February 14, 2013 Issue

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Montebello Collects Ideas for Bike Lane Study

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The existing marked bike lanes in Montebello, highlighted in orange, are located near The Shops at Montebello and near Atlantic Blvd. (METRO)

Over a dozen bicyclists and concerned Montebello residents on Monday shared their ideas with city planners looking at ways to make the city more bicycle-friendly.

Montebello’s Planning and Community Development Department hosted the meeting that kicked-off the preparation phase for a Bicycle Lane Feasibility Study, which would help the city determine whether it is capable of creating more bike lanes throughout the city.

The city currently has two marked bike paths, one located on Montebello Boulevard near the Shops at Montebello and the other on Gerhart Avenue off the 60 Freeway near the Gold Line Station.

Montebello Planning Manager Ariel Socarras told the small crowd, several of them members of Montebello Bicycle Coalition, that the study would identify streets with the capacity to include bike paths.

“This is step one,” he said. “It’s going to take a voice and some money to make it happen.”

Some of the suggestions provided by the attendees included adding a bike path on Beverly Boulevard due to its proximity to the Rio Hondo River, and some residents asked the city to consider converting some street lanes into bike lanes.

Other suggested streets included Whittier Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard, which would be accessible to those riding the Gold Line.

Montebello business owner Steve Manookian told EGP that although he disagreed with some of the suggestions at the meeting, he has known people who have gotten hurt ridding their bikes and believes Montebello would benefit from more bike lanes.

“There’s a big picture of our city and the bike path is a part of that,” Manookian said. “Its safer for everyone to have lanes.”

In addition to recommendations for where bike lanes should be placed, a few people also said it’s important to consider the placement of bike lockers, signs for bicyclists, bike parking and reflective lanes for night riders.

Although Jaime Rangel lives in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Lincoln Heights, he said his daily commute to his job in Montebello and past close encounters with motorists brought him to the meeting to advocate for more bicycle lanes in the city.

He told EGP that some of the suggestions provided by residents were ambitious, but he hopes that something will eventually be done to address the interest in citywide bike lanes.

Socarras told EGP that he was happy with the turnout and the feedback provided by community members.

“A lot of routes were suggested, a lot of ideas were provided,” Socarras said. “We’ll take all the feedback and we’ll start the evaluation process.”

Montebello Bicycle Coalition member Manuel Zavala told EGP that he and other members of his advocacy group were grateful to be able to provide their ideas on an issue they have been pressing the city council about for some time.

“It gave us the opportunity to express our concerns with the city, with the way it is now and what we would like to see in the future,” Zavalas said.

During the meeting, Michael Huntley, the city’s director of planning and community development, pointed out that trail linkages in four different areas of Montebello have been completed. The city has also applied for a grant through MTA to further extend the existing bike lanes, he said.

As EGP previously reported, the city council approved a $7,000 contract with Willdan Engineering to study the feasibility of bike lanes in Montebello. Measure R voter-approved transportation funds will be used to fund the study.

It’s not a high tech study, it’s just some fact-finding and a summary of the findings, said Willdan Engineering consultant Lew Gluesing

According to the priorities outlined at the meeting, the project hopes to link existing paths to those outside of the city’s jurisdiction as well as provide paths that connect to public transportation.

Zavala said he hopes it is possible for bike lanes to coexist with drivers in the city of Montebello.

“We don’t want to get rid of cars, we just want to make it safer for everyone.”

Thieves Target Lincoln Heights Memorial

February 14, 2013 by · 2 Comments 

Mexican/American cultural treasures located at a Lincoln Heights area park appear to be the latest target of precious metal thieves, but no one seems to know for sure when the plaques commemorating Mexican military, revolutionary and cultural heroes —some who made their marks when California was still part of Mexico — went missing.

At least five plaques identifying large bronze busts are missing from Lincoln Park’s El Parque de Mexico, located at the intersection of East Valley, North Mission Road and North Main Street. According to information gleaned from the website of Congressman Xavier Becerra, the area “was dedicated to promote the surrounding community’s cultural heritage and demonstrate goodwill between the United States and Mexico.”

Authorities speculate the plaques were stolen for their metal content and sold off by thieves looking for quick cash.

EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Thieves are also believed to have recently made off with metal piping from Lincoln Park’s restrooms, according to park staff.

Police have no information regarding the alleged theft and vandalism at the site, according to Hollenbeck Detective Bill Eagleson, who informed EGP that the theft was never reported to Hollenbeck police.

Last year, several bronze plaques were stolen from the All Wars veteran’s memorial in Boyle Heights. At the time, Eagleson and members of the veteran community were hopeful that the plaques had been taken by collectors instead of being melted down, their whereabouts, however, are still unknown.

The theft of copper and other valuable metals has been rampant in the city and county, with library, bridges, streetlights and manhole covers being stolen.

El Parque de Mexico’s main traffic island, with its oval shaped plaza and pedestals around the outer edges, was possibly an easy target for vandals, since the area generally appears in disrepair, with missing tiles, piles of debris, a wooden plaque partially covering a gap in the entrance sidewalk, an out of service drinking fountain, and a broken and tagged wooden sign.

On Monday, a plaque paying tribute to General Ignacio Zaragoza, a field commander who helped defeat the conservative forces led by the Catholic Church in War of the Reform (1858-1861), was visibly damaged, having been partially pulled off its base.

Besides Zaragoza’s, only two busts at the site still have their corresponding plaques: Mexican Revolution hero Pancho Villa, who lived from 1878 to 1923; and Lazaro Cardenas del Rio, a Mexican president who lived from 1895 to 1970.

Other statues, some larger than life, located in and around El Parque de Mexico appear undamaged.

According to Barrio Planner’s lead architect Frank Villalobos the busts were donated by Mexican states as part of a cultural exchange project between the Mexican Consulate and the Los Angeles based Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico, popularly known for their sponsorship of the East Los Angeles 16th of September/ Diecisies de Septiembre Mexican Independence Day parade.

Twenty bronze busts in all were supposed to be erected at the site and their corresponding cement pedestal bases needed to hold them were installed at the spot. However, not all 20 busts were ever installed.

EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

This is not the first time thieves have targeted the memorial park, according to Villalobos, who told EGP that Pancho Villa’s “head” (bust) was stolen only to turn up sometime later in someone’s backyard. Another large plaque was stolen soon after it was installed, he added.

According to Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes’ office, the plaques were stolen months ago, but police reports were never filed with the Hollenbeck Police Department, charged with policing the area. No explanation was given for why it was not reported.

Former Lincoln Park Senior Recreation Director Karen King, who was the supervisor at the park during the past four months but has since been transferred, said she tried to keep an eye on the monuments since EGP brought the issue to her attention last year. King told EGP thieves took the backflow brass equipment at the park’s restroom located along Mission Road; the restrooms are now out of service.

However, El Parque, unlike the rest of Lincoln Park, is not under the direction of the city’s department of recreation and parks, but is maintained by L.A.’s department of public works. The statues are under the charge of the cultural affairs departments, which as of press time was unable to respond to EGP’s inquiry into the thefts.

Celia Guillen, a 78-year-old resident enjoying the sun at the park on Monday afternoon, expressed disgust and anger over the precious metal theft: “How barbaric,” she said in Spanish.

As of Wednesday, it was unclear if any effort would be made to replace the plaques, or if police would receive formal notification of their theft.

Missing Plaques:

—Ramon Lopez Velarde: one of Mexico’s’ greatest poets, he lived from 1881 to1921.

—J. Jesus Gonzalez Ortega: another field commander who helped defeat the conservative forces lead by the Catholic Church in War of Reform, he lived from 1822 to 1881.

—Doña Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez: an initial supporter of the struggle for Mexican Independence from Spain. She lived from 1768 to 1829.

—Guadalupe Victoria: soldier in the Mexican Revolution who became Mexico’s first elected President. He lived from 1786 to 1843.

—Francisco I. Madero: Mexican president and revolutionary leader, he lived from 1873 to 1913.

—Venustiano Carranza: a leader of the Mexican Revolution who later became president. He lived from 1859 to 1920.

MAOF Celebrates 50 Years of Service

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A milestone in a mission to provide opportunities to disenfranchised Mexican Americans was celebrated last week, when a group of elected officials, members of the community, local business owners and current and former clients gathered to mark the 50th anniversary of the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation, as well as the legacy of its founder, Dionicio Morales.

Speaking during a reception held Feb. 7 at MAOF’s headquarters in Montebello, President and CEO Martin Castro recalled Morales’ fight for an ethnic group whose needs had been neglected, prompting the founding of the non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities in the Latino community by offering a cadre of services, including low-coast or free child cares, job training and senior and youth programs.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: MAOF Celebra 50 Años de Servicio a la Comunidad

“Tonight is a tribute to the legacy he has left behind,” Castro told the crowd. “It is a legacy of hope for thousands of children and families, for our youth and for our senior citizens.”

Music and laughter filled the room as the Mexican-American Opportunity Foudation celebrated its 50-year anniversary helping the community. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

According to Castro, the organization provides childhood education to 3,000 preschoolers year round and assists another 5,000 children and families through subsidized child-care services. MAOF operates 53 facilities in 7 counties and employs over 650 employees.

“MAOF operates the largest home-based head-start program in the nation,” Castro told the crowd.

But it hasn’t always been that way, getting to where they are today has been a challenge. Castro and other speakers recalled Morales’ willingness to take chances, to create opportunities where some thought they had no chance.

Laughter and applause filled the room as Castro recalled how Morales decided to call the president of the United States in an effort to keep the agency from going under early on when the organization faced a lack in funds. He didn’t get to speak to President John F. Kennedy, but did get a meeting with Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and the Secretary of Labor, which resulted in MAOF obtaining its first job-training contract in 1964; they received $37,000.

Castro told EGP the organization’s 50th anniversary is a significant indicator of what the non-profit has been able to accomplish.

“To be around for that long means you’ve had people running a quality organization and quality programs for the community,” he said.

MAOF’s menu of services has grown since getting that first contract nearly 50 years ago.

Today, MAOF provides services to Spanish-speaking seniors, food banks that provide meals for over 400 low-income families and job training programs for youths and adults in East L.A. and Kern County, in addition to its job training and childcare programs.

MAOF Vice President Vicky Santos told EGP the 50th anniversary translates to 50 years of helping the community.

She said MAOF’s being around for 50 years translates to countless numbers of people being able to get jobs or stay employed. MAOF provided childcare to those low-income families that couldn’t afford otherwise to leave their children with someone that provides quality care,” Santos said.

Since the recession, however, MAOF has received $10 million less in funding from the state, according to Santos.

“That’s 300 children less that will get the services we provide,” she said.

She hopes MAOF will eventually get back some of the funds lost over the years so they can provide even more services that would benefit the community.

MAOF Board Chair Carlos Viramontes told EGP that while funds are tight, he hopes the organization, which started out as a small jobs training program and has evolved into a major player in childcare and senior citizen programs, will continue to get the word out to the community, which benefits from its services, that their support is needed.

“It’s been a constant effort,” Viramontes said. “But whatever we do, the purpose we have in mind, is of somehow empowering the community.”

Other speakers included former U.S. Congressman Esteban Torres, Mexican Consul General in Los Angeles David Figueroa Ortega and LA County Supervisor Gloria Molina. Each spoke about the work and legacy of Morales, reminiscing about their encounters with him.

“Its very amazing how far we’ve come,” Molina said. “This is what he worked for every single day of his life… He was the one laying the bricks and paving the road for someone like myself to have the opportunities that I have today.”

Castro told the crowd that their work is not done and they remain committed to offering opportunities to every Latino that seeks them out.

Claudia Arreola overseas MAOF’s child development services and sees a gap in the larger community’s understanding of the importance of the services offered by MAOF.  “We want to make sure our children get the quality care that not a lot of children in the community get,” Arreola said. “Locally they know who MAOF is, but when you venture out to the other counties they don’t know who MAOF is,” indicating the same level of quality should be expected by all people using childcare, and MAOF has developed the tools needed to provide high quality childcare.

Castro told EGP he invites the community to take a tour of its facilities and check out the services the organization offers.

“They need to call our number, they need to come here so that they can get an understanding of what we do because if they can’t benefit from our services, maybe they know a neighbor or someone that can.”

For more information about the services offered through MAOF visit www.maof.org or call (323) 890-9600.

Northeast LA-Area Residents Come Out in Large Numbers to Listen to Mayoral Candidates

February 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

The house was packed house Tuesday night for the Mayoral Candidates Forum held at Ramona Hall in Highland Park. About 200 people turned out to hear candidates (pictured left to right) Councilman Eric Garcetti, former Assistant US Attorney and radio show host Kevin James, Councilwoman Jan Perry and businessman Emanuel Pleitez answer a series of questions on citywide and local topics. City Controller Wendy Greuel, also a leading candidate, was absent due to a prior commitment.

Finding a Home at the Homegirl Café

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A program aimed at giving once incarcerated at-risk women an alternative to repeating the patterns that had previously landed them in jail is proving to be a life altering experience for its participants, according to a recently released case study of the Homegirl Café social enterprise in Los Angeles.

Entitled Grow. Prep. Serve: Homegirl Café Case Study, the report examines the impact the recovery and reentry program has had on women who have participated in the unique program.

The Homegirl Café enterprise is a 12-month long non-profit program that trains formerly gang-related young women in restaurant service and the culinary arts, skills that can translate into job hiring opportunities. It is a multi-step program runs out of a state-of-the-art kitchen/restaurant facility located just south of Chinatown. The women are taken through the process of getting food from the growing stage to the cooking stage to the table in a real, open to the public restaurant setting. Like its Los Angeles-based parent organization, Homeboy Industries, Homegirl works to help those who want to leave the gang lifestyle behind reenter society “in a systemic and holistic way” so they can become contributing members of society.

“In-residence job training and employment is integral to the intervention program at HBI, succinctly expressed in the agency motto ‘Nothing stops a bullet like a job,’” according to the report.

While most intervention programs focus on male gang members, the Homegirl Café project focuses on women caught up in gang activity or who have spent time in jail. The case study reveals the complexities of the women’s lives, from having family members, sometimes parents, involved in gangs, or parents mostly absent from their lives either because they were working or taking care of other children, or parents who were in jail, chronic drug users or alcoholics, mentally ill or some combination of these factors, the study found. Physical and sexual abuse and neglect at an early age was almost universal, as was domestic violence.

Sixty women identified by the program’s management team were invited to take part in the study. They were told their participation was voluntary and were guaranteed confidentiality; 50 women, ranging from 20 to 37 years of age, agreed to be interviewed.

Thirty-seven of the women were Hispanic, 10 were African-American, two were Anglo and one woman described herself as “multi-racial.” All had been in the program for at least 6 months.

According to the report, “They had been convicted of criminal charges that included attempted murder, drug trafficking, and conspiracy to commit fraud.” Only 10 percent had graduated from high school.  Sixty percent of those interviewed had children, and 80 percent of the women with children had their first child before the age of 18.

A workshop was held last week in Los Angeles to discuss the case study findings. It was an attempt to encourage other groups to duplicate the program’s success. Dr. Jorja Leap, Adjunct Associate Professor of Social Welfare, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, and co-author of the study, pointed out the human side of the data contained in the study:

“As the UCLA students and the evaluation team chronicled the lives of these women, we all heard their stories of trauma and violence, struggles with public systems, love for their children, loss, adversity, and ultimately, resilience,” Leap said. She called the study and workshop “great ways to kick off a conversation around the role that business and nonprofit partnerships can play in addressing these challenges.”

The case study noted that many of the women grew up believing gang life was “inevitable.”

“You just couldn’t live where I lived and not join a neighborhood,” one woman told researchers. The gangs gave them a “feeling of belonging,” over half of the women said, with one explaining, “I’m not sure it was a feeling of belonging so much as a place to escape – another family to take the place of my family.”

For the women interviewed, wanting to change was important; getting services from Homegirl Café was critical to turning a desire into a plan of action.

Participant after participant echoed a common theme: Homegirl Café gave them a new, more stable family to replace the gang life. Homegirl staff repeatedly told them they could change their lives, could get an education, could get their children back, could stay out of jail.

It gave them hope.

The training at Homegirl, they said, was not just about learning a trade, but about becoming independent from the cycle of gangs and being in the “system.” It helped them develop positive relationships and to make healthier choices in all areas of their lives, from what they eat and cook, to where they choose to live.

“I feel like I’ve been in the County all my life. First foster care, then the halls and camps then County Jail. Then my kids got taken away by the County and they went into the child welfare thing. I thought it would never end,” one woman said of her experience growing up.

“But when I got to Homeboy and then I got into the Homegirl training program,” she said, “I started to feel like things were gonna be different.

“Now maybe the County and I – we could finally break up.”

To read Grow. Prep. Serve: Homegirl Café Case Study, in its entirety, visit http://www.calendow.org/uploadedFiles/HomeGirlCafe_Booklet.pdf

Ladrones Dañan Monumento Mexicano en Lincoln Heights

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Un tesoro cultural México-Americano situados en un parque en la comunidad de Lincoln Heights parece ser el último blanco de los ladrones de metales preciosos, pero nadie parece saber con certeza cuando se desaparecieron las placas conmemorativas de héroes mexicanos militares, revolucionarios y culturales—algunos de ellos que hicieron su huella cuando California aún era parte de México.

Read this story in ENGLISH: Thieves Target Lincoln Heights Memorial

Por lo menos cinco placas que identifican los bustos de bronce están desaparecidas de El Parque de México de Lincoln Park, ubicada en la intersección de East Valley, North Mission Road y North Main Street. De acuerdo con la información disponible en la página web del Congresista Xavier Becerra, el área “fue dedicado para promover el patrimonio cultural de la comunidad que la rodea y demostrar buena voluntad entre los Estados Unidos y México”.

Al menos cinco placas se han desaparecido, el lugar también se encuentra en mal estado debido a falta de mantenimiento. Foto de EGP por Gloria Angelina Castillo

Las autoridades especulan que las placas fueron robadas por su contenido de metales y vendido por los ladrones en busca de dinero en efectivo rápido.

También se cree que los ladrones recientemente se llevaron la tubería de cobre de los baños de Lincoln Park, de acuerdo con el personal del parque.

La policía no tiene información sobre el supuesto robo y vandalismo en el sitio, de acuerdo con el Detective Bill Eagleson de la División Hollenbeck de LAPD, quien informó a EGP que los crímenes nunca se reportaron a la policía.

El año pasado, varias placas de bronce fueron robados de un monumento a los veteranos en Boyle Heights. El robo de bronce, cobre y otros metales valiosos han sido rampantes en la ciudad y el condado, con biblioteca, puentes, farolas y las tapas de alcantarilla siendo el objeto de ataques vandálicos.

La isla de trafico principal de El Parque de México, con una plaza de forma ovalada y pedestales alrededor de los bordes, posiblemente fue un blanco fácil para los ladrones, ya que la zona presenta generalmente un mal estado, con azulejos que faltan, una placa de madera que cubre parcialmente una brecha en la acera de entrada, una fuente de beber fuera de servicio y un letrero de madera roto y marcado con graffiti.

El lunes, una placa en homenaje al General Ignacio Zaragoza—un comandante de campo que ayudó a derrotar a las fuerzas conservadoras dirigidas por la Iglesia Católica en la Guerra de Reforma (1858-1861)—estaba dañado visiblemente. La placa estaba parcialmente retirada de su base.

Sólo dos bustos en el sitio todavía tienen sus placas correspondientes: el héroe de la Revolución Mexicana Pancho Villa, que vivió de 1878 a 1923, y Lázaro Cárdenas del Río, un presidente mexicano que vivió de 1895 a 1970.

Otras estatuas, situados alrededor de El Parque de México parecen en buen estado.

De acuerdo con Frank Villalobos, arquitecto jefe de Barrio Planners Inc., los bustos fueron donados por algunos estados mexicanos como parte de un proyecto de intercambio cultural entre el Consulado de México y el Comité Mexicano Cívico Patriótico de Los Ángeles, popularmente conocido por su desfile del 16 de septiembre en el Este de Los Ángeles.

Se planificó que 20 bustos de bronce en total serían erigidos en el sitio y sus correspondientes pedestales de cemento fueron instalados en el lugar. Sin embargo, como mitad de los bustos no fueron instalados y estos pedestales quedaron vacíos.

Según la oficina del Concejal de Los Ángeles Ed P. Reyes, las placas fueron robadas hace meses, pero nunca se presentaron informes policiales al Departamento de Policía de Hollenbeck, que vigila la zona.

Ladrones recientemente también se llevaron el equipo de contraflujo de cobre del baño del parque ubicado a lo largo de Mission Road, los baños están fuera de servicio, dijo Karen King, directora de recreación en el Parque Lincoln.

El Parque de México, a diferencia al resto de Lincoln Park, no está bajo la dirección del departamento de recreación y parques de la ciudad, se mantiene por el departamento de obras públicas, y las estatuas están a cargo del Departamento de Asuntos Culturales, que a partir del cierre de esta edición no tenían respuestas a las preguntas de EGP acerca de los robos.

A partir de ayer, no estaba claro si un esfuerzo se hará para sustituir las placas.

Las placas que faltan son para:

—Ramón López Velarde: un poeta famoso de México que vivió de 1881 a 1921.

—J. Jesús González Ortega: un comandante de campo que ayudó a derrotar las fuerzas conservadoras dirigidas por la Iglesia Católica en la Guerra de Reforma, él vivió de 1822 a 1881.

—Doña Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez: una partidaria inicial de la lucha por la Independencia Mexicana de España. Ella vivió de 1768 a 1829.

—Guadalupe Victoria: soldado de la Revolución Mexicana que se convirtió en el primer presidente electo de México, él vivió de 1786 a 1843.

—Francisco I. Madero: presidente mexicano y líder revolucionario, vivió de 1873 a 1913.

—Venustiano Carranza: un líder de la Revolución Mexicana que más tarde se convirtió en presidente, él vivió de 1859 a 1920.

Manhunt for Dorner Ends, Investigation Continues

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The manhunt for a fired Los Angeles Police Department officer suspected in the slayings of four people wound down after charred human remains were found Tuesday in the burned-out mountain cabin where he is believed to have been holed up during a gun battle that claimed the life of a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy.

But about a dozen LAPD families threatened in a manifesto allegedly posted by Christopher Jordan Dorner last week will continue to receive special protection as officials work to confirm that the remains found Tuesday in the cabin on Seven Oaks Road just off Highway 38 near Big Bear are those of the 33-year-old former officer, Los Angeles police said Wednesday.

“The LAPD has now moved back into a normal state of police operation,” LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman, a department spokesman, said at a briefing at LAPD headquarters. “That began late last night, and will continue now as far as … normal patrol operations.”

But Neiman said the protective details “will remain in place until the department and the protectees feel safe.”

Neiman noted that investigations were continuing into whether Dorner had any accomplices. He said it was not yet known if anyone would receive any of the reward money – $1.1 million – that had been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.

According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the determination of whether the remains are those of Dorner – suspected in the slayings last week of two people in Irvine and a police officer in Riverside –will be made through forensic examination.

Dorner – the subject of a six-day manhunt – is believed to have been the man who stole one vehicle and carjacked another, then shot and killed one San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy and wounded another while barricaded in the cabin, which caught fire shortly before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

The fire burned for several hours, delaying the entry of law enforcement personnel.

“We believe that someone was inside and that was the person who stole the vehicle and fled, then abandoned the vehicle, ran into the forest and inside this cabin, where he barricaded himself and was engaged in gunfire with our deputy sheriff, shot two of our deputy sheriffs and one of those deputies died,” said San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Cindy

Bachman. She said investigators had reason to believe the person holed up in the cabin was Dorner.

No one was seen emerging from the cabin, and by about 6:30 p.m., reports from the scene indicated remains believed to be Dorner’s had been found inside, although law enforcement officials did not confirm the discovery.

Earlier this week, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck ordered a review of Christopher Dorner’s 2007 complaint and an investigation of allegations of unfair treatment in his termination from the LAPD made in his manifesto.

Several Facebook pages and hundreds of comments have sprung up in support of Dorner’s accusations against the LAPD as a racist institution.

“The department has not changed since the Rampart and Rodney King days,” Dorner allegedly wrote in a 6,000-word manifesto posted on Facebook.

Beck said he was taking the action “to reassure the public that their police department is transparent and fair in all the things we do,” and “not to appease a murderer.”

Beck said he directed members of the Professionals Standards Bureau and the Special Assistant for Constitutional Policing personnel to completely review Dorner’s complaint from 2007, including another examination of all the evidence and another interview of the witnesses.

“We will also investigate any allegations made in his manifesto which were not included in his original complaint,” Beck said.

Dorner worked as a police officer from Feb. 7, 2005, until Sept. 4, 2008, “when his employment was terminated” for allegedly making false statements about his training officer, according to police records.

Beck said it has been hard to change the culture of the LAPD, but it is a better organization now than ever before.

“I am aware of the ghosts of the LAPD’s past and one of my biggest concerns is that they will be resurrected by Dorner’s allegations of racism within the department,” Beck said. “Dorner’s actions may cause a pause in our increasingly positive relationship with the community, but it will not stop our commitment to provide courteous, professional and constitutional policing to each individual this department makes contact with.”

March 5, 2013 Ballot Recommendations

February 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Someone recently told us they hate elections, which they said never seem to end.

We can understand their frustration, and feel their pain. It’s not easy to decipher the campaign rhetoric and ever changing views on where we are as a community, city, state or nation. As community newspapers, we tend to take a more local view of what the important issues and stories are on any given day, a view likely taken by the average voter.

In the city of Los Angeles, a long list of community based mayoral debates and forums have attempted to get candidates for the city’s highest office to detail where they stand on a host of local issues, from street cleaning to where traffic lights should be placed, at the same trying to figure out how the problems of the city as a whole will impact their daily lives.

It’s not easy to take a larger view when things aren’t perfect in your backyard.

But, because we are all in this boat together, a larger view is what we need. So in making our endorsements, we looked for the candidate who in our view had a good grasp of local issues, but could at the same time articulate how those issues could or could not be addressed in the larger scheme of things.

These are our recommendations:

Mayor City of Los Angeles

Our endorsement goes to Eric Garcetti for Mayor of Los Angeles.

In our view, Garcetti is well versed on the day-to-day quality of life issues that are important to Angelenos, at the same time he understands that Los Angeles must have a bigger vision for its future.

Garcetti has impressed us with his willingness to accept criticism while not backing down on the progress the city council has made in its efforts to bring Los Angeles’ budget out of the fiscal crisis it has faced the last few years. Could he have done more as city council president? Probably, but would it be disingenuous to say no progress was made while he was in that role.

The city’s deficit, not too long ago projected to be  $1 billion has been reduced to somewhere between $100 and $200 million depending on whose calculations you believe. Garcetti has called for the rest of the city’s public employees to do what police and firefighters already have, pay a greater share of their pension and health benefits. While he supports doing away with the city’s gross receipts tax, he has proposed that it be done over a period of time rather than all at once.

Unabashed about his love for Los Angeles, it is our view that Garcetti has the ability to address the problems of the different districts in our city, but still keep his eye on what is in the best interest of all of  L.A., not just the 15 different “kingdoms.”

While other candidates have either proposed outlandish new expenses to the city’s payroll or been extremely strident in their assessment of the city’s fiscal condition without detailing any real fiscal solutions, it is our view that Garcetti has articulated a balanced approach for bringing Los Angeles’ budget into a better balance.

We believe Garcetti will not only be a good technical administrator, he will also be a great booster for the city, which is also an important mayoral function.

City Council District One

Our endorsement goes to Gil Cedillo.

While we are impressed by Jose Gardea’s knowledge of the issues facing the district, having learned them as chief of staff to the current council member, we believe the district, and the city for that matter, would benefit from having a representative who can also be an outspoken and dynamic advocate for his constituents.

Mr. Cedillo has proven himself that type of representative in the State Legislature, and we feel that he can bring that to the city council. In every political office it is the staff that do the ground work, but it is the office holder who must be able to articulate his or her vision. That holds true for the city council, where each district is vying for their local needs.

Much has been made of Cedillo’s references to his connections at the state capital and his acceptance of campaign contributions from Standard Oil, but those connections under the right circumstances can work both ways, and prove beneficial to his district as long as they don’t take precedence over local residents or the needs of the business community in the district, which we don’t believe will be the case with Cedillo.

Cedillo’s experience on the State Legislature we believe can prove beneficial to acquiring added funds to improve both CD-1 and the city of Los Angeles.

L.A. Community Colleges

We recommend Mr. Ernest Moreno for Board of Trustee District No. 4.

Few can argue that Moreno’s administrative skills as president of East Los Angeles Community College were behind much of the success of the college that grew from an outdated run down campus to one of the most fiscally sound colleges in the district, while at the same time expanding both its physical and academic footprint in the region,

Moreno’s experience and background in nearly every area of district operations proved invaluable at ELAC, and we believe those experiences will be equally invaluable on the Board of Trustees.

When Mission Community College in the San Fernando Valley was sorely in need of new leadership to deal with an on campus racial crisis and staggering budget issues, the Community College District called on Moreno, a pragmatic leader, to turn things around. Today, Mission College is better off for Moreno’s work there.

The Community College Board of Trustees needs Ernest Moreno and his insight on how to improve the district.

Continuing the American Dream With Immigration Reform

February 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The United States is a nation of immigrants. For 500 years, we have experienced a constant flow of people from around the globe. My family came from Germany in 1860 and was part of the westward migration of hardworking families who settled the plains of Nebraska and converted what early explorers called “the great American desert” into the breadbasket it is today.

At Ellis Island, the interpretive displays note that while immigrants built America, immigration policy has always been controversial. The same holds true today, but it is time to move forward once again.

As has always been the case, America needs an immigration policy that contributes to the workforce that our country needs for agriculture, manufacturing, technology and services. We have learned from farmers in California, Colorado, Alabama and Georgia that without this workforce, agriculture literally dies on the vine. Our high tech companies and emerging commerce sectors need skilled workers through the expansion of HB1 visas and programs that enable foreign students, who graduate from our great universities, to stay here and work after graduation.

Beyond addressing workforce needs, our nation will benefit by bringing millions of undocumented immigrants out of the darkness and into the light with jobs that pay taxes and offer a path to earned citizenship. The result will be more taxpayers, stronger families and better citizens. This policy change will be a body blow to the black market economy because experience shows a 14 percent rise in income when a head of household becomes a full citizen.

We must ensure our borders are strong and we must provide the technology to employers so that we can have real verification of legal status. Any path to citizenship must also verify that individuals do not have criminal backgrounds and can meet their responsibility to society.

On March 11-13, the Chamber will be taking a large delegation of business and community leaders to our nation’s capital. We, along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other elected officials, will be advocating for comprehensive immigration reform and many other issues critical to creating jobs and growing the Los Angeles economy. Join us next month in bringing common sense and business “know how” to our nation’s capitol. You will be glad you did.

And that’s The Business Perspective.

The Business Perspective is a weekly column by Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, produced with the input of Public Policy staff.

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