Latin Jazz and Music Fest Returns to Sycamore Park

September 21, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Now in its fourth consecutive year, the annual Latin Jazz and Music Festival returns to Sycamore Grove Park in Northeast Los Angeles this weekend for two days of music that fuse the artistry of jazz with the warmth and vitality of Latin rhythms and soul.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

Afro-Latin Jazz master Arturo O’ Farrill comes to Highland Park this weekend.

The festival, hosted by L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo, opens at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23rd with a showcase performance by the Plaza de la Raza Youth Ensemble and concludes on Sunday, the 24th with a highly anticipated performance by Los Coyotes Blues Band, featuring members of the legendary, multiple Grammy Award-winning Los Lobos.

According to Fredy Cejas, Cedillo’s communications director, the festival is an opportunity for the community to enjoy great local musical acts in a relaxed outdoor setting.

“We want to continue the tradition of bringing diverse bands and our diverse constituents together,” says Cejas, who adds that including community-based youth performances helps ensure the festival is “being inclusive of our own local talent and giving them exposure.”

 Los Coyotes - (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

Los Coyotes – (led by Cesar Rosas and David Hidlago of Los Lobos) will close out the festival, Sunday, Sept. 24 at 5:30 p.m.

On top of two days of free, live performances, an onsite community resource fair will bring city departments and non-profit groups together for the community to explore, Cejas adds.

Festivalgoers will be treated to a range of nationally and internationally prominent acts, from the Susie Hansen Latin Band, led by the renowned electric violinist and Saturday headliner Joe Bataan, a legendary New York salsero whose distinctive “salsoul” blend of salsa and R & B has packed dance and concert halls on both coasts and in Europe for decades.

On Sunday, Cold Duck, an eight-piece Southern California orchestra with a sterling reputation for versatility and musical showmanship will take the stage at 2:50 p.m. They are followed by the Arturo O’Farrill Quartet, fronted by the pianist, composer and director of the acclaimed Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra. The son of famed Latin jazz musician, arranger and bandleader Chico O’Farrill, Arturo is a leading exponent of Latin Jazz worldwide.

Introduced by Cedillo in 2014 as a festival designed to reflect Highland Park’s “authentic character and vibe,” the celebration was also intended to appeal to the area’s young people and the local area’s large Latino population.

Event sponsors include Paramount Pictures, Coca-Cola, nonprofit El Centro del Pueblo, Big Belly Smart City Solutions, Arroyo Seco Neighborhood Council and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

The festival is accessible to mobility challenged guests and attendees are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, umbrellas, and picnic blankets to sit on.

Off-street parking is available, but guests are strongly encouraged to take the Metro Gold Line to the Southwest Museum Station with access directly across the street from the park.

Sycamore Grove Park is located at 4702 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park 90042. For a complete list of performers and the two-day schedule, visit www.GilCedillo.com.

Megan Razzetti contributed to this story.

Nearly Deported Father Honored at City Hall

September 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A Southland man arrested by immigration authorities shortly after dropping off one of his daughters at school was honored along with his family Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council as part of Latino Heritage Month.

Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez was detained by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Feb. 28 after dropping his daughter off at a Lincoln Heights school.

A video of his arrest made by another daughter was widely seen on social media and helped make his case a focal point of advocates critical of President Donald Trump’s aggressive actions on illegal immigration since taking office in January.

“His family is just an incredible example of what the contributions are that we can expect from the immigrant community,” Councilman Gil Cedillo said at a news conference at City Hall. “His daughters, every single one, is special, and every single one has a bright future. When you see them it is evident this father needs to be with his wife and his children.”

Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo (left) honored Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez and  his family Wednesday during a celebration  kicking off Latino Heritage Month. (Office Councilman Gil Cedillo)

Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo (left) honored Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez and his family Wednesday during a celebration kicking off Latino Heritage Month. (Office Councilman Gil Cedillo)

Avelica-Gonzalez was released from custody on Aug. 30 after the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed a deportation order against him. His case still needs to be reviewed by an immigration judge to consider if he should be permitted to remain in the United States, where he has lived illegally for 30 years.

Supporters of Avelica-Gonzalez, a 49-year-old father of four, said the original deportation order arose from a pair of misdemeanor convictions against him dating back 20 years. Attorneys said those convictions were vacated in June, and he should be permitted to remain in the country.

Avelica-Gonzalez’s arrest made national headlines. He had just dropped moff his 12-year-old daughter at school in Lincoln Heights, and a short time later, his 14-year-old daughter — who was in his car — cried as she filmed her father being taken into custody by immigration authorities.

“Thank you to all the people who helped me and supported me. Thank you for the help with this case,” Avelica-Gonzalez said.

Alan Diamante, Avelica-Gonzalez’s attorney, said that he believes the case will end with his client staying in America.

“I have been hopeful throughout, and I’m also hopeful that he’s going to stay in this country until he gets his green card and then he’s going to continue fighting until he gets his citizenship,” Diamante told City News Service. “He’s a man of great faith and I believe in him, and I believe in his case.”

 

 

Resolution Seeks to Officially Declare Los Angeles a ‘City of Sanctuary’

September 8, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Two City Council members introduced a resolution today seeking to brand Los Angeles a “city of sanctuary” dedicated to “protecting the human rights of all our residents.”

The move by Council President Herb Wesson and Councilman Gil Cedillo follows their receipt of a report on Thursday that civil rights attorney Peter Schey submitted to the Immigrant Affairs, Civil Rights, and Equity Committee, which Cedillo chairs and which Wesson is a member of. The report included a series of recommendations for the city to undertake in response to recent immigration policies announced by President Donald Trump.

While there is no legal definition of a sanctuary city, it generally applies to municipalities that limit cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement. Embracing the term has become a way for cities to openly defy Trump, who has threatened to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities.

“It’s a declaratory statement of our values, of our vision, of our commitments,” Cedillo told City News Service.

At the committee meeting Thursday, Cedillo said he intended to submit a sanctuary city motion, but what was submitted at the City Council meeting was a resolution. A motion generally changes an existing law or creates a new one, while a resolution is generally a public declaration that does not change or create any laws. Cedillo said he submitted a resolution because declaring the city a sanctuary does not require any change in laws.

It’s not certain when the resolution would come up for a vote.

Although Los Angeles has long limited its cooperation with the feds on immigration, it has not taken on the official label of sanctuary city, and it is unclear how much support the resolution will have from Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The mayor has resisted calling for Los Angeles to embrace the term because he says it is often used by those looking to harm cities that have friendly immigration policies.

“It is not a term that has meaning,” Garcetti said in an interview on radio station KNX Thursday. “I’m not going to buy into a frame that somebody else who’s attacking immigrants uses.”

Cedillo said he agreed with the mayor’s assessment but believed they could find common ground.

“We agree with the mayor. The mayor has been an extraordinary champion in this area, and has been absolutely responsive from the beginning, and I think we are in concert, and his points are well taken,” Cedillo said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has had a longstanding policy of not initiating contact with an individual based solely on his or her immigration status and does not give immigration agents access to its jails or inmates unless they have a federal warrant. Because of those policies, Los Angeles is often referred to as a sanctuary city, though it has never officially embraced the term as other cities have, including San Francisco and Santa Ana.

Schey, a civil rights attorney, argued in the report that Los Angeles has wide discretion in setting its own policies on immigration and that because none of its current laws are in violation of federal law, Trump’s “showboating about penalties against sanctuary cities has no basis in law and is primarily intended to dazzle his base and intimidate local officials.”

Schey also told the committee that embracing the term was an important symbolic move.

“People seem to have strong views on this name thing. My stance has always been that’s what’s important. Ultimately, yes, that sort of symbolic statement, ‘We are a city of sanctuary, we are a city of refuge,’ etc., I think it’s important. It sets a certain tone,” he said.

Cedillo said part of reason for introducing the resolution was in reaction to the Trump administration’s move Tuesday to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program which has shielded immigrants who were brought to the country illegally when they were children from deportation.

“With the changed circumstance, with the announcement on Tuesday, it turned out that we had a scheduled immigration committee meeting, and it turned out that we had a report from our advocate, and it turned out we had a deeper understanding of what it is to be a city of sanctuary,” Cedillo said. “We are confident there will be no fiscal impact on the city, no adverse consequences on the city and we want to send that message to the (DACA recipients) who are here to continue to be engaged in the civic life of this city.”

The resolution cites the LAPD’s policy on immigrant enforcement, Trump’s DACA announcement, and the city’s history of adopting policies protecting all of its residents regardless of immigration status as some of the reasons for the resolution.

Schey’s report also recommended the city take steps to help immigrants in the country illegally and DACA recipients from being detained by federal officials by facilitating legal advice and representation for them. The report also recommended the city enact a comprehensive anti-discrimination ordinance, and decriminalize minor offenses likely to be committed by low-income residents.

Padre de Highland Park Tomado Por ICE Puede Ser Deportado

August 3, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El concejal de la ciudad Gil Cedillo pidió el martes la liberación de un hombre que se enfrenta a la deportación después de ser recogido por agentes de inmigración mientras dejaba a su hija en la escuela.

Rómulo Avelica-González fue detenido por el personal de Inmigración y Aduanas (ICE, por sus siglas en inglés) mientras dejaba a una de sus hijas en Academia Avance en Highland Park el 28 de febrero. Ha vivido en el país desde hace 25 años y su caso ganó mucha atención con la difusión del video tomado por otra de sus hijas, que filmo el incidente mientras que lloraba.

“Justicia retrasada es justicia negada. El señor Rómulo ha sido detenido y mantenido alejado de su familia por más de seis meses”, dijo Cedillo en una manifestación para Avelica-González en la plaza Pershing del centro de la cuidad. “Y como él está a punto de ser deportado estamos aquí en unidad y solidaridad para dejar claro a todos los que están aquí, que vamos a luchar por la justicia, que no puede haber justicia hasta que el señor Rómulo sea puesto en libertad y devuelto a su familia”.

Cedillo dijo en junio que parecía que Avelica-González iba a ser puesto en libertad después de dos condenas anteriores de delito menor para recibir la propiedad robada y un DUI fueron despedidos por un juez. Sin embargo, Los Ángeles Times informó el lunes que todavía está enfrentando la deportación y que podría ser transportado a México tan pronto como la próxima semana.

Cedillo, que ha sido uno de los críticos más agudos del consejo de las políticas de inmigración del presidente Donald Trump, también dijo: “Los criminales y los que deberían ser deportados están en la Casa Blanca”.

Aunque los abogados de Avelica-González están intentando varias maniobras legales para evitar su detención, una suspensión de emergencia de la deportación ordenada por el Tribunal de Apelaciones del 9no Circuito de Estados Unidos expira el 5 de agosto y Avelica-González podría ser deportada para el 7 de agosto, según LA Times.

“Existe un fundamento jurídico muy claro para esto”, dijo Cedillo al pedir la liberación de Avelica-González. “Las preocupaciones que se plantearon cuando fue recogido han sido abordadas”.

Cedillo Claims Victory With 70% of Vote

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

After widely being expected to win re-election outright in March, Councilman Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo finally declared victory Tuesday, crushing challenger Joe Bray-Ali in the 1st Council District runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful challenger.

Unofficial results posted Wednesday on the Los Angeles City Clerk website had Cedillo with a commanding lead, 70.5 percent to Bray-Ali’s 29.4 percent. Too few votes remain to be counted to put a dent in Cedillo’s landslide win.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Pico-Union, Westlake and other east and northeast neighborhoods.

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

Workers from both campaigns were out in full force Election Day, knocking on doors and making phone calls on behalf of their candidate right up to the polls closing.

Standing outside his polling place at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center Tuesday, Adrian Aceves said he voted for Cedillo because the councilman does what’s right for Latinos: “Who else can we trust,” the 72-year-old said in Spanish.

“I’m here [at the center] all the time and all the seniors like me are voting for him because he’s really cleaning things up and making things better.”

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the center was nearly deserted. Aceves said it had been like that all day. Poll workers said the turnout had been “steady,” with a short rush around 5 p.m.

There are 2,075,452 registered voters in the city, but only 175,683 votes were cast citywide, putting the turnout at about 8.46 percent. Over half the ballots, 107,413 were vote-by-mail. In Council District 1, with just 12,481 ballots to count election night, it did not take long for the election results to start rolling in.

Claiming victory early Tuesday night in front of a packed room of supporters gathered at the Tree House Lounge in Chinatown, Cedillo said voters in the 1st District “…chose experience, they chose an incredible record.” He said voters selected the candidate “who wants to bring people together.”

The incumbent councilman pledged to continue working closely with the community on making progress in Council District 1.

Cedillo’s challenger, Bray-Ali, turned heads when he forced Cedillo into the runoff because he has never held elective office, and no incumbent has been beaten in a City Council election since 2003.

But Bray-Ali’s post primary momentum took a major hit in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light, causing him to lose a number of key endorsements, despite his attempts to explain away the comments as having been taken out of context.

One of the posts included the racial slur known as the N-word, and others appeared to mock overweight people and the transgender community. Following the revelations, Bray-Ali was denounced by numerous civil rights and LGBT leaders in Los Angeles, and seven City Council members called for him to drop out of the race.

Outside the Highland Park Recreation Center Tuesday, about an hour before the polls closed, Martha, who preferred not to use her last name, said she voted for Bray-Ali because at least “he could make a fresh start for the district.”

“I had a lot of hope when I voted for Cedillo when he first ran, but he let me down,” Martha said.

“My family is all immigrants, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I care about,” she said. “Joe has a lot of bad stuff to make up for, so maybe we can pressure him into doing more things for us,” the mother of three told EGP.

Cedillo supporters say the councilman has not been given enough credit for what he has done in the district, pointing out that his trash hauling and bulky item removal programs have been expanded citywide by Mayor Garcetti. They hailed his decades of work on behalf of undocumented immigrants and workers.

In a Facebook post Monday appealing to voters to turn out, Becca Dotten praised Cedillo’s “long commitment to the environment, in particularly ensuring environmental justice in low-income communities. He has helped create and revitalize acres upon acres of park space, including along the LA River and LA State Park.” She also praised his efforts to build affordable housing.

Celebrating with Cedillo Tuesday was a who’s who of progressive current and former elected officials, business interests, labor groups, and immigrant rights and community activists.

Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California.

“Congratulations to Gil Cedillo on his well-deserved re-election that ensures we can continue building stronger neighborhoods and standing up for the most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said.

Cedillo also had the support of the powerful, 600,000 member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which through a committee spent $300,000 on the incumbent’s campaign, on top of the over $500,000 Cedillo’s campaign raised from other sources.

“The voters showed that experience, ability and empathy matter. Council District One remains in good hands,” wrote Dotten Tuesday.

Cedillo closed out his comments Tuesday by thanking supporters, telling them, “I know what you’ve done, I know how hard your worked, I know your prayers, I know your commitments, I know your positive thoughts, I know all that you’ve done to get us to this point, and for that I say thank you and God bless …”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Cedillo Claims Victory With 70% of Vote

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

After widely being expected to win re-election outright in March, Councilman Gilbert “Gil” Cedillo finally declared victory Tuesday, crushing challenger Joe Bray-Ali in the 1st Council District runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful challenger.

Unofficial results posted Wednesday on the Los Angeles City Clerk website had Cedillo with a commanding lead, 70.5 percent to Bray-Ali’s 29.4 percent. Too few votes remain to be counted to put a dent in Cedillo’s landslide win.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Lincoln Heights, Pico-Union, Westlake and other east and northeast neighborhoods.

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

(Gil Cedillo Twitter)

Workers from both campaigns were out in full force Election Day, knocking on doors and making phone calls on behalf of their candidate right up to the polls closing.

Standing outside his polling place at the Lincoln Heights Senior Center Tuesday, Adrian Aceves said he voted for Cedillo because the councilman does what’s right for Latinos: “Who else can we trust,” the 72-year-old said in Spanish.

“I’m here [at the center] all the time and all the seniors like me are voting for him because he’s really cleaning things up and making things better.”

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, the center was nearly deserted. Aceves said it had been like that all day. Poll workers said the turnout had been “steady,” with a short rush around 5 p.m.

There are 2,075,452 registered voters in the city, but only 175,683 votes were cast citywide, putting the turnout at about 8.46 percent. Over half the ballots, 107,413 were vote-by-mail. In Council District 1, with just 12,481 ballots to count election night, it did not take long for the election results to start rolling in.

Claiming victory early Tuesday night in front of a packed room of supporters gathered at the Tree House Lounge in Chinatown, Cedillo said voters in the 1st District “…chose experience, they chose an incredible record.” He said voters selected the candidate “who wants to bring people together.”

The incumbent councilman pledged to continue working closely with the community on making progress in Council District 1.

Cedillo’s challenger, Bray-Ali, turned heads when he forced Cedillo into the runoff because he has never held elective office, and no incumbent has been beaten in a City Council election since 2003.

But Bray-Ali’s post primary momentum took a major hit in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light, causing him to lose a number of key endorsements, despite his attempts to explain away the comments as having been taken out of context.

One of the posts included the racial slur known as the N-word, and others appeared to mock overweight people and the transgender community. Following the revelations, Bray-Ali was denounced by numerous civil rights and LGBT leaders in Los Angeles, and seven City Council members called for him to drop out of the race.

Outside the Highland Park Recreation Center Tuesday, about an hour before the polls closed, Martha, who preferred not to use her last name, said she voted for Bray-Ali because at least “he could make a fresh start for the district.”

“I had a lot of hope when I voted for Cedillo when he first ran, but he let me down,” Martha said.

“My family is all immigrants, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I care about,” she said. “Joe has a lot of bad stuff to make up for, so maybe we can pressure him into doing more things for us,” the mother of three told EGP.

Cedillo supporters say the councilman has not been given enough credit for what he has done in the district, pointing out that his trash hauling and bulky item removal programs have been expanded citywide by Mayor Garcetti. They hailed his decades of work on behalf of undocumented immigrants and workers.

In a Facebook post Monday appealing to voters to turn out, Becca Dotten praised Cedillo’s “long commitment to the environment, in particularly ensuring environmental justice in low-income communities. He has helped create and revitalize acres upon acres of park space, including along the LA River and LA State Park.” She also praised his efforts to build affordable housing.

Celebrating with Cedillo Tuesday was a who’s who of progressive current and former elected officials, business interests, labor groups, and immigrant rights and community activists.

Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California.

“Congratulations to Gil Cedillo on his well-deserved re-election that ensures we can continue building stronger neighborhoods and standing up for the most vulnerable Angelenos,” Garcetti said.

Cedillo also had the support of the powerful, 600,000 member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which through a committee spent $300,000 on the incumbent’s campaign, on top of the over $500,000 Cedillo’s campaign raised from other sources.

“The voters showed that experience, ability and empathy matter. Council District One remains in good hands,” wrote Dotten Tuesday.

Cedillo closed out his comments Tuesday by thanking supporters, telling them, “I know what you’ve done, I know how hard your worked, I know your prayers, I know your commitments, I know your positive thoughts, I know all that you’ve done to get us to this point, and for that I say thank you and God bless …”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Cedillo Gana en Grande en Elección Municipal

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

El concejal Gil Cedillo celebró una imponente victoria de reelección el miércoles, en contra de su oponente, cuya campaña se desvaneció en medio de una ola de cuestionables publicaciones en el Internet, considerados por muchos como despectivos y racialmente insensibles.

Cedillo, quien falló por poco el ser reelegido durante la elección primaria de marzo, aplastó a su retador, Joe Bray-Ali, en la segunda ronda del martes, terminando la caída del alguna vez esperanzado.

Bray-Ali volteó cabezas, cuando forzó a Cedillo a una segunda ronda, ya que él nunca había ocupado un puesto electo y ningún oficial actual ha sido vencido en una elección del Ayuntamiento desde 2003.

Los resultados no oficiales, publicados el miércoles en el sitio Web de la Secretaría de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles, presentan a Cedillo con una ventaja prominente de un 79.5 por ciento versus el 29.4 por ciento de Bray-Ali.

A billboard for urging the public to vote for Councilman Gil Cedillo is found next to the campaign office of his challenger Joe Bray-Ali. (Photo by Diana Martinez)

Un cartel insta al público a votar por el concejal, Gill Cedillo, ubicado a la par de la oficina de campaña de su retador, Joe Bray-Ali. (Foto por Diana Martínez)

El primer distrito del consejo incluye a Chinatown, Highland Park, Westlake y otros vecindarios del noreste de Los Ángeles.

 

El impulso prematuro de Bray-Ali fue desalentado a finales de abril cuando una serie de declaraciones racistas y derogatorias, que él mismo había publicado en el Internet, salieron a luz. Esto le causó varios endosos importantes, a pesar de sus intentos de explicar que los comentarios habían sido tomados fuera de contexto.

Reclamando la victoria, el martes por la tarde, Cedillo le dijo a un grupo de partidarios reunidos en el Tree House Lounge en Chinatown, que el 1er Distrito “… eligió la experiencia, eligió un récord increíble”. Él dijo que los votantes eligieron al candidato “que unirá a las personas”.

El concejal titular se comprometió a seguir trabajando estrechamente con la comunidad para que el Distrito 1 del concejo siga avanzando.

Celebrando con Cedillo estuvieron los más prominentes de la corriente progresiva y ex funcionarios elegidos, junto con intereses comerciantes, grupos laborales y activistas a favor de los derechos de los inmigrantes y de la comunidad.

Cedillo tuvo una larga lista de respaldos, incluyendo el del Alcalde, Eric Garcetti, de ocho miembros del Concejo Municipal, el Gobernador Jerry Brown y la Senadora Kamala Harris, D-California. También contó con el apoyo de la poderosa Federación de Trabajadores del Condado de Los Ángeles, que a través de un comité invirtieron $300,000 en la campaña del titular. Adicionalmente, la campaña de Cedillo recaudó otros $500,000 por medio de otras fuentes.

Cedillo cerró sus comentarios el martes agradeciendo a sus simpatizantes, diciéndoles: “Sé lo que han logrado, sé lo duro que han trabajado, conozco sus oraciones y sus compromisos. Conozco sus pensamientos positivos y sé de todo lo que han hecho para llegar hasta este punto. Por eso les doy las gracias y que Dios los bendiga …”.

Información de City News Service fue utilizada en este informe.

Cedillo Wins Big In Council Race

May 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Councilman Gil Cedillo was celebrating a commanding re-election victory Wednesday over an opponent whose campaign fizzled amid a wave of questionable internet posts condemned by critics as derogatory and racially insensitive.

Cedillo, who narrowly missed being re-elected during the March primary, crushed challenger Joe Bray-Ali in Tuesday’s runoff, completing the downfall of a once-hopeful challenger.

Bray-Ali turned heads when he forced Cedillo into the runoff because he has never held elective office, and no incumbent has been beaten in a City Council election since 2003.

Unofficial results posted Wednesday on the Los Angeles City Clerk website has Cedillo with a commanding lead, 79.5 percent to Bray-Ali’s 29.4 percent.

The 1st Council District includes Chinatown, Highland Park, Westlake and other northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods.

A billboard for urging the public to vote for Councilman Gil Cedillo is found next to the campaign office of his challenger Joe Bray-Ali. (Photo by Diana Martinez)

A billboard for urging the public to vote for Councilman Gil Cedillo is found next to the campaign office of his challenger Joe Bray-Ali. (Photo by Diana Martinez)

Bray-Ali’s post primary momentum took a major hit in late April when a series of racist and derogatory statements he had made online came to light, causing him to lose a number of key endorsements, despite his attempts to explain away the comments as having been taken out of context.

Claiming victory early Tuesday night in front of a packed room of supporters gathered at the Tree House Lounge in Chinatown, Cedillo said voters in the 1st District “…chose experience, they chose an incredible record.” He said voters selected the candidate “who wants to bring people together.”

The incumbent councilman pledged to continue working closely with the community on making progress in Council District 1.

Celebrating with Cedillo was a who’s who of progressive current and former elected officials, business interests, labor groups, and immigrant rights and community activists.

Cedillo had a long list of endorsements, including Mayor Eric Garcetti, eight City Council members, Gov. Jerry Brown and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California. He also had the support of the powerful, 600,000 member Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which through a committee spent $300,000 on the incumbent’s campaign, on top of the over $500,000 Cedillo’s campaign raised from other sources.

Cedillo closed out his comments Tuesday by thanking supporters, telling them, “I know what you’ve done, I know how hard your worked, I know your prayers, I know your commitments, I know your positive thoughts, I know all that you’ve done to get us to this point, and for that I say thank you and God bless …”

Information from City News Service used in this report.

It’s Down to ‘D Day’ in CD1 Race

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

In less than a week, voters in Los Angeles’s first district will decide who will represent them in the city council for the next five years.

Next Tuesday is “D Day,” closing out what had been a rough and tumble, volatile campaign between a longtime legislator, incumbent Gil Cedillo and campaign novice and bike-lane advocate, Joe Bray-Ali.

Cedillo, who was elected in 2013, was forced into the May 16 runoff when he fell just short of the required 50 percent to win the race outright in the March 7 primary, finishing with 49.34 percent to Bray-Ali’s 37.97 percent.

For the next month, Bray-Ali appeared to be gaining ground on the incumbent, receiving some high profile endorsements and tapping into voters who felt Cedillo and his staff had not been responsive to the district’s needs.

Cedillo’s campaign looked to turn things around with more events and handshaking, and more aggressively reaching out to voters to let them know what he had being doing to improve public safety and cleanliness in the district, as well as infrastructure repairs and traffic safety enhancements.

Two weeks ago, Cedillo’s campaign got a major boost when Bray-Ali came under fire from LGBT groups, civil rights organizations and numerous elected city officials for a series of racist and derogatory statements he made online, some as recently as one year ago.

He lost key endorsements over comments he made online in which he used the N-word, called gender reassignment surgery a “shameless excess,” used the word “retard” and made other comments which offended leaders in the LGBT and civil rights communities.

Bray-Ali did further injury to his campaign by posting other damaging information about himself, on his Facebook page, in which he admitted to cheating on his wife for years, owing $48,000 in back taxes and committing vandalism.

According to Bray-Ali, he wanted to put the information out before it could be used by the Cedillo campaign to “smear” him.

The revelations led to calls for him to withdraw, but Bray-Ali had pledged to stay in the race until the finish.

Bray-Ali has continued to make campaign appearances and knock on doors in an effort to sway voters in his direction. Whether it’s enough to overcome the controversies surrounding him remains to been seen.

Cedillo, meanwhile, is not taking anything for granted in the wake of Bray-Ali’s seeming downfall. He and his campaign have stepped up efforts to engage voters across the district.

(EGP photo archive)

(EGP photo archive)

Councilman Gil Cedillo, top, will go up against challenger Joe Bray-Ali,bottom, in the L.A. City Council District 1 runoff May 16. (Joe Bray-Ali For City Council District 1)

Councilman Gil Cedillo, top, will go up against challenger Joe Bray-Ali,bottom, in the L.A. City Council District 1 runoff May 16. (Joe Bray-Ali For City Council District 1)

 

Thirty years ago, a landmark court decision on redistricting created what is now the city of Los Angeles’s first council district, that runs from Lincoln Heights to Highland Park, through downtown over to Koreatown, and Westlake.

MAOF, the Mexican Legal Defense and Education Fund, at the time argued in court that Los Angeles leaders had for decades engaged in gerrymandering, drawing district boundary lines that marginalized Latino representation in the voting process. MAOF argued that including the San Fernando Valley in the district had resulted in Latinos being able to potentially only elect one Latino to the city council, and that was in what is now Council District 14.

The courts agreed, and in 1987, the city was forced to reconfigure the district, removing the San Fernando Valley and concentrating CD-1 in northeast, downtown and an area just west of the civic center, thereby creating a second majority-Latino council district.

The district had been represented by a Latino ever since, but according to Antonio Gonzalez, president of the Southwest Voter Education Project, that could change if longtime voters fail to get out and vote to reelect Council Gil Cedillo over his challenger in the race, Joe Bray-Ali.

His failure to win the primary outright caught Cedillo’s campaign and many eastside leaders by surprise, according to Gonzalez, who in analysis of the campaign released in April noted that it may not have been an “anti-incumbent” trend that forced Cedillo into a runoff, but “the changing demographics and gentrification of the District.”

“CD1 (like CD14 and CD13) is rapidly changing as youthful hipsters/millennials colonize the eastside together with developers looking for redevelopment opportunities,” wrote Gonzalez. “The elderly Chican@ homeowner class is beginning to exit the stage either through death or relocation to greener pastures (i.e. suburbs),” thus crating “unforeseen challenges for Cedillo.”

Based on that analysis, turn out remains a critical issue for both campaigns.

But according to Gonzalez, the odds favor Cedillo, because “high propensity voters in CD1 tend to be older, Latin@ and white homeowners that typically favor incumbents in low turnout races.

“Add to that Cedillo’s unique ability to attract down-scale Mexican and Salvadoran naturalized voters grateful for his generation-long advocacy for immigrants,” says Gonzalez, and it appears Cedillo has a “winning coalition” that could spur him onto victory, despite Bray-A1i’s appeal as “something new” to voters willing to overlook his many transgressions.

EGP Endorsements: City of Los Angeles General Election

May 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Voters in the City of Los Angeles will go to the polls again on May 11– at least we hope they will — to vote on Los Angeles Unified School District Board seats, one city council race, and on a proposal to reform the process for disciplining officers in the Los Angeles Police Department.

We fully understand that some people may be experiencing voter fatigue, but it’s still important to vote, even if only one of the three measures listed are on the ballot in your area. Here are Eastern Group Publication’s endorsements for the May 11 General Election:

 

Vote No Proposition C

EGP is urging a No Vote on Charter Amendment C because we do not believe allowing officers to choose the makeup of the board that will discipline them – even if it gives a “larger voice” to civilians — will actually result in officers accused of acting outside police policy not being more routinely, or fairly disciplined.

In our view, the current makeup of department hearing officers, that includes two police officers and one civilian allows for both experience on department policy and civilian oversight to be part of the process. According to the data, citizens tend to be more lenient than police personnel when it comes to disciplining the actions of officers. Civilians tend to temper disciplinary hearings, cognizant of the fact that those being disciplined are human and often act on human instinct.

Police officers are aware of this pattern, so it’s no surprise that they support allowing officers up for review to choose the makeup of the hearing board they will appear before.

We believe that a disciplinary hearing composed of only civilians will lack the experience on policy and police procedures necessary to give the panel the needed depth of knowledge needed for such a critical function.

Vote No on C.

 

Cedillo for Los Angeles
City Council District 1

Eastern Group Publications is re-stating its endorsement of Councilmember Gil Cedillo for reelection to Council Seat No. 1.

As we stated before, we believe that Cedillo has been attentive to the needs of the 1st District. We believe the incumbent has made strides in cleaning the district, no easy task given the density of the district. Cedillo’s trash removal program has been adopted by the mayor and deployed to other parts of the city. So has his initiative to remove bulky items, such as old mattresses, broken furniture and other items thrown on the streets and alleys of his district, not to mention his program that allows trash haulers to go into a person’s home to remove those items; an especially valuable resource for the elderly.

Despite complaints about pedestrian safety, improvements have been made. Some have criticized that the councilman is only making the improvements, such as installing traffic signals and lighted crosswalks because people are complaining, but isn’t that what we expect them to do?

There is no doubt that homelessness and affordable housing are big issues in the first district. Gentrification that has led to displacement is a concern, with no easy answer.

There is no doubt that there is a critical shortage of housing in the area, especially affordable housing. The shortage is a citywide problem, as is investment in low-income neighborhoods that actually lead to more and better paying jobs, as well as increased revenue to pay for city services.

While Councilman Cedillo has our endorsement, we ask that he do a better job engaging residents in the process to solve the problems in their own backyards, including updating neighborhood plans and permitting of new construction.

Both he and his staff must listen to the concerns of the residents of his district.

Recent revelations about his challenger, Joe Bray-Ali, making racist and homophobic and other despicable comments have strengthened our support for Cedillo. As we have noted in the past, Bray-Ali has demonstrated a temperament that is not only immature, but also resembles bullying.

Take, for instance, the councilman’s decision not to support a bicycle lane on North Figueroa. We believe it was a wise decision that had community support, despite the aggressive attacks by his challenger, who for a time would take to Twitter and other social media sites to blame the councilman’s decision against bike lanes for every traffic accident in the district – even some outside the district.

The truth is, just constructing bike lanes will not solve the problems on North Figueroa or in many other areas.

EGP believes reelecting Cedillo to another terms is what’s best for the residents of the first district. Cedillo is a known quantity, who has been well-vetted during his decades is public office.

We have been greatly disturbed by the number of candidates and newly elected officials who are not adequately vetted by their supporters, and even the media, only later to be found unprepared, insincere, or in the cast of Bray-Ali, unsuited for public office.

This not only wastes time and funds, both public and private, but also contributes to the lack of participation in the electoral process.

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