The Eastside’s Record Keeper

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

As someone who grew up in East LA in the 1960s and 70s, and worked as a newspaper boy first at the East LA Tribune and then the LA Herald Examiner, I grew up with an affinity towards the written word.

I was just entering high school when Los Angeles Times reporter and Spanish language TV anchor Ruben Salazar was killed in 1970, during the Chicano Moratorium. His death motivated me to go on to college and to get into writing. So, I actually began my writing career in 1972 with LA Gente newspaper at UCLA. But to make a long story short, after graduating college, my professional column-writing career got its start at Eastern Group Publications.

I remember EGP most for two of its signature publications: the Eastside Sun and the Mexican-American Sun. Because I had begun as a newspaper boy on the eastside, I could relate to this chain of community newspapers.

I started as a reporter at EGP, but with the support of the newspapers’ owners, Dolores and Jonathan Sanchez, I began to write weekly columns on topics ranging from plans to feed the homeless, graffiti, a softball playing grandmother and efforts to dismantle bilingual education. I wrote about the battle led by East LA and Boyle Heights residents determined to stop a prison being built in their neighborhood, a grassroots effort that succeeded.

Roberto Dr Cintli Rodríguez es profesor en la Universidad de Arizona y autor de Justice: A Question of Race, un libro que narra sus dos juicios de brutalidad policial; Our Sagrada Maíz is Our Mother(Nin Toanantzin Non Centeotl); y coprodujo Amoxtli San Ce Tojuan: un documental sobre orígenes y migraciones.

At that time, I was also assigned to write profiles of everyday people making a difference, new eastside professional organizations and their members, Latinos in public office and in government agencies.

After leaving EGP, I would go on to writing columns for La Opinion for many years, even after I moved to Washington DC, then co-writing a nationally syndicated column with Patria Gonzales for a dozen years for Chronicle Features and later Universal Press Syndicate.

I mention all this because I owe my successful column-writing career to EGP. By the way, nowadays, I still write, though primarily for Truthout’s Public Intellectual Page.

Truthfully, more than to EGP, I owe thanks to the family. Dolores and Jon brought me on board at a low point in my life. I was almost killed in 1979, an experience that led to two trials, the first in 1979 and the second in 1986 — causing seven and a half years of turmoil.

In the first trial, I had to defend myself against charges of trying to kill four Sheriff’s deputies with a camera. I had actually witnessed the brutal beating of a young man and photographed it, and as a result, I ended up in the hospital. After winning that case, I filed a lawsuit and in 1986 won a judgment against the same four deputies. Incidentally, it was civil rights attorney Antonio Rodriguez who  represented me in both cases. I was working at EGP during the second trial and remember well the full support I received from Dolores and Jon.

A small irony is that my lawsuit was actually against the Sheriff’s Department and one of the first assignments I received after it concluded was to interview the Sheriff at the time. He had a lot of bodyguards in his office during the interview; neither he nor I brought up my trials. Yeah, there was a big elephant in the room during that interview.

As we all know, EGP wasn’t just 9, then 11 and now 6 community newspapers. They were a Raza-owned bilingual chain of newspapers covering the eastside of LA; essentially the newspapers of record when it came to things on the eastside. That was their role because in those days the major Southern California media outlets didn’t deem the eastside worthy of a bureau. In other words, we weren’t worthy of coverage and, in effect, did not exist.

I can honestly say I have only good memories of my time at EGP. The same holds true for my memories of the Sanchez family.

Now, as a university professor and researcher, I believe the existence of EGP is worthy of study. I wish I could do more than study or comment about EGP. I wish I could buy EGP and keep the papers going because it has always served our communities well, and personally, I will always have ink in my veins.

At the moment, I can’t really do that and I’m hoping someone with the right resources will step in to keep it going.

I want to end by sharing an EGP-related story. It was kind of funny, but it wasn’t.

In between my two trials, I got very close to a group from Guatemala, here in Los Angeles. Most of them were political refugees and some of them had actually been tortured and eventually received political asylum. Those were dangerous times, there were even rumors of death squad activity in Southern California.

I don’t remember what the issue was at the time, but the group asked me if I would go to Guatemala and meet with community leaders, etc, since they could not return to their home country. They figured it would be easy since I was a journalist, and didn’t understand when I told them that I couldn’t go.

You see, my business card said EGP, the same initials of one of the primary rebel groups called… actually I forget what they were called. I explained that if I were to be stopped and asked to produce ID to prove I was a journalist, my business card with the EGP initials probably would have sealed my doom. So, in a way, it was funny and that’s why I never went to Guatemala. It’s interesting what will pop into your mind, like this, one of my [tangential] EGP stories.

I do want to thank the Sanchez family. I recognize EGP itself as a family, part of a much larger family and I’m very proud to have been brought into it and to continue to be part of it.

Roberto Dr Cintli Rodríguez is a professor at the University of Arizona and author of Justice: A Question of Race, a book that chronicles his two police brutality trials; Our Sacred Maíz is Our Mother (Nin Toanantzin Non Centeotl); and co-produced: Amoxtli San Ce Tojuan: a documentary on origins and migrations.

Losing the Voice of the Southeast

February 1, 2018 by · 2 Comments 

Gregory Arroyo serves as editorial director for Bobit Business Media, a business-to-business media company founded in 1961.© Eric Tillotson www.erictillotson.com

It was nearly 20 years ago that we had our last meaningful conversation. I was offered an opportunity I had worked so hard for over the nearly two years I served as a reporter for Eastern Group Publications, and my former boss, EGP Publisher Dolores Sanchez, had a little reality to deliver to this starry-eyed reporter.

See, I was part of the team of reporters who launched the Los Angeles Times’ Montebello edition of its Our Times community news section in September 1998. Dolores, however, warned that such ventures usually have two years to succeed. I left the Montebello Our Times in August 2000, about a month before it was shuttered by the Tribune Co.

Yes, Dolores, I was listening. In fact, I always listened, especially since EGP had done for me what it had done for so many young journalists since the newspaper chain launched in 1979, and that’s give me a chance to be the voice of the Eastside. And I took the role to heart. In fact, if the phones weren’t ringing when the newspaper landed in driveways Thursday morning, I hadn’t done my job.

Yeah, I had a knack for putting myself and the newspaper in the middle of some controversy, whether it was the countless and wasteful recall elections I covered or that two-hour debate the Commerce City Council had one night over whether to serve hot dogs at a “fireside chat” event. Let’s just say there are plenty of former city, school district, and, yes, even public safety officials who were glad to see my byline fade away.

To the individuals behind the scandal that’s plagued the Montebello Unified School District in recent years, just be glad you never knew me.

In college, I asked a political science professor about whether corruption was prevalent at the highest levels of government. He said “No,” adding that it’s local government where corruption thrives due to the lack of checks and balances. And that’s why this third-generation “Montebelloan” took his role as a reporter so seriously.

But the pendulum did swing the other way. By that, I mean I was just as passionate about the good going on in the communities I served.

There was the night I was on stage inside an Olvera Street restaurant when then-Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante — the first Latino elected to statewide office in California in more than 120 years — handed the speaker’s gavel to then-California Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa, making him the first Speaker of the Assembly from Los Angeles in 25 years.

There was the Theodore Roosevelt High School teacher who created a program designed to help promising students gain acceptance to Ivy League schools. There was graduation day at Montebello High School, when I watched proud parents embracing their sons and daughters. And I’ll never forget consoling that senior high school football player who realized he had just played his last game.

And this is what will be missed when EGP closes its doors this week. Thank you, Dolores and Jonathan [Sanchez], for giving a community a voice and young journalists like I once was a chance to develop theirs.

 

Gregory Arroyo serves as editorial director for Bobit Business Media, a business-to-business media company founded in 1961.

Tackling the Big and Small Stories

February 1, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

I worked at Eastern Group Publications from 2008 until 2012, and I feel lucky that this was my first gig as a full-time reporter. There weren’t many newspapers like it left, ones that were rooted in the communities they cover and that are owned by a civically-minded family for whom this isn’t just a business, but a labor of love.

When I first got there, I was like any other cub reporter — I wanted to chase and tell stories, have a byline and toss around journalism cliches like “cub reporter.” But it was a good place to develop my own sense of what journalism was, and why I wanted to do it. And I was figuring it out under the guidance of editors and publishers who were knowledgeable about the communities we covered, had a good feel for the local political world, and most importantly, had a sense of purpose for what they were doing.

The Sanchez family that founded it tackled big stories, but it was their consistent coverage of communities usually ignored by larger newspapers that stood out to me. You did not need a major scandal, a shooting or a social or environmental injustice as reasons for covering these areas.

Elizabeth Chou went on to report on Los Angeles City Hall government and politics, first with City News Service, and now the Los Angeles Daily News since the end of 2016.

I think it was important to the family to provide this coverage, because in reality there has historically been a vibrant civic life in these communities worth reporting on, in which people fight for and feel entitled to quality education for their children, well-paying and safe jobs and a high quality of life. And the family also wanted to tell the varied, everyday and unique stories that contribute nuance to the one-dimensional picture that is often painted when there is only occasional interest in an area by bigger outlets. This meant working to reflect the wide range of socio-economic statuses, values, experiences and political views that can be found in communities that are often given shorthand labels like “immigrant,” “ethnic,” “working class” or “underserved.”

During my time there, I and one other reporter split coverage of the range of communities under the Eastern Group banner. Gloria Angelina Castillo covered East Los Angeles and northeast Los Angeles, while also translating my stories into Spanish. I was assigned to cover a mix of traditional suburban cities like Monterey Park and Montebello, and other less typical municipalities like City of Commerce and Vernon that were largely industrial but still had a residential population. I also did layout for the print newspaper, and updated the website and social media feeds.

Some of the more memorable stories were about efforts by residents of Commerce to combat pollution from a major railyard, which they said was one of the causes for high rates of cancer in their community, on top of the other harmful toxins and pollution emanating from the industrial businesses nearby.

I also chronicled an unusual investigation into voter-fraud in the city Vernon, which only had about 100 residents. Previous to that, there was a failed attempt to disincorporate the city by state lawmakers who alleged it was being run by crooks.

And I covered the years of political instability and infighting in Montebello, as city council members grappled with budget troubles and scrutiny over whether there was criminal mismanagement of funds.

In covering many of these areas, I often found that despite many thinking that there is a lack of civic engagement, there were always usually people in these communities who did care and were trying in whatever way they knew how to stay informed and on top of what their local government was up to. They do it because cities provide basic services, police and fire, and parks that ultimately determine their quality of life, and other local government bodies can have equally significant effect on their lives. But those efforts can be that much harder without a partner, such as a local newspaper, that worked to help convey important information to their readers, prior to things going horribly wrong. Eastern Group Publications did its part in trying to maintain consistent coverage of these areas, in that sense, filling in gaps where other outlets may not have had the staffing or time to cover.

 

Elizabeth Chou went on to report on Los Angeles City Hall government and politics, first with City News Service, and now the Los Angeles Daily News since the end of 2016.

Hoy Decimos Goodbye y Gracias

February 1, 2018 by · 1 Comment 

Cuando Eastern Group Publications anunció el pasado mes de agosto nuestras intenciones de vender el grupo de periódicos, realmente creímos que había alguien esperando entre bastidores con el entusiasmo, sentido de propósito y medios para continuar nuestra tradición de brindar lo mejor en noticias comunitarias locales para una nueva generación de lectores.

¿Cómo podría no haber, con todos los problemas que enfrenta la calidad de vida de nuestros lectores, desde vivienda asequible hasta personas sin hogar, salarios, inmigración, desafíos de escuelas públicas, tráfico, disminución de servicios gubernamentales, corrupción política, crimen y aumento de impuestos y tarifas en nuestras billeteras?

¿Cómo no puede haber, con el presidente y sus seguidores haciendo un esfuerzo concertado para socavar a la prensa diciéndoles a los estadounidenses que lo que leen en los periódicos y escuchan en las noticias es todo “falso”?

La editora Dolores Sánchez compró el grupo de periódicos en 1978, desde entonces, tres generaciones de la familia Sánchez han contribuido al legado del periódico.
En la foto de izquierda a derecha (primera fila): Arturo Preciado, Bianca Sánchez Preciado, Sarah Sánchez Ramos, Dolores Sánchez, Gloria Sánchez Álvarez; (última fila) Jon Ramos, Marlon Álvarez, Jason Ramos, Rocki Álvarez, Andy Álvarez (EGP foto por Fres Zermeno)

 

Pero después de varios meses de ofertas y consultas infructuosas, un nuevo portador de la antorcha no se ha materializado. Entonces, después de mucha contemplación, marcamos el final de una era hoy, con esta última publicación.

Ahora comienza la difícil tarea de poner todo en perspectiva. Pero ¿cómo se resumen perfectamente casi 40 años de informes, más de 2,000 ediciones semanales y más de 50,000 páginas de papel de periódico?

La verdad es que no se puede.

Lo mejor que podemos hacer es reflexionar sobre lo que nos ha motivado a continuar durante todos estos años y seleccionar algunos temas que sobresalen.

Todo comenzó con Dolores Sánchez y un pequeño grupo de empresarios locales, entre ellos Cal y Dolores Soto, luego los dueños de la tienda de comestibles La Quebradita en el este de Los Ángeles, Roque Olivos de Peru Spices y otros que desde entonces han fallecido. Compraron Eastside Sun y otros cinco periódicos en 1979 para dar voz a las comunidades predominantemente latinas donde trabajan y vivían.

Habían visto de primera mano la desigualdad en los servicios gubernamentales, la educación y la seguridad publica en esos vecindarios, y la cultura vibrante, el trabajo duro y el deseo de crear una vida mejor que floreció a pesar de los obstáculos.

Ninguno de los medios de comunicación principales estaba contando esas historias, por lo que decidieron comprar los periódicos de Kovner que estaban en bancarrota y reportar las noticias de esas comunidades del lado este, con el tiempo expandiendo la cobertura hacia el sureste de Los Ángeles.

Con su esposo Jonathan Sánchez a su lado, dirigiendo la producción y el negocio, Dolores se dedicó a cumplir esa misión. Juntos, la pareja construyó el negocio en una institución comunitaria respetada y confiable.

Mirando a las publicaciones de aquellos días, no podemos dejar de sorprendernos por la amplitud de nuestra cobertura y la sensación de que “cuanto más cambian las cosas, más se mantienen igual”.

EGP COO Jonathan Sanchez

Nuestras páginas están llenas de historias sobre inmigración, educación, desigualdad económica, viviendas asequibles, falta de vivienda, la falta de latinos representados en las películas y la televisión, la disparidad en los servicios en comunidades de bajos ingresos en comparación con las áreas más afluentes, lo cual todos siguen siendo problemas grandes hoy en día.

Cuando EGP comenzó, Jerry Brown estaba en su primer término como gobernador. El número de latinos elegidos para la oficina local, estatal y del Congreso fueron pocos en comparación con lo que son hoy.

Hemos informado sobre los esfuerzos para aumentar el poder político latino, a través de protestas, votaciones, campañas de ciudadanía y cuatro conteos del Censo de EE.UU., cada uno de los cuales presentó obstáculos para que los latinos sean contados. Durante el proceso, respaldamos a los candidatos que consideramos que harían un buen trabajo al representar los intereses de sus electores.

Hemos escrito sobre los cambios en los ayuntamientos locales, desde las elecciones hasta un desafortunado patrón de retiros. En muchas de estas ciudades, los funcionarios electos no tienen ambición de un cargo superior; les gusta ser el pez grande en el tazón pequeño.

Por esa sensación de poder a veces ha llevado a comportamientos malos, a veces criminales. También ha llevado a una mayor estabilidad financiera y crecimiento que ha creado puestos de trabajo y una infraestructura mejorada. Nuestra cobertura incluye esfuerzos para reformar el gobierno y una mayor transparencia.

Estas páginas han publicado miles de historias relacionadas con la justicia ambiental, desde los inicios de las Madres del este de Los Ángeles que lucharon para impedir que se construyera una prisión en el este de Los Ángeles, hasta batallas para evitar que se construya una planta contaminante de megavatios en Vernon y para evitar que Exide contamine sus hogares con productos químicos tóxicos.

Cubrimos el nacimiento del movimiento “verde” en Commerce, donde los residentes han luchado durante años para que se les escuche acerca de “grupos de cáncer” cerca de patios de ferrocarril, altos niveles de asma y otras enfermedades como resultado de la gran cantidad de camiones que usan diésel que viajan la ciudad. Hicimos una crónica de los primeros días de East Yards for Environmental Justice, y sus años de trabajo alrededor de planes que incluyen esfuerzos para expandir la autopista 710 (Long Beach).

Se han publicado cientos de historias relacionadas con la autopista 710, desde residentes del este de Los Ángeles que dicen que están cansados de estar agobiados por los problemas de transporte de la región, hasta algunas ciudades a lo largo del corredor que impulsan la expansión para reducir el tráfico contaminante cerca de sus hogares.

Nuestras publicaciones están llenas de cientos quizás miles, de historias que narran los esfuerzos para mejorar la educación pública y reducir la tasa de abandono entre los estudiantes latinos tanto en la Escuela Unificada de Los Ángeles (LAUSD) como en el Distrito Escolar Unificado de Montebello (MUSD).

En los primeros días, hubo una lucha por el transporte como una forma de eliminar la segregación de las escuelas locales. Hoy en día, nuestras escuelas están segregadas, y la lucha ha cambiado a lo que es mejor, las escuelas subsidiadas segregadas o las escuelas tradicionales segregadas.

Hay historias de violencia de pandillas, pero más importante, los esfuerzos para combatir la violencia y las condiciones sociales en la raíz, como los programas del Padre Greg Boyle y Homeboy Industries para dar a los miembros de pandillas una alternativa al estilo de vida, incluidas las habilidades laborales y la educación.

Pero estas páginas también han celebrado las muchas cosas buenas que están sucediendo, desde los logros de las personas hasta el gran trabajo de las organizaciones comunitarias.

Compartimos historias de éxito sobre los hijos de inmigrantes que recibieron becas completas para algunas de las universidades más prestigiosas del país. Contamos las historias de personas mayores como Chris Mojica en el Salazar Park Senior Center en el este de Los Ángeles que han pasado años recaudando dinero para mejorar las instalaciones, y para proporcionar a cientos de familias año tras año comidas gratis para el Día Acción de Gracias y Navidad.

Hemos hablado sobre los servicios ofrecidos en clínicas comunitarias como Arroyo Vista y los programas gratuitos en parques y bibliotecas locales.

Nuestras páginas han estado llenas de historias sobre el arte y la cultura, desde el crecimiento del movimiento muralista chicano hasta los esfuerzos por pintar sobre ellos, y los esfuerzos recientes para preservar algunas de las pinturas más icónicas.

Publicamos el arte de los ganadores del concurso de arte del Congreso y presentamos historias sobre producciones locales de música, danza y teatro.

Sería negligente no mencionar el trabajo de Rose Marie Soto, cuya columna “East L.A and Beyond” durante más de una década describió a actores, músicos, bailarines y personas que suben en la escala corporativa o en las principales organizaciones comunitarias.

Fred Zermeno, Mario Villegas, Mike Álvarez y otros escritores y fotógrafos deportivos nos han brindado cobertura desde la escena deportiva local, desde los equipos deportivos profesionales hasta nuestros atletas locales de la escuela preparatoria y la universidad. También han contribuido con increíbles fotos desde protestas hasta incendios, desde conferencias de prensa hasta artes y entretenimiento.

El éxito de nuestro programa Letters to Santa, que a lo largo de los años donó decenas de miles de juguetes a niños locales, se debe en gran parte a los esfuerzos de los voluntarios Martha y Memo Careon, quienes año tras año organizaron un equipo de estudiantes universitarios para ejecutar el programa.

Y, por supuesto, están los reporteros, la mayoría de ellos jóvenes y recién empezados, pero con una pasión por capturar las historias que se desarrollaban en los vecindarios y ciudades que cubrían, y nadie más estaba reportando. Algunos han ganado premios por su trabajo.

Estamos orgullosos de notar que tres generaciones de la familia Sánchez han contribuido en estas páginas durante los últimos 38 años.

Las noticias de nuestro cierre en los últimos días han despertado un gran interés en comprar los periódicos. No sabemos a dónde llevará todo esto, solo podemos esperar que uno lleve a continuar con esta confianza especial de la comunidad.

Por ahora, queremos terminar agradeciendo a nuestros lectores, que semana tras semana nos han permitido entrar a sus hogares. Le agradecemos por los muchos consejos, las amables palabras y sí, incluso las críticas. Sin ustedes, nada de este gran viaje hubiera sido posible.

Today We Say Adios and Thank You

February 1, 2018 by · 4 Comments 

When Eastern Group Publications announced last August our intentions to sell the newspaper group, we truly believed there was someone waiting in the wings with the enthusiasm, sense of purpose and wherewithal to continue our tradition of providing the best in local community news for a new generation of readers.

How could there not be, with all the issues confronting our readers’ quality of life, from affordable housing to homelessness, to wages, immigration, public school challenges, traffic, dwindling government services, political corruption, crime and rising taxes and fees on our wallets?

How could there not be, with the president and his followers making a concerted effort to undermine the press by telling Americans that what they read in newspapers and hear on broadcast news is all “fake?”

But after several months of unsuccessfully fielding offers and inquiries, a new torchbearer has not materialized. So, after much contemplation, we mark the end of an era today, with this our final issue.

Publisher Dolores Sanchez bought the newspaper group in 1978, since then, three generations of the Sanchez family have contributed to the newspaper’s storied legacy. Pictured left to right (front row): Arturo Preciado, Bianca Sanchez Preciado, Sarah Sanchez Ramos, Dolores Sanchez, Gloria Sanchez Alvarez; (back row ) Jon Ramos, Marlon Alvarez, Jason Ramos, Rocki Alvarez, Andy Alvarez, Nicolas Alvarez.
(EGP Photo by Fred Zermeno)

Now begins the difficult task of putting it all into perspective. But how do you neatly summarize nearly 40 years of reporting, more than 2,000 weekly issues and over 50,000 pages of newsprint?

The truth is you can’t.

The best we can do is reflect on what has motivated us to keep going all these years, and pick out a few themes that stand out.

It all started with Dolores Sanchez and a small group of local business people — including Cal and Dolores Soto, then owners of the La Quebradita grocery store in East L.A., Roque Olivos of Peru Spices and others who have since passed on. They bought the Eastside Sun and five other newspapers in 1979 to give a voice to the predominately Latino communities where they worked and lived.

They had seen firsthand the inequality in government services, education and public safety in those neighborhoods, and the vibrant culture, hard work and desire to create a better life that flourished despite the obstacles. None of the mainstream media outlets were telling those stories, so they decided to buy the bankrupt Kovner newspapers and report the news from those eastside communities, eventually expanding coverage into southeast L.A.

With her husband Jonathan Sanchez at her side, directing the production and business, Dolores set about filling that mission. Together, the couple built the business into a respected, trusted community institution.

EGP COO Jonathan Sanchez passed away unexpectedly in in December, 2016 (EGP Archives)

Flipping through back issues from those days, we can’t help be struck by the breadth of our coverage and the sinking feeling that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Our pages are filled with stories on immigration, education, economic inequality, affordable housing, homelessness, the lack of Latinos represented in movies and on television, the disparity in services in low-income communities compared to more affluent areas, all still big problems today.

When EGP started, Jerry Brown was in his first term as governor. The numbers of Latinos elected to local, state and congressional office were few in comparison to what they are today.

We have reported on efforts to increase Latino political power, through protest, voting, citizenship drives, and four U.S. Census counts, each of which presented obstacles to Latinos being counted. We have endorsed candidates along the way who we felt would do a good job of representing the interests of their constituents.

We have written about the changes in local city councils, from elections to an unfortunate pattern of recalls. In many of these cities, the elected officials have no ambition for higher office; they like being the big fish in the small bowl. But that sense of power has at times led to bad, sometimes criminal behavior. It has also led to greater financial stability and growth that has created jobs and improved infrastructure. Our coverage has included efforts to reform government and for greater transparency.

EGP Board Member Michael Sanchez

These pages have published thousands of environmental justice-related stories, from the early days of the Mothers of East L.A. battling to stop a prison from being built in East L.A., to battles to keep a mega-watt, polluting power plant from being built in Vernon and to stop Exide from polluting their homes with toxic chemicals.

We covered the birth of the “green” movement in Commerce, where residents have fought for years to be heard about “cancer clusters” near rail yards, high levels of asthma and other diseases resulting from the large number of diesel-burning trucks traveling through the city. We chronicled the early days of East Yards for Environmental Justice, and their years of work around plans involving efforts to expand the 710 (Long Beach) Freeway.

Hundreds of stories have been published related to the 710 freeway, from East L.A residents saying they are tired of being burdened with the region’s transportation woes, to some cities along the corridor pushing for expansion to reduce polluting traffic near their homes.

Our issues are filled with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories chronicling efforts to improve public education and reduce the drop out rate among Latino students in both the Los Angeles Unified School and Montebello Unified School District.

In the early days, there was the fight over busing as a way to desegregate local schools. Today, our schools are just as segregated, and the fight has changed to which is better, segregated charter schools or segregated traditional schools.

There are stories of gang violence, but more importantly, the efforts to combat the violence and the social conditions at the root, such as Father Greg Boyle and Homeboy Industries’ programs to give gang members an alternative to the lifestyle, including job skills and education.

Three generations of the Sanchez family have contributed to EGP, including Deana Sanchez Hagen (left) and Samantha Ramos.

But these pages have also celebrated the many good things going on, from the accomplishments of individuals to the great work of community organizations.

We have shared success stories of the children of immigrants getting full-ride scholarships to some of the country’s most prestigious universities. We told the stories of seniors like Chris Mojica at the Salazar Park Senior Center in East L.A. who have spent years raising money to improve the facility, and to provide hundreds of families year after year with free meals for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

EGP CFO Joe Sanchez (deceased). (EGP archive photo)

We’ve talked about the services offered at community clinics like Arroyo Vista, and the free programs at local parks and libraries.

Our pages have been full of stories on art and culture, from the growth of the Chicano mural movement to the efforts to paint them over, and recent efforts to preserve some of the more iconic paintings. We’ve published the art of Congressional art contest winners, and features stories on local musical, dance and theater productions.

We’d be remiss in not mention the work of Rose Marie Soto, whose column “East L.A and Beyond” for more than a decade profiled up and coming actors, musicians, dancers, and people climbing the corporate ladder or leading community organizations.

Fred Zermeno, Mario Villegas, Mike Alvarez, and other sports writers and photographers have given us coverage from the local sports scene, from the professional sports teams to our local high school and college athletes. They have also contributed amazing photos from protests to fires, from news conferences to arts and entertainment.

Enjoying family, Board Member Michael Sanchez (rear right) takes break from business.

The success of our Letters to Santa Program, which over the years gave out tens of thousands of toys to local children, is in large part due to the efforts of volunteers Martha and Memo Careon, who year after year marshaled a team of college students to run the program.

And of course, there are the reporters, most of them young and just starting out, but with a passion to capture the stories playing out in the neighborhoods and cities they covered, and no one else was reporting. Some have gone on to win awards for their work.

We are proud to note that three generations of the Sanchez family have contributed to these pages over the last 38 years.

News of our closure has in recent days sparked a rash of interest in buying the newspapers. We don’t know where it will all lead, we can only hope that one will lead to continuing this special community trust.

For now, we want to close by thanking you our readers, who week after week have allowed us into your homes. We thank you for the many tips, the kind words and yes, even the criticism. Without you, none of this great journey would have been possible.

Llego el Tiempo de Pasar la Antorcha

August 10, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

En 1979, cuando asumí la posición de la cadena de periódicos Eastside fundada en 1945 por Joseph Kovner, no sabía que Eastern Group Publications (EGP) se convertiría en una pasión de toda la vida para dar voz a las historias de personas y comunidades ampliamente ignoradas por medios más grandes. Tampoco podía imaginar la cantidad de trabajo duro e inversión que se necesitaría para rescatar a un grupo de periódicos al borde de la bancarrota y ampliar su alcance en todo el Gran Eastside de Los Ángeles.

A largo de las siguientes cuatro décadas, transformamos a EGP en una institución del condado de Los Ángeles que serviría a la comunidad como portavoz y como defensor llamado una y otra vez a luchar en nombre de aquellas de nuestras comunidades que hasta entonces habían estado sin voz, sin poder, privados de derechos, marginados, oprimidos y explotados. También se hizo una prioridad para informar sobre las personas y las instituciones que contribuyen positivamente a la cultura única y vibrante en estos mismos vecindarios.

El reciente e inesperado fallecimiento de mi esposo y socio, Jonathan Sánchez, y mi hijo, Director General y Director Financiero, Joseph Sánchez III, sin embargo, me ha llevado a la decisión de que es hora de vender los seis periódicos comunitarios de EGP – the Eastside Sun, Northeast Sun, Bell Gardens Sun, Commerce Comet, Montebello Comet and Vernon Sun.

TimeToPass WEB Inside LG

Después de mucha búsqueda de alma y debate, nuestra familia – General Editorial Gloria Sánchez Álvarez, Directora de Publicidad Bianca Sánchez Preciado, Gerente de la Oficina Sara Sánchez Ramos y Miembro del Comité Michael Sánchez – creemos que es hora de pasar la antorcha metafórica a nuevos propietarios más enérgicos dispuestos a asumir la tarea de pastorear este venerable grupo de medios en la siguiente fase de su existencia.

Cuando empezamos hace 39 años, éramos todos – con la excepción de Jonathan – los neófitos de la industria editorial recién acuñados que aprendieron a medida que avanzábamos. Nuestras primeras ediciones estaban llenas de errores. Nuestras victorias fueron las victorias de la comunidad, ganadas a través de la defensa de los vecinos de nuestras publicaciones.

Fue y ha permanecido nuestro deber investigar las quejas compartidas con nosotros por aquellos que sintieron que habían sufrido como resultado del abandono del gobierno o la discriminación racial. Nos pusimos de pie fácilmente en defensa de los que se habían convertido en víctimas de la injusticia con inquebrantables editoriales y artículos publicados simultáneamente en las múltiples publicaciones de EGP.

Más de una vez nos encontrábamos en desacuerdo con funcionarios del gobierno o funcionarios electos que no vacilamos en hacerlos responsables cuando sus acciones o fracasos reflejaban mal en los puestos que fueron contratados, nombrados o jurados.

Además de su cobertura bilingüe sin precedentes en inglés y español de comunidades y municipios que se extienden desde el noreste de Los Ángeles hasta Boyle Heights y el este de Los Ángeles hasta Montebello e incluyendo las ciudades de Commerce, Vernon y Bell Gardens, EGP activamente ha presionó a la cuidad, el condado y los niveles estatales en apoyo de publicaciones de la comunidad más pequeñas. Sentimos y seguimos sintiendo que las publicaciones y los medios de comunicación comunitarios comprometidos a compartir noticias e información como un servicio público, no importa cuán grandes o pequeños, deberían tener derecho a una parte equitativa de los fondos públicos destinados a la publicidad.

En el transcurso de nuestra campaña de décadas para convertirnos en una de las cadenas de periódicos bilingües más reconocidas del país, nunca perdimos de vista nuestra sincera creencia de que “una prensa libre e independiente preservaba el derecho de los pueblos a saber”. Como editora en jefe al frente de una cadena de periódicos, que actualmente alcanza seis comunidades distintas pero contiguas con seis publicaciones semanales correspondientes, todavía me maravilla el hecho de que el Eastside Sun, nuestra edición principal, ha publicado continuamente cada semana por 72 años.

Me encanta lo que hemos logrado en el servicio a nuestros lectores y anunciantes y compañeros editores independientes que también han elegido centrarse en comunidades desatendidas. EGPNews logo Web Inside

Para el inversor potencial, las operaciones de impresión de EGP son complementadas por una plataforma fácil de usar de noticias e información de la comunidad – www.EGPNews.com – que refleja la única y bilingüe cobertura informativa de la comunidad que nuestras ediciones populares continúan proporcionado a miles de lectores y hogares en todo el este de Los Ángeles.

Para aquellos que, por elección o necesidad, ya no son capaces de llamar a esas comunidades su hogar, www.egpnews.com proporciona el enlace digital directo a noticias e historias sobre las comunidades de tantos hijos e hijas de esos alrededores que siguen siendo queridos.

Es difícil no ser nostálgico, ya que recuerdo con un corazón descomunal cómo este pequeño grupo de periódicos de propiedad ha estado constantemente en la vanguardia de los problemas que enfrentan nuestras comunidades.

Mirando hacia atrás, se me ocurre que hemos sido increíblemente afortunados de tener tantos escritores verdaderamente talentosos y compasivos que han venido a través de nuestras puertas en un momento u otro. Proporcionamos pasantías a aspirantes a periodistas en la escuela secundaria y la universidad, y los primeros trabajos de periodismo pagados para escritores como el aclamado autor Luis J. Rodríguez, laureado inaugurado del poeta de Los Ángeles designado por el alcalde Eric Garcetti. Nuestra fundación sin fines de lucro ha proporcionado comida, juguetes y capacitación en alfabetización a miles de residentes del este, sudeste y noreste.

Ha sido un privilegio y un honor a servir a los residentes de las comunidades históricas del Eastside que han contribuido a la riqueza cultural, cívica y económica que define a Los Ángeles. A lo largo de nuestra administración de 39 años de esta confianza comunitaria, hemos hecho nuestra misión para resaltar estas contribuciones y asegurar que no pasen desapercibidas o sin reconocimiento.

Estamos a la vez entristecidos y entusiasmados ante la perspectiva de convertir esta institución cívica en un líder emprendedor o en un grupo de líderes capaces de apreciar y trabajar con las oportunidades que representa la propiedad de EGP.

El Eastside ha cambiado y evolucionado considerablemente desde 1979. Aunque muchos cambios son indicativos de hasta qué punto hemos llegado como comunidad, muchos de nuestros recientes titulares, titulares que publicamos hace décadas, sugieren que debemos permanecer vigilantes.

La similitud de las historias que aparecieron en nuestras páginas al comienzo de nuestro mandato es una recordatoria viva de la necesidad aún urgente de la clase de periodismo comunitario de base que iniciamos como editores de periódicos pioneros.

No todo es tristeza y condenación, lejos de eso. Estas comunidades son ricas en posibilidades y oportunidades, pero las voces de estas vecindades deben ser incluidas a medida que se hacen cambios para que ellos también puedan compartir la prosperidad.

Es nuestra máxima esperanza que una nueva familia de portadores de antorchas se encuentre dentro de sí mismos para intensificar y asumir una administración que exige un gran sacrificio, pero ofrece recompensas incalculables a cambio, materiales y de otro tipo.

Tenemos la intención de nuestra e irnos pronto del programa de producción implacable en la que hemos invertido la mayor parte de nuestras vidas, y ahora estamos aceptando propuestas de posibles compradores que comprenden las implicaciones de la defensa y el humanismo en el contexto de los medios de comunicación y las comunicaciones de masas y que conscientemente celebran la imaginación sin control.

Si está interesado, envíeme un correo electrónico a publisher@egpnews.com.

Fire Damages Boyle Heights Businesses

January 22, 2016 by · 2 Comments 

A stubborn fire sparked by a gas leak inside a vacant Laundromat heavily damaging a strip mall in Boyle Heights Friday morning.

The blaze at the one-story commercial mall – located at 2191 E. Whittier Blvd. near Boyle Avenue – was reported at 1:47am, said department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. It took nearly an hour and 75 firefighters to knock down the flames, she added.

No injuries were reported, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The fire originated in the building housing Lianas Laundry, a coin-operated Laundromat, according to Steward. The heavy fire caused the front fascia of the structure to collapse, making it unsafe to enter.

A Domino’s Pizza adjacent to the Laundromat was also damaged.

The Laundromat in Boyle Heights was completely destroyed by the fire. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A Laundromat and a Domino’s Pizza in Boyle Heights were destroyed by the fire on Friday morning. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Chris Chizmedhyan owner of the Laundromat told EGP the business was destroyed by the time he arrived in the early morning.

“I live in Hollywood and a friend called me asking what happened,” said the owner who was unaware of the incident until he received the phone call.

Jose Viramontes, manager of the adjacent Domino’s Pizza, was standing outside on the sidewalk with a few employees staring at the burned out facades of the businesses.

He told EGP four employees were about to close the pizza-selling business when they heard a loud noise, “like an explosion,” They rushed outside and discovered the Laundromat roof on fire.

“They got out and called 911,” said Viramontes. “The fire on the roof continued into our location,” he added.

Viramontes said about 32 Domino’s Pizza employees—including 18 pizza deliver drivers — and up to three employees of the Laundromat will likely be out of a job.

“Authorities told us it may take months to build everything again,” he explained.

Scenes from the film “Under the Same Moon” with Mexican Actress Kate del Castillo were filmed at Lianas Laundry, according to Chizmedhyan. An “iconic” place for the movie fans, he said.

Chizmedhyan said he’s owned the Laundromat for 10 years and although his has insurance, “it’s still a devastating situation.”

“Luckily no one was inside of the laundry at that moment,” he said.

An arson investigation is being conducted.

Updated: 1-23-16 to correct spelling.

Parishioner Injured During Robbery Outside Boyle Heights Church

January 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles police detectives asked for the public’s help today to identify the man who stole about $4,100 representing the weekly offering at a church in Boyle Heights and injured an 80-year-old parishioner who tried to stop him.

The robbery at the Church of the Assumption at 2832 Blanchard St. took place around 11am Tuesday, Jan. 12, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

It happened after the weekly money count, police said. An 80-year-old parishioner left the church taking with him a canvas bag containing cash, coins and checks totaling about $4,100.

As he walked from the church, the suspect grabbed the bag and started to run off. The elder parishioner who was carrying the money refused to let go of the bag and was dragged onto the pavement by the suspect, according to police.

The robber eventually yanked the bag free and ran off, fleeing in a waiting late model black sedan driven by a second suspect, police said.

The church’s video captured the suspect arriving and loitering in the church’s parking lot around 45 minutes before the robbery, according to the LAPD. The second suspect appeared to be acting as a lookout at the opposite site of the lot.

The robber is described as Hispanic, with a thin build. He was wearing a black hat, dark jacket and light colored pants, according to police. No description of his accomplice was available.

Anyone with information on the robbery or the two suspects was urged to call  Detective Dante Palacio at the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Division at (323) 342-8900 or the LAPD’s 24-hour tipline at (877) 527-3247. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS. All tips can be submitted anonymously.

Updated: 1-25-16 to correct headline.

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