June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Members of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s most powerful union will see a significant bump in pay, with the City Council’s approval Wednesday of a new contract for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18.

The deal was approved 11-3 despite three council members’ objections to the speed with which it came to the council for a vote, having skipped a committee hearing after the Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved the contract last week.

Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, David Ryu and Mike Bonin, who cast the dissenting votes, said they felt the process lacked transparency.
“The approval of this plan without greater discussion, public outreach or deeper analysis undermines the public’s trust in their local government,” Ryu said.

Bonin said he learned the details of the deal and that it was coming to a vote though the media.

“I’m disturbed, as are a few others, by this process, and there is still information I feel I don’t have,” Bonin said.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who ultimately voted for the deal, also said he learned of the contract details through the media.

“This process stunk. One cannot assume approval of a contract without proper vetting. We heard about this contract through a number of media reports.

In the five years I’ve been here through city contracts, my office and myself were at least briefed on what to expect,” Buscaino said.
The deal, which has the support of Mayor Eric Garcetti, continues the practice of union workers not contributing toward their health care costs — a benefit not enjoyed by all city workers.

The new contract has been criticized by some as being too generous — to the point that it could cause other city unions to ask for raises — as well as for being fast-tracked to a vote.

The contract gives six raises over five years for the IBEW Local 18’s 9,000 members at a total rate of about 13 percent to 22 percent, depending on the consumer price index. It also ends the union’s $4 million controversial annual contribution to two nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which have been heavily criticized due to a lack of transparency as to how they were spending and tracking the money.

The contract will cost an estimated $56 million annually, but will not impact the city’s general fund as it will be funded via adjustments to the LADWP’s budget, according to an LADWP commission memo.

Fred Pickle, executive director of the LADWP’s Office of Public Accountability, said because the department routinely comes in under budget each year, the raises would not likely result in higher rates for customers.

When Garcetti ran for mayor in 2013, one of his chief issues was a promise to bring sweeping changes to the LADWP. That pledge made him an enemy of the IBEW, which spent $2 million supporting his opponent, then-City Controller Wendy Greuel. Once elected, Garcetti blocked the approval of a four-year contract with the IBEW so he could renegotiate a new deal that resulted in no raises for the union.

“Public unions are major donors to City Hall political campaigns, so perhaps it should be no surprise if elected officials are reluctant to drive a hard bargain. But this contract could sure use more analysis and public debate,” the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote while also criticizing Garcetti for not driving a harder bargain this time around after his landslide re-election in March.

Interim Chief Administrative Officer Rich Llewellyn said the deal was not a template for future deals with other unions and contended the raises are needed to keep LADWP workers from leaving to work for other cities.

An audit of the LADWP released earlier this year by City Controller Ron Galperin found that the utility spends about $40 million a year on apprenticeship programs that only graduate about 51 percent or fewer of their enrollees, and that many of the graduates go to other utilities to get better salaries.

“This contract moves us in the direction of much-needed reforms, specifically ending ratepayer funding of the two nonprofit training institutes that I audited in 2015, and offering a retention incentive for certain workers who are expensive to train and frequently lured away by private utilities,” Galperin said. “At the same time, I’m not convinced that all of the across-the-board increases were justified by the need to attract and retain employees at the DWP. We must be watchful stewards of ratepayer money.”

Llewellyn said the elimination of the payment to the two institutes was a big win for the city.

When pressed by some council members as to why the city didn’t push harder on healthcare contributions, Llewellyn said, “We pushed on everything … We pushed on everyone, and they pushed back on everyone. And we ended up in the middle with what I believe is a reasonable deal.”

So Cal Leaders Decry San Bernardino School Shooting

April 10, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

Southland elected officials sent words of condolence today to victims of the shooting at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, with several of them condemning the violence as an incursion on what is supposed to be a safe place of learning.

“School campuses are sacred spaces where children should be free to learn, play and grow without threat of violence,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement released by his office. “Today’s shooting at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino is a reminder that deadly weapons can shatter that sense of security, mercilessly and without warning — leaving parents and educators struggling to address the questions, fears and anxieties that gun violence creates for our young people.”

City Council President Herb Wesson sent condolences via Twitter, writing, “Senseless violence like this is nothing less than a tragedy.”

Two adults — one of them a teacher — died in the shooting, and two children were critically wounded. Police said the shooting was an apparent murder-suicide, with a gunman walking on to the school campus, checking in at the office as a visitor and going to a classroom, where he opened fire at the teacher. The two children also suffered gunshot wounds, police said, but they were not believed to have been targeted by the gunman.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said he was “heartbroken” by the shooting, noting that it was “even more tragic for (the) community as it comes on (the) heels of terror attack,” referencing the 2015 shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino.

Rep. Norma Torres, D-Ontario, whose district stretches into Los Angeles County, commended the response of law enforcement to the scene, and echoed Garcetti’s comments about the need to keep schools safe.

“Schools are supposed to be safe havens, and tragedies like today’s are becoming far too commonplace in our society,” Torres said. “While we are still gathering the facts, I am determined to do what I can to support those impacted by today’s shooting and take any actions necessary to protect our
community and prevent these senseless acts of violence from ever happening again.”

Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte, added, “Guns do not belong anywhere near schools, at any grade level, and we must do all we can to ensure our classrooms are safe environments for learning and growth. There are still many unanswered questions from today’s tragedy, but we cannot just talk about how to prevent gun violence, we must act.”

Gov. Jerry Brown said he and his wife “send our thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by today’s tragic shooting.”

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said she was “heartbroken” over the shooting.
 

L.A. Expands Special Order 40 to Other Agencies, Departments

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday in support of federal legislation that would ensure individuals being held or detained at a port of entry or at any immigration detention facility would be guaranteed access to legal counsel.

The Access to Counsel Act was introduced by California Sen. Kamala Harris and comes after President Donald Trump issued two executive orders halting or limiting immigration from some Muslim-majority countries. Both of the orders have been blocked by federal judges.

The resolution was approved with an 11-0 vote

“As an immigrant, I’m appalled by the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for the values Americans hold dear,” Councilman David Ryu said.

The vote comes one day after Mayor Eric Garcetti signed Executive Directive 20 that prevents the city’s harbor and airport police and fire department from enforcing federal immigration laws, following a similar policy that has been in place by the city’s police department for decades.

It expands Special Order 40, the Los Angeles Police Department’s policy that prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status.

The mayor’s action Tuesday was part of the Cities’ Day of Immigration Action, which was organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. Sixty-five mayors from around the country took part in the day of action to help promote immigrants’ rights.

“This is a day I think when mayors are standing up for universal American values,” Garcetti said on a conference call with reporters and the 65 mayors. “We are standing alongside our police chiefs, our faith leaders, our legal advocates, our business leaders and community advocates to reaffirm our commitment to our immigrant residents.”

At a press conference later in the day at the Lincoln Height Youth Center, the mayor and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck emphasized that expansion of Special Order 40 is about ensuring public safety and keeping city resources from being used to do the work of federal immigration authorities.

Both the mayor and chief said recent ICE raids and the presence of ICE agents at courthouses have had a negative impact on crime reporting by Latinos.

Reports of sexual assaults and domestic violence in the Latino community have fallen this year significantly compared to last year, Beck said.

Sexual assault reports have fallen 25 percent, and domestic violence reports have fallen 10 percent.

Beck said there was a “strong correlation” between the decreases and fears in the city’s immigrant population about increased federal immigration arrests in the city. He also said the reduction “far exceeds the reductions of any other demographic group.”

“Imagine someone being the victim of domestic violence and not calling the police,” he said. “Imagine your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend not reporting sexual assault because they are afraid the family will be torn apart.”

The vast majority of immigrants detained since Pres. Donald Trump’s executive order directing ICE to step up immigration enforcement actions and deportations have been from Mexico and Central America, leading activists to complain that Latinos are being profiled and targeted by immigration enforcement officers.

“Where are the arrests of people from Canada and Australia,” a woman in the audience who only wanted to use her first name, Ana, asked EGP following the press conference.

Councilman Gil Cedillo (CD-1) was with the mayor Tuesday in Lincoln Heights. He said Los Angeles has a long reputation of protecting immigrants, and said Garcetti’s signing of Executive Directive 20, means the city is not only “accepting of immigrants,” but also a city that “protects them.”

“Not too long ago, Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was dropping off his kids at school, when ICE arrested him and detained him. For a child, that image of having your father taken away by an agent that has the words “POLICE” written on his jacket, goes against our efforts to instill trust and cooperation with our local law enforcement,” he told EGP in an email.

Both Beck and Garcetti expressed concern that immigrant families out of fear may be keeping their children home from school or from participating in after-school and other programs.

Cedillo said his office is “starting to see constituents call in for City services and being reluctant to give their name or address. This tells us that people are scared,” something he says is not only counterproductive to our service delivery efforts, but is also inhumane.”

Executive Directive 20 prohibits officers from initiating any police activity for the sole purpose of identifying someone’s immigration status. It also bars any city employee from assisting any federal agency where the primary purpose is federal civil immigration enforcement.

“All residents must feel safe and supported when accessing the vast array of city facilities, programs, and services available to them,” the order states.

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Mayor Garcetti, LAUSD Officials Address Students’ Deportation Fears

November 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Unified School District officials met with students at Roosevelt High School Monday, hoping to allay their fears about immigration and the possibility of deportation in light of Donald Trump’s election as president.

“I think like a lot of Americans, the election recently has left many of them anxious, afraid, confused — some angry,” Garcetti said after the meeting.

Thousands of LAUSD students took part in a series of protests and walkouts last week, with many expressing concerns about members of their families or friends being deported — given Trump’s vow to crack down on illegal immigration.

“A lot of them are scared for their families if their parents are undocumented, et cetera,” one student told ABC7. “You know, they’re scared (about) what’s going to happen.”

After meeting with the students, Garcetti reiterated his stance that the city will maintain an arms-length relationship with federal immigration officials.

“Immigration is the responsibility of our federal government, and we’ve been very clear it’s not the responsibility of the LAPD,” Garcetti said.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck has repeatedly said in recent weeks that the department would maintain its existing policies regarding immigrants — refusing to turn over low-level offenders to immigration authorities and prohibiting officers from approaching people solely to determine their immigration status.

The LAUSD Board of Education last week adopted a resolution re-stating its position that campuses are safe spaces for students.

Garcetti dismissed what he called “threats” that the federal government might withhold funding for the city over its policies toward immigrants.

“I think anything that would take away federal aid would cause social economic and security problems and so I’m hoping that we can have those conversations separate and without threats,” Garcetti said. “… We participate all the time with our federal immigration authorities, and we will continue to do so. We just require, as the courts have decided, that there be a warrant.”

 

‘Black Lives Matter’ Petitions Demand LAPD Chief’s Ouster

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Black Lives Matter activists who have been camped outside Los Angeles City Hall since early last month delivered a petition with more than 8,000 signatures to Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office Monday to demand that he fire police Chief Charlie Beck.

The activists were joined by the mother of a woman who died in a detention cell earlier this year, actor Matt McGorry and representatives of the Asian American, Latino and faith communities.

The delegation handed over two boxes of signatures, gathered through an online petition at Color of Change, to Deputy Mayor Jeff Gorell, Garcetti’s adviser on public safety issues.

Gorell said he will pass the signatures on to Garcetti, who has been out of town for most of the 28 days that Black Lives Matter activists have staged a sit-in outside City Hall. The sit-in began after the Police Commission upheld the actions of officers involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Redel Jones, a black woman.

Over the past several weeks, Garcetti has attended the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, taken a four-day vacation and is now observing the Olympics in Rio as part of a delegation seeking to host the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles.

Before leaving on his trips, Garcetti expressed strong support for Beck. He said he offered to meet inside City Hall with a small delegation from Black Lives Matter, while suggesting that he does not want to be met with shouting. The activists have responded by calling for a public meeting with the entire group.

Black Lives Matter member Jasmine Abdullah Monday characterized Garcetti’s absence as part of a pattern that began when he appeared to “run away from us” at other protests and encounters with the group.

Abdullah warned there will be “political consequences” if Garcetti continues to ignore them.

“We are not sitting out here just to sit out here,” but are taking actions such as circulating the online petition and amassing more support from the community, she said.

“If you really care about this city like you say you do, and you want to win in this next election, you better come home,” Abdullah said, directly addressing Garcetti in what she jokingly described as a “love letter.”

She acknowledged that Garcetti has offered to meet with five of the Black Lives Matter members in his office, but she such an arrangement puts their group at a disadvantage.

“They are doing what they do best, which is divide and conquer, and try to pick their leaders,” she said. “We decided he needs to come downstairs.

“It’s all right, he can come downstairs, these are his stairs, and ours, he can come talk to everybody as a whole.”

After being pursued from public event to public event by Black Lives Matter members, and since being shouted down at a South Los Angeles town hall by the group’s members, Garcetti has had minimal engagement with Black Lives Matter members.

He has instead increased his interactions with other faith leaders, nonprofit organizations, activists and even hip hop artists like The Game and Snoop Dogg, often referring to these relationships as evidence black leaders are working with his office and the Los Angeles Police Department to improve policing and public safety.

Despite LAPD’s roll-out of community policing and other programs to enhance relations with black and minority communities, Black Lives Matter activists contend LAPD still has the highest number of police shootings of any department in the country. They also allege Beck has been too lenient on officers who have fatally shot residents, and is unresponsive to families regarding the deaths of people in police custody.

Lisa Hines, the mother of Wakiesha Wilson, a 36-year-old black woman who was found dead in her cell on Easter Sunday, spoke during the news conference Monday about her experience trying to find her daughter after she failed to show up for a court hearing.

Hines said the police department unnecessarily delayed telling her of her daughter’s death, and that she had to make several phone calls to the LAPD before she was given a phone number – without any further explanation – to the coroner’s office.

“If this was your child and you were looking for her, and somebody gave you a number to call … and when you do call the number, the coroner’s office answers, what would be going on in your body mind and soul?” she said.

Hines said she is “still devastated” and has so far not gotten any more information about how her daughter died, which she blames on Beck.

“He’s the leader of the police station, and all he can do at the Police Commission meetings is sit there with a blank stare on his face when I’m talking,” she said.

The Black Lives Matter activists’ demand for Beck to be fired was echoed by representatives of other groups who also expressed dissatisfaction with the chief.

McGorry, who stars in the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” and the ABC drama “How to Get Away With Murder,” said he was there “in solidarity with White People 4 Black Lives,” a group of white people who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

McGorry, noting that Black Lives Matter activists “have been camped out here for nearly a month now and have been requesting a meeting,” said Garcetti’s absence comes off as “incredibly disrespectful.”

He added he was recently “disgusted” by an encounter with an officer who casually assured him that he shouldn’t “worry,” because “we beat him up,” apparently referring to a person involved in a police incident in his neighborhood.

“A police chief that has an environment that allows that to be OK, a police community where that can thrive … is not okay,” McGorry said.

Audrey Kuo, from API for Black Lives, said, “We are rising in solidarity with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and we are demanding that Eric Garcetti fire Chief Beck.”

Mayor Pushes L.A.’s Olympic Bid in Rio

August 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Eric Garcetti touted Los Angeles Tuesday as the safest bet for organizers of the 2024 Olympic Games to make in choosing a location, with many of the sports venues needed for hosting the event already built in the city.

Los Angeles is competing against Paris, Rome and Budapest for the opportunity to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The city has been getting ready “since the Olympic flame was extinguished at the closing ceremony of the 1984 L.A. Games,” which were held in Los Angeles, according to Garcetti.

“Our Olympic infrastructure is already in the ground, not on the drawing boards, “ he said. “We are virtually risk-free because we only have to build one venue to host the Games.”

Garcetti is part of a delegation of Los Angeles 2024 bid committee members who have been in Rio de Janeiro for the past week to observe this summer’s Olympic Games and meet with sports officials in Brazil.

The pitch, delivered at a news conference in Rio, was geared toward the perception that past Olympic host cities have had to scramble to build new venues at great cost, just to host the massive sports undertaking.

Garcetti threw out another practical reason for the International Olympics Committee to host the event in 2024, noting that Los Angeles’ ties to the entertainment industry ought to help the IOC better reach out to a younger audience, a group that’s needed to carry on the Olympics tradition.

“Our entertainment and technology companies speak to young people every day on their own terms and by their own means,” he said. “With L.A.’s ability to imagine and engage the world with new content and with new technologies, I believe L.A. is ideally suited to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games and inspire the next generation.”

Vin Scully ‘Overwhelmed’ By Street Dedication

April 11, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A street leading to Dodger Stadium was dedicated today as Vin Scully Avenue, prompting the longtime Dodger broadcaster to say he was “overwhelmed” by the honor he once declined.

Scully began his nearly 6 1/2-minute acceptance speech like he would a broadcast, saying “Hi everybody and a very pleasant good afternoon to you,” drawing cheers from the crowd of fans estimated by a team official as “a few hundred,” just inside Dodger Stadium’s main entrance.

Elysian Park street re-named Monday for legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. (EGPNews photo by Fred Zermeno)

Elysian Park street re-named Monday for legendary Dodger broadcaster Vin Scully. (EGPNews photo by Fred Zermeno)

“I had to get that out because in all honesty, if you asked me this very minute how do you feel about what’s going on, I would have to say overwhelmed,” Scully said. “I really am.”

Scully later said he was overwhelmed by the kindness and excitement of fans.

“Just to hear you, your enthusiasm, the voice that comes roaring out of the stands, there’s nothing like it,” the 88-year-old Scully said.

Following his opening remarks, Scully recounted his youth in Manhattan during the Great Depression, playing stickball on the streets, and said, “I have to thank almighty God, first of all, to be this old and to continue to do something that I loved all my life.”

Scully then praised his wife Sandi, discussing “the lonely days and nights that a wife has while her husband is working in the ballpark or for that matter, spending over 100 days on the road away from her.”

“If you are fortunate enough to have a wife without complaint you have been blessed and I have been blessed with Sandy,” Scully said.

Scully has said this will be his final season after a record 67 seasons with the team. He said he will most miss “the roar of the crowd,” which brings him back to when he was 8 years old, listening on his family’s radio to college football games that would later spark his interest in becoming a broadcaster.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recalled going to games as a child with his father Gil, who would be elected district attorney in 1992, and asking why fans at the games would bring transistor radios with them.

“My dad had a two-word answer — Vin Scully,” Garcetti said. “He said they understand the game more, they understand the players and the history and the context.” Scully has been “the voice and the heart and the soul of this city,” and “an angel in the City of Angels,” Garcetti said, using a phrase frequently used by former Councilman Tom LaBonge, who was also in attendance.

First District Councilman Gil Cedillo spearheaded effort to bring about the name change and on Friday  the City Council gave their final approval to the changing the name of what had been Elysian Park Avenue. The stadium’s new address, 1000 Vin Scully Avenue, was on a new sign welcoming fans to the stadium that was unveiled last week.

When Garcetti made a similar street-naming proposal in 2013 in response to a viewer question on a public affairs television program, Scully said he would prefer for a street near Dodger Stadium to be renamed after Walter O’Malley, who brought the team to Los Angeles from Brooklyn following the 1957 season, or O’Malley’s son Peter, instead of himself.

“The mayor of Los Angeles has a great deal more important things to do than name a street after me,” Scully said at the time. “And if he is considering that idea, better the street should be named after Walter or Peter O’Malley than myself.”

Peter O’Malley succeeded his father as the team’s chairman of the board upon the elder O’Malley’s death in 1979. The O’Malley family continued to own the Dodgers until the team’s sale to the Fox Group in 1997.

“The city is thrilled to be honoring such a legend in Los Angeles. Dodger fans span beyond the First District and beyond the city of Los Angeles, with everyone knowing the voice of Vin Scully,” Cedillo said today. “When Angelenos attend a Dodger game, they will now say, ‘turn on to Vin Scully Ave.’ Vin will be immensely missed, but we wish him well as he kicks off his final season in broadcasting. We would also thank the Los Angeles Dodgers for planting more than 40 new trees and repairing much needed sidewalks along the street.”

Scully has been a Dodger broadcaster since 1950, the longest tenure for a broadcaster with a team. He has been the Dodgers’ No. 1 announcer since 1954, succeeding his mentor, Red Barber, who had become a broadcaster with the New York Yankees.

Either on the team or NBC broadcasts, Scully has called such memorable moments by the Dodgers (or their opponents) as Kirk Gibson’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, Sandy Koufax’s perfect game in 1965, New York Yankee pitcher Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series and Hank Aaron’s record- setting 715th home run.

Scully’s many honors include the Ford C. Frick Award, presented annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to a broadcaster for “major contributions to baseball” and being named the greatest sportscaster by the American Sportscasters Association.

A ranking system devised by author Curt Smith for his 2005 book “Voices of the Game” determined that Scully was baseball’s greatest announcer, giving him a perfect score of 100, based on such factors as longevity, language, popularity and persona.

Updated 6:30 p.m.

AIDS, Tenant Organizations March in Kingdom Day Parade

January 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Councilman Curren D. Price Jr. today served as grand marshal of the 31st annual Kingdom Day Parade, whose theme is “Our Work Is Not Yet Done.”

What organizers bill as the nation’s biggest celebration of the life and legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. started at 10:15 a.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Arlington Avenue, heading west on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to Crenshaw Boulevard, then proceed south, concluding at Vernon Avenue.

Groups marching in the parade included the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, seeking to promote the messages that AIDS is a civil rights issue and access to care and treatment for people with HIV and AIDS should be a universal human right, and the L.A. Tenants Union, promoting the message of “Housing Justice For All!”

The Community Coalition community organization entered a float with two black and brown fists, with broken chains and shackles, representing South Los Angeles’ black and Latino residents affected by slavery and mass incarceration.

The float was inspired by the 2014 passage of Proposition 47, which required misdemeanor sentences for certain drug possession and theft crimes and allowed for resentencing for past convictions, according to Sandra Hamada, the coalition’s director of youth programs.

Metro’s entry in the parade was a replica of the bus Rosa Parks was riding in when she was arrested for refusing to give her seat to a white rider in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.

The entry was intended to highlight the role of public transit in the civil rights movement and mark the 60th anniversary of Parks’ arrest and the subsequent bus boycott, which became a catalyst of the
movement, according to a Metro official.

Price called the parade “a celebration of promise and hope of a better tomorrow.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti, other members of the City Council and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck were among those taking part in the parade.

“It’s amazing. This is such a great L.A. tradition, not only to remind us of the work that happened to get us to this point but to remind us of what’s left to do,” Garcetti told ABC7 in the midst of the parade. “And just to see every color of Los Angeles coming out to serve our city and to fight for justice.

“I’m proud of L.A. Last year we passed a minimum wage increase, which is exactly what Dr. King talked about. This year we’ve got to get people off the streets, our homeless. So our work never ends. But we can celebrate the victories and that’s what today’s about — to rest, to celebrate and commemorate a great man.”

L.A.Experienced 20% Violent Crime Spike In 2015

January 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 12.6 percent rise in the number of crimes from 2014 to 2015 in Los Angeles was driven by increases in gang-related and domestic violence crimes, Mayor Eric Garcetti and police Chief Charlie Beck said Wednesday.

Violent crime alone was up 20.2 percent last year, while the number of property crimes was up 10.7 percent, according to Los Angeles Police Department statistics. The upticks followed a 12-year trend of declining crime in the city.

Among the violent crime categories, the homicide rate grew by 8.8 percent, from 260 people killed in 2014 to 283 in 2015. Nearly 60 percent of those 2015 homicides – 165 – were deemed to be gang-related.

The 13,569 aggravated assaults logged in 2015 was a 27.8 percent jump over the 10,615 such crimes recorded during the previous year. The number of reported rape rose 9.1 percent to 1,649, according LAPD statistics.

The lions share of property crime in 2015, about 70 percent, was auto-related, and included thefts of vehicles and break-ins. Car models from the 1990s were especially prone to theft, with 40 percent of the 2,400 vehicles stolen in 2015 from that decade, according to the statistics.

LAPD officials noted that the city is still safer than 50 years ago, with the per-capita crime rate lower than in 1953. The overall crime rate in 2015 was also 21.8 percent lower than a decade ago, for example.

Compared with 1992. when there were 1,094 people murdered, the number of people killed in a city of 4 million people has held at less than 300 for the past six years, officials said.

Garcetti said that whether crime is up or down, “the men and women of this department are as engaged as they ever have been” with helping those who are victims of crimes.

Beck said that while he feels “this is still a great and safe city,” there are “a number of things we need to work on.”

He said he was concerned about gang crime, which went up 14.6 percent in 2015, marking the first increase in eight years.

“Gang crime is what truly steals the youth of Los Angeles” and “makes some people in some of our communities unsafe,” he said.

Beck said the police department is focused on finding a solution and partnering with the community, vowing that “we will make a difference.”

He added that “the homicides that are the most difficult to solve … gang homicides are by far the most difficult to obtain witnesses for.”

“And we understand why, but we also know the solution,” the chief said. “And the solution is communities that work together, communities that stand together, communities that work to save their children. We’ll continue to do that, we’ll continue to push forward.

“Far too many of our homicides involve youth … far too many of our homicides involve primarily young men of color,” Beck added. “We need to make this a safe city, but we can only do that together.”

Grand Jury: Plans for Homeless ‘Grossly Inadequate’

January 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

City and county agencies need to do more to help the thousands of people in the Los Angeles area who lack shelter during this winter’s El Nino storms, the county’s civil grand jury concluded in a report released Wednesday.

The panel’s report says plans submitted last fall by the area’s largest cities, including Los Angeles, are “unconscionable and grossly inadequate” in sheltering those who are forced to live on the streets.
The grand jury is “very concerned that the 2,772 shelter and surge capacity beds planned by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is just a fraction of the number necessary to shelter homeless people in severe weather,” the report states.

The panel recommended that the county and its 88 cities relax building and health codes to make more facilities available to shelter people who are homeless. It also suggested that funds be made available for supplies and equipment that give “minimal sheltering for homeless people who cannot be accommodated in shelters so that they might survive the rainstorms to come.”

The grand jury sent out surveys asking cities to detail their El Nino preparation plans, with Los Angeles responding that the city has 25,686 people who are homeless, 17,687 of whom are without shelter. There were 2,239 beds available in the city at the time of the survey, which needed to be submitted in November, according to the report.

Other cities were also surveyed, including Lancaster, Long Beach, Burbank, West Covina and Pasadena.
The greater Los Angeles area has an estimated 44,000 homeless people.

Vicki Curry, spokeswoman for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, said the report “underscores” the mayor’s own concerns and he will “take its recommendations into consideration as the city continues to address the needs of our homeless residents during these harsh winter months.”

The city recently increased the number of shelter beds by 50 percent and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has create a map of homeless encampments that can be used during the storms, Curry said.

City and county officials said Wednesday they are focused on doing outreach to encourage people living on the streets — whether in cars, makeshift structures or tents — to use additional shelters that were made available in anticipation of the heavy rains.

County officials said there are 2,000 winter shelters, plus another 1,131 beds at seven additional shelters.

Despite the outreach efforts, the majority of the added beds are still available, according to county officials.

If there is a need to accommodate more people, more city and county buildings, such as recreation and parks facilities, can be converted into shelters, officials said.

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