Why Now, Baca? No Matter, A New Leader Is Needed

January 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angles Sheriff Lee Baca’s resignation announcement Tuesday wasn’t so much of a surprise as it was a puzzle: Why now?

Baca still has nearly a year left on his current term, so why has he decided to quit his job at the end of this month, rather than just announce he will not run for reelection in June?

That question has been the subject of much speculation and behind the door debate during the last couple of days, with few seemingly ready to accept the Sheriff’s explanation that it’s time, he’s getting too old, or that he wants to spare the good men and women of the department from the political mudslinging that is sure to be focused on his tenure in office during the upcoming election, particularly if he is still at the helm.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has been in turmoil since last year when the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled charges against not only county jailers but also two lieutenants. Charges of obstruction of justice, by hiding an FBI informant, charges that jailers not only abused prisoners but also visitors to the jails showed a department completely out of control.

FBI indictments of 18 current and former deputies and allegations that lax screening and favoritism have resulted in the hiring of personnel with criminal backgrounds, are the latest bombshells to hit the department, prompting the Board of Supervisors to recommend the creation of a commission to oversee the department and the hiring of the county’s first Inspector General to take a close look at the sheriff’s department.

The aura of mistrust by the public hangs heavy in the air, in large part due to what many see as Baca’s failure to rein in some members of his command staff, either because he was unaware of the bad behavior, or because he did not want to know.

While Baca has often advocated for programs for at-risk youth in the communities served by the sheriff’s department, and for jail programs aimed at reducing the recidivism rate, those efforts have been greatly overshadowed by the complaints of many that abusive behavior on the part of deputies and unjustified shootings are too normal an occurrence in LA County.

The rumors that more charges will soon be unveiled against additional members of the department, including some higher ups and perhaps Baca himself, may have brought about his unanticipated retirement.

For now, we applaud Sheriff Baca for his backing of a commission to oversee the department, as proposed by the Board of Supervisors.

No matter the reason, Sheriff Baca’s retirement before the end of his term means a new sheriff will ultimately be elected to lead the department in the future.

We don’t believe a member of the department’s current hierarchy can overcome all the turmoil the sheriff’s department has been experiencing, and that it is in the best interest of county residents that someone from the outside, who can bring a new perspective and experience, be elected to lead the L.A. County’s Sheriff’s Department as it faces reforms.

Letter to the Editor: Vernon Has Remained Vigilant When it Comes to Exide

January 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 

Far from doing an “About Face” as your Vernon Sun news article implies (“Vernon Does About Face, Orders Exide to Clean Up”) on January 2, 2014, the City of Vernon took affirmative enforcement actions to ensure that Exide Technologies swiftly remediates a hazardous lead dust condition brought to light by the toxic substance sampling survey undertaken by the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

When new findings on the presence of lead dust survey were revealed by the DTSC, the City of Vernon Health and Environmental Control Department (VHEC) determined that the DTSC’s solid evidence of hazardous lead dust exposure represented a serious city code violation. Vernon acted in concert with the DTSC to issue its compliance order. Prior to the DTSC’s scientific findings, the City of Vernon lacked the scientific data necessary to take this specific enforcement action.

Vernon took immediate action to enforce Vernon city codes that are intended to protect the health and safety of people and workers that may be proximate to the Exide lead acid battery recycling plant site where lead dust was detected by DTSC staff.

The City of Vernon works cooperatively with the DTSC, South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) and Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) to make certain that the Exide Technologies plant operates safely and within the requirements set forth by our environmental laws and regulations, which are some of the toughest in the nation. We will continue to do so.

We take our jobs seriously. We will remain vigilant in fulfilling our responsibility to safeguard the health and environment in and around the City of Vernon.

 

Leonard Grossberg is Director of the Health and Environmental Control Department for the City of Vernon.

 

Myth of Minimum Wage as Job Killer Persists

January 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(New America Media )–The GOP has ruthlessly sold the outlandish myth to millions that a hike in the minimum wage is a huge job killer. It has been so effective in its hard sell that President Obama and Congressional Democrats have repeatedly been stymied and frustrated in every effort they’ve made to boost the minimum wage nationally. And almost certainly, Obama in his State of the Union Address later this month will again demand that Congress, meaning House and Senate Republicans, immediately raise the minimum wage.

Some states have hiked the old, archaic, and pitifully low standard minimum wage from $7.25 to a double-digit figure that faintly resembles a living wage. The current federal minimum wage amounts to slightly more than $15,000 in annual income. That’s not even close to the amount needed to keep a family of four out of the soup lines. You’d have to go back more than four decades, to 1968, to find the last year that the minimum wage actually kept pace with inflation for workers.

House Speaker John Boehner in a pithy, horribly simplistic, but effectual retort to the cry for a minimum wage increase, said, “When you raise the price of employment, you get less of it.”

Boehner and Congressional Republicans cherry pick a few dated studies and some anecdotal employment figures in some low wage, low unemployment states such as North Dakota to make the case that the minimum wage hurts the economy. At first glance, that seems compelling enough. But it ignores other low wage states that have boosted the minimum wage and where there’s been no plunge in employment, or wholesale flight of employers from those states to low wage states that won’t boost their minimum wage a penny higher than the federal minimum wage.

Boehner also ignores recent studies that found that states that have boosted their minimum wage have not had a plunge in hiring. It doesn’t take a course in Economics 101 to figure out that employers increase production and sales when there’s demand. Demand increases when workers have enough cash in their pockets to buy more goods and services. It also doesn’t take a seat in the same Econ class to know that lower job turnover boosts productivity and reduces business costs. This adds tens of billions more to the economy, which translates out to job growth.

So studies overwhelmingly back up a huge bump up to the economy from a decent minimum wage. Polls show that the overwhelming majority of Americans support a minimum wage hike, and that includes a significant number of Republicans. Yet, the GOP despite its unpopular, bogus argument against a minimum wage increase has still managed to get its way.

It comes down to two things. One is the millions that buy the notion that a minimum wage hike is a bad thing. This belief is based in part on blind adherence to Republican dogma, in part on kneejerk opposition to anything that Obama and the Democrats propose, just as reflexive knee jerk opposition to labor unions that have traditionally been in the forefront of the fight for a minimum wage hikes, as well as the legitimate fear that business owners will simply pass along any wage increase to consumers by boosting prices on goods.

The other reason for formidable resistance to a minimum wage boost is the perception of who the boost will help. They are the poor. When the minimum wage is fixated as a sop to the poor, even the working poor, the issue gets muddled, and becomes a political flash point issue.

With few exceptions, in years past, talk of poverty was not just missing from the nation’s political plate, but was a dirty word. The existence of millions of poor in America flew in the face of the embedded laissez faire notion that the poor aren’t poor because of the hyper concentration of wealth, or worse, any failing of the system, but because of their personal failings. Surveys bore this out. Even many among the poor were as apt as many of those in the middle-class, and the well-to-do, to self-debase themselves for their poverty. They blame it on their misfortune, bad luck, lack of education and skills, or alcohol, and drug problems. These are certainly reasons why some fall into poverty or remain chronically poor. They, however, are at best peripheral to the real cause of the poverty rise, and that’s the control by a relatively handful of the bulk of the nation’s income, resources and productive wealth.

A minimum wage increase would in very limited part redress the grotesque income inequality between rich and poor. And it’s that fear of big and small business and the rich that GOP is the designated mouthpiece for that insures it will dig its heels in and continue to wage a furious fight against Obama’s call for a minimum wage increase. That means continuing to peddle hard the myth that it’s a job killer.

 

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report. 


County to Hold Toxic and E-Waste Collection Saturday

January 9, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

 A Free LA County Hazardous & E-Waste Roundup is being held Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Bell City Yard, the county department of public works has announced.

County residents can safely discard household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste such as hypodermic needles, pen needles, syringes, lancets, and intravenous needles, universal waste including household batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, and electronic waste (e-waste) such as TVs and monitors, computers, VCRs, stereos, and cell phones at the event.

The Bell City Yard is located at 5320 Gage Ave., Bell. (off River Drive). For more information, call County of LA Dept. of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or go to www.888CleanLA.com, contact LA County Sanitation Districts at 1 (800) 238-0172 or www.lacsd.org.

 

 

 

 

 

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