Apology Not Enough, Say Victims of Priest Sexual Abuse

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Victims of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles demanded Tuesday that former Cardinal Roger Mahony and other high-ranking officials be publicly admonished for trying to cover-up clergy molestations.

Diocese officials said, however, they have apologized for actions of the past and taken wide-ranging steps to prevent abuse and report it quickly if it does occur.

The exchange came in response to internal church documents that were released Monday as part of a pending civil lawsuit against the archdiocese.

“We are here in response to the hundreds of pages of documents that were released yesterday that showed that Cardinal Roger Mahony had personal involvement in the cover-up of childhood sexual abuse in the archdiocese,” Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said outside the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

“He personally managed the careers of predator priests. And he and other high-ranking members of the archdiocese, including now-Bishop (Thomas) Curry, worked diligently to ensure that men who hurt children, who abused children and who destroyed communities were never going to see a day behind bars,” she said.

According to the internal church documents, Mahony and Curry — then a monsignor serving as Mahony’s chief adviser on sex abuse issues — discussed ways to prevent law enforcement from learning about molestations of children by clergy in 1986 and 1987, more than a decade before the abuses became public knowledge.

In confidential letters, Curry proposed strategies to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to church officials that they abused young boys. Curry suggested to Mahony that they prevent the clergymen from seeing therapists who might alert authorities.

In response to the release of the documents, Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said prosecutors “will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us.”

Mahony issued an apologetic statement Monday in response to the documents being released, admitting he had been “naive” in his response to the problem. Curry, now the auxiliary bishop of the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, did the same Tuesday.

“I wish to acknowledge and apologize for those instances when I made decisions regarding the treatment and disposition of clergy accused of sexual abuse that in retrospect appear inadequate or mistaken,” Curry said. “Most especially, I wish to express my sympathy to all the victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

“Like many others, I have come to a clearer understanding over the years of the causes and treatment of sexual abuse, and I have fully implemented in my Pastoral Region the archdiocese’s policies and procedures for reporting abuse, screening those who supervise children and abuse-prevention training for adults and children,” he said.

The archdiocese also issued another statement, noting, “No institution has learned more from mistakes made decades ago in dealing with priests who have abused young people than the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

“We have apologized for the sad and shameful actions of some priests, as well as for our inadequate responses in assisting victims and in dealing with perpetrators,” said the archdiocese.

The confidential files of at least 75 more accused abusers are slated to become public in coming weeks under the terms of a 2007 civil settlement with more than 500 victims.

Walmart Anuncia Compromiso a Contrar Veteranos

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Walmart, la mayor cadena de tiendas del mundo, contratará a más de 100.000 veteranos de guerra en los próximos cinco años para garantizar que los militares encuentran trabajo cuando regresan al país y salen del servicio activo.

“No puedo pensar en nadie mejor para liderar el grupo en nuestra revitalización económica que en aquellos que nos han servido con uniforme”, afirmó el presidente y consejero delegado de Walmart, Bill Simon, en un comunicado.

De esta forma, a partir del último lunes de mayo, día de la celebración del “Memorial Day” en el que se rinde homenaje a los soldados caídos en combate, el gigante minorista ofrecerá un puesto de trabajo a cualquier veterano retirado con honores en sus primeros doce meses fuera de servicio activo.

Estas contrataciones se realizarán en las tiendas que Walmart tiene en todo el país, en sus centros de distribución y en la sede principal de la empresa.

“La contratación de un veterano puede ser una de las mejores decisiones de negocio”, dijo Simon, quién destacó que su compañía necesita la experiencia en el trabajo bajo presión y en equipo propio de los militares.

Según explicó la firma estadounidense, ya han informado de este compromiso a la Casa Blanca, donde el equipo de la primera dama, Michelle Obama, ya habría expresado su interés por trabajar con Walmart para poner en marcha este proyecto.

“A medida que nuestras guerras han llegado a su fin y nuestras tropas siguen llegando a casa, es más importante que nunca que todos nosotros – no sólo el gobierno, sino nuestras empresas y organizaciones no lucrativas – sirvamos a aquellos que nos han servido tan valientemente”, afirmó la primera dama de EEUU, Michelle Obama, según el comunicado remitido por Wallmart.

Por su parte Simon destacó de los que serán sus próximos trabajadores que son “líderes con disciplina, entrenamiento y pasión por el servicio”.

Además, según informó la compañía, está previsto que en las próximas semanas la Casa Blanca convoque al Departamento de Asuntos de Veteranos, el Departamento de Defensa y los principales empleadores estadounidenses para animar a todas las empresas a asumir compromisos similares para emplear a los militares que regresan a EEUU.

Salesian Alumni Drafted by Chivas USA

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Bishop Mora Salesian alumni Carlos Alvarez, a midfielder for the University of Connecticut was selected by Chivas USA on Jan. 17 as the second-overall pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.

The East Los Angeles native returns to Los Angeles after being named Big East Conference Midfielder of the Year while earning All-Big East First Team honors. Alvarez was also called into the Under-20 U.S. national team in 2008 and Mexico’s U-20 national team in 2009.

“I’m happy to come back home and be with my family and happy to represent this jersey,” said Alvarez. “It’s something I’m proud of. [Head Coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola “El Chelis”] believed in me and I believe in this organization. I know how big this organization is going back to Chivas de Guadalajara. We need to build that winning mentality and hopefully with the help of Chelis and the philosophy that he has and the players that are going to represent the jersey we can be a hundred percent there.”

Alvarez reported to Chivas USA on Saturday to start preseason camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. under the guidance of the newly-appointed Coach Sanchez Sola, according to a news release.

“He was a player that wanted to be with Chivas USA and we all wanted him to be here,” said Sanchez Sola. “We scouted a number of players at the combine and only a few, in my opinion, are ready to be in a starting 11 in this league. Carlos is one of them. He has a lot of character on the field. He is a player that has excellent ball control and attacks forward.”

While attending Salesian high school, Alvarez led his team to four league titles and earned First Team All-CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) in 2007 and 2008, according to Chivas USA. In 2006, he played for the Pateadores.

At the University of Connecticut last year, Alvarez was a M.A.C Hermann Trophy semifinalist; in 2011 he earned All-America Second Team and All-Northeast Region First Team honors from the NSCAA; All-Big East Second Team. And in 2010, he earned All-Big East First Team; NSCAA All-Northeast Region First Team 2009: Big East Rookie of the Year; All-Big East Third Team; All-Big East Rookie Team.

Alvarez majored in Spanish Literature and Culture.

More information on Alvarez at www.cdchivasusa.com

Something to Look At: Using Eminent Domain to Seize Home Mortgages

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As those who have lost their homes to the country’s banks through shoddy and shady tactics continue to complain about their inability to get banks to assist them in saving their homes, San Bernardino County, the epitome of what the mortgage crisis has wrought, has come up with the most daring way to help the county’s residents save their homes, at the same time helping to save local neighborhoods.

San Bernardino is the first county in the country to consider using “Eminent Domain” to seize residential mortgages.

The County and two of its cities have formed a joint powers authority to consider eminent domain.

Today the Authority will consider seeking proposals from outside contractors to manage a homeowner rescue plan. The authority has the power to start a program without added county and city approvals, and will consider a range of options to help homeowners in trouble.

Part of the plan calls for seizing mortgages, writing down debt to the properties present value and refinancing the loans.

Eminent domain is usually reserved to seizing property, so seizing mortgages is unchartered territory.

There is certain to be legal challenges and as always the devil will be in the details, but in our view it’s an interesting proposition if for no other reason than it’s about time someone took on the housing crisis problem from the homeowner’s side.

Maybe, just maybe, San Bernardino County’s plan will create more willingness to do the same by other counties and mortgage companies.

For Obama, More Prose than Poetry in Second Inaugural

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

As we did four years ago, we asked Richard Tofel, ProPublica’s president and author of a book on President Kennedy’s inaugural address, to provide instant analysis of Monday’s speech. Here are his thoughts:

In 2009, in the flush of his first election, Barack Obama declared in his inaugural address that, “What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” Today, perhaps chastened by the trials of governing and the difficulty of gaining election a second time, he did not so much acknowledge that the cynics of 2009 had been right as devote himself to trying, one more time, to move the ground beneath them.

The critical portion of the address seemed to be this: “Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time – but it does require us to act in our time…. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.” Whether such a call, even with the president’s present strength and confidence, will shift the ground will be the great question of the next period in our politics and history.

The speech centered on the two fundamental American texts, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Obama quoted the heart of Jefferson’s Declaration verbatim, and then turned repeatedly, as his organizing rhetorical device, to the opening words of the Constitution: “We, the People.” By the speech’s end, seeking a call to action and perhaps a counterweight to the polarization of Washington, “we, the people” became “you and I, as citizens.”

Along the way, in addition to drawing on the words of Jefferson and Martin Luther King, Jr., Obama managed to reference Lincoln four times in two paragraphs, adverting to the Gettysburg Address (“government of, and by, and for the people”), Lincoln’s second inaugural (“blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword”), the “House Divided” speech (“no union… could survive half-slave and half-free”) and Lincoln’s second message to Congress (“made ourselves anew”). The one source not quoted in the speech, in a striking departure from inaugural tradition, seems to have been the Bible.

Indeed, the speech overall was more prosaic than most inaugurals. It was somewhat surprising, in this context, to hear a defense of entitlements, a disquisition on climate change, and calls for immigration reform and an end to voter suppression legislation. In all of this, Obama’s model may have been Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 second inaugural—the first such address delivered in January—which was a clarion call for liberal politics and an attempt to cast it in the American mainstream. Sixteen days later FDR over-reached with his Court-packing plan, and his influence in domestic affairs began to ebb.

All of this reminds us that second inaugurals are harder. The lofty hopes of office-taking must give way to the sober experience of office-holding. Nearly all of the immortal words of addresses past come from first inaugurals: Jefferson’s “We are all Republicans, We are all Federalists;” Lincoln’s “mystic chords of memory;” FDR’s “firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself;” Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” Only Lincoln’s second inaugural—“with malice toward none”—lives on in the same way.

And yet, second inaugurals come from a place of strength. By definition, they can be given only by presidents whose tenure has been validated again at the ballot box. Of our 43 presidents (Grover Cleveland is both “22” and “24”), Barack Obama is only the 17th to have had the privilege of delivering a second inaugural address. (Another four presidents won an election after succeeding to the office, which may be similar, at least for these purposes.)

The first big decision President Obama faced in crafting Monday’s address, I think, was how rhetorical he wanted it to be. Obama came to the presidency on soaring wings of rhetoric, from the “red states/blue states” of the 2004 Convention keynote that introduced him to much of the country, to the vision of post-racial triumph when he won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, to his speech on race when the controversy on Rev. Jeremiah Wright threatened to sink his campaign, to his outdoor acceptance speech in Denver, to that unforgettable Election Night in Grant Park.

In the face of all that, many of us found his first inaugural somewhat muted, with its Biblical injunction that “the time has come to set aside childish things” and its command that “we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.” Perhaps Obama had internalized Mario Cuomo’s observation that “You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.” Perhaps he had come nearly to distrust the power of his own instrument. In any event, he kept it largely under wraps during his first term, pumping up the volume only occasionally (for instance in the critical congressional address on health care), but often leaving his listeners with the sense that he had fallen a bit flat, as in his second Convention acceptance last summer in Charlotte, and almost disastrously in his apparent failure to prepare a closing statement in his first debate with Mitt Romney.

In recent months, however, Obama has again seemed to find his voice—or to reach for it. We saw this on Election Night 2012 and again in his speech at Newtown. I began to expect that we would see it again in the inaugural.

There were moments of such poetry Monday, but they seemed outweighed by the prose. The President’s calculation seemed to be that the occasion presented a chance—perhaps a last chance—to recall the political system to what Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, called the “better angels of our nature.” What the prospects are for such a transformation, only the days ahead can reveal.

Marco Rubio’s Magic and John Boehner’s Power Equals Hispanic Votes

January 24, 2013 by · 1 Comment 

Hispanics voted in droves for California Democrat Governor Brown in 2010 then, they voted for his higher taxes last November. He fooled Hispanics by disguising higher sales taxes they pay arguing he was taxing the “rich.” California is now the country’s highest sales-taxing state. Who pays that most regressive of taxes?

Hispanics voted in droves for President Obama; their reward, smaller paychecks this January because Obama did not sponsor continuation of the Social Security tax “holiday.” When a Hispanic goes to an emergency room/doctor’s office to lance a boil, ear or eye examination, or have surgery, he is now paying more than in December because of Obama’s hidden tax on medical instruments as well as a larger Medicare payroll tax for all.

Thankfully, bloodlines to Spain and/or Amerindians spare most of us the new Obama surtax on tanning salons.

Afflicted with Obama’s record high unemployment /underemployment — record poverty (28%) and a record plunge of Hispanic net worth — all under Obama, 70% of Hispanics allegedly voted for Obama last November.

That landslide Hispanic Obama vote shocked Republican leaders finally– as in electric shock. Realistic Republicans realized that if they don’t draw more of that vote by 2016, the national Republican Party will disappear as it almost has in California.

No California statewide officeholder is Republican. All five big city mayors (Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, Sacramento and San Francisco) are Democrats for the first time in modern history. The majority of the Congressional delegation and both U.S. Senators are Democrats. The state legislature’s two houses have two-thirds or better Democrat majorities.

The California Republican Party is in rigor mortis. The national party, however, lives (26 governorships), and can rebuild itself to again be the Party that received over 40% of the 2004 Hispanic vote.

Two Republicans have the power and/or charisma to draw many Hispanics back to the GOP: first, there is a charismatic young Senator from Florida whose parents legally immigrated here from Cuba in the 1950s. He is articulate, energetic and brainy; he comes from the Right. Secondly, Speaker of the House John Boehner is the key to any future success of a Hispanic resurgence within the GOP. He is Establishment.

Speaker Boehner (third in Presidential succession) has every tool he needs to pass legislation he wants when he wants, with few exceptions. Immigration reform does not top the list of Hispanic issues, however, it is ultra-symbolic because right-wing fanatics and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have poisoned the issue.

Democrat Harry Reid introduced legislation in 1994 to deny citizenship to children born here to parents in the country illegally. The ugly words “anchor babies” that have so poisoned the issue are Democrat Harry Reid’s. He supported — we presume — California’s illegal Proposition 187.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, pundit Pat Buchanan, Arizona’s disgraced-politician Russell Pearce, Republicans all, and a right-wing cabal ranging from Rush Limbaugh to American Nazis all parrot Senator Harry Reid.

Boehner has the power to overcome that poisoned atmosphere by joining popular Senator Marco Rubio in sponsoring “Comprehensive” Immigration Reform (CIR). A majority of Americans including a majority of Republicans support CIR. Critics point to polls on individual details of CIR but most polls show solid support for a “comprehensive” approach.

Rubio’s approach: Temporary work permits for those here illegally (and family members already here) that aren’t permanent “Green Cards;” a period of time before these permitees can apply for a Permanent Resident “Green Card,” then a five year waiting period before application for citizenship, then a normal waiting period (3 to 5 years).  (2) End of the line behind regular legal citizenship applicants.  (3) A mandatory national verification system that employers must use before hiring anyone. (4) No felony convictions, (5) back taxes paid, (6) provisional legalization of children/people brought here as children and (7) strong border enforcement.

We must also expose Harry Reid’s ugly attempts to sabotage Republican Rubio’s proposal: “No plan will pass without a path to citizenship for those illegally here now.” The “anchor baby” man speaks, implying Rubio’s plan does not include a citizenship path.

Rubio and Boehner can sweep Reid and obstructionist Democrats away by using Boehner’s immense political power to persuade House Republicans by politics, committee assignments and 2014 primary challenges.

Power used skillfully now by Boehner can save the Republican Party of the future; unused power means the Party will die because many bewildered less-educated Hispanics will be fooled by the very people destroying them with poverty, unemployment and no hope for a future.

Doubts? Here is what Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told “POLITICO:”

“I think the recent remarks by Sen. Rubio are encouraging, that he sees a pathway to citizenship as core to immigration reform and [is] willing to look at a comprehensive bill as a vehicle for that.”

Contreras’ 12 books are available at amazon.com.

Molina Proposes Hiring Private Security to Fill Cuts In Sheriff Patrols

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina suggested Tuesday that private security patrol services be hired to fill in where sheriff’s patrol cars have been cut.

A move by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to suspend overtime has cut patrols in unincorporated areas, according to Molina and fellow Supervisor Don Knabe.

Molina accused Sheriff Lee Baca of “(pulling) the rug out … from under unincorporated areas.”

In areas near South and East Whittier, for example, patrols were cut from 12 cars per day to six, she said.

Baca said the overtime cut was necessary to close his department’s budget gap, and defensible given a big drop in the crime rate.

“We’re not out of our recession as a county,” Baca told the board. “We have the lowest crime rate we’ve had in 40 years.”

The overtime budget was suspended as of Jan. 13, but the board just learned of the suspension Friday, according to Knabe.

The sheriff’s department is responsible for providing patrol services in unincorporated areas, while 42 cities and other agencies pay the county for patrol services. The patrol budget represents 17.6 percent of the department’s total $2.69 billion budget.

Molina said the board had allocated money to ensure that residents in unincorporated areas receive the same level of services as those in cities that contract for law enforcement.

Baca said he couldn’t make the overall cuts demanded by the board last year without cutting services.

“You cannot ask me to continue to provide the same amount of services with less money,” Baca said.

Molina ultimately suggested private patrols as an alternative – a proposal Baca expressed skepticism over – and Chief Executive Officer William Fujioka said he would look into the cost.

The board voted for an independent firm to be hired to conduct a forensic audit of the sheriff’s department budget.

Molina also said an earlier audit of the department – requested during budget discussions last year – would show that Baca is charging jurisdictions for services that he is not legally allowed to bill for under a state law called the Gonsalves code. That audit could be out as early as Friday, according to Molina.

Bell Gardens Launches New City Website

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Bell Gardens officials are hoping a newly launched city website will make it easier for residents, businesses and others interested in the city to access news and information about Bell Gardens services and events.

The newly designed website — www.bellgardens.org — allows for more effective interaction with the community, according to Bell Gardens Mayor Pedro Aceituno.

The city’s old website was out of date and “The City needed a more modern and functional website in order to communicate more effectively and timely with the residents of this community,” Aceituno said in the city’s announcement released on Tuesday.

“With the development of social networking, the City wanted to be able to communicate and reach out in a way that accounts for this developing form of communication,” said Aceituno.

As a result of the changes, Bell Gardens will now be able to post City Council meeting information, announcements through Facebook, news, bid documents, an online calendar, job postings and online application, online registration, subscriptions for immediate event information, and much more on its website.

Other improved functions, according to the city’s representative Nicholas Razo, will make it easier and more cost effective to maintain the website, as well as streamline other activities in the city. For example, Bell Gardens residents can now register for classes provided by the city online, rather than having to appear in person. The city is also working on an online bill pay system that will make it easier for residents and businesses to pay bills and fees.

To view the new website, go to www.bellgardens.org.

January 24, 2013 Issue

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Walmart Announces Plans to Buy More American-Made Products

January 24, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In what could be considered a nod to its early roots as the company known for buying and selling American made products, or a good public relations move, Walmart last week announced it would increase its purchase of U.S. made products by $50 billion over the next 10 years.

“At the heart of our national political conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy,” said Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon, speaking at the National Retail Federation’s annual BIG Show. “We are meeting with our suppliers on domestic manufacturing and are making a strong commitment to move this forward.”

It’s a “popular misconception” that the majority of the products sold at Walmart and Sam’s Club come from countries other than the U.S., the company said in a press release. According to data from its suppliers, about two-thirds of what Walmart U.S. spends to buy products is for “items that are made here, sourced here, or grown here,” but there’s “room to do more,” the statement added.

The plan, according to Walmart, is to help grow U.S. manufacturing by “increasing certainty in the market,” something they aim to achieve by committing to buy more of what they already purchase here, such as paper products and sporting goods, and by helping textile, furniture and other vendors bring jobs sent overseas back to the U.S.

Signing longer-term purchase agreements will give suppliers more certainty about the value of bringing production back to the U.S., the company’s release said. The announcement comes at a time when some manufacturers are taking a harder look at rising labor and energy costs overseas to their bottom lines.

According to the New York Times, Simon said “a few manufacturers have even told Walmart privately that they have defined the ‘tipping points’ at which manufacturing abroad will no longer make sense for them.”

Simon added that Walmart sees a partnership between industry and government as a way to get more done. “I’ve talked with a number of governors, including the incoming chair of the National Governors Association, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, about how governors and retailers and manufacturers can drive this issue together. Governors from both sides of the aisle are enthusiastic about getting their constituents back to work.”

This summer, Walmart will help convene a manufacturing summit for stakeholders to work together and help accelerate these changes.

In terms of jobs and hiring, Simon said Walmart is helping part-time associates who want to be full time make that transition.

“We want all of our associates to find the career opportunities they want with Walmart,” Simon said. “We will make sure part-time associates have full visibility into full-time job openings in their stores and nearby stores, and that they always have first shot at those jobs. We will also bring more transparency to our scheduling system so part-time workers can choose more hours for themselves.”

He also said the company plans to hire as many as 100,000 honorably discharged veterans over the next five years. Beginning Memorial Day, Walmart will offer a job to any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty. Most of these jobs will be in Walmart stores and clubs, and some will be in distribution centers and the Home Office.

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make,” said Simon. “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure. They’re quick learners and team players. They are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service. There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.”

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