Montebello Credits Focus on Gangs for Drop In Homicides

July 10, 2014 by · 4 Comments 

It’s halfway through the year and according to the city’s crime data, Montebello is experiencing a record low number of homicides. While that’s good news to Montebello residents, many say they are still concerned that other crimes, such as auto theft and vandalism are still too high.

Last week, 35-year old Frank Burnell Taylor was fatally shot while he walked on the 500 block of Maple Street. The shooter, described only as a 6-foot, 20-something year old weighing at 180 pounds, has not been arrested.

According to police, the suspect got out of his vehicle, shot Taylor in the chest, then drove away in a compact, silver-colored pickup truck as his victim lay dying in the street.

Taylor’s death marks the city’s first homicide this year, says Montebello Crime Analyst Tarciela Favela. That number, however, does not include attempted murders or shootings where the victim survived.

A memorial at the site of Montebello’s only homicide this year. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A memorial at the site of Montebello’s only homicide this year. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

She points out that the homicide number is an improvement over prior years, with two homicides in 2013, four in 2012 and seven in 2010.

“You can see that homicides have been going down,” Favela said. “One is pretty good in one year.”

The crime analyst attributes the decrease in murders to a reduction in gang activity, which she told EGP is often behind the types of violence that claimed Taylor’s life on July 1st.

“The Montebello Police Department is taking control of the gangs in the city,” Favela said. “If you can get rid of the gangs, crimes [like assault, narcotics and theft] will go out of the city.”

Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure told EGP the decrease in homicides can be credited to the work of the Operation Sudden Impact task force, which last year led to the arrest of 38 Southside Montebello gang members on murder, methamphetamine distribution and weapons charges.

“The people with the tendency to commit such crimes are no longer in the city and many are in custody,” the police chief said.

Favela told EGP crime numbers could continue to improve if police keep their focus on known gang members. She cautions, however, that there is no way to accurately predict if homicide rates will go down.

“You cannot predict such things, you can’t predict that someone will go out and kill someone else,” she said, specifically referring to a 2012 crime of passion where a man shot and killed his estranged wife outside the Montebello residence where she worked.

McClure told EGP the department’s number one goal has been to “actually focus on the crime,”  looking for patterns and addressing them immediately.

The department is using crime mapping daily and adjusting their patrols when they see patterns of crime in certain areas, and changing their focus if they need to at every shift, he said.

But for longtime resident Marty Preciado, 66, even one homicide is still too many.

“That number is too high…I don’t want to hear about any homicides in my city,” she said. Preciado, who acknowledges she’s seen a drop in gang activity, says she’s worried not enough is being done to stop other types of crime in the city.

“We have a good police department, great response times, but there’s still a lot of burglaries and more graffiti,” she said.

So far this year, there have been 143 burglaries, 218 cases of petty theft and 47 incidences of vandalism, according to the city’s crime mapping data. Like many residents, Preciado is quick to blame, gang members from other cities, transients or as she calls them, “outsiders” for those crimes.

Resident Kimberly Cobos, however, blames the smaller size of the city’s police force for what she feels is a decrease in overall safety in the community. She said she has advocated for the city to increase the police department’s budget so they can hire more officers, instead of continuing to use city funds to pay for legal battles involving city council members.

Forty-nine-year-old Monique Broguiere is the business manager of her family’s business, Broguiere’s Farm Fresh Dairy, located in Montebello’s southside and across the street from where Taylor was shot to death.

“I wasn’t surprised it happened,” said Broguiere, who was at work the night of the shooting.  She said she has seen a lot of crime during the many years she has lived in the city and while working at her family’s dairy, and has herself been a victim of crime.

“My car has been burglarized twice in the past two months,” she said, visibly annoyed.

Broguiere told EGP the level of crime and how it’s treated in the city’s southside, is notably different from what goes on in the northern parts of Montebello.

“You can see the difference starting south of Beverly,” she said. “The southside has more low-income families and the culture is different.”

For Cobos, the difference in crime is visible south of Whittier Boulevard, specifically in the industrial areas found mainly in the southern parts of the city.

“Some residents in the south sometimes feel like the stepchild,” she said, referring to what she sees as less attention from city officials and police.

But McClure says it’s a “misperception” that there is more crime in the southern part of the city. “Crime stays spread out … when we do see a crime hot spot we put our forces there.”

A big advocate of statistics driven management models, McClure told EGP he does not see more crime in one part of the city compared to other areas. Another misperception, says McClure, is that graffiti automatically means there is gang activity going on.

He said the majority of the graffiti is done by kids “hooked on certain music and who smoke pot” as opposed to hardcore gang members.

The police chief said he hopes to start more youth programs to help kids stay out of trouble and he told EGP that if the city budgets more funds for his department to hire officers, he would use those officers to create a larger community presence and to meet with concerned residents regularly.

McClure says the department is really focused on reducing gang activity and on narcotic suppliers, rather than just the users in the area. He said they are often behind a homicide.

The chief hopes there is no uptick in the homicide rate and that it stays low.

“Knock on wood it stays that way.”

Remembering Those Reusable Bags Takes Time

July 10, 2014 by · 2 Comments 

Every time Josefina Gonzalez walks into her local grocery store, it takes a minute or two for her to remember that she has again forgotten her reusable grocery bags in her car.

She said it’s been hard to get into the habit of bringing the bags with her when she shops, even though she’s known for months that single-use plastic bags are banned at grocery stores in the city of Los Angeles.

“I’ve known since January that the [stores] are not giving out any more plastic bags, but I really can’t get used to the idea,” she told EGP last Thursday after purchasing groceries at a store in Lincoln Heights.

Lea este artículo en Español: Recordar el Uso de Bolsas Reutilizables Toma Constancia

Last week, Gonzalez and other Rancho Meat Market #1 customers received a free reusable bag thanks to a partnership between the storeowner, Councilman Gil Cedillo  (CD-1) and the city’s public works and sanitation departments. It was part of an outreach effort to remind the public that as of July 1, the ban on plastic bags has expanded to include smaller stores that have a grocery section, including convenience stores and so-called “mom and pop” retailers.

“Plastic bags are now banned in large and small grocery stores,” Cedillo told EGP via email.   “People can choose to purchase a paper bag for ten cents, or use a reusable bag for free. We all have to do our part to help out the environment,” he said.

Rancho Meat Market in Lincoln Heights promotes reusable bags. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Rancho Meat Market in Lincoln Heights promotes reusable bags. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

In January of this year, L.A. became the largest city in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags. City officials approved the ban, saying the bags harm the environment and “create a blight of litter that is pervasive in the public landscape, including parks, streams, beaches and streets.” The ban prohibits retailers from using free plastic bags for their customer’s groceries, but requires customers to pay 10 cents for a paper bag or to purchase reusable bags if they do not have them.

“Once they are used, they fly and end up in storm drains, or the ocean,” and then the city has to clear them out of the storm drains to prevent flooding, said Junderpal Bhandal, an environmental specialist with the city’s public works department.

The ordinance is being rolled in with the first phase implemented at the beginning of this year at larger grocery retailers such as Vons, Albertson, some Targets, Walmart and licensed pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens.

The second phase took effect July 1 at smaller retailers and convenience stores that sell selected items, “including milk, bread, soda, snack foods, and alcohol,” such as 7-Eleven and ampm.

“We gave the smaller stores a little more time to get adapted,” Bhandal told EGP as he handed out the free reusable bags to people entering the grocery store.  He said they want to “encourage people to start using these reusable bags.”

Customer Linda Rosa told EGP she thinks the ban “is a good idea because [plastic bags] take too much time to disappear.”

Butcher Alberto Vasquez agrees. “Change is good,” he said. “We can prevent a lot of contamination” by getting rid of the plastic bags.

Customer Linda Rosa agrees with the ordinance of banning plastic bags. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Customer Linda Rosa agrees with the ordinance of banning plastic bags. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

For others, however, the ban is causing frustration, especially when they forget their bags at home or in their cars. The ordinance requires retailers to charge their customers 10 cents for a paper bag if they do not bring their own reusable bags to the store.

Ranch Meat Market owner Josie Andrade told EGP that she’s faced mixed reactions, especially when the ban extended to her store on July 1.

“They were asking, ‘can I get a bag?’… Most of them do not want to buy a bag, they’d rather carry their stuff out in their hands,” she said. Despite the pressure, Andrade told EGP she’s complying with the ordinance to avoid being fined. Retailers can be fined for each day they are in violation; $100 for the first violation and up to $300 for a third violation.

It’s an issue for some customers, but they knew it was coming and they will have to adapt, Andrade said.

According to Gonzalez, prior to the ordinance, the empty bags would just pile up until she threw them in the trash, which she said is bad for the ecosystem.

“Now, I just buy what I need to use,” she said.

Restaurants, dry cleaning shops and hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowes and retailers in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children are exempted. The ban does not apply to pharmacy or bags used for produce.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Child Immigration Crisis Cries Out for Humane Response

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Regardless of what President Obama or Speaker Boehner do to curb the influx of children crossing into the country illegally, some will be believe it’s not enough, while others will lament their actions as mean-spirited and even dangerous.

One thing we believe is that the thousands of children who have migrated from Central America are doing so to flee the horrific conditions in their homelands. Who among us would not want to rescue our children from the conditions of extreme violence and poverty? To help them flee to a place where they might have a chance at a better life?

For these children and their families, the unrelenting poverty, savagery and terror of the narco cartels are good enough reasons to risk the perilous journey for a chance at a better life.

They are already here, and now we must act.

We are a humane and civilized country and should not allow these children to feel any dirtier than they already must from the journey, and must insure that they have access to food and clean clothes and the facilities where they are being held are clean and safe.

The president must really do something about the stupid advisors he is listening to and who are influencing his decisions. We are glad that he has finally decided to discuss the crisis with the governor of Texas, but he most now take the next step and go to the border to show he is truly concerned.

And Speaker Boehner, just crossing your arms and saying the crisis is all the president’s fault that will now cost taxpayers billions of dollars, is no solution, much less a rational answer to how to go about dealing with the children who are already here.

If speaker Boehner and the Republicans in the Congress don’t want to provide the funding the president needs, and if they are not satisfied with his proposals, Boehner and his contingent should have the courage to propose their own solution, one that’s not just more political rhetoric and a game of one upmanship.

The border crisis here in our country is no different than what is happening in many other parts of the world, including in the Middle East and Africa, where huge refugee camps are struggling to house, protect, feed and give health care to people, many of them women and children, who have had to flee their homes. The problem is it has now reached our doorstep.

To the humanitarian groups, refugee organizations and others who without question support the flood of mothers and children, we urge you to exercise caution when making recommendations about when and to whom these children should be released, for the children’s safety. The relationship to these adults should be scrutinized, especially in this age of child sexual trafficking.

Yes, many children and mothers will have to return to their home countries, but we believe that with the extensive news coverage of their plight, it would behoove their countries to make changes to help their plight, and the U.S. should apply pressure to help bring about change for the children returning and all the other children in the country.

In the meantime, the one thing we can all do to help the situation is contribute supplies (water, bedding etc.), clothing and food for the children being detained.

Speech in the Digital Age

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Representative Spencer Bachus stands out among conservatives.

Representing Alabama’s 6th district, he’s built his political reputation as a supporter of fiscal responsibility, limited government and constitutional rights — with special attention to the First and Fourth Amendments.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to hear this southern Republican speak in favor of net neutrality, the principle that preserves free speech on the Web. “There shouldn’t be fast lanes on the Internet,” Bachus told Politico after a House Judiciary Committee hearing last month.

 

But his statement was out of the ordinary because net neutrality has become politicized. Most Republican politicians oppose it while their Democratic counterparts, by and large, support it. It’s gotten so divisive that the issue’s true meaning has gotten mired in industry spin and partisan talking points.

But net neutrality is simple: It means that Internet users have the right to connect with anyone else on the network without their service providers discriminating, censoring or otherwise interfering with their communications. The Federal Communications Commission is the agency with the power to prevent companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon from blocking content or favoring certain websites over others. But so far it’s been reluctant to act on behalf of Internet users.

 

And so an issue drawing broad support across the country is being held hostage by Washington politics.

An industry-friendly columnist writing for the Wall Street Journal even called net neutrality “a government takeover of the Internet.”

Not at all. Net neutrality was baked into the DNA of the Internet at its inception. It’s allowed us to decide where we go on the network without access providers hindering our movement.

Guaranteeing net neutrality doesn’t let the government seize control of the network. Instead, it preserves the very democratic idea that the Internet is a space shared and shaped by its millions of users.

 

But false claims persist. The last time the FCC tried to create an open Internet rule, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) declared that net neutrality was “censorship of the Internet.”

Actually, net neutrality is the opposite of censorship. It dictates that Internet service providers behave as “common carriers” — a standard under which network providers must transport information from one user to the next without interference. The FCC has the power to restore common-carriage rules as a means of protecting free speech over private networks.

Simple, right? Unfortunately, the phone and cable lobbies have funneled untold sums of money to politicians and pundits willing to confuse us all.

 

On the other side of the debate, you have millions of everyday citizens speaking out, inundating the FCC with comments, and demanding that the agency take action on behalf of the open Internet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has promised to weigh these comments before creating a rule later this year.

The good news is that the industry’s tactics don’t seem to be working in the face of growing public outrage and plain-old common sense.

 

Bachus concluded that the “easiest way” to prevent discrimination online is to classify Internet service providers as common carriers. He’s not alone in reaching this conclusion. Independents and moderates are also speaking out.

During a panel held last month in Portland, Maine, Senator Angus King, an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party, said the need for net neutrality protections is obvious. “We really shouldn’t be having this debate,” he added. “It’s crazy.”

In fact, once you get beyond the Beltway it becomes clear that net neutrality is one of those issues that unites the left, right and center. Can you name another policy debate where the Christian Coalition and NARAL Pro-Choice America are on the same side?

But it’s going to take all of us standing up for our free speech rights to convince a majority in Washington to ignore the industry spin and pass a simple and enforceable net neutrality rule.

 

The voices of Spencer Bachus and Angus King are welcome additions to the chorus of politicians who have championed the open Internet. It’s time more of their colleagues — from both major parties — spoke out in support of an Internet that fosters free speech for everyone.

 

Timothy Karr is the senior director of strategy for Free Press. If you would like to tell the Federal Communications Commission why net neutrality matters to you, send it a comment. FreePress.net Distributed via OtherWords.org.

 

Remembering Bobby Castillo, Dodger Pitcher & Legend

July 10, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Bobby Castillo was a great player, for his team and in his community.

Sadly, he died to soon, losing his fight against cancer June 30 at the age of 59.

The right-handed pitcher from Lincoln Heights played for the Dodgers from 1977 to 1981, doing his final stint with the team in 1985.

Bobby was in the Dodger’s bullpen during the 1981 World Series. Though he only pitched one inning against the New York Yankees, his influence on Dodger history was greater than just that one game.

You see, not only did Bobby Castillo help the great Dodger pitcher Fernando Valenzuela perfect his third devastating pitch, the screwball, (a pitch Bobby also threw); he was always ready to counsel other players and to give advice to young ball players getting their start.

And he was always ready to help this community’s young people make good choices in life.

Bobby was humbled by the fact that he was looked up to with pride by Los Angeles and Southern CA youth, the Mexican-American community and by all baseball fans.

What I remember most about Bobby was his willingness to help young people and to always stop and talk to his fans. Bobby would let anyone who walked up to him look at his1981 World Series ring and take a picture, bringing so many smiles to so many Dodger fans.

Anyone who spent time with him probably heard many of his great stories about his days at Lincoln High School and his years as a professional baseball player.

Bobby was full of information about baseball history, players and team records. His baseball career has been documented in many articles and his story is included and permanently archived in the Special Collections section in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library at Cal State University, Los Angeles, under “Mexican American Baseball.”

With friends, Bobby enjoyed dancing and listening to a variety of music, including R&B, Soul, Salsa, Jazz, Oldies and of course one of his favorite bands, LA’s own TIERRA.

Bobby Castillo was more than just a Dodger baseball player, he was a loving father to his daughters Mellanie and Sarah and son Robert III. He was a caring son to his mother Nellie, and good brother to his sister Lorraine.

And he was a good friend to many, including my family who like me will deeply miss his great sense of humor.

Over the years, I was fortunate to share many special times with my friend Bobby, like the time he consumed a lot of pancakes at my son’s boy scout troop’s benefit breakfast and my mother’s 90th birthday party.

Bobby was a true Dodger, through and through, remaining part of the organization’s community component. Every time he was asked by the team to go out and represent the franchise, he did it lovingly and proudly. Bobby willingly gave his time and self to support many important causes in our community.

Bobby “Babo” Castillo, a friend, legend and our hometown hero, we will miss you, but we know you are still keeping an eye on us from that great baseball park in the sky.

 

Jaime Rodriguez is a resident of Monterey Park. He has worked for several local legislators, but writes this letter as private citizen.

 

Violent Crime Up in L.A: But Crime Is Down Overall

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Violent crime in Los Angeles was up 2.9 percent during the first half of the year, compared with the same period last year, with aggravated assaults up 12 percent, according to city crime statistics

released Wednesday.

Despite the increases, city leaders declared that overall mid-year crime rates — with property crimes factored in — were down 5.4 percent.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who joined Police Chief Charlie Beck in South Los Angeles to announce the statistics, pointed to the overall decline in both property and violent crimes as a sign that the city is headed toward a 12th consecutive year of dropping crime rates.

Garcetti attributed the overall decline to “smart, data-driven policing, good leadership, community partnership and a focus on prevention as well as enforcement and an LAPD that works with, not against, the communities it serves.”

Beck said the department will be “dissecting” the figures and looking into why the number of aggravated assaults shot up by 466 reported cases — from 3,868 in the first half of 2013 to 4,334 during the same period this year.

“It is not a universal trend throughout the city. It is sporadic and we will keep a close eye on this as it develops,” Beck said.

Violent crime overall grew by 239 reported cases, rising from 8,610 reported cases in the first half of 2013 to 8,371 in the first half of this year.

Other categories saw drops. Property crime fell 7 percent, murders were down 1.5 percent and gang-related crime dropped 13.1 percent. Robberies dropped 5.7 percent, burglaries 14.6 percent, motor vehicle thefts 7 percent and larcenies 4.8 percent.

Gang-related crimes dropped 13.1 percent, though some individual types of gang-related crimes saw increases, with carjackings up 38.9 percent, from 18 reported cases in 2013 to 25 during the first half of 2014. Gang-related arson was up 50 percent, from two reported cases in 2008 to three this year.

“Reducing crime is not just about cops. It’s about the programs that the city puts forward … making sure that everybody recognizes that they have a role in public safety in Los Angeles,” Beck said.

Activists Call on Sheriff to Follow LAPD Lead on ICE Holds

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Immigrant-rights activists, capitalizing on a policy change announced by the Los Angeles Police Department, called on the county Sheriff’s Department Tuesday to prohibit federal immigration agents from entering county jails and stop sharing information on detainees.

Dozens of activists, assembled as the ICE Out of LA Coalition, protested outside the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration to urge an end to county cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

“There shouldn’t be any collaboration between ICE and law enforcement,” said Edna Monroy of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Such cooperation will only “lead to further insecurity and more fear,” she said.

On Monday, Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced that the department would no longer comply with most detention requests made by ICE officials.

Garcetti said the city would not release “violent or serious criminals,” but would ensure that detention requests are subject to judicial review.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, the agency has stopped holding individuals on ICE detainers, but does coordinate with federal agents so they can take inmates into custody as they are released.

“We are currently evaluating our procedures with our federal partners,” LASD spokeswoman Nicole Nishida told City News Service.

Nishida acknowledged that two ICE buses arrive daily to pick up recently released inmates, but stressed that the department is “not holding anyone past their normal release date.”

In April, a federal court in Oregon ruled that local sheriff’s departments were not required to honor ICE requests to hold individuals no longer facing criminal charges or who were eligible for bail. The ruling, one of several recent decisions that have set limits on ICE detainers, also found that local jurisdictions may be held liable for damages in such cases.

In response, 30 California jurisdictions and 70 more nationwide have announced a ban on compliance with immigration detainers, according to ICE Out of LA Coalition organizers.

Following the rally, coalition organizers presented a letter to the Board of Supervisors demanding prohibitions on ICE agents in county jails and on notifications to ICE about release dates or home addresses of arrestees.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky asked county attorneys to provide a legal analysis of the city’s decision and the county’s leeway in setting policy. A report is expected back next week.

Could Politics Trump Economics As Reason for Growing Income Inequality?

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Most research examining growing income inequality in the United States has focused on economic causes, for seemingly obvious reasons.

But a new study suggests that a different cause – the politically induced decline in the strength of worker unions – may play a much more pivotal role than previously understood.

In fact, the role that union decline has played in growing income inequality may actually be larger than many of the favorite explanations offered by economists, such as the education gap in the United States.

Among their contributions to income equality: unions reduce pay differences within companies and use their influence to lobby on behalf of the working and middle classes, the researchers say.

“The effect that unions used to have on protecting the incomes of middle class and working Americans has been underestimated,” said David Jacobs, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at The Ohio State University.

Jacobs conducted the study with Lindsey Myers, a doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State.Their results appear online in the journal American Sociological Review and are scheduled to appear in the August print edition.

The researchers used a wide variety of data sources for the study, including the Gini Index, a measure of income inequality, calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau. They used statistical modeling techniques to examine changes in family income differences over 60 years in search of factors that have important independent effects on income inequality.

Although the decline in union memberships began in the early 1950s, this decline accelerated after the election of President Ronald Reagan,whose policies and appointments to the National Labor Relations Board severely weakened unions, Jacobs said.

Since then, Republican presidents and one Democratic president (Bill Clinton) have followed policies that continued to weaken unions.

According to Jacobs, the effects on inequality have been considerable.

In the 12 years before Reagan’s presidency, from 1970 to 1981, income inequality grew by 4.53 percent. But it expanded by 11.2 percent in the 12 Reagan-Bush years from 1981 to 1992, or by 2.5 times as much.

Inequality grew as much during the Clinton administration, which also implemented policies that hurt unions, Jacobs said.

Of course, a lot happened during this period that may conceivably affect income inequality. But Jacobs and Myers controlled for more than 20 other factors that economists andothers connect to growing inequality. Still, the decline in union strength remained the most important explanation for the increasing income gap.

For example, the researchers took into account changes in the percentage of manufacturing jobs, the percentage of employees in service occupations, levels of international trade, and a variety of demographic factors, including the percentage of female-headed households and the percentage of people under age 16 or over age 64. They also took into account other political factors such as the percentage of Republicans in Congress.

And they considered the factor most often blamed by economists as the main cause of growing inequality: the growing education gap between the haves and have-nots.

“We controlled for all of the major factors generally cited by researchers as contributing to inequality. Still, union decline and the presence of Republican presidents remained the most important explanations for income inequality,” Jacobs said.

“Even education wasn’t nearly as important as union decline.”

According to Jacobs, Reagan’s policies and those of Republican presidents who followed Reagan along with Clinton were a key reason for the decline of union strength and the resulting growth in inequality.

Reagan broke a strike by the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, which ended with the union being decertified. Reagan also named three conservative members to the National Labor Relations Board who held anti-union views.

The result was a sharp decline in the number of workplace union recognition elections and victories during the Reagan administration, which continued under Presidents Bush and Clinton.

The one other factor in the study that played a role in growing inequality was the “financialization” of the American economy and the growth of financial profits, particularly in firms that had not engaged in these activities before.

“Financialization meant that the incomes of the high earners grew rapidly during this period, while union decline led to stagnating incomes for the less affluent.The end result was growing inequality,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs and Myers used a variety of complex models to predict what would have happened if presidents during the 1980s and later had pursued more pro-union policies.

They concluded that unions likely would have lost members in the 1980s even if there had been presidents supportive of their cause, but the losses would have been less severe.

“After the Reagan turning point, unions no longer had the influence to help contain the acceleration in inequality,” Jacobs said.

How did unions help control inequality?

According to Jacobs, other research has shown that firms with unionized employees have diminished differences in pay – such that the gap in the earnings of the highest-paid worker and the lowest-paid workers was reduced in firms organized by unions.

“Unions were also the most effective political advocates forthe less affluent before Congress, the president and other elected officials,” Jacobs said. “They ended up helping less prosperous families even if they weren’t union members.”

Stow Awarded $18 Million in Dodger Stadium Beating Case

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A jury awarded roughly $18 million in damages to a San Francisco Giants fan Wednesday who was beaten into a coma outside Dodger Stadium in 2011, but the panel found the Dodgers were only partially responsible for the attack that Bryan Stow blamed on inadequate security.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury exonerated former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of any culpability in the attack that left Stow with permanent brain damage.

According to Stow attorney Thomas Girardi, the Los Angeles Dodgers LLC – the business entity created by McCourt when he owned the team – will have to pay Stow and his family about $14 million the jurors awarded for past and  future medical expenses and loss of earnings. The company will pay 25 percent of the remaining roughly $4 million jurors awarded for pain and suffering.

“The amount under the law involving medical expenses in the past, all the future medical expenses, all the past loss of earnings and all the future loss of earnings, which is about $14 million, just in rough terms, the Dodgers have to – the LLC, this is the McCourt Dodgers … they have to pay all of that,” Girardi said. “Then with respect to pain and suffering, about $4 million or so, they only have to pay 25 percent of that.”

The six-man, six-woman panel assigned the rest of the blame for Stow’s injuries on Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, the two men who attacked Stow in parking lot 2 on March 31, 2011.

The current ownership of the Dodgers was not targeted in the lawsuit and has no liability in the case.

“So in other words, this is a nice nest egg for this family, desperately needed,” Girardi said. “The law has done some good for them.”

Girardi said the jury sent a message with its verdict.

“This is telling those people that run … stadiums all over the country that they better watch your back,” Girardi said. “Because before it was just, ‘OK, somebody assaulted somebody, that isn’t my problem.’ This tells (them) for the first time, ‘Listen here, man, you better protect the people that come to your stadium. You better watch the beer sales. … You better have people in the parking lot.

“… This has a huge impact.”

Jurors also found that Stow bore no responsibility in the attack, despite claims by attorneys for McCourt and the Dodgers that he had been drinking and antagonized his attackers. The 45-year-old Capitola resident was not present for the verdict.

Stow’s mother, Ann Stow, said she was pleased with the verdict.

“We’ve been waiting three years for this,” she said. “The trial was scheduled and rescheduled a couple of times so it’s nice to know that we’re standing here with a verdict in Bryan’s favor, so we’re happy.

She also said the verdict was “a big weight off of our shoulders.”

Stow’s father, David Stow, said he was not disappointed that the jury awarded less than half of the damages his son’s attorneys were seeking.

“The thing is that he’s going to get help for his future,” he said.

“He’s not going to be 100 percent.”

The verdict was reached exactly one week after the jury declared itself to be hopelessly deadlocked. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez, however, ordered the panel to continue talking.

The courtroom was filled nearly to capacity for the verdict. Those in attendance included summer law school interns and other judges in the courthouse.

Stow, who is in a wheelchair, was not in court when the verdict was read.

Stow was punched from behind by Sanchez after the 2011 home opener between the Dodgers and their longtime rivals. Sanchez and Norwood then kicked Stow, a father of two, after he fell to the ground. The attack left Stow suffering from permanent brain damage.\

Stow’s attorneys maintained security was insufficient and that no officers or guards were present in parking lot 2 when Stow was attacked. They said Sanchez and Norwood should have been ejected from Dodger Stadium hours earlier for unruly behavior and that more uniformed security at the stadium could have deterred their misconduct.

But McCourt’s attorneys said the team spent more money on opening day security in 2011 than in previous years and that the attack on Stow happened so fast, security personnel would have had to have been right there as it developed in order to prevent it.

Sanchez, 31, and Norwood, 33, pleaded guilty in January to carrying out the attack on Stow and were sentenced to eight- and four-year terms, respectively. They are also both facing a federal weapons charge that could land them in a federal lockup for up to 10 years.

Girardi said in closing arguments that Stow deserves $36 million in damages plus punitive damages because McCourt put saving money ahead of fan safety.

Attorneys for McCourt countered that Stow’s medical costs will be only between $6.5 million and $11 million.

Defense attorney Dana Fox said no damages should be awarded because Stow’s attorneys did not prove any liability on the part of McCourt and the team, and he scoffed at Girardi’s suggestion that Stow deserved punitive damages, saying there was no evidence the defendants acted with malice.

Monterey Park Hires New Fire Chief

July 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Scott Haberle has been hired by Monterey Park to serve as the city’s new fire chief effective July 14.

Haberle will lead a department of 52 sworn fire personnel, three fire stations and an annual budget of over $11 million.

Haberle was previously deputy fire chief of the Monrovia Fire Department, where he worked since 1992. Haberle has coordinated and managed specialized assignments in fire prevention, emergency medical services, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and emergency operations center.

He received a master’s in public administration from the University of La Verne and completed his Executive Fire Officer designation from the National Fire Academy.

A swearing in ceremony will take place on Tuesday, July 15 at 2:00 p.m. at the city hall council chambers.

 

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