LADWP Unveils ‘Customer Bill of Rights’

January 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a proposed Department of Water and Power “customer bill of rights” Tuesday that he says will guarantee improved service for residents, but some critics questioned whether it would actually have any impact.

“Today we are rolling out a customer bill of rights, something that may not sound revolutionary, but for this department it is brand new and it is,” Garcetti said, adding that it would guarantee certain levels of service for customers and financial rebates and credits if the promises are not kept.

The document includes assurances that call wait times will not exceed three minutes on average, bills that exceed three times the average historic use for the same billing period will automatically be reviewed before being sent out and requests to start a new residential account will be processed
within one business day.

Customers will receive rebates or credits if the guarantees are not met. For example, if the department takes longer than 10 days after the final inspection to process a new business service connection of 200 amps or less, that business will receive a $25 credit.

“If approved, I have full confidence in the Department of Water and Power’s ability to meet each of these goals, because I know a few years ago we wouldn’t have been able to meet these promises,” Garcetti said before a meeting of the DWP commission, which deferred a vote on the bill of rights
until a later meeting.

The board’s members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council. If approved by the commission, the bill of rights would also have to be voted on by the City Council.

When David Wright was confirmed by the council in September as the DWP’s general manager, Garcetti said one of the first tasks he wanted him to undertake was developing and implementing a customer bill of rights.
Wright said Tuesday the department is ready to stand by the bill of rights thanks to the increased personnel that have been hired over the last two years, including 300 customer service representatives and several hundred new billers.

The LADWP has been rocked publicly by a number of scandals in recent years, and the customer bill of rights directly addresses some of the problems that have emerged.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge granted preliminary approval in November to a class-action settlement expected to result in at least $67.5 million refunded to DWP customers over a glitchy billing system several years ago that resulted in some customers receiving wildly inflated bills and others receiving no bills at all.

Customers who received the inflated bills also had to contact the department themselves to try to sort out the issue, and sometimes would get more erroneous bills. The proposed bill of rights calls for the department to red flag any bills over three times the average before they are sent out.

Customers also were reported to have call wait times of up to 40 minutes, but LADWP officials said the wait times have been under a minute for the last 10 months.

“We have now been able credibly to promise that the wait time for a customer to call the DWP on any number of issues – and they won’t be calling as often because the issues have largely been addressed – but the wait time is guaranteed to be under three minutes,” said Board of Commissioners President Mel Levine.

Jack Humphreville, president of the DWP Advocacy Committee, which represents Los Angeles neighborhood councils in matters related to the department, said his committee was not consulted on the bill of rights. He said he is skeptical it will have any true impact.

As for service guarantees, Humphreville told City News Service there was “nothing objectionable” in the bill of rights but  “that is sort of 101, they should be doing that already. Yes, it sounds good, but it is no big deal.”

Humphreville was critical that the bill doesn’t talk about any guarantees for ratepayer fees, and also said he was concerned the department might eventually use the document to justify rate hikes.

“It doesn’t talk about rates or the impact on homeowners. It doesn’t talk about the impact on businesses and stuff like that,” he said.

Inflated bills and long wait times aren’t the only problems the department has experienced lately.

In June, the department sued PricewaterhouseCoopers, which handled the troubled rollout of the billing system, saying its officials had intentionally over-billed the city and spent the money, in part, on prostitutes and two lavish bachelor parties in Las Vegas.

In April of 2015, City Controller Ron Galperin and City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana released audits of two trusts that receive a combined $4 million in annual payments from the DWP and were highly critical of them, saying they lacked methods of tracking and controlling their spending on
contracts and travel expenses.

The department ranked last in J.D. Power’s 2016 Customer Satisfaction Index Ranking for large electric utility companies on the West Coast, and in 2011 it was ranked the 13th “most-hated company in America” by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Glenn Bailey, treasurer of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition, complained that the bill of rights was scheduled for a commission vote Tuesday without any public notice of its details. The wording of the bill of rights was not included on the meeting agenda, which was made publicly
available late last week, but it did state there would be a vote on it.

Representatives of the mayor’s office and the LADWP on Friday told City News Service the details were still being worked on and would not be ready until Tuesday morning.

“Instead, the LADWP posted the proposed policy just a few hours ago on its website in an obscure location, even though the item had been on the (commission’s) agenda since it was distributed four days ago,” Bailey said.

“How can the public, let alone the commissioners, provide meaningful and thoughtful input prior to adoption of this policy with essentially no notice?” Bailey suggested withholding of the details of the bill of rights could be a violation of the Brown Act, a state law that guides public government
meetings and states that supporting materials produced by the city must be made public 72 hours in advance of a public meeting where a vote on the issue is going to be held.

The DWP’s Joe Ramallo told City News Service the details of the bill of rights were not completed until over the weekend and because of the New Year holiday could not be made public until Tuesday morning. Because only materials that are completed are supposed to be made public before a meeting, he said the department does not believe there was a Brown Act violation.

To view the full text of the LADWP Customer Bill of Rights, click here.

¿A Qué Se Enfrentará Los Ángeles en 2017?

January 5, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Una oferta para los Juegos Olímpicos, una elección local, el problema de contribuciones a las campañas por desarrolladores y una posible confrontación con el presidente electo, Donald Trump, todos serán de gran importancia para los líderes angelinos en 2017.

Mientras el año nuevo empieza, una fecha que se destaca en el calendario de la ciudad es el 20 de enero, el día en que Trump asumirá el cargo a la presidencia.

Durante su campaña Trump amenazó a cortarle el financiamiento a las ciudades que se niegen a cooperar con las autoridades federales respecto a la inmigración ilegal. Sin embargo, el alcalde Eric Garcetti y el jefe de policía Charlie Beck han repetido frecuentemente que la policía de la ciudad continuará su políza de no ayudar activamente a los funcionarios federales a capturar ilegalmente a inmigrantes que viven en el país.

Aun es incierto si Trump cumplirá con su amenaza ya que ha abandonado varias de sus promesas prominentes de campaña. No obstante, se estima que $500 millones federales anuales están potencialmente en juego.

Otra fecha importante en el calendario de la ciudad es el 7 de marzo, el día de las elecciones primarias locales. Los votantes serán responsables de elegir algunos asientos del consejo de la ciudad, opinar en la carrera por la alcaldía y escoger una serie de medidas.

Garcetti se enfrentará a una alineación de 10 oponentes, aunque varios son políticos desconocidos con poco o ningún dinero recaudado. El retador más destacado es Mitchell Schwartz, quien ha trabajado en campañas para el ex presidente Bill Clinton y el presidente Barack Obama.

Los asientos impares del concejo también están en juego, y los votantes también tendrán que decidir a favor o en contra de la Medida S, la cual detendría algunos proyectos de la ciudad durante dos años. El Fiscal de la Ciudad Mike Feuer y el Director de la Ciudad Ron Galperin están corriendo sin oposición.

Los votantes del condado, al igual decidirán acerca de una medida que aumentaría los impuestos sobre ventas por un cuarto de centavo para financiar la lucha contra la indigencia. El voto viene después de la aprobación de la medida HHH en noviembre, una medida de bonos de $1.2 mil millones, para las iniciativas de indigencia.

El comité privado LA 2024 también trabajará este año en la propuesta de Los Ángeles para hospedar los Juegos Olímpicos del 2024, ya que la ciudad es una de las finalistas juntamente con París y Budapest. El Comité de las Olimpiadas Internacionales está programado para tomar su decisión en septiembre.

El tema de las contribuciones hacia campañas de lideres de la ciudad por desarrolladores de bienes raices probablemente aportará más titulares en 2017. En noviembre, la Fiscalía del Condado de Los Ángeles empezó una revisión de contribuciones cuestionables a campañas supuestamente relacionadas con el promotor de un complejo de apartamentos de $72 millones en Harbor Gateway.

Los donantes identificados en una investigación hecha por Los Angeles Times, asociados con el desarrollo, donaron más de $600,000 en fondos de campaña a varios miembros del consejo de la ciudad y a un comité de campaña independiente que apoyó a Garcetti.

Muchas de los donantes eran residentes de la clase obrera relacionados directamente o indirectamente con el desarrollador, Samuel Leung. Algunos donantes negaron haber contribuido, y al menos una dijo que fue reembolsada, dando la apariencia que algunas leyes de financiamiento de campaña pudierón ser infringidas.

L.A. March Primary Ballot Certified

December 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti will face 10 challengers in the March 2017 primary election, while City Controller Ron Galperin and Councilman Bob Blumenfield will run unopposed, City Clerk Holly L. Wolcott announced Monday while releasing the official list of candidates who qualified to be on the


Candidates had to file nominating petitions by Dec. 7 and Wolcott’s office on last week certified the results. Galperin’s only potential challenger, Adolfo Espinoza, failed to have his petitions certified. Blumenfield’s only prospective challenger, Angel Orellana, also failed.

Garcetti’s challengers include some political unknowns who have raised little or no money. The 10 challengers are YJ J Draiman, David Hernandez, Eric Preven, Paul E. Amori, Diane “Pinky” Harman, Frantz Pierre, Yuval Kremer, Dennis Richter, Mitchell Schwartz and David “Zuma Dogg” Saltsburg. Of the challengers, only Schwartz has raised a significant amount of money to date, with $255,270. Garcetti has raised more than $2.25 million.

In the 1st Council District, incumbent Gil Cedillo will face three challengers. They are Jesse Rosas, Giovany Hernandez and Joe Bray-Ali.

In the 5th Council District, incumbent Paul Koretz faces two challengers in Jesse Max Creed and Mark Matthew Herd.

The seat for the 7th Council District is open due to former Councilman Felipe Fuentes stepping down in September to work for a Sacramento lobbying firm. Twenty people have qualified to run for the seat. They are Bonnie D. Corwin, Jose G. Castillo, Monica Rodriguez, Terrence “Terry” Gomes, Franki Marie Becerra, Mike Schaefer, Carlos Lara, Dale Gibson, Olga Ayala, Karo Torossian, Monica Ratliff, Venessa Martinez, Nicole Chase, Mark Reed, Krystee Clark, John T. Higginson, Art Miner, David Jesse Barron, Connie Saunders and Fred A. Flores.

In the 9th Council District, incumbent Curren Price will face two challengers in Jorge Nuno and Adriana Cabrera.

In the 11th Council District, incumbent Mike Bonin will have two challengers in Mark Ryavec and Robin Rudisill.

In the 13th Council District, incumbent Mitch O’Farrell will face five challengers in Doug Haines, David de la Torre, Bill Zide, Sylvie Shain and Jessica Salans.

In the 15th Council District, incumbent Joe Buscaino will face two challengers in Caney Arnold, and Noel Gould.


Los Ángeles Pagará la Defensa de Indocumentados Ante Amenazas de Trump

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Autoridades locales de Los Ángeles anunciaron el 19 de diciembre una iniciativa para establecer un fondo de ayuda legal de diez millones de dólares para la defensa de los indocumentados que enfrenten una deportación durante el gobierno del presidente electo, Donald Trump.

“Las personas que han construido sus vidas en Estados Unidos tienen derechos y merecen todas las protecciones que ofrece nuestro sistema legal”, dijo el alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti al anunciar esta alianza.

“El Fondo de Justicia de L.A. llegará a personas que son estadounidenses por cada medida excepto por los papeles que portan, miembros de nuestra familia, amigos, vecinos y compañeros de trabajo. Ellos son parte de nuestra comunidad y lucharemos por ellos”, agregó el alcalde al explicar la iniciativa.

El fondo es una alianza entre la ciudad de Los Ángeles, el condado de L.A., la Fundación de la Comunidad de California, la Fundación Weingart y California Endowment.

El aporte provendrá de 5 millones de fondos de los gobiernos locales, mientras que la otra mitad procederá de las fundaciones privadas.

“Debemos aumentar nuestros esfuerzos para ofrecer representación legal a los residentes inmigrantes que necesitan un abogado pero no pueden pagarlo”, argumentó la supervisora del condado, la hispana Hilda Solís.

“Construir alianzas público-privadas entre el condado de Los Ángeles, la ciudad Los Ángeles y organizaciones filantrópicas será absolutamente crucial como pioneros de este esfuerzo”, agregó.

En su reunión de mañana, la Junta de Supervisores de Los Ángeles tiene previsto estudiar el aporte de, al menos, un millón de dólares para financiar los procesos legales de los indocumentados

El concejal Gil Cedillo, representante del primer distrito, destacó la iniciativa de hoy como un modelo para resolver amenazas futuras.

“Esta cooperación multisectorial e intergubernamental servirá como una guía para resolver futuros desafíos sociales”, afirmó Cedillo.

“Unidos estaremos mejor preparados para responderle a Trump y darle a nuestros constituyentes un sentido de alivio al saber que estamos peleando por ellos”, aseguró el político hispano.

El fiscal de Los Ángeles, Mike Feuer, igualmente respaldó la iniciativa en favor de los indocumentados.

“Un sistema jurídico justo debe ofrecer a los inmigrantes que enfrentan la deportación -incluyendo niños y familias que tratan de alcanzar sus esperanzas y sueños- con abogados para proteger sus derechos”, afirmó Feuer.

El fiscal argumentó que este fondo evitará además que el fraude: “En este clima de miedo es crucial que los inmigrantes acudan a abogados legítimos para que no sean víctimas de estafadores que se aprovechan de su vulnerabilidad”.

Las autoridades angelinas se alinearon así con los legisladores estatales que a inicios de diciembre anunciaron una “lucha frontal” contra las posibles medidas de deportación de Trump, que hizo de la inmigración uno de los ejes de la campaña electoral, durante la cual prometió además levantar un muro en la frontera con México.

En su sesión inaugural, el presidente encargado del Senado, Kevin de León, y el presidente de la Cámara, Anthony Rendón, aseguraron que utilizarán su poder político y legislativo para luchar contra las masivas deportaciones anunciadas por Trump.

Igualmente varios legisladores presentaron proyectos de ley para pagar por los abogados de los indocumentados, oponerse a la construcción del muro fronterizo y prohibir a las agencias estatales que den cierta información de los inmigrantes al Gobierno federal, entre otros.

Fuentes oficiales calculan que en el área del Gran Los Ángeles hay 3.700 inmigrantes detenidos que no tienen representación legal, y miles más se agregarían en caso de que las autoridades intensificaran la aplicación de las leyes federales de inmigración.

El condado de Los Ángeles tiene el mayor número de indocumentados del estado, con cerca de 815.000, según un cálculo del Instituto de Política Pública de California, que estima en 2,1 millones el total de indocumentados en la región.

“En este momento, el paso más importante que podemos dar es establecer este fondo de ayuda legal, de manera que nuestras comunidades más vulnerables sepan que estamos trabajando para mantenerlas seguras y protegidas”, afirmó Solís.

L.A. City, County Pledge Funds to Defend Immigrants Facing Deportation

December 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to contribute $1 million, growing to $2 million next year, to a legal aid fund for immigrants facing deportation proceedings.

County officials and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the creation of the $10 million L.A. Justice Fund on Monday, calling it a direct response to Donald Trump’s threat to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants and other “dangerous rhetoric” by the president-elect.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn recommended the county’s participation.

“We have a history of providing help to all residents,” Solis said, noting that the county’s social services safety net provides lunches for seniors and children and emergency medical care for uninsured residents, documented or not.

The fund is a partnership between the city and county of Los Angeles, California Community Foundation, Weingart Foundation and the California Endowment.

Garcetti said the city will contribute $2 million from its general fund. The county’s $3 million, to be contributed through June 30, 2018, is subject to matching contributions and private philanthropic organizations are expected to chip in $5 million.

City Attorney Mike Feuer told the board: “The county, the city and the private sector can all work together to bring a semblance of justice and fairness into the immigration process for potentially hundreds or thousands of individuals who are facing deportation.”

Those with legal representation are three to five times more likely to win the right to stay in the country, according to Feuer. Without legal help, “happenstance, the luck of the draw, will determine who remains in this country and who doesn’t,” the city attorney said.

Hahn pointed out that legal pathways to staying in the U.S. are available, but “without lawyers assisting them, they may never know or be aware of their options.”

Los Angeles United School District board President Steve Zimmer offered his support.

“Children are coming up to us, parents are coming up to us, with real and sincere fear about what will happen to them – but not just to them, to their dreams, to their hopes, to their aspirations,” he said.

The majority of speakers urged the board to approve the funding, but a vocal crowd of opponents argued that using taxpayer money to help individuals who came to America illegally amounted to taking money away from legal residents in need.

“Not everyone’s OK with this. People are OK with legal immigration,’’ said Emily Hemingway, who identified herself as a Republican living in Los Angeles County. She told the board that “people cutting in line’’ and “leeching off of our system’’ is unfair and threatens the integrity of the social safety net and public education.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl told opponents that the county spends many millions for public defenders to act on behalf of residents accused of crimes.

“They’re not innocents, but we provide a defense,” Kuehl said. “It’s not unprecedented for us to stand on the side of the accused and give them their day in court.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone dissenting vote. She said she was sympathetic to families faced with a “broken” immigration system, but told her four colleagues, “I believe this is a federal responsibility.”

Barger added that she thought it wasn’t fiscally responsible for the board to step up and contribute when nonprofit groups were willing to help.

Solis made a different economic argument, telling her colleagues that immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are a vital part of the local workforce.

“The contribution that undocumented immigrants make to the county is roughly $57 billion,” Solis said, referring to a local GDP estimate.

Others shared a personal perspective.

“I can’t go home one day and find an empty home,” Pomona College student Maria Jose Vides said, urging the board to “look at us as fellow human beings and look at how much we can contribute to this nation.”

The L.A. Justice Fund is expected to focus on helping immigrants in the county under temporary status such as the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals program, military families, refugees and unaccompanied minors, but not immigrants with a serious criminal history.

Solis said it costs roughly $5,000 to fund one deportation case. Experts estimate that about 7,000 Los Angeles County residents face removal proceedings without a lawyer annually, according to Solis’ office.

Some questioned whether the fund would be constitutional. Feuer and at least one other legal expert assured the board it would be consistent with federal immigration law and principles of fairness and due process.



Los Angeles Commits to ‘Green’ Olympics

December 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles is committed to delivering the “Greenest Games” in Olympics history, LA 2024 Chairman Casey Wasserman said Monday while pointing to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s recent “visionary” speech at the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Conference as evidence.

Garcetti delivered the keynote address to a network of the world’s largest cities at the C40 conference in Mexico City last Thursday, where he announced new plans for L.A. to curb greenhouse gas emissions, fight climate change, and increase electric vehicle use.

“The LA 2024 team are so proud of our mayor in taking this global leadership position on tackling climate change,” Wasserman said. “The Olympic family can be totally confident that Los Angeles 2024 would be a Games-changer when it comes to environmental sustainability.”

The private LA 2024 Bid Committee is competing with bid committees in Paris and Budapest to bring the Olympics to the Los Angeles area in 2024.

At the C40 conference, Garcetti talked about L.A.’s plan to work with other West Coast cities to fight climate change, discussed L.A.’s existing target of an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and committed the city to being a leader in limiting global temperature rise to 1.5
degrees Celsius, as outlined in the international Paris Climate Agreement adopted in December 2015.

“Every city, every community, every individual has the power to fight climate change,” Garcetti said at the C40 conference. “We do not need to wait for any one person or government to show us the way. Acting together as cities, we can set an example for our neighbors, spur clean energy innovation, clean up our air, and speed up the inevitable transition to a low-carbon, opportunity-rich future for us all.”

‘Industrial Cities’ Want Metro to Revamp its Funding Forumula

October 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Metro’s funding formula is unfair to cities with small residential populations but large numbers of workers and traffic congestion complain industrial cities like Vernon and Commerce.

Unless the formula is changed, officials in both cities say they don’t expect to see much more money coming their way even if voters approve Measure M, a new, permanent half-cent sales tax to pay for transportation projects that’s on the Nov. 8 ballot.

According to the cities, they generate millions of dollars in sales tax revenue yearly for transportation projects in Los Angeles County, but because Metro allocates money based on residential population they only get back a fraction of what other cities generating the same amount of revenue receive. They complain that no credit is given to the tremendous burden the goods movement has had on their streets and on their residents.

“The local return formula comes at a disadvantage to Vernon because of its low resident population,” says Vernon Spokesman Fred McFarlane. With just 120 residents, McFarlane says Vernon “doesn’t get back what it puts in.”

A coalition of cities in the Southeast and South Bay oppose Measure M on the grounds it will be decades before projects to relieve near gridlock conditions along the I-5 and 710 freeways see the light of day.

Supporters counter that the estimated $860 million generated each year under Measure M will reap benefits countywide, paying for highway and street repairs, transportation improvements and new rail and bus lines that will help alleviate traffic woes that will only get worse if not funded.

Similar to Measure R – approved by voters in 2008 – Measure M requires two-thirds voter approval. If it passes, consumers will start paying an additional half-cent sales tax in 2017. It will jump to 1-cent in 2039 when the Measure R half-cent sales tax expires.

According to Metro, 17 percent of all sales tax collected under Measure M will be returned to the County’s 88 cities and unincorporated areas on a per capita basis between 2017 and 2040, when the return amount jumps to 20 percent, which is higher than the 15 percent currently allocated under Measure R.

The funds are restricted and can only be used to pay for transportation-related projects such as local bus service, street, sidewalk and pothole repairs, traffic signal synchronization and bike lanes.

Metro officials claim the local return is a way for every city in the county to get something out of the ballot measure.

“Supporters of the measure say cities will be able to fix their streets but this is not a one-size-fits –all accurate statement,” Commerce City Administrator Jorge Rifa told EGP. “For cities with small resident populations but a large worker environment, it doesn’t come close.”


City workers repair damaged roads in industrial cities. Photo by EGP News.

Commerce generates about $8 million a year in Measure R sales tax revenue, but because the local return is based on population, with just 13,000 residents, the city only gets back $150,000 a year. Under Measure M, Commerce would double its contribution to $16 million but still only receive about $300,000 a year, according to Rifa, who notes that the city’s daytime population swells to about 45,000 when the number of people working in the city is taken into account.

A couple miles down the road, highly industrial Vernon is also out of luck when it comes to the transportation funding. With just 120 residents, the city does not receive a dime in Measure R revenue, even though it generates millions in sales tax revenue for Metro. In the past, the city has opted out of receiving Measure R funding because the cost to apply is more than the approximately $2,300 the city would receive in funds.

In comparison, with 42,000 residents, nearby Bell Gardens receives nearly $480,000 a year in Measure R funding, after generating $1.5 million a year in sales tax revenue.

Vernon has not taken a formal position on Measure M but is one of the 23 cities that make up the Gateway Cities Council of Government, which is spearheading a campaign to “educate” voters on Measure M’s impact in their cities.

The Vernon City Council did, however, pass a resolution in May urging the Metro Board to adjust it’s formula for allocating funding.

Like Commerce, Vernon is impacted by heavy truck traffic traveling to and from its hundreds of warehouses and manufacturing plants that also bring as many as 50,000 workers a day to the city.

With 47-miles of street to maintain, Vernon is facing over $18 million in street repair costs over the next five years, according to city documents. Without transportation funding, the city must fund the projects using money from its general fund.

Yes on Measure M campaign spokesman Yusseff Robb says language in the measure allows the Metro Board to interpret the population based formula in a manner that includes daytime population.

“It’s not a promise but the law,” Robb told EGP. “After Measure M is passed, exact local return allocations will be determined in partnership with each of the Gateway cities to ensure that everyone gets a fair share that reflects the reality in their communities.”

He told EGP that the benefits from Measure M go beyond local return allocations, including better transit and freeway traffic flow throughout the region and the creation of 465,000 new jobs.

Located along the I-5, SR-710 and heavy truck traffic, Commerce officials have repeatedly highlighted the city’s role as one of the country’s busiest “dry ports,” a point it has been making at a number of city sponsored town hall meetings on Measure M and in information distributed to educate city residents

A return of $150,000 would just cover a basic oil application on three to four blocks, says Rifa, explaining the poor condition of roads in industrial cities are due to heavy truck traffic.

“We are a trucking intensive city…trucks are what damage roads,” Rifa said. “We simply cannot keep up.”

Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chairperson Eric Garcetti attended a Commerce City Council meeting earlier this month hoping to change the council’s opposition to Measure M or at least get them to remain neutral. He told the council he had heard their concerns about the local return formula, and promised to look into ways to address the burden caused by the influx of large numbers of workers in the city during the day.

Rifa suggests the local return formula should not be based on population but rather the number of street miles in each city, which in Commerce’s case totals 65.5 miles.

“We are looking for fairness and equality,” said Rifa. “Our streets require significant street repair to provide for the transportation needs for our community and the region.”

Digging Way to Seamless Rail Rides

October 20, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A boring machine dubbed “Angeli” began its underground journey Wednesday to create tunnels for Metro’s regional connector project, which will link up the Blue, Expo and Gold lines in downtown Los Angeles when completed.

Metro board members, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, were on hand for a ceremonial lowering of the boring machine, which was officially named Angeli, the Latin name for angels.

Will Rogers Middle School eighth-grader Windsor McInerny came up with the winning submission in a naming contest.

“Building out a 21st century transportation system means creating links so that people can get around L.A. County with ease,” Garcetti said. “As ‘Angeli’ digs through the heart of Downtown, she is creating seamless connections for Angelenos from Azusa to Santa Monica.”

Garcetti added that Angelenos will benefit from even more connections soon after another boring machine named “Harriet Tubman” completes digging work on the Crenshaw/LAX line, which will connect stations in Crenshaw and Inglewood to the Green and Expo lines.

The $1.55 million regional connector project is scheduled to be completed in 2021, with Metro officials estimating it could shave off 20 minutes in traveling time for passengers.

The full length of the line including above-ground portions will run a total of 1.9 miles, and include three new stations.

Metro board Chair John Fasana, who is a Duarte city councilman, called the start of tunneling “a major milestone toward the completion of a vital project that truly connects the region by providing a one-seat ride to downtown Los Angeles for users of the Blue, Gold and Expo lines.

“The Regional Connector will reduce travel times for many Metro rail riders and make our system much more convenient and attractive to those who want a transit alternative to driving,” he said.


Garcetti y el LACCD Apoyan a la Medida CC y la Proposición 55

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Eric Garcetti, alcalde de Los Ángeles, apoya a una medida de bonos de $3.3 billones, la cual recaudaría fondos que cubrirían los gastos de construcción y reparación de edificios en los colegios comunitarios de Los Ángeles, anunciaron los proponentes de la medida el 5 de octubre.

La Medida CC permitiría a los bonos en ser emitidos para pagar por los nuevos edificios tales como bibliotecas, laboratorios de ciencias, edificios de atletismo, entrenamiento de trabajos, cuidado infantil y otras instalaciones para ser construidas en los nueve colegios parte del Distrito de Colegios Comunitarios de Los Ángeles (LACCD por sus siglas en inglés).

Garcetti dijo que la medida de bonos va conjuntamente con sus esfuerzos de instituir enseñanza gratuita en los colegios comunitarios.

“Anuncie recientemente el Plan De Promesa Universitaria de L.A., el cual pide por un año gratuito de enseñanza gratuita en nuestros colegios comunitarios”, dijo él. “Ahora que haremos a nuestros colegios comunitarios más accesibles para nuestros estudiantes, necesitamos asegurarnos que tendremos las instalaciones y el espacio apropiado para acomodar la demanda”, agregó.

La Medida CC es una de las tres medidas relacionadas con impuestos en la balota del 8 de noviembre al que Garcetti apoya.

Los Angles Mayor Eric Garcetti addressed the Commerce City Council Tuesday during a presentation on Measure M. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Eric Garcetti, alcalde de Los Ángeles, se dirige al Consejo de la Ciudad de Commerce el martes, 4 de octubre durante una presentación acerca de la Medida M (Foto de EGP por Nancy Martínez).

El Consejo de Administración del LACCD también pasó una resolución, el mismo día que Garcetti anunció su apoyo, a favor de la Proposición 55 y la Medida CC, de acuerdo a un comunicado de prensa. La declaración llama al impacto de las iniciativas “positivas” y una ayuda hacia los “cerca de un cuarto de millón de estudiantes inscritos en el LACCD a lo largo de los nueve colegios”.

“Los colegios comunitarios son las mejores posibilidades de inversión para los dólares públicos, y la Proposición 55 y la Medida CC asegurarán que podramos ayudar a nuestros estudiantes a elevarse y a contribuir a nuestra economía”, dijo el presidente del consejo, Scott Svonkin en el comunicado.

La Proposición 55 extendería, por 12 años, los incrementos de impuestos personales y temporales, promulgados en 2012, hacia los salarios mayores de $250,000, de acuerdo al resumen oficial de la iniciativa.

Consiguiente, el 89% de los ingresos acumulados serían alocados hacia las escuelas elementales hasta las secundarias y el 11% remanente hacia los Colegios Comunitarios de California. Hasta $2 billones por año también serían alocados, durante ciertos años, hacia programas de salud.

East Los Angeles College-S1 Building

La Medida CC busca construir nuevos edificios en todos los colegios comunitarios de Los Ángeles, como el S1 en el Colegio del Este de Los Ángeles (Foto de Archivo: Cortesía de ELAC).

El uso de las fondos estarían prohibidos en ser usados para cubrir costos administrativos, bajo la proposición, pero le brindaría el poder de decidir en qué invertir el dinero a los consejos de las escuelas durante reuniones públicas, y serían sujetas a auditorías anuales.

“La Proposición 55 y la Medida CC trabajarán juntamente para asegurar que nuestros colegios comunitarios estén modernizados, seguros y nos ayuden a brindar la mejor educación posible a nuestros estudiantes y comunidad”, dijo el segundo vice presidente, Mike Fong.

Garcetti también está activamente empujando para que se apruebe la Medida M, una medida a lo largo del Condado de Los Ángeles que incrementaría los impuestos de venta por medio centavo para financiar proyectos de transportación pública. Él también apoya a la Proposición HHH, una medida de bonos de $1.2 billones para financiar los planes de viviendas para personas indigentes.

*Este reporte incluye información compilada por EGP de un comunicado de prensa.

Video Does Little to Calm Anger in Police Shooting

October 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Police Chief Charlie Beck Tuesday released security video of the chase that ended with the fatal police shooting of an 18-year-old man in South Los Angeles, but the move did little to satisfy activists who angrily shouted down the chief at a Police Commission meeting, demanding his ouster.

The video, which Beck said he released after consultation with Mayor Eric Garcetti and the District Attorney’s Office, shows Carnell Snell Jr. running with his left hand in a sweatshirt pocket, and at one point he removes his hand to reveal a handgun. He holds the gun at his side briefly, then tucks it in his waistband, turns and runs away from the camera, out of sight, with officers in pursuit.

The video does not show the actual shooting.

Beck said he decided to release the video to correct what he called competing accounts about Saturday’s shooting of Snell. He suggested that “dueling narratives” emerging about the shooting threatened to “further divide the community.”

The release of the tape came as the LAPD worked to quell protests sparked by the death of the black teenager, who was shot on 107th Street Saturday afternoon. The next day, police fatally shot another man in South L.A., a Latino. Beck said that suspect a replica gun at officers. The orange tip of the replica gun had been painted black to make it look real, the chief said.

Despite release of the video, anger still boiled over at a Police Commission meeting Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles, where activists repeatedly shouted at Beck as he tried to give an update to the panel.

One woman sneered as Beck tried to announce that department members are available to speak with members of Snell’s family.

“You’re a disgusting person,” the woman shouted at one point. “You’re a horrible leader. … You should quit for the good of the city.”

With order somewhat restored, Beck went on to decry the “amount of guns that are out on our streets.” He said 450 people have been shot so far this year in just four LAPD divisions, where more than 500 guns have been recovered.

“Handguns are far too prevalent,” Beck said. “… Until we address the core issue of violence in our communities … primarily young men with guns, we are going to be doomed to this cycle.”

Tensions later ramped up again, with the mother of Richard Risher, a man police fatally shot earlier this year in Watts, said she felt revenge on officers was the only option, saying Beck has so far failed to give her an adequate response about her son’s death.

“From today, (expletive) this protesting (expletive), I’m going to start taking your lives,” Lisa Simpson said.

Eddie H. of the Los Angeles Community Action Network attempted to put Simpson’s words into context, telling the commission that “when we cry out saying no more blood in the streets of our young men and women, our sisters, our mothers, our fathers, we’re serious about this.”

“It’s getting to the point where we really do feel that the only way this is going to change is by revolution,” he said.

He added that he was not “advocating for violence by any stretch of the imagination,” but it would not surprise him if things do turn violent.

“To all who are in this room today, we all should be held accountable,” he said. “For you are complicit if you allow your voice to continue to be impotent while we are slaughtered in the streets … if you can’t see the hurt and pain that we experience on a daily basis — so we’re saying right now, stand up and be counted.”

During the meeting, about a dozen protesters turned their backs on the chief and police commissioners.

Beck later told reporters that he understands that Simpson “grieves, but Los Angeles police officers have a very dangerous job.”

“They are courageous people,” he said. “They want to make a difference in society and they want to do the right thing. Occasionally they fall short, but the vast majority of the time they do not.”

“To have somebody target an individual just because of their profession is certainly no better than targeting somebody because of their race,” he said.

Activists Tuesday also accused Beck of selectively releasing a video that showed Snell in a bad light, while refusing to release others.

“It (the video) does not negate what the public says,” Melina Abdullah, a member of Black Lives Matter, said. “You’re trying to assassinate the character of Carnell Snell after you assassinate his body.”

She added that if the police department has the “discretion to release that tape, you can release every tape” that members of the public have been asking for.

Activists have repeatedly asked the police department to release videos of use-of-force cases, as well as footage that provides more details as to what happened to Wakiesha Wilson, a woman who was found unconscious in her jail cell on Easter Sunday and later died at the hospital.

Beck said that releasing the video footage, which was captured by a business security camera and did not belong to the department, does not obligate him to release body and in-car digital camera footage belonging to the police department.

Police Commissioner Matt Johnson said efforts are underway to develop a system for deciding whether to release videos from incidents of police force.

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