Un Lugar Que Jóvenes Desamparados Pueden Llamar Suyo en Boyle Heights

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Desde que tenía doce años David Torres, un joven de 22 años de edad, no había tenido un hogar, esto para él significaba que no tenía un lugar seguro en donde dormir. Pero su situación cambió cuando recibió ayuda de una organización sin fines de lucro en Boyle Heights que tiene como su misión ayudar a los jóvenes desamparados.

El pasado, 13 de julio, Jóvenes Inc. celebró la gran inauguración de los apartamentos Progress Place, unas viviendas de apoyo permanente para los jóvenes que se han graduado de los programas de emergencia y de transición de vivienda de asistencia.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: A Place to Call Home for Homeless Youth

Torres, el segundo residente a mudarse a los nuevos apartamentos, durante la ceremonia de la inauguración dijo que esta inspirado por la ayuda que ha recibido, y que ahora sueña con algún día abrir su propio refugio para los desamparados.

El Padre Richard Estrada, pastor de la iglesia Nuestra Señora Reina de Los Ángeles en La Placita, fundó Jóvenes Inc. hace 20 años después de ver el gran número de jóvenes que llegaban a su iglesia sólo cargando un número de teléfono escrito en un papel y sin tener un lugar donde quedarse.

Progress Place se encuentra en la calle Pleasant Street en Boyle Heights en lo que se refiere como “Father Estrada Learning to Live Campus” (Campus de Aprender a Vivir del Padre Estrada) que ya incluye un refugio de emergencia y un complejo de vivienda de transición en la misma calle sin salida.

Los dos apartamentos de Progress Place tienen una combinación de 7 unidades donde caben hasta 14 jóvenes entre las edades 18 y 25.

Supervisora del Condado de Los Ángeles Gloria Molina con el director ejecutivo de Jóvenes Inc., Andrea Marchetti, en la inauguración de Progress Place.

Los apartamentos, donde los inquilinos pagan alquiler y reciben servicios, forman parte del objetivo del programa de viviendas de Jóvenes Inc. para ayudar a los jóvenes a lograr la independencia al largo plazo.

Bajo el programa de “My Home—Mi Casa,” la organización tiene planes de comprar más casas en Boyles Heights y el Este de Los Ángeles y convertirlos en hogares asequibles y permanentes para los jóvenes sin hogar.

Sitios futuros están planeados en El Sereno y Lincoln Heights, de acuerdo con el director ejecutivo de Jóvenes Inc., Andrea Marchetti. “En los próximos dos años vamos a duplicar la capacidad de nuestras viviendas en Boyle Heights y el Este de Los Ángeles,” él dijo.

Marchetti dijo que Progress Place es la culminación de cinco años de colaboraciones.

La Supervisora Gloria Molina se junto con los miembros de la Comisión de Desarrollo Comunitario del Condado de Los Ángeles (CDC) para un recorrido de las nuevas viviendas.

“El condado tiene la responsabilidad de proteger y apoyar a los jóvenes que han tenido dificultad asegurar un hogar seguro. A través de los proyectos como Progress Place, los jóvenes pueden hacer la transición a la independencia con confianza, y los recursos necesarios para un futuro exitoso,” ella dijo.

Molina notó que actualmente hay muchos adultos jóvenes en sus 20s que aunque no son desamparados todavía no están listos para ser independientes. Ser independiente es más difícil para “estos chicos que no tienen nada,” ella dijo, refiriéndose a los jóvenes de bajos recursos, y en algunos casos que eran sin hogar, que ahora son residentes de los nuevos apartamentos.

Durante la ceremonia del viernes, Estrada le dijo a Torres, Robert Ledesma de 24 años, y David Gutiérrez de 23 años—todos recipientes de los servicios de Jóvenes Inc.—que “Sabemos que van a lograr éxito en la vida.”

El proyecto Progress Place de $3.6 millones ha recibido $1 millón de fondos de la Comisión de Desarrollo Comunitario del Condado de Los Ángeles (CDC) que ayuda a desarrollar y rehabilitar viviendas al administrar programas financieros federales, estatales, y locales, de acuerdo con la oficina de la supervisora Molina.

Festival del Taco

El evento anual LA Taco Fest 2012 de Jóvenes Inc., será el sábado 4 de Agosto de medio día hasta la 8 pm. Admisión es gratis. Actividades y entretenimiento incluyen: presentaciones por mariachis, artes y artesanías, presentaciones musicales en vivo por Las Cafeteras, Banda Tello y Los Áridos y Upground. Una parte de todas las ganancias serán donadas a Jóvenes Inc. Para más información visite a www.latacofestival.com.

L.A. City Council Bans Storefront Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban storefront medical marijuana dispensaries, citing a shifting and uncertain legal landscape that has made it nearly impossible for the city to control the number of pot shops, estimated to be around 1,000.

With the backing of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the City Attorney’s Office, police Chief Charlie Beck and District Attorney Steve Cooley, the council voted 14-0 to ban the dispensaries.

The plan championed by City Council members Jose Huizar, Mitchell Englander, Bernard Parks and Jan Perry will allow primary caregivers and patients to grow and transport marijuana. Two or three patients would be able to collectively grow and share cannabis in homes or apartments, but not storefronts.

The measure includes exemptions for hospices and licensed clinics, as well as facilities and home health agencies where patients get “medical care or supportive services.”

The ordinance did not initially receive a unanimous vote. Councilman Paul Koretz, who backed an opposing plan, voted against the ban, but changed his vote after the council agreed to advance his plan on a parallel track. If the vote had not been unanimous, the council would have been required to cast a second vote on the issue next week.

The plan by Koretz and Council President Herb Wesson, with strong backing from organized labor, could eventually allow 182 dispensaries that existed prior to 2007 — when the council placed a moratorium on new dispensaries — to operate under tightened regulations and would close all other dispensaries.

Since the council agreed to advance the Koretz-Wesson proposal, the City Attorney’s Office will draft an ordinance that will require an environmental analysis and approval by the city Planning Commission before it comes to the council. Officials said the plan could be back to the council in three months.

In the meantime, the ban approved unanimously today will take effect 30 days after it is signed by the mayor. Once the ordinance is in effect, the city will send out a letter to 762 dispensaries registered to pay taxes to the city notifying them of the new law and asking for compliance. The city will then ask a judge for closure orders, starting with the “bad actors,’’ the dispensaries that have generated the largest volumes of complaints from residents.

Medical cannabis activists shouted in opposition after the ban, sending about a dozen LAPD officers into the council chamber to escort opponents out.
Opponents of the ban said it will prove tragic for patients with terminal illnesses who cannot grow marijuana on their own because it is costly and requires extensive training.

“Forcing us to (grow our own) does not magically grant us the talent, skill and ability to grow marijuana, just as many of us would not be able to grow our own food if we did not have the option of a grocery store tomorrow,” Raj Jawa told the council.

Another activist told the council a low-end growing operation would cost at minimum $5,300.

“This is an outrage that the city council would think a reasonable solution to the distribution of medical marijuana would be to simply outlaw it altogether,’ said Don Duncan, California Director with Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group. “The tens of thousands of patients harmed by this vote will not take it sitting down. We will campaign forcefully to overturn this poor decision by the council.”

Residents of Studio City, Eagle Rock, Boyle Heights and elsewhere expressed support for the ordinance, pointing to a proliferation of dispensaries in recent years that they claim has eroded quality of life, hurt local businesses and led to multiple dispensaries on the same block in some cases.

California voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana, with 55.6 percent of the vote in 1996, but regulating outlets has proved troublesome, prompting some cities to effectively zone them out of existence or ban them outright.

A state appellate court recently ruled that municipalities cannot completely ban medical marijuana outlets without providing an alternative distribution method. The same court also ruled that a ban on storefront dispensaries while providing for collectives of three or fewer would not violate state law.

The ban will cost the city tax revenue. The 762 registered dispensaries paid about $2 million in gross receipts taxes during the most recent tax period — $50 for each $1,000 in gross receipts, according to a finance specialist for the City Administrative Office.

After the vote, Huizar said the ban on dispensaries still provides safe access to marijuana for patients who need it, but will also put the city on solid legal footing and alleviate quality of life issues that constituents complain about.

“Relief is coming in the form of having a more focused and intense crackdown on these dispensaries that cause problems in our neighborhoods,” Huizar said.

Koretz said banning dispensaries would not provide safe access and would drive patients to the black market for marijuana.

“I think we’re living in a dream world if we think we’re providing access to very many people. Virtually no one has the ability to grow marijuana. We are shutting down access to patients that desperately need it over the next few months,” Koretz said.

Huizar called Koretz’s motion false hope until the Supreme Court rules on whether and how cities can regulate dispensaries.

Meanwhile, Councilman Ed Reyes raised concerns about the resources it would require to shut down the dispensaries. He asked the LAPD, the City Attorney’s Office and other city officials to report back with a plan for closing dispensaries.

David Paul Steiner, an attorney for a group of pre-2007 collectives, would not say whether his clients planned to ask a judge to block the ordinance, but said, “I suspect there will be a number of dispensaries that will take further legal action, because we think this particular ordinance has all sorts of problems.”

California’s Innovative Paid Family Leave Underutilized by Immigrants

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Janet Zamudio, a working mother of modest means, says the paid family leave she took soon after her third child, Maya, was born helped her feel “valued as a mother, as well as valued by the state” of California.

“Maya and I would have been in an absolute mess, if I hadn’t had the extra time to bond with her and spend quality time with her,” said Zamudio, who now works as an advocate with Bananas, Inc., an Oakland-based childcare resource service. Equally important, she was able to train her child, now 7, to take a bottle, before she could go to daycare.

Exactly 10 years ago, California became the first state in the nation to pass a Paid Family Leave (PFL) law that allows workers to temporarily leave their jobs to bond with a new child— biological, adopted or foster — or care for a seriously ill parent, spouse or domestic partner.

“Not having such a law could send people into poverty,” asserted Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary and treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Organized labor led the way in getting the PFL law passed.

A “Huge Breakthrough” In U.S.
“It was a huge breakthrough,” observed Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center and academic director of the university’s Murphy Labor Institute. Milkman was an expert panelist at a July 12 audio news briefing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the law.

Since the landmark legislation passed in 2002, more than a million people have used the program. Despite that success, though, New Jersey is the only other state that currently has a similar law.

PFL, a part of the State Disability Insurance (SDI) program, provides up to six weeks of partial wage replacement for workers using the program. Workers can draw up to 55 percent of their salary while on paid family leave.

“Fifty-five percent is nothing by international standards,” acknowledged Milkman, who pointed out that aside from Papua New Guinea and Swaziland, every country in the world offers their workers PFL.

When the California law first passed, critics called it a “job killer,” saying it would hurt businesses. “The truth is, it has been a non-event for business,” Milkman observed at the time.

A series of surveys done over the years showed that although most Californians felt the program was a “good idea,” few knew about it, she said.

The most recent survey of California’s registered voters done as part of a Field Poll last year indicated that only 43 percent of them knew about FPL. And immigrants, the majority of them Latinos, as well as young people, were less likely to know about it, said Nicole Marquez, a lawyer at Equal Rights Advocate.

Respondents to the Field poll who had limited education were also less aware of PFL than those with higher educational attainment. And survey participants with annual household incomes under $30,000 were only about half as likely to be aware of PFL as those with annual household incomes over $80,000.

More Outreach Needed
Advocates agree that more outreach needs to be done for better utilization of the law.

Professionals, managers and others whose employers already provide them with paid time off can draw on PFL, as well. But for these groups, access to wage replacement historically has been as good or better than what the state program now offers.

By contrast, low-wage workers with limited or no benefits stand to gain much more from the state program. In this sense, teleconference panelists agreed that PFL is a potential social leveler that could narrow or perhaps even close the gap in access to paid leave between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

Marquez noted that although federal and state laws guarantee job protections to workers, they don’t guarantee them pay while on leave. She pointed out, that a worker who pays into SDI is eligible for PFL “regardless of his or her immigration status,” including those who are undocumented.

Over the years, the number of men utilizing the program has been steadily increasing, Milkman said.

She noted that the PFL program allows a worker to even travel overseas to care for a seriously ill family member, provided the worker is able to get a letter from a doctor in that country outlining the medical condition of the patient.

There is currently a move afoot to expand California workers’ rights to take unpaid leave to care for seriously ill family members, such as siblings, grandparents, grandchildren or parents-in-law.

Introduced by Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, the bill passed the Assembly in May and is now before the Senate Appropriations Committee. A similar bill proposed by him in 2007, along with Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, passed in both chambers but was vetoed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Zamudio, who is of Mexican descent, said she was able to bond more quickly with her third baby, who was born after the state enacted the PFL law, than with her first two children. Juggling work and motherhood gave her very little quality time with the two older children, she said, wishing she’d had the same “rewarding experience” with them in infancy as she had with her younger baby.

This article first appeared on the New America website, http://www.newamerica.com.

Green Scissors for Congress

July 26, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

The United States can’t afford giveaways for mining and oil companies anymore.

When you’re in a hole, you stop digging. And when you’ve got a $1.3-trillion deficit and $15.7 trillion in debt, you’ve got to start cutting. That’s why we joined the environmental group Friends of the Earth and the free-market R Street Institute to forge “Green Scissors” that Congress could potentially use to snip nearly $700 billion from the nation’s bloated budget.

Our Green Scissors 2012 report proposes more than 100 cuts to five sectors, including energy, agriculture, transportation, insurance, and public lands and water. We focus on cutting subsidies, eliminating unnecessary liabilities, and ensuring that the federal government receives its fair share for private use of public resources. These handouts not only cost taxpayers billions and increase federal deficits, but they distort markets and often harm the environment. So whatever your rationale — waste, markets, or the environment — we’ve got you covered.

One of the most egregious examples of these kinds of handouts is the 1872 mining law. It’s remained virtually unchanged since, well, 1872. This dusty statute allows private industry to mine valuable resources such as gold, on public lands, for free. And speaking of old-fashioned giveaways, taxpayers have subsidized the fossil fuel industry since the early 20th century — today to the tune of $110 billion per year. This industry is one of the most profitable worldwide. Oil, gas, and coal companies must bear their own costs of doing business.

But the outrageous subsidies don’t end there. Created in the aftermath of airline deregulation in the 1970s, the Essential Air Service program is a policy relic that epitomizes wasteful and environmentally harmful spending. Subsidizing expensive regional flights that serve only a handful of passengers makes no sense for taxpayers.

Taxpayer-subsidized insurance programs have in some sectors become the largest form of federal support. In 2011 alone, federal crop insurance cost taxpayers more than $11 billion. It doesn’t work like any insurance you’re familiar with — 62 cents out of every premium dollar comes out of Uncle Sam’s pocket. The insurance companies’ costs for administering the policies are paid by the taxpayer, and so are most of the losses. Elsewhere, taxpayers are on the hook for oil spills if clean-up costs exceed $75 million, and for nuclear accidents running more than $2 billion. That means taxpayers essentially take on all the risk for both of these profitable industries.

Speaking of unnecessary liabilities, the Department of Energy’s Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program is a perennial Green Scissors target. Created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Title XVII program has continuously proven itself a serious failure. Publicly scrutinized for its default of a $535-million loan guarantee to the solar start-up Solyndra, the Title XVII program is now pushing to finalize an $8.3-billion loan guarantee for a pair of nuclear reactors in Georgia and a $2-billion loan guarantee for a financially troubled uranium enrichment facility.

Over the past year, Congress has managed to score a handful of victories on Green Scissors targets, most notably allowing the $6-billion-a-year ethanol tax credit to expire and die the ignoble death it deserved. This victory will earn taxpayers a savings of $30 billion over the next five years. Another recent success was the defeat of efforts to increase subsidies for oil shale. Taxpayers have been down that road before, losing billions.

In these tight budget times, we cannot afford to continue throwing good money after bad. As lawmakers argue over what to do about the enormous deficit and looming automatic budget cuts, they need to pick up the Green Scissors and start cutting. ??Read the full Green Scissors 2012 report at www.GreenScissors.com

Ryan Alexander is president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan federal budget watchdog. www.taxpayer.net.  Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

Inauguración de ‘Grand Park’ Cuenta Con Presentaciones de Baile

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Este sábado y domingo, 28 y 29 de julio, se inaugurará el parque mas nuevo del condado ubicado en el Centro de Los Ángeles.

La inauguración de “Grand Park” observará el Día Nacional del Baile (National Dance Day) con presentaciones especiales, incluyendo Cirque de Soleil.

El evento será de las 11:30 a.m. hasta las 3:30 p.m. Se recomienda usar transporte público para acceder el parque, use el tren ligero Metro Red Line y bájese en la estación Civic Center.

Para más información llame al (213) 972-8080 o visite grandparkla.org, o musiccenter.org.

My Broken Heart

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

I have to figure out whether I want to spend my last years writing about this new country.

I celebrated the Fourth of July this year by having a heart attack. All things considered, watching fireworks would have been more fun.

I woke up at 2 a.m. on July 5th with raging pain in my chest and both arms. I was bathed in a cold, clammy sweat, and my breath was coming short. I was slightly nauseous.

“Gee,” I said to myself. “I wonder what’s wrong?”

Apparently I was waiting for a Western Union messenger to come to the door and say: “You’re having a heart attack, stupid. Call 911.”

It went on like that for a few hours until my wife woke up too and convinced me to get help. An ambulance brought me to the emergency room, where a team of doctors, nurses, attendants, and God-knows-who else was waiting for me.

It was like being sent through a cardiac car wash. I went in on one end with a heart attack; I came out the other an hour later with an unblocked artery, a stent, and an optimistic prognosis.

They told me they expected me to return to close to 100 percent. (This was particularly good news as I haven’t been close to 100 percent in years, if ever.)

I’m told that my reluctance to seek immediate help is fairly typical of men. Even male doctors often go into a state of denial when confronted with symptoms that can only be a heart attack. They wait. It’s a guy thing.

If you take only one thing away from the newspaper today, let it be this:

If you start showing symptoms of a heart attack, even if they’re not as dramatic as mine, don’t screw around. Call 911 and have an ambulance take you to the hospital. The treatment starts in the ambulance.

As a cardiologist friend told me: “They say time is money, but in my business time is muscle.” The longer you take to get treatment, the more heart muscle is destroyed — permanently.

The upshot of this is that I’ve suspended writing this column indefinitely. (I can hear the moans of anguish across the nation now.)

And there’s a real question as to whether I’ll start writing it again when I feel better. (I can hear the cheers and shouts of triumph drowning out the moans.)

I’m now 77 years old. I’ve been doing this — writing columns — for nearly 50 years, 35 years of it in Washington. I can tell you that things have changed, and not for the better.

I’ve covered fools, crooks, and charlatans over this half century. But for the most part, they had some sense of seriousness about them — an appreciation for the national interest as they saw it. Even rogues like Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon did.

The current bunch of miscreants is nothing like that. Centrist Democrats, who talk a good game but don’t do much about it, are battling increasingly radical Republicans, a fierce tribe of Bible-thumping know-nothings fueled by money from modern Robber Barons who want to sell the country off by the board foot and metric ton for their personal profit.

Thus we approximate the times described by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats:

“The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Does that describe Congress or what?

Do I want to spend my time left deciphering such people, trying to decide whether the Republican leaders are as stupid as they sound or merely willfully ignorant?

We are well on our way toward becoming a nation on the colonial model, where a few people own everything and the rest of us play the lottery and watch football. That’s not the America I grew up in. It’s not the America I spent my life writing about.

I have to figure out whether I want to spend my last years writing about this new country.

I’ll let you know.

Columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Please send your letters to Donald Kaul via email to otherwords@ips-dc.org or snail-mail them to OtherWords, 1112 16th Street, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Distributed via OtherWords.org

Obama, Romney Rhetoric Risks Trade War

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

When economic times are bad, animosity is directed at foreigners: “They’re taking our jobs!” So it’s unsurprising that the presidential campaigns feature charges and countercharges about outsourcing, the employment of foreign labor by American companies. This is a dangerous game because it sows the seeds of trade war.

Economists understand the benefits of the division of labor. If you and your family had to live on only what you could produce yourselves, you’d be dirt poor. You wouldn’t be much better off if you could buy only what the residents of your town or county could produce. As the trading area grows, a more intensive specialization and hence division of labor are possible. Combine this with the increased productivity that the growth in knowledge and inventiveness also make possible, and dramatic prosperity results.

Adam Smith observed, “The division of labor is limited by the extent of the market.” If the extent of the market is artificially constricted by politicians (no one else has such power), the division of labor and its concomitant progress are stunted — and we are poorer than we would have been.
Thus we should worry whenever politicians attempt to incite the public against global trade in goods and services.

“But they’re taking our jobs!” In the course of things, jobs are moving, changing, disappearing, and emerging all the time. It can be disconcerting and disruptive, but we wouldn’t like the alternative: a government powerful enough to stifle freedom and change. When the free market is allowed to operate (which is not the case today), change is the rule. Consumer preferences evolve. Entrepreneurs try to win favor by offering new or improved goods. New knowledge brings technological developments that lower costs, which enable things to be produced with fewer resources and less labor.

While of course this all can create hardship for those — workers and business owners — invested in the old ways, the general benefits are undeniable. Whenever fewer resources and less labor are required to produce a good, resources and labor formerly devoted to that good can now be directed to things we couldn’t afford yesterday. That’s how societies prosper.

Moreover, whenever a new good comes to market, it plants the seeds of new opportunities for other people. Think of the many firms launched to complement the personal-computer industry, with products ranging from software to a multitude of accessories. No one was making mouse pads, laptop fans, and web cams a few years ago, nor mobile-phone cases, ring tones, and apps.

The same process that “destroys” jobs also creates them. Our desire for goods and services is open-ended, and so the opportunities for work — absent government impediments — are similarly unlimited. Even if we could acquire all imaginable “necessities,” we also value leisure, which results in the demand for skis, tennis racquets, fishing rods, e-book readers, tablets, game consoles, and things yet to be dreamed up.

I don’t wish to understate the hardship that change can produce. But government policies designed to tamp down change are a blueprint for poverty for the poorest among us. The wealthy have their riches already. It is those who have yet to make it who stand to lose the most from economic stagnation.

Fortunately, the hardship that is a byproduct of social dynamism can be ameliorated by the very freedom which produces that dynamism. Because our desire for goods and services is unlimited, there is always new work to be done.

It is shameful for Americans — fabulously wealthy by world and historical standards — to begrudge poorer people their chance to prosper. Progressives and conservatives profess compassion and charity — but they are the first to object when the world’s worst-off “take our jobs!”

The foregoing requires a caveat. America does not have a free market; the economy is laden with intervention, much of it in the form of privileges for big, established companies at the expense of would-be competitors. Tax and regulatory interventions distort market forces and facilitate the migration of jobs and other resources. Moreover, neo-feudalism in developing countries likely reduces workers’ options, providing cheaper labor to transnational corporations.

All of this underscores the imperative to free the market at home and to set an example for others abroad. Global cooperation beats trade war every time.

Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org) and editor of The Freeman magazine.

Candidatos de Descendencia Salvadoreña se Postulan al Concejo de Los Ángeles

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Los salvadoreños en Los Ángeles no tienen miembros de su comunidad entre los representantes políticos locales, pero todo ello podría cambiar a partir de este año, ya que varios de ellos competirán por cargos públicos.

“Estoy iniciando campaña para lanzarme de candidata para concejal municipal por el distrito 9 para ayudar a la gente a que tenga una mejor vida, a tener un vecindario limpio, seguro, en donde la gente quiera vivir y trabajar”, dijo a Efe Ana Cubas, quien trabaja como jefa de personal del concejal del distrito 14, José Huizar.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Salvadorans Seek Representation on Los Angeles City Council

Aunque la presentación oficial de candidaturas para concejal de Los Ángeles se realizará en próximo noviembre y las elecciones se realizarán el 5 de marzo de 2013, Cubas tiene claro que éste es el momento de aspirar a entrar en el Concejo de Los Ángeles.

“Jan Perry, la concejal afroamericana ha estado a cargo de este distrito durante 12 años seguidos y va a lanzarse como candidata a alcaldesa de Los Ángeles. Hace 20 años aquí la mayoría eran afroamericanos, pero hoy somos más del 78 por ciento latinos y la gente está acostumbrada al liderazgo femenino, por eso yo tengo posibilidades de ganar”, afirmó.

Nacida en 1970 en el salvadoreño municipio de Texistepeque, Cubas emigró con sus padres cuando tenía 10 años a Estados Unidos, en donde, gracias a varias becas, estudió Sociología en la Universidad de California en Berkeley y se graduó en 1996 de la maestría en Administración Pública de la Universidad de Pennsylvania, en Nueva Jersey.

“Desde la perspectiva sociológica, la salvadoreña es una comunidad que ya maduró políticamente, ya no estamos pensando solamente en la política en El Salvador, y ya estamos preparados para competir por los puestos de elección pública como los concejos municipales”, indicó Cubas.

En su opinión, los emigrantes salvadoreños ya tienen educación y experiencia laboral y sienten que Estados Unidos es su país y ya entienden que se debe “competir por los asientos en la mesa del poder”.

En el distrito 9, sur del centro de Los Ángeles, según el Censo de 2010, habitan cercar de 250.000 personas, de las cuales el 78,9 por ciento son hispanos.

“Extraoficialmente se estima que los salvadoreños en EE.UU. somos como 2,5 millones, según el Censo de 2010 somos 1,8 millones, mientras que en California somos alrededor de 900.000, en el condado de Los Ángeles somos 350.000 y en la ciudad de Los Ángeles 250.000”, dijo a Efe Francisco Rivera, presidente de la Mesa Redonda Nacional Centroamericana.

Ron Góchez, nacido en Los Ángeles e hijo de salvadoreña y mexicano, es otro de los candidatos por el distrito 9, por el cual también competirán un subjefe del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD) Terry Hara, la asesora de empresas Elaine Gaspard y el asambleísta Michael Davis.

“Los salvadoreños nunca hemos ejercido un alto cargo público en Los Ángeles, pero en la política local hemos participado durante muchas décadas a través del trabajo de las organizaciones sociales y las protestas por los derechos de nuestra comunidad”, argumentó Góchez.

El candidato cree que la coincidencia de varios salvadoreños compitiendo por cargos públicos se debe a un sentimiento de ya que están “preparados”, y cuentan con la “experiencia” y son “sofisticados para hacer bien el trabajo político”.

El distrito 13 de Hollywood actualmente está a cargo del concejal Eric Garcetti, quien, debido a que competirá por la silla de alcalde de Los Ángeles, deja una vacante a la que aspira Reuben Martínez, nacido en Santa Ana (El Salvador), entre otros contrincantes.

“La comunidad salvadoreña es el tercer grupo más grande entre los hispanos en EE.UU., la mayor concentración está en California y en Los Ángeles no tenemos representación en cargos públicos”, dijo a Efe Martínez, quien es empresario y vive en EE.UU. desde que tenía 12 años.

“Por eso creo que urge que entendamos que debemos de educarnos más, porque si sólo somos ‘bla, bla’ en la esquina y no nos educamos en los colegios o las universidades entonces no vamos a lograr hacer nada”, finalizó.

City Hall Lawn Re-Opens After Repairs

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press conference last Thursday to inaugurate the re-opening of City Hall Park after seven and a half months of repairs to damages caused by Occupy LA protestors, some of whom also attended the re-opening event.

Speakers in attendance included Councilmembers José Huizar and Jan Perry among others. They, along with Commission President of Recreations and Parks, Barry Sanders, commented on the multiple green amenities at the park, ranging from decomposed granite pathways to water-saving irrigation and reduced turf.

“This has to be a gem, a gem for the people of our city. It has to be emblematic of Los Angeles,” Sanders said.

He also said it is the responsibility of visitors and residents of the city to “take [the park] and take care of it.”

Along with the re-opening, the public was advised on the particulars of an ordinance regulating use of the park area. The intent was to clarify what items are allowed inside the park to ensure its protection and maintenance.

According to Senior Press Secretary Peter Sanders, tents, unless through a permit for an event, are prohibited and general services police have full discretion as to how to enforce this rule.

Occupy Wall Street activists camping out in the park for nearly two months caused damages to the lawn, sprinkler, system, and other amenities. Initially supporting the protestors’ efforts by inviting them to stay as long as they needed, Villaraigosa then ordered police to evict them after receiving reports of crime, drug use, and inappropriate presence of children.

During the re-opening, protestors gathered around the chain-link fence encircling the park with signs that read “welcome back to solidarity park.” They commented on the delays of the park’s official re-opening and on the use of the chain-link barrier.

“This is what the freest country on the planet looks like now, chain-link, armed police officers, for a public park opening with balloons,” Occupy LA Protestor James Hill told City News Service, from behind the chain-link fence. “I can’t wait to get in there, because I’m going to sit on a bench. I’m going
to talk to my fellow citizens. I’m going to smile at children, and I’m going to exercise my First Amendment rights.”

Villaraisgosa addressed the protestors’ complaintss by asking people “to come to City Hall, to enjoy this park, to protest when you must, but also to respect that this is the public’s and the people’s house and the people’s park.”

Downtown resident, Virginia Elwood Acres, told City News Service that she initially supported the protestor’s efforts, but her support swayed when they “started behaving like thugs.”

“This is my park, too. I live downtown, so it’s just as much my park as it is their park,” Acres said.

To further protect the park from damage, for the next several weeks the chain-link fence will stay up and its hours of operation will be from 5 a.m.-10:30 p.m, Sanders said.

Information from City News Service was used in the story.

Activists Ask L.A. City to Fight Lawsuit on Vehicle Impound Policy

July 26, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

An immigrants-rights organization and a residents’ group want to help the city of Los Angeles fight off a lawsuit by the government watchdog group Judicial Watch challenging the LAPD’s policy liberalizing procedures for impounding cars of unlicensed drivers.

The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and LA Voice, represented by attorneys for the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, filed papers July 18 in Los Angeles Superior Court asking a judge to allow them to intervene and help the city defend the impound policy in court. A hearing is scheduled Sept. 25 before Judge Terry Green.

The suit filed May 16 by the Washington, D.C.-based Judicial Watch was the third suit filed in as many months challenging the policy. Plaintiff Harold Sturgeon of Los Angeles wants a judge to find that the department’s impound policy is an unlawful use of taxpayer money specifically “to help unlicensed illegal aliens.”

But according to the CHIRLA/LA Voice court papers, the impact on immigrants would be disproportionate.

Law enforcement agencies have been criticized for using impounds to generate money and for targeting Latinos assuming they are less likely to be licensed, the CHIRLA/LA Voice court papers state. Some CHIRLA members themselves have been affected, their court papers state.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League filed another lawsuit challenging the policy in April.

A third suit filed by a group of civil rights attorneys challenges the policy on different grounds, arguing it is too harsh because it prevents the owners of vehicles from getting their cars back before 30 days when another driver who is not the owner was at fault for the violation and impound.

The city has filed a separate motion to dismiss Sturgeon’s lawsuit and it is scheduled to be heard on Nov. 9. Lawyers for the city say that contrary to Sturgeon’s claims, the impound policy does not violate the state Constitution or conflict with the state Vehicle Code.

The city’s attorneys also say the policy does not allow the release of a vehicle to an undocumented immigrant who is either unlicensed or ineligible to be licensed for failure to provide proof of lawful presence in the U.S.

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