East Los Angeles resident and business owner Amaury Reducindo has attended his fair share of meetings about the State Route 710 North project. It’s a project he says always leads to his neighbors fighting over the freeway tunnel and light rail train alternatives proposed to improve traffic in the region.
“It seems we are being herded to pick the better choice when we should be asking for the best choice,” he said Monday during a meeting at the East Los Angeles Library.
“Lets return to the drawing board and look for something that is really going to benefit us,” Reducindo said.
He was not alone, a dozen speakers expressed frustration over proposals they claim will displace more homes and businesses in a community already divided by more than its share of freeways and the Metro Gold Line.
Sup. Hilda Solis hosted the meeting, which included health experts advising the 60 or so attendees they should also be worried about issues that could harm their health.
Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the Toxicology and Environmental Assessment Bureau for the County Public Health Department, said Metro’s Draft Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (DIR/EIS) does not adequately address the transportation project’s impact on public health. His unexpected assessment came just two days before the end of the public comment period for the environmental document.
It was the first time a county official had made such a declarative statement criticizing the report since its release in March.
From particle pollution and radioactive substances to noise and ground vibrations, the DEIR “does not address these exposures adequately to our satisfaction,” he said frankly.
Rangan and Andrea Hricko, a professor of clinical preventive medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine, detailed their concerns with the state mandated document that is supposed to describe the impact each alternative will have on the environment.
“Due to the complexity of this extremely technical EIR document, I instructed both the Department of Public Works and Department of Public Health to review the document and submit letters specific to their respective areas of expertise,” Solis told EGP in a statement.
The supervisor, however, did not say whether she agrees with the health experts’ concerns or if she too would like to see the EIR redone.
Hricko said a major flaw of the DEIR is that it failed to include information about the project’s role in completing the plan for “goods movement” started decades ago when the freeway was first built.
“By ignoring this, they [Metro] are actually being very deceptive,” she said.
For years, critics of the freeway expansion, first as a surface freeway and now possibly a tunnel, have argued that financial interests tied to the movement of goods from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are at the center of efforts to extend the freeway, thereby closing the transportation gap for trucks headed north.
That goal would be met at the expense of the environment and public health, they claim.
Health experts have long said that large numbers of trucks moving goods come with their own set of potential health risks.
Rangan and Hricko agree.
Rangan said county health officials would be submitting a document outlining the department’s many health concerns. Hricko said she and other USC professors would be doing the same.
“Metro must redo the study,” Hricko said emphatically. At the very least, “if the light rail were chosen, then Metro and Caltrans must do an EIR just for that alternative,” she emphasized.
Metro looks forward to reading the comments formally submitted before the comment period closed, agency spokesman Paul Gonzales told EGP in a statement.
“After that, Caltrans will review the comments and questions and respond as warranted,” he said.
The long battle did not originally include East L.A. An alternative for a light rail traveling on an elevated track through East L.A. was added in 2012, bringing eastside residents into the conversation that until then had for the most part been taking place in more affluent communities. As proposed, the light rail would go underground in those cities: South Pasadena, San Marino and La Cañada, leaving eastside residents to feel they will again be forced to bare the brunt of the region’s transportations needs.
In desperation, many people have decided to support the tunnel option because they want to keep the light rail out of their backyards, some speakers said.
“We have been taken by surprise,” said Reducindo. “The fact is that we are not well informed and [are just now] learning more and more about the real impact this project will have on our residents and community.”
If she had to choose just one option, Sonia Fernandez said it would be the tunnel because it’s “the one with the lowest impact to our community.” She accused Metro of not consulting with the East L.A. community before proposing alternatives that will greatly affect the area.
At previous meetings conducted by Metro, eastside residents said they are fed up with the “plague” of pollution and health issues their predominately Latino neighborhood has been forced to endure for the benefit of the region. They said they are tired of the dangerous toxic emissions from heavily traveled freeways in their area.
“I don’t think they take into account the health issues in the area,” said Rachel Vermillion, who lives a stone’s throw from the 710 freeway. “We have cases of asthma, autism and diabetes in the area.”
Residents have even gone as far as accusing Metro and Caltrans of environmental racism.
“For many years our community has been ignored, not just over health but cultural and environmental injustices,” Fernandez said.
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents the unincorporated areas of East L.A. and surrounding communities in the 40th district, previously told EGP the light rail alternative is one more example of a minority community being sacrificed to appease neighborhoods that are more affluent.
“While the light rail is being proposed under the guise of a regional solution, the fact is it is nothing more than an irresponsible and unconscionable response to the more influential areas opposing the logical completion of the 710 Freeway,” she told EGP in a statement.
Doelorez Huerta, an environmental activist in the area, gave Solis’ staff a stack of petitions Monday she said were signed by hundreds of residents. The petitions ask for Metro and Caltrans to hold more public meetings in East Los Angeles in hope that the process will be reset to the scoping phase.
“No tunnel, no train, no way,” she said. “Lets start this over and include East L.A. from the start.”
La Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles votó el martes 3-2 para elevar progresivamente el salario mínimo en las zonas no incorporadas en los próximos cinco años, alcanzando los $15 dólares por hora en el 2020.
La supervisora Hilda Solís, quien en un principio dudó debido al posible impacto en los pequeños negocios, se unió a Sheila Kuehl y Mark Ridley-Thomas en el apoyo a la ordenanza. Los supervisores Michael Antonovich y Don Knabe disintieron su voto, elevando preocupaciones sobre el impacto en los negocios.
Knabe votó a favor del incremento de salario para empleados del condado solamente.
El salario mínimo en todo el estado es de $9 dólares por hora, pero está programado para aumentar a $10 por hora en enero.
Kuehl recomendó que el aumento salarial del condado—al igual que el aumento recientemente aprobado por la ciudad de Los Ángeles—incluirá una serie de aumentos en cinco años, a partir del primero de julio de 2016, y llegando a $15 la hora para el 2020. El salario subirá a $10.50 dólares en julio de 2016, $12 dólares en julio de 2017, $13.25 en julio de 2018, $14.25 en julio de 2019 y luego a $15 el siguiente año. El incremento, al igual que en la ciudad, será retrasado en un año para las empresas con menos de 26 empleados.
Después de 2020, el salario se ajustará anualmente en base al costo de vida, algo que según Knabe dijo es “absolutamente la cosa incorrecta para hacer”.
Kuehl dijo que ella “nunca había estado más orgullosa de lo que estoy hoy en día” al darles a “decenas de miles de trabajadores de bajos ingresos cuyo trabajo ha sido infravalorado y, con demasiada frecuencia, robado” la oportunidad de entrar a la clase trabajadora en lugar de vivir en “la clase de pobreza”.
Antonovich respondió que “un salario mínimo de $15 es realmente $21.17”, una vez que se consideran los impuestos y el seguro de salud. También advirtió que los parques temáticos como Magic Mountain y minoristas como Wal-Mart y Ross podrían ser anexados a otras ciudades para evitar el pago de los salarios más altos, perjudicando el registro fiscal del condado.
“¿Van a tener a los negocios para que se queden aquí, prosperen y puedan crear puestos de trabajo o van a tener otro éxodo?” preguntó Antonovich.
La junta debatió la propuesta el mes pasado, pero aplazó la votación debido a la preocupación por el informe de Corporación de Desarrollo Económico del Condado de Los Ángeles. Solís también retuvo su apoyo a la espera de un estudio de los dueños de pequeños negocios y para considerar las formas de afectar lo menos posible el impacto del incremento salarial para ellos.
El martes, decenas de trabajadores llenaron la sala de juntas del condado en apoyo del aumento salarial, diciéndole a la junta que a pesar de trabajar a tiempo completo, no pueden pagar las necesidades básicas. Ellos se enfrentaron contra los dueños de negocios, grandes y pequeños, que en su mayoría se opusieron a la ampliación, advirtiendo a la junta que estarían obligándolos a despedir a trabajadores, recortar horas y subir los precios.
Los funcionarios electos también se presentaron para presentar su caso ante la junta.
El alcalde de Los Ángeles Eric Garcetti abrió con un argumento económico.
“La pobreza es muy, muy cara” dijo Garcetti. “Cuando perdemos billones en salarios perdidos, cuando vemos a personas que no pueden mantenerse a sí mismas, quien viene pagando por ellos? Nosotros”.
El propietario de un negocio de almacenamiento y cumplimiento en Valencia, quien dijo que él envía “20 campos de fútbol en productos de consumo” y es compatible con una nómina anual $16 millones advirtió que podría verse obligado a mudarse o a automatizar los trabajos actualmente realizados por jóvenes en situación de riesgo o trabajadores con discapacidades de desarrollo.
“Lo que estás haciendo va a ser muy perjudicial para dueños de empresas como yo”, Ken Wiseman dueño del negocio, le dijo a la junta.
Wiseman predijo que las empresas se mudarán a través de la autopista Golden State (5) a Santa Clarita, ciudad la cual espera no eleve su salario mínimo.
Un representante del parque acuático Raging Waters le dijo a la junta que el alza de salario le costará al parque $1.5 millones y prohibiría que la empresa invierta en nuevas atracciones.
La acción de la junta—que también se aplicará a los empleados del condado—deja que decenas de municipalidades decidan si van a responder de forma similar.
La alcaldesa de West Hollywood Lindsey Horvath le dijo a la junta que ella está buscando cómo su ciudad podría unirse a la ola de los que tratan de elevar el nivel de vida de las familias que luchan para pagar los gastos de vivienda y de estudiantes sepultados bajo los préstamos escolares.
“Aumentar el salario mínimo no sólo es lo correcto para hacer, es lo correcto para hacer en este momento”, dijo Horvath. “Nuestras comunidades no pueden esperar”.
Representantes empresariales advirtieron que el establecimiento de un salario mayor en áreas no incorporadas crearía una pesadilla burocrática para las empresas que operan dentro y fuera de esas “islas”.
Sin embargo, muchos representantes de negocios locales parecían resignados al resultado de la votación del martes y se centraron en la elaboración de los detalles del salario de la ordenanza.
Tracy Rafter, fundadora de BizFed, quien dijo representa a más de 140 cámaras y organizaciones empresariales, sintió “profunda preocupación” acerca de la rapidez con la que el condado se estaba moviendo para implementar un aumento tan dramático.
Pero Rafter agregó que quería centrarse en la protección de las exenciones para las organizaciones no lucrativas y empleadores adolescentes y en la elaboración de una definición de los empleados que minimizaría el impacto en las empresas que trabajan en los municipios.
Otros expresaron su apoyo por una iniciativa de pequeños negocios, defendida por los supervisores Solís y Dan Knabe, diseñada para ayudar a los negocios mediante la posibilidad de el alivio de impuestos, exenciones de cuotas o reducciones y capacitación laboral.
En un movimiento relacionado, Solís y Ridley-Thomas propusieron que el condado avance para regular el robo de salarios.
Casi el 80 por ciento de los empleados de bajos ingresos que trabajan horas extras no se les paga adecuadamente y el robo de salario—que incluye la denegación de la comida, descansos y trabajar fuera del reloj—afecta de manera desproporcionada a los inmigrantes, las mujeres y las personas de color, de acuerdo con la propuesta de los supervisores.
En una votación unánime, la junta se dirigió a los empleados para que informen sobre las posibles herramientas de aplicación, incluyendo sanciones penales, permisos y negando licencias y derechos de retención imponentes.
Se espera que un proyecto de ordenanza de salario mínimo vuelva a la junta para aprobación en 45 días.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to incrementally raise the minimum wage in unincorporated areas over the next five years, reaching $15 an hour by 2020.
Supervisor Hilda Solis, initially hesitant about the possible impact on small businesses, joined Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas in backing the ordinance. Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe dissented, raising concerns about the impact on businesses.
Knabe voted in favor of the hike for county employees only. The minimum wage statewide is currently $9 an hour, but it is scheduled to increase to $10 an hour in January.
Kuehl recommended the county wage hike, which – like the increase recently approved by the city of Los Angeles – will include a series of increases over five years, beginning July 1, 2016, and reaching $15 an hour by 2020. The wage will go to $10.50 in July 2016, $12 in July 2017, $13.25 in July 2018, $14.25 in July 2019 then to $15 the following year. The hike will also mirror the city increase by delaying the increase by one year for businesses with fewer than 26 employees.
After 2020, the wage will be adjusted annually based on the cost of living, something Knabe said he was convinced was “absolutely the wrong thing to do.”
Kuehl said she’d “never been prouder than I am today” about giving “tens of thousands of low-wage workers whose labor has been undervalued and, too often, stole” the opportunity to enter the working class rather than living in “the poverty class.”
Antonovich countered that “a $15 minimum wage is really $21.17” once taxes and health insurance are considered. He also warned that theme parks like Magic Mountain and retailers like Ross and Walmart might be annexed to other cities to avoid paying the higher wage, hurting the county tax roll.
“Are you going to have businesses stay here, thrive and create jobs or are you going to have another exodus?” Antonovich said.
The board discussed the proposal last month, but postponed a vote due to concerns over a Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation report on the issue. Solis also withheld her support while awaiting a survey of small business owners and considering ways to mitigate the impact of the wage bump for them.
Tuesday, dozens of workers packed the county boardroom in support of the wage hike, telling the board that despite working full-time, they’re unable to pay for basic necessities. They faced off against business owners, large and small, who mostly opposed the increase, warning suprvisors that they would be forced to lay off workers, cut hours and raise prices.
Elected officials also turned out to make their case to the board.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti led off with an economic argument.
“Poverty is very, very expensive,” Garcetti said. “When we lose billions in lost wages, when we see folks who can’t support themselves, who winds up paying for it? We do.”
The owner of a Valencia-based warehousing and fulfillment business who said he ships about “20 football fields of consumer products” and supports a $16 million annual payroll warned that he might be forced to move or to automate jobs currently performed by at-risk youth or developmentally disabled workers.
“What you’re doing is going to be really damaging to businesses like mine,” business owner Ken Wiseman told the board.
Wiseman predicted that businesses would move across the Golden State (5) Freeway to Santa Clarita, which he expects will not raise its minimum wage.
A representative of Raging Waters theme park told the board the wage hike will cost the park $1.5 million and would prohibit the company from investing in new attractions.
The board’s action – which will also apply to county employees – leaves dozens of municipalities to decide whether they will respond in kind.
West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath told the board she is looking at how her city might join the wave of those seeking to raise the standard of living for families struggling to pay housing costs and students buried under school loans.
“Raising the minimum wage is not just the right thing to do, it’s the thing to do right now,” Horvath said. “Our communities can’t wait.”
Business representatives warned that setting a higher wage in unincorporated areas would create a bureaucratic nightmare for businesses that operate within and outside of those “islands.”
However, many of those representing local businesses seemed resigned to the outcome of Tuesday’s vote and focused instead on working out the details of the wage ordinance.
Tracy Rafter, founder of BizFed, which she said represents more than 140 chambers and business organizations, cited “deep concern” about how fast the county was moving to implement such a dramatic increase. But Rafter said she wanted to focus on protecting exemptions for nonprofits and teenage employees and on crafting a definition of employees that would minimize the impact on businesses working across municipalities.
Others expressed support for a small business initiative, championed by Solis and Supervisor Don Knabe, designed to help businesses by potentially providing tax relief, fee waivers or reductions and workforce training.
In a related motion, Solis and Ridley-Thomas proposed that the county move to regulate wage theft.
Nearly 80 percent of low-wage workers who work overtime aren’t paid appropriately and wage theft – which includes being denied meal and rest breaks and working off the clock – disproportionately affects immigrants, women and people of color, according to the supervisors’ proposal.
On a unanimous vote, the board directed staffers to report back on potential enforcement tools including criminal penalties, denying permits and licenses and imposing liens.
A draft minimum wage ordinance is expected to come back for board approval in 45 days.
The City of Los Angeles last month voted to increase its minimum wage to $15 by 2020. Now the County Board of Supervisors is being asked to raise the minimum wage in the unincorporated areas of the County, the only area over which we have jurisdiction. After reading all the reports and digesting all of the constituent calls and letters, I want to share my thoughts on this issue.
Our starting point is the fact that poverty is alive and well amidst the abundance of our regional economy. Los Angeles County has a larger GDP than the countries of Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Taiwan. Yet, nearly 30 percent of Los Angeles County residents live in poverty, defined by the Stanford University/Public Policy Institute of California as $30,000 annual income for a family of four. That’s a city the size of Chicago made up of only men and women living in poverty, right here in our County.
Nobody supports poverty. Whether one supports or opposes a minimum wage increase, I suspect that most people believe that anyone who works full-time should earn enough to provide for their family. At the same time, it is also clear to me that increasing the minimum wage poses a real and significant challenge to many businesses, especially the small mom-and-pop businesses that make up the majority of these enterprises.
Here’s what made the difference for me. As you know, the County serves as the safety net of last resort for Los Angelenos. It may surprise you to learn that the County government provides many safety net services to people who hold a job. The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this means that the County is, in effect, subsidizing these businesses by providing the services that these workers need to survive. Taxpayers subsidize every dollar of profit earned by a business owner employing workers who rely on County services. In fact, a 2015 report by UCLA and the Economic Roundtable, estimated that raising the minimum wage could reduce public assistance expenditures by more than $300 million per year.
It may be the case that subsidizing businesses with taxpayer money is the best way to combat poverty. I don’t think so. After reading so many reports on the issue, I have come to believe that raising the minimum wage not only fights poverty but also benefits our economy as a whole. I think that most low-wage workers will immediately spend their increased income by buying goods and services to meet their families’ basic needs. They will purchase these goods and services from local businesses, stimulating our local economy.
Another issue that gave me pause is that an economy does not obey municipal boundaries. Your customers are the same whether your business is on the unincorporated or incorporated side of the street. I don’t think it makes sense for business owners to decide where to locate based on anything other than where they think their customers live or shop. I wish that the federal and state governments were acting quickly or aggressively enough to raise wages. But they are not, and local governments throughout the Country have stepped up to the plate.
Since the City has taken action, so must we. Combined, the City and the unincorporated areas would cover more than 50 percent of the more than 10 million County residents. A move by the County will also encourage more and more of the County’s other 87 cities to follow suit. Such collaboration would reduce the potential friction and competition between neighboring municipal jurisdictions. The result: a seamless, Countywide minimum wage resulting in a more stable and prosperous regional economy.
But we also need to make sure that raising the wage won’t kill jobs and disproportionately impact small businesses. That’s why the County must also act to support small businesses as they make this transition. I will introduce a motion for Tuesday that directs the County departments to move forward aggressively on a set of recommendations to support small businesses during this transition.
This is a hard issue and an important decision. But in the end, we have to acknowledge that something must be done to combat the rising inequality that is weakening our society. Ensuring that anyone who works full time can support their family is a solid step in that direction.
Hilda L. Solis is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. She served as the 25th United States Secretary of Labor from 2009 to 2013.
Updated Jul. 21. 2015
Los Angeles lags far behind big California cities like San Francisco and San Diego when it comes to attracting biotechnology and science industries to the region, but on Wednesday, L.A. County Sup. Hilda Solis was at Cal State L.A. singing the praises of the campus and the greater East Los Angeles area as viable investment opportunities for the full spectrum of bio-related industries.
Joining Solis at Cal State L.A. was U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Jay Williams, who like Solis is a proponent of leveraging the bioscience industry to promote economic development.
According to Solis’ office, the two discussed the possibility of a future biotech corridor that would stretch from Cal State L.A. to the Los Angeles County+USC medical center in Boyle Heights, an area represented by the supervisor and former labor secretary.
The biotech corridor would bring thousands of jobs to East Los Angeles, as well as promote cutting-edge research, the supervisor’s office said in an email.
“As former U.S. Secretary of Labor, I am committed to job creation and the biotech corridor is part of that vision,” said Solis, whose Supervisorial First District stands to gain from new jobs that will come as a result of this project.
Williams and Solis were given a tour of Cal State’s laboratories by President William A. Covino who talked about the University’s successful efforts to prepare students to excel in Ph.D. programs in STEM-related disciplines. They met students who are conducting research under the direction of professors Howard Xu and Cecilia Zurita Lopez.
Breana Luna, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biology, talked about Cal State L.A.’s role in fueling her interest in science.
“I’m sure your family is proud of you. Congratulations,” Williams told Luna.
Solis pointed out that Cal State L.A. plays an important role in training future researchers who will help the bioscience industry thrive in the area.
The university is at the center of the regional effort to expand bioscience businesses in the LA region and is in the process of building a bioscience incubator on its campus being paid for in part with a $3 million grant from the county.
According to Cal State, the incubator will provide laboratory space to private startup ventures to fuel their growth.The university said faculty and students will collaborate with the companies to share expertise that will benefit the university and the private sector community.
Cal State L.A. has applied for a $3 million grant from the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the agency headed by Williams. The federal grant would be used to construct a new building for the incubator on the 175-acre campus.
To date, local companies have pledged to hire 300 new workers once the incubator is built. The university anticipates construction will be completed by the end of 2016.
“Employment in the field of biotechnology is important. These specialize jobs represent our future economy,” said Solis. “We need to prepare our young students so that they can seamlessly take on these research jobs.
“But, this biotech corridor will also bring construction jobs to East Los Angeles, and it will provide entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses in the area.”
La Coalición Millones de Voces por la Reforma anunció que realizarán una marcha el 4 de julio en Los Ángeles en la que de forma simbólica los indocumentados pedirán su independencia del miedo y las deportaciones.
Gloria Saucedo, directora de Hermandad Mexicana Nacional de Pacoima, señaló que al igual que un 4 de julio las primeras colonias firmaron su emancipación, en la marcha los inmigrantes indocumentados mostrarán su deseo de vivir libremente en este país.
En la marcha, que terminará en la corte Federal, participarán familias indocumentadas que pedirán que se aplique el alivio migratorio del presidente Barack Obama, que está bloqueado en los tribunales.
Este de Los Ángeles
Cuatro personas fueron hospitalizadas el sábado por la madrugada, una con lesiones críticas, después de una breve persecución policial que terminó con su vehículo volteado a un lado de una autopista elevada.
Un pasajero fue expulsado y el otro fue detenido a punta de pistola cuando los oficiales llegaron al lugar, dijo Scott Wiese, teniente de policía de Monterey Park.
La búsqueda comenzó en el Boulevar Atlantic hacia el sur, cerca de la autopista Pomona (60) y continuó en la autopista hacia el oeste con la transición de la autopista Long Beach N. (710), dijo Wiese.
El conductor fue arrestado por de delito grave de DUI, dijo Wiese.
La Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles aprobó el lunes una moción de la Supervisora Hilda L. Solís para ofrecer a jóvenes que aún no se han inscrito en el programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA) de 2012.
Solís se manifestó especialmente interesada en asistir a los jóvenes inmigrantes que comienzan a ser elegibles para el programa al cumplir los 15 años, y a todos aquellos que podrían calificar pero que no han presentado su solicitud.
“Se estima que en el Condado de Los Ángeles hay 112,000 jóvenes inmigrantes que podrían beneficiarse del programa DACA que está en vigencia y otros 21,000 que cumplirán la edad de 15 años que los hará elegibles durante los próximos tres años”, dijo la Supervisora Solís.
Entre dichos planes está el de ofrecer información sobre los programas, referir a la comunidad a fuentes confiables de ayuda legal, y requisitos de documentación, así como prevención del fraude migratorio que ha visto recientes aumentos.
Para más información llame al (213) 974-4111.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department consult with community organizations and re-evaluate its working relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the next 90 days.
“I see this as an opportunity to move forward because we have a new sheriff. We have a new board,” Solis said.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl also voted her support for terminating the 2014 agreement, while Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe cast the dissenting votes.
As the existing agreement – dubbed Secure Communities and often referred to in shorthand as 287(g) – is terminated, the board asked McDonnell to “continue cooperating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in implementing the president’s Priority Enforcement Program.”
The second vote was 4-1, with Kuehl dissenting. She and many community activists said they see little difference between the two programs.
“It’s a distinction without a difference,” Kuehl said, with ICE agents waiting outside the jail for a “warm handoff” instead of working inside the jails.
“It is a strange day when the county Board of Supervisors takes a step forward and three steps back on immigration,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles. “With today’s votes, the BOS has closed the door shut on a disgraced deportation dragnet, but left every window open by allowing the PEP program to replace (it).”
Others, including civil rights advocate Dolores Huerta, disagreed.
“Ending this program is a huge, major step in treating our immigrants the right way,” Huerta told the board.
Meanwhile, McDonnell, who did not attend Tuesday’s hearing, has not explicitly agreed to remove ICE agents from the inmate processing center at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, though Solis and the county’s lead attorney said they believed he would do so.
In a statement Monday, McDonnell pledged to balance public safety with building community trust.
“Our department must work closely and cooperatively with federal authorities to identify and assist with the lawful investigation and prosecution of undocumented persons who pose a danger to our community,” the sheriff said. “We must also bear in mind at all times the importance of preserving community relationships as well as the due process rights of those in our custody.”
Federal officials announced back in November that Secure Communities would be discontinued in favor of PEP.
In a memo to the then-ICE Acting Director Thomas Winkowski, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said Secure Communities “is widely misunderstood and is embroiled in litigation; its very name has become a symbol for general hostility toward the enforcement of our immigration laws.”
In their motion, Solis and Ridley-Thomas said the county should “trust, but verify,” with regard to PEP.
The Priority Enforcement Program still uses fingerprint data from local arrests to check immigration status, though at booking rather than release.
Information on more inmates is shared with ICE under the PEP program, sheriff’s Chief Eric Parra told the board.
However, only undocumented immigrants who pose “a demonstrable risk to national security” or who have been convicted of, not just arrested for, certain crimes are to be targeted for deportation under the new rules.
The list does not include crimes related solely to illegal immigration. However, it does include all felonies, aggravated felonies, convictions of three or more misdemeanors or of a single “significant misdemeanor,” including domestic violence, sexual abuse, burglary, unlawful possession of a firearm, drug distribution, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or any conviction carrying a sentence of at least 90 days.
Under the California TRUST Act, which took effect last year in an effort to protect inmates’ right to due process, inmates are not to be detained beyond the end of their scheduled release date. Instead, ICE is notified in advance of an inmates’ pending release.
Community activists said collaboration with ICE undermines community trust and separates families.
Family members of those victimized and killed by undocumented immigrants made emotional pleas for the enforcement of 287(g), chiding the board for not prioritizing citizens over those in the country illegally.
The Sheriff’s Department has leeway to act on his own without board approval.
“The sheriff has complete control over the jails and everybody in them,” County Counsel Mark Saladino told the board.
More than 100 teens and young adults marched downtown Tuesday in support of an organization that trains low-income youth to build affordable housing, community centers and schools.
Some of the participants were dressed in caps and gowns, though most wore T-shirts with the YouthBuild logo. Many carried signs touting the nonprofit’s graduation rates of 1,000 students per year.
The rally brought together several YouthBuild organizations. The 260 programs nationwide enrolled 10,000 young adults last year who had dropped out of high school, according to the nonprofit’s website. YouthBuild reports that more than three-fourths of enrollees ultimately earned their high school diploma, GED or other high-school equivalency credentials.
As an organizer shouted, “Are you ready for success?” the crowd responded with a resounding,
Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who provided critical funding to YouthBuild in her role as labor secretary, told the crowd that she “could have been a statistic too,” because she grew up in a neighborhood where few of her peers went to college.
Getting a summer job changed that, Solis said.
“It taught me that I needed to do better,” she said, “… that I could do something with my life and give back.”
YouthBuild is a community-based alternative education program that offers classroom instruction along with training in construction and other occupational skills to at-risk youth ages 16-24. Students learn on the job as they build or renovate housing for low-income residents or other community projects.
One in seven Americans aged 16-24 is not working or in school, according to a 2014 study by the Social Science Research Council.
A YouthBuild organizer urged policymakers to “keep our young people’s purpose and their goals in front of you … do not use their setbacks as an excuse to fail them.”
You may qualify for “CalFresh” – food stamps – and not even know it.
About 41 percent of eligible people don’t participate in the anti-hunger drive, either because they don’t know about it or because of a perceived stigma associated with the program.
Los Angeles County officials Tuesday launched a campaign to reduce hunger and promote healthier food choices.
Supervisor Hilda Solis joined the director of the Department of Social Services and representatives from more than 40 community organizations and local businesses to declare May “CalFresh Awareness Month.”
Many Angelenos who sometimes go hungry don’t realize that they qualify for CalFresh, more commonly known as food stamps, according to DPSS director Sheryl Spiller.
“This collaboration represents an intense effort to inform and educate those most vulnerable to hunger,” Spiller said.
Others chose not to apply for aid because of the stigma sometimes associated with food stamps. To help address that issue, the state has rebranded the program under the CalFresh name and now issues benefits via an electronic benefit card that functions like a bank debit card at the grocery store.
Nearly 1.2 million people in Los Angeles County, more than half of them children, receive CalFresh benefits. Roughly 41 percent of those eligible do not participate, according to DPSS.
Benefits are scaled based on income. An eligible individual with no income would receive $194 per month, while a family of three without any income would receive $511 per month.
Los Angeles County has the largest “food insecure” population in America, according to a recent study by Feeding America. In addition to hampering children’s intellectual, physical and emotional development, hunger puts them at greater risk for obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
Following in the footsteps of the city, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday commissioned a study on the impacts of raising the minimum wage.
Acting on a motion by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis, the board agreed to spend up to $95,000 to have the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation review a series of studies performed on the city of Los Angeles’ proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour by 2017 and to $15.25 an hour by 2019.
“Today in this country we are seeing the highest wage and wealth gap in history, even greater than 1929, on the eve of the Great Depression,” Kuehl told her colleagues Tuesday. “We live in a second Gilded Age.”
The supervisors noted in their motion that 2.7 million county residents live in poverty, and nearly one in five residents cannot afford basic necessities of life.
Solis said conducting a study of a minimum wage hike “will help us determine the best way of bringing a higher standard of living to those earning a minimum wage, while ensuring that local and small business owners are not adversely affected.”
Kuehl and Solis asked that LAEDC pay particular attention to the effect of a wage increase on “mom and pop” businesses, citing census data finding that 76 percent of county businesses are “micro-businesses” employing one to nine workers.
Los Angeles city officials are still weighing the possibility of raising the minimum wage. The City Council’s Economic Development Committee last week heard presentations on competing reports on the effects of the proposed wage hike.
Councilman Paul Krekorian expressed skepticism about the wage hike plan, saying that people living in his district’s North Hollywood neighborhood often work in Burbank, a neighboring city, and would be left out of the benefits from the city’s wage increase.
Michael Reich, an economics professor who conducted the L.A.’s city-funded UC Berkeley study, dismissed the view that the wage hike would likely drive businesses to neighboring cities where there are limited real estate vacancies, and contended that Los Angeles’ wage increase could actually prompt businesses in other cities to raise their wages in order to compete for qualified workers.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the city council have proposed encouraging surrounding municipalities to consider increasing the minimum wage as part of a regional approach to wages and the economy.
Supporters of the wage hike proposal say it will lift hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers out of poverty and that businesses are capable of absorbing the increased costs, while critics of the plan, including Supervisor Michael Antonovich, say it would drive out businesses and slow job growth.
Antonovich warned that entry-level jobs critical to gaining work experience would be lost if the minimum wage is increased.
A city-commissioned study done by UC Berkeley concluded that the benefits would outweigh the negative effects. While the wage hike would prompt businesses to pass costs onto customers, driving down consumer demand, it would be offset by $2.381 billion added to workers’ wages by 2019, which is expected to increase spending, the researchers found.
But a Beacon Economics report — funded by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce — found that the wage hike to $13.25 per hour would slow job growth by killing an anticipated 73,000 to 140,000 new jobs.
A labor-funded report released by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and conducted by the Economic Roundtable concluded that the wage hike would result in $5.9 billion in added income for about 700,000 workers in Los Angeles and create more than 46,000 jobs.
Supervisor Don Knabe called for public hearings in each of the county’s five districts to gather feedback on the idea from business owners.
A spokeswoman for BizFed, the Los Angeles County Federation of Business, which represents businesses with 3 million workers, said increasing the minimum wage is a misguided idea.
“If you care about poverty, this is clearly not the solution,” Elizabeth Shapiro said, telling the board that nonprofits that serve the needy would have to cut back programs if wages were increased.
Several representatives of business interests said a 50 percent wage hike over three years would be too much for businesses to sustain.
National Farm Workers Association co-founder Dolores Huerta, who was honored by the board as part of a celebration of Cesar Chavez Day, spoke in support of a higher minimum wage.
“Cesar was very committed to making sure that the working people … that pick our food … that clean our streets … that build our automobiles… are respected and honored” and able to support their families, Huerta told the board.
Only about 5 percent of the county’s 96,000 employees are paid less than $15.25 per hour, according to the supervisors’ motion.
However, all of the approximately 15,000 workers who service county departments through outside vendors make $11.84 per hour or less, not including health-care benefits.
The LAEDC analysis will also consider how a hike in the minimum wage would impact welfare and food stamp programs for county residents. Kuehl said it was possible that a wage bump might even create “significant savings” for the county.
The board’s vote was unanimous.
A report is expected back in 60 days from the LAEDC and the county’s Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, which will collect feedback from business owners.