January 27, 2011 Issue

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

NELA High School Brings Excitement, Uncertainty

January 27, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Excitement and high expectations were an underlying current as parents, students and stakeholders on Monday listened to presentations from groups hoping to run a new high school that will open in the Glassell Park area of Northeast Los Angeles in August as a Public School Choice (PSC) campus.

They were also there to vote for the groups—there will be five academies in all—whose plans seem to best fit their vision for what Central Region High School #13, often referred to as Taylor Yard High, should be like.

About 300 people attended Los Angeles Unified School District’s meeting held at Irving Middle School in Glassell Park. The new high school will draw students from the attendance areas for Benjamin Franklin, Marshall and Eagle Rock high schools, and is expected to relieve overcrowding at the three Northeast L.A. area schools.

Rendering of Central High #13

Parents of students at local charter schools, feeder schools and the three high schools were among the stakeholders at Monday’s meeting.

Concepción Castillo and Veronica Aparicio arrived early and bypassed the presentations: They already knew how they would vote.

Accompanied by their children, both women voted for the charter school applicants.

Castillo’s daughter, Angie Lopez, a 10th grader at the “Environmental Science and Technology High School” on Fletcher Drive, a charter school operated by Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools. Aparicio’s daughter currently attends Milagro Elementary School, a Partnership for Uplift Communities (PUC) school in Lincoln Heights.

“I think everyone came to vote for their school,” Castillo said.

Both Alliance and PUC submitted applications to run one of the five schools at Central High.

“We both have girls at charter schools, but ours is better,” said Aparicio jokingly.

Aparicio hopes PUC will be one of the five schools selected for the campus; “That’s her future right here,” she said.

An orientation on the public school choice process was held on Jan. 20. It included brief presentations by the six applicants. It was not well attended.

Monday night’s meeting focused on providing more information and more time for questions-and-answers from stakeholders to help them make a choice.

Advisory voting began at the same time as the presentations, however, and attendees entering the premises encountered the voting center before the auditorium where the presentations were being made. Many attendees lined up to vote and left; others voted then went to hear the applicant presentations.

Glassell Park resident Marciel Moran has a son at Irving Middle School and a daughter at Eagle Rock High. His daughter will be a senior next year and will not be affected by the opening of the new high school, which will not have a senior class during its first year.

“It’s very close to my home, it’s going to be a very good school,” he told EGP after voting, and just before heading into listen to the presentations.

His son, Ruben Moran, 14, asked his father to vote for two pilot schools, The Los Angeles River School and the ArtLab School.

“I don’t want a charter because I don’t want to wear a uniform, and because they are stricter,” Ruben told EGP.

Other parents were also willing to vote for the schools their children selected. Isabel Ochoa, a mother of three, was standing outside the voting room hoping someone would inform her about the voting options. Her 13-year-old son Norbert Pineda wanted her to vote for Eagle Rock High School because he wants to play football, but Ochoa knew the high school would not appear on the list. “I keep asking him what [other] schools I should vote for,” she said, frustrated that her son had not selected any of the applicants on the ballot.

Her daughters, Raquel and Karina Pineda, both students at Eagle Rock High, listened to their mother’s frustration but had their own problems to worry about; “It’s going to be kinda weird to go to another school,” said Raquel, 15. Ochoa and her daughters decided to go to the school fair held in the auditorium lobby before voting.

Scott Folsom, Mt. Washington resident and a long time LAUSD parent leader, was pleased with the turnout.

Folsom has been attending meetings on the public school choice reform and recalled the long line of advisory voters at Burbank Middle School in the middle of a rain storm, during the first round of school choice last year.

“It’s a good turn out, however the district has not done its best to outreach,” he told EGP while the presentations were being held. “I’m cynical enough to believe that the district is not interested in a huge turnout.”

Folsom said he believes the charters were more organized and had more resources to send mailers to homes, but he noted that the pilot schools had the backing of the teachers’ union. Folsom noted the process was not free from politics, but said he was happy with the reform at the schools that underwent the process last year. “It’s about time, the kids deserve it,” he said.

Advisory voting rules changed this year, limiting minors eligible to vote to high school students at directly relieved campuses. The change didn’t fit well with Miguel Trujillo who called EGP to complain that PUC’s CALS Early High School students, like his grandson and many others who reside in the Northeast area, were not being allowed to vote.

Veronica Alonzo, CALS teacher, told EGP that students felt it was unfair because their neighbors were allowed to vote but they could not.

PUC has complained to the district and is awaiting a response, according to Celia Ramirez, office assistant for the charter school based in downtown Los Angeles. The charter operator says it was told, since the PSC2 process started 8 months ago, that their students would be allowed to vote and they have documentation as proof, she said.

LAUSD does not consider CALS to be an impacted school.

Questions at the end of Monday’s presentations focused on extracurricular activities, the admission process—there are no entrance requirements for any of the schools—and whether uniforms would be required.

According to Alliance President and CEO Judy Burton, Alliance will require students to wear uniforms for their proposed Technology, Math and Science High School and will provide one uniform free of charge; parents can decide if they want to buy additional uniforms.

The four proposed pilot schools—The Los Angeles River School, The School of Technology, Business & Education, The School of History and Dramatic Arts and The ArtLab School (Arts & Community Empowerment)—have formed a collaboration to share some costs and electives. However, all the applicants for Central High School #13 have expressed some degree of interest in working together to share operational expenses, such as campus security, if selected.

While each school selected will have its own identity and program, the campus as a whole will have one name, one set of school colors, one mascot and shared athletic programs, according to interim principal Philip Naimo. Meetings in February will address these topics as well as attendance boundaries, he said.

Under the LAUSD reform, any schools selected, including charter applicants, will be required to admit students from the attendance area, with local students being given priority. In addition, all of the schools will be required to offer A-G college preparatory requirements, accept and support English Learners and students with special needs and Individual Educational Plans (IEPs).

The new school will draw students from Atwater Village, Cypress Park, Elysian Valley, Glassell Park, Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Mount Washington.

The League of Women Voters is overseeing the advisory vote, and will present the results to Superintendent Ramon Cortines, who will review it and two advisory committee reports to form his school choice recommendation to the School Board on Feb. 22; the board will make their selection at the same meeting.

Final advisory voting will take place this Saturday, Jan. 29 from 9 am to 3 pm in the Irving Middle School cafeteria: 3010 Estara Avenue, Los Angeles, Ca 90065.

For more information, call (213) 241-2547 or visit publicschoolchoice.lausd.net

Eligibility Loophole Tightened For Round Two of PSC Voting

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Chaos at the polls last year had prompted rumors that advisory voting by parents, students, and other stakeholders under the Public School Choice reform could be eliminated for the second round of the initiative, but last week Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) officials informed parents and stakeholders that voting would continue, with some changes to the eligibility rules.

While the voting guidelines have been tightened in some areas, one of the areas that caused the most controversy during the first round of voting in 2010 will once again be allowed. The “community member” category—defined as anyone who is not a parent, student or teacher in the voting boundaries — who can demonstrate a connection to the community, such as residency or church attendance, can still vote.

Last year, children of any age were allowed to line up with their parents and to cast a vote. According to the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles (LWVLA), the agency contracted by the district to run the election for the second year in a row, the only minors eligible to vote this time around in “any category,” are high school students currently enrolled at schools that will be relieved of overcrowding by a public school choice high school.

There were many other changes in the second round of the reform’s advisory vote process in order to ensure a clean election, Elizabeth Ralston, acting chair of the League of Women Voters told EGP on Monday.

“We had protocols last time, [this year] we created the Bill of Rights to let eligible voters know what they are entitled to,” Ralston said.

The Bill of Rights is a page-long document clearly defining who is eligible to vote, that voters have the right to cast a secret advisory ballot free from intimidation, and how to solicit more information or report fraudulent activity.

Besides the change to eligible student voters, parents/guardians of students at current, feeder or relief schools can vote, as well as parents of charter school students from the neighborhood. PSC employees—feeder and relief schools included—are only eligible to vote once, even if they qualify as employees, parents and community members.

The point of the document was to make it clear that one person can vote once, eliminate confusion, and make sure people weren’t surprised, Ralston said.

The district wide Advisory Vote process began last week, and many people have been turned away, said Ralston. Over the weekend, there were two attempts to bus people in to vote at different sites, she said, noting the applicant teams were not pleased when their supporters were asked to produce identification.

Community members, whose names do not appear on the lists provided by LAUSD, will be asked to show identification, non-governmental IDs are accepted, or proof of address.

Last year, electioneering was allowed to go on 50 feet from the polling place—at times turning into shouting matches between competing groups.

Entire campuses are now off limits to electioneering, however groups can handout information on the sidewalk. Applicant teams were also allowed to contact stakeholders via Connect-Ed, a robo call system, send or mail flyers to homes at their own expense and participate in door-to-door canvassing.

Other changes include orientation sessions to explain the PSC process to parents and stakeholders followed by brief presentations by applicant teams. Voting is now scheduled to take place following the full applicant presentations; the morning-weekday voting has been eliminated. Saturday voting was previously 8 am to noon, this time the polls will operate from 9 am to 3 pm in order to ensure more access, Ralston said.

Education centers have also been set up at each voting place to answer questions, and United Way and Families in Schools are collaborating with the League of Women Voters to make materials more parent-friendly, facilitate presentations and answer questions at polling places.

The district currently has 13 PSC advisory vote elections underway, each with its own ballot, said Ralston.
Voters can report perceived “illegal or fraudulent activity” by calling the League of Women Voters’ election management hotline at (213) 368-1616.

Lincoln Park Gateway Gets $500,000 Face Lift

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Complaints that a Lincoln Heights area park has been allowed to deteriorate, may soon turn to praise as Los Angeles city workers put the final touches on a $500,000 upgrade to Lincoln Park.

Since August, workers have been busy transforming the Lincoln Park Gateway, located at the entrance of the park in front of Plaza de la Raza, back to its original grandeur.

The State Proposition 40 funded project is a joint collaboration between Los Angeles’ Department of Recreation and Parks, which owns and will maintain the structure, the Bureau of Engineering that is directing construction management and design services, and the Department of General Services, which is acting as the general contractor, Bill Lee of the Bureau of Engineering told EGP.

Earlier this month, the gateway was fenced off as work on the historic structure was underway. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

Lee said the various departments are working as a team and “taking pride and ownership” in the project, which includes the historic preservation and structural restoration of the Lincoln Park Gateway built in 1931 in the Early Art Deco style.

The gateway entrance features four major pylons, each with an electric luminarias (light), six built-in benches decorated with glazed terracotta tiles, a terracotta drinking fountain, an ornamental fountain featuring a glazed water spout, and an array of settled patterned ornamental walls, Lee told EGP.

The historic restoration of the gateway conforms to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Old photographs were used to replicate the gateway’s lights. Lee said.

The restoration project aims to fix years of wear and tear and damage caused by skateboards and other misuse. Lead-based paint mitigation procedures had to be used while removing about 20-layers of paint, according to Lee.

Missing tiles were replicated to look aged and some were restored. Skate-stops have been installed on the benches, and graffiti will be painted over, Lee said.

The gateways’ infrastructure—pluming, conduits and electrical wiring—were updated and the street received a new sidewalk and will have new landscaping, he said.

The project will be completed by Jan. 31, ahead of schedule, Lee said.

Officials Decry Plan to Cut Redevelopment

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Concerns are growing in the city of Bell Gardens, where officials are worried that the governor’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies and shift those funds to other areas could have a chilling effect on development in the southeast city.

The city says redevelopment has “played a major role in the evolution” of cities like Bell Gardens.

“Using redevelopment money, cities like Bell Gardens have revitalized some of those neglected areas while also increasing the local job base and boosting property and sales tax revenues,” explained Aldo Schindler, Bell Gardens’ Director of Community Development in a written statement.

“But if Gov. Jerry Brown’s newly proposed state budget is approved, local redevelopment agencies will be eliminated.”

The city’s mayor, Jennifer Rodriguez, says the governor’s proposal would bring redevelopment to a halt in Bell Gardens.

“Most of the major projects we’ve done wouldn’t have happened without redevelopment money. Our residents desire quality affordable housing, parks for their children to play, attractive streets and nice places to shop. Redevelopment has allowed us to work toward meeting our community’s goals.”

Several of the city’s largest developments have come about because the city had redevelopment money available to fund them, said the mayor.

The improvements to the Market Place Shopping Center, the development of the Los Jardines and Village Square Shopping Centers, were all funded with redevelopment revenue, as was the relocation and construction of El Pescador Restaurant to its current location, and the Parkview Terrace affordable senior housing development near the corner of Scott Avenue and Florence Avenue, as well as several other affordable housing projects for seniors and working families, according to the city.

City officials note that redevelopment funds have also funded loans to local small businesses and the remediation of contaminated properties, which will be converted to parks.

In a letter to Gov. Brown this week, Rodriguez explained, “As local elected officials, we understand the difficulty of passing a budget in these times of limited resources and worldwide economic recession. We too in the City of Bell Gardens have been forced to make difficult decisions to bring our own budgets into balance. However, even in difficult times, the Governor’s proposal to eliminate or curtail redevelopment will cause great damage to our community.”

John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association, said Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment “will bring little financial gain for the state, but will cause widespread and significant economic pain in communities throughout California.”

Shirley said litigation is likely if the governor’s plan is approved.

Redevelopment is one of the few tools state and local government have to stimulate the economy, according to Shirley. “Redevelopment is already a locally governed service which generates hundreds of thousands of jobs and puts people to work at a time when unemployment is soaring over 12 percent.”

Rodriguez doesn’t think the governor’s plan will be popular with most people.

“The voters recently said they wanted to keep local money local,” she said. “Now we’re seeing the state shifting funds away from what the voters just approved.”

Nancy Sidhu, chief economist for the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., says redevelopment agencies fill an economic need that might otherwise be tough for cities to tackle.

“Much of what redevelopment agencies do are long-term projects, especially in areas where there can be blight and redevelopment is needed,” she said.

EDITORIAL: Don’t Forsake the Present In Hope of a Better Tomorrow

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

There’s been a strange lack of discussion about the president’s State of the Union address.

Ordinarily we are overwhelmed with e-mails and calls from people wanting to opine about the president’s words.
Not this time.

We’re not sure why, but speculate that it may be that it has all been heard before.

Perhaps some of the more regular and vigorous discourse was halted due to the scolding the country got over its lack of civility in its political discussions.

It is not always very pleasant when people strongly disagree. Overtime, however, passions over a single issue or topic usually subside as the debate wears itself out or one side gives in. That’s the nature of political debate.

By our observation, our nitpicking pales in comparison to what goes on in other countries where it is not uncommon for political debates to deteriorate into elected officials choking or throwing chairs at one another. In England, the head honcho has to stand between the two ruling parties and take questions and insults from the opposition party or both.

So you’ll have to pardon us if we don’t object to occasional loud and perhaps impolite debates or refusals to cooperate when one party (you know which) wants to turn our Social Security system over to the casino-mentality on Wall Street.

Or when our elected representatives say to forget about those manufacturing jobs that went out of the country, and tell us that we should instead just focus on retooling for the new economy of the future, despite the fact that many are jobless and hungry today.

And, what’s wrong with wanting our citizens to have the health care that will keep our nation strong and healthy? So many of the issues can still be worked out with legislation and program details.

Our government needs to help develop jobs and that will cost money. But if we don’t invest the money, and we don’t mean just for tax cuts in the hopes that some of it will eventually trickle down, we will eventually have to spend it on welfare and other help for unemployed workers and their families.

As for increasing funds for education, we’re all for it. We have to give our young people the skills they will need to be productive members of society, and to support themselves and their families.

There is no doubt that we live in a changing world. With it must come a changed attitude about how we move forward. Government jobs and the benefits that go with them, including pensions, must be reviewed and reformed so the rest of us can someday retire too.

We must invest in our old and failing infrastructure, which will create jobs, jobs, and more jobs if done right.  Not to mention the added benefit of keeping our cars from breaking down due to pothole damage.

The president’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday was meant to inspire a vision for a new era of American ingenuity and progress. While that’s a lofty goal, we must take care not to forsake the needs of the present in search of a dream for tomorrow.

The State of the Union Speech Is Over—Now the Real Fight Begins

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President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday was measured, moderate, and in the wake of the Tucson massacre, the paragon of civility. The speech was less of a presidential annual report card on the shape of the nation and his administration, than a treatise on what the Obama administration will do to create the one thing that the administration has been roundly raked over the coals for: not saying and doing enough to create jobs, jobs, and more jobs.

Presidents know that they can talk eloquently about foreign policy, defense, wars, the environment, deficits, education, immigration, trade, clean energy, tax code reform and, in recent years, the war on terrorism, in their State of the Union addresses. Obama lightly hit on all these points in his. But the success of their administration, their re-election, and their legacy rests on jobs and the economy. The line “It’s the economy stupid” has time and again proven to be anything but a stale cliché.

The perception that Obama slipped badly in that area was a colossal factor in the “shellacking” that he and the Democrats took in the mid-term elections. The message still hung heavily in the air on the eve of Obama’s second official SOTU address when polls showed that while he has gotten a solid bump up in his approval ratings, a majority of Americans still give him a D mark on the handling of the economy.

He even used the time-tested reference to Sputnik. That was the nation’s overdrive rush to beat the Soviets into space, to prod business and political leaders, and the nation to launch a massive program to improve technology, transportation, research and education. This is all aimed at one thing, and that’s to create jobs, and more jobs.

But to do that, it takes money, lots of it. That money can only come from one place: the federal government. Left unsaid in the President’s reference to the Sputnik space and weapons race was that the country spent billions to reassert its superiority over the Soviets in bombs and missiles, and to put a man on the moon. It did not shirk on the spending. The political will and unity and funds to do it were there then. Not this time. The GOP’s priority is jobs but not at the expense of more federal spending. And with a $1.4 trillion dollar deficit, and a sizeable number of Americans in jitters about the debt, spending the requisite billions is not in the official cards. The official attack-point for the GOP has been to paint the Obama administration as reckless, out of control in its spending, and then heap more blame on Obama for allegedly single-handedly creating the deficit nightmare.

GOP Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, in “rebutting” Obama’s address, vowed that the GOP would trim $100 billion from the federal budget. Obama tried to walk the fine political tightrope between the public’s thirst for an improved economy with more jobs and the GOP’s bellicose call for slash-and-burn spending cuts by calling for a five-year spending freeze. The freeze would halt all non-security discretionary spending. This came on top of his earlier call for a pay freeze for all federal employees.

Budget analysts and political experts have already branded the multi-billions that the GOP says can and should be hacked from federal spending as pie-in-the-sky political rhetoric. This is the same GOP that has virtually institutionalized earmarks, pork barrel spending, and given the company store away in tax breaks and in spending to the defense industry. The GOP draconian budget reduction plan would wreak havoc on vital arts, education, health care, transportation, small business lending and support programs.

That’s just the dollars and cents of the talk of massive spending cuts. The real battleground is the political war that the GOP intends to wage against the Obama administration to hack away at federal programs. Obama acknowledged that despite the congressional calm and civility during his State of the Union address, the fight over spending and jobs versus cutting the debt will be fierce. And the fight won’t be long in coming. Obama will unveil his budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year on February 13. The GOP almost certainly will scream, nit-pick, and slam the spending proposal as too big and burdensome, and will step up the attack on Obama as a tax-and-spend Democrat who will continue to bloat the deficit.

President Obama in his address repeatedly struck the theme that bi-partisan unity is needed to solve the nation’s problems, first and foremost meaning creating jobs and growing the economy. However, with the GOP gearing up for a full court press to take back the White House in 2012, and the GOP banking on using spending and the federal deficit as its political trump cards against Obama, GOP and Democratic congresspersons sitting together is one thing; working together, as Obama noted, is a far different thing.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts the national Capitol Hill broadcast radio talk show on KTYM Radio Los Angeles and WFAX Radio Washington D.C. streamed on ktym.com and wfax.com and an internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com.

We Need a Plan to ‘Win the Future’

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

?The President gave an inspiring speech, a vigorous call for Americans of all stripes to work together to restore our nation’s greatness and leadership, regardless of ideology or party affiliation.

His assertion that we must move forward ‘”together, or not at all,” is a crucial part to his plan to “Win the Future.” He is absolutely correct: We cannot complete our climb out of the Great Recession with partisan rancor.

We must now make sure that we can all indeed work together tomorrow. And in the next few months our new House Leadership will have to prove that they share the president’s vision, which I truly believe is the vision of all Americans. True compromise means each party must give and take, so I hope all Members will work across the aisle to enact some of President Obama’s proposals.

I whole-heartedly agree that we must out-educate, out-innovate and out build the rest of the world if we want to remain the economic leader we are today.  The President has laid out an inspired plan that focuses on increasing our competitiveness abroad by leveraging America’s penchant for ingenuity and innovation to regain our economic edge.

I share the president’s goal of growing our economy by removing trade barriers and evening the playing field for American companies abroad. But that also means addressing the obstacles they face in competing globally right here at home. As the president said, there are 12 different government agencies that deal with exports. This is unacceptable, and we must do better for our small business owners and entrepreneurs.

And we must do better to prepare our youth to succeed in the 21st Century global workforce. I was heartened to hear the president recommit our nation to once again leading the world in education, math and the sciences, and I will hope that the Administration heeds his call to give our teachers the respect and resources they deserve, as opposed to simply scapegoating them for the shortcomings of our educational system.

But we also need out of the box solutions to give our future workforce the edge to successfully compete globally, like my bill in Congress that establishes and funds foreign language programs at schools throughout the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Judy Chu represents California’s 32nd District, which includes East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley. She is a member of the House Judiciary, Government Oversight, and Education and Labor Committees.

Embrace the Pap Test; Cervical Cancer Is No Game

January 27, 2011 by · 7 Comments 

Asking your boss for time off work, waiting for the nurse to call your name, getting poked in funny places by a doctor you barely know – all this to find out how much you have to pay. Going to the doctor’s office is no relaxing walk in the park.

But neither is cervical cancer. So, before waving off the hassle of getting tested or vaccinated, think for a moment about what it means to put off seeing a doctor.

Yes, ladies, cervical cancer is a cancer of the “you know what,” down there. And it is life-threatening. Last year in the United States more than 4,000 out of 12,000 women with cervical cancer died from it.

This is also a sexually transmitted cancer, which might make you turn red to think about it, but it is caused by a virus that half the population carries at one time or another. That makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

There is no shame in it, whether you are 15-years old or 55-years old.

So what does all this depressing news have to do with you? You may think you are one of those people who will turn out fine or that you are not sexually promiscuous, or you are thinking you’ll wait until you have money to pay for those big health bills.

But early stages of cervical cancer have no symptoms. If you have not had a pap test in years or ever, and you don’t plan on taking one anytime soon, then the only surefire way to find out might be when your doctor recommends chemotherapy or surgery. What will your life and health bills look like then?

As a radiation oncologist at White Memorial Hospital, Dr. Ana Grace only sees patients after they have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and she says some women, “unfortunately, come into the emergency room bleeding” before finding out.

There is quite a bit of positive news, though, including the fact that getting tested can be relatively simple and low-cost, if not free.

According to Dr. Grace, if you catch cervical cancer early, when it is still “pre-invasive,” it is “completely curable” and takes no more trouble than a few visits to the doctor’s office.

Doctors recommend getting a pap test every two or three years to detect the early signs of cervical cancer, or getting vaccinated if you are between the ages of 9 and 26 to prevent it completely.

There are also many places to get a pap test for free or at a lowered cost, usually around $15 if it isn’t free, at a clinic or a health fair, said Dr. Grace. Vaccines are also provided for free to those up to the age of 18.

If the doctor finds those early signs of cancer, you may still have to go through some uncomfortable procedures to remove the cancerous cells by freezing them, Dr. Grace said, but you are ready to go back to living your life the same day.

As a cervical cancer survivor, 55-year old Maria Magdalena is considered lucky, but before becoming a “survivor” she went through the very unpleasant experience of having all of her reproductive organs removed as a result of her cancer.

The first alarming signs of her cancer came when she had non-stop bleeding in her cervix area for 29 days. She went to the doctor to find out what was wrong, but was shuffled around from doctor to doctor.

Magdalena did not actually find out she was suffering from cancer until a year and a half later, when she took a pap test after she missed taking them for over a year.

“When they told me ‘you have cancerous cells,’ I felt the earth shake, not because I was scared, but because so many things go through your head, and all the plans I had in three days, I could no longer do,” she said. “You feel like the rug has been pulled out from under you. It feels horrible.”

When Magdalena thinks about telling others her story, she says “nobody can experience something through someone else’s head, until it happens to you.”

She says “we need to have an open mind to prevention,” including with vaccines, which when given to children could carry a stigma.

“I have heard that to allow this vaccine to be administered is like opening the door for young women to have sex before it’s time – as we say in our culture. But I think that it comes down to one’s home, the roots that we have instilled in our children,” she said.

Just as important as giving children a “good moral” upbringing is giving them “health advice,” Magdalena says.

Medical professionals concerned that this stigma is keeping women and girls from getting tested or vaccinated are also saying there should be no shame attached to cervical cancer. About fifty percent of people, including men, carry the human papillomavirus, HPV, that causes it, says Dr. Grace.

The more modest or the more cash-strapped you are, the more doctors are concerned. In fact, Los Angeles County is looking at cervical cancer as a serious health problem for those who don’t get tested or vaccinated.

Many of them are immigrant or low-income women, according to numbers collected by the County. “Hispanic women are the ones being diagnosed at a later stage and often times they’re the ones that have not gotten a pap smear within the past three years,” said Dr. Diana Ramos of the Los Angeles County Health Department.

Cervical cancer seems to affect Latinas the most in Los Angeles County, with 14.3 out of every 100,000 women suffering from it. Asian and Pacific Islander women come in second, with 9.3 per 100,000 women.

But level of income has an even bigger correlation with the number of people suffering from cervical cancer – 20 out of 100,000 at the lowest income level get cervical cancer.

Whether there is a social stigma or a lack of insurance or money to pay for health bills, all of this pales in comparison to finding out too late that you have cancer, said Dr. Grace.

“As a society we need to be embracing pap tests and preventative measures to keep our mothers and daughters alive,” she said.

Dr. Grace and Dr. Ramos provided some numbers to call if you want to find out about local places to get tested or vaccinated, even if you don’t have insurance or you don’t think your insurance will cover the test.

Dr. Grace recommended the state’s cancer health hotline Every Woman Counts at 1-800-511-2300 to find out places to get tested. Dr. Ramos recommended calling the Los Angeles County Health Department at 1-800-793-8090 to find out about where to get a free pap test.

Gloria Angelina Castillo contributed to this story.

Neighborhood Council Member Calls for Ban on Replica Toy Guns

January 27, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

In response to a shooting of a 13-year-old boy in Glassell Park by police officers who confused the boy’s replica toy gun for a real gun, neighborhood council member Dr. Stanley Moore, 73, is proposing a ban on all replica toy guns.

According to media reports, on the evening of Dec. 16, 2010, two officers mistook the 200 pound, 5 foot 7 inch body of a 13-year-old boy for that of an adult male. Upon being asked to surrender, the boy produced a toy replica gun and one of the officers immediately shot him unable to distinguish the toy from a real gun.

Moore has been in the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council since 2002 when it was certified. He has been pushing for a ban and said he has brought it to the attention of Councilman Jose Huizar, in whose 14th district the shooting took place.

“This is a very serious problem, I’d hate to be a police officer in the same situation. Do I shoot or do I not shoot? It’s a frightening choice to have to make,” said Moore.

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