Reyes Honored With Lummis’ ‘Noicemaker Award’

April 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Former Los Angeles councilman Ed Reyes was honored by the Lummis Day Community Foundation at the groups’ annual awards dinner earlier this month at the 104-year-old Highland Park Ebell Club.

Reyes received the Foundation’s prestigious “Noisemaker Award,” presented to a person whose work and contributions to the community are consistent with the mission of the Lummis Day Community Foundation “to celebrate the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles through educational and cultural events and to promote cooperation among people of all ages and backgrounds.”

The award was presented to Reyes by Councilman Gil Cedillo, who now represents the council district formerly represented by Reyes.

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

(Lummis Day Community Foundation)

“I applaud Ed’s expertise and his vision in helping to draw up plans for the Los Angeles River and his long service to the community,” Cedillo said when presenting the award.

This year’s Lummis Day Festival, the 11th annual event, will take place on June 3, 4 and 5 at four Northeast L.A. locations: Occidental College in2 Eagle Rock the Southwest Museum in Mt Washington, Sycamore Grove Park and the area surrounding the York Boulevard & Avenue 50 park in Highland Park.

As always, admission to all festival events will be free of charge. Full festival schedule will be posted at www.LummisDay.org

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.

L.A. Law Will Allow Homeless to Keep Belongings

March 31, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday tentatively approved revisions to a law that prohibits the storage of property in public areas such as sidewalks, making it so that at least for now, transients will be allowed to keep 60 gallons worth of belongings.

The move came over the objections of advocates for the homeless, who say the law essentially makes homelessness a crime.

The council voted 13-1 to sign off on amendments – including the 60- gallon provision – to the city law known as 56.11 that prohibits tents and other living space to be set up between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. and currently does not allow any storage of personal property in public areas.

Because the vote was not unanimous, the ordinance will return for a second and final vote on April 6.

Councilman Gil Cedillo voted against the revisions. He said there was no need to adopt such a measure because there are other laws that could address concerns raised today by homeowners and others about criminal activity, obstruction of accessibility in public areas and unsanitary conditions associated with homeless encampments.

Councilman Mike Bonin said he was not completely happy with the ordinance, but considered it an improvement over the one now on the books, which only allows homeless individuals to keep as many belongings as they can carry.

The City Council has been under pressure to strengthen the law against legal challenges from advocates for the homeless, and to avoid being seen as criminalizing them.

Top homeless services officials for the city and county also urged the city to change the law to remove any aspects that would criminalize homelessness, saying that failing to do so would jeopardize about $110 million in federal funding needed to provide housing and other services to the homeless.

The City Council voted last November to amend the law to remove aspects that could be seen as criminalizing homelessness. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded the first chunk of the funding – $84.2 million – to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

But the City Council did not move until today to approve the actual language of the amendments promised last fall, and advocates for the homeless say the revisions still contain criminal penalties and provisions that would punish the homeless for being forced to live on the streets.

Under the revisions, it would be unlawful for homeless individuals and others who refuse to take down their encampments during the day or prevent a city employee from doing so.

It would also be a misdemeanor if an individual delays, resists or obstructs a city employee from moving, removing, impounding or discarding personal property stored in a public area.

Homeless individuals would be allowed to store a 60-gallon bin’s worth of belongings – including deconstructed tents, bedding, clothes, food, medicine, documents and other personal items – on the sidewalk as long as they are attended.

The city could still impound property that is left unattended and any property that is in excess of the 60 gallons, under the revised ordinance.

City attorneys said earlier this month the amendments are aimed at giving the city a way to keep sidewalks clear and accessible while allowing homeless individuals to keep some belongings if there are no other places to store them.

Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores told the Homelessness and Poverty Committee that the 60-gallon provision was included in the hope of striking “the right balance,” but added that “this is sort of uncharted territory” in terms of whether the courts would accept it.

She said the provision is an improvement over the existing law, which “did not allow anything a person couldn’t carry.”

“We do believe this is a lawful ordinance and a court would appreciate the dueling interests that we’re trying to serve and hopefully uphold the ordinance,” Flores said.

The proposed ordinance could cost the Los Angeles area the remaining $24 million in HUD grants being sought by the city and county’s joint homelessness services authority “at a time when the city and county can scarcely afford to lose a single dollar in federal funding for the homeless,” , according to the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles.

L.A. City Staffer Pleads Not Guilty to Misdemeanor Charges

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

One of two Los Angeles City Council staff members arrested in separate weekend incidents for allegedly driving under the
influence pleaded not guilty today to two misdemeanor charges.

An April 20 pretrial hearing is scheduled for Fredy Ceja, 36, a spokesman for First District City Councilman Gil Cedillo.
Ceja was arrested at 12:06 a.m. Saturday at Sixth and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles.  He was released on bond early Wednesday.

Fed Ceja, communications director with Councilman Gil Cedilla. (Facebook)

Fredy Ceja, communications director for Councilman Gil Cedilla. (Facebook)

According to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Ceja is charged with driving under the influence with a prior DUI conviction and driving with a blood- alcohol level exceeding 0.08 with a prior DUI conviction, both misdemeanors. Both charges include an enhancement of refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test.

A Los Angeles Police Department source told the Los Angeles Times that Ceja’s car collided with a Metro bus.

Cedillo’s chief of staff, Arturo Chavez, said Ceja was cited for DUI during his off-work hours while using his personal vehicle, but declined to comment further, calling it a personnel matter.

Records cited by The Times suggest Ceja and Torres may have had earlier brushes with law.
A man matching Ceja’s name and date of birth was arrested by the LAPD near the southbound 101 Freeway in December 2009 on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to jail records reviewed by the Los Angeles Times. He was later charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving, and he pleaded no contest in 2010 to reckless driving, according to court records. At a May 3, 2010, sentencing, he was given 36 months probation and 30 days in L.A. County Jail, according to court records.
In 2006, a man matching Ceja’s name and date of birth pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to six days in L.A. County Jail, according to court records cited by The Times. In 2003, a man matching Ceja’s birth date and name pleaded no contest to driving under the influence of alcohol and was sentenced to a three-year probation term, the
newspaper reported.

Dos Empleados de la Ciudad Son Arrestados por DUI

March 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Dos miembros del personal del Ayuntamiento de Los Ángeles fueron detenidos en incidentes separados por presuntamente conducir bajo la influencia, dijeron las autoridades.

Fredy Ceja, 36, director de comunicaciones para el Concejal Gil Cedillo quien representa al Primer Distrito fue detenido el sábado a las 12:06am en las calles Sexta y Spring en el centro de Los Ángeles, según el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles.

Ceja estaba programado para escuchar su lectura de cargos el martes, sin embargo fue pospuesta para hoy jueves, según el portavoz de la Corte Superior de Los Ángeles.

De acuerdo con la Oficina del Abogado de la Ciudad, Ceja está acusado de conducir bajo la influencia con una convicción previa por DUI y conducir con un nivel de alcohol en la sangre superior a 0,08 con una convicción previa por DUI, ambos delitos menores.

Ambos cargos incluyen la negación de Ceja a someterse a una prueba de alcohol en la sangre.

Fed Ceja, director de comunicaciones con el concejal Gil Cedillo.

Fed Ceja, director de comunicaciones con el concejal Gil Cedillo.

Una fuente de LAPD le dijo a Los Angeles Times que Ceja golpeó a un autobús de Metro con su auto personal.

Ceja se encuentra en custodia bajo una fianza de $50,000 de acuerdo con la base de datos interno del Departamento del Alguacil del Condado de Los Ángeles.

El jefe de personal con Cedillo, Arturo Chávez, dijo que Ceja fue citado por supuestamente conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol (DUI) fuera de sus horas de trabajo, y durante el uso de su vehículo personal. Chávez se negó a hacer más comentarios, llamándolo un “asunto personal”.

También el sábado, otro miembro del personal del Ayuntamiento, Fredy Torres, de 27 años, fue detenido alrededor de las 1:15am bajo sospecha de conducir bajo la influencia en la calle 43 y la avenida McKinley, de acuerdo con LAPD. Alrededor de medio día del sábado fue puesto en libertad después de pagar una fianza de $15,000, de acuerdo con registros de la cárcel.

Torres, diputado de campo en el Octavo Distrito para el Concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson, conducía un automóvil propiedad de la ciudad cuando fue detenido, según la oficina del concejal.

Fredy Torres, diputado de campo con el concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson del octavo distrito.

Fredy Torres, diputado de campo con el concejal Marqueece Harris-Dawson del octavo distrito.

Torres fue puesto bajo licencia, según el jefe de personal de Harris-Dawson, Salomón Rivera.

“Tan pronto como nos dimos cuenta del incidente en el que Fredy Torres, el concejal Harris-Dawson indicó a su personal a llamar a LAPD y al departamento de personal de la Ciudad para expresar su preocupación y comprometer a nuestra oficina a completa cooperación. Hemos descansado a Torres, mientras se investiga este asunto”, dijo.

Los registros citados por el Times sugieren que Ceja y Torres pudieron haber tenido problemas con la ley anteriormente.

Un hombre con nombre y fecha de nacimiento iguales a los de Ceja fue detenido por la policía de Los Ángeles en diciembre de 2009 en la autopista 101 hacia el sur bajo sospecha de conducir bajo la influencia, de acuerdo con registros de la cárcel revisados ??por el Times. Después fue acusado de conducir bajo los efectos del alcohol y conducir sin precaución y no refutó cargos en 2010 por conducir de manera imprudente, según documentos judiciales.

En una sentencia del 3 de mayo de 2010, recibió 36 meses de libertad condicional y 30 días en la Cárcel del Condado de Los Ángeles, de acuerdo con documentos de la corte.

En 2006, un hombre que tenía el mismo nombre y fecha de nacimiento de Ceja no refutó cargos por conducir bajo los efectos del alcohol y fue condenado a seis días en la Cárcel del Condado, según documentos judiciales citados por el Times. En 2003, un hombre con la misma fecha de nacimiento y el nombre de Ceja no refutó por conducir bajo la influencia del alcohol y fue condenado a una pena de libertad condicional de tres años, informó el diario.

Un hombre con el mismo nombre y la fecha de nacimiento de Torres fue acusado por intoxicación pública en 2009, pero el cargo fue posteriormente rechazado, de acuerdo a registros de la corte citados por el Times.

Two City Staffers Arrested for Alleged DUI

March 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Los Angeles City Council staffers were arrested in separate incidents for allegedly driving under the influence, officials said Monday.

Fredy Ceja, 36, communications deputy for First District Councilman Gil Cedillo was arrested Saturday at 12:06am at Sixth and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

An LAPD source told the Los Angeles Times he hit a Metro bus with his private car.

Ceja is in custody in lieu of $50,000 bail even though the charge he faces is a misdemeanor, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department inmate database.

Ceja was due in court this morning.

Cedillo’s chief-of-staff, Arturo Chavez, said Ceja was cited for alleged DUI during his off-work hours, and while using his personal vehicle. Chavez declined to comment further, calling it a “personnel matter.”

Also on Saturday, another City Hall staffer, Fredy Torres, 27, was arrested about 1:15am on suspicion of driving under the influence at 43rd Street and McKinley Avenue, according to LAPD. He was released around noon that day, according to jail records.

Torres, a field deputy for Eighth District Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, was driving a city-issued car when he was arrested, according to the councilman’s office.

Harris-Dawson’s chief of staff, Solomon Rivera, confirmed that officials in the councilman’s office received “information from LAPD and have spoken to the employee.”

“We take this very seriously, however, this is still under investigation so we have no further comment,” Rivera said.

Updated 12:20 p.m. to correct headline misspell.

Drivers Have A Role In Arroyo Seco Parkway Safety

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Arroyo Seco Parkway or State Route 110 is hailed as the first freeway of the west and a vital artery that connects Los Angeles to Pasadena. Despite being seen as an engineering feat in the 1940’s, today its design is considered outdated, and to many, a winding series of safety hazards.
“We have to understand that when it was built, cars were not going that fast. Old Model T’s would usually get up to 30 mph at the max,” said Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo, who represents some of the communities adjacent to Arroyo Seco Parkway.

The safety concerns experienced today can be seen at hairpin exits like the one at Avenue 43, which inspired a group of local residents to start a petition drive in December 2014 to urge Senate Pro Tem Kevin De Leòn to secure state funding for Caltrans — the state agency charged with maintaining freeways and highways — to make improvements and add more exits to the parkway to make it safer.

“I know there are concerns about it and heard about it at different meetings,” acknowledges Cedillo, who adds that management of the parkway is not the city of Los Angeles’ responsibility, but the state’s.

“I’ve taken these concerns to the  senator [Kevin de Leon] who is very powerful and can have an impact and influence on those matters.” Cedillo told EGP.

There has been some action by Caltrans to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway a safer place to drive. In 2012, Caltrans released the Arroyo Seco Corridor Partnership Plan, which among other things included the goal of preserving the parkway’s historical value and usefulness to the surrounding communities while making it safer.

Four years later, safety issues remain, prompting Cedillo to say more needs to be done to figure out “what mitigations can be implemented” to improve safety, and “how it relates to the important arteries that bring people into the city.”

He points out, however, that design changes alone to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway more suited to handle modern day traffic will not make the parkway accident free; motorists also need to take it upon themselves to be safe.

“Driving a two-ton vehicle is inherently dangerous. That’s why there’s rules and regulations like seatbelts and not driving under the influence,” Cedillo said.

“We have a very skilled department of transportation that works with Caltrans and the LAPD, but so much of the safety is dependent on the people. We can make all the rules and regulations, but if people don’t comply, particularly when it’s raining and people don’t pay attention to what they’re doing, that’s where accidents happen.”

“I was talking about this with the LAPD [Los Angeles Police Department],” he said, “when people use their cellphones it takes their focus away from the road.”

The councilman recommends people try to drive less in rainy weather and not rely so heavily on cellphone and navigation apps to get them where they are going.

“We have bad cultural practices in our community that makes us lazier and we need to exercise more self help and responsibility,” he said. He noted that many accidents can be attributed to “poor decision making” by motorists and pedestrians, and cited crossing the street in the middle of the block instead of at a crosswalk that might just be a few feet away, or texting or talking on a cellphone while driving as examples of bad behavior.

So while many of the problems experienced on the Arroyo Seco Parkway can be blamed on its outdated design, which many residents argue must change, the effort to make the Arroyo Seco Parkway a safer place for everyone will require cooperation from both residents, the city, and the state to make a real difference.

Martin Baeza is a senior at Academia Avance Charter School in Highland Park, He is interning at Eastern Group Publications as part of the school’s “Work Educational Experience Project.”

L.A. Council Votes to Rename Street After Vin Scully

January 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A street leading into Dodger Stadium will be named after the team’s longtime play-by-play announcer Vin Scully, who plans to retire after 67 seasons with the Dodgers.

The council voted 12-0 to begin the process for renaming Elysian Park Avenue between Sunset Boulevard and Stadium Way as “Vin Scully Avenue.”

“Now we’re going to say, ‘Hey, go up Sunset and make a right on Scully Avenue’ – that’s going to be the new directions to get to Dodger Stadium,” said Councilman Gil Cedillo, who proposed the street name change.

Cedillo called Scully “the voice and symbol of baseball, not just for the Dodgers but the entire nation.”

“I remember growing up in the city, and I couldn’t always afford to go to the games,” Cedillo said. “We had a little radio, as all young boys and girls did in that time period. While you may not have been able to afford the games, you could turn on the radio, and with that you can see the Dodgers, each and every pitch, each and every play…just amazing storytelling that was
unparalleled.”

Councilman Paul Krekorian said the recognition “is a few decades overdue.”

“I’m so glad Mr. Scully has finally consented to our doing this,” he said. “He’s a man of great humility who has resisted this kind of recognition, but it’s so important that we do so.”

Dodger manager Dave Roberts told the council that “on behalf of the players, the organization, we’re deeply honored, as Vin has called many great monumental moments” in Dodger history.

Former Dodger stars Orel Hershiser, Maury Wills and others were on hand for the vote, as were several active players.

The visit by the Dodger contingent to City Hall is part of their week of service tour in the Los Angeles area, dubbed by the team as the “Dodgers Love L.A. Tour.”

The 88-year-old Bronx-born Scully has announced Dodger games since 1950, when the team played in Brooklyn. He said in August that the 2016 season likely will be his last.

Scully has been an announcer longer than anyone else in sports history.

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.

When Mayor Eric 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, or his 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 their sale to the Fox Group in 1997.

In 2013, when Scully announced he would be returning for the 2014 season, Garcetti said that “Vin Scully is more than the voice of the Dodgers.” He went on: “L.A. Little Leaguers hear his voice when swinging for the fences and as adults, we hear his voice during those big moments in our lives. Vin Scully transcends L.A.’s ever-changing ‘A List.’ In his seventh decade here, he is an
icon to grandparents, parents and our kids and earns new fans with each new child who tunes in to their first Dodgers game.”

Court Overturns Alarcon’s Conviction

January 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A state appeals court panel Wednesday reversed the convictions of former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife, Flora, who were charged with fraudulent voting and perjury by declaration.

A three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal cited a jury instruction given during the Alarcons’ trial in ordering the case against the couple to be sent back to the trial court.

“My wife and I are extremely pleased,” Alarcon told City News Service.

“This is a tremendous victory. We still have to wait. The decision was remanded back to the court. It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

But he added, “We never felt we did anything wrong.”

“I have a consulting business,” Alarcon said. “I don’t have any plans to run for office, for example. It really is a personal victory because, as I said, the worst you can accuse a politician of is lying and there are probably some other things, but that is one of the worst things you can accuse a politician of.”

Alarcon was at City Hall Wednesday to represent his client Hillview Mental Health, in Pacoima, at a Housing Committee hearing on Councilman Gil Cedillo’s House L.A. initiatives. He said he is also interested in efforts to create more affordable housing and to help the homeless because he has a son who is homeless.

One of the Alarcons’ appellate attorneys, Amy Jacks, said she was “pretty confident there had been a serious error in the jury instructions.”

She added that she was also “confident that the Court of Appeal would see the same error.”

In their appeal, defense attorneys contended that Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George G.

Lomeli erred by giving the jury an instruction on domicile during the Alarcons’ trial regarding allegations that they had lived outside the district he was elected to represent.

In a 15-page opinion, the appellate court panel ruled that the jury instruction required jurors to determine whether the Alarcons had physically resided at the home inside his City Council district.

“Once the jurors found that defendants had not done so, the mandatory presumption of (the jury instruction) required them to find that home was not defendants’ legal domicile,” the justices wrote.

The panel found that it “cannot conclude that the instructional error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The California Attorney General’s Office could ask the California Supreme Court to review the ruling before the case is sent back to the trial court.

Richard Alarcon was convicted in July 2014 of three counts of fraudulent voting and one count of perjury by declaration, but was acquitted of a dozen other felony counts.

The charges on which he was convicted involved fraudulent voting in the November 2008 and the March and May elections in 2009, and perjury by declaration involving his November 2008 declaration of intent to become a city council candidate.

He was sentenced in October 2014 to a 120-day jail term, along with 600 hours of community service, five years probation and barred from holding public office.

He surrendered in December 2014 to begin serving the jail term and was sent home after being fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

Alarcon’s wife was convicted of two counts of fraudulent voting in the March 2009 and May 2009 elections, and one count of perjury by declaration involving a provisional ballot in November 2008, and acquitted of two other counts. She was sentenced to 400 hours of community service and five years probation.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Gilmer told jurors that the evidence proved the couple lied about living at a home in Panorama City, which was within Alarcon’s city council district.

The longtime legislator — who served two separate terms on the city council along with stints in the state Senate and Assembly — insisted that he began living at the Panorama City home within the council district in November 2006.

Shortly after a search warrant was served, he told reporters that an intruder had caused significant damage to the Panorama City home during an October 2009 break-in and that he had returned to the house several times to try to repair the damage. He said then that he and his wife were temporarily staying at a house in an adjacent council district.

In July 2010, just before a grand jury indicted Alarcon and his wife, he said: “Because my wife owns two homes and we have stayed in both of them during the last four years, I can understand the confusion, but my permanent home has always been on Nordhoff Street (in Panorama City), regardless of where I may stay.”

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for immediate comment on the appellate court panel’s ruling.

Shrinking Debs Pond Worries Park Visitors

January 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

What started as a routine maintenance check up at Ernest E. Debs Park in Montecito Heights turned into a worrying issue for area residents and frequent park visitors who noticed a large pond at the park was rapidly losing water, endangering the fish and turtles living there.

The pond is man-made and gets it water through pipes connected to it rather than natural sources.

Former Montecito Heights resident Rosalio Munoz told EGP he started seeing the evaporation back in December and brought it to the attention of local Councilman Gil Cedillo, after getting no response from park staff.

Munoz told EGP he estimated the pond’s water level had dropped about four feet, noting that in addition to being a habitat for aquatic life, the pond also serves as an important water source in the event of a fire.

“I was told by a workman on clean up duty that a pipe had broken and I became alarmed,” he wrote in his letter dated Dec. 4 to the councilman. “I thought a major job needed to be done and was worried about the fish and turtles there…”
A month passed and Munoz said he didn’t see any repair work going on.

Reyes Rosales watches his children as they play along the lakeside, which has lost a significant amount of water. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Reyes Rosales watches his children as they play along the lakeside, which has lost a significant amount of water. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Last Friday, however, Montecito Heights resident Helen Driscoll told EGP she saw “about three trucks dumping water” in the pond, but the water was still down, significantly shrinking the size of the pond.

Recent rains have only raised the water level about two-inches, according to Munoz.

Reyes Rosales was out hiking last Friday with his children and stopped by the pond to play. Even with the water delivered earlier the pond still seemed very low, said the East LA resident.

“The drop in water goes back more than a month,” he told EGP in Spanish. “I think it will become dangerous for the animals, they may die.”

Cedillo Chief of Staff Arturo Chavez told EGP the problem started with the rupture of a valve that provides water pressure to a fire hydrant at the park.

“City plumbers noticed it and they closed the fire hydrants to do repairs,” he told EGP. “They also notified the local fire department station” about the situation, he said.

Although, people love the man-made pond and are worried about the wildlife, Chavez said the pond is really a reservoir that works with the irrigation system to the park, which he speculated could have contributed to the pond’s lower water level.

Park visitors worried that the pond was drying up started calling the park and elected officials.

In an effort to respond to their concerns, maintenance staff turned on the pipe to fill the pond and it broke another valve, Chavez explained.

Recreation and Parks staff would not comment on whether fire hydrants at the park had been impacted, but said “it is a complicated issue” and they are working on it.

“The pipes that are feeding the lake are old and ruptured,” Abel Perez, senior park maintenance supervisor told EGP via email.

According to Cedillo spokesperson Fredy Ceja, city crews started cutting asphalt Tuesday in search of the broken pipe disrupting the water flow.

“They will continue to cut asphalt until they find the broken pipe and fix it immediately, which should fix the problem,” he said.

Chavez told EGP the delay in getting to work on the broken water pipes could have been due to the holiday and staff shortages. He confirmed that the fire department is aware of the issue and has made plans for an alternate source of water if there is a fire emergency, either bringing in a water tank or using other fire hydrants.

City staff hopes to have the problem fixed by Friday.

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Twitter @jackierporter

jgarcia@egpnews.com

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