Banda Musical de Panamá en el Desfile de las Rosas

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

La banda musical Herberto López, del colegio panameño José Daniel Crespo, fue la única representante latina que participó en el tradicional Desfile de las Rosas en Pasadena. Dicha participación ha generado un gran orgullo y emoción entre sus 257 integrantes.

“Marchar tocando en el Desfile de las Rosas es una responsabilidad muy grande, porque no sólo [representamos] a Panamá sino a toda Latinoamérica”, dijo a Efe el jóven director de la banda, Irving Rodríguez.

“Nos hemos preparado para presentar ante el mundo todo el colorido, toda la alegría y la identidad de los latinoamericanos”, expresó el director, sobre el repertorio que ofrecieron el pasado 1 de enero.

Miembros de la banda musical panameña Herberto Lopez JDC en su participación en el “Band Fest” en Pasadena. Foto cortesía de Oscar Gonzalez

Miembros de la banda musical panameña Herberto Lopez JDC en su participación en el “Band Fest” en Pasadena. Foto cortesía de Oscar Gonzalez

Indicó que el grupo estaba constituido por 257 integrantes, de los cuales 212 son músicos y el resto son bailarines, portabanderas y maestros coordinadores. “Somos la primera banda panameña que participa en toda la historia del Desfile de las Rosas”, reveló Rodríguez, de 24 años edad, quien precisó que el repertorio se basó en música folclórica de su país, con el que rindieron tributo al centenario que cumplirá el Canal de Panamá el 15 de agosto del 2014.

Reynaldo Centella, director asistente, dijo a Efe que desde 6 meses atrás ensayaron cada día las coreografías y canciones que ofrecieron en el desfile de Pasadena, que este año cumplió su 125 edición.

“[Presentamos] La Parranda, Marcha Panamá, Patria, Tradición de Carnaval, mezclas de ritmos de nuestros tradicionales Combos Nacionales, y un Homenaje al reggae en español”, dijo.

La bailarina Laura González dijo a Efe que lucir el vestido típico de gala de la mujer panameña “es un sueño hecho realidad, como dice el lema del Desfile de las Rosas 2014”.

Por su parte, la capitana de la banda, Juliana Almanza confesó que cuando desfiló por el bulevar Colorado tocando la flauta transversa se sintió triunfante, tras recordar los esfuerzos desplegados para lograr ser elegidos entre todos los candidatos internacionales. “Todo Panamá se unió para apoyarnos, por eso con alegría [comenzamos] el año nuevo tocando nuestra música en el Desfile de las Rosas”, señaló.

Víctor Grimaldo, presidente de la organización afincada en Los Ángeles “Viva Panamá” señaló a Efe que en el 2012 iniciaron las gestiones para recaudar los fondos con miras a equipar a los jóvenes músicos.

Relata que, cuando ya creían pérdidas las posibilidades de reunir el dinero necesario, les escribió Vielka McFarland, vicepresidenta de la organización Celerity Educational Group, que ayuda escuelas Charter y “donó 50 instrumentos que valen como 90.000 dólares”, según explicó.

Añadió que el gobierno panameño contribuyó con una dotación de dinero que sirvió para cubrir un gran porcentaje de los gastos necesarios, incluídos los pasajes aéreos y alojamiento para todo el equipo.

Fundada en 1967 y originaria de la ciudad panameña de Chitre, en la provincia de Herrera, la banda, ofreció la noche del sábado un concierto en el Centro para las Artes de Centinella Valley, en Lawndale, el domingo, se presentó en el “Bandfest”, una celebración musical donde participaron 16 grupos y el lunes en  Disneylandia en el “christmas parade.”

Vernon da un Giro Ordenando a la Compañía Exide a Limpiar

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Siguiendo los pasos del Departamento de Control de Substancias Toxicas (DTSC), la ciudad de Vernon envió una orden de cumplimiento a la compañía Exide Technologies para que limpien los altos niveles de basura nociva para la salud que se encuentran en las calles, en las banquetas y colectores de fango o serán citados por violación de código de la ciudad.

En una carta que se le envió a Exide con fecha de diciembre 18, Leonard Grossberg, director de salud pública y ambiental de la ciudad de Vernon, le pidió a la controversial compañía que tiene 30 días desde que recibieron la carta para corregir tres violaciones de código de la ciudad (Sec. 13.72, Sec. 21.5.1, y Sec. 21.6.4) que pertenecen a la ilegalidad de manejar la descarga de materiales dañinos de basura en la ciudad, ya sea en el piso o en el drenaje de agua y el sistema de alcantarillado.

De acuerdo a la carta de Vernon, un hallazgo en muestras de polvo y tierra ordenadas por DTSC y con fecha de noviembre del 2013 se encontraron niveles excesivos de plomo y arsénico en 15 localidades, violando el código de la ciudad.

“Muchos de los niveles, aparentemente depositados en las calles de la ciudad, banquetas y colectores de fango exceden los niveles tóxicos del estado para los niveles de basura en plomo y excedió en arsénico en los niveles filtrados de tierra”, dice la carta.

La carta es un giro total para la ciudad la cual hasta ahora ha dicho que no tiene la autoridad para ejecutar  estándares de salud ambiental o para tomar acciones en las constantes emisiones químicas en Exide, prefiriendo dejar las ejecuciones y castigos a DTSC y a los oficiales del distrito de supervisión de calidad del aire.

Esa postura sin embargo ha creado una dura critica entre los residentes y oficiales electos en las comunidades vecinas quienes dicen no entender por que la ciudad no cambia los códigos de zonas o cualquier otra ordenanza para cerrar Exide. La critica llega al mismo tiempo que la ciudad trata de sobrepasar alegatos pasados de corrupción y el ser una ciudad mala y tóxica.

Antes de mandar la orden de cumplimiento en diciembre, los oficiales de Vernon estaban siguiendo el liderazgo de DTSC o los oficiales del distrito de supervisión de calidad del aire, escribiendo cartas apoyando sus recomendaciones o llamando para enviarles avisos de riesgo de salud a los residentes del área sobre las emisiones de arsénico y las causas de cáncer por Exide. En septiembre, Grossberg dijo al concejal de la ciudad de Vernon que el Distrito de Supervisión de Calidad de Aire del Sur de California (SCAQMD) se había negado a entregar las recomendaciones porque no había “pruebas científicas” agregando que él “no puede entregar una recomendación de riesgo a la salud”.

Como previamente lo reportó a EGP Scott Porter abogado de la ciudad de Vernon dijo que cerrar Exide para cambiar los códigos de zonas para esforzar la clausura de Exide sería una violación a la cláusula de protección equitativa en la constitución, “La constitución y zonas no funcionan así. No hay ciudad que legalmente puedan enmendar su código de zonas, de esta manera prohibir operación ilegal de una compañía multimillonaria…

“La ciudad legalmente no le puede decir a los dueños de Exide ‘aunque nunca hayan violado los códigos de zonas, porque no nos gustas, deberás cerrar inmediatamente’”, dijo Porter al concejo en septiembre.

La ciudad ha decidido que no tiene autoridad en que hacer, citando códigos de la ciudad existentes como bases de la orden de acato. La ciudad dice que la compañía de reciclaje de plomo-acido ha violado los códigos que prohíbe tirar la basura dañina  en la ciudad y al fallar por no tirar apropiadamente esos materiales tóxicos.

Similar a la orden de DTSC para conducir una limpieza de emergencia fuera del sitio de la tierra contaminada, polvo y sedimento alrededor de 1.500 pies de la planta, Vernon le pide a Exide que remueva y limpie todas las descargas o materiales dañinos en 15 locaciones especificas de la ciudad. La ciudad dijo que se deben hacer exámenes para confirmar la extracción de los materiales dañinos.

Ambas ordenes vienen después que SCAQMD diera la orden de cerrar la compañía hasta que se controlen las emisiones toxicas de la planta. Cientos de residentes del condado de Los Ángeles testificaron en una audiencia en apoyo para cerrar la planta en Vernon.

Mientras la clausura esta siendo revisada por los oficiales del distrito de calidad de aire vienen repercusiones financieras para la compañía, el incumplimiento ante la ciudad de Vernon, con cada violación siendo castigada con una multa de no más de $1.000 y/o encarcelamiento en una cárcel del condado por no más de 6 meses.

Se Otorga “El Día de los Niños Triquis en Los Ángeles”

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los niños de la tribu Triquis, de Oaxaca, integrantes de un equipo de baloncesto que juega descalzo, fueron reconocidos el viernes durante un acto celebrado en el consulado de México y que contó con la participación de concejales de Los Ángeles.

“Nos da mucho orgullo que un grupo de pequeños de una región con tanta tradición cultural y tan apartada de México, como son los Triquis de Oaxaca, venga a despertar el interés de propios y extraños”, dijo a Efe el cónsul general de México en Los Ángeles, Carlos Sada.

Niños Triquis en juego amistoso durante “la Copa Navideña” en Los Ángeles. Foto de EGP por Jacqueline Garcia

Niños Triquis en juego amistoso durante “la Copa Navideña” en Los Ángeles. Foto de EGP por Jacqueline Garcia

Durante el acto desarrollado en la sede consular, Sada hizo entrega de un reconocimiento escrito a los 17 niños integrantes del equipo, y a sus entrenadores, a la vez que destacó la labor como “embajadores deportivos de Oaxaca, México” que realizan los menores.

“Esperamos que otros equipos de fútbol o beisbol puedan aprender de ellos, todo para que las comunidades puedan seguir progresando”, destacó el funcionario, quien puso de relieve que “no es cierto que solamente pueden sobresalir los que tienen muchos recursos económicos”.

“Llegó un maestro de Ciudad de México (Sergio Zuñiga), los capacitó, les inculcó una mentalidad diferente para ser campeones, y ahí están los resultados”, indicó.

En el acto del viernes participó el concejal Mitch O’Farrell, del distrito 13 de Los Ángeles, quien entregó a los jugadores un pergamino oficial por su participación en la reciente “Copa Navideña en Los Ángeles”, un torneo amistoso celebrado este mes.

“Hoy en Los Ángeles es el día de Los Triquis”, afirmó O’Farrell, en alusión a la designación de “El día de los Niños Triquis en Los Ángeles”, una declaratoria municipal que destaca que los menores de esta tribu “son un ejemplo al mundo de que el espíritu humano prevalece sobre todos los obstáculos”.

Por su parte, Guillermo Merino, el director de la Academia de Baloncesto Indígena de México, que entrena a los niños de la tribu Triqui, dijo a Efe que “es importante y sorprendente este reconocimiento del consulado y la municipalidad de Los Ángeles”.

“Sólo nos pusimos a trabajar para que estos niños se dedicaran a estudiar y jugar, para que tengan un futuro mejor, y los reconocimientos nos indican que vamos bien, vamos avanzando”, indicó.

“Ahora lo que buscamos es que nos ayuden para crear un fondo, en fideicomiso, para que los niños Triquis tengan becas de estudio hasta terminar una profesión universitaria”, reveló.

Merino explicó que el equipo de “Los Niños Triquis”, cuyas edades oscilan entre los 6 y 11 años de edad, está compuesto por los 17 miembros de la selección básica, además de otros 20 integrantes que se entrenan en el estado de Guerrero. Precisó que la capacitación deportiva se extiende a un centenar de niños en México.

Entre los logros conseguidos por “Los niños Triquis de Oaxaca” figuran el campeonato logrado en la Copa Caribe, torneo celebrado en República Dominicana, y el IV Festival Mundial de Mini-Baloncesto, desarrollado en Argentina.

El equipo arribó a Los Ángeles para participar desde el pasado 18 de diciembre en “La Copa Navideña”, un torneo amistoso al que acudieron invitados por la Secretaria del Deporte de la Federación Oaxaqueña de Comunidades Indígenas en California (FOCOICA).

Tal como informó Merino, a raíz de esta visita se está coordinando junto al equipo profesional de baloncesto Los Lakers “un campamento de entrenamiento en Los Ángeles, para promover la excelencia en el deporte a otros niños que viven en EE.UU.”

Vernon Does About Face, Orders Exide to Clean Up

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Following in the footsteps of the state Department of Toxic Substance Control, the city of Vernon has ordered Exide Technologies to clean up high levels of hazardous waste found on streets, sidewalks and storm water catch basins or be fined for city code violations.

In a letter sent to Exide dated December 18, Vernon’s director of Public Health and Environmental Control, Leonard Grossberg, advised the controversial battery recycler that it has 30 days from receipt of the letter to correct violations of three city codes — Sections 13.72, 21.5.1 and 21.6.4 — pertaining to the unlawful handling and discharging of hazardous waste within the city, either on the ground or in the city’s storm drain and sewer system.

Exide, a battery lead-acid recycler located in the city of Vernon is now taking heat from city officials.  (EGP Archive)

Exide, a battery lead-acid recycler located in the city of Vernon is now taking heat from city officials. (EGP Archive)

According to Vernon’s letter, a DTSC dust and soil sampling report dated November 2013 found excessive levels of lead and arsenic at 15 different locations in the city, in violation of city code.

“Several of the levels, apparently deposited on city streets, sidewalks and storm water catch basins exceeded State hazardous waste levels for lead and exceeded soil screening levels for arsenic,” the letter states.

The letter is a complete about face for the city which until now has repeatedly said it lacks authority to enforce environmental health standards or to take action on Exide’s ongoing hazardous chemical emissions, preferring to instead leave enforcement and punitive measures up to DTSC and air quality district officials.

That stance has however been met with harsh criticism by residents and elected officials in neighboring communities who said they could not understand why the city would not just change its zoning codes or other city ordinances to shut Exide down. The criticism comes as the city tries to emerge from past allegations of corruption and being a bad and toxic neighbor.

Prior to issuing its compliance order in December, Vernon officials had for the most part chosen to follow the lead of DTSC or air qualify management district officials, writing letters supporting their recommendations or calling on them to issue seemingly meaningless health risk advisories to area residents about Exide’s cancer causing arsenic emissions. In September, Grossberg told Vernon’s city council that AQMD had declined to issue such advisories because it lacked “scientific proof,” adding he “cannot issue a health risk advisory.”

As EGP previously reported, Vernon’s Deputy City Attorney Scott Porter said changing city-zoning codes to force Exide’s shut down would be a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the Constitution: “The Constitution and zoning don’t work like that. No city may legally amend their zoning code to thereby illegally prohibit operation of a multi-million dollar facility …

“The city cannot legally say to Exide owners ‘even though you’ve never violated our zoning codes, because we don’t like you, you’re hereby shut down effective immediately,’” Porter told the council last September.

The city has now decided it does have authority on which to act, citing existing city codes as the basis for its compliance order. The city claims the lead-acid battery recycler has violated city codes prohibiting the unlawful dumping of hazardous waste in the city and for failing to properly dispose of hazardous materials.

Similar to DTSC’s order to conduct an emergency clean up of off-site contaminated soil, dust and sediment within 1,500 feet of the plant, Vernon’s letter orders Exide to remove and clean all illegal discharges of hazardous materials at 15 specific locations within the city. The city said testing must be conducted to confirm the removal of the hazardous waste.

Both orders come on the heels of a hearing on the Southern California Air Quality Management District’s order to shut the facility down until it can safely control toxic emissions from the plant. Hundreds of southeast Los Angeles County residents testified at the hearing in support of shutting down the Vernon plant.

While the shut down order being sought by air quality district officials comes with significant financial ramifications for the company, non-compliance with Vernon’s order is less so, with each violation being punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000 and/or by imprisonment in county jail for no more than six months.

2014 Rings In New Laws

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A slew of bills passed last year by state and local legislators on everything from parking meter enforcement, plastic bag use and how quickly people must be notified when their personal information has been breached while in the care of a public agency, became law yesterday, Jan. 1.

EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia

EGP Photo by Jacqueline Garcia

Some of the laws will be immediately evident, especially in the City of Los Angeles where Angelenos will join residents in some areas of the County who must now provide their own, preferably reusable bags when shopping at large retailers such as Vons, Ralphs and Walmart, or be charged 10 cents for paper bags.

The law also bans drug stores like CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, and convenience stores like 7-Eleven from using plastic bags. The ban goes into effect July 1 for smaller, independent grocery stores, drug stores and convenience food-marts.

Plastic bags will still be allowed at restaurants and department stores. The thin plastic sacks used for produce and meat are also exempt from the ban.

The city’s goal is to reduce the number of non-biodegradable disposable bags which activists from environmental organizations such as Heal the Bay say will lead to cleaner beaches, storm drains, rivers and other public spaces.

Representatives of plastics companies said the ban would cost jobs, while others contend reusable bags are prone to germs and pose a health risk.

The council approved the ban earlier this year. In June, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed the ban into law, making Los Angeles the most populous city in the nation to ban single-use plastic bags.

The law is similar to one adopted by Los Angeles County. A statewide ban proposed by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, a former Los Angeles city councilman, was defeated in May.

Other laws being ushering the New Year include Assembly Bill 1149 and Senate Bill 46, which now requires all public agencies to comply with California’s information privacy breach notice law, and expands the scope of personal information that prompts the notification.

The files of public agencies, including cities, counties, school districts contain a great deal of personal information that is widely sought by identity thieves, including dates of birth, Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, email addresses and medical information.

Local public agencies are now required to disclose when unencrypted data is believed to have been acquired by an unauthorized person, and it must be done as quickly as possible and without unreasonable delay. The notice must be written in plain language and include the name and contact information of the agency; a list of the types of personal information compromised; time and date of the breach; length of any delays between the breach and notice; a general description of the incident and contact information for credit reporting agencies.

The agency may also include information about the agency’s response and advice on preventing fraud and identity theft after a breach.

State legislators also passed an increase to California’s minimum wage law to $10 an hour, but the increase will be phased-in over the next two years, with the first $1 increase coming on July 1, 2014 and the second on Jan. 1, 2016.

However a bill requiring the paying of overtime to a “domestic work employee who is a personal attendant,” did become law on Wednesday. The law does not apply to casual babysitters.

Consumers using credit, debit or calling cards for payphones in a pinch – such as stranded holiday travelers, those caught with dead cell phones or troops in transit – are now better protected from fees of up to $20 for 20 seconds under SB 50, a law mandating signage disclosing fees on all payphones.

New laws authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles dealing with parking inequities and hit and run drivers took effect statewide on Jan. 1.

One will allow motorists to park in spaces controlled by broken meters for the maximum amount of time on the meter, according to Gatto’s office.

“Taxpayers already pay for street maintenance, meter installation and meter upkeep,” Gatto said of AB 61. “Local governments should take responsibility and keep parking meters in good working order, not squeeze a double-penalty out of cash-strapped citizens.”

The L.A. City Council voted earlier this year to allow motorists to park at broken meters, but reserved the right to reinstate the penalty at some future unspecified date. Gatto’s law puts an end to double-dealing on parking penalties.

The issue of fairness in parking enforcement has become such a hot potato that it has sparked a genuine citizen’s revolt in Los Angeles that may well shake up city government. It’s a movement designed to reform and reorient a parking fine system critics claim is geared toward revenue generation at the expense of residents and business owners.

Steve Vincent, a financial analyst from Studio City and Jay Beeber, a Sherman Oaks activist, whose work contributed to the end of the city’s Red Light camera program in 2011, are spearheading a parking fine revolt.

Their proposal, as outlined on their website, would limit the cost per hour at meters, lower the maximum fines, require all meters to allow at least three hours of parking, end parking restrictions at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. as some are now.

They would also ban meters in residential areas and require at least half the money collected from a meter to go back to that geographical area for improvements in that area.

Vincent, Beeber and their band of parking rebels also want to prohibit the city from selling off the municipal parking meter system to private investors at some future time or use it to securitize future revenues, and they want to eliminate the requirement that a vehicle be removed from a metered parking space once the meter has expired and allow additional payment for use of the space.

“We are working towards developing a ballot measure that will mandate that the city manage our parking resources to facilitate commerce, ease of transit and livability,” according to a statement issued by the group on the website of the Los Angeles Parking Freedom Initiative. “Parking enforcement must be exercised as a necessary and vital service rendered in the public interest, not as a business opportunity to be exploited for profit.”

Los Angeles collects $300 million in annual parking revenue, about $150 million of that from tickets, according to citywatchla.com.

Another new law, AB 184, addresses what has become a growing problem in the Southland: drivers leaving accident scenes.

The measure extends the current three-year statute of limitations to six for investigating hit-and-run crashes that result in death or serious injury.

“Thousands of hit-and-run victims suffer life-threatening injuries annually,” Gatto said. “Allowing the perpetrators to avoid prosecution just adds insult to these injuries.”

County Enters 2014 With Many Same Challenges

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County’s enviable revenue gains boosted its credit rating and funded pay increases for county workers for the first time in nearly five years in 2013, but the county came under harsh criticism over violence in county jails and dealt with a late-year strike by social workers.

After five years of deficits — reaching nearly a half-billion dollars in 2010-11 — and cuts averaging 15 percent across all departments, Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka presented a $25.3 billion balanced budget.

Increasing property and sales tax revenues allowed the county to begin to restore its “rainy day” and other reserve funds, even as other municipalities faced bankruptcy.

“In some cities, they can’t even fill the potholes and pave the streets,” Supervisor Don Knabe said.

Rating agency Standard & Poor’s upgraded Los Angeles County’s long-term credit rating from AA to AA-plus, the highest rating it has ever assigned to the county.

Employees were given a 6 percent raise, phased in between contract signing and April 2015. But the financial bounty did not prevent one union, Service Employees International Union Local 721, from calling a strike that lasted six days before officials returned to the bargaining table to hammer out a deal.

Negotiations included such non-economic issues as social worker caseloads, cited as too high for employees to effectively juggle.

The widely reported fatal beating of Gabriel Fernandez — an 8-year-old Palmdale boy allegedly tortured by his mother’s boyfriend despite multiple reports of abuse to the county Department of Children and Family Services — was a stark example of the need for changes. The county moved to fire four employees in the wake of the boy’s death.

DCFS Director Philip Browning said new hires would result in lower caseloads come January and pointed to more intensive training and streamlined policies as critical changes. But a commission on child welfare appointed by the board has yet to publish its findings.

DCFS hardly stood alone in its troubles. Eighteen current and former sheriff’s deputies were indicted in a federal probe of alleged abuse of jail inmates and visitors. The charges include allegations that deputies altered records in an attempt to hide a jailed FBI informant from his federal contacts.

Those indictments followed a raft of reforms recommended by the Citizens’ Commission on Jail Violence, millions of dollars in legal settlements paid on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department and the establishment of an Office of Inspector General to provide a check on the department.

Sheriff Lee Baca hired Assistant Sheriff Terri McDonald to oversee the jail system, and several senior leaders, including Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, retired, resigned or otherwise left the department.

Jail overcrowding was another issue dogging the department, due, in part, to state law that shifts responsibility for thousands of non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offenders to county jails rather than state prisons.

The board is working with an outside consultant to develop a plan for construction and modernization of county jail space that could cost up to $1.6 billion, while civil rights advocates urged the supervisors to consider alternatives to more cells, like pretrial release, electronic monitoring and more community resources to reduce recidivism.

Health-care reform offered a win for the county this year, as its Department of Health Services enrolled roughly 290,000 of the county’s neediest residents in an expanded Medi-Cal program taking effect Jan. 1.

DHS Director Dr. Mitchell Katz also announced that he expects the department to run a surplus of $11.5 million for the year ending June 30, 2014, and more than $150 million for the following year.

As a new year dawns, the Board of Supervisors is preparing for dramatic change. Gloria Molina, the first Latino member of the board, and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will both give up their seats due to term limits. It will be the first significant turnover of the board in years, as incumbents are rarely challenged. Molina was first elected in 1991 and Yaroslavsky will have represented the 3rd District for 20 years when he cedes his spot.

Both races have already attracted political heavyweights. Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has garnered the backing of SEIU Local 721 and seems to have little competition in her bid to succeed Molina.

The race for Yaroslavsky’s seat is likely to be much more competitive. Former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl and West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran have declared their candidacy, while former Los Angeles Controller and failed mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel and former Santa Monica Councilman Bobby Shriver are each mulling a run.

Another two board seats will turn over in 2016, when Knabe and the board’s longest-serving member, Supervisor Michael Antonovich, are termed out.

That will leave only one member of this year’s board, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, still in office, assuming he wins re-election in 2016.

USC Commits Millions to Hazard Park Upgrades, Says Councilmember Huizar

January 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The University of Southern California has backed away from plans to build a street through a popular local park as part the expansion plan for its Health Sciences Medical Campus, and has now agreed to invest $1 million for improvements at that park, the office of Councilman Jose Huizar has announced.

USC’s expansion plan includes the building of a 178-unit student housing facility, a child daycare center and a hotel to accommodate the growing number of health service professionals and scientists being recruited to the area. Their goal is to also make the area more pedestrian friendly by building new connecting walkways in some areas and widening others which already exist.

The plan included a proposal to dissect Hazard Park by building a new street through it on land owned by the university. The propodsal drew the ire of local residents who said it would destroy valuable natural habitat and take away scarce green space in the densely populated community near the LAC+USC Medical Center, which also includes General Hospital. Community activists also said USC’s plans would bring greater density to an area where adequate parking is already a big issue.

At several community meetings facilitated by Huizar, community activists called on USC to drop its development plans for the park and to instead contribute to improving park facilities to better serve the community where it is located. Speaking loudly and passionately, they told the university it was time to be a good neighbor and to consider other alternatives to splitting up Hazard Park, home to a one-time armory that now houses a number of youth oriented service programs.

According to Huizar, USC has agreed to include plans for substantially increasing available parking in the area over the next three years. They have also agreed to vacate the parkland they own, valued at $1.5 million, and turn it over the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks. In doing, so, “the University is forgoing any future development of that property,” according to Huizar’s press release announcing the agreement.

The streetscape plan and pedestrian improvements still calls for the removal of some parking meters to allow for wider sidewalks and new tree plantings, but the removal will be phased in over two 10-year phases. USC, however, will also add 40 metered parking spaces in a new surface parking lot adjacent to the park, plus eight additional metered spaces on the new Norfolk extension, for a total of 48 new spaces that will benefit park-goers, according to Huizar.

They have also agreed to permanently preserve street parking immediately adjacent to Hazard Park on Norfolk and San Pablo Streets, and the Council office worked with USC to preserve more than 250 street parking meter spaces for the next 10 years.

As part of it’s Health Sciences Master Plan, USC had previously indicated it would invest $12 million to move utilities underground and would pay to construct a new sidewalk on Soto for Hazard Park and new pedestrian crosswalks.

“Hazard Park is a long treasured community asset and a source of pride for many,” said Huizar. “When these plans were initially announced, I asked USC to meet with the community to hear their concerns, which they did. During these frank and open discussions, USC heard from a vocal, passionate and proud community who let the university know that more work was needed. To their credit, working with my office, USC responded with an agreement that not only brings much-needed improvements to the park, but shows the university’s commitment to engage the Hazard Park community in a positive manner now and in the future,” the councilman said.

“No agreement of this magnitude would’ve been possible without the community making sure their voices were heard. I want to thank the Hazard Park Preservation Committee and all our other concerned residents for their activism.”

Suspects Wanted In Highland Park Shooting

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(LAPD)

(LAPD)

Los Angeles police released photos and descriptions of two men wanted for the fatal shooting of a 7-Eleven clerk at a Highland Park store.

Authorities said Gonzalo Perez, 38, was killed during an apparent robbery, which happened about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22 at 5138 N. Figueroa St.

Investigators said both suspects are black and in their 20s. One was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds. He wore a black hooded jacket, blue jean short pants, black and white shoes and red gloves.

The second suspect is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. He was dressed in a black hooded sweater, blue jeans and had on blue and white shoes.

Anyone with information about the suspects’ whereabouts is asked to call detectives at (323) 344-5744.

 

Locals Take Part In Rose Parade 125th Anniversary Celebration

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(EGP Photos by Fred Zermeno)

(EGP Photos by Fred Zermeno)

Montebello Girl Scout Troop 3111 helped prep about 800 dozen flowers used on floats taking part in the 125th Anniversary of the Rose Parade® on New Years Day 2014. Pictured: Back row, from left to right: Sabrina, Mia, Bianca and Jackie. Front row: Rianna, Megan and Zoe.

Breves de la Comunidad

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Ángeles

Si usted es, o conoce a alguien mayor de 60 años y califique bajo la guía de ingresos para ancianos de $1,180 por mes (1 persona) o $1.594 por mes (2 personas) podría recibir ayuda por parte del Programa de Comida Suplementaria en el Área Regional de Los Ángeles del Banco de Comida.

Este programa provee un paquete de comida gratis una vez por mes, preparado con nutrientes escenciales como carne, frutas y vegetales enlatados, leche en polvo, cereales y otros productos relacionados.

Requerimientos: ser mayor de 60 años, presentar una identificación con foto y fecha de nacimiento, prueba de ingresos economicos y/o una tarjeta de Medi-CAL. Para más información llame al (1-800) 510-2020 o visite: www.lafoodbank.org

 

Los Ángeles

El departamento de la ciudad de Los Ángeles le recomienda reciclar su árbol navideño. Si el árbol es pequeño pongalo dentro del bote de reciclaje y si es grande para ponerlo dentro, simplemente pongalo al lado del bote de reciclaje verde el día de recolección de basura.

No olvide remover todas las decoraciones. Para quienes viven en apartamentos se les pide que dejen el árbol en la orilla de la banqueta el día de recolección de basura. O si prefiere llevarlo a un lugar de reciclaje visite www.lacitysan.org para encontrar una localidad cercana.

 

Boyle Heights

El concejal Jose Huizar anunció que el Distrito 14 será el beneficiario de un fondo federal para proyectos de mejora en la seguridad de los peatones incluyendo un paso de peatones en la “Curva S” de Alhambra Road en El Sereno, topes y cruces de peatones con luces intermitentes en Olympic Blvd. en Boyle Heights y cruces peatonales con luces intermitentes en Eagle Rock, Highland Park y Glassel Park.

Huizar trabajó con el departamento de transporte para solicitar el fondo indicando preocupaciones de los peatones en el distrito.

Los fondos federales aprobados serán asignados bajo el Programa de Seguridad de Mejora de Carreteras (HSIP) y el programa será administrado por Caltrans durante el proyecto.

 

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