February 10, 2011 Issue

February 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Candidates Get Past Mud Slinging, And To CD-14’s Nitty-Gritty

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Weeks of political back-biting were put aside Tuesday night when candidates running for Los Angeles’s District 14 council seat agreed to focus on their plans for representing the district, rather than their opponents shortcomings during a candidate forum held in Eagle Rock.

Councilmember Jose Huizar and his challenger, businessman Rudy Martinez, participated in the forum hosted by The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council. It was standing room only for anyone who arrived late to the forum held at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock. 

The Eagle Rock Association (TERA) and Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council hosted the candidates forum at the Eagle Rock’s Center for the Arts. Pictured here Martinez (left) and Huizar (right). EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

 

Huizar and Martinez have each questioned their opponent’s integrity, and whether they are fit to represent the district that includes Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Eagle Rock, parts of Highland Park, Mount Washington, and a stretch of downtown Los Angeles that includes Olvera Street and the commercial district along Broadway.

The less combative tone on Tuesday, however, was likely a response to the forum sponsors’ request that they put aside the political bickering and give attendees the “civility and decency we feel we’ve been deprived of.”

Robert Gotham, president of TERA, said the forum turnout was impressive and it was refreshing to see the candidates stick to the issues. 

“Eagle Rock residents are unusually interested in politics, and they show up and they vote,” Gotham told EGP, noting TERA cannot endorse a candidate. 

Michael Nogueria noted the professional etiquette during the event. “It was fabulous… no slandering and no mud slinging, everything was professionally done.” 

Nogueria is the president of the Eagle Rock Chamber and also serves on the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council as vice president and business director. 

As an individual stakeholder, Nogueria expressed support for Huizar saying he has always provided 110 percent support to the chamber, the neighborhood council and the Eagle Rock Farmer’s Market. 

For an hour and a half the candidates took turns answering questions specific to Eagle Rock, one of many communities in City District 14.

On the topic of improving quality of life, Martinez said if elected he would crack down on street vendors, campers parked on main streets, people fixing cars on the streets, massage parlors, and graffiti. He wants to install cameras to deter crime and vandalism, as well as fill potholes, trim trees and encourage more people to volunteer and take neighborhood beautification into their own hands. He also wants more people in the area to walk and ride bikes.

 

Huizar echoed the interest of supporting more cyclists in the area and mentioned his support for CycLAvia, a bicycling event in Los Angeles that took place last year. He said he was interested in a smaller version on York or Eagle Rock Blvd. He also mentioned fixing streets, adding speed bumps, maintaining medians, but noted that the budget cuts to come will require more creative solutions as services may be affected. 

Martinez agreed that creative solutions would be needed, and said, “I am the most innovative person I know.”

When asked what specific cuts they would make to services and jobs, neither directly answered the question, and Huizar used his time to elaborate on the $300 million budget deficit the city is facing.

Martinez said he would not support cuts to city council salaries because he has to pay his bills, but said he would not take a pay increase either. Huizar said he would support a pay cut, and noted that in the past he has donated his pay increases to charity. 

When asked to explain the district’s Discretionary Funds, Martinez answered, “I wish I knew” the amount, adding that if elected he would be transparent and post on his website how each dollar was spent. 

“Every dollar will be spent on this community and nowhere else, nowhere else but the needs of this community,” Martinez said. 

Huizar said the district’s discretionary funds are: a Street Furniture Fund for fixing the sidewalks; a Pipeline Fund for infrastructure projects; the CLARTS Fund, which only four other council offices have and amounts to about $500,000 a year; and the General Purpose Funds which is $90,000 a year to support local activities in the area. Huizar said he is already posting the CLARTS disbursements online and will form an advisory committee to decide where to spend CLARTS Funds in the future. 

The candidates were asked how their styles might be different in working with CD-14’s diverse communities.

Huizar said he has embraced the district’s diversity, from Downtown Los Angeles, to Boyle Heights, El Sereno and to Northeast LA. 

“I don’t favor one part of my district over the other. I am proud to serve CD-14, you have elected me to serve to represent you in the city, and provide that strong link from our communities to city hall,” Huizar said. 

Martinez said he would be accountable to all the residents in CD-14. 

“If you’ve watched my TV show, you know I’m a no nonsense guy. I don’t allow people to walk over me. If things need to get done, I am accountable,” Martinez said. 

Laura Embry and Jillian Pierson, who have both served on the board of the Eagle Rock Educational Foundation, said the crowd seemed split either 50/50 or 40/60 in favor of Huizar. Both women praised Huizar for contributing to the foundation and showing up to fundraisers. 

“I’ve heard a lot that [Huizar’s only showing up] because it’s election time right now, but that has not been my experience at all. We’ve had many fundraisers in the last six years and he has shown up to our small little dinky events, we have been able to have meetings in his council building, and he has come to schools to see what the kids are doing. He’s been very active in my opinion,” Embry said. 

Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council member Terry Bonsell said she is not impressed by Martinez’s responses. Bonsell also heard Martinez speak during last week’s HHPNC meeting, and said he doesn’t know what the GRYD program is, he doesn’t know what the city’s boundaries are, nor what the issues are in the community, she said. Bonsell also didn’t like his response to the question on improving quality of life, asking people to volunteer more. 

At the HHPNC meeting on Feb. 3, several people told EGP they support Martinez.

Lenard Mazzola and his wife Maggie told EGP they like what they heard. “Anything is better than now,” Lenard said. 

The Mazzolas are fed up with a privately-owned easement located near their home in Highland Park, which they say has become a dumping ground. 

“Would it take you seven years to take care of it?” Lenard asked Martinez, who quickly said “no,” but also noted that residents need to report illegal activity and take a more proactive approach to resolving issues in their neighborhoods. 

A man who identified himself as the owner of the Humming Bird collective, a now defunct medical marijuana dispensary on York Blvd, praised Martinez as a great business neighbor. “My question is, if elected, are you going to keep up the good work?” he said.

Community Calendar Feb. 10-Feb. 16, 2011

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Today, Thursday,  February 10

1-4pm—Bell Voter Registration & Information Session at the Bell Library with a representative of the Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk office. Any and all questions about voting and voter registration will be addressed. The Bell Library is located 4411 E. Gage Ave. Bell, CA 90201. For more information, call (323) 560-2149.

4-5pm—Anthony Quinn Library is hosting Create Your Own Diary event. Design a diary just for you in Peggy Hasegawa’s Handcrafted Book Workshop. For ages 12 and up. The library is located on 3965 Cesar E. Chavez Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90063. For more information, call (323) 264-7715.

6-7:30pm—LAUSD Construction Update Meeting on Central High #13 (Taylor Yard) in the Irving Middle School Auditorium: 3010 Estara Ave. LA, CA 90065

Stakeholders can ask questions about the status of construction, new school boundaries and meet the interim principal and local district staff. Located at 2050 San Fernando Rd, L.A., CA 90065, the new high school will consist of five small schools that include classrooms, science labs and school administration. Irving Middle School is located at 3010 Estara Ave. L.A., CA 90065. For more information, call (213) 241-6493 or (213) 241-8700.

4:30-6:30pm—City Terrace Library hosts a Teen Movie and Pizza Night for middle and high school aged students. The library is located 4025 E. City Terrace Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90063. Call (323) 261-0295 for more information.

Friday, February 11

7-9pm—Taboo, Boyle Heights native and Black Eyed Peas member, will sign his new book Fallin’ Up at the Barnes and Nobel at The Grove. For more information, call (323) 900-8080.

8pm-Midnight—Movie Night Fundraiser to benefit the Maravilla Kids Tournament. East L.A. made “Boulevard Nights” will be featured. $5 admission includes 1 slice of pizza, drink and movie. Historic Maravilla Handball Courts: 501 N. Mednik ELA, Ca 90022. For more information or to RSVP, call (562) 852 1422 or Facebook:maravillahistoricalsociety@gmail.com

Saturday, February 12

8am-Noon—Cash for College Workshop at Bell Gardens High School. Get one-on-one help filling out the FAFSA financial aid forms. AB540 advisors will work directly with students and/or family. A second workshop will be held Feb. 24, from 4 to 7pm at Bell Gardens Library. Students who submit FAFSA during the workshops become eligible to win a $1,000 scholarship! For more information, call BG High college counselor Tracy Brendzal at (323) 826 – 5151 Ext. 5525.

9am-1pm—Open House at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School in Montebello. Fully accredited Pre-K through 8th school in a Christ Centered Environment. California Standards Based Curriculum, includes music, sports and art. Applications will be given out, financial aid available. The school is located at: 840 North Garfield, Montebello, CA. 90640.   For more information, call (323) 728-5435.

9am-4pm—Electronics Recycling – E-Waste event in the  Bell Gardens High School Parking Lot: continues Sunday from 9am-4pm. Bring your old computers and parts, TVs, cables, wires, etc. BG High is located at 6119 Agra St., Bell Gardens, CA  90201. For more information, call Patty at (562) 889-0160

2-4pm—Bell Gardens Library Valentine Arts and Crafts Afternoon. Make Valentine’s Day Cards, Play Lotería (Bingo). Bring your favorite book in English or Spanish. The library is located at 7110 S. Garfield Ave. Bell Gardens, CA 90201. For more information, call (562) 927-130

2-4pm—Montebello Library Movie Afternoon featuring “NEXT,” staring Nicholas Cage as a clairvoyant magician who helps the FBI find a nuclear weapon smuggled into Los Angeles. The film is rated PG-13. The Montebello Library is located at 1550 W. Beverly Blvd Montebello, CA 90640. For more information, call (323) 722-6551.

7-11pm—Opening Night Reception Avenue 50 Studio’s exhibition, Circulo Magico/Magical Circus by assemblage artist Armando Arreola, who creates small diorama theater scenes of magicians at work. Show continues through March 6. Avenue 50 is located at 131 North Ave 50 in Highland Park, CA 90042. Or more information, call (323) 258-1435 or go to http://www.avenue50studio.com.

7-9pm—Poetas para Justicia en Juarez, a tribute to murdered Cuidad Juarez artist Susana Chavez at the Eastside Café: 5469 N. Huntington Dr. in El Sereno, 90032. Open mic to follow. For more information, e-mail Victoriadelgadillo@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 15

6-7pm—East Los Angeles Library presents Dances of Asia performance. The library is located at 837 East 3rd St. LA, CA 90022. For more information, call (323) 264-0155.

Upcoming Events

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company performs at Cal State Los Angeles on Feb. 18 at 8pm. The group is one of Israel’s most innovative and prominent dance organizations. Kibbutz will perform the critically-acclaimed work “Infrared” for their Luckman debut. Tickets are $25, $35 or $45.

Maravilla Historical Society presents  “Maravilla Jr. Tournament” on Feb. 19 & 20th at the Historical Maravilla Handball Courts: 501 N. Mednik Ave. ELA 90022. Open to boys & girls. Registration is $5; includes free shirt. Register by Feb. 14: Contac: Amanda Perez,  aperez552003@yahoo.com for more information.

Rio Hondo Boys & Girls Club 14th Annual Fashion Show on Feb. 20 at Steven’s Steak & Seafood House in the city of Commerce. Event will take place from Noon to 4pm and includes buffet lunch, silent auctions, vendors, boutique and fashion show. Tax-deductible tickets are $35 per person. For more information, email Robert A. Rubio: rubio@rhbgs.org.

L.A. School Board Election Candidates Forum at Franklin High School on Feb. 23 at 6pm. Hear from Bennet Kayser, Luis Sanchez and John Fernandez  who are running to represent District 5, which runs from Eagle Rock to South Gate.. Franklin is located at 820 North Ave 54, Highland Park, CA 90042. For more information, contact Robert Aguirre the Special Events Manager at (626) 307-1390.

Free “Introduction to Keyboarding” computer course at the Commerce Central Library. Classes begin Feb. 28 for those who are anxious to learn how to type and the limit is only 10 students per session so make sure you sign up fast. The library is located at 5655 Jillson St. For more information, call (323) 733-6660, x 2220.

Announcements

The Latino Diabetes Assoc. will host low-cost yoga classes at Reggie Rodriguez Park in Montebello, as part of the “Mi Vida Yoga” program.  Classes will be held from 10-11:30am on Saturdays Feb. 12 -April 2. Limited to 20-25 people; $5 donation per class. The park is located at 200 W. Mines St. For more information, call Yolie Acosta at (323) 837-9869.

Is your Dog Special? Entries are now being accepted for the first-ever Resurrection Church Dog Show on Feb. 19 from 1 to 4pm. Any neighborhood dog can compete! Proceeds from the family-friendly fundraiser go to Resurrection Parish. Volunteers needed.  For more information, go to www.bhdogshow.yolasite.com .

Applications the 2011-2012 California Senate Fellows program, an 11-month long program to work full time as a Senate staff member in Sacramento, are now available. Fellows are paid a stipend of $1,972 per month plus health, vision, and dental benefits, and earn 6 units of graduate credit from Sacramento State for the academic portion of the program. Program begins in November 2011. Applicant must be at least 20 years old and a graduate of a four-year college or university by Sept. 1, 2011.  Applications may be requested from Sen. Ron Calderon’s office at 400 N. Montebello Blvd., first floor, Montebello, CA 90640 or by calling the office at (323) 890-2790.

To submit an event or announcement to the Community Calendar, e-mail calendar@egpnews.com. All submissions are subject to space availability. Paid advertising available for guaranteed calendar placement, for more information, contact advertise@egpnews.com.

Keppel Shoots Down Montebello, Earns Share of Almont League Lead

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Putting an end to Montebello High School’s 23-game Almont League winning streak, the Keppel boys’ basketball team scored a 50-49 victory Tuesday at Montebello.

The win moves Keppel into a first place tie with Montebello with one league game to play for both teams.

Keppel High School’s Justin Young (21) drives past Montebello’s Antonio Worthy and heads to the basket in Tuesday’s game at Montebello. EGP Photo by Mario Villegas

“Our kids wanted it,” Keppel Coach Hung Duong said. “We had really good practices and our kids always show up and battle. I’m so proud of them.”

Jordan Young’s 23 points led the Aztecs (19-6 overall, 8-1 in league) to the win. Young did most of the damage from long range, hitting six of nine three-pointers. He was also credited with five rebounds and four assists.

“Jordan played unbelievable,” Keppel Coach Hung Duong said. “He’s been our go to guy all year and he stepped up again tonight.”

Montebello (24-3, 8-1) lost a league game for the first time since losing at Bell Gardens, 62-60, on Jan. 27, 2009.

The Oilers also saw their 17-game winning streak snapped.

Keppel led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter and limited Montebello to two points in the second quarter to hold a 24-15 advantage at halftime.

But the Oilers surged back behind center Antonio Worthy, who scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half. They also turned up the pressure by employing a full-court press to slow the Aztecs.

The Oilers, who had trailed since the start of the game, got three layups from Worthy and a three-pointer from John-Michael Carabes to tie the score, 36-36, with six minutes left in the game.

They went ahead for the first time, 40-39, on a three-pointer by Hector Martinez off a pass from Darius Middleton, who dished off while in mid-air instead of attempting a layup.

A three-pointer by Garrett Masada put the Aztecs ahead, 45-42, with 2:22 left and a slam dunk by Justin Young with 56 seconds kept them ahead.

Justin scored nine points and grabbed 13 rebounds to also lead the Aztecs. He also played stellar defense in denying Montebello shots inside.

“Our game plan was to come in and sag, and pack the key,” Duong said. “They were going to have to make a lot of outside shots to beat us. To give up only 15 points at the half to a Montebello team is really playing some kind of defense.”

Keppel, which has won 11 of 12, plays San Gabriel (2-18, 0-8) at 5:15 p.m. Friday at home. The Aztecs won the first meeting, 63-19, Jan. 25.

“We’re going to be ready to play,” said Duong, when asked if he was worried about a letdown. “We haven’t won a league championship in five years and I’d like to see our seniors win one before they leave.”

Montebello got 11 points from Middleton and De la Cruz finished with nine.

The Oilers play Schurr (8-12, 3-4) at 5:15 p.m. Friday at Schurr.

Local Hospital Leads with Cutting Edge Cardiac Technology and Research

February 10, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Offering new hope for heart patients in Southern California, White Memorial Medical Center (WMMC) in Boyle Heights on Tuesday announced that it now has at its disposal the most advanced cardiac technology available in Southern California to treat, and even cure, some arrhythmia patients.

The hospital unveiled its new $10 million Arrhythmia Center, composed of an Arrhythmia Center Catheter Lab and a Stereotaxis Cather Lab with a teaching room in between on Tuesday.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Hospital White Memorial Estrena Tecnología Cardíaca de Vanguardia

Arrhythmias are irregular heartbeats in the human heart that if left untreated can cause sudden death. According to the American Heart Association, arrhythmias occur throughout the general population at varying degrees of severity.

The new center’s advanced technology includes the first installed “Niobe 2 System” and the only “Odyssey/Cinema System” in Southern California. The magnetically guided catheter system allows doctors to repair once remote areas of the human heart, according to the hospital.

Dr. Koonwalee Nademanee demonstrates how the system works. EGP photo by John Ung

 

The state-of-the-art equipment and the center’s head doctor, Koonwalee Nademanee, are already attracting other electro physiologists and cardiac students from around the world, White Memorial said at Tuesday’s launch.

 “World class healthcare is here in East LA. There may be other hospitals that come to mind as top of the line to other people, but we are building this [reputation here], and that is why we are so happy to have Dr. Nademanee here, he is the leader in this area, said Michael D. Chee, director of marketing and communications for the hospital. 

 “That kind of expertise, this kind of investment in technology, is what builds capable, high quality medical centers and that is what White Memorial is and wants to continue to be,” Chee said. 

Dr. Nademanee is best known for developing a highly refined technique for treating atrial fibrillation (abnormal or irregular heath beat), but he also happens to be the personal physician to Thailand’s royal family. He has received numerous honors in his field and has published over 115 scientific articles. 

Nademanee will use the Stereotaxis electrophysiology equipment to repair specific damaged areas of the heart and restore normal heartbeat.

The new equipment means a faster, safer and more accurate procedure that will save lives and improve the quality of lives of WMMC patients, Nademanee said. 

Nademanee said in the past they were unable to help certain patients who they deemed to be too sick to handle the procedures available to doctors. It was too risky, he said. The new technology will open up treatment to a much larger number of patients, even those once thought to be too high a risk for treatment.

Stereotaxis system uses magnetic navigation (similar to GPS navigation) and highly advanced 3-D computer mapping to steer a soft and flexible catheter to remote areas of the human heart to repair damaged areas and restore normal heartbeat. Another advantage of the new technology is that it reduces a patient’s exposure to fluoroscopy radiation by 44 percent, according to White Memorial.

Dr. Rainer Manzanilla, a cardiologist with WMMC, holds the replica of a heart as he demonstrates the newest technology in the treatment of arrhythmias. EGP photo by John Ung

 

In the last 20 years, the technology has evolved from medication-only therapy to manage arrhythmia conditions, to risky heart perforation, to this new outpatient procedure that comes to one millimeter and one degree of accuracy anywhere the physician wants it to go. 

Besides other physicians and patients, software engineers also have their eyes on White Memorial’s new lab. The system currently has a robotic system and the procedure can be done with the physician/equipment operator located in a remote location but software engineers want to see if they can integrate some software to duplicate Nademanee’s expertise, he said. 

The lab will treat patients who suffer from rapid heartbeats, who have fainting-spells, shortness of breath, and are at risk for cardiac collapse, congestive heart failure. 

Untreated arrhythmias can also lead to heart attacks and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. 

“This is just one example of how White Memorial brings exceptional physicians, dedicated staff and advanced technology together to create the best possible clinical outcomes for our patients,” said Beth Zachary, White Memorial’s president and CEO.

On the Watch for ‘Pesty’ Valentine Buds

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Customs inspectors at Los Angeles International Airport are on the lookout for pests on cut flowers, like these roses, arriving from overseas for Valentine’s Day, which is the second busiest time for such imports behind Mother’s Day.


Burbank Middle School Future Unsettled

February 10, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Luther Burbank Middle School in Northeast Los Angeles has gone through the motions of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Public School Choice (PSC) reform, a process that many parents at the school have long said they distrust, and fear will do little more than maintain the status quo that continue to fail students.

Due to chronic underperformance, the school, located in Highland Park, was one of many schools selected by LAUSD to undergo reform in 2008. Under the Public School Choice reform plan, outside education-based groups are allowed to compete to turnaround underachieving schools or to run new schools. However, no outside group applied to run Burbank. 

Luther Burbank Middle School in Highland Park.

The school’s principal at the time, John Samaniego, submitted a plan written by staff to create three grade-specific pilot schools, but it failed to gain the support of the district superintendent and school board, which asked that the plan be revised. Somewhere in the revision process, the pilot school governance model was removed from the plan. 

Now the local school district leadership is reiterating their support for parents as plans to reform the school continue, the outcome of which seems to depend on who is doing the talking.

“We’ve been working very hard to see that Burbank be given the opportunity to be considered for a pilot school [type of restructure],” Local District 4 Superintendent Dale Vigil told EGP on Monday. “I think our application is for Burbank to open up as a pilot school this fall. That’s our interest, our intent.”

LAUSD District 4 Director Shannon Corbett has been working hard on developing the new educational plan [for Burbank], but there have been various delays, the latest being Superintendent Ramon Cortines’ month-long delay in reviewing PSC 2.0, the second phase of school reform, according to Vigil. 

“She [Shannon] and I are ready, with the principal, to talk to the Public School Choice Steering Committee and make that recommendation as soon as they start up in March,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll approve it.”

However, Burbank will be competing with numerous other schools district-wide for one of 11 pilot school slots still available under a Memorandum of Understanding between United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA) and LAUSD. The agreement allows for the opening of 20 pilot schools; nine already opened under the first phase of the reform process undertaken last year.

Vigil says the district hopes Burbank will be one of the new pilot schools approved, “… So we have to kind of plead our case and we think we have a good one,” he said. 

Local District 4 is currently working on a pilot school instructional plan with the support of the administration, Corbett told EGP, noting that Burbank teachers are already implementing some of the instructional changes. 

While the district’s reform plan has the support of parents, Vigil acknowledged that teachers might not be on board. We are currently trying to work out differences with teachers at the site and UTLA leadership, Vigil said. 

According to Vigil, he’s met with parents and community members who want nothing less than a dramatic transformation at Burbank. They are carefully considering other options, in case the pilot school plan fails to materialize. 

“We know it needs to make some changes, it can’t continue to be the way it is—that’s not acceptable to Shannon [Corbett], it’s not acceptable to the parents, it’s not acceptable to me,” Vigil said. 

Vigil is quick to point out that teachers and students are not to blame for Burbank’s problems. 

 “It’s really the system that has been in place since you and I were in school” that is failing students, he said. 

If the pilot school is ruled out, other options include creating a compact, like at Belmont High School, or reconstituting the school, which Vigil could initiate, or parents could be encouraged to exercise the Parent Trigger Law.

The last two options include firing all the staff and re-hiring new teachers and administrators.

“It’s always our first intent to do everything collaboratively and if it doesn’t get to that, we’ll consider other options, but right now we are really trying to work on collaboration with all the appropriate stakeholders,” he said. 

Burbank’s new instruction plan includes a Bilingual Duel Emersion Program, expansion of the two magnet schools on the campus, and implementation of project-based learning among other instructional changes. 

However, Monique Epps, LAUSD iDesign Director, says there is nothing stopping Local District 4 or Burbank Middle School from scheduling a date to present their new PSC plan—as long as they’ve satisfied some steps that need to be taken on the campus, including a vote by current staff to convert the campus into a pilot school. 

Vigil did not address whether teachers need to vote to accept a pilot school model at Burbank. 

UTLA President AJ Duffy says both the Pilot School Steering Committee and the School Board need to approve the plan before it can be implemented. But there is no vote scheduled, according to Gregg Solkovits, UTLA Secondary Vice President.

Last year, when there was still a threat of an outside management team, like a charter school, coming in, Burbank staff voted in favor of the pilot school plan. But the teachers’ union has always seen that vote as something imposed from the district down.  

According to Solkovits, Burbank’s plan has undergone, tremendous changes and is no longer a teacher driven model. Now it is the local school district that is the design team and if they want Burbank to become a pilot school, teachers must first vote to approve the conversion, Solkovits said. “A pilot school is not the first choice” of teachers, he said. 

Solkovits calls the pilot school a distraction for teachers and said threats to reconstitute the school only create anxiety on campus. 

“A pilot school is merely a different government structure, it’s not even an educational or instructional plan,” he said. “Government is not what makes a school function well.” 

Parents don’t care about the governance plan and no school can be forced to become a pilot, Solkovits went on to say. The new instructional plan is a great plan and Burbank teachers need to focus on implementing it and not be distracted, he added. 

Last summer, UTLA challenged the legality of two pilot schools approved under Public School Choice: one was at Lincoln High School. UTLA claimed the district had not followed required procedures for converting existing schools to pilots and that the schools previously existed on the campuses as Small Learning Communities. However, LA Superior Court Judge Robert O’Brien disagreed and said the agreement between the teachers’ union and the district does not define what constitutes a new pilot versus a conversion school. 

For the moment, it is unclear whether Burbank Middle School will become a pilot school; undergo some other radical reform, or face legal changes in the future. 

Film, Live Music and Discussion at Eagle Rock’s Center for the Arts

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The Lummis Day Foundation and Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock will host an evening of film, live music and discussion this Saturday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m.

The event will be held at Center for the Arts, located at 2225 Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock.

Noted filmmaker, and Emmy Award recipient, Rubén Martinez will present “When World’s Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas After Columbus,” a film which he co-wrote with Carl Byker. The documentary production explores the contact of two civilizations and the impact it had on identity.

This Saturday's festival will feature "When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas After Columbus."

Martinez, board member of the Lummis Day Foundation, co-wrote the film for a PBS broadcasting. Martinez will present the film in a theatrical format for the first time.

The film selections for the show are right in line with the type of programming and experiences the sponsors try and promote,” explained Eliot Sekuler, a spokespeson for the Lummis Day Community Foundation, Inc.

“We promote a greater understanding among all the people who live in our area,” Sekuler said.

Excerpts from the unfinished motion picture of Russian avant-garde director, Sergei Eisenstein, will also be shown. Eisenstein’s film, “Que Viva Mexico,” was created in the 1930s, and will be screened with an accompaniment of live piano. Michael Feldman, sound editor and sound designer from Sony Pictures will play the music for Eisenstein’s film.

Tickets for the event are $15 and may be purchased via Paypal at www.lummis.org or at the following retailers:

Cafe de Leche

5000 York Blvd. Highland Park, CA. 90042.

Antigua Coffee House

3400 North Figueroa St. Highland Park, CA. 90042

Galco’s Old World Grocery

5702 York Blvd. Highland Park, CA. 90042

Proceeds from the event will benefit the 6th Annual Lummis Day: The Festival of Northeast Los Angeles which takes its name from Charles Fletcher Lummis, who helped introduce the concept of diversity in Los Angeles, said Sekuler.

Because the Lummis Day Community Foundation receives limited funds from the city, the foundation must organize events where the community can help raise money for Lummis Day, he said.

“Lummis Day brings everyone together, Filipino, country, African-Americans. It’s an event that is very multicultural, both in food, and music and dance,” Sekuler said.

The 6th Annual Lummis Day is free to attend and will take place on Sunday, June 5, 2011.

For more information, contact Eliot Sekuler at (818) 535-9178.

Los Angeles Legislative Analysts Recommend Annexing Vernon

February 10, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles officials took a closer look Tuesday at annexing the troubled and tiny city of Vernon.

L.A. Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller’s recommendation that L.A.’s mayor and City Council begin talking with Vernon’s elected officials about “voluntary annexation” cleared a council committee Tuesday, and soon will be heard by the full council.

Consolidating the city into Los Angeles under current state law would require the approval of Vernon’s voters.

Miller’s endorsement of proposed state legislation calling for the “involuntary dissolution” of cities with fewer than 150 residents was also forwarded to the full council Tuesday — as a back-up plan if Vernon’s elected officials balk at joining L.A.

No vote was taken on the proposals, because only one member of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee was present at Tuesday’s meeting.

Councilman Jose Huizar used his authority as acting chairman of the committee to forward Miller’s recommendations to the full council.

“I am quite surprised that it would get to this point, but I think the fact that one city is proposing to annex another shows that that relationship is not a good one,” he said. “We should not have allowed it to get to this point. “

“I think this is worthy of a discussion, I think the full council should have this discussion,” Huizar added.

Vernon City Administrator Mark Whitworth said annexation, initially proposed by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, would result in the loss of thousands of jobs, and put L.A. in deeper financial peril.

“The city of L.A. would be absorbing about $1 billion of debt. Are you ready for that?” Whitworth said, directing his question at Miller.

“I’ve met with many of these business owners, and everyone — to a T — has said, ‘We won’t only leave Vernon, we’ll leave the state or we’ll close our doors,”’ Whitworth said. “You’re talking 50,000 jobs. Are you ready to face that?”

Miller conceded that annexation could cause “issues” related to the operation of Vernon’s municipal utilities, noting the city owns and operates its own water, power and gas services.

However, he also noted that Vernon had $190 million in revenues and $381 million in expenses in 2007-08.

“Should Vernon cease to exist as a charter city, the most viable candidate for annexation would be the city of Los Angeles, and it may be in our mutual interests to proceed with the process,” Miller said. “Accordingly, we recommend pursuing the matter through voluntary annexation, or, should the state pursue involuntary dissolution, through an alternative process through the state.”

Vernon was incorporated in 1905, bounded by Los Angeles, Commerce, Bell, Maywood and Huntington Park. It spans 5.2 square miles and has a population of about 100.

In the past, according to Miller, Los Angeles consolidated governmental operations with a handful of independent communities, including Eagle Rock, Hollywood, Hyde Park, Sawtelle, San Pedro, Venice and Wilmington. The last consolidation was approved in 1932 when Tujunga became part of Los Angeles.

Commerce School Workers Win Big

February 10, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Bandini Elementary School employee Cynthia Magana had a “good feeling” about the 7-Eleven where she buys lottery tickets for her office-mates.

“The owner of the 7-Eleven was so very nice and always wished me luck,” Magana said.

Montebello Unified School District employees Irene Rico Macarter, Leidy Martinez, Rebecca Castro, Karen Pugh, Marina Alatorre, Karen Shahverdian, Maria Guzman, Christina Gonzalez, John Perez, winners of the $12 million jackpot for the SuperLotto Plus draw. (AP Photo/Craig T. Mathew for the California State Lottery)

The “positive energy” of the convenience store owner paid off when a ticket she purchased from him turned up a $12 million jackpot on Tuesday.

Magana and ten other Montebello Unified School District employees, full- and part-time clerical workers at Bandini Elementary School in Commerce, will be splitting the winnings.

The school office workers have been playing the lottery together for nearly two years, according to the California Lottery.

When they heard about a winning ticket sold in Whittier they thought of Magana’s purchase, according to one member of the office lottery group Ramone Solis.

After Solis came back from scanning the ticket at a local retailer, confirming that yes, they had won the lottery, “we all jumped around the office screaming and celebrating,” he said.

Bandini Elementary principal Karen Pugh welcomed the news, saying the school has a “close network of staff members – there is no greater feeling for the winners than to have won together.”

District officials also congratulated the workers. “To know that these winnings are going toward our hard-working staff is not only incredible, but so well deserved,” said Interim Superintendent Robert Henke.

The winning ticket was sold at the 7-Eleven located at 10437 Whittier Boulevard in Whittier. The winning numbers are 34, 9, 7, 12, 44 and the Mega number is 2. The retailer will receive a bonus of one-half percent, or $60,000, for selling the winning ticket.

The California Lottery is a state-level fundraiser for public education. The commission that operates the lottery is appointed by the governor. All told, lottery players have contributed more than $23 billion to education since 1985 when it first started.

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