DUI Arrests Up – Enforcement Ongoing

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 The annual Avoid the 100 winter holiday crackdown on intoxicated driving in Los Angeles County has resulted in the arrests of 1,996 suspected drunken or drugged drivers, up from 1,913 last year during the same time period, authorities said Monday.

The arrests were made between 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 13 and midnight Sunday.

The Avoid the 100 campaign includes dozens of sobriety/driver’s license checkpoints and more than 200 “roving DUI saturation patrols” in various areas of the county. The patrols will continue through New Year’s Day.

Avoid the 100 is named for the 100 participating law enforcement agencies.

A blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent is considered too drunk to drive.

According to some estimates, a first-time drunken driving conviction, can cost up to $10,000, including bail, fines, legal fees and increased insurance costs.

Armed Lincoln Heights Home Invasion Suspects in Custody

January 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

 Four suspects are in custody after a siege-like home invasion that lasted 2 1/2 hours in Lincoln Heights Sunday.

The four suspects, armed with handguns, entered the single-family house, on the 2600 block of Alta Street, soon after 2 a.m. said Los Angeles police Capt. Martin Baeza.

One of the suspects was armed with a shotgun, according to LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.

A dispatcher at the Hollenbeck Community Police Station said a 911 call came into the station from the address at 2:15 a.m.

Baeza said in a broadcast interview that one of the suspects gave himself up when police arrived, but the remaining suspects stayed in the house.

He described the residents in the house as hostages.

In a later interview on ABC7, Neiman said three of the suspects fled the residence immediately, but a fourth remained on the scene.

Residents of surrounding houses were evacuated during the stand-off, and a SWAT unit was also in attendance, Baeza said.

The last of the four suspects was eventually found hiding in the back yard of the residence, he said.

None of the residents in the house was harmed, Baeza said. It was not yet known what material the suspects were looking for, he said.

An ABC7 report said all of the suspects were male.

Boyle Heights Fires Quickly Contained

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Firefighters extinguished a blaze inside a shed inside a city park in Boyle Heights Monday, a fire department spokesman said.

The fire inside the outbuilding at Hollenbeck Park, 2134 E. 4th St., was reported at 2:39 p.m., said fire department spokesman Erik Scott. The department dispatched 30 firefighters to the scene and they doused the flames in 17 minutes, Scott said.

No injuries were reported.

On Sunday, a non-injury fire in single unit of a two-story apartment building in Boyle Heights was knocked down in 12 minutes, authorities said.

The fire at 2549 Wabash Ave. was reported at 8:20 p.m., Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

A total of 30 firefighters responded and contained the blaze to the kitchen and living room of the apartment where the fire broke out, he said.

Authorities Search for Driver in Rosemead Hit-and-Run

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A woman walking in a Rosemead intersection was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver and the sheriff’s department hopes the public can help locate the vehicle, a lieutenant said Monday.

The crash occurred at 6:26 p.m. Sunday at the intersection of Greendale and Marshall avenues, said Lt. William Wicker of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Temple Station.

Qingrong Chai, 69, died at the scene, according to the coroner’s office. The woman would have celebrated her 70th birthday next month, Wicker said.

There were no traffic lights at the intersection and Wicker did not know if there was a crosswalk.

The vehicle was described as a dark or gray SUV and its lights were off at the time of the crash, he said. Deputies suspect the vehicle has driver’s side front-end damage.

If you have information about the vehicle or driver, call Det. Payne at the Temple Station, (626) 285-7171.

Monterey Park Settles Discrimination Lawsuit With Former Fire Chief

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The city of Monterey Park and its ex-fire chief have settled the woman’s lawsuit alleging she suffered disparate treatment, was harassed and eventually forced out because she is gay.

Cathleen Orchard’s lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2011, alleged discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, harassment, retaliation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

She also claimed the stress from the alleged mistreatment forced her to leave her job. Her attorneys filed court papers Dec. 16 stating the case was resolved, but no terms were divulged.

Defense attorneys denied any wrongdoing by city officials. They stated in their court papers that Orchard was never disciplined, denied a promotion, transferred to a less desirable job or discriminated against. They also denied she was forced to quit her job.

The city’s attorneys additionally maintained that most of Orchard’s claims were barred because they were filed too late.

Orchard was hired by the city as a training officer in May 1999 and was appointed chief in June 2005. She was one of only about 65 female chiefs nationwide and one of about five in the state, according to her complaint.

Orchard also stated in a sworn declaration that from the time she was hired there were no females in the department until 2007, when Jill Herbert was given a firefighter job.

“Throughout my career in the fire service, I have observed first-hand that females are often treated with hostility,” she stated. “I have observed that women in the fire service are treated differently than men.”

Orchard stated she has been married to her longtime partner since July 2008.

The alleged mistreatment began before Orchard was named chief when she was not given the same protective gear as male firefighters, according to her court papers. Upon being named chief, city council members were “visibly agitated when (Orchard’s) partner was included in the traditional portion of the presentation devoted to spouses,” she claimed.

Orchard also contended she was subjected to excessive scrutiny and criticism by city officials, including a berating by one council member concerning her choice of a location for the construction of a new fire station.

She said the site favored by the council violated a city ordinance precluding the building of such facilities in city parks, and was “dangerously located close to a school.”

She also maintained she was further shunned by three council members after she recommended that two paramedics be fired for falsifying a report concerning their treatment of an injured man.

“When it became clear that (Orchard) would not turn a blind eye to the misconduct of the two paramedics, various council members and Monterey Park personnel engaged in adverse employment actions that can only be described as a systematic attempt to discredit (her) or lay the foundation for her ultimate termination,” her suit alleged.

Don’t Dump Your Christmas Tree, Recycle It

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

The best way to get rid of an old Christmas Tree is to recycle it, according to the public works departments in several local cities and Los Angeles County.

Not only is recycling better for the environment, it’s also safer since ongoing dry weather conditions and gusty winds can quickly turn a dried out Christmas Tree into a fire danger. In this type of weather, an improperly dumped tree can quickly spark like a match, and its flame spread rapidly by gusty winds.

A recycled tree on the other hand can be used as compost, mulch, or ground cover, which reduces the production of landfill waste and preserves natural resources.

In many local cities, recycling a Christmas Tree can be done safely and easily just by placing it next to your trash bin on regular trash collections days during the first two week of January. Some larger trees may have to be cut in half and placed in a green recycling bin, or they can be taken to one of several conveniently located drop-off sites that will open on selected dates. Those who miss their curbside recycling dates should cut their trees into smaller pieces and place them in a green waste container.

No matter what recycling method you choose, be sure to follow some basic steps required by most trash haulers before disposing your tree: remove all ornaments, decorations, tinsels and stand from the tree before it is picked up or dropped off. Many haulers will not accept flocked trees for recycling, so another means of disposal should be used. Check your city website or visit www.CleanLA.com or call 1(888) CLEANLA for more guidelines.


Local City and County Guidelines 

Unincorporated LA County: County’s 160 unincorporated communities can recycle their trees by leaving them curbside on regular trash collection days through Jan. 18.

Bell Gardens: Curbside recycling through Jan. 14. From Jan. 15 to Jan. 23, residents can drop their Christmas Trees off at Veterans Park – 6662 Loveland Street – and Bell Gardens Public Works Yard – 8327 S. Garfield Ave. – 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Flocked trees not accepted. For more information, call Athens Services at (888) 336-6100.

City of Commerce: Curbside recycling through Jan. 14. Flocked trees cannot be recycled and will be collected as waste. After Jan. 18, follow regular recycling procedures and cut the tree into pieces no longer than 4 feet and place them in your greenwaste container. For more information, call (562) 259-1239.

City of Los Angeles: LA Bureau of Sanitation offers curbside collection on regular trash collection days. If your Christmas tree is too big to cut and place inside the green waste bin, simply place the tree next to your green waste bin on collection day. Residents of multifamily buildings should also place trees on the curb on their building’ regular collection day,

The city of Los Angeles will hold tree a drop-off event this Saturday, Jan. 5 at multiple locations throughout the city, including several fire stations. Christmas Trees will be accepted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at these local drop-off sites:

—Griffith Park – Junction of Golden State (5) & Ventura (134) Freeways in the LA Zoo parking lot.

—L.A. Fire Station #44 -1410 Cypress Ave., 90065-Cypress Park, (213) 485-6244.

For other Los Angeles locations, visit www.lacitysan.org/tree-recycle .

Montebello and Monterey Park: Athens Services provides the Christmas Tree recycling service in both cities on normal pickup days through the second week of January. Trees are delivered to Puente Hills Landfill where they are ground up and used as mulch or cover material at the landfill. Trees over 6 feet in length must be cut in half. Trees with flocking or fire retardants ARE acceptable. If you miss the date for recycling, please cut up your tree and place it in your yard waste container(s). For more information, contact Athens Services at (888) 336-6100.

Vernon: Christmas Trees can be placed curbside Jan. 6-9 for pick up. Flocked trees are not accepted for recycling. For more information, call (323) 583-8811 ext. 231.

Panama Band Makes Music In Rose Parade

January 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Music band Herberto Lopez JDC in front of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (Photo courtesy of Viva Panama/Herberto Lopez JDC)

Music band Herberto Lopez JDC in front of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. (Photo courtesy of Viva Panama/Herberto Lopez JDC)

A glorious sounding and colorful marching band and drill team from Panama had the distinction of being the only entry of its type from Latin America in this year’s 125 anniversary of the Rose Parade® in Pasadena.

The 257 member group, Herberto Lopez JDC’s, comprised of 212 musicians and the rest dancers, song girls and teachers-coordinators, played a repertoire of Panamanian folk songs, which they said was a tribute to the Panama Canal Centennial taking place August 15, 2014.

Prior to the Rose Parade, the group participated in the annual  Tournament of Roses  “Band Fest,” and played in Disneyland’s “A Fantasy Christmas Parade” as well as other events.

Resolve to Get Involved: Attend Local Government, School District Meetings

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If your New Year’s Resolution was to get more involved in your community and/or your children’s education, attending the meetings of your local officials is a good way to keep track of what they are doing with your tax dollars and the policies the adopt than can have a big impact on our quality of life.

Even if you cannot attend every meeting, it’s important to attend when you can, watch the meetings online if available, and go the governing body’s website to take a look at meeting agendas and minutes to keep track of local decision making.

To make it easier, Eastern Group Publications has prepared this list of 2014 meeting schedules and locations for local government and school district board meetings.


Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meets every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are held in the Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple St. For further information, visit the board’s website, bos.co.la.ca.us or call (213) 974-1411. The next scheduled Board meeting is Tuesday, January 7.


City of Bell Gardens 

The Bell Gardens City Council meets every second and fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m. Meetings are held at the city hall, 7100 S. Garfield Ave., Bell Gardens. For further information, visit the city’s website www.bellgardens.org or call (562) 806-7700. The next scheduled meeting is January 14.


City of Commerce 

The Commerce City Council meets every first and third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held in Council Chambers located in the Commerce Central Library, 5655 Jillson S., Commerce. For further information, go to www.ci.commerce.ca.us or call (323) 722-4805. The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 7.


City of Los Angeles 

The Los Angeles City Council meets regularly Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. Meetings are held in the John Ferraro Council Chamber, Room 340, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.lacity.org or call (213) 978-1059. The website also has contact information for each of the 15 Council Members and their Districts. The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 7.

Los Angeles Neighborhood Councils

Through a network of 95 Neighborhood Councils, the City promotes public participation in government and works to improve government responsiveness to local concerns. Each neighborhood council has its own stakeholders, officers and sets it own meeting schedule. To find the neighborhood council in your area, visit the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment website at http://empowerla.org/ or call (213) 978-1551.


City of Montebello 

The Montebello City Council meets every second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are held in Council Chambers at the city hall, 1600 W. Beverly Blvd., Montebello. The city’s website can be found at www.cityofmontebello.com. For more information, call (323) 887-1437. The next scheduled meeting is January 8.


City of Monterey Park 

The Monterey Park City Council meets every first and third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. Meetings are held at the city hall, 320 W. Newmark Ave., Monterey Park. For more information, go to call (626) 307-1458. The next scheduled city council meeting is January 15.


City of Vernon 

The Vernon Council meets Tuesdays at 9 a.m. Meetings are held in the Council Chamber at City Hall, 4305 Santa Fe Ave., Vernon 90058. For more information, the city’s website can be found at www.cityofvernon.org or call (323) 583-8811. The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 7.


Los Angeles Unified School District 

The Los Angeles Unified School District, LAUSD, meets every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. Meetings are held at, 333 S. Beaudry Ave., Los Angeles. For further information, contact the LAUSD at (213) 241-7002 or visit its website at home.lausd.net. The next scheduled meeting is January 14.


Montebello Unified School District 

The Montebello Unified School District meets every first and third Thursday of the month at 7:30 p.m. Meetings are held in the Board Room at district headquarters, 123 S. Montebello Blvd., Montebello. For more information, go to www.montebello.k12.ca.us or call (323) 887-7900. The next regularly scheduled meeting is January 16.



DUI Arrests Show Need to Continue Enforcement, Education In New Year

January 2, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Like so many others, at every years end we try to convince people not to drink and drive in hopes of stopping the needless loss of life and injuries caused by intoxicated drivers.

While authorities tell us things have improved from a decade or longer ago, the reality that more than 2,000 people were arrested in Los Angeles County alone for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs over this latest holiday period should be a strong reminder that our job is not yet done.

And while today is Jan. 2, the day after New Years, it’s likely many have not yet finished their New Year revelry and still have a few more good times left to celebrate during the coming weekend.  Sadly, some of those who choose to celebrate with alcohol or drugs will get behind the wheel of their vehicle with the mistaken belief they are “OK” to drive. And they might take offense if anyone suggests otherwise.

We don’t know what it’s going to take to stop them from being a menace and potential killer on our roads, but we cannot give up trying to get through to them.

Truth be told, not even the cost that comes with a DUI arrest – estimated to be $10,000-$15,000 – seems to be a deterrent for some. The sense of entitlement to drink and drive, drug and drive or speed and drive and being able to maintain control is too common a delusion in our society.

Some drivers even drive into police checkpoints only to be arrested for DUI. Did they think they could fool police into believing they aren’t drinking and driving?

Age doesn’t seem to make much of a difference since those who cause accidents are of all ages. People are being slaughtered by drunks running red lights who crash into their cars or run them over on the street, or as we saw this past week, killing them as they sit inside their home.

It seems to us here at EGP that there needs to be greater participation by the public to report drunk drivers, and for parking valets to refuse to give keys back to drunk drivers.

Most of all, it is important to keep up efforts on all fronts to combat driving while under the influence, and it should be a campaign we conduct year round, not just during the holidays.

Parents, spouses, relatives, children and bystanders need to take a hand in stopping drunks from getting behind the wheel.

So in 2014, lets all resolve to do our best to cut down the number of DUI drivers. As the old slogan use to go, “The life you save may be your own.”

The Trillion-Dollar Question

January 2, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

You have to consult Dictionary.com for the definition of “trillionaire.”

Webster’s doesn’t yet recognize trillionaire as a word. But it will. If you’re under 60, America’s first trillionaire will likely appear in your lifetime. And the recent budget deal in Congress does nothing to alter that scenario.

In 1982, Forbes magazine published its first survey of the 400 wealthiest Americans. The wealthiest American at that time, Daniel Ludwig, held a reported net worth of $2 billion. Bill Gates topped the 2013 Forbes 400 list at $72 billion. That’s a 36-fold increase in America’s largest fortune over 31 years.

And the increase could have been larger. By all appearances, Gates lost interest in building his fortune years ago. Had he not given away billions in charitable gifts since then and had his primary focus remained personal wealth accumulation, the Microsoft founder’s net worth would now top $100 billion. If you count total family wealth, Sam Walton’s heirs already are comfortably past the $100-billion mark after inheriting the Walmart fortune.

As Forbes acknowledges, its survey tends to undercount wealth. Last year, a Tax Justice Network analysis put the unreported global wealth stashed in offshore tax havens at $21 trillion.

The super-rich are setting new records, $10 billion, $50 billion, and soon enough $100 billion. Rather than objecting, our nation celebrates the increasingly obscene fortunes of the super-rich as we do athletes breaking sports records.

Reaching $1 trillion will be what hitting 73 home runs was before we knew Barry Bonds cheated to get there.

Will our first trillion-dollar fortune also be tainted by misdeeds of the achiever? Could that be what finally wakes us from our slumber?

A fortune worth $1 trillion — $1,000,000,000,000 — would today be enough to buy every square foot of real estate in Manhattan. A trillionaire could take everyone on the planet out for a $100 steak dinner, if we had a restaurant that could hold 7 billion people. A $1 trillion fortune would equal the wealth of a million millionaires.

What’s fueling this astonishing concentration of wealth? Tax policy. In Bill Clinton’s words, it’s just arithmetic.

All individuals face four principal constraints on the wealth they can accumulate: living expenses, the taxes they must pay on income from labor, the taxes they must pay on income from capital, and inheritance taxes. The roles those constraints play change as people move up the wealth scale.

At the bottom, living expenses and taxes on income from labor greatly impede the accumulation of wealth. But for the super rich, living expenses and taxes on income from labor have a negligible constraining effect, because these rich are pulling in income, mostly from capital, that dwarfs their living expenses.

Taxes on income from capital and inheritance taxes, in the end, stand as the only meaningful constraints on wealth accumulation by the super rich. But these taxes have decreased over recent decades. Policy makers have, in effect, lifted the lid on wealth accumulation by those who already have significant wealth, while holding firmly in place the lid on wealth accumulation for those who don’t.

And things are getting worse. States are engaging in a destructive “race to the bottom,” competing to see who can give the wealthy the best deal at tax time. At the federal level, an underfunded IRS cannot keep up with tax lawyers and accountants developing ever more sophisticated tax-saving schemes.

The unavoidable result: Wealth at the top is growing faster than everyone else’s wealth. That’s where the arithmetic comes in to play. If the wealth of one group grows at a faster rate than the nation’s total wealth, that group’s piece of the pie will increase. That’s a mathematical certainty.

And unless our leaders change course, America’s wealth concentration has no limit.


Bob Lord, a veteran tax lawyer and former congressional candidate, practices and blogs in Phoenix, Arizona. He is also an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow. Distributed via OtherWords.org. 


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