Greuel and City Councilman Dennis Zine, who is running for city controller, said workers who cannot produce valid documents for their mileage reimbursements should pay the amounts back to the city.

Zine said he would introduce a motion when the City Council reconvenes in January to require those workers to pay the money back.

“When they cheat on mileage … and it’s not done in a proper fashion,
every taxpayer in the city is victimized,” Zine said.

Greuel called for city department general managers to use more rigid monitoring systems to ensure that mileage being submitted by drivers and subsequent reimbursements are accurate and verifiable.

Local Schools Among Winners of USDA ‘Health Challenge’

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

An elementary school in Northeast Los Angeles and one in East L.A. are among the top winners of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Healthier US Schools Challenge,” it was announced Dec. 15.

The LAUSD as a whole received $252,000 in prizes, with Glassell Park Elementary in Northeast Los Angeles and Lorena Elementary in East Los Angeles each earning “gold medal of distinction awards” and $2,000 for promoting nutrition and physical activities. A third school, Castelar Elementary also received the award.

Silver medals and $1,000 prizes went to Brockton, Leland, Purche, Reseda and the 112th Street elementary schools. Other awards brought the total prizes paid to the district’s wellness programs to $252,000.

The awards go to schools participating in the National School Lunch Program that have created healthier school environments through the promotion of nutrition and physical activity.

“This accomplishment reinforces our commitment to serve nutritious meals and encourage our students to stay fit,” said LAUSD Superintendent Dr. John Deasy. “Studies show that when students eat right, exercise regularly and get proper rest, their health not only improves, but they also do better in school.”

In February 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama introduced Let’s Move!, incorporating the Healthier US School Challenge into her campaign to raise a generation of healthier children, the USDA announced.

“These awards became a reality as a result of our partnership with the Office of Physical Education, Food Services Division, Network for a Healthy California LAUSD, Beyond the Bell and Student Health and Human Services Division,” said David Binkle, LAUSD Director of Food Services.

“To receive this many awards is truly an honor and the monetary contributions would go a long away to further educate students about the importance of healthy eating and physical activity,” he said.

Las Posadas at historic Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

(Photo Courtesy of Corazon de Los Angeles)


Thursday, Dec. 20 through Dec. 24, Christmas Eve:

5:30pm—Las Posadas at historic Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles. Las Posadas is the name given to the traditional way of celebrating Christmas in the villages and homes of Mexico and other Latin American countries. The journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem is depicted each night in a candlelight procession, led by the Merchants of Olvera Street, who lead the singing of traditional hymns and holiday songs in English and Spanish. Entertainment starts at 5:30 p.m., piñata for the children at 6:30pm and Las Posadas procession at 7:30pm. Free champurrado & pan dulce provided following the procession.

Stop into Corazon LA for some great gifts and savings.


Community Calendar: December 20- December 26

December 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday, December 20

10am-4pm—“Skateboarding Expression Sessions” at Belvedere Park – Skate Park in East LA. The park is located at 4914 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. East LA 90022. For more information, call (323) 260-2360.

10am & 2:30pm—Christmas Celebration at Saybrook Park. Tiny Tots program is at 10am & afterschool program starts at 2:30pm. Park is located at 6250 Northside Dr. East L.A. 90022. For more information, call (323) 724-8546.

Friday, December 21

10am— “Seniors’  Visit from Santa” at Salazar Park. Celebrate the holiday with entertainment and fun. Park is located at 3864 Whittier Blvd. East LA, 90023. For more information, call (323) 260-2330.

Saturday, December 22

7am—Family Holiday & Fishing Derby at Belvedere Park Lake in East LA. Children fish for free. Children who do have fishing poles can borrow them, but a photo ID from an adult is required. The park is located at 4914 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. For more information, call (323) 260-2342.

Monday, December 24 – Christmas Eve

3-8pm—The 53rd Annual L.A. County Holiday Celebration – Holiday Show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. More than 20 choirs, music ensembles and dance companies from the many neighborhoods and cultures of L.A. celebrate the season during this free three-hour extravaganza. Performers include: Las Cafeteras, an energetic Son Jarocho band from East LA that blends Mexican folk with Afro-Carribean rhythms; Mariachi Sol de Mexico, the first mariachi band to be nominated for a Latin Grammy; Pacifico Dance Company, presenting folklorico dance from the region of La Costa Chica; and Jouyssance Early Music Ensemble, weaving the ancient Aztec language of Nahuatl with Spanish in its choral presentation of a traditional Mexican Christmas song. Doors open at 2:30pm. Park free at the Music Center: 135 N. Grand Ave. LA 9001. For more information call (213) 972-3099 or visit www.holidaycelebration.org.

Wednesday, Dec.26

9:30am-5pm—Kidspace Children’s Museum 5th Annual Snow Days in Pasadena. Family winter festival offers crafts, science and 60 tons of snow for snow play. Continues daily through Dec. 30; different activities & themes each day. Admission for adults & children 1 year and older is $10; under one year and members are free. Kidspace is located at 480 North Arroyo Blvd. Pasadena, 91103. For more information, go visit: www.kidspacemuseum.org.

Upcoming Events

Make Reservations Now for Stevens Steak & Seafood House’s New Years Eve Celebration! In addition to great dining, Stevens will offer up a night of great entertainment, featuring Orchestra Son Mayor with DJ Mike, Salsa & Bachata in the Ballroom, and Suave with DJ Zonik playing all the hits from the 50’s through today in the Lounge. Stevens is located at 5332 E. Stevens Place, Commerce, CA 90040. For more information, visit www.StevensSteakHouse.com or call (323) 723-9856.

L.A. Fire Dept. Sponsoring Free Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training in Boyle Heights: Starts Jan. 7 and runs through Feb. 18. The 7-week course provides information to help yourselves, family, and community during times of disaster. All citizens 18+ years old are invited. No experience necessary. For more details or to RSVP, email veradelpozo@yahoo.com.

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