State Appeals Court Says Cities Can’t Simply Ban Pot Shops

July 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

A state appeals court affirmed the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries under California law and rejected bans imposed by municipalities.
A three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal held Monday that Los Angeles County’s ban on medical marijuana is “preempted” by state law. The decision reverses a preliminary injunction granted to the county by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ann Jones in May 2011.

“Los Angeles County’s total, per se nuisance ban against medical marijuana dispensaries directly contradicts the legislature’s intent,” Justice Robert Mallano wrote in the 19-page unanimous decision.

The county sued the Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective in March 2011. Principal Deputy County Counsel Sari Steel could not be immediately reached.

“The court of appeal could not have been clearer in expressing that medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under state law, and that municipalities have no right to ban them,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group. “This landmark decision should have a considerable impact on how the California Supreme Court rules in the various dispensary cases it’s currently reviewing.”

On July 24th, the city of Los Angeles is scheduled to vote on a dispensary ban similar to the one enacted by the County, but just rejected by the court of appeal.

“The (appellate court) decision puts a giant wrench into the plans of City Attorney Trutanich to persuade the City Council to enact a ban,” said Elford.

Montebello Officers Group Give Police Chief Vote Of Confidence

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Montebello’s police officer’s union came to the defense of its police chief in the wake of a lawsuit filed against him and the city alleging discrimination and retaliation.

The Montebello Police Officer’s Association unanimously approved a vote of confidence for Kevin McClure and his administration. “That the vote was unanimous is telling,” MPOA President Julio Calleros said in a statement to EGP last Friday. “The general consensus is that Chief McClure has brought a level of professionalism, expertise and stability to this department that had been lacking severely for several years prior to his arrival, which has resulted in improved public safety to the businesses and citizens of the community.”

Related Story: Montebello Police Officers Slap Chief With Lawsuit

The action was a response to a lawsuit filed on June 11 by Captains Greg Wilsey and Brian Dragoo, Sgt. Kimberly Lundy and Lt. Ricardo Rojas. The four police officers accused McClure of discriminating against racial and gender minorities in the department, and of retaliating against attempts by some officers to expose legally questionable behavior by some members of the department. The lawsuit claims McClure dismissed requests to hold cultural diversity training, called African Americans “dirty” and women “MILFS” (a derogatory sexual reference); and ignored the police officers’ attempts to report possibly illegal activity in the city.

In last Friday’s statement, the police association, which represents sworn police officers and police sergeants, defended McClure’s record with the department, saying that he reduced overtime and was able to maintain a unit to target narcotics and gangs despite a tight budget. McClure took over as chief in April 2011, after 30 years serving with the LAPD.

Montebello Police Officers Sue Chief and City

Romance Singer Celebrates 100 Year Milestone

July 5, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

Monterey Park resident Martin Becerra fidgets with his newsboy cap in one hand and grasps his cane with another as he sits up in his armchair to answer questions with a dapper smile and the soothing voice of a former singer. On Monday the former Mexican romance singer and radio host celebrated his 100th birthday with close family and friends, marking a century full of accomplishments, including his greatest passion — music.

Last Saturday Becerra sat down with EGP to recollect his past endeavors.

Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Intérprete de Canciones Románticas Celebra 100 Años de Vida

Though Becerra humbly says his accomplishments are few, the retired entertainer’s musical career feats range from singing in popular Mexican trio bands, to serving as the master of ceremonies at numerous musical performances at the historic Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Martin Becerra, pictured, celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in Monterey Park. (EGP photo by Ileana Najarro)

“I must thank life for having put me in the places I was meant to be in,” he told EGP.

His century-long journey in music started in Ocotlán, Jalisco, in Mexico. Born to Casimiro Becerra and Virginia Ochoa in 1912, Becerra grew up with a love for all kinds of music, especially classic Mexican romance ballads.

“Ever since I was a young boy, I loved the romantic music’s melody because it knew how to say what human beings feel,” Becerra said in Spanish.

By the age of 20 Becerra had officially ventured into a musical career performing renditions of hit romantic ballads with various duets and trios in Mexico including Los Cancioneros del Sur and the Trio Guayacan, which he co-founded. Around the same time, under the guidance of the then artistic director of the music company Discos Peerless, Guillermo Kornhauser, Becerra formed the popular duet Martin y Eloísa with Eloísa Gomez, who due to illness was replaced by Magdalena Perez to form Martin y Malena. In his duet run Becerra produced some of his more popular songs including “Mi casita de paja,” “Paloma consentida,” and “Mi virgen Ranchera.”

Becerra, in his younger years as a singer.

Georgina Gregorio, the eldest of Becerra’s two daughters, recalls growing up listening to her father sing almost anywhere.

“He would be driving and then all of a sudden he would start singing,” Gregorio said nostalgically.

One of Gregorio’s fondest memories of her father’s singing was not on the radio, record, or on stage, but of him lovingly singing the song “Marta” to his younger daughter of the same name. To this day, her father’s singing career is still recognized, Gregorio said.

“Sometimes I hear people my age or younger say ‘oh my mother used to hear him all the time’” Georgina said.

In 1948 Becerra came to Los Angeles to pioneer a daytime radio show in Spanish on KWKW during which he served as a “housewife DJ,” said Gregorio, referring to the main demographic of his audience.

Becerra’s radio hosting spanned a great part of his life; he retired from the show at 90 years old. While music was his passion, and he interviewed many musical stars on his show, Becerra said working in radio is his proudest achievement.

“[Radio hosting] gave me the opportunity to reach the general public, especially the more sensitive ones,” Becerra said.

His granddaughter-in-law, Natalie Gregorio, said she admires Becerra’s accessibility to his radio audience and his daughter Georgina, compliments the way his audience would warmly receive him.

Becerra also often served as the master of ceremonies for shows at the Million Dollar Theatre until its closing in 1982. He introduced some of the biggest names of the Golden Age, such as Jose Alfred Jimenez, Pedro Infante, Dolores del Rio, Vicente Fernandez, and many others.
Now comfortably enjoying retirement, Becerra said he’s excited to have reached the 100-year milestone, but admits, “the years weigh heavily” on him these days.

Becerra said he has a wish for his fans: “A million dollars for everybody.”

As for his secret to living a long life, Becerra said: “There are no secrets, only efforts. You must dedicate yourself, have faith in yourself, and truly have a feel for what you want.”

Becerra’s family will hold a special mass in his honor at St. Thomas More Church in Alhambra on Friday July 6.

Suspect Arrested In Monterey Park Garden Thefts

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(EGPNews) – Monterey Park police arrested 53-year old Cirilo Cebrian in connection with a recent string of lawn ornament thefts, it was announced June 29.

Neighbors saw a suspicious person running from the yard of a home on the 1900 block of Fulton Avenue, and driving away in a Chevy truck. Police located the vehicle being driven by Cebrian; inside were two potted Plumeria plants and a 25-inch statue of the Virgin Mary.

Monterey Park police arrested Cebrian on suspicion of receiving stolen property. Police suspect he may have been involved in as many as 15 similar robberies. Detectives have identified the owner of the stolen plants, but are still looking for the owner of the Virgin Mary statue. Anyone with information can contact Det. Arlene Guevara at (626) 307-1428.

Woman Found Dead In Vernon Identified

July 5, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

(CNS) – A young woman – the apparent victim of a homicide – whose body was found near railroad tracks in Vernon was identified Tuesday.

Maria Castaneda, 24, of Los Angeles, was found about 7:30 a.m. Monday in the 4600 block of Fruitland Avenue, according to Vernon police and Ed Winter of the coroner’s office.

An autopsy was pending on the body of the woman, who had a “penetrating” head wound, according to authorities.

The tracks are along a railroad “spur” that is used for deliveries to commercial buildings and are not used for through traffic, Winegar said. Anyone with more information about the slaying was asked to call the Vernon police at (323) 587-5171.

Eagle Rock Sinkhole to Get Emergency Repair

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(EGPNews) – A sinkhole on Colorado Boulevard in Eagle Rock has been given first priority for repairs following a Los Angeles city council vote last Friday, June 29.

An emergency contractor will be repairing the sinkhole as soon as possible, according to a release from City Councilman José Huizar’s office, which requested a study of the sinkhole located east of Figueroa Boulevard.
The study said the pavement and the subgrade must be replaced.

Man Killed In Boyle Heights Shooting

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(CNS) – A young man was killed in a car-to-car shooting in Boyle Heights on June 29.
The shooting in the 1300 block of Dacotah Street, at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard, was reported just before 1 a.m., said Sgt. Kristin Hagerty of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.

Joe David Lobos, 24, was shot multiple times in the upper body. He died at the scene.
Both the victim’s Chevrolet Cavalier and the suspect vehicle – described as a black Ford Explorer – were traveling east on Olympic when the shooting occurred, police said.

“At this time, there is no evidence pointing to it being gang-related,” Hagerty said of the shooting.
Anyone with information should call Hollenbeck Homicide Detectives Garcia or Marin at (323) 342-8996 or (323) 342-8961. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247).

Metro Offers Free Passes To Foster Youth

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(EGPNews) – A new transit pass program will allow young people transitioning out of foster care to ride Metro for free.

L.A. County Supervisor and new Metro Board Chair Michael Antonovich announced the new pilot program, Youth on the Move, which began its test run in June with 20 young people between 18 to 20 years old who are part of the Los Angeles County Youth Self-Sufficiency Program. They were issued Metro passes and EZ transit passes, valid on Metro bus and rail, as well as other carriers in the county. The program could ultimately benefit 2,000 youth in the county.

Voters to Decide if Assessor is Elected or Appointed

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(CNS) – The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to have its lawyers to prepare a referendum for a November’s ballot, asking voters if the county assessor should be elected or appointed to office.
Supervisor Michael Antonovich recommended the ballot question to be decided by Los Angeles County voters.

Making the job an appointed post would require an amendment to the state constitution. In a statewide vote in 1986, about 85 percent of voters favored elections.

County Assessor John Noguez is on an indefinite leave of absence, as the District Attorney’s office investigates allegations that his employees worked hand-in-hand with tax agents representing property owners to reduce assessed property values in exchange for campaign contributions. A former appraiser — who allegedly dropped property values in Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Pacific Palisades by about $172 million — was arrested in May.

Santos Kreimann, director of the Department of Beaches and Harbors, is running the assessor’s office in Noguez’ absence.

Supervisors Gloria Molina and Zev Yaroslavsky were the dissenting votes Tuesday.

Joy, Disillusionment Over Newly Elected Mexican President

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A handful of Mexican activists gathered at Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles on Monday to call on the Mexican people to work toward a peaceful, non-partisan transition following the election of Mexico’s new president on July 1.

The election was hotly debated with echoes of the Occupy Movement, resounding against Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, who claimed victory in the election against underdog Andrés Manuel López Obrador of the Mexican Progressive Movement (Movimiento Progresista), and National Action Party (PAN) candidate Josefina Vásquez Mota.
López Obrador, who narrowly lost the 2006 presidential election, has called his supporters to the streets to protest what he says is a bought election by the PRI.

López Obredor and his supporters threaten to create social instability when the country really needs to unite and work together, Xavier Rivas, president of Nevada-based Hispanos for Politics told EGP.

“We believe Peña Nieto will solve Mexico’s problems,” said Rivas, adding that neither he or his press conference companions were sent to defend the newly elected president: We came of our own free will, he said.

Rivas said Mexico faces several challenges, the main one being creating jobs so Mexicans don’t see immigrating to the US as their first or only option. The war on narco traffickers has been a failure and a hallmark of the current PAN president, he said.

PRI was Mexico’s long-time ruling party before current president Felipe Calderón was elected. Presidents in Mexico can only serve one 6-year term in office.

Beatriz Ricartti, of Mujeres en Movimiento, said Voters from Abroad are a significant electorate and contribute to Mexico, not only through remittances, but also through charities. For her, the PRI’s victory means hope, she told EGP.

Mike Gonzalez, of “Los 32 Por Mexico” in Orange County, said the candidates and the public need to accept the results of the election and contribute to the work that needs to happen to benefit the Mexican people.

Gonzalez acknowledged that the current vote by mail system for Mexican citizens living abroad is not perfect, and says he is pushing for all Mexicans abroad to be able to vote in every Mexican election they qualify for, not just the presidential election. He thinks they should even be allowed to be on the ballot.

In the US, there are about three million Mexican citizens who are potential voters, but very few actually submitted a vote, diplomatic and government sources told EFE News Service.

“By the time the deadline for overseas citizens to register to vote had passed, 59,044 voters in ninety-one countries had signed up and at least 47,000 mailed in their vote,” Ricardo Alday, spokesman for Mexico’s Embassy in Washington, to EFE. “An estimated 80 percent of those votes from abroad came from Mexican citizens in the US,” he added.

The number translates to about 32,600 votes submitted by Mexicans living in the US.

A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center indicated that only 31 percent of Mexicans in the United States had a valid voter registration card, but in actuality there are about three million potential Mexican voters who could vote living in the US.

According to figures from Mexico’s Federal Electoral Institute, the preliminary election results, show that voters living abroad supported PAN candidate Vazquez Mota by 42.1 percent, followed by López Obrador with 38.8 percent, and in last place, Peña Nieto with 15.6 percent of the votes cast from abroad.

The IFE preliminary results for the election, however, on Monday showed Peña Nieto with 36.79 percent of the votes, followed by López Obrador with 33.20 percent, and in last place, Vázquez Mota with 25.25 percent of the votes.

Activists in the US have long denounced the Mexican suffrage process as flawed for citizens who live abroad. Applying for and receiving a voter identification card, required for voting, is nearly impossible to acquire unless one lives near the border and has legal residency to cross. If a Mexican citizen doesn’t live near the border, he has to be wealthy enough to take time off from work and finance a special trip to Mexico to pick up their voter identification card, which is only issued on Mexican territory.

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