Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Meets at Eastside Elementary School

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Senate Appropriations Chair Kevin de León, center, listened to testimony from a local construction worker and a labor leader on Feb. 22. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

A government body beginning discussions on the implementation of voter-approved Proposition 39 — a new income tax on multi-state businesses that will create revenue for clean energy projects — met at Murchison Elementary School in Boyle Heights on Feb. 21.

Natural lighting, modern ventilation and heating and cooling systems were some of the upgrades needed at Los Angeles area schools, like Murchison located near the Ramona Gardens Public Housing Complex, discussed during the Fiscal Oversight and Bonded Indebtedness meeting convened by Senate Appropriations Chair Kevin de León, who has also introduced legislation, Senate Bill 39, as a way to award energy efficiency upgrade grants from the funds generated by the new tax to the most economically disadvantaged schools in need of modernization.

Modernization will not only improve the health of students in the classroom, it will also promote a better learning environment and have large, positive ramifications for California’s workforce, according to a statement released by Leon.

For the first five years, half of the revenues generated under Prop. 39 will go to the job-creating, energy efficiency and clean energy programs implemented by legislation. The other half will be used to help schools devastated by years of cuts. After five years, all of the revenue generated will go to the General Fund.

The subcommittee meeting included panelists from education, labor, business and environmental organizations who discussed ways to spend the more than $2 billion in energy efficiency funds expected to be generated by the initiative.

“Hearing from experts and community members has been a great learning process about the needs of our communities,” said Sen. De León, who noted that additional hearings would be held in the Inland Empire and the Central Valley and is hoping the meetings will drum up support for SB 39, “so we can get Californians back to work, save energy and improve conditions for our schoolchildren.”

In addition to creating jobs for Californians, De León says passage of SB 39 will bring about long-term energy cost savings for schools, which will then be able to put the money saved back into the classroom. The legislation will also help shrink the state’s carbon footprint and reduce pollution creating cleaner air, among other goals.

Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) utility bill for 2011-2012 was $105 million, with electricity alone costing $83 million, according to LAUSD Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter.  By retrofitting schools that are currently not energy efficient, about $20 million (about 25%) could be saved and instead be used to support teachers in the classroom and other efficient district operations, Hovatter said at the meeting.

Ron Miller, Executive Secretary Los Angeles/Orange Counties, CA Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, said the revenues would create badly needed jobs for unemployed construction workers. Retrofitting California’s public schools could potentially create 66,00 good jobs and apprenticeship opportunities, he said.

Other panelists included Mary Luévano with Global Green; Richard Luke, Director of Design and A/E Technical Support, Los Angeles Unified School District; Dr. Jorge Partida, Executive Director, US Green Building Council – L.A. Chapter; and Nidia Bautista, Policy and Legislative Affairs Director, Coalition for Clean Air, who focused on accountability mechanisms for school construction programs, current funding and programs, and the auditing process, oversight and accountability necessary for success.

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Boyle Heights Daycare Owner Accused of Molesting Young Girls

February 28, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Enrique Ramos, 45, was arrested last week and has been charged with lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age. (LAPD)

Shock and disgust were some of the emotions expressed Monday by people living near a childcare center in Boyle Heights where one of the owners is accused of committing lewd acts on three children.

Enrique Ramos, 45, was arrested last week and has been charged with three counts of lewd acts on a child under 14 years of age. He is accused of molesting three different girls and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years to life for each count if he is found guilty, according to authorities. His bail has been set at $1.3 million.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Dueño de una Guardería en Boyle Heights Acusado de Actos Lascivos

The crimes, according to Los Angeles police, are believed to have been committed in 2008, 2009 and the most recent in 2013. The victims are currently 5-, 10-, and 11-years-old, but were 5 to 8 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, according to police.

Because Ramos worked at the childcare center he co-owned, police believe there could be more victims.

The “Cano & Ramos Child/Day Care Center,” located in an apartment building on the corner of Mott Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, has been closed down by childcare licensing authorities, but on Monday, banners advertising the business were still on display as news crews arrived to the talk to local residents. Ramos’ partner in the daycare business is not a suspect, Hollenbeck Captain Anita Ortega told EGP.

Neighbor Crispin Morales said he saw police at the location last week but didn’t know what was going on. He figured they were responding to a domestic violence incident somewhere in the immediate area, he told EGP. Morales said he was shocked to learn about the alleged molestations, and said childcare licensing agencies need to perform better background checks to prevent children from being harmed.

Another neighbor, college student and aspiring teacher Hugo Morales, said he was surprised and shocked to hear that Ramos, who has two small children of his own, was accused of harming children under his care.

“I never would have imagined something like that, it’s very concerning,” he said.

Morales told EGP he saw parents dropping off their children and picking them up all the time, and he sometimes saw Ramos playing in the street with his two children. He thought Ramos was a good dad, he said.

LAPD has released a photo of Ramos and is urging anyone who might have additional information or who might know of additional victims to call LAPD Det. Steven Juarez at (323) 342-8994, or to file a report at the LAPD Hollenbeck Station, 2111 E. First St., Los Angeles.

Ramos is due back in Los Angeles Superior Court on March 25 for a preliminary hearing.

Information from City News Service was used in this report.

Roosevelt Plan Will Consolidate Small Schools

February 28, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

After hours of taxing discussions regarding the future of Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights, a committee representing the school’s seven small schools this week voted to consolidate the five schools on the at the school’s main campus into one, and to keep one off-campus school in place, for now. Roosevelt’s Math, Science and Technology Magnet Academy will also continue as a separate school.

Directed by Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy to quickly develop a plan to get operating costs in line and to deal with inadequate academic progress at some of Roosevelt’s seven small schools, the school’s Shared Decision-Making Council (SDMC), comprised of principals and UTLA chapter chairs from each of the schools, on Tuesday evening voted for the change, according to Partnership for Los Angeles Schools (PLAS) spokesman Patrick Sinclair.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Preparatoria Roosevelt Consolidará Sus Escuela Pequeñas

The council started its lengthy deliberations on Monday, but after several tied votes, discussion was carried over to Tuesday, when the 10 to 6 vote approving the merger was finally reached.

Parents and students on Feb. 21 participated rally in support of the school remaining in Lincoln Heights. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Roosevelt Associated Student Body President Rafael Huipe, School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM), told EGP that a majority of students wanted Roosevelt to once again be one school, and since he represents them, he voted for the consolidation plan for the main campus.

Huipe told EGP that there had been a lot of unhealthy competition going on between the schools. He said the schools compete for resources and promote their school as better than the others in order to recruit more students. The competition heated up during the reorganization process, Huipe said.

Tuesday’s vote does not end the planning process, but it does set the stage for the next round of issues that need to be considered during the reorganization that must come up with a plan that will be acceptable to Deasy. The plan is due March 8, according to Sinclair.

Currently, each of Roosevelt’s schools are organized around a central theme, such as the environment or engineering, but whether those learning communities can continue under the new structure is an issue still to be decided.

“There was a lot of discussion about trying to maintain what was created, combining some of the small schools into Small Learning Communities to maintain some of the relationships and the structure that has been created over the years,” Huipe said. “But I’m confident that the communities who created these programs will try to stick together as much as they can in order to preserve them.”

Some of the advantages of consolidation are the elimination of “passports” program that enabled, or hindered, students from taking classes at different schools on the main campus, the creation of uniform rules, and facilitating the ability to organize school-wide activities, Huipe said.

Other potential advantages could include double-block courses that provide more intervention for students who are not at grade level, according to Sinclair, who noted that PLAS had recommended consolidating the five small schools into two.

The Shared Decision-Making Council (SDMC) has spent hours working on reorganizing Roosevelt. Pictured here, a SDMC meeting on Feb. 21. EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo

Funding and staffing details will also have to be addressed and resolved in future discussions. But with fewer schools, it seems likely that some teaching and administrative positions could no longer be needed.

The Academy of Environmental Science Policy (ESP) was given a temporary reprieve prior to Tuesday’s vote. The council last Friday voted overwhelmingly to allow the school to remain off-site at the East LA Skills Center. A member of the council said he didn’t believe it was a good idea to move ESP back to the main campus if they didn’t want to go. The final vote was 12 yes, 2 no and 3 abstentions to allow ESP to remain off-site.

While the vote was a victory of sorts, it comes with a short timeline for the school to figure out how it can cover its $50,000 annual cost for transporting students from Roosevelt to the school site in Lincoln Heights. They must submit an acceptable plan by July 1, or ESP could be disbanded and students and teachers sent to other schools within the local Zone of Choice.

As previously reported by EGP, Roosevelt established ESP as its first small school and moved it to the East LA Skills Center in 2006, two years before the Partnership took over managing Roosevelt in 2008. The school also gets additional resources from the adult school campus where it is located, but is also vulnerable to any funding cuts that hit the adult school.

While some members of the council have expressed doubts that ESP can sustain itself for more than a year, ESP teachers say they think they can attract students and parents who want a small personalized learning environment, and would otherwise choose a charter school. The school is considering opening recruitment to students from the Lincoln Heights attendance area in order to address the transportation issue and increase enrollment.

The singling out of ESP as model for why a small school should be kept in tact did not sit well with some of the other schools, which feel that Deasy has unfairly characterized all the school as underperforming.

Faculty and students at Roosevelt’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) defend their school’s academic program, noting that their scores are second only to the Magnet school that has a different enrollment process.

STEM Coordinator Adriana Trejo and STEM teacher Israel Hernandez recently told EGP their school has consistently experienced grains in student achievement and state test scores.

“I am proud to say I am a member of the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at Roosevelt. For the past two years we have raised our test scores, graduation rate, attendance rate, and API,” Trejo told EGP. “We have earned the respect of many members of the education community and our outside partners, which include STEM Up, MESA, Sea Perch with the US Navy, and many others. Our students have competed in national competitions and represented the Boyle Heights community with dignity and pride,” Trejo said.

The STEM school will be consolidated with other schools under the reorganization plan.

Meanwhile, Roosevelt is not the only local PLAS school undergoing changes. Felicitas and Gonzalo Mendez Learning Center in Boyle Heights is also now undergoing a self-imposed reorganization, Sinclair told EGP. Mendez staff voted earlier this month to consolidate the two schools—Engineering & Technology and Math & Science—into one before the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.

The move to consolidate the schools at Roosevelt and Mendez goes against recent trends in education reform that have promoted the adoption of small schools and learning communities as a valuable tool for improving school performance and alleviating the achievement gap, issues that will be hotly debated as the schools try to achieve those goals by adopting new organizational plans.

Parents who want to attend the Roosevelt Shared Decision Making Council meetings can contact their student’s principal at (323) 780-6500. Community members can contact Dr. Sofia Freire, Senior Director of School Transformation, Sinclair said.

Bell Gardens Massage Parlors to Be Inspected By County

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Massage parlors in the city of Bell Gardens will be inspected by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health as part of an agreement approved Monday by the city council.

The agreement is an effort by the city to ensure the businesses are complying with health and safety codes regulating these types of establishments, officials said at Monday’s council meeting.

Bell Garden’s Municipal Code was been amended in 2010 to include reference to a state law that allows the city to license massage technicians and inspect establishments to ensure compliance with health and safety codes, as well as the city’s municipal code.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Salas de Masajes en Bell Gardens Serán Inspeccionadas por el Condado

The five-year agreement allows the county health department to inspect massage parlors operating in Bell Gardens on behalf of the city.

The agreement was initially included on the city council’s consent calendar, which calls for a yes or no vote on several items as a matter of procedure and without discussion, but Councilman Daniel Crespo, citing concerns about the types of activities taking place at the massage parlors, asked that the item be discussed by the council.

He said he wants the partnership with the county will address “incidents that go on at these places, so they can be “stopped and investigated.”

City Manager Philip Wagner explained that the agreement would not take away jurisdiction from the city’s police department, but would allow for a more experienced group to deal with the regulation of the massage parlors.

“It’s very difficult to police when you are dealing with specific county ordinances and county codes,” Wagner told the council. “This will provide us with a better opportunity to police these establishments.”

The county inspections will cost the city $182 per annual inspection for existing businesses and $364 for an inspection related to an application for a new business license.  City officials said the cost would be passed on to the businesses as part of their business license fees, leaving the city with no fiscal impact.

Existing massage parlors will be inspected once a year as part of their annual renewal for their busines license and new massage establishments within the city will be required to be inspected before a business license is issued.

The county or the city may terminate the agreement at any time with a 30-day advance notice.

Commerce City Officials Involved in Minor Car Accident; Sparking Rumors

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

What would ordinarily have been seen as just another minor traffic accident in the city of Commerce, is these days drawing more attention, and a great deal of speculation, because the car involved is owned by the city and the person driving is the city’s mayor pro tem, Tina Baca Del Rio.

Adding fuel to the fire, Councilman Ivan Altamirano and another person were also in the vehicle, leading some people to question whether the two officials, up for reelection on March 5, were out campaigning.

However, the rumors spreading around town are more intriguing than the reality, say the individuals involved in the incident and city officials.

No one was run over by the car, there was no hit-and-run and there is no cover up, an irritated Del Rio told EGP on Tuesday, questioning why the incident even merits news coverage.

Del Rio, Altamirano and Commerce resident Denise Castro, the lone passenger in the back seat, were on their way to grab a late lunch after meeting with seniors at the Senior Center when the accident occurred.

Del Rio said she had stopped at a stop sign and had just started going forward when something hit the car. “I was not really sure what it was,” Del Rio told EGP. She said she was only going about 10 miles per hour because the traffic ahead had stopped for a red light.

The accident occurred about 4:35 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, according to a Sheriff’s report taken at the scene.

Del Rio was traveling westbound on Everington Street in Commerce when a bike being ridden by an unnamed 13-year-old boy hit the passenger side of the car. The boy said he “noticed the car approaching and noticed he was going to get hit so he jumped off from his bicycle” just before it collided with the vehicle, according to the traffic report.

According to Del Rio and the Sheriff’s Traffic Collision Report, an RV parked on Everington Street blocked her view of the cyclist who was attempting to cross the street.

The traffic report indicates the cyclist was at fault in the accident.

Martha Limon, the mother of the 13-year-old, told EGP that her son had sustained some minor abrasions and bruises after jumping from the bike. Paramedics checked him out at the scene and she later took him to hospital to be evaluated. “He was okay,” Limon said.

She also said she appreciates that Del Rio called her and that she and others took good care of her son until she arrived. Limon said she has no plans to file a claim with the city’s insurer or take any legal actions.

The city car was relatively undamaged, sustaining only minor scuffmarks, no dents, according to city officials.

At the time of the accident, “The young boy’s sole concern [was that] he didn’t want to get in trouble. He said ‘just leave,’ and I said ‘no, we need to call your mom,’” Del Rio said she told him, adding she wanted to make sure he was not injured. “He’s a darling young boy, good kid and it was just a very unfortunate accident.”

Del Rio, Altamirano and Castro have denied rumors that they were out promoting the incumbents’ campaigns at the time of the accident. Castro told EGP she is not a paid campaign worker, nor a volunteer in their campaign, but rather a friend who was invited to join them for lunch.

It is unclear why the police report does not list Castro as a passenger or witness to the accident, however in interviews with EGP, Del Rio has maintained that Altamirano was not the only passenger in the vehicle. But she refused to name the other passenger out of what she called respect for the privacy of someone who is not a public official. Both Del Rio and Altamirano denied rumors that the mysterious third party in the vehicle was Commerce Mayor Lilia Leon. On Tuesday, Castro called EGP and said she was the third person in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

Leon, who is also up for reelection, was outraged when she learned of the rumors putting her in the vehicle, and that all three of the officials had been out campaigning in a city car when the accident happened.

She said the opposition is “grasping its straws” and “running scared” because they are loosing the election.

“Welcome to Commerce [election season],” Leon told EGP, referring to what she called unfounded innuendos.

Commerce resident Mike Alvarado called EGP and said he had heard the scene of the accident was a spectacle, with all the police and city staff at the scene. Alvarado said he heard that “A deputy told the kid he was among royalty,” insinuating the boy had been intimidated.

Council Candidate Art Gonzalez called EGP Tuesday to express concern about the condition of the boy, and that there might be some dispute as to who was at-fault in the accident and whether the city vehicle had been moved prior to the arrival of law enforcement. Upon hearing that the boy was fine, Gonzales said he was glad the child was not seriously hurt.

City Attorney Eduardo Olivo and City Administrator Jorge Rifa both said it was their understanding Del Rio and her passengers were on city businesses.

“The fortunate thing no one was injured. The Sheriffs was immediately called, we also dispatched our community safety officers, we sent our transportation officer out there to inspect the vehicle, paramedics were called. I do believe the process went forward professionally and impartially,” Rifa told EGP.

Montebello Residents Walk For The Heart

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Cold weather did little to chill the enthusiasm of Montebello residents who turned out last weekend to take part in a mile-and-a-half walk to spread awareness about the “Go Red For Women” movement to fight heart disease.

Dressed in red and carrying signs and balloons, participants walked from city hall to the Montebello Park Senior Center where they received information about ways to keep their heart healthy.

Montebello residents walked from city hall to the senior center on Feb. 21 to spread awarenss of the heart. (Photo courtesy of the Soroptimist International of Montebello)

Their route to the park took them along a busy street, prompting drivers to honk their horns in support of the walkers.

Soroptimist International of Montebello, a service organization devoted to women and children, has organized the annual event for the past five years. Club President Cheryll Goto told EGP that while the event doesn’t raise a lot of money for the American Heart Association, their hope is that it raises awareness.

“Every year there’s somebody new out there [who’s been diagnosed with a heart problem],” Goto said. “We’re walking to bring awareness of the heart … hopefully we could help some people,” she said.

Soroptimist member Betty Peralta told EGP that most people who participate know somebody who has had a heart problem, however, Narine Evangelisci said she does not personally know anyone affected by the disease, but felt it was important to make the community more aware of the health issue.

At the senior center, participants had their blood pressure checked, learned about the benefits of exercising and other ways to stay healthy, and were given pamphlets explaining how to identify a heart attack.

Club member Christina Alatorre said that the information and screenings offered after the walk were very important. “Maybe they don’t go to the doctor that often, but [at least] they had their blood pressure read here,” she said.

Montebello City Administrator Francesca Schuyler told EGP she attended the community event to support the cause and the organization.

“The event is special because this is really a community organization that cares about the community, especially the woman in the community,” said Schuyler.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer among women, killing approximately one woman every minute.

“Woman don’t realize it [but] we’re under so much stress,” said Goto.

The organization hopes that next year more people will participate, but for now, they hope those who attended this year will continue to take care of their hearts.

Gang Member Sentenced In Glassell Park Hate Crime

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

A 19-year-old Latino man was sentenced Monday to 25 years and four months in state prison for threatening a black family in Glassell Park with a shotgun while shouting racial epithets.

Ivan Alquicira was convicted of three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and two counts of making terrorist threats, with enhancements for hate crimes, gang involvement and firearms possession.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus ordered Alquicira to serve consecutive terms on each of the assault counts. Marcus stayed the sentence on the other two counts, ruling that Alquicira had the same criminal objective in making those threats as he did in assaulting his victims.

Alquicira yelled racial epithets and derogatory comments at the three victims — a man, a woman and her 7-year-old son — while standing on his apartment balcony in the 3100 block of Estara Avenue on the evening of March 26, according to Deputy District Attorney Amy Ashvanian.

He pointed a shotgun at the family — who had just come from the boy’s school — and then chased them when they ran from the scene in fear.

Officers from the LAPD’s Northeast Station surrounded Alquicira’s apartment complex after he went back inside and refused to come out. He surrendered nearly two hours later and police recovered a shotgun, an additional weapon and ammunition, according to trial testimony.

Though he never fired the shotgun, Ashvanian said Alquicira was trying to drive the victims out of Glassell Park.

“They left that night and never went back to their house,” the attorney said.

“When you take race and gangs and guns, it’s not a good combination,” Ashvanian said. “It really terrorizes the neighborhood.”

In 2006, five members of Alquicira’s gang were convicted of federal hate crimes for a deadly campaign of attacks on black residents meant to force them out of predominantly Latino Highland Park. Three black men were killed in three separate attacks.

“It’s not just waving a gun,” Ashvanian said of Alquicira’s assault on the family. “He did this for the benefit of a gang. It’s not a severe sentence for what he’s done.”

Evergreen Park to Get Play, Fitness Upgrades

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Thirteen thousand children under the age of 5 who live within two miles of the Evergreen Recreation Center in Boyle Heights will soon have access to new play equipment; equipment which a coalition of city officials and local organizations say they hope will help them stay active and decrease the number of children who are obese or overweight.

A new adult fitness zone, a tot-lot for children up to 5 years old, and a playground for youth 5-12 years old are among the improvements coming to the Evergreen Recreation Center. (Photo Courtesy of the Office of Councilmember Jose Huizar)

A groundbreaking ceremony was held last week to mark the start of the installation of new outdoor equipment for youth and adults at the Evergreen Recreation Center located on East 2nd Street in the eastside Los Angeles neighborhood. The Department of Recreation and Parks, Councilman José Huizar, First 5 LA and the Los Angeles Neighborhoods Initiative (LANI) partnered to bring the upgrades to the park.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Parque Evergreen Consigue Equipos de Juegos y Ejercicio

A new adult fitness zone, a tot-lot for children up to 5 years old, and a playground for youth 5-12 years old are among the improvements being made at the park — one of 40 such park projects being built in Los Angeles County to address what First 5 LA has called “one of the most significant health threats facing L.A. County”: childhood obesity.

According to the press release announcing the project, studies show that children who do not regularly engage in physical activity and who lack access to sidewalks, walking paths, parks, or playgrounds have a 20 to 45 percent higher chance of being obese or overweight than youngsters who have these amenities available.

First 5 has invested nearly $12 million countywide in “Tot Parks and Trails projects and the City of Los Angeles’ Recreation and Parks Department,” according to First 5 LA Program Officer Karen Robertson-Fall.

“By providing spaces for play and physical activity, the Evergreen Park will promote exercise and help youngsters maintain a healthy weight.”

Huizar said that working with the city’s recreation and parks department and groups like LANI and First 5 LA has resulted in “more than 100 acres of open space, new parks, and improvements to all of the parks in Council District 14,” which he represents. “This new tot-lot, youth playground and new exercise equipment will allow people of all ages to stay active and healthy here at Evergreen Recreation Center,” Huizar said.

LANI’s executive director, Veronica Hahni, said First 5’s investment “helped bring the community’s vision for an improved playground to fruition,” by providing a “much needed opportunity for outdoor play and physical activity at Evergreen Park.”

Latino Businesses ‘Speedate’ With Large Corporations

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Small to midsized Latino businesses sat down during a business matchmaking with large corporations hoping to gain contracts and make impressions

Renee Peña, left, sat down with representatives from large corporations during a business matchmaking event hosted by the Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles on Feb. 22 in Downtown L.A. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The Latino Business Chamber of Greater Los Angeles hosted the sold out event as part of its 4th Annual Latino Business Award Luncheon held Feb. 21 at the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The award luncheon honors Latino owned businesses that are innovative and making a difference in their field or their community, according the chamber’s chairman and CEO, Jorge Corralejo.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Negocios Latinos Tienen ‘Citas Rápidas’ Con Corporaciones Grandes

He said the matchmaking event was an opportunity for small to midsize businesses to make new business contacts and to develop relationships with Fortune 500 corporations and federal agencies.

Participants engage in face-to-face meetings with buyers and procurement executives, where they were able to share information about their company, perhaps getting on a company’s radar for the very first time, he explained.

Jeff Vigil, president and CEO of My Business Matches, the company hired to coordinate the event, said matchmaking allows smaller businesses to get together with corporate executives they would otherwise have no opportunity to meet.

It’s “sort of like a speed dating scenario,” Vigil said.

The event brought in large companies and public sector participants such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Edison, LAX airport and AT&T; all looking to increase diversity in their company.

They don’t just want to increase supplier diversity, they want to increase diversity with suppliers who can do the job,” Vigil said.

Georgia Zachary was at the event representing AT&T, and told EGP that her company participated in the matchmaking in hopes of finding minority vendors to do business with.

“The interaction of sitting down with someone talking about their business, it’s a little bit better than going online and filling out an application. It just makes a difference,” Zachary said.

Zachary sat down and interviewed potential clients like Renee Peña, the regional manager of a broadcasting company who attended the event to network with potential advertising customers.

“A lot of it is networking and meeting companies that want to market to the Hispanic market,” Peña said. “It’s the fastest growing market.”

According to V. Nenaji Jackson from Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses Program at Los Angeles City College, the focus on the coveted Latino business market is what attracted the company to the event.

“Los Angeles has one of the largest Latino populations and certainly one of the largest Latino business populations in the country, so this is a perfect event for us,” Jackson said.

Angelica Urquijo was there in hopes of meeting some large companies that might be interested in attracting the Latino consumers through services offered by her consulting firm.

“This is providing entrepreneurs, male and female Latinos, access to these big companies, access to millions and billions dollars in contracts because they are in front of the decision makers,” Urquijo explained.

Marketing consultant Alex Manriquez told EGP that it was her first time attending such an event, and she was hoping the connections she made would lead to future contracts. She said events like the Latino Business Chamber’s matchmaking session help level the playing field by putting her in contact with large companies that she would not normally have access to. The experience, she said, provided her with direction and insight.

Vigil told EGP they will track the results of the Chamber’s event once companies log on and share how many contracts they made and how many jobs were created through the matchmaking.

“We all know that in the business world it’s about building relationships,” Urquijo said. “So you might not walk away with a contract today but you planted the seed.”

Skid Row Tuberculosis Outbreak No Risk to Public, Say Health Officials

February 28, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

An outbreak of tuberculosis on Skid Row is no threat to the general public, the county’s top health official said Tuesday.

‘‘The public is not at risk,” Dr. Jonathan Fielding told the county Board of Supervisors.

As usual, caregivers responsible for people with tuberculosis should take special precautions, but there is no need for other residents to take any special steps, Fielding said.

He stressed that “frequent and close contact” with someone with tuberculosis was necessary in order to contract the disease and it cannot be transmitted by shaking hands or touching surfaces handled by someone who is infected.

The outbreak of an “unusual but not particularly virulent strain” of tuberculosis has been under way since 2007, Fielding said.

Since then, 11 people have died in Los Angeles County from the strain and 78 cases have been diagnosed, Fielding said. Sixty of those diagnosed are homeless and about a quarter of those homeless individuals are also HIV-positive, according to Fielding.

Tuberculosis is readily treatable once identified, Fielding said. The county’s Olive View-UCLA Medical Center also has an isolation ward for tuberculosis patients who need special attention.

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