Ciudades Locales Advierten a Usuarios de Agua que Ayuden a Conservarla

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

La residente de Montebello Leticia González dice que está haciendo su parte para conservar el agua, tanto dentro como fuera de su casa durante la grave sequía de California.

Ella se asegura de no dejar correr el agua cuando lava los platos o se cepilla los dientes, e incluso sustituyó sus cabezales de ducha, sistema de riego y la lavadora por los modelos más eficientes, que ahorren agua. Pero no todo el mundo en el barrio de González están concientes y eso le molesta.

“Es frustrante cuando usted hace su parte y nadie más está haciendo la suya”, dijo González sobre algunos de sus vecinos.

“No hay nadie que monitoree eso… es necesario que haya un mayor alcance a los residentes para que sepan lo que significa desperdiciar el agua”, González le dijo a EGP.

Read this article in English: Local Cities Warn Water Customers to Conserve

La Junta de Control de Recursos de Agua del Estado aprobó la semana pasada una norma de emergencia que podría ser la respuesta para que derrochadores de agua cambien sus hábitos.

En enero pasado, el gobernador Brown declaró emergencia de sequía en todo el estado y pidió a los californianos a reducir el uso de agua en un 20 por ciento, pero desde entonces el consumo de agua ha aumentado en todo el estado. En respuesta, la nueva norma hará que algunas prácticas previamente voluntarias de conservación sean obligatorias y habrá la prohibición del riego de  calzadas y aceras y el uso de mangueras sin boquilla de cierre. Las fuentes que no recirculan el agua quedan prohibidas.

El riego al aire libre se limita a dos días a la semana bajo estas reglas, las cuales da a agencias locales la autoridad para emitir multas de hasta $500 por violaciones para quienes dejan correr el agua en las aceras y calles.

También se exige a los proveedores de agua informen sobre el uso per cápita de los reguladores.

Muchas ciudades, como de Bell Gardens, Monterey Park, Montebello, Commerce y Los Ángeles, junto con sus agencias de agua, han promulgado algunas restricciones durante todo el año en el número de días y horas de riego al aire libre.

Durante la escasez más grave, cada ciudad puede declarar el nivel 1, 2 o 3 escasez de suministro de agua para restringir aún más el uso del agua.

Felicia Marcus, presidenta de la Junta Estatal de Agua, dice que California se enfrenta a su peor sequía en décadas. La mayoría de los residentes de California utilizan agua más afuera que dentro de sus hogares, de acuerdo con estadísticas de agua. En algunos vecindarios, más de la mitad del agua que se consume se va a los céspedes y jardines.

“Lo menos que los californianos urbanos pueden hacer, es no desperdiciar agua en uso al aire libre”, dijo Marcus, y advirtió que la sequía podría hacerse más severa con el tiempo.

Un empleado de Parques y Recreaciones de Bell Gardens riega el cesped en Veterans Park. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

Un empleado de Parques y Recreaciones de Bell Gardens riega el cesped en Veterans Park. (EGP foto por Nancy Martinez)

El martes, la Junta de Supervisores del Condado de Los Ángeles votó para adoptar normas de emergencia del estado que toman efecto el primero agosto en sus instalaciones y los usuarios del agua en las áreas no incorporadas.

El Director de Obras Públicas de Bell Gardens Chau Vu dijo a EGP que el tema de si la ciudad debe activar su plan de escasez de suministro de agua para restringir el número de días de riego podría llegar ante el consejo de la ciudad tan pronto como el 11 de agosto. Mientras tanto, la ciudad esta comprometida a educar a los contribuyentes acerca de la escasez mediante la inserción de recordatorios para ahorrar en facturas de servicios públicos de los clientes.

El Director de Obras Públicas de Monterey Park Ron Bow le dijo a EGP que la ciudad ha tenido éxito en el pasado para conseguir que los residentes reduzcan voluntariamente su consumo de agua, y planean intensificar el alcance para llegar a más gente.

La parte más difícil para las ciudades será multar a los infractores de agua, dijo Bow.

Las tarifas de agua están subiendo en Monterey Park y la residente Mercedes Bermúdez dice que ya está siendo más cautelosa acerca de la cantidad de agua que utiliza.

“Este es el momento perfecto, con el aumento de tarifas de agua, para educar al público sobre la conservación”, dijo Bow.

Hacer cumplir la norma podría ser más difícil en algunas ciudades donde se han producido recortes de personal. Y mientras que empleados de Bell Gardens salen en busca de factores de pérdida de agua, Vu deja en claro que no hay “policía del agua” en la ciudad. Ella dijo que la ciudad cuenta con residentes para reportar infractores: “Tenemos ojos en todas partes”, dijo.

Rafael Cárdenas dice que él ha llamado personalmente al departamento de obras públicas de Bell Gardens para informar del desperdicio de agua en los parques de la ciudad.

La gente está acostumbrada a sólo encender su grifo y sale agua, así que conseguir que empiecen a conservar no es tarea fácil.

“La gente necesita saber repetidamente acerca de la [importancia] de conservación”, dijo la residente de Montebello Maria Fuentes. “La gente no sabrá que están violando la ley si no se les dice nada”, dijo.

Eileen Xie, quien estrictamente riega su jardín por las noches, dijo a EGP que sus vecinos de Monterey Park no van a la ciudad cuando ven que el agua se desperdicia, sino que van directamente a la fuente del problema. En muchas ocasiones, Xie y sus vecinos llamarán unos a otros si ven aspersores rotos en sus jardines.

Cynthia González ve la conservación del agua como una manera de prevenir que la ciudad de Bell Gardens eleve sus tarifas del agua, que no han subido en las últimas décadas a pesar de que el departamento ha estado en números rojos durante años.

Para algunas personas, es una cuestión de estética. Algunos residentes temen que lo que obligó a reducir el uso de agua hará que sus patios se vuelvan marrones y hará que su casa se vea deteriorada.

La residente de Monterey Park Pilar Bermúdez dice que las alzas en las tasas de agua la han hecho más cautelosa acerca de la cantidad de agua que usa, sin embargo, está en conflicto cuando se trata de su patio. “Siempre quiero asegurarme de que mi césped no se haga color marrón”, le dijo a EGP.

El personal de Bell Gardens y de Monterey Park le dijeron a EGP que sus ciudades también están haciendo su parte mediante la reducción de riego en parques de la ciudad. El parque Ford de Bell Gardens tiene incluso céspedes artificiales de fútbol y utiliza agua reciclada para el riego, dijo el personal.

La cascada con el mismo nombre, Cascade, ubicada frente al Bulevar Atlantic en Monterey Park recircula su agua, pero Bow le dijo a EGP que muchas otras fuentes tal vez “pronto tendrían que ser apagadas” si la sequía empeora. A pesar de que el agua de la cascada esta en constante funcionamiento no se evapora tan rápidamente como el agua que no se mueve, Bow le dijo a EGP que bajo estricta escasez de suministro de agua podría requerir que la cascada se apagará también.

La Concejal de Bell Gardens Jennifer Rodríguez le dijo a EGP que la ciudad tiene la responsabilidad de asegurarse de que “explique el valor del agua” a una comunidad que podrían no entender la importancia.

“No se trata de ser multado, se trata de ayudar y conservar el agua”, hace eco Fuentes.

Información City News Service utiliza en este artículo.

—-

Twitter @nancyreporting

nmartinez@egpnews.com

 

 

Apoyo a Niños Inmigrantes Llega de Distintas Formas y Lugares de la Nación

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Un grupo de siete jóvenes de edades entre los 15 y los 22 años iniciaron el lunes un ayuno planeado hasta el viernes, en apoyo a los menores y las familias centroamericanas que están llegando sin documentos al país alegando que huyen de la violencia.

Con la presencia de importantes líderes religiosos y políticos y activistas comunitarios, los jóvenes, acompañados por cerca más de un centenar de personas, hicieron su anuncio y pidieron que esas familias “sean tratadas con compasión” y reciban un permiso como refugiados.

“No puedo contener las lágrimas al ver a estos pequeños que me recuerdan mi propia situación”, dijo la joven Yamilex Rustrian, una adolescente guatemalteca recién graduada de preparatoria quien esta ayundando por los niños. “La razón por la que esto me toca mucho el corazón es porque que cuando yo tenía siete años y mi hermana seis, cruzamos la frontera igual que están haciendo estos niños que están en los centros de detención”, detalló la joven al presentar su testimonio.

Notablemente conmovida, la adolescente de 17 años pidió compasión para los menores que están llegando a la frontera, y explicó que tuvo que huir de Guatemala y venir a Estados Unidos en busca de su madre, luego de que a su padre “lo mataran de ocho disparos miembros de las pandillas”.

Por su parte, el sacerdote Richard Estrada, párroco de la iglesia de Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Ángeles, La Placita, dio la bendición a los jóvenes y pidió que su sacrificio sea valorado. “Que tenga mucho fruto, que cambie la mentalidad de los que odian con el corazón a los niños. Ayúdanos, Señor, acompáñanos y danos alegría y paz para hacer el trabajo de Cristo”, dijo el padre Estrada al dar la bendición a todos los asistentes.

Durante su ayuno, los jóvenes permanecen durante el día en una carpa cerca de la placita Olvera y duermen en una iglesia cercana.

Por su parte, el Pentágono dijo el miércoles que ha autorizado el ofrecimiento de 5.000 nuevas camas en bases militares aún por determinar para acoger temporalmente a niños indocumentados que llegan sin la compañía de un adulto.

En rueda de prensa, el portavoz adjunto del Pentágono, el coronel Steve Warren, dijo que el secretario de Defensa, Chuck Hagel, ha autorizado el aumento del número de camas, pero aún se está trabajando con varias bases militares para determinar cuáles acogerán este aumento.

Además, Hagel ha autorizado extender la estadía de estos niños en bases militares hasta el 31 de enero de 2015. Hasta el momento el Departamento de Defensa ha habilitado instalaciones sin usar en tres bases militares para acoger temporalmente a hasta 2.500 menores indocumentados, parte de una oleada de 57.000 desde octubre que ha superado a las autoridades migratorias.

El Departamento de Sanidad (HHS), que por ley debe hacerse cargo de los menores indocumentados en las primeras 72 horas tras su detención, sufragará al Departamento de Defensa los gastos en los que incurra durante esta misión de emergencia.

El desplazamiento de menores a otros centros no militares en todo el país está levantando airadas protestas de algunos vecinos que están en contra de acoger a estos menores.

El Pentágono ha dispuesto instalaciones para acoger a menores en tres bases militares incluyendo la naval de Ventura County.

No Hay Escasez de Temas, Residentes de Hollenbeck le Dicen a Feuer

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Dispensarios de marihuana, vertederos de basura ilegal y la seguridad pública fueron algunos de los temas candentes durante un foro el martes por la noche en la alcaldía de Boyle Heights. Los participantes enfatizaron ante el Abogado de la ciudad de Los Ángeles Mike Feuer que quieren que su nueva fiscal del vecindario trabaje en estos temas.

El “Foro Conozca a su Fiscal” anunciado como una oportunidad para conocer a Cynthia González, la nueva fiscal de vecindario para áreas atendidas por la División Hollenbeck del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles, atrajo a unas 50 personas, la mayoría de Boyle Heights y representantes de organizaciones locales sin fines de lucro, miembros de juntas de vecinos, y depositarios locales que asisten regularmente a este tipo de reuniones de la comunidad.

Read this article in English: No Shortage of Issues, Hollenbeck Residents Tell L.A. City Attorney 

Feuer hizo la mayor parte de la conversación, y explicó que los fiscales de vecindario son asignados a áreas específicas de la ciudad para hacer frente a la venta de drogas, la prostitución, el deshecho de basura, el graffiti, las carreras callejeras ilegales y violencia que afectan a la calidad de vida en esos barrios. Cuando es posible, el fiscal de vecindario intenta ayudar a prevenir que las preocupaciones se eleven al nivel de infracciones penales.

González trabajará con las comunidades de Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Hermon, Montecito Heights, Aliso Village, Estrada Courts, Hillside Village, Monterey Hills, Pico Gardens, Ramona Gardens, Rose Hills Tribunales y University Hills.

Feuer dijo que antes de contratar a González le preguntó por qué quería el puesto. Ella le dijo que crecer en la ciudad de El Monte la expuso a menudo a ver las peleas entre pandillas, tiroteos y crímenes, pero la gente tenía miedo de llamar a la policía.

“Mis [padres] no querían decirle a nadie, estaban preocupados por las pandillas y estaban preocupados por las autoridades”, Feuer dijo que esa fue la respuesta de González.

González dijo que quiere ayudar a la gente, especialmente a los que no hablan inglés para que se sientan seguros y no teman a la policía, “pero que tengan fe en el sistema judicial”, dijo Feuer explicando que esa fue la razón por la que contrató a González.

“Yo quiero ser ese enlace, la conexión con quienes ejecutan la ley”, dijo González a la audiencia del foro. “Quiero que ustedes tengan confianza en mí, que voy a abogar [por ustedes] de cualquier manera que pueda”, dijo.

Aunque la asistencia fue baja, estaba claro que quienes se presentaron no se reservaron para decirle al abogado de la ciudad cuales son los problemas frecuentes en su vecindario, en su mayor parte en Boyle Heights.

Residentes de Boyle Heights y áreas cercanas llegaron a la reunión para demandar ayuda en sus comunidades. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Residentes de Boyle Heights y áreas cercanas llegaron a la reunión para demandar ayuda en sus comunidades. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

La gente quería saber cómo es que González podría ayudar a lidiar con el abuso de ancianos, y que va a suceder con el controversial mercado de marihuana de Boyle Heights. Dijeron que no les gusta el gran número de adictos a las drogas y alcohol que van al centro de rehabilitación cerca de escuelas e iglesias.

Alguien le preguntó si los jóvenes de color tienen más probabilidades de ser detenidos y encarcelados.

Respondiendo a la mayoría de las preguntas, Feuer explicó cómo funciona cada situación y lo que hay que hacer en situaciones que no son fáciles de arreglar.

“En nuestra oficina, tomamos [los dispensarios de marihuana ilegales] muy en serio”, dijo Feuer, del mismo modo que ustedes “nos muestran con sus votos”. Él presentó a su equipo de abogados encargados en trabajar con los dispensarios de marihuana ilegales, diciendo que están “a cargo de enjuiciar cada [ofensa] y su seguimiento”.

Varias personas señalaron que los pandilleros, drogadictos y vendedores se están apoderando del Parque Evergreen en Boyle Heights. “La seguridad es un gran problema para nuestra organización no lucrativa que trabaja con alrededor de 250 niños”, que a menudo juegan en el parque, dijo Aba Ramírez, vicepresidente de Boyle Heights Wolfpack Football and Cheer. “Necesitamos más visibilidad [policial] en el parque, que las fuerzas del orden que se hagan presentes,” le dijo a Feuer.

Margarita Amador le dijo a EGP que su mayor preocupación es el desecho ilegal. Ella dijo que muchas empresas en el extremo sur de Boyle Heights han llegado a “tirar su basura en la calle para evitar los costos que tienen que pagar por la disposición”.

“Cerca de la Plaza del Mariachi un propietario, literalmente, puso 16 tazas de baño en la acera”, pensando que la gente puede usarlos, agregó Amador. “No estamos en un vertedero, eso es un insulto a todos”.

Según González, ha pasado las últimas tres o cuatro semanas revisando los vecindarios y se ha encontrado que muchos de los problemas se pueden manejar con la educación en lugar de procesamiento. Por ejemplo, “la gente no sabe que por el desecho ilegal usted puede llevar a encarcelamiento por hasta seis meses”, González le dijo a EGP. “Quiero ser capaz de educar, no quiero estar poniendo a las personas en libertad condicional o en la cárcel”, dijo.

González cree que es importante hablar en las escuelas, con los padres y las organizaciones para informarles sobre cuestiones que innecesariamente podrían llevar a gente a la cárcel.

El 2 de junio, Feuer anunció el nombramiento de 10 nuevos fiscales, entre ellos González, y en los próximos meses espera aumentar el número de fiscales de vecindarios en la ciudad a 21.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Local Cities Warn Water Customers to Conserve

July 24, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Montebello resident Leticia Gonzalez says she is doing her part to conserve water both inside and outside her home during California’s severe drought conditions.

She makes it a point to not leave the water running when doing dishes or brushing her teeth, and even replaced her showerheads, sprinkler system and washer for more-efficient, water-saving models. But not everyone in Gonzalez’s neighborhood is as conscientious, and that bothers her.

“It’s just frustrating when you do your part and no one else is doing theirs,” Gonzalez said about some of her neighbors.

“There’s nobody monitoring that … there needs to be more outreach to residents so they know what it means to waste water,” Gonzalez told EGP.

A Bell Gardens parks and recreation employee waters grass at Veterans Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

A Bell Gardens parks and recreation employee waters grass at Veterans Park. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The State Water Resources Control Board last week approved emergency regulations that could be the answer to getting water wasters to change their ways.

Last January, Gov. Brown declared the drought a statewide emergency and called on Californians to cut water use by 20 percent, but water usage has since increased statewide. In response, the new regulations will make some previously voluntary conservation practices mandatory and bans on hosing off driveways and sidewalks and using hoses without a shut-off nozzle. Fountains that do not recirculate water are prohibited.

Outdoor watering is limited to two days per week under the rules, which give local agencies the authority to issue fines of up to $500 for violations for letting water run onto sidewalks and streets.

Water suppliers will also be required to report per capita usage to regulators.

Many cities, like Bell Gardens, Monterey Park, Montebello, Commerce and Los Angeles, along with their water agencies, have already enacted some year-round restrictions on the number of days and hours on outdoor watering.

During more severe shortages, each city can declare a Level 1, 2 or 3 water supply shortage to further restrict water use.

Felicia Marcus, chair for the State Water Board, says California is facing its worst drought in decades. Most California residents use more water outside than inside their homes, according to the water board. In some neighborhoods, more than half the water consumed goes to lawns and gardens.

“The least that urban Californians can do is not waste water on outdoor use,” said Marcus, warning that the drought could get more severe as time drags on.

“Fields are fallowed, communities are running out of water, fish and wildlife will be devastated,” she said. “It is in their self-interest to conserve more now to avoid far more harsh restrictions if the drought lasts into the future.”

On Tuesday, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the state’s emergency regulations that take effect Aug. 1 for its facilities and water users in unincorporated areas.

Bell Gardens Public Works Director Chau Vu told EGP the question of whether the city should activate its water supply shortage plan that would restrict the number of watering days could go before the city council as early as Aug. 11. In the meantime, the city has committed to educating ratepayers about the shortage by inserting reminders to conserve in customers’ utility bills.

Monterey Park Public Works Director Ron Bow told EGP the city has been successful in the past getting residents to voluntarily cut their water use, and they plan to step up outreach to get more people to conserve.

Monterey Park’s Cascades Waterfall, pictured, could be turned off if drought conditions worsen.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Monterey Park’s Cascades Waterfall, pictured, could be turned off if drought conditions worsen. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The hardest part for cities is going to be fining water violators, Bow said.

Water rates are going up in Monterey Park and longtime resident Mercedes Bermudez says she is already being more cautious about how much water she uses.

“This is the perfect time, with the water rate increase, to educate the public on conservation,” Bow said.

Enforcing regulations could be tougher in some cities where there have been staffing cuts. And while Bell Gardens employees do go around looking for water wasters, Vu makes it clear there are no “water police” in the city. She said the city relies on residents to report violators: “We have eyes everywhere,” she said.

Rafael Cardenas says he has personally called Bell Gardens public works department to report water runoff at city parks.

People are accustomed to just turning on their tap and water coming out, so getting them to start conserving is no easy task.

“People need to hear about the [importance of] conservation repeatedly,” said Montebello resident Maria Fuentes. “People won’t know they are breaking the law if they are not told anything,” she said.

Monterey Park also relies on residents calling in to report their neighbors’ water use violations.

Eileen Xie, who strictly waters her lawn at night, told EGP that her Monterey Park neighbors don’t go to the city when they see water being wasted, but instead go straight to the source of the problem.  Xie said she and her neighbors call each other when they see problems like broken  sprinklers.

Thirty-five year old Cynthia Gonzalez sees water conservation as a way to keep Bell Gardens city-run water utility from raising its water rates, which have not gone up in decades even though the department has been in the red for years.

For some people, it’s a question of aesthetics. Some residents fear that forcing them to cut water use will cause their yards to turn brown and will make their home look rundown.

Monterey Park resident Pilar Bermudez says water rate hikes have made her more cautious about how much water she uses, but she is nonetheless conflicted when it comes to her yard. “I always want to make sure my lawn doesn’t get brown,” she told EGP.

Bell Gardens and Monterey Park staff told EGP that their cities are also doing their part by cutting back watering at city parks. Ford Park in Bell Gardens even has artificial soccer turfs and uses recycled water on the landscape, staff said.

The Cascade waterfall located off Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park uses re-circulated water, but Bow told EGP many other fountains may “soon have to be shut off” if the drought worsens. Even though the constantly running Cascade water does not evaporate as quickly as sitting water, Bow tells EGP water shortages could require that the waterfall be turned off.

Bell Gardens Councilwoman Jennifer Rodriguez told EGP the city has a responsibility to make sure it “explains the value of water” to a community that might not understand the importance.

“It’s not about getting a ticket, its about helping out and conserving water,” echoes Fuentes.

 

Information from City News Service used in this report.

 

Headed to LAX? Plan Ahead for ‘Century Crush’

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

A cellphone- and Web-based traffic information service will offer a special feature this weekend to help steer motorists around a bridge-demolition project that will close a stretch of Century Boulevard near Los Angeles International Airport, officials announced Monday.

Crews will be demolishing a defunct railroad bridge at Century and Aviation boulevards, clearing the site for a Crenshaw/LAX light rail line station. To accommodate the work, Century will be closed at the intersection, with airport traffic re-routed between La Cienega and Airport boulevards — a detour that has been dubbed “Century Crunch,” due to the anticipated traffic headaches.

The Southern California 511 service, which offers traffic updates on users’ cell phones or over the Internet, will offer information specific to the closure. Motorists can call 511 on their cell phones and, after an automated greeting, say “Century Crunch.” The service will then provide information on detour routes and updates on the closure.

Drivers will experience detours near LAX this weeked due to construction. (METRO)

Drivers will experience detours near LAX this weeked due to construction. (METRO)

Callers can also say “traffic” to receive updated traffic information for roads leading to the airport.

Real-time traffic maps and public-transit alternatives will also be available at the www.Go511.com website. Smartphone users can also download a Go511 app from the iTunes and Google Play stores.

Metro officials said Monday they will also deploy a new $1.2 million mobile command center during Century Crunch to help monitor traffic and better deploy resources to affected areas during construction.

The high-tech command center, purchased in December with funding from the Department of Homeland Security, will provide officials with real-time operational information, according to Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project Director Charles Beauvoir.

“The idea is to keep things moving well and adapting very quickly to each situation. … We want the overall experience to be a very well-run machine,” Beauvoir told Video News West. “Having it on site and real-time is immeasurable.”

Century Crunch will begin at 9 p.m. Friday and continue until 6 a.m. Monday. Metro officials said an estimated 92,800 motorists travel through the Century/Aviation intersection on a daily basis.

Metro and airport officials have been advising residents to plan ahead if they must travel to the airport that weekend and allow extra travel time, or avoid traveling the Century route altogether.

With Century Boulevard blocked, motorists heading toward LAX will be diverted north on La Cienega Boulevard, west on Manchester Avenue, then south on Airport Boulevard, back to Century. Motorists leaving LAX will take the same detour in reverse.

Lanes will also be reduced on Aviation Boulevard during the demolition. Metro officials noted that once the bridge is demolished, Century Boulevard will remain reduced by one lane in each direction for the next 16 months, leaving three lanes each way.

The 8.5-mile, $2.058 billion Crenshaw/LAX line will run from the Metro Expo line at Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards and connect with the Green line near the airport. The line has an anticipated opening date in 2019.

Highland Park Mural Needs Help

July 24, 2014 by · 3 Comments 

For 18 years, a colorful mural on the corner of Avenue 61 and Figueroa Street in Highland Park has served as visual lesson on the history of Mexican Americans. It’s not uncommon for passersby to stop to take-in the iconic imagery contained in “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture.”

“I see many people coming to take pictures and some of them are professional photographers,” said Pete Choi, owner of the Dollar Deal Discount Store where the mural is painted.

Choi told EGP that the mural is unique and he believes “it is good for the community of Highland Park.”

Through the years, however, the mural has lost some of its original essence. It has been vandalized and tagged multiple times, the paint is fading and the wall is cracking in some sections.

The “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture” mural is located in the corners of Avenue 61 and Figueroa Avenue in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

The “Mexico-Tenochtitlan: A Sequence of Time and Culture” mural is located in the corners of Avenue 61 and Figueroa Avenue in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Anthony Ortega and Andy Ledesma, two of the mural’s original artists, hope to restore the mural, but don’t have the money to get it done.

The mural was painted by the Quetzalcoalt Mural Project (QMP), a program to provide youth in underserved Los Angeles neighborhoods with opportunities to show their talent through public art. Ortega and Ledesma co-founded QMP and are now spearheading a campaign to bring the mural back to its original glory.

They have been trying since July 2009 to get a full restoration effort underway. In January of this year, they were able to raise enough money to remove the graffiti left behind by taggers, but the more extensive and costly work, fixing the cracked sections of the exterior wall and applying anti-graffiti glaze for conservation, have yet to be completed.

The muralists told EGP that they are reaching out to Highland Park residents, businesses, organizations and anyone who is interested in preserving the mural for help.

According to Ortega, with the help of Councilman Gil Cedillo, in whose district the mural is located, they have applied for an $8,000 grant from the city’s Cultural Affairs Department (DCA).

Lea este artículo en Español: Mural en Highland Park Necesita Ayuda

“We are supportive of the project and have voiced this to DCA,” Cedillo spokesman Freddy Ceja told EGP. However, “We have not been able to get a response with regards to where the proposal is,” Ceja told EGP.

Ortega said the $8,000 grant would be a great boost, but added it could cost up to $25,000 to complete a full restoration.

The mural holds special meaning for Ortega beyond its importance as a significant piece of public art. He said the mural is an homage to his friend Daniel Robles, an honor student at Roosevelt High School who was the victim of gang violence. Before he was killed, Robles had this idea to paint a series of murals to educate people about his cultural heritage and the historical contributions made by Mexican-Americans in the areas of art, science and humanities, said Ortega.

So Ortega secured the building’s then owner’s permission to paint the mural and lined up 14 other muralists to work on the project. Four months later in December 1996, they unveiled the 100-foot long, 20-foot tall mural to the community.

“We would spend days at the library learning about culture and giving out ideas to see what we wanted to portray,” Ledesma told EGP.

From birth and nature to history and the fight for human rights, the mural depicts historical moments in a colorful display that can be seen from far away. Even passengers riding the Metro Gold Line can admire the mural as it passes by Avenue 61.

John Densmore, former drummer of the famous rock band “The Doors” and “Rage Against the Machine” lead singer Zack de la Rocha, partially funded the original mural project back in 1996. Ortega said Densmore has donated $1,000 to this latest effort.

In January, Ortega and John Estrada, another of the original artists, removed graffiti and repainted a small section of the mural.

A closeup of the mural located on Avenue 61 in Highland Park.(EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

A closeup of the mural located on Avenue 61 in Highland Park.(EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Choi told EGP that taggers seem to be respecting the cleanup, and have so far not retagged the mural.

Eighteen years ago, Highland Park was a “hot area” for a mixture of culture, graffiti and art. “We wanted to show cultural perspectives not only from the intellectuals, but also from the street experiences,” Ledesma told EGP.

Ortega said they hope to find the original artists to restore the mural once funding is in place, but “since some [artists] have moved on, or moved out of the city,” they may have to work with local artists and volunteers.

He told EGP that he’s not going to give up on his passion to be able to contribute positively to the community. “I spearheaded it 20 years ago, and I still have to spearhead it now,” he said.

Ledesma currently lives in Texas but told EGP he is excited about coming back to L.A. in a few weeks to start working on the mural.

“We have had nearly 20 years to reflect on the original project,” he said. “I’m interested to see how Highland Park has changed.”

Proud of their Chicano background, Ortega and Ledesma both said they hope the mural will inspire young artists in the community for another 20 years.

For more information on how to help or donate, call (720) 998-4370 or email eagle1_35@hotmail.com.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

 

No Shortage of Issues, Hollenbeck Residents Tell L.A.’s City Attorney

July 24, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

Rogue marijuana dispensaries, illegal dumping and public safety were some of the hot button issues people at a forum Tuesday night in Boyle Heights told Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer they want his new neighborhood prosecutor to start addressing.

Billed as a chance to meet Cynthia Gonzalez, the new neighborhood prosecutor for areas served by Los Angeles Police Dept.’s Hollenbeck Division, the “Meet Your Prosecutor Forum” at Boyle Heights City Hall drew about 50 people, most from Boyle Heights and representing local non-profit organizations and neighborhood councils, or local stakeholders who regularly attend these type of community meetings.

Feuer did most of the talking, explaining that neighborhood prosecutors are assigned to specific areas of the city to deal with drug sales, prostitution, illegal dumping, graffiti, street racing and violence that affect the quality of life in those neighborhoods. When possible, the neighborhood prosecutor tries to help keep nuisance concerns from rising to the level of criminal offenses.

Gonzalez will work with the communities of Boyle Heights, El Sereno, Lincoln Heights, Hermon, Montecito Heights, Aliso Village, Estrada Courts, Hillside Village, Monterey Hills, Pico Gardens, Ramona Gardens, Rose Hills Courts and University Hills.

Feur said before he hired Gonzalez he asked her why she wanted the position. He said she told him that growing up in El Monte she would often see gang fights, shootings and crimes, but people were afraid to call the police.

About 50 people showed up at forum to introduce Cynthia Gonzalez, the new prosecutor for the Hollenbeck Division. (EGP photo by Jacquelien García)

About 50 people showed up at forum to introduce Cynthia Gonzalez, the new prosecutor for the Hollenbeck Division. (EGP photo by Jacquelien García)

“My [parents] didn’t want to tell anyone, they were concerned about the gangs and they were concerned about the authorities,” Feuer said Gonzalez responded. Gonzalez said she wants to help people, especially those who don’t speak English, feel safe and to not fear police, “but to have faith in the justice system,” said Feuer explaining why he hired Gonzalez.

“I want to be that liaison, the connection to law enforcement,” Gonzalez told the forum audience. “I want you guys to have confidence in me, that I will advocate [for you] in any way that I can,” she said.

Although attendance was low, it was clear that those who did show up had no reservations telling the city attorney which issues they want dealt with in their neighborhood, referring for the most part to Boyle Heights.

People wanted to know how Gonzalez could help deal with elderly abuse, and what’s going to happen to Boyle Height’s controversial marijuana Farmers Market. They said they don’t like the large number of drug and alcohol addicts going to rehab centers that have opened close to schools and churches.

Someone asked if young people of color are more likely to be stopped and arrested by the police.

Answering most of the questions, Feuer explained how each situation works and what needs to be done in situations that aren’t easy to fix.

“In our office, we take [illegal pot shops] very seriously,” said Feuer, just as you have “shown us by your vote.” He introduced his team of attorneys working to shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries, saying they are in “charge of prosecuting each [offense] and follow up.”

Several people pointed out that gang members and drug users and sellers are taking over Evergreen Park in Boyle Heights. “Safety is a great issue for our non-profit that works with about 250 kids” who often play at Evergreen Park, said Aba Ramirez, vice president of Boyle Heights Wolfpack Football and Cheer. “We need more [police] visibility at the park, law enforcement to walk around,” she told Feuer.

Margarita Amador told EGP her biggest concern is illegal dumping. She said many businesses at the south end of Boyle Heights have taken to “throwing their trash out on the street to avoid the fees that they have to pay for the disposal.”

“By Mariachi Plaza there was a landlord who literally set 16 toilets on the curb,” thinking that people can use them, Amador added. “We are not a dumping ground, that’s an insult to everybody.”

According to Gonzalez, she has spent the last three or four weeks touring neighborhoods and has found that many issues can be handled with education rather than prosecution. For example, “People don’t know that by illegally dumping you can get jailed for up to six months,” Gonzalez told EGP.  “I want to be able to educate, I don’t want to be putting people on probation or in jail,” she said.

Gonzales thinks that it’s important to reach out to schools, parents and organizations to inform them about issues that could unnecessarily land people in jail.

On June 2, Feuer announced the appointment of 10 new prosecutors, including Gonzalez, bringing the number of neighborhood prosecutors in the city to 16.

NCLR Agenda Focuses on Politics, Immigration and the Economy

July 24, 2014 by · 1 Comment 

The largest Hispanic civil rights group in the country was in downtown Los Angeles last week for it annual national convention. Topping the National Council of La Raza’s agenda: immigration reform, the country’s economic outlook, upcoming elections and the impact to and by Latinos in these areas.

A who’s who of local elected officials and politicians from across the country attended NCLR’s convention and family expo at the L.A. Convention Center. Some were there to speak or take part in panel discussions, while others were there to take advantage of the opportunity to network with other politicians and the large number of representatives from political and community organizations and corporations eager to show their involvement in the Latino community.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls for immigration reform during the National Council of La Raza annual convention Sunday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls for immigration reform during the National Council of La Raza annual convention Sunday. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Throughout the event, attention was called to the importance of the growing Latino population to both Democrats and Republicans. How those groups act on the economy and immigration reform, would determine whether Latinos support them at the polls, speakers said.

Improving the financial outlook for Latinos was a reoccurring theme, with several speakers equating the financial wellbeing of Latinos to the future wellbeing of the country as a whole.

On Monday, NCLR released the results of a poll that concluded Latinos feel they have been left behind by the country’s improving economy. Conducted by the research firm Latino Decisions, the poll found that Latinos continue to worry about their personal finances despite the country moving past the Great Recession, and are likely to support candidates for public office who will support enacting government policies to improve their chances of realizing the American dream.

Sixty-seven percent of those surveyed said they are somewhat or very concerned they will not have enough money to pay their expenses. Fifty-five percent said they would lean toward supporting a politician who has supported raising the minimum wage.

“The economy is improving but Latino families are still waiting for their own economic recovery,” said Janet Murguria, NCLR president and CEO.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke Sunday at a Town Hall focused on the state of the economy for Latinos. Warren, who has sparked rumors of a possible 2016 run for president, brought the large crowd to its feet over and over again as she called for changes to financial practices she said hurt Latinos: predatory mortgages that target Latinos, foreclosures and student loan debt.

“We can whine about it, we can whimper about it or we can fight back,” said Warren during a series of campaign-like proclamations.

The senator called on Latinos to pressure their senate representatives to push a student loan reform bill forward.

She called for tougher rules and enforcement on Wall Street, raising the minimum wage, equal pay and protecting social security.

Warren also called for action on immigration reform, saying it “will make this country stronger in the future.” She said comprehensive immigration reform will help stabilize and save social security.

“We have to get louder together, it is not simply the responsibility of the Latino community to push on immigration reform.”

The mid-term national election was the focus of another panel that called for mobilizing the Latino vote.

Lourdes Torres, vice president of regional news for Noticias Univision pointed out that the Latino vote could make a difference in Colorado and North Carolina, ensuring Democrats maintain power in the US Senate.

The NCLR week-long convention, held at the convention center in downton Los Angeles , attracted large crowds Saturday.  (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

The NCLR week-long convention, held at the convention center in downton Los Angeles , attracted large crowds Saturday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline García)

Latinos also have the power to keep the 28 Latinos currently in Congress, including those up for reelection this fall in California, Florida and Texas.

Research by Latino Decisions found that a record number of Latinos voted in 2012 and made a difference in the key states of Florida, Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico.

Matt Barreto is with Latino Decisions and said his firm’s research shows 82 percent of Latinos want an immigration reform bill passed, 84 percent want mandatory background checks on gun purchases and 77 percent of Latinos are okay with some tax increases.

A voter’s “enthusiasm will be tied to immigration,” Barreto emphasized.

NCLR Vice President Clarissa Martinez De Castro said the rate of voter growth is higher among Latinos but she added that more voter registration efforts are needed to ensure Latinos maximize their voting potential.

The Latino electorate cares about the candidates, the issues, meaningful outreach and cultural sensitivity, Martinez De Castro explained about what motivates Latinos to vote.

“A Latino surname doesn’t equal a Latino vote,” she said.

Walmart Ofrece 10 Por Ciento de Ahorros a Maestros Durante la Semana de Apreciación

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Walmart ofrece por primera vez 10% de ahorros en artículos escolares a todos los maestros a través del país. Reforzando el compromiso con la educación Walmart añade hasta $5 Millones en Apoyo en este evento exclusivo para maestros.

El anuncio se hizo después que datos mostraron que los maestros recibieron 53% menos en financiamiento el año pasado, gastando más de su propio bolsillo para prepararse para el año escolar.

“Teacher Appreciation Week” (La Semana de Apreciación Para Maestros), se une a los esfuerzos existentes de Walmart para apoyar educadores,  proporcionando más de $20 millones en los últimos cinco años.

Del 25 al 31 de julio, maestros que compren en las tiendas Walmart durante “Teacher Appreciation Week”, son elegibles para recibir una tarjeta de regalo electrónica por el 10% de reembolso en casi 15,000 productos – todo desde lápices y pegamento hasta decoraciones para el salón de clases.

“Los maestros a través del país gastan aproximadamente $1,000 arreglando sus salones de clase para asegurarse que los estudiantes tengan lo que necesiten y la mitad de ese dinero viene de su propio bolsillo,” dijo Steve Bratspies, vicepresidente ejecutivo de mercancía general de Walmart U.S.

“Por muchos años, hemos tenido un compromiso para apoyar a maestros en las comunidades que servimos. Este programa es una forma más de cómo estamos reduciendo el costo, aumentando el apoyo y dejando maestros listos para  el éxito,” agregó Bratspies.

Para conseguir los ahorros, los maestros deben seguir los siguientes pasos:

- Visite www.walmart.com/teachers para registrar su recibo, ingresando la información de su escuela y el código de transacción de su recibo.

- Los ahorros en artículos elegibles de los departamentos de Papelería y Artesanías se entregarán en una tarjeta de regalo electrónica de Walmart vía correo electrónico en los siguientes 14 días de haber registrado el recibo en línea.

- Los maestros tienen hasta la media noche del 15 de agosto para reclamar su 10% de reembolso. Esta oferta especial no se aplica para compras hechas en Walmart.com o para mercancía de otros departamentos de Walmart.

“Teacher Appreciation Week” forma parte del existente compromiso de Walmart para maestros que también incluye Teacher Rewards, un programa de la Fundación de Walmart. A través de Teacher Rewards, todos los Sam’s Club, tiendas de Walmart y centros de distribución en la nación reciben tarjetas de regalo para distribuir a las escuelas locales para ayudar a los maestros con sus salones de clase.

En la temporada de regreso a clases, Walmart también será anfitrión de los eventos “Fill the Bus”, que entrega casi medio millón de artículos necesarios a estudiantes locales. “Fill the Bus” es una serie de recaudaciones de artículos escolares en más de 4,000 tiendas Walmart a través del país.

Padres y maestros también pueden usar la herramienta en línea Classrooms by Walmart para encontrar artículos específicos y listas de uniformes. Ya en su tercer año, los maestros pueden crear registros de salones de clases así como agregar sus propias listas de artículos escolares para ayudar a los padres a simplificar sus compras.

Las tiendas Walmart están preparadas para la temporada de regreso a clases con artículos que completan las listas de compras de los clientes a los precios bajos de todos los días. Para más información sobre artículos nuevos, exclusivos y populares, visite Walmart’s Blog.

Siga la conversación durante “Teacher Appreciation Week” en Twitter @WalmartNewsroom y usando el hashtag #ThankYouTeachers para lo último sobre las celebraciones para maestros sucediendo a través del país.

‘Keep It Clean’ Campaign Celebrates First Year

July 24, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

(Office of L.A. Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

(Office of L.A. Councilmember Gil Cedillo)

Dozens of volunteers took part last Saturday in Councilman Gil Cedillo’s Clean Up Day in Elysan Park to mark the one year anniversary of the First District’s “Keep it Clean’ campaign.

“On this one year anniversary since we took office, I am delighted to partner with the Los Angeles Dodgers and countless community groups to clean up the First District,” Cedillo told EGP via email. The councilman said he is committed to continue efforts “to clean up our district one community at a time until we make the First District, number 1.”

 

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