Alejandra Reyes steps into La Fama Panaderia at the early hour of 5 a.m., where a large steaming oven and empty display cases and trays wait to be filled. Still sleepy, she stays awake by reciting her chef’s go-to phrase over and over again in her head: “Another day in paradise.”
Reyes isn’t in her “paradise” to buy bread—she’s there to make it.
Lea esta nota EN ESPANOL: Estudiantes de Culinaria Aprenden el Arte del Pan Dulce en el Este de LA
She and her cousin Michelle Cano have spent the last six weeks interning as bakers at La Fama Panaderia, a popular Mexican bakery in East Los Angeles. The summer internship was a requirement for their baking and pastry studies at the renowned Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles.
La Fama opened over 50 years ago as a family-run business that to this day continues to draw multiple generations of local families. The cousins are the popular bakery’s first interns, according to its general manager, Dan Morales.
“There’s a lot of history here and to be able to give a helping hand in the way of this internship was a good feeling,” Morales said of the experience.
But before the girls could suit up in one of East Los Angeles’s oldest running bakeries — which claims as one of its honors the baking of a large concha (round filled sweet bread) for the 10th anniversary of the popular Spanish language television show “Sabado Gigante” — Reyes and Cano first had to endure rejections from other local bakeries, an experience that almost dashed their summer baking hopes.
According to Reyes, since neither of the girls had access to a car they were hoping to find an internship opportunity near their homes in East Los Angeles. And even though the girls already had at least a year of baking and pastry making training from Le Cordon Bleu under their belts, it seemed no one was willing to give them a chance. In some cases, they said, their schooling actually backfired on them.
“Most of the bakeries from here didn’t want someone that was actually studying, so we were going around and most of the people said no or didn’t call us,” Reyes told EGP.
While Reyes admits that some bakeries did tell them why they were refusing to take them on, such as the bakery that said they already had too many bakers on staff, others were more cryptic in providing an explanation, she said.
At “some of them we just walked in and they were looking at us from top to bottom. [They] were like no, no thank you,” Reyes said.
But Cano finally heard back from Morales who accepted the girls’ offer to work for free in exchange for hands-on experience. Yet even at La Fama, the girls’ Cordon Bleu schooling was taken into account by the establishment’s two longtime bakers, as they discussed whether to accept novice bakers into their kitchen.
“When the owners told us that they had schooling background I did consider it in my decision,” said Antonio Ángeles, a baker at La Fama for over nine years, speaking in Spanish.
Ángeles learned about bread making from working in bakeries in Mexico, where he started his training at a very young age. He said he realized that this would be a great opportunity for him and his partner to pass on what they had learned in what he calls “a school if its own.”
“I figured they had to bring some notion of baking, but this is a bigger school because here we’re live and in person making the masa (dough).”
Ángeles explained that even the way the bakery is set up created a different atmosphere than what the girls were used to. Since there is no clear division between the storefront and the kitchen, customers can see the entire baking process.
The girls started making bread a few days into the internship, but quickly realized they could not fall back on what they had learned at Le Cordon Bleu, because making even regular bread at La Fama was a completely new experience. For instance, the girls knew how to make baguettes, but La Fama only sells bolillos, smaller and lighter versions of the bread that requires tactful practice to get the softer texture.
“At first it was overwhelming because we’re not used to it,” Reyes said.
Reyes prefers making cupcakes and artistically assembling, or plating, desserts like fruit tarts. While she and her cousin had already taken bread-making classes along with their favored pastry courses, focusing only on the different versions of larger sweet breads in higher quantities on a daily basis was challenging. Not to mention doing it in a kitchen where every ingredient must be made from scratch to ensure the signature La Fama flavor; a sweet flavor that Ángeles said has kept customers coming back for generations.
Eventually, however, the girls would start to trade off on projects with the bakers who would give them constant feedback and guidance.
“They’d tell us to take our time and there’s no pressure, and they tell us what we do wrong and what we don’t,” Reyes said. “They expect a lot from us and that’s the whole point of it, they expect a lot and then we have to give it to them.”
Reyes laughs when she recalls that her most difficult task was making elotes, small rolled up bread with shaped ridges filled with cinnamon.
“[Antonio] noticed that I wasn’t doing them perfect so one day he told me to do a whole batch of them and that’s when I started getting the hang of it and now I do them on my own,” Reyes said.
Morales notes that the internship served as a bartering opportunity in which the girls got real world experience by working alongside veteran bakers and the bakers got some extra help and recognition as teachers of their culinary art.
The young women said they got involved in baking because of the creative outlet it offered, and according to Reyes, that’s what the internship provided.
Both hope to one day master their skills and open their own family-run bakery or pastry shop in East Los Angeles. The aspiring cousins are already talking about color motifs and the building size of their dreams. But they both recognize that they still have much to learn before they get there.
In the meantime, Morales said that La Fama is willing to host more interns in the future but that there will still be some caveats:
“We are open to doing it but we want to make sure that the people we get involved have the same desire and interest these young ladies have.”
La Fama is located at 420 N. Ford Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90022
A downtown Monterey Park mixed-use project that has sat on the books for the past eight years nearly got pulled last month after the developer was hit with a loan default letter.
The Monterey Park City Council agreed Monday to give developer Magnus Sunhill Group until Aug. 1 to show they paid back the loan, but threatened to rescind a recently approved development agreement if Magnus fails to make good on its promises.
Magnus was set to develop the Towne Center project, a proposed five-story residential and retail building with a partially-underground parking structure scheduled to be built on a 2.19 acre razed lot at the corner of Garvey Avenue and Garfield Boulevard. The project would revitalize Monterey Park’s downtown area and provide the city with additional revenue, especially if the developer brings in “high-quality,” nationally-recognized retail tenants, according to city officials.
But just one week after the city council’s May 29 approval of a development agreement with Magnus, the city received a letter from lender Trustee Corps, saying Magnus owed $2.3 million on a loan related to the project. Trustee Corps’ letter said they plan to foreclose on Magnus’ property on Aug. 6.
Citing the default as a violation of the development agreement, the city council on June 25 approved the first step toward rescinding its development agreement, but instructed the city attorney to work with the developer to come up with a way to resolve the issue.
David Wan, a representative from Magnus, assured the city at Monday’s special city council meeting that they have the money and will be able to pay back the loan in a matter of a “couple of days.”
City council members expressed concern that Magnus may have failed to mention the loan default when they entered into the development agreement in May. Wan responded to those accusations by waving around two postmarked letters from the lender to show they had only just recently been made aware of the lender’s intent to collect. Wan told EGP they were under the impression the lender was willing to work with them on modifying the loan or finding alternative methods for paying it back, and said they were blindsided by the lender’s actions.
The Towne Center project was first proposed in 2004 by the city’s former redevelopment agency. The developers say they have already sunk millions of dollars into the project. Magnus in recent years worked with the agency to clear out the existing businesses and properties on that corner.
As part of its previous development and disposition agreement with the agency, the developers would have gotten $1 million from the city for public improvements. But after the state eliminated redevelopment agencies in February, the project became a private venture, and the city and Magnus drew up a new agreement, this time without the public improvement money. The city agreed to sell the developer an adjacent city-owned parking lot, which the developer said was necessary for attracting big name retailers.
The new development agreement approved on May 29 requires the developer to bring in major retailers to fill up at least 51 percent of the commercial space. The contract consists of a wish list of possible retailers that include names like Trader Joe’s, Sephora, Urban Outfitters and Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ.
Businesses deemed unsuitable for the project include tattoo parlors, drug or ginseng stores, banks, thrift shops, fitness centers, and 99-cent stores.
Prior to approving the development agreement with Magnus in May, Mayor Mitchell Ing said the city has had a poor history of bringing in national retail stores, and pointed to the example of the recently built Atlantic Times Square project.
“The national retail stores we were hoping to get never came to fruition,” he said, adding that he could not decide if it may be best to “let market dictate” or be a “stickler for the 51 percent” rule of bringing in national retail stores. He said residents who “have not bought anything on Garvey Avenue for the last 40 years” are requesting bigger names stores, and that tax revenue from those stores is necessary “to help the city survive.”
The developer had at one time worked to secure a Fresh and Easy grocery store, but said talks with the retailer and others were hampered by the long delays the project has faced.
In recent weeks, the city and the developer leveled threats of action, legal or otherwise, against each other, but on Monday both parties attempted to cooperate. The developer’s representatives dialed back their angry words at the possible rescinding of the development agreement. Council members, still wary of the developer, were satisfied after issuing their ultimatum approved on Monday, and were eager to get the project finished.
“There was no time during our discussion that any of us wanted to end this project,” said Ing. “This is an important project in the heart of our city.”
Prior to the loan default notice, the developer had estimated the project would realistically begin construction in early 2013.
The Mexican American Opportunity Foundation (MAOF) has teamed up with ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions to improve financial know-how in the local Latino community.
The two groups will combine resources to put on a series of free workshops on topics such as creating a budget; surviving financial setbacks; help for homebuyers and how your bank account works.
ClearPoint Pacific Region President Martha Lucey said partnering with MAOF was the non-profit’s first choice.
“We were talking about providing financial literacy in the community and MAOF is a leader in providing financial services to the community. We naturally knew it would be a great relationship, so combining the expertise that ClearPoint has delivering financial education and counseling with MAOF’s reach into the community, I think is going to spell success,” said Lucey.
The workshops begin in August and will continue at least once per quarter and potentially more often, Lucey said. “We’ll be delivering the workshops in both English and Spanish,” she added.
ClearPoint has worked with the Mexican Consulate in the past to provide financial literacy information to the Latino community, but this is a first-time collaboration with MAOF.
“I’m sure that working with MAOF we’re going to reach the community like we’ve never reached it before,” she said.
MAOF President and CEO Martin Castro said his nonprofit organization has partnered with other financial institutions to put on financial literacy workshops, and says the partnership with ClearPoint will assist MAOF in its mission to improve the lives of Hispanics locally.
“ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions, they are the experts. They do this as their vision. So, when they approached me about partnering, it was really a no-brainer because the classes are free of charge. Our community needs these services. We have the facilities where we can offer some of these services to our own community, to the general community out there and to our own staff,” Castro said.
Castro said the Latino community has great purchasing power and the need to increase financial literacy in the Latino community has become even more evident in the last seven or eight years.
“The Latino community is becoming more affluent … those that are affluent are already taking advantage of our financial institutions, but you also have low-to-moderate income families, immigrant families who need this financial information to get ahead. That is why this partnership is so important and so critical,” he said.
The first workshop will be held at MAOF on Aug. 16 at 5:30 p.m. It will focus on how to create a budget. Additional workshop dates will be announced at a later date. All workshops are open to the public and will be held at MAOF headquarters located at 401 N. Garfield Ave, Montebello, CA 90640.
For more information on the workshops, call 1-877-877-1995 or visit www.ClearPointCCS.org
A group of Mayan leaders from North and Central America traveled to Los Angeles last week to explain the confusion over the next cyclical change in the pre-Columbian calendar, and to bless the immigrant community living in this country.
“According to Mayan accounts, this year marks a change in cycle. This cycle began 5,125 years ago, long ago, and the Mayans called them baktuns,” Mexican historian and astronomer Marte Trejo told Efe.
Trejo said that although this year marks the 13 baktun that appears in many Mayan accounts, the world will not end as many people anticipate.
“Do not be alarmed thinking that this year there will be a total destruction of the planet, because what will happen is just a cyclical change in creation that will end in December to begin a new term or new baktun,” he said.
Manuel Xicum, a Mayan priest, and other representatives of the tribe living in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras went last weekend to Olvera Street and the Cultural Center EEK Mayab in Los Angeles to clarify what have been apocalyptic interpretations of the pre-Columbian calendar.
In addition to speaking about the Mayan calendar, Xicum and other leaders of the Zapotec ethnicity held a ritual of blessings in Maya for the immigrant community in America at the historic center of Los Angeles.
“It’s a confusion that has caused some media and others to take advantage of incredulous people over what is really the Mayan worldview,” Xicum told Efe.
“The Mayan worldview is the union between nature and God, it is the union between the celestial bodies and Mother Earth,” explained the priest.
The Mayan calendar is a circular stone slide, disseminated in the Mesoamerican region, which, according to the Gregorian system directory of modern day, began its count on August 13, 3,114 BC.
“The system of counting time for the Maya was not linear, but rather circular, so the calendar is circular, because the cycles start at a point and return to finish right there to start again with a new period,” said Trejo, who works with Mexico’s Ministry of Tourism to discuss the Mayan World.
Trejo explained that a Mayan baktun is a period of 394 years or so that when multiplied by 13 baktuns, which is the complete cycle, results in 5,125 years, which in the Mesoamerican calendar is written to end on December 21, 2012.
Maria Eugenia Loria, a native Mayan matriarch from the Mexican state of Yucatan, told Efe that the Mayan calendar was created based on observing the movement of the stars in terms of one year and cycles for more than 5,000 years.
“In the cyclical change that will happen in December there will be a new alignment of stars that may lead to changes in climate, to which end we don’t know,” Loria said.
Joseph Loria, another Mayan leader from Yucatan, told Efe that the timing of the conclusion of the cycle calculated by the Mayans probably highlights the changes in the functions of the planet.
“Something on the planet is changing, because there are places that have never had rain and are now getting it every day, while there are other places that before today had a lot of rain and are now very dry, causing the loss of crops and animals,” Joseph said.
“These changes of cycles are when we must learn to survive,” he said, “but that does not mean the end of this year will bring the end of the world.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story referred to ” leaders from South America,” and should have read North and Central America.
Now and then we need to take a break from elections, fraud, taxation and all the other weighty issues of the day and discuss quality of life issues that are not caused by our elected officials or the big bad corporations, but by some of the people we call our neighbors, friends, or family members.
In Los Angeles County, in every local city and neighborhood, the utility poles and other accessible walls are plastered with paper and cardboard signs and placards advertising everything from yard sales to diet or credit help. They advertise cheap loans, car insurance, concerts, parties, work at home opportunities and even fast talking attorneys.
Most of this posted material is out of date, torn or battered by the sun and the rain. Some of these signs fall to the ground, littering our streets or finding their way into our sewer system.
The visual and physical blight they create is a quality of life issue, particularly when we know that most of the long useless materials have the addresses and phone numbers of the people responsible for their placement, as well as the failure to see to their removal.
Since revenue is so hard to come by and some areas have already passed ordinances leveling fines and penalties for posting and not taking down all this paper and cardboard, local government entities should start a campaign to collect some much needed revenue by assessing the appropriates fines for this public nuisance; they already have their names and addresses right there on the signs.
Public works employees, for example, could collect the stuff after they finish whatever street level project they are working on, and turn it over to the entity charged with enforcing these ordinances. An office clerk or summer intern could then be assigned to mail notices or “littering tickets,” or contact the perpetuators by phone regarding their illegal postings.
We’re not sure whether a lot of revenue would be collected, but we are sure that many of the postings would be quickly taken down and disappear. This would make areas look a whole lot better.
And if we could get people in Los Angeles to call 311 to have their bulky items picked up, rather than just dumping them on a sidewalk or in an alley, we will have moved another step forward on the long and winding road to improved quality of life.
Iconic images are those that stand the test of time and become engraved in our psyche. They freeze a moment and tell a story. They create truths and inform our memories. For instance, the intense human rights struggle in Arizona has managed to produce several powerful iconic images for our times.
One image that many people will not soon forget is that of Gov. Jan Brewer wagging her finger at President Barack Obama at the tarmac as he deplaned in Phoenix. It was the ultimate symbol of disrespect.
In modern U.S. history, planting the flag at Iwo Jima qualifies as an iconic image that captured the spirit of World War Two. The shooting of John F. Kennedy in 1963 provided a few images, ranging from him being shot, to Jacqueline Kennedy crawling over the car seats, to 3-year-old JFK Jr. saluting during the funeral.
The landing on the moon in 1969 provided similar images that are with us to this day. Tiananmen Square in 1989 provided us with an image of a young man stopping the progress of a column of tanks in China. In 2001, the attacks on the twin towers produced many searing images that to this day affect the nation’s psyche.
Iconic images are usually reserved for momentous occasions and as such, Arizona, the land of political extremism, is also beginning to produce similar imagery. Most people are familiar with the racial profiling SB 1070 state measure, a bill that has inspired copycat anti-immigrant legislation nationwide. The image of Brewer wagging her finger is related to SB 1070. The Supreme Court recently turned thumbs down on three of four measures before the court, while not striking down the 4th, section 2(B), the one provision that requires law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of people they have lawfully detained or arrested and whom they deem to be “reasonably suspect.” Despite this, this provision is not yet in effect.
While SB 1070 expressly prohibits racial profiling, many law enforcement officials are convinced that this provision cannot be implemented without racial profiling.
Throughout the country, when one invokes the concept of reasonable suspicion in the context of immigration enforcement, chances are that brown skin and the use of the Spanish language comes to mind. Ironically, an image unrelated to SB 1070, actually highlights this very concept of “reasonable suspicion,” Arizona style.
It is the photo of a child being subjected to a metal detector in the spring of 2012 at the entrance of a school board meeting in Tucson. Here, controversy has swirled regarding the anti-ethnic studies HB 2281. That this child would be considered potentially dangerous tells us that either common sense has left Arizona, or this officer believes that this child is capable of bringing in a weapon, and thus, “reasonably suspicious.”
If this child can be considered a danger at a school board meeting, what can we expect out on the streets? If the SB 1070 2(b) provision survives the courts, all law enforcement officers will be required to make a decision every time they make a lawful stop as to who constitutes a “reasonable suspect.”
In the realm of theory, no citizen or lawful resident will be inconvenienced, nor will anyone’s civil rights be violated. Yet, the concept of “driving while Black or Brown” is a reality of life and a good indication that regardless of intent, the historic experience of brown people with immigration authorities informs us that racial profiling has always been practiced.
In Arizona, brown skin and the Spanish language constitute reasonable suspicion. People of color nationwide understand this. And yet amazingly, those who are not subject to racial profiling insist that this dehumanizing phenomenon does not exist. Or they insist that as long as the effort is aimed at capturing criminals or people who don’t belong in this country, then that is but a minor inconvenience.
It is true that Arizona is a little different than the rest of the country; here SB 1070 targets the body, whereas HB 2281 targets the mind. HB 2281 criminalizes thinking and the teaching of Mexican-American history and culture and it, in effect, outlaws the teaching of an indigenous worldview.
Truly, Arizona is burning and has become the new South (the Old South on these matters remains the Old South). Its politicians are determined to keep it in the 19th century. Contrarily, freedom riders have been converging on Arizona all summer to extinguish the fires of hatred and dehumanization, determined, once and for all, to bury the concept of “reasonable suspects.”
For information regarding Tucson’s Freedom Summer, go to: Tucsonfreedomsummer.com
Also, On July 21, Freedom Summer, West Coast Edition, will be celebrated in Southern California at Santa Monica College. For more info, go to: RazaStudiesNow.com. Or please write/call: Elias Serna of Association of Mexican American Educators: firstname.lastname@example.org or (323) 350-3548.Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com – http://drcintli.blogspot.com/
Congress is tackling yet another crisis of gargantuan proportions. They are upset that the spiffy outfits the American Olympic team will wear at the opening ceremony while designed by Ralph Lauren are (gasp) made in China.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was outraged and declared that all the uniforms should be burned and just let the athletes wear singlet with hand painted logo of USA. Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle jumped in to castigate the U.S. Olympic Committee for failing to buy America.
Some representative of the American garment industry pointed out that at about $1,500 to outfit each athlete, the committee could easily have sourced the apparel from U.S. makers.
What the person did not point out was that a made in the USA outfit would have taken the entire margin of profit out of the opening wear — a margin that the committee undoubtedly intended as part of their fund-raising effort.
Just go on to the official website of the U.S. Olympic Committee and one can see all kinds of “official” souvenir gear from berets to shirts and blazers available for fans to purchase. If the apparel were to be made in the USA and still affordably priced to sell, the committee would not raise much money, if any.
Unlike some countries, such as China, where Olympic participation enjoys state financial support, the U.S. Olympians will go to London through donations and private sector fund- raising efforts.
The U.S. government, even if it wanted to, does not have the money to finance the Olympians. Members of Congress surely know all this.
Since much of what Americans wear is made in China, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. But when it became known that the Olympian garb was also from China, it was a no risk, no cost, no downside and no-brainer opportunity to take a pot shot at the Olympic Committee, and implicitly vilify once again the onus of things made in China.
In the meantime, disaster looms as America goes hurtling towards the “fiscal cliff” at yearend. That’s when tax cuts expire and mandated government spending cuts begin.
While all the economists and pundits are certain that such a combination will result in the next economic disaster for the United States, they are also certain that no one in Washington has the political courage or vision to enact anything meaningful that would stop the runaway train.
Such has the state of our democracy become: Terrifically adept at jumping into petty minutia, but cowardly when it comes to tackling real issues confronting the future well-being of this country.
To conform to Senator Reid’s wishes, the standard bearer leading the U.S. delegation into the opening ceremony in London should wear nothing (made in China); just a G-string with made in USA label emblazoned to the extent possible.
Such a spectacle will convey several concurrent messages to the worldwide viewers: Washington kingmakers have no clothes and no statesmanship, and America is a poor country in more ways than one.
Dr. Koo is a retired business consultant and a board member of New America Media.
Twenty-two-year-old David Torres had been homeless since the age of 12, which he said meant never having a safe place to live. That is until he received some much needed help and direction from a non-profit organization in Boyle Heights that has taken on helping homeless youth as its mission.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Un Lugar Que Jóvenes Desamparados Pueden Llamar Suyo en Boyle Heights
Last Friday, Jovenes Inc., celebrated the grand opening of the Progress Place Apartments, a permanent supportive housing development for youth who have graduated from emergency and transitional housing assistance programs.
Torres, the second resident to move into the new apartments, said during last Friday’s ribbon cutting ceremony that he’s been so inspired by the help he has received, he now dreams of someday opening his own homeless shelter.
Rev. Fr. Richard Estrada, pastor of the Our Lady Queen of Angeles/La Placita Church in downtown Los Angeles, founded Jovenes Inc. 20 years ago after seeing great numbers of homeless youth show up at his church with just a note with a phone number in their pocket and nowhere to stay.
Progress Place is Jovenes’ first permanent supportive housing development, though the new apartments are located at the Father Estrada Learning to Live Campus, which already includes an emergency shelter and a transitional housing complex for youth on the same cul-de-sac on Pleasant Street in Boyle Heights.
Progress Place’s two apartment buildings have a combined 7 units and can house up to 14 young adults, ages 18 to 25.
The goal behind Jovenes’ housing program — where tenants pay rent — and the supportive services they provide, is to help the young people achieve long-term independence by supporting their education, employment and financial literacy.
The organization has plans to purchase more houses in Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles and convert them into permanent affordable housing for homeless youth, under the “My Home – Mi Casa” program.
Future “scatter sites” are also planned for El Sereno and Lincoln Heights, according to Jovenes Inc. Executive Director Andrea Marchetti. “In the next two years, we will double our housing capacity in East LA and Boyle Heights,” she said.
Marchetti said Progress Place is the culmination of five years of collaborations.
Supervisor Gloria Molina attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and joined members of the Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles (CDC) for a tour of the new housing facility.
“The County has a responsibility to protect and support youth who have struggled to secure a stable living environment. Through projects like Progress Place, young adults can transition into self-sufficiency with confidence, and the necessary tools for a successful future,” she said.
Molina noted that today many young adults in their 20s, while not homeless, are still not ready to be self-sufficient. Becoming independent is that much harder for “these kids who have nothing,” she said, referring to the low-income, and in some cases previously homeless youth taking up residency at the new apartments.
During Friday’s ceremony, Estrada turned to Torres, 24-year-old Robert Ledesma and 23-year-old David Gutierrez—all recipients of Jovenes services—and said, “We know you are going to make it in life.”
The $3.6 million Progress Place project received $1 million in funding from the Community Development Commission of the County of Los Angeles (CDC), which helps develop and rehabilitate housing by administering federal, state and local financing programs, according to Supervisor Molina’s office.
Vernon has yet to certify a winner in its June 5 city council election, choosing instead to hold its own public hearing on the results.
On July 17, the council approved procedures for issuing subpoenas to witnesses to appear before a public hearing panel, as well as an ordinance to establish conflict of interest rules for panel members. The city picked Debra Wong Yang, a former judge and attorney at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, to be the panel’s neutral hearing officer.
These actions were taken as part of an effort by the city council to set its own election certification rules. On June 27, they voted 3-0 to prohibit the city from certifying a winner if the results are contested or challenge within ten days of the ballot count.
Vernon’s decision to set its own election certification rules was made in response to the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office’s refusal to accept allegations of voter fraud made by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce. The county counted the challenged ballots, declaring candidate Reno Bellamy ahead of opponent Luz Martinez with a 34-30 vote.
In May, the chamber’s attorney submitted eleven names of voters who submitted ballots but whom they believe to reside outside of Vernon. In the previous April election, those same ballots were challenged and accepted in an election run by the city. In June, the election was run by the county, which declined to hold those ballots.
In the April election, losing candidate Daniel Newmire also contested the final results, but the city claimed he missed the deadline for submitting his challenge.